Tensions with Iran these days are as high as they've been in years, and managing them will be one of the top challenges facing the Obama administration this year. With Iran threatening to block U.S. ships from entering the Persian Gulf, and the United States vowing not to back down, the stage seems to be set for war. And yet, what's happening with Iran right now may be more of an economic confrontation than a military standoff.
Americans' religious liberties are under attack — or at least that's what some conservatives say.
Newt Gingrich warns the U.S. is becoming a secular country, which would be a "nightmare." Rick Santorum says there's a clash between "man's laws and God's laws." And in a campaign ad, Rick Perry decried what he called "Obama's war on religion," saying there is "something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can't openly ... pray in school."
Many of the journalists and professional political types who dutifully watched Saturday night's Republican presidential debate in New Hampshire probably had the same thought occur to them at several points: "For this we missed most of the NFL wildcard game between the New Orleans Saints and Detroit Lions?"
President Obama may have riled Republicans with his recess appointment of Richard Cordray to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, but there's bipartisan agreement on Mr. Cordray's qualifications. He served as Ohio's attorney general. Before that, he was Ohio state treasurer. For more, we're joined by our friend from the business world, New York Times op-ed columnist Joe Nocera. Joe, thanks for being with us.
President Obama acknowledged Friday that the economic recovery has a long way to go. Still, he was able to share some good news. The Labor Department reported that U.S. employers added 200,000 jobs in December, and the unemployment rate fell to 8.5 percent.
"Obviously, we have a lot more work to do," he said, "but it is important for the American people to recognize that we've now added 3.2 million new private-sector jobs over the last 22 months."
Those better-than-expected numbers could help Obama as he tries to hang onto his own job.