President Obama speaks during a news conference on Republican obstruction of Richard Cordray’s nomination to head the CFPB, Dec 8
Steve Benen: Two months after the Senate Banking Committee approved Richard Cordray as the new director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Senate leadership brought the nomination to the floor this morning. Republicans refused to allow a vote …. It’s hard to overstate how outrageous today’s filibuster really is.
…. It’s all part of the normalization of extortion politics. Traditionally, if the GOP wanted to alter the powers of the CFPB, it would write legislation, send it to committee, bring it to the floor, send it to the other chamber, etc. But that takes time and effort, and might not work. Instead, we see the latest in a series of GOP extortion strategies: Republicans will force Democrats to accept changes to the agency, or Republicans won’t allow the agency to meet its legal mandate…..
The President is pre-taping interviews with WISH (Indianapolis, IN), KSNV (Las Vegas, NV), WREG (Memphis, TN) and WCHS (Portland, ME) today
Steve Benen: We generally look to the first Friday of every month for new unemployment figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but every Thursday morning, the Department of Labor releases a report on initial unemployment claims.
And this morning, the news is very good:
The number of people filing for state unemployment benefits for the first time fell 23,000 to the lowest level since late February, the government said Thursday. The Labor Department said claims fell to a seasonally adjusted 381,000 last week. The level of initial claims in the week ended Nov. 26 was revised up by 2,000 to 404,000.
The consensus expectations were for a slight drop, which makes the sharp drop that much more encouraging…..
Steve Benen: Politico has a piece today on Senate Democrats’ outrage over Republican obstructionism, as evidenced by Tuesday’s filibuster of judicial nominee Caitlin Halligan and today’s expected filibuster of CFPB nominee Richard Cordray. As Dems see it, GOP abuses are setting a new standard — which Democrats will take advantage of the next time they’re in the minority.
…. Republicans respond that these current tactics aren’t new, and the Politico article tells readers the GOP argument is sound.
…. This isn’t a subjective question on which the parties are entitled to different opinions. There are objective, often quantifiable, answers to the points Politico and Republicans are raising: are GOP senators “replicating” Democratic tactics? Were Dems abusing Senate rules in the Bush era to the same degree that Republicans are abusing them now?
The answer to both is “no,” and the false equivalence does little to advance the discussion.
Steve Benen: Most of the Affordable Care Act won’t take effect for a few years – and if court rulings and the 2012 elections go a certain way, it may not take effect at all – but there’s already evidence that the reform law is working.
It’s making a big difference in providing coverage for young adults; it’s providing treatment options for women like Spike Dolomite Ward; and it’s slowing the growth in Medicare spending.
It’s also, as Jonathan Cohn explained, saving seniors quite a bit of money on prescription medication…..
President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper arrive to speak in the South Court Auditorium on the White House, Dec. 7
President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada talk backstage at the South Court Auditorium in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building following their joint press conference, Dec. 7, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
CBS: President Barack Obama will appear on “60 Minutes” in an interview with Steve Kroft to be broadcast Sunday, Dec. 11 at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
Steve Kroft interviewed the president on Tuesday in Kansas after he delivered an economic speech in the small town of Osawatomie. President Obama will talk to Kroft again tomorrow at the White House for Sunday’s report.
Jamelle Bouie (Prospect): …. If political courage is defined by the willingness to suffer politically for the sake of good public policy, then Affordable Care Act stands as a testament to the president’s political courage.
Which is why I also have no idea what National Journal’s Josh Kraushaar is talking about when he writes the following: “One of President Obama’s political weaknesses in his first term has been that he’s all-too-willing to avoid making tough decisions…..” …. Even if you don’t include the Affordable Care Act – and I don’t see why you wouldn’t – this is demonstrably false….
…. One of the strangest things about the current political moment is the extent to which mainstream pundits routinely act as if crucial moments in the Obama presidency never happened … Chris Matthews demands more ambition from Obama, despite the fact that he ran hard to pass a piece of social legislation that rivals the Great Society programs in size and scope.
It’s one thing for pundits to err in their judgment – it happens to the best of us – it’s something else entirely for them to ignore reality and blame the president for his failure to conform to their magical world.
