On This Day: President Barack Obama consoles a woman at the Joplin Community Memorial Service at Missouri Southern University in Joplin, Mo., May 29, 2011. The President delivered remarks during the service for those impacted by the deadly tornado that struck Joplin on May 22, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Today (All Times Eastern)
11:10: President Obama delivers remarks at the White House Healthy Kids & Safe Sports Concussion Summit, East Room
12:30: Jay Carney briefs the press
2:55: The President participates in a clinic as part of the Concussion Summit, South Lawn
E.J. Dionne Jr: Obama Outlines A Doctrine Where Restraint Makes Us Stronger
By laying out a long-term foreign policy vision in a speech at West Point on Wednesday, President Obama challenged his critics, at home and abroad, not to speak in vague terms about U.S. “decline” or “weakness” but to answer the question: Exactly what would you do differently? This is as close as we have gotten to an Obama Doctrine, and here it is: The United States “will use military force, unilaterally if necessary, when our core interests demand it — when our people are threatened; when our livelihoods are at stake; when the security of our allies is in danger.”
But in other cases, “when issues of global concern do not pose a direct threat to the United States . . . we should not go it alone.”…. the president’s critics [have] an obligation to answer his challenge. Those who believe that the United States should underwrite a world order friendly to our values and interests need to accept that the promiscuous deployment of U.S. troops abroad is the surest way to undermine support for this mission at home. In calling for restraint and realism — and by insisting on raising the threshold for wars of choice — Obama may yet prove himself to be the best friend American internationalists have.
There was a moment at the height of the Cuban missile crisis in October 1962 when Soviet ships approached to within just a few miles of a U.S. naval blockade and then, at the last minute, turned back — prompting then-Secretary of State Dean Rusk to utter one of the most famous lines from the Cold War: “We’re eyeball to eyeball, and I think the other fellow just blinked.”
The crisis in Ukraine never threatened a Cold War-like nuclear Armageddon, but it may be the first case of post-post-Cold War brinkmanship, pitting the 21st century versus the 19th. It pits a Chinese/Russian worldview that says we can take advantage of 21st-century globalization whenever we want to enrich ourselves, and we can behave like 19th-century powers whenever we want to take a bite out of a neighbor — versus a view that says, no, sorry, the world of the 21st century is not just interconnected but interdependent and either you play by those rules or you pay a huge price. In the end, it was Putinism versus Obamaism, and I’d like to be the first on my block to declare that the “other fellow” — Putin — “just blinked.”
Hunter Walker: Maya Angelou’s Son Shares The Most Important Lesson His Mother Taught Him
According to writer Guy Johnson, his mother, the late poet and author Dr. Maya Angelou, never gave him advice about his craft. Though Angelou didn’t guide his writing, Johnson said he learned many other lessons from his mother.
Johnson shared some of the most important things Angelou taught him and discussed some of his final memories of her in a conversation with Business Insider hours after her death Wednesday, at age 86. Johnson said the main thing he learned from Angelou is that “life’s complexity cannot be taught in a classroom.”
Angelou’s final conversation with her son took place over the phone Tuesday. Johnson said she was “laughing” and in “good spirits.” Johnson described his mother’s “mission” as focused on spreading “respect” and combatting racism. “It had to do with teaching people that we have to give respect to each other and respect this planet … that we are more alike than we are unalike … and that racism is a foolish and divisive construct,” Johnson said.
Steve Benen: Turning The Conventional Wisdom On Its Ear
It was just a few months ago that the political world took solace in a few obvious facts. The Affordable Care Act was failing; it stood no chance of meeting its enrollment projections; and Republicans would use “Obamacare” as a cudgel for the rest of the year, beating Democrats who would no doubt try to change the subject.
That was then; this is now. All of a sudden, the ACA looks like a great success; the system has already exceeded its enrollment projections; and Democrats are suddenly willing to take the offensive on the issue they were supposed to avoid…the GOP strategy to date — vow to repeal Obamacare and mumble platitudes about replacing it with something or other that does all the things in it that people like – is a bust…. The repeal crusade is over. The right lost. It’s heartening to see the conventional wisdom start to catch up.
