Charles Pierce: …. my fellow Papists … if you all would be so kind, please shut the fk up about birth control, abortion, and this neverending madness about what ladies do with their lady parts without the pope’s permission.
….. please stop going on my television set and telling me what “the Catholic position” is on the fact that the president has told various Catholic institutions – and told them quite gently, too – that, yes, if they want all those nice juicy tax advantages, they must abide by the federal law and, in their capacities as employers, make contraceptives available to their employees under the new Affordable Care Act.
There is no “Catholic position” on this issue. There are the opinions of the clerical bureaucrats and the members of the Clan of The Red Beanie, and then there is the opinion of the overwhelming majority of Catholic laypeople, who stopped listening to anything the Vatican said on the matter of birth control back in 1965.
…. For that matter, there is no real “Catholic vote” out there to be mined, either. A breakdown of how American Catholics vote on one particular issue or another pretty much tracks with how the country in general breaks down … Catholics made up their mind on this issue long ago. They stopped listening to Rome, and to the Chancery, and most of them are much better off.
Kevin Drum: …. I guess I’m tired of religious groups operating secular enterprises (hospitals, schools), hiring people of multiple faiths, serving the general public, taking taxpayer dollars – and then claiming that deeply held religious beliefs should exempt them from public policy …. I imagine the “religious community” in the United States would be a wee bit more understanding if the Obama administration refused to condone the practice.
…. if Catholic hospitals don’t want to follow reasonable, 21st century secular rules, they need to make themselves into truly religious enterprises. In particular, they need to stop taking secular taxpayer money. As long as they do, though, they should follow the same rules as anyone else.
Josh Kraushaar (National Journal): If President Obama wins re-election, he’ll point to the last couple of weeks as a turning point. He’s sharpened his economic message, emphasized fairness for the middle class, and most importantly, he’s benefited from an economy that’s showing some signs of improvement.
But the most underplayed development are signs that the president’s approval rating is ticking upwards with the group most resistant to him, non-college educated, working-class whites. Over the last week, several surveys have suggested that Obama is gaining some ground with this group, in both national and statewide polling. If these gains stick, it’s something that should be very concerning to the Romney campaign, which is dependent on winning overwhelming support from blue-collar white voters as part of a winning GOP coalition.
…. As Buffalo Springfield once sang: “There’s something happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear.” Pay very close attention to Obama’s numbers with the white working-class. The assumption was that they were hardened against the president. But there’s some fresh evidence that could be changing.
Bloomberg: President Barack Obama nominated Air Force Lieutenant General Janet Wolfenbarger to be the service’s first female four-star general and the military’s second woman to reach the highest rank.
Wolfenbarger, the Air Force’s top uniformed official for weapons development, was also nominated as commander of the Air Force’s Materiel Command, according to a Defense Department statement today. The positions are subject to Senate confirmation.
The first woman with four stars in the U.S. military, Army General Ann Dunwoody, was confirmed in 2008 and is commanding general of that service’s Materiel Command.
Obama Foodorama: Expect some hilarious Let’s Move! hijinks on Tuesday night when First Lady Michelle Obama cameos in a video segment on NBC talk show Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. The comic visited Mrs. Obama last week at the White House to film the outing, which will air as part of this week’s celebration of the second anniversary of the Let’s Move! campaign. Among other fitness activities, the First Lady had Fallon running up and down the historic White House stairs, he said when he announced the upcoming cameo…..
President Barack Obama holds Arianna Holmes, 3, before taking a departure photo with members of her family in the Oval Office, Feb. 1, 2012. Arianna’s mother, Angela Holmes, is a departing Special Assistant in the International Economic Affairs office of the National Security Staff. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
President Obama holds up a book that he was given by author and keynote speaker Eric Metaxas at the National Prayer Breakfast
Steve Benen: The general trend on initial unemployment claims over the last few months has been largely encouraging, though there have been setbacks. Last week, for example, was a step in the wrong direction. This week’s report, however, was a little more heartening:
U.S. jobless claims dropped by 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 367,000 in the week ended Jan. 28, the Labor Department said Thursday….
…. when these jobless claims fall below the 400,000 threshold, it’s considered evidence of an improving jobs landscape. When the number drops below 370,000, it suggests jobs are actually being created rather quickly.
Washington Post (editorial): Higher education is both crucial to America’s economic competitiveness and hard for many students and their families to afford … As President Obama quite rightly insisted in his State of the Union address, institutions of higher learning must do more to hold down their costs if college education is to remain affordable for the next generation of young people. What’s more, he’s talking about using the federal government’s financial clout to encourage cost containment.
…. he is proposing long-overdue reforms to existing formulas for distributing hundreds of millions of dollars in campus-based aid, such as Perkins loans and work-study funds. Current policy skews in favor of better-off students at relatively pricier colleges. The president wants to shift dollars in favor of schools that restrain tuition and graduate more low-income students. Meanwhile, he would establish a $1 billion fund to encourage cost-saving innovations, complemented by $55 million for research, evaluation and dissemination of the best practices….
Needless to say, a lot depends on how the president and Congress would end up defining what constitutes a good value in higher education … what’s important is that the president has put the prestige and power of his office behind this effort.
Jonathan Cohn: Romney’s political strategy here seems clear to me: He’s trying to drive a wedge between the poor and the middle class, convincing the latter that they lose out to the former when Democrats are in charge. And the strategy may work. It’s certainly helped Republicans before. But the big beneficiary of Romney’s plan to reorder fiscal priorities is not the middle class. It’s the very wealthy, who would get substantial tax benefits and who will usually be fine with weakened public services.
