Posts Tagged ‘State Of The Union

30
Dec
14

Pete Souza The Great: 2014 In Photos

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January 28, 2014

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“At the annual State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol, Chuck Kennedy captured this poignant moment between the First Lady and U.S. Army Ranger Sgt. First Class Cory Remsburg. Cory first met the President in 2009 at a D-Day ceremony in Normandy. Four months later, Cory was badly injured in Afghanistan and in a coma for three months. In early 2010, shortly after Cory came out of his coma, the President happened to be visiting patients at Walter Reed Hospital. As he walked into one of the patient’s rooms, hanging on the wall was a photo I had taken of the President and Cory in Normandy. The President then realized that he had met this badly injured Army Ranger at Normandy. Two years later, we were visiting Arizona, where Cory had gone home to further recuperate. The President asked if Cory would be able to greet him backstage. Amazingly, Cory was able to salute the President and walk across the room aided by a walker to shake hands with the President.” (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

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February 4, 2014

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“Members of Congress vie for the President’s attention following a meeting with the House Democratic Caucus in the East Room of the White House.”  (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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March 1, 2014

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“The President talks with some of his national security advisors before a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin about the situation in Ukraine. I’m sure there will be people quick to comment about his wearing casual clothes and having his feet on his coffee table. Let’s keep perspective in mind: it was a Saturday, and a President is the President whether he’s wearing a suit on a weekday or casual clothes on a weekend. And a President, any President, isn’t disrespecting the office if he puts his feet on a table or a desk; he’s just being relaxed.” (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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March 18, 2014

Continue reading ‘Pete Souza The Great: 2014 In Photos’

23
Aug
14

President Obama Is Doing His Job

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 President Barack Obama signing an executive memorandum for the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative

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Jonathan Capehart: The Unrealistic Expectations Of Obama In Ferguson Shooting

The president of the United States has awesome powers and responsibilities. But being a superhero is not one of them. But you wouldn’t know that by listening to those demanding that President Obama do all sorts of questionable things in response to the tumult over the police killing of Michael Brown. They want Obama to act out in some visceral way. They want more emotion from him on the horrible actions in and images coming out of Ferguson, Missouri. They just want him to do something. All the while completely ignoring what he’s actually doing, what he actually can do and what he is actually capable of doing. Michael Eric Dyson, a professor at Georgetown University, said on “Face the Nation” on Sunday, “[W]e need presidential leadership. He needs to step up to the plate and be responsible.” White House officials tell me that personnel from the Department of Justice’s community relations service arrived in Ferguson on Aug. 10, the day after Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Brown.

The level of attention has only ratcheted up from there. DOJ is conducting its own parallel federal investigation. FBI agents swarmed Ferguson over the weekend. A third autopsy of Brown’s body conducted by the federal government was done yesterday. Because of the ongoing investigation the last thing anyone should want is for the president to be rhetorically reckless in talking about the police killing of Michael Brown. deep in his second term, we know the president is no fan of the theater of politics, especially needless theatrics that might make people feel good in the short-term, but do nothing to advance a greater cause or achieve a worthwhile mission in the long run. Obama cares. Deeply. But if you’re expecting him to do seemingly heroic and showy things that make you feel good but do nothing to actually fix big, systemic problems in the long-term you will never be satisfied. All the energy being used to harangue the president should be directed at officials in Ferguson and St. Louis County who have refused to release key documents in the case.

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President Barack Obama speaks about his budget during the State of the Union Address

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Exhibit A

NYT: Obama Cares. Look At The Numbers.

A true measure of a president’s priorities lies hidden in plain sight in his budget proposals. Under that standard, Mr. Obama has been more committed to communities like Ferguson than any Democratic president in the past half century. Mr. Obama earmarked 17 percent of his budget for these needs, versus Mr. Clinton’s 12 percent and Jimmy Carter’s 8 percent. These presidents all faced economic challenges, although of different degrees and strength. Each was committed to the needs of the poor and the disadvantaged. But Mr. Obama made good on that commitment far more concretely. No president gets all he requests, but the outcomes speak well for Mr. Obama, too. Christopher Wimer of Columbia University found, for example, that tax and transfer policies lowered the poverty rate by only 1 percentage point in 1967, under President Lyndon B. Johnson, but by almost 13 points in 2012.

Did Mr. Obama plan to spend more simply because he had more mouths to feed? No. Even after accounting for the higher numbers of poor people caught in the Great Recession, Mr. Obama’s record outshines his predecessors’. His proposed first-term spending per poor individual was $13,731 to Mr. Clinton’s $8,310 and Mr. Carter’s $4,431, in 2014 dollars. Mr. Obama even exceeds Mr. Johnson, whose budget priorities amounted only to $111 per poor person. (Because Mr. Johnson was the first postwar president to tackle poverty issues with so many new programs, it is not surprising that his proposed funding levels were low at the start.) The same pattern shows up in spending per poor family. Mr. Obama allocated $67,132, Mr. Clinton $39,820, Mr. Carter $20,790, and Mr. Johnson $546, again using 2014 dollars.

