America’s history is written in blood and sacrifice. We have two holidays—Memorial Day and Veterans Day—which commemorate the sacrifices made by our military. But, we have only two national martyrs whom we acknowledge with holidays: Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr.
Both of our great martyrs died trying to expiate the sins of slavery and racism. Without their work, the America in which we live would be unrecognizable. In fact, there might very well be no America, as it would have split along the fissures caused by one of its two original sins, that of slavery.
Which is why it’s quite curious that Chris Hayes, on his show last night, brought up the memories of Dr. King and Rosa Parks when speaking of NSA leaker Edward Snowden.
People reach out to grasp hands with President Obama after he spoke at the University of Miami, February 23
Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, Fla
First Lady Michelle Obama views The Slave Pen exhibit while touring the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, Feb. 23. Pictured, from left, are: Dina Bailey, Associate Curator of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center; Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory; Verna Williams; and Allison Singleton. (Official White House Photo by Sonya N. Hebert)
11:15 AM: PBO attends the Democratic Governors’ Association meeting.
3:00 PM: PBO holds a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt of Denmark.
Greg Sargent: It’s becoming clearer and clearer that the auto bailout will be central to Campaign 2012’s argument over government and the economy, and Pew Research releases some striking numbers….
The latest national survey …finds that 56% say the loans the government made to GM and Chrysler were mostly good for the economy, while 38% say the loans to the automakers were mostly bad for the economy.
Opinion about the auto loans has reversed since October 2009. At that time, just 37% said the loans were mostly good for the economy while 54% expressed negative views…..
…. independents think the auto bailout was good for the economy by a wide margin, 54-40. Even moderate/liberal Republicans agree, 57-39. And Pew tells me that non-college-degree whites – a key swing constituency that will be pivotal in the Rust Belt states – also agree, 51-40.
ThinkProgress: Earlier this month, the nation was barraged with media coverage of the Catholic Bishops’ opposition to regulations promulgated under the Affordable Care Act protecting working women’s access to contraception. The loudness of the bishops’ complaints …. easily could have conveyed the misimpression that churches and other religious groups are at odds with the Affordable Care Act.
On Friday, however, a broad coalition of religious organizations filed an amicus brief supporting the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion that should give the lie to any claim that the faith community opposes the ACA …. the brief’s signatories include a wide range of Catholic groups….
ThinkProgress: As further proof that conservative efforts to paint President Obama as the enemy of religion are a red herring, nearly two dozen leading Catholic nuns filed a brief in the Supreme Court last week supporting the president’s signature legislative accomplishment. The Catholic sisters who joined the brief include the leaders of many prominent religious orders providing health care and other services to the needy…
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.
Irish Times: Barack Obama delivered his cúpla focal (Irish for ‘a couple of words’) with such aplomb last Monday because he had practised them on a receptionist at Dublin’s Merrion Hotel before taking to the College Green stage.
As the president was leaving the five-star hotel where he had been due to spend the night, he stopped and chatted with staff, including Bernie O’Meara from Birr. Once he heard she was from Co Offaly, his ancestral home, he started calling her “cuz” and spent several minutes trying out his Irish on her to ensure he got his pronunciation just right.
…Mr Obama exited the hotel through a marquee erected at the entrance to ensure there was no line of sight. As the visit came to a hurried end, staff wanted a picture with the president, but their professionalism would not allow them to ask. They were not to be disappointed, however. “Mr Obama asked if he could have his picture taken with us before he left,” said the hotel’s general manager Peter McCann.