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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