Kathleen Sibelius is getting flak for her Plan B decision. But Michael Tomasky defends the administration’s position because of the ethical issues raised by minors using the pill.
I get the reasons for liberal outrage at the Obama administration’s Plan B decision. But I can’t quite join in the indignation. I know that I am a man – a fact I’ve been aware of for some time – and so readers male and female can factor that in here as they wish. But it seems to me that to call this merely a case of politics cynically trumping science is way too dismissive of some concerns that parents with all kinds of political views might have about their teenage daughters buying this pill without their knowledge…..
NPR: For the second week in a row, the Senate on Thursday voted down proposals to extend the payroll tax holiday through next year. In the case of the Democrats’ proposal, Republicans objected to the “millionaires surtax” that would be used to pay for it.
Ever since the idea of the surtax was introduced weeks ago, Republicans in Congress have railed against it, arguing that it is a direct hit on small-business owners and other job creators.
… We wanted to talk to business owners who would be affected. So, NPR requested help from numerous Republican congressional offices, including House and Senate leadership. They were unable to produce a single millionaire job creator for us to interview.
USA Today: As the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq is completed this week, President Obama will kick off a string of military-related events this month by attending the Army-Navy game Saturday.
The Cadets and the Midshipmen tee it up at 2:30 p.m. at Fed-Ex Field in Landover, Md.
Vice President Biden and his wife, Jill, will attend the game with Obama.
Wednesday, the president and first lady Michelle Obama will travel to Fort Bragg, N.C., where the president will address the troops stationed there.
President Barack Obama attends a National Security Council holiday party at Blair House, across the street from the White House, December 9
Steve Benen: Rick Perry unveiled a rather ugly campaign ad this week, condemning gays for being able to “serve openly in the military,” and promising voters he’ll “end Obama’s war on religion.”
The Texas governor talked to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer this week, and to his credit, the host asked Perry to back up the language in the ad.
PERRY: [W]e’ve got a federal judge for instance in San Antonio that said these kids couldn’t say an invocation in school. I mean, they say you can’t even use the word invocation at their commencement. I mean, that’s —
BLITZER: Is that President Obama’s war on religion?
PERRY: I’m just giving you suggestions after what we are seeing from the left of which I would suggest to you, President Obama is a member of the left and substantial left of center beliefs that you can’t even have a Christmas party. You can’t say a prayer at school.
I’m beginning to think Perry was not blessed with an overabundance of intelligence….
Steve Benen: It’s generally not too much to ask that major party presidential candidates know how many Supreme Court justices there are. Alas, Rick Perry, who’s already struggled to be coherent on a wide range of issues, flubbed this one, too.
…. Let’s count the errors of fact and judgment, because this a doozy.
I’d swear this guy is getting dumber as the campaign progresses.
Steve Benen: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie threw an odd tantrum yesterday, blasting President Obama for the failure of the congressional super-committee …. Part of the problem here is that Christie isn’t quite as smart as he thinks he is, and bombast can only go so far in covering up ignorance.
…. The president has tried every negotiating tactic that exists to get congressional Republicans to work on finding solutions. Obama has tried hands-on talks; he’s tried keeping his distance. The president has tried hard sells and soft sells, directly and indirectly. He’s made private appeals and public appeals. He’s made arguments based on policy, polls, and principles. He’s tried charm offensives, combativeness, and everything in between. He’s made partisan, bipartisan, tripartisan, and nonpartisan arguments, all in the hopes that maybe, just maybe, GOP leaders will be open to good-faith compromise.
And yet, nothing has worked. Nothing …. The New Jersey governor seems to believe a debt deal would come together if Republicans and the president simply sat down for candid conversations. Given that Obama has already tried this repeatedly, without success, anyone who believes such stupidity just hasn’t been paying close enough attention.
Crikey, how many more “ooops” before this idiot crawls back to Texas??
