Army Command Sergeant Major Bennie G. Adkins salutes after President Barack Obama awards him the Medal of Honor for actions during the Vietnam War
President Barack Obama applauds at right after presenting the Medal of Honor for Army Spc. Donald P. Sloat to his brother William Sloat, left, in the East Room of the White House. Donald P. Sloat of Coweta, Okla., was killed in action on Jan. 17, 1970, at age 20. While on patrol, a soldier in his squad triggered a hand grenade trap that had been placed in their path by enemy forces. According to the White House, Sloat picked up the live grenade, initially to throw it away. When he realized it was about to detonate, he shielded the blast with his own body in order to save the lives of his fellow soldiers
President Barack Obama and Poland’s President Bronislaw Komorowski, wave at Belveder residence in Warsaw, Poland. President Obama came to Poland to meet regional leaders and attend ceremonies marking 25 years of Poland’s democracy
President Barack Obama and Poland’s President Bronislaw Komorowski make statements and meet with U.S. and Polish troops at an event featuring four F-16 fighter jets, two American and two Polish, as part of multinational military exercises
President Barack Obama answers a question during a joint news conference with Poland’s President Bronislaw Komorowski
Remarks by President Obama and President Komorowski of #Poland in a Joint Press Conference: wh.gov/lskGq
3:45: President Obama delivers remarks at the Armed Forces Farewell Tribute in honor of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Joint Base Myer-Henderson (C-Span)
NYT: It happened a few minutes before the beginning of Jim Langevin’s junior cadet shift back in 1980 …. A bullet ricocheted off a locker and went right through the boy’s neck, severing his spinal cord.
At 16, he would never walk again and never fulfill his dream of becoming a police officer.
Now, three decades later and seven terms into his career as one of Rhode Island’s two members of the House of Representatives, Mr. Langevin, 48, is the only quadriplegic ever to serve in Congress….
For the past month, he has been on a quiet campaign to persuade his colleagues to give up their guest passes to next Tuesday’s State of the Union address by President Obama so that victims of gun violence can attend.
That way, he said, when the nation’s highest officeholders look up from the floor of the House to those watching from the gallery, they will not be able to avoid seeing the human toll that guns can exact.
Upworthy: It’s a fact so jaw-dropping it’s unbelievable — people thought it was a crazy Internet rumor until Politifact verified it. But it’s true: More Americans have died just since 1960 from gun incidents — suicides, accidents, and homicides — than died in every war in U.S. history. The deadliest war the U.S. has ever had is the war we waged against ourselves.
Politifact: Politifact: Since the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, supporters and opponents of gun control have thrown out statistics to support their point of view.
Here’s one that caught our eye, offered by liberal commentator Mark Shields on the Dec. 21, 2012, edition of the PBS NewsHour.
Shields told host Judy Woodruff, “You know, Judy, the reality is – and it’s a terrible reality – since Robert Kennedy died in the Ambassador Hotel on June 4, 1968, more Americans have died from gunfire than died in … all the wars of this country’s history, from the Revolutionary through the Civil War, World War I, World War II, in those 43 years. … I mean, guns are a problem. And I think they still have to be confronted.”……
CNN: A group of four senators working behind the scenes on a bipartisan bill to expand background checks on gun sales is making significant progress, according to sources in both parties familiar with their work.
The group includes Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma, who has an A rating with the National Rifle Association, Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Illinois, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, a long time advocate of gun rights, and Chuck Schumer, D-New York, a long time supporter of gun control.
CNN is told the legislation they are working on would effectively require background checks on private gun purchases made with non-licensed gun dealers, according to sources in both parties. That would include closing the so-called gun show loophole.
NYT: President Obama may have run his last political campaign, but that does not relieve him of his obligations to the Democratic Party.
The president, who has a vested interest in Democrats retaining their Senate majority and trying to narrow Republican control of the House, is already making plans to return to the campaign trail. He has agreed to hold at least 14 separate fund-raising events this year, a Democratic official familiar with the plans told The New York Times, characterizing it as an “aggressive schedule.”
…. Mr. Obama will appear at 10 events outside Washington: five for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and five for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. He will also host one event for each committee in Washington as well as appearing at two joint fund-raising galas for House and Senate candidates.
Reuters: A rise in exports and lower imports of oil helped push the trade deficit to its narrowest point in nearly three years in December, suggesting the economy did much better in the fourth quarter than initially estimated.
