Bloomberg editorial: How exactly, according to Republicans, is President Barack Obama supposed to have caused the current economic malaise and high unemployment?
…. With remarkable unanimity, Republican leaders in Congress and the party’s presidential candidates have parroted a one-word explanation: “uncertainty”. While many political tropes are abused on a bipartisan basis the “uncertainty” lament is a largely Republican creation.
… there is no evidence that uncertainty has increased during the Obama presidency, or that, if it has, the president’s policies are responsible for it….
The charge of “creating uncertainty” is a way to blame Obama for the U.S.’s economic trials without having to explain the connection. In fact, if anyone in the political world is responsible for creating uncertainty, it is the Republicans. Look at last month’s debt-ceiling imbroglio, which left the world wondering whether the United States would even honor its debts – something that was never uncertain before. The decision to turn a routine vote to raise the debt ceiling into a high-stakes game of chicken was made by the Republican House leadership.
… In the campaign to be the party’s presidential nominee, candidates like Perry and Bachmann claim that Social Security is unconstitutional or that vaccines cause mental retardation. Would they really follow through on some of their wilder positions? If any of the top-tier Republican candidates is elected president – even Romney, who promises to repeal health-care reform on day one – we might all look back with longing on the calm, restful environment of the Obama administration.
Marine One, carrying President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, approaches for a landing on lower Manhattan September 19, in New York City. The President was heading to New York to attend the annual United Nations General Assembly
….. greeting Port Authority Police Officers at JFK International Airport
President Barack Obama will headline two fundraisers while he is in Manhattan for the U.N. General Assembly this week.
He will attend a $71,600-per-couple “small dinner” tonight at the Park Avenue home of prominent Democratic bundlers Jane Hartley and Ralph Schlosstein.
President Obama and the First Lady will host a gala event, complete with a performance by Alicia Keys, Tuesday night at Gotham Hall.
The first lady will also attend an event hosted by the Women for Obama finance committee. Co-hosted by DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the event will feature some of the biggest names in women’s rights, including feminist author Gloria Steinem, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards, Emily’s List President Stephanie Schirock, and leading pro-choice activist Nancy Keenan.
President Barack Obama signs the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010 at the U.S. Department of Interior in Washington, D.C., Dec. 22, 2010
Greg Sargent: It’s over: The United States Army has become the first branch of the armed services to formally end its “don’t ask don’t tell” policy. An announcement is expected for tomorrow, but my Post colleague Ed O’Keefe obtained the actual document sent to soldiers around the globe today announcing the change:
Today marks the end of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.” The law is repealed. From this day forward, gay and lesbian Soldiers may serve in our Army with the dignity and respect they deserve. Our rules, regulations and politics reflect the repeal guidance issued by the Department of Defense and will apply uniformly without regard to sexual orientation, which is a personal and private matter.
…. we expect all personnel to follow our Values by implementing the repeal fully, fairly and in accordance with policy guidance. It is the duty of all personnel to treat each other with dignity and respect, while maintaining good order and discipline throughout our ranks…..
Separately, the military has begun accepting applications from openly gay recruits…
….. even when repeal seemed within reach, success was anything but assured. It only came after a nearly pitch-perfect effort by Obama and the military leadership to create the political conditions necessary to bring about repeal, as well as well as some very shrewd public and private gamesmanship by Senate leaders that left GOP moderates with little choice but to do the right thing….
CNN: Texas Governor Rick Perry likes to brag that his state is an economic powerhouse. But don’t tell that to the nearly one in five Texans who are living below the poverty line.
…. Texas ranks 6th in terms of people living in poverty. Some 18.4% of Texans were impoverished in 2010, up from 17.3% a year earlier, according to Census Bureau data released this week. The national average is 15.1%.
And being poor in Texas isn’t easy. The state has one of the lowest rates of spending on its citizens per capita and the highest share of those lacking health insurance….