Gen. Lloyd Austin, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, right, looks on as Vice President Joe Biden shake hands with the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey after he arrived, in Baghdad, Iraq, Nov. 29
WH: Vice President Biden has arrived in Baghdad, Iraq. While there, the Vice President will co-chair a meeting of the U.S.-Iraq Higher Coordinating Committee. He will also meet with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, President Jalal Talabani, Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi, and other political leaders. The Vice President will also participate in, and give remarks at, an event to commemorate the sacrifices and accomplishments of U.S. and Iraqi troops.
President Obama has dinner with campaign donors and winners of the “Dinner with Barack” contest at The Liberty Tavern in the Clarendon neighborhood of Arlington, Va.
MSNBC: Medicare’s basic monthly premium will rise significantly less than expected next year, the government announced Thursday. That could pay political dividends for President Barack Obama and for Democrats struggling to win over seniors in a close election.
…. In a statement accompanying release of the Medicare premiums, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius asserted that seniors have nothing to fear from the new health care law.
“The Affordable Care Act is helping to keep Medicare strong and affordable,” she said. “People with Medicare are seeing higher quality benefits, better health care choices and lower costs.”
ThinkProgress: Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry released a tax plan this week that he and many media reports called a “20 percent flat tax.” But Perry’s new alternative tax scheme is hardly “flat”.
Leaving aside the fact that it is layered on top of the existing tax code, it establishes not one but two different tax rates: 20 percent for wages, and zero percent for investment income. Because capital gains and dividends would be sheltered from taxes under Perry’s plan, some of the wealthiest Americans would wind up paying nowhere near 20 percent overall.
In fact, billionaire Warren Buffett, who has lamented the fact that he currently pays only 11 percent of his adjusted gross income in federal income taxes, would pay as little as 0.2 percent under Perry’s plan.
ABC: Today’s New York Times story … includes an intriguing reference to a staff memo directing those traveling in a car with Mr. Cain, “Do not speak to him unless you are spoken to.”
Could the affable Mr. Cain really have a “don’t-talk-to-me-unless-I-talk-to-you” policy?
Yes. He does. Really.
A top aide to Mr. Cain explains to me why.
“It’s the same policy for any Secretary of Defense or four-star general,” a senior Cain staffer explained to ABC News. “You don’t talk to them unless they talk to you, generally. Sometimes you get guests in the car and they want to talk and talk and talk, and then Mr. Cain wants to prepare for the next interview or the next speech and he’s very engaging, so it can be a distraction. After a while, he gets to the point where he doesn’t want to talk, but wants to prepare for what he’s doing next.”
More excellent comedy from Dick Halperin today in Time. He magnificently ignored all the polls that show President Obama leading RomPerryCain in swing states, and concluded that if the election was held today he’d lose.
It’d be nice, though, if Halperin had an original thought:
Mark Halperin (today): Is President Obama on the ropes? …. The coalition that helped elect the President …. has been disbanded.
Mark Halperin (December 2010): The coalition that got Barack Obama elected President just two years ago has been shattered ….
Last year, Alex Pareene of Salon (which I seriously hate linking because it’s become Firebagger Central) did a series on “the worst columnists and cable news commentators America has to offer …. the most predictable, dishonest and just plain stupid pundits in the media.” Halperin had to settle for the runners-up prize, behind Richard Cohen. It’s worth a read again:
Alex Pareene (2010): Mark Halperin – The Drudge-loving political analyst who gets everything wrong …. his belief in the unerring political instincts of Karl Rove and the godlike omniscience of Matt Drudge ….
…. Halperin’s worst quality is actually that he is constantly wrong. He is a professional political analyst, yet he often seems to be completely, 100 percent wrong about even the horse-race aspects of politics that he specializes in. He kept promising, in 2006, that Bush’s approval ratings would once again surge past 50 percent. Remember when John McCain “suspended his campaign” to fix the economy? Mark Halperin said McCain won the week.