The country’s trade gap narrowed to $38.5 billion during the month, the Commerce Department said on Friday. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected a deficit of $46 billion.
“Trade data for December paint a reassuring and encouraging picture of the US economy at the end of last year,” said Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit.
‘President Obama has outlined his plan for fixing our broken immigration system. Add your name to stand with the President’ – here
BuzzFeed: One of President Obama’s two nominees Thursday for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, Todd M. Hughes, would become the first out gay appeals court judge in the country, if confirmed by Congress.
Hughes currently is the deputy director of the Commercial Litigation Branch of the Civil Division at the United States Department of Justice….. The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, which runs the Presidential Appointments Project to support out LGBT candidates for appointments, praised the nomination.
NYT: Cardiss Collins, who reluctantly ran for a Chicago Congressional seat left vacant when her husband died in a plane crash and went on to become Illinois’s first black congresswoman, serving for nearly 25 years as a voice for racial and gender equality and expanded health care for the poor, died on Sunday in Arlington, Va. She was 81.
….. She campaigned little but easily won the primary in April and cruised through the general election in June with 92 percent of the vote. Six years later, and after some early struggles in office — she had never considered a political career before she was thrust into one — she became chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus. For much of the 1980s, she was the only black woman in Congress.
TPM: Outgoing Energy Department Secretary Steven Chu, who announced his resignation last week, took to his Facebook page Thursday to make light of an article from parody news site “The Onion” alleging that he woke up next to a solar panel after a night of partying in D.C. As Chu wrote in a post on his Facebook page:
“I just want everyone to know that my decision not to serve a second term as Energy Secretary has absolutely nothing to do with the allegations made in this week’s edition of the Onion. While I’m not going to confirm or deny the charges specifically, I will say that clean, renewable solar power is a growing source of U.S. jobs and is becoming more and more affordable, so it’s no surprise that lots of Americans are falling in love with solar.”
People: My song with my husband: Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together”
Michelle Obama: Barack and I danced to “Let’s Stay Together” at this Inauguration, and it was such a special moment for us. We had spent all day together with our family and friends at different Inaugural events, and at the end of the day the dance was really our one-on-one moment with each other. Well, each other and everyone watching on TV!
NYT Editorial: The millionaires and billionaires who gave nearly $500 million to independent groups in the race to elect Mitt Romney and other Republicans not only bet on the wrong party, they bet on the wrong tactic. They believed that an endless drumbeat of television advertisements would be enough to drive voters away from President Obama and Democratic policies.
It did not work…..
…. the biggest-spending conservative groups were trounced. American Crossroads, the super PAC founded by Karl Rove, spent $104 million in the general election, but none of its candidates won. The United States Chamber of Commerce spent $24 million backing Republicans in 15 Senate races; only two of them won. Sheldon Adelson, the casino mogul, spent $53 million on nine Republican candidates, eight of whom lost.
… A backlash against the damaging power of big money cannot come too soon.
Steve Benen: First up from the God Machine this week is a look at the 2012 presidential election, and the differences along religious lines….
….. the results among Roman Catholic voters are arguably the most electorally significant. In every recent cycle, Catholics have been considered a key swing constituency and President Obama narrowly won their support, 50% to 48%. It suggests Republicans’ efforts to focus on contraception and reproductive rights had limited success, and the Bishops’ lobbying largely fell on deaf ears.
Also note, while many on the right hoped 2012 would be the year that Jewish voters abandoned Democrats, that didn’t come close to happening. Though Obama fared slightly worse among Jewish voters as compared to 2008, he still enjoyed overwhelming support.
Deaniac (The People’s View): The Impact of A President: A Personal Reflection on Equality
Four years ago, on election day 2008, I was a poll-captain for the No on 8 campaign in California. After working day and night trying to beat back California’s attempt to ban marriage equality, election day was finally upon us, and my job was to lead my team of volunteers to speak to voters in the parking lot of the polling place about voting No on 8. The team of volunteers rotated throughout the day, in 2, 3 or 4 hour shifts. Some stayed even half a day. I was there all day. From the break of dawn before the polls opened till they closed…..
