Posts Tagged ‘scandals

18
Jul
13

Rise and Shine

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First Lady Michelle Obama talks with children attending Camp Noah as they make trail mix at the McAlpine Park Recreation Center in Birmingham, Ala., July 18, 2012 (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

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Presidential Daily Schedule (All Times Eastern)

11:25: The President delivers a statement on the Affordable Care Act

12:25: First Lady Michelle Obama, Rahm Emanuel and Amy Rule visit Urban Alliance Chicago

3:0: The President participates in an Ambassador Credentialing Ceremony (closed press)

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Steve Benen: Jobless claims show sharp improvement, reach three-month low

Last week’s report on initial unemployment claims was unexpectedly discouraging, making the good news this morning that more reassuring.

The number of people who applied for regular state unemployment-insurance benefits dropped 24,000 to 334,000 in the week that ended July 13, hitting the lowest level of new claims since early May, signaling a slower pace of layoffs, the U.S. Department of Labor reported Thursday. Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected initial claims to fall to 341,000 from an original estimate of 360,000 in the prior week. However, it’s difficult to precisely measure claims this month because of distortions from events such as annual auto plant shutdowns and the July 4 holiday, they said…. The four-week average of initial claims, a less volatile gauge, declined 5,250 to 346,000.

More here

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Philip Bump: Those of you who are old enough may remember a time when Barack Obama was plagued with scandal. “Scandal politics sweep Capitol Hill,” Politico yelped. The suffix “-gate” was added to various words. So what happened to the scandals? For the most part, they’ve been hollowed out. The scandal: Benghazi. What it was: The death of four Americans at a diplomatic (read: CIA) outpost in the Libyan city of Benghazi last September 11th bubbled for a while. The release of emails suggesting a cover-up kicked conspiracy theories into high gear.

How real it was in the first place: Not very. Current status: Last rites administered Those emails reported by ABC News were only part of the story. The White House released the full email chain, making it clear that the administration’s involvement in drafting a set of post-attack talking points wasn’t what opponents suggested. (We even declared the scandal dead the same week.)

More here

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President Barack Obama meets with senior advisors in the Oval Office before a phone call with President Vladimir Putin of Russia, July 18, 2012. Pictured, from left, are: Chris Mizelle, Director for Russia and Central Asia, NSS; National Security Advisor Tom Donilon; Chief of Staff Jack Lew; and Denis McDonough, Deputy National Security Advisor. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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Paul Krugman: Obamacare Is the Right’s Worst Nightmare

News from New York: it looks as if insurance premiums on the individual market are going to plunge thanks to Obamacare. This shouldn’t come as a surprise; in fact, the New York experience perfectly illustrates why Obamacare had to look the way it does. And it also illustrates why conservatives should be terrified about this legislation, as it takes effect. Americans may have had a lot of misgivings in advance, thanks to vast, deliberately spread misinformation. But I agree with Matt Yglesias — unless the GOP finds even more ways to sabotage the plan, this thing is going to work, it’s going to be extremely popular, and it’s going to wreak havoc with conservative ideology.

Conservatives are right to be hysterical about this: it’s an attack on everything they believe — and it’s going to make Americans’ lives better. What could be worse?

Full post here

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Abby Ohlheiser: House Republicans followed up on the Obama administration’s decision to delay the implementation of the employer mandate for one year by voting to make that decision a law, and to extend that delay to all individuals, too. It’s a more limited protest vote than what we’re used to seeing from the House GOP on Obamacare: There have been 38 legislative attempts to revoke either all or part of the health care reform law since 2011.

On Wednesday, both votes to delay passed easily: 264 – 161 for the employer mandate, and 251 – 174 for the individual mandate. They will not become law: President Obama would veto both bills if they made it to his desk.

More here

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Sen. Elizabeth Warren embraces Richard Cordray following a statement by President Barack Obama on Cordray’s confirmation as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, July 17

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Happy 95th Birthday Nelson Mandela!

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Continue reading ‘Rise and Shine’

17
Jul
13

Rise and Shine

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Today (all times Eastern)

10:50: The President delivers a statement on the confirmation of Richard Cordray as the Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

12:45: Press Briefing by Jay Carney

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NYT: Individuals buying health insurance on their own will see their premiums tumble next year in New York State as changes under the federal health care law take effect, state officials are to announce on Wednesday.

State insurance regulators say they have approved rates for 2014 that are at least 50 percent lower on average than those currently available in New York. Beginning in October, individuals in New York City who now pay $1,000 a month or more for coverage will be able to shop for health insurance for as little as $308 monthly. With federal subsidies, the cost will be even lower.

Supporters of the new health care law, the Affordable Care Act, credited the drop in rates to the online purchasing exchanges the law created, which they say are spurring competition among insurers that are anticipating an influx of new customers. The law requires that an exchange be started in every state.

“Health insurance has suddenly become affordable in New York,” said Elisabeth Benjamin, vice president for health initiatives with the Community Service Society of New York. “It’s not bargain-basement prices, but we’re going from Bergdorf’s to Filene’s here.”

