On This Day: President Barack Obama greets baseball fans during a Washington Nationals vs. Chicago White Sox baseball game at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., June 18, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Today (All Times Eastern)
10:0: Live from the First White House Makers Faire
10:45: President Obama views “Maker Faire” projects devoted to using science and technology to advance business, South Lawn
11:30: Delivers remarks at the White House Maker Faire, East Room
12:15: Meets with economists for lunch, Roosevelt Room
12:45: Jay Carney briefs the press
3:0: The President meets with members of the Congressional Leadership
5:10: Meets with Secretary of State Kerry
President Barack Obama and Press Secretary Jay Carney disembark from Air Force One upon arrival at Joint Base Andrews, Wednesday night, June 17, 2014. It was Carney’s last flight on Air Force One as White House Press Secretary. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
The Week Ahead
Thursday: The President will award Corporal William “Kyle” Carpenter, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.), the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry.
Friday: The President will meet with Prime Minister John Key of New Zealand.
President Obama speaks at the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) annual Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) fundraiser gala in Gotham Hall, Tuesday, June 17
You can see a video of the President’s remarks here
NYT: Obama Is Said To Consider Selective Airstrikes On Sunni Militants
President Obama is considering a targeted, highly selective campaign of airstrikes against Sunni militants in Iraq similar to counterterrorism operations in Yemen, rather than the widespread bombardment of an air war, a senior administration official said on Tuesday. Such a campaign, most likely using drones, could last for a prolonged period, the official said. But it is not likely to begin for days or longer, and would hinge on the United States’ gathering adequate intelligence about the location of the militants, who are intermingled with the civilian population in Mosul, Tikrit and other cities north of Baghdad. Even if the president were to order strikes, they would be far more limited in scope than the air campaign conducted during the Iraq war, this official said, because of the relatively small number of militants involved, the degree to which they are
dispersed throughout militant-controlled parts of Iraq and fears that using bigger bombs would kill Sunni civilians. At a meeting with his national security advisers at the White House on Monday evening, the official said, Mr. Obama was presented with a “sliding scale” of military options, which range from supplying the beleaguered Iraqi Army with additional advisers, intelligence and equipment to conducting strikes targeting members of the militant group, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Much of the emphasis at the meeting, the official said, was on how to gather useful intelligence about the militants. They are not wearing uniforms or sleeping in barracks; and while there may be periodic convoys to strike, there are no columns of troops or vehicles.
Ahmed Abu Khattala was always open about his animosity toward the United States, and even about his conviction that Muslims and Christians were locked in an intractable religious war. During the assault on the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, on the night of Sept. 11, 2012, Mr. Abu Khattala was a vivid presence. Witnesses saw him directing the swarming attackers who ultimately killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. Afterward, he offered contradictory denials of his role, sometimes trying to say that he did not do it but strongly approved. He appeared to enjoy his notoriety. Captured by military commandos and law enforcement agents early on Monday, Mr. Abu Khattala may now help address some of the persistent questions about the identity and motives of the attackers.
The thriving industry of conspiracy theories, political scandals, talk show chatter and congressional hearings may now confront the man federal investigators say played the central role in the attack. On the day of the attack, Islamists in Cairo had staged a demonstration outside the United States Embassy there to protest an American-made online video mocking Islam, and the protest culminated in a breach of the embassy’s walls — images that flashed through news coverage around the Arab world. As the attack in Benghazi was unfolding a few hours later, Mr. Abu Khattala told fellow Islamist fighters and others that the assault was retaliation for the same insulting video, according to people who heard him.
President Obama’s climate speech Saturday got plenty of press for its lengthy assault on global-warming denial. But what excited an aggressive wing of the climate movement were just a few cryptic words elsewhere in the commencement address at the University of California (Irvine): “You need to invest in what helps, and divest from what harms.” Activists pushing universities and other institutions to dump their financial holdings in coal and oil-and-gas companies believe they heard an unmistakable White House endorsement.
“People are thrilled about it,” Jamie Henn of 350.org, one of the groups leading the divestment movement, said of Obama’s comments Saturday. “Students will be taking the president’s message to their college presidents and boards of trustees,” he said of the fossil-fuel-divestment campaign, which also includes the Energy Action Coalition, the Responsible Endowments Coalition, the Sierra Student Coalition, and groups on specific campuses. The founder of 350.org, Bill McKibben, a high-profile climate activist, has been a major divestment advocate.
NYT: U.S. Defends Prosecuting Benghazi Suspect In Civilian Rather Than Military Court
Conservative lawmakers on Tuesday sharply criticized the Obama administration’s decision to prosecute the suspected leader of the 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya, in the civilian criminal justice system, arguing that he should be questioned and tried by the military. The White House quickly pushed back. “Some have suggested that he should go to Gitmo,” said Caitlin Hayden, a White House spokeswoman. “Let me rule that out from the start.” “We have had substantial success delivering swift justice to terrorists through our federal court system,” she added. Greg Doherty, the brother of one of the attack’s victims, Glen A. Doherty, said he supported the decision to try Mr. Abu Khattala in a civilian court. “I think that’s what we should do with criminals, which is try them,” he said.
