A President, Two Turkeys And (Another) Health Care Deadline

By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone )


  • WHAT HAPPENS ON NOV. 30?: President Obama's self-imposed deadline to repair the troubled health care web site is only three days away, with the administration already lowering expectations for the definition of fixed and fully functional. ABC's JEFF ZELENY notes: "Even the fiercest opponents of the Affordable Care Act are already starting to turn their criticism to other areas of the landmark law. The Supreme Court offered a hand by agreeing to hear a pair of cases that exemplify a key conservative objection: Can business owners be required to pay for contraception coverage on employee's insurance plans if it goes against their Christian beliefs. The suit from Hobby Lobby, an Oklahoma-based arts-and-craft chain, will be one of the most closely-watched cases before the court next year. The First Amendment guarantees individuals the right to practice religion, but justices will answer whether corporations have the same right. The administration is confident of a legal victory, but what will the state of Obamacare be by then?"
  • 'PENT UP DEMAND … COULD BRING THE WEBSITE TO A CRAWL': "White House officials, fearful that the federal health care website may again be overwhelmed this weekend, have urged their allies to hold back enrollment efforts so the insurance marketplace does not collapse under a crush of new users," The New York Times' Michael Shear and Robert Pear report. "Officials said the website was now able to handle 50,000 users at a time, providing enough capacity on a daily basis to enroll millions of people in the next four months. But those charged with fixing the site worry that 250,000 people might try to use the site simultaneously at times on Saturday and in the days ahead. They say that pent-up demand for insurance in the federal marketplace, combined with a surge of interest among people merely curious about whether it is working, could bring the website to a crawl."
  • PARDON ME: President Obama ceremoniously pardons two lucky turkeys at the North Portico of the White House at 1:20 p.m., sparing them from the Thanksgiving dinner table and sending them to live out their remaining (few) days at Mount Vernon, ABC's MARY BRUCE notes. Only one, however, will win the title of National Thanksgiving Turkey. Yesterday the White House pitted the two contenders, Caramel and Popcorn, against each other on a webpage where the public can cast their vote. The site highlights the turkeys likes - one prefers Beyonce, the other Lady Gaga - and physical attributes, including recordings of their gobbles.


FRATERNITY GOP: GARRY TRUDEAU'S "ALPHA HOUSE" SHOWCASES REPUBLICAN "CRISIS OF IDENTITY. "What happens when four senators live together under one roof on Capitol Hill? That's the concept behind Amazon's new show, "Alpha House." While the streaming series is more like "Veep" than "The West Wing," writer and creator Garry Trudeau says the new political satire goes to the heart of the GOP's struggle to reconcile the Establishment and Tea Party wings of the party. "We're interested in telling the story of mainstream conservative Republicans who are now caught in this crisis of identity," Trudeau told "Top Line" on the red carpet for the show's D.C. premiere. "But there aren't any direct parallels with any particular [members]." "Alpha House" is loosely based on the real-life story of a Capitol Hill row house that Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and a slew of other members of Congress have shared over the years. Former Rep. Bill Delahunt, D-Mass., who lived with Schumer and Durbin for a time, said the house depicted on "Alpha House" simply "can't be" as gross as the actual Hill abode.


HILLARY CLINTON RIDING HIGH IN OHIO (OBAMA, NOT SO MUCH). Ohio voters are fed up with President Obama, but they still give his former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton high marks, according to a new Quinnipiac poll out this morning, ABC's ABBY PHILLIP reports. The news is pretty bad for Obama, who gets his lowest approval rating in any state ever for Quinnipiac-34 approve and 61 disapprove. This is a state that Obama just won in the presidential election in November with 51 percent of the vote. Yet despite intermittent attempts by Republicans to make Obamacare "Hillarycare," tying the former first lady's health care proposals in the 90s to the Affordable Care Act, Clinton appears to be unscathed in this important bellwether state. She leads all potential GOP candidates: Jeb Bush, Sen. Marco Rubio, Sen. Rand Paul, Rep. Paul Ryan, and Sen. Ted Cruz. The good news for Republicans, however, is that in a hypothetical match up with N.J. Gov. Chris Christie, Clinton is still locked in a statistical tie.

FLORIDA ATTORNEY GENERAL BECOMES LATEST REPUBLICAN TO CALL FOR RADEL'S RESIGNATION. The number of top Florida Republicans calling for Rep. Trey Radel to resign in the wake of his arrest last week for cocaine possession grew even longer yesterday, according to ABC's ALEX LAZAR. Pam Bondi, the Republican attorney general, told ABC News that Radel should not stay in office. "As a career prosecutor, I understand the devastating effects that addiction can have on one's life," Bondi said. "While I understand that this is a challenging time for Trey and his family, I believe that he should resign." Bondi also said that she "will continue to keep Trey and his family" in her prayers. Radel pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor after being arrested for purchasing 3.5 grams of cocaine from an undercover agent in Washington, D.C. on Oct. 29. Had Radel been caught with that same amount of cocaine in Florida, it would be considered a third degree felony punishable by five years in jail. Bondi's statement comes after Florida Gov. Rick Scott called for Radel to resign yesterday. The governor was referencing a statement made by Florida Republican Party Chair Lenny Curry. In addition, Terry Miller and Mike Lyster, the chairs of the Lee and Collier counties Republican Party, released a joint statement urging Radel to quit. A representative for Radel told The Hill Newspaper that he has no intention to resign. "Congressman Radel's top priority right now is to complete his rehabilitation and then return to work as soon as possible," the representative said.

