Obama eulogizes Beau Biden in Wilmington

WILMINGTON – President Obama delivered a eulogy honoring the life of the vice president’s eldest son, Beau, at St. Anthony of Padua Roman Catholic Church here Saturday afternoon.”You can beg God for a lighter burden, but if you’re strong enough, it can also make you ask God for broader shoulders, shoulders broad enough to bear not only your own burdens but the burdens of others,” Obama said. Beau “would ask God for broader shoulders.”Read full article >>

Obama eulogizes Beau Biden in Wilmington

Delaware mourns Beau Biden

The chaplain of the Delaware National Guard spoke of Beau Biden’s “victories” and of a “life well-lived.” The state’s governor said he was “a model for what a public servant should be.”Biden, a 46-year-old Iraq war veteran and former state attorney general, lay in honor on Thursday in the Delaware Senate Chamber, surrounded by his family. His  motorcade passed through a series of small Delaware cities on the way to the statehouse where an honor guard waited through a light June drizzle to receive it.Read full article >>

Steve King and House Republicans take another bite at the anti-immigrant apple

Rep. Steve King (R-IA)

The GOP’s cantaloupe in chief, Rep. Steve King of Iowa, didn’t want to miss yet another symbolic but toothless opportunity to offend the immigrant community. So he rallied the Republican troops Wednesday to pass an appropriations provision that would hamstring the Justice Department’s effort to defend against the GOP-led legal challenge to President Obama’s executive actions on immigration.
Here’s the details from Seung Min Kim:

The GOP-led chamber voted Wednesday to block the Justice Department from being able to defend itself in a legal battle that has put Obama’s sweeping and controversial immigration actions on hold. The measure, written by conservative immigration firebrand Rep. Steve King of Iowa, was an amendment to the overall funding bill for DOJ.

As Wednesday’s vote showed, there is still some appetite from GOP lawmakers to fight Obama on the executive actions, although many Republicans would prefer the battle to play out

Continue reading “Steve King and House Republicans take another bite at the anti-immigrant apple”

Obama makes an impassioned case for a Palestinian state

President Obama made an impassioned case for a Palestinian state in an interview with an Israeli television network on Tuesday, arguing that the current standoff imposed a steep moral cost that was eating away at Israel’s core democratic values.Read full article >>

Cartoon: Jeb Bush and Brotherly Love

Jeb Bush has performed a valuable service with his recent missteps and flubs, he’s reminded the world of the baggage he willingly carries. I’m not tarring him with the same brush as George W. Bush just because they are brothers. Jeb has voluntarily staffed his foreign policy team with 17 people from his brother’s administration. (This is out of a foreign policy team of 21, mind you.)

Sure, the dynasty thing is bad enough and it’s the same Bush family as before—but whether Jeb is a Bush or not, he deserves to be pilloried for putting people like Paul Wolfowitz in places where they might have an impact on, you know, foreign policy. (It boggles my mind Wolfowitz is actually showing his face in public, never mind appearing on cable news and advising another Bush.)  

Besides Wolfie, there are loads of other people on Jeb’s list

Continue reading “Cartoon: Jeb Bush and Brotherly Love”

Cartoon: I’m my own man!

Terrible Presidential candidate Jeb Bush has had a very hard time distancing himself from his brother George Jr., the worst President in US history. Okay, maybe he is showing some of them Republican Family Values they’re always going on about, but man, Jebby can’t seem to get the stink of the Iraq War, (a war which is unpopular with 66% of the public) because he won’t deny his dumb bro. Who’s the dumb bro now?

New Obamacare guidelines clarify that insurers must cover all forms of birth control

Sign saying

In the wake of reports revealing that some health insurers were not fully covering the costs of birth control, the Obama administration issued new guidelines Monday stipulating that insurers must provide a full range of birth control options at not cost to consumers. Peter Sullivan reports on the new Department of Health and Human Services guidance:

“Today’s guidance seeks to eliminate any ambiguity,” HHS said. “Insurers must cover without cost-sharing at least one form of contraception in each of the methods (currently 18) that the FDA has identified for women in its current Birth Control Guide, including the ring, the patch and intrauterine devices.”

Along with reports from the Kaiser Family Foundation and National Women’s Law Center showing some insurers had not been covering certain forms of birth control, Congressional Democrats were also pushing the White House to make certain clarifications.

