White House statement: “…. Overnight, the President approved a Major Disaster Deceleration for Oklahoma, making federal funding available to support affected individuals, as well as additional federal assistance to support immediate response and recovery efforts.
“This morning the President will receive a briefing in the Oval Office on the response by Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa Monaco, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, Deputy Chief of Staff Alyssa Mastromonaco and other senior members of the President’s response team. …
“At the President’s direction, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate is traveling to Oklahoma this morning to ensure all Federal resources are supporting our state, local, and tribal partners in life saving and safety operations including search and rescue.
“FEMA has been supporting the state’s response since Sunday. At the request of the state, FEMA deployed a liaison to the state emergency operations center Sunday night.”
Wanting to offset costs of relief to Oklahoma with budget offsets is heinous. It is literally sick.
Steve Benen: …. Ordinarily, so soon after a disaster of this magnitude, discussions about political agendas and ideologies are put on hold, which is why it came as a surprise when one of Oklahoma’s U.S. senators staked out a far-right position on federal disaster relief just five hours after the storm hit…..
I’ve seen many note overnight that Coburn is at least consistent ….. but while consistently is welcome, it doesn’t change the questions about unnecessary callousness…..
Glenn Kessler, the Washington Post’s resident Fact Denier (who so brilliantly agreed with Darrell Issa when he said an “act of terror” is not a “terrorist attack”) excelled himself today – he gave ‘Three Pinocchios’ to White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer for stating the facts: that the Benghazi emails were doctored in an attempt to smear the President.
So, his problem is with Pfeiffer, not with those who doctored the emails or the reporters who used them for their ‘exclusives’.
There are too many ‘highlights’ to choose from, here are two:
“….. the reporters involved have indicated they were told by their sources that these were summaries, taken from notes of e-mails that could not be kept.”
So, why did Jon Karl repeatedly imply that he had seen the original emails?
“Despite Pfeiffer’s claim of political skullduggery, we see little evidence that much was at play here besides imprecise wordsmithing or editing errors by journalists.”
Two years ago: President Obama walks across the tarmac with Vice President Biden prior to departure from Fort Campbell, Ky., May 6, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)
The President has no scheduled public events
12:45 Jay Carney’s press briefing
4:0: VP Biden meets with members of the faith community at the White House to discuss gun safety
Jonathan Chait: State of the Union addresses are wearying rituals, in which stitched-together lists of never-gonna-happen goals are woven into idealistic catchphrases, analyzed as rhetoric by an unqualified panel of poetry-critic-for-a-night political reporters, quickly followed by a hapless opposition-party response, and then, in almost every case, forgotten. This year, plunked into the midst of the tedium was a gigantic revelation, almost surely the most momentous news of President Obama’s second term. “I will direct my Cabinet,” he announced, “to come up with executive actions we can take now and in the future to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.”
Here was a genuine bombshell. It sounded a little vague, and the president did not explain precisely what he intended to do or how he would pull it off. But a handful of environmental wonks had a fairly strong grasp of the project he had committed himself to, and they understood that it was very, very real and very, very doable. If they were to have summarized the news, the headline would have been OBAMA TO SAVE PLANET…..
Michael Tomasky: There Are No ‘Absolute’ Rights – Nearly every idea in the Bill of Rights comes with restrictions and limitations. To think that the Second Amendment should be any different is absurd
Every time I write a column on guns, the howl arises that I am talking about a right that is enshrined in the Constitution, buddy, and I better watch myself. The howl then transmutes into an extended harangue that this right is absolute, and no libtard fascist, whether me or the Satanesque Dianne Feinstein, is going to limit the right in any way.
The first soldier to charge across this rhetorical veld is followed by hundreds harrumphing their assent. The only problem is that it’s an ahistorical, afactual, and barbaric argument. No right is absolute. In fact, the Second Amendment arguably has fewer restrictions on it these days than many of the other first ten, and there is and should be no guarantee that things are going to stay that way. In fact, if we’re ever going to be serious about trying to stop this mass butchery that we endure every few months, they cannot.
VP Biden: ….. We fell short on our first effort to pass Manchin-Toomey in the Senate, but we will not be deterred by one setback. We have an obligation to make sure that the voices of victims, not the voice of the NRA, ring the loudest in this debate.
For too long, members of Congress have been afraid to vote against the wishes of the NRA, even when the vast majority of their constituents support what the NRA opposes. That fear has become such an article of faith that even in the face of evidence to the contrary, a number of senators voted against basic background checks, against a federal gun trafficking statute and against other common-sense measures because they feared a backlash.
…. In the end, I believe we will prevail. And those who wrote off gun safety legislation last month will come to realize that moment wasn’t the end at all. It was the turning point.
10:40: Delivers remarks at Austin Straubel International Airport, Green Bay
11:45: Departs Green Bay
1:15: Arrives Las Vegas
2:10: Delivers remarks at Cheyenne Sports Complex, Las Vegas
3:25: Departs Las Vegas
5:55: Arrives Denver, Colorado
7:0: Delivers remarks at Coors Events Center, Denver
8:45: Departs Denver
1:05: Arrives Columbus, Ohio where he will stay overnight
Steve Benen: If the White House hopes to see initial unemployment claims drop just before the election, officials got their wish. The new figures from the Department of Labor – the last report before Election Day – show a move in the right direction:
Applications for U.S. unemployment benefits fell by 9,000 to a seasonally adjusted 363,000 in the week of Oct. 21-27, keeping them in a range that indicates little change in U.S. hiring patterns over the past few months. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch expected claims to fall to 365,000. Initial claims from two weeks ago were revised up to 372,000 from an original reading of 369,000, based on more complete data collected at the state level, according to the U.S. Labor Department.
