Political Headlines January 30, 2013: Gabrielle Giffords visits Barack Obama at White House

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Giffords visits Obama at White House

Source: USA Today, 1-30-13

President Obama welcomed a special guest to the White House on Wednesday, shooting survivor and former U.S. Rep.Gabrielle Giffords.

Giffords and husband Mark Kelly visited just a few hours after testifying in a Senate hearing on legislation to address gun violence.

“Everyone here was heartened to see Gabrielle Giffords testify today,” said White House spokesman Jay Carney, confirming the meeting with Obama….READ MORE

Full Text Political Headlines January 30, 2013: Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ opening statement at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence & control — Transcript & Video

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Gabby Giffords’s opening statement (transcript, video)

Source: WaPo, 1-30-13

Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ full opening statement at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence:

Okay. Thank you for inviting me. This is an important conversation for our children, for our communities, for Democrats and Republicans. Speaking is difficult but I need to say something important. Violence is a big problem. Too many children are dying. Too many children. We must do something. It will be hard, but the time is now. You must act. Be bold, be courageous. Americans are counting on you. Thank you.

Political Headlines January 30, 2013: Gabrielle Giffords Urges Senate: ‘Be Courageous’ on Gun Control

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Gabrielle Giffords Urges Senate: ‘Be Courageous’ on Gun Control

Source: ABC News Radio, 1-30-13

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Image

Former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, whose congressional career was ended by a bullet wound to her head, opened a Senate hearing on gun violence Wednesday by telling the panel, “Speaking is difficult, but I need to say something important.”

She told the Senate to be “courageous” because “Americans are counting on you.”

Giffords sat alongside her astronaut husband Mark Kelly as she delivered her emotional statement just over a minute long imploring Congress to act on gun policy….READ MORE

Election 2012 November 18, 2012: Ron Barber, Former Gabrielle Giffords Aide, Wins Arizona Seat in Congress After Close Race

ELECTION 2012

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CAMPAIGN BUZZ
2012

THE HEADLINES….

Ron Barber, Former Gabrielle Giffords Aide, Wins Seat in Congress After Close Race

Source: ABC News Radio, 11-19-12

Jonathan Gibby/Getty Images

Democrat Ron Barber, former aide to Gabrielle Giffords, was declared the winner today of a tight congressional race in Southern Arizona.

Saturday morning, Barber’s opponent, Republican Martha McSally, called him and conceded the race.

The hard-fought battle played out in a newly redrawn district in Southern Arizona that covers parts of Tucson and Pima County and all of Cochise County….READ MORE

Campaign Buzz June 13, 2012: Former Gabrielle Giffords Aide Democrat Ron Barber Wins Arizona Special Election to Finish her Congressional Term

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

Ron Barber, second from left, gets a hug from former Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, left, as Giffords husband Mark Kelly, right, looks on as Barber celebrates a victory before speaking to supporters at a post election event, Tuesday, June 12, 2012, in Tucson, Ariz. | AP Photo

Barber ran as a moderate, never identifying himself as a Democrat in his ads. | AP Photo

IN FOCUS: FORMER GABBY GIFFORDS AIDE DEMOCRAT RON BARBER WINS ARIZONA SPECIAL ELECTION TO FINISH HER CONGRESSIONAL TERM

Former Giffords Aide Ron Barber Wins Arizona Special Election: Ron Barber, the former district director for Gabrielle Giffords, has won the special election for his old bosses’ seat.
For Barber, 66, victory is bittersweet. The top aide to Giffords was also injured in the grocery store shooting on January, 2011 — he was shot in the leg and the cheek….. – ABC News Radio, 6-13-12

  • Arizona Race to Succeed Giffords Won by Democrat: Ron Barber, whom former Representative Gabrielle Giffords picked as her successor, defeated his Republican rival on Tuesday in a closely followed special election…. – NYT, 6-13-12
  • Former Gabrielle Giffords aide Ron Barber wins election to finish her term: Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ hand-picked Democratic candidate won a special election Tuesday in southern Arizona to finish her term, defeating a Republican who narrowly lost to Giffords in 2010…. – AP, 6-13-12
  • Ron Barber wins Arizona special election: Ron Barber gave Democrats a much-needed boost Tuesday by winning an Arizona special election that came just one week after the party suffered a demoralizing loss in Wisconsin.
    In a House contest to finish the term of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Barber defeated Republican  to win a southern Arizona-based seat that has been vacant since Giffords announced her resignation in January to focus on her recovery following a January 2011 assassination attempt.
    The special election ranked as the highest-profile contest on a day when six other states cast ballots in House primaries…. – Politico, 6-13-12
  • Democrat Ron Barber Retains Gabby Giffords’s Arizona Congressional Seat: Former Giffords aide Ron Barber beat his Tea Party opponent in an election that was far less close than predicted. Democrats said the victory is a good omen for Obama, but Republicans attributed it to…. Daily Beast, 6-13-12
  • Arizona Voters Pick Former Aide to Fill Giffords’ Seat: Democrat Ron Barber, an aide to former US Representative Gabrielle Giffords, won a special election to fill the remaining term of the congresswoman who resigned after being shot in the head … BusinessWeek, 6-13-12What to Draw from Gabby Giffords Special Election: Voters in southeastern Arizona are at the polls Tuesday in a special election to fill the seat vacated by Gabby Giffords’ retirement.
    The Democratic nominee, Ron Barber, has a very personal connection to Giffords. Not only is he Giffords’ former district director, but he was also shot in the leg and cheek in the assassination attempt on Giffords in January 2011.
    Tea Party supporter and former Marine Jesse Kelly is the Republican nominee. Kelly narrowly lost his 2010 race against Giffords by 4,000 votes.
    While a new poll out Monday showed Barber ahead of Kelly by 12 points, insiders on both sides say their polling shows the race much tighter. Many of those closest to the contest give Barber a narrow advantage…. – ABC News Radio, 6-12-12
  • Arizona voters go to polls to fill Gabrielle Giffords’s seat in Congress: Voters in Arizona were set to select a replacement for former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D) in a competitive special election on Tuesday, but late poll closings left the winner undetermined late Tuesday night…. – WaPo, 6-12-12
  • Special election to replace Gabrielle Giffords set for Tuesday in Arizona: Voters in southeastern Arizona will decide Tuesday whether to continue the legacy of former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D) by electing a former aide who was among those injured with her in a tragic 2011 shooting or to punish President Obama…. – WaPo, 6-11-12
  • Gabrielle Giffords’ House seat: Final scramble underway: Democrat Ron Barber and Republican Jesse Kelly made a last-ditch plea for votes ahead of Tuesday’s special election to succeed former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, as an independent poll showed Barber poised to win.
    With momentum apparently in his favor, Barber spent the day trying to mobilize his get-out-the-vote operation and avoid complacency. The tea party-backed Kelly went on a popular conservative talk radio show and pressed his case that Barber would be a rubber stamp for President Barack Obama…. – Politico, 6-12-12

Full Text February 10, 2012: President Obama Signs Rep. Gabby Giffords’ Final Bill — The Ultralight Aircraft Smuggling Prevention Act of 2012

 

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Signs Rep. Gabby Giffords’ Final Bill

Source: WH, 2-10-12

Representative Gabrielle Giffords' Final Bill (February 10, 2012)
President Obama signs H.R. 3801, the Ultralight Aircraft Smuggling Prevention Act of 2012, in the Oval Office, Feb. 10, 2012. This bill was the last piece of legislation that former Representative Gabrielle Giffords sponsored and voted on in the U.S. House of Representatives. Vice President Joe Biden, former Representative Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly attended the signing ceremony. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Today, President Obama signed the last piece of legislation that Congresswoman Gabby Giffords authored before her retirement.

The new law is designed to clamp down on ultralight planes that are used to smuggle drugs into the United States.

In a statement, President Obama said, “I’m confident that while this legislation may have been her last act as a Congresswoman, it will not be her last act of public service.”

This final bill from Rep. Giffords passed Congress unanimously.

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Statement by President Obama upon Signing the Ultralight Aircraft Smuggling Prevention Act of 2012

This bill gives our nation’s law enforcement expanded authority to combat illicit drug trafficking on our Northern and Southern Borders and being able to sign it next to my friend Gabby Giffords gives me enormous pride.  She has spent her career fighting for the safety of the people of Arizona and the fact that it passed unanimously shows just how much Gabby is respected by her colleagues in Congress in both parties.  Her dedication to fairness and to this country has been an inspiration to so many, including myself.  I wished Gabby well in her recovery and told her that I expect to see more of her in the months and years to come.  I’m confident that while this legislation may have been her last act as a Congresswoman, it will not be her last act of public service.

Political Highlights: Best Political Quotes of 2011

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

Year in Quotes: White House and Congress

Source: WoodTV, 12-22-11

‘The world is safer’

“It’s like lighting the match that could burn down the house.”–Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., describing a scenario in which a debt ceiling agreement was not met by May. April, 2011

“It’s not going to get easier, it’s going to get harder. So we might as well do it now. Pull off the Band-Aid. Eat our peas.”–President Obama, in a press conference urging House and Senate leadership to come together to pass a debt ceiling bill. July, 2011

“Get your ass in line. I can’t do this job unless you’re behind me.”–House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to fellow Republicans who were holding out against his debt ceiling deal for one with more spending cuts. July, 2011

“I strongly believe that crossing the aisle for the good of the American people is more important than party politics. I had to be here for this vote. I could not take the chance that my absence could crash our economy.” –Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., after returning to the House chamber to cast her vote for the debt ceiling bill. It was her first appearance to Congress since she was shot in the head in Jan. 8, 2011. August, 2011

“At a time when spending is out of control, giving the federal government more money would be like giving a cocaine addict more cocaine.” –Speaker Boehner, in response to the president’s proposed deficit reduction plan. September, 2011

“After months of hard work and intense deliberations, we have come to the conclusion today that it will not be possible to make any bipartisan agreement available to the public before the committee’s deadline.”–Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., co-chairs of the debt “supercommittee,” a congressional group tasked with identifying $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction. November, 2011

“The world is safer. It is a better place because of the death of Osama bin Laden.”–President Barack Obama, hours after U.S. forces killed the al-Qaida leader in the middle-of-the-night raid on his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. May, 2011

“All I will say is that for three years the president has been harvesting the successes of the very strategy that he consistently dismissed as a failure. I imagine that this irony was not lost on a few of our troops at Fort Bragg today, most of whom deployed and fought as part of the surge.”–Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., after President Obama marked the end of the Iraq War at Fort Bragg, N.C. December, 2011

“I’m not sure I want to put national, federal resources into trying to figure out who posted a picture on Weiner’s website, uh, whatever. I’m not really sure it rises, no pun intended, to that level.”–Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., as a media storm continued to swirl surrounding a lewd photo sent from his Twitter account to a female college student in Seattle. June, 2011

“There isn’t anything that I can imagine doing after this that would be as demanding, as challenging or rewarding.”–Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, after indicating she would step down in 2012. March, 2011

Political Buzz Debt Ceiling Showdown August 6, 2011: Washington Post Analysis — The Reasoning Behind the Republican Showdown in the Debt Crisis — “Origins of the Debt Showdown”

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

FEATURES:

For the GOP, the debt showdown was a ‘leverage moment’:

Source: WaPo, 8-7-11

Origins of the debt showdown

The frantic showdown over the debt ceiling that played out in Washington, bringing the nation to the brink of default, looked like the haphazard escalation of a typical partisan standoff. It wasn’t.

Rather, it was the natural outgrowth of a years-long effort by GOP recruiters to build a new majority and reverse the party’s fortunes. That effort began before the economy collapsed in 2008, before the government bailouts that followed, before the tea party rose in response to push its anti-tax, anti-spending message.