The Obama administration has sought to close the Guantánamo prison and refused to send newly captured prisoners there, instead using federal courts to prosecute terrorism cases that arose after Mr. Obama took office. The military commissions system, which the Bush administration established and Congress revised in 2009, has struggled. Appeals courts have vacated the convictions of the only two Guantánamo detainees who were tried for war crimes before a military commission — as opposed to pleading guilty without a trial and giving up a right to appeal — because of flaws that would likely not have been a problem in civilian court.
Daily Beast: Why Delta Force Waited So Long To Grab A Benghazi Ringleader
The mission to capture Ahmed abu Khatallah, one of the ringleaders of the September 11, 2012 attacks on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya was more than a year in the making. In the months leading up to the raid, teams from the Army’s 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta, or Delta Force, practiced the extradition on a mock-up of abu Khatallah’s compound at Fort Bragg, according to a U.S. military contractor familiar with the planning for the mission. Eventually, it was a Delta Team with embedded FBI agents on Sunday that snagged the man wanted for the murder of Ambassador Chris Stevens, State Department officer Sean Smith and CIA contractors Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty. The Obama administration has come under withering criticism because the whereabouts of abu Khatallah have been generally known.
But other U.S. officials, who spoke to The Daily Beast anonymously because they were not authorized to talk to the press, said the mission to grab abu Khatallah had been planned for more than a year. Indeed, the Benghazi ringleader had been in the sights of Delta Force operators at the end of August, according to these sources, but no order was given at the time. A senior administration official told The Daily Beast that the delay in apprehending the suspect was due in part to requests from the Justice Department to gather appropriate evidence to prosecute him in criminal court. The practice and patience paid off, apparently. Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Sunday’s raid resulted in no casualties. “Khatallah currently faces criminal charges on three counts, and we retain the option of adding additional charges in the coming days,” said Attorney General Eric Holder in a statement Tuesday.
CBS Local: New York, Chicago, Hawaii Bid For Obama Presidential Library
At least six locations in three different states, including New York, entered official bids by Monday’s deadline in an effort to house Barack Obama’s presidential library. Columbia University, where Obama got his undergraduate degree, pitched a West Harlem site.
Four of the confirmed bidders are from Chicago, the president’s hometown, and a fifth was expected. Obama’s birth state of Hawaii also offered an oceanfront location in Honolulu.
While the Obama Foundation, which is planning the library, declined to confirm the bids it has received, planners for the six widely reported potential locations all confirmed they had submitted proposals. All see the library and museum as a potential driver of economic development. The University of Chicago cited a study it commissioned that concluded the library would draw 800,000 visitors a year and create 1,900 permanent jobs.
Simon Maloy: Stop Treating War-Crazy Buffoons As Experts! They Got It Wrong, Remember?
If you were asked to identify a single moment that best captures the failure of elite media outlets to act as agents of accountability, you could do worse than David Gregory asking Paul Wolfowitz on “Meet the Press” this weekend what we should do, “as a policy matter,” to deal with the deteriorating situation in Iraq. Wolfowitz, as deputy secretary of defense from 2001 to 2005, was one of the chief visionaries and supporters of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. And he got just about everything wrong, from the cost of the war to the presence of WMD. And he doesn’t particularly care. In an interview with the Sunday Times last March, Wolfowitz made the argument that even though they got it wrong on WMD in 2003,
everything they said was happening (but wasn’t) would likely have happened later. “We would very likely either have had to go through this whole scenario all over but probably with higher costs for having delayed, or we’d be in a situation today where not only Iran was edging towards nuclear weapons but so was Iraq and also Libya.” What price did Wolfowitz pay for his part in the biggest American foreign policy disaster of that last generation? George Bush nominated him to the presidency of the World Bank. While at the World Bank he violated ethics rules and caused a scandal that paralyzed the institution. He was forced to resign after governments around the world called for him to be fired.
Travis Waldron: In Landmark Decision, U.S. Patent Office Cancels Trademark For Redskins Football Team
The United States Patent and Trademark Office has canceled six federal trademark registrations for the name of the Washington Redskins, ruling that the name is “disparaging to Native Americans” and thus cannot be trademarked under federal law that prohibits the protection of offensive or disparaging language. The U.S. PTO’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board issued a ruling in the case, brought against the team by plaintiff Amanda Blackhorse, Wednesday morning. “We decide, based on the evidence properly before us, that these registrations must be cancelled because they were disparaging to Native Americans at the respective times they were registered,” the board wrote in its opinion.
“The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board agreed with our clients that the team’s name and trademarks disparage Native Americans. The Board ruled that the Trademark Office should never have registered these trademarks in the first place,” Jesse Witten, the plaintiffs’ lead attorney, said in a press release. “We presented a wide variety of evidence – including dictionary definitions and other reference works, newspaper clippings, movie clips, scholarly articles, expert linguist testimony, and evidence of the historic opposition by Native American groups – to demonstrate that the word ‘redskin’ is an ethnic slur.”
