First Lady Michelle Obama claps along with students as they sing during her visit to Burgess-Peterson Academy in Atlanta, Ga., Feb. 9, 2011 (Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
The Week Ahead:
Sunday: The President has no public events scheduled.
Monday: The President welcomes President Hollande of France to Washington for a State Visit. They will tour Monticello, the residence of Thomas Jefferson, one of the United States’ earliest envoys to France.
Tuesday: The President and First Lady will officially welcome President Hollande with an arrival ceremony, after which the Presidents will have a bilateral meeting and press conference. That evening, the President and First Lady will host a State Dinner for President Hollande.
Wednesday: The President will attend meetings at the White House.
Thursday: The President will attend meetings at the White House.
Friday: The President will deliver remarks at the House Democratic Issues Conference in Cambridge, Maryland. Following the conference the President will depart for Rancho Mirage, California, for a meeting with His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan at Sunnylands, the Walter and Leonore Annenberg Estate.
Bob Christie: Victory For Brewer: Judge Tosses GOP Suit Challenging Obamacare Medicaid Expansion In Arizona
A lawsuit challenging Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s Medicaid expansion plan that was filed by fellow Republicans in the state Legislature was dismissed in a ruling released Saturday, handing Brewer a major victory in her battle against conservative members of her own party.
Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Katherine Cooper agreed with Brewer that the lawmakers challenging the law don’t have the right to sue, saying their argument that a hospital assessment included in House Bill 2010 that passed in June required a supermajority vote of the Legislature under Arizona’s Constitution was incorrect.
Cooper’s ruling said it is the Legislature itself that determines if a 2/3 vote is required under a voter-approved constitutional amendment called Proposition 108.
News Observer: Saturday’s Big Protest In Raleigh Reflects Mainstream Not Fringe
The protesters came to Raleigh on Saturday by bus and car and on foot. They came from various parts of North Carolina and from nearby states. They came from many places on behalf of varied causes, but they were driven by a single imperative – to stand up. There were the usual protesters – labor and civil rights supporters – and some unlikely ones, school teachers. Teachers’ jobs often involve keeping order among the unruly, but they’ve learned there is no virtue in keeping quiet about pay that’s near the lowest in the nation. To see the long ranks of protesters was to wonder how much longer North Carolina’s Republican leaders can dismiss them as a rabble, as outsiders, as “takers,” as agitators, and not see them for who they are: The People.
Their issues include labor conditions, pay for public employees, environmental protections, voting rights, fair taxation, help for the unemployed, gay rights, abortion rights and civil rights. But another of their issues is one they hold in common: They feel they are not being heard. And the deafness of the state’s political powers is deliberate. Legislative leaders and the governor can’t hear above the sound of the corporate money that steers their agenda. And even if they could, they wouldn’t listen. The people in the streets holding signs and chanting are not people they consider “the mainstream” or “real Americans.”
Bloomberg: U.S. To Add New Legal Protections For Same-Sex Couples
Same-sex married couples will receive many of the same federal legal protections and benefits as their opposite-sex counterparts under Justice Department guidelines to be issued Feb. 10, Attorney General Eric Holder said. The moves will affect procedures in U.S. courtrooms and the aid provided surviving spouses of slain law officers, among other matters. The policy will “formally instruct all Justice Department employees to give lawful same-sex marriages full and equal recognition, to the greatest extent possible under the law,” Holder said in remarks
Doing more for LGBT rights than any other President and Attorney General in the United States of America.
The change will apply to same-sex couples residing in states where such marriages are not recognized. It also represents the first time the Justice Department has officially interpreted the words “spouse” and “marriage” in federal laws it enforces to apply to same-sex couples. “As attorney general, I will not let this department be simply a bystander during this important moment in history,” Holder said. Under the policy, the Justice Department will recognize that same sex couples are entitled to the same rights as their opposite-sex counterparts in civil and criminal cases, according to Holder. As a result, Holder said, federal prosecutors won’t object if a same-sex spouse declines to provide testimony that might incriminate his or her partner.
Election supervisors and the League of Women Voters have a new complaint with Gov. Rick Scott and the Legislature over early voting. After years of complaints by supervisors who struggled with historically long lines at the polls in 2012, lawmakers last year expanded the list of early voting sites to include fairgronds, civic centers, courthouses, county commission buildings, stadiums, convention centers and government-owned community centers. But when the city of Gainesville — which is heavily Democratic — asked if it could use the University of Florida student union for early voting in next month’s municipal elections, the state said no.
“I’m very upset about this,” said Polk County Supervisor of Elections Lori Edwards, president of a statewide supervisors’ group. “I just can’t understand why they feel the need to be so restrictive about where people are allowed to vote … This is strategic. They’re worried about young people voting.” The union, named for former UF President J. Wayne Reitz, is used as a regular voting precinct in county, state and national elections. About 50,000 students attend UF, and the city said the request to use the Reitz Union for early voting came from a group of students. With the UF student union now off limits, the city plans to use two early voting sites for the March 11 election, assistant city attorney Nicolle Shalley said. One is about 1.5 miles away and the other about three miles away
AOL Inc.’s Chief Executive Tim Armstrong said Saturday the company would reverse a recent change to its employee 401(k) policy and he apologized for remarks used to explain the rationale for the initial change in the benefits policy. The company had recently moved to a policy in which employees get an annual lump sum 401(k) contribution from AOL at the end of the year, rather than matching contributions each pay period.
