Posts Tagged ‘smartypants

13
Sep
14

Hug Wars

 

 Please think carefully before you vote, this is important. Thanks.

🙄 Some people just can’t handle democracy #ThePollsDon’tLie

23
Dec
13

2013: SmartyPants’ Most Memorable Moments

by a very special guest: SmartyPants

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10 Big Sis

As someone who has a big sister and knows how trying that relationship can be at this age, I LOVED this one.

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9 A Wise and Empathetic Latina on the Supreme Court

This year Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor published her book “My Beloved World.” I read it immediately. It moved me beyond words to think that we have someone on the Supreme Court who has lived her life. During her book promotion tour, this happened (see here):

“At her Wednesday night book talk here, Justice Sonia Sotomayor glided through her audience of 700, dispensing homespun wisdom through a cordless microphone, interrupted by impromptu applause.

When the moderator read a question from Tabbie Major, age 7, about which books Justice Sotomayor loved as a child, she found the girl, locked her in an embrace, held on while reminiscing about Nancy Drew mysteries and then called out for a photographer to capture the moment. “

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8 The Evolution of Mom-Dancing

Nuff said. FLOTUS pulls off the comedy gold of the year!

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7 Marriage equality spreads like wildfire

This is how we celebrated in Minnesota.

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6. Those red shoes!

We all know what happened that day. Wendy Davis showed us how its done. We’ll all love her forever for that!

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5 The day Antoinette Tuff “stood up, spoke out, and got in the way.”

Continue reading ‘2013: SmartyPants’ Most Memorable Moments’

30
Nov
13

Rise and Shine

First Lady Michelle Obama walks with children past the official White House Christmas Tree in the Blue Room, Nov. 30, 2011. Mrs. Obama welcomed military families to the White House for for the first viewing of the 2011 holiday decorations. (Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

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The President has no public events scheduled this weekend

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America’s Voice: President And First Lady Visit “Fast For Families” On The National Mall

On day 18, “Fast for Families” welcomed the visit of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. SEIU’s Eliseo Medina, NAKASEC’s Dae Joong Yoon, DREAMer and Mi Familia Vota’s Cristian Avila, FIRM‘s Rudy Lopez and Sojourner‘s Lisa Sharon Harper, along with 22 other advocates fasting in solidarity, met with the President and First Lady in a private session at the “Fast for Families” tent where both listened closely to the fasters’ personal stories.

The President said that this fast and their sacrifice are receiving immense attention. He expressed great concern over their health, urging them as well to continue to pray over their decision on the time they intend to fast. During their meeting, the President also held the shoe of an immigrant who perished in the desert trying to seek a better life, which the fasters hold in reverence as a symbol of why they are fasting to underscore the plight and suffering of immigrants.

More here

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Colbert King: Obamacare — A Question Of Morality

…. the Affordable Care Act is viewed more kindly by the congregation at First Baptist Church, located a few miles from the shadow of the Capitol, than by those within the governmental structure.

…. The Rev. Frank D. Tucker, who has been First Baptist’s pastor for nearly 38 years, used Sunday morning’s service to address Obamacare in terms its critics do not.

He announced that First Baptist, working with the city’s health-care exchange, DC Health Link, would host a health insurance enrollment fair on Saturday. He issued an emotional call to his congregation, young and old, to enroll in the program, resorting to language associated with the battle to win the right to vote.

Tucker noted the decades of unsuccessful efforts by several presidents to extend medical care to all Americans, including those living in dire circumstances beyond their control. Not sugar-coating the problems that President Obama has encountered in bringing about health-care reform, Tucker hammered at the obligation of the uninsured to enroll in the insurance program that Obama and other health-reform advocates have worked so hard to create. The Obama administration and its congressional supporters, Tucker observed, have been opposed every step of the way, taking a beating from people in Congress and around the country. Don’t let their sacrifices be in vain by sitting on your hands, he contended. Get enrolled, he declared.

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You can find your local small businesses here

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SmartyPants: An Activist White House

I’ve been following Fast for Families on twitter since day one. Unlike a lot of “keyboard activists,” these folks are showing their courage and commitment by putting it all on the line. I watched as union, faith and civil rights leaders visited these fasters in a show of solidarity. And then something interesting started happening. Gawd, I LOVE this President!!!!! Think about the last time we saw a POTUS provide this kind of support for an activist movement. I’ll give you a hint…never.

More here

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Paul Krugman: Obamacare’s Secret Success

The law establishing Obamacare was officially titled the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. And the “affordable” bit wasn’t just about subsidizing premiums. It was also supposed to be about “bending the curve” — slowing the seemingly inexorable rise in health costs. Much of the Beltway establishment scoffed at the promise of cost savings.

So, how’s it going? The health exchanges are off to a famously rocky start, but many, though by no means all, of the cost-control measures have already kicked in. Has the curve been bent? The answer, amazingly, is yes. In fact, the slowdown in health costs has been dramatic.