MSNBC: ….. presidential hopeful Rick Santorum took a hard line on Wednesday against government getting involved in offsetting the cost of drug prices. Before exiting the stage, Santorum was prodded by members of the 300-person crowd to take one last question from a young boy standing in the front row. The child asked what the candidate would do to lower the cost of medicine. But the former Pennsylvania senator said it was the cost of drugs that allowed for the innovation that keeps Americans with life-threatening illnesses alive.
“People have no problem going out and buying an iPad for $900. But paying $200 for a drug they have a problem with – that keeps you alive. Why? Because you’ve been conditioned in thinking health care is something you should get and not have to pay for. Drug companies, health care companies need to have a profitability, because if they don’t, then how are we going to regulate costs?…..”
While some of in the audience applauded Santorum’s tough stance against government involvement in drug prices, others protested. The mother of the child yelled out that she was going bankrupt just to pay for her child to keep breathing.
Charles P. Pierce (Esquire) read a a swooning piece about Fox ‘News’ in Politico…. he didn’t like it very much:
“Stuff in Politico That Makes Me Want to Guzzle Antifreeze…. I say only that, in my own, personal, constitutionally protected opinion, this may very well be the worst bag of pulverized, unexpurgated, beat-sweetening chickenshit in the history of American political journalism. It makes Peggy Noonan read like Thuycidides….
Charles P. Pierce (Esquire): No matter what Willard Romney said on Tuesday night, a tough primary can really damage you. If these latest PPP numbers are in any way accurate, the rockfight between Romney and N. Leroy Gingrich, Definer of Civilization’s Rules and Leader (Perhaps) of the Civilizing Forces, has pushed Romney’s unfavorability ratings in Ohio northward toward 60 percent……
….. Eighty-four percent of the respondents are white and, even with that, Romney is six points down with a 57 percent disapproval rating. He better tack like hell, is all I’m saying.
WSJ: The private sector added 170,000 jobs in January, in line with expectations, as small-business hiring fueled the increase …. The latest ADP report showed large businesses with 500 employees or more added just 3,000 employees in January, while medium-size businesses added 72,000 workers and small businesses, those that employ fewer than 50 workers, hired 95,000 new employees. Service-sector jobs increased by 152,000 last month, and factory jobs rose by 10,000.
USA Today: The closer we get to the fall campaign, the more President Obama sharpens his stump speech. At a fundraiser last night in Washington ….Obama argued that the Republicans will take the economy back to where it was before the 2008 crisis, and have “the wrong vision for America.”
“Their basic argument is that if we strip out regulations, if we disregard environmental concerns, if we take away protections for consumers, if we lower taxes even further for the kind of folks who are in this room, that somehow growth and the American Dream will be restored,” Obama said.
That said, Obama warned supporters that this will be a tough election, and they can’t take anything for granted.
“We’re all going to have to be focused on making sure that every single day the American people understand not only where we want to take the country but also that we’re willing to fight for them,” Obama said.
Charles Pierce (Esquire): …. I’m not going to sit there and listen to (Willard Romney) …. the cosseted plutocrat son of a millionnaire auto dealer – one who is running on a platform that will make himself and everyone like him richer while warning the rest of us, as he did in his victory speech in Tampa, that “If you’re looking for cradle-to-grave help from the government, I’m not your candidate” – go and dragoon into that effort Tom Paine, who would have spat in Willard Romney’s face if he’d ever met him.
Mitt Romney is someone whose children have a trust fund totaling $100 million. His great-great-grandchildren are not ever going to have to worry about money from their cradles to their graves. Thomas Paine? I’m sorry, but there are levels of bullshit to which I will not agree to descend.
Romney won because he had the most money. And because he had the most money, enough of the Tea Party “base,” which was supposed to hate him like gum disease, decided thusly: What the hell? The important thing is to get the Muslim Kenyan Usurper Negro out of the White House, so this is the horse we have to ride…..
…. it was how Romney delivered the speech that was so revelatory. This is a rich kid who likes flogging The Help. There were just enough shit-eating, country-club grins as he delivered his rancid material to show you what the guy must have been like in those golden moments when he realized that there was more dough in wrecking a company than in investing in it.
David Firestone (NYT): ….. nearly half the nation now holds an unfavorable view of Mr. Romney, much higher than last year. The number is even higher among independents. If Mr. Gingrich can raise enough money to stay in the race, Mr. Romney will have to spend valuable time, resources and good will to keep countering him.
All of that subtracts from his ability to pivot to Mr. Obama, and makes his criticism of the president seem like more of the same endless negativity. Mr. Romney’s victory speech tonight was less than uplifting, suggesting the United States had sunk to “the worst of what Europe has become.” If he means the Euro crisis, it’s not even close, and he will not get very far persuading voters that Washington is turning into Athens.
He even made a crack about Mr. Obama and his “faculty lounge” colleagues who think they know better than everyone else. That sounds hollow, coming from one of the country’s best-educated elitists, and it’s precisely the wrong message for a country that knows it must improve education at all levels.
It was left to Rick Santorum, who barely competed in Florida, to express the real lesson of Florida’s knife fight, and the dangers of letting it continue. “What we’ve seen the last few weeks in Florida,” he said tonight, “is not something that is going to help us win this election.”