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08
Feb
14

A Year Of Action

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Sweet dreams and wake up tomorrow ready to continue the march for a more equal and just world.😀

06
Feb
14

Rise and Shine

On This Day – Pete Souza: “Another snowstorm blanketed Washington for the second time in a few days. Because it was a Saturday, I hung around the White House thinking that the President might venture out in the snow with his daughters. Here they are playing in the Rose Garden in the midst of the storm.” Feb. 6, 2010

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Presidential Daily Schedule (All Times Eastern):

8:00AM: President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama attend the National Prayer Breakfast

12:00PM: Press Secretary Jay Carney holds a Press Briefing

1:00PM: Vice President Biden speaks on Infrastructure Investment in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

2:15PM: President Obama holds a bilateral meeting with President Martelly of Haiti

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Sy Mukherjee: Conservatives Seize on Report To Argue Obamacare Is a Job Killer – But The Author Says They’re Wrong

On Wednesday, Congressional Budget Office (CBO) director Doug Elmendorf refuted the claim that the Affordable Care Act is a job killer — a misleading takeaway from his agency’s new report that is being touted by Obamacare critics. Testifying before the House Budget Committee on the CBO’s newly released economic projections for the next decade, Elmendorf addressed the report’s finding that the Affordable Care Act will reduce the labor participation rate and the total number of hours worked by an equivalent of 2 million jobs in 2017. According to Elmendorf, that statistic is being taken out of context to suggest that Obamacare will eliminate jobs.

If someone says, ‘I decided to retire or stay home and spend more time with my family and spend more time doing my hobby,’ they don’t feel bad about it — they feel good about it. And we don’t sympathize. We say congratulations.” Elmendorf also noted that the ACA is actually expected to boost the economy in the near-term by making health insurance and medical care affordable for the poorest Americans, giving them the freedom to spend money in other areas of the economy. “On balance, CBO estimates that the ACA will boost overall demand for goods and services over the next few years,” states the report.

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Greg Sargent: CBO Director: Obamacare Will Reduce Unemployment

Under questioning today before the House Budget Committee from Dem Rep. Chris Van Hollen, CBO director Douglas Elmendorf confirmed that in reality, his report suggests Obamacare will reduce unemployment: The CBO report found that Obamacare — through subsidizing health coverage – would reduce the amount of hours workers choose to work, to the equivalent of 2.5 million full-time workers over 10 years. This was widely spun by Republicans as a loss of 2.5 million jobs. To counter this, Van Hollen cited the report’s findings on Obamacare’s impact on labor demand, rather than supply.

On page 124, the report estimates that the ACA will “boost overall demand for goods and services over the next few years because the people who will benefit from the expansion of Medicaid and from access to the exchange subsidies are predominantly in lower-income households and thus are likely to spend a considerable fraction of their additional resources on goods and services.” This, the report says, “will in turn boost demand for labor over the next few years.” “When you boost demand for labor in this kind of economy, you actually reduce the unemployment rate, because those people who are looking for work can find more work, right?” Van Hollen asked Elmendorf. “Yes, that’s right,” Elmendorf said.

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TPM: Iran Is Apparently Adopting Universal Health Care: RouhaniCare

The quasi-official Twitter account for Iranian president Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday that the country would be adopting a universal health care system to “extend medical insurance to all Iranians.” In English at least, the new government is also adopting a nickname that would sound familiar to American ears: RouhaniCare.

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Washington Post: Boehner Urges Allies To Consider Linking Military Benefits To Debt Limit

A new break in the GOP’s debt-ceiling strategy emerged at a private lunch on Wednesday, where House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) encouraged his allies to consider linking a restoration of recently cut military benefits with a one-year extension of the federal government’s borrowing authority.

“He was very warm to it, seeing it as something that can get us out of this fix,” said one attendee, who like the others requested anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. “I think this could be a way for us to get through the debt ceiling, but the speaker is going to spend the next few days taking the temperature of his members.”

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Sean Sullivan: Biden To Raise Money For Alex Sink In Florida Special Election

Vice President Biden will travel to Florida next week to attend a fundraising event for Democrat Alex Sink’s campaign for Congress, Biden’s office confirmed Wednesday, marking the White House’s first direct involvement in a special election seen as harbinger of the November midterms.

Sink is running against Republican David Jolly in a Tampa-area swing district. They are competing to success long-serving Rep. C.W. Bill Young (R), whose death last year led to the special election.

