Posts tagged "Obama Administration"

h/t: Michael D. Shear at The New York Times

sandandglass:

Republicans stir up controversy over Obama’s nomination for Surgeon General. Dr. Vivek Murthy upset Republicans by saying guns are a healthcare issue and that the NRA holds too much power over politicians.

His original Tweet read “Tired of politicians playing politics w/ guns, putting lives at risk b/c they’re scared of NRA. Guns are a health care issue” and you can find it HERE.

(via upworthy)

WASHINGTON — Forty-seven senators and 148 members of the House have signed a letter putting pressure on President Barack Obama to sign an executive order providing workplace protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.

"We are writing to urge you to fulfill the promise in your State of the Union address to make this a ‘year of action’ and build upon the momentum of 2013 by signing an executive order banning federal contractors from engaging in employment discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans. As you have said before, ‘now is the time to end this kind of discrimination, not enable it,’" the letter says.

The effort was organized by Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) in the Senate and by the LGBT Equality Caucus in the House.

Obama has the ability to ban only that employment discrimination by government contractors. Congressional legislation would apply to all employers. The proposed Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), sponsored by Merkley, has passed the Senate, but it doesn’t appear to be going anywhere in the House.

"All Americans deserve fairness in the workplace," said Merkley in a statement on Tuesday. "There is no reason to wait any longer to extend non-discrimination policies to federal contractors and protect millions of Americans from being fired for who they are or who they love."

Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.), who has been pushing the president to act on a nondiscrimination executive order for years, said, “Many LGBT Americans are less concerned with how these protections are put in place — whether they come from a bill the President signs into law or an executive order — they simply want and need protection from workplace discrimination. This is a simple act that can make a tremendous difference in the lives of 16.5 million Americans.”

No Republicans signed on to the letter asking Obama to issue an executive order, even though 10 of them voted for ENDA in the Senate and six are co-sponsors of the House legislation. Republicans have been wary of allowing the president to use his authority without going through Congress.

The current letter shows that support for executive action on LGBT discrimination is growing. Last year, lawmakers circulated a similar letter, which had 10 fewer backers in the Senate and 38 fewer in the House.

Sens. Michael Bennet (Colo.), Maria Cantwell (Wash.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Mark Pryor (Ark.) and Harry Reid (Nev.) were the only Democrats who didn’t sign the latest letter on the Senate side. Maine Sen. Angus King, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, also did not sign. Fifty-six House Democrats didn’t join the effort.

The letter picked up the support of Democratic leaders like House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.), Assistant House Democratic Leader James Clyburn (S.C.), Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chair Steve Israel (N.Y.) and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.).

In addition to Bennet, chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, other top Democrats not signing the letter included Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.), chair of the Democratic National Committee, and Rep. Marcia Fudge (Ohio), chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Although Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) were also not signatories, they traditionally don’t sign on to these types of letters. Pelosi has said, however, that she supports Obama using his executive authority to extend workplace protections. Reid has said he would support it if the president decided to do it.

The White House has consistently argued that it would like to see Congress pass ENDA, since an executive action wouldn’t protect all LGBT workers. Still, an executive order could help as many as 16 million workers, according to a report from UCLA’s Williams Institute.

Senate signatories (46 Democrats and one independent):

Jeff Merkley (Ore.), Tom Harkin (Iowa), Tammy Baldwin (Wis.), Mark Begich (Alaska), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Cory Booker (N.J.), Barbara Boxer (Calif.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Ben Cardin (Md.), Tom Carper (Del.), Bob Casey (Pa.), Chris Coons (Del.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Dick Durbin (Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), Al Franken (Minn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Kay Hagan (N.C.), Martin Heinrich (N.M.), Mazie Hirono (Hawaii), Tim Johnson (S.D.), Tim Kaine (Va.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Mary Landrieu (La.), Patrick Leahy (Vt.), Carl Levin (Mich.), Ed Markey (Mass.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Bob Menendez (N.J.), Barbara Mikulski (Md.), Chris Murphy (Conn.), Patty Murray (Wash.), Bill Nelson (Fla.), Jack Reed (R.I.), Jay Rockefeller (W.Va.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Brian Schatz (Hawaii), Chuck Schumer (N.Y.), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Debbie Stabenow (Mich.), Jon Tester (Mont.), Mark Udall (Colo.), Tom Udall (N.M.), Mark Warner (Va.), Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.), Ron Wyden (Ore.)

