First Lady Michelle Obama follows her daughters Malia Obama and Sasha Obama, as they arrive to welcome the Official White House Christmas Tree to the White House
First Lady Michelle Obama watches as daughter Malia Obama, adjusts the collar for her sister Sasha Obama, as they walk out to welcome the Official White House Christmas Tree to the White House. This year’s White House Christmas Tree, which will be on display in the Blue Room, is an 18.5-foot Douglas Fir grown by Chris Botek, a second generation Christmas Tree Farmer from Crystal Spring Tree Farm in Lehighton, Penn. Dogs Bo Obama, left, and Sunny Obama also participated
What we missed
Marian Robinson (FLOTUS’s mother), First Lady Michelle Obama, Kathleen Biden (Hunter Biden’s wife), Maisy Biden, Sasha Obama, and a friend attend a women’s college basketball game between the Princeton Tigers and the American University Eagles at Bender Arena on November 23, 2014 in Washington, DC. The First Lady’s niece, Leslie Robinson, was playing for Princeton.
Brian Beutler:It’s All Over, Obamacare Haters! Why They’ve Officially Lost The Battle
By 11:59:59 p.m. Monday night — the last moment of the Affordable Care Act’s first open enrollment period — sign-ups on Healthcare.gov and 14 state-based exchanges had cleared the symbolic 7 million threshold, according to both administration officials and data experts, and will continue to climb above it over the next few weeks as HHS processes applications from people who were mid-queue when the clock struck midnight. Throw in new Medicaid enrollments, off-exchange enrollments into Qualified Health Plans, young invincibles on their parents’ plans, and the beneficiary total far exceeds 10 million. On net, millions more people — perhaps about 10 million — are now (or will soon be) insured because of Obamacare than were covered beforehand.
That net number will probably be less than initially forecast, but when you account for the fact that almost half of all states didn’t expand Medicaid, and Healthcare.gov effectively experienced a two-month outage last year, you have to be a fanatical Obamacare hater not to call it a comeback. Now that it’s all over but the shouting, conservatives are watching the mechanisms they’ve employed to discredit enrollment numbers shrink away from them. They are left to think wishfully that the new enrollees will not pay their premiums in overwhelming numbers, or deny that they exist altogether. The universe of Obamacare “success stories” is larger than the universe of Obamacare “horror stories” and many of said horror stories fall apart or are revealed to be ambiguous upon mild scrutiny.
April Ryan: Champagne Celebration As 7 Million Signups Achieved
At 12:01 AM, White House Chief Technology Officer Todd Park acknowledged to QSSI, the Columbia, Maryland firm tasked with fixing Healthcare.gov that the ACA enrollments have surpassed the 7 million mark. Park and QSSI employees celebrated with champagne after the early morning announcement in the lobby of the building as they are not allowed to drink alcohol in the offices at QSSI.
TPM: BREAKING: Obamacare Sign-Ups On Track To Hit 7 Million On Final Day
Beating expectations, President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul was on track to sign up more than 7 million Americans for health insurance on deadline day Monday, government officials told The Associated Press. Two government officials confirmed the milestone, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter ahead of an official announcement. Seven million was the original target set by the Congressional Budget Office for enrollment in taxpayer-subsidized private health insurance through new online markets created under Obama’s signature legislation. At St. Francis Hospital in Wilmington, Del., enrollment counselor Hubert Worthen plunged into a long day. “I got my energy drink,” he said. “This is epic, man.”
At a Houston community center, there were immigrants from Ethiopia, Nepal, Eritrea, Somalia, Iraq, Iran and other conflict-torn areas, many of them trying anew after failing to complete applications previously. In addition to needing help with the actual enrollment, they needed to wait for interpreters. Many had taken a day off from work, hoping to meet the deadline. The White House and other supporters of the law were hoping for an enrollment surge that would confound skeptics. The insurance markets — or exchanges — offer subsidized private health insurance to people who don’t have access to coverage through their jobs. The federal government is taking the lead in 36 states, while 14 other states plus Washington, D.C., are running their own enrollment websites. New York, running its own site, reported more than 812,000 had signed up by Sunday morning, nearly 100,000 of them last week.
Against all odds and expectations, enrollments in health plans qualified under the Affordable Care Act are surging Monday toward – and maybe beyond — the 7-million figure projected by the Congressional Budget Office before Oct. 1, when the open-enrollment period began. The deadline for starting enrollment applications for 2014 plans is midnight Monday. The surge is creating a big problem for the “train wreck” narrative of Republican opponents of the ACA, who have been holding out hope for Obamacare’s utter failure. So the excuse-making has begun.
