President Obama Extends Protections To Gay Couples Under Medicaid

Hi Guys, 

More change you can believe in, but not hear about:

The Obama administration is set on Friday to issue policy guidance to states expanding their ability to offer same-sex couples the same protections afforded to straight couples when they receive long-term care under Medicaid, the Washington Blade has learned exclusively.

Under the new guidance, dated June 10, states have the option to allow healthy partners in a same-sex relationship to keep their homes while their partners are receiving support for long-term care under Medicaid, such as care in a nursing home.

Medicaid kicks in for a beneficiary to receive care after an individual depletes virtually all of their money. To pay for the beneficiary’s expenses under Medicaid, a state could impose a lein, or take possession, of a beneficiary’s home to pay for Medicaid expenses.

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Grrrrr, it’s Politico, but this story warmed my heart to no end:

Barack Obama still sells sandwiches

Nearly a week after President Barack Obama’s unannounced visit to a Rudy’s Hot Dog joint in Toledo, Ohio, the residents of Five Points are still abuzz about the unexpected presidential visit to their neighborhood.

“The locals have been driving me nuts and going crazy,” said Harry Dionyssiou, whose family operates six Rudy’s diners. “Everybody wants to sit at the same table, on the same chair that the president sat in; they want to eat the same thing that he ate.”
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Even after the initial hype over the president’s visit has quieted, the financial benefits for business owners are long lasting. The media spotlight can help raise a restaurant’s profile, putting a little-known local spot on the national dining landscape and turning it into a destination eatery for tourists.

“We make over 1,000 po’ boys a day, and that number has really gone up since the president’s visit,” said Eileen Nix, co-owner of Parkway Bakery & Tavern in New Orleans, which the Obama family visited in August. (The first couple had shrimp po’ boys; daughters Sasha and Malia ordered hamburgers.)

David Thornton, who co-owns the Tastee Sub Shop in Edison, N.J., said business is still up 10 percent since the president stopped by his shop almost a year ago.

“We can tell that there is still sort of a buzz about it,” said Thornton, who framed a picture of Obama with a sub in his hand. “One person came in shortly after the visit and sat in every chair to make sure he sat in the same chair as the president.”

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Garrett Graff, editor of Washingtonian magazine, said the Obamas eat out “more than any other first family in recent memory. George W. Bush only rarely ventured out. Bill Clinton ate out some, but I don’t think he was as regular or at as diverse a list of places as Obama.”

Public relations experts say there is no better publicity than the “celebrity halo effect” that follows a restaurant visit from the president of the United States.

It’s huge,” said Dean Small, founder and managing partner of Synergy Restaurant Consultants. “It’s like getting an official seal from the president that says, ‘This is where I choose to eat.’”

Obama’s impromptu visits also help raise morale in communities that have struggled during the economic downturn, said Dick Eppstein, president of Toledo’s Better Business Bureau.

“Toledo is a proud city, but we’ve had a very tough time, so a presidential visit really boosts everyone’s spirits,” he said.

Nix, who was raised in New Orleans and will turn 59 next week, said Parkway Bakery & Tavern is a family business that bears the scars of her city. In 2005, two years after the restaurant opened, Nix and her brother Jay shut down the store when it was submerged in more than 6 feet of water after Hurricane Katrina swept across Louisiana. Parkway reopened in December of that year.

Just five years later, the restaurant was hit again — this time by the BP oil spill that devastated the fishing industry along the Gulf Coast. For Nix, the sight of Obama and the first lady eating New Orleans shrimp po’ boys and gumbo spoke louder than any political speech.

“The president was just one man doing his best and trying to correct problems from the past,” Nix said. “He ate the shrimp to let people know that everything will be OK.”

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OMG. One more pretty good story from Politico. Somebody over there is going to get fired soon…

Obama shows charm on campaign trail

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“If anything, loosening up on the campaign trail is even more necessary for this president than most, because he is by nature far more formal than at least his most recent predecessors, and to say that 21st-century American culture is ‘loose and informal’ is to understate the case considerably,” said Clark Ervin, who served on Obama’s transition.

“Nowadays, regrettably in my view, the last thing the average voter wants in the White House is an intellectual, and since this president is the quintessential intellectual, it’s a wonder — another wonder, his race, heritage, short stint on the public stage being others — that he was elected in the first place”.