“The extraordinary decline in New York’s insurance rates for individual consumers demonstrates the profound promise of the Affordable Care Act,” she added.

More here

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AG Eric Holder: “So Trayvon’s death last spring caused me to sit down to have a conversation with my own 15-year-old son, like my dad did with me. This was a father-son tradition I hoped would not need to be handed down. But as a father who loves his son and who is more knowing in the ways of the world, I had to do this to protect my boy. I am his father, and it is my responsibility, not to burden him with the baggage of eras long gone, but to make him aware of the world that he must still confront. This is a sad reality in a nation that is changing for the better in so many ways.”

Full NAACP speech from yesterday (transcript here):

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Michael Tomasky: Reid Crushes McConnell

…. Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell struck a deal, abetted apparently by John McCain, that averted the invocation of the nuclear option by Reid and the Democrats. Reid got just about everything he wanted. The Senate is going to pass through all seven nominees that Reid brought up in this skirmish….

…. About as clear a win for one party over another as we’ve seen in a long time. Why did it happen? Because everyone in the room knew that the Democrats had the 51 votes to change the rules. Stand together or fall apart, as the old cliche goes. It’s true. It’s still pathetic that it had to come to this for the president to fill his cabinet (and sub-cabinet), but it goes to show that holding the line as a group works.

Full post here

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Steve Benen: …. Will what transpired in the Senate yesterday actually, you know, matter? …. The cautious answer is that it’s evidence of incremental progress, the results of which will have a real-world impact on the lives of real people.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, for example, looks out for consumers against predatory excesses from the financial industry. As Sen. Elizabeth Warren told Chris Hayes last night, in light of yesterday’s deal and Richard Cordray’s confirmation, “We know this agency is here to stay. No more clouds over what it legally is entitled to do. No more attacks that say maybe we’re going to be able to undercut it in this way or weaken it in that way. We’ve got a full-fledged watchdog. The one we fought for, and [Cordray] is going to be there to fight for us.”

…. I’ve heard plenty of criticisms of yesterday’s agreement, and detractors have raised fair concerns … But in today’s environment, incremental progress is still progress, and there’s ample reason to believe yesterday’s deal moves the ball forward.

Full post here

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McClatchy: Congress revisits Voting Rights Act

Congress is taking the first steps toward bringing back pre-clearance of voting laws under the Voting Rights Act this week, as activists express tempered optimism in lawmakers’ willingness and ability to act.

The U.S. Supreme Court last month tossed out the Voting Rights Act’s formula that determined which jurisdictions must submit their voting law changes to the federal government before enacting them. The 5-4 ruling did not get rid of pre-clearance altogether but said Congress must come up with an updated standard to enforce it rather than the 1965 version that covered Georgia and other Deep South states with a history of overt discrimination.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will kick off the congressional response with a hearing Wednesday featuring Congress’ civil rights conscience: Atlanta Democratic U.S. Rep. John Lewis.

More here

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Michael Tomasky: …. the narrative about the IRS targeting Obama’s enemies has been thoroughly debunked….

The IRS “scandal,” lately dormant, is returning soon to cable-news channel near you: Tomorrow, Russell George, the Treasury Department inspector general who produced the original report at Darrell Issa’s request, is going back before Issa’s committee, and this time he’s in for some pretty serious grilling from Democrats. The evidence is now even more preponderant than it already was that there was absolutely no political agenda in the IRS’s review of 501(c)(4) applications. In fact, evidence is mounting that if anyone was behaving politically here, it was George — and, of course, Issa and the other Republicans who launched into their baseless tirades about “enemies lists” and other such nonsense.

…. what about the mainstream media that swallowed whole from the Republican-conservative spoon, running huge headlines and ominous editorials, all those breathy stories that got nearly half the American public believing, on the basis of zero hard evidence, that the White House was involved here? It’s not in the nature of the beast to run huge headlines saying “No Scandal Here.” But it should be in the beast’s nature to take a much harder look at Issa, George, and the other perpetuators of this non-story. And it should start tomorrow, when George testifies.

Full post here

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Reuters: President Barack Obama on Tuesday for the first time admitted that it was unlikely that the Republican-led House of Representatives would pass sweeping immigration reforms before lawmakers left Washington for a month-long break in August.

In television interviews taped with four Spanish-language newscasts, Obama said he thinks many Republicans need more time to grapple with concerns about border security and the changing demographics of America.

…. Obama has insisted that reforms must include the path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. “It does not make sense to me, if we’re going to make this once-in-a-generation effort to finally fix the system, to leave the status of 11 million people or so unresolved,” he told Telemundo’s Denver affiliate.

Many House Republicans oppose that measure, calling it “amnesty” for people who have broken existing immigration laws. But Obama said ignoring the problem would resign undocumented immigrants to “a lower status.” “I think that’s not who we are as Americans,” he said.

