President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden talk following a meeting in the Oval Office, March 2 (Pete Souza)
A gazillion thank yous to HZ for her wonderful comment (turned-in-to-a-post today at Tien Le’s excellent suggestion) – it was a joyful, constructive, positive breath of fresh air in the middle of all today’s madness. You’re a gem, HZ.
Robert Shrum: After Mini-Mitt’s diminutive three-point Michigan “triumph,” which was a little like a Roman general being hailed for a near defeat, how important is Ohio? To put it in Santorian terms, it could be apocalypse two; once more, as in Michigan, Mitt will have to avert the sun darkening and the sky falling on his presidential campaign.
President Barack Obama is introduced by Sec. of Interior Ken Salazar before delivering remarks at a conservation event at the U.S. Dept. of Interior in Washington, March, 2
President Barack Obama walks across the South Lawn upon his return to the White House after visiting wounded service members at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland
Mitt Romney holds up a baby from the audience at a campaign rally at Cleveland State University, March 2
Rick Santorum speaks during a campaign stop at Chillicothe High School on March 2, 2012 in Chillicothe, Ohio
First Lady Michelle Obama embraces members of the Johnson C. Smith ladies’ basketball team during a “Let’s Move!” physical fitness promotion between games at the CIAA basketball tournament in Charlotte, N.C.
TOD is up and running on YouTube again after today’s little, eh, setback. Just click the YouTube logo third from the top in the right sidebar and it’ll take you to the channel. I’ll add more of the old videos over the next few days. Hey, this YouTube channel might disappear too …. if it does, well, we’ll just start up another one
President Barack Obama is briefed by National Security Advisor Tom Donilon before a phone call with King Abdullah II of Jordan in the Oval Office, Jan. 6, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Chicago Tribune: Freddie Mac announced Friday that it was giving mortgage servicers the authority to offer up to 1 year of mortgage forbearance to unemployed homeowners who have Freddie Mac-backed mortgages.
The change, with takes effect Feb. 1, means loan servicers can offer six months of forbearance to jobless borrowers without Freddie’s approval and another six months with approval….
Fannie Mae is expected next week to announce guidelines that will align with the new ones at Freddie Mac. The expansions are the result of a directive from the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
ThinkProgress: The Affordable Care Act has done very well in court so far; three of the four courts of appeals to consider it have upheld the law…..
….Today, DOJ filed its brief defending the Affordable Care Act’s insurance coverage requirement, and with one sentence the Justice Department takes the plaintiff’s silliest and most successful argument off the table ….
…. This statement, that federal efforts to directly regulate the family, general crimes or education stand on much weaker constitutional footing than the ACA, is a very big deal. It shows that DOJ recognizes the only thing that even vaguely resembles a hole in their previous legal arguments, and that they have now sewn that hole up. When one of the justices asks them “if Congress can do this, what can it not do?” they will now have a clear and well-articulated answer.
With just one sentence in its brief, DOJ took away the last few straws the ACA’s opponents were desperately grasping at.
ThinkProgress: 20-Year Ban On Uranium Mining Near The Grand Canyon | Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is expected to announce a 20-year moratorium on uranium mining in the Grand Canyon region on Monday. The ban has been under consideration for two years, with evidence showing the mining contaminates drinking water. Last year, the most anti-environment House of Representatives attempted to permit uranium mining to overrun the Grand Canyon region, after a 2009 suspension from the Department of Interior.
Washington Post: Chrysler will add 1,250 jobs at two Detroit factories next year – another sign that the once struggling automaker appears to be making a comeback.
The Jefferson North Assembly Plant will get 1,100 new workers and a third shift to help build a Jeep Grand Cherokee diesel model for North America. Another 150 workers will be added when Chrysler reopens the Conner Avenue factory to make a Street Racing Team version of the Dodge Viper muscle car.
Robert Shrum: How about that Romney landslide? It turned out that in Iowa, the Mitt did fit — by two hands worth of votes, minus the thumbs. On paid media alone, Romney spent approximately $113 per vote and Rick Santorum spent just $1.65. The Romney campaign dared, and lost while winning. If Mitt had racked up a convincing margin, he would have been on a glide path to the GOP nomination. Instead, he won by a mere eight votes…..
