WCSU

Liz Halloran

Wal-Mart's pay practices have long been targeted by advocates of America's working poor.

So it was no surprise that it became national news when the discount retailer, the nation's biggest employer, asked workers at an Ohio store to contribute to a holiday food drive — for fellow workers.

Good morning.

Or, bad morning, if you're President Obama and absorbing the profound political reality of the botched health care law rollout, and your attempt at a fix.

We'll let the headlines tell the story:

Wall Street Journal: "Obama Retreats on Health Care Rules"

Good morning.

Before we get to the president's Treasury appointment, continuing Obamacare problems, and a presidential poll du jour, let's turn our thoughts to the people of the typhoon-devastated Philippines.

My colleague, Mark Memmott, provides an update here, which includes a description of the hard-hit city of Tacloban as looking as if a "50-mile tornado" flattened everything.

Go to the White House website and search for "Obama," "shooting" and "statement," and you'll be faced with an unrelentingly grim list.

Newtown. Aurora. Oak Creek. Tucson. Fort Hood. And now, Navy Yard.

Since Obama took office in January 2009, his presidency has been shadowed by at least 19 mass shootings — those in which four or more people were killed.

Five of those shootings, now including the one Monday at the Navy Yard, are among the top 10 most deadly massacres in the United States over the past three-plus decades.

Remember back when President Bill Clinton argued that his truthfulness about his affair with intern Monica Lewinsky depended on the meaning of the word "is"?

Thought so.

Though the topic may be decidedly less salacious, the Republican Party is embroiled in its own semantics gymnastics this week as its national committee members gather in Boston for their summer meeting.

A poll released days before the opening of George W. Bush's presidential library in Dallas is serving as fodder for some sequestered GOP nostalgia about his two terms in the White House.

President Barack Hussein Obama, sobered but resolute after four years as the nation's first African-American head of state, began his second term Monday with an ardent defense of government as essential to the nation's economic and moral fiber, and a call to citizens to accept their obligation to shape the national debate.

No one can argue the setback to organized labor served up by Michigan's new law, which bars unions from requiring workers to pay dues even if they don't join their workplace bargaining unit.

Tuesday's passage of "right to work" legislation in a state dominated by the auto industry and the historically powerful United Auto Workers was a surprising "smack in the face" to unions, says labor expert Lee Adler, especially given President Obama's nearly 10-point win in the state last month.

The big demographic story out of the 2012 presidential election may have been President Obama's domination of the Hispanic vote, and rightfully so.

But as we close the book on the election, it bears noting that another less obvious bloc of key swing state voters helped the president win a second term.

As the White House and Congress continue to wrangle over a deal to avoid the "fiscal cliff" and its billions in automatic spending cuts and tax increases, we wanted to take a look at who is spending big to influence the debate behind the scenes.

If you're tempted to throw back your head and guffaw when you hear the word "negotiation" linked with "Congress" and "fiscal cliff," please, don't hesitate.

Because what you're seeing play out publicly between congressional Republicans and Democrats and the White House bears little resemblance to negotiation.

"The game that's being played is the same game that's been played over the past few years — brinksmanship, and hard positional bargaining," says William Ury, who knows negotiation when he sees it.

The GOP's roughing up of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, thought to be President Obama's top pick for his second-term secretary of state, brings to mind the last time the Senate rejected a commander in chief's choice for that most crucial position.

It was some six decades ago, and after bitter and tumultuous hearings — think allegations of communism and homosexuality, as well as a high-profile suicide — that senators dumped the president's nominee by a vote of 74-24.

A Florida judge on Friday denied Republican Rep. Allen West's last-ditch bid for a recount of early-voting ballots in the close and ugly re-election race he is losing to Democrat Patrick Murphy.

West's effort to wrest the race from Murphy, who is leading in a race that has yet to be officially called, now goes to the St. Lucie County elections board, which was scheduled to review his complaint late Friday.

It was unclear when it would rule.

Voters were frustrated by a 2012 presidential race they called more negative than usual and more devoid of substantive discussion of issues, according to a survey released Thursday by the Pew Research Center.

And voters are pessimistic about the prospect of a more productive Congress, Pew found.

Two-thirds of registered voters surveyed after Election Day said they believe relations between Democrats and Republicans will stay the same or worsen over the coming year.

There has been no dearth of post-election Republican self-flagellation.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, on the eve of heading out to a meeting of Republican governors in Las Vegas, warned the GOP to "stop being the stupid party." At the gathering Wednesday night, he leveled more harsh criticism at party presidential candidate Mitt Romney.