Simon Maloy: GOP’s New Obamacare Strategy: Why Their “Repeal” Cries Have Suddenly Shifted
As benefits take hold, Republicans’ message falls victim to the inevitable onset of nuance. A moment of silence, if you please, for the Republican “repeal Obamacare” message. It’s not dead yet, but it has fallen victim to a deadly terminal illness: nuance. The Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire blog delivered the diagnosis this morning, noting that the Republican candidate field, as it transitions out of primary season, is discovering that simply calling for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act is not the winning strategy that it was once assumed to be.
The millions of people who gained coverage through the ACA, and would stand to lose it were the law to be scuttled, obviously would like to know what comes next. “Republicans won’t back off their push to repeal the law,” Washington Wire notes, “but the message is likely to be more nuanced, said Bill McInturff, a Republican pollster who has long studied the politics of health care.” “Nuance” in this sense means that Republicans are going to start using terms like “fix” and “reform” alongside (or in place of) “repeal.”
Michael Kelley: Edward Snowden Says The US Stranded Him In Russia – Here Are 4 Problems With That Claim
Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden told “Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams in Moscow that he “never intended to end up in Russia.” The 30-year-old asserts that the U.S. State Department stranded him in Moscow after he arrived from Hong Kong on June 23. There are several issues with the claim that the U.S. stranded Snowden in Russia. Here are the most glaring: 1. Snowden couldn’t have left Russia because he had no valid travel documents when he landed at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport.
The U.S. revoked Snowden’s passport the day before he left. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange then acquired an unsigned Ecuadorian travel document — ostensibly for safe passage to Latin America — that was void when Snowden landed in Moscow. 2. WikiLeaks told him to go to Russia and stay there. Assange told Janet Reitman of Rolling Stone magazine in December that he advised Snowden against going to Latin America because “he would be physically safest in Russia.” WikiLeaks, who advised Snowden in Hong Kong while paying for his lodging and travel, reiterated the statement on May 1.
The Senator’s latest election-trail mistake? Vowing to repeal Obamacare while disingenuously promising to protect his state’s own Obamacare-funded health-care exchange, which serves 413,000 Kentuckians. Here’s why all the super-smart insidery people privately say they think that in the end, Alison Lundergan Grimes will not beat Mitch McConnell in Kentucky. Her strategy, they say, is to keep it close, keep her distance from Obama, hold her own in debates, try to match him attack ad for attack ad, and just hope McConnell makes a mistake.
And the super-smart people agree: You may admire or loathe McConnell, but if he’s proven one thing in umpteen elections, it’s that he doesn’t make mistakes. That’s what the insiders say. There’s just one problem with it. McConnell has made about a mistake a week so far! He’s run an awful campaign. And he’s given anybody no reason at all to think he won’t just keep making them.
President Barack Obama has provided House Speaker John Boehner with a final deadline of sorts for moving immigration reform legislation through the House of Representatives. A White House official confirmed Obama asked Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to delay his completion of a review of U.S. deportation policies until the end of the summer. The White House said this would give Boehner more time to act because Obama believes there is still a “window” of opportunity for immigration reform legislation to pass in the House. Some advocates believe the House could pass immigration reform legislation after the end of Republican primaries, in which immigration has become a thorny issue. “The President’s priority is to enact a permanent solution for people currently living in the shadows and that can only come with immigration reform,” a White House official said in an email.
“Legislation should also continue to strengthen our border security, modernize the legal immigration system, and hold employers accountable. He believes there’s a window for the House to get immigration reform done this summer, and he asked the Secretary to continue working on his review until that window has passed. There’s a bipartisan consensus. It’s time for them to act and the President didn’t want the discussion of the Secretary’s review to interfere with the possibility of action in the House.” In March, Obama directed Johnson to lead an administrative review of whether deportation policies could be made more “humane,” a move aimed at reassuring immigration activists. It is largely expected Obama will take unilateral action to lessen deportations if Congress doesn’t act. Potomac Research analyst Greg Valliere said Obama’s message was clear. “If you fail to act, deportation policy will be liberalized; if you want to negotiate, deportations are on the table — your choice,” Valliere wrote in a research brief this morning.
Brian Beutler: Mitch McConnell’s Dangerous, Deceptive Retreat From Obamacare Repeal
It took the winding down of GOP primary season for the Republican Party’s increasingly incoherent position on the Affordable Care Act to attract national media attention, and nobody did more to thrust it under the press’ nose than Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell — the original gangster of anti-Obamacare absolutism. This will only strike you as ironic if you ignored ACA’s stunning successes in Kentucky, and the uncompromising demands of McConnell’s primary, as they unfolded simultaneously.
