The father of two of three students shot to death in Chapel Hill on Tuesday says the shooting was a “hate crime” based on the Muslim faith of the victims. Chapel Hill police said Wednesday morning that a dispute about parking in the neighborhood of rented condominiums near Meadowmont may have led Craig Stephen Hicks to shoot his neighbors, Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, and his wife Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21, and Abu-Salha’s sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, of Raleigh. But the women’s father, Dr. Mohammad Abu-Salha, who has a psychiatry practice in Clayton, said regardless of the precise trigger Tuesday night, Hicks’ underlying animosity toward Barakat and Abu-Salha was based on their religion and culture.
Abu-Salha said police told him Hicks shot the three inside their apartment. “It was execution style, a bullet in every head,” Abu-Salha said Wednesday morning. “This was not a dispute over a parking space; this was a hate crime. This man had picked on my daughter and her husband a couple of times before, and he talked with them with his gun in his belt. And they were uncomfortable with him, but they did not know he would go this far.” Abu-Salha said his daughter who lived next door to Hicks wore a Muslim head scarf and told her family a week ago that she had “a hateful neighbor.” “Honest to God, she said, ‘He hates us for what we are and how we look,’” he said.
In Obama adviser David Axelrod’s new book, he reveals that in 2008 the future president did indeed believe in marriage equality, but he was persuaded by Axelrod and others that it would be too risky to say publicly. So he took the standard Democratic position at the time, in favor of civil unions but against marriage rights. I imagine that exactly no one is surprised by this. And while it isn’t an excuse for deception, the decision should be understood in the context of that historical moment, The context of Obama’s falsehood is important to understand—both his own thinking and the reception his statements on the matter received.
Usual suspects squealing re PBO's 2008 realism re gay marriage, while ignoring all his LGBT achievements since
In 2008, the Democratic Party was undergoing a rapid change in its approach to same-sex marriage, and the stated positions of almost every candidate were in flux. Four years before, when the issue exploded into national debate after the Massachusetts Supreme Court legalized marriage equality (their ruling actually came down in late 2003), Most of the presidential contenders came down in support of civil unions but against marriage rights, a position that just happened to be where the median voter was. By 2008, everyone seemed to understand that the position all the major Democratic candidates were taking was a temporary way-station on the path to an eventual embrace of full marriage equality. Nobody really believed that was where the party and its representatives were going to stay.
David Axelrod, the man who led both of Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns, joined journalist John Harwood on stage Wednesday evening, May 1 for the College’s Harwood Colloquy on National Affairs.
David Axelrod, the man most responsible for shaping the message that twice helped propel Barack Obama into the White House, will be the featured speaker at Washington College’s Harwood Colloquy on National Affairs on May 1. The 5:30 p.m. event at the Decker Theatre is free and open to the public.
Axelrod, who served as chief political strategist for both of President Obama’s campaigns and was a senior advisor during his first term, will talk with the evening’s host John Harwood, political writer for the New York Times and chief Washington Correspondent for CNBC. The subject will be “Upside Down: Barack Obama and a Changing America.”
Now a political analyst for NBC, Axelrod is the inaugural director of the new University of Chicago Institute of Politics, a nonpartisan center where students can explore careers in public service and politics, as well as engage in ongoing discussions of political life and current events with experts in the field.
President Obama greets a child on the Kingsmill Resort grounds during a break from debate prep in Williamsburg, Va., Oct. 14 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Steve Benen: Just last night, Ezra explained on the show that the new monthly job figures would be released this morning, and a lot of folks would be shocked by how bad the numbers would be. Why? Because of Hurricane Sandy. Most expected to see only 80,000 jobs created.
This morning, everyone’s shocked for a very different reason. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the U.S. economy added 146,000 jobs in November, nearly double the projections. What’s more, the overall unemployment rate dropped to 7.7%, its lowest point in four years.