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Justin Snow: Obama Nominates Second Gay Black Judge To Federal Bench

After his first attempt to nominate an out African-American judge to the federal bench was blocked by Sen. Marco Rubio, President Barack Obama announced Wednesday his intent to try again. According to a release from the White House, Obama will nominate Darrin Gayles to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

Gayles, who has served as a circuit court judge for Florida’s 11th Judicial Circuit since 2011 and previously served as a county judge for the same circuit from 2004 to 2011, was endorsed by the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund for his bid for re-election in 2012. If confirmed, Gayles, much like Thomas before him, would become the first out black man in the nation’s history to serve on the federal bench.

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Miami Herald: Obama Nominates Four For Federal Judgeships Including Gay Miami-Dade Judge Darrin Gayles

President Barack Obama has nominated four people to serve as federal judges in Florida’s middle and southern districts. Three of those nominated Wednesday are currently circuit judges and one is an attorney in private practice. All four must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

According to a White House announcement, Obama chose Miami-Dade Circuit Judges Beth Bloom and Darrin Gayles for South Florida. Nominees for Florida’s middle district are Putnam County Circuit Judge Carlos Eduardo Mendoza and Orlando attorney Paul Byron.

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Noam Schieber: Socialized Law: A Radical Solution For Inequality

Anyone who has ever picked up a tabloid knows full well how the 1 percent flouts the laws that bind the rest of us. One night in 2004, 16-year-old Eric Bradlee Miller got drunk on a bottle of vodka, stole a pickup truck at a convenience store, then plowed into a car, killing the driver. Almost ten years later, Ethan Couch, also 16, packed several friends into his father’s pickup, stole two cases of beer from a Walmart, and proceeded to scream down a local thoroughfare until he collided with a disabled vehicle, killing its driver and three passersby. Miller’s grandfather, with whom he lived, had wanted to hire a private lawyer but couldn’t afford the expense, and so the court appointed one instead. The lawyer advised Miller to plead not guilty and take the case to trial, where he was convicted of murder and handed a 20-year sentence.

 Couch’s parents hired two prominent local defense attorneys who advised him to plead guilty and wallow in contrition before the judge. Most famously, they enlisted a psychologist to testify that Couch suffered from an obscure malady known as “affluenza,” in which wealthy parents render their children blameless by failing to discipline them. Prosecutors had asked for 20 years; the judge—the same one who sentenced Miller—set Couch free. The only catch was that the teenager would have to spend part of his probation in a California rehab facility with a half-million-dollar annual tab. The only way to bring about the ideal of equal protection under the law is to boost spending on lawyers for the poor and middle class, and to prevent the affluent from spending freely. We must, in effect, socialize the legal profession.

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AP: House Conservatives Rule Out Immigration This Year

Conservative Republicans on Wednesday ruled out any immigration legislation in the House this year, insisting that the GOP should wait until next year when the party might also control the Senate. several of the conservatives were adamant that the House should do nothing on the issue this year, a midterm election year when the GOP is angling to gain six seats in the Senate and seize majority control. Democrats currently have a 55-45 advantage but are defending more seats, including ones in Republican-leaning states.

“I think it’s a mistake for us to have an internal battle in the Republican Party this year about immigration reform,” Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, told reporters at a gathering of conservatives. “I think when we take back the Senate in 2014 one of the first things we should do next year after we do certain economic issues, I think we should address the immigration issue.” Labrador’s comments were noteworthy as he was one of eight House members working on bipartisan immigration legislation last year. He later abandoned the negotiations.

The Senate last June passed a bipartisan bill that would tighten border security, provide enforcement measures and offer a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million immigrants living in the United States illegally. The measure has stalled in the House where Speaker John Boehner and other leaders have rejected a comprehensive approach in favor of a bill-by-bill process.

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Luke Harding: How Snowden Went From Loyal NSA Contractor To Whistleblower

At the time, the figure who most closely embodied Snowden’s rightwing views was Ron Paul, the most famous exponent of US libertarianism. Snowden supported Paul’s 2008 bid for the US presidency. He was also impressed with the Republican candidate John McCain. He wasn’t an Obama supporter as such, but he didn’t object to him, either. Once Obama became president, Snowden came to dislike him intensely. He criticised the White House’s attempts to ban assault weapons. He was unimpressed by affirmative action. Another topic made him even angrier. The Snowden of 2009 inveighed against government officials who leaked classified information to newspapers – the worst crime conceivable, in Snowden’s apoplectic view. In January of that year, the New York Times published a report on a secret Israeli plan to attack Iran. The Times said its story was based on 15 months’ worth of interviews with current and former US officials, European and Israeli officials, other experts and international nuclear inspectors.

TheTrueHOOHA’s response, published by Ars Technica, is revealing. In a long conversation with another user, he wrote the following messages: “WTF NYTIMES. Are they TRYING to start a war?” “They’re reporting classified shit” “moreover, who the fuck are the anonymous sources telling them this? those people should be shot in the balls” “that shit is classified for a reason” “it’s not because ‘oh we hope our citizens don’t find out’ its because ‘this shit won’t work if iran knows what we’re doing'” For the rest of the journey, Greenwald read the latest cache, mesmerised. Sleep was impossible: “I didn’t take my eyes off the screen for a second. The adrenaline was so extreme.” From time to time Poitras would come up from her seat in the rear and grin at Greenwald. “We would just cackle and giggle like schoolchildren. We were screaming and hugging and dancing with each other up and down,” he says. Their celebrations woke up some of their neighbours; they didn’t care. 

