Charles Pierce: …. my fellow Papists … if you all would be so kind, please shut the fk up about birth control, abortion, and this neverending madness about what ladies do with their lady parts without the pope’s permission.
….. please stop going on my television set and telling me what “the Catholic position” is on the fact that the president has told various Catholic institutions – and told them quite gently, too – that, yes, if they want all those nice juicy tax advantages, they must abide by the federal law and, in their capacities as employers, make contraceptives available to their employees under the new Affordable Care Act.
There is no “Catholic position” on this issue. There are the opinions of the clerical bureaucrats and the members of the Clan of The Red Beanie, and then there is the opinion of the overwhelming majority of Catholic laypeople, who stopped listening to anything the Vatican said on the matter of birth control back in 1965.
…. For that matter, there is no real “Catholic vote” out there to be mined, either. A breakdown of how American Catholics vote on one particular issue or another pretty much tracks with how the country in general breaks down … Catholics made up their mind on this issue long ago. They stopped listening to Rome, and to the Chancery, and most of them are much better off.
Kevin Drum: …. I guess I’m tired of religious groups operating secular enterprises (hospitals, schools), hiring people of multiple faiths, serving the general public, taking taxpayer dollars – and then claiming that deeply held religious beliefs should exempt them from public policy …. I imagine the “religious community” in the United States would be a wee bit more understanding if the Obama administration refused to condone the practice.
…. if Catholic hospitals don’t want to follow reasonable, 21st century secular rules, they need to make themselves into truly religious enterprises. In particular, they need to stop taking secular taxpayer money. As long as they do, though, they should follow the same rules as anyone else.
Josh Kraushaar (National Journal): If President Obama wins re-election, he’ll point to the last couple of weeks as a turning point. He’s sharpened his economic message, emphasized fairness for the middle class, and most importantly, he’s benefited from an economy that’s showing some signs of improvement.
But the most underplayed development are signs that the president’s approval rating is ticking upwards with the group most resistant to him, non-college educated, working-class whites. Over the last week, several surveys have suggested that Obama is gaining some ground with this group, in both national and statewide polling. If these gains stick, it’s something that should be very concerning to the Romney campaign, which is dependent on winning overwhelming support from blue-collar white voters as part of a winning GOP coalition.
…. As Buffalo Springfield once sang: “There’s something happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear.” Pay very close attention to Obama’s numbers with the white working-class. The assumption was that they were hardened against the president. But there’s some fresh evidence that could be changing.
Bloomberg: President Barack Obama nominated Air Force Lieutenant General Janet Wolfenbarger to be the service’s first female four-star general and the military’s second woman to reach the highest rank.
Wolfenbarger, the Air Force’s top uniformed official for weapons development, was also nominated as commander of the Air Force’s Materiel Command, according to a Defense Department statement today. The positions are subject to Senate confirmation.
The first woman with four stars in the U.S. military, Army General Ann Dunwoody, was confirmed in 2008 and is commanding general of that service’s Materiel Command.
Obama Foodorama: Expect some hilarious Let’s Move! hijinks on Tuesday night when First Lady Michelle Obama cameos in a video segment on NBC talk show Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. The comic visited Mrs. Obama last week at the White House to film the outing, which will air as part of this week’s celebration of the second anniversary of the Let’s Move! campaign. Among other fitness activities, the First Lady had Fallon running up and down the historic White House stairs, he said when he announced the upcoming cameo…..
The Atlantic: The president of the United States reflects on what Abraham Lincoln means to him, and to America.
By Barack Obama
Lincoln is a president I turn to often. From time to time, I’ll walk over to the Lincoln Bedroom and reread the handwritten Gettysburg Address encased in glass, or reflect on the Emancipation Proclamation, which hangs in the Oval Office, or pull a volume of his writings from the library in search of lessons to draw.
Always thoughtful, always eloquent, Lincoln’s writings speak to me as they speak to so many Americans, reminding us what is best about ourselves and the Union he saved: that though we may have our differences, we are one people, and we are one nation, united by a common creed.
Charles Pierce: By now, everybody’s seen the America’s At Halftime commercial, featuring Clint Eastwood…. The general feeling is that the ad itself was a kind of endorsement of the president’s re-election bid, what with its emphasis on the recovery of the auto industry, which Willard Romney opposed in favor of letting the major automakers go bankrupt.