President Obama walks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi backstage at a Democratic fundraiser in Washington, D.C., June 18, 2009 (Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
President Obama meets with Senior Advisors in the Oval Office in the White House, June 18, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama (background in Oval Office) chats before a lunch with members of the press in his private dining room, on June 18, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama listens to Nancy-Ann DeParle, director of the White House Office for Health Reform, in a meeting on health care reform in the Roosevelt Room in the White House, June 18, 2009. From left: OMB Director Peter Orszag, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, DeParle, and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner (Photo by Pete Souza)
After playing a round of golf, President Obama has a drink with Vice President Joe Biden, Speaker of the House John Boehner, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, at Joint Base Andrews, June 18, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama walks with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton following a bilateral meeting with President Vladimir Putin of Russia at the Esperanza Resort in San Jose Del Cabo, Mexico, June 18, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama talks with Chief of Staff Jack Lew at the Esperanza Resort in San Jose Del Cabo, Mexico, before the start of a bilateral meeting with President Vladimir Putin of Russia, June 18, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama waits with advisors before a bilateral meeting during the G8 Summit at the Lough Erne Resort in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, June 18, 2013. Pictured, from left, are: Wendy Sherman, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs; National Security Advisor Tom Donilon; President Obama; Rob Nabors, Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy; and Caroline Atkinson, Special Assistant to the President for International Economic Affairs (Photo by Pete Souza)
First Lady Michelle Obama with Sasha and Malia during a visit to Glendalough in the Wicklow Mountains National Park in Ireland, on June 18, 2013.
President Obama walks with Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada on the grounds of Lough Erne Resort during the G8 Summit in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, June 18, 2013 (Photo by Pete Souza)
First Lady Michelle Obama presents a 2014 National Medal for Museum and Library Service to Mystic Aquarium, of Mystic, Conn., represented by Justin Richard, far left, and aquarium President and CEO Stephen Coan, during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House. The National Medal is the nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries for service to the community.
North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, represented by museum Director Emlyn Koster, and Molly Paul, of Raleigh, N.C.,
Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn, New York, represented by Chidi Duke, and Library President Scott Medbury
Chicago Public Library Commissioner Brian Bannon (C) and community member Chris Force
The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis President and CEO Jeffrey Patchen, holds the museum’s 2014 National Medal for Museum and Library Service as Spencer Hahn, who had a stroke in-utero, whistles by his mother Erica Hahn and First Lady Michelle Obama
Star Tribune: Michelle Obama Honors 10 Outstanding Museums And Libraries, Including In Her Chicago Hometown
Museums and libraries are playing an important role in a country that is aiming to provide a top-flight education to its children, Michelle Obama said Thursday as she helped honor 10 institutions from across the U.S. for outstanding community service. “Welcome to a little museum that we like to call the White House,” she said to open an East Room ceremony where she handed representatives of each institution a wooden frame that held their medal and a certificate.
The first lady said the institutions’ programs “help us expand our horizon and connect us to with the rest of the world.” She highlighted such offerings as summer expeditions to excavate dinosaur bones alongside professional paleontologists and opportunities to learn marine biology through the feeding and training of beluga whales. “The work that you do in the summers and throughout the year, quite frankly, is filling a crucial role for our country as we strive to give our young people a world-class education,” Mrs. Obama said.
Washington Post: Life After Jan. 1: Kentucky Clinic Offers Early Glimpse At Realities Of Health-Care Law
The envelopes began arriving in December across eastern Kentucky, one of the sickest and poorest corners of the country. “Dear member . . . We want you to be healthy . . .” read the letter to Mary Combs, and with it came a plastic card representing the first insurance she ever had: a Medicaid plan made possible by the nation’s new health-care law, effective Jan. 1. Nine days into the new year, the 41-year-old call-center worker headed to the health clinic on Highway 15. She saw a doctor about her chronic stomach ulcers, had her blood drawn for tests and collected referrals for all the specialists she had been told she needed but could never afford. The next week, she saw a neurologist, who found lesions on her brain and prescribed medicine for the cluster headaches, which are also called “suicide headaches” for pain that is far more intense than a migraine and which Combs had been treating with an alcohol-soaked cloth wrapped around her head.
“That’s the big question — does getting insurance bend the cost curve or the health outcomes curve?” said Karen Ditsch, the executive director of Juniper Health, which runs the nonprofit Breathitt clinic. Life since Jan. 1: The number of uninsured has dropped by 520 people, which represents about 21 percent of the those without coverage. Of that 520, 472 qualified under the health-care law’s expanded income parameters for Medicaid, which is aimed at the working poor. Here and there, for-profit clinics that never accepted the uninsured have hung “Welcome new patients!” signs on doors. A new blue billboard hovering above the Hardee’s advertises surgery to treat acid reflux.
Insurance companies, bless their hearts, seem determined to remind us why we need the Affordable Care Act. The latest example comes from Anthem Blue Cross, which has just hit 306,000 customers in California with premium increases of up to 25%. As reported by my colleague Chad Terhune, the increases average 16% and are scheduled to kick in April 1, unless the state Department of Insurance jawbones Anthem into backing down.
Here’s the kicker: No one can blame these increases on the mandates of the Affordable Care Act, a popular argument among critics of the act. That’s because the increases are for grandfathered policies exempt from the act.