John Avlon (Daily Beast): Mitt Romney’s Campaign Is Becoming a Sinking Ship – New polls show that Newt Gingrich’s surge is hurting Mitt Romney where it counts. The game isn’t over, but time is running out for Mitt to turn it around.
The horses are getting spooked in the Romney camp. His poll numbers are plummeting in state after state, while Newt Gingrich is soaring across the board.
One reflection of the rising tension was an awkward interview with Bret Baier, in which the normally unflappable Mitt Romney got rattled by fair questions. It revealed the irritability of a man accustomed to being in control who’s watching his plans fall apart in public.
Mitt’s aura of inevitability is fading because his strategy is failing.
Joe Klein (Time): …. Romney’s press office has just put out this statement about the President and Israel: (see post) …. The other inaccuracy is the notion that Obama wants Israel to return to its 1967 borders. He doesn’t. He wants the 1967 borders, with mutually agreed upon land swaps, to be the basis for peace negotiations. Somehow, Romney neglects to mention the land swaps.
The fact is, Obama’s policy toward Israel has been in line with that of every US President since Nixon …. The fact is that US-Israeli military and intelligence cooperation, especially when it comes to sabotaging Iran’s nuclear program, has never been greater.
…. It is very much unprecedented for a candidate for President to side with a foreign leader against the American President. But given their warped disrespect for this particular President, it has become disgracefully common among Republicans this year. One would hope that Romney, as one of the few plausible Republican candidates, would eschew such cheesy behavior … would not misrepresent Obama’s positions on foreign policy so gleefully. But, if this race continues to slip away from him, I suspect that’s exactly what we’ll continue to see.
First Lady Michelle Obama waits with Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg in the Green Room of the White House before making remarks to the White House Historical Association, Oct. 31. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
This is excellent:
GOPolitico: Anchors from nine local television affiliates will spend a day behind the scenes at the White House on Tuesday, meeting with top officials and getting brief individual interviews with President Obama before broadcasting evening newscasts from the South Lawn.
“Live from the White House” is a 21st-century update to the “radio row” tradition, which brought talk-show hosts to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to interview West Wing officials going from microphone to microphone during their drive-time shows.
The White House is building risers on the South Lawn for the evening newscasts, which are being spread out by time zones – three from the East, two from Central, one from Mountain and two from Pacific.
The anchors will get to ask White House press secretary Jay Carney a question during the daily press briefing; have lunch with senior adviser David Plouffe; interview a White House staffer from each station’s home market; get an on-camera tour with a White House curator; and tour the White House kitchen garden with Sam Kass, White House assistant chef and policy adviser.
The ringmaster is Josh Earnest, principal deputy White House press secretary, who said the mission is “to increase interest and raise the profile of the president’s efforts to strengthen the economy and create jobs in local communities across the country, and explain to Americans how their communities will benefit from the president’s agenda.”
The stations and their anchors will be from Portland, Ore. (KGW, NBC, Tracy Barr); Phoenix (KSAZ, Fox, John Hook); Denver (KUSA, NBC, Adele Arakawa); Minneapolis (WCCO, CBS, Amelia Santaniello); Houston (KTRK, ABC, Dave Ward); Omaha (KETV, ABC, Rob McCartney); Tampa (WTVT, Fox, Mark Wilson); Hampton Roads (WAVY, NBC, Tom Schaad); and Philadelphia (WPVI, ABC, Brian Taff). A 10th participant will be Nikole Killion, representing Hearst stations.
“The highlight of the day will be an opportunity to briefly interview the President from the Cabinet Room about the American Jobs Act,” Earnest said. “The anchors will also interview Cabinet secretaries … about how the bipartisan proposals included in the president’s American Jobs Act would create jobs in their community and put money in the pocket of every single American worker and small business owner.”
Also tomorrow: The President has a ceremony at which he’ll sign a proclamation – which the White House will identify later tonight … discusses legislative strategy with House Democratic Leaders ….. welcomes the crew of the final space shuttle mission to the Oval Office ….. The First Lady holds a Let’s Move event for children In New Orleans and does fundraisers in New Orleans and Houston …. On Wednesday the President will push for $60 billion in new spending in an 11:25 am ET speech in front of the Key Bridge at Georgetown’s Waterfront Park in Washington, DC.
AP: President Barack Obama is in excellent health and tobacco free, his doctor said Monday in the results of the president’s second physical exam since taking office.