The Washington Post reconstructs the Republican party’s transformation, and its impact on the nation’s economic course, through interviews with the leading participants during this summer’s drama and from earlier interviews, some of them recorded, at various points during the past 2 1/2 years….READ MORE

Political Highlights: Debt Ceiling Showdown 2011 Recap — President Obama Signs the Bipartisan Budget Control Act of 2011 into Law Averting 1st Default in US History

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

DEBT CEILING SHOWDOWN 2011 RECAP: OBAMA VS CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS

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IN FOCUS

Debt Ceiling Showdown All Posts; News, Quotes, Speeches, Press Conferences & Analysis on History Musings

Political Highlights Debt Ceiling Showdown August 1-2, 2011: Debt Ceiling Crisis Averted House & Senate Pass Bipartisan Compromise Bill — President Obama Signs Budget Control Act of 2011 into Law — History Musings, 8-2-11

Political Highlights Debt Ceiling Showdown July 25-31, 2011: Finally, a Deal! After Week of Partisan Votes in Congress — President Obama, White House, Republican & Democratic Leaders Agree to Debt Deal — Still Needs to Pass House & Senate Votes — History Musings, 8-1-11

Political Highlights Debt Ceiling Showdown Recap July 18-24, 2011: 2 Plans, 8 Days No Debt Deal in Sight — Will the US Default on August 2, 2011? — History Musings, 7-25-11

Political Debt Ceiling Showdown Recap July 6-18, 2011: Bipartisan Senate Compromise Plan Emerges — Obama Sets New Deadline for Friday July 22, 2011 — History Musings, 7-18-11

Full Text of the Budget Control Act of 2011 — PDF

How the Senate voted: 74-26 roll call Tuesday — the Senate passed Budget Control Act of 2011 —

YES: 45 Democrats and 28 Republicans
NO: 6 Democrats and 19 Republicans

How the House of Representatives voted: 269-161 roll call Monday — the House passed Budget Control Act of 2011 —

YES: 95 Democrats and 174 Republicans
NO: 95 Democrats and 66 Republicans

Resources on the Debate About the National Debt — White House

  • Joe Biden, Mitch McConnell and the making of a debt dealPolitico, 8-2-11
  • Obama Approval Drops to New Low of 40% Similar to his approval rating for handling the debt ceiling negotiations: President Obama’s job approval rating is at a new low, averaging 40% in July 26-28 Gallup Daily tracking. His prior low rating of 41% occurred several times, the last of which was in April. As recently as June 7, Obama had 50% job approval…. – Gallop, 7-29-11
  • Majority of Americans surveyed believe Congressional leaders behaved like spoiled children: Congressional approval ratings fell to a dismal 14% in the latest CNN/Opinion Research Corp. Survey released Tuesday. It showed a whopping 77% of people felt elected officials in Washington behaved mostly like “spoiled children” in the run-up to the vote.
    Only 17% of people surveyed believed the pols behaved like “responsible adults,” with 4% saying it was a mixture of both…. – NY Daily News, 8-2-11
  • Snapshot: Obama signs debt limit bill: Just hours ahead of a deadline to avert an unprecedented default, President Barack Obama, without public ceremony, signs a bill that raises the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling and sets in motion a plan to reduce U.S. deficits over 10 years…. – Reuters, 8-2-11Fact Sheet: Bipartisan Debt Deal: A Win for the Economy and Budget Discipline — White House, 7-31-11 Timeline of the Debt Ceiling Negotiations — NYT, 7-31-11

    SNAPSHOT-U.S. lawmakers close to deal on debt: Here is what is happening on Sunday as lawmakers and the White House race to broker a deal to raise the country’s $14.3 trillion borrowing cap by Tuesday’s deadline and avoid default on obligations…. – Reuters, 7-31-11

    FACTBOX-Key elements of possible U.S. debt deal: U.S. lawmakers were working furiously on Sunday to hammer out details of a deal to raise the U.S. borrowing limit and put in place a deficit-reduction plan to help avert a potentially catastrophic debt default.
    Lawmakers, administration officials and aides have made clear that they have yet to agree on the final deal. But they did provide the following details of how the deal is taking shape…. – Reuters, 7-31-11

    FACTBOX-What’s ahead in the U.S. debt limit fight — Reuters, 7-30-11

    How Different Types of Republicans Voted on the Revised Debt Plan: Analysis of how different Republican blocs voted on the revised debt plan… – NYT

    Interactive Graphic: House Roll Call: Boehner’s Short-Term Debt Ceiling Increase — NYT

    Interactive Graphic: Comparing Deficit-Reduction Plans — NYT

    Timeline: How U.S. debt talks spiraled into crisis: The United States drifted closer to a credit rating downgrade and default on Wednesday as President Barack Obama’s Democrats and their Republican rivals worked on competing plans to cut spending and raise the debt ceiling. Following is a timeline of the U.S. debt debate… – Reuters, 7-30-11

    Factbox: Details of competing debt limit plans: House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican, and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid are pushing rival plans to raise the government’s borrowing limit before an August 2 deadline. Reid could modify his plan to attract Republican support once Boehner’s bill fails in the Senate. Here are details of the two plans… – Reuters, 7-28-11

    Factbox: House factions influence debt/deficit vote: On any major piece of legislation that moves through Congress, various factions within the House of Representatives and Senate can influence chances of success or failure.
    That has been especially true in the debate over raising the $14.3 trillion debt limit by August 2 in order to avoid a U.S. government default. Here is a rundown of the various factions — many overlap — and how they shaped the debate and how they might influence the final vote:

    TEA PARTY HOUSE CAUCUS…
    HOUSE REPUBLICAN STUDY COMMITTEE…
    THE TUESDAY GROUP…
    BLUE DOG DEMOCRATS…
    THE CONGRESSIONAL PROGRESSIVE CAUCUS…
    REPUBLICAN SENATOR JIM DEMINT…

    Reuters, 7-28-11

    Debt ceiling Q&A: How did we get here, what happens next?LAT, 7-28-11

    Debt ceiling poll: Voters with Obama: Most Americans would like to see a mix of spending cuts and tax increases be part of a deal to raise the debt ceiling, a new poll finds, aligning the majority with President Barack Obama’s position. Of those surveyed for a Reuters/Ipsos poll released Tuesday, 56 percent said they want to see a mix of approaches used in an agreement to raise the debt ceiling. The poll was conducted overnight Monday, as Obama and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) voiced their views on the impasse in negotiations in back-to-back televised primetime speeches.
    Just 19 percent of Americans said they favor a plan like Boehner’s, which would rely solely on spending cuts to existing programs to reduce the deficit. Twelve percent said they would prefer a plan to reduce the deficit only by raising taxes.
    Americans’ blame for the impasse is spread all around, though is particularly strong against congressional Republicans, with 31 percent of those surveyed saying they are responsible for it. Twenty-one percent blamed Obama and nine percent blamed congressional Democrats…. – Politico 7-26-11

    New polls confirm Obama’s Democratic base crumbles: …”More than a third of Americans now believe that President Obama’s policies are hurting the economy, and confidence in his ability to create jobs is sharply eroding among his base,” the Post reports.
    Strong support among liberal Democrats for Obama’s jobs record has plummeted 22 points from 53% down below a third. African Americans who believe the president’s measures helped the economy have plunged from 77% to barely half.
    Obama’s overall job approval on the economy has slid below 40% for the first time, with 57% disapproving. And strong disapprovers outnumber approvers by better than two-to-one. – LAT, 7-26-11

    INFOGRAPHIC: Where does our national debt come from?: One of the fundamental things to understand when considering the debate about reducing our national debt is how we accumulated so much in the first place.
    To explain the impact various policies have had over the past decade, shifting us from projected surpluses to actual deficits and, as a result, running up the national debt, the White House has developed a graphic for you to review and share. – WH, 7-26-11

  • Factbox: How the Obama/Boehner debt talks unraveled: President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner had agreed on the rough outlines of a far-reaching budget deal that would allow the United States to avert an imminent default before Boehner broke off talks on Friday.
    Here is a summary of what the two sides had agreed upon, where they had differed, and how things fell apart… – Reuters, 7-24-11
  • Timeline: How the debt talks spiraled into crisis: With financial markets on edge, White House officials and Republican leaders scrambled to reassure them that the United States will avert default and lift its $14.3 trillion borrowing limit before August 2. Following is a timeline of the U.S. debt debate…. – Reuters, 7-24-11
  • Debt Ceiling for Dummies: Why Compromise Is so NecessaryHuff Post, 7-24-11
  • SCENARIOS-Options for raising the U.S. debt limit: Democrats and Republicans in Congress, unable to compromise on how to cut budget deficits and raise U.S. borrowing authority, are now working on their own, competing bills. With nine days’ left until the United States runs out of money to pay all its bills after Aug. 2, the two parties were rushing to get their respective bills moving through Congress this week.
    Here are some scenarios for raising the debt limit by the early August deadline to avoid a potentially crippling government default:
    AN ALL SPENDING CUTS, NO REVENUES PLAN…
    A SHORT-TERM DEBT LIMIT INCREASE…
    BLEND THE TWO IDEAS?…
    MCCONNELL “FALLBACK” PLAN…
    TALKS RESUME…
    OBAMA INVOKES THE CONSTITUTION… – Reuters, 7-24-11President Obama USA Today Exclusive Op-ed: Go ‘big’ on debt deal: For years now, America has been spending more money than we take in. The result is that we have too much debt on our nation’s credit card — debt that will ultimately weaken our economy, lead to higher interest rates for all Americans, and leave us unable to invest in things like education, or protect vital programs like Medicare.
    Neither party is blameless for the decisions that led to this debt, but both parties have a responsibility to come together and solve the problem. That’s what the American people expect of us. Every day, families are figuring out how to stretch their paychecks a little further, sacrifice what they can’t afford, and budget only for what’s truly important. It’s time for Washington to do the same…. – USA Today, 7-21-11
  • Poll: Sharp Partisan Divide Over Debt Ceiling Deal: With the deadline to broker a debt ceiling deal fast approaching, Americans are craving a solution but remain strongly divided along party lines over how to achieve it, according to a CNN/ORC poll released today.
    The poll finds 64% of Americans want a package that includes both spending cuts and tax increases, although the partisan divide is clear: 83% of Democrats and nearly two-thirds of independents support this combined approach, while only 37% of Republicans say they agree. A majority of Republicans and self-described tea party supporters support a plan that only includes spending cuts…. – NY Daily News, 7-21-11
  • ‘Cut, cap, and balance’ vs. ‘gang of six’ plan: Which for House GOP?: ‘Cut, cap, and balance’ legislation, which lays out a GOP plan to eliminate the US budget deficit, is set for a House vote late Tuesday. A symbolic move, the vote is nonetheless vital to Republicans. Here’s why…. – CS Monitor, 7-20-11
  • Latest developments in debt ceiling standoff: Congress has until Aug. 2 to raise the federal borrowing limit or the government will run out of money and possibly default on its debt. House Republicans say they won’t raise the debt limit without equal spending cuts. President Barack Obama and Democrats insist that higher revenues must be included.
    Monday’s developments: Obama says the two sides are “making progress” in negotiations. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., says the Senate will meet each day until the issue is resolved.
    What’s Next: Republican House to vote Tuesday on bill to cut and cap spending and require that Congress pass a balanced budget amendment before the debt ceiling can be raised. While the bill is unlikely to pass the Democratic Senate, Obama threatens to veto it. – AP, 7-18-11
  • McConnell Offers Three-Stage Debt-Limit ‘Last Choice’ Option: Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell proposed a “last choice option” for increasing the U.S. debt limit in three stages in case President Barack Obama and Congress can’t agree on a deficit-reduction plan.
    McConnell’s plan would let the president raise the limit, while accompanying it with offsetting spending cuts, unless Congress struck down his plan with a two-thirds majority. The debt-ceiling increase could occur without the companion spending cuts, McConnell said.
    Don Stewart, a spokesman for McConnell, said the plan would allow Obama to raise the debt limit while putting the onus on him and congressional Democrats for any failure to cut spending. At the same time, Republicans wouldn’t have to agree to tax increases.
    The proposal is “not my first choice,” McConnell said, adding that he wanted to show the financial markets that the U.S. will not default on its debts. He said he continues to seek a broader deal to raise the $14.3 trillion debt limit with congressional Democrats and the White House. “We’re certainly not going to send a signal to the markets and the American people that default is an option,” he said…. – Bloomberg, 7-12-11
  • Timeline: Debt debate, 7-11-11: President Barack Obama and top lawmakers will meet again Monday in search of a deal on slashing the U.S. budget deficit and raising the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling before the United States defaults.
    Obama wants to strike a deal well before August 2, when the Treasury Department says it will no longer be able to honor its obligations and issue new bonds without breaching the limit that Congress set on how much the United States can borrow.
    Republican and Democratic lawmakers say any increase must include measures to ensure the country’s debt remains at a sustainable level. The debt-reduction debate is a sharp shift for Washington, which less than a year ago was focused on additional deficit spending to lower the unemployment rate.
    Following is a timeline of the debate…. – Reuters, 7-11-11
  • Factbox: What’s on the table in debt talks: President Barack Obama and congressional leaders resume their White House talks on Monday to see if they have the makings of a deal to trim budget deficits and avert a looming default.
    The Treasury Department has warned it will run out of money to cover the country’s bills if Congress does not raise the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling by August 2.
    Although Democrats and Republicans agree on the need for trillions of dollars in budget savings, they remain sharply divided about how to get there.
    Following is a summary of the debate… – Reuters, 7-11-11
  • Bruce Bartlett: Five myths about the debt ceiling: In recent months, the federal debt ceiling — last increased in February 2010 and now standing at $14.3 trillion — has become a matter of national debate and political hysteria. The ceiling must be raised by Aug. 2, Treasury says, or the government will run out of cash. Congressional Republicans counter that they won’t raise the debt limit unless Democrats agree to large budget cuts with no tax increases. President Obama insists that closing tax loopholes must be part of the package. Whom and what to believe in the great debt-limit debate? Here are some misconceptions that get to the heart of the battle….