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Fingers crossed:

Second Half 2011 U.S. Growth Rebound Intact

Slowdowns in consumer spending and employment will prove temporary, giving way to a U.S. growth rebound in the second half of 2011, economists surveyed by Bloomberg News said.

After growing at a 2.3 percent annual pace this quarter, the world’s largest economy will expand at a 3.2 percent rate from July through December, according to the median forecast of 67 economists polled from June 1 to June 8.

Rising exports, stable fuel prices, record levels of cash in company coffers and easier lending rules will be enough to overcome the damage done by one-time events like poor weather and the disaster inJapan, economists said. Nonetheless, the current slackening means Federal Reserve policy makers will wait even longer to raise interest rates next year, the survey shows.

“The economic headwinds are well known, but if you look at the tailwinds, they are still pretty strong,” said Nariman Behravesh, chief economist at IHS Inc. in Lexington, Massachusetts. “There are a lot of reasons to be fairly upbeat about the recovery. Growth will pick up in the second half.”

// more optimism

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Could this be true?

Qaddafi’s son has approached rebels to negotiate an exit from power for his father

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West Wing Week:

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Yea, a picture worth and all that…:)

Washington Post: Some health insurance premiums are going down (Updated)

Thanks, Maritza, for this great clip:

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Repeal this:

It turns out that pigs do fly. Last month, insurer Aetna received approval from Connecticut regulators of its request to reduce premiums on individual policies by an average 10 percent, starting in September. Yes, you read that right: reduce the premium. The decrease, which affects some 15,000 consumers, will save those policyholders $259 annually, on average.

“I think it’s the shape of things to come,” Timothy Jost, a law professor at Washington and Lee University and a consumer representative to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, says of Aetna’s move.

Under the health-care overhaul, insurers beginning this year must spend at least 80 percent of the premium dollars they collect on medical claims or quality improvement efforts. Administrative expenses and profits are limited to 20 percent or less of what they collect. Those that don’t meet these new “medical loss ratio” standards have to refund the extra premiums collected to consumers. (In insurance lingo, medical claims paid are considered “losses.”)

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Bernanke says jobs, growth will pick up after June

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on Tuesday acknowledged “somewhat slower than expected growth” but said the U.S. economy will pick up in the second half of the year and inflation will moderate. “I expect hiring to pick up from last month’s pace as growth strengthens in the second half of the year,” Bernanke said in a speech to international bankers meeting in Atlanta. He said the Fed’s $600 billion bond purchase program will wind down by the end of the month and gave no hint the central bank was considering a third round of purchases. He repeated that rates will remain low for an “extended” period of time.

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Interesting Afghanistan read from Joe Klein:

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….I wouldn’t be surprised if President Obama announced a major withdrawal process that will begin with the departure of a few troops this summer (and the transition of mostly peaceful cities like Herat and Mazar-e-Sharif to Afghan government control), then begin in earnest by the end of the year, with forces down to about 50,000 a year from now and the 25,000 stabilization force by the end of 2012. The Afghan National Army ain’t the 101st Airborne, but it is strong enough, with continuing US support, to prevent a Taliban takeover of the country. That, plus the continuing covert campaign by drones and special operators, should be more than enough to protect US national interests in one of the world’s most remote places.

/// More and worth the read

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Nice, hopeful story:

Industry clusters help foster innovation, job growth

CLEVELAND — Alex Nudelman, a strapping 49-year-old, confidently pushes buttons on a computer-controlled milling machine and suggests it’s ready to sculpt a small piece of metal.
His instructor stops him, noting Nudelman has not programmed in all the tools needed to shape the metal block.
A journeyman autoworker who was laid off in 2009, Nudelman is taking a community college class here so he can work on the more sophisticated gear powering the region’s growing cluster of medical device makers. If all goes well, he may soon be churning out spinal implants instead of seat brackets.

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Emerging industry centers include electric-car batteries in Michigan, clean energy in Colorado and robotics in Pittsburgh. In clean energy alone, 20 regional non-profits have sprung up around the USA in the past three years to coordinate funding and product-launching efforts among companies, universities, entrepreneurs and state agencies.
Now, the federal government is stepping in. President Obama’s fiscal 2012 budget proposes a competition to identify 20 potential clusters that would receive a share of $2.5 billion in financial incentives. A separate program involving 16 U.S. agencies aims to advance existing industry hubs. With a report Friday showing job growth slowing, officials say funding for innovation is needed to expand payrolls.

