President Barack Obama, followed by Chaplain Colonel J. Wesley Smith and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, walks towards the podium during the transfer of remains ceremony at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, Sept. 14, 2012, marking the return to the United States of the remains of the four Americans killed this week in Benghazi, Libya. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama looks as the remains of four Americans, including US ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, are placed in hearses during the transfer of remains ceremony at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on September 14
Steve Benen: The general trend on initial unemployment claims over the last few months has been largely encouraging, despite occasional setbacks, but today’s report is the best we’ve seen in quite a while.
About a month ago, initial jobless claims matched a four-year low, and as of today, they managed to get even better, exceeding expectations by dropping to the lowest level since February 2008:
The number of Americans who filed requests for jobless benefits fell by 5,000 last week to 348,000, the lowest level since February 2008, the U.S. Labor Department said Thursday…..
Greg Sargent: How Romney used to respond to high gas prices: An important scoop from Alex MacGillis, who discovers that Romney (who is now bashing Obama over high gas prices) responded to them when he was Governor of Massachusetts just as Obama has been:
Befitting his profile as a moderate Republican who cared about the environment, Governor Romney responded to price spikes by describing them as the natural result of global market pressures and by calling for increases in fuel efficiency – the same approach that he now derides Obama for taking as president.
Key Romney quote from 2006: “I don’t think that now is the time, and I’m not sure there will be the right time, for us to encourage the use of more gasoline. I’m very much in favor of people recognizing that these high gasoline prices are probably here to stay.”
Steve Benen: When Eric Fehrnstrom, the communications director for Mitt Romney’s campaign, appeared on CNN, he couldn’t possibly have predicted how much trouble he was about to cause for his boss.
…..Tabitha Hale tweeted this afternoon, “This Etch-A-Sketch situation is not going to go away… maybe ever.”
I’m very much inclined to agree. The knock on Romney since Day One has been that he’s a shallow, unprincipled politician, willing to say anything to anyone to win. “Etch A Sketch” is so perfect a metaphor, it’s extraordinary that it came from the candidate’s own communications director.
Howard Kurtz: ….. In a phrase so potentially damaging it might have been hatched in a laboratory by James Carville, Romney communications director Eric Fehrnstrom bobbled a routine question on CNN….
….. His response: “Well, I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign. Everything changes. It’s almost like an Etch-a-Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and restart all over again.”
The unmistakable image: Romney has no fixed principles. Forget about what he’s saying in the primaries, all we have to do is hit the reset button. His positions are no more firmly held than the leaden particles that form those boxy images on the screen and then dissolve with a mere shake.
ThinkProgress: During an interview with Public Radio International’s Marketplace, President Obama defended the individual health insurance mandate and reiterated that likely GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney enacted a very similar policy as governor of Massachusetts. “[W]e designed a program that actually previously had support of Republicans,” Obama told host Kai Ryssdal, “including the person who may end up being the Republican standard bearer and is now pretending like he came up with something different.”
Make sure you watch the video, the Science Fair clips are a hoot!
First Lady Michelle Obama greets a chef while visiting the dining facility at Little Rock Air Force Base in Little Rock, Ark., as part of a tour celebrating the second anniversary of the “Let’s Move!” initiative, Feb. 9, 2012. Little Rock Air Force Base is part of a pilot program that has enhanced food service quality, variety, and availability through new acquisition processes and redesign efforts. (Official White House Photo by Sonya N. Hebert)
TPM: In his 2006 Massachusetts health care law, Mitt Romney embraced a virtually identical contraception coverage mandate as President Obama recently has, experts say, and as a result expanded access to birth control for hundreds of thousands of women. And Democrats really want you to know that.
“They are practically mirror images or each other,” John McDonough, a professor of public health at Harvard, said on a conference call organized by the Democratic National Committee. “They completely reflect each other.”
NY Mag: …. The Telegraph finally admitted that their article about Michelle Obama shutting down a block of Madison Avenue so that she could go on a $50,000 “shopping spree” at Agent Provocateur with the Queen of Qatar, Sheikha Mozah, was indeed completely false. They also formally apologized for printing such total (but hilarious!) bullshit, but mostly to Sheikha Moza, not Obama – indeed, the title of the correction is “Her Highness Sheikha Moza – An Apology.”