    1. The debt limit is an effective way to control spending and deficits.
    2. Opposition to raising the debt limit is a partisan issue.
    3. Financial markets won’t care much if interest payments are just a few days late — a “technical default.”
    4. It’s worth risking default on the debt to prevent a tax increase, given the weak economy.
    5. Obama must accept GOP budget demands because he needs Republican support to raise the debt limit….

    WaPo, 7-7-11

Political Highlights Debt Ceiling Showdown August 1-2, 2011: Debt Ceiling Crisis Averted House & Senate Pass Bipartisan Compromise Bill — President Obama Signs Budget Control Act of 2011 into Law

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

THE HEADLINES: DEBT CEILING SHOWDOWN: OBAMA VS CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS

Joe Biden and Mitch McConnell are pictured. | AP Photo composite by POLITICO

IN FOCUS AUGUST 1-2, 2011: DEBT CEILING CRISIS AVERTED HOUSE & SENATE PASS BIPARTISAN COMPROMISE BILL — PRESIDENT OBAMA SIGNS BUDGET CONTROL ACT OF 2011 INTO LAW

 

  • Political Highlights Debt Ceiling Showdown August 1-2, 2011: Debt Ceiling Crisis Averted House & Senate Pass Bipartisan Compromise Bill — President Obama Signs Budget Control Act of 2011 into Law — History Musings, 8-2-11
  • Political Highlights Debt Ceiling Showdown July 25-31, 2011: Finally, a Deal! After Week of Partisan Votes in Congress — President Obama, White House, Republican & Democratic Leaders Agree to Debt Deal — Still Needs to Pass House & Senate Votes — History Musings, 8-1-11
  • Political Highlights Debt Ceiling Showdown Recap July 18-24, 2011: 2 Plans, 8 Days No Debt Deal in Sight — Will the US Default on August 2, 2011? — History Musings, 7-25-11
  • Full Text of the Budget Control Act of 2011 — PDFHow the Senate voted: 74-26 roll call Tuesday — the Senate passed Budget Control Act of 2011 —

    YES: 45 Democrats and 28 Republicans
    NO: 6 Democrats and 19 Republicans

    How the House of Representatives voted: 269-161 roll call Monday — the House passed Budget Control Act of 2011 —

    YES: 95 Democrats and 174 Republicans
    NO: 95 Democrats and 66 Republicans

    Resources on the Debate About the National Debt — White House

  • Joe Biden, Mitch McConnell and the making of a debt dealPolitico, 8-2-11
  • Obama Approval Drops to New Low of 40% Similar to his approval rating for handling the debt ceiling negotiations: President Obama’s job approval rating is at a new low, averaging 40% in July 26-28 Gallup Daily tracking. His prior low rating of 41% occurred several times, the last of which was in April. As recently as June 7, Obama had 50% job approval…. – Gallop, 7-29-11
  • Majority of Americans surveyed believe Congressional leaders behaved like spoiled children: Congressional approval ratings fell to a dismal 14% in the latest CNN/Opinion Research Corp. Survey released Tuesday. It showed a whopping 77% of people felt elected officials in Washington behaved mostly like “spoiled children” in the run-up to the vote.
    Only 17% of people surveyed believed the pols behaved like “responsible adults,” with 4% saying it was a mixture of both…. – NY Daily News, 8-2-11
  • Snapshot: Obama signs debt limit bill: Just hours ahead of a deadline to avert an unprecedented default, President Barack Obama, without public ceremony, signs a bill that raises the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling and sets in motion a plan to reduce U.S. deficits over 10 years…. – Reuters, 8-2-11

SENATE VOTES ON DEBT DEAL — PRESIDENT OBAMA MAKES STATEMENT & SIGNS DEBT BILL INTO LAW RAISING THE DEBT CEILING

Obama signs debt-ceiling deal into law: President Obama has signed into law the bill raising the federal debt ceiling just hours before the Treasury said it could begin running out of money to pay the government’s bills, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday.

President Obama says work not done: After the Senate passed the debt deal and removed the threat of default the day the Treasury was expected to run out of funds, President Obama told the American people from the Rose Garden that “the next phase” of the process involved such things as entitlement and tax reform, extended unemployment benefits and middle-class tax cuts.
He urged Congress to tackle those issues when it returns from its August recess.
“Voters may have chosen divided government, but they sure didn’t vote for dysfunctional government,” Obama said. “They want us to solve problems.”
The president added “While deficit reduction is part of that agenda, it is not the whole agenda.”

Congress approves debt deal, averts U.S. default: The Senate approved a plan, 74 to 26, Tuesday that will increase the federal debt ceiling just hours before the Treasury said it could begin running out of money to pay the government’s bills.
The measure now goes to President Obama, who is expected to sign it shortly. The plan will cut the national debt by at least $2.1 trillion over the next 10 years with no immediate provision for tax increases.

Senate begins vote on debt deal: Approval would send the measure to President Obama and immediately grant the Treasury $400 billion in additional borrowing authority, just hours before a midnight deadline.

 

  • Full Text of the Budget Control Act of 2011 — PDFHow the Senate voted: 74-26 roll call Tuesday — the Senate passed Budget Control Act of 2011 —

    YES: 45 Democrats and 28 Republicans
    NO: 6 Democrats and 19 Republicans

    How the House of Representatives voted: 269-161 roll call Monday — the House passed Budget Control Act of 2011 —

    YES: 95 Democrats and 174 Republicans
    NO: 95 Democrats and 66 Republicans

    “It was a long and contentious debate. And I want to thank the American people for keeping up the pressure on their elected officials to put politics aside and work together.” — President Barack Obama

    “We have seen in the past few days that Washington has the ability to focus when there is a timer ticking down and when there is a looming disaster. It shouldn’t take the risk of default, the risk of economic catastrophe, to get folks in this town to get together and do their jobs. Our economy didn’t need Washington to come along with a manufactured crisis to make things worse.” — President Barack Obama

    “It may have been messy. It might have appeared to some like their government wasn’t working. But, in fact, the opposite was true. The push and pull Americans saw in Washington these past few weeks was not gridlock. It was the will of the people working itself out in a political system that was never meant to be pretty…. It was a debate that Washington needed to have.” — — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell

    The bill passed by the House last night isn’t the bill we’d write if conservatives ran Washington, but it’s a step in the right direction. When I went to NY & said we wouldn’t pass a debt limit increase without spending cuts larger than the hike, skeptics said we were crazy. We’ve proven the skeptics wrong. When Americans stay engaged in their government, there’s no limit to what can get done. Keep up the fight. — Speaker of the House John Boehner

    “Never again will any president from either party be allowed to raise the debt ceiling without being held accountable for it by the American people. And in addition to that, without having to engage in the kind of debate we just went thorough. This kind of discussion isn’t something to dread. It’s something to welcome.” — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell

    “The American people want to see accountability and cooperation in Washington. And they want to see that we’re working to get our fiscal house in order. This legislation doesn’t get us there. But for the first time in a long time, I think we can say to the American people that we’re finally facing in the right direction.” — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell

    “It is the beginning of a process where we are going to change a system in this town. And it also, I think, sends a signal that we can work together to try and produce results.” — House Majority Leader Eric Cantor

    “It’s hard to believe that we are putting our best foot forward with the legislation that comes before us today. I’m not happy with it, but I’m proud of some of the accomplishments contained in it.” — House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi

    “There is great incentive created in this committee to deal with tax reform. It is certainly our expectation that that product will include revenue as well as other areas of finding deficit reduction.” — Speaker of the House Jay Carney

    “I believe the joint select committee can in fact produce real cuts in spending.” — Speaker of the House John Boehner

    Senator Tom Coburn: Why I voted against the debt deal”: “The real debt crisis is not a debate that has been imposed on Washington by Tea Party activists. It is a crisis Washington has imposed on the American people through laziness.” — WaPo, 8-2-11

