Steve Benen: We talked earlier about Oklahoma’s junior senator, Republican Tom Coburn (R), announcing last night that he will only support federal disaster relief — for his own constituents — if it’s financed by comparable spending cuts elsewhere. But what about Oklahoma’s senior senator?
Republican Sen. James Inhofe, like Coburn, has opposed emergency aid in the recent past, including voting against a relief package for victims of Hurricane Sandy. This morning, however, the conservative senator said that was “totally different”.
WH: As the Senate debates bipartisan immigration reform legislation, the President and the Vice President hosted a meeting today in the Oval Office with young immigrants, also known as DREAMers, as well as with the siblings and spouses of undocumented immigrants. The meeting was an important opportunity for the President and the Vice President to hear directly from people whose families are affected daily by our nation’s broken immigration system.
President Obama and Vice President Biden meet with DREAMers who have received Deferred Action and U.S. citizen family members of undocumented immigrants, in the Oval Office, May 21 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Socialist stock market soaring to new historic records. S&P 500 hits 1672, Dow at remarkable 15,400. #obamasfault
It being Gallup, you know yourself, it’s probably a 96-year high:
In case you missed it, SmartyPants on the, well, interesting background of Stephen Jin-Woo Kim:
….. The next place a little curiosity might take you is to wonder just who this Stephen Jin-Woo Kim is. As even I was able to find out from a simple look at Wikipedia, he was an employee of a federally funded research and development center that consulted with Rumsfeld via the Defense Policy Board – which was chaired by Richard Perle. In 2008 – just before the Obama administration began – Kim went to work for the State Department. One might be curious about that…..
A year ago today: The President holds Arianna Holmes, 3, before taking a departure photo with members of her family in the Oval Office, Feb. 1, 2012 (Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
11:30: Jay Carney briefs the press
12:05: VP Biden and Jill Biden arrive at Munich International Airport
2:15: President Obama awards the National Medals of Science and the National Medals of Technology and Innovation
Steve Benen: Expectations for job creation were pretty close to perfect according to the new report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with the economy adding 157,000 jobs in January. The big news, however, is in the revisions.
….. that’s where we see the genuinely good news. Not only were the job totals for November and December revised up considerably – 127,000 jobs combined – but for the entire 2012 calendar year, we learned this morning of an additional 335,000 jobs that had not been previously reported.
That means 2.17 million jobs were created just last year, which is the best annual total since 2005, and tops seven of the eight years Bush/Cheney was in office….
Steve Benen: With the revised job totals published this morning, we now know that 2012 was a better year for job creation than previously believed – 2.17 million jobs were created just last year overall, 2.24 million in the private sector. When I noted that 2012 was the best year for jobs since 2005, and better than seven of the eight years Bush/Cheney was in office, some of you were skeptical. I received a few “that can’t be right” emails.
Bloomberg: U.S. stocks rose, sending the Dow Jones Industrial Average above 14,000, as data showed hiring increased in January after accelerating more than previously estimated at the end of 2012 and manufacturing expanded.
…. “The jobs report shows that the corner was turned,” said Richard Sichel, who oversees about $1.8 billion as chief investment officer at Philadelphia Trust Co. “The revision from the prior month is positive. There’s indication that hiring will pick up over the course of the year”….
Bloomberg: Manufacturing in the U.S. expanded more than forecast in January, reaching a nine-month high and showing the industry is starting to improve.
…. Stocks extended gains after the report showed gains in orders, production and factory employment after a fourth-quarter acceleration in consumer purchases and a rebound in business spending. The housing recovery and stabilization in overseas markets indicate factories may keep adding to growth in the world’s largest economy this year.
“Manufacturing is on the mend,” said Brian Jones, senior U.S. economist at Societe Generale in New York. “Things are getting better as we begin the year.”
Charles Pierce: There really shouldn’t be as much low farce in confirming a Cabinet appointment than was on display as the Senate Armed Services Committee got its chance to blow off steam and posture in front of Chuck Hagel in Washington. If it wasn’t John McCain, bellowing his outrage that the world no longer recognizes his obvious geopolitical genius and that the world has not rewarded him with laurel leaves and flagons of the finest mead. So he spends six minutes trying to get Hagel to admit how brilliant he was to have recommended the “surge” in Iraq. Hagel declines and McCain’s fumes, probably because he’ll have to wait until Sunday morning to get the kind of fluffing that’s the only reason he’s still in public life any more. Well, that, and a war with Iran.