“It’s a rich irony,” says Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access, a leading California consumer advocacy group. “The insurers can’t have it both ways — they can’t blame the increases on the ACA while increasing rates on their non-ACA-compliant plans as well.” Luckily, Anthem customers have a choice this time around. They can check the state’s insurance exchange at coveredca.com to see if they can replace their old plan with a new one that might well be better, at lower cost.
Memo to former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and the bosses at for-profit corporations who think they belong in every doctor’s office and that they should be able to decide whether their employees have access to birth control: Women who use birth control do not have an “overactive libido.” We are not looking for a handout from “Uncle Sugar” to score a contraceptive fix. We are not sluts. This is not the reality for women — it never has been and never will be.
In fact, women who use birth control are your mother, partner, sister, and daughter. Ninety-nine percent of sexually active American women have used birth control at some point in their lives. We are just regular people trying to take care of ourselves medically and financially. That’s why seven in ten Americans believe that health insurance companies should be required to cover the full cost of birth control, just as they do for other preventive services.
One of America’s most accomplished lawmakers—a crusader responsible for cleaner air, safer food, and healthier kids—is calling it a career. On Thursday, Congressman Henry Waxman announced that he would retire at the end of this term, 40 years after he first came to Congress. The list of laws for which he deserves substantial credit is simply staggering—not only for its length, but also for its breadth. Waxman was behind the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments, the Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments, plus laws regulating lead, greenhouse gas emissions, and formaldehyde. That arguably makes him his generation’s most influential lawmaker on environmental issues.
He was also behind a series of Medicaid expansions, the Ryan White Care Act, the Orphan Drug Act, the Waxman-Hatch Generic Drug Act, and, of course, the Affordable Care Act. That almost certainly makes him the most influential living lawmaker on health care issues. Other major accomplishments include the Food Quality Protection Act and the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act—and, somewhere along the way, he found time to modernize the postal service. How has Waxman done it? For one thing, Waxman recognizes that lawmaking requires patience and persistence—that you have to build the case for legislation, through investigations and stagecraft, even if that takes years or even decades.
Hannah Allam: Kerry’s First Year As Top U.S. Diplomat Yields Breakthroughs On Thorny Issues
A year ago, John Kerry succeeded Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, joking on one of his first days at work that he had “big heels to fill.” Now a year into his role as America’s top diplomat, Kerry has proven that any trepidation about following such a high-profile figure was misplaced. Kerry’s anniversary this week – he assumed office on Feb. 1, 2013 – finds him, in the opinion of foreign policy analysts, with more significant, concrete breakthroughs than Clinton had in her entire four-year term. As showpieces they hold up the nuclear deal with Iran and the chemical weapons pact with Syria.
A year into Kerry’s tenure, Ross said, the picture from Asia is brighter. Ross, who’s in Beijing for six months, said U.S. diplomacy has brought about improved cooperation with China on North Korea, including landmark banking and other sanctions. And while there are still no U.S.-Chinese military agreements, he said, there are deeper military contacts so that American officials can “pick up the phone and call them if there’s an escalation.” “Secretary Kerry speaks with a quieter voice and made real policy adjustments,” Ross said. “The quiet approach has been more useful than his predecessor’s.”
In the bitter cold, dark hours of the night, as many others are sleeping, Rocio Caravantes begins her hourlong journey on public transportation from her home in Logan Square to one of her two jobs downtown. Once she arrives at work, Caravantes spends hours vacuuming and scrubbing floors, polishing sinks and toilets, cleaning the bar areas and event spaces and tidying up the rugs in an upscale luxury hotel where she can’t afford to spend a night. Panic at times grips her as she thinks about how she will pay all her bills, she said.
“It is impossible to live on $8.25 an hour,” Caravantes said in Spanish, through an interpreter. “Not even three jobs are enough. I earn $495 biweekly. The first check goes to rent — it’s $500 a month. The second is for transportation, food, (phone) and education.” Caravantes, 40, is one example of the minimum wage workers who have become the focus of a national conversation about salaries for the working poor. It’s a political debate in the Illinois governor’s race, and Gov. Pat Quinn used his State of the State address last week to renew his push for an increase in the state minimum wage. President Barack Obama weighed in on the issue too when he asked Congress to increase the federal wage to $10.10.
But the Economic Policy Institute, a nonpartisan research organization in Washington, D.C., paints a broader portrait of low-wage workers. “People tend to think of low-wage workers as teenagers who are working on the weekends for extra spending money,” said David Cooper, an analyst with the institute. “While that is a portion of these workers, the vast majority don’t fit that stereotype.” According to the institute’s research, more than half of low-wage workers are older than 30.
As President Barack Obama made clear in his State of the Union address, it is time to focus on restoring opportunity for all. That means helping to make sure more Americans can take part in our growing economy and build some economic security for the long term. To get that done, we are putting forward real, concrete solutions to our most pressing problems – from college affordability and job training to fair wages and a stable retirement. This program, which will begin later this year, is called myRA or My Retirement Account. This account is designed to help low- and middle-income workers, who are too often overlooked or ignored, begin saving for retirement. We are talking about the waitress who is holding down two part-time jobs to support her kids; the recent graduate who landed a job but is grappling with student loans; the janitor who has never been given the chance to invest in a retirement account.