Now as a general election candidate, he must square his root-and-branch repeal position with the inescapable fact that full repeal would reverse those successes and leave nearly a half a million newly covered Kentuckians without health insurance. On Friday, McConnell attempted to obscure this obvious conundrum by claiming the fate of Kynect — the state’s popular and prosperous online insurance exchange — is “unconnected” from the fate of the ACA statute itself. I surmised by implication that McConnell was actually playing a far more deceitful game.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce just came out with its preemptive strike against Obama administration regulations on power plants. What the Chamber wanted to do was show that the economic impact of the regulations would be devastating. And I was eager to see how they had fudged the numbers.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the diatribe. The Chamber evidently made a decision that it wanted to preserve credibility, so it outsourced the analysis. And while it tries to spin the results, what it actually found was that dramatic action on greenhouse gases would have surprisingly small economic costs.
When we began our Let’s Move! initiative four years ago, we set one simple but ambitious goal: to end the epidemic of childhood obesity in a generation so that kids born today will grow up healthy. To achieve this goal, we have adhered to one clear standard: what works. The initiatives we undertake are evidence-based, and we rely on the most current science. Research indicated that kids needed less sugar, salt and fat in their diets, so we revamped school lunch menus accordingly. When data showed that the lack of nearby grocery stores negatively affected people’s eating habits, we worked to get more fresh-food retailers into underserved areas. Studies on habit formation in young children drove our efforts to get healthier food and more physical activity into child care centers.
Today, we are seeing glimmers of progress. Tens of millions of kids are getting better nutrition in school; families are thinking more carefully about food they eat, cook and buy; companies are rushing to create healthier products to meet the growing demand; and the obesity rate is finally beginning to fall from its peak among our youngest children. So we know that when we rely on sound science, we can actually begin to turn the tide on childhood obesity. But unfortunately, we’re now seeing attempts in Congress to undo so much of what we’ve accomplished on behalf of our children.
Chicago Tribune: First Lady To Appear At Keel-Laying Ceremony For USS Illinois
First Lady Michelle Obama will appear at a ceremony next week that recognizes the start of construction on a submarine named after her home state. At the June 2 keel-laying ceremony, the first lady will deliver remarks and meet the USS Illinois’ crew and their families, according to a release issued today from her office. Obama is also the “official sponsor” of the USS Illinois. She will chalk her initials on a metal plate that will later be mounted on the submarine, the release stated.
USA Today: White House Designates 12 ‘Manufacturing Communities’
The Obama administration named one dozen new “Manufacturing Communities” on Wednesday that will receive federal help for plans to try and attract global businesses. The Manufacturing Communities Partnership, launched in September, brings federal agencies together with local officials to develop strategies “that strengthen their competitive edge in attracting global manufacturers and their supply chains,” the administration said.
The 12 local communities are:
— Southwest Alabama led by the University of South Alabama
— Southern California led by the University of Southern California Center for Economic Development
— Northwest Georgia led by the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission
Andy Borowitz: Obama Defends Controversial Policy Of Not Invading Countries For No Reason
President Obama raised eyebrows with his West Point commencement address Wednesday by offering a defense of his controversial foreign-policy doctrine of not invading countries for no reason. Conservative critics were taken aback by Obama’s speech, which was riddled with incendiary remarks about only using military force for a clearly identified and rational purpose.
Obama did not shy away from employing polarizing rhetoric, often using words such as “responsible” and “sensible” to underscore his message. Harland Dorrinson, a fellow at the conservative think tank the Center for Global Intervention, said that he was “stunned” to see Obama “defend his failure to engage the United States in impulsive and random military adventures.”
Coral Davenport: President Planning To Be Planning To Use Executive Authority On Carbon Rule
President Obama will use his executive authority to cut carbon emissions from the nation’s coal-fired power plants by up to 20 percent, according to people familiar with his plans, and will force industry to pay for the pollution it creates through cap-and-trade programs across the country. Mr. Obama will unveil his plans in a new regulation, written by the Environmental Protection Agency, at the White House on Monday. It would be the strongest action ever taken by an American president to tackle climate change and could become one of the defining elements of Mr. Obama’s legacy.