House signatories (148 Democrats):

Ron Barber (Ariz.), Karen Bass (Calif.), Joyce Beatty (Ohio), Ami Bera (Calif.), Timothy Bishop (N.Y.), Earl Blumenauer (Ore.), Suzanne Bonamici (Ore.), Robert Brady (Pa.), Bruce Braley (Iowa), Julie Brownley (Calif.), Lois Capps (Calif.), Michael Capuano (Mass.), Tony Cardenas (Calif.), Andre Carson (Ind.), Matt Cartwright (Pa.), Kathy Castor (Fla.), Joaquin Castro (Texas), Judy Chu (Calif.), David Cicilline (R.I.), Katherine Clark (Mass.), Yvette Clarke (N.Y.), James Clyburn (S.C.), Steve Cohen (Tenn.), Gerald Connolly (Va.), John Conyers (Mich.), Joe Courtney (Conn.), Joseph Crowley (N.Y.), Susan Davis (Calif.), Diana DeGette (Colo.), John Delaney (Md.), Rosa DeLauro (Conn.), Suzan DelBene (Wash.), Theodore Deutch (Fla.), Lloyd Doggett (Texas), Michael Doyle (Pa.), Tammy Duckworth (Ill.), Keith Ellison (Minn.), Eliot Engel (N.Y.), Anna Eshoo (Calif.), Elizabeth Esty (Conn.), Sam Farr (Calif.), Bill Foster (Ill.), Lois Frankel (Fla.), Joe Garcia (Fla.), Alan Grayson (Fla.), Al Green (Texas), Raul Grijalva (Ariz.), Luis Gutierrez (Ill.), Janice Hahn (Calif.), Colleen Hanabusa (Hawaii), Alcee Hastings (Fla.), Denny Heck (Wash.), Brian Higgins (N.Y.), James Himes (Conn.), Ruben Hinojosa (Texas), Rush Holt (N.J.), Mike Honda (Calif.), Steven Horsford (Nev.), Steny Hoyer (Md.), Jared Huffman (Calif.), Steve Israel (N.Y.), Sheila Jackson Lee (Texas), Eddie Bernice Johnson (Texas), Hank Johnson Jr. (Ga.), William Keating (Mass.), Joseph Kennedy III (Mass.), Dan Kildee (Mich.), Derek Kilmer (Wash.), Ron Kind (Wis.), Ann Kuster (N.H.), James Langevin (R.I.), Rick Larsen (Wash.), John Larson (Conn.), Barbara Lee (Calif.), Sander Levin (Mich.), John Lewis (Ga.), David Loebsack (Iowa), Zoe Lofgren (Calif.), Alan Lowenthal (Calif.), Nita Lowey (N.Y.), Michelle Lujan Grisham (N.M.), Stephen Lynch (Mass.), Dan Maffei (N.Y.), Carolyn Maloney (N.Y.), Sean Patrick Maloney (N.Y.), Jim Matheson (Utah), Betty McCollum (Minn.), Jim McDermott (Wash.), James McGovern (Mass.), Jerry McNerney (Calif.), Gregory Meeks (N.Y.), Grace Meng (N.Y.), Michael Michaud (Maine), George Miller (Calif.), Gwen Moore (Wis.), James Moran (Va.), Patrick Murphy (Fla.), Jerry Nadler (N.Y.), Rick Nolan (Minn.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.), Beto O’Rourke (Texas), Frank Pallone Jr. (N.J.), Bill Pascrell Jr. (N.J.), Donald Payne Jr. (N.J.), Ed Perlmutter (Colo.), Gary Peters (Mich.), Scott Peters (Calif.), Chellie Pingree (Maine), Mark Pocan (Wis.), Jared Polis (Colo.), David Price (N.C.), Mike Quigley (Ill.), Charlie Rangel (N.Y.), Lucille Roybal-Allard (Calif.), Bobby Rush (Ill.), Linda Sanchez (Calif.), Loretta Sanchez (Calif.), John Sarbanes (Md.), Jan Schakowsky (Ill.), Adam Schiff (Calif.), Brad Schneider (Ill.), Kurt Schrader (Ore.), Allyson Schwartz (Pa.), David Scott (Ga.), Jose Serrano (N.Y.), Carol Shea-Porter (N.H.), Brad Sherman (Calif.), Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.), Albio Sires (N.J.), Louse Slaughter (N.Y.), Adam Smith (Wash.), Jackie Speier (Calif.), Eric Swalwell (Calif.), Mark Takano (Calif.), Mike Thompson (Calif.), John Tierney (Mass.), Dina Titus (Nev.), Paul Tonko (N.Y.), Niki Tsongas (Mass.), Chris Van Hollen (Md.), Juan Vargas (Calif.), Marc Veasey (Texas), Filemon Vela (Texas), Nydia Velazquez (N.Y.), Timothy Walz (Minn.), Henry Waxman (Calif.), Pete Welch (Vt.), Frederica Wilson (Fla.), John Yarmuth (Ky.)