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NYT: Freeing Workers From The Insurance Trap

The report estimated that — thanks to an increase in insurance coverage under the act and the availability of subsidies to help pay the premiums — many workers who felt obliged to stay in a job that provided health benefits would now be able to leave those jobs or choose to work fewer hours than they otherwise would have. In other words, the report is about the choices workers can make when they are no longer tethered to an employer because of health benefits. The cumulative effect on the labor supply is the equivalent of 2.5 million fewer full-time workers by 2024. Some workers may have had a pre-existing condition and will now be able to leave work because insurers must accept all applicants without regard to health status and charge premiums unrelated to health status.

Some may have felt they needed to keep working to pay for health insurance, but now new government subsidies will help pay premiums, making it more possible for them to leave their jobs. The report clearly stated that health reform would not produce an increase in unemployment (workers unable to find jobs) or underemployment (part-time workers who would prefer to work more hours per week). It also found “no compelling evidence” that, as of now, part-time employment has increased as a result of the reform law, a frequent claim of critics.

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On This Day:

President Obama calls Senators from the Oval Office. Feb. 6, 2009. Phil Schiliro, Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs, is seated (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Snow blankets the White House south grounds during a blizzard Feb. 6, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama holds a child of a supporter after speaking at the Democratic National Committee winter meeting in Washington, D.C., Feb. 6, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama talks with, from left, Director of Speechwriting Jon Favreau, Senior Advisor David Plouffe and Speechwriting Associate Director Jonathan Lovett in the Oval Office, Sunday, Feb. 6, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama confers with Chief of Staff Denis McDonough as he talks on the phone in the Oval Office, Feb. 6, 2013 (Photo by Pete Souza)

REI Chief Executive Officer Sally Jewell is congratulated by outgoing Interior Secretary Ken Salazar after she was nominated by President Obama to be the next Secretary of the Interior, Feb. 6, 2013

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01
Feb
14

“Opportunity Is Who We Are”

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Frank Bruni: Obama’s Magic Three

First President Obama recognized Mary Barra, who was in the audience, noting that her childhood wasn’t a gilded one—she wasn’t born into corporate royalty. No, she got there by dint of toil and talent, a factory worker’s daughter rising to become the first female chief executive officer of General Motors. She’s the American dream personified. Then Obama recognized John Boehner, the Speaker of the House, as “the son of a barkeep.” He, too, landed far from where he began. He, too, took the kind of journey that we like to believe is uniquely possible in this country, the fabled land of opportunity.

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But it was also a lens through which the rest of the speech could be heard, and it was the lens through which all of us should be evaluating the policies and direction of our country right now. In paying tribute to Barra, Boehner and Barack Obama, the president was paying tribute to social mobility, and he was correctly defining the chance to better oneself—to travel from the circumstances of one’s birth to the circumstances of one’s merit and labor—as this country’s central and sustaining promise. It’s essential to our national identity. It’s vital to our sense of honor and purpose. It’s the foundation of an optimism that seems to be fading fast. If we let “the American dream” become a storybook phrase, a quaint and saccharine anachronism, no longer broadly evident and no longer widely believed, then we’re in desperate trouble.

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Over the next year and the ones after that, we as a country somehow need to make sure that decades from now, a president delivering his or her State of the Union can survey the spectators and see someone like Barra; can glance back and see someone like Boehner; and can look in the mirror and see someone like the man who bridged Kenya, Kansas and the White House.

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29
Jan
14

Americans Deserve A Secure Retirement

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President Barack Obama speaks after a tour of the U.S. Steel Irvin Plant in West Mifflin, Pennsylvania

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This is how you win the day

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President Barack Obama signs a memorandum instructing the U.S. Treasury Department to create a new retirement account system after touring the U.S. Steel Irvin Plant in West Mifflin, Pennsylvania

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President Barack Obama holds up a memorandum instructing the U.S. Treasury Department to create a new retirement account system

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Continue reading ‘Americans Deserve A Secure Retirement’

29
Jan
14

Rise and Shine

On This Day: President Obama meets with members of his Cabinet in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Jan. 29, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Today:

10:10: The President tours Costco, Lanham, Maryland

10:25: Delivers remarks

11:20: Departs Joint Base Andrews en route Pittsburgh

12:15: Arrives Pittsburgh

1:20: Tours U. S. Steel Irvin Plant, West Mifflin, Pennsylvania

1:45: Delivers remarks

3:10: Departs Pittsburgh

4:05: Arrives Joint Base Andrews

4:20: Arrives the White House

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Eugene Robinson: Obama’s Best State Of The Union Speech