More here

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Wendy Davis and San Antonio mayor Julián Castro (left) and his twin brother, Congressman Joaquín Castro, in Austin on July 7, 2013

Texas Monthly: The Life and Death (and Life?) of the Party

Democrats once ruled Texas. Then came five decades of steady decline. Can Wendy Davis, the Castro brothers, and Team Obama’s vaunted field operation return their party to power? And if they can’t, can anyone?

“Somebody has to step up,” Wendy Davis observed one evening in late May over drinks at the bar of the Four Seasons Hotel in Austin. “As long as the Democrats continue to buy into the same bullshit that some of the Republicans are saying — ‘Oh no, it’s Texas, it’s hopeless’ — and continue to act like it won’t happen for six, eight, twelve, sixteen years from now, that perpetuates the problem.”

“So are you going to run for statewide office?” I asked.

Her green eyes sparkled. “One day, someday,” she said coyly.

One day, someday, about a month later, on the morning of June 25, the petite fifty-year-old Democratic state senator from Fort Worth fixed herself a single boiled egg for breakfast. It would be her only meal of the day. She slipped on a pair of pink tennis shoes, headed over to the Capitol, and stepped up……

More here

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President Obama hosted members of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority at the White House on Tuesday as the group gather in Washington for their annual convention. The Oval Office meeting marked the 100th anniversary of the African-American sorority and the 51st anniversary of its convention. Obama met with members including the sorority’s president, Cynthia Butler-McIntyre.

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@petesouza: Pres Obama with make-a-wish visitor Suhail Zaveri, 14, and his family in the Oval Office

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CBS: Cuban and U.S. officials will hold the first migration talks between the two nations since 2011 in Washington on Wednesday. Analysts believe both countries have a strong interest in getting them off the ground again.

…. The Bush Administration broke off these twice-yearly talks, along with taking other measures such as severely restricting the rights of Cuban Americans to travel back to the island – limiting them to only one visit every three years.

President Obama reestablished the rights of Cuban Americans to visit their homeland as much as they want and resumed the talks, only to break them off over the detention and jailing of U.S. contractor Alan Gross, which the State Department has repeatedly said remains a major obstacle to any improvement in relations between the two neighboring countries.

More here

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Morning!

05
Jul
13

Rise and Shine

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Today:

2:30: President Obama departs Joint Base Andrews en route Camp David

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Steve Benen: U.S. job growth improves, exceeds expectations

Going into this morning, most economists projected job growth from June to be about 155,000 new jobs. With this in mind, the new report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows not only good news, but unexpectedly good news…..

The U.S. economy added a better-than-expected 195,000 jobs in June and employment gains for May and April were revised sharply higher, the U.S. government said Friday. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 7.6%, but the size of the labor force increased by 177,000, according to the Labor Department said.

…. Perhaps the most important – and most heartening – detail in this new report is the upward revisions for the previous two months…

More here

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Business Insider: It’s a beat!

195K new private sector jobs was well ahead of the 165K new jobs that was expected.

More here

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Ah, funny how this didn’t get much attention….

NYT: I.R.S. Scrutiny Went Beyond the Political

In 2010, a tiny Palestinian-rights group called Minnesota Break the Bonds applied to the Internal Revenue Service for tax-exempt status. Two years and a lot of prodding later, the I.R.S. sent the group’s leaders a series of questions and requests almost identical to the ones it was sending to Tea Party groups at the time.

…. The controversy that erupted in May has focused on an ideological question: Were conservative groups singled out for special treatment based on their politics, or did the I.R.S. equally target liberal groups? But a closer look at the I.R.S. operation suggests that the problem was less about ideology and more about how a process instructing reviewers to “be on the lookout” for selected terms was applied to any group that mentioned certain words in its application.

More here

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ThinkProgress: What The Mainstream Media Misses About Texas’ Ongoing Abortion Battle

Over the past week, Texas has captured national attention with a dramatic show-down between a Republican-controlled legislature and thousands of reproductive health advocates…. but many of the narratives the media is crafting aren’t actually getting at the full scope of the story.

In addition to criminalizing abortion services after 20 weeks, the other provisions in Texas’ abortion proposals would impose harsh restrictions on abortion providers. By subjecting abortion clinics to new regulations that would force them to make expensive updates to their facilities — unnecessary measures that major medical groups, like the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, oppose — Texas’ bill would force 90 percent of the state’s clinics to close their doors. That would leave just five abortion clinics in the entire Lone Star State, which happens to be the second most populous state in the country.

…. And the real catch? Outside of the debate about abortion access after 20 weeks — even outside of the fight for abortion rights altogether — the “abortion clinics” in question are often providing health services that encompass much more than helping women terminate a pregnancy. Many of them also provide preventative care, family planning counseling, STD testing, and cancer screenings. And they offer those health services to Texans of both genders who are typically uninsured.

More here

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News Observer: Gov. Pat McCrory doled out handshakes and hailed parade-goers as he rode in this Rowan County town’s Fourth of July parade Thursday, but he wouldn’t say what he’d do about a controversial abortion bill if it reaches his desk.