h/t: Amanda Terkel at Huffington Post Politics

h/t: Jennifer Bendery at Huffington Post

thepoliticalfreakshow:

WASHINGTON — The State Department released a report on Friday that could pave the way toward President Obama’s approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

The long-awaited environmental impact statement on the project concludes that approval or denial of the pipeline, which would carry 830,000 barrels of oil a day from Alberta to the Gulf Coast, is unlikely to prompt oil companies to change the rate of their extraction of carbon-heavy tar sands oil, a State Department official said. Either way, the tar sands oil, which produces significantly more planet-warming carbon pollution than standard methods of drilling, is coming out of the ground, the report says.

In his second term, Mr. Obama has sought to make his fight against climate change a cornerstone of his legacy. In a major speech on the environment last summer, Mr. Obama said that he would approve the pipeline only if it would not “significantly exacerbate” the problem of carbon pollution. He said the pipeline’s net effects on the climate would be “absolutely critical” to his decision.

The conclusions of the report appear to indicate that the project has passed Mr. Obama’s climate criteria, an outcome expected to outrage environmentalists, who have rallied, protested, marched and been arrested in demonstrations around the country against the pipeline.

The project, which has been under review by the State Department since 2008, has become a political lightning rod for both the left and the right. Environmentalists rallying for action on climate change have seized on the pipeline plan as a potent symbol of fossil fuel projects that contribute to global warming.

Republicans and the oil industry point to the Keystone project as a symbol of energy independence and job creation, and have repeatedly attacked Mr. Obama for failing to approve a project that could create thousands of jobs.

The report released on Friday, however, is far from the final decision on the project. The State Department must next determine whether the pipeline is in the national interest. That involves taking into account both the environmental and economic impact of the project, as well as its impact on the relationship between the United States and Canada, the nation’s largest trading partner and largest source of foreign oil.

Although Secretary of State John Kerry must weigh in with a recommendation to the president on whether to approve the pipeline, it is the president who must make the ultimate decision. Nonetheless, the assignment creates a difficult situation for Mr. Kerry, who has a long record of trying to tackle climate change and hopes to make the issue a signature of his tenure at the State Department.

Mr. Kerry has repeatedly been asked about his views on the pipeline but has never publicly commented on it. He has no deadline to make the determination. A State Department official said he was preparing to “dive in” to the 11-volume environmental impact statement as a first step.

Eight other agencies with jurisdiction over elements of the project — the Departments of Defense, Justice, Interior, Commerce, Transportation, Energy and Homeland Security, and the Environmental Protection Agency — will also weigh in.

The State Department is also expected to soon release the results of an inspector general investigation into the preparation of a draft environmental impact report, after it was discovered that some consultants with the contractor that wrote the analysis had previously done work for TransCanada, the company seeking to build the pipeline. If investigators determine a conflict of interest in the preparation of that draft, the State Department may have to conduct a fresh environmental review.

Environmentalists criticized the new review, particularly in light of the investigation.

“In what could be perceived as eagerness to please the oil industry and Canadian government, the State Department is issuing this report amidst an ongoing investigation into conflicts of interest, and lying, by its contractor,” said Erich Pica, the president of Friends of the Earth. “By letting the oil industry influence this process, Secretary Kerry is undermining his long-established reputation as a leader in the fight against climate change.”

Oil lobbyists applauded the review, saying they saw it as a signal that Mr. Obama would approve the pipeline.

“After five years and five environmental reviews,” said Cindy Shields, the senior manager of refining and oil sands programs at the American Petroleum Institute, which lobbies for the oil industry, “time and time again the Department of State analysis has shown that the pipeline is safe for the environment.” Now that the review process has moved on to a determination of whether the project is in the national interest, incorporating factors like energy security and foreign relations, “when you look at the rest of those factors, those would be why we will see an approval of this project,” Ms. Shields said.