Democratic presidential candidate Vermin Supreme, who is one of more than 40 candidates who are on the New Hampshire primary ballot for U.S. president in 2012, stands outside a campaign event for Senator Rick Santorum in Manchester, New Hampshire, January 6. New Hampshire, where candidates are required to do nothing more than fill out a form and pay $1,000 to sign up, typically attracts a wide range of candidates.
Philly.com: ….. In 2005, Santorum made headlines – not all positive – for visiting the deathbed of Terri Schiavo, the woman at the center of a national right-to-die controversy.What my Philadelphia Daily News colleague John Baer later exposed was that the real reason he was in the Tampa, Fla., area was to collect money at a $250,000 fundraiser organized by executives of Outback Steakhouses, a company that shared Santorum’s passion for a low minimum wage for waitresses and other rank-and-file workers. Santorum’s efforts were also aided by his unusual mode of travel: Wal-Mart’s corporate jet. And he canceled a public meeting on Social Security reform “out of respect for the Schiavo family” even as the closed fundraisers went on.
WH: On Tuesday, the President signed a number of bills …. which help ensure Americans can enjoy clean air, safe drinking water, and healthy wildlife.
These bills will curb lead levels in water pipes, a major source of harmful lead exposure for children, and help address diesel engine pollution that is linked to serious health conditions like asthma and heart and lung disease. They also hold the Federal Government accountable for the water pollution it contributes to American communities; encourage volunteer opportunities in National Wildlife Refuges; and help conserve vulnerable shark populations. These measures are just the beginning of what we can accomplish in 2011….
The President signed the following environmental bills into law:
H.R. 81, the “Shark Conservation Act of 2010 and International Fisheries Agreement Clarification Act,” which generally prohibits the removal of shark fins at sea and amends certain laws related to international fisheries;
H.R. 4973, the “National Wildlife Refuge Volunteer Improvement Act of 2010,” which reauthorizes and amends authorities relating to volunteer programs and community partnerships for national wildlife refuges;
H.R. 5809, the “Diesel Emissions Reduction Act of 2010,” which modifies and reauthorizes through FY 2016 the Environmental Protection Agency’s Diesel Emissions Reduction Program;
S. 3481, which clarifies the Federal Government’s responsibility to pay reasonable service charges to a State or local government to address stormwater pollution from Federal properties; and
S. 3874, the “Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act,” which modifies the Safe Drinking Water Act definition of “lead free” with regard to pipes, pipe fittings, plumbing fittings, and fixtures
Ken Salazar (Secretary of the Interior): I am in Florida today to announce an exciting initiative to conserve working lands and wildlife habitat in the Everglades headwaters.
The Everglades rural working ranch landscapes are an important piece of our nation’s history and economy, and this initiative would work to ensure that they remain vital for our future.
The partnerships being formed would protect and improve water quality north of Lake Okeechobee and restore wetlands which are so vital to the entire Florida economy. The proposed conservation area and refuge would also protect important habitat for 88 federal and state listed species, including the Florida panther, Florida black bear, whooping crane, and Everglade snail kite.
The Fish and Wildlife Service, along with its partners, is conducting a thorough, preliminary study to establish a new National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area of approximately 150,000 acres of important environmental and cultural landscapes in the Kissimmee River Valley south of Orlando. The proposed area includes 50,000 acres for potential purchase, and an additional 100,000 acres that could be protected through conservation easements and cooperative agreements, keeping the land in private ownership.
NPR: The Obama administration plans to reverse a Bush-era policy and make millions of undeveloped acres of land once again eligible for federal wilderness protection, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Thursday.
The agency will replace the 2003 policy adopted under former Interior Secretary Gale Norton, Salazar said. That policy — derided by some as the “No More Wilderness” policy — stated that new areas could not be recommended for wilderness protection by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and opened millions of acres in the Rocky Mountain region to potential commercial development.
That policy “frankly never should have happened and was wrong in the first place,” Salazar said Thursday.
Environmental activists have been pushing for the Obama administration to restore protections for potential wilderness areas.