That question has been on many minds in North Carolina this week, after the N.C. Senate Wednesday approved sweeping new rules that could limit abortions. The bill now goes to the N.C. House.

The legislation would require N.C. abortion clinics to meet tougher standards similar to those governing outpatient surgery clinics. As a result, critics say, it would effectively close the majority of the state’s 16 abortion clinics. It would also require doctors to be present when women take pills to induce abortions.

More here

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Oh boy…..

Mediaite: Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez, the Archbishop of Santo Domingo, was a little shocked when reporters switched from questioning him about the U.S.’s openly gay nominee for Ambassador to the Dominican Republic to the subject of the regional egg trade: “We go from faggots and lesbians to this?” he said, laughing. “We’re jumping to chickens now?”….

More here

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Woah – nice voice! Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin E. Dempsey sings the National Anthem at the Washington Nationals versus Milwaukee Brewers at Nationals Park on July 4:

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MooooOOOOoooorning!

PS:

13
Jun
13

Rise and Shine

President Obama greets the crowd after campaigning in support of Rep. Edward Markey at a rally in Boston, June 12

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Today:

11:40: The President meets with Congressman John Dingell (at 3:30 there will be a ceremony on Capitol Hill to honor the longest-serving member of Congress)

12:0: Newtown Action Alliance holds press conference at Capitol to mark 6 month anniversary of Sandy Hook shootings. Live on C-Span

12:15: Press Briefing by Jay Carney

5:05: The President delivers remarks at LGBT Pride Month celebration

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In case you missed this incredible photo – See Smartypants

In a protest, Renata Teodoro, right, and her mother, Gorete Borges Teodoro, who was deported in 2007, met at a Mexican border fence.

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Steve Benen: Jobless claims show unexpected improvement

Lately, just about all of the news on initial unemployment claims has been good, and the new figures out this morning were unexpectedly encouraging.

…. In terms of metrics, when jobless claims fall below the 400,000 threshold, it’s considered evidence of an improving jobs landscape, and when the number drops below 370,000, it suggests jobs are being created rather quickly. We’ve been below the 370,000 threshold 23 of the last 26 weeks, and below 350,000 in 7 of the last 10 weeks.

More here

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NY Post: In a stunning move, the Obama Administration has thrust itself into the middle of the explosive federal stop-and-frisk trial and is taking sides against the NYPD, raising the odds of a outside monitor being appointed to oversee the controversial crime-fighting program.

…. The source said that Attorney General Eric Holder’s office notified the city that it intends to file briefs in support of claims by the Center for Constitutional Rights that cops are stopping suspects on the basis of race.

More here

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Legal Times: When President Barack Obama nominated two women to a key appeals court last week, he was adding to his lead when it comes to adding women to the federal bench, according to a new study.

Obama has successfully appointed a greater percentage of women to federal judgeships than any other president in American history …. The study doesn’t include the two recent nominees to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit—Patricia Millett and Cornelia Pillard. (Neither pick has been confirmed.)

Forty-two percent of Obama’s successful nominations have been women, according to the study. That’s well above the rates of President George W. Bush (22 percent) and President Bill Clinton (29 percent), the study found. President Obama is the first president to appoint two women to the Supreme Court.

“This administration deserves credit for working to create a federal judiciary that more closely reflects the richness and diversity of the American people,” said AFJ President Nan Aron.

More here

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NYT: Six months after the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., and with no major gun legislation on the horizon in Congress, the White House is quietly moving forward on an executive package of gun safety measures.

The package, which includes 23 executive actions announced by President Obama earlier this year, is intended to bolster the nation’s database used for background checks and make it harder for criminals and people with mental illnesses to get guns.

Among other things, the executive orders relax health care privacy regulations that some state executives say prevent them from putting the names of those Americans with mental health records into the database. The orders also give states more money to help them add data to the system and compel federal agencies to share more mental health data on workers. The goal is to add thousands of new people into the database — those with a history of mental illness, for example — who would not legally be allowed to buy a gun under current law.

More here

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Kevin Drum: …. there’s a little piece of me that admires such naked chutzpah. Issa is basically saying that it’s OK to release little pieces of the interviews that are ripped out of context to create a false impression of White House involvement, but it would be reckless to release full transcripts that pretty clearly shows the White House had nothing to do with any of this.

Who thinks up this stuff?

More here

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Bill Scher (The Week): Why conservatives can’t whitewater Obama – The Republican Noise Machine is falling on deaf ears

Twenty years ago, conservative media mavens seemed able to turn any minor flap into scandal gold …. yet today, no matter how loud conservatives scream “Benghazi,” “Solyndra,” “Fast and Furious” and even “Intim-O-Gate” (Glenn Beck’s failed attempt to brand the IRS and leak investigation controversies), President Obama glides past. His poll numbers remain relatively stable.

