Steve Benen: There were modest expectations for the new jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and in this case, the economy met them. A net total of 120,000 jobs were created in November, which is just about what economists and analysts said would happen. The same report showed the overall unemployment rate dropping from 9% to 8.6%.
As is always the case, there was a significant gap between the private and public sectors. Businesses added 140,000 jobs last month, while budget cuts forced the public sector to shed 20,000 jobs, which continues to be a major drag on the overall employment picture.
Republican policymakers, it’s worth noting, are eager to force more public-sector layoffs, making the jobs landscape worse on purpose, while Democrats have fought to do the opposite.
President Barack Obama shows military officials the White House Christmas Tree in the Blue Room following a meeting, Dec. 1. The 18-foot-6 inch balsam fir is decorated with holiday cards created by military children and ornaments featuring medals, badges, and patches from all of the military branches. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
USA Today: Later this morning, President Obama and former president Bill Clinton will take a tour of a building blocks away from the White House and announce a $4 billion initiative to improve the energy efficiency of government and private-sector buildings. Obama is scheduled to deliver remarks to reporters after the tour.
Steve Benen: The Senate held two votes on extending a payroll tax cut for more than 160 million Americans, most of whom are middle class. As expected, Republicans killed them both. What was unexpected, though, was the vote totals on the proposals.
First up was the Democratic plan, which would have kept the payroll break in place for another year, and pay for it with a slight surtax on millionaires and billionaires. A 51-member Senate majority supported the bill, but that was far short of the 60 votes needed to overcome a GOP filibuster. It’s worth noting that one Republican, Sen. Susan Collins (R) of Maine, broke ranks and supported the Dems’ proposal….
…. What was just as interesting was the next vote, when the Senate considered the GOP alternative, which would also keep the payroll break in place, but pay for it largely through a pay freeze on federal workers …. it was rejected 78 to 20, with more than half of Republicans opposed. Yep, most Republican senators opposed their own party’s legislation….
Spiegel: The US Republican race is dominated by ignorance, lies and scandals. The current crop of candidates have shown such a basic lack of knowledge that they make George W. Bush look like Einstein. The Grand Old Party is ruining the entire country’s reputation.
Africa is a country. In Libya, the Taliban reigns. Muslims are terrorists; most immigrants are criminal; all Occupy protesters are dirty. And women who feel sexually harassed – well, they shouldn’t make such a big deal about it.
Welcome to the wonderful world of the US Republicans. Or rather, to the twisted world of what they call their presidential campaigns. For months now, they’ve been traipsing around the country with their traveling circus, from one debate to the next, one scandal to another, putting themselves forward for what’s still the most powerful job in the world.
As it turns out, there are no limits to how far they will stoop.
Sacbee: President Barack Obama, who is a fervent basketball fan, will get his NBA fix next month but his campaign will have to postpone the Obama Classic fundraiser that was to feature more than two dozen professional basketball stars.
The campaign on Thursday notified ticket holders the Dec. 12 event would now be held in the summer.
The fundraising all-star game was planned while a lockout put the NBA season in jeopardy, and top players had committed to play. But team owners and players reached an agreement and games are set to begin on Christmas Day.
Washington Post: There’s little doubt President Barack Obama has won high esteem among Native Americans by breaking through a logjam of inaction on issues that matter to them.
The Obama administration this week unveiled sweeping changes to federal tribal-land leasing rules that had not been touched in 50 years. Obama nominated a Native American to the federal bench, signed a law renewing the Indian Health Care Act and settled a tribal royalties lawsuit that had dragged over three administrations.
…. Obama on Friday speaks for the third time with the nation’s 565 tribal leaders in Washington…. Obama has gone beyond lip service, said Bill John Baker, principal chief of the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma, and “backed up his words with actions that have made a positive impact on the lives of Native people.”
…. Jacqueline Johnson Pata, executive director of the National Congress of American Indians and an Alaska native, said native peoples’ enthusiasm for Obama goes deeper. Obama has embraced Native American tribal sovereignty preserved in the Constitution, court decisions and treaty agreements and made that the foundation for his administration’s dealings with tribes, Pata said.
