President Obama delivers remarks at 25th Anniversary Freedom Event in Castle Square, Warsaw (Photo by Pete Souza)
The President left Poland for Belgium this morning. After arriving he will meet King Philippe and Prime Minister Di Rupo of Belgium, attend the Council of the European Union in Brussels and attend a G-7 working dinner.
1:30 EDT: First Lady Michelle Obama Announces The Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness
The United States is working to bolster Ukraine’s ability to secure its borders and preserve its territorial integrity and sovereignty in the face of Russian occupation of Crimea and a concerted effort by Russian-backed separatists to destabilize eastern Ukraine. President Obama has approved more than $23 million in additional defensive security assistance since early March.
This assistance includes:
A new tranche of $5 million for the provision of body armor, night vision goggles, and additional communications equipment. This is in addition to the approximately 300,000 Meals Ready to Eat (delivered in March), as well as assistance for the provision of materiel using Foreign Military Financing to support Ukraine’s armed forces with medical supplies, service member equipment (e.g., helmets, sleeping mats, water purification units), explosive ordnance disposal equipment, and handheld radios.
The United States also has allocated Cooperative Threat Reduction funding to support Ukraine’s State Border Guard Service with supplies (e.g., clothing, shelters, small power generators and hand fuel pumps, engineering equipment, communications equipment, vehicles, and non-lethal individual tactical gear).
Washington Post: Obama vows to defend freedom in Europe, support democratic movements worldwide
Surrounded by throngs celebrating Poland’s 25 years of democracy, President Obama on Wednesday pledged to uphold the United States’ longtime commitment to the defense of Eastern Europe against new threats, using the opportunity to deliver a resounding endorsement of democratic movements across the world.
“Throughout history, the Polish people were abandoned by friends when you needed them most,” Obama said. “I have come to Warsaw today — on behalf of the United States, on behalf of the NATO Alliance — to reaffirm our unwavering commitment to Poland’s security.”
Speaking at the “Freedom Day” event in a historic square by the Royal Castle, the president said he would use the full might of the American armed forces to protect Poland and other Eastern European allies and called out Russia as a threat to regional security and democracy.
“Our free nations will stand united so that further Russian provocations will only mean more isolation and costs for Russia,” he said. “We refuse to allow the dark tactics of the 20th century to define the 21st.”
Is this what it’s finally come down to, is it really?
Look at yourselves, you silly selfish bastards.
Look. At. Yourselves.
Go on, do it, find a mirror and look into your own dead zombie eyes and see the empty void looking back.
This revolting, disgusting display of hypocrisy and moral bankruptcy, is this what we’ve finally become?
Are we now so filled with foul bilious hatred, are we now so consumed with soul-destroying fear, do we now despise our own selves so much that we would actually protest the return of one of our own? Is that it?
Is that what we’ve become?
If so, then the sooner America collapses of its own maggot-ridden gangrenous rot, the better.
It was just last week when Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) delivered a Memorial Day message in which she urged Americans to keep Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl “in our thoughts and prayers.” She added, “I renew my call on the Defense Department to redouble its efforts to find Sergeant Bergdahl and return him safely to his family.”
Less than a week later, the Defense Department announced that Bergdahl had been freed and he’ll be returned safely to his family – prompting a new round of criticism from Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.).
But all things considered, these conflicting statements are mild compared to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and his recent reversals…
Never mind that Bush would have done the same as Obama. Republicans are hitting the pipe big time on the ‘deserter’ — and their creepy bottom line is that he should have been left to die.
I was amazed but not surprised by my Twitter feed Monday. More than 200 tweets from conservatives, I would estimate, calling me a host of names and Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl a menu of worse ones. That’s the most ever in one day, I think, even more than for my most scorching anti-NRA columns, which have heretofore set the gold standard for inspiring drooling right-wing vitriol.
I was not, as I say, surprised. This story has every element right-wingers dream of. Every dark suspicion they harbor about President Obama can be wedged into the narrative conservatives are constructing about how Saturday’s prisoner exchange supposedly went down and what the president’s presumed motivations were. So I knew instantly, when I read Michael Hastings’s 2012 Rolling Stone profile of Bergdahl on Sunday afternoon, that this was going to be the next Benghazi. The story is right-wing crack. And sure enough, Republicans are hitting the pipe big time.
ThinkProgress: Former Bush Official Blasts GOP On Bergdahl: Bush Would Have Done The Same Thing
A former Bush administration official broke with Republicans on Tuesday to defend President Obama’s prisoner exchange, arguing that since “the war in Afghanistan is winding down,” the United States would be required to return prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay back to Afghanistan.