There is not really a “what did the president know” drumbeat, and no suggestion he warrants independent investigation. Calls for Attorney General Eric Holder’s resignation died down following his meeting with Washington media bureau chiefs. Benghazi lightning rod Susan Rice just got a promotion, and her Republican antagonists are pledging cooperation.

What happened to the Republican Noise Machine? Here are three reasons it’s sputtering….

More here

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Mediaite: …. Stephen Colbert sent up the NSA’s expansive surveillance programs, saying, “Millions of Americans whose privacy has been invaded were shocked to learn that anything on the internet was ever private.”

“Now, I have to admit, at first I found this program to be a shocking breach of the public trust,” Colbert said of PRISM. “The intimate details I share from my Gmail account are no business of big government. They are for one purpose only: so I can get targeted ads for boner pills.”

“But then I learned that PRISM targets only foreigners!” Colbert put up a photo of the Statue of Liberty. “Evidently that torch of freedom is only for Americans. For the rest of the world, she’s holding a boom mic.”

More here – including the video

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Washington Post: The CIA’s deputy director plans to retire and will be replaced by White House lawyer and agency outsider Avril D. Haines, Director John O. Brennan said Wednesday.

Haines, who will succeed career officer Michael Morell on Aug. 9, has served for three years as President Obama’s deputy counsel in charge of national security issues and as legal adviser to the National Security Council. Although she has never worked inside the intelligence agency, “she knows more about covert action than anyone in the U.S. government outside of the CIA,” Brennan said in his first interview since becoming CIA director in March.

More here

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Steve Benen: ….. Wisconsin Republicans are poised to approve a rather remarkable piece of legislation. The state Senate, led by an enraged Senate President Mike Ellis, pushed through an anti-abortion measure that would, among other things, require women in Wisconsin to have an ultrasound before terminating an unwanted pregnancy….

…. It is a profound example of big government run amok: the bill Scott Walker intends to sign puts politics between people and their doctors, on purpose, requiring invasive medical procedures to satisfy the agenda of a right-wing culture war.

…. This is, of course, exactly the kind of right-wing agenda voters rejected in 2012, when Republicans were slammed for having launched a “war on women,” giving Democrats a crucial gender-gap advantage.

More here

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itsnotjustakin.com

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Greg Sargent: House GOP stomps all over Republican rebranding

Consider what the House GOP is up to right now. House Republicans recently passed an immigration amendment, pushed by anti-reform diehard Steve King, that would effectively mandate the deportation of the “DREAMers” who were taken to the U.S. as children. House Republicans are planning a vote next week on a measure that would ban abortions after 20 weeks, after defeating amendments that would exempt cases of rape or incest. And yesterday, House Republicans approved a version of the 2012 National Defense Reauthorization Act that contains what The Advocate calls “three controversial, antigay amendments, one of which is aimed at delaying repeal implementation of don’t ask, don’t tell.”

More here

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ThinkProgress: Connecticut is on the cusp of enacting a major new law to protect people who are homeless from discrimination.

Last week, Connecticut lawmakers passed the “Homeless Person’s Bill Of Rights” at the literal 11th hour — 11:30pm on June 5th, one half hour before the legislative session ended. The bill, SB 896, a landmark piece of legislation to protect homeless individuals’ rights, adds homeless people as a protected class who can’t be discriminated against in employment, housing, or public accommodations. It also includes protections for homeless people to move freely in public spaces, such as parks and sidewalks, without being singled out for harassment by law enforcement officers.

More here

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Headline of the Week?

‘Congressman Demands Obama Apologize To Oklahoma For Investing In Climate Change Research’

ThinkProgress

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TPM: A survey released Wednesday by a Republican-aligned pollster found Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) earning the support of nearly half of voters and claiming a decisive 12-point edge in the Massachusetts special U.S. Senate election.

The automated survey from Harper Polling showed Markey with the support of 49 percent of Massachusetts voters, while Republican businessman Gabriel Gomez trailed with 37 percent support. Harper launched in December with the intention to rival Democratic-leaning outlets such as Public Policy Polling that have long owned the automated poll market.

More here

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A year ago….

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama present a birthday cake to Assistant Usher Reggie Dickson following a Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony and dinner, June 13, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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MooooOOOOoooorning!

04
Jun
13

Rise and Shine

The front pages, five years ago today

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Today:

10:30: The President delivers a statement, The Rose Garden

11:10: The President and Chilean President Sebastián Piñera hold a bilateral meeting; the VP also attends

1:0: Press Briefing by Jay Carney

2:20: The President departs the White House

2:30: Arrives Bethesda, Maryland

2:50: Visits the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center

4:35: Departs Bethesda

4:45: Arrives at the White House

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From left: Cornelia Pillard, Patricia Millett and Robert L. Wilkins

NYT: President Obama will nominate a slate of three candidates on Tuesday to fill the remaining vacancies on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, a White House official said Monday.

The president will name Cornelia T. L. Pillard, a law professor; Patricia Ann Millett, an appellate lawyer; and Robert L. Wilkins, a federal district judge, to fill out the appeals court, which is often described as the second most powerful court in the country because it decides major cases and often serves as a launching pad for future Supreme Court justices.