Before we examine those excuses: You will recall that the budget office reduced its projection of enrollments on individual insurance exchanges to 6 million earlier this year to account for the botched launch of healthcare.gov, the federal enrollment website. Enrollments blew past that mark days ago. If exchange enrollments meet or exceed the original projection of 7 million despite the loss of some six weeks in website functionality in October and November, that would be a testament to the public’s latent desire for effective healthcare coverage.
Damon Tucker: U.S. Secretary Of Education Arne Duncan Praises Hawaii’s Education Leadership
Hawaii’s public schools can be a model for the nation, according to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who visited two schools today before returning to Washington, D.C. Secretary Duncan, Governor Neil Abercrombie and Schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi spoke with media in reflecting on the progress made during the last three years based on the Race to the Top (RTTT) federal education reform grant.“When we first did the RTTT grant, there was a huge amount of skepticism in the outside world, and frankly, internally,” stated Secretary Duncan. “Hawaii initially had its challenges; they’ve shown amazing leadership, courage and vision. I can’t overstate how important the Governor’s leadership has been…the leadership of the State Superintendent…they are a profile in courage. The only way you get better is to challenge the status quo. The only way to accelerate the rate of change is to do something different. The progress has been extraordinary.
Hawaii by any objective measure – is one of the fastest improving states in the nation – top five states, that’s top 10 percent in the nation.” Waipahu High is the second-largest high school in Hawaii with 2,450 students. About 70 percent of its students are of Filipino ancestry, while nearly 6 out of 10 students come from economically disadvantage backgrounds. Waipahu High Principal Keith Hayashi, who was appointed in 2009, has led a tremendous academic turnaround at the school. Reading proficiency among 10th graders rose to 69 percent in 2013 from 58 percent in 2011, while math proficiency jumped to 47 percent from 26 percent. College-going rate increased to 58 percent from 49 percent during the same period.
Examiner: New Poll: More Americans Now Support ‘Obamcare’ Than Oppose It
As the Affordable Care Act open enrollment comes to a close, more people now support President Obama’s health care reform than those who oppose it. Though by a slim margin, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, 49 percent of Americans now support “Obamacare,” compared to 48 percent who oppose the law. President Obama has made a strong push over the last few months to encourage those who need insurance, to do so through the open enrollment period than ran through March 31.
When the same poll was taken in November of 2013, only 40 percent of Americans supported the law, while 57 percent opposed it.Two key voting blocks have also been tilting in the direction of Democrats and the Affordable Care Act. The WaPo/ABC poll notes that 57 percent of Hispanics support the law in addition to 52 percent of those between the ages of 18 and 29.
Molly Redden: Hobby Lobby’s Hypocrisy: The Company’s Retirement Plan Invests In Contraception Manufacturers
When Obamacare compelled businesses to include emergency contraception in employee health care plans, Hobby Lobby, a national chain of craft stores, fought the law all the way to the Supreme Court. The Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate, the company’s owners argued, forced them to violate their religious beliefs. But while it was suing the government, Hobby Lobby spent millions of dollars on an employee retirement plan that invested in the manufacturers of the same contraceptive products the firm’s owners cite in their lawsuit. Documents filed with the Department of Labor and dated December 2012—three months after the company’s owners filed their lawsuit—
show that the Hobby Lobby 401(k) employee retirement plan held more than $73 million in mutual funds with investments in companies that produce emergency contraceptive pills, intrauterine devices, and drugs commonly used in abortions. Hobby Lobby makes large matching contributions to this company-sponsored 401(k). Several of the mutual funds in Hobby Lobby’s retirement plan have holdings in companies that manufacture the specific drugs and devices that the Green family, which owns Hobby Lobby, is fighting to keep out of Hobby Lobby’s health care policies: the emergency contraceptive pills Plan B and Ella, and copper and hormonal intrauterine devices.
Hayes Brown: Zero U.S. Troops Died In Combat In March, The First Time In More Than A Decade
March 2014 marked the first time in more than a decade that there were zero U.S. fatalities among American troops engaging in combat, according to numbers from the Department of Defense. After a decade at war in the post-9/11 environment, with major wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and smaller conflicts in the various other countries where the U.S. uses more covert methods to fight against terrorism, the lack of combat deaths in March 2014 marks a milestone.
In Iraq, the death toll reached 4,474 before the last soldier fell in November 2011. For years after the war’s launch in 2003, no months passed where at least one American didn’t die in battle and then only towards the end of the conflict did the numbers taper off enough to have a month where the only fatalities were non-combat related.