Since 2010, when the act was passed, real health spending per capita — that is, total spending adjusted for overall inflation and population growth — has risen less than a third as rapidly as its long-term average. Real spending per Medicare recipient hasn’t risen at all; real spending per Medicaid beneficiary has actually fallen slightly.

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CBS Denver: Judge: Sheriffs Can’t Sue Colorado Over Gun Laws

A federal judge ruled Wednesday that Colorado sheriffs suing the state over new firearm restrictions don’t have standing to proceed with the case as a group, but the legal battle is far from over. The ruling from U.S. District Judge Marcia Krieger in Denver doesn’t stop the lawsuit because 21 other plaintiffs who are suing do have standing. The court will still consider whether universal background checks and a ban on ammunition magazines that hold more than 15 rounds are constitutional, the judge said.

“If individual sheriffs wish to protect individual rights or interests they may do so … however, the sheriffs have confused their individual rights and interests with those of the county sheriff’s office,” Krieger said. The remaining plaintiffs include individuals and various gun groups. The laws that took effect July 1 were among a package of gun control legislation passed in response to mass shootings last year at a suburban Denver movie theater and a Connecticut elementary school.

More here

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Nicole Winfield: Pope Ramps Up Charity Office To Be Near Poor, Sick

Pope Francis has ramped up the Vatican’s charity work, sending his chief alms-giver and a contingent of Swiss guards onto the streets of Rome at night to do what he usually can’t do: comfort the poor and the homeless. A few times a week, Archbishop Konrad Krajewski takes a few off-duty guards with him in his modest white Fiat to make the rounds at Rome’s train stations, where charities offer makeshift soup kitchens that feed 400-500 people a night. Often they bring the leftovers from the Vatican mess halls to share.

“Aside from their vitality, they know at least four languages,” Krajewski said of the guards in an interview Friday with The Associated Press. “Above all, poor people need to be listened to.” He can’t do that so easily now that he’s pope, so he has tapped Krajewski to be his envoy, doling out small morsels of charity every day: sending a 200 euro ($260) check to a woman whose wallet was stolen, visiting a family whose child is dying.

More here

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Henry Blodget: Sorry, Folks, Rich People Actually Don’t ‘Create The Jobs’

“Rich people create the jobs.” Specifically, by starting and directing America’s companies, rich entrepreneurs and investors create the jobs that sustain everyone else. This statement is usually invoked to justify cutting taxes on entrepreneurs and investors. This argument ignores the fact that taxes on entrepreneurs and investors are already historically low.

Entrepreneurs and investors like me actually don’t create the jobs — not sustainable ones, anyway. What creates a company’s jobs, Hanauer explains, is a healthy economic ecosystem surrounding the company, which starts with the company’s customers. The customers of most companies are ultimately American’s gigantic middle class — the hundreds of millions of Americans who currently take home a much smaller share of the national income than they did 30 years ago

If that $9+ million had gone to 9,000 families instead of Hanauer, it would almost certainly have been pumped right back into the economy via consumption (i.e., demand). And, in so doing, it would have created more jobs. Hanauer estimates that, if most American families were taking home the same share of the national income that they were taking home 30 years ago, every family would have another $10,000 of disposable income to spend. So, if nothing else, it’s time we stopped perpetuating the fiction that “rich people create the jobs.” Rich people don’t create the jobs. Our economy creates jobs.

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Washington Post: Obama To Issue A New Statement Of U.S. National Security Strategy

President Obama will formally present a new national security strategy early next year, identifying his foreign policy priorities for the remainder of his time in office, the White House said Friday. The new policy document will be the second of Obama’s administration and will likely update the previous one, released in May 2010, in several important areas. Those include policies for fighting the next phase of the war against al-Qaeda, the shift of national security resources to Asia and a plan to manage declining defense budgets amid fiscal strain.

The National Security Strategy document falls under a 1986 law requiring the president to present Congress with an annual strategic statement. Most administrations have been inconsistent in meeting that obligation. George W. Bush, for example, issued only two during his eight years in office. Obama’s first National Security Strategy ran 52 pages and set out a course for ending the U.S. military involvement in Iraq. Although the strategy asserted America’s central role in the world, it also warned that “when we overuse our military might, or fail to invest in or deploy complementary tools, or act without partners, then our military is overstretched.”

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On This Day:

Rep. Emanuel Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., gestures to President Obama and a U.S. Secret Service agent after the President dropped by a meeting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Nov. 30, 2010. The Congressman knows the agent (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama talks with former President Jimmy Carter who was attending a meeting in National Security Advisor Tom Donilon’s office in the White House, Nov. 30, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama steps off Air Force One upon arrival at Wilkes Barre/Scranton International Airport, November 30, 2011 in Avoca, Pennsylvania

First Lady Michelle Obama meets with members of the board of Partnership for a Healthier America, an organization working to end childhood obesity, at the Omni Hotel in Washington, D.C., Nov. 30, 2011 (Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

President Obama tours the Rodon Group, a manufacturer of toys in Hatfield, Pennsylvania, November 30, 2012

