Archive for Obama


“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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The Decree

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Obama does the Colbert Report’s The Word Decree.

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Not intending could be intending

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

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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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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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Congressional opponents of Obamacare are taking their medicine show on the road this week — tomorrow. Titled “Obamacare Implementation: Sticker Shock of Increased Premiums for Health Care Coverage,” hearings are scheduled to begin in the congressional district that covers most of Asheville.

Charlotte Observer — U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., a critic of the Obama administration, will bring the full House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to the Gaston County Courthouse, 325 North Marietta St., for the hearing starting at 10 a.m.

Likely: We’ll hear from small businessmen with a handful of employees how the Affordable Care Act is killing their businesses (even as it exempts businesses with fewer than 50 employees).

Less likely: Darrel Issa asks Americans how many want to go back to the good old days of lifetime caps, preexisting condition denials, non-portable coverage, being dumped by your insurer when you get sick, and rampant medical bankruptcy.

Hot ticket. People from Asheville will be going to support not replacing health care coverage for families who lack it with nothing.


TPP: Corporate Coup Coup Ca Choo

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Wikileaks press release this week on the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks and its Intellectual Property provisions draft:

Today, 13 November 2013, WikiLeaks released the secret negotiated draft text for the entire TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) Intellectual Property Rights Chapter. The TPP is the largest-ever economic treaty, encompassing nations representing more than 40 per cent of the world’s GDP. The WikiLeaks release of the text comes ahead of the decisive TPP Chief Negotiators summit in Salt Lake City, Utah, on 19-24 November 2013. The chapter published by WikiLeaks is perhaps the most controversial chapter of the TPP due to its wide-ranging effects on medicines, publishers, internet services, civil liberties and biological patents. Significantly, the released text includes the negotiation positions and disagreements between all 12 prospective member states…

In the words of WikiLeaks’ Editor-in-Chief Julian Assange, “If instituted, the TPP’s IP regime would trample over individual rights and free expression, as well as ride roughshod over the intellectual and creative commons. If you read, write, publish, think, listen, dance, sing or invent; if you farm or consume food; if you’re ill now or might one day be ill, the TPP has you in its crosshairs.”

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Obamacare success stories have been getting lost among the tales of sticker shock and cancelled policies being hyped elsewhere in the media, part of the messaging war about the new program.

Reuters reports:

And in a sign that both sides see power in such stories, the White House asked Americans to share their Obamacare success stories on its website, while the Senate Republican Conference (SRC) solicited Obamacare horror stories at a new web site,

Michael Hiltzik of the L.A. Times already debunked an Obamascare horror story from Deborah Cavallaro being widely spread on the TV machine. The news media doesn’t fare any better than the insurance companies in Hiltzik’s investigation.

The sad truth is that Cavallaro has been very poorly served by the health insurance industry and the news media. It seems that Anthem didn’t adequately explain her options for 2014 when it disclosed that her current plan is being canceled. If her insurance brokers told her what she says they did, they failed her. And the reporters who interviewed her without getting all the facts produced inexcusably shoddy work — from Maria Bartiromo on down. They not only did her a disservice, but failed the rest of us too.

At Daily Beast, Eleanor Clift collects some of the good news:

Enroll America, working to recruit people to Obamacare in Texas, a state that has been ostentatiously hostile to the law, tells the story of Mark Sullivan, a 31-year old worker in Austin’s tech sector who immediately created an account on and settled on a bronze plan with added dental insurance. He will receive an $82 per month subsidy, which will halve his monthly premium to $78, giving him the financial freedom and security to put his energies into his new tech startup.

Other such stories appear here and here and here.

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Categories : Health Care, National, Obama
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Affordable Scare Act

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While acknowledging the problems with the rollout and selling of the Affordable Care Act, Jon Stewart this week saved his sharpest barbs for its critics:

“His opponents have been lying like motherf-ckers,” said Stewart, before fact-checking several reports by CNN and Fox News.

“So many people seem to feel the need to stretch the truth to attack it,” said Stewart. “If something is genuinely bad, just telling the truth about it should be sufficient. There’s a reason ’12 Years a Slave’ doesn’t have vampires and zombies — it doesn’t need them! Not to mention that some of the arguments against the Affordable Care Act make no sense whatsoever.”

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Treasury Truthers

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StewartFoxNewsDenialism is the go-to strategy for Republicans these days. If you confront a problem where facts are not on your side, simply deny the facts. Examples abound but one of my favorites was Polls showing President Obama ahead of Mitt Romney had to be wrong, or skewed. So Dean Chambers did some “analysis” and came up with a different set of “facts”. On Election night, the shock and awe on Republican faces including the candidate himself told the story of just how many people believed the “un”skewed polls.

Recent events have the Republicans butting up against a fact they just can’t live with. If we don’t fund the government and let it borrow more money we will be unable to pay our obligations which will trigger a default. This will have a chilling effect in world capital markets and would probably plunge us into a recession worse than the one we just went through. But none of this is a problem if you just don’t believe it’s true. Until it is true. President Romney can tell you how it works.

Now we have the Treasury Truthers.

Representative Justin Amash, R-Michigan:

“There’s always revenue coming into the Treasury, certainly enough revenue to pay interest,” said Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich. “Democrats have a different definition of ‘default’ than what we understand it to be. What I hear from them is, ‘If you’re not paying everything on time that’s a default.’ And that’s not the traditionally understood definition.”

Representative Mick Mulvaney, R-South Carolina:

“We’re not going to default; there is no default,” said Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C. “There’s an [Office of Management and Budget] directive from the 1980s, the last time we got fairly close to not raising the debt ceiling, that clearly lays out the process by which the Treasury secretary prioritizes interest payments. Tim Geithner understood that, because the last weekend in July of 2011 he was in New York City telling the primary dealers that we were not going to default on our debt.”

Representative Joe Barton, R-Texas

“I’m not going to vote for the so-called clean debt ceiling where we just give the president a blank check. I will not vote for that.”

“So, we are not going to default on the public debt. But that doesn’t mean that we have to pay every bill the day it comes in.”

Representative David Schweikert, R-Arizona

“I will hear language like, ‘Well, we are heading toward the debt ceiling and you are going to default.’ Anyone that says that is looking you in the eyes and lying to you, either that or they don’t own a calculator,” Rep. David Schweikert, R-Ariz., said in a House debate Friday.

Representative Steve King, R-Arkansas

“I don’t think the credit of the United States is going to be collapsed. I think that all this talk about a default has been a lot of… false demagoguery. We have plenty of money coming in to service the debt.”

Representative Ted Yoho, R-Florida:

“I think, personally, [not raising the debt ceiling] would bring stability to the world markets.”

The Barton quote is unsurprisingly a double whammy. Raising the debt limit doesn’t give the President a blank check. Instead it allows the government to operate at the level authorized by Congress. Of course, this is from the guy who apologized to BP after the Gulf spill.

Matt Yglesias makes a good point.

Stepping back a little, I’d also note that House Republicans can’t have it both ways here. Either the debt ceiling is a major leverage point to extract concessions from the president, or else it’s no big deal. If it’s no big deal, there’s no leverage. If there’s leverage, then it’s because failing to raise the debt ceiling would be very damaging.

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