President Barack Obama signs a Presidential Memorandum directing Labor Secretary Tom Perez to modernize overtime protections. He is bypassing Congress and ordering changes in overtime rules so employers would required to pay millions more for extra time they put in on the job.
Edward Snowden, a twenty-nine-year-old former C.I.A. employee and current government contractor, has leaked news of National Security Agency programs that collect vast amounts of information about the telephone calls made by millions of Americans, as well as e-mails and other files of foreign targets and their American connections. For this, some, including my colleague John Cassidy, are hailing him as a hero and a whistle-blower. He is neither. He is, rather, a grandiose narcissist who deserves to be in prison.
…. he describes himself as appalled by the government he served … what, one wonders, did Snowden think the N.S.A. did? ….
…. he wasn’t blowing the whistle on anything illegal; he was exposing something that failed to meet his own standards of propriety. The question, of course, is whether the government can function when all of its employees (and contractors) can take it upon themselves to sabotage the programs they don’t like. That’s what Snowden has done.
1:40: President Obama delivers remarks calling on Congress to stop interest rates on student loans from doubling on July 1
NYT Editorial: The political feud between the White House and Congressional Republicans has now culminated in a House oversight committee vote to cite Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. for criminal contempt. His supposed crime is failing to hand over some documents in an investigation of a botched gunrunning sting operation known as “Fast and Furious.”
The Republicans shamelessly turned what should be a routine matter into a pointless constitutional confrontation. And the White House responded as most administrations do at some point: it invoked executive privilege to make a political problem go away.
…. Mr. Issa has relished making this investigation a political fight….There was no reason the House committee and the Justice Department could not work out a deal to produce the documents requested, or some form of them. Instead, they show again that every issue, large or small, can be turned into ammunition for political combat.
TPM: Mitt Romney’s campaign asked Florida Gov. Rick Scott to downplay his state’s job growth after several press releases from the governor’s campaign and messages from the Florida Chamber of Commerce trumpeted gains for the month of May, according to Bloomberg News.
Florida’s unemployment rate dropped from 8.7 percent in April to 8.6 percent in May, though still significantly above the national rate of 8.2 percent.
A Romney adviser reportedly requested that Scott’s office say that Florida’s unemployment rate could improve faster under a Romney presidency….
The development is perhaps one of the clearest examples of the messaging predicament the Romney campaign finds itself in …. when you ask Republican governors how things are going, especially in swing states, the economic picture starts to brighten considerably…
Steve Benen: ….. the Huffington Post’s Sam Stein asked whether Romney supports the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and the campaign aides, after a painfully long delay, had no idea.
These weren’t trick questions. This was, after all, a call about women’s issues. It was organized by the Romney campaign, so it’s not as if these staffers could say they were caught off guard by extraneous and unrelated issues. Presumably, these folks prepared for their own telephone press conference.
Romney has cited a misleading statistic, and his aides couldn’t defend it. Romney has said current policies are keeping women from getting more jobs, and given three separate chances to say something coherent, his aides couldn’t explain what would change if the former governor is elected president. Were they not expecting these kinds of question?
…. Welcome to the general election, Mitt. I think you’ll find it’s a little more difficult than going up against Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum.
TPM: Mitt Romney’s having a terrible time turning the tables on Democrats. But his camp’s claim that President Obama is the one waging the “real war on women” is best debunked visually.
….. male employment and female employment have nearly returned to the levels they were at when Obama took office. And if Obama is waging a war on women, he’s doing a poor job of it. Despite these setbacks, female labor force participation remains near its historic high.
Greg Sargent: I’m glad to see that there’s been a moderately aggressive media response to Mitt Romney’s latest falsehood: The claim that 92 percent of the people who have lost jobs on Obama’s watch are women.
The argument, which his campaign is now making regularly, is central to Romney’s effort to win back women who were apparently alienated by the primary.
The assertion has now been debunked by Politifact, the Post’s Glenn Kessler, and NBC’s Domenico Montanaro.
ThinkProgress: As part of its bizarre strategy of blaming President Obama for the GOP’s “war on women,” the Romney campaign released statements today from two Republican Congresswomen, Reps. Mary Bono Mack (R-CA) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA). The statements correctly note that women have been hit particularly hard by job losses in recent years, but misleadingly lay the blame for those losses on Obama, just as Romney himself has been doing recently.
…… their concern for pay equity and women in the workplace must be a recent development. Both congresswomen voted against the landmark Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009…..
Don’t miss Liberal Librarian’s latest post at The People’s View: The “Reagan Rule” and the GOP crackup
PPP: Barack Obama’s opened up a 13 point lead on Mitt Romney in Colorado at 53-40. He’s gained 11 points in the state since December when he led just 47-45.
The formula for Obama’s gains is the same in Colorado as it is everywhere. He’s getting more popular and Romney’s getting less popular. In December only 45% of voters approved of the job Obama was doing to 50% who disapproved. Now he’s on positive ground with 50% giving him good marks to 47% who think he’s doing a poor job. The main thing that’s changed is Democrats really rallying around him. In December he was at 76/18 with them, but now it’s 89/8. The party is getting a lot more unified as the election comes closer.
Romney’s headed in the other direction. His net favorability has gone from -18 (35/53) to an even worse -29 (31/60) …. he’s extremely unpopular with independents at 25/65.