OBAMA ON HOLLYWOOD: 'I WOULD LIKE TO WORK HERE'. Visiting a studio run by one of his most ardent political supporters, President Obama yesterday praised Hollywood as a driver of economic growth, calling the entertainment industry "one of the bright spots of our economy, ABC's MARY BRUCE notes. "This is one of America's economic engines," the president said during a visit to the Glendale campus of DreamWorks Animation. "Entertainment is one of America's biggest exports. And every day you sell a product that's made in America to the rest of the world. "You can go anywhere on the planet, and you'll see a kid wearing a Madagascar T-shirt. You can say, 'May the Force be with you,' they know what you're talking about. Hundreds of millions of people may never set foot in the United States, but thanks to you, they've experienced a small part of what makes our country special," he said. Before addressing the large crowd of young employees, the president met with entertainment executives and got a tour of the studio from DreamWorks Animation Chief Executive Jeffrey Katzenberg, who is one of Obama's biggest fundraisers. "I would like to work here," the president later joked.

CONGRESS GETS A NUCLEAR SCIENCE LESSON FROM JOHN KERRY. Secretary of State John Kerry sent a nearly eight-minute video message to Congress explaining America's recent deal with Iran, ABC's CHRIS GOOD reports. Kerry spends most of the seven minutes and 42 seconds outlining the terms of the agreement reached over the weekend in Geneva between Iran and the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Russia, China and the European Union to suspend Iran's nuclear program for six months and roll back about $7 billion worth of international economic sanctions over the same time period. But he also explains the science. Speaking slowly and sounding a bit like the narrator of an educational video shown to physics or chemistry students, Kerry walks Congress through some basics on nuclear energy and uranium enrichment. "Uranium, as I'm sure you know, is found in nature, but it's found in a form, a raw form, that can't be used for a bomb," Kerry explains. And: "Plutonium, on the other hand, is not found in nature. It requires putting uranium into a reactor and then you separate out the plutonium from the uranium. Our proposal addresses both of these paths to nuclear weapons."

IMMIGRATION ACTIVISTS FAST FOR THIRD WEEK AS THANKSGIVING NEARS. For three immigration activists in Washington, D.C., this Thanksgiving won't include plates of turkey, stuffing or pumpkin pie. Instead, they will be fasting on the National Mall in the name of immigration reform, according to ABC's ARLETTE SAENZ. "For us, this will be the first time that we have been away from our families during this holiday, and instead, we will be celebrating Thanksgiving on the Mall, drinking only water instead of eating turkey or watching a football game," Eliseo Medina, who has fasted for 15 days, said in a news conference Tuesday. "We do so because we feel compelled to help mend a broken and inhumane immigration system that is bringing so much pain and suffering to our communities and to our nation." Medina, who works for the Service Employees International Union, and two other immigration advocates, Cristian Avila of Mi Familia Vota and Dae Joong Young of the National Korean American Service and Education Consortium, have gone without food for 15 days straight, drinking only water as they raise awareness for the need for comprehensive immigration reform. "We will continue to fast because there are millions of immigrants who labor to put food on our tables but whose own tables will have empty seats at this Thanksgiving dinner," Medina said. Medina says he has lost 20 pounds over the past 15 days.

HOW THE IRS WANTS TO PREVENT ANOTHER TEA PARTY SCANDAL. Months after the Internal Revenue Service acknowledged that it had singled out for extra scrutiny conservative and Tea Party groups seeking tax exempt status, the agency Tuesday proposed regulations that would clarify some of the rules for those tax-exempt groups. The situation for tax-exempt social welfare organizations, or 501(c)4s, is pretty complicated, but the new proposals are one attempt to iron out one of the murkier questions: What exactly constitutes "candidate-related political activities?" None of this is final yet, because the IRS is seeking public comment. And the person President Obama put in charge to oversee the agency's recovery from the scandal, IRS Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel, is still on the job. But here are a few things to know, courtesy of ABC's ABBY PHILLIP:


"WHY THANKSGIVING STILL MATTERS," an Op-Ed by Joe Brettell. "Even as Americans are wearied by a sluggish economy, two wars and other difficulties, it's worth remembering that the concept of a "Thanksgiving holiday" has served as a touchstone throughout American history; not to ignore difficult times but rather to count our blessings despite them. … From its origins at Plymouth Rock, to the institution of a "day of Thanksgiving" by George Washington and national institution holiday in the shadow of Civil War. The idea of setting aside a day to "give thanks" has historically been one forged as we dealt with or emerged, chastened, from crisis. This year, as we celebrate the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's proclamation, it's important that we as a nation acknowledge the cultural markers - a turkey, good friends and football; but we would be remiss not to also take a moment or two to give thanks for the multitude of blessings that come with living in the greatest nation on earth."


@thehill: Dem to Obama: Don't fix Iran's airplanes by @JPecquetTheHill

@politicalwire: Bipartisan working group is pushing for presidential debate changes …

@amychozick: Clinton Seeks State Dept. Legacy Beyond That of Globe-Trotter

@mlcalderone: Milbank: "Obama's photo policy smacks of propaganda"

@postpolitics: Happy Thanksgiving! Watch America get fatter by state over 25 years

More ABC News