AP: A month after the bitterly fought election, President Barack Obama has his highest approval ratings since the killing of Osama bin Laden, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll, and more Americans say the nation is heading in the right direction now than at any time since the start of his first term.
Obama’s approval rating stands at 57 percent, the highest since May 2011, when U.S. Navy SEALs killed the terror leader, and up 5 percentage points from before the election. And 42 percent say the country is on the right track, up from 35 percent in January 2009. A majority think it’s likely that the president will be able to improve the economy in his second term…..
Charles Pierce: ….. Morning Joe Scarborough has a piece about how the president’s abilities at artificial pleasantries, manufactured politesse, and general intramural Potomac ass-kissing leave something to be desired….
…. In what universe is this president “personally isolated”? This one drives me straight up the wall. He just won his second national election, this one against longer odds even than the first one. He is immensely popular in the country at large, which is supposed to be the only place where popularity is supposed to matter. The country doesn’t seem to find him aloof….
…. And, in case it’s escaped the squint, the only people capable of making the next four years different from the last four years are the people who spent the previous four years refusing to accept the results of the 2008 election. Let John Boehner get all the bats in the House belfry flying in formation. That’s his job. The president’s is to lead the country for the rest of us…..
Washington Post: President Obama’s second inauguration will feature two swearings-in and the traditional parade and official balls. All the pomp will follow a national day of service to honor the country’s shared values and the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., the newly launched Presidential Inaugural Committee announced Thursday.
Eva Longoria, who was a big fundraiser and prominent surrogate for Obama’s campaign, will serve as a committee co-chair, all four living former presidents will serve as honorary co-chairs, and several top campaign officials will organize the weekend’s festivities.
AP: Chrysler followed its strong first-quarter sales with a big profit, sending its 2009 brush with financial death farther into the rearview mirror.
The Auburn Hills, Mich., company made a net profit of $473 million, its best quarter in 13 years, mainly on the back of strong U.S. sales. From January through March, Chrysler’s sales were up 39 percent as customers bought more Ram pickups, Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs and Chrysler 200 midsize sedans.
Not bad for a company that almost died three years ago. A government auto task force deadlocked on whether to save the company in 2009, with the tie broken by President Barack Obama.
Washington Post: President Obama will hold his first two major political rallies of the general-election campaign next weekend at colleges in Ohio and Virginia…
“Welcome to the general election,” David Axelrod, Obama’s senior campaign strategist, said on a conference call with reporters late Wednesday during which he and campaign manager Jim Messina announced the events….
The advisers made clear that the campaign will continue to draw a stark contrast between what they described as Obama’s long-standing desire to protect “that basic American compact that if you work hard you can get ahead” and Romney’s record of protecting the wealthy. They mentioned Romney’s time as Massachusetts governor, when the state ranked 47th in the country for job creation, as well as his time as a venture capitalist at Bain Capital, during which “he didn’t care about job creation but about wealth creation for himself and his partners.”
…. “We’re not the candidate who reinvents himself from week to week,” Axelrod said. “If you want that, you have to go somewhere else. This is a candidate who has a mission, and he’s going to see it through, and that is to rebuild an economy in which the middle class is thriving, in which people can get ahead, in which everybody from Main Street to Wall Street plays by the same rules and gets a fair shake.”
Obama’s rallies will take place on May 5 at Ohio State University in Columbus and at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond …. Messina said first lady Michelle Obama plans to travel with the president to both events.
E.J. Dionne: It turns out that there is at least one question on which Mitt Romney is not a flip-flopper: He has a utopian view of what an unfettered, lightly taxed market economy can achieve.
He would never put it this way, of course, but his approach looks forward by looking backward to the late 19th century, when government let market forces rip and a conservative Supreme Court swept aside as unconstitutional almost every effort to write rules for the economic game. This magical capitalism is the centerpiece of Romney’s campaign, and it may prove to be his undoing.