… Asked about reports that Bergdahl deserted his unit, Bellinger added that the former hostage “will have to face justice, military justice.” “We don’t leave soldiers on the battlefield under any circumstance unless they have actually joined the enemy army,” he said. “He was a young 20-year-old. Young 20-year-olds make stupid decisions. I don’t think we’ll say if you make a stupid decision we’ll leave you in the hands of the Taliban.”
Smartypants: Why the prisoner exchange is a big issue for the neocons
We’re hearing all kinds of hysteria about the prisoner exchange that resulted in the release of Sergeant Bergdahl. The media is indulging claims about Bergdahl’s state of mind, whether or not the President was required to consult with Congress prior to finalizing the exchange and stories about soldiers who may have died trying to rescue him. But that’s all hyperbole designed to gin up the anti-Obama base. I propose that the real issue for conservatives actually centers on the other side of the exchange…the release of the 5 Taliban detainees from Gitmo.
We can help her to understand that as a Democrat it should be her primary goal to support this President and if she has issue with anything he does she needs to talk to his staff or him directly about it. It is not necessary for her to run to every open mike and give the Republicans and the media ammunition to bash President Obama.
Have a great O’Day Everyone!!
TPM: Videos Showed Bergdahl’s Rapidly Deteriorating Health
Some critics of the prisoner swap that exchanged Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban detainees said there was no evidence, as President Barack Obama insisted in a press conference Tuesday, that the soldier’s deteriorating health necessitated swift action to secure his release.
But the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday night that the U.S. intelligence community had evidence of Bergdahl’s failing health, based on a secret analysis of two videos of the soldier in captivity ….
Officials who saw the recent video described Bergdahl’s condition as “alarming.” ….
“We believe they saw Bergdahl as a golden egg. That is why they kept him alive and as healthy as possible. But as he deteriorated, some people believe he became more of a burden to them,” the official told the Journal. “And as the war was ending some of them [Taliban] came to doubt his value. He was more of a liability as his health declined.”
LA Times Editorial: Editorial Freeing Sgt. Bergdahl: Why it was a good deal for all Americans
The release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, a captive of Islamist extremists for almost five years, is good news not only for his family but for all Americans. But the price the Obama administration paid for the 28-year-old soldier’s repatriation was freedom for five detainees at Guantanamo Bay who are hardened Taliban commanders.
…. unless the U.S. were to assert the right to hold the detainees forever without trial, they would have been released at some point. Why not do it now when it helps to secure the release of an American?
…. Congress is free to press the administration about details of the arrangement that won Bergdahl’s freedom. But the president must be equally free to respond to a diplomatic opening that could mean the difference between freedom and captivity for an American soldier.
Meanwhile in the real world, while the GOP try to distract everyone with Bergdahlzi ->
Steve Benen: ID law blocks 93-year-old voter in Alabama
Two years ago, the nation was introduced to Viviette Applewhite, a 93-year-old widow in Pennsylvania who had marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Applewhite has voted in nearly every election for the last-half century – right up until 2012, when the state told this African-American woman she wouldn’t be allowed to cast a ballot because Republicans policymakers had created a voter-ID law to combat voter fraud that didn’t exist.
After Applewhite’s story garnered national attention, election officials helped get her situation straightened out – and more recently, the law itself was struck down as unconstitutional – but the incident was a reminder about the real-world impact of unnecessary voter-ID laws.
Two years later, Zachary Roth introduces us to a similar face – of the same age – in the “war on voting.”
ThinkProgress: Major Companies Distance Themselves From U.S. Chamber Campaign Against Obama’s Climate Plan
Days before President Obama’s EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy announced sweeping new rules to limit the amount of carbon pollution that existing power plants can dump into the atmosphere, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce released a report blasting the then-unreleased regulations as certain to raise electricity prices, kill jobs, and slow the economy. But leading climate-friendly members of Chamber don’t want to be associated with its anti-climate report. Several member companies, contacted by ThinkProgress, declined to endorse the Chamber’s efforts against the administration’s move to address a direct cause of climate change.
ThinkProgress reached out to several dozen of the major corporations that have either contributed to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce or had executives currently serving on its board of directors. None endorsed the new report.
It’s been about four decades since Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal introduced us to an unfortunate catchphrase: “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” More recently, I’ve always thought it was better applied to the National Rifle Association, which never has to say it’s sorry, either.
No matter how extreme the far-right group gets, no matter who it offends, no matter the consequences of its policy purism, the NRA just doesn’t apologize for anything, ever.
Once in a great while, however, there are exceptions.
AP: Brisk demand for SUVs and pickup trucks pushed U.S. auto sales to a nine-year high in May
Chrysler, Nissan and Toyota all reported double-digit sales gains over last May. Even General Motors, battling bad publicity from a mishandled recall, surprised with a 13 percent sales increase.
