Reporting that House Republicans are investigating whether Attorney General Eric Holder lied to Congress during his recent testimony about Justice Department seizures of communications records in connection with a national security leak investigation, CNN’s Dana Bash misstated key facts of the controversy. In so doing, CNN helped bolster the hollow claims of Republicans – wildly hyped by Fox News – that Holder may have perjured himself….
Greg Sargent: A new Quinnipiac poll finds that an overwhelming majority of Americans – 73-22 – thinks we should be placing a higher priority on the economy and unemployment than on the “scandals” gripping Washington. That includes 72 percent of independents, who are critical in midterm elections. At the same time, a variety of indicators, from rising home prices to buoyed consumer confidence to falling gas prices, suggest that the economy is improving at a stronger clip than previously anticipated.
If the recovery is strong next year, it could help Dems hold the Senate….
TPM: The White House has received more than 120 applications from health insurance plans looking to sell on the new federal health care exchange …. The success of the Affordable Care Act partially hinges on competition in order to keep premiums low, and, according to the memo, “the early signs are promising and demonstrate a significant increase in competition and an array of options for consumers everywhere.”
One out of four insurers that have applied to sell insurance in the marketplace is new to the individual insurance market and at least one new provider has been added in 75 percent of states with a federally run marketplace…..
Jonathan Chait: Pete Wehner, former Minister of Propaganda for the Bush administration, sees the excitement of the Obama scandals receding, and he knows just how to explain this. Not a lack of evidence to date that anybody in the administration has done anything wrong. It’s media bias ….. Yeah, that sounds right….
USA Today: The pro-Obama group Organizing for Action will hold 39 “founders events” across the country this weekend as part of an effort to build separate state chapters.
“OFA supporters, volunteers, campaign alumni and donors will come together to discuss what OFA has already accomplished as well as our goals and the path forward,” said an announcement from the group….
The Illinois State Founders Summit will be held Friday and Saturday in Obama’s hometown of Chicago, and will feature remarks by OFA Chairman Jim Messina and Executive Director Jon Carson.
They plan to discuss “how OFA plans how to continue to ensure the American people’s voices are heard by lawmakers as we fight to tip the scales of power back to the American people and away from the special interests to advance the issues the American people voted for in November,” said the statement.
Charles Pierce: Just as Darrell Issa and his merry men are ready to engage in another round of Outrage Kabuki on the subject of Benghazi, BENGHAZI!, BENGHAZI!!, some of the air is going out of the balloon already, and the high-pitched whistling seems to have reached a frequency that can be heard at the dog’s breakfast known as Fox And Friends.
And when you’ve lost a human tack-hammer like Brian Kilmeade, it’s going to be tough to sell anyone smarter, which is, you know, like, everybody.
Jonathan Bernstein: If you’re not inside the conservative information feedback loop, you might not be aware that within that loop the Benghazi “scandal” is still going at 100 percent strength. Months after the actual incident, which was back in September. Even though no one has ever made clear exactly what terrible secret was the subject of the supposed cover-up; even though a succession of “revelations” have all turned out to be nonsense (here’s one from just last week). Doesn’t matter; discredited accusations are just forgotten and new ones are substituted.
Dan Rather: “All of these things we’ve said about what the president could do, should do, might have, could have, but the central thing to keep in mind is his opponents — you talk about taking them out to dinner, making nice with them — these people, politically, want to cut his heart out and throw his liver to the dogs.”
Heritage vs. Heritage: Major immigration report released today directly contradicts its 2006 study thkpr.gs/107cMgE
Washington Post: President Obama recently said he would love to hire a top executive into his administration. But for the job of Treasury secretary, he didn’t pick a corporate executive, a famous economist or a former politician – he has decided to tap a trusted adviser, White House Chief of Staff Jacob Lew, an expert on the nation’s ongoing budget wars.
Obama on Thursday plans to nominate Lew to take over from Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, the president’s longest-serving economic adviser, a White House official said. The selection, to be announced at 1:30 p.m., signals that Obama’s second term will not initially focus on big new ideas to create jobs or expand government investment in the economy. Rather, it will involve a sustained conflict with congressional Republicans over the nation’s finances….