Toledo Blade: In the final few days of the presidential contest, Mitt Romney evidently recognizes that his opposition to the federal rescue of General Motors and Chrysler is costing him voter support he needs in Ohio and Michigan. So the Republican nominee is conducting an exercise in deception about auto-industry issues that is remarkable even by the standards of his campaign.
…. Mr. Romney’s own words make clear he is no friend of the auto industry, on which Ohio relies for one of every eight jobs. Voters in Ohio and Michigan — and the nation — need to remember that.
NYT Editorial: When General Motors tells a presidential campaign that it is engaging in “cynical campaign politics at its worst,” that’s a pretty good signal that the campaign has crossed a red line and ought to pull back. Not Mitt Romney’s campaign. Having broadcast an outrageously deceitful ad attacking the auto bailout, the campaign ignored the howls from carmakers and came back with more.
Mr. Romney apparently plans to end his race as he began it: playing lowest-common-denominator politics, saying anything necessary to achieve power and blithely deceiving voters desperate for clarity and truth.
….. Mr. Romney is providing a grim preview of what kind of president he would be.
Greg Sargent: The chatter continues this morning about GOP Governor Chris Christie’s astonishingly effusive praise of Obama’s handling of Hurricane Sandy. After they toured the damage yesterday, Christie thanked Obama for their “great working relationship” and claimed Obama “sprung into action immediately.” The day before, Christie praised Obama’s storm response as “outstanding,” adding: “He deserves my praise, and he will get it regardless of what the calendar says.”
What’s striking about this is how directly it undermines one of the central arguments Mitt Romney is making against Obama, with only five days left until Election Day … Romney has been closing out the campaign with a series of ads claiming that he will work with Democrats to get things done in Washington and arguing that Obama utterly failed to persuade Republicans to work with him….
Now Americans are being treated to images of a Republican Governor extensively praising Obama for working with him cooperatively and displaying leadership and a propensity for quick action at a time of crisis.
Steve Benen: When the House Republicans’ temporary spending measure failed on Wednesday night, the GOP leadership effectively had two broad options. House Speaker John Boehner could move to the middle, stop playing games with emergency disaster relief, pick up Democratic votes, and resolve the dispute. The threat of a government shutdown would disappear, and lawmakers could enjoy a week off.
Or Boehner and Republican leaders could move to the right, make the spending bill worse, pass a plan they know will be rejected, and invite another government shutdown crisis.
Which course did the GOP leadership choose? Take a wild guess.
…. Boehner and Republican leaders followed through on their threat to hold disaster aid hostage …. they deliberately chose to invite yet another standoff that threatens to shut down the government….
… Americans, for whatever reason, have elected ill-tempered, right-wing children to run the House of Representatives, and the result is not only one crisis followed by another, but a government that struggles badly to even complete the most basic of tasks …. they made matters worse on purpose…..
Oh dear. According to Steve Benen, Huntsman’s people forgot to register JonHuntsman.com – so when you visit the site the image above greets you, ie that glowing letter Hunstman wrote the President when he accepted the position of Ambassador to China.
ABC: Every detail of Jon Huntsman’s long-awaited campaign launch was meticulously planned, except of course for one minor detail: the misspelling of the candidate’s name. Members of the media were handed a press pass that read “John Huntsman for President” – adding an unnecessary H in the candidate’s first name. Huntsman’s staffers promptly scrambled to remove the passes from reporters before they caught the snafu.
Steve Benen: …. worse, visitors to Huntsman’s online donation page this morning saw this message alongside the contribution form:
If you prefer you can contact us by mail or by telephone.
Jon Huntsman for President
123 Main Street
Charlotte, NC 12345
All of this is wrong, and was obviously just put in as placeholder text the campaign forgot to replace. As Jamison Foser noted, “So far today, Huntsman campaign has gotten his name, phone number & address wrong. That’s a rough day in first grade.”
That’s not all. The Huntsman campaign picked a location for the kick-off speech where the Statue of Liberty would be in the background, but put the television cameras in such a place where the Statue of Liberty wasn’t seen by viewers at home. Some pundits knocked the new candidate for a “bland, uninspiring speech,” and the cable networks didn’t stick with his remarks very long.
Well, at least Huntsman had a good crowd for the campaign launch, right? Wrong. Only “about a hundred” people showed up, and roughly 60 of them were political reporters…..
Steve Benen: In general, the ability of government agencies to respond to a natural disaster only draws attention when agencies fall short. The media tends to look for “the next Katrina” to demonstrate that feckless bureaucracies and government incompetence are the new norm.
But they don’t have to be, and with an effective administration, they’re not. The New York Times has a report today on the emergency response in the Southeast …. but in this case, the governmental response is earning praise, not condemnations: see here for details on the FEMA and White House response to the disaster
….President Obama and the First Lady were also on the ground in Alabama barely 40 hours after the storm struck. One local resident, who house was obliterated by a tornado, told the NYT, “It ain’t like Katrina. We’re getting help.”
What’s more, Kevin Drum notes some larger context: “Under Bush Sr., FEMA sucked. Under Clinton, FEMA was rehabilitated and turned into a superstar agency. Under Bush Jr., FEMA sucked again. Under Obama, FEMA’s doing great and responding quickly. I know, I know, we’re not supposed to politicize natural disasters. Not when that politicization makes Republicans look bad, anyway. So I’ll just let you draw your own conclusions from these four data points.”
I don’t imagine we’ll hear much about the Obama administration’s response in the Southeast; the media tends to only find these stories interesting if the government is failing instead of succeeding.
But it’s worth keeping in mind anyway. If it’s important when a federal response falls short, it’s worth appreciating what competent governance is capable of.