DIANE REHM: Thanks for joining us. I’m Diane Rehm. Legendary singer Linda Ronstadt has sold more than 100 million records in her 40-year career. She’s best known for chart-topping hits like “You’re No Good,” “Blue Bayou,” and “When Will I Be Loved?” Ronstadt was the first female artist in popular music history to release four consecutive platinum albums. But last year, a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease forced her to stop singing. She’s in Washington D.C. this week, where yesterday she received the National Medal of Arts from President Obama.
…. Tell us about that ceremony yesterday and how you felt.
LINDA RONSTADT: Well, I think most artists always will say, I don’t know if you agree with this or not, but I felt like a fraud. You know? I felt surely they’d made a mistake and they would be telling me any minute that, you know, I needed to go home. I was on the wrong list.
….. But otherwise I was delighted. And I am a great fan of President Obama and think he has been a fine president. And I’m very pleased that we’ve got to have someone of his grace and his dignity, which is rare in American culture these days.
REHM: Do you think, in part, it comes from his Hawaiian upbringing?
RONSTADT: Well, he — there’s a beautiful, beautiful ancient culture in the Hawaiian Islands and an old tradition of a lot of diversity. You know, there are Japanese, Chinese, Hawaiian, Portuguese, Okinawan, and they all had to get along. And so there’s a high level of lovely, beautiful manners, you know? People treat each other with respect and courtesy in the islands that you don’t find in the mainland. And I think — and there’s a real gentleness, you know?
Of course people stand up for themselves too. You don’t want to get into a fight with a Hawaiian. Because if you want to push him, he’s a tough guy, you know? But he’ll give you an out before. And I think that he reflects a lot of that. Maybe his background in the Hawaiian Islands…
REHM: He was very warm.
RONSTADT: He was very genuine and he was very present. And I liked that. He was very aware of what was going on around him. We’ve had so many people that have just been, you know, so egotistical or so completely full of themselves they can’t tell what’s going on around them. And I don’t think that’s the case with him. And his wife Mrs. Obama couldn’t be more impressive. My god, she’s beautiful. She’s very beautiful in the photographs…
REHM: Absolutely gorgeous.
RONSTADT: …but she’s 50 times as pretty.
REHM: Totally gorgeous.
RONSTADT: And little looks going back and forth between them, you know? You can tell that that’s a strong relationship. I was very impressed. I expected to be impressed and I was very much more impressed…
NYT: …. When Americans go to the polls next month, they will cast a vote not just for president but for one of two profoundly different visions for the future of the country’s health care system. With an Obama victory on Nov. 6, the president’s signature health care law – including the contentious requirement that most Americans obtain health insurance or pay a tax penalty – will almost certainly come into full force, becoming the largest expansion of the safety net since President Lyndon B. Johnson pushed through his Great Society programs almost half a century ago.
If Mr. Romney wins and Republicans capture the Senate, much of the law could be repealed – or its financing cut back – and the president’s goal of achieving near-universal coverage could take a back seat to Mr. Romney’s top priority, controlling medical costs.
Given the starkness of the choice, historians and policy makers believe this election could be the most significant referendum on a piece of social legislation since 1936, when the Republican Alf M. Landon ran against Franklin D. Roosevelt and his New Deal programs….
President Obama arrives on a rainy and foggy night in Romulus, Michigan, January 26
9:45 ET PBO delivers remarks at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor
11:00: Departs Michigan en route to Joint Base Andrews
12:25: Arrives at Joint Base Andrews
12:30: Departs Joint Base Andrews en route to Cambridge, Md.
PBO and VP Biden address House Democrats at their annual retreat
3:00: Arrives at the White House
3:30: PBO and VP Biden meet with Secretary of State Clinton
4:30: PBO delivers remarks at a campaign event
A segment of the line of people waiting for tickets to see President Barack Obama speak on Friday starts near the Michigan Union, winds around the Fleming Administration Building, back toward the Literature, Science, and the Arts Building, and north down Maynard St
See the post below for more on the demand for tickets for tomorrow’s speech
Freep.com: Two months ago, it appeared Michigan might well be prime real estate for Mitt Romney as he sought the Republican nomination for president.
In a Detroit Free Press/WXYZ-TV (Channel 7) poll then, native Michigander Romney led the Democratic president, Barack Obama, 46%-41%, in a head-to-head matchup.
But as Romney’s path to the nomination has gotten cloudy, his lead in the state over the Democratic incumbent also has evaporated. In a new Michigan poll, Obama has taken the head-to-head lead, 48%-40%.
