10:30: President Obama holds a bilateral meeting with President Karzai of Afghanistan
12:0: Meets for lunch with President Karzai; VP Biden also attends
1:15: President Obama and President Karzai hold a joint press conference
2:15: VP Biden will meet with representatives from the video game industry
LA Times: Requiring all gun buyers to pass a federal background check could be a key part of a White House plan to combat mass shootings, Vice President Joe Biden indicated as he prepared to present recommendations to the president on Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters Thursday, Biden said he had found a “surprising recurrence of suggestions” for “universal background checks” in meetings with interest groups. Background checks are not required in private sales by unlicensed dealers, including transactions at gun shows.
Biden is expected to propose measures that President Obama could institute by executive action, as well as proposed laws, such as bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
The quick movement to roll out potential remedies to mitigate gun violence — ahead of schedule and just days before Obama and Biden are sworn into a second term — is a signal of the urgency the White House aims to project in developing a response to the Newtown, Conn., elementary school shooting…..
Jonathan Capehart: Controversy over an anti-gay sermon by Louie Giglio of Passion City Church in Atlanta forced him to withdraw his acceptance of the invitation to deliver the benediction at the presidential inaugural. Good. President Obama should not have to share the stage with him.
Obama is the most pro-gay person to occupy the Oval Office. He ended the ban on gay men and lesbians serving openly in the military. His administration has stopped defending the so-called Defense of Marriage Act in court. He has expressed his personal support for marriage equality. And in pronouncement and policy, the president and his administration have made bringing dignity, equity and fairness to gay people and their families a priority.
That’s why it boggled the mind that the Presidential Inaugural Committee would force Obama to share the stage with Giglio….
… as I have noted on several occasions, President Obama has spent his Presidency expressing his dedication to feminist values. Over and over and over (and over and over) again, he has done the work and forwarded the ideas necessary to actually change the reality in which women and girls live, to not pay lip service to our humanity but to acknowledge and act on it.
…. In word and deed, in promise and in policy, my President has demonstrated his feminism time and again, making the country in which I live and in which my daughter is coming of age a better, more perfect union. And that is much, much more important to me than an Oval Office headcount.
US Magazine: President Barack Obama’s second inauguration is shaping up to be one of the hottest tickets of the year.
Two days after the Presidential Inaugural Committee announced that Beyonce, Kelly Clarkson, and James Taylor would perform at the official ceremony …. several other celebs have been added to the weekend’s star-studded lineup.
The committee announced Friday, Jan. 11, that Alicia Keys, Brad Paisley, Katy Perry, John Legend, fun, Stevie Wonder, and Usher would be among those on hand at the Kids’ Inaugural Concert on Saturday, Jan. 19, and at the official Inaugural balls on Monday, Jan. 21. Marc Anthony, Nick Cannon, Smokey Robinson, and members of the cast of Glee are also expected to make appearances.
First lady Michelle Obama is joined by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at the future site of a Northgate Market in Inglewood, Calif., Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2012. Michelle Obama says the proposed new supermarket in the middle of a blue-collar Hispanic neighborhood in Southern California is an example of how the effort to bring healthy foods to low-income communities is paying off.
AP: First lady Michelle Obama on Wednesday said the campaign to bring healthy food to all Americans is happening neighborhood by neighborhood.
Standing in a vacant Southern California store set to be refurbished and reopened this summer, Obama lauded efforts to bring large grocery retailers to inner-city areas that traditional supermarket chains spurn.
…. Obama, who is on the second day of her two-day visit to the Los Angeles area, made the stop in the blue-collar, largely Hispanic neighborhood as part of her “Let’s Move!” campaign to boost healthy food and fitness.
Part of the campaign includes promoting initiatives such as the $264 million California FreshWorks Fund, which finances grocery businesses willing to open in urban areas.
…. After the Inglewood event, Obama was scheduled to appear on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and to deliver a luncheon speech at the Democratic National Committee.
Washington Post: U.S. factories grew in January at the fastest pace in seven months, boosted by a rise in new orders. And builders ended a poor year for construction by spending more on homes and projects for the fifth straight month.
The reports bolster other data showing the U.S. economy started the year strong.
The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing managers, said Wednesday that its manufacturing index rose last month to 54.1 from 53.1 in December. Readings above 50 indicate expansion.
Consumers are buying more cars and trucks, while businesses ordered more machinery and other equipment. That has driven manufacturing, which expanded for the 30th straight month.
Both new orders and order backlogs rose to nine-month highs. Increasing order backlogs suggest manufacturers are lacking the capacity to meet demand. That could mean more growth in production and employment in the near future, economists said.
Export orders also rose, a sign that U.S. manufacturers haven’t yet been affected by Europe’s slowing economy.
“This is a very encouraging report on manufacturing activity that shows particular strength in leading indicators,” said John Ryding, an economist at RDQ Economics.
Steve Benen: For campaign watchers, Florida’s Republican presidential primary was the big draw yesterday, but there was another noteworthy race on the other side of the country: a U.S. House special election in Oregon’s 1st congressional district.