President Obama greets the audience after speaking at the Rodon Group, a manufacturer of toys in Hatfield, Pennsylvania, November 30, 2012

15
Sep
13

Rise and Shine

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SmartyPants: Trust Vindicated

I don’t mind being called an Obamabot that much. Just like the President decided to embrace the label “Obamacare” that was initially meant as a slam, I suspect history will vindicate that supporting this administration was the right call. What I’ve typically reacted to negatively is the idea that I blindly trust President Obama because the fact is – I have my eyes wide open and am watching a fascinating presidency unfold. Over time what has happened is that when I don’t see the whole picture yet, I’ve learned to slow down my reactions and wait until I get more information. I also remind myself of who this man is that we’ve elected twice and how he’s handled things in the past…..

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The People’s View: Liberals Without A Conscience

You may think that by ‘liberals without a conscience,’ I am talking about people on the supposed Left who laughed at, dismissed, or shrugged off the children gasping for breath from the Syrian government’s chemical attacks, and you’d be right. You may think that I am using that term to refer to elected officials who pick and choose which humanitarian catastrophes we intervene in depending on who the president is, and you’d be right. You may think that by ‘liberals without a conscience,’ I’m digging at people on the Left that have suddenly found the anarchist Rand Paul and the statist Vladimir Putin to be their concurrent heroes, and you’d be right about that, too.

I have been coming to this realization for the last four years. I’m talking about people who stand in the way of progress, loud and proud, because they argue the progress isn’t enough, or refuse to recognize it as progress at all…..

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Jim Stuart’s New Blog: We Have A Deal

On balance, most of us in the US and elsewhere have a binary view of conflict: if you win, I lose, and vice versa. And we are completely immersed in the consciousness of scarcity, resource conflict, and fear of the other. Clearly, Gandhi, Mandela and King operated from a different level of consciousness, where abundance, peacemaking, and trust were the qualities seen first, and were part of each leader’s basic operating system. Developmental psychologists call this level of consciousness integral, and tell us that less than 5% of the world has attained this consciousness level. Obama, I believe, is part of this small percentage of people who see things whole; who trust the complexity of events to reveal deep structures and patterns, not single point answers or finite solutions; who know with absolute conviction that truth is found not in resolving paradox, but living in its tensions; that flow and generative action requires letting go of ego; and that all people, at every developmental level have something important to say, even your adversaries and enemies, because the brain is not capable of 100% error….

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The People’s View: How Putin “Outsmarted” Obama: By Completely Surrendering To All Of His Demands 

In certain parts of the world wide web – whether it be the “liberal” The Nation or any of the conservative outlets – the narrative is that Russian president Vladimir Putin “outsmarted” President Obama by coming up with a peaceful solution to Syria’s use of chemical weapons.

So let’s review, shall we? The United States gets a full disarmament of Syria – verifiably, completely, and and transparently. Russia, which until the G-20 refused to even talk about consequences for Syria is suddenly on board. Syria can’t act fast enough to show and turn over the chemical weapons that until last week it didn’t even admit it had. Chemical weapons? What chemic… here you go! (credit: Stephanie Miller) And to boot, the United States got Russia to agree to govern this agreement under the part of the Security Council documents that covers military action, even if Russia is still putting up a front against it…..

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Michael Wines: E.P.A. Is Expected to Set Limits on Greenhouse Gas Emissions by New Power Plants

Following up on President Obama’s pledge in June to address climate change, the Environmental Protection Agency plans next week to propose the first-ever limits on greenhouse gas emissions from newly built power plants. While details of the E.P.A.’s proposal remain confidential, experts predict that it will include separate standards for carbon dioxide emissions from plants fired by natural gas and by coal. Plants using comparatively clean gas would be permitted to emit perhaps 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour, a ceiling within easy reach using modern technologies.

Coal-fired plants, meanwhile, may be allowed to emit as many as 1,400 pounds per megawatt-hour. But coal is so heavily laden with carbon that meeting even that higher limit would require operators to scrub carbon dioxide from their emissions before they reach the smokestack, and then pump it into permanent storage underground.

In his June climate action plan, Mr. Obama ordered the E.P.A. to propose new greenhouse-gas rules covering existing plants by next June, and to issue final standards by June 2015.

More here

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Jim Kuhnhenn: Obama To Use Lehmann Anniversary To Cite Progress

President Barack Obama is marking the fifth anniversary of the Lehman Brothers collapse by trying to lay claim to an economic turnaround and warning Republicans against moves that he contends would risk a backslide. His message to the GOP: don’t oppose raising the nation’s debt limit, don’t threaten to close down the government in a budget fight, and don’t push to delay the health care law or starve it of federal money.

The economic emphasis, after weeks devoted to the Syrian crisis, begins coming into focus in a series of events kicked off by a Rose Garden speech Monday. The White House argues that a better capitalized and better regulated financial sector is extending more credit, fueling an economy now able to withstand headwinds such as spending cuts and tax increases.