…. Some 550,000 Texan workers last year were paid at or below the federal minimum wage of $7.25, more than double the number making those wages in 2008 … for someone working full-time, that’s just over $15,000 a year before taxes, which is under the poverty line for a single parent with two children.
Some 9.5% of Texas’ hourly workforce are minimum-wage workers, the highest percentage in the nation – a dubious title it shares with Mississippi.
For residents living in poverty, the state doesn’t offer many services or even make federally-funded benefits easily accessible ..…. Experts chalk up the minimal services and take-up rates to Texas’ anti-welfare attitude. In the Lone Star State, you are expected to pull yourself up by your bootstraps. “The Texas mentality is you don’t ask for help,” Ferguson said…..
ThinkProgress: Rep. John Fleming (R-LA) appeared on MSNBC with Chris Jansing this morning to attack President Obama’s new deficit reduction plan, which includes some tax increases on the wealthy…..
Fleming is himself a businesses owner, so Jansing asked, “If you have to pay more in taxes, you would get rid of some of those employees?” Fleming responded by saying that while his businesses made $6.3 million last year, after you “pay 500 employees, you pay rent, you pay equipment, and food,” his profits “a mere fraction of that” – “by the time I feed my family, I have maybe $400,000 left over…..”
ThinkProgress: Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni, during a Knesset debate ahead of the Palestinian statehood bid at the UN, characterized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition as engaging in “diplomatic stupidity” and warned that government’s position is putting “the United States into a corner.” She placed blame for the current predicament at Netanyahu’s feet, observing:
“The United States is making sure it won’t be singled out but how are we helping ourselves? We now need to initiate the political process. (Prime Minster Benjamin) Netanyahu tried to prevent this and now the Palestinians are at the United Nations.”
Livni emphasized the importance of Israel’s friendship with the U.S., especially in light of the growing regional isolation faced by the Jewish state. She warned:
“Next to all these enemies Israel has friends, and at the top of that list is United States, who is willing to guarantee Israel’s security. They don’t understand Israel’s policy, they don’t understand why the stubbornness over settlements, they don’t believe the prime minister of Israel when he says ‘two states’ but doesn’t do anything about it. And this saddens me because I am a citizen of the state.”
While blasting Netanyahu’s policies and his intransigence in the peace process, she urged him to reverse course and save an increasingly untenable Israeli position…..
John Heilemann (NY Mag): Barack Obama is the best thing Israel has going for it right now. Why is that so difficult for Netanyahu and his American Jewish allies to understand?
The last time Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu shared each other’s company, you could say that the encounter did not go well – if by “not well” you mean abysmally. This was on May 20, the day after Obama gave his big speech on the Arab Spring …. Obama was furious with Netanyahu, who in choosing to ignore the crucial qualifier about land swaps had twisted Obama’s words beyond recognition – the kind of mendacious misinterpretation that makes the presidential mental.
The senior most members of Obama’s team felt much the same. Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Bob Gates, Bill Daley, the former Mideast-peace envoy George Mitchell: All were apoplectic with the prime minister, whose behavior over the past two years had already tried their patience…..
…. The premise of Obama’s approach to Israel all along has been straightforward. Given the demographic realities it faces …. our ally confronts a fundamental and fateful choice: It can remain democratic and lose its Jewish character; it can retain its Jewish character but become an apartheid state; or it can remain both Jewish and democratic, satisfy Palestinian national aspirations, facilitate efforts to contain Iran, alleviate the international opprobrium directed at it, and reap the enormous security and economic benefits of ending the conflict by taking up the task of the creation of a viable Palestinian state – one based, yes, on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed upon land swaps, with East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital.
The irony is that Obama – along with countless Israelis, members of the Jewish diaspora, and friends of Israel around the world – seems to grasp these realities and this choice more readily than Netanyahu does. “The first Jewish president?” Maybe not. But certainly a president every bit as pro-Israel as the country’s own prime minister – and, if you look from the proper angle, maybe even more so.