1) Economy gets more good news - ”After more than two years of frustrating fits and starts, the U.S. economy is showing signs of moving onto firmer ground. A host of reports Thursday underscored that point, as well as the perils that persist. The number of Americans filing initial claims for government unemployment benefits has fallen to levels last seen before Lehman Brothers collapsed, the Labor Department said. The stock market, a leading indicator of growth, is off to its best start this year since 1998 and notched more gains Thursday. Meantime, consumer confidence has reclaimed ground lost last year, and another report showed that income growth is firming. However the economy is far from robust. Government and company reports showed consumer spending has been mixed. And the manufacturing sector, though on the rebound, isn’t booming, according to a survey of manufacturing purchasing managers by the Institute for Supply Management.”
2) Obama Tells Congress To Eliminate ‘Outrageous’ Big Oil Tax Breaks - In a speech before a large crowd in Nashua, New Hampshire, President Barack Obama exhorted Americans to tell Congress to eliminate $4 billion in annual subsidies to big oil companies, who are making record profits on soaring gas prices. The audience booed as Obama talked about the “outrageous” and “inexcusable” tax breaks. Obama had an unambiguous message for every member of Congress: “You can either stand up for the oil companies, or you can stand up for the American people.”
3) Leaders Ask Why We’re Exporting Fossil Fuels Without Considering American Security First - Panelists Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Congressman Ed Markey (D-MA) bemoaned the fact that the United States does not have a national strategy on exports. Wyden accused the country of being “on autopilot” to an energy export policy, which could have tremendous economic, social, and environmental consequences. He expanded: So I have been somebody who’s been expansionist on trade and think that we ought to have freer trade, have fairer trade, but we also need to have smarter trade. And allowing energy producers—we haven’t really touched on this—to trade away our international competitiveness and our energy independence by exporting the resources right now without thinking through the implications here of what it means for consumers and our companies doesn’t strike me as a smart trade policy.
4) Mitt Romney is not impressed with the ‘fancy raincoats’ worn by NASCAR fans - these three sentences, from The New York Times writeup of Romney’s visit to the Daytona 500, might just be the three most hilarious sentences about Mitt Romneybot that you read all day. But the crowd initially booed Mr. Romney, who occasionally struck a discordant note, as when he approached a group of fans wearing plastic ponchos. “I like those fancy raincoats you bought,” he said. “Really sprung for the big bucks.” The only question is whether he’s so clueless that he’s never seen plastic ponchos before and actually thinks they are a big money item … or if he’s a enough of a condescending jackass that he’d make fun of somebody for wearing one.
- “Look, I have worn a garbage bag for rain gear myself.” - Mitt Romney
5) SLUTS* AND THEIR CONTRACEPTION: Senate Votes in Favor of Loose-Moraled Hussies (Blunt Act) -The Senate rejected an amendment [yester]day that would have vastly expanded so-called conscience objections to the Obama administration’s health care law. The measure, which was narrowly defeated in a 51-48 vote, would have allowed employers and insurers to opt out of any portion of the health care law they found morally objectionable, including the requirement to cover the costs of birth control. Currently, churches are the only institutions fully exempt from that requirement, though President Obama recently announced an accommodation by which religiously affiliated organizations such as charities, schools, or hospitals can refuse to provide contraceptive coverage through their insurance plans. || *if by ‘sluts’ you mean average women…
- On Tuesday, Limbaugh called Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute.” Listen:
- Rep. Speier calls for boycott of Limbaugh sponsors - But on his show, Limbaugh accused Fluke of not being able to afford contraception because she was “having so much sex.” Then on Thursday, he demanded that women post sex tapes online if they use insurance-covered birth control. “Shame on you for calling the women of this country prostitutes,” Speier said. “Ninety-eight percent of the women in this country at some time in their lives used birth control.” “So I say to the women in this country, do something about this,” she continued. “I say to the women of this country, ask Century 21, Quicken Loans, Legal Zoom, and Sleep Number to stop supporting the hate mongering of Rush Limbaugh and if they do not do that, then I ask them to boycott those companies.”