“You can draw this straight line from the health of the financial system to the ways the financial system impacts the economy,” said Jason Furman, the chairman of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers. Obama can point to a growing economy, rising housing prices, 35 straight months of hiring, a rebounding stock market and other signs of recovery. Five years after the federal government stepped in and infused banks with $245 billion in taxpayer money to avert a financial meltdown, the government has been paid back nearly in full.

More here

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President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden wait with members of the economic team in the Oval Office before a statement in the Rose Garden of the White House, Sept. 15, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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Daily Beast: Oh Look, There Goes The Deficit

A funny thing happened on the way to the debt-ceiling battle: a big chunk of our annual budget quietly melted away. Daniel Gross on the good news you didn’t see coming.

…. we’ve long argued that we live in a Golden Age of Deficit Reduction. The August Treasury Monthly statement, released Thursday, and a Congressional Budget Office report released earlier this week, show just how far we’ve come in the space of a year.

In August, revenues were $185 billion, up 3.4 percent from $178.9 billion in August 2012. Spending was $333 billion, down 9.7 percent from $369 billion. The result: the deficit for the month of August was $147 billion, down 22 percent from $190 billion in August 2012.

More here

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Bo, the Obama family dog, lounges in the West Garden Room of the White House, Sept. 15, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

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USA Today: Obama Travels To Asia Next Month

President Obama travels to four Asian nations for three economic summits between Oct. 6-12 … The stops are in Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines.

From the White House: “In Indonesia, he will attend the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders meeting … The president will then travel to Brunei for the U.S.-ASEAN Summit and the East Asia Summit (EAS) and to meet with the Sultan of Brunei….

“In Malaysia, the president will meet with Prime Minister Najib of Malaysia to highlight our growing bilateral ties with Malaysia, and will deliver the keynote address to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit…..

“The president will then travel to the Philippines, the fifth Asian treaty ally he has visited during his presidency. He will meet with President Aquino to reaffirm the strong economic, people-to-people, and security links between our two countries.”

More here

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First Lady Michelle Obama and Darden Restaurants chef Julie Elkinton greet diners following an event at an Olive Garden restaurant in Hyattsville, Md., Sept. 15, 2011. The First Lady joined Darden Restaurants and Partnership for a Healthier America to announce the company’s committment to reduce its calorie and sodium footprints, and to provide greater choice and variety to families through changes to its kids’ menus. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

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Bryce Covert: California Poised To Raise Its Minimum Wage To $10 An Hour

After a bill to raise California’s minimum wage to $9 per hour as of July 2014 and then $10 by January 2016 was approved by both houses of the California state legislature on Thursday, it now heads to Gov. Jerry Brown’s (D) desk for signature. Brown voiced his support earlier in the week in a press release, saying, “This legislation is overdue and will help families that are struggling in this harsh economy.”

When voters are asked to vote on whether to raise the minimum wage, they almost always approve it with substantial majorities, as was the case in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, and Ohio in past years. Eighty percent of Americans support a national raise to $10.10 an hour, including two-thirds of Republicans.

More here

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President Barack Obama talks with New York Times photojournalist Joao Silva in the Oval Office, Sept. 15, 2011. Silva lost both his legs when he stepped on a mine while accompanying U.S. soldiers on patrol near the town of Arghandab, in southern Afghanistan, Oct. 23, 2010, and was at the White House on assignment to photograph Dakota Meyer receiving the Medal of Honor. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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Today:

The President has no public events scheduled

3:0 EDT: VP Biden delivers remarks at Sen. Tom Harkin’s 36th Annual Steak Fry in Indianola, Iowa

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President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama wait with Dakota Meyer in the Blue Room of the White House before the start of the Medal of Honor presentation ceremony in the East Room, Sept. 15, 2011. Meyer, then a Marine Corps Corporal, received the Medal of Honor for his actions on Sept. 8, 2009, while serving in the Kunar Province, Afghanistan. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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03
Sep
13

Rise and Shine

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The Week Ahead (All Times Eastern):

Today:

9:45 AM: President Obama and VP Biden meet with members of Congress

8:30 PM: President Obama departs the White House en route Stockholm, Swede

Wednesday: The President will arrive in Stockholm. While there, he will hold a bilateral meeting and joint press conference with Prime Minister Reinfeldt. He will then participate in an event honoring Raoul Wallenberg at the Great Synagogue in Stockholm and tour an expo featuring clean energy innovations at the Royal Institute of Technology. In the evening, he will take part in a dinner with Nordic Leaders.

Thursday: The President will hold a bilateral meeting with the King and Queen of Sweden. He will then depart Stockholm en route Saint Petersburg, Russia where he will attend the G-20 Summit.

Friday: Attends the G-20 Summit. Returns to Washington, DC on Friday evening.

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ABC: Obama to Include LGBT Activists in Russia Meetings

President Obama will include members of Russian LGBT groups among the NGO leaders, democracy activists and human rights advocates he meets later this week when he is in St. Petersburg, Russia, for the G-20 summit, a U.S. official confirmed to ABC News.