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I really couldn’t care less of Anthony ‘Barack Obama is no values’ guy Weiner, but the media’ hypocrisy is just staggering.

Booman:

Hey, listen, if you are a member of the elite media, like you are Chuck Todd or Bob Schieffer or Jake Tapper or George Will, please take a moment to pop over to Memeorandum and check out the reaction of various media outlets to the Anthony Weiner scandal. Now, after you’ve done that, I want you to come back here and answer me this: why didn’t you assholes treat David Vitter or, especially, John Ensign this way?
Why did David Vitter have an easy time getting reelected without having to listen to you guys question his morals 24 hours a day? And why wasn’t John Ensign run out of the village on a rail for making a mess of the place? Aren’t senators more than four times as powerful as congressmen? Isn’t it a juicer story when the sex-scandal involves hypocrisy as well as lying?

Personally, I don’t care about Rep. Weiner. I like his attitude, but I’m not much for yapping dogs. Earlier this week he went on the Rachel Maddow Show and lied to my face for fifteen straight minutes. I have no use for the guy. I hope he goes away never to be heard from again. But I don’t want to hear weeks and weeks of breathless speculation about the political career and personal morals of a backbencher who has no leadership position, no important committee chairs, no clout of any kind, and no bearing on the big issues facing the country.

You left Ensign alone. You left Vitter alone. Hell, you barely even reported it when Ensign resigned. But for weeks you’ve been hounding a comparative nobody. Why?

Are you puppets controlled by Andrew Breitbart, Matt Drudge, Sean Hannity, and Rush Limbaugh? Do you have minds of your own?

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The GOP non-stop war against the economy

Hi guys,

PBO has no public appearances scheduled for today, but he will give a couple of interviews to Hearst DC Bureau, WEWS Cleveland and WDIV Detroit. The rest of the week:

Tuesday: State visit by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Wednesday: The President will attend an “event” – details to come – in the Washington area. The White House says it will focus on “the importance of training and preparing our workforce to compete for manufacturing jobs across the nation”. More on Wednesday: The president will host the Auburn Tigers, Auburn University’s football team, winners of the 2010 BCS national championship. And, he’ll meet Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan.

Thursday: meeting with President Ali Bondo Ondimba of Gabon.

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Finally, the national media start take notice of the atrocity performed by Republicans, who are trying to stop young people and minorities from voting:

NYT: Republicans have recently decided that a larger electorate can hurt them

One of the most promising recent trends in expanding political participation has been allowing people to vote in the weeks before Election Day, either in person or by mail. Early voting, which enables people to skip long lines and vote at more convenient times, has been increasingly popular over the last 15 years. It skyrocketed to a third of the vote in 2008, rising particularly in the South and among black voters supporting Barack Obama. And that, of course, is why Republican lawmakers in the South are trying desperately to cut it back.

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Speaking of stinking Republicans, here’s another victim. We really need to retaliate somehow. These people are disgusting to no end.

Peter Diamond: When a Nobel Prize Isn’t Enough

LAST October, I won the Nobel Prize in economics for my work on unemployment and the labor market. But I am unqualified to serve on the board of the Federal Reserve — at least according to the Republican senators who have blocked my nomination. How can this be?

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In April 2010, President Obama nominated me to be one of the seven governors of the Fed. He renominated me in September, and again in January, after Senate Republicans blocked a floor vote on my confirmation. When the Senate Banking Committee took up my nomination in July and again in November, three Republican senators voted for me each time. But the third time around, the Republicans on the committee voted in lockstep against my appointment, making it extremely unlikely that the opposition to a full Senate vote can be overcome. It is time for me to withdraw, as I plan to inform the White House.

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Benen:

This is no way to run an advanced democracy in the 21st century. The result of this fiasco isn’t just the loss of a qualified nominee to an important post; it’s also a lost opportunity to have the Fed take actions to bolster the economy.

We can only hope that this wasn’t part of a larger campaign by Republicans to hurt the economy on purpose.

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You can hope, Steve, but it’s a waste of time. They are going to take the country down, and they don’t give a damn. They know how stupid the voters are.

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At least one good economic report came out over the weekend:

WASHINGTON – The U.S. economy’s service sector, which employs 90 percent of the nation’s work force, grew in May for an 18th straight month, posting slightly faster growth than in April.

