This is what change looks like. Health Care reform gets better and better

Sometimes I just want to kick someone from the WH in the butt. How is that not big news today?

The Department of Health and Human Services today announced new steps to reduce premiums as much as 40 percent in 17 states and the District of Columbia, for those enrolling into the federally-administrated Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) programs:

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This, too, is what change looks like:

Obama cracks down on abuses by big-city police departments

In a marked shift from the Bush administration, President Obama’s Justice Department is aggressively investigating several big urban police departments for systematic civil rights abuses such as harassment of racial minorities, false arrests, and excessive use of force.

In interviews, activists and attorneys on the ground in several cities where the DOJ has dispatched civil rights investigators welcomed the shift. To progressives disappointed by Eric Holder’s Justice Department on key issues like the failure to investigate Bush-era torture and the prosecution of whistle-blowers, recent actions by the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division are a bright spot.

In just the past few months, the Civil Rights Division has announced “pattern and practice” investigations in Newark, New Jersey and Seattle. It’s also conducting a preliminary investigation of the Denver Police Department, and all this is on top of a high-profile push to reform the notorious New Orleans Police Department — as well as criminal prosecutions of several New Orleans officers.

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Beautiful:

Standing When the First Lady Pays a Call

On Memorial Day, Michelle Obama made an unannounced trip to visit the wounded at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Joao Silva of The New York Times was among those on whom she paid a call. “She came across as a kind and attentive person,” Mr. Silva said. She asked about the progress of his recovery and gave yo-yos, Frisbees and White House candies to his children, Isabel, 6, and Gabriel, 5.

Perhaps the most telling moment occurred before Mrs. Obama arrived. On learning of her pending visit, Mr. Silva made a point of putting on his prosthetic legs.

“I wanted to be able to greet her standing up,” he said.

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“The White House now displays an air of confidence”

Hi guys,

I’m going to remove the stickiness from the far more than 100 things that we love about Barack Obama but I want to thank you all once again for creating a truly memorable thread.

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The President has no public events today, so here’s some good stuff to read:

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Washington Post: The GOP’s ‘shellacking’ now behind him, Obama finds more solid political ground

WASHINGTON — Six months after Republicans alarmed Democrats with a midterm election wave, President Barack Obama has shaken off the jitters and found his political footing despite sluggish economic growth and deep public anxiety about the direction of the country.

The White House now displays an air of confidence, bolstered in part by achievements such as the killing of Osama bin Laden by U.S. commandos and the financial success of an auto industry that Obama bailed out over the objections of man.

Obama is also benefiting from the absence of negatives. The economy, while lethargic, is growing. The private sector is creating jobs. Natural disasters, while deadly and plentiful, have not developed into governmental crises. Skyrocketing gas prices, which fed the public’s economic fears, are now subsiding. And the GOP’s signature budget plan, ambitious in its spending reductions, has lost its luster with the public.

“It is likely he will be re-elected, in my opinion,” veteran Republican pollster Wes Anderson says.

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Obama’s inner circle, always wary of sounding too self-assured, is not hiding its optimism.

“I would rather be us than them,” said one of the president’s top political advisers, David Axelrod.

Pollster Andrew Kohut of the nonpartisan Pew Research Center compared Obama’s place in 2011 to President Ronald Reagan’s at a similar point during his first term, more than a year before he won re-election in 1984.

“They both came from an ideological wing of the party and they are perceived that way. Both were hit with real bad economies and the public turned on them,” Kohut said. “Right now, Obama’s ahead of where Reagan was in ‘83.”

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Ouch!

Fox poll: Obama will Be re-elected

While Fox News pundits regularly excoriate President Barack Obama, a new Fox opinion poll finds that 57 percent of those surveyed expect the 44th president to be re-elected in 2012.

The Fox poll shows an Obama on the rebound. A survey taken in December showed just 29 percent expecting Obama to win a second term: 64 percent said he would not. The President holds a 57-36 advantage in the survey taken last week.