There are political and strategic advantages to approving the pipeline: It would strengthen relations with Canada and provide a conduit for oil from a friendly neighbor. If the pipeline is approved this year, it could also give a boost to the re-election campaigns of two vulnerable Democratic senators from oil-rich states — Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana and Mark Begich of Alaska — while silencing critics who for years have pressed the president over the pipeline.

Environmentalists say that if Mr. Obama were to approve the pipeline, it would destroy his efforts to make progress on climate change. Tom Steyer, a billionaire from California and a major donor to Mr. Obama’s presidential campaigns, has started an advocacy group, Next Generation, that has spent heavily campaigning against the pipeline.

Larry Schweiger, the president of the National Wildlife Federation, said: “This is a large source of carbon that’s going to be unleashed. We’re headed in a terribly wrong direction with this project, and I don’t see how that large increase in carbon is going to be offset.”

Although the pipeline is a potent political symbol, its true impact on both the environment and the economy would be more limited than either its supporters or its opponents suggest.

The new State Department report concludes that the process of extracting and burning tar sands oil creates about 17 percent more greenhouse gas emissions than traditional oil, but that the heavily polluting oil will be brought to market with or without the pipeline.

“It’s unlikely for one pipeline to change the overall development of the oil sands,” a State Department official said.

Because of global demand, the oil will most likely get to market whether or not the pipeline is built. Already, energy companies are moving tar sands oil out of Canada by rail.

“At the end of the day, there’s a consensus among most energy experts that the oil will get shipped to market no matter what,” said Robert McNally, an energy consultant who was a senior energy and economic adviser to President George W. Bush. “It’s less important than I think it was perceived to be a year ago, both politically and on oil markets.”

The new State Department analysis took into account the growing global demand for oil and the rapidly growing practice of moving oil by rail in areas where pipelines have not been built. “Given the anticipated outlook of oil prices and the cost of development, no single project will likely affect the rate of extraction,” the State Department official said.

But moving oil by rail has its own hazards. As the practice has increased in recent years, so have incidents of explosions of rail cars carrying oil.

Supporters of the pipeline say that it would create jobs, though the number may be limited. A study by the Cornell Global Labor Institute concluded that the pipeline would create about 3,900 construction jobs over two years.

Privately, people close to Mr. Obama say that although he is committed to building a climate legacy, he does not see the pipeline as a central part of that effort. Instead, the president is moving forward with a set of E.P.A. regulations on coal-fired power plants, the nation’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions.

Those regulations do not have the potent political symbolism of the pipeline, but, if effective, they could have a far greater impact on the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions, by freezing construction of new coal plants and closing hundreds of existing plants.

In the administration, many people close to the president have long said they believe that he will try to have it both ways on climate — moving ahead with sweeping E.P.A. rules while approving the pipeline.

But environmentalists are preparing to influence the next stages of the decision-making process, which some say could drag into next year.

“This is the most scrutinized pipeline in the nation’s history,” said Brigham A. McCown, a former administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

“The fact that it’s lasted as long as it has means one of two things,” he said. “They’ve either done a very good, thorough job, or they’ve slowed it down due to political pressure.”

h/t: George Zornick at The Nation

H/T: DallasNews.com

WorldNetDaily’s Erik Rush has been hankering for an anti-Obama revolution for quite some time and on his radio show last week said that officials serving in the Obama administration and Congress should be “hanging from D.C. like fruit.”

Rush was talking to Jim Garrow, the right-wing hoaxer who told Rush that he survived an assassination attempt that was “payback” from President Obama. The two once again insisted that elected officials like Obama have merited the death penalty for their treasonous crimes.

“When the legacy that these people have in reality is shown to the public, it is a wonder that they’re not going to be stoned to death or hung from gallows,” Garrow said.

Garrow: There’s payback and there’s payback to people that are readily gotten to and in this case I think I’m one of the people that has just been paid back, or the attempt was made to pay me back. What I’ve done that would be considered wrong by Mr. Obama is I’ve spoken truth on a number of issues where it was important that the American public understand how they’ve been hoodwinked, how they’ve been lied to, how they’re safety has been compromised, how national security has been compromised and how Obama himself has been a traitor and been involved in treason against the Republic, for which you know the penalty is death.

