Countries like to give President Barack Obama gifts. The Washington Post catalogued and ranked them for us:
It's really a funny collection of presents, for which, were you asked To what sort of person was this gift given?, you'd likely have a wide variety of responses. Argentina gave Obama a silver dagger in a display box in 2012, perhaps confusing the president with their 13-year-old nephew. Britain gave the family a shawl and some kids clothes in 2009, playing the role of America's eccentric aunt.
It's about the lying.
“When we engaged in some of these enhanced interrogation techniques – techniques that I believe, and I think any fair-minded person would believe were torture – we crossed a line
If the president really believes that, will he take legally required actions
to respond to it
As Juan Cole points out; America is Torture Central: From Prisons to ''Black Sites''
The Bush Administration promoted torture. They expanded its use, but they did not invent it, or introduce it
into US foreign policy.
"...it's social media that has helped build the public case against Russia
" in Ukraine. One example is liveuamap.com
, who "gather information from open sources and put it on the [Google] map" using familiar Google Maps markers for a Reds (Pro-Russian) vs Blues (Pro-Ukraine) theater map. Shaded regions indicate the Donetsk People's Republic
(DNR; Red), Lugansk People's Republic
(LNR; Purple), the MH17
crash site (Yellow), and the MH17 ceasefire zone
(green). The posts linked to by each marker include a link to the source via a chain icon at the bottom of the post.
A Republican panel of the D.C. Circuit has ruled
[.pdf opinion] in the case of Halbig v. Burwell
that a drafting error in the Affordable Care Act provides subsidies exclusively to state-based exchanges and not to federally-facilitated ones, even while subjectively intending to provide subsidies in both cases.
The ruling threatens to take away federal subsidies for insurance sold on Obamacare exchanges in 36 states.
Today is the 50th anniversary of the signing of the civil rights act, and to commemorate, the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library hosted in April a Civil Rights Summit
, featuring dozens of civil rights luminaries as well as Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and President Barack Obama. [more inside]
Presdient Obama gave a speech (video
) at the United States Military Academy last month that outlined American foreign policy.
has been mixed. [more inside]
" is the title of the first report of The White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault. This report comes after a number of incidents of sexual assault were under-investigated or ignored at numerous college campus' in the US. [more inside]
This morning, the Veterans Affairs Chief Eric Shinseki tendered his resignation,
following the release of an independent review
detailing corruption in the reporting of wait times
and scheduling practices
, along with alleged patient deaths
in the Phoenix Health Care system. [more inside]
The Color Of His Presidency
A few weeks ago, the liberal comedian Bill Maher and conservative strategist and pundit Bill Kristol had a brief spat on Maher’s HBO show, putatively over what instigated the tea party but ultimately over the psychic wound that has divided red America and blue America in the Obama years. The rise of the tea party, explained Maher in a let’s-get-real moment, closing his eyes for a second the way one does when saying something everybody knows but nobody wants to say, “was about a black president.” Both Maher and Kristol carry themselves with a weary cynicism that allows them to jovially spar with ideological rivals, but all of a sudden they both grew earnest and angry. Kristol interjected, shouting, “That’s bullshit! That is total bullshit!” After momentarily sputtering, Kristol recovered his calm, but his rare indignation remained, and there was no trace of the smirk he usually wears to distance himself slightly from his talking points. He almost pleaded to Maher, “Even you don’t believe that!”
“I totally believe that,” Maher responded, which is no doubt true, because every Obama supporter believes deep down, or sometimes right on the surface, that the furious opposition marshaled against the first black president is a reaction to his race. Likewise, every Obama opponent believes with equal fervor that this is not only false but a smear concocted willfully to silence them. [more inside]
Yesterday was Equal Pay Day
. President Obama signed an Executive Order
to prevent discrimination and address the gender pay gap.
According to The National Women's Law Center
, "In 1963, when the Equal Pay Act was signed into law, a woman was typically paid 59 cents for every dollar paid to her male counterpart — a 41-cent wage gap. In 2011, the most recent year for which data are available, women working full time, year round were typically paid just 77 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts. Although women have narrowed the gap by 18 cents over the past five decades, the wage gap today stands at 23 cents." [more inside]
This morning, the Supreme Court heard arguments in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.
and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius
, two cases where private corporations have challenged the Affordable Care Act's contraception coverage mandate.