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Eugene Robinson: The GOP’s self-destruction derby

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My advice to Sarah Palin, not that she would take it, is that she’d better be careful. If she keeps pretending to run for the presidential nomination, people might take her seriously.

The former half-term Alaska governor’s “One Nation” bus tour has made the Republican establishment nervous. If her aim is just to get back in the news, reinflate the Palin brand and boost her speaking fees, then party leaders have every reason to be pleased. In the unlikely event that she’s actually running, they have every reason to order another Scotch.

What the GOP should worry about is the intoxication that adoring crowds often induce in politicians. Palin might board the bus intending to pull a Trump and disembark convinced that now, more than ever, the nation requires her service. The hosannas ringing in her ears might deafen her to voices of reason.

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NYT: Surprise Victory in New York Invigorates Democrats Looking to 2012

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p m carpenter is just a terrific writer:

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You see, ladies and gentlemen of the Progressive Purity Court, it had dawned on the Nobel mind of Brother Paul that he was beginning to sound like one of those most pitiable political beasts known to thinking man: No, it wasn’t that he was sounding like a cable-TV progressive activist, although in that there would have been tragedy enough; no, it was much worse than that; yea, he was beginning to read like a progressive blogger, always belching and bloviating that we should do this and we should do that, while never pausing, not even for a singularly sobering breath, to acknowledge that that’s not merely improbable, my friends, but unfuckingbelievably impossible. Conclusion: So what’s the point?

Aye, you see, what occurred to Brother Paul, if I may speak on further behalf of my enormously chastened client, is that progressives must stop blathering about what should be done and they must start explaining instead how they can achieve a political launching point from which certain progressive things can be done. And that, of course, means toning down the progressively pious evangelism and cranking up the pragmatic trench-warfare of political reality.

Ah, I see from your aghast faces that my defense of Comrade Krugman’s brief immersion in such reality isn’t likely to carry the day. I know, I know, reality isn’t much fun: it harbors few opportunities for transcendent self-righteousness and absolutely none for hallucinatory utopianism. My apologies.

Brother Paul, you’re on your own. Go back to groveling.

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The Nation: GOP is No Friend to Military Members Struggling During Recession

House Speaker John Boehner spent his Memorial Day weekend at a funeral for an Ohio solider killed in Afghanistan, solemnly attending the services and weeping at the end, during the playing of taps.
Boehner’s respect for the military sacrifice is admirable. Unfortunately, his apparent feelings are not borne out by his voting record. In recent years, Boehner’s Republican caucus in the House of Representatives has taken several votes this year that are substantive insults to veterans and active duty members of the military. The GOP has long enjoyed voters’ trust as the political party most likely to defend the armed services—but the facts tell a different story.

Most of the recent measures taken in Washington to help veterans aim to protect them from the economic crisis. Unemployment and foreclosure no doubt touch many Americans. But many veterans spent much of the past decade fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan, only to re-enter civilian life as the economy bottomed out. They faced an even steeper uphill battle than most, often struggling with injury, mental stress, or at the very least, many years out of the country and away from the job market.

Accordingly, lawmakers offered a wide range of bills to assist recent veterans—and Republicans opposed nearly all of them.

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Memorial Day Open Mishmash

Hi guys,

Today’s schedule:

9:10 AM Barack and Michelle Obama host a breakfast for Gold Star Families at the White House.

10:10 AM PBO makes Department of Defense personnel announcements.
10:55 AM PBO participates in a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

11:15 AM PBO participates in the Memorial Day Service at Arlington National Cemetery.

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I’ll try to update with photos throughout the day. Have a good and quiet one.

President Obama in Missouri (Photostream UPDATED)

Hi guys,

First, I’m going to stick that “100 (more or less) things that we love about Barack Obama” thread for the rest of this long weekend, because, frankly, you guys just blew my mind. This is an extraordinary collection of comments, and I adore you for building something that was such a pleasure to read, I can hardly contain it. Feel free to spread it as far as possible, because if one thread can change a room….Thank you so much.

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PBO will deliver remarks at Joplin Memorial Service (3 PM ET. Live here and here). Photos will be added here.