With a strong, optimistic beginning and an unforgettable ending, that may have been President Obama’s best State of the Union speech. Apparently none of the commentators who have been saying his presidency is on its last legs bothered to let him know. He opened with a portrait of the country – not an America gripped by crisis or mired in despondency, but a sunny place where unemployment is falling, school test scores are rising, housing prices are recovering, deficits are shrinking and manufacturing jobs are coming home.

the president’s tone throughout the speech was buoyant, not sour. His defense of the Affordable Care Act was an observation that House Republicans’ first 40 useless votes to repeal the law really should suffice. Even when he bludgeoned the GOP over long-term unemployment benefits or the minimum wage, he did it with a smile. His argument for equal pay and family leave? “It’s time to do away with workplace policies that belong in a ‘Mad Men’ episode.” His call for raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10? “Join the rest of the country. Say yes. Give America a raise.”

The end of the speech, a tribute to wounded Sgt. 1st Class Cory Remsburg, was an indelible moment. To end with such a powerful story of bravery and resilience gave emotional depth to the overall theme of the speech: America is back. I don’t know how much of his agenda Obama will achieve. But I’m pretty sure the last three years of his presidency won’t be boring.

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Charles Pierce: The State Of Our Union Is Long

Once again, he was the only obvious president in the room, much good may that do him. He did not rile up the base. He was not combative. He did not dwell on issues that his base wanted to hear. (If you had “Keystone XL,” or “NSA,” or “TPP” in your State of the Union drinking game, you probably wound up as the designated driver.) But he was firm on one thing. He is not going to be a lame duck as long as he can still walk. There were a lot of sentences that began with some variation of, “If Congress won’t act…” And he can still throw a sneaky right hand over the top: Now, I do not expect to convince my Republican friends on the merits of this law. But I know that the American people are not interested in refighting old battles. So again, if you have specific plans to cut costs, cover more people, increase choice, tell America what you’d do differently. Let’s see if the numbers add up. But let’s not have another 40- something votes to repeal a law that’s already helping millions of Americans like Amanda.

He was extraordinarily strong in spots, particularly on voting rights, where he plainly had a lot to say, and said it all, and on the process of getting the country off what he rather daringly described as the “permanent war footing” it had been on since 2001. But, if this speech burned no barns, it didn’t sound anything like a last chance, either. The president seemed to have a pen and one hand, and that well-worn olive branch still in the other. He is what he always has been, the coolest head in the room. You can never say he isn’t that.

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BBC: Stem Cell ‘Major Discovery’ Claimed

Stem cell researchers are heralding a “major scientific discovery”, with the potential to start a new age of personalised medicine. Scientists in Japan showed stem cells can now be made quickly just by dipping blood cells into acid. Stem cells can transform into any tissue and are already being trialled for healing the eye, heart and brain. The latest development, published in the journal Nature, could make the technology cheaper, faster and safer.

The human body is built of cells with a specific role – nerve cells, liver cells, muscle cells – and that role is fixed. However, stem cells can become any other type of cell, and they have become a major field of research in medicine for their potential to regenerate the body. Embryos are one, ethically charged, source of stem cells. Nobel prize winning research also showed that skin cells could be “genetically reprogrammed” to become stem cells (termed induced pluripotent stem cells).

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NYT: The Diminished State Of The Union

Every winter since 2009, President Obama has stood at the podium of the House and pleaded for the cooperation of Congress. For the last three State of the Union speeches, he has largely been ignored. That has left a growing trail of unfinished business: background checks for gun buyers, immigration reform, a higher minimum wage, tax fairness, universal preschool. This year was different. Mr. Obama’s speech on Tuesday night acknowledged the obvious: Congress has become a dead end for most of the big, muscular uses of government to redress income inequality and improve the economy for all, because of implacable Republican opposition.

“America does not stand still, and neither will I,” he said. “So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do.”  Raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour for federal contract workers might benefit only a few hundred-thousand people, but it increases the pressure on other businesses and, ultimately, Congress to raise the wage for everyone. One particularly promising request the president made of Congress was to expand the earned-income tax credit, which now benefits 15 million families a year, to workers without children. That would not only boost the incomes of many at the bottom of the ladder, but it would provide the incentive to work that many Republicans say they support.

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Brian Beutler: The Right’s Agenda Is Reviled: The Lesson From Obama’s Confident State Of The Union

Intentionally or otherwise, Obama’s speech was a reminder to Democrats that the storm clouds of Obamacare implementation have obscured their view of the popular platform the party ran on so confidently in 2012. That there are a series of issues that animate Democratic constituencies on the docket, both ahead of 2014 and beyond, and all of them are political and substantive winners for the party.

To the extent that the GOP agenda isn’t in flux or concealed by sensitivity training, it remains broadly less popular than the Democratic agenda. Republicans understand this well enough to recognize that they need to at least pretend to want to narrow inequality, but these ideas don’t layer neatly atop the existing party platform.