It’s typical for visiting U.S. officials, including the president, to meet with civil society members here in Russia, something that always irks the Kremlin. But this appears to be the first time LGBT groups have been included in a presidential-level meeting.

…. It comes after a summer of international outrage over Russia’s new gay “propaganda” law, which outlaws even discussing homosexuality around minors. Violators could be fined and jailed. Foreigners face similar penalties plus deportation.

During an appearance on Jay Leno’s show last month, Obama was asked about the law and said he has “no patience for countries that try to treat gays or lesbians or transgender persons in ways that intimidate them or are harmful to them.”

More here

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USA Today: Obama’s day: Lobbying Congress, leaving for Europe

President Obama spends a big part of a busy Tuesday making his case for a military strike on Syria, speaking with invited members of Congress at the White House.

The White House did not release a guest list, but it is expected to include members of military and national security committees, as well as congressional leaders.

….. Obama’s lobbying effort goes global later in the week.

On Tuesday night, the president departs for Stockholm, Sweden. After a brief stop there, he heads to St. Petersburg, Russia, for the G-20 summit, where Syria is likely to be a dominant topic.

Full post

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Rick Ungar (Forbes): Media Outlets Spitting Mad At Obama For Spoiling Their Plans To Cash In On War

Following the President’ surprise announcement that he would seek the advice and consent of Congress before launching an attack on Syria, it seemed that no matter where you landed on the cable news dial everyone was in a state of upset.

With visions of TV screens filled with ‘shock and awe’ dancing in their heads along with the blessed promise of the ratings that follow the hysteria of war—not to mention a sublime ending to the slow news agony of August that dogs all news show production staffs, writers and broadcasters (trust me,I know)—Obama had held out the football for Charlie Brown to kick and then pulled it away at the last minute.

And the media was pissed.

…. And then there were the pundits appearing on networks representing all sides of the political spectrum — including those who claim to play it ‘down the middle’ — who took to the airwaves to angrily argue that the President’s backing off an attack pending Congressional approval would weaken America in the eyes of the world.

Really?

More here

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Washington Post: Where The Votes Stand On Syria:

See here for details

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Charles Pierce: Joe Lieberman – Just Shut Up

Let me be more precise. Just shut your fking piehole. Forever. You useless walking, bloodstained pile of casual death.

…. Let us be clear. There is no blazing, murderous maw into which Joe Lieberman would not be willing to feed someone else’s child ….. The man could care less about the dead. He’d feed on them himself, if he could.

Fk him with a Hellfire.

Now that my throat’s clear, let’s start the day.

Full post here

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The People’s View: The Most Worker Friendly President Since FDR

…. The working folk of America needed a champion – we needed a fierce advocate, if you will. And we elected one in 2008. If by some miracle of happenstance, President Obama didn’t have to work twice as hard to get half the recognition, even from “liberals” in the media, it would be patently obvious to everyone that the man presently occupying the Oval Office is the most worker-friendly president since Franklin Roosevelt. Barack Obama is a president who has more than kept his word to always make the best decision for people who work for a living.

…. a look at basically all of the president’s domestic policy – from bills that became law to bills that were blocked by Republicans, from legislation to administrative rulemaking – has been focused on one thing and one thing alone: helping America’s workers regain a footing in this economy. His job has not been easy, to put a severely mild point on it. But if on this labor day, we’re looking for a best friend of the American worker in government, the man behind the presidential seal is a pretty good pick.

Full post here

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Tom Kludt: Obama Discusses Syria With Japan PM

President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday discussed the purported chemical weapons attack in Syria.

According to a White House readout of the phone call, both leaders “agreed that the use of chemical weapons is a serious violation of international norms and cannot be tolerated” while pledging to stay in close consultation on a potential response against the Assad regime in Syria.

More here

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Jerusalem Post: Obama Offers Rosh Hashanah Greetings In Conference Call With Rabbis

US President Obama reflected on the High Holidays and offered New Year’s greetings in a conference call with nearly 1,000 rabbis.

Obama in the call on Friday afternoon extended the greetings on behalf of himself and the first lady for a sweet, happy and healthy New Year….

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, begins on Wednesday evening.

More here

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Think Progress: Eleven Other Things American Workers Deserve (Besides A Day Off)

Labor Day is meant to celebrate the accomplishments of the American worker, who spends most days on an oil rig or in an office, on the assembly line or on the docks, making the American economy run. The holiday originated in 1894, after two dozen people were killed during the Pullman Strike, a railway workers’ boycott of low wages and high rent. From there, it became an American tradition, meant to honor the accomplishments of the people who make this nation run.