Ford’s sales rose a better-than-expected 3 percent, while Hyundai’s were up 4 percent. Of major automakers, only Volkswagen’s sales fell.
Video: Is 16M Vehicles the New Normal for Auto Sales?
May is traditionally a strong month for the auto industry, as buyers spend their tax returns and think ahead to summer road trips. This year’s calendar, with five weekends, gave it an extra boost. Sales were particularly strong the last weekend of the month, automakers said.
Sales rose 11 percent to just over 1.6 million in May. That was the highest monthly total since July 2005, according to Kelley Blue Book.
USA Today: White House to host event on working dads
The White House, which is preparing a summit on working families later this month, sponsors an event Monday devoted to working fathers.
Business leaders, administration officials, and other working fathers will “explore the breadth of roles dads play today at home” and “the new challenges dads experience balancing career and family,” says a White House announcement.
…. Speakers will include New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, and Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers Jason Furman.
President Obama speaks at Cairo University in Cairo, Thursday, June 4, 2009. In his speech, President Obama called for a ‘new beginning between the United States and Muslims’, declaring that ‘this cycle of suspicion and discord must end’. (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama jokingly shows off the hat he was given during his tour of the Pyramids and Sphinx in Egypt on June 4, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama tours the Pyramids and Sphinx with Secretary General of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities, Zahi Hawass (left), Senior Advisor David Axelrod and Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel (right), June 4, 2009. (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama tours the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt on June 4, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama ducks his head to get through an entranceway on a tour of the Pyramids and Sphinx in Egypt, June 4, 2009. At center-right is the hieroglyphic that the President comment on saying it looked like him. (Photo by Pete Souza)
Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, personal aide to the president Reggie Love, and Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett take a ride on camels in Egypt on June 4, 2009. (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama looks out the window of Marine One as they leave the Pyramids of Giza and Sphinx in Egypt, June 4, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama tours the Sultan Hassan Mosque with Dr. Zahi Hawass (left), Iman Abdel Fateh (right), and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Cairo, Egypt, June 4, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza).
President Obama gestures during a meeting on the response to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, at the Tarmac Field House at Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans, La., June 4, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama, at left, eats boiled seafood with residents at Carmandelle’s Live Bait and Boiled Seafood in Grand Isle, La., June 4, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama jokes with members of the Chilean delegation as President Sebastián Piñera of Chile sits at the Resolute Desk following a bilateral meeting in the Oval Office, June 4, 2013 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama embraces Myrlie Evers-Williams during her visit in the Oval Office, June 4, 2013. The President met with the Evers family to commemorate the approaching 50th anniversary of Medgar Evers’ death (Photo by Pete Souza)
We’ve said “Never again” so many times that the phrase has lost its meaning.
We said it after Columbine.
We said it after Gabby Giffords’ meet-and-greet was sprayed with bullets, and a nine year old girl was killed.
We said it after Sandy Hook, after 20 children were murdered.
Black and Latino parents say it after every drive by shooting, every murder on our streets.
But it always seems to happen again, and again.
Thirty-five thousand Americans have been killed by gun violence since Sandy Hook. “Never again” quickly turned into “business as usual”, as the NRA flexed its muscles, as Sandy Hook Truthers oozed up from the mud, as politicians scurried to assure their fealty to gun fetishists.
Now, we might have reached a tipping point.
And if it happens, if Isla Vista is what turns the trajectory, it will be, sad to say, because it happened in an affluent, influential neighborhood, filled with college students, a “white” area which wasn’t supposed to witness such horrific violence.
And if it happens, it might be due to the efforts of Richard Martinez, father of one of the slain.
On This Day: President Obama waits to be introduced at a fundraiser in Los Angeles on May 27, 2009. (Photo by Pete Souza)
Today (all times Eastern)
11:15: The President views Science Fair projects, State Dining Room
11:45: Delivers remarks at the White House Science Fair, East Room
1:0: Jay Carney briefs the press
* The First Lady is hosting a discussion with school leaders on nutrition (don’t have the time for the event yet)
The Week Ahead
The President travels to West Point, New York to deliver the commencement address at the United States Military Academy at West Point
The President will host a summit at the White House on youth sports safety and concussions, where he will be joined by stakeholders, including young athletes, parents, coaches, experts, professional athletes, and military service members. At the White House Healthy Kids and Safe Sports Concussion Summit, the President will announce new commitments by both the public and private sectors to raise awareness about how to identify, treat and prevent concussions, and conduct additional research in the field of sports-related concussions that will help us better address these problems
The President will attend a hurricane preparedness meeting at FEMA Headquarters
National Memo: VoteVets Chair Jon Soltz: Critics Demanding Shinseki Resignation Are ‘Hypocrites’
Jon Soltz is a co-founder and chairman of VoteVets, a political advocacy group with over 200,000 supporters that is the largest progressive organization of veterans in the United States – and has produced some of the most effective advertising in the last several election cycles…..