Here is how myRA, which is simple, safe and affordable, will work. You will be able to start saving with an initial deposit of as little as $25 and contribute as little as $5 each payday. If an employer chooses to participate, contributions are made through automatic payroll deductions, making them hassle-free. There are no fees – 100 percent of any contribution goes into the account and is invested in a Treasury security. That means it will be backed by the full faith and credit of the United States, will earn the same interest rate that is available to federal employees for their retirement savings, and the balance will never go down. Finally, myRA is not tied to any one employer – it belongs to the worker, not the workplace. In other words, the account is portable and can be easily rolled into a Roth IRA. And if myRA savers ever need to, they can withdraw their contributions tax-free, at any time.
It is utterly irrelevant if Chris Christie ‘wins the day’ or the weekend or the next 5 minutes or the next week. Irrelevant. The bottom line is that he is in serious trouble, politically and legally. On the legal front, the U.S. Attorney for New Jersey is probing allegations by the mayor of Hoboken that a member of Christie’s cabinet and the lieutenant governor linked federal Hurricane Sandy relief funds to the the mayor’s support for a redevelopment project in Hoboken that would exclusively benefit one of Christie’s closest allies – whom he appointed to chair the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
This morning on his MSNBC show Steve Kornacki discussed reporting he and I (and producer Jack Bohrer) did showing that those federal Hurricane Sandy funds have not been monitored by the Christie Administration as required by a law that Christie himself signed last March. Furthermore, relief funds have been extremely hard to account for because Christie vetoed a bill that would have created a single website to track Sandy funding and contract information. Based on the reactions of two congressmen who watched the report with me, officials in Washington will be loath to trust Christie with the next round of federal funds and we should not be surprised if an investigation is on the horizon.
The push to build Barack Obama’s presidential library officially got underway Friday with the establishment of a foundation managed by three of his longtime supporters. “The president’s future library will one day serve as an important part of our nation’s historical record, and our mission is to build a library that tells President Obama’s remarkable story in an interactive way that will inspire future generations to become involved in public service,” Nesbitt said.
The foundation is responsible for developing a library that reflects Obama’s values and priorities, according to Nesbitt. He said it will focus on economic opportunity, inspiring an ethic of American citizenship and promoting peace, justice and dignity around the world, among other things.
Pete Souza: “White House valets had moved the sofas in the Oval Office to accommodate the large number of press photographers that were covering the President’s meeting with Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas. When the photo-op ended, the President said to Gov. Douglas, ‘let’s move the sofas back in place.’ Gov. Douglas didn’t quite know what to do as the President did the heavy lifting. The valets now good-naturedly cringe when they look at this picture because it was their responsibility to move the sofas back in place.” Feb. 2, 2009
President Obama walks to the Oval Office after returning to the White House following a trip to Nashua, N.H., Feb. 2, 2010 (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
First Lady Michelle Obama speaking alongside Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Democratic Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa, on childhood obesity during a meeting with Cabinet and Congressional members in the Old Family Dining Room of the White House, February 2, 2010
Vice President Joe Biden talks with Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., after President Barack Obama signed the New START Treaty in the Oval Office, Feb. 2, 2011. Behind them, the President talks with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama is updated on the severe winter storm currently moving across the country during a phone call with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate in the Oval Office, Feb. 2, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Vice President Joe Biden snaps a photo of President Barack Obama and keynote speaker Eric Metaxas during the National Prayer Breakfast at the Washington Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C., Feb. 2, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Pete Souza: President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden provide encouragement to Erick Varela, who was about to introduce the President, prior to an event to outline new efforts to help the long-term unemployed, in the Green Room of the White House
The first steps toward building President Barack Obama’s library and museum were announced on Friday with the launch of a foundation to oversee the competitive selection process with the target date of picking a site early in 2015. Martin Nesbitt, Obama’s close friend who will run the effort with two other Obama associates, told me in an interview they are committed to a “thoughtful, consistent, fair and transparent” process with the ultimate choice left to Obama and first lady Michelle. “We have no preconceived idea about what these proposals will look like. We want to create a blank canvass, create sort of a white canvas with some guiding principles that allow people to respond in a thoughtful and creative way and we will evaluate them when they come in,” Nesbitt said.
Incorporation papers for the newly created Barack H. Obama Foundation were filed Friday in Washington, D.C. The foundation is led by Chicagoan Nesbitt, the co-CEO of The Vistria Group and treasurer of Obama’s two White House campaigns; Julianna Smoot, a co-chair of the 2012 re-election bid and the 2008 National Finance Director and J. Kevin Poorman, the Wilmette businessman who took over several companies run by Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker when she stepped down to join Obama’s cabinet. Obama asked Nesbitt to take on the duty of running the foundation last summer, and I broke the news that Nesbitt and Smoot would helm a foundation last July.