The battle is not yet won. Unions are on the decline, while income inequality is on the rise. Women still aren’t earning what men make. And many employees still aren’t free from discrimination at their jobs. Here are just eleven of the fights we’re still fighting for the American worker

More here

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Caitlin McDevitt: Robert De Niro On Obama: He’s Trying His Best

Actor Robert De Niro defends President Barack Obama as a “good person” who’s “trying his best” for the country in the in the fall issue of Du Jour magazine:

Working as an actor his entire life means that De Niro sees everything through that lens. In describing his steadfast support for Barack Obama, he compares the president’s challenges to a filmmaker’s. “He’s a good person, period,” he says. “He’s trying his best. He’s going to do things that people feel are not right or violating one right or another. But at the end of the day, he represents, I think, the best of the type of people that I would like to see running the government. He has to play that game, the political game. They all do. They make statements they can’t honor because they’re impossible to honor. Once you get into that Washington machinery, you’ve just got to figure it out and swim against the current and grab onto this rock and that, and just try to maintain your course.”

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“You know, it’s one thing to be a critic,” he continues. “It’s another thing to be directly involved. It’s like directing a movie and you edit the film and then someone will give you a suggestion: ‘You could do this, you could do that.’ You look and you say, ‘Yeah, but the reason I can’t do that is because I don’t have that shot, and if I use this shot that’s better here, it impacts on this one and it’s a story point.’ In other words, it can’t be done. You have to make these choices with the government, and you’re going to be criticized. If you took the time to explain it all to the public, they’d say, ‘OK, I get it.’ Can you explain to everybody? No. You just have to say, ‘I made this choice because I felt it was the right choice.’”

More here

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21
Aug
13

This and That

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.

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Steve Benen: The registry the NRA warned against

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.

More here

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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….

More here

More at NYMag and, well, Charles Pierce says it all

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Continue reading ‘This and That’

21
Aug
13

Rise and Shine

Random old pic, just in case Bo is feeling crowded these days

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Today (all times Eastern):

The President has no scheduled public events

12:45: Josh Earnest briefs the press

7:0 NYC Democratic Mayoral Primary Debate (C-Span coverage starts at 6:0)

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Get the facts – there’s now a permanent link in the sidebar on the right

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ThinkProgress: The Remarkable Slowdown In Health Care Costs Since The Passage Of Obamacare

A new survey of health care premiums for employer-sponsored health care coverage shows that health care inflation is slowing, further undermining critics’ predictions that costs would skyrocket in the aftermath of the Affordable Care Act.

…. Other reports have also uncovered a slowdown in cost increases. The number of double-digit rate increases requested by health insurers in the individual market has plummeted over the past four years and Medicare’s projected spending between 2010 and 2020 had dropped by over $500 billion. Under the new cost scenario, the entitlement program would, by 2085, make up 4 percent of the economy instead of the previously projected 7 percent.

Annual growth of medical spending has also slowed “from a high of about 8.8 percent in 2003 to an average of about 3 percent per capita from 2009 to 2011, according to data reported in January by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.”

Full post here

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Kaiser Family Foundation

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USA Today: States predict more insurance customers

Estimates from 19 states operating health insurance exchanges to help the uninsured find coverage show that at least 8.5 million will use the exchanges to buy insurance. That would far outstrip the federal government’s estimate of 7 million new customers for all 50 states under the 2010 health care law….

…. “It’s not a positive development for the Republican opponents who would like to see this fail,” said Paul Ginsburg, president of the Center for Studying Health System Change…..

More here

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Jamelle Bouie: Anti-Obamacare Rage, Once a GOP Hit, Fizzles Despite Town Halls

Tea Party Republicans had a huge hit with their rage against Obamacare. It gave them control of the House of Representatives in 2010, fueled their anti-spending crusade in 2011, inspired the most vocal of the GOP presidential candidates, and elevated a host of right-wing politicians to the Senate, providing a national platform for the crusade against the so-called government takeover of health care.

Hits aren’t built to last, however, and after a while, this one began to fizzle … The magic has fizzled so much that some Republicans have begun to walk away from the project altogether, even as others work to turn Obamacare funding into cause for a government shutdown.

… Heritage can play as many of the old tunes as it likes. When October 1 comes, the Affordable Care Act will be there, ready to confer benefits, provide security, and begin the slow transformation of American health care.

Full post here

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TPM: Rick Perry In Talks To Accept Obamacare Funding For Elderly

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), an ardent opponent of the Affordable Care Act, is in talks with Obama administration officials to accept an estimated $100 million in care for the elderly and disabled through Obamacare….

Texas health officials are seeking to enroll in the so-called Community First Choice program available via the law’s Medicaid expansion. Perry officially declined to enroll his state in the program, saying in April that expanding the program for the poor would make Texas “hostage” to the federal government.

More here

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Incredible….

TPM: Only One in Four Young Adults Know About Obamacare Exchanges

Only one in four young American adults are aware of the online health insurance marketplaces that will open on Oct. 1 as part of the federal health care reform law, according to a report released Wednesday.

In a survey of adults ages 19 to 29 by the non-profit nonpartisan Commonwealth Fund, just 27 percent said they knew they would be able to purchase insurance on the marketplaces, also known as exchanges, starting Oct. 1.