On Thursday, Mr. Armstrong had caused a stir with employees and on social media when he said that care for two staffers’ “distressed babies” in 2012 cost the company about $1 million each. He used that example to help explain the rationale for changing the 401(k) policy. Mr. Armstrong was accused of using the infants as cover for the unpopular policy change and was criticized for singling out the two mothers.
IAEA: IAEA And Iran Joint Media Statement In Connection With Implementation Of Framework For Cooperation
Following talks between IAEA and Iranian experts in Tehran, the two sides today released the following joint statement: On 8 and 9 February 2014, the Agency and the Islamic Republic of Iran (Iran) held constructive technical meetings within the Framework for Cooperation that was agreed between the parties last November. During the meetings, the two sides reviewed progress on the implementation of the six initial practical measures that were agreed three months ago. Iran has taken the initial practical measures that were foreseen.
Iran and the Agency reached agreement on seven practical measures to be implemented by Iran by 15 May 2014. The agreed measures are: Providing mutually agreed relevant information and managed access to the Saghand mine in Yazd; Providing mutually agreed relevant information and managed access to the Ardakan concentration plant; Submission of an updated Design Information Questionnaire (DIQ) for the IR-40 Reactor; Taking steps to agree with the Agency on the conclusion of a Safeguards Approach for the IR-40 Reactor
Tom Boggioni: Missouri Governor Facing Impeachment Over Order Allowing Same-Sex Marriage Tax Returns
A member of the Missouri House of Representatives has filed articles of impeachment against Governor Jay Nixon (D) for ordering Missouri’s Department of Revenue to accept joint tax returns filed by same-sex couples who have been legally married in other states. According to Missourinet, Representative Nick Marshall (R-Parkville) has filed two articles of impeachment charging that Gov. Nixon issued an executive order that is a “direct violation” of Missouri’s Constitution.
Further, Marshall says Nixon “misstates and misrepresents the meaning and requirements under Missouri’s constitutional and statutory law and thereby misleads the citizens of this state.” In November of last year, Gov. Nixon issued an executive order stating that Missouri must accept such joint returns because Missouri’s tax code is tied directly to the federal government, and the state requires married couples who file joint returns to also file state taxes jointly. The office of Attorney General Chris Koster (D) has stated that Nixon’s order appears to comply with Missouri law.
The Star Ledger “blew” its fall endorsement of Gov. Chris Christie’s (R-N.J.) reelection campaign, a member of the Newark, N.J., newspaper’s editorial board wrote on Sunday. “An endorsement is not a love embrace. It is a choice between two flawed human beings. And the winner is often the less bad option. But yes, we blew this one,” Tom Moran wrote.
“Yes, we knew Christie was a bully,” he added. “But we didn’t know his crew was crazy enough to put people’s lives at risk in Fort Lee as a means to pressure the mayor. We didn’t know he would use Hurricane Sandy aid as a political slush fund. And we certainly didn’t know that Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer was sitting on a credible charge of extortion by Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno.”
TIME: 2014 Midterm Elections: NRCC Websites Not What They Seem
Hardball politics and campaign trickery are as American as apple pie, but even in that rough and tumble world, some rules apply. A new Republican fundraising tactic reminiscent of “spoofing” telemarketing scams has some asking where the line is these days between clever campaigning and fraud. At first glance, AnnKirkpatrick.com looks like any normal campaign website. A big picture of the smiling Arizona Democrat stands next to a “Kirkpatrick For Congress” banner above a fat “DONATE” button, all in the same colors as those used by the real website for Kirkpatrick, who’s fighting to keep her House seat. Read closer and the text of the site reveals lines like “Kirkpatrick is a huge embarrassment to Arizona,”
but anyone who didn’t bother to read the site closely (or who couldn’t due to bad eyesight) before trying to make a donation to Kirkpatrick’s campaign would find that they’d just contributed to the coffers of the National Republican Congressional Committee—the House GOP’s campaign arm backing Kirkpatrick’s opponent. Annkirkpatrick.com is one of a series of websites (TIME has found 16, so far) the NRCC has set up that are clearly designed to trick the viewer—at least at first—into thinking they’re on a legitimate campaign website. In at least one instance, reported by the Tampa Bay Times on Monday, a Florida doctor accidentally donated to the NRCC through a spoofed website for Democrat Alex Sink (that site has since been taken down and the NRCC gave the doctor his money back).
CBO score says the unemployment bill that Republicans filibustered shaved about $1.2B off the deficit. cbo.gov/sites/default/…
Joe Conason: Deficit Of Truth: What Republicans Hope You Don’t Know And Never Find Out
Listening to Republicans in Congress wailing incessantly about our spendthrift culture raises a nagging question: What would they do, besides talking, if they actually wanted to reduce federal deficits and, eventually, the national debt? First, they would admit that President Obama’s policies, including health care reform, have already reduced deficits sharply, as promised. Second, they would desist from their hostage-taking tactics over the debt ceiling, which have only damaged America’s economy and international prestige. And then they would finally admit that basic investment and job creation, rather than cutting food stamps, represent the best way to reduce both deficits and debt, indeed the only way — through economic growth.