  • Snapshot: Obama signs debt limit bill: Just hours ahead of a deadline to avert an unprecedented default, President Barack Obama, without public ceremony, signs a bill that raises the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling and sets in motion a plan to reduce U.S. deficits over 10 years…. – Reuters, 8-2-11
  • Debt Bill Becomes Law; Default Averted: The Senate voted Tuesday to raise the government’s debt ceiling and cut trillions of dollars from its spending, finally ending a fractious partisan battle just hours before the government’s borrowing authority was set to run out.
    The bill, which passed 74 to 26 after a short debate devoid of the oratorical passion that had echoed through both chambers of Congress for weeks, was signed by President Obama later on Tuesday.
    A few minutes after the vote, President Obama excoriated his Republican opposition for what he called a manufactured crisis that could have been avoided. “Voters may have chosen divided government,” he said, “but they sure didn’t vote for dysfunctional government…. – NYT, 8-2-11
  • Fitch: US Debt deal alone won’t sustain AAA rating: The bill to raise the country’s borrowing limit and prevent a possible U.S. debt default passed in Congress. But it not enough for the U.S. to maintain its coveted AAA debt rating, according to Fitch Ratings.
    On Tuesday, Fitch said the agreement was an important first step but “not the end of the process.” The rating agency wants to see a credible plan to reduce the budget deficit.
    David Riley, managing director at Fitch, told The Associated Press: “There’s more to be done in order to keep the rating in the medium-term.”… – AP, 8-2-11
  • Senate passes, Obama signs debt limit bill: President Obama signed a bill to raise the nation’s borrowing limit on Tuesday, just hours after the Senate voted 74-26 in favor of the deal that will cut government spending by trillions and effectively raise the debt ceiling through the end of 2012…. – CBS News, 8-2-11
  • President Obama Signs Debt Deal as Next Fight Looms: Hours before the U.S. faced a first-ever default, President Obama signed into law a compromise deal that averts a crisis by raising the debt limit, but signaled that he will not abandon his stalled efforts to raise taxes on the wealthy.
    “It’s an important first step to ensuring that as a nation we live within our means, yet it also allows us to keep making key investments in things like education and research that lead to new jobs and assures that we’re not cutting too abruptly while the economy’s still fragile,” Obama said in a statement from the White House Rose Garden before signing the bill.
    Moments before his remarks, senators voted 74 to 26 to pass the Budget Control Act, the last hurdle for the controversial measure that was first approved by the House Monday night, making a $2.4 trillion down-payment on the federal deficit over the next 10 years.
    Obama’s signature ends a bruising Washington-made crisis that has gripped the country and lifts what the administration has called a “cloud of uncertainty hanging over the economy.”… – ABC News, 8-2-11
  • With debt debate over, Obama urges focus on jobs: President Obama marked the end of the “long and contentious” debt-limit debate Tuesday afternoon, lamenting that the “manufactured crisis” has stunted the economic recovery and promising a return to a jobs-focused agenda.
    The president spoke from the Rose Garden moments after the Senate gave final approval to the deal by a vote of 74-26. The House had voted for it by a surprisingly comfortable 269-161 margin on Monday.
    Obama signed the measure more than an hour after the Senate vote, ensuring that the nation is able to continue borrowing money to pay its bills.
    The president called the deficit-reduction measures paired with the debt-limit increase an “important first step to ensuring that as a nation we continue living within our means.” But he also said he would continue to fight for a “balanced” approach when Congress continues the debate this fall.
    “I’ve said it before, I will say it again: We can’t balance the budget on the backs of the very people who have born the biggest brunt of this recession,” he said…. – LAT, 8-2-11
  • Obama says more needed to boost U.S. economy: President Barack Obama said on Tuesday a just-passed bill to raise the U.S. debt ceiling and cut spending was a first step toward ensuring the United States lives within its means but that more was needed to rebuild the world’s largest economy.
    Speaking at the White House, Obama made clear he expects tax reform to emerge from deliberations by a new committee of Democrats and Republicans to be established by the legislation and that a “balanced approach” in which the wealthier pay more taxes is needed for more deficit reduction.
    Obama, a Democrat, said uncertainty from the bitter debt debate had been an impediment to business but the economic recovery also suffered from unforeseen problems such as the Japan earthquake and tsunami.
    Obama urged Congress to pass stalled trade bills and said he wants tax cuts for the middle class and unemployment benefits extended.
    “Both parties share power in Washington. And both parties need to take responsibility for improving this economy,” Obama said shortly after the Senate passed the debt bill and sent it to him for signing into law.
    “I’ll be discussing additional ideas in the weeks ahead to help companies hire, invest and expand.”… – Reuters, 8-2-11
  • Obama hails passage of debt limit compromise: President Obama hailed a hard-fought, last-minute deal to avert economic catastrophe Tuesday, saying a compromise to cut spending and increase the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt limit marked an “important first step to ensuring that as a nation we live within our means.”
    The bill, he said, was the outcome of a “long and contentious debate” to avoid a man-made economic disaster that he described as creating “unsettling” economic uncertainty. He said that while voters chose divided government, “they sure didn’t vote for dysfunctional government.”
    “It shouldn’t take the risk of default, the risk of economic catastrophe, to get folks in this town to get together and do their jobs,” the president said. He added: “Our economy didn’t need Washington to come along with a manufactured crisis to make things worse.”
    Mr. Obama plans to sign the legislation in a closed-door ceremony Tuesday afternoon. It will effectively increase the nation’s borrowing authority through the end of next year and promises more than $2 trillion in deficit reduction over ten years.
    Now that the debt limit fight is effectively over, Mr. Obama and Congressional Democrats say they will pivot to a focus on jobs and the economy, which they say should be Congress’ top priority.
    “We’ve got to do everything in our power to grow this economy and put Americans back to work,” Mr. Obama said Tuesday. He called on Congress to extend middle class tax cuts and unemployment benefits, pass trade deals and plow money into infrastructure when it returns from its August recess…. – CBS News, 8-2-11
  • Obama signs debt-limit bill into law: The Senate passed a landmark plan to raise the federal debt limit and reduce government spending Tuesday, ending a partisan stalemate that threatened to plunge the nation into default and destabilize the world economy.
    The measure was approved by a vote of 74 to 26. It promptly went to President Obama, who signed it into law, giving the government the money to pay its bills ahead of a midnight deadline.
    Speaking in the White House Rose Garden after the Senate vote, Obama called the legislation “an important first step” in ensuring that the nation lives within its means, and he said it avoids “cutting too abruptly while the economy is still fragile.” He vowed to keep working for a “balanced approach” to deficit reduction that includes “reforming our tax code so that the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations pay their fair share.”
    The Senate vote came a day after the House voted 269 to 161 to pass the plan, as recalcitrant Republicans and disappointed Democrats rallied around calls to avert the nation’s first default and rein in ballooning deficits. The measure immediately grants the Treasury $400 billion in additional borrowing authority, with more to follow…. – WaPo, 8-2-11
  • Debt ceiling bill passes Senate, 74-26: Treasury won an immediate reprieve of $400 billion in new borrowing authority Tuesday, as the Senate gave final approval to a hotly contested debt and deficit-reduction agreement hammered out with the White House Sunday night.
    The bipartisan 74-26 roll call followed a 269-161 vote in the House Monday evening and the bill will be quickly signed by President Barack Obama, ending an unprecedented, hard-edged political struggle that pushed the nation to the brink of default.
    Indeed, the stakes were far larger than the April shutdown fight, and more than any single event this year, the debt ceiling fight captured all the power—and critics would say extreme risk-taking—of the anti-government backlash that fueled the GOP’s gains in the 2010 elections…. – Politico, 8-2-11
  • Done Deal Senate Passes Debt Ceiling Bill 74-26: Members of the Senate this afternoon approved a bill to raise the nation’s debt ceiling, narrowly avoiding the nation’s first-ever default.
    The bill garnered broad bipartisan support in today’s 74-26 vote. The House passed the measure yesterday by a vote of 269-to-161, with only two members of the city’s congressional delegation supporting it.
    The bill now heads straight to President Barack Obama’s desk for signing…. – NY1, 8-2-11
  • Senate Passes Debt Plan to Avert Default: The Senate put an end to months of partisan impasse on Tuesday, passing a landmark budget agreement to raise the debt ceiling and sending the measure to the White House for President Obama’s signature — just hours before the government’s borrowing authority was set to run out at midnight.
    The bipartisan vote was 74 to 26 , a margin that belied the intensity of a fight that has left both parties bruised and exhausted.
    With the ambivalent support of Congressional leaders in both parties and Mr. Obama, the compromise, which passed the House with bipartisan support on Monday night, averts a potential default on the government’s debt and provides for increases in the debt ceiling to be phased in, with compensating budget cuts, lasting beyond the 2012 elections. Enactment of the legislation would signal a pronounced shift in fiscal policy, from the heavy spending on economic stimulus and warfare of the past few years to a regime of steep spending cuts aimed at reducing the deficits — so far, without new revenues sought by the White House…. – NYT, 8-2-11
  • Senate passes debt deal: The Senate approved — and President Obama is likely to sign — $2.4 trillion in budget cuts and a roughly equal amount of additional debt capacity, ending months of gridlock.
    The 74-26 Senate vote came just in time to avoid an unprecedented default that Treasury officials predicted could happen if Congress didn’t raise the $14.3 trillion debt limit by today.
    The debt drama wasn’t a one-act play. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said it would be the “template” for all future debt limit increases…. – USA Today, 8-2-11
  • Senate approves bill to raise debt ceiling; sends to President Obama: The Senate voted on Tuesday to approve a deal to raise the nation’s borrowing limit, voting 74-26 for a bill that would cut government spending by trillions and effectively raise the debt ceiling through the end of 2012. The bill will now be sent to President Obama, who is expected to sign it immediately.
    The bill was brokered Sunday night in last-minute negotiations between the White House and congressional leaders.
    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., a key player in the negotiations, and Majority Leader Harry Reid,D-Nev., both backed the bill – paving the way for its easy passage in the Senate.
    The six Democrats who voted against the measure on Tuesday were sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Tom Harkin (Ia.), Frank Lautenberg (N.J.), Bob Menendez (N.J.), Jeff Merkley (Ore.) and Ben Nelson (Neb.). Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who caucuses with Democrats, also voted against the measure.
    Nineteen Republican senators voted against the bill…. – CBS News, 8-2-11
  • Debt battle set to draw to close, for now: The United States is poised to step back from the brink of economic disaster on Tuesday when a bitterly fought deal to cut the budget deficit is expected to clear its final hurdles.
    Just hours before the Treasury’s authority to borrow funds runs out — risking a damaging U.S. debt default — the Senate and President Barack Obama are expected to approve a deal to cut a bulging deficit and lift the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling enough to last beyond the November 2012 elections.
    The bill overcame its biggest obstacle late on Monday when the Republican-led House of Representatives passed the measure despite noisy opposition from both conservative Tea Party members, who wanted more spending cuts, and liberal Democrats angered by potential hits to programs for the poor.
    The vote in the Democratic-controlled Senate, due to take place at noon EDT, is expected to be less dramatic. If approved, Obama would sign the bill into law shortly afterward.
    That would mark the end of a fierce partisan battle that has paralyzed Washington for weeks and spooked investors already nervous about a weak U.S. economy and Europe’s sovereign debt woes…. – Reuters, 8-2-11
  • Senate expected to vote in favor of debt-limit bill: The Senate is set to vote this afternoon on the bill to raise the debt limit that the House approved Monday. Senators are expected to approve it and then send the bill to President Barack Obama for his signature.
    With a strong backing from Democrats, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the House on Monday approved raising the nation’s debt ceiling.
    The Senate is expected to approve it at noon today, and President Barack Obama is prepared to sign it almost immediately, averting the prospect of an unprecedented default…. – AP, 8-2-11
  • House Approved Debt Bill Faces Final Hurdle: The Senate today is expected to sign off on a compromise bill to raise the nation’s debt ceiling and avoid the country’s first ever default on its bills.
    The House passed the measure yesterday by a vote of 269-to-161, with only two members of the city’s congressional delegation supporting it.
    Once approved, the bill will head straight to President Barack Obama’s desk for signing.
    The measure allows for a $2.4 trillion increase to the debt ceiling, but also slashes about $2 trillion from the federal budget. It also means Congress doesn’t have to deal with the debt ceiling again until 2013.
    Many Republicans say it still does not cut enough spending, while many Democrats slammed the deal because it does not include tax hikes…. – NY1, 8-2-11
  • Republicans Turn to Dealmaker McConnell for Compromise: While Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell stayed out of the spotlight during much of the negotiations over the U.S. debt limit, the deal that’s headed for approval by Congress today has his fingerprints all over it.
    Those who have worked with McConnell say that is typical of the lawmaker from Kentucky, a tight-lipped veteran of 26 years in the Senate who says little in public while wielding broad power behind closed doors.
    He “tends to be underestimated by the press, because they don’t see him doing things,” said former Senator Judd Gregg, a New Hampshire Republican and longtime ally. “He’s not at the microphones all the time, so they underestimate his capacity to do things. And he’s the last person in the Senate you want to underestimate.”
    The deficit-reduction deal that is set for a Senate vote today is largely a product of direct negotiations among McConnell, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, as well as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Speaker John Boehner and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi…. – Bloomberg, 8-2-11
  • Senate to Vote on Debt-Ceiling Bill: The Senate is expected at noon Tuesday to sign off on a bipartisan agreement to raise the federal debt ceiling and cut as much as $2.4 trillion from budget deficits, after the House passed the measure 269-161 last night.
    The deal is the product of one of the most ferocious fights ever over government spending and political brinksmanship that caused economic uncertainty and continues to threaten the nation’s prized AAA credit rating. Its passage through the Senate makes it likely that Congress won’t break Tuesday’s deadline set by the Treasury Department after which the nation could run out of money to pay all of its bills.
    WSJ’s Alan Murray and Joe White join the News Hub panel to discuss Monday evening’s House vote to raise the debt ceiling by $2.4 trillion, and look ahead to Tuesday’s vote in the Senate. WSJ Photo.
    Passage in the House came despite the opposition of both conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats, both of whom balked at the deal reached over the weekend between President Barack Obama and congressional leaders.
    However, the agreement was expected to obtain the 60 votes needed for it to pass the Senate, paving the way for Mr. Obama to sign it into law Tuesday afternoon…. – WSJ, 8-2-11
  • Senate poised to pass debt deal despite criticism from left, right: The Senate will vote at noon Tuesday to approve a bipartisan deal to raise the debt limit by at least $2.1 trillion and send it President Obama before the 11:59 p.m. deadline.
    The deal is expected to attract strong support from mainstream senators on both sides of the aisle while the chamber’s most liberal and conservative members will vote no.
    It passed the House easily Monday evening by a vote of 269 to 161.
    Wall Street, however, did not seem impressed by the deficit-reduction package, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by 0.75 percent and the Standard & Poor’s 500 fell by 1 percent Tuesday morning.
    Senators from both parties lined up to praise and criticize the agreement…. – The Hill, 8-2-11
  • Obama, GOP brace for ‘Super Committee’: It’s a bird … it’s a plane … It’s Super Committee!
    As President Obama prepares to sign the debt ceiling agreement later today, lawmakers are already positioning themselves for the special congressional committee that will be assigned to look for $1.5 trillion in debt reduction over the next ten years.
    Some observers are joking about whether members of so-called “Super Committee” will don capes and costumes with dollar sign logos, but the political parties are preparing another serious battle over the topics that dominated the debt ceiling debate: Taxes, spending, and the scope of government.
    Obama and aides said they will continue pushing the idea that any debt reduction plan must be “balanced,” including not only spending cuts but more taxes from the nation’s wealthiest Americans.
    House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said “it’s going to be pretty hard” for the committee to recommend taxes, and suggested that GOP appointees would block such a move…. – USA Today, 8-2-11
  • Obama shifts to the right: President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks from White House briefing room, Sunday, July 31, 2011 in Washington, about a deal being reached to raise the debt limit. (AP)
    The most distressing outcome of the deficit hysteria gripping Washington may be what Barack Obama has revealed about himself. It was disconcerting to watch the president slip-slide so easily into voicing the fallacious economic arguments of the right. It was shocking when he betrayed core principles of the Democratic Party, portraying himself as high-minded and brave because he defied his loyal constituents. Supporters may hope this rightward shift was only a matter of political tactics, but I think Obama has at last revealed his sincere convictions. If he wins a second term, he will be free to strike a truly rotten “grand bargain” with Republicans—“pragmatic” compromises that will destroy the crown jewels of democratic reform.
    The president has done grievous damage to the most vulnerable by trying to fight the GOP on its ground—accepting the premise that deficits and debt should be a national priority. He made the choice more than a year ago to push aside the real problem—the vast loss and suffering generated by a failing economy…. – CBS News, 8-2-11
  • Debt ceiling agreement a fair compromise?Politico Arena, 7-31-11
  • Joe Biden, Mitch McConnell and the making of a debt deal: Almost as abruptly, the compromise started coming together. What happened during a weekend of frenzied negotiations to salvage the deal is a tale of cataclysm narrowly averted, a historic debt-reduction plan that satisfies none of its signatories and a lesson on how even the most dysfunctional political system can be made functional through the injection of fear, finesse and Joe Biden’s old friendships…. – Politico, 8-2-11
  • Pols all ‘look like idiots’ during debt crisis, but President Obama takes biggest hit of them all: There are no real winners in the debt-crisis debacle, and in such moments the leader of the country absorbs a larger hit than most.
    The tawdry spectacle of governmental paralysis, engineered by take-no-prisoner Tea Party newbies and abetted by Republicans fearful of crossing them, is more reminiscent of a banana republic.
    “We all look like idiots,” a dismayed Democratic Party elder complained as Congress lurched toward sidestepping a financial meltdown. “The extremists have taken over the system. This is not a good omen for anyone.”
    President Obama, least of all.
    Obama got less than a half loaf, but came away with some positives from the shotgun-wedding compromise. He pushed back the next debt extension donnybrook to 2013, guaranteeing this summer’s legislative chaos won’t be rerun during next year’s campaign.
    He also averted an even bigger embarrassment – America didn’t, on his watch, default on its debt obligations for the first time in history.
    But even Obama loyalists on Capitol Hill privately say he didn’t exactly burnish his leadership credentials in this process. “At the end of the day, voters expect their President to bring people together,” one of them said. “He hasn’t been able to on this.”…. – NY Daily News, 8-2-11