…. “I think we have made strides under the Obama administration the likes of which tribes have not seen for 30 years,” said Stacy Bohlen, executive director of the National Indian Health Board…..
Jonathan Capehart: …. GOP hopeful Newt Gingrich defended his stance against certain child labor laws during a campaign stop in Iowa Thursday, saying that children born into poverty aren’t accustomed to working unless it involves crime.
“Really poor children, in really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working and have nobody around them who works so they have no habit of showing up on Monday,” Gingrich claimed. “They have no habit of staying all day, they have no habit of I do this and you give me cash unless it is illegal,” he added.
….. Gingrich’s blanket condemnation of “really poor children, in really poor neighborhoods” is unbelievably disgusting. And it’s disrespectful of the overwhelming majority of those children and their families who live their lives with far more integrity and far less cash than Gingrich ever will.
Greg Sargent: The first thing you should watch this morning is this harsh new Web video from the Obama-allied Priorities USA Action. It paints a very lurid picture of “Mitt Romney’s America,” and it provides the clearest clues yet as to what kind of campaign Obama and outside groups will run against him if he’s the nominee.
Romney’s corporate background, as well as that infamous Bain picture, get top billing, and are tied to the allegation that Romney’s policies would be a boon to corporations while decimating the middle class. Obama advisers and allies intend to paint an extremely vivid and even frightening picture of what Romney’s desire to roll back Obama’s post-Bush reforms would mean for the economy, the country, and the future. Beyond his pro-corporate policies, the feeling on the Obama team is that Romney’s corporate past is an unexplored and potentially serious liability, particularly amid the intense anti-Wall Street sentiment that seems to be on the rise…..
You know how much I hate GOPolitico and how I hold my nose when I link to it – well, I’m holding my nose again because this article is worth reading: link
Quinnipiac: President Barack Obama’s job approval rating is up, from a negative 41 – 55 percent October 5, to a split today with 47 percent approving and 49 percent disapproving in a Quinnipiac University poll released today. The president has leads of 5 to 16 percentage points over likely Republican challengers.
…. “President Obama seems to be improving in voters’ eyes almost across-the-board,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “He scores big gains among the groups with whom he has had the most problems – whites and men. Women also shift from a five-point negative to a four-point positive.
….. Obama also is looking better in matchups against potential Republican nominees:
47 – 42 percent over Romney, compared to a 46 – 42 percentlead October 5;
52 – 36 percent over Perry, up from a 45 – 44 percent tie last month;
50 – 40 percent over Cain, who was not included in a matchup last month;
52 – 37 percent over Gingrich, who was not matched last month.
Nathan Allen, the man who received the letter from the President, has posted a comment under this post – thank you Nathan.
PNJ: Writing the president a letter is like writing to Santa Claus — you really don’t expect to get a response.
Nathan Allen, 26, of Pensacola wrote a letter last year to President Barack Obama to apologize for a sign he held up in front of Obama’s motorcade as it drove into Pensacola on June 14. The president was in town to get a firsthand look at how the BP oil spill was affecting the area. The sign read: “Mr. President, Why did you wait so long?”
Allen said he didn’t think President Obama would reply to the letter …. he received the surprise of a lifetime when he opened his mailbox about four weeks ago. Inside was an envelope from the White House that held a handwritten note from the president.
“I have to say that I have seen signs a lot worse, and part of my job is to take criticism,” Obama wrote.
….Allen said several months after he made the sign, he was reading Acts 23:1-5. He said the passages led him to believe he did the wrong thing by holding up the sign. Part of the passage reads: “You shall not speak evil of the ruler of your people.”
“Right when I read that, it kind of went straight to my heart,” Allen said. “I was like, ‘Shoot, I guess that’s kind of what I did.’ Yes, I have got freedom of speech, but as a Christian I need to be respecting the leader of my people.” Allen said he prayed, and he knew the only thing he could do to make things right was to write Obama.
“I just … told him I will be praying for him instead of holding signs on the side of the road from this point forward,” Allen said.