NY Mag: Jack Lew, President Obama’s reported pick to replace outgoing Treasury secretary Tim Geithner, is known as a no-nonsense backroom negotiator with wonkish tendencies, who is admired on the left and grumbled about on the right.
A lesser-known but extremely pertinent fact about Lew is that he has the world’s worst signature. And pretty soon, that signature could be on every single one of your dollar bills.
Charles Blow: This time, nearly a month after the horrible mass shooting in Newtown, the public attention hasn’t ricocheted to the next story. On the contrary, sorrow has hardened into resolve.
This time, something can and must be done. And it looks as if something will….. as we move into this season of change on gun policy, let’s take a moment to better frame the debate.
First, let’s fix some of the terminology: stop calling groups like the National Rifle Association a “gun rights” group. These are anti-regulation, pro-proliferation groups. They prey on public fears … while helping gun makers line their pockets.
(Sturm, Ruger & Company’s stock has gone up more than 500 percent since President Obama was first elected, and Smith & Wesson’s stock is up more than 200 percent.)
…..Groups like the N.R.A. aren’t as much about rights as wrongs. The money being churned is soaked in blood and marked by madness…..
NYT: One of America’s largest pension funds began on Wednesday to divest itself of firearms holdings, a response to the schoolhouse shooting in Newtown, Conn., that other pension funds could follow.
The California State Teachers Retirement System, known as Calstrs, voted unanimously to begin its formal divestment process. The vote occurred at a public meeting where teachers said they did not want their retirement nest eggs placed with companies like the Freedom Group, the maker of the Bushmaster semiautomatic rifle that authorities say Adam Lanza used to kill 20 first graders and six adults at the Sandy Hook elementary school on Dec. 14.
TPM: Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy (D) on Thursday offered a vote of confidence in Vice President Joe Biden’s efforts to institute new national gun laws. Malloy said he had a “great conversation” with Biden on Wednesday, adding that the vice president “understands what we need to do” to curb gun violence.
“I had a great conversation yesterday with Vice President Biden and I know he is preparing his recommendations to the president,” Malloy said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “I don’t want to get into the details of the discussion but he’s got this down pretty well. He understands what we need to do to make it less likely that these things are going to happen in our cities and towns, and these mass murders could be limited at least going into the future if some common sense things are taken.”
TPM: Advocates on both sides of the gun control debate are prepared to make a lot of noise about the future of gun regulations in the wake of the Newtown, Conn. shooting. That’s the message from the first of House Democratic gun violence pointman Mike Thompson’s violence-focused town halls this week.
On Tuesday night, Thompson hosted the first of three gun violence town halls in his northern California district. As they vowed to do, gun control opponents showed up in force to make their case against new regulations. But, according to local reports of the meeting, they were met with equally impassioned gun control proponents. It’s a preview of what might happen after the White House and Thompson reveal their post-Newtown legislative proposals: opposition to gun control is likely to be met by vocal support for new gun regulations that is just as loud.
John Kerry, left, in 1969 and Chuck Hagel in 1968 during their service in the Vietnam War
NYT: With the selection of a new national security team deeply suspicious of the wisdom of American military interventions around the world, President Obama appears to have ended, at least for the moment, many of the internal administration debates that played out in the Situation Room over the past four years.
He has sided, without quite saying so, with Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s view – argued, for the most part, in the confines of the White House — that caution, covert action and a modest American military footprint around the world fit the geopolitical moment….
Gone for the second term are the powerful personalities, and more hawkish voices, that pressed Mr. Obama to pursue the surge in Afghanistan in 2009… The new team will include two Vietnam veterans, Senator John Kerry and Chuck Hagel, who bear the scars of a war that ended when the president was a teenager…..
MSNBC: Labor Secretary Hilda Solis will not return in President Barack Obama’s second term, the White House confirmed Wednesday.
Solis, formerly a California congresswoman, said she made the decision to step down from her role over the holiday season.
…. In a statement, Obama called Solis “a tireless champion for working families”. “Over the last four years, Secretary Solis has been a critical member of my economic team as we have worked to recover from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression and strengthen the economy for the middle class,” he said. “Her efforts have helped train workers for the jobs of the future, protect workers’ health and safety and put millions of Americans back to work.”