Joe Conason: How bad are the problems at the VA?
Jon Soltz: The problems at the VA have always been there. At times they’ve been worse than others. I think part of the reason we’re seeing the backlog right now is that President Obama has opened up the claims process [in the VA health care system] to a lot of people. So he made it easier for a lot of people to make claims. Under previous administrations, you used to have to fight to make a claim if you were a Vietnam veteran affected by Agent Orange, or a Gulf War veteran with Gulf War syndrome…..
Conason: Do you believe that General Eric Shinseki, the VA Secretary, should resign — as some veterans groups have demanded?
Soltz: The only veterans organization making that demand is the American Legion. Nobody else has. I find that hypocritical because they supported a bill that was in the Senate – the $21 billion veterans package sponsored by Senator Bernie Sanders – and it was stopped by Mitch McConnell, yet they haven’t called for Mitch McConnell to resign. So there’s obviously a lot of partisan politics here. The issue with General Shinseki is [that] he was right about the Iraq War. It’s sort of unconscionable to fire somebody who is now trying to clean up the mess that was left by a prior administration: All of these new Iraq and Afghanistan veterans were not created by Barack Obama and his administration.
Steve Benen: Vets to Burr: ‘You clearly represent the worst of politics’
For Republicans, the politics of the VA scandal were pretty straightforward. All GOP officials had to do was express outrage – an emotion that spanned the partisan and ideological spectrum – and demand that the White House improve the system through which veterans receive care.
But Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), the ranking Republican on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, apparently couldn’t leave well enough alone.
The conservative Republican, who never served a day in the military, decided it’d be a good idea to start condemning veterans’ groups that had not yet called for VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign….
It’s hard to know what Burr was thinking. Perhaps the senator assumed he could pressure the veterans’ groups, bullying them into calling for Gen. Shinseki’s ouster. But if that was the Republican’s strategy, it became clear over the weekend that Burr’s gambit did not go according to plan.
Jonathan Cohn: Obama’s New Rules for Coal Plants Are a B.F.D. The Ensuing Political Fight May Be Even Bigger
Conventional wisdom holds that second term presidencies rarely yield accomplishments and that this second term president, in particular, has lost the ability to get much done. In one week, President Obama has a chance to prove that the conventional wisdom is wrong.
And he can do it while helping to stop the planet from cooking.
On June 2, Obama will to unveil a new set of federal regulations on power plants, designed primarily to keep coal-fired plants from spewing so much carbon into the atmosphere. The hope is that these new regulations will slow down climate change—at first incrementally, by reducing emissions from existing plants in the U.S., and then more dramatically, by providing the Administration with more leverage to negotiate a far-reaching, international treaty on emissions from multiple sources.
Along with other steps the administration has taken, like setting higher fuel standards for cars and trucks, the new regulations could make climate change action one of Obama’s signature achievements—something historians will cite alongside Obamacare, rescue of the auto industry, and the Recovery Act.
ThinkProgress: Lawmakers Push For Background Checks After Victim’s Family Slams NRA
After Christopher Michaels-Martinez, 20, died in a shooting near University of California, Santa Barbara, his father blamed the pro-gun lobby’s “craven, irresponsible” politics for preventing legislation that could have saved Christopher’s life. Seven people, including the shooter, died Friday.
“Our family has a message for every parent out there: You don’t think it will happen to your child until it does,” an anguished Richard Martine told reporters. “Why did Chris die? Chris died because of craven, irresponsible politicians and the NRA. They talk about gun rights. What about Chris’s right to live? When will this insanity stop? When will enough people say: ‘Stop this madness. We don’t have to live like this?’ Too many have died. We should say to ourselves: Not one more.”
At least five lawmakers and officials have joined the anguished father’s call to confront the NRA, reviving demand for congressional action on gun violence.
President Obama is planning to travel to a Native American reservation in North Dakota in June, a rare visit by a sitting U.S. president to Indian country, according to officials familiar with the plans.
The Obama administration has supported a series of measures to improve the welfare of Native Americans. The president has also signed the Tribal Law and Order Act to address the high crime rate in tribal communities and the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013, which included a historic provision to allow the nation’s 566 federally recognized tribes to prosecute non-Indians who commit certain crimes of violence against Native women.
@WhiteHouse: “Today, we pause to remember our fallen troops, to mourn their loss & to pray for their loved ones.” — President Obama
UK Independent: European elections 2014: Will surge in support for far right parties bring down the EU and its governments?
So is the bloc’s implosion just a matter of time?