Just two weeks ago, the National Republican Congressional Committee took an interest in the race, airing attack ads against Democratic candidate Suzanne Bonamici. The GOP candidate, Rob Cornilles, even released an internal poll showing him trailing by only four points.
Yesterday, however, it became clear Republicans were chasing a mirage.
Democrat Suzanne Bonamici swept to victory Tuesday in Oregon’s 1st Congressional District, continuing her party’s nearly four-decade-long hold on the seat covering the northwestern corner of the state. With the bulk of ballots counted, Bonamici was defeating Republican Rob Cornilles by about 15 percentage points…..
TPM: The Obama administration announced Wednesday that the Medicare Advantage program, which allows seniors to receive health coverage through a private insurer, is enjoying lower costs and more customers as a result of the health care reform law.
Yahoo: If you watched President Obama’s Google+ hangout Monday night, you saw two interesting exchanges between the president and Jennifer Wedel, a 29-year-old Texas mother of two.
It turns out that Wedel’s digital meeting convinced her to vote for Obama in this year’s presidential election – despite her support for the GOP.
…. Afterwards, Wedel, who described herself as a “good Republican,” is now planning to vote for Obama in this year’s presidential election.
“I didn’t vote for him four years ago. But I have been so disappointed with the presidential race. I haven’t seen anybody who would have been a good replacement. I know how Obama is now. I know how he rolls. So I’d probably vote him back in,” said Wedel in an interview with The Atlantic. “I (feel) like I know him a little more,” Wedel said. “There was a connection. He should definitely do this with more people…..”
….. for those who watched the event, a slightly odd moment near the end might have jumped out. During that personal question round, Wedel asked Obama if he would do a little jig. Obama demurred. What was that about? It’s a YouTube meme thing, explained Wedel. An extremely popular video on the site is a minute-and-a-half clip of then-candidate Obama shaking it on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” back in 2007; one version has 12 million hits and counting.
“It’s so funny,” said Wedel. “You’ve got to watch it.”
President Barack Obama makes a statement at the start of a Cabinet Meeting in the Cabinet Room at the White House in Washington, Monday, Oct. 3, 2011. From left are, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Obama, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, US Trade Representative Ron Kirk, and UN Ambassador Susan Rice.
Michael Tomasky: So the Rick Perry hunting ground story has been absorbed …. the way things seem to be shaking out, the big loser from the revelation that the property bore the name “Ni**erhead” is … not Rick Perry. It’s the black guy.
…. Herman Cain was the first – and as of Sunday night the only – Perry opponent to pounce on The Washington Post’s revelations published Sunday morning …. it is instructive, is it not, that no other candidate jumped on this revelation?
… This charge may make some conservatives feel that Perry is a tad embarrassing. But how many will it personally offend? Let’s face it, based on the evidence of the last debate, the GOP base thinks Perry isn’t racially insensitive enough, giving $100,000 college-education discounts to all those illegal brown children.
…. If the story is true in its worst light, it maybe doesn’t make him a racist. It does make him a person who doesn’t care what people who aren’t just like him think — and who doesn’t even bother to be friends with anyone who cares. I have a word for that: Texashead. But it’s OK. That used to be a kind of railroad spike.
Steve Benen: The RNC was delighted today to trumpet a quote from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi about the Obama White House. “‘I think you need to talk about how poorly they do on message,” she was quoted as saying about the president and his team. “They can’t see around corners; they anticipate nothing.”
I was curious about the context, so I went to the Newsweek/Daily Beast article that featured the quote. It wasn’t there. As it turns out, there’s a good reason for that:
Just one problem: She never said it, according to both her office and sources at Newsweek …. Newsweek has retracted the quote, and put an editor’s note on the piece: “Editor’s Note; An earlier version of this story included a comment erroneously attributed to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, criticizing the White House’s efforts at political messaging. Newsweek and The Daily Beast regret the error.”
Bloomberg: In May 2008, a unit of Koch Industries Inc., one of the world’s largest privately held companies, sent Ludmila Egorova-Farines, its newly hired compliance officer and ethics manager, to investigate the management of a subsidiary in Arles in southern France. In less than a week, she discovered that the company had paid bribes to win contracts.
“I uncovered the practices within a few days,” Egorova- Farines says. “They were not hidden at all.”
…. Egorova-Farines wasn’t rewarded for bringing the illicit payments to the company’s attention. Her superiors removed her from the inquiry in August 2008 and fired her in June 2009, calling her incompetent, even after Koch’s investigators substantiated her findings. She sued Koch-Glitsch in France for wrongful termination.
…. A Bloomberg Markets investigation has (also) found that Koch Industries – in addition to being involved in improper payments to win business in Africa, India and the Middle Easre – has sold millions of dollars of petrochemical equipment to Iran, a country the U.S. identifies as a sponsor of global terrorism.
President Obama: “I don’t think the American people would dispute that at every step of the way, I have done everything I can to try to get the Republican Party to work with me to try to deal with what is the biggest crisis of our lifetime, and each time all we’ve gotten from them is, ‘no’.”