President Obama presents Maya Angelou with the highest civilian honor:
Don’t worry about Barack Obama, says the chronicler of black history. He’ll be re-elected. He deserves to be re-elected. But between now and November, it’s going to get nasty.
“I think we are going to see a number of people who say: ‘I have no racial prejudice in my heart, not in my conversation,'” Angelou says. “But in the next few months, as we wind up to the double campaign, I tell you we are going to see some nastiness, some vulgarity, I think. They’ll pull the sheets off.”
Obama has critics and doubters. Angelou, the sage of black America, now 83, has no time for them. “I think he has done a remarkable job, knowing how much he has been opposed,” she says. “Every suggestion he makes, the Republicans en masse fight against him or don’t vote at all.” It’s about him being a Democrat and being the first black president, she says.
The 2012 presidential election will not turn on facts, figures, and reasonable arguments. Nor will the undue and terrible influence of huge amounts of right-wing/corporate money determine the outcome – though the flood of cash will be a malevolent and destabilizing influence.
Rather, it is the power of Story, the compelling nature of narrative, that will – together with the successes or failure of Get Out the Vote (GOTV) and voter suppression efforts, both from the left and the right – determine the outcome. And it will do so because Story embodies and conveys layers of meaning – spiritual as well as political; emotional as well as intellectual – in ways cold facts and figures cannot.
Calling quits to a bruising election-year fight, negotiators on Capitol Hill sealed an agreement late Wednesday on legislation to renew a payroll tax cut for 160 million workers and jobless benefits for millions more.
Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., announced the agreement, capping a long day of wrangling over final details of the measure, which is a top priority of President Barack Obama. The announcement paved the way for votes in both House and Senate this week.
Given Mr. Obama’s current approval ratings and consensus forecasts on the economy, he rates as about a 60 percent favorite to win the popular vote against Mitt Romney, with somewhat higher chances against any of the other Republicans running for the nomination. By contrast, in the November version of the model, Mr. Obama was an underdog to Mr. Romney, with a 40 percent chance of winning; the president’s approval ratings were about 6 points lower then and economic forecasts were somewhat more pessimistic.
The biggest surprise in the numbers might be how badly Obama is beating Mitt Romney- he leads him by 16 points at 54-38. That’s a major departure from PPP’s previous 3 Michigan President polls, which found Obama ahead by only 4-7 points. Romney’s seen a major decline in his personal favorability in the state over the last 6 months from 39/43 to now 29/58. His numbers have dropped across the board but the most striking shift is with independents. He’s gone from a +14 spread with them at 48/34 to a -20 one at 32/52.
The number of people seeking unemployment benefits fell to the lowest point in almost four years last week, the latest signal that the job market is steadily improving.
The Labor Department says weekly applications for unemployment benefits dropped 13,000 to a seasonally adjusted 348,000. It was the fourth drop in five weeks and the fewest number of claims since March 2008.
I hate to keep harping on this, but what you’re seeing in the state legislatures is the activity of the Republican farm team. The people voting for laws springing from the mushy brains of people like Bob Marshall and Lori Klein are the young Republicans who, a few cycles from now, will be running for Congress, probably from safe Republican districts that they’ve helped draw up, and aided immeasurably by voter-suppression laws that they’ve helped pass. Most of them will be the products of the vast conservative candidate manufacturing base — the kids at CPAC, the College Republicans, the various Christianist organization. They will not equivocate. They will not moderate. And they are the future of the party. Anyone who thinks the Republican party eventually again will have to “move to the middle” (this translates from the Punditese to “regain its sanity”) isn’t paying attention.
Enjoy the reading!