Hey, Happy Birthday to two of my fave Pete Souza pics – President Obama with Senior Advisor David Axelrod following an event at the Costa Mesa Town Hall at OC Fair & Event Center in Costa Mesa, Calif., March 18, 2009
The Week Ahead:
Today: At 11:40 President Obama will announce his intent to nominate Thomas Perez as Labor Secretary. In the afternoon, he will deliver remarks at the Women’s History Month Reception in the East Room (4:40). The First Lady will also attend
Tuesday: In the morning, the President will meet Taoiseach Enda Kenny of Ireland in the Oval Office, and subsequently he will attend the traditional St Patrick’s Day lunch at the U.S. Capitol. During the day, the president will also greet First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness of Northern Ireland at the White House.
In the evening, the President and first lady will host a reception to celebrate their fifth St Patrick’s Day at the White House.
Later in the evening, the President will depart for Israel.
Wednesday: The President will have separate meetings with Israeli President Peres and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. He will also hold a joint press conference with Netanyahu.
Thursday: The President will meet with President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority and will tour a youth development center with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Fayyad. Later in the day, the President will deliver a speech to the Israeli people at the Jerusalem International Convention Center. He will also hold a joint press conference with Abbas.
Friday: The President with meet with King Abdullah II of Jordan and later will hold a joint press conference with Abdullah.
Saturday: The President will return to Washington, DC.
Independent (UK): Two senior Iraqi politicians told Western intelligence that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction on the eve of the 2003 invasion – but their warnings were ignored …
Vital intelligence used to justify the invasion of Iraq 10 years ago was based on “fabrication” and “wishful thinking”, the BBC Panorama documentary claims. While information from highly placed Iraqis was dismissed as unimportant if it indicated that Hussein did not have WMD, tip offs from low-ranking Iraqis were eagerly lapped up if they reinforced what George W Bush and Tony Blair wanted to hear, it is claimed.
Paul Krugman: Ten years ago, America invaded Iraq; somehow, our political class decided that we should respond to a terrorist attack by making war on a regime that, however vile, had nothing to do with that attack.
Some voices warned that we were making a terrible mistake — that the case for war was weak and possibly fraudulent, and that far from yielding the promised easy victory, the venture was all too likely to end in costly grief. And those warnings were, of course, right.
There were, it turned out, no weapons of mass destruction; it was obvious in retrospect that the Bush administration deliberately misled the nation into war. And the war — having cost thousands of American lives and scores of thousands of Iraqi lives, having imposed financial costs vastly higher than the war’s boosters predicted — left America weaker, not stronger, and ended up creating an Iraqi regime that is closer to Tehran than it is to Washington.
So did our political elite and our news media learn from this experience? It sure doesn’t look like it…..
Washington Post: President Obama will formally nominate assistant U.S. Attorney General Thomas E. Perez as the next labor secretary on Monday, White House officials said, marking the first Latino selection to Obama’s second-term Cabinet.
Perez, 51, a first-generation Dominican American, is a former Montgomery County Council member who has overseen the civil rights division in the Justice Department since 2009. If confirmed, he would replace Hilda Solis, who resigned in January.
Steve Benen: Last week, President Obama sat down with George Stephanopoulos, and when the discussion turned to the national debt, the president shared a simple fact: “We don’t have an immediate crisis.”
For reasons unclear, the comment was not well received by Republicans and many in the media, with some suggesting a bipartisan debt-reduction agreement may be dependent, at least in part, on Obama saying the opposite.
But then a funny thing happened. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan unveiled his budget plan, and it also conceded there is no immediate debt crisis. Yesterday, House Speaker John Boehner made the same concession to Martha Raddatz…..
Greg Sargent: GOP officials, unwilling to concede anything in new revenues to reach a compromise that would replace the sequester, have taken to claiming that the sequester is a “victory” for them, since they wanted spending cuts all along. But is being the party of austerity-only-and-forever really a sustainable long term position?
A Republican pollster is now warning his fellow Republicans that it isn’t…..
Business Insider: Republican strategist Karl Rove took a big swipe back at former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin on Sunday, a day after Palin mocked him during a rousing speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference.