Ellie Hall: Obama Told Military Leaders: Accept Gays In Military Or Step Down, Admiral Says
In a meeting with the heads of the five service branches in 2010, President Obama offered the leaders a choice: Support my efforts to end the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, or resign, the Commandant of the Coast Guard said. In a video obtained by BuzzFeed via a Freedom of Information Act request, Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Robert Papp revealed that Obama was unwilling to compromise with service leaders over DADT during a meeting in 2010. “We were called into the Oval Office and
President Obama looked all five service chiefs in the eye and said, ‘This is what I want to do.’ I cannot divulge everything he said to us, that’s private communications within the Oval Office, but if we didn’t agree with it — if any of us didn’t agree with it — we all had the opportunity to resign our commissions and go do other things,” he said.The admiral, who will be retiring from active duty on May 30, added that he thought the U.S. military made the right decision by abolishing DADT.
USA Today: He’s All Ivy — Accepted To All 8 Ivy League Colleges
In the next month, Kwasi Enin must make a tough decision: Which of the eight Ivy League universities should he attend this fall? A first-generation American from Shirley, N.Y., the 17-year-old violist and aspiring physician applied to all eight, from Brown to Yale. The responses began rolling in over the past few months, and by late last week when he opened an e-mail from Harvard, he found he’d been accepted to every one.
School district officials provided scanned copies of acceptance letters from all eight on Monday. Yale confirmed that it was holding a spot for Enin. The feat is extremely rare, say college counselors — few students even apply to all eight, because each seeks different qualities in their freshman class. Almost none are invited to attend them all. The Ivy League colleges are among the nation’s most elite.
Brian Beutler: GOP’s Self-Defeating Myopia: Why Its Obamacare Mania Is Now A Gift To Democrats
Here’s a riddle for anyone who thinks the politics of Obamacare are straightforward, and toxic for Democrats. How is it possible, in defiance of public rebuke, widespread misinformation and other headwinds, that insurance enrollment is surging in just about every state in the country? I suppose it’s possible that these millions of new beneficiaries were all supporters of the law to begin with and the surge doesn’t hint at a more complex public opinion. But I don’t think that’s right. Over the past several days we’ve been presented with a wealth of evidence that the conventional theory of the Affordable Care Act and the coming midterm elections is flawed.
Going back to last year, before they knew how poor the rollout of the law would be, administration officials knew they’d have to circumvent traditional media to encourage enrollment. But perhaps because the rollout was so bad, the press has been less helpful to the cause of the ACA than the administration expected. Not that it’s the press’s job to encourage enrollment, exactly, but a profusion of glitches and delays has given reporters a lot to write about aside from subsidies and other ACA benefits. Yet despite all that, the enrollment rate is way up over the past several weeks, due almost entirely to external messaging, organizing and advertising on the part of the administration and its allies. And apparently it’s been pretty successful.
There is not yet an official announcement about exactly how many Affordable Care Act enrollments there were during the open-enrollment period. The Associated Press and others are reporting that the Obama administration believes it’s “on track” to sign up more than 7 million Americans for health insurance, but there’s been no official confirmation.As a practical matter, it really doesn’t much matter whether the total is 6.9 million or 7.1 million – it’s almost a matter of bragging rights at this point, but it doesn’t really affect the structural integrity of the system –
and it’s also worth noting that yesterday wasn’t necessarily the inflexible deadline anyway. Coverage through Medicaid expansion will continue, and those who began the process before the deadline will still be allowed to finish.But the larger takeaway remains the same. First, “Obamacare” is succeeding in ways no one was predicting a few months ago. Second, Republicans are in deep denial over facts that contradict everything they’ve chosen to believe about reality.
Judy Lin: Deadline Brings High Interest For Health Insurance
A blizzard, jammed phone lines and unreliable websites failed to stop throngs of procrastinating Americans from trying to sign up for health coverage by the midnight Monday deadline for President Barack Obama’s signature domestic policy initiative. In Louisiana, wait times for callers lasted up to two hours. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee received nearly 1,900 calls by midday compared with about 800 the previous Monday. And in California, where enrollments surged toward the Obama administration’s original projection of 1.3 million, the deadline day volume forced the state exchange to switch off a key function on its website and encourage people to finish their applications in the days ahead. Across the nation, the interest in getting health insurance and avoiding a federal tax penalty was made clear in interviews with enrollment counselors and consumers.
“I have not had a physical in over 15 years,” said Dionne Gilbert, a 51-year-old uninsured woman from Denver who waited in a 90-minute line to get enrollment assistance. “I told myself, ‘You need to do this. Your daughter loves you and needs you.'” The last-minute rush was expected to significantly boost the number of Americans gaining coverage under the new law, and government officials told The Associated Press late Monday that they were on track to sign up more than 7 million Americans for health insurance by the deadline. But the months ahead will show whether the Affordable Care Act will meet its mandate to provide affordable health care coverage or whether high deductibles, paperwork snags and narrow physician networks make it a bust.