Steve Benen: Much of the political world was transfixed yesterday by the grilling Chuck Hagel received by the Senate Armed Services Committee, and the consensus seems to be that the Defense Secretary nominee generally failed to impress…..
What struck me as more interesting than Hagel’s halting answers were the quality of the questions, or in this case, the lack thereof.
….. going through the transcript, one might be tempted to believe there are only three countries on the planet – the United States, Israel, and Iran – and that Iran poses some kind of existential threat to America’s future.
Al Qaeda wasn’t deemed important, nor was North Korea. China was brought up only a handful of times, and the use of drones wasn’t mentioned at all.
…. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, John McCain is–by far–the recipient of the most generous donations from “gun rights” organizations. He receives about $400,000 more than John Thune (R-SD), who received the second highest total amount of monetary gifts from pro-gun groups.
Michael Tomasky: How Liberals Can Win on Guns ….. Where are all these reasonable gun owners and NRA members? As far as the public discourse goes, they exist only in these polls. No one’s ever actually seen one.
So how about some liberal group put some money into finding these people and putting them on the air? Seeing Gabby Giffords yesterday was powerful. But it would be powerful in a different way — and probably more persuasive to people on the fence — to see a stereotypically burly white guy with a light drawl standing in front of his gun case with his arms crossed, looking as if he’s just about to say, “Fuck you, liberals,” when instead what comes out of his mouth is something like, “My buddies and I don’t need extended clips to hunt deer. And I look around and see these slaughters, and I think nobody else needs extended clips either.”
BuzzFeed: Gov. Chris Christie paid tribute Thursday night to President Barack Obama, thanking him for his help in successfully passing the Hurricane Sandy aid bill in January…. Delivering his keynote speech at a New Jersey Chamber of Commerce dinner …. Christie told the crowd he was invited to the White House to discuss the Sandy aid package about three days before the president was set to send his proposal for the bill to Congress.
“I won’t talk about how our conversation went — that’s between me and the president,” said Christie. “But I’ll let you all know it was a lot of fun.” ….. “I want to thank the president — he’s been extraordinary”….
Washingtonian: Spotted Thursday morning at the White House: a team from Vogue moving cameras into the residence. What could that be about? Well, it turns out it’s a photo shoot of First Lady Michelle Obama for the magazine’s cover, most likely the March issue.
President Obama at an interfaith vigil, Sandy Hook Elementary School, Dec 16 (Photo: Olivier Douliery)
NYT: President Obama this week will embrace a comprehensive plan to reduce gun violence that will call for major legislation to expand background checks for gun purchases and lay out 19 separate actions the president could take by invoking the power of his office, lawmakers who were briefed on the plan said Monday.
Lawmakers and other officials said that the president could use a public event as soon as Wednesday to signal his intention to engage in the biggest Congressional fight over guns in nearly two decades, focusing on the heightened background checks and including efforts to ban assault weapons and their high-capacity clips. But given the difficulty of pushing new rules through a bitterly divided Congress, Mr. Obama will also promise to act on his own to reduce gun violence wherever possible.
NYT: Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and lawmakers agreed on Monday to a broad package of changes to gun laws that would expand the state’s ban on assault weapons and would include new measures to keep guns away from the mentally ill.
The state Senate, controlled by a coalition of Republicans and a handful of Democrats, approved the legislative package just after 11 p.m. by a lopsided vote of 43 to 18. The Assembly, where Democrats who have been strongly supportive of gun control have an overwhelming majority, planned to vote on the measure Tuesday.
Steve Benen: The White House is set to release a series of recommendations from Vice President Biden’s task force on gun violence, which will no doubt face intense criticism from groups like the NRA and their allies. But two new polls suggest that a month after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, there’s a growing public appetite for meaningful gun reform.
Mediaite: On Monday night, CNN host Piers Morgan paid a visit to Stephen Colbert …. As the pair started chatting about how people in the UK just don’t have guns, Colbert asked whether Morgan hates America’s constitution (“Do you hate the United States constitution?… Do you speak English?”) — helpfully providing the CNN host with his own pocket-size copy of the document.