…. “I appreciate her encouragement that I ought to go home to Texas and run for office,” Rove said on “Fox News Sunday.”
“I would be enthused if I ran for office to have her support ….. if I did run for office and win, I would serve out my term and I wouldn’t leave office midterm.”
2:45 ET: Michelle Obama speaks at a campaign event at Ohio Wesleyan University, Delaware
5:45 ET: Michelle Obama speaks at a campaign event at Cuyahoga County Community College, Cleveland
NYT Editorial: There are many unanswered questions about the vicious assault in Benghazi last month that killed four Americans, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. And Congress has a responsibility to raise them. But Republican lawmakers leading the charge on Capitol Hill seem more interested in attacking President Obama than in formulating an effective response.
It doesn’t take a partisan to draw that conclusion. The ugly truth is that the same people who are accusing the administration of not providing sufficient security for the American consulate in Benghazi have voted to cut the State Department budget, which includes financing for diplomatic security. The most self-righteous critics don’t seem to get the hypocrisy, or maybe they do and figure that if they hurl enough doubts and complaints at the administration, they will deflect attention from their own poor judgments on the State Department’s needs.
Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport, October 13 (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
Washington Post: President Obama is regarded as significantly more honest and trustworthy than Mitt Romney in a new Washington Post-ABC News poll — a finding that could inform the incumbent’s strategy heading into the second debate of the general election Tuesday night.
Fifty-five percent of likely voters said that Obama is “honest and trustworthy,” while 41 percent said he was not. For Romney, on the other hand, 47 percent said he could be described as honest and trustworthy, while an equal 47 percent said that he could not.
…. But in the handful of swing states identified by the Post (along with Democratic-leaning Ohio), Obama’s lead is even more pronounced on the question. Fifty-six percent of swing-state voters said the incumbent is honest and trustworthy, while just 44 percent said the same of Romney.
Virginia Gazette: …. The president arrived at the office, where he came into the lobby carrying a stack of pizzas …. he introduced himself to a small group of campaign workers in the lobby before heading into a back room, where 11 volunteers were phone banking. Obama introduced himself to the volunteers before taking a seat between Alexa Kissinger and Suzanne Stern to make his own phone calls to local volunteers. “I’ve got to get to work,” Obama said.
After joking with Stern about “old school” phones Obama …. then called Ellen and Chuck Hawkins. “Is this Ellen?” Obama asked. “Ellen this is Barack Obama.” Hawkins seemed not to believe she was getting a call from the president of the United States.
“It is. It is. Really, truly,” Obama said. “I’m over here in the Williamsburg office. They have told me some of the great folks that have been doing work, and I know you and Chuck have been working so hard.”
After making phone calls Obama, shook hands with and hugged a line of roughly 20 volunteers standing outside in front of the office, before heading back to Kingsmill to continue preparing for the debate.
With campaign volunteer Suzanne Stern at a campaign office in Williamsburg, October 14 (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
…. greeting supporters outside the Williamsburg campaign office (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
NYT: BOSTON — When the ceiling collapsed in the Big Dig tunnel here, Gov. Mitt Romney was at his vacation home in New Hampshire. When the Bush administration warned that the nation was at high risk of a terror attack in December 2003, he was at his Utah retreat. And for much of the time the legislature was negotiating changes to his landmark health care bill, he was on the road.
During Mr. Romney’s four-year term as governor of Massachusetts, he cumulatively spent more than a year – part or all of 417 days – out of the state, according to a review of his schedule and other records. More than 70 percent of that time was spent on personal or political trips unrelated to his job, a New York Times analysis found.
Reuters: U.S. retail sales rose in September as Americans bought more cars and gasoline, while a gauge of consumer spending pointed to stronger-than-expected economic growth in the third quarter.
Retail sales increased 1.1 percent, the Commerce Department said on Monday, beating expectations after an upwardly revised 1.2 percent rise in August.
…. The details of the report showed broad strength across retailers, with sales of motor vehicles and parts up 1.3 percent … Other categories were also strong, with sales at electronics retailers up 4.5 percent, while sales at food and beverage stores rose 1.2 percent.