Bob Cesca: Please Republicans, Run Against Obamacare This Year And We’ll See You In November
Anyone who tells you the GOP is a lock for holding onto the House of Representatives while taking back the Senate in the midterms doesn’t know what the hell they’re talking about. Why? Because it’s April. The election isn’t for another seven months. That’s a huge block of time, especially knowing how the speed of online media has accelerated news cycles and shortened voter attention spans. Again, if the Democrats can appeal to voters based on each of the very popular line items in the law, they might even be able to swing a few moderate, open-minded Republicans (yes, they exist), and especially those Republicans who happen to have ACA coverage (yes, they exist, too). At the same time, there’s seven months to carpet bomb swing districts with all of the Obamacare success stories such as, you know, my success story.
That’s more than enough time, and there’s more than enough material. This is all to suggest that the Democrats can absolutely meet the Republicans eye-to-eye on Obamacare rather than spinelessly running away from the law. There’s plenty of ammunition, 9.5 million Americans with new policies, along with strengthening poll numbers from which to draw support. If Mr. Priebus wants to make Obamacare The Issue for 2014, bring it on. The Democrats should absolutely stick it to him and make the GOP sorry it bothered. Who knows whether this will change the make-up of Congress or how the numbers will stack up. It’s still way too early to tell. But it’s a good bet the Republicans are making a classic strategic blunder — basing their fortunes upon the diminishing returns of the same old Obamacare myths and demagoguery.
Media Matters: From “Doomed” To Boom: How The Press Missed The Obamacare Comeback Story
Just three weeks ago the Associated Press reported the Obama administration needed “something close to a miracle” in order to “meet its goal” of enrolling six million people into private health care plans via the Affordable Care Act before the looming April 1 deadline arrived. The article’s premise was telling in that it focused on what the political fallout would be if Obamacare sign-ups fell short. Noticeably absent was any analysis of what an Obamacare deadline success would look like or what the political implications would be. The scenario of success simply wasn’t considered plausible or worth addressing.
Of course, we now know that as many as seven million people enrolled for private coverage through the exchanges established by Obama’s health care law. Thanks to an amazing consumer surge in the month of March, the seven million mark, routinely thought of last year as completely unattainable, and often dismissed this year as not possible, was met. And because of a provision of the Obamacare law, approximately three million young people have been added to their parents’ private insurance plans. Meaning, more than 10 million people have used Obamacare to secure health coverage. The new law, noted the Los Angeles Times, “has spurred the largest expansion in health coverage in America in half a century.” The paper reported, “At least 9.5 million previously uninsured people have gotten health insurance since Obamacare started.”
Aaron Blake: Sebelius: 80-90 Percent Of Obamacare Enrollees Have Paid A Premium
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Monday that insurance companies estimate between 80 and 90 percent of the 6 million people who have signed up for Obamacare have actually paid a premium. “What we know from insurance companies … tell(s) us that, for their initial customers, it’s somewhere between 80, 85, some say as high as 90 percent, have paid so far,” Sebelius said on KWTV-TV. “Lots of companies have different timetables for when their new customers have to send their first payment.”
ABC: Behind The Scenes With Rosie The Riveters At The White House
Phyllis Gould waited 12 years for the moment when she, one of the six original “Rosie the Riveters,” made it to the White House.
Gould, 92, and her five fellow “Rosie the Riveters,” who worked in a shipyard during World War II, were invited by Vice President Joe Biden Monday after a decades-long letter campaign by Gould that began when Bill Clinton was in office. “I thought we are not going to be here that much longer and we need to get this out,” Gould said of why she asked for a White House invitation. “Because no one else can do it for us.” “Truthfully, I always thought I would drift through my life invisible to anybody,” she said. Instead, Gould’s letter to Biden, in which she said her dream was to take a picture with the president and the vice president in the Oval Office, resulted in an invitation for Gould and her fellow “Rosies” to a week-long visit to Washington, D.C.
“This was the start of the first women’s liberation movement,” Biden told ABC News’ Lara Spencer as he greeted the Rosie’s. “You see these women working in a factory doing anything any man can do. It began to change everything.” With their motto, “We can do it,” and their famous red bandanas, Gould and the 20 million other American women who went to work during World War II turned gender stereotypes on their heads. The riveters worked as welders, electricians and draftsman at the Kaiser Shipyard in Richmond, Calif., as the men fought in the war. During the women’s visit to the White House, Gould not only got the hug from Biden that she asked for in her letter, they all also got a surprise visit from President Obama.
