President Barack Obama waves to people gathered along the motorcade route from Osawatomie High School to Osawatomie-Paola Municipal Airport in Osawatomie, Kan., Dec. 6, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Paul Krugman: One crucial thing you need to understand about political journalists is that with some honorable exceptions, they don’t know or care about actual policy …
…. Hence, the awful decision of Politico to give Paul Ryan an award as healthcare policymaker of the year.
…. what became painfully, embarrassingly clear during the debate over the Ryan plan was that Ryan is, well, incompetent …. it’s true that the plan “got everyone talking”, as Politico says – but mostly it got people talking about what a mess Ryan’s effort was.
Oh, and it was pretty clear that Ryan wasn’t being honest about his own numbers.
What’s going on here, I suppose, is that Politico is mistaking theater for policy. Ryan isn’t an important health care reformer, or even minimally competent in his attempted wonkery, but he plays a deep thinker on TV. And the people at Politico either don’t understand the difference, or they don’t care.
President Obama returns to the White House after a visit to Kansas
Steve Benen: President Obama has decided that, from now on, foreign aid decisions will take into consideration how countries treat their LGBT citizens, and he directed U.S. agencies abroad to ensure our humanitarian and diplomatic efforts “promote and protect” the rights of gays and lesbians.
…. today’s announcement marks a historic first …. It also adds to a rather extraordinary record for Obama in this area in his first three years….
…. I realize there are still a sizable number of people in the LGBT community who are unsatisfied with the pace of change, and consider President Obama someone who has ignored, and even betrayed, their interests. Some have even vowed not to lift a finger to help with the president’s re-election effort.
I suspect many social-conservative activists find this inexplicable.
President Obama will record an interview with Jay Leno this morning – it won’t be shown until late night but NBC will release some excerpts in the afternoon
President Obama leaves Air Force One upon his arrival in Los Angeles on Monday
LA Times: President Obama opened an aggressive Western fundraising swing Monday, closing out the day in Los Angeles with an appeal to supporters to prepare for a grueling reelection effort.
At an intimate fundraising dinner in Hancock Park, Obama spoke softly to a few dozen supporters who had paid $35,800 each to greet him.
“I’ve said this before — this election will not be as sexy as the first one,” the president said. “Back then it was still fresh and new. I didn’t have any gray hair. Everybody loved the ‘Hope’ posters and all that. This time it’s — we’ve got to grind it out a little bit. We’ve got to grind it out. But the cause is the same. And my passion is the same. And my commitment is the same.”
The gathering, at the home of movie producer James Lassiter and his wife, Mai, was one of six events Obama had planned in three days of stops in Nevada, California and Colorado, as he kept up a torrid fundraising pace that is far surpassing that of the GOP presidential field.
Two Los Angeles gatherings Monday were celebrity-flecked, with the first including actor Will Smith and former Laker Magic Johnson. The second and larger event was at the home of actors Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas, with per-seat tickets starting at $5,000.
12:55 Delivers remarks at a Democratic National Committee reception in Detroit
3:45 Discusses access to healthy food with mayors from around the country in Chicago
4:50 Delivers remarks at a Walgreens in Chicago and visits Iron Street Urban Farms with Mayor Rahm Emanuel
6:40 Delivers remarks at a Democratic National Committee reception in Chicago
Today the administration will announce plans to create jobs for veterans continuing on President Barack Obama’s efforts to boost the economy through a series of executive actions.
“While we will continue to work with Congress to bring up the American Jobs Act piece-by-piece, we will increase our focus on taking executive actions that fight for the middle class because the American people simply can’t wait for the Republican Congress to act. … Today, we are announcing two new initiatives that will help create jobs for veterans at community health centers and expand opportunities for veterans to become physician assistants,” a White House official said.
The initiatives will be announced during a conference call with reporters at 10 a.m. today with Matt Flavin, director of the White House Veterans, Military Families and Wounded Warrior Task Force; HRSA administrator Mary Wakefield; and president of the National Association of Community Health Centers, Tom Van Coverden.
Steve Benen: …. Yesterday, President Obama unveiled a new, and almost certainly better, initiative as part of the White House’s “We Can’t Wait” campaign. The point to provide assistance to 1 million households, helping them refinance at today’s strikingly-low interest rates and lowering their mortgage payments.
There are, of course, concerns about the scope of the effort. It’s a modest program that won’t directly affect most of those underwater…. Still, Brian Beutler reports there are some experts who see cause for cautious optimism:
“Under the restrung HARP, I expect an additional 1.05 million [refinancings] through the end of 2012 and 1.6 million [refinancings] through the end of 2013 when the program ends,” said Moody’s top economist Mark Zandi in an email. “While HARP won’t live up to the initial expectations of 4-5 million in refinancings, the program will ultimately provide a meaningful boost to the broader economy as financially stressed households will benefit from much lower mortgage payments. It will also provide a bit of help to the housing market by forestalling some mortgage defaults.”
…. It’s a modest step, but at least it’s in the right direction. Coupled with other steps, we might even start to see some larger progress. It certainly beats watching Congress implode into an obstructionist mess.
Eugene Robinson: For the clueless or cynical diehards who deny global warming, it’s getting awfully cold out there.
The latest icy blast of reality comes from an eminent scientist whom the climate-change skeptics once lauded as one of their own. Richard Muller, a respected physicist at the University of California, Berkeley, used to dismiss alarmist climate research as being “polluted by political and activist frenzy.” Frustrated at what he considered shoddy science, Muller launched his own comprehensive study to set the record straight. Instead, the record set him straight.
“Global warming is real,” Muller wrote last week in The Wall Street Journal.
Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann and the rest of the neo-Luddites who are turning the GOP into the anti-science party should pay attention.
…… It is the know-nothing politicians – not scientists – who are committing an unforgivable fraud.