By making his choices in a group, the president and his strategists are hoping to put pressure on Senate Republicans to confirm them.

More here

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Steve Benen: …. At the outset, let’s emphasize how uncontroversial this is – there are vacancies on an important federal bench, so the president is sending qualified nominees to the Senate for consideration. Republicans are characterizing this as a scandalous power-grab, while many political reporters are describing this as Obama thumbing his nose at his political rivals. In reality, it’s neither – presidents filling judicial vacancies is basic American governance. It’s Civics 101. That today’s announcement is seen as somehow remarkable is evidence of just how broken the process has become.

…. This is far more consequential than much of the public realizes …. the D.C. Circuit is likely to have considerable influence over the future of the Affordable Care Act, Wall Street reform, immigration reform, and perhaps most importantly, efforts to combat the climate crisis.

This is, in other words, a fight worth having, and the outcome will have a lasting impact for many years to come.

More here

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Michael Tomasky: Obama’s Economic Triumph

It’s increasingly clear that the president has steered the country back from the brink – and, in the process, exposed (yet again) the central lie of conservative economics…..

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Greg Sargent: As I’ve been saying here for some time, behind all the GOP noise and hoopla about Beltway scandal-palooza is a stark reality that can’t be obscured. House Republicans are confronting two major challenges – what to do about the debt limit and about immigration reform, both of which will require cooperation from House conservatives that they aren’t prepared to give — and they don’t have an answer to either one.

This is driven home in fresh and vivid detail by today’s big Post story on the deep divisions within the House GOP caucus.

More here

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Steve Benen: We talked yesterday about the new report from the College National Republican Committee, detailing their party’s difficulties in connecting with younger voters. As the College Republicans explained, it’s a “dismal present situation” with focus groups, led by GOP pollsters, finding that voters under 30 consider the party “closed-minded, racist, rigid, [and] old-fashioned”…..

….     In focus groups in January, the report said, young voters were asked to list leaders of the Democratic Party. “They named prominent former or currently elected officials: Pelosi, the Clintons, Obama, Kennedy, Gore. When those same respondents were asked to name Republican leaders, they focused heavily on media personalities and commentators: Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck.”

More here

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Click to see the rest of the post

31
May
13

Rise and Shine

@lacasablanca: Oval Office meeting: President Obama and @sr_simone of “Nuns on the Bus” discussed #ImmigrationReform

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Today:

10:20: The President delivers remarks on student loans (White House Live)

10:50: Meets with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen

12:30: Press Briefing by Jay Carney

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Yep, how things have changed…..

Washington Post (March 2006): Off the Record, Bush Makes Media Inroads …. As he defends his Iraq policy with a public campaign of speeches and a recent news conference, President Bush also has been waging a private campaign that has included off-the-record sessions with White House reporters….

One gathering, which took place Thursday in the White House residence, was an unusual gesture by Bush, who has agreed to comparatively few lengthy exchanges with reporters during his five years in office….

Last week’s session involved reporters from several prominent broadcast and print outlets, including ABC News and The Washington Post. Under the off-the-record ground rules, the journalists were barred from reporting what was discussed. White House officials said they also hoped the meetings’ mere existence would remain under wraps….

More here

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Joe Conason (National Memo): …. The notion that Barack Obama is “Nixonian” – or that his administration’s recent troubles bear any resemblance to “Watergate” – is the biggest media lie since the phony “Whitewater scandal” crested during the Clinton presidency.

…. Only in a country afflicted with chronic historical amnesia could they issue such accusations without shame or embarrassment. Only under those circumstances could the Republicans continue their fitful fabrication of a “Democratic Watergate” without fear of being laughed off the stage….

…. But certain liberals in the media have fretted loudly over Obama’s “scandals,” too …..  is it all just trumped-up hysteria? To answer those questions, it helps to remember what Nixon and his gang actually did to America – and why they were driven out of Washington and, in many cases, sent to prison….

More here

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Steve Benen: Student loans reclaim center stage ….. President Obama will deliver remarks, flanked by college students, on a subject that too often goes overlooked: student loans. With a looming interest rate hike, the president will reportedly “call on Congress to help keep college affordable for middle-class families and students by preventing student loan interest rates from doubling on July 1.”

…. House Republicans say they’ve already passed a bill on this, which is true. They also say their bill is worthwhile and consistent with White House demands, which is not true…..

More here

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SmartyPants

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Yep, austerity works so well:

Bloomberg: Euro-area unemployment increased to a record in April after the currency bloc’s recession deepened in the first quarter, increasing pressure on its leaders and the European Central Bank to spur economic growth.

The euro-area jobless rate rose to 12.2 percent from 12.1 percent in March…. to 19.38 million in April, up 95,000 from the previous month. Youth unemployment was at 24.4 percent …. Spain had the highest rate at 26.8 percent. No April data were available for Greece, which had a 27 percent rate in February.