The Institute for Supply Management said Friday that its index tracking the health of service companies increased to 54.6 in May from 52.8 in April.

In February, the index hit a five-year high with a reading of 59.7, but it fell in March and April as the service sector was battered by the sharp jump in energy prices. Any reading over 50 indicates expansion in the sector.

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I know that whatever decision PBO makes, it’ll be based on facts, information and his great mind and guts, but I deeply hope that he’ll go with VP Biden’s recommendation this time. Here’s The NYT headline from this morning:

Steeper Pullout Is Raised as Option for Afghanistan

WASHINGTON — President Obama’s national security team is contemplating troop reductions in Afghanistan that would be steeper than those discussed even a few weeks ago, with some officials arguing that such a change is justified by the rising cost of the war and the death of Osama bin Laden, which they called new “strategic considerations.”

These new considerations, along with a desire to find new ways to press the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, to get more of his forces to take the lead, are combining to create a counterweight to an approach favored by the departing secretary of defense, Robert M. Gates, and top military commanders in the field. They want gradual cuts that would keep American forces at a much higher combat strength well into next year, senior administration officials said.

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Before the new thinking, American officials were anticipating an initial drawdown of 3,000 to 5,000 troops. Those advocating steeper troop reductions did not propose a withdrawal schedule.

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At one end of the debate is Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and, presumably, a range of Mr. Obama’s political advisers, who opposed the surge in 2009 and want a rapid exit, keeping in place a force focused on counterterrorism and training.
At the other end is Mr. Gates, who leaves office at the end of the month and who won the 2009 debate over the troop surge along with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and senior commanders on the ground.

It is not clear what Mrs. Clinton’s position is now as the internal debate is rejoined, and Mr. Obama’s team has changed considerably in the past 18 months. Thomas E. Donilon, appointed national security adviser last fall, was leery of the surge and is likely to lean toward a speedier withdrawal, colleagues say.

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More campaign and money-raising stuff:

Obama rakes it in from on high

Sheckles, bucks, chips, dough, greenbacks, geld. Whatever you call it, the Barack Obama re-election campaign is working assiduously and prodigiously to raise some serious coin and put money in pocket. The Republicans are fiddling, while the Democratic Party cash register is ka-chinging.

When Obama’s campaign operatives gaze out at the sparkling view from their high-rise headquarters at 1 Prudential Plaza, they spy a glittering hometown cadre of old friends with deep pockets. Look West, and there’s the glistening Hollywood largesse. Take a gander East, and behold golden checks of Wall Street hedge funders and bankers. (This constituency is grumbling but they know it’s necessary to toast both sides of the baguette).

In 2008, Obama demolished the GOP by raising a record $745 million. His people won’t talk about it, but the 2012 campaign is reportedly aiming at a fund-raising target that boggles the mind. It’s the Big B.

The $1 billion figure is not so boggling if you remember that last time around Obama faced fierce opposition for the Democratic presidential nomination. As an unrivalled incumbent, he can spend the next year cultivating donors instead of primary voters.

In April alone, Obama and the Democratic National Committee doubled the haul raised by the Republicans, according to the reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.

The DNC raised $12.4 million that month, including about $7 million from the Obama Victory Fund. The fund, “a joint fund-raising committee which the president has been raising money for,” will split that kitty between the DNC and the campaign, says Ben LaBolt, Obama’s campaign spokesperson.

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“How Obama is shoring up federal authority over Medicaid”

Hi guys,

Some stuff from the last few days. Have a great weekend.

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A quick look at the week of May 30th on WhiteHouse.gov:

Joplin: President Obama visits Joplin, MO to meet with those in the community who lost so much in the tornados last week and participate in a Memorial Service at Missouri Southern University.

Small School, Big Dreams: Labor Secretary Hilda Solis delivers the Commencement address at Bridgeport High School in Washington, one of the top three finalists in the Race to the Top Commencement Challenge.

West Wing Week: “One Step at a Time” takes you to Joplin, Poland, Arlington and inside the Situation Room with President Obama.

LGBT Pride Month: Kicking off Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month, the Office of Public Engagement has launches a new webpage. And here’s the Presidential Proclamation.

#UrbanSummit: Russell Simmons gives his thoughts on entrepreneurship and small business in America, in anticipation of Urban Entrepreneurship Summit. Join the conversation on twitter #UrbanSummit.

What’s on Your Plate?: First Lady Michelle Obama and Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin unveil the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s new food icon, MyPlate.

