First Lady Michelle Obama takes questions from children for Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day. The children of Executive Office employees and young people from Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, SchoolTalk and the D.C. Child and Family Services Agency asked questions about her pets, her favorite food (pizza), what she plans to do after leaving the White House and why she chose President Obama as her husband
President Obama awards posthumously the Medal of Honor to Rose Mary Sabo-Brown, widow of Specialist Leslie H. Sabo, Jr
Fellow soldiers from the same unit as Army Specialist Leslie Sabo Jr. cry as President Obama presents Rose Mary Sabo-Brown the Medal of Honor posthumously to her husband for his actions in Cambodia in May 1970
President Obama and First lady Michelle Obama hug Rose Mary Sabo-Brown after she received the Medal of Honor posthumously for her husband, Army Specialist Leslie Sabo Jr
President Barack Obama holds Arianna Holmes, 3, before taking a departure photo with members of her family in the Oval Office, Feb. 1, 2012. Arianna’s mother, Angela Holmes, is a departing Special Assistant in the International Economic Affairs office of the National Security Staff. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
President Obama holds up a book that he was given by author and keynote speaker Eric Metaxas at the National Prayer Breakfast
Steve Benen: The general trend on initial unemployment claims over the last few months has been largely encouraging, though there have been setbacks. Last week, for example, was a step in the wrong direction. This week’s report, however, was a little more heartening:
U.S. jobless claims dropped by 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 367,000 in the week ended Jan. 28, the Labor Department said Thursday….
…. when these jobless claims fall below the 400,000 threshold, it’s considered evidence of an improving jobs landscape. When the number drops below 370,000, it suggests jobs are actually being created rather quickly.
Washington Post (editorial): Higher education is both crucial to America’s economic competitiveness and hard for many students and their families to afford … As President Obama quite rightly insisted in his State of the Union address, institutions of higher learning must do more to hold down their costs if college education is to remain affordable for the next generation of young people. What’s more, he’s talking about using the federal government’s financial clout to encourage cost containment.
…. he is proposing long-overdue reforms to existing formulas for distributing hundreds of millions of dollars in campus-based aid, such as Perkins loans and work-study funds. Current policy skews in favor of better-off students at relatively pricier colleges. The president wants to shift dollars in favor of schools that restrain tuition and graduate more low-income students. Meanwhile, he would establish a $1 billion fund to encourage cost-saving innovations, complemented by $55 million for research, evaluation and dissemination of the best practices….
Needless to say, a lot depends on how the president and Congress would end up defining what constitutes a good value in higher education … what’s important is that the president has put the prestige and power of his office behind this effort.
Jonathan Cohn: Romney’s political strategy here seems clear to me: He’s trying to drive a wedge between the poor and the middle class, convincing the latter that they lose out to the former when Democrats are in charge. And the strategy may work. It’s certainly helped Republicans before. But the big beneficiary of Romney’s plan to reorder fiscal priorities is not the middle class. It’s the very wealthy, who would get substantial tax benefits and who will usually be fine with weakened public services.
MSNBC: ….. presidential hopeful Rick Santorum took a hard line on Wednesday against government getting involved in offsetting the cost of drug prices. Before exiting the stage, Santorum was prodded by members of the 300-person crowd to take one last question from a young boy standing in the front row. The child asked what the candidate would do to lower the cost of medicine. But the former Pennsylvania senator said it was the cost of drugs that allowed for the innovation that keeps Americans with life-threatening illnesses alive.
“People have no problem going out and buying an iPad for $900. But paying $200 for a drug they have a problem with – that keeps you alive. Why? Because you’ve been conditioned in thinking health care is something you should get and not have to pay for. Drug companies, health care companies need to have a profitability, because if they don’t, then how are we going to regulate costs?…..”
While some of in the audience applauded Santorum’s tough stance against government involvement in drug prices, others protested. The mother of the child yelled out that she was going bankrupt just to pay for her child to keep breathing.
Charles P. Pierce (Esquire) read a a swooning piece about Fox ‘News’ in Politico…. he didn’t like it very much:
“Stuff in Politico That Makes Me Want to Guzzle Antifreeze…. I say only that, in my own, personal, constitutionally protected opinion, this may very well be the worst bag of pulverized, unexpurgated, beat-sweetening chickenshit in the history of American political journalism. It makes Peggy Noonan read like Thuycidides….
Charles P. Pierce (Esquire): No matter what Willard Romney said on Tuesday night, a tough primary can really damage you. If these latest PPP numbers are in any way accurate, the rockfight between Romney and N. Leroy Gingrich, Definer of Civilization’s Rules and Leader (Perhaps) of the Civilizing Forces, has pushed Romney’s unfavorability ratings in Ohio northward toward 60 percent……
….. Eighty-four percent of the respondents are white and, even with that, Romney is six points down with a 57 percent disapproval rating. He better tack like hell, is all I’m saying.
CNN: Former Treasury official Bruce Bartlett labeled newly-minted Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry “an idiot” Friday.
Bartlett, who served at Treasury under former President George H.W. Bush and as a domestic policy adviser to the late President Ronald Reagan, delivered the choice words to the Texas Gov. in reference to his recent comments about Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.
