Apr 212010
 

In what can only be described as an exercise in futility, President Obama invited Democratic and Republican leaders from the Senate to the White House this morning to discuss his forthcoming Supreme Court nomination. It goes without saying that the Republicans are going to oppose whoever the President nominates. They have opposed everything else he has tried to do (and has done); why would they change now?

The President met briefly with the press just prior to the meeting. He was asked if he would use a woman’s right to choose as a ‘litmus test’ when selecting a nominee…

You know, I am somebody who believes that women should have the ability to make often very difficult decisions about their own bodies and issues of reproduction. Obviously this has been a hugely contentious issue in our country for a very long time. I will say the same thing that every President has said since this issue came up, which is I don’t have litmus tests around any of these issues.

But I will say that I want somebody who is going to be interpreting our Constitution in a way that takes into account individual rights, and that includes women’s rights. And that’s going to be something that’s very important to me, because I think part of what our core Constitution — constitutional values promote is the notion that individuals are protected in their privacy and their bodily integrity, and women are not exempt from that.

Good answer.

A full transcript of the press availability follows the break.

Continue reading »

Weekly Address 04-17-10

 Posted by at 08:44  economy, Politics
Apr 172010
 

From the White House weblog:

The strongest consumer protections ever. Bringing transparency to financial dealings. Closing loopholes to stop recklessness and irresponsibility. Holding Wall Street accountable and giving shareholders new power in the financial system. President Obama lays out what Wall Street Reform is about, and questions whether opposition from the Senate Republican Leader might have something to do with his recent meeting with Wall Street executives.

Click below to listen to the audio only:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

The transcript of the president’s weekly address, as prepared for delivery, is available after the break.

Continue reading »

Apr 162010
 

Time flies. It is already time once again to present to best and brightest editorial and political cartoons published during the week just ending. Just a little something we do around here every week at this time. Click on the thumbnails to make them appear full size or to start a slide show. Enjoy. As always, remember that your mileage may vary.

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As always, our thanks go to the talented and observant cartoonists who, each week, help us smile through the pain.

Bonus video (reportedly viewable in U.S. only):


 

Say thank you

 Posted by at 16:32  Politics
Apr 162010
 

President Obama spoke at a DNC reception in Miami, Florida yesterday evening. He had a message for the tea party protesters…

And since today happens to be Tax Day — I should just point out that one third of the Recovery Act went to tax cuts — tax cuts that strengthened the cornerstone of the American Dream: working for a living, earning an education, owning a home, raising a family. We cut taxes for 95 percent of working Americans, just like I promised we would on the campaign. That made a difference for 7 million families in Florida alone. We cut taxes on small businesses. We cut taxes for students and parents paying for college. We cut taxes for first-time home buyers, more than 128,000 here in Florida. In all, we passed 25 different tax cuts last year. And one thing we haven’t done is raise income taxes on families making less than $250,000 a year — another promise that we kept.

So I’ve been a little amused over the last couple of days where people have been having these rallies about taxes. You would think they would be saying thank you. That’s what you’d think.

Video from Miami’s channel 33:

The full transcript of the President’s remarks is available at the White House website.
 

Hospital visitation

 Posted by at 20:23  Politics
Apr 152010
 

From WhiteHouse.gov:

Presidential Memorandum – Hospital Visitation

MEMORANDUM FOR THE SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

SUBJECT: Respecting the Rights of Hospital Patients to Receive Visitors and to Designate Surrogate Decision Makers for Medical Emergencies

There are few moments in our lives that call for greater compassion and companionship than when a loved one is admitted to the hospital. In these hours of need and moments of pain and anxiety, all of us would hope to have a hand to hold, a shoulder on which to lean — a loved one to be there for us, as we would be there for them.

Yet every day, all across America, patients are denied the kindnesses and caring of a loved one at their sides — whether in a sudden medical emergency or a prolonged hospital stay. Often, a widow or widower with no children is denied the support and comfort of a good friend. Members of religious orders are sometimes unable to choose someone other than an immediate family member to visit them and make medical decisions on their behalf. Also uniquely affected are gay and lesbian Americans who are often barred from the bedsides of the partners with whom they may have spent decades of their lives — unable to be there for the person they love, and unable to act as a legal surrogate if their partner is incapacitated.

For all of these Americans, the failure to have their wishes respected concerning who may visit them or make medical decisions on their behalf has real consequences. It means that doctors and nurses do not always have the best information about patients’ medications and medical histories and that friends and certain family members are unable to serve as intermediaries to help communicate patients’ needs. It means that a stressful and at times terrifying experience for patients is senselessly compounded by indignity and unfairness. And it means that all too often, people are made to suffer or even to pass away alone, denied the comfort of companionship in their final moments while a loved one is left worrying and pacing down the hall.

Many States have taken steps to try to put an end to these problems. North Carolina recently amended its Patients’ Bill of Rights to give each patient “the right to designate visitors who shall receive the same visitation privileges as the patient’s immediate family members, regardless of whether the visitors are legally related to the patient” — a right that applies in every hospital in the State. Delaware, Nebraska, and Minnesota have adopted similar laws.