Cutting Red Tape: The U.S. Department of Energy encourages cities to cut the red tape that can push up the price tags on solar energy projects.

Youth Round Tables: The Office of Public Engagement wraps up  the “100 Youth Round Tables” Initiative, ensuring that young people’s voice is heard in government.

Memorial Day: The President honors our nations fallen, speaking at a Memorial Day Service at Arlington National Cemetery: “Honor the Sacrifice of Those We’ve Lost”.

Get Prepared: The Federal Emergency Management Agency announces June 1st as the start of hurricane season, and gives tips on how to keep you and your family safe.

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Ezra Klein:

At the heart of Paul Ryan’s plan for Medicaid is a tectonic shift in the federal government’s authority over the entitlement. In the Wisconsin Republican’s proposal to “block grant” the program, states would receive a fixed amount of federal money for Medicaid — and much greater leeway to change the program’s structure — rather than an uncapped, formula-based contribution with many strings attached. The Ryan plan, along with other more incremental GOP proposals, would fundamentally alter the federal government’s role in structuring, overseeing, and administering Medicaid, abdicating much of this authority to the states.

In the face of such challenges, the Obama administration is quietly taking steps to reassert and strengthen the federal government’s authority over Medicaid. A few weeks ago, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services rolled out a proposal that could make it more difficult for states to cut rates for doctors, hospitals, and other providers in Medicaid—one of the many ways that cash-strapped statehouses are trying to save money.

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Ron Klain: Give Obama a Victory Lap for Auto Rescue

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Of all the policy challenges I saw Obama tackle in my two years in the White House, none was more complex than turning around the U.S. auto industry. When the president took office, the industry was in free fall. Sales of cars and trucks, which had topped 17 million in 2006, fell to 10.6 million in 2009. Two of America’s three major automakers were insolvent, kept alive by weekly inflows of federal cash. U.S. automakers had an unsustainable cost structure, were badly trailing their foreign competitors in the production of fuel-efficient and electric vehicles, and seemed unable to make the hard choices needed to arrest their downward spiral.

// more and recommended

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Booman: Who Saved Michigan, Who Wanted it to Fail?

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If Mitt Romney goes on to win the Republican nomination and face the president in the fall of 2012, I hope the voters of Michigan see an unending loop of that New York Times headline. “Who saved Michigan? Who wanted it to fail?”

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Administration to Indiana: Fund Planned Parenthood

Efforts to defund Planned Parenthood on the state level took a big hit yesterday when the administration finally weighed in and deemed Indiana’s effort to prohibit Planned Parenthood from receiving Medicaid funding illegal. A letter from Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) head Donald Berwick made clear that “Medicaid programs may not exclude qualified health care providers from providing services that are funded under the program because of a provider’s scope of practice. Such a restriction would have a particular effect on beneficiaries ‘ ability to access family planning providers.”

Indiana was the first to sign a funding ban into law, but it’s not the only state considering it. To those states HHS also issued a memo re-iterating the point that denying Medicaid funding because of the services a clinic provides violates the Social Security Act.

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For us, polls-obsessed:

PPP: For Obama, Iowa 2012 looks like Iowa 2008

Raleigh, N.C. – When PPP polled Iowa last month, President Obama was tied with 2008

caucus winner Mike Huckabee and four points ahead of second-place finisher Mitt

Romney in a state he ended up winning over John McCain by almost ten points. But in

the intervening weeks, with Huckabee bowing out of consideration, the president has

moved into a much more comfortable position.

His current 49-40 lead over Romney (up from 45-41) is exactly the margin by which poll

respondents report having voted for Obama over McCain, meaning these voters are just

as ready to re-up the president as they were to give him his first term. Against everyone

else, the president leads by larger margins than his victory over McCain, topping Sarah

Palin, 55-35 (53-36 in April), and two candidates not tested previously: Tim Pawlenty,

49-37, and Herman Cain, 50-32. Obama leads by 19 to 38 points with independents, and

takes 7-13% of the GOP vote while losing only 5-10% of his own party.

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That’s more like it:

Democrats Break Down Impact Of GOP Medicare Plan District By District

House Democrats have broken down the massive changes to Medicare and Medicaid proposed by the House GOP into a convenient take home size.

Democratic Reps. Henry Waxman (CA) and Frank Pallone (NJ), voters can now see what Democrats say is the direct impact of the Republican plan to turn Medicare into a voucher system on every congressional district in the country.