The young adult population has been the focal point of the Obama administration’s campaign to promote the marketplaces. The White House has said that it wants to enroll 2.7 million people ages 18 to 35 in the exchanges by next year; 7 million people in total are expected to sign up for health coverage.

The new report underlines the challenge that the administration faces in reaching that population….

More here

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Michael Tomasky: Republicans Move to the Center? Nope, They’re Crazier Than Ever

If you thought the GOP would adopt more moderate positions after its 2012 debacle, you were wrong. From debate threats to defunding Obamacare and even more purges, Michael Tomasky on how the insanity’s only increasing.

If you’d asked me six months ago whether the Republican Party would manage to find a few ways to sidle back toward the center between now and 2016, I’d have said yes. But today, on the basis of evidence offered so far this year, I’d have to say a big fat no. With every passing month, the party contrives new ways to go crazier. There’s a lot of time between now and 2016, but it’s hard to watch recent events without concluding that the extreme part of the base is gaining more and more internal control.

More here

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Continue reading ‘Rise and Shine’

30
Jul
13

This and That

President Obama signs a line worker’s shirt after touring the Amazon fulfillment center in Chattanooga, Tenn., July 30 (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

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Steve Benen: Why would the GOP balk at a corporate tax cut?

As promised, President Obama spoke in Tennessee this afternoon, and made congressional Republicans an offer they probably shouldn’t refuse: the GOP would get corporate tax reforms, including lower rates, while Democrats would get investments in infrastructure and manufacturing.

…. GOP opposition is just a little more difficult to understand. Sure, when the White House proposes new tax revenue from the wealthy, it stands to reason that Republicans will scream bloody murder. When the president talks about increasing the size of government in any appreciable way, we know the GOP will go berserk.

But corporate tax breaks and infrastructure jobs? Why announce knee-jerk opposition to these ideas?

I’ve spent some time this afternoon collecting Republican complaints about the new Obama offer, so let’s take them one at a time.

More here

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Smartypants:  A common sense proposal for NSA reform

Now that it appears as if the American public is ready to move beyond their fear-based approach to national security, I agree with President Obama.

I’ve got to tell you though Charlie, I think this is a healthy thing because its a sign of maturity that this debate would not have been taking place 5 years ago. And I welcome it.

That means that perhaps we can have a rational discussion about the NSA and potential reforms that make sense. Of course folks like Greenwald are not going to initiate a discussion about solutions – that would mean actually owning some responsibility rather than simply screaming from the sidelines (not to mention that solutions are terrible link-bait). But somebody needs to do it. As is often the case, that part is left to the pragmatists.

More here

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@whitehouse This morning, President Obama and VP Biden met with Israeli and Palestinian negotiators on resuming peace talks

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ThinkProgress: Obama Calls Out Republicans For Wasting Time On Keystone: ‘That’s Not A Jobs Plan’

In a speech on Tuesday focused on repairing the American economy, President Obama called out Republicans in Congress for flouting serious job-creation efforts in favor of trying to repeal environmental regulations and push for the creation of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

While Republicans have advocated for Keystone by insisting that it will create jobs, Obama slammed that assertion Tuesday, pointing to the Cornell University estimate that Keystone would only create 50 permanent jobs….

More here

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The most useful invention since the wheel?

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Will catch up with whatever good stuff I missed in tomorrow’s R&S

23
Jun
13

Rise and Shine

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President Barack Obama greets the family of Make-a-Wish child Diego Diaz, not pictured, before their visit to the Oval Office, June 23, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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Washington Post: President Obama will announce Tuesday in a speech at Georgetown University that he plans to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions from existing power plants, according to individuals who have been briefed on the plan but asked not to be identified.

According to individuals familiar with the White House plan, who asked not to be identified since the president has yet to deliver his speech, Obama will couch the effort not only in terms of the nation’s domestic priorities, but as a way to meet the administration’s international pledge to reduce the country’s greenhouse-gas emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels.

More here

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What has Attorney General Eric Holder done lately? Oh…just this huge big freaking deal

US DOJ: The former chief executive officer of a Virginia-based security contracting firm was sentenced in the Eastern District of Virginia to 72 months in prison for creating a front company to obtain more than $31 million intended for disadvantaged small businesses and for bribing the former regional director for the National Capital Region of the Federal Protective Service (FPS) as part of the scheme. The front company obtained the contracts through the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Section 8(a) program, which allows qualified small businesses to receive sole-source and competitive-bid contracts set aside for minority-owned and disadvantaged small businesses. Keith Hedman used his expertise gleaned from decades as a government contractor to cheat the system and steal tens of millions from minority-owned small business owners,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Raman. “Today’s sentence shows that those who resort to deceit and bribery to secure federal contracts will be caught and held accountable.”

“Keith Hedman tried to game the system and take advantage of a government program designed to help minority-owned small businesses,” said U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride.  “He committed fraud, he undermined the trust of the U.S. government and this type of conduct will not be tolerated.  My office is committed to prosecuting those who cheat the government to the fullest extent of the law.” Keith Hedman, 53, of Arlington, Va., was sentenced today after pleading guilty to major government fraud and conspiracy to commit bribery on March 13, 2013. Hedman was also ordered to forfeit approximately $6.1 million.