 And, of course, in the long run, fanatical opposition to national health care isn’t easily compatible with any serious equality agenda. Democrats don’t have that problem. And structurally that puts them in a sound place, even if the politics of the moment feel pretty wobbly.

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Annie-Rose Strasser: Obama Goes Full Feminist: ‘Time To Do Away With Workplace Policies That Belong In A ‘Mad Men’ Episode’

President Obama let his feminist flag fly during his State of the Union address on Tuesday night. Citing pay disparity and paid leave policy, he argued — to loud applause — that women are still unequal in the United States, and that there are policies that can change that: Today, women make up about half our workforce. But they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That is wrong, and in 2014, it’s an embarrassment. A woman deserves equal pay for equal work. She deserves to have a baby without sacrificing her job. A mother deserves a day off to care for a sick child or sick parent without running into hardship – and you know what, a father does, too. It’s time to do away with workplace policies that belong in a “Mad Men” episode. Let’s work together – Congress, the White House, and businesses from Wall Street to Main Street – to give every woman the opportunity she deserves. Because I believe when women succeed, America succeeds.

The President’s ‘Mad Men’-era assessment is apt. Women earn less than their male counterparts in the United States no matter their job, industry, or education. Nationally, women earn 77 cents on a man’s dollar — and that number is not getting better. It affects women right out of college and women at the tops of their fields. Obama is right to call out leave policy, as well, as an issue that keeps women on unequal footing in the workforce. The U.S. is one of the few developed nations without any requirement for paid maternity leave. Over 40 percent of women are forced to take unpaid leave from their jobs when they get pregnant, while about 25 percent quit or are forced out.

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USA Today: Obama Unveils New Retirement Savings Plan: ‘MyRA’

A new savings plan will allow Americans to buy savings bonds in a starter retirement account that “guarantees a decent return with no risk of losing what you put in,” President Obama said Tuesday evening in his State of the Union address. Details: Safe: The new savings bonds would have its principal guaranteed by the U.S. government, much like a traditional savings bond. Tax benefits: The MyRA bond would be like a Roth IRA: Your contributions would not be tax-deductible, but your earnings would be free from tax when you withdraw it. As with a Roth, your contributions can be taken out tax-free at any time.

Affordable: Minimum initial investment could be as low as $25, and subsequent investments could be as little as $5, through payroll deduction. Savers can keep the same account when they change jobs. Rates: Savers will earn interest at the same variable interest rate as the federal employees’ Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) Government Securities Investment Fund. The fund earned 1.74% last year. Availability: The MyRA would be open to households earning up to $191,000 a year through their employers. Employers won’t incur any cost to offer the MyRAs. You’ll be able to save up to $15,000 a year for up to 30 years before transferring to a private Roth IRA.

More here

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Ryan Cooper: In The State Of The Union, Obama Pledges Strong Action On Climate Change

During President Obama’s speech tonight, he announced many different ways he would use the executive branch to pursue strong action on climate change. The policy framework hasn’t changed. Instead, this is a good signal that President Obama intends to finish what he has started. To a first approximation, climate change is about coal. The oldest and filthiest coal-fired power plants are already being retired, squeezed by cheap natural gas and ever-cheaper renewables on one side, and the EPA on the other. With a bit of luck, and if the president keeps up the pressure, by the time he hands off to his successor coal will be on a permanently downward trajectory.

Here’s the money quote: Over the past eight years, the United States has reduced our total carbon pollution more than any other nation on Earth. But we have to act with more urgency – because a changing climate is already harming western communities struggling with drought, and coastal cities dealing with floods.  That’s why I directed my administration to work with states, utilities, and others to set new standards on the amount of carbon pollution our power plants are allowed to dump into the air.

The final sentence is the key one. Remember, the EPA still hasn’t even finalized its rule for carbon pollution from existing coal-fired power plants, yet it has managed to close down dozens of plants using rules governing mercury and particulate emissions. Should it come out with an even slightly aggressive rule, it could force all coal plants to eventually shut down. Doing that tomorrow would be ill-advised, but if phased in over a decade or so, the long-term benefits would be spectacular.

More here

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On This Day:

President Obama during a budget meeting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Jan. 29, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

Surrounded by members of Congress, and Lilly Ledbetter, President Obama signs the Lilly Ledbetter Bill, Jan. 29, 2009

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Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, a Republican member of the Cabinet, feigns being a blocking back for President Obama as he arrives backstage to meet with GOP House leaders before speaking to their issues conference at the Renaissance Baltimore Harbor Place Hotel in Baltimore, Md., Jan. 29, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama is briefed on the events in Egypt during a meeting with his national security team in the Situation Room of the White House, Saturday, Jan. 29, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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The first family walk together to the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, Jan. 29, 2012