Terry Tang: Tape Of Martin Luther King Jr. Ariz. Speech Found
Mary Scanlon had no idea a $3 purchase from a Goodwill store in Phoenix would turn out to be a rare link to the civil rights movement’s most revered leader. Last April, Scanlon was at the thrift store when she spotted a pile of 35 vintage reel-to-reel tapes, including one labeled with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s name. Despite the moldy and torn packaging, she snapped up all of them. “I didn’t really necessarily have any expectation that this tape would be rare,” Scanlon said. Arizona State University archivists have found that tape is the only known recording of speeches the slain civil rights leader gave at ASU and at a Phoenix church in June 1964.
The hour-long audio has since been digitized and is now available for listening on ASU’s website through June 30. The tape illustrates that King had been eager to visit supporters in Arizona, a state that would draw criticism more than 20 years later for rescinding the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Scanlon, who donated all the tapes to the school, said the find is one of the high points of her life. “To have anything about myself connected in any way to Martin Luther King, what more could a person ask for? I’m so proud,” Scanlon said.
NYT: Ex-Port Authority Official Says ‘Evidence Exists’ Christie Knew About Lane Closings
The former Port Authority official who personally oversaw the lane closings at the George Washington Bridge, central to the scandal now swirling around Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, said on Friday that “evidence exists” the governor knew about the lane closings when they were happening. In a letter released by his lawyer, the former official, David Wildstein, a high school friend of Mr. Christie’s who was appointed with the governor’s blessing at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which controls the bridge, described the order to close the lanes as “the Christie administration’s order”
and said “evidence exists as well tying Mr. Christie to having knowledge of the lane closures, during the period when the lanes were closed, contrary to what the governor stated publicly in a two-hour press conference” three weeks ago. During his news conference, Mr. Christie specifically said he had no knowledge that traffic lanes leading to the bridge had been closed until after they were reopened. “I had no knowledge of this — of the planning, the execution or anything about it — and that I first found out about it after it was over,” he said. “And even then, what I was told was that it was a traffic study.”
Chris Geidner: Edith Windsor’s Lawyer Seeks To Argue In Utah Marriage Appeal
Three same-sex couples — represented by the New York lawyer who represented Edith Windsor in her successful challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act — have asked the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals to allow them to intervene in the pending lawsuit challenging Utah’s marriage laws.
In a Friday filing at the court, Roberta Kaplan argued on behalf of the couples that they should be allowed to intervene in the appeal — a move they acknowledge would be an “exceptional case” — in order to raise questions about other portions of Utah law that prevent recognition of same-sex couples.
TPM: Keystone XL Oil Pipeline Clears Major Hurdle For Construction
The proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada has cleared a significant hurdle after the State Department raised no major environmental objections to its construction. The department’s report was released Friday. It says Canadian tar sands are likely to be developed regardless of U.S. action on the pipeline and other options to get the oil from western Canada to Texas Gulf Coast refineries are worse for the environment. The latest environmental review stops short of recommending approval of the project. State Department approval of the project is needed because it crosses a U.S. border. A decision is not expected before the summer.
1. Wildstein is claiming evidence exists that Christie knew. He would look bad if such evidence does not come to light. 2. Wildstein spent time with Christie while the lanes were closed. If you had been ordered to close traffic lines for punitive reasons, and you saw the governor, wouldn’t you either tell him about it, or else already know he approved?
Undertaking an action like that without knowing the governor approved it, and without having any desire to take credit, seems like an implausible motivation. 3. Christie has changed his story about when he knew about the lane closings. Having first asserted he learned on October 1, Christie later claimed he learned earlier, though would not say when. 4. His campaign manager is pleading the fifth.
Dylan Scott: Study: Thousands Of People Will Die In States That Don’t Expand Medicaid
As many as 17,000 Americans will die directly as a result of states deciding not to expand Medicaid under Obamacare, according to a new study. Researchers from Harvard University and City University of New York have estimated that between 7,115 and 17,104 deaths will be “attributable to the lack of Medicaid expansion in opt-out states” in a study published in Health Affairs.
“The results were sobering,” Samuel Dickman, one of the authors, said, according to theMorning Call. “Political decisions have consequences, some of them lethal.” They projected that 423,000 fewer diabetics would receive medication to treat their disease. If opt-out states had expanded Medicaid, 659,000 women who are in need of mammograms and 3.1 million women who should receive regular pap smears would have become insured, the study found.
Powerful commercial. Native Americans are human beings and the NFL is disgusting for not treating them as such
Sahil Kapur: Boehner Promises GOP No Path To Citizenship In Immigration Reform
Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) told House Republicans that the immigration blueprint his leadership team released on Thursday was “as far as we are willing to go” to make reform happen, according to a source in the room.
The blueprint supports legal status for undocumented immigrants, which is already further than many conservatives want to go. If Democrats demand the promise of citizenship for people living in the U.S. illegally, as the bill passed by the Senate would do, the Speaker said the House would block reform.
OFA: What Does Health Insurance Mean To This 20-Something?
In 2009, I was healthy, preparing to graduate from college, and getting ready to start on a career that I love with an exciting opportunity at a new startup in an emerging field. And when I say startup, I mean startup. Shoe-string, even. There were only two of us. It was pretty risky, but I was beyond excited.