Sarah Brown, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, President Obama and Michelle Obama on the steps of No.10 Downing St on the eve of the G20 summit in London, April 1, 2009
President Obama is welcomed to 10 Downing Street in London by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, April 1, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
First Lady Michelle Obama talks alone with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton prior to President Obama’s Meeting with President Hu of China. Winfield House in London, April 1, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev meet for the first time to issue a joint statement announcing their pursuit of a new START treaty, at Winfield House in London, April 1, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama smiles during a meeting with his Russian counterpart Medvedev at Winfield House in London, April 1, 2009
President Obama waves to crowd gathered for his arrival in Framingham, Mass., April 1, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama talks Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, center, at the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency in Framingham, Mass., April 1, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
The North Portico of the White House is seen through the fog, April 1, 2013 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama welcomes Robby Novak, known as “Kid President,” to the Oval Office, April 1, 2013 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama reacts to a missed shot on the White House Basketball Court, April 1, 2013. The President participated in a clinic with kids and professional basketball players as part of the 2013 White House Easter Egg Roll (Photo by Pete Souza)
Kathleen Parker: …..If the first lady isn’t angry, she certainly has every right to be …. Like every woman I know, black or white, I’ve watched Mrs. Obama with respect, admiration and arm-envy. Every woman. We talk about her unique role in American history, and we are proud and impressed…..
Thus, the recent discussion about Mrs. Obama’s manner and temperament, thanks to Jodi Kantor’s new book, “The Obamas,” is maddening …. It may be easy for fortunate whites to say they’ve always been proud of America, though they’re probably lying. It is less easy for someone whose ancestors were slaves and whose own parents remember when blacks couldn’t vote and were lynched for trying in some parts of the country. Given that history, one can forgive a few ill-chosen words uttered in an emotional moment.
But no. Mrs. Obama has been paying for her remarks ever since. If she isn’t smiling at the camera or looking riveted by every instant of her public life, she’s an angry woman.
Despite the pain these critiques cause Mrs. Obama and other African American women who identify with her, I do believe that these feelings are not particularly widespread. Most see the first lady as she is: a beautiful, gracious, intelligent, elegant, devoted wife and mother of whom we can be proud.
Those who insult her insult us all, and, yes, we should be angry.
President Barack Obama talks to Secret Service Uniformed Division officers as he walks through the magnetometer in the Northwest Gatehouse at the White House, following his visit to Blair House, Dec. 9. The President told a reporter as he exited the gatehouse, “I just wanted to see what it was like getting in here.” (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Pool report: Pool was out of earshot during the president’s two or three minute visit to the gate house but (radio talk show host) Bill Press was at the stakeout spot and generously passes along some color.
Obama: “I just wanted to see what it was like getting in here.”
Bill Press: “Not so easy, is it?”
Obama, patting his pockets, as if for keys or phone: “I think I beeped a couple of times.”
Afterward, Bill talked to agents:
Potus shook hands all around. Talked football, said he was Chicago Bears fan. Wanted to know how entry worked. Went through metal detector. Set it off. Guard told him he’d probably left cellphone in pocket.
2:05 The President departs the White House en route to Landover, Md.
2:15 Arrives Landover
2:30 Attends Army v Navy game with VP Biden and Jill Biden
5:25 Departs Landover
5:35 Arrives White House
A Statement by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius:
Plan B One-Step is an emergency contraceptive, sometimes referred to as the “morning after pill.” Plan B One-Step is currently labeled over the counter to women ages 17 years and older, but is sold behind the pharmacy counter. It is available by prescription only to women 16 years and younger. My decision does not change any current availability of the drug for all women.
In February 2011, Teva Women’s Health Inc. submitted to the FDA a supplemental new drug application for Plan B One-Step. This application sought to make Plan B One-Step available over the counter for all girls of reproductive age. The science has confirmed the drug to be safe and effective with appropriate use. However, the switch from prescription to over the counter for this product requires that we have enough evidence to show that those who use this medicine can understand the label and use the product appropriately. I do not believe that Teva’s application met that standard. The label comprehension and actual use studies did not contain data for all ages for which this product would be available for use.
Keith Humphreys (Washington Monthly): African-American Liberals Know How to Love Their President
Jonathan Chait’s much-discussed essay in New York magazine indicted the left for being perennially, loudly and unrealistically disappointed in Democratic Presidents. In Chait’s view, much of the left ignores the constraints on Presidential power (e.g., Congress, of which Drew Westen et al seem to be in ignorance) and doesn’t have the stomach or attention span for the slow, daily grind of governance. He also charges the left with crippling their own leaders with faithlessness and then blaming them when they are thereby forced to compromise with the other side. Chait sees these patterns as almost entirely independent of Obama, being instead a style, outlook and set of norms among liberals that goes back for decades….
All of this is true of a certain type of liberal in the U.S., but I wish Chait and Kristof had taken the time to exempt from criticism the most stalwart segment of liberal America: African-Americans. Perpetually indignant white liberals could learn a lot from them.