…Team Perry did not immediately respond for a request for comment.
Texas Observer: …. “And here your mom was asking about evolution, and you know, it’s a theory that’s out there and it’s got some gas in it,” said Mr. Perry (to nine-year-old Sam Beane). “In Texas, we teach both creationism and evolution in our public schools…. I figure you’re smart enough to figure out which one is right. Thank you.”
Just the day before, Perry tackled climate change (again): “I do believe that the issue of global warming has been politicized. I think there are a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling into their projects.”
For anyone who’s paid attention to Perry’s career in Texas, these counterfactual remarks aren’t surprising in the least. For years, Perry has been saying things that would earn him a ‘D’ in any college (or high school) science class. He wears his anti-intellectualism on his sleeve like a boutonnière.
And it’s more than just words. Perry has packed key agencies, such as the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, with yes men who hold views far outside the scientific mainstream on climate change, toxicology, and environmental regulation….
But, perhaps more interesting, is that Perry doesn’t appear to know Texas’ official policy on the teaching of evolution in public schools …. it is plainly unconstitutional to teach creationism in public schools. The courts have been consistent on this question. Most recently, in 2005’s Kitzmiller v. Dover, a federal judge ruled that intelligent design can’t be taught in public schools because it’s tantamount to religion, not science, and thus violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
…. Regardless of what the official curriculum is, there are teachers in Texas who do teach creationism. I know, because I had a teacher that did so in my Central Texas high school. She proudly displayed a bumper sticker on her podium that read something like, “Big Bang Theory: God Said ‘Bang’ and There it Was.” Her students picked up on her creationist catch-phrases – “Can’t make a chain out of missing links” – and took pity on us in the AP biology class, where evolution was taught as the cornerstone of biology.
Maybe this is what Rick Perry meant when he said “we teach both creationism and evolution in our public schools.” Creationism *is* taught occasionally; it’s just that it’s not supposed to be…..
ThinkProgress: New GOP presidential contender Gov. Rick Perry continues to get a free pass from the press for his stimulus hypocrisy on the campaign trail. Last week the governor claimed that the Recovery Act signed by President Obama had “failed” — conveniently forgetting that he accepted more stimulus money than any other state besides California, and used the funds to close 97 percent of Texas’ massive budget deficit.
The Houston Chronicle reported that as of July 2010, federal stimulus funds created or saved 47,700 jobs in the Lone Star State. Yet today during a question-and-answer session in Pembroke, New Hampshire, Perry once again feigned ignorance of the indispensable benefits his state received from stimulus money. In fact, he claimed that the stimulus “didn’t create any jobs, as far as I can tell”…
… So far, Texas has used $17.4 billion in federal stimulus money to keep schools open, ensure Medicaid coverage for children, and put more people to work on infrastructure projects … Texans would have been much harder hit by the recession if the Recovery Act hadn’t been there to cushion the blow.
Robert Shrum: Rick Perry entered the Republican primaries with Texas-size swagger and prairie-shaking thunder from the right. After just a few days of pyrotechnics, Karl Rove, minister of the dark arts for the last Texas president, reproved Perry as “un-presidential.”
…. The Perry appeal is intense, but limited. He has no coherent economic plan; rather he boasts about his record as a job creator in Texas. It turns out that between 2007 and 2010, the state lost 178,000 private sector jobs; the new jobs came in the public sector, 125,000 of them — fueled by the federal stimulus he denounced as he raked the money in.
His partisans claim an advantage for him as the only Southerner in the race, but his brand won’t appeal in the changing South, in places like Virginia and North Carolina, where a PPP poll shows him running 8 points behind Obama. And then there’s Florida, where Perry’s radical notion that Social Security and Medicare are unconstitutional — and states should be able to opt out — would make him radically unacceptable to senior citizens. He could also pose as a Westerner. But in Colorado, which withstood the GOP tide of 2010 by choosing both a Democratic senator and a Democratic governor, Perry loses to Obama by 13 points.
Perry, who’s previously spoken of Texas seceding from the Union and who’s proposed repealing the 16th and 17th Amendments – the income tax and the popular election of senators — could have general election trouble even in marginally red states. While people may feel the country is on the wrong track, they won’t rally to someone who will take America completely off the rails. So Rove’s right: Perry’s wrong for the GOP.
This leads establishment Republicans to gravitate grudgingly toward Romney, who’s now the former front-runner because he has employed the classic and historically failed approach of just trying to hold on to a lead. He’s “tortoise-like,” one of his aids rationalized to Politico. A strategist who has worked with Romney added that for him to prevail, “Perry needs to make some mistakes.” That’s a recipe for spending tens of millions of dollars on a run-up to a withdrawal speech.
… Right now in a painful economic time, the kind that has always stirred paranoia in America, Rick Perry is an updated replay of Huey Long in the 1930s, a William Jennings Bryan in reverse. In Bryan’s words, it is Perry who would “press-down upon the brow of labor [a] crown of thorns.” The Texan may exploit the flame of anger to win the primaries, only to see himself and his party consumed in November.
For Rove, who already sees that reality, I offer only half a defense; in 2012, Republicans may reap the whirlwind of what he’s sowed in the past decade…