Hardly. Despite the blustering rhetoric from Ms Le Pen and Nigel Farage, pro-European forces still dominate the 751-seat parliament.
The centre-right European People’s Party has 213 seats in current projections, and the Socialists and Democrats group – which includes Labour MEPs – has 190 seats. Combine that with the 117 seats shared between the Liberals and the Greens, and there is a clear majority of moderates. These parties are also united in their abhorrence of the extreme right, so have extra incentive to form alliances to block the influence of the fringe parties.
Who exactly are these fringe parties that have made the gains?
Sen. Obama greets supporter Peggy Pound of Nevada after speaking about home foreclosures at the College of Southern Nevada May 27, 2008
President Obama waits backstage to speak at a fundraiser in Los Angeles, May 27, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama speaks at a fundraiser in Los Angeles, May 27, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama is reflected in a mirror as he speaks at a fundraiser in Los Angeles, May 27, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama sits in a pilot seat while talking with Sen. Harry Reid before speaking at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas on May 27, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama appears in front of a bank of solar panels as he speaks about using American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds to invest in solar energy May 27, 2009 at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, Nevada
President Obama receives a jersey from players Brian Zoubek and Jon Scheyer of the Duke Blue Devils during a Rose Garden event May 27, 2010 at the White House
President Obama greets veterans following a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Warsaw, Poland, May 27, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama greets community leaders and Holocaust survivors after a wreath laying ceremony at the Warsaw Ghetto Memorial in Warsaw, Poland, May 27, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)
From left: First Lady Michelle Obama; Brenda Linnington, the wife of U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Michael S. Linnington, the commanding general of the Military District of Washington; Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel; Hagel’s wife, Lilibet; Deanie Dempsey; and Dempsey’s husband, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stand by as President Barack Obama, second from right, and Linnington, right, arrive for a Memorial Day wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery, May 27, 2013
President Obama hugs a relative of a family member buried at section 60 in Arlington Cemetery, May 27, 2013
First Lady Michelle Obama greet visitors to Section 60 on Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetery, May 27, 2013
MoooOOOooorning! Completely ran out of time so missing lots of news – will try to catch up through the day.
On This Day: Senator Barack Obama at the 36th Annual NAACP Image Awards in Los Angeles, March 19, 2005
Today (all times Eastern):
1:0: Jay Carney briefs the press
2:25: President Obama hosts a screening of the film Cesar Chavez at the White House
3:05: The President will participate in the latest installment of “Live from the White House” by conducting a round of interviews with local television anchors from New England, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Dallas, Phoenix, and San Diego to make the case for raising the minimum wage and giving hardworking Americans the raise they deserve. While in Washington, the local anchors will spend the day with behind-the-scenes access to the White House and the President’s top advisers. These interviews are embargoed until 5:00PM EDT
CBS Philly: Organizers Urging Philadelphians To Beat Obamacare Signup Deadline
Federal officials have announced that more than five million people have now enrolled in a health insurance plan through the Affordable Care Act web site, healthcare.gov.
Philadelphia has one of the highest rates of signup, but advocates are not resting until the March 31st deadline passes.
Today, a signup rally in Love Park (JFK Plaza) featured elected officials and the newly insured, who testified to the “affordable” part of the Affordable Care Act.
“My rate for my health care, per month, is 27 cents,” said Susan O’Connell, who said she had been paying almost $600 a month for a “Cobra” plan after losing her job. So, she noted, it was a significant savings for a plan that all her doctors accept and has lower co-pays.
The People’s View: The Obamacare Coalition: Why the Affordable Care Act is a Huge Asset for Democrats
As we sprint to the finish to the March 31 open-enrollment period deadline in the health insurance marketplaces set up by the Affordable Care Act, national pundits are increasingly making the case that Obamacare is going to be a political liability for Democrats in November. As evidence, they point to the loss of Alex Sink in a Congressional special election in Florida, pronouncing that it was the ACA that sank Sink’s ship.
Actual data, of course, points in the exact opposite direction, suggesting that the traction Sink got in a heavily Republican district in a low-turnout election was in part due to her opposition to Obamacare’s repeal. If Obamacare is responsible for the results, then a more accurate reading would be that Obamacare closed an 11-point GOP registration gap to a 2-point voting gap on election day. That’s the miracle here, and of course, the corpse of a national media isn’t talking about it.
EclectaBlog: Could you get health insurance for $56/month? This Michigan man did
He’s one of the 17 million Americans eligible for financial assistance to make coverage more affordable. Find out if you are, too — before the March 31 deadline.
Michael Paul Goldenberg has lived without health insurance since 2009 — almost as long as he’s had type 2 diabetes. The Ann Arbor, Mich.-based part-time math teacher and consultant lost his insurance when he lost his previous job, and the $500 a month to continue his coverage was unaffordable over the long term.