…. I cringe at the white, alleged liberals who call on Obama to acknowledge that his is a failed presidency. They want the first Black President in history to, effectively, announce that he is a bumbling affirmative action baby, apologize for being so uppity as to have ever assumed otherwise and resign in disgrace so that Hillary Clinton or some other qualified (i.e. white) person can lead the party…..
But all that said, my own question of why Blacks so love Obama elides the broader reality evidenced by their very high approval ratings of a white Democratic President, Bill Clinton. Blacks have a special place in the hearts for Barack Obama, but fundamentally, if you are a Democratic President, Black people in this country have your back…..
Business Insider: When President Obama makes his pitch to voters next year on why they should elect him to a second term, he’ll likely point to some version of this chart.
What the chart shows is that Obama inherited a bum economy but that, under his watch, things have begun to turn around. In the past year, the unemployment rate has dropped a full percentage point amid improving job growth….
Okay, so we all know about the decision of Kathleen Sebelius to block the Plan B morning-after pill from being sold over the counter to young teens.
Today the President was asked if he supported the decision, and he said he did.
So, everyone has their own position on this – some back the move, some are outraged by it.
It’s, obviously, a hugely important debate, and once you exclude the voices of the nutjobs whose ultimate fantasy is to control what women do with their bodies, the genuine opinions on both sides are fascinating to hear and read – not least for someone like me who is torn on the issue simply because children are involved. And that’s what, say, 12 or 13-year-old girls are: children. Just because they can have babies at that stage of their lives doesn’t make them adults. When I was a 12 or 13-year-old girl I had significantly less sense than a lump of wood, so, even then, would have laughed at the notion that I was an ‘adult woman’ capable of making big decisions.
Any way, some of the anger about this decision is coming from genuine people who just think it’s seriously wrong.
I know, I know, it’s ridiculous to give any thought to a post that appears on Salon these days, it’s a long, long time since you could take the site seriously. This, after all, is the home of my most loved comedian, the increasingly hysterical Greenwald creature, who has just become a caricature of a caricature of a caricature of himself, “OMG! I SO TOTALLY HATE OBAMA” the gist of what he writes all day, every day. Cutting edge journalism. And then there’s the embarrassment that is Arianna Huffington-wannabe Joan Walsh, not to mention Gene Lyons who so stylishly compared Melissa Harris-Perry to the KKK.
If they just renamed the place The Anti-Obama Diary they might get a few more hits. Crikey, at least us ‘Obots’ are honest about our affections, but Salon still bills itself as progressively righteous. As the young people say: LOL.
Any way, Rebecca Traister posted a fairly extraordinary article on Salon in response to the Plan B decision, which was a whole lot more about releasing some of her pent-up loathing of the President than it was about the actual issue.
The headline: “Obama’s woman problem – The president shamefully uses his daughters to justify limiting the healthcare options of America’s young women.”
“When will Barack Obama learn how to talk thoughtfully about women, women’s health and women’s rights?”
(Funny, I thought he spoke pretty thoughtfully about women’s rights as early as his first month in office when he signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. But, never mind. Maybe Rebecca was still recovering from the pain of seeing him inaugurated, so missed the historic occasion? And she probably skipped his appointments of Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court too, that level of woman-hating was way too much to take.)
“Obama pooh-poohed the findings of the FDA, which had concluded that Plan B pills posed no medical hazard.”
This is what the President said today (see his full remarks here):
“…. as I understand it, the reason Kathleen made this decision was she could not be confident that a 10-year-old or an 11-year-old going into a drugstore, should be able …. to buy a medication that potentially, if not used properly, could end up having an adverse effect …. It has been deemed safe by the FDA. Nobody is challenging that. When it comes to 12-year-olds or 13-year-olds, the question is can we have confidence that they would potentially use Plan B properly. And her judgment was that there was not enough evidence that this potentially could be used improperly in a way that had adverse health effects on those young people.”
So, no, the President didn’t poo-poo the findings of the FDA at all – on the contrary, he said that “nobody is challenging” their decision to deem the product safe. His argument, which was crystal clear – whether you agreed with it or not – was that there were concerns that “12-year-olds or 13-year-olds …. would potentially” use it “improperly in a way that had adverse health effects on those young people”.
Hey, by all means, dispute his argument, but why completely misrepresent what he said?
“But part of what was most disturbing about Obama’s statement was his reliance on language that reveals his paternalistic approach to women and their health. “As the father of two daughters,” Obama told reporters, “I think it is important for us to make sure that we apply some common sense to various rules when it comes to over-the-counter medicine.”
So, a father of 13 and 10-year-old girls expressing concern about their welfare is “disturbing”? And suggests his approach to women and their health is “paternalistic”?
Call me weird, I just thought he sounded like a father who cares about the welfare of his young daughters and girls of their age. Is that a bad thing now? Is it way more progressive for a father to say to his 13 and 10-year-old girls, ‘hey, go get pregnant, there’s always Plan B!’.