Yahoo: It was an intimate snapshot of a sweet celebration: Minutes after the networks called the 2012 presidential election for Barack Obama on Tuesday night, the Obama for America campaign posted a picture of him hugging his wife along with a simple message: “Four more years.” Within minutes, it became the most popular post in the history of Twitter and the most-liked image in the history of Facebook….
…. no one was more surprised than the woman who took the photo back in August, Scout Tufankjian….
…. The President is “so much happier and more relaxed” when he’s with his family … he and the first lady are so focused on each other. The way that they play off each other and get energy from each other… when I was shooting the president during the 2008 campaign I would watch them greet each other on stage and I used to text-message my boyfriend, now my husband: ‘Do you love me as much as Barack loves Michelle?’ and he’d be like, ‘Probably not, no’.”
2:15: Delivers remarks at a campaign rally at Elm Street Middle School, Nashua
4:30: Vice President Biden, Jill and Beau Biden campaign in Lynchburg, Virginia (live on C-Span)
5:05: President Obama departs Nashua
6:45: Arrives White House
On Wednesday, the President will travel to Cincinnati, Ohio and Akron, Ohio for campaign events. In the evening, the President and the First Lady will welcome local children and children of military families to trick-or-treat at the North Portico of the White House.
Col. Lawrence Wilkerson:
Paul Krugman: For a few days there the Romney campaign was boasting a lot about having Big Mo — and the press corps actually fell for it, briefly. At this point, however, the reality seems to be sinking in: if Romney has Big Mo, it looks like this:
Despite the Denver Debacle and its aftermath, state polls are showing a clear Obama lead in the electoral college, which if anything is getting a bit stronger….
Why? Jonathan Cohn singles out the auto bailout, and rightly so. I’d add, however, that the killing of Osama bin Laden mattered too …. what the auto rescue and the bin Laden strike have in common is that they were both very courageous decisions — decisions that could easily have gone wrong, that faced lots of second-guessing. You can criticize Obama for many things (and I have, and will in future), but he showed true grit when it mattered, and now seems likely to reap the reward.
Mediaite: Bill Maher used his final New Rule of the night to warn voters unhappy with President Obama of the political and social consequences of the other guy winning. Maher argued that Mitt Romney winning the presidency would not just be a victory for him, but for every Republican extremist Romney has ever supported in his recent political career. Maher said Romney “may seem like a nice fella,” but he’s “a compulsive liar whose whole life is secret” and would bring too much unwanted baggage into a relationship with America.
…. Maher also warned about the “fresh can of nuts” in Congress with wildly anti-scientific beliefs that would have more free reign under a Republican administration. Maher said that a Republican in the White House would mean the return of “Bible-thumping bullshit” in government.
Today: The President will sign the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank at the White House. This important step will help American businesses create jobs here at home and sell their products around the world – all at no cost to taxpayers. Last year marked the highest level of financing in the Bank’s 77-year history, as they supported thousands of U.S. companies, hundreds of thousands of jobs, and brought us closer to the goal the President set of doubling our nation’s exports by the end of 2014. Also today, the President will host a Jewish American Heritage Month reception at the White House.
10:30: PBO attends an annual hurricane preparedness briefing
11:40: Signs the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank
2:00: Jay Carney briefs the press
5:00: PBO hosts a Jewish American Heritage Month reception
Steve Benen: Mitt Romney will join Donald Trump tonight in Las Vegas for a fundraiser, just a few days after the reality-show host reiterated his support for the ridiculous “birther” conspiracy theory. Asked by reporters yesterday whether Trump’s ugly, borderline-racist antics gives him pause, Romney seemed unconcerned.
“You know, I don’t agree with all the people who support me and my guess is they don’t all agree with everything I believe in,” Romney said. “But I need to get 50.1% or more and I’m appreciative to have the help of a lot of good people.”
That’s not much of a response. By Romney’s reasoning, decency is irrelevant – he should partner with anyone, no matter how vile, so long as it furthers his ambitions and gets him more votes.
…. cowardice is once again getting the better of Mitt Romney … he has been presented with several opportunities to show he’s capable of leadership, but he’s so afraid of what conservatives might say, he just doesn’t have the intestinal fortitude to do the right thing.
Today – 3:25: The President and First Lady honor recipients of the 2011 Medal of Freedom in a ceremony
The following individuals will be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom: Madeleine Albright, John Doar, Bob Dylan, William Foege, John Glenn, Gordon Hirabayashi, Dolores Huerta, Jan Karski, Juliette Gordon Low, Toni Morrison, Shimon Peres, John Paul Stevens and Pat Summitt.