Rush: Yes, yeah we know that. Yet the left has had a lot of fun with that of course because they interpret that as our advocacy thereof but they twist things anyway so…

Garrow: All we’re advocating is the rule of law.

Rush: Yeah.



Garrow: When the legacy that these people have in reality is shown to the public, it is a wonder that they’re not going to be stoned to death or hung from gallows when it really is shown that self-interest was their interest, not the promise they made to the people.

Rush: I’ve said before that if you had the founders or people who were of the mindset of the founders in power right now overnight that Congressmen, government officials and appointees would be hanging from D.C. like fruit.

From the 01.03.2014 edition of Full Contact With Erik Rush:

 

h/t: RWW

Gohmert: Administration Has to Keep Susan Rice Close so She ‘Doesn’t Spill the Beans on What All She Knows’ (via http://crooksandliars.com)

By Heather December 28, 2013 6:54 pm Rep. Louie Gohmert with another round of wingnut conspiracy theories. The talking heads over at Fox “news” are terribly upset that the United States is talking to the Iranians instead of starting another war in the…



 

breakingnews:

Obama nominates Jeh Johnson as secretary of Homeland Security

APPresident Obama nominated Jeh Johnson as next the secretary of Homeland Security.

At the Pentagon, Johnson oversaw the increased use of unmanned drone strikes, the revamping of military commission to try terrorism suspects and the repeal of the ban on gays in the military.

If confirmed by the Senate, Johnson, 56, would succeed Janet Napolitano, who left to take over as president of the University of California in September.

Photo: In this Nov. 30, 2010, file photo, Jeh Johnson speaks during a news conference at the Pentagon in Washington. (Charles Dharapak / AP Photo, file)

WASHINGTON, DC – President Barack Obama said Wednesday that the “misconduct” detailed in a report about the Internal Revenue Service’s handling of requests from conservative groups is “inexcusable.”

“Americans have a right to be angry about it, and I am angry about it,” he said.

In the wake of the uproar, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew requested — and has accepted — the resignation of the acting commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, according to Obama.

The president also said his administration will work to enact “new safeguards to make sure that this kind of behavior cannot happen again.”

(CNN) — The Internal Revenue Service has identified two “rogue” employees in the agency’s Cincinnati office as being principally responsible for “overly aggressive” handling of requests by conservative groups for tax-exempt status, a congressional source told CNN.

In a meeting on Capitol Hill, acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller described the employees as being “off the reservation,” according to the source. It was not clear precisely what the alleged behavior involved.

Miller said the staffers have already been disciplined, according to another source familiar with Miller’s discussions with congressional investigators. The second source said Miller emphasized that the problem with IRS handling of tax-exempt status for tea party groups was not limited to these two employees.

Miller met with Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus of Montana on Tuesday to discuss an appearance before Congress.

Asked in a Senate hallway about his meeting with Miller, Baucus told CNN, “I did not learn as much from the meeting as I would have liked.”

“I told him that it was in his best interest to be totally cooperative — that it’s often the coverup that causes more problems than the original malfeasance,” the senator said. “And just to be totally straight with me and everybody, and he said he would.”

President Barack Obama was scheduled to deliver a statement Wednesday from the East Room of the White House after a meeting with senior Treasury Department officials. During the meeting, Obama will be “making sure people are held accountable for their conduct, for their activities,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said.

A Democratic source told CNN’s Dana Bash that Obama will discuss “IRS changes” when he makes his statement.

H/T: Fox2now.com

I have now had the opportunity to review the Treasury Department watchdog’s report on its investigation of IRS personnel who improperly targeted conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.  And the report’s findings are intolerable and inexcusable.  The federal government must conduct itself in a way that’s worthy of the public’s trust, and that’s especially true for the IRS.  The IRS must apply the law in a fair and impartial way, and its employees must act with utmost integrity.  This report shows that some of its employees failed that test. 

I’ve directed Secretary Lew to hold those responsible for these failures accountable, and to make sure that each of the Inspector General’s recommendations are implemented quickly, so that such conduct never happens again.  But regardless of how this conduct was allowed to take place, the bottom line is, it was wrong.  Public service is a solemn privilege.  I expect everyone who serves in the federal government to hold themselves to the highest ethical and moral standards.  So do the American people.  And as President, I intend to make sure our public servants live up to those standards every day.

h/t: WhiteHouse.gov