AUGUST 1, 2011: HOUSE VOTES 269-161 FOR DEBT CEILING BILL — GABRIELLE GIFFORDS’S FIRST VOTE IN HOUSE SINCE BEING SHOT — SENATE VOTES NEXT — DEFAULT AVERTED

How they voted: The 269-161 roll call Monday by which the House passed the compromise bill to raise the debt ceiling and prevent a government default.

YES: 95 Democrats and 174 Republicans.
NO: 95 Democrats and 66 Republicans.

House approves raise in federal debt ceiling; bill goes to Senate: The House approved a bill Monday night that raises the federal debt limit and cuts discretionary spending by $1 trillion over the next 10 years, a key step toward averting a government default. The 269 to 161 vote sends the bill to the Senate, which is likely to consider the plan Tuesday — the day that the Treasury has said it would begin running short of cash to pay the nation’s bills. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords cast her first vote in the House since being shot in January, voting yes.

I would like to say this bill solves our problem. It doesn’t. It’s a solid first step.” — Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R) of Texas, the House Republican Conference chairman

“Although not perfect, [it] will begin to change the culture here in Washington.” — House majority leader Eric Cantor (R) Virginia

“Beginning to take steps toward fixing our fiscal problems will in fact provide more confidence for employers in America.” — Speaker John Boehner (R) of Ohio

“The Capitol looks beautiful, and I am honored to be at work tonight… I had to be here for this vote. I could not take the chance that my absence could crash our economy. I have closely followed the debate over our debt ceiling and have been deeply disappointed at what’s going on in Washington. After weeks of failed debate in Washington, I was pleased to see a solution to this crisis emerge.” — Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Arizona

“Gabby is voting to support the bipartisan debt-ceiling compromise. This is a huge step in her recovery, and an example of what we all know — she is determined to get better, and to serve CD8 and our nation. This vote — expected to be very close — was simply too important for her to miss.” — Gabrielle Gifford’s Facebook Page

“There isn’t a name that stirs more love, more admiration, more respect, more wishing for our daughters to be like her than the name of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords. Thank you, Gabby.” — Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the minority leader

“That’s why I’m here. Nancy [Pelosi] was kind enough to call me.”…
When I went up, she said, ‘Joe. I said, ‘Now we’re both members of the Cracked Head Club.’ You know, I had two craniotomies. For real. They literally took the top of my head off. Twice. Now, the wags in Delaware, when the second operation occurred, wrote and said, ‘Well, it’s because they couldn’t find a brain the first time!’
She and I just commiserated about the steps to recovery. Hers, much more consequential. But it scares the living devil out of you when you’re recovering from a serious operation or injury to your head. But it comes back. And knowing people who’ve been through it and came back was helpful, for me anyway. You know what I mean?
She’s remarkable. She’s remarkable. Will matters. Will matters. I tell you what, she’s the embodiment of a strong, strong woman. Think about what that woman has been through, and think about her determination.
It’s really good. Here I am hugging Gabby and Michele Bachmann. Seriously. I’m being literal. Sure! I like Michele Bachmann. For real. We’re all standing there around and Michele walks up to see Gabby because she cares about her… There is a basic humanity here, man. It matters, between people. I know that sounds corny.”…
He then recalled what he said was one of the most emotional moments he ever saw. Hubert Humphrey, the former vice president and US senator from Minnesota, was dying of cancer and made an appearance on the Senate floor. “He could hardly walk. He walked into the well. And Barry Goldwater got out of his seat, hugged him in the well, and the both embraced each other for a good three minutes, crying. These were arch, arch, arch ideological enemies. There’s a lot of humanity left here.” — Vice President Joe Biden Boston Globe, 8-1-11

House approves debt deal a day before deadline – Reuters, 8-1-11

 

  • WaPo, 8-2-11
  • House OKs debt; Giffords brings down the House: Crisis legislation to yank the nation past the threat of a historic financial default sped through the House Monday night, breaking weeks of deadlock. The rare moment of cooperation turned celebratory when Rep. Gabrielle Giffords strode in for the first time since she was shot in the head nearly seven months ago.
    The vote was 269-161, a scant day ahead of the deadline for action. But all eyes were on Giffords, who drew thunderous applause as she walked into the House chamber unannounced and cast her vote in favor of the bill.
    A final Senate sign-off for the measure is virtually assured on Tuesday. Aside from raising the debt limit, the bill would slice federal spending by at least $2.1 trillion, and perhaps much more.
    “If the bill were presented to the president, he would sign it,” the White House said, an understatement of enormous proportions…. – AP, 8-1-11
  • House Passes Deal to Avert Debt Crisis: After months of partisan impasse, the House on Monday approved a budget agreement intended to head off a potential government default, pushing Congress a big step closer to the conclusion of a bitter fight that has left both parties bruised and exhausted. Despite the tension and uncertainty that has surrounded efforts to raise the debt ceiling, the vote of 269 to 161 was relatively strong in support of the plan, which would cut more than $2.1 trillion in government spending over 10 years while extending the borrowing authority of the Treasury Department. It would also create a powerful new joint Congressional committee to recommend broad changes in spending — and possibly in tax policy — to reduce the deficit.
    Scores of Democrats initially held back from voting, to force Republicans to register their positions first. Then, as the time for voting wound down, Representative Gabrielle Giffords, Democrat of Arizona, returned to the floor for the first time since being shot in January and voted for the bill to jubilant applause and embraces from her colleagues. It provided an unexpected, unifying ending to a fierce standoff in the House.
    The Senate, where approval is considered likely, is scheduled to vote at noon on Tuesday and then send the measure to Mr. Obama less than 12 hours before the time when the Treasury Department has said it could become unable to meet all of its financial obligations…. – NYT, 8-1-11
  • Debt-ceiling bill clears House. Now, hopes that Round 2 will be better: With the House passing a debt-ceiling bill Monday, and end of the debt crisis is in sight. But more cutting lies ahead, and both sides are hopeful they’ll get more of what they want…. – CS Monitor, 8-1-11
  • Debt deal easily clears House, final passage likely: Congress was poised to send President Obama a compromise deficit-reduction package topping $2 trillion Tuesday, just hours before the nation could run out of borrowed money to pay its bills.
    After months of bitter partisan wrangling, the House on Monday easily approved the landmark measure raising the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt limit by a 269-161 vote. The Senate is expected to approve it at noon Tuesday, and Obama is prepared to sign it almost immediately, averting the prospect of an unprecedented default…..
    Republican leaders boasted that they got two-thirds of the spending cuts they sought, leading GOP House members to vote 174-66 in favor of the bill. Democrats who split 95-95 on the measure were left to highlight the cuts they averted…. – USA Today, 8-1-11
  • Debt deal clears House on 269-161 vote; Senate passage expected Tuesday: A bipartisan bill to increase the nation’s debt limit and cut as much as $2.4 trillion in government spending passed the House of Representatives, overcoming the key hurdle on the road to averting an unprecedented federal default.
    The legislation, which passed Monday evening by a relatively comfortable 269-161 margin, came after a weekend of tense meetings, exhausted staff discussions and, in the end, a compromise worked out at the highest levels of government. If passed by the Senate on Tuesday, which is widely expected, it will end a months-long standoff between a new Republican House majority, which refused to pass an increase without a deficit reduction package, and the Democratic majority in the Senate and President Barack Obama…. – Bellingham Herald, 8-1-11
  • House passes debt ceiling agreement; Senate vote expected Tuesday: The U.S. House on Monday passed the debt-ceiling deal worked out by President Barack Obama and congressional leaders, sending it to the Senate for consideration a day before the deadline for the government to face possible default.
    A Senate vote was expected Tuesday, according to multiple Senate leadership aides from each party…. – CNN, 8-1-11
  • Pelosi rallies Dems to help pass debt plan: House minority leader Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco provided 95 Democratic votes – half of her caucus – to approve a $2 trillion-plus, 10-year debt-reduction package Monday that helped make up for a slew of defections by Tea Party-backed Republicans.
    Pelosi urged Democrats to swallow hard on the package, which did not include new taxes as they had wanted, to save the nation from a potentially calamitous cash shortfall. The final vote was 269 to 161, with 66 Republicans voting no on grounds that the spending cuts did not go deep enough.
    Rep. Gabrielle Giffords,the Arizona Democrat shot in the head by a gunman in January, made a dramatic entrance onto the House floor to cast her vote for the deal…. – San Francisco Chronicle, 8-1-11
  • House Passes Compromise Debt Bill: 7:42 p.m. | Updated The House of Representatives approved the debt ceiling bargain negotiated over the weekend by President Obama and leaders from both parties, sending the measure to the Senate. Final approval that could come Tuesday.
    Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, told his colleagues that the Senate will take up the debt bill at noon on Tuesday, just hours before the midnight deadline when the nation’s borrowing authority will run out.
    The final vote was 269 to 161, with 66 Republicans and 95 Democrats voting no. Many Democratic lawmakers joined dozens of Tea Party-backed Republicans in calling it a bad deal for the country. But the complicated legislation to raise the debt ceiling by $2.1 trillion earned the support of members from both parties to win approval.
    Senators said they planned to take up the legislation as soon as Monday evening or Tuesday, hours before a deadline that might have led to a federal default.
    The passage came in dramatic fashion as Representative Gabrielle Giffords, Democrat of Arizona, made her first appearance back in the chamber since she was shot in the head by an assailant during a meet and greet in her district. Members in both parties stood up for a long and enthusiastic standing ovation for Ms. Giffords, who entered dressed in a teal shirt and with her brown hair trimmed short. She has been recuperating since the shooting and it had been unclear when she would return…. – NYT, 8-1-11
  • Giffords Returns, as Does Unity, Briefly: With two minutes to go and roughly 20 votes needed to pass a bill to raise the nation’s debt limit, a smattering of applause rippled from a corner of the House chamber. After a few seconds of confusion, a flash of teal jacket could be seen almost floating among a sea of Democrats.
    There she was, Representative Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, appearing unexpectedly Monday evening to cast one of the last votes needed to send the measure over the top.
    The full chamber erupted in loud applause as Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the House whip, flicked his eyes from the vote board to Ms. Giffords. It was the first time she had been in the chamber since she was critically injured in an assassination attempt in January in Tucson…. – NYT, 8-1-11
  • Rep. Giffords casts debt-limit vote on House floor: As minutes remained on a critical vote to raise the debt limit, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords burst onto the House floor Monday and cast a “yes” vote, the first time the Arizona Democrat had voted since a gunman shot her in the head at a political event in Tucson seven months ago.
    Lawmakers, tense after weeks of contentious negotiations, erupted into applause as Giffords entered the chamber accompanied by her close friend and colleague Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., and her husband, space shuttle astronaut Mark Kelly. Giffords waved and said, “Thank you” as her colleagues gave her a standing ovation.
    Giffords, who wore glasses and a teal blazer, turned to watch the tally as voting ended on the debt-ceiling compromise package….
    Vice President Biden said Pelosi told him earlier Monday that Giffords would return to the House. “That’s why I’m here,” Biden said…. – USA Today, 8-1-11
  • Julian Zelizer on House Debt Deal Vote: Many bills that eventually take on big issues start as a modest, first step, says Julian Zelizer, a congressional historian at Princeton University, citing the 1957 civil rights bill, which disappointed most of its supporters for not going far enough to redress the nation’s record on civil rights.
    President “Lyndon Johnson pushed back against liberals saying, ‘If I can get Southerners to vote for something, you can do more down the road,’ ” he says.
    “The debt deal is trying to give some assurance that it’s a first step and will continue,” he adds. “The legislation is vague enough about this new committee that everyone can look at it and think that the committee will later give them what they want.”… – CS Monitor, 8-1-11
  • Deal Was Forged Over Choices and Chinese Food: Last Friday night, President Obama called Speaker John A. Boehner just after the Republican House leader had gotten his rebellious Republicans, on the third effort, to pass legislation to address the debt crisis.
    “Congratulations on finally getting your bill through,” Mr. Obama said, according to a Democrat familiar with the conversation. “You know you’re not going to get through the Senate, so now we need to focus on a solution.”
    Roughly 48 hours later, at 8:15 on Sunday night, the president again called Mr. Boehner from the Oval Office.
    “Do we have a deal?” Mr. Obama asked, then stopped abruptly. His senior advisers, standing nearby, gathered that Mr. Boehner had interrupted the president, and they braced for confirmation of the worst in Mr. Obama’s next words. Instead, there was relief.
    “Congratulations to you, too, John,” Mr. Obama finally said….. – NYT, 8-1-11

