President Barack Obama waits as he is introduced for an event honoring the recipients of the 2011 National Medal of Science and National Medal of Technology and Innovation, in the Blue Room of the White House, Feb. 1, 2013. A bust of Christopher Columbus is seen at right. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Puerto Rico’s Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi and Sen. Carmelo Rios unveil a bronze statue of President Barack Obama, along the “Avenue of Heroes” outside the Capitol building, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Feb. 20. Puerto Rican officials unveiled statues of Obama and former President Lyndon B. Johnson. Every sitting U.S. president who has ever visited Puerto Rico is honored with a statue, dating back to Theodore Roosevelt. Obama became the eighth when he visited in June.
Steve Benen’s growing list of achievements by PBO’s administration on gay rights:
* announced it will not defend the constitutionality of statutes blocking same-sex military spouses from receiving marriage benefits
* successfully repealed the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law
* expanded federal benefits for the same-sex partners of executive-branch employees
* signed the Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law
* cleared the way for hospital-visitation rights for same-sex couples
* lifted the travel/immigration ban on those with HIV/AIDS
* ordered the Federal Housing Authority to no longer consider the sexual orientation of applicants on loans
* expanded the Census to include the number of people who report being in a same-sex relationship
* directed U.S. agencies abroad to ensure our humanitarian and diplomatic efforts “promote and protect” the rights of gays and lesbians
* endorsed repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act
* stopped trying to defend DOMA against federal court challenges
A carnival float depicts US President Barack Obama as Captain America during the traditional parade in Cologne, Germany, Feb. 20
Charles P. Pierce (Esquire): ….. Having aligned itself in the mid-1960′s with the angry remnants of American apartheid, the Republican party – and the conservative “movement” which is its only real energy – is now scrambling, one state at a time, to undo the achievements of the Civil Rights Movement on the wrong side of which it decided to place itself for political advantage…..
….. The shift is driven by the fact that people do not want black people, or poor people, or Democrats in general, to vote. This was obvious from the voter cadging in Florida in 2000, and in the mischief with the voting machine placements in Ohio in 2004. It was energized recently by the fact that black people and poor people helped elect a black person president, and a substantial portion of the Republican party and its conservative base found that to be an illegitimate outcome and has worked ever since his inauguration to delegitimize him on the grounds that he is a black man who was elected and is, therefore, not really president.
SmartyPants: One of the things that concerns me as we watch the Republicans revert to their old culture wars against women, people of color, gays & lesbians, poor people, unions, etc. is that we will all divide again into our camps to defend our root causes and forget the bigger picture that binds us. Other than fear, the right’s most effective weapon against us is division.
What will keep us united is to always remember the big picture of what’s happening. As I’ve been saying, keeping an eye on the forest means recognizing that the old white male heterosexual patriarchy is dying and the Republican Party is in chaos. What we can expect is that the old beast is going to strike out at anything it perceives as a threat and therefore the cause of its demise.
Carter Eskew (Washington Post): I was thinking of taking today off, but Rick Santorum wouldn’t let me.
Rick Santorum went and said another stupid thing. “The Earth is not the objective,” he told “Face The Nation.” “Man is the objective. And, I think a lot of radical environmentalists have it upside down.”
I think he says these things not because he is, in fact, stupid, but because he is angry, and anger fuels his supporters.
Ed Kilgore: A good deal of the excitement over the recent contraception coverage mandate has resulted from the hopes of Republicans, and the fears of some Catholic liberals, that the controversy could prove to be a “wedge issue” that would drive significant numbers of Catholic voters into the GOP column in November.
The assumption behind such scenarios, of course, is that there is a self-conscious “Catholic vote” that operates independently of the rest of the electorate, and that can be moved by the pronouncements of Catholic religious leaders.
My latest column for The New Republic examines this assumption, and finds it uncompelling in several respects: Catholic voters are remarkably similar to all voters in their partisan inclinations; they do not have any overall inclination to follow the Church hierarchy on hot-button cultural issues; and in fact, they are not responding differently from other Americans to the contraception coverage mandate controversy. “The Catholic Vote” looks just like America.