Cutting carbon emissions by 20 percent — a substantial amount — would be the most important step in the administration’s pledged goal to reduce pollution over the next six years and could eventually shut down hundreds of coal-fired power plants across the country. The regulation would have far more impact on the environment than the Keystone pipeline, which many administration officials consider a political sideshow, and is certain to be met with opposition from Republicans who say that Mr. Obama will be using his executive authority as a back door to force through an inflammatory cap-and-trade policy he could not get through Congress.
Today we have a big break in the Case of the Pathologically Dissembling Senate Minority Leader. As you know, Mitch McConnell has been struggling to articulate his position on the Affordable Care Act, ever since he laughably declared that the fate of Kentucky Kynect — the state exchange that has signed up over 400,000 people for coverage and is more popular than the hated Obamacare — is “unconnected” to his push to repeal the law.
His subsequent clarification only obfuscated matters more. Now, however, the McConnell campaign has issued a new statement to Post fact checker Glenn Kessler that, in effect, abandons his commitment to repeal. In the statement, a McConnell spokesman suggests he might largely retain the Medicaid expansion, which has expanded coverage to hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians.
Sen. Obama speaks at the Medical Education and Biomedical Research Facility at the University of Iowa May 29, 2007 in Iowa City. Obama introduced his plan to reduce health care costs and ensure affordable health care for all Americans.
NBC video and sound crews capture footage of the “First Dog” in the Rose Garden outside the Oval Office for their prime-time broadcast “Inside the Obama White House,” May 29, 2009 (Photo by Samantha Appleton)
President Obama takes a walk down the street from his Chicago home accompanied by his daughter Sasha, May 29, 2010
…. accompanied by his mother-in-law Marian Robinson
The President visited Joplin, Mo., following a devastating tornado. Here he greets Hugh Hills, 85, in front of his home. Hills told the President he hid in a closet during the tornado, which destroyed the second floor and half the first floor of his house. May 29, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama greets residents during a tour of neighborhoods impacted by the deadly tornado in Joplin, Mo., May 29, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama is greeted by Father Justin Monaghan at a memorial service on the campus of Missouri Southern State University during a visit to the community that was devastated by a tornado in Joplin, May 29, 2011
First Lady Michelle Obama greets Sherri Shepherd of “The View” at the show’s studio in New York, N.Y., May 29, 2012 (Photo by Sonya N. Hebert)
President Obama talks with Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Toni Morrison in the Blue Room of the White House, May 29, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Novelist Toni Morrison and President Obama share a moment after she was presented with a Presidential Medal of Freedom during an East Room event May 29, 2012 at the White House
Bob Dylan is presented with a Presidential Medal of Freedom
President Obama talks to the pilots aboard Marine One after landing at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, May 29, 2013 (Photo by Pete Souza)
On This Day: President Obama waits to be introduced at a fundraiser in Los Angeles on May 27, 2009. (Photo by Pete Souza)
Today (all times Eastern)
11:15: The President views Science Fair projects, State Dining Room
11:45: Delivers remarks at the White House Science Fair, East Room
1:0: Jay Carney briefs the press
* The First Lady is hosting a discussion with school leaders on nutrition (don’t have the time for the event yet)
The Week Ahead
The President travels to West Point, New York to deliver the commencement address at the United States Military Academy at West Point
The President will host a summit at the White House on youth sports safety and concussions, where he will be joined by stakeholders, including young athletes, parents, coaches, experts, professional athletes, and military service members. At the White House Healthy Kids and Safe Sports Concussion Summit, the President will announce new commitments by both the public and private sectors to raise awareness about how to identify, treat and prevent concussions, and conduct additional research in the field of sports-related concussions that will help us better address these problems
The President will attend a hurricane preparedness meeting at FEMA Headquarters
National Memo: VoteVets Chair Jon Soltz: Critics Demanding Shinseki Resignation Are ‘Hypocrites’
Jon Soltz is a co-founder and chairman of VoteVets, a political advocacy group with over 200,000 supporters that is the largest progressive organization of veterans in the United States – and has produced some of the most effective advertising in the last several election cycles…..
Joe Conason: How bad are the problems at the VA?
Jon Soltz: The problems at the VA have always been there. At times they’ve been worse than others. I think part of the reason we’re seeing the backlog right now is that President Obama has opened up the claims process [in the VA health care system] to a lot of people. So he made it easier for a lot of people to make claims. Under previous administrations, you used to have to fight to make a claim if you were a Vietnam veteran affected by Agent Orange, or a Gulf War veteran with Gulf War syndrome…..