Wednesday: The President will sign the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank at the White House and later will host a Jewish American Heritage Month reception.
Thursday: PBO will welcome George W Bush and Laura Bush to the White House for the official unveiling of their portraits.
Friday: PBO will visit Honeywell’s Golden Valley facility in Golden Valley, Minnesota for an event on the economy. Afterwards, he will attend a campaign event in Minnesota before traveling to Chicago in the evening to attend campaign events. The President will spend the night in Chicago.
Washington Post: President Obama will announce details Friday for a $1 billion Veterans Job Corps that the White House says will put up to 20,000 veterans to work over the next five years on projects to preserve and restore national parks and other federal, state and local lands.
….. Obama proposed the corps in his State of the Union address last month, describing it as “enlisting our veterans in the work of rebuilding our nation.”
From the White House: “President Obama and the First Lady will welcome Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and his wife, Samantha Cameron, to the White House for an Official Visit with a State Dinner on March 13-14, 2012….”.
President Obama speaks during a news conference on Republican obstruction of Richard Cordray’s nomination to head the CFPB, Dec 8
Steve Benen: Two months after the Senate Banking Committee approved Richard Cordray as the new director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Senate leadership brought the nomination to the floor this morning. Republicans refused to allow a vote …. It’s hard to overstate how outrageous today’s filibuster really is.
…. It’s all part of the normalization of extortion politics. Traditionally, if the GOP wanted to alter the powers of the CFPB, it would write legislation, send it to committee, bring it to the floor, send it to the other chamber, etc. But that takes time and effort, and might not work. Instead, we see the latest in a series of GOP extortion strategies: Republicans will force Democrats to accept changes to the agency, or Republicans won’t allow the agency to meet its legal mandate…..
The President is pre-taping interviews with WISH (Indianapolis, IN), KSNV (Las Vegas, NV), WREG (Memphis, TN) and WCHS (Portland, ME) today
Steve Benen: We generally look to the first Friday of every month for new unemployment figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but every Thursday morning, the Department of Labor releases a report on initial unemployment claims.
And this morning, the news is very good:
The number of people filing for state unemployment benefits for the first time fell 23,000 to the lowest level since late February, the government said Thursday. The Labor Department said claims fell to a seasonally adjusted 381,000 last week. The level of initial claims in the week ended Nov. 26 was revised up by 2,000 to 404,000.
The consensus expectations were for a slight drop, which makes the sharp drop that much more encouraging…..
Steve Benen: Politico has a piece today on Senate Democrats’ outrage over Republican obstructionism, as evidenced by Tuesday’s filibuster of judicial nominee Caitlin Halligan and today’s expected filibuster of CFPB nominee Richard Cordray. As Dems see it, GOP abuses are setting a new standard — which Democrats will take advantage of the next time they’re in the minority.
…. Republicans respond that these current tactics aren’t new, and the Politico article tells readers the GOP argument is sound.
…. This isn’t a subjective question on which the parties are entitled to different opinions. There are objective, often quantifiable, answers to the points Politico and Republicans are raising: are GOP senators “replicating” Democratic tactics? Were Dems abusing Senate rules in the Bush era to the same degree that Republicans are abusing them now?
The answer to both is “no,” and the false equivalence does little to advance the discussion.
Steve Benen: Most of the Affordable Care Act won’t take effect for a few years – and if court rulings and the 2012 elections go a certain way, it may not take effect at all – but there’s already evidence that the reform law is working.
It’s making a big difference in providing coverage for young adults; it’s providing treatment options for women like Spike Dolomite Ward; and it’s slowing the growth in Medicare spending.
It’s also, as Jonathan Cohn explained, saving seniors quite a bit of money on prescription medication…..
President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper arrive to speak in the South Court Auditorium on the White House, Dec. 7
President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada talk backstage at the South Court Auditorium in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building following their joint press conference, Dec. 7, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
CBS: President Barack Obama will appear on “60 Minutes” in an interview with Steve Kroft to be broadcast Sunday, Dec. 11 at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
Steve Kroft interviewed the president on Tuesday in Kansas after he delivered an economic speech in the small town of Osawatomie. President Obama will talk to Kroft again tomorrow at the White House for Sunday’s report.