Tuesday: 11:35 AM – PBO hosts a payroll tax cut event, VP Biden also attends.
The President and First Lady will invite music legends and contemporary major artists to the White House for a celebration of Blues music and in recognition of Black History Month as part of their “In Performance at the White House” series.
Wednesday: The President will deliver remarks at the construction site of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Thursday: The President will travel to the University of Miami to continue to discuss his blueprint for an economy built to last.
Friday: The President will host Prime Minister Thorning-Schmidt of Denmark for a meeting in the Oval Office.
Reverend Keith A. Gordon: Blues fans, circle Monday, February 27th, 2012 on your calendars, ’cause we’re going to paint the White House blue! The Emmy Award-winning PBS series In Performance At The White House is going to document a historic celebration of the blues with a taping of a February 21st concert to be held in the East Room of the White House, the event hosted by President and Mrs. Obama in recognition of Black History Month.
In Performance At The White House program host Taraji P. Henson will oversee the concert, which will feature performances by Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews, B.B. King, Jeff Beck, Buddy Guy, Gary Clark, Jr., Keb’ Mo’, Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks, Shemekia Copeland, Warren Haynes, and Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger. Stax Records legend Booker T. Jones will serve as the concert’s music director and bandleader.
….. The concert will be streamed live (from 7:20) on the White House, Public Broadcasting, and Black Public Media websites….
TPM: President Obama and the Democrats have succeeded at convincing voters that Republicans are trying to delay economic recovery, according to a series of recent polls.
The new data suggests that about half the country, including a majority of self-identified independents, believe that congressional Republicans are using their political power to thwart Obama’s efforts to reduce unemployment, presenting Democrats an opportunity to make this argument more explicitly as the 2012 campaign moves forward – to undercut Republicans’ claims that Obama and the Dems bear full responsibility for the economy, and to make their pattern of obstruction a real liability for them.
WH: …. On Monday morning, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released a new report based on the Census Bureau’s new data which found that provisions passed as part of the Recovery Act directly lifted nearly 7 million Americans out of poverty in 2010 and reduced poverty for 32 million more. This is on top of 6 million people lifted out of poverty by these policies in 2009. And these numbers are conservative estimates that do not reflect the indirect benefits from the jobs created through these policies.
In contrast to this approach, Republicans in Congress opposed all of these measures and passed a budget that would both cut back on many of these programs and also convert them into block grants, which would prevent them from automatically expanding in hard times. Had we followed that path, many more Americans would be in poverty today.
Steve Benen: The new national Gallup poll shows where the race for the Republican presidential nomination currently stands.
1. Mitt Romney: 21% (up one point from October)
1. Herman Cain: 21% (up three points)
3. Newt Gingrich: 12% (up five points)
4. Rick Perry: 11% (down four points)
5. Ron Paul: 8% (no change)
6. Michele Bachmann: 3% (down two points)
7. Rick Santorum: 2% (down one point)
8. Jon Huntsman: 1% (down one point)
The development that will get the headlines, obviously, is the fact that Cain has caught up to Romney at the national level, and Gingrich’s recent bump that’s pushed Perry to fourth place.
But what I still find remarkable is Romney’s inability to put some distance between himself and the rest of the Republican field … He’s running against misfits, clowns, and con men, and Romney’s still stuck at 21%.
Reuters: President Barack Obama’s fortunes are improving slightly, although he would face a tough struggle for re-election next year if Mitt Romney were the Republican nominee, a Reuters/Ipsos poll said on Friday.
Forty-nine percent of Americans approve of the way Obama is handling his job as president, up from 47 percent in an October poll.
President Obama meets with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the White House, November 7
Steve Benen: …. I’m not in a position to evaluate the merit of the claims against Cain. I would note, however, that (a) the number of accusers matters; (b) it seems unlikely all four are part of a coordinated, 15-year campaign organized by the media, liberals, racists, the D.C. establishment, and Rick Perry.