First Lady Michelle delivers a heartfelt message in Chicago
10:15AM THE PRESIDENT and THE VICE PRESIDENT receive the Presidential Daily Briefing
11:00AM THE PRESIDENT meets with members of the Financial Services Forum
12:05PM THE PRESIDENT holds a conference call with more than 100 local elected officials to discuss summer and year-round pathways to youth employment (Closed press)
2:10PM THE PRESIDENT awardsChaplain (Captain) Emil J. Kapaun, U.S. Army,the Medal of Honor; THE FIRST LADY also attends
2:55PM THE PRESIDENT meets with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
11:30AM Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney
As politicians in Washington took a step toward tightening the nation’s gun laws Wednesday, first lady Michelle Obama sat down with Chicago high school students whose stories about violence brought her to tears.
Before the meeting began at Harper High School in West Englewood, Obama said she wanted to hear from each of the 22 students representing youth programs at the school and that she had as much time as they needed to take. She had come home to Chicago, she said, to do a lot of listening.
So for two hours, the first lady sat in the second-floor library media center, away from the news media, as students told story after story about the challenges of dodging bullets, avoiding gangs and — the thing they cannot take for granted — staying alive.
President Barack Obama walks with Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada, left, and President Felipe Calderon of Mexico following their joint press conference in the Rose Garden of the White House, April 2 (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
Ed Kilgore: Every day there’s at least one headline coming across the transom that doesn’t make you laugh, cry, cheer, or think, but simply scratch your head in puzzlement. Today’s winner is from Politico’s Lois Romano: “Ann Romney is the Romney Democrats Fear Most.”
…. Huh! Everybody thinks Ann Romney is a “rock star?” I did not know that. The “political arena” is all abuzz about her? Missed that, too; the buzzing must be confined to weekends, when I kinda check out from politics as much as possible.
…. If you read this long piece, however, it begins to appear that most of the buzzing Romano is hearing is coming from busy bees inside the Romney campaign itself….
….. Perhaps the most revealing thing about the Romneys as a team that Romano’s account mentions is that their handlers can’t decide whether Ann is more valuable on the road as a speaker, or behind the scenes as a steadying influence on the candidate. It sounds like Mitt needs a road manager and a psychologist as much as he needs a dazzling opening act. Indeed, he seems to be a very needy dude….
Greg Sargent: Mark Murray reports on Twitter that the Obama campaign is out requesting rates from TV stations for a potential – and possibly very significant – ad buy. I’ve confirm that this is the case; Obama aides are requesting rates in key states, where there are millions and millions of dollars in anti-Obama ads already up on the air.
One has to wonder whether the Obama campaign is looking to do this in order to reclaim a debate that’s been largely ceded to his Republican rivals, one that will drive the election: Whether Obama succeeded or failed on the economy.
The Hill: The Obama administration has signaled to allies that it will take a more aggressive role this year in protecting homeowners from foreclosure, a posture that fits with Obama’s populist campaign stance.
Housing is poised to become a significant issue in the 2012 campaign season and President Obama’s allies acknowledge the administration’s efforts to help homeowners, while well intentioned, have fallen short.
Happy birthday, too, to The Greatest: Muhammad Ali
Charles P. Pierce (Esquire): On Sunday evening the Republicans held the 10,000-infinity’th of their scheduled 56,675-quintuple-infinity debates, in which everybody picked on Willard Romney and Ron Paul, and in which Rick Santorum was still pretty much a dick, but he was a dick to Willard, who would have encouraged dickitude in Francis of Assisi, so there’s that. And, of course, Rick Perry said something really stupid. South Carolina really isn’t the place where you want to make loose talk about being “at war” with the federal government. Honestly, Governor Goodhair, why don’t you just go down to the harbor, throw a rock at Fort Sumter, and make it official?
And, alas, Jon Huntsman finally succumbed after his long, brave struggle against chronic invisibility. In lieu of flowers, the campaign requests that donations be sent to the Weepy Pundits Clinic, 525 Broder Lane, Centerville, USA. Chris, dude, there one big “What If…” missing from your litany there: What If The Republican Party Wasn’t Completely Insane? That really is the only one that matters…..
Greg Sargent: Wisconsin Democrats are telling reporters that they have gathered more than one million signatures to recall Governor Scott Walker — a remarkable number that could have real ramifications for this year’s presidential race.
…. Dems need around 540,000 of those signatures to be certified as official in order for the recall of Walker to proceed. The one-million total makes that cushion pretty comfortable.
John Nichols (The Nation): …. No other gubernatorial recall drive in American history has gathered the signatures of so large a proportion of the electorate. The total number of signatures submitted Tuesday represents 46 percent of the turnout in the 2010 Wisconsin gubernatorial election. That compares with 23.4 percent that signed the petitions that initiated the successful recall of California Governor Gray Davis in 2003 and 31.8 percent that signed petitions to recall North Dakota Governor Lynn Frazier in 1921.
I just want to offer my apologies to saintroscoe for some seriously stupid and unfair comments I directed at him/her last night. After lecturing everyone else about staying ‘civil’ in the middle of disagreements, I went and broke my own rules, pretty spectacularly.
I have blocked people recently who were obvious GOP/Firebagger trolls, or who brought nothing much more than negativity or personal abuse to the blog, and they’ll stay blocked, but saintroscoe, obviously, fits in to neither category – which is why s/he has not been blocked.
When I ranted (on and on and on….) recently about negative stuff on the blog, I never meant – even if it sounded that way – that I wanted everyone to be Little Miss Sunshine even when the news wasn’t encouraging. We can still be fiercely positive, because there’s so much to be fiercely positive about, without burying our heads in the sand (as I often do) and ignoring the challenges and papering over the setbacks.
I know a lot of you don’t want any ‘negative’ stuff here, and have complained about the place being that way recently, but we’ll just carry on trying to get the balance right, between being positive and honest.
I’ll completely understand if Saintroscoe chooses not to return – if not, I recommend you follow him/her on Twitter (link). We didn’t always agree, but I appreciated what s/he brought here, which was smart and informed commentary on the issues.
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.