But then—out of the blue—I was diagnosed with a chronic condition that nearly derailed it all. Luckily, I was able to get treatment and was soon back to being myself. But I had two things added to my life: daily medicine to keep the condition in check, and a “pre-existing condition.” That’s when I really got why this whole health insurance thing matters.
thanks to the Affordable Care Act, it’s going to stay that way. When it was time for me to shop on the marketplace for my own coverage this winter, I was protected: No plan could deny me because of my pre-existing condition. I found one that is really comprehensive and is still within my budget. Now, I’m healthy, and I’ve got my own plan that I can afford and rely on.
Reuters: Two Obamacare Exchanges See More Health Insurer Competition
At least two U.S. states running their own Obamacare health insurance exchanges expect new insurers to enter their marketplaces and bolster competition in 2015, officials said on Friday.
Kynect, which is Kentucky’s marketplace, and the Rhode Island Health Benefits Exchange have had separate talks about 2015 with health insurers that could opt to join the online marketplaces set up under President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform law. Kentucky also expects an expansion of physician networks available within current plans.
Increased competition would increase consumer choices and tend to put downward pressure on health insurance cost trends. It could also help ensure the future of Obama’s Affordable Care Act, which depends on the success of new online marketplaces.
USA Today: President Obama is back on the road Thursday, starting a two-day bus trip to promote plans to cut college costs.
First up is a flight to upstate New York, where Obama will speak at the University of Buffalo, the State University of New York. The president and his bus then travel to Henninger High School in Syracuse.
“At these two schools, the President will discuss his plan to make college more affordable, tackle rising costs, and improve value for students and their families,” says the White House schedule.
…. After discussing college costs in Buffalo and Syracuse, Obama spends the night in Auburn, N.Y. The president wraps up his bus tour on Friday with stops in Binghamton, N.Y., and Scranton, Penn.
Too many here in Washington believe education is an expense that can be cut in tough economic times. I believe education is an investment.
The White House is tackling the status quo that’s sent college costs out of control.
For decades now, America’s approach to higher-education policy has been a delightful synthesis of left-wing and right-wing ideas. In stark contrast to the K–12 universe, college is a playground for individual choice and market competition …. In a speech Thursday morning in Buffalo, N.Y., on ways to enhance college affordability, President Obama will likely lay out policy measures that, while relatively modest on their own terms, propose to radically subvert that bargain on a conceptual level.
The president has decided, essentially, that the old bargain has failed …. he wants to find ways for the federal government to put its muscle behind an idea that’s both modest and radical: that public money should pay for outcomes, not just more stuff. Attempting to nudge the health care system in that direction was a key element of the Affordable Care Act. Nudging K–12 education in that direction has been the centerpiece of the Obama education agenda. Bringing it to the realm of higher education in a serious way would be extremely difficult but also an extraordinary achievement if we can be sent down that path.
President Obama plans to announce a set of ambitious proposals on Thursday aimed at making colleges more accountable and affordable by rating them and ultimately linking those ratings to financial aid.
A draft of the proposal, obtained by The New York Times and likely to cause some consternation among colleges, shows a plan to rate colleges before the 2015 school year based on measures like tuition, graduation rates, debt and earnings of graduates, and the percentage of lower-income students who attend. The ratings would compare colleges against their peer institutions. If the plan can win Congressional approval, the idea is to base federal financial aid to students attending the colleges partly on those rankings.
“All the things we’re measuring are important for students choosing a college,” a senior administration official said. “It’s important to us that colleges offer good value for their tuition dollars, and that higher education offer families a degree of security so students aren’t left with debt they can’t pay back.”
USA Today: Small-business jobs rise as economy improves
Small-business hiring and confidence about the future are rising, a signal of the economy’s growing strength and diminishing concerns about employee insurance coverage required by the new health care law.
Job creation at small companies has almost doubled in the last six months, reaching 82,000 jobs at firms with 49 or fewer employees in July, according to payroll processor ADP. Borrowing by small businesses and sales of new franchises have also climbed, indicating business owners are willing to take on new expenses and risk.
Opponents of a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants had a plan to apply grassroots pressure on congressional Republicans in their home districts. Why did it fizzle?
Activists opposed to immigration reform were all set to spend this month putting pressure on lawmakers to kill the legislation. But it hasn’t exactly been a show of force.
Last week, the Tea Party Patriots and NumbersUSA, two groups opposed to “amnesty” legislation, heavily publicized a rally in Richmond, Virginia, featuring Steve King … but only a few dozen people showed up – far short of the hundreds organizers had planned for.
…. as August winds down, the Richmond event seems indicative of the overall trend. Hundreds of immigrant advocates have appeared at rallies and town halls across the country. But the other side, the opponents, have been mostly absent.
Steve Benen: The nation’s full faith and credit is not a ‘leverage point’
About a week ago, National Review’s Robert Costa reported that congressional Republicans are considering an incredibly dangerous new plan: they’re prepared to hold the nation’s debt limit hostage again, creating a crisis comparable to the one we saw in the summer of 2011, unless Democrats agree to take health care benefits away from millions of Americans.