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“The president was not going to walk away from all these workers”

Hi guys,

PBO is finishing his Europe trip today, so VP Joe Biden is guest starring in this Weekly Address, and doing a terrific job. What a brilliant choice this man was.

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Couple of good things to read:

Turning FEMA Around: Has Obama saved the once-maligned federal agency?

Pssst. Health Care Reform Is Moving Forward

You hear a lot about state officials trying to fight the Affordable Care Act, whether by challenging it in the federal courts or refusing to implement its provisions. But plenty of states officials are enthusiastic about the law. And perhaps none are moving as quickly, or effectively, to follow through on the law as Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley.

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OFA is well on the move:
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And I really like photo:
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“President Obama’s election was the most important thing to happen to LGBT rights since Harvey Milk”

Everybody should go over to The People’s View and read Deaniac’ great piece.

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There is more to do. The struggle for equality is long, hard, and worth every second of every day. The struggle for equality is not a quick fix where you simply get to throw mud at our best ally just because he hasn’t wielded a magic wand. The path to equality will not end until full equality is achieved in every respect. As a gay man, I can tell you that we cannot walk this path alone. We need our straight friends and family to march with us. We need people of every color, gender, economic status and religion to walk with us. We need our fellow Americans to amplify our voices. And we need President Obama.

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“The big lie that Obama can’t lead is crumbling”

Wonderful column by Walter Rodgers:

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it,” instructed the Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels, “people will eventually come to believe it.”
For 2-1/2 years, the big lie repeated about President Obama has been that he’s not a real leader. Responsible critics called him diffident, spineless, and rudderless. Irresponsible critics called him a socialist, a Muslim, and not an American. Now, even after his brilliant planning and direction of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, detractors are complaining that he didn’t have the guts to release photos of Mr. bin Laden’s corpse.

Some of this maligning simply reflects the same savage partisan attacks leveled against every president (except Ronald Reagan) since Watergate. Some of it reflects darker bigotry toward Mr. Obama. But it also shows our outdated and wrongheaded notions of leadership.

American culture mistakenly prizes bravado and arrogance as sure signs of leadership. Public showmanship – like donning a flight suit in front of a “Mission Accomplished” banner – is easy. Quiet, cool, competence that gets results – like pulling together an international coalition to protect civilians in Libya in record time – is hard.

It’s a bias we learn as kids. Our history books lionize war heroes, yet are often silent about the diplomats who prevented conflict.

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Let’s recall the herculean tasks Obama has already accomplished:

He stabilized the worst economy since the Great Depression. Though unemployment remains stubborn, the stock market is basically back to where it was before the global economic meltdown. His stimulus bill kept America humming and saved hundreds of thousands of jobs, while his rescue of General Motors saved an industrial icon.
His administration kept thousands of over-extended Americans from losing their homes by laboring mightily to forestall foreclosures.
In spite of ferocious opposition, he passed long-overdue reforms of our health-care system that had eluded the reach of many past presidents.
He signed into law a bold package of regulations to boost consumer protection and restrain Wall Street’s greed.
He negotiated a historic nuclear-arms reduction treaty with Russia’s Dmitry Medvedev.
Forgetting these and other accomplishments, the public has regrettably bought into the corrosive and dishonest campaign to degrade Obama. Goebbels-style nihilism that rejects anything Obama does as odious remains a powerful narrative.

The good news is that Obama’s shrewd and calculated management of the hunt for bin Laden shows how hollow these critiques are.

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Good taste is another facet of leadership. Contrast the way the Bush administration orchestrated a public trial and execution of Saddam Hussein, turning it into a vulgar spectacle, with Obama’s shrewd refusal to publish photos of bin Laden’s body. His announcement of bin Laden’s death was restrained and sober, not at all celebratory – the right note to conclude a sensitive military operation. Obama’s later visit to ground zero was a fitting bookend to a sad chapter in United States history.