… The president can’t run on “It’s Morning In America.” He’d look foolish. He can, however, credibly run on the notion that the sky is getting a little brighter in the east. By contrast, more than a few people have noted that the Republicans in general, and Willard in particular, seem interested in running on “It’s Apocalypse In America,” gloomily drooping around the country as the people to whom they’re talking try desperately to feel optimistic again…..
National Journal: President Obama’s ad-makers may have to pay royalties to Clint Eastwood after a remarkable two-minute Chrysler commercial that aired on the biggest of all stages – the Super Bowl – and gave a pretty good preview of what the president’s reelection commercials might look like. At the very least, the ad and Eastwood’s powerful narration make it much, much more difficult for Republican front-runner Mitt Romney to keep pushing his line that Washington should have let the automakers go into bankruptcy.
And don’t think that Team Obama wasn’t watching the Super Bowl along with millions of other Americans and immediately grasped the boost they could get from the commercial. White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer quickly tweeted “Saving the America auto industry: something Eminem and Clint Eastwood can agree on.” Senior strategist David Axelrod tweeted “Powerful spot. Did Clint shoot that, or just narrate it?” Former White House aide Bill Burton tweeted, “Clinton Eastwood #winning.”
ABC: ….. Fifty percent of Americans in this new ABC News/Washington Post poll approve of Obama’s job performance, the most since spring. Fifty percent say he deserves re-election, better than Bill Clinton at the start of his re-election year and as good as George W. Bush a month before he won a second term. And Obama now leads Romney among registered voters by a slight 51-45 percent, the first time either has cracked 50 percent in a series of matchups since spring.
Two chief factors are at play. One is the economy’s gradual but unmistakable improvement, marked by the newly reported January unemployment rate of 8.3 percent, the lowest since a month after Obama took office. The president’s approval rating on handling the economy, while just 44 percent, is its best in 13 months.
Monday: PBO will attend meetings at the White House.
Tuesday: PBO will host the second White House Science Fair celebrating the student winners of a broad range of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) competitions from across the country. The President will also announce key steps that the Administration and its partners are taking to help more students excel in math and science, and earn degrees in these subjects. At the fair, the President will view exhibits of student work, ranging from breakthrough research to new inventions, followed by remarks to an audience of students, science educators and business leaders on the importance of STEM education to the country’s economic future.
Wednesday: PBO will attend meetings at the White House.
Thursday: PBO will host Prime Minister Mario Monti of Italy at the White House.
Friday: PBO will attend meetings at the White House.
Michael Tomasky (Daily Beast): It was somewhere between hilarious and pathetic to watch Republicans respond to the positive jobs report last Friday. Some friends and I were counting the minutes until some Republican started casting aspersions on the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which compiles and releases the data. Sure enough, by early Friday afternoon, Tea Party Congressman Allen West was saying (on the basis of no evidence of course) that “Americans need truth, not these number games.” West’s comment suggests a desperation that will spread if future reports are as good as last week’s, which raises the question of what the Republicans will do next to try to wreck the economy.
…. There are decent and honorable individual Republicans. Probably many of them. I even know some. But as a collective entity – as a party and a movement that includes the media wing and the base that boos a gay soldier at a debate and cheers executions – they are toxic destroyers, their minds infected by the idea that any cooperation with the president for the sake of the country is the moral equivalent of Munich (yes, with all that analogy implies). They will do anything. Nothing could be more just than to see a surprisingly low unemployment rate come November, with Republicans still insisting that black is white and that governance equals capitulation, and the public rewarding them accordingly.
USA Today: With U.S. forces still fighting in Afghanistan, the Obama administration has chosen to mark the end of the Iraq War with something more modest than a ticker-tape parade – a state-dinner-like event at the White House later this month feting a select group of combat veterans and their spouses or guests.
The core theme is the common fighting man or woman, said Douglas Wilson, Pentagon public affairs chief. The intent is for those invited – with guests, numbering more than 200 – to represent the 1.5 million who fought in a nine-year-war that left nearly 4,500 dead and 32,000 wounded, he said.
“The dining room that night will look like the America that served in Iraq,” Wilson said. “State dinners honor heads of state and I think the feeling was that this type of dinner is an appropriate way to honor men and women who … merit the same degree of respect as a head of state,” he said. The black-tie White House event to be called “A Nation’s Gratitude” may be unprecedented, Wilson said.