MSNBC: Newt Gingrich leads Mitt Romney among Republicans, but he is the weakest of the Republican candidates tested against President Obama, according to an NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll released Thursday evening.
Gingrich leads Romney 37 percent to 28 percent nationally among registered Republicans likely to vote in the primaries; Rick Santorum is in third with 18 percent, and Ron Paul is fourth with 12 percent.
…. Romney fares best against the president, trailing Obama by six points among registered voters, 49 percent to 43 percent. That’s a four-point improvement for the president from a month ago.
Obama, however, beats Gingrich by a whopping 18 points, 55-37 percent, expanding the president’s 11-point lead a month ago.
President Obama is introduced at a United Parcel Service (UPS) freight facility in Las Vegas
Remarks by the First Lady at a DNC Event today in Sarasota, FL here
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and First Lady Michelle Obama have lunch with students at Parklawn Elementary School in Alexandria, Va., Jan. 25, 2012. The First Lady and Secretary Vilsack visited the school to sample a healthy meal that meets the United States Department of Agriculture’s new and improved nutrition standards for school lunches. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
LA Times: Some investments listed in Mitt and Ann Romney’s 2010 tax returns – including a now-closed Swiss bank account and other funds located overseas – were not explicitly disclosed in the personal financial statement the GOP presidential hopeful filed in August as part of his White House bid.
The Romney campaign described the discrepancies as “trivial” but acknowledged Thursday afternoon that they are undergoing an internal review of how the investments were reported and will make “some minor technical amendments” to Romney’s financial disclosure that will not alter the overall picture of his finances.
I have been a daily lurker here for a long time. So long in fact that I feel that I know most of you. I never had any intentions to actually post a message, but something has been rolling around in my brain for several days and I can’t shake it.
I have been deeply disturbed by the book trashing Michelle Obama. I KNOW that FLOTUS is a strong and confident woman, and I am sure she considers the source and has moved on. However, I put myself in her shoes and I am sure some of these lies must sting. She has worked her heart out for all of us for three years, not counting the grueling campaign to the WH. Is it too much to ask to be treated with respect she has earned and certainly deserves?
So in honor of her, and to assure her that I have her back and that she has my respect and love, I am donating money to the campaign in increments of $24.00 from now on. This $24.00 is the same number of minutes that Jodi Kanter actually spent at the WH. I am planning to send a different friend a card with each $24 donation explaining that this is my personal monetary message of support for the first lady. I will ask each friend to also send a $24 donation and refrain from buying the book (the approximate value of a hard cover book).
I am hoping that other people will also do the same. For each $24 donation Michelle will know that there are many who have her back, and are taking the money Jodi Kantor thought to received and sending it were it truly belongs. Imagine the impact if suddenly $24 donations started pouring in from woman who also encouraged their friends to do the same. It is just a thought and I am doing it, but for some reason I felt I had to share this to see if others here felt the same.
Now that I have gotten that off of my mind, I just want to say how much I love this place and all of you. I may not post again, but I am learning loads from you and I am always here reading your news.
The Supreme Court has announced that it will review President Obama’s health care law, setting the stage for a showdown over his signature legislative accomplishment months ahead of the 2012 election. Oral arguments are expected to take place this spring.
White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer: “Earlier this year, the Obama Administration asked the Supreme Court to consider legal challenges to the health reform law and we are pleased the Court has agreed to hear this case. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, one million more young Americans have health insurance, women are getting mammograms and preventive services without paying an extra penny out of their own pocket and insurance companies have to spend more of your premiums on health care instead of advertising and bonuses. We know the Affordable Care Act is constitutional and are confident the Supreme Court will agree.”
Mel Levine (former member of the US House of Representatives D-CA): Former U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan coined a famous phrase that “everyone is entitled to his own opinion but not to his own facts.” Apparently, the Republican candidates for president, led by former Governor Romney, have been so busy talking with each other that they have somehow developed an alternative universe of facts, one which both distorts President Obama’s record and disregards their own.
In a world in which the stakes of our foreign policy are so high, it is dangerous to ignore these distortions.
Gov. Romney recklessly and inaccurately misrepresents President Obama’s record of leadership in foreign policy in general. His disdain for the President Obama’s foreign policy conveniently ignores the president’s leadership in building international coalitions which have imposed exceptionally stiff sanctions on Iran and which have led to the destruction of the Qaddafi regime in Libya. It seems to forget that it is President Obama who led the effort to kill Osama bin Laden, who is keeping his promise to bring our troops home from Iraq by the end of this year, and who has broadened and deepened U.S.-Israeli defense cooperation so that it is stronger than ever before…..