More here

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@WhiteHouse

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30
May
13

This and That

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Media Matters: CNN Botches Key Facts In Holder Story

Reporting that House Republicans are investigating whether Attorney General Eric Holder lied to Congress during his recent testimony about Justice Department seizures of communications records in connection with a national security leak investigation, CNN’s Dana Bash misstated key facts of the controversy. In so doing, CNN helped bolster the hollow claims of Republicans – wildly hyped by Fox News – that Holder may have perjured himself….

More here

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Greg Sargent: A new Quinnipiac poll finds that an overwhelming majority of Americans – 73-22 – thinks we should be placing a higher priority on the economy and unemployment than on the “scandals” gripping Washington. That includes 72 percent of independents, who are critical in midterm elections. At the same time, a variety of indicators, from rising home prices to buoyed consumer confidence to falling gas prices, suggest that the economy is improving at a stronger clip than previously anticipated.

If the recovery is strong next year, it could help Dems hold the Senate….

More here

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TPM: The White House has received more than 120 applications from health insurance plans looking to sell on the new federal health care exchange …. The success of the Affordable Care Act partially hinges on competition in order to keep premiums low, and, according to the memo, “the early signs are promising and demonstrate a significant increase in competition and an array of options for consumers everywhere.”

One out of four insurers that have applied to sell insurance in the marketplace is new to the individual insurance market and at least one new provider has been added in 75 percent of states with a federally run marketplace…..

More here

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Quote of the week? Century?

“What good is it to save the planet if humanity suffers?”

Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson at the oil giant’s annual meeting, Wednesday.

See Steve Benen

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Jonathan Chait: Pete Wehner, former Minister of Propaganda for the Bush administration, sees the excitement of the Obama scandals receding, and he knows just how to explain this. Not a lack of evidence to date that anybody in the administration has done anything wrong. It’s media bias ….. Yeah, that sounds right….

Full post here

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USA Today: The pro-Obama group Organizing for Action will hold 39 “founders events” across the country this weekend as part of an effort to build separate state chapters.

“OFA supporters, volunteers, campaign alumni and donors will come together to discuss what OFA has already accomplished as well as our goals and the path forward,” said an announcement from the group….

The Illinois State Founders Summit will be held Friday and Saturday in Obama’s hometown of Chicago, and will feature remarks by OFA Chairman Jim Messina and Executive Director Jon Carson.

They plan to discuss “how OFA plans how to continue to ensure the American people’s voices are heard by lawmakers as we fight to tip the scales of power back to the American people and away from the special interests to advance the issues the American people voted for in November,” said the statement.

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Oh dear:

Click to see the rest of the post

30
May
13

Rise and Shine

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President Barack Obama greets Minority Whip Steny Hoyer and ceremony participants backstage before the signing of the Export-Import Bank Reauthorization Act of 2012 in the South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, May 30, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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Tom Kludt: An overwhelming majority of Americans said that the economy and unemployment should take precedence over the Congressional investigations into the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative groups, the Justice Department’s subpoena of Associated Press phone records and last year’s deadly attack in Benghazi, Libya, according to a new poll from Quinnipiac University released Thursday.

The poll found that 73 percent of American voters nationwide believe that dealing with the economy and unemployment should be a higher priority than the investigations. Fewer than a quarter of Americans — 22 percent — believe that the investigations should be the higher priority.

More here

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Washington Post: President Obama plans to nominate James B. Comey, a former senior Justice Department official in the George W. Bush administration, to replace Robert S. Mueller III as FBI director, according to two people with knowledge of the selection process. Comey was famously involved in a 2004 hospital-room confrontation with White House counsel Alberto Gonzales and the president’s chief of staff, Andrew H. Card Jr. The two White House officials were attempting to persuade Attorney General John D. Ashcroft, who was recovering from emergency surgery to remove his gallbladder, to reauthorize a controversial warrantless domestic eavesdropping program.

Comey, who was acting attorney general in Ashcroft’s absence, had refused to agree to extend the program. When he learned that the White House was attempting to go around him and get the ill Ashcroft to sign off on an extension, Comey rushed to George Washington University Medical Center, arriving just before Gonzales and Card. Comey explained to Ashcroft what was happening and, when the White House officials arrived, the attorney general raised himself up and said he never should have authorized the program. He gestured at Comey and said, “There is the attorney general,” according to an account by former Washington Post reporter Barton Gellman.

More here

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James Comey

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Steve Benen: Comey isn’t exactly your typical Republican. We are, after all, talking about a Republican attorney who balked at the legality of the Bush/Cheney warrantless wiretap program, signed a legal brief endorsing marriage equality, believes terrorist suspects should be tried in America’s criminal-justice system, and even endorsed Eric Holder’s Attorney General nomination in 2009. For some of the rabid partisans on Capitol Hill, I suspect Comey will be seen as a RINO (Republican In Name Only).