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President Obama delivers remarks on immigration at Del Sol High School in Las Vegas, Nev., Jan. 29, 2013 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama signs an accompanying letter to Congressional leaders after signing H.R. 152, which provides fiscal year 2013 supplemental appropriations to respond to and recover from the severe damage caused by Hurricane Sandy, in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, Jan. 29, 2013 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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28
Jan
14

Army Ranger Sgt. First Class Cory Remsburg: Hero

28
Jan
14

A Prepared President

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@WhiteHouse: “I think the tone is right. I think the framework is right.” — President Obama on his #SOTU

27
Jan
14

Rise and Shine

On This Day: President Obama kisses First Lady Michelle Obama in a holding room at the Capitol after delivering his first State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress, Jan. 27, 2010

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Today:

The President has no public events scheduled

1:15 EST: Jay Carney briefs the press

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USA Today: Obama to take two-day post-speech trip

President Obama will hit the road after Tuesday night’s State of the Union speech, selling his ideas during two days of stops in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Tennessee.

Obama’s first followup to his annual address to Congress comes Wednesday morning in Prince George’s County, Md. … he then travels to the Pittsburgh area for a midafternoon speech before flying on to Milwaukee, where he is scheduled to spend Wednesday night.

The Milwaukee speech is scheduled for Thursday morning, following by another flight and speech in Nashville. Obama is scheduled to return to the White House Thursday evening.

In addition, Obama is scheduled to take a virtual national tour on Friday, when he takes questions from Internet users across the country during a Google+ Hangout.

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WH.gov: The First Lady’s Box Seats at the 2014 State of the Union

For nearly three decades, extraordinary Americans who exemplify the themes and ideals laid out in the State of the Union Address have been invited to join the First Lady in her viewing box. Learn more about the remarkable individuals who will join First Lady Michelle Obama for the 2014 State of the Union Address:

Jason Collins (Los Angeles, CA)

12-Year NBA Player

While at Stanford, Jason Collins was selected as an All American, named the NCAA’s “Big Man of the Year,” and earned an appearance in the Final Four. After graduating in 2001, Collins was drafted into the NBA and has since played for six teams including the Celtics, whose then coach Doc Rivers said of Collins: “He’s the best. He literally is one of the best guys I’ve ever had in the locker room, player or coach.” In his 12 years in the league, Collins’ teams earned 9 trips to the playoffs including 2 NBA Finals appearances. In April 2013, Collins became the first male player in major American team sports to come out openly as gay. The President expressed his gratitude to Collins for his courageous announcement through an article Collins penned himself. The President said he “couldn’t be prouder” of Collins, recognizing this as a point of progress for the LGBT community, and one more step in America’s goal to treat everyone fairly and with respect. Collins is 35 and lives in Los Angeles, California.

Carlos Arredondo and Jeff Bauman (Boston, MA)

Survivors of the Boston Marathon Bombing

Carlos Arredondo and Jeff Bauman are forever linked due to the attacks on the 117th Boston Marathon. In what has become an iconic image from the day in April of 2013, Carlos – wearing his white Cowboy hat – was captured rushing a badly injured Jeff away from the bombing to safety, thereby becoming two of the faces of ‘Boston Strong.’ From his intensive care hospital bed, Jeff played a vital role in identifying the bombers. After losing both legs in the attack, he is battling back, describing himself as a quick healer and stronger now than he was before the attack. Jeff, 27, and Carlos, 53 and a Gold Star Father, have become close friends.

More here

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@JamiMLynn

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TPM: GOP Candidates Suddenly Find Love For Obamacare’s Medicaid Expansion

The conventional wisdom is that Republicans running in 2014 will be campaigning against Obamacare, attempting to recreate the 2010 magic that saw them make massive gains in Congress and state governments, holding themselves in stark contract to Democrats who are responsible for what the GOP sees as a fatally flawed law.

That’s the narrative, and that’s what Republican strategists would have you believe. But comments — or the lack thereof — from some GOP candidates in state and national elections suggest that opposition might not be as ironclad as previously believed, as the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent has documented. In at least one case, in fact, a Republican in one of the most competitive Senate races in the country effectively endorsed the expansion.

It’s a huge shift from the “defund or repeal” mantra during the government shutdown of October, a possible indicator that some conservatives are recognizing that Obamacare is here to stay — and that proposing to knock the newly enrolled off Medicaid is politically perilous.

More here

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Politicususa: Republicans Are In Total Retreat As Obamacare Enrollment Skyrockets Past 3 Million

The defeated Republican anti-Obamacare forces are in full retreat after ACA enrollment in healthcare plans surged past 3 million.

In a blog post, HHS reported that:

Since the beginning of open enrollment, millions of Americans are gaining access to health coverage-many for the very first time—thanks to the Affordable Care Act. The most recent data indicates that approximately 3.0 million people have now enrolled in a private health insurance plan through the Federal and State-based Marketplaces since October 1.

