Archive for Obama

Jun
26

Rule by tantrum

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In response to yesterday’s Supreme Court decision upholding Obamacare … again … expect Republican leaders to prescribe another thousand cuts. They’ll eventually “cure” America of Obamacare the way medieval barbers used bloodletting and leeches to cure patients. They’re just folksy, that way.

But first they will pitch a patented right wing hissy fit. If T-Party cannot have Torquemada for Chief Justice, it will at least try to inflict the kind of pain that (it believes) would make him smile:

Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas) said that his SCOTUScare Act would make all nine justices and their employees join the national healthcare law’s exchanges.

“As the Supreme Court continues to ignore the letter of the law, it’s important that these six individuals understand the full impact of their decisions on the American people,” he said.

“That’s why I introduced the SCOTUScare Act to require the Supreme Court and all of its employees to sign up for ObamaCare,” Babin said.

“Trolling as Governance,” as Chris Hayes tweeted. This will be Obama’s Waterloo, dammit!

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Categories : Health Care, National, Obama
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Mar
22

Obama rocks Cleveland

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We know Cleveland rocks. But on Wednesday, President Obama visited Cleveland to rock back.

For an infuriatingly long time, he’s been loathe to toot his own horn and play offense when that’s just what fellow Democrats needed him to do in 2010 and 2014. Where’ve you been Barack? [news quote extended, bolded]:

“It was one thing for them to argue against Obamacare before it was put in place,” Obama, using the nickname for his signature Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, said during an afternoon address to the City Club of Cleveland.

“Every prediction they made about it turned out to be wrong. It’s working better than even I expected. But it doesn’t matter. Evidence be damned. It’s still a disaster. Well, why?”

“The truth is, the budget they’re putting forward and the theories they’re putting forward are a path to prosperity for those who have already prospered.”

Good line. Obama ticked off a number of things his opponents got wrong. Got in Republicans’ faces about it even. And with a smile on his. That probably ticked off them too. It’s the sort of thing Democrats are way to reluctant to do. As Drew Westen says (okay, I’m paraphrasing), if the message isn’t pissing off your opponents, you’re not doing it right. They’ll be on the Sunday bobblehead shows any minute to wag their fingers and wring their hands over the president’s “angry” words and inappropriate swagger.

It’s not as if there isn’t a wealth of material to work from. Perhaps the only sour note in Cleveland was Obama’s continued support for the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact opposed by critics in his own party. We’ll leave that for another time.

Anyway, I sourced some of the president’s Cleveland material, maybe improved on it, and added a few peeves of my own. It’s the sort of thing I open carry on my smart phone for those “close encounters.”

Republicans said Barack Obama’s policies would produce “trillion dollar deficits for as far as the eye can see.”
(Speaker John Boehner 04-18-09; NH Sen. Judd Gregg 03-17-10)

People believed them.

Instead, while the national debt did increase as it has every year since the Clinton budget surpluses, budget deficits shrank from $1.4 trillion when Obama took office to $483 billion in 2014.
(Washington Post 10-15-14)

Republicans said Obama’s “socialist policies” would increase the size “of our already bloated government,” lead us towards “national socialism,” and “the country’s economy is going to collapse.”
(NC Rep. Robert Pittenger 01-21-15; Kansas Sen. Pat Robert 09-24-14; Rush Limbaugh 09-10-12)

People believed them.

Instead, federal government employment has shrunk since January 2009, “corporate profits have nearly tripled” and the stock market doubled in six years.
(BLS 03-21-15; New Republic 08-04-14; FactCheck.org 01-09-15; Google Finance)

Republicans said if Barack Obama was reelected, “gas prices will be up at around $6.60 per gallon.”
(Utah Sen. Mike Lee 03-07-12)

People believed them.

Gas prices dropped below $2 per gallon in early 2015.
(Time 01-21-15)

Republicans said Obama’s policies would destroy “nearly 6 million jobs over the next decade” and lead to “diminishment of employment in America.”
(John McCain campaign 10-31-08; Texas Rep. Pete Sessions 11-07-09)

People believed them.

Instead, 12 million new jobs created, more under 6 years of Obama than under 12 years of two Bushes, “the best private sector jobs creation performance in American history [that] outperformed President Reagan’s in all commonly watched categories” according to Forbes.
(ElectaBlog 10-03-14; Forbes 09-05-14)

Meanwhile, “small-government, pro-business” George W. Bush presided over “the biggest federal budget expansion since Franklin Delano Roosevelt” and saw only 1.3 million net jobs created in 8 years (7 million net for Obama in 6 years). The Wall Street Journal called Bush’s “the worst track record on record.”
(Washington Times 10-19-08; ElectaBlog 10-03-14; Wall Street Journal 01-09-09)

Finally, for those with short memories:

Republicans said we had to invade Iraq because Saddam Hussein had stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons. We even knew where they were. We’d be out in six months, it would cost at most $60 billion, “We do not torture,” etc.

People believed them.

How much longer will people believe these guys?