Conason: Do you believe that General Eric Shinseki, the VA Secretary, should resign — as some veterans groups have demanded?
Soltz: The only veterans organization making that demand is the American Legion. Nobody else has. I find that hypocritical because they supported a bill that was in the Senate – the $21 billion veterans package sponsored by Senator Bernie Sanders – and it was stopped by Mitch McConnell, yet they haven’t called for Mitch McConnell to resign. So there’s obviously a lot of partisan politics here. The issue with General Shinseki is [that] he was right about the Iraq War. It’s sort of unconscionable to fire somebody who is now trying to clean up the mess that was left by a prior administration: All of these new Iraq and Afghanistan veterans were not created by Barack Obama and his administration.
Steve Benen: Vets to Burr: ‘You clearly represent the worst of politics’
For Republicans, the politics of the VA scandal were pretty straightforward. All GOP officials had to do was express outrage – an emotion that spanned the partisan and ideological spectrum – and demand that the White House improve the system through which veterans receive care.
But Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), the ranking Republican on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, apparently couldn’t leave well enough alone.
The conservative Republican, who never served a day in the military, decided it’d be a good idea to start condemning veterans’ groups that had not yet called for VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign….
It’s hard to know what Burr was thinking. Perhaps the senator assumed he could pressure the veterans’ groups, bullying them into calling for Gen. Shinseki’s ouster. But if that was the Republican’s strategy, it became clear over the weekend that Burr’s gambit did not go according to plan.
Jonathan Cohn: Obama’s New Rules for Coal Plants Are a B.F.D. The Ensuing Political Fight May Be Even Bigger
Conventional wisdom holds that second term presidencies rarely yield accomplishments and that this second term president, in particular, has lost the ability to get much done. In one week, President Obama has a chance to prove that the conventional wisdom is wrong.
And he can do it while helping to stop the planet from cooking.
On June 2, Obama will to unveil a new set of federal regulations on power plants, designed primarily to keep coal-fired plants from spewing so much carbon into the atmosphere. The hope is that these new regulations will slow down climate change—at first incrementally, by reducing emissions from existing plants in the U.S., and then more dramatically, by providing the Administration with more leverage to negotiate a far-reaching, international treaty on emissions from multiple sources.
Along with other steps the administration has taken, like setting higher fuel standards for cars and trucks, the new regulations could make climate change action one of Obama’s signature achievements—something historians will cite alongside Obamacare, rescue of the auto industry, and the Recovery Act.
ThinkProgress: Lawmakers Push For Background Checks After Victim’s Family Slams NRA
After Christopher Michaels-Martinez, 20, died in a shooting near University of California, Santa Barbara, his father blamed the pro-gun lobby’s “craven, irresponsible” politics for preventing legislation that could have saved Christopher’s life. Seven people, including the shooter, died Friday.
“Our family has a message for every parent out there: You don’t think it will happen to your child until it does,” an anguished Richard Martine told reporters. “Why did Chris die? Chris died because of craven, irresponsible politicians and the NRA. They talk about gun rights. What about Chris’s right to live? When will this insanity stop? When will enough people say: ‘Stop this madness. We don’t have to live like this?’ Too many have died. We should say to ourselves: Not one more.”
At least five lawmakers and officials have joined the anguished father’s call to confront the NRA, reviving demand for congressional action on gun violence.
President Obama is planning to travel to a Native American reservation in North Dakota in June, a rare visit by a sitting U.S. president to Indian country, according to officials familiar with the plans.
The Obama administration has supported a series of measures to improve the welfare of Native Americans. The president has also signed the Tribal Law and Order Act to address the high crime rate in tribal communities and the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013, which included a historic provision to allow the nation’s 566 federally recognized tribes to prosecute non-Indians who commit certain crimes of violence against Native women.
@WhiteHouse: “Today, we pause to remember our fallen troops, to mourn their loss & to pray for their loved ones.” — President Obama
UK Independent: European elections 2014: Will surge in support for far right parties bring down the EU and its governments?
So is the bloc’s implosion just a matter of time?
Hardly. Despite the blustering rhetoric from Ms Le Pen and Nigel Farage, pro-European forces still dominate the 751-seat parliament.