AUGUST 1, 2011: BIPARTISAN OPPOSITION TO DEBT DEAL — CONGRESS FIRST TO VOTE ON DEBT DEAL THEN THE SENATE

Budget Office says debt deal will save at least $2.1 trillion: The Congressional Budget Office confirmed Monday that the debt-reduction deal struck by the White House and congressional leaders would cut deficits by at least $2.1 trillion over the next 10 years, if lawmakers approve the plan later Monday.
The independent budget analysts reconfirmed that it contains up front savings of $917 billion, the same level as initially proposed in legislation offered by House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) last week, and it credited President Obama and the leaders with at least $1.2 trillion in savings for the follow-on work to be done by a special committee.

“Despite what some Republicans have argued, I believe that we have to ask the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations to pay their fair share by giving up tax breaks and special deductions. Despite what some in my own party have argued, I believe that we need to make some modest adjustments to programs like Medicare to ensure that they’re still around for future generations. That’s why the second part of this agreement is so important.” — President Barack Obama

“I am relieved to say that leaders from both parties have come together for the sake of our economy to reach a historic, bipartisan compromise that ends this dangerous standoff. The compromise we have agreed to is remarkable not only because of what it does, but because of what it prevents: a first-ever default on the full faith and credit of the United States.” — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

We got 98 percent of what we wanted… It would also guarantee the American people the vote they have been denied in both chambers on a balanced budget amendment, while creating, I think, some new incentives for past opponents of a BBA to support it.” — Speaker of the House John Boehner

“There is nothing in this framework that violates our principles. It’s all spending cuts. The White House bid to raise taxes has been shut down…. Now listen, this isn’t the greatest deal in the world. But it shows how much we’ve changed the terms of the debate in this town.” — Speaker of the House John Boehner

“I became convinced that even though my friend, [majority leader Reid], and I would love to work this out, we can’t do it by ourselves. It has to have the only person who can sign something into law. There are 307 million Americans, but only one can sign something into law.” — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell

Reid says debt limit vote in Senate by Tuesday: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Monday that debt limit increase legislation would be completed in the Senate by Tuesday. “This vote could happen either tonight or tomorrow,” Reid said on the Senate floor. – Reuters, 8-1-11

Highlights of the bipartisan debt-ceiling deal — LAT

 

  • For debt-ceiling deal to become law, what needs to happen by Tuesday: Selling the debt-ceiling deal to a critical mass of lawmakers is a formidable political reach. Many conservatives say the deal doesn’t go far enough, while some liberals say the richest Americans should have to pay more taxes…. – CS Monitor, 8-1-11
  • Several Steps Remain Before the Debt Ceiling Is Raised: During the next 60 hours, the legislative leaders who shook hands with each other must sell the deal to their wary members, something that could still pose a thorny political challenge.
    And then — with the Tuesday deadline for a default looming — they must turn the “framework” into legislative language and pass it through both chambers of Congress — not an easy task for institutions, especially the Senate, which are not known for moving with haste…. – NYT, 8-1-11
  • House begins debate on debt limit compromise: Congress has started debating the debt limit compromise negotiated by President Barack Obama and Republican leaders.
    The GOP-run House began considering the bill less than a day after the White House and top lawmakers reached agreement on a dispute that had locked them in deadlock for months…. – AP, 8-1-11
  • House begins debate on debt limit compromise: Congress has started debating the debt limit compromise negotiated by President Barack Obama and Republican leaders.
    The GOP-run House began considering the bill less than a day after the White House and top lawmakers reached agreement on a dispute that had locked them in deadlock for months…. – AP, 8-1-11
  • Pleasing Few, Debt Deal to Go to Vote: Democratic and Republican leaders in the Congress began making their final arguments on behalf of Sunday’s debt ceiling deal to skeptical members in advance of votes in both chambers that could come as early as Monday afternoon.
    With only one day left before Tuesday’s looming deadline that carries the threat of a federal default, Vice President Joseph R. Biden arrived at the Capitol for back-to-back, closed-door meetings with Democratic lawmakers in the House and Senate. Republicans in the House and Senate also huddled in advance of the votes.
    The last-minute wrangling on Monday morning reflected the lack of enthusiasm for the debt deal as lawmakers, party activists and pundits expressed relief but little excitement for a compromise that appears to have left few partisans eagerly promoting the deal as the one that they wanted.
    On the Senate floor on Monday, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, said, “People on the right are upset. People on the left are upset. People in the middle are upset.” But he called it a “remarkable agreement which will protect the long-term health of our economy.”
    Mr. Reid said that the Senate is likely to take a final vote on passage of the deal later today. Republican aides in the House said that voting could begin as early as 2 p.m., though neither chamber had yet told members exactly when to expect final votes on the legislation.
    Most of the leading 2012 Republican presidential candidates weighed in Monday in opposition to the debt ceiling deal, saying that it does too little to address the nation’s spending problem. Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, said the deal “opens the door to higher taxes and puts defense cuts on the table..”… – NYT, 8-1-11
  • Debt deal: $32.4 billion per page: The debt framework President Obama and congressional leaders reached Sunday night runs 74 pages long, and could authorize as much as $2.4 trillion in new debt — or $32.4 billion per page.
    That debt increase will get the country through the 2012 election, both sides said, but it does not bring to an end the sea of red ink that will continue to wash over the federal government for the foreseeable future.
    In the near term, the bill sets budget numbers for 2012 that would require a real cut of $7 billion in discretionary spending from 2011 levels, though that’s $25 billion less than projected spending would have been had it kept pace with inflation.
    Over the long term, the deal could lead to as much as $2.4 trillion in lower-than-projected spending over the next decade, which also works out to about $32.4 billion per page in lower spending — if all of the conditions are met. But during those 10 years, that still means the country could pile up another $10.4 trillion in new debt, which would leave the government well more than $20 trillion in debt by the end of the decade…. – Washington Times, 8-1-11
  • Obama: Debt debate will continue: President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign e-mailed a brief address from the president, describing the recent battle with Republicans as a phase in a long-running effort to forge a “balanced” debt reduction package that includes new tax revenue as well as budget cuts.
    “This chapter is over. That work and that debate continue. This has been a tense debate because the stakes were so high.”
    Though grateful that the agreement heads off a government default, Obama said the agreement is “far from satisfying” and he will urge a new special congressional committee to cut federal debt with taxes as well as less spendng. “The ultimate solution must be balanced,” Obama said…. USA Today, 8-1-11
  • House vote first test of debt-ceiling bill: The first test of legislation to raise the nation’s debt ceiling comes in the House, which plans to vote Monday evening on the plan agreed to by party leaders Sunday.
    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the Senate would work to take up the plan Monday as well, though that would be a challenge given traditional delaying tactics that may be employed.
    Passage in either chamber is far from assured. Some Republicans are objecting to the possibility of steep cuts in defense spending, while others continue to oppose any debt-ceiling increase. Liberal Democrats think the so-called compromise was more like a cave-in…. – LAT, 8-1-11
  • House Debt Vote Expected Monday Afternoon: The House of Representatives could begin voting as early as 2 p.m., Eastern time, on the debt ceiling compromise announced by President Obama and Congressional leaders on Sunday night, a House leadership aide said.
    In a brief message on Twitter, Erica Elliott, the press secretary for Representative Kevin McCarthy, Republican of California, the majority whip, announced the tentative schedule.
    It was not immediately clear when the Senate might vote on Monday…. – NYT, 8-1-11
  • Debt-Limit Deal to Get Congress Vote Today: Congressional leaders, leaving no extra time before a default threatened for tomorrow, are racing to push through a compromise sealed with President Barack Obama last night to raise the U.S. debt limit by at least $2.1 trillion and slash government spending by $2.4 trillion or more. The House plans votes today and the Senate may follow suit to consider the agreement reached during a weekend of negotiations that capped a months-long struggle between Obama and Republicans over raising the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling. Megan Hughes reports on Bloomberg Television’s “First Look.” (Source: Bloomberg)
    Congressional leaders, leaving no extra time before a default threatened for tomorrow, are racing to push through a compromise sealed with President Barack Obama last night to raise the U.S. debt limit by at least $2.1 trillion and slash government spending by $2.4 trillion or more.
    The House plans votes today and the Senate may follow suit to consider the agreement reached during a weekend of negotiations that capped a months-long struggle between Obama and Republicans over raising the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling.
    Both parties were working to sell the deal to their rank and file — meeting resistance from social liberals who fault it for failing to increase taxes and from fiscal conservatives who say it’s insufficient to rein in the debt…. – Bloomberg, 8-1-11
  • House races toward Monday debt ceiling vote: The House is racing toward a Monday evening vote to raise the debt ceiling, as congressional leaders furiously round up the votes necessary to push the plan through before Tuesday’s deadline.
    Senate leaders plan to take up the bill shortly after, where Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says enough votes will be lined up for the bill to pass.
    House leaders are still gauging support for the measure. House Republicans will meet at 12:30 and House Democrats are caucusing with Vice President Joe Biden — who got a standing ovation when he walked into the meeting today.
    Biden laid out in candid terms what the White House had to do to get a deal.
    “Elections have consequences,” Biden told Senate Democrats, according to a senator in the room. The vice president characterized the fight as a hostage situation, saying Republicans have a “gun to their heads,” the source said…. – Politico, 8-1-11
  • Debt-ceiling compromise: Now, it’s time to find the votes: Vice President Joe Biden will meet Monday with the Senate and House Democratic caucuses while Republican leaders also huddle to gauge support for the debt-ceiling plan negotiators agreed to Sunday.
    The legislative path for the bill was still somewhat unclear as individual members study the details. No votes had been scheduled yet in either the House or Senate on Monday, but could be added once party leadership takes the temperature of their respective caucuses. House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) told members Sunday night that the bill would move quickly to the floor, perhaps as early as Monday afternoon…. – LAT, 8-1-11
  • House to vote before Senate on raising debt ceiling: The House of Representatives will vote before the Senate on the bipartisan plan to raise the debt ceiling, according to two House GOP leadership sources…. – CNN, 8-1-11
  • House vote could be squeaker: A Democratic official involved in the effort to secure the votes in the House and Senate for the debt deal says there is more concern about the vote tally in the House than the Senate, where it looks like it will get the 60 votes needed without much drama.
    In the House, Democrats who favor the deal are concerned about a very close vote – maybe a squeaker.
    Vice President Joe Biden will meet with the House Democratic caucus at noon to answer questions, soothe concerns, and help shore up reluctant Democrats.
    Even though Biden is coming over to meet with Democrats and has planned to come out to the media stakeout afterwards, it’s unclear from Democratic aides at this point how many of the Democratic leaders, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, will stand with Biden and say they will support the bill…. – CNN, 8-1-11
  • The debt ceiling battle at a glance:

    A compromise agreement to raise the nation’s borrowing limit has been reached The House and Senate are expected to vote today The House Speaker says the agreement does not violate Republican principles Some Senate Democrats are grumbling, an aide says, but the chamber is expected to approve the deal

    President Obama and congressional leaders have agreed to a plan that would lift the nation’s credit limit and avoid an unprecedented default on its debt, which could have widespread economic ramifications ranging from higher interest rates to a predicted stock market crash. Congress still must approve the deal by Tuesday. Here’s the situation at a glance… – CNN, 8-1-11

  • Democrats seem to end up on short end of the deal: The deal struck by the White House and congressional leaders to raise the nation’s debt ceiling has the feel of a classic compromise, full of give and take.
    There is no requirement for a balanced budget amendment, no second showdown over the nation’s borrowing limit before the 2012 elections and, according to some conservatives, not nearly enough in cuts.
    But for weeks and months Republicans have warned Democrats they would only accept a deal that cut spending without raising taxes.
    And the deal that faces a final congressional vote Monday does exactly that. The deal includes $1 trillion in cuts over 10 years. It sets up a congressional committee that could consider tax reform as it seeks a strategy for deeper debt reduction. On Monday, the Congressional Budget Office confirmed that the deal would cut deficits by at least $2.1 trillion over the next 10 years…. – WaPo, 8-1-11
  • Obama, Boehner Suffering ‘Monday Morning Hangover’: President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, along with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, did something most considered a long shot – they agreed on a budget deal and the talking points that go with it.
    But the Monday morning hangover plaguing Obama and Boehner as a result of Sunday night’s celebration may last longer and produce bigger headaches than either anticipated.
    Vice President Joe Biden was dispatched to the Capitol early Monday to meet with Democratic lawmakers in both the House and Senate to convince lawmakers the latest deal is the way to go. Republicans were also huddling to see if they have enough votes for a Monday afternoon roll call.
    Reid took to the senate floor Monday morning, calling the weekend deal a “remarkable agreement which will protect the long-term health of our economy.”
    “People on the right are upset. People on the left are upset. People in the middle are upset,” said Reid in his remarks.
    President Obama, seemingly tired and frustrated after a tense round of negotiations, called reporters together saying the compromise “allows us to avoid default and end the crisis that Washington imposed on the rest of America.”… – Christian Post, 8-1-11
  • Debt Deal: Some Read It and Weep, Others Swallow Hard and Nod: Liberals and conservatives woke up on Monday morning and began assessing the last-minute debt ceiling deal reached by leaders in Washington over the weekend.
    Many liberals are grousing about President Obama’s willingness to abandon some of the things he had demanded. Some conservatives are griping that the deal doesn’t do enough to cut spending. And some members of both parties are declaring the deal good enough, if not exactly great…. – NYT, 8-1-11
  • McCain says he’ll ‘swallow hard’ and support deal: Sen. John McCain says he’ll vote for compromise legislation averting a government default, although “I will probably have to swallow hard.”
    The Arizona Republican who lost to Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election says he’s concerned about the impact of the deficit-reduction deal on defense spending.
    But McCain also tells CBS’s “The Early Show” that officials in Washington realized “we were not going to let the government shut down.”… – AP, 8-1-11
  • Sen. Marco Rubio will vote against debt ceiling deal: The South Florida Congressional delegation says it will likely approve the tentative deal struck Sunday night to raise the debt ceiling but Sen. Marco Rubio is a holdout…. – Miami Herald, 8-1-11
  • GOP presidential hopefuls unhappy with debt-ceiling deal: Some of the Republicans who want to kick President Obama out of office next year are sounding off today with their opposition to a deal the White House reached with congressional leaders to raise the debt ceiling…. – USA Today, 8-1-11
  • Romney opposes debt deal: Mitt Romney said Monday he opposes the compromise to raise the nation’s debt ceiling, becoming the second Republican presidential contender to oppose a deal backed by President Barack Obama and congressional leaders in both parties.
    The plan, which supporters say is needed to avert a looming fiscal crisis, opens the door to tax increases and defense cuts, the former Massachusetts governor said in a statement.
    “President Obama’s leadership failure has pushed the economy to the brink at the eleventh hour and 59th minute,” Romney said. “While I appreciate the extraordinarily difficult situation President Obama’s lack of leadership has placed Republican members of Congress in, I personally cannot support this deal.”
    The statement represents the most substantive comment to date from Romney, the early frontrunner in the Republican presidential field, who has largely avoided weighing in on daily developments in the high-stakes debate. The issue, as the nation’s economy in general, is likely to dominate the 2012 contest…. – AP, 8-1-11
  • Debt and budget bill saves more than $2T: A new study says the debt and budget bill backed by President Barack Obama and congressional leaders would save taxpayers at least $2.1 trillion over the coming decade.
    The Congressional Budget Office analysis says the initial down payment of spending cuts — tight “caps” on the operating budgets of Cabinet agencies like the departments of Defense and Education — would produce more than $900 billion in savings over 10 years…. – AP, 8-1-11
  • Congressional Leaders to Pitch Debt-Reduction Compromise to Caucuses: Democratic and Republican leaders in both chambers of Congress will meet with their caucuses Monday for a hard sell of a compromise debt-reduction package that gives President Obama up to a $2.5 trillion hike in the debt limit as long as lawmakers can find an equal or greater amount in spending cuts.
    But even if they can’t come up with solutions, the cuts will be found for them.
    Obama announced Sunday night that leaders of both parties in both chambers reached an agreement on a debt-reduction deal that will “lift the cloud of uncertainty that hangs over our economy” and prevent the nation from potentially defaulting on the U.S.’s financial obligations…. – Fox News, 8-1-11
  • Congress moving quickly on debt and spending deal: Congress is moving quickly on an agreement to avert a potentially devastating default on U.S. obligations, with legislation that mixes a record increase in the government’s borrowing cap with the promise of more than $2 trillion in spending cuts.
    After a tense weekend of bargaining, President Barack Obama and congressional leaders announced the agreement Sunday night, providing an instant boost to Asian financial markets and a huge dose of relief to an administration and Congress frazzled by months of partisan warfare and the chance that a default could send the still-fragile economy into recession.
    The Senate seems likely to vote first on the measure while House GOP leaders work to assemble support for it. Democratic votes are certain to be needed to pass the measure in the Republican-dominated House, just as Republicans will be needed to clear the measure through the Democratic Senate. Liberal Democrats were already carping that Obama had given away too much to GOP leaders…. – AP, 8-1-11
  • Obama announces budget deal: President Barack Obama, addressing the nation Sunday, announced a bipartisan, bicameral deal to end a dangerous impasse over raising the debt ceiling, marking the start of a process to avert a catastrophic national default on Tuesday.
    A somber Obama — decrying a process that has been “messy” and has “taken far too long” — made his announcement moments before House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) took the two-part package of $2.5 trillion in cuts to a skeptical GOP conference. The agreement came after a day of frenzied negotiations over “triggers” that will be used to determine the make-up of the final $1.5 trillion in cuts.
    “We’re not done yet,” Obama told a smattering of reporters gathered in the White House briefing room. “Despite what some Republicans have argued I believe we have to ask the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations to pay their fair share … and despite what some in my own party have argued I believe that we need to make some modest adjustments to programs like Medicare to assure that they’re still around for future generations,” he said, acknowledging the opposition of tea party conservatives and liberal Democrats…. – Politico, 8-1-11
  • Analysis: Bipartisan debt-limit deal means bipartisan opposition for Obama, Boehner: The newly struck debt-ceiling compromise between President Barack Obama and the Republican leaders of Congress represents a historic accomplishment of divided government, with all the disappointment that implies for the most ardent partisans inside the two major parties and out.
    But it marks an accomplishment nonetheless between a Democratic president elected in 2008 and the Republicans who, Obama memorably said, handed his party a “shellacking” at the polls two years later.
    The tea party conservatives won’t like it, regretting it doesn’t cut spending by more. “Someone has to say no, I will,” Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota said in a statement emailed from Iowa Sunday night, where she was courting Republicans for her 2012 presidential bid.
    Neither will the liberal Democrats, unhappy that it cuts at all. “This deal weakens the Democratic Party as badly as it weakens the country. We have given much and received nothing in return,” said Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, an Arizona Democrat and co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
    Which means that Obama and his principal Republican antagonist, Speaker John Boehner, will share responsibility for passing it in the House…. – AP, 8-1-11
  • US debt limit really doesn’t limit debt: The federal debt limit is a triumph of false advertising. It doesn’t really limit the national debt. Whenever the false ceiling has been reached, it has been raised — forcing unpopular votes in Congress, but not the really hard ones it would take to cut spending, raise revenues and balance budgets.
    Ranting about the debt is easier than taming it. So the same political theatrics are played over and over again. The debt limit has been raised 78 times since 1960. The current hassle over No. 79 is more contentious and divisive than the previous rounds because of hardened lines in Congress, not only between Democrats and Republicans but within their rosters, especially on the GOP side where about 80 freshmen sent by tea party voters consider compromise a crime.
    The hypocrisy of the whole process was summed up by an expert witness, Barack Obama, now the president championing a debt limit increase, when he tried to explain his own vote as junior senator from Illinois to oppose the raise then-President George W. Bush sought…. – AP, 8-1-11
  • Obama: We have a deal: The nation’s top lawmakers and President Obama announced late Sunday they have reached a deal to raise the debt ceiling and dramatically curb federal spending.
    “I want to announce that the leaders of both parties, in both chambers, have reached an agreement that will reduce the deficit and avoid default,” Obama said Sunday night.
    Obama said that while the process was messy, and had taken far too long, the nation would, in the end, avoid a costly default and economic catastrophe.
    A short time before Obama spoke, Sens. Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell said that a framework had been agreed to…. – CNN Money, 8-1-11

Full Text Debt Ceiling Showdown August 2, 2011: President Obama’s Statement on Congress Passing the Compromise Debt Ceiling Bill — The Budget Control Act of 2011

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

THE HEADLINES: DEBT CEILING SHOWDOWN: OBAMA VS CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS

Putting Americans Back to Work: President Obama Speaks on the Debt Compromise

President Obama delivers remarks

President Obama spoke from the Rose Garden after the Senate vote on the debt ceiling bill on Tuesday. More Photos »

Source: WH, 8-2-11

Read the Transcript  |  Download Video: mp4 (81MB) | mp3 (8MB)

 

This afternoon, Congress approved a compromise to reduce the deficit and avert a default that would have devastated the economy. Speaking from the Rose Garden,  President Obama thanked the American people for reaching out to their elected officials during the debate, and stressed that this compromise guarantees more than $2 trillion in deficit reduction, and will ensure that as a nation we live within our means, while still making key investments in things that lead to new jobs, like education and research.