When some additional health concerns came up a few months ago, Goldenberg decided it was time to look into what the Affordable Care Act (ACA) could do for him…..
Steve Benen: Boehner’s casual indifference to healthcare facts
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) held a press conference late last week and said, practically as an afterthought, that there are “less people today with health insurance than there were before this law went into effect.” That didn’t make any sense, so a reporter followed up.
REPORTER: Mr. Speaker, you said a minute ago there are fewer people today with health insurance then when the law was passed. I want to make sure I understand. You’re saying that “Obamacare” has resulted in a net loss of insurance?
BOEHNER: I believe that to be the case. When you look at the 6 million Americans who have lost their policies and some – they claim 4.2 million people who have signed up – I don’t know how many have actually paid for it – that would indicate to me a net loss of people with health insurance.
The problem, of course, is that none of this is even remotely true….
ThinkProgress: Parts Of The GOP’s Obamacare Alternative Just Rip Off Obamacare
House Republicans are planning to unveil a unified alternative to the Affordable Care Act this spring, the Washington Post reported on Monday. Though details of the plan remain sketchy, the measure is “hardly intended as a full replacement of the federal health-care law” and will focus on filling gaps in the health care system.
According to the Post, lawmakers will endorse “ability to buy insurance across state lines, guaranteed renewability of policies and changes to medical-malpractice regulations.” Once Obama’s health care reform law is repealed, insurers will be able to discriminate against individuals with pre-existing conditions, though the GOP-backed proposal will offer sicker individuals coverage through “high-risk insurance pools” managed and subsidized by the states.” The alternative will also promote health savings accounts, allow small businesses “to purchase coverage together” and permit young people to stay on their parents’ health care plan until age 26.
If that last plank sounds a whole lot like the Affordable Care Act, that’s because it is. Of the seven provisions outlined by the Post, five — save health savings accounts and malpractice reform — are already included in the law in one way or another.
Remember the story about the rich guy comparing left-wing populism to Nazism? It’s happening again, only this time it’s a different rich guy.
It’s Ken Langone, co-founder of Home Depot and financier of the Republican Party. Politico’s Ben White and Maggie Haberman caught up with him, while reporting an article about how the very wealthy see the political landscape—and whether they are worried, as they were before, that liberal arguments about inequality and redistribution were resonating with the public.
“I hope it’s not working,” Ken Langone, the billionaire co-founder of Home Depot and major GOP donor, said of populist political appeals. “Because if you go back to 1933, with different words, this is what Hitler was saying in Germany. You don’t survive as a society if you encourage and thrive on envy or jealousy.”
…. An easy and perfectly appropriate response would be to focus on the absurdity of these Nazi comparisons — starting with the fact that, you know, raising taxes on the wealthy isn’t exactly like genocide.
…. And you thought the big three issues for Obama were jobs, jobs, jobs. How wrong you are. Why should Obama worry about Detroit, when he should really be worrying about Donetsk?
…. Past U.S. presidents knew how to use power. There is but one nation in the history of the world that has used nuclear weapons against another nation: USA! USA! USA!
Obama should stop going around in that silly windbreaker with the presidential seal on the front. Instead, the front of his jacket should have a mushroom cloud and the words: “You mess with the bull and you get the horns.”
But he won’t do that. He worries about things like a thermonuclear exchange and how it would end all mankind.
Paul Waldman: Vivek Murthy, the NRA and the politics of fear
The National Rifle Administration knows the power of fear. After all, its entire business model is based on it. When the organization’s chief executive, Wayne LaPierre, goes before an audience and proclaims, “We know, in the world that surrounds us, there are terrorists and home invaders and drug cartels and car-jackers and knock-out gamers and rapers, haters, campus killers, airport killers, shopping mall killers, road-rage killers, and killers who scheme to destroy our country with massive storms of violence against our power grids, or vicious waves of chemicals or disease that could collapse the society that sustains us all,” he’s not trying to give a reasoned assessment of contemporary challenges. (In the real world, crime has been steadily declining for two decades.) LaPierre is trying to make his audience as afraid as possible, because fear is great for his business.