“…. as an American, I think it is important for my president not to turn to paternalistic claptrap and enfeebling references to the imagined ineptitude and irresponsibility of his daughters …. Obama is just laying down some Olde Fashioned Dad Sense …. he diminishes an issue of gender equality, sexual health and medical access. Recasting this debate as an episode of “Father Knows Best” reaffirms hoary attitudes about young women and sex that had their repressive heyday in the era whence that program sprang.”
Please forgive my language: what a load of complete ****ing bullshit!
I’ve been a fiery feminist all my friggin’ life, but this kind of crap is cringeworthy and just gives ammunition to enemies of women’s rights – it’s pitiful, lamentable, pathetic, whingy shit. Take your pick.
“….the imagined ineptitude and irresponsibility of his daughters….”
His daughters are 13 and 10!!!!! They’re not inept or irresponsible, and he never implied any such thing – they’re not “young women”, they’re CHILDREN!! That is why their father is protective of them, it’s what good, loving fathers do. Father might not always know best, but fathers loving and caring for their young daughters doesn’t make them enemies of women, it makes them decent human beings and great friggin’ Dads.
“When he says that he wants to “apply common sense” to questions of young women’s access to emergency contraception, he is telegraphing his discomfort with the idea of young women’s sexual agency, or more simply, with the idea of them having sex lives at all.”
Oh God. It’s hard to know where to start here, and it’s certainly hard to compete with her psychoanalysis of the President.
Again, Traister chooses to categorize children, as the law regards them, as “young women”.
Help me out here? Traister is saying that the President experiences “discomfort” at the notion of children “having sex”. Children maybe as young as 13 and 10? Does that make him a woman-hating freak? No, it makes him sound a bit like my late Dad, and every normal loving Dad. You know, the ones who become clinically depressed when their daughters first start using lipstick. Does that make them woman-hating monsters? No, it just confirms they are human beings who don’t want their beloved little girls to grow up. And the mere thought of their girls having sex nigh on drives them over the edge. Why? Again, because they’re human!
Which is why we love them, because they actually care. Is it more progressive to be a ‘deadbeat’ Dad who couldn’t give a shit if his 13-year-old daughter is risking becoming pregnant? Most daughters, especially fatherless ones, crave ‘Olde Fashioned Dad Sense’ – that kind of love is worth the price of gold.
So, who is the oddity here: the President or Traister?
“Moreover, Obama’s invocation of his role as a father is an insult to the commitments and priorities of those on the other side of this issue. Are we to believe that those who support the increased availability of emergency contraception do not have daughters? That if they do, they care less about those daughters than Barack Obama does about his? And that if they do not, they cannot possibly know better than a father of daughters what is best for young women?”
Right, at this point Traister has mislaid the plot. Completely.
By citing his love and concern for his daughters, the President was pissing on those who don’t have daughters?
And he insinuated that he cares for his daughters more than any other parent cares for theirs?
Hey, call me cynical, but methinks Traister heard what she wanted to hear today, her misrepresenting of the President’s comments laughably deceitful.
Then she went on to detail the President’s varying positions on late-term abortions over the years, just to beef up her argument that he doesn’t like women much.
You know, I truly envy Rebecca Traister’s glib and easy stance on “reproductive freedom”. She’s so lucky that it’s all so uncomplicated for her. For some of the rest of us it’s way more challenging than that, we actually have to stop and think. Some of us are passionately pro-choice, but are uneasy about late-term abortions. No, that doesn’t mean we hate women, or that we’re Rick Perry-ites, it just means we think about these things, unlike the ideologically pure, for whom every issue is a bumper sticker, rather than something that makes you pause.
Traister, though, excelled when she turned her attention to the President’s view of his wife.
“…. the president “often points out that he is surrounded by strong females at home,” an argument that not only mimics an old saw about how being henpecked by women is equivalent to respecting them, but reflects a dynamic as old as patriarchal power itself.”
Interesting. Traister assumes that the President saying he is surrounded by “strong females at home” automatically means he is “henpecked” …. does this not say a whole lot more about her assumptions than those of the President? Why does she take it that “strong females at home” automatically equals “henpecked”? Heck, maybe it just means….. they’re “strong females”?
Does Traister, you can’t but wonder, have a problem with the First Lady?
She reckons the President’s comments on The View in 2010 about his wife watching the show suggested she “just doesn’t have a head for news delivered by anyone other than Elisabeth Hasselbeck”.
Really? He suggested that? He implied his wife was an airhead?! Truly? And he’s never, ever pointed out that his wife watches this stuff for light relief, just to escape the relentless bile directed towards him on all the other channels, that she is Princeton and Harvard-educated, is way smarter than him, that she is his rock and the first person he seeks advice from – on a personal and political level? And next in line is his longest term advisor, Valerie Jarrett – a mere woman! Yep, the President is a misogynist.