The centre-right European People’s Party has 213 seats in current projections, and the Socialists and Democrats group – which includes Labour MEPs – has 190 seats. Combine that with the 117 seats shared between the Liberals and the Greens, and there is a clear majority of moderates. These parties are also united in their abhorrence of the extreme right, so have extra incentive to form alliances to block the influence of the fringe parties.
Who exactly are these fringe parties that have made the gains?
Sen. Obama greets supporter Peggy Pound of Nevada after speaking about home foreclosures at the College of Southern Nevada May 27, 2008
President Obama waits backstage to speak at a fundraiser in Los Angeles, May 27, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama speaks at a fundraiser in Los Angeles, May 27, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama is reflected in a mirror as he speaks at a fundraiser in Los Angeles, May 27, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama sits in a pilot seat while talking with Sen. Harry Reid before speaking at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas on May 27, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama appears in front of a bank of solar panels as he speaks about using American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds to invest in solar energy May 27, 2009 at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, Nevada
President Obama receives a jersey from players Brian Zoubek and Jon Scheyer of the Duke Blue Devils during a Rose Garden event May 27, 2010 at the White House
President Obama greets veterans following a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Warsaw, Poland, May 27, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama greets community leaders and Holocaust survivors after a wreath laying ceremony at the Warsaw Ghetto Memorial in Warsaw, Poland, May 27, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)
From left: First Lady Michelle Obama; Brenda Linnington, the wife of U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Michael S. Linnington, the commanding general of the Military District of Washington; Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel; Hagel’s wife, Lilibet; Deanie Dempsey; and Dempsey’s husband, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stand by as President Barack Obama, second from right, and Linnington, right, arrive for a Memorial Day wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery, May 27, 2013
President Obama hugs a relative of a family member buried at section 60 in Arlington Cemetery, May 27, 2013
First Lady Michelle Obama greet visitors to Section 60 on Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetery, May 27, 2013
MoooOOOooorning! Completely ran out of time so missing lots of news – will try to catch up through the day.
Greg Sargent: The President is set to hold another event today urging the House GOP to support the Senate payroll tax extension compromise…. A White House official emails that Obama today “will be joined by Americans who would see their taxes go up if the House Republicans fail to act”.
Washington Post: House Republicans faced mounting pressure Wednesday from critics inside and outside Congress who worry that their standoff with President Obama over whether to extend a payroll tax cut could do lasting damage to the GOP.
… The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board captured the frustration among Republicans in the paper’s Wednesday editions, asking whether the GOP’s handling of the tax debate “might end up re-electing the President before the 2012 campaign even begins in earnest.”
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said the House GOP must get past the issue. “Are Republicans getting killed now in public opinion? There’s no question,” he said Wednesday on CNBC. “Both Republicans and Democrats have agreed that this is going to happen, and probably the best thing to happen now is just to get it over with.”
Marketwatch: The number of Americans filing initial claims for regular state unemployment-insurance benefits fell 4,000 to a seasonally adjusted 364,000 in the week ended Dec. 17, reaching the lowest level since April 2008, the Labor Department reported Thursday.
Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had expected that claims would rise to 375,000, while remaining at levels historically associated with an improving labor market.
The four-week average of initial claims – a smoother gauge than the weekly data – fell 8,000 to 380,250, the lowest level since June 2008.
Steve Benen: It’s generally wise to avoid sweeping conclusions about week-to-week changes in data like this, but when these jobless claims fall below the 400,000 threshold, it’s evidence of an improving jobs landscape. When the number drops below 370,000, it suggests jobs are actually being created rather quickly.
Michael Tomasky: President Obama has had an awful year. But thanks to the politically asinine miscalculations of House Republicans, he’s ending 2011 with a bang.
For a bunch of people who don’t believe that Barack Obama celebrates Christmas, Republicans sure are going out of their way to make sure the president has a merry one. The short-sighted stupidity of the House Republicans is hardly to be believed. The presidential nomination contest is as unsettled as ever and still features a bunch of candidates who are about as appealing to most Americans as Aunt Gladys’s fruitcake.
…. It’s all a reminder that Obama won’t be running just against a Republican candidate. He’ll be running, as he has been, against a Republican Congress. And the public is finally getting the message that they are breathing a different kind of air from the rest of us.
Paul Krugman: David Roberts reports on the EPA’s decision, finally, to regulate mercury from coal plants … it will save tens of thousands of lives every year and prevent birth defects, learning disabilities, and respiratory diseases. This is actually a much bigger issue, when it comes to saving American lives, than terrorism.