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A friend, a center-right voter, told me recently, “The reason I voted for Obama is because he has no hatred in him.” In another era of divisive bitterness, Lincoln preached, “[w]ith malice toward none, with charity toward all.” It’s worth noting how closely Obama’s philosophy of leadership approaches that.

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Joe Conason:

From Wisconsin to Florida, Strong Winds of Political Remorse

Still spinning in the vortex of the May 24 tornado in New York’s 26th Congressional District, Republican leaders insist that Democrat Kathy Hochul’s upset victory on their party’s turf was meaningless. They say that Republican nominee Jane Corwin lost because of her own weak campaign, or the presence of a big-spending “tea party” candidate on a third ballot line, or just about anything except the Republican scheme to slash Medicare—which became the dominant topic of debate during the special election’s final weeks.

Yet there are signals not only from upstate New York but around the nation that the Republicans face surging discontent, as voters learn what they intend when they attain power. With a majority in the House of Representatives, they have devised a budget plan that would help nobody except the wealthiest taxpayers, while devastating the nation’s health insurance programs, physical infrastructure and environment.

With most of the nation’s statehouses under Republican control, they have inflicted harsh cutbacks in education, health care and public safety, while assailing every public employee, from teachers to firefighters and cops.

Evidently, the people do not approve of these assaults on the standard of living of the American middle class.

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So much for Obama hates the gayz and the gayz hates Obama…..

Major gay-rights group backs Obama for second term

The nation’s largest gay-rights groups endorsed President Obama for reelection, praising him for historic accomplishments for the LGBT community.
From signature achievements like passage of the law to end ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ to administrative changes throughout government, President Obama has done more to improve the lives of LGBT people than any President in history,” the group said. “The following is a compilation of many of the actions taken by the Administration on LGBT issues.”

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And here is the looooong list of the Obama Administration Policy & Legislative Advancements on behalf of LGBT

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West Wing Week:

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If anyone still didn’t see this awesome event in Dublin….


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Ha’aretz: “Obama is a rational president who knows what’s good for world peace, and above all, he’s devoted to doing justice”

Hi guys,

The president is moving to Poland today, and we’ll keep on trying to chase him, though he’s really rude to me, being too energized and full of swagger.

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Here’s a very good article by one of Israel’s most respected pundits. Just another proof that many people in Israel are actually behind PBO and know very well what a disaster Nut-N-Yahoo is.

One more victory like that and Israel is done for

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could have read the phone book at the Congress podium and received the same standing ovation. His speech used the advice Moshe Sneh gave to himself. The late MK wrote on the draft of one of his speeches “weak argument, raise voice.”
There’s no question Bibi knew exactly which points in his speech would make the Congressmen rise to their feet in tumultuous applause. After all, that was his objective in the first place: to begin his bizarre visit to America by embarrassing President Barack Obama and end it by outflanking him with Congress’ applause.

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What did Bibi actually want when he organized an appearance in Congress for himself, near the date of the Jewish lobby’s conference in Washington? Some observers say he wanted to put pressure on Obama, who is entering an election period, so that he would adopt Israel’s positions. The public hazing of Obama in front of the media at the end of their meeting was embarrassing.

Douglas Bloomfield, AIPAC’s long-time legislative director, writes in his blog that if Bibi is betting on Obama being a one-term president, he’s not as smart as he thinks. At the same time, Gary Rosenblatt, editor of The Jewish Week, describes the White House incident as a “hasbara disaster” – a public relations disaster. The strategic relationship between the United States and Israel is stronger than ever, Bloomfield writes, but the political alliance suffered an unnecessary blow last week, when in front of journalists Bibi distorted what Obama had told him in private.

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…Obama is a rational president who knows what’s good for world peace, and above all, he’s devoted to doing justice. Aspiring to a Middle East that will not be ruled by dictators who murder their own people, he counts us among the good guys and wishes us well. A failure of the peace process is not an option. The status quo cannot be maintained. True friends tell each other the truth.

So as the clouds of September approach, we have a problem with Bibi’s savoir faire. A victory with the tricks and shticks of someone who finds it hard to drop the dream of a Greater Israel is leading us to destruction.

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