, and previously [more inside]
was selected by President Obama to be assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. The Senate, aided and abetted by seven Democratic senators, killed his nomination
. Why? Because
for civil rights
The Long, Slow Surrender of American Liberals
"The left has no particular place it wants to go. And, to rehash an old quip, if you have no destination, any direction can seem as good as any other."
(Originally in Harpers)
Can you live on the minimum wage? NYTimes.com has provided you with a handy calculator
to find out.
Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tom Perkins took to the op-ed page of the Wall Street Journal
to compare progressive angst over income inequality to the sentiment that led to the Nazi Kristallnacht
. Citing the recent kerfuffle over Google buses in San Francisco (previously
) and accusations of snobbery
by San Francisco resident, bestselling author, and Perkins' own ex-wife Danielle Steel (who he describes as "our number-one celebrity"), Perkins asks "Kristallnacht was unthinkable in 1930; is its descendent 'progressive' radicalism unthinkable now?" [more inside]
60 Words And A War Without End: The Untold Story Of The Most Dangerous Sentence In U.S. History.
"Written in the frenzied, emotional days after 9/11, the Authorization for the Use of Military Force
was intended to give President Bush the ability to retaliate against whoever orchestrated the attacks. But more than 12 years later, this sentence remains the primary legal justification for nearly every covert operation around the world. Here’s how it came to be, and what it’s since come to mean." [Via]
Celebrating the 100th anniversary of Arthur Wynne's creation of the crossword puzzle, Google's homepage hosts a (not terribly difficult) example of the form
A recent great pull
from White House
photographer Pete Souza shows Bush and Obama seeming to not just tolerate but actually enjoy each other's company. This is nothing new, however. Not only have Presidents always still been just as human as anyone else,
but they occasionally cross the aisle to have close relationships
that can be not only shocking, but endearing - including Barbara Bush referring to Bill Clinton as their "adopted son." Ridiculous
conspiracy theories abound, but a simpler explanation may serve: that even the most partisan of politicans have more in common with each other than they would like us to believe - a common background
, and often, common professions
Did Race Play a Role in the Shutdown?
Republicans from the House districts that have the highest levels of racial resentment were about 60 percentage points less likely to vote for the deal to end the shutdown than Republicans from districts with low levels of racial resentment.
Happy Political Clusterf*ck Day (U.S.)
In one corner: the first federal government shutdown
, born of the House GOP/Tea Party faction's
crusade to delay, defund, and destroy Obamacare (and the Democratic Senate and President's resolve to not do that
have ping-ponged between the two houses, fighting over language to cancel healthcare reform (plus a few other items, such as the implementation of Mitt Romney's entire economic agenda
). National parks are closed
, contractors are hamstrung
, and 800,000 federal workers furloughed
until Speaker Boehner drops the "Hastert Rule"
and passes a bill the other branches can agree to.
In the other corner, heedless of the chaos
(though not without glitches
of its own): the official rollout of the Affordable Care Act and its state insurance exchanges
. The portal at Healthcare.gov
is your one-stop shop for browsing, comparing, and purchasing standardized, regulated insurance coverage
with premium rebates
, guaranteed coverage
, and expanded Medicaid for the poor (in some states)
. A crazy day, overall -- but peanuts compared to what might happen if the debt ceiling is breached in 16 days
. [more inside]
The Elvis Impersonator, the Karate Instructor, the Fridge full of Severed Heads, and the Plot to Kill the President.
In March, Kevin Curtis of Tupelo, Mississippi, was arrested for mailing ricin-laced letters to a local judge, Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker, and the President - only to be released a week later when another man was arrested for the crime. In the latest issue of GQ, Wells Tower sets out to get to the bottom of the tale and finds himself falling down the rabbit hole into a whole other universe of lost American weirdness.
(Know that Moo Cow the dog is okay.)
A new academic paper digging into presidential betting in the final weeks of the 2012 election finds that a single trader lost between $4 million and $7 million placing a flurry of Intrade bets on Mitt Romney—perhaps to make the Republican nominee’s chance of victory appear brighter. [more inside]
Fifty years ago this morning
, Addie Mae Collins (age 14), Denise McNair (age 11), Carole Robertson
(age 14), and Cynthia Wesley (age 14) lost their lives when a bomb
set by the KKK went off in the basement of their church in Montgomery, Alabama
. [more inside]
A Plea for Caution From Russia
My working and personal relationship with President Obama is marked by growing trust. I appreciate this. I carefully studied his address to the nation on Tuesday. And I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the United States’ policy is “what makes America different. It’s what makes us exceptional.” It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.