Slate: If you want to see more American jobs, do you want to hire a guy whose area of expertise seems to be making them disappear?
A new story in The New York Times scrutinizes one of Mitt Romney’s biggest arguments for being the next president: his business management experience. And the picture is not entirely pretty.
The former head of Bain Capital helped to acquire and sell some 150 companies before he became the governor of Massachusetts in 2003. One of those sales and acquisitions, that of medical company Dade International, left 1,700 American workers without jobs and a company worse off because of high fees paid to Romney and his associates and long-term debt, according to some former company officials.
Steve Benen: If it’s Sunday, it’s ‘Meet the GOP Talking Points’
“Meet the Press” host David Gregory spoke with Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz … and the interview was pretty tough to watch …. When attention turned to debt-reduction efforts, Gregory said, simply as a matter of fact, that Republicans on the super-committee “did agree for tax increases that Democrats have not accepted this week,” and then tried to change the subject. The host wanted to leave viewers with the impression that GOP officials were making a good-faith offer….
…. What Gregory failed miserably to offer viewers was context and any of the relevant details…. I expect this on Fox News. “Meet the Press” is supposed to have higher standards.
And to top it off, the host inexplicably showed a clip of Obama from July 2008 talking about his desire to lower the deficit if elected. July 2008 – before the crash, before TARP, before the need for the Recovery Act, before Republicans demanded an extension of Bush-era tax breaks that they refused to pay for.
…. It was one of the worst interviews I’ve ever seen on “Meet the Press.”
Paul Begala (Daily Beast): …. today’s Republican Party is more the party of Sarah Palin’s defiant know-nothingness than the brainy conservatism of Bill Bennett. The GOP is a party of ideologues, not ideas.
…. even the smart Republicans have to at least play dumb. Mitt Romney, for example, has to pretend he doesn’t know what’s causing global warming. A few weeks ago he told an audience in Pittsburgh, “My view is that we don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet.” Hard to believe, because as recently as June of this year he said, “I believe, based on what I read, that the world is getting warmer. And No. 2, I believe that humans contribute to that.” Romney’s new-and-not-improved position is a shameless pander to the know-nothings.
Same with evolution, where Republicans know they can earn applause by denouncing science. Apparently to run in today’s GOP you must believe, in the words of comedian Lewis Black, that “The Flintstones is a documentary.”
Steve Benen: There was a BBC reality show I used to find interesting called “Faking It” …. I think of that show every time I watch Mitt Romney tackle foreign and national security policy. It’s clear the former one-term governor is dealing with a subject outside of his comfort zone – it’s equally clear he’s out of his depth – but Romney appears to have been given a crash course in the hopes he can fool people into thinking he’s competent.
For those who care about international affairs, Romney isn’t doing a very good job. Trusted reader F.B. flagged this segment from today’s “Morning Joe,” where a panel literally laughed at some of Romney’s saber-rattling towards Iran.
Note, in particular, that the BBC’s Katty Kay said she was “disappointed” by Romney’s remarks on Iran, because she thought he’d have “a more sophisticated understanding” of the issue.
That, in a nutshell, is one of Romney’s key rhetorical problems – he can fake it when it comes to giving the appearance of competence, which raises expectations, but the facade falls apart when anyone stops to consider the details…..
Vice President Joe Biden talks with Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., after President Barack Obama signed the New START Treaty in the Oval Office, Feb. 2, 2011. Behind them, the President talks with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., and Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
The Guardian: The astronaut husband of Gabrielle Giffords .. indicated today he would be prepared to meet with the parents of the alleged gunman to express his forgiveness.
Mark Kelly … said he probably would see the parents of Jared Lee Loughner, who has been charged with the massacre in which six people died and 14 were wounded.
In an interview with Diane Sawyer of ABC … Kelly said he had empathy for the parents. “You know, I don’t think it’s their fault. It’s not the parents’ fault. I’d like to think I’m a person that’s somewhat forgiving. And they’ve got to be hurting in this situation as much as anybody.”
Kelly, the father of two teenage girls from his previous marriage, said: “I have children. And they must, I’m sure they love their son. And they must be as distraught over this as all of us are.”
…Today Giffords’ condition was upgraded from critical to serious. Kelly told ABC his wife was responding to comments and had spent 10 minutes giving him a neck massage.
“I’m like, Gabby, you’re in the ICU. You know, you don’t need to be doing this. But it’s so typical of her that no matter how bad the situation might be for her, she’s looking out for other people.”