“…. no one seems to have told him …. that the best way to address a question of women’s health and rights is probably not by making it about his role as a father.”
Really? Why is being a father to two young girls so inconsequential when discussing issues like these?
Why is a “role as a father” something not to be mentioned?
When he cites his daughters, in an attempt to explain how he is emotionally involved in an issue, he is exploiting them.
When he doesn’t ‘humanize’ an issue like this, he is an aloof, professorial robot.
Rebecca Traister’s Salon article was a whole heap of steaming crap, of the very worst dishonest and disingenuous kind.
Why? Who knows.
But, by the way, she was a diehard Hillary supporter in 2008 and really has never forgiven Barack Obama for beating her pick.
And that is what this is all about – along with a brand of demented feminism that regards with contempt any role, however benevolent, fathers try to play in their daughters’ lives.
Why did I even draw attention to her pathetic article? Good question!
I just did it to try and shine a little light, again, on the agendas of the President’s most bitter detractors on the so-called left.
The thing is, they sneer at us ‘Obots’, but at least we’re honest about where we stand – these people are deceitful to their core. There’s usually an agenda. As there was with Rebecca Traister’s piece in Salon – all she succeeded in doing was unveiling her bitterness, again.
By all means, while sticking to the facts, attack the President for his position on Plan B …. but attack him for his relationship with his wife and daughters? Ah, that’s when the professional left becomes indistinguishable from Limbaugh and Co.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) praises President Obama’s Kansas speech, dubbing it the “Obama doctrine”:
“This President may have just coined an economic version of an Obama Doctrine. It is a vision for keeping the American dream alive for the middle class that directly rebuts the failed theory of trickle-down economics.”
President Obama greets people in the audience after speaking at Osawatomie High School, Kansas
President Obama and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius arrive at Kansas City International Airport
President Obama climbs onto the stage prior to speaking about the economy at Osawatomie High School
President Obama, accompanied by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, visits We B Smokin’ Bar-B-Que with on the outskirts of Osawatomie
President Obama boards Air Force One at Kansas City International Airport en route to Washington
Greg Sargent (Washington Post): A lot of people have already jumped on Kathleen Parker for her column yesterday faulting Obama for not using the actual phrase “American exceptionalism” in his State of the Union speech. But to me the funniest part of her column is that way down in the seventeenth paragraph, she actually admitted that one of the primary pieces of evidence allegedly proving that Obama doesn’t believe in “American exceptionalism” is total nonsense.
Conservatives often deride Obama over remarks he made at a presser in April of 2009, in which he said that he believes in American exceptionalism “just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.” But as Parker apparently felt compelled to acknowledge, that’s not all he said:
…”What Obama added was that “we have a core set of values that are enshrined in our Constitution, in our body of law, in our democratic practices, in our belief in free speech and equality, that, though imperfect, are exceptional.”
…Obama also said at that presser that he is “enormously proud of my country and its role and history in the world.” And he hailed America’s “continued extraordinary role in leading the world towards peace and prosperity.” Parker didn’t tell you about those two quotes.
…That this admission comes in a column faulting Obama for not using the phrase in his speech last week, of course, tells you all you need to know about how absurd and self-parodic this ongoing attack has become.
….. at the Washington Hilton Hotel for the White House Correspondents Association dinner, Saturday, May 1, 2010
… greeting guests at the Cinco de Mayo reception in the Rose Garden of the White House, May 5, 2010
… waiting with Dr Jill Biden for the start of the Women’s Leadership Forum Issues Conference in Washington, May 7, 2010
… greeting guests during a Mother’s Day Tea in the State Dining Room of the White House, May 7, 2010
… with Dr Jill Biden, Anne Eisenhower, Former First Lady Rosalynne Carter, granddaughter Sara Carter, Susan Eisenhower, and Kathleen Biden’s mother, Roberta Buhle, in the Blue Room of the White House, before the start of a Mother’s Day Tea, May 7, 2010
… at the George Washington University commencement ceremony on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., Sunday, May 16, 2010
… in the Blue Room of the White House before a reception in honor of Jewish American Heritage Month, May 27, 2010
The signing of the health insurance reform bill in the East Room at the White House
….with Kathleen Sebelius and Nancy Pelosi
….with Vicki Kennedy
…with Rep Patrick Kennedy
….with Rep John Lewis
….with Rep Dennis Kucinich
Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid
Later at the at the Interior Department….
President Barack Obama returns to the Oval Office at the White House after holding a rally celebrating the passage and signing into law of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act health insurance reform bill at the Interior Department in Washington, March 23, 2010.