…. The point that strikes me most, however, is that this shows that it matters who holds the White House. You can complain about Obama’s lack of a strong progressive agenda, which I sometimes do, or wonder what good it is to hold the White House when the other side blocks every attempt to do good through legislation. But mercury regulation would not have happened if John McCain were president.
Elections have consequences, and this is one delayed consequence of 2008 that will make a big difference.
TPM: While Republican leaders gathered in Speaker John Boehner’s Capitol office Wednesday morning for a photo op with reporters – hectoring Democrats and making the case that they’re on the right side of the payroll tax fight – an unusual scene played out on the House floor.
In an attempt to illustrate just who’s at fault for the payroll tax stalemate Minority Whip Steny Hoyer showed up to ask for a vote on the Senate’s compromise bill. Republicans could have simply objected and given Hoyer his talking point. Instead they gave him so much more.
Republicans just ignored Hoyer and refused to hear his unanimous consent request. The fill-in Speaker simply walked away.
Greg Sargent: In a speech late yesterday, Mitt Romney accused President Obama of trying to use government to “create equal outcomes.” Romney argued that Obama wants to create an “entitlement society,” in which “everyone receives the same or similar rewards, regardless of education, effort, and willingness to take risk.” He made a concerted case that under Obama’s ideal vision, everyone will “get the same rewards.”
This is a Big Lie – it has nothing whatsoever to do with anything Obama has ever said, proposed or accomplished. And many liberal writers have noted today that this is Glenn Beck-level craziness, suggesting that Romney is willing to say and do anything to win.
CNN: Most Americans agree with the decision to end the war in Iraq, according to a CNN/ORC International poll released Wednesday. Almost eight in ten said they support removal of combat troops from that country by the end of this year.
…. President Obama announced the full withdrawal of troops from Iraq by the year’s end in October. Now, two-thirds say they oppose the war and more think the U.S. made a mistake sending troops to Iraq in the first place 53% to 46% over those who do not think it was a mistake.
Steve Benen: It’s not uncommon for the Obama administration to do something worthwhile. Once in a while, though, the administration does something very worthwhile that will have a major impact on society.
Dave Roberts (‘New EPA mercury rules are a bona fide Big Deal’) has a helpful piece today on the EPA’s new national standards for mercury pollution from coal- and oil-fired power plants – the first of their kind – which he described as “a Big Deal” and an instance in which “history is being made.”
….. When we talk about separates a Democratic administration from a Republican one, there are no greater reminders about the differences than measures like these.
If recent history is any guide, this encouraging news won’t get quite as much attention as it deserves, and that’s a shame. Obama’s critics on the left expect developments like these, and don’t make a fuss to congratulate the administration for progress they’d like to be routine….
You may know me as the tall guy who followed Barack everywhere he went.
As the President’s body man for the last four years, it’s been my privilege to help him with whatever he needs: making sure he’s on time, finding some food when we’re on the road, or playing a quick game of basketball (he won, mostly).
Of course, this also means I’ve also eaten many, many meals with him.
So first of all, I just want to say thanks for supporting the Obamas and being part of this campaign. It means a lot, not only to the President, but to all of us who’ve worked by his side.
Two: I kind of love this “Dinner with Barack and Michelle” contest. You all have to do this.
Washington Post: The Environmental Protection Agency took the unusual step of revoking a permit Thursday for the country’s largest surface mine, a setback for the controversial practice of “mountaintop removal” that helps produce 10 percent of the nation’s coal.
The 2,300-acre operation at the Mingo Logan Coal Co.’s Spruce No. 1 coal mine in West Virginia has been mired in litigation since 1998.
The EPA’s decision could affect dozens of other mining projects across Appalachia, where firms have been blasting the peaks off mountains for years to reach coal seams and then depositing the remaining rubble in surrounding valleys. While the federal government issued permits for hundreds of these activities under the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations, the EPA adopted new environmental guidelines in April and is now reviewing 33 other pending permits.
The EPA’s assistant administrator for water, Peter S. Silva, said the Spruce No. 1 coal mine … “would use destructive and unsustainable mining practices that jeopardize the health of Appalachian communities and clean water on which they depend.”
…The EPA used its authority under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act – which it has used only 12 other times in its history – to argue that the subsequent valley fills would harm the area’s water quality, habitat and wildlife.