Further to our article “First Lady’s luxury buys boost Agent Provocateur” (Jan 30), we would like to make clear that the “shopping spree” involving Her Highness Sheikha Moza and Michelle Obama that we referred to in fact never occurred, and that Her Highness has never been shopping with Mrs Obama, at Agent Provocateur or otherwise, and has never sought to have any part of New York closed off to enable her to shop undisturbed. We apologise for the distress and embarrassment this article caused.
First lady Michelle Obama at an Olive Garden Restaurant in Fort Worth, Texas
A gazillion congratulations to our beloved Liberal Librarian who has been invited by Deaniac to post at The People’s View (even though he’s a Chelsea fan) – it’s just completely brilliant news. Thrilled for you LL, looking forward to reading you, you legend
I’ve added a Video Vault section to the sidebar on the right – it’s a collection of videos of PBO from the archives, up to the 2008 election. I’ll add more soon(ish).
Speaking of the archives, this is from Harvard in 1990 – hadn’t seen it before. I like. Very, very much.
Charles Pierce: …. Emboldened by enablers, the bishops have expanded their demands for exemptions from simply Catholic institutions to every business in America. There’s a reason for this …. they’ve been sitting back on their ermined duffs, believing that they were done so very wrong in the investigation of their crimes, and nursing the mother of all grudges, for over a decade. Now they’ve decided to strike back for the power they’ve lost. Women’s health is the issue they’ve chosen, because, in their little unindicted world, women don’t count, and never have….
There were a couple of ways all of this could have been avoided. One … would have been to toss a whole lot of bishops in jail for conspiracy to obstruct justice, enough of them so their power to influence the secular law was destroyed forever. They needed to be humbled, unmercifully, until the hubris was wrung out of every damn one of them. Now, a woman working a low-income service industry job under the supervision of a Catholic boss will have her access to essential health-care truncated by a discredited encyclical to which no Catholic has paid any heed since the administration of Lyndon Johnson. These bastards needed to be broken, publicly, and into a thousand pieces that were scattered to the winds. Instead, they are “voices of conscience” again. It is to weep.
Greg Sargent (Washington Post): Is media getting politics of contraception all wrong?
Since the controversy over the White House’s new contraception policy broke, it’s been widely assumed that the battle is terrible politics for Obama, because it will cost him among Catholic swing voters.
But some polling from August suggests a majority of Americans supports the White House position – and that the opposition to the provision from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops makes no difference to them. Even a majority of Catholic respondents said the same.
….. The White House very well may buckle in this fight. But these numbers do suggest at least the possibility that leading commentators have been far too quick to declare this a certain political loser.
Greg Sargent: Since details of the big foreclosure settlement began leaking out, liberals have been watching to see how New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman would react, as a sign of whether the deal is a giveaway to big banks – or whether it contains the promise of real accountability.
In an interview with me just now, Schneiderman – who has gained a national liberal profile for his insistence on true accountability for financial institutions – conceded the settlement announced today was “small” in financial terms, given the struggles of underwater homeowners and people who lost their homes.
But he insisted that time will show that today’s settlement was a win – that it secured a framework that will ultimately result in a true accounting of the role big banks played in sparking the economic meltdown…..
Attorney General Eric holder listens as President Obama speaks about a mortgage settlement in the Eisenhower Executive Office building
President Obama arrives to deliver remarks on the No Child Left Behind law in the East Room of the White House
Jonathan Bernstein (Washington Post): Today’s economic news is that new claims for unemployment benefits have fallen again, with the four-week average now at the lowest point since spring 2008. That’s not all; the stock market is also at its highest point since spring 2008, and Gallup’s economic confidence numbers are also approaching post-recession highs.
It’s no coincidence that the run of good economic news – and employment is only a part of that – has been accompanied by a climb by Barack Obama in the polls. Indeed, the Pollster average now has Obama with an average 5.5 point lead over Romney.
….. It’s certainly possible that the new economic momentum will, again, dissipate. But the signs are mounting that people are being a bit too pessimistic. And if so, there’s a chance that Democrats and the president could be about to receive a whole lot of unexpected good news indeed.
Navy corpsmen help Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden into gowns before their meeting with patients and families during a Christmas visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., Dec. 25, 2011. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)