“I’m pleased that with this announcement [HHS] Secretary

Continue reading “New Obamacare guidelines clarify that insurers must cover all forms of birth control”

White House digital strategy director to step down Friday

Nate Lubin — who directs the White House Office of Digital Strategy and has helped spearhead the administration’s use of social media to deliver its message –will step down from his post Friday, according to White House officials.Read full article >>

Jeb Bush’s long history of dicey business practices

Jeb Bush speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor in Maryland February 27, 2015.  REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque  (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS) - RTR4RHAO

The New York Times has an investigative look into Jeb Bush’s sordid business dealings that reads a little like a white-collar thriller. The article details a number of instances where he appeared to trade on his name as a young business man (something he denies), his investments went belly up, and his business associates were accused of fraud.
Here’s one excerpt from Steve Eder’s reporting:

Mr. Bush’s association with the M.W.I. Corporation, a Florida company that makes water pumps, was emblematic of that period. The company eventually closed a deal with several state governments in Nigeria in a purchase financed ultimately with $74 million in loans from the Export-Import Bank of the United States. But the Justice Department would later sue, claiming that Mr. Bush’s partners hid commissions of roughly $25 million to a Nigerian middleman. Though Mr. Bush denied making money on the deal, his association with M.W.I. resulted in questions that have endured for over two decades, with Mr. Bush once telling a reporter the association brought “unmitigated grief.”

And here’s a glimpse of how Jeb’s associations sometimes became a headache for White House aides.

“We were all risk-takers,” said Hank Klein, one of Mr. Bush’s former real estate partners. “Everybody was, and that was exciting.”
But in Washington, those successes or failures at times resulted in enough questions for his father’s vice-presidential staff that his aides maintained folders of news clippings on Jeb Bush with instructions on handling certain queries, according to presidential archival records.

“Per Jeb — Don’t refer any more calls to Jeb on H.M.O.,” an aide wrote, in reference to questions about Mr. Bush’s work for Miguel Recarey Jr., who became a fugitive after he was indicted in 1987 on charges that his health maintenance organization defrauded the Medicare system. The aide’s notation was contained a copy of a file obtained from the George Bush Presidential Library.

Two years before then, Mr. Bush had called federal officials to request a fair hearing for the health organization on a regulatory concern. Mr. Bush has maintained that Mr. Recarey, a political contributor, did not pay him for lobbying, but for scouting real estate. Mr. Recarey, who lives in Spain, declined to comment through his brother, Jorge Recarey Sr., who was also an executive with the company.

If you feel like taking a guided tour of of Bush’s past business practices, the story is here.

Cartoon: Candidate Kit

It’s that time again, when people delve into a presidential candidate’s eating habits, transportation habitsand hair styles. Never mind the policies, now is the time to talk about the nothingness of the very early stages of the campaign.

Time to watch for gaffes and try out those gotcha questions, all while running frantically to the next sad little roadside cafe in Iowa. If a candidate talks about substantive issues too much or doesn’t spit out a sound bite soon enough, they are “boring.” We want to see saxophone-playing and baby kissing!

It’s a weird way to choose the leader of the free world—we want them to be our friend and be “human,” never mind the shady fundraising going on behind the scenes. (Granted, I would rather have a beer with Ted Cruz than Sheldon Adelson, as painful as either situation would be.) So let the circus begin, I just hope the circus involves some real insight into how the next president might govern. Please like, comment and share this cartoon to your heart’s content, and check out the links behind the cartoon!

Cartoon: Reince’s Women Issues

Matt Wuerker
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House Republicans still trying to cut taxes for the rich, Obama still trying to help others

U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner listens as U.S. President Barack Obama hosts a bipartisan meeting of Congressional leaders in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, January 13, 2015.     REUTERS/Larry Downing   (UNITED STATES - Tags: PO

Once again, the House is gearing up for a vote to repeal the estate tax, a little ritual Republicans have routinely embraced since the turn of the millennium. So much for fresh ideas. They may not have gotten the memo but tax cuts for the rich aren’t broadly popular and they haven’t proven to do anything to help the economy, which is basically what the White House said in response. Bernie Becker has the details:

Jason Furman, the chairman of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, cast the estate tax repeal as a giveaway to the richest of the rich – helping just 5,400 families out of the millions in the U.S.
“That’s not even a tax cut for employers,” Furman said on a conference call with reporters. “That’s a tax cut on the wealth of some of the very wealthiest people in the country.”

So wealthy, in fact, that it affects families whose fortunes are around $11 million, not to mention the fact that it would hit the federal government with a $270 billion loss over the course of a decade. According to the White House, that tax break would affect only about 970 families while President Obama’s suggested tax break for two-earner households would help more than two million families.

The president has also floated new credits for child care, overhauling education incentives and expanding preferences like the Earned Income Tax Credit – all to be paid for by raising the tax rate on capital gains and other tax hikes aimed at the wealthy.
Furman and Munoz maintained Monday that those proposals would augment the tax changes that Obama has already implemented – including raising the tax rates on the country’s highest earners – that they said had helped boost the current economic recovery.

“I don’t think the vast majority of economists would tell you that eliminating the estate tax is the way to raise wages for middle class families,” Furman said.

Nor would the middle-class families tell you that.

9:53 AM PT: UPDATE: Take action, contact your House Democrat to tell them: Do not repeal the estate tax for millionaires.