The map is here.

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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:

// snip

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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“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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“More Solid Proof That Obamacare Is Working”

Hi guys,

The President and First Lady are in London today. Lots of royal stuff, including a last-minute addition of a meeting with William and Kate (OMG! OMG! OMG!!!!! ;).

Full coverage on BBC and Sky News and every freaking British channel. The Guardian live blog is here.

As for the US media, I don’t have any idea what they’re gonna show.  I do know that they’ll hate it…

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Here’s something excellent  for all of us to spread around:

Rick Unger:  More Solid Proof That Obamacare Is Working

Recent data provided by the nation’s largest health insurance companies reveals that a provision of the Affordable Care Act – or Obamacare – is bringing big numbers of the uninsured into the health care insurance system.

And they are precisely the uninsured that we want– the young people who tend not to get sick.

The provision of the law that permits young adults under 26, long the largest uninsured demographic in the country, to remain on their parents’ health insurance program resulted in at least 600,000 newly insured Americans during the first quarter of 2011.

Wellpoint, the nation’s largest publicly traded health insurer with some 34 million customers, reports adding 280,000 new members in the first three months of 2011.

Add in the results of some of the other large health insurers including Aetna, who added just short of 100,000 newly insured to their customer base, Kaiser Permanente’s additional 90,000, and Highmark’s 72,000 new customers, and we begin to sense our health insurance pools are filling up with some badly needed young blood.

The Health & Human Services Department had estimated that the changes in the law would result in about 1.2 million new enrollees in 2011. However, according to Aaron Smith, the executive director of a Washington based non-profit that advocates for the young, it now looks as if that number will be exceeded.

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Meanwhile, things continue to improve on the small business front where business owners are being heavily incentivized to offer health care benefits to employees.

As I wrote in January, there has been a significant uptick in small businesses taking advantage of the tax benefits offered by the ACA to provide health insurance to employees where they previously did not do so.

According to a Kaiser survey, there has been a 46% uptick in businesses with less than 10 employees offering health benefits as compared to last year.

That is a big number.

Further improving the outlook, the IRS has, in the past month, issued guidelines for small businesses which very much bolster the tax credits offered. Included in those guidelines are provisions that clarify that the tax credit will not be reduced by a state health care tax credit or subsidy (except in limited circumstances to prevent abuse of the credit); that small businesses can receive the credit not only for traditional health insurance coverage but also for add-on dental, vision, and other limited-scope coverage; and detailed guidance on how a small business can determine whether it is eligible and how large a credit it will receive.

Health care reform is working, folks – and we have yet to get to the really big benefits which kick in come 2014.

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Heeeeeeeeeeee.

He kissed my cheek,” said teacher Anne Maher, 50. “I’m not gonna wash that cheek for a lifetime. And my husband isn’t getting near it, either.”

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I’ll try to update as much as I can throughout the day, or at least whenever real life won’t get in the way. 

Have a great and positive day.

A mishmash worth $2000 :)

Hi guys,

I don’t remember exactly when we launched our own fundraising page, but it wasn’t that long ago and I’m so proud that we’re already touched the $2000 target. Next goal: $3000. 🙂

With this, here’s a lengthy Saturday mishmash.

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Weekly Address:

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Some really good stuff to read:

Roger Cohen (NYT):

On the eve of an election year, with Jewish donors and fund-raisers already restive over his approach to Israel, President Obama made a brave speech telling Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that “the dream of a Jewish and democratic state cannot be fulfilled with permanent occupation” and urging him to accept Israeli borders at or close to the 1967 lines.
The president got 78 percent of the Jewish vote in 2008. Perhaps those words will cost him some of those votes — although sentiment toward Israel among American Jews is slowly shifting. But true friends are critical friends. And the American and Israeli national interest do not lie in the poisonous Israeli-Palestinian status quo.

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Peter Beinart (The Daily Beast):

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The real difference between Obama and Bush is that Obama actually is what Bush said he was: a moral universalist.

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By embracing all—rather than only some—of the Arab spring, Obama also powerfully distanced himself from Benjamin Netanyahu, a man who supports Arab democracy so long as it never impairs his ability to forestall Palestinian democracy. Obama put himself on the side of Palestinian democracy, too.