6) First Company Pulls Ads From Rush Limbaugh’s Show, Others May Follow - After repeatedly and unapologetically attacking law school student Sandra Fluke as a “slut” on his nationally-syndicated radio show, Rush Limbaugh is facing backlash from his advertisers, reports the Huffington Post. Mattress retailer Sleep Train announced this morning that they would be pulling all of its advertisements from the program after being besieged on Twitter by angry customers. ProFlowers, eHarmony, and several other companies have also been fielding complaints as well, and both companies have said they are considering taking action as well. || Note: can you IMAGINE getting flowers at this point from PROFLOWERS, sent by some guy who ordered them from there because he listens to Limbaugh? It would be like getting spit on and then pushed down.
7) John Boehner vows to continue war on icky lady parts - Asshole: “I think it’s important for us to win this issue,” Mr. Boehner told reporters just before the Senate killed a Republican measure with a vote of 51 to 48. “The government, our government, for 220 years has respected the religious views of the American people, and for all of this time there’s been an exception for those churches and other groups to protect the religious beliefs that they believe in, and that’s being violated here.” [...] “I’ve been trying to take this out of the political realm and get it into a position where we can continue to protect the American people’s right to their own religious views,” he said. “And there are a lot of ways to do that. There’s one in the Senate. We have a couple in the House. It’s matter of how we proceed.” [...] “The government is moving in a direction that would force some Americans to violate their religious beliefs,” he said. “This is wrong, and we want to stop it.”
8) Pillheads in the Senate - This is not a debate, let alone a “fierce” one. This is an issue on which the country made up its damn mind long ago, regardless of how ginned up some politicians can get the rubes. It’s also not a debate about “religion,” unless, to borrow Garry Wills’s felicitous phrase, one reduces the Gospels to “the mere smithying of chastity belts.” … Let us begin by noting that the whole fooferaw happened at all because the Republicans decided to attach an anti-contraception amendment to a multimillion-dollar bill aimed at improving the nation’s highways, which are presently falling apart faster than Roy Blunt’s libido. This, of course, makes the entire thing a profoundly embarrassing charade. This, of course, makes this the United States Senate. The fact that this nonsense failed by an extraordinarily narrow 51-48 reinforces my belief that this issue is not the gold-plated sure winner that White House partisans think it is. (In case you’re wondering, the three hopeless Democrats were Joe Manchin of West Virginia, young Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and the Council Of Trent, and the inevitable Ben Nelson.)
9) Dems vow: No more cuts for federal workers - Leading Democrats charged Republicans this week with “discrimination” against federal workers amid Congress’s struggle to cut deficit spending. The Democrats said a series of federal pay cuts – most recently as part of the payroll-tax package – pile the deficit-reduction burden on one group of Americans while the rest of the country gets a free pass. The lawmakers – all of whom represent districts laden with federal workers – are vowing to oppose any future legislation that includes cuts in federal compensation. [...] The Democrats on Wednesday defended the pay discrepancy. The problem is not that federal workers are overcompensated, they said, but that too many private-sector employees are denied fair wages and benefits. “We’re trying to give them a living wage – how awful that is,” Hoyer quipped. “Let’s correct what they’re doing in the private sector,” Cardin added, “[not] race to the bottom.”‘
- NTEU launches Web site to counter ‘false statements’ against federal workers - Upset by “a wide variety of politicians, pundits and think tanks making grand statements and broad assertions about federal government employees,” the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) has launched a Web site to provide a counter view. “Far too often, these statements will be false,” the union said in a news release Thursday. The Web site, FederalEmployeeFacts.com, is “dedicated to correcting those who are all too willing to bend the truth when it comes to claims about the federal workforce,” NTEU said.