FIVE THINGS I’M THINKING ABOUT TODAY

1) It’s Thursday, January 29, 2015. It’s 3 days until the Super Bowl, 21 days until pitchers and catchers report (to the Mets, anyway) and 51 days until spring.

2) I’ll apologize in advance if your birthday is this month, but I don’t like January. It seems to take forever. Maybe because it’s the dead of winter, and there seems to be little hope of warmth any time soon. Maybe because it’s still dark a lot of the time.

All I know is that it’s only supposed to be 31 days and this seems like the 37th or 38th. February can’t get here soon enough.

3) The takeaway from this week’s Obama family news is this: People are so obsessed with the president and the First Lady that anything they do seems to be worth two days in the news churn.

The latest hubbub concerns Michelle Obama’s not wearing a headscarf when she and the president went to Saudi Arabia this week. She also shook hands with the new king.

There was some squawking from Saudi social media users. And with the squawking came praise from those who believe the Saudis are a bit backward in their treatment of women. Even Sen. Ted Cruz, who would oppose apple pie if the Obamas said they like it, praised the First Lady. 

But, as The New York Times points out, Mrs. Obama played strictly by Hoyle as far as diplomatic protocol is concerned. To underline that, other prominent members of the president’s delegation, including former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, also went sans scarf.

In other words, the controversy isn’t.

As someone who is fascinated by the presidency, the Obama presidency is absolutely mesmerizing. I have some ideas about why that is, and I hope to expand on them in the future.

There’s only 722 days until this administration goes from present tense to history. I’m just sorry I won’t be around in 2065 or 2115 when — I hope — scholars will be more clear-eyed about Barack and Michelle Obama.

4)   Oil prices keep a droppin’, with U.S. crude futures dipping below $44 a barrel for the first time in nearly six years, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The markets just seem really confused about the drop and its speed. Most consumers probably aren’t. For the first time that I can remember, I filled my 2007 Toyota Highlander’s tank this week and got change from a $20 bill.

This just seems like a great time to reorder things. To raise gas taxes a modest amount to help pay for improving this country’s miserable roads. To keep fossil fuels on the run by continuing to develop alternative ways to power vehicles, and continuing to raise gas mileage standards.

Will that happen? I’m extremely skeptical.

5)   Brooklyn’s ascendancy continues with the deftness with which Loretta Lynch is handling her confirmation hearing as U.S. Attorney General.

She’s combining a clear refusal to back away from the Obama administration’s reasonable moves on immigration reform with the addressing — if not always placating — of the Republican senators on the Judiciary Committee who control her nomination.

Lynch is the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, whose headquarters is in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge. So far, with the way she’s handling these hearing, she’s proving she’s learned a lot from the streets around Cadman Plaza.

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