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Still Obama allied America with those Arabs and Iranians thirsting for freedom, and he did so in a subtle but remarkable way. He invoked, as he so often does, the civil-rights movement. Not World War II, where American power served the cause of freedom. Not the Cold War, where American power did as well, at least in Europe. But the civil-rights movement: where an oppressed people struggling for freedom confronted American power, and won. It’s a more subversive analogy than we generally acknowledge, and one that should make everyone battling oppression in the Middle East—in Sana, Damascus, Cairo, Tehran, and Ramallah, too—smile.

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Juan Cole:

President Obama’s major policy address on the Middle East got many things right. He pointed to al-Qaeda and terrorism, which targets civilians, as a dead end. He sided rhetorically with the grassroots movements for greater democracy in the region. He condemned outright the longstanding regimes, like that of Hosni Mubarak, that had been US allies, which ruled through sordid police states. He pledged US support for democracy movements. He avoided hypocrisy by condemning US allies such as the king of Bahrain and President Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen for repressing their own movements. He acknowledged the importance of ending the Palestinian people’s long sojourn in the wilderness of statelessness. He pointed to the constraining by corrupt elites of the economic and educational opportunities of young people in the Middle East as among the central discontents leading to the Arab Spring. He underlined the importance of women’s rights, and rights for minorities such as Christians and Shiites.

The courage of Obama’s speech should be recognized.

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A bolder speech would have announced that the US would be moving its naval base from Bahrain because we refuse to be in bed with a repressive sectarian monarchy. It would have supported the push for Palestinian statehood at the UN as a wedge against the Likud Party’s intransigence. And it would have mentioned democratization in Riyadh along with the other capitals that were mentioned.

Still and all, it was a fine speech, a courageous speech because it challenged US allies as much as it did US foes, and it put the US on the side of Bourguiba Avenue and Tahrir Square and Benghazi and Deraa and Taizz. That is the side of history on which the US needs to stand. As a set of ideals, it was a big stride in the right direction. As practical policy, it is hard to see how it would be implemented effectively (upbraiding Israel and Bahrain slightly won’t change those crises). But, well, at least Washington is finally not standing in the way of the people in the region.

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Michael Tomasky:

Bibi Netanyahu could have reacted any number of ways to Barack Obama’s mention of the “1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps.” Let’s say, actually, four ways: embrace, circumspection, suspicion, tantrum. That he chose the last tells us a lot about the man’s shortcomings and (lack of) political instincts. All political is local, and Netanyahu undoubtedly scored points with his Likud base back home. But he has a base here in America too, and I think he misjudged that base badly.

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His behavior these last 48 hours has verged on, if not been, petulant. A foreign leader (no less one of a state whose existence depends on the United States) isn’t supposed to talk like that to a president. Add to the bargain: Obama’s a stronger president now on foreign affairs than he was in 2009, partly because of the bin Laden coup and partly because the speech was generally well received across the American political spectrum.

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Things just feels better when David Plouffe is around:

When Barack Obama traveled to Texas this month to talk immigration, David Plouffe, his top message guru, decided to stay home and watch Twitter instead. While Obama spoke, Plouffe sat before two flat-screen televisions in the White House complex. One showed live footage of Obama in El Paso. The other flickered with a lightning-quick vertical ticker tape of people tweeting with the #immigration hashtag, reacting line by line to the President in real time. “I find it useful,” Plouffe says, “to see what’s penetrating.”

When Obama went off script to joke that Republicans would soon demand a border moat filled with alligators, a blur of Twitter messages showed people sending the quote to friends and followers, signaling a messaging victory of sorts. “It’s kind of the next evolution,” Plouffe explains. “Remember back in 2008, you’d have the presidential debate, and then most of the networks would have some sort of dial going up and down. That seems very Jurassic Park–like compared to this.”

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Interesting NYT story about the progress in Afghanistan:

Afghanistan’s military and police have become increasingly reliable and effective

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I really can’t wait to see PBO in Ireland. The place is going crazy!

O’bama fever strikes tiny Irish village

(CBS News) MONEYGALL, IRELAND – CBS News correspondent Mark Phillips reports it’s easy to spot the village of Moneygall in the rolling hills of central Ireland. It’s the one where the flags are flying, and where every surface in the place has been given a fresh coat of paint.
It’s the on where they’ve written a new song as a tribute to their new favorite American president, Barack Obama.

