Morning Must Reads -- Yanqui go home? 

Bloomberg -- U.S. Unemployment Fell to 9.7% in January; Payrolls Drop 20,000

The overall unemployment rate dipped as people found jobs or gave up looking, but the number of people being put out of work rose instead of the small decline expected. Keeping the unemployment under 10 percent is of some political advantage to the majority party but the continuing weakness revealed in ongoing layoffs suggests that recovery will be a long process.

“Payrolls at builders fell 75,000 last month after decreasing 32,000. Financial firms reduced payrolls by 16,000, after a 7,000 decline the prior month.

Service industries, which include banks, insurance companies, restaurants and retailers, added 40,000 workers after subtracting 96,000 in December.

The number of temporary workers increased 52,000 in January. Payrolls at temporary-help agencies often turn up before total employment because companies prefer to see a steady increase in demand before taking on permanent staff.”

 

New York Times -- Obama Maps a Way Forward for a Health Overhaul

The president’s suggestion to a group of Democratic donors at a Thursday-night fundraiser was that Democrats should finish the work of devising a final piece of health legislation based on the House and Senate bills, and then present it to Americans in the format of a televised forum with questions from Republicans and answers from him and “independent experts.

The theme emerging from the White House is that after Congress comes up with another stimulus package, Obama will turn sharply back to health care and finish the work. His plan now seems to be that he can produce something from the House and Senate legislation that can pass the House and get all the Democrats, the two independents and one Republican in the Senate.

He’s not talking about holding bipartisan negotiations on C-SPAN, but rather having a high stakes public debate on the legislation, which he believes will rally Americans to his cause. Obama said that when “misinformation” about the plan is cleared up, public support will reemerge.

The sound you hear is the Democratic strategists choking on their coffee as they read about having our professorial president lecture the nation for “several weeks” on the virtues of a health plan that they hate.

David Herszenhorn reports:

“‘What I’d like to do is have a meeting whereby I am sitting with the Republicans, sitting with the Democrats, sitting with health care experts and let’s just go through these bills,’ Mr. Obama said. ‘Their ideas, our ideas. Let’s walk through them in a methodical way, so that the American people can see and compare what makes the most sense. And then I think that we have got to move forward on a vote. We have got to move forward on a vote.’”

 

New York Times -- U.S. Military Faults Leaders in Deadly Attack on Base

The Pentagon report on the October attack by Talibani and foreign fighters that left eight Americans dead and two dozen wounded at a forward operating base in eastern Afghanistan reveals that the troops there were left twisting in the wind while NATO forces tried to deal with more-urgent seeming threats around the country.

Writer Rod Nordland sheds some light on the heroic stand made by the vastly outnumbered Americans of B Troop of the 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry, who managed to hold off a force five times their size after their Afghan allies broke ranks in the onslaught, surviving until air support arrived to disperse the raiders.

There will likely be no penalties for anyone at the base, but the report did recommend punishment for unnamed officers up the chain of command.

“‘The investigation concluded that critical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets which had been supporting C.O.P. Keating had been diverted to assist ongoing intense combat operations in other areas, that intelligence assessments had become desensitized to reports of massing enemy formations by previous reports that had proved false, and needed force protection improvements were not made because of the imminent closure of the outpost,’ the report said. ‘These factors resulted in an attractive target for enemy fighters.’”

 

Wall Street Journal -- Woes Beset Illinois Democrats

Jon Stewart told Bill O’Reilly of President Obama: “I can't tell if he's a Jedi Master, playing chess on a 3-level board or if this is kicking his ass."

To answer that question, I might submit what is happening right now in the president’s home state and in the battle for the very Senate seat that Obama once occupied.

Very low Democratic turnout in bitter primaries produced a candidate for Lt. Governor who is a pawnbroker who was once charged with holding his girlfriend (later charged with prostitution) at knifepoint. The narrow gubernatorial primary contest featured bitter accusations over incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn’s ties to his corrupt predecessor, Rod Blagojevich, which ended in a tear-streaked concession speech. The winner of the primary for the president’s old seat is the 33-year-old heir to a crumbling bank that is notable for its unsavory clientele.

It’s a nightmare scenario for Illinois Democrats and one must wonder if Obama were really so many moves beyond his opponents he would have left such devastation behind in Illinois.

“Democrats learned Thursday that a new poll has their candidate, state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, six points behind five-term U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk.

Mr. Kirk won the Republican primary by nearly 40 percentage points. The new survey, by Rasmussen Reports, found that Mr. Kirk had climbed back from a three-point deficit in a poll in December.

Mr. Giannoulias won his primary by five percentage points over Chicago Inspector David Hoffman, who campaigned for just five months and had little statewide name recognition when he started. The White House had asked state Attorney General Lisa Madigan to seek the Senate seat.”

 

Washington Post -- In Haiti, U.S. has chance to improve image in Latin America

There’s blaming America first, and then there’s blaming America always.

Writer Juan Forero produced a bizarre piece that argues that American generosity in Haiti may soothe the Southern Hemisphere’s concerns about Yanqui imperialism.

Forget that the Haitians are currently charging a pair of mixed up Idaho Baptists with kidnapping for trying to take a van-load of quake victims to an orphanage in the Dominican Republic. Forget also that no matter what we do for the Haitians it will be deemed insufficient and imperialistic by the America haters.

Forero tells us that the real test here is whether America can prove it’s basic decency. That’s already been proven in Haiti and a thousand other places around the globe. The wiser piece to write might examine this more significant question: at what point will the carping of unworthy critics cause Americans to tire of giving so deeply of themselves and their resources.

“Larry Birns, director of the Council i=on Hemispheric Affairs, a Washington policy group critical of U.S. motives in Latin America, said some of Chávez's rhetoric has been ‘overkill.’ But he said other critics -- including relief officials from France and Italy -- had been justified in criticizing the U.S. military for diverting Haiti-bound flights. He said that could cost the United States.

‘I just don't see this as a clear win for Washington,’ Birns said. ‘Everyone likes the idea of children being pulled from the rubble, but there isn't enough of that to counter the memories of the airport thing.’”

 

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About The Author

Chris Stirewalt

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Washington Examiner Political Editor Chris Stirewalt, who coordinates political coverage for the newspaper and ExaminerPolitics.com in addition to writing a twice-weekly column and
regular blog posts.

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