The Department of Treasury and Internal Revenue Service announced
today that it will recognize same-sex marriages for the purpose of filing federal taxes, even if the couple lives in a state that does not recognize their marriage. [more inside]
A middle-aged man in a red golf shirt shuffles up to a small folding table with gold trim, in a booth adorned with a flotilla of helium balloons, where government workers at the Kentucky State Fair are hawking the virtues of Kynect, the state’s health benefit exchange established by Obamacare.
The man is impressed. "This beats Obamacare I hope," he mutters to one of the workers.
“Do I burst his bubble?” wonders Reina Diaz-Dempsey, overseeing the operation. She doesn't. If he signs up, it's a win-win, whether he knows he's been ensnared by Obamacare or not.
"This scene is straight outta Nikolai Gogol."
Chairman Bruce reflects on Manning, surveillance, the history of computing, the character of cypherpunks, the Russian and American states, and more.
The President turns 52 on Sunday, and the White House has compiled 52 photos to celebrate (slideshow
). There's a good combination of serious, familial, and funny. My favourite: Obama and gymnast McKayla Maroney not being impressed
President Obama visited an Amazon facility in Tennessee today
giving a speech proposing a "grand bargain for middle-class jobs" that would cut the U.S. corporate tax rate and use billions of dollars in revenues generated by a business tax overhaul to fund projects aimed at creating jobs.
The American Booksellers Association is not happy about the visit and called him out on it
"It's his charm. It's his gift. It's his political liability, and it's part of an American conundrum. We beg for authenticity, and then when we get it, oh man, it's hilarious. [Vice President Joe] Biden can be fantastic when he's on his game. At the 2012 Democratic National Convention, his speech got higher Nielsen ratings than either Bill Clinton's or Obama's. He killed the debate against Ryan, pumped air back into a campaign deflated after Obama's miserable first performance against Romney. Watching those performances, it's almost impossible to see him as a person once crippled by speech."
President of the United States Barack Obama unveils his Climate Action Plan
While no single step can reverse the effects of climate change, we have a moral obligation to future generations to leave them a planet that is not polluted and damaged. Through steady, responsible action to cut carbon pollution, we can protect our children’s health and begin to slow the effects of climate change so that we leave behind a cleaner, more stable environment. [more inside]
During a speech at a $10,000 per plate DNC fundraiser on June 4, Michelle Obama was heckled
by gay rights advocate and GetEQUAL
member Ellen Sturtz, calling on President Obama to sign an executive order prohibiting federal contractors from LGBT workplace discrimination. The first lady responded by telling Sturtz and the 200 attendees, "[L]isten to me or you can take the mic, but I'm leaving. You all decide. You have one choice." [more inside]
Today is the last day in session for the Illinois House before the summer break, and LGBT advocates are hoping that when they convene at 10:30am, they will address and vote on SB10
, legislation already passed by the state Senate to enact marriage equality in the state of Illinois. [more inside]
Syria Options Go From Bad To Worse
As reports have surfaced of possible use of sarin gas in the Syrian civil war, calls by long-time proponents of U.S. intervention on behalf of the anti-Assad rebels have grown to a fever pitch. These same voices, both at home and abroad, have evoked the administration’s previously stated “red line” on use of chemical weapons. But even assuming that reports of WMD usage in Syria turn out to be true, the Obama Administration’s position may be far more nuanced than previously thought. [more inside]
Did you know that this is the last day of Sunshine Week?
What is Sunshine Week? An attempt to get a nationwide discussion going about the importance of access to public information and what it means for you and your community. (from 2005 a Blue note was sung with This little light of mine here on the Blue
) [more inside]
Respected polling firm Gallup had a disastrous 2012, with a final presidential poll showing Romney 49-48 over Obama, some five points off of the final result. So what exactly went wrong?
The Miami Herald’s Carol Rosenberg has reported from the detention center at Guantanamo Bay since the first detainee arrived in 2002
. Last month, President Obama scuttled the office responsible for closing the center, which means Gitmo’s “media tent city” will be a permanent press encampment for the foreseeable future. Petra Bartosiewicz spoke with the veteran correspondent by phone from Gitmo’s Camp Justice, where Rosenberg has been covering pretrial hearings this month of the alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
Evolution of Mom Dancing [SLYT]
In honor of the First Lady's "Let's Move" campaign, and to encourage parents everywhere to get up and get moving with their kids, Jimmy Fallon and Michelle Obama present the "Evolution of Mom Dancing."