More here

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First Lady Michelle Obama meets with Archbishop Desmond Tutu at the Cape Town Stadium in Cape Town, South Africa, June 23, 2011. Joining the First Lady are, from left: the First Lady’s niece Leslie Robinson, Malia Obama, Marian Robinson, the First Lady’s nephew Avery Robinson, and Sasha Obama. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

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It’s the weekend, so let the wonderful Henry Healy aka “Henry The Eighth” give you behind the scenes details of the week that was

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First Lady Michelle Obama talks with young people at the U.S. Consulate meet and greet at the Table Bay Hotel in Cape Town, South Africa, June 23, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

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SmartyPants: There are those who are trying to cast Edward Snowden’s actions as civil disobedience. I suspect that this argument will be intensified now that he has been charged under the Espionage Act by the DOJ. There is some acceptance among his supporters that he has broken the law. But they want to claim the mantle of it being an “unjust law” that requires civil disobedience.

I’m sure there are legal cases to be made on both sides of this claim. But the fact that Snowden fled to Hong Kong to avoid the consequences of his law breaking – more than anything else – disqualifies him from claiming that mantle.

More of this fantastic piece here

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First Lady Michelle Obama, joined by Marian Robinson, Sasha Obama and Malia Obama, tours the District 6 Museum in Cape Town, South Africa, June 23, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

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Jennifer Medina: Granting any kind of access to health care for immigrants is becoming a focal point in the current Congressional debate, as many Republicans have said they would refuse to support change if it included providing care for immigrants who have been living in the country illegally. Representative Raúl R. Labrador of Idaho, for instance, walked out of bipartisan negotiations in the House, arguing that illegal immigrants should be denied emergency room care and that unpaid medical bills should become a deportable offense.

But not in California, where there are an estimated 2.6 million illegal immigrants. Here, public health officials, elected representatives and advocacy groups are going in the opposite direction, trying to cobble together ways to provide preventive care for such immigrants, who are expected to make up the largest share of the remaining uninsured once the state’s expanded Medicaid program takes full effect.

More here

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President Barack Obama listens as Vice President Joe Biden makes a point during a meeting with the Democratic leadership in the Oval Office, June 23, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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Welcome to delusional grandeur, Mitt Romney style. Still shaking my head in disgust that he didn’t prepare a concession speech; only a victory speech. That’s hubris.

Rick Klein et al.,: Though Mitt Romney’s candidacy never turned into a presidency, there was a temporary Romney White House complete with a fully operational staff who were building the blueprints for the early days of a Romney administration months before the election that decided his defeat. In this special edition of Top Line, the chair of the Romney transition efforts, Gov. Mike Leavitt, R-Utah, takes us on a tour of the White House that never was—where he says the Romney transition team built “a federal government in miniature.”

“If you had walked down these halls in the day before the election, you would see the State Department, the Treasury Department, the Department of Defense,” Leavitt says, standing inside what was the former transition headquarters in Washington, D.C. “A whole series of executive orders had been written,” he says. “There were regulations that were being developed. There was a list of things we wanted to change. There was a checklist. It was a tick-tock, if you will, of things we wanted to see unfold in a very orderly way.”

More here

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President Barack Obama speaks to soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division during a visit to Fort Drum in New York, June 23, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama’s America, is wonderful indeed

Trudy Ring: Eric Fanning, undersecretary of the Air Force, became acting secretary of the branch Friday with the retirement of Michael Donley, making Fanning the highest-ranking LGBT person in the Department of Defense. “President Obama is yet to nominate Donley’s replacement, so Fanning should be serving in the dual roles for a while,” notes BuzzFeed.

Eric_Fanning_insert_c_Washington_Blade_by_Michael_Key

The interim assignment makes Fanning the civilian head of the Air Force. The Senate confirmed him as undersecretary in April. Before that, he had been deputy undersecretary and deputy chief management officer for the Navy since 2009. His résumé also includes stints with communications firms, think tanks, and broadcast media, along with several political posts. He is a former Victory Fund board member and a donor to various LGBT causes.

“I left the Pentagon before the reelection [of President Clinton] and then didn’t come back until this administration when we had a president who said he was going to end it,” he told the Blade. “It was very difficult when we were getting to the end of the first two years and it wasn’t clear if we were going to be able to repeal ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ I didn’t know what I was going to do if we didn’t get the repeal through because some people couldn’t work because they were openly gay or lesbian.”

More here

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First Lady Michelle Obama meets with Dr. Mamphela Ramphele at the University of Cape Town in Cape Town, South Africa, June 23, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

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President Barack Obama fist-bumps Make-a-Wish child Diego Diaz after reading a letter he wrote, during his visit in the Oval Office, June 23, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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Have A Baracktastic and Michelleicious Day! 😀

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!




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