Mr. Obama’s visit to this village of 300 people next week may be the most anticipated in this corner of Ireland apart from the Second Coming.

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But when church records were first revealed the link four years ago, an Irish Barack Obama was incomprehensible here.

“I’ve been calling him ‘Abracadabra’ because I didn’t know how to pronounce his name,” resident Carey Wilde said in 2007.

In an interview this week, Wilde said she’s learned his name since. “I did indeed, and grown to love him.”

Everybody’s grown to love him in Moneygall – especially Henry Healy. “He’s going to find everyone crawling out of his family tree to meet him when he arrives.”

The celebration of Irish roots is a time-honored tradition in American politics. Sooner or later, all American presidents seem to end up in Ireland. Maybe it’s those 40 million or so Irish-American votes. But maybe it’s because the Obama connection was so unexpected, that he has been so warmly embraced.

At Ollie Hayes’ pub, they’re expecting him. “If he’s coming to Moneygall, he’s coming in here,” Hayes says.

It’s not the party they’re worried about. It’s the morning after.

Sinead Culliton says it’s “so huge, there might be the anti-climax after.” Laughing, she said she’s worried about a “post-Obama stress disorder.”

There’s a cure for that here in Moneygall.

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President Obama Thanks the Intelligence Community:

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Finally: This is such a great quotes from Michelle Obama:

Here’s the thing about my husband: even in the toughest moments, when it seems like all is lost, Barack Obama never loses sight of the end goal. He never lets himself get distracted by the chatter and the noise, even if it comes from some of his best supporters. He just keeps moving forward.

And in those moments when we’re all sweating it, when we’re worried that the bill won’t pass or the negotiation will fall through, Barack always reminds me that we’re playing a long game here. He reminds me that change is slow—it doesn’t happen overnight.

If we keep showing up, if we keep fighting the good fight and doing what we know is right, then eventually we will get there.

We always have.

“Obama gets no credit for courage. Those who think he’s a wimp ought to have their heads examined”

Hi guys, 

1. Today’s schedule:

10:00 AM
The President receives the Presidential Daily Briefing

11:15 AM
The President meets with PM Netanyahu of Israel

12:05 PM
The President and PM Netanyahu deliver statements to the press

12:30 PM
Press Briefing by Jay Carney

The President holds a working lunch with PM Netanyahu

3:10 PM

The President delivers remarks to CIA Employees
CIA Headquarters, Langley, Virginia

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2. West Wing Week:

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3. Bill Burton’s new group launched its first ad, taking on Romney.

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4. Yea, he gets no credit for a lot of things.    

Bill Boyarsky:

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…On health care, the advocates of a public option or even Medicare for all fought those who argued such approaches would never pass Congress—the idealists against the realists. As popular uprisings flourished in the Middle East and North Africa, Obama wrote a five-page memorandum to Vice President Joseph Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other members of his foreign policy team in which he was a realist and an idealist. He wrote, “… our regional and international credibility will be undermined if we are seen to be backing repressive regimes and ignoring the rights and aspirations of citizens.”
In the end, Obama, alienating Israel and Saudi Arabia, said Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak should step down immediately. “An orderly transition must be meaningful, it must be peaceful and it must begin now,” Obama said. Then, as Gadhafi began to slaughter his people, Obama had his United Nations representative, Susan Rice, introduce a resolution authorizing member states “to take all necessary measures to protect civilians under threat of attack” by the Libyan leader’s armed forces. It was passed 10-0 by the U.N. Security Council.

These were tough actions, and Obama had pursued them vigorously.

During his presidential campaign, Obama had pledged to get bin Laden. “I had said that if I ever get a shot at bin Laden we’re gonna take it,” he told Steve Kroft on “60 Minutes.” He knew the risks. “I mean you think about ‘Black Hawk Down,’ ” he said. “You think about what happened with the Iranian rescue. And it, you know, I am very sympathetic to the situation for other presidents where you make a decision, you’re making your best call, your best shot, and something goes wrong—because these are tough, complicated operations. … The day before I was thinkin’ about this quite a bit.”

Afterward, he had no regrets. “As nervous as I was about this whole process, the one thing I didn’t lose sleep over was the possibility of taking bin Laden out,” he said. “Justice was done. And I think that anyone who would question that the perpetrator of mass murder on American soil didn’t deserve what he got needs to have their head examined.”

And those who think Obama is a wimp ought to have their heads examined.

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Awesome:

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