President Obama practices his golf swing at an outdoor hold prior to an event at the Miguel Contreras Learning Center in Los Angeles, Calif., March 19, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama talks with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, and L.A. Mayor Antonio Ramon Villaraigosa prior to an event at the Miguel Contreras Learning Center in Los Angeles, Calif., March 19, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama gestures while speaking at the Miguel Contreras Learning Center in Los Angeles, Calif., March 19, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama shares a moment with Jay Leno off set of the Tonight Show at NBC Studios, Burbank, Calif., March 19, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama talks to a Member of Congress while en route to George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., to deliver remarks on health insurance reform, March 19, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama speaks on health insurance reform at George Mason University’s Patriot Center in Fairfax, Virginia on March 19, 2010
President Obama calls a Member of Congress to discuss health care reform in the Oval Office, March 19, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama calls a Member of Congress about health care reform from the Oval Office, March 19, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Arriving at Brasilia Air Base, Brazil, March 19, 2011
President Obama walks with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff following the arrival of First Lady Michelle Obama, and daughters Sasha and Malia, at the Palacio do Alvorada in Brasilia, Brazil, March 19, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama talks on the phone with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the Oval Office, March 19, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)
First Lady Michelle Obama is interviewed during a taping of the “Late Show with David Letterman” at the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York, N.Y., March 19, 2012 (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
President Obama speaks during a meeting with Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny in the Oval Office of the White House, March 19, 2013
President Obama spends Wednesday trying to recruit new backers in his budget battles with congressional Republicans: Corporate executives.
Obama meets with members of the Business Roundtable as the White House and Congress face the prospects of a government shutdown and another standoff over the debt ceiling.
The White House says Obama will ask the business leaders to talk to congressional Republicans “to grow the economy, create jobs, and not reverse the progress we’ve made by shutting down the government or threatening to force the United States to default on the bills it has already racked up and owes.”
Steve Benen: Boehner moves closer to government shutdown
Some problems are so complex and difficult, they’re nearly impossible to solve. Avoiding a government shutdown isn’t one of them.
After his far-right members vetoed his preferred solution, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) could have very easily reached out to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), put some modest enticements on the table, and picked up plenty of votes to approve a stop-gap spending measure. The whole thing could have been wrapped up in an afternoon, and the media would have cheered Boehner for constructive, bipartisan governing.
But that’s not what the laughably weak Speaker is inclined to do….
Spandan (The People’s View): Health Reform in Action: 6 in 10 Uninsured Eligible Obamacare Premiums Under $100
Exactly zero of the right wing red-hot-siren warnings about shooting health insurance costs (“rate shock”) has panned out, but plenty of rate shock has been received on the other end of the scale – with tons of people shocked to find checks from their insurance companies in their mailboxes, rates reduced for their children with pre-existing conditions, and outrageously inexpensive rates in the state exchanges about to open in less than two weeks.
And here comes another: of the people who are eligible for either Medicaid or premium subsidies under the Affordable Care Act, six out of 10 Americans currently uninsured will be able to get coverage for $100 or less per month.
@Jordan44: For GOP, is yielding to this fringe viewpoint of undermining #Obamacare really worth recklessly hurting the economy?
Steve Benen: ‘This is about political cash, not political principle’
Brian Walsh, a former spokesperson for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, recently offered his take on why far-right groups like Heritage Action and the Senate Conservatives Fund keep Republican activists so riled up about the Affordable Care Act: “[T]his is about political cash, not political principle…. You see, money begets TV ads which begets even more money for these groups’ personal coffers.”
According to Walsh, who knows the internal workings of GOP politics quite well, conservative activist organizations are effectively waging a political war because political wars make for a convenient fundraising tool.
ThinkProgress: Latest Obamacare Lie Claims Doctors Will Be Forced To Ask Patients About Their Sexual History
In a New York Post op-ed, the inventor of the death panels lie, Betsy McCaughey, now claims that the Affordable Care Act is turning “doctors into government agents” by having them ask patients about their sex history. “Obamacare will question your sex life,” the headline says, and the issue has gained traction among conservatives. For example, Media Matters notes how Fox and Friends has amplified McCaughey’s argument, claiming that “doctors will be forced to ask patients about their sex life, even if it has nothing to do with the medical treatment that they are seeking at the time.”
But the questions McCaughey finds so outrageous are already routine physician practice…
Today the Obama administration declassified another FISA Court ruling. This is a big one. In it, the court ruled that the NSA collection of metadata is constitutional…..
…. Given that a headline like the one I’ve used here doesn’t attract the kind of linkbait you get from saying “The government is illegally spying on you!” it will be interesting to see how many media outlets report on this story.
Greg Sargent: GOP climate skeptics to hold hearing on climate science
Did you know House Republicans are planning a hearing on climate science for [today]? It’s true — and it should provide a useful glimpse into whether Republicans are prepared to start caring publicly about the issue, and if so, how they’ll go about doing that given the climate science denialists in their ranks.
…. Gina McCarthy, the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency, will be testifying. She is already something of a lightning rod, so this is legitimately a big deal: House Republicans will probably be signaling how they will respond when the EPA rolls out its new rules governing carbon emissions on new power plans, a central item on Obama’s agenda that is going to provoke a huge fight…
It’s been about three months since President Obama unveiled a fairly ambitious agenda to combat the climate crisis, and in the immediate aftermath, Republicans had very little to say about it. Indeed, Politico reported in June that GOP leaders came up with a game plan: ignore the speech, ignore global warming, and generally ignore science altogether.