Additionally, between October and December over 6.3 million individuals were determined eligible to enroll in Medicaid or CHIP through state agencies and through state-based Marketplaces…..

The mainstream media isn’t reporting this, but the ACA is turning into a huge victory for President Obama.

Full post here

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Michael Tomasky: Republicans Can’t Remember the World Before Obama

Birth control and data mining used to be things they believed in, now both are Big Government plots to be stopped.

I’m sure you chuckled at this weekend development as much as I did: At its winter meeting, the Republican National Committee passed a resolution condemning the NSA’s data-mining policy….

…. let’s not kid ourselves. The passage of this resolution is mostly about the guy in the White House. If you want to try to tell me this was an act of principle by the RNC, then put Mitt Romney in the White House for a moment. Do you think the RNC would have considered such a resolution? Please. Reince Priebus would have had a stroke. He’d have quashed it in minutes. But with Barack Obama in the White House, the rules are different. The RNC passed this resolution to kick a little extra sand in Obama’s face.

More here

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Brian Beutler (Salon): How the right destroyed itself: History, ideology and strategic blunders

Republicans can’t moderate because their base won’t allow it. Even if they could, Democrats already beat them there

Last week I wrote an article arguing that the impediments to conservative reform are structural — that the idiosyncrasies of the Republican base make appealing to moderate voters a zero-sum game for the party, and thus eliminates the incentive that, for instance, impelled Democrats in the 1980s and 1990s to cater to less-liberal voters.

The article generated some interesting responses, which is fortunate, because they provide a jumping off point to explore the historical and political context of the GOP’s unique predicament.

I think it’s fairly evident that Republicans’ increasing reliance on an older, whiter, more conservative constituency has trapped them into a number of non-negotiable policy dogmas. And I think they they bear most of the blame for their own circumstances. It’s an outgrowth of a conscious political strategy. They began the country and their party down this road, hoping, as Pat Buchanan famously put it, to “split the country in two and…take the bigger half.” They fused the low tax, low regulation agenda of wealthy elites to the worldview of religious conservatives. They birthed the Reagan Revolution, then milked it so vigorously that they’ve become unable to wean themselves from it more than 30 years later.

But there’s more to the story than one losing bet…

More here

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Frederic Poag (The Daily Banter): The Calculus of Hypocrisy: It’s Still a Lie Even If You Believe It

I don’t trust the Republican Party. This goes beyond disagreeing with them on every single policy position they hold. As a party, they’re deceitful, manipulative, and wholly disingenuous. It’s not even a question anymore; it’s verifiable fact. Their brand is badly damaged and is about to become completely unsalvageable.

…. This is the rot within the Republican Party. Thanks to Karl Rove, the Architect, the GOP abandoned notions of objective reality in an effort to win elections. They’ve latched onto their own created delusion and show no signs of changing. If they can’t effectively message whatever reality they’re trying to create, then they simply change their position to be counter to the opposition. They’re not concerned with what’s actual. It’s about how they can bend actual to their will but their grip is weakening.

Though cynical and insidious, this strategy has worked so effectively that it won’t be easily abandoned. It created a path to power for Newt Gingrich to become Speaker of the House and propelled George W. Bush to the Oval Office twice. But like all things, this strategy was based on historical/cultural context that’s no longer relevant.

More here

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ThinkProgress: Congressman’s U.S. Senate Campaign Is Giving Away An Assault Rifle

Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) has made a career out of appealing to a certain sense of conservative grievance. He once labeled the Civil War the “War of Yankee Aggression.” He offered legislation to defund a key prong of the Voting Rights Act (a goal that the Roberts Court was happy to achieve for him). And he’s warned that a “socialistic elite” that includes President Obama and congressional Democratic leaders are looking for an excuse to declare martial law — “[t]hey’re trying to develop an environment where they can take over,” in Broun’s words.

So it’s probably not that surprising that his campaign views this as a great way to develop a list of supporters…

More here

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On This Day:

President Obama talks on the phone in the Oval Office, Jan. 27. 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama leaves the White House with his Legislative Affairs Director Phil Shiliro en route the U.S. Capitol to meet with Republican members of Congress, Jan. 27, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

On Capitol Hill, President Obama listens to a question from a member of the House Republican caucus, Jan. 27, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama greets kitchen staff prior to a lunch at the U.S. Capitol, Jan. 27, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama talks on the phone with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev in the Oval Office, Jan. 27, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

Raymond Joseph, Haiti’s Ambassador to the U.S., kisses the hand of First Lady Michelle Obama at the U.S. Capitol during President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, Jan. 27, 2010 (Photo by Samantha Appleton)

President Obama shakes hands with Vice President Joe Biden and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi at the conclusion of his State of the Union address, Jan. 27, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama walks on stage to deliver a speech about college affordability at the University of Michigan January 27, 2012 in Ann Arbor, Michigan

President Obama looks back as Bo, the Obama family dog, follows him into the Oval Office, Jan. 27, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)




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