Here’s Romney’s problem. His best strategy is to cast President Obama as a failure because the economy has not come all the way back from the implosion of 2008 …. But Romney, unlike Clinton, is not offering a program through which government would take specific steps to solve the problems he catalogues. Instead, he is calling on voters to share his faith that our difficulties would go away if the state simply got out of the way, allowed the market do its thing and counted on the success of the successful to lift up everyone else.
Don’t miss Liberal Librarian’s latest post, ‘Why even have the First Amendment?’, at The People’s View
Steve Benen: For several months, the general trend on initial unemployment claims has been encouraging, reaching a four-year low in late March. Today’s new report from the Department of Labor, however, is the third consecutive week of discouraging news.
…. Obviously, a few disappointing reports may be little more than a blip, but when jobless claims are expected to drop, and instead remain stuck at a four-month high, it’s concerning.
Making matters slightly worse is the realization that if conditions continue along these lines, there’s very little that can be done – Congress simply lacks the ability to pass effective economic legislation given the Republican agenda.
In terms of metrics, when jobless claims fall below the 400,000 threshold, it’s considered evidence of an improving jobs landscape, and when the number drops below 370,000, it suggests jobs are actually being created rather quickly. After a month of four consecutive reports below 370,000, we’ve now been above 380,000 for each of the last three weeks.
Steve Benen: The general trend on initial unemployment claims over the last two 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 very pleasant surprise. Initial claims not only dropped sharply, they fell to a level unseen in nearly four years.
Charles Pierce: ….. The decision by the Obama administration to scuttle (for the moment) the Keystone XL pipeline for good already has been responsible for the birthing of many public cows among the president’s Republican opponents……
This was an act of authentic political courage. The Republicans have turned the pipeline into an idiotic campaign litmus test and hung a ridiculously short deadline on the approval process, a deadline that nobody directly affected by the project thought was in any way adequate….
Sun Times: President Obama’s top strategist, David Axelrod, is launching an Institute of Politics at his alma mater, the University of Chicago, to create bipartisan programs bringing big names in politics to campus and internships for students.
“If years from now I run across young people who have participated in this Institute who are now writers and staffers and yes, candidates, we’ll have done our job well,” Axelrod said in a conference call on Wednesday.
The U. of C. institute will be largely modeled on Harvard University’s Institute of Politics….
Steve Benen: With Mitt Romney still refusing to release his tax returns, we can only speculate as to why he’s so afraid of disclosure. The widely held assumption has been that the Republican frontrunner is embarrassed by his “15% problem” …. But that’s not the only thing Romney’s returns might show. Reuters’ Sam Youngman reported on a related issue:
His vast fortune is invested in dozens of funds linked to Bain Capital ….. Several Bain funds have offshore connections and take advantage of tax breaks used only by the U.S. financial elite…..
It’s worth clarifying that no one has accused Romney of doing anything illegal … But it doesn’t exactly help paint a picture of Romney as a “man of the people”…..
TPM: Turns out Mitt Romney wasn’t the first GOP candidate in 35 years to take Iowa and New Hampshire. In fact, the certification of Iowa caucus votes conducted by the state GOP shows Rick Santorum likely won – by 34 votes, though officials are officially calling it a “split decision.”
January 17, 2012. President Barack Obama unexpectedly runs into Michelle on her birthday in the basement of the White House.
Though official duties filled much of the day, Tuesday was also Michelle Obama’s 48th birthday. As the president returned to the West Wing in the evening, he unexpectedly met the First Lady. “Obama gave her several kisses and wished her a happy birthday then walked off,” Morris says. “It was the highlight of the day for me—something you can’t plan for as a photographer. It was the most interesting photograph for me of the day by far.”
USA Today: Nearly 2 million home care workers could qualify for federal wage and overtime protections under a rule being proposed today by the Obama administration.
The effort – the 18th initiative in Obama’s “We Can’t Wait” campaign against Congress – would overcome legislative inertia and a 2007 Supreme Court ruling that upheld home care workers’ exclusion from wage-and-hour standards.