The book Halperin wrote …. “The Way to Win,” his preview of “the way to win” the presidential election in 2008. His advice was to emulate Karl Rove and worship Matt Drudge – the key to victory seemed to involve a lot of Matt Drudge – and the 2008 election as it actually happened made the whole book (which he co-wrote with Politico co-founder John Harris!) look utterly ridiculous.
… All we ask for is a little accountability. At the very least, Halperin’s TV chyron should read, “ALWAYS WRONG ABOUT EVERYTHING.”
Marketwatch: With a little more than two trading days left in the month, it is shaping up to be the best October ever for the Dow Jones Industrial Average. And that is saying something, since the Dow has existed since 1896, 115 years ago.
As of mid-day trading on Thursday, the Dow INDU is ahead more than 11% for the month. The previous record for the month of October was held by 1982, when the Dow turned in a 10.7% return. That’s an auspicious historical precedent, since that month came very early in that decade’s spectacular bull market which, arguably, didn’t end until nearly 20 years later.
President Obama on Wednesday announced a plan to allow college graduates to cap federal student loan repayments at 10 percent of discretionary income starting in January, two years before the cap was due to take effect under federal law.
The accelerated “pay as you earn” program, which Obama will authorize through executive order, could benefit up to 1.6 million borrowers and reduce their payments by as much as a couple hundred dollars a month, administration officials said. All remaining debt on the federal loans would be forgiven after 20 years – five years earlier than under current law.
Reuters: …. President Obama’s appearance on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” lifted the show to its highest Tuesday-night ratings since March 2, 2010, the night after Leno returned to the show.
Tuesday’s episode received a 4.1/11 metered-market household rating, a 52 percent leap over his Tuesday-night average so far this season. With Obama’s appearance,” The Tonight Show” handily surpassed “Late Show with David Letterman,” which posted a 2.7/7 household rating, “Nightline,” which drew a 3.6/9, and “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” which received a 1.8./6.
Ruth Marcus (Washington Post): In an interview with Parade magazine, the Texas governor declared Obama’s place of birth a “distractive” issue even as he happily latched on to the opportunity to distract ….. It was classic Perry, combining logical incoherence and a smarmy cheap shot.
…. Is this a presidential campaign or a middle-school playground? I’ll show you mine if you show me yours? By the way, if I had Perry’s grades, I wouldn’t be mentioning them. Certainly not if I were running against a former president of the Harvard Law Review.
…. You might think this was the candidate cannily trying to have it both ways: a nod to the birther crazies with a simultaneous wink at those who know this is a ridiculous distraction. Except that Perry managed to step on his real message of the day: his unaffordable and unfair proposal to “simplify” the tax code – by grafting a flat-tax alternative onto the existing system.
…. The matter of Obama’s birth certificate should be a closed case. It is astonishing that a sitting governor, no less a serious candidate for president, would stoop to playing this game.
… The country is facing serious problems. This will be a fateful election. Voters deserve better than scare tactics and drivel.
Steve Benen: I find it hard not to enjoy stories like these:
On her visit to a traffic-signal plant [in Iowa] …. Michele Bachmann called it an example of how President Obama’s policies are “continuing to dig us deeper into the hole toward another recession”. …. she said her plans for a smaller government with fewer rules and lower spending would help OMJC Signal Inc. “grow, grow, grow, grow, grow”. “That’s my goal – to see you succeed wildly,” she told a gathering of OMJC workers on the plant floor here in the central Iowa town where she grew up.
So, what’s the problem? As it turns out, OMJC thrives thanks to government contracts – more than 80% of the company’s revenue comes from government….
The company’s CEO is a self-identified conservative Republican, who was apparently loath to ruin Bachmann’s appearance, but he conceded to reporters that his company benefited from the kind of projects promoted by President Obama and congressional Democrats.
…. Michele Bachmann, in other words, accidentally made Obama’s agenda look pretty good…..
CBS video description: In Tucson Thursday, presidential hopeful Mitt Romney spoke of his car collection – first boasting of his Cadillacs, then perhaps remembering he was at a Ford dealership, mentioning his Mustang.