In the two-page report released by the White House, Dr. Jeffrey C. Kuhlman also said Obama is physically active, eats a healthy diet, stays at a healthy weight, and on occasion drinks alcohol in moderation.
“The president is in excellent health and ‘fit for duty’,” Kuhlman wrote. “All clinical data indicate he will remain so for the duration of his presidency.”
….. The president is 6-foot-1 and weighs 181.3 pounds, according to the report. His blood pressure was recorded at 107 over 71, up from 105 over 62 in February 2010, but still well within the normal range.
…. The president also has “periodic physical therapy” to deal with recurrent upper right back pain, and he had benign skin tags removed from his neck.
Eugene Robinson: Responding to his insurgent campaign’s first crisis, Herman Cain was upbeat and defiant. “To quote my chief of staff and all the people around this country, ‘Let Herman be Herman,’ ” he said Monday. “And Herman is gonna stay Herman.”
I was afraid of that.
Cain’s policy positions range from the ignorant to the unworkable to the just plain goofy – and yet he is running first or second in most polls for the Republican presidential nomination. He trumpets his utter lack of government experience as a selling point and boasts of not knowing foreign leaders’ names. If through some bizarre series of events he were actually elected president, the result would surely be an unmitigated disaster.
It’s not yet clear whether this remote possibility has been made even more unlikely by reports that Cain faced allegations of sexual harassment from two female employees when he headed the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s.
…. He needs to answer more questions about the alleged harassment …. I hope he does, because we’re running out of bandwidth. Cain’s famous “9-9-9” tax plan would be ruinous. He wants to privatize Social Security. He believes that “extensive foreign policy experience” is not something a president needs, since when he was named chief executive of Godfather’s Pizza, “I had never made a pizza – but I learned.”
So many reasons to oppose this loopy candidacy, so little time.
Once upon a time…… my Mom & Dad…… both born in TX, were Depression babies…
My Dad grew up on a farm outside a small Texas town with a funny name that didn’t even have a stop sign, and volunteered for duty during WWII as every young man of the time did. He shipped off to Italy, and while attempting to save a wounded friend at a very horrid battle where the Axis had stored some munitions in a church, my Dad’s friend stepped on a land mine.
My father woke up in a military hospital in North Africa with a gaggle of doctors standing over him. One Dr asked, “What’s your name soldier?” To which my father told them his name. All the doctors were surprised, and began talking amongst themselves for a bit. The Dr then asked my father, “What day is it?” My Dad thought, hmmm… I’m obviously wounded, so it’s probably been a couple of days, so he said, “Thursday, the 22nd.” The doctors were absolutely shocked by that response and began a rather heated exchange within their group, then finally the main Dr asked my father, “What month?” To which my father answered, “Oh shit.”
My father had had amnesia for almost a month. He was injured in February, and woke up in March, and had answered correctly because March mirrors February as long as it’s not a leap year.
He was sent stateside to recuperate in San Antonio at Fort Sam Houston.
My mother was from the big city of San Antonio. At 17, because all the men had all gone off and enlisted, went with her two older sisters, lied about her age and the three of them joined the WACs because that was where the boys were.
She met my Dad at a USO dance, while he was an out-patient from an Army psych unit because of the amnesia. So the crazy hick from the country married the Big City girl a month later, and my mother was found out to be a minor, and honorably discharged.
I was a very very late baby. My parents had given up, after my Down’s Syndrome brother died, and my mother suffered a miscarriage. They went to Reno one weekend and had WCMS* and POOF – a daughter.
My mother passed the day after Thanksgiving in 1999, with my father passing six months later from a broken heart.
They were both buried at Riverside National Cemetery with full military honors.
I never received my Condolence letter from President Clinton, and didn’t think to make the call until Bush Jr was in the White House. I told the person who answered the phone that I’d prefer Clinton’s signature since they passed during his Presidency, and was told that it would be the sitting POTUS. I said, “Never mind, I’ll wait.” I knew my parents would have been appalled by a Bush signature.
I waited eight years, and finally put in the request the week Obama took the oath. I told that story to four people since they kept transferring me, “I want you to tell your story to my superior, hang on….” I ended up with several copies for both my Mom & Dad.
I know my parents would be very proud I waited, and would be extremely proud of Obama.