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Mar
07

50 years later, it’s always something

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Edmund Pettus Bridge, Selma, Alabama. (photo, Library of Congress)

President Obama will speak in Selma, AL today to observe the 50th anniversary of the Bloody Sunday voting rights march that began at the Edmund Pettus Bridge. It will be streaming live here at noon EST (9 a.m. PST).

Even as civil rights groups gather at the bridge, a Change.org petition started by Student Unite has gathered 150,000 signatures from people who want the name Edmund Pettus removed from the Edmund Pettus Bridge, now a national landmark and part of the Selma To Montgomery National Historic Trail. It dawned on somebody that the name of a Civil War general and Alabama U.S. senator/Ku Klux Klan Grand Dragon is “a symbol of oppression.” Really.

This is happening in Montgomery:

The House Judiciary Committee on Thursday passed a bill that would prevent clergy, officials and faith-based groups with religious objections to certain marriages from being forced to officiate them, or being sued over their refusal.

Although the legislation does not directly address the issue, same-sex marriage supporters said the bill would effectively give state officials and religiously affiliated organizations, such as hospitals, homeless shelters and food banks broad powers to deny services and benefits to same-sex couples.

This is also happening:

The ACLU of Alabama; the Southern Poverty Law Center; the National Center for Lesbian Rights and Americans United for Separation of Church and State asked U.S. District Judge Ginny Granade to add all Alabama couples seeking same-sex marriage licenses as plaintiffs in an ongoing lawsuit in Mobile County, and to add all of the state’s probate judges who may enforce orders barring or resist rulings allowing same-sex marriage as defendants.

The groups also want Granade to issue an injunction that the probate judges “refrain from enforcing all Alabama laws and orders that prohibit same-sex couples from marrying or that deny recognition of the marriages of same-sex couples.”

[snip]

On Tuesday, the Alabama Supreme Court ordered probate judges to stop issuing the licenses, saying its powers to interpret the U.S. Constitution were equal to Granade’s. The seven-justice majority said that the bans did not violate the 14th Amendment, arguing that the laws did not target gay and lesbian couples and that the state had a legitimate interest in promoting traditional marriage.

And you thought it was some kind of article of faith that “government shouldn’t pick winners and losers.”

It’s always something.

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

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Jan
31

If your blue state is healthier, thank a Republican

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Affordable Care Act opponents argue in King v. Burwell now before the U.S. Supreme Court that Congress intended to withhold subsidies from the states unless they established their own exchanges. If SCOTUS agrees, ACA opponents expect the ruling to effectively gut the federal exchanges operating in over half the states and to seriously undermine Obamacare.

Even as this argument seems to have fallen apart, should the court strike down the federal exchange subsidies, Republicans in Congress vow not to reinstate consumers’ health insurance tax credits.

Steve Benen writes:

Remember, as far as the public is concerned, a clear majority of Americans would expect the Republican Congress to protect consumers from hardship. Indeed, Greg Sargent this week flagged the latest report from the Kaiser Family Foundation, which found that nearly two-thirds of Americans would expect lawmakers to keep existing subsidies in place if the Supreme Court ruling goes the wrong way. Only a fourth of the country would expect Congress to do nothing.

The same report found that even most Republicans support states setting up exchange marketplaces so that families can continue to receive subsidized access to medical care. This is, of course, the exact opposite of what GOP policymakers have in mind.

Ezra Klein reframes that outcome, arguing that Republicans’ plan for Obamacare’s demise has become “a plan to rip themselves off.” Klein elaborates:

If the Supreme Court rules for the plaintiffs in King v. Burwell, the subsidies will basically shut off in (mostly) red states. And congressional Republicans won’t do anything about it. That means Republicans in those states will be paying the taxes and bearing the spending cuts needed to fund Obamacare but getting none of the benefits.

Which is to say, the biggest fight in American politics in recent years began with Democrats creating a law that was a giant subsidy from blue states to red states and has evolved into Republicans working to turn the law into a giant subsidy from red states to blue states. It is very, very weird.

Not really. Republicans, especially in the 15 refusenik states Klein identifies, have a unremitting knack for cutting off their noses to spite their faces (and their children’s). They have principles and they stand in on them.

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

Categories : Health Care, National, Obama
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Image public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Oil rigs in the “Graveyard of the Atlantic“? Someone tell the president April 1st isn’t for two months yet:

(Bloomberg) — The Obama administration proposed opening to offshore drilling an area from Virginia to Georgia in a policy shift sought by energy companies but opposed by environmentalists worried about resorts such as the Outer Banks or Myrtle Beach.

The offshore plan for 2017-2022 marks the second time President Barack Obama has recommended unlocking areas in the U.S. Atlantic for oil drilling, and it drew a swift retort from allies who say the payoff doesn’t justify the risk of a spill along the populated coast. The agency said Atlantic leases won’t be auctioned for at least six years and drilling wouldn’t start for several more years.

Well, that’s a relief. Plus, you know, with the Gulf Stream and all, a massive oil spill 50 miles offshore of the Outer Banks might never reach Cape Hatteras.

“Offshore oil spills don’t respect state boundaries,” said Senator Edward Markey of Massachusetts. “A spill in North Carolina could affect Massachusetts.”