PPP: Mitt Romney may have effectively wrapped up the GOP nomination with Rick Santorum’s withdrawal yesterday, but PPP’s newest North Carolina poll really shows how much Romney was hurt by the process with Barack Obama as the ultimate beneficiary.
President Obama now leads Romney by 5 points in North Carolina, 49-44. That’s the largest lead we’ve found for him in monthly polling dating back to November of 2010. Obama has a 51-38 advantage with independents and is particularly strong with women (54-39), African Americans (90-7), voters under 30 (61-33), and folks in the Triangle (60-33).
The Republican nomination process has taken a huge toll on Romney’s image in North Carolina. In February of 2011 voters in the state were almost evenly divided on him with 37% rating him favorably to 39% who had a negative opinion of him. Now that spread is a dreadful 29/58….
He was actually popular with independents at 45/36 last winter, now he is incredibly unpopular at 25/62.
ThinkProgress: According to several experts in Florida law, Sean Hannity could be compelled to testify about his conversations with George Zimmerman. Tamara Lave, a professor of criminal law at the Universtiy of Miami who also practiced as a public defender for 10 years, told ThinkProgress it’s a “no brainer.”
Under Florida Law, there is a “qualified privilege” for journalists that protects their conversations with sources. But this privilege can be overcome, per Florida Evidence Code 90.5015….
Don’t forget Michelle Obama on The Colbert Report tonight
Florida Atlantic University, April 10
People look at their pictures with First Lady Michelle Obama as Mrs. Obama continues to greets guests at the Joining Forces Community Challenge event on the South Lawn of the White House, April 11. (Official White House Photo by Sonya N. Hebert)
First Lady Michelle Obama participates in a tug of war with Jimmy Fallon in the Blue Room of the White House during a “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” taping for the second anniversary of the “Let’s Move!” initiative, Jan. 25. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
** NBC tonight at 12:35 am ET **
AP: The number of available jobs in the United States jumped in December to near a three-year high, supporting other data that show a brighter outlook for hiring.
Companies and governments posted 3.38 million jobs in December, the Labor Department said Tuesday. That’s up from the 3.12 million advertised in the previous month and nearly matches the three-year high reached in September. Job openings in the private sector reached the highest point in almost three and a half years.
…. The report on job openings follows Friday’s optimistic employment figures. Those showed employers added 243,000 net jobs in January, and the unemployment rate fell to 8.3 percent.
….. It generally takes one to three months for employers to fill job openings. December’s big jump in postings is likely one reason January’s jobs report was healthy. But it also suggests job growth may continue in the coming months.
Steve Benen: For months, Republican presidential candidates have been eager, if not desperate, to accuse President Obama of waging a “war on religion”….
…. Mitt Romney seems to have settled on a policy to match the attack: the Obama administration’s decision to require coverage of contraception as preventive care under the Affordable Care Act is, according to the former governor, an “attack on religious liberty”.
…. As a substantive matter, Romney’s lying. The administration’s policy already exempts churches and other houses of worship and “doesn’t require any individual or employer to violate a religious belief – it simply ensures that their employees with different beliefs have the same access to birth control as all other women.”
…. he’s not only lying; he’s also denouncing Obama for adopting a policy similar to one Romney used to support …. as governor, a previous iteration of Romney required all Massachusetts hospitals, including Catholic hospitals, to provide emergency contraception to rape victims.
USA Today: Pundits and bishops warn President Obama he could lose the white Catholic vote over requiring a contraception option for insurance plans. But Catholic women say they want birth control covered in employee health plans.
…. The Catholic bishops, backed by conservative evangelicals, say the Obama administration shouldn’t include contraception coverage as part of free preventive care options in employers’ health insurance plans …. here’s where the Catholic women come in. According to the Public Religion Research Institute poll released today:
….58% of all Catholics agree employers should be required to provide their employees with health care plans that cover contraception. That slides down to 52% for Catholic voters, 50% for white Catholics.
… the numbers might bring pause to pundits mulling the “Catholic vote”.
Steve Benen: For months, Republican super PACs have been raising vast sums from wealthy donors …. the political world, however, hasn’t heard much from Democratic super PACs, which have raised far less money.
That will apparently soon change … Jim Messina argued overnight that the Obama campaign just doesn’t have a choice.
He added that Republican super PACS, in aggregate, are “expected to spend half a billion dollars, above and beyond what the Republican nominee and party are expected to commit to try to defeat the President.” That may sound like hyperbole, but it’s a reasonable estimate. The Koch brothers alone are prepared to spend $100 million later this year to defeat Obama.
…. Democrats had a choice: stick to principle, refuse to play by the new rules, and make defeat far more likely, or level the playing field …. The only surprise here is that anyone would be surprised by the decision.
NYT: The delicate Karl Rove said he was “frankly, offended” …. (by)…. the Chrysler ad that Clint Eastwood narrated, which many people who don’t share Mr. Rove’s political worldview thought was rather uplifting.
…. he suggested the words were dictated by “the President of the United States and his political minions,” who bailed out Detroit with taxpayer dollars. It’s just another example of “Chicago-style politics,” he said, whatever that means.
The White House said it had nothing to do with the ad, but it had a great deal to do with Detroit’s resurgence, and that’s what’s really offensive to Mr. Rove and other Republicans. They’d prefer to drown out the good news coming from the carmakers, such as these recent headlines…