…. Morgan said he was simply pointing out that in his country, “where we have no guns,” there are few gun murders. “I think when 20 young children get blown to pieces, Americans should say something has to be done,” he added, prompting Colbert to call out his “cheap shot to bring up the subject that we’re talking about.”
Colbert offered a better approach: take some time, “reflect, and eventually forget.”
LA Times: Obama appears to gain ground in spending battle – The president delivers a forceful defense of his position in a White House news conference, as Republicans increasingly appear divided over the debt ceiling.
With the government just weeks from running out of money to pay its bills, President Obama and prominent Republicans have started to act as if the White House has the upper hand in the current round of the battle over federal spending.
In recent days, Obama rebuffed suggestions that he consider ways to sidestep the need to raise the limit on the government’s debt, reinforcing his demand for a congressional vote. On Monday, he repeated that stand in a hastily announced news conference, criticizing Republicans for threatening to “blow up the economy” and insisting that “no simpler way” exists to deal with the debt ceiling.
Republicans for months have pointed to the moment the nation runs up against the debt ceiling as their point of maximum leverage to force spending cuts, but now seem increasingly divided. Some leaders appear to be looking for a way out of the confrontation, suggesting the party would be wiser to fight Obama over cuts when less is at stake for the economy. Influential GOP strategists are warning that a repeat of the fight they waged in summer 2011 could backfire.
Deaniac: Twilight of the Liberal Elite: Smearing Jack Lew and Barack Obama for Deregulation that Began with Jimmy Carter
….. I can understand the liberal elite’s problem with Jack Lew. You see, I don’t think it has much to do with policy. I think it has much more to do with him embarrassing them. When every liberal elite political rookie – including Paul Krugman – in the country was howling about the president’s “weak” negotiating performance during the 2011 debt limit deal, it turns out that the president and his team completely floored John Boehner, without Boehner even realizing it. A key member of that team that did it to them? Jack Lew. Not to mention how that deal shaped the complete Republican surrender in the recent fiscal cliff deal. If I didn’t know that the howling Left is incapable of feeling embarrassed, I would contend they are opposing Jack Lew because of that embarrassment.
USA Today: Q&A: Myrlie Evers-Williams on the inauguration
Q: Did you ever imagine as you worked with your husband Medgar Evers on civil rights that one day there would be a black president?
A: Of course, we all knew, we hoped, we worked, we prayed that one day there would be a man or a woman of African-American descent who would become the president of the United States of America. That has been a dream come true but if we look at the politics leading up to particularly his second term, there were blocks that came during this time of getting people to register and to vote that are reminiscent of some of those actions that took place 50 years ago to keep people of my race and others away from the polls.
Steve Benen: … Florida Gov Rick Scott has offered the political world a valuable lesson: if you need a campaign prop, don’t use a dog:
Shortly after winning the GOP nomination in 2010, Scott announced to the world through Facebook that his family had rescued a Labrador Retriever. And, with help from his Facebook friends, Scott gave it a name: Reagan.
It was just a few months before the gubernatorial election, and Scott seemed to think this was a smart idea. Adopting a dog – a rescue dog, at that – made the Republican look compassionate, and naming the dog “Reagan” helped him pander shamelessly to his base….
Mediaite: Jon Stewart took on the controversy surrounding President Obama‘s recent cabinet nominations in a segment he dubbed “Zero Dark Appointees,” and noted that the outrage might be somewhat misplaced because Obama is “somewhat diverse himself.”
Stewart examined why Obama may not have nominated Susan Rice for Secretary of State, which would have easily diversified his cabinet: “Lady and minority, triple word score!”
“Oh right,” he said. “McCain!”
…. He then aired the New York Times photo in which it was claimed Obama was standing with only white men and proceeded to point out a black man ….. “And there is another black guy who appears to be running the meeting.”
First Lady Michelle Obama reads a Christmas story as her dog Bo sits on her lap and 5-year-old AJ Murray (L), and 5-year-old Jordyn Akyoko sit nearby at Children’s National Medical Center on December 14