ThinkProgress: Following Navy Yard Shooting, Top Donor Threatens To Withhold Donations From Democrats Who Opposed Background Checks
A philanthropist who has donated millions to gun safety causes and groups is urging donors to withhold their support from Democrats who oppose gun safety regulations, following Monday’s shooting at Washington’s Navy Yard.
“Each time large-scale gun violence strikes our country—at a workplace, a movie theater, a political rally, or most devastating of all, at a school—a public debate about gun laws ensues,” Eli Broad, who has also funded some of the Center for American Progress’ gun work, wrote in a dairy for the Daily Kos on Tuesday. “Then, Congress promises action. But every time, our elected officials fail to deliver.”
TPM: Starbucks: Please Keep Guns Out Of Our Stores
In an open letter Tuesday, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz asked customers to “no longer bring firearms” into the chain’s stores or outdoor seating areas.
Schultz wrote that it had been the company’s policy to follow local laws. In states with so-called “open carry” laws, customers were permitted to bring firearms into stores.
But that policy inadvertently thrust Starbucks into the debate over “open carry” and recent events have prompted the company to shift course. Pro-gun advocates staged a “Starbucks Appreciation Day” last month to commend the company for its position on “open carry.” Schultz wrote that those advocates “disingenuously” portrayed the company as a “champion of ‘open carry.'”
Dealbook: Inspired by Professor, Investor Makes Big Gift for Black Studies
Just over 10 years ago, the private equity mogul Glenn Hutchins was on vacation in Martha’s Vineyard. With his 25th Harvard College reunion near, he was thinking about how to put some of his wealth to good use.
One afternoon, clad in a T-shirt and board shorts, he stopped at an old whaling chapel, where Henry Louis Gates Jr., the prominent professor of African and African-American studies at Harvard, was leading a symposium.
That encounter gave Mr. Hutchins his cause.
Since then, Mr. Hutchins has strengthened his connection to Mr. Gates and the Harvard program. Their bond will become stronger on Wednesday, when Mr. Hutchins is expected to announce a gift of more than $15 million to create the Hutchins Center for African and African-American Research, solidifying Harvard’s program as one of the top in its field.
Washington Post: Wendy Davis prepares to launch Texas gubernatorial bid next month
Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis (D) is almost ready to announce her gubernatorial bid – but first she will expand her social network just a little bit more.
In an e-mail sent to her supporters Wednesday morning, Davis – who garnered national attention this summer for fighting a sweeping antiabortion bill in her state – wrote she will be “answering the question” of what’s next for her career on Oct. 3. But before making her formal announcement, she posed a question of her own: “Do you have any friends or family who would like to be among the first to know?
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)
Statement from the Vice President and Dr. Jill Biden:
Yesterday our son Beau underwent a successful procedure. He is in great shape and is going to be discharged tomorrow and heading home to Delaware. He will follow up with his local physicians in the coming weeks.
FACT: In the 250 days since Newtown, more than 7,000 Americans have been killed by gun violence. #WhatWillItTake for Congress to act?
A few months ago, conservative senators felt the need to kill a popular, bipartisan proposal on firearm background checks, and relied primarily on a single talking point: the proposal might lead to a firearm database. The very idea of some kind of national gun registry was so offensive to the right that the legislation had to die at the hands of a Republican filibuster.
It didn’t matter that the bipartisan bill had no such database. It didn’t matter that the bipartisan bill explicitly made the creation of such a registry a felony. All that mattered was that conservatives had a lie they liked, and which they used to great effect.
Four months later, Steve Friess reports that a massive, secret database of gun owners exists after all. But it wasn’t built by the Justice Department or the Department of Homeland Security; it was compiled without gun owners’ consent by the National Rifle Association.
ThinkProgress: The Worst Thing In That Maureen Dowd Column Isn’t Actually Her Misquote Of Bill DeBlasio’s Wife
New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd is taking a lot of very justified heat for a column about New York City mayoral candidate Bill DeBlasio and his wife Chirlane McCray, in which she appears to have distorted a quotation of McCray’s to imply that McCray is impugning rival Democratic candidate Christine Quinn for being a lesbian.
…. Dowd is now suggesting that a noisy coffee shop obscured her audio recording, and she ended up relying on what turn out to have been bad-quality notes for the quotation….
…. as bad as Dowd’s quoting malpractice is, and as frivolous as the overall column is, these problems aren’t actually the worst part of the column. That would be the way Dowd describes McCray’s sexual orientation, and places it in a context of Sexuality and the New York Mayoral Race….