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.
Washington Post: As secretary to mega-investor Warren Buffett, Debbie Bosanek is used to being in proximity to power. But the prospect of sitting with first lady Michelle Obama at tonight’s State of the Union address apparently is something different altogether. Bosanek, who’s mostly kept an under-the-radar profile despite being the poster lady for President Obama’s tax proposals, tells us she’s a tad jittery.
“I was so excited I couldn’t sleep last night,” she says.