Earlier this week, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), a prominent member of the House Democratic leadership, said he now sees this scenario as likely. And overnight, Reuters reported (see here) that another GOP debt-ceiling crisis appears to be on the way…..
… In other words, GOP leaders are effectively prepared to swap one hostage for another …. this is nothing short of madness. As Ezra Klein recently put it, “Trading a government shutdown for a debt-ceiling breach is like trading the flu for septic shock”….
A variety of Republican governors have sought federal funds under Obamacare, many of them to expand Medicaid eligibility for more residents, a centerpiece of the law that the Supreme Court made optional for states last year.
But shhh! Don’t call it Obamacare, they say, for they despise that law.
In the latest example, vociferous Obamacare critic and Texas Gov. Rick Perry is seeking roughly $100 million in federal funds under a program set up under Obamacare, called Community First Choice … “The bottom line is it has nothing to do with Obamacare,” said Perry spokeswoman Allison Castle.
Only it has everything to do with Obamacare …
Perry is in good company among Republican governors, many of whom want billions of federal funds under the law’s Medicaid expansion, but don’t want to call it Obamacare …. One example is Arizona’s Jan Brewer …. another is Florida’s Rick Scott….
NBC: Even Republican young adults want health insurance, poll finds
Obamacare may have become a partisan issue, but more Republicans than Democrats have signed up for one of its most popular provisions, according to a survey published Wednesday.
The survey also pokes holes in the idea that most 20-somethings act like “Young Invincibles” who believe they don’t need health insurance.
A team at the Commonwealth Fund, which strongly supports healthcare reform, looked at one of the main target groups of the 2010 Affordable Care Act – young adults who have been going without health insurance. One of the most popular provisions of the law lets people age 26 and younger stay on their parents’ health insurance.
…. They found that by last March, 63 percent of young adults identifying as Republicans had enrolled in a parent’s health plan in the last 12 months, compared to 45 percent of those who considered themselves Democrats….
Texas Tribune: Voter ID Debate Heats Up as Dallas County Joins Fight
A fight against the state’s contentious voter ID laws escalated this week when Dallas County became the first Texas county to claim that the requirements would disenfranchise thousands of eligible voters.
In a 3-2 vote on Tuesday, the Dallas County Commissioners Court voted to join U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, in a lawsuit urging a federal district court to issue an injunction against the voter ID law. The law requires voters to present one of seven forms of state or federal identification or a so-called election identification certificate, which can be obtained from the state’s Department of Public Safety.
On Wednesday in an appearance on MSNBC, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins applauded the commissioners’ decision. Jenkins said 220,000 of 1.1 million total registered voters in Dallas County indicated they did not have the required forms of ID to vote.
Pete Souza: “On vacation in Martha’s Vineyard, the President was golfing at the Vineyard Golf Club. I switched my digital camera to the black-and-white setting to capture the ominous clouds.” Aug. 22, 2010
First Lady Michelle Obama greets attendees during a Joining Forces event at Naval Station Mayport in Jacksonville, Fla., Aug. 22, 2012 (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
8:0: The President delivers remarks at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner; The First Lady attends
Tomorrow: The President has no public events scheduled
Monday: The President will deliver remarks at the National Academy of Sciences 150th Anniversary
Tuesday: As part of the Joining Forces initiative, President Obama, Vice President Biden, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden will make a significant employment announcement for veterans and military spouses. This event will take place at the White House
Wednesday: The President will attend meetings at the White House
Thursday: In the morning, the President will depart Washington, DC for his visit to Mexico and Costa Rica
Friday: In the afternoon, the President will depart Mexico for Costa Rica
Saturday: In the afternoon, the President will depart Costa Rica and return to Washington, DC
Sunday: The President will deliver the commencement address at Ohio State University. He will return to Washington, DC, later that day
Please note: formal dress only for the WHCD, so any TODers who turn up here tonight in jeans will be thrown out.
Breaking: AMK wants to wear his pajamas, because of timezone issues – so, he has an exemption.
ThinkProgress: 12 Programs Congress Refuses To Save From Automatic Spending Cuts
After thousands of flight delays across the country this week, the Senate voted Thursday night to give the Federal Aviation Administration the flexibility to keep the nation’s airports running smoothly … That means lawmakers will be able to fly home for recess this weekend without any delays ….. Unfortunately, though, Congress has shown no willingness to provide similar relief for the families that are being hammered by sequestration in other ways. Here are 12 programs that have experienced devastating cuts because Congress insists on cutting spending when it doesn’t need to — and that have been ignored by the same lawmakers who leaped to action as soon as their trips home were going to take a little longer:
1 Long-term unemployment, 2 Head Start, 3 Cancer treatment, 4 Health research, 5 Low-income housing, 6 Student aid, 7 Meals On Wheels, 8 Disaster relief,
9 Heating assistance, 10 Workplace safety, 11 Obamacare, 12 Child care….
Business Insider: his week G.E. Capital Finance announced that it would no longer finance gun purchases, becoming the latest in a string of companies that have decided to leave a large amount of money on the table rather than risk their reputations on the gun business.
It’s one of the few places where the high-profile publicity campaign in support of increased gun control has led to a real world result….