Heads up, Nantucket.

The proposal is still preliminary, officials suggested:

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell told reporters the proposal was a “balanced” approach, but she stressed that it was only a draft.

“It is not final, we’re in the early stages of what is a multi-year process,” Jewell said, cautioning that some regions listed in it “may be narrowed or taken out entirely.”

That caveat and the timing make the announcement a mite suspect. Days ago, the Obama administration had Alaska livid over its request “to designate parts of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as a wilderness area” off-limits to oil drilling. The request left Sen. Lisa Murkowski fuming. Something about decisions on federal land made Outside being a violation of state sovereignty. Other Alaska legislators were similarly put out:

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker was “outraged” at the timing of the announcement, which comes amid low oil prices and declining production “despite having more than 40 billion barrels of untapped resources, mostly in federal areas where oil and gas activity is blocked or restricted,” the joint statement said.

Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, called the plan “callously planned and politically motivated” in the same statement.

On the heels of the Alaska announcement, the Atlantic drilling proposal is generating predictable howls from East Coast environmentalists:

“This proposal sells out the southeast fisheries, tourism, and coastal way of life,” says Sierra Weaver, an attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center. “This is an area that has never been drilled for oil production. These are places and communities that rely on natural resources like clean air and clean water for the quality of life and the lifestyle that they know.”

The White House surely knew its twin decisions would raise firestorms from both the left and right.

A head fake in advance of a Keystone pipeline veto? Or a sop?

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

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Jan
21

“I won both of them”

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The State of the Union address last night did not disappoint as entertainment (although the president’s pitch for “middle-class economics” didn’t exactly sing to me). President Obama was surprisingly buoyant for a leader whose party got hammered in the fall elections and now occupies less of the House chambers than in a generation. (Transcript here.)

The zinger of the night came when Obama remarked, “I have no more campaigns to run,” and scattered Republicans applauded. The president grinned and shot back, “I know, because I won both of them.”

And maybe that’s Obama’s secret. Freedom’s just another thing…, you know. With his recent in-your-face executive actions, he looks like a leader and the country is responding. His approval ratings hit 50 percent for the first time since the spring of 2013.

Joan Walsh described the speech as “an epic combination of sweet-talking and trash-talking, cajoling and trolling.” Speaker John Boehner, looking darker than ever, sat through the speech, looking sickly. Walsh:

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Dec
09

The Decree

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Obama does the Colbert Report’s The Word Decree.

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Sep
25

Not intending could be intending

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The Kenyan Pretender is just that overhanded, salute-wise!

The Colbert Report
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You “meet” lots of interesting people online. Some of them you get to meet in person. Gaius Publius at Americablog (who I have met) transmits the powerful story of a mutual online friend (who I have not met) who served in Vietnam. The former Navy Seal’s take on the Bergdahl release carries a tad more weight than that of all the bloviators out there. Someday, I hope to meet this guy in person:

One of the things that was drummed into us, beginning with the recruiting process (when I joined the teams you had to be invited by UDT/SEALs to the training; you couldn’t just walk up and say, “Dude, I want to go to BUDs) was that “There has never been a SEAL captured or left behind, living or dead.”

Triage and evacuation of wounded soldiers.
(NATO Photo)


During our training, if a classmate or crewmate (we were divided into boat crews by height — since you spend a lot of time carrying those f*cking boats, that part makes sense) got hurt, if the injury was not life-threatening (and believe me, our instructors had a strange scale to measure what constituted life-threatening), then it was our duty to carry that person through the rest of the exercise while the instructors screamed into our ears — “There has NEVER been a SEAL captured or left behind, living or DEAD!”

Sometimes, if no one got conveniently injured, an instructor would touch someone of the shoulder and say, “Your leg’s broken.” And the same drill would ensue with the appropriate screaming at us. Times were not adjusted to account for the extra effort, because there are no such adjustments on the battlefield. If you blew your time, your time was blown.

In Quang Ngai during a recon I caught a bullet in the hip. It blew off a chunk of my iliac crest and cracked my pelvis. The guys on my team did the usual bandaid-type first aid, rigged a stretcher, and humped my ass the hell out of there nearly eight miles to try and reach a place where the choppers could reach us to evacuate.

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Categories : Breather, National, Obama
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Jan
29

SOTU Postmortem

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For those who did not see the State of the Union address last night, as you could guess there were some amazing moments of non-applause by the GOP for things like, you know, sick people being able to see a doctor and ending decade-long wars. All the while — with the exception of calling out “Congress” for trying over 40 times to repeal Obamacare — the president remains, for the most part, unwilling to call out his adversaries for their obstruction. That is his temperament. And that ain’t working. A friend points out that sometimes being nice is not leadership, especially when faced with adversaries with no compunction about not being nice. The liberal tendency to be vain about being highminded can be a mistake (below). Sometimes a little rhetorical Roadhouse is justified. 

So, I’m posting an old piece from Digby (largely excerpted from others) that addresses the partisan divide and how the left, like Obama, doesn’t seem to “get it.”

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