Washington Post: The White House says a more aggressive effort to nab deceptive government contractors and deceitful Medicare recipients is paying off – to the tune of billions of dollars.
The Obama administration plans to announce Tuesday that the Justice Department recovered more than $5.6 billion in fraud committed against the government in fiscal 2011. Almost $3.4 billion of the funds came in civil fraud recoveries, with more than $2.2 billion tied to criminal fraud, according to administration officials familiar with the announcement who were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
The announcement is tied to a Cabinet-level meeting to be held Tuesday regarding plans to cut wasteful government spending across federal agencies and departments.
Bloomberg: U.S. economic data are outperforming expectations by the most in nine months, a trend Federal Reserve officials may incorporate into their policy statement tomorrow.
The Citigroup Economic Surprise Index, a daily measure of whether economic data is better or worse than economists’ projections, improved to 85.7 on Dec. 2, the highest since March 9, after the Labor Department reported an unexpected drop in the jobless rate….
“Most of the economists are missing the underlying strength” in the world’s largest economy, said Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economic Advisors. The Fed will “modestly upgrade the economic outlook but change little else.”
November unemployment at the lowest level in more than two years and manufacturing running at the fastest pace in five months are among data that may dissuade Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and fellow central bankers from pursuing a third-round of large scale asset purchases. At the same time, the Fed may still see “significant downside risks” for the economy as Europe’s financial crisis evolves.
Business Insider: It didn’t get much attention, but this morning the latest NFIB small business optimism survey came in stronger than expected, as more and more corporations see good sales and decent business conditions on the way.
This is important, in part, since small businesses have been rather negative on the economy, even while large companies have reported record earnings.
Chicago Sun Times: President Barack Obama’s top strategist, David Axelrod, predicted much more scrutiny of GOP frontrunner Newt Gingrich, citing the “homespun wisdom” of Ald. Dick Mell (33rd) as he compared Gingrich to a monkey on a pole exposing his butt.
“…. Last week you all left him for dead at the checkout counter at Tiffany’s and now he’s back, a lion in winter,” Axelrod quipped. “That’s L-I-O-N by the way, I don’t want to stir up any trouble here.”
…. “In certain ways [Gingrich] fits the role for this, because as we pointed out earlier in the week he is the original tea partier. You know, he brought that kind of politics to Congress in the early 90s, he led three government shut downs in order to try and roll back environmental protection…roll back the Department of Education and education programs, he wanted to cut Medicare, he wanted to give more tax cuts to the wealthy. He was really a forerunner of what we see today.”
“I told my colleagues yesterday a bit of homespun wisdom that I got from an alderman in Chicago some years ago when one of his …colleagues wanted to run for higher office and he was really dubious. He said:
“Just remember the higher a monkey climbs on a pole, the more you can see his butt.”
So, you know, the Speaker is very high on the pole right now and we’ll see how people like the view.”
President Obama arrives to speak at a campaign event in Washington, Dec. 13
“If you stay steady, we’re going to win this thing …. This is going to be tough. But, I just want to remind all of you that you didn’t decide to support Barack Hussein Obama because it would be easy.”
Washington Jewish Week: When flames swept through Israel’s Carmel Forest last year, destroying dozens of homes and lives, President Barack Obama didn’t hesitate to help, said Michael Oren, the Israeli ambassador to the U.S….
…. Netanyahu directed his ambassador to, “Quick, go ask President Obama for help.”
That’s when Oren entered the White House and asked to see the president. “I told him the situation and without hesitation, President Obama turned to one of his aides and said, ‘get Israel whatever it needs. Now,’” Oren recalled.
….”America has 11 fire-fighting planes; the next morning, 8 of them took off for Israel, along with a team of fire-fighting commandos.” “Later that night,” Oren continued, “I learned, that the President left the Hanukkah reception and flew secretly to Afghanistan. Upon arriving, he called Washington and the first question he asked, ‘Has Israel gotten its planes?’”…..