But there’s one other angle that’s worth thinking about as the process unfolds: if Obama had any reason to worry about ongoing investigations casting the White House in a negative light, the president would not have chosen a Republican with a history of independence to lead the FBI. On the contrary, if Obama were the least bit concerned about the so-called “scandals,” he’d be eager to do the opposite — choosing a Democratic ally for the FBI. With this in mind, by selecting Comey, the president not only sends a bipartisan signal, but also one of great confidence.

More here

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22
May
13

Rise and Shine

Four years ago: President Obama looks out the window of Marine One as it lands at the White House, May 22, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Today:

11:0: VP Biden Gives the Commencement Address at the United States Coast Guard Academy (audio only at WH Live)

1:0 Jay Carney’s press briefing

7:25: President Obama hosts a concert honoring Gershwin Prize winner Carole King

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NYT: The bipartisan immigration bill that passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday has many serious hurdles ahead. It is the most serious and worthy attempt to fix immigration in a generation, but it cannot help reflecting the poisoned politics of today, with its heavy tilt toward needless border enforcement and a deficiency in equal rights.

In the most moving and wrenching moment in three weeks of committee markup, the committee’s chairman, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, sought to amend the bill to allow gay Americans to sponsor their wives and husbands for green cards. The other Democrats, including Charles Schumer of New York, implored him not to put that amendment forward, saying this measure of basic fairness would drive off Republican support and kill the entire bill. Mr. Leahy withdrew it.

With that unhappy capitulation, the bill survives, with a possible battle over same-sex marriage still to come on the Senate floor. And then the bill will need to find some path through the Republican-led House….

More here – and see ThinkProgress

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Jonathan Capehart: Here we go again. President Obama’s critics in the African American community are hammering him for doing nothing for black people …. this thinking drives me crazy because the president’s detractors fail to take a 360-degree view of what they are demanding from him and ignore what he’s actually done.

…. Coates’s criticism emanates from Obama’s commencement address at Morehouse College in Atlanta …. Obama spoke to the black men of Morehouse not as a distant president but as a familiar peer. He used his troubled past as a real-life example of how one’s limited circumstances are neither destiny nor a hindrance to achieving the American Dream, as they define it. He urged the graduates to not make excuses, to aim high and to give back. Yet, Coates calls this “‘convenient race-talk’ from a president who ought to know better.” Obama can’t win.

… what’s missing from most African American critiques of Obama: an appreciation for Republican resistance to his agenda. To expect the president to introduce an explicit and definable “black agenda” in a Congress filled with people who believe him to be a socialist destroying the country while illegitimately occupying the Oval Office is seriously naive.

Full article here

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21
May
13

Rise and Shine

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Today:

10:0: President Obama delivers a statement on the Oklahoma tornados

Not sure if this is going ahead:

11:0: President Obama and VP Biden meet with DREAMers whose parents are in the country illegally and “who are directly affected by our broken immigration system”.

12:30: Jay Carney briefs the press

5:30: VP Biden delivers remarks at a reception hosted by the DNC in honor of Jewish American Heritage Month at the American Institute of Architects

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White House statement: “…. Overnight, the President approved a Major Disaster Deceleration for Oklahoma, making federal funding available to support affected individuals, as well as additional federal assistance to support immediate response and recovery efforts.

“This morning the President will receive a briefing in the Oval Office on the response by Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa Monaco, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, Deputy Chief of Staff Alyssa Mastromonaco and other senior members of the President’s response team. …

“At the President’s direction, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate is traveling to Oklahoma this morning to ensure all Federal resources are supporting our state, local, and tribal partners in life saving and safety operations including search and rescue.

“FEMA has been supporting the state’s response since Sunday. At the request of the state, FEMA deployed a liaison to the state emergency operations center Sunday night.”

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Steve Benen: …. Ordinarily, so soon after a disaster of this magnitude, discussions about political agendas and ideologies are put on hold, which is why it came as a surprise when one of Oklahoma’s U.S. senators staked out a far-right position on federal disaster relief just five hours after the storm hit…..

I’ve seen many note overnight that Coburn is at least consistent ….. but while consistently is welcome, it doesn’t change the questions about unnecessary callousness…..

More here

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Glenn Kessler, the Washington Post’s resident Fact Denier (who so brilliantly agreed with Darrell Issa when he said an “act of terror” is not a “terrorist attack”) excelled himself today – he gave ‘Three Pinocchios’ to White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer for stating the facts: that the Benghazi emails were doctored in an attempt to smear the President.

Seriously.

So, his problem is with Pfeiffer, not with those who doctored the emails or the reporters who used them for their ‘exclusives’.

There are too many ‘highlights’ to choose from, here are two:

“….. the reporters involved have indicated they were told by their sources that these were summaries, taken from notes of e-mails that could not be kept.”

So, why did Jon Karl repeatedly imply that he had seen the original emails?

“Despite Pfeiffer’s claim of political skullduggery, we see little evidence that much was at play here besides imprecise wordsmithing or editing errors by journalists.”

“… imprecise wordsmithing or editing errors.”

Oh boy, nooooooooo words.

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