My Administration can expand on these important steps to ensure that patients can receive compassionate care and equal treatment during their hospital stays. By this memorandum, I request that you take the following steps:

1. Initiate appropriate rulemaking, pursuant to your authority under 42 U.S.C. 1395x and other relevant provisions of law, to ensure that hospitals that participate in Medicare or Medicaid respect the rights of patients to designate visitors. It should be made clear that designated visitors, including individuals designated by legally valid advance directives (such as durable powers of attorney and health care proxies), should enjoy visitation privileges that are no more restrictive than those that immediate family members enjoy. You should also provide that participating hospitals may not deny visitation privileges on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. The rulemaking should take into account the need for hospitals to restrict visitation in medically appropriate circumstances as well as the clinical decisions that medical professionals make about a patient’s care or treatment.

2. Ensure that all hospitals participating in Medicare or Medicaid are in full compliance with regulations, codified at 42 CFR 482.13 and 42 CFR 489.102(a), promulgated to guarantee that all patients’ advance directives, such as durable powers of attorney and health care proxies, are respected, and that patients’ representatives otherwise have the right to make informed decisions regarding patients’ care. Additionally, I request that you issue new guidelines, pursuant to your authority under 42 U.S.C. 1395cc and other relevant provisions of law, and provide technical assistance on how hospitals participating in Medicare or Medicaid can best comply with the regulations and take any additional appropriate measures to fully enforce the regulations.

3. Provide additional recommendations to me, within 180 days of the date of this memorandum, on actions the Department of Health and Human Services can take to address hospital visitation, medical decisionmaking, or other health care issues that affect LGBT patients and their families.

This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

You are hereby authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.

BARACK OBAMA

One step at a time. This is an important step.
 

Destination Mars

 Posted by at 17:34  Politics, science
Apr 152010
 

President Obama visited the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. He outlined his plans for space exploration…

Early in the next decade, a set of crewed flights will test and prove the systems required for exploration beyond low Earth orbit. And by 2025, we expect new spacecraft designed for long journeys to allow us to begin the first-ever crewed missions beyond the Moon into deep space. So we’ll start — we’ll start by sending astronauts to an asteroid for the first time in history. By the mid-2030s, I believe we can send humans to orbit Mars and return them safely to Earth. And a landing on Mars will follow. And I expect to be around to see it…

Now, I understand that some believe that we should attempt a return to the surface of the Moon first, as previously planned. But I just have to say pretty bluntly here: We’ve been there before. Buzz has been there. There’s a lot more of space to explore, and a lot more to learn when we do. So I believe it’s more important to ramp up our capabilities to reach — and operate at — a series of increasingly demanding targets, while advancing our technological capabilities with each step forward. And that’s what this strategy does. And that’s how we will ensure that our leadership in space is even stronger in this new century than it was in the last.

A full transcript of the President’s remarks follows the break.

Continue reading »

The no taxes myth

 Posted by at 09:44  economy, Politics, Republicans
Apr 142010
 

A few days ago, someone published a report stating that 47% of the households in the United States will pay no federal income tax for the year 2009. The right wing noise machine immediately jumped on this report (with glee) as proof of the so-called “nanny state” being created by the liberal Democrats. Of course, as with anything that is spouted by the right wing noise machine, there is what they say and then there is the truth. David Leonhardt of The New York Times explains…

Yes, 47% of Households Owe No Taxes. Look Closer.

Forty-seven percent.

That’s the portion of American households that owe no income tax for 2009. The number is up from 38 percent in 2007, and it has become a popular talking point on cable television and talk radio. With Tax Day coming on Thursday, 47 percent has become shorthand for the notion that the wealthy face a much higher tax burden than they once did while growing numbers of Americans are effectively on the dole.

Neither one of those ideas is true. They rely on a cleverly selective reading of the facts. So does the 47 percent number.

Given that taxes are likely to be one of the big political issues of the next few years — and maybe the biggest one — it’s worth understanding who really pays what in taxes. Once you do, you can get a sense for our country’s fiscal options. How, in other words, will we be able to close the huge looming gap between the taxes we are scheduled to pay and the services we are scheduled to receive?

The answer is that tax rates almost certainly have to rise more on the affluent than on other groups. Over the last 30 years, rates have fallen more for the wealthy, and especially the very wealthy, than for any other group. At the same time, their incomes have soared, and the incomes of most workers have grown only moderately faster than inflation.

So a much greater share of income is now concentrated at the top of distribution, while each dollar there is taxed less than it once was.

Click on the headline to read the entire article.

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Nice work

 Posted by at 14:53  Politics, Republicans
Apr 132010
 

She was pulling $125,000 per year as governor of Alaska. Then Johnny McCain yanked her out of the wilderness to be his running mate. The lady has raked in over $12,000,000 in the past ten months.

Sarah Palin Has Earned an Estimated $12 Million Since July

Pundits can debate the political costs and benefits of Sarah Palin’s decision to step down as Alaska governor, but the monetary advantages of leaving her $125,000-a-year public service post are beyond dispute.

Since leaving office at the end of July 2009, the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee has brought in at least 100 times her old salary – a haul now estimated at more than $12 million — through television and book deals and a heavy schedule of speaking appearances worth five and six figures.

That conservative estimate is based on publicly available records and news accounts. The actual number is probably much higher, but is hard to quantify because Palin does not publicize her earnings.

I wonder if Johnny is getting a cut.

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