Fortunately for those Republicans and sadly for everyone else, the American public has little comprehension of current fiscal realities. Most people don’t even know that the deficit is shrinking rather than growing. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, it is Republican voters, misinformed by Fox News, who most fervently and consistently insist on these mistaken ideas, with 85 percent telling pollsters that the deficit has increased. Less than a third of Democrats gave that answer. But nearly 60 percent of independent voters agree with the Republicans on that question
Washington Post: We Hit The Debt Ceiling Today. These Charts Show When We Could Default
Today, for the fourth time in three years, the nation will hit the federal debt limit, launching a mad rush to raise the legal cap on borrowing or risk an unprecedented default. The Treasury Department now will deploy “extraordinary measures” — effectively, accounting techniques — to buy time before the government is at risk of running out of cash to meet all of daily obligations. The Treasury says it can’t promise to meet all obligations past late February, and as shown in this chart, based on data from Nancy Vanden Houten of Stone & McCarthy Research Associates, the administration definitely won’t be able to make it past the first two weeks of March.
Just a few hours after returning from the town hall in Elkhart, Ind., President Obama is introduced at his first prime-time press conference at the White House, Feb. 9, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)
First Lady Michelle Obama hugs student Tammy Nguyen in the Red Room of the White House before an event announcing a campaign to combat the rapidly growing problem of childhood obesity while Tiki Barber checks his notes before they take the stage, Feb. 9, 2010 (Photo by Samantha Appleton)
After delivering remarks at the daily press briefing, President Obama smiles as he walks past Press Assistant Priya Singh through the Lower Press Office of the White House en route to the Oval Office, Feb. 9, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Pete Souza: “During a spirited bi-partisan Congressional leadership meeting, both the President and House Minority Leader (soon to be Speaker of the House) John Boehner speak at the same time.” Feb. 9, 2010
President Obama, the First Family, Vice President Joe Biden and others in the audience applaud Joan Baez after her singing “We Shall Overcome” at the “In Performance At The White House: A Celebration Of Music From The Civil Rights Movement” concert in the East Room of the White House, Feb. 9, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
First Lady Michelle Obama at Burgess-Peterson Academy, Feb 9, 2011
First Lady Michelle Obama arrives at Little Rock Air Force Base in Jacksonville, Arkansas to highlight the military’s efforts to improve the nutrition of food served, Feb 9, 2012
First Lady Michelle Obama kicks off a nationwide tour celebrating the second anniversary of “Lets”s Move”, Des Moines, February 9, 2012
First Lady Michelle Obama at a “Let’s Move” event attended by over 10,000 youths at the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines
CBS: During a Toys-for-Tots event Friday, a marine asked First Lady Michelle Obama to accompany him to the ball next November. The music drowns out the invitation but you can still see the exchange and hug.
ABC: While sorting donations at the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots campaign, this afternoon First Lady Michelle Obama received an unusual request.
Across a pile of race cars, the Associated Press reports Lance Cpl. Aaron Leeks invited Obama to be his date for next year’s Marine Corps Ball.
The 20-year-old Marine from Maryland told the AP, Obama said “she’d love to go.”
“Actually she said I’d need to speak to her husband, too, but she said she’d love to,” Leeks said.
No word yet on whether the request has received the president’s approval. “If the president’s watching this, this might be the first he’s heard of it,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney joked at today’s daily briefing.
First Lady Michelle Obama delivers toys and gifts donated by White House staff to the Marine Corps’ Toys for Tots campaign at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, D.C., Dec. 16, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
The only thing that ever disappoints me about Steve Benen is that his charts aren’t BIGGER!
Any way, he’s back after a two day break and he’s catching up on the news about the drop in unemployment (see here) – this chart shows unemployment claims going back to the beginning of 2007.
And they say the Stimulus didn’t work?
Milt Shook: There’s No Such Thing as an “Indefinite Detention Bill” and Other Pro Left Lies. (Stay to the end, and watch me expose Glenn Greenwald as a liar once again.)
Steve Benen on the NDAA: …… There’s been a fair amount of coverage this week, arguing that the bill, among things, empowers the executive branch “to throw American citizens into prison for life without charges or a trial.” Adam Serwer’s reporting shows otherwise.
This is not to say the NDAA is a good bill…. but it’s not quite as outrageous as some reports have suggested.
I had one related thought about this. President Obama has been facing quite a bit of criticism from the left over the NDAA’s provisions … if I’m making a list of those responsible for the NDAA’s most odious measures, the White House wouldn’t be on top. I’d start, obviously, with congressional Republicans whose misguided worldview intended to make the NDAA even more offensive, but it was a whole lot of congressional Democrats who went along with them.
… Regardless, the NDAA is done. Recalling a phrase I’m sure I’ve used more than once this year, it’s bad, but it could have been worse.