It’s official: Hillary Clinton is running for president

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during a news conference at the United Nations in New York in this March 10, 2015 file photo. Hillary Clinton is expected to announce her campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016 as early as this weekend, facing no substantial competition but needing to get her organization in place for the long battle to come. A variety of sources in the Clinton orbit said they were anticipating an imminent announcement but would not confirm a report in the New York Daily News that the announcement was expected on Sunday.  REUTERS/Mike Segar/Files - RTR4WQNK

After a long wait, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton just announced that she’ll run for president a second time, per top aide John Podesta. For quite a while, polls have shown her with huge leads in a hypothetical primary and, more often than not, an advantage over the entire field of actual and potential Republican contenders.
But 2016 is a ways off, and a lot can happen between now and Election Day. In the meantime, though, Democrats have their first—and very possibly their last—candidate in the race. Let the games begin!

12:08 PM PT: Here is Clinton’s announcement video. She does not appear until the 1:33 mark:

How long would an Iran nuclear deal last?

One of the biggest questions surrounding a nuclear deal with Iran is how long it would prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear warhead.Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz gave one answer to reporters at the White House. “It’s not a fixed-year agreement,” the nuclear physicist told reporters, describing the deal he had helped negotiate in Switzerland last week. “It’s a forever agreement.”Read full article >>

The Fix: Want to know who has visited the White House? Here’s how.

The White House makes public its logs of visitors to the buildings in the secure area near the Executive Mansion. It can be hard to navigate; it’s presented on the site as a long list of visitors with inscrutable codes identifying where they were headed and the people with whom they met.Read full article >>

Cartoon: Imagine Republican dough

Now that Ted Cruz has officially announced he’s running for president, the seal has been broken and more will quickly follow. Oh, and besides being a presidential candidate, now Senator Cruz will be signing up for Obamacare. Nothing at all hypocritical about that, right? Cruz’s wife is taking a temporary leave from her job at Goldman Sachs so poor ol’ Ted won’t have the health insurance to which he has grown accustomed.

As a cartoonist, I really hope Senator Cruz stays in the race as long as possible. As a citizen, I hope he flames out instantly. Even though Cruz is good fun and has such crazed views he’s a made-for-satire candidate, the real story is the dark (and not-so-dark) money that will be poured into this campaign.

The various soon-to-be candidates have been trying to line up their favored billionaire funders, from Sheldon Adelson to the Koch brothers. While Ted Cruz’s extreme views (shut down the IRS, anyone?) are ridiculous, it’s the money in politics that is the real tragedy. Enjoy the cartoon and be sure to check out the links behind the ‘toon.

Cartoon: Taking liberty with liberties at Liberty

(Click for larger image)

Cartoon: Ted Cruz campaign slogan

When the Universe took away the instant comedy of Sarah Palin, it replaced it with the twisted lunacy that is the anti-immigrant Canadian born Texas GOP Senator (and now presumed frontrunner of 2016 Presidential hilarity) Ted Cruz. And on Twitter everybody came up with their #TedCruzCampaignSlogans. Here’s one of mine, in cartoon form. Thanks Universe, you made my job so much easier, at least until this loco drops out.

Obama issues veto threat on any budget bill that restores sequestration

President Barack Obama and House Republican Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) gesture while Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Cal.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) look on during a meeting of bipartisan leaders of the House and Senate.

President Obama doesn’t want to go back to the across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration, telling reporter Sam Stein over the weekend he wouldn’t sign any bill that lets those cuts return on October 1.

I’ve been very clear. We are not going to have a situation where, for example, our education spending goes back to its lowest level since the year 2000 — since 15 years ago — despite a larger population and more kids to educate. … We can’t do that to our kids, and I’m not going to sign it,” Obama said.

Remember sequestration? All those federal agency spending cuts—$1.2 trillion over 10 years—that no one thought would ever go into effect, partly because Democrats opposed them and partly because Republicans would never let their precious Defense Department’s budget be slashed alongside those of all the other federal agencies. But then it did go into effect on March 1, 2013, because no one could forge enough of an agreement between the two parties to stop the monster they had created from devouring the government’s budget. Finally, a budget deal negotiated later that year by Sen. Patty Murray of Washington and Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin provided $63 billion in sequestration spending relief for two years, which comes to an end this fall.
Obama’s new budget calls for a seven percent increase in spending above sequestration caps even as House Republicans have proposed $5.5 trillion in spending cuts over the next decade with a corresponding increase in the defense budget. (Why prioritize education when we can just build a better bomb?)  

The discordant budgets foreshadow what will almost surely be a fight to the finish on funding the government before the current spending deal ends.

Lack of agreement on a future path raises the likelihood that lawmakers would simply pass a continuing resolution in order to keep the government open. Should that happen, sequestration would return on Oct. 1. Since the president has now said he won’t sign a bill that allows sequestration to return, it would raise the possibility of another government shutdown.

To some extent, this battle may come down to just how badly the GOP’s fiscal hawks want Defense Department funding to increase. The worse they want it, the more likely that some agreement to avoid sequestration can be forged with their help.

Sadly, that may be the best possible outcome given the Congress we’re dealing with.