The President noted that this is just the first step, and that both parties must work together on a larger plan for the long-term health of our economy:

And since you can’t close the deficit with just spending cuts, we’ll need a balanced approach where everything is on the table.  Yes, that means making some adjustments to protect health care programs like Medicare so they’re there for future generations. It also means reforming our tax code so that the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations pay their fair share. And it means getting rid of taxpayer subsidies to oil and gas companies, and tax loopholes that help billionaires pay a lower tax rate than teachers and nurses.

I’ve said it before; I will say it again: We can’t balance the budget on the backs of the very people who have borne the biggest brunt of this recession.  We can’t make it tougher for young people to go to college, or ask seniors to pay more for health care, or ask scientists to give up on promising medical research because we couldn’t close a tax shelter for the most fortunate among us.  Everyone is going to have to chip in.  It’s only fair.  That’s the principle I’ll be fighting for during the next phase of this process.

President Barack Obama makes a statement in the Rose Garden after passage of the debt ceiling billPresident Barack Obama makes a statement to the media in the Rose Garden of the White House after House and Senate passage of the debt ceiling bill, Aug. 2, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

In the coming months, President Obama will continue to fight for what matters most to the American people: new jobs, higher wages and faster economic growth. And when Congress gets back from recess, the President will urge them to take bipartisan, common-sense steps to help put Americans back to work.

So, we’ve seen in the past few days that Washington has the ability to focus when there’s a timer ticking down, and when there’s a looming disaster.  It shouldn’t take the risk of default -– the risk of economic catastrophe -– to get folks in this town to work together and do their jobs.  Because there’s already a quiet crisis going on in the lives of a lot of families, in a lot of communities, all across the country.  They’re looking for work, and they have been for a while; or they’re making do with fewer hours or fewer customers; or they’re just trying to make ends meet.  That ought to compel Washington to cooperate.  That ought to compel Washington to compromise, and it ought to compel Washington to act.  That ought to be enough to get all of us in this town to do the jobs we were sent here to do.  We’ve got to do everything in our power to grow this economy and put America back to work.

Political Buzz Debt Ceiling Showdown August 2, 2011: D-Day, Done Deal — Senate Passes Debt Bill 74-26 — President Obama Makes Statement to the Nation & Signs Debt Bill into Law Raising the Debt Ceiling Limit

POLITICAL BUZZ

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

THE HEADLINES: DEBT CEILING SHOWDOWN: OBAMA VS CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS

IN FOCUS

President Obama speaks from the Rose Garden at the White House after final passage of a debt-ceiling increase in Congress on Tuesday.

President Obama speaks from the Rose Garden at the White House after final passage of a debt-ceiling increase in Congress on Tuesday. (Jim Watson / AFP/Getty Images)

SENATE PASSES DEBT DEAL 74-26 — PRESIDENT OBAMA MAKES STATEMENT & SIGNS DEBT BILL INTO LAW RAISING THE DEBT CEILING

This video image provided by Senate Television shows the Senate floor on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2011, after the Senate has approved an emergency bill to avert a first-ever government default with just hours to spare. | AP Photo

Obama signs debt-ceiling deal into law: President Obama has signed into law the bill raising the federal debt ceiling just hours before the Treasury said it could begin running out of money to pay the government’s bills, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday.

President Obama says work not done: After the Senate passed the debt deal and removed the threat of default the day the Treasury was expected to run out of funds, President Obama told the American people from the Rose Garden that “the next phase” of the process involved such things as entitlement and tax reform, extended unemployment benefits and middle-class tax cuts.
He urged Congress to tackle those issues when it returns from its August recess.
“Voters may have chosen divided government, but they sure didn’t vote for dysfunctional government,” Obama said. “They want us to solve problems.”
The president added “While deficit reduction is part of that agenda, it is not the whole agenda.”

Congress approves debt deal, averts U.S. default: The Senate approved a plan, 74 to 26, Tuesday that will increase the federal debt ceiling just hours before the Treasury said it could begin running out of money to pay the government’s bills.
The measure now goes to President Obama, who is expected to sign it shortly. The plan will cut the national debt by at least $2.1 trillion over the next 10 years with no immediate provision for tax increases.

Senate begins vote on debt deal: Approval would send the measure to President Obama and immediately grant the Treasury $400 billion in additional borrowing authority, just hours before a midnight deadline.

 

  • Full Text of the Budget Control Act of 2011 — PDFHow the Senate voted: 74-26 roll call Tuesday — the Senate passed Budget Control Act of 2011 —

    YES: 45 Democrats and 28 Republicans
    NO: 6 Democrats and 19 Republicans

    How the House of Representatives voted: 269-161 roll call Monday — the House passed Budget Control Act of 2011 —

    YES: 95 Democrats and 174 Republicans
    NO: 95 Democrats and 66 Republicans

    “It was a long and contentious debate. And I want to thank the American people for keeping up the pressure on their elected officials to put politics aside and work together.” — President Barack Obama

    “We have seen in the past few days that Washington has the ability to focus when there is a timer ticking down and when there is a looming disaster. It shouldn’t take the risk of default, the risk of economic catastrophe, to get folks in this town to get together and do their jobs. Our economy didn’t need Washington to come along with a manufactured crisis to make things worse.” — President Barack Obama

    “It may have been messy. It might have appeared to some like their government wasn’t working. But, in fact, the opposite was true. The push and pull Americans saw in Washington these past few weeks was not gridlock. It was the will of the people working itself out in a political system that was never meant to be pretty…. It was a debate that Washington needed to have.” — — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell

    The bill passed by the House last night isn’t the bill we’d write if conservatives ran Washington, but it’s a step in the right direction. When I went to NY & said we wouldn’t pass a debt limit increase without spending cuts larger than the hike, skeptics said we were crazy. We’ve proven the skeptics wrong. When Americans stay engaged in their government, there’s no limit to what can get done. Keep up the fight. — Speaker of the House John Boehner

    “Never again will any president from either party be allowed to raise the debt ceiling without being held accountable for it by the American people. And in addition to that, without having to engage in the kind of debate we just went thorough. This kind of discussion isn’t something to dread. It’s something to welcome.” — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell

    “The American people want to see accountability and cooperation in Washington. And they want to see that we’re working to get our fiscal house in order. This legislation doesn’t get us there. But for the first time in a long time, I think we can say to the American people that we’re finally facing in the right direction.” — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell

    “It is the beginning of a process where we are going to change a system in this town. And it also, I think, sends a signal that we can work together to try and produce results.” — House Majority Leader Eric Cantor

    “It’s hard to believe that we are putting our best foot forward with the legislation that comes before us today. I’m not happy with it, but I’m proud of some of the accomplishments contained in it.” — House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi

    “There is great incentive created in this committee to deal with tax reform. It is certainly our expectation that that product will include revenue as well as other areas of finding deficit reduction.” — Speaker of the House Jay Carney

    “I believe the joint select committee can in fact produce real cuts in spending.” — Speaker of the House John Boehner

    Senator Tom Coburn: Why I voted against the debt deal”: “The real debt crisis is not a debate that has been imposed on Washington by Tea Party activists. It is a crisis Washington has imposed on the American people through laziness.” — WaPo, 8-2-11

  • Snapshot: Obama signs debt limit bill: Just hours ahead of a deadline to avert an unprecedented default, President Barack Obama, without public ceremony, signs a bill that raises the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling and sets in motion a plan to reduce U.S. deficits over 10 years…. – Reuters, 8-2-11
  • Debt Bill Becomes Law; Default Averted: The Senate voted Tuesday to raise the government’s debt ceiling and cut trillions of dollars from its spending, finally ending a fractious partisan battle just hours before the government’s borrowing authority was set to run out.
    The bill, which passed 74 to 26 after a short debate devoid of the oratorical passion that had echoed through both chambers of Congress for weeks, was signed by President Obama later on Tuesday.
    A few minutes after the vote, President Obama excoriated his Republican opposition for what he called a manufactured crisis that could have been avoided. “Voters may have chosen divided government,” he said, “but they sure didn’t vote for dysfunctional government…. – NYT, 8-2-11
  • Fitch: US Debt deal alone won’t sustain AAA rating: The bill to raise the country’s borrowing limit and prevent a possible U.S. debt default passed in Congress. But it not enough for the U.S. to maintain its coveted AAA debt rating, according to Fitch Ratings.
    On Tuesday, Fitch said the agreement was an important first step but “not the end of the process.” The rating agency wants to see a credible plan to reduce the budget deficit.
    David Riley, managing director at Fitch, told The Associated Press: “There’s more to be done in order to keep the rating in the medium-term.”… – AP, 8-2-11
  • Senate passes, Obama signs debt limit bill: President Obama signed a bill to raise the nation’s borrowing limit on Tuesday, just hours after the Senate voted 74-26 in favor of the deal that will cut government spending by trillions and effectively raise the debt ceiling through the end of 2012…. – CBS News, 8-2-11
  • President Obama Signs Debt Deal as Next Fight Looms: Hours before the U.S. faced a first-ever default, President Obama signed into law a compromise deal that averts a crisis by raising the debt limit, but signaled that he will not abandon his stalled efforts to raise taxes on the wealthy.
    “It’s an important first step to ensuring that as a nation we live within our means, yet it also allows us to keep making key investments in things like education and research that lead to new jobs and assures that we’re not cutting too abruptly while the economy’s still fragile,” Obama said in a statement from the White House Rose Garden before signing the bill.
    Moments before his remarks, senators voted 74 to 26 to pass the Budget Control Act, the last hurdle for the controversial measure that was first approved by the House Monday night, making a $2.4 trillion down-payment on the federal deficit over the next 10 years.
    Obama’s signature ends a bruising Washington-made crisis that has gripped the country and lifts what the administration has called a “cloud of uncertainty hanging over the economy.”… – ABC News, 8-2-11
  • With debt debate over, Obama urges focus on jobs: President Obama marked the end of the “long and contentious” debt-limit debate Tuesday afternoon, lamenting that the “manufactured crisis” has stunted the economic recovery and promising a return to a jobs-focused agenda.
    The president spoke from the Rose Garden moments after the Senate gave final approval to the deal by a vote of 74-26. The House had voted for it by a surprisingly comfortable 269-161 margin on Monday.
    Obama signed the measure more than an hour after the Senate vote, ensuring that the nation is able to continue borrowing money to pay its bills.
    The president called the deficit-reduction measures paired with the debt-limit increase an “important first step to ensuring that as a nation we continue living within our means.” But he also said he would continue to fight for a “balanced” approach when Congress continues the debate this fall.
    “I’ve said it before, I will say it again: We can’t balance the budget on the backs of the very people who have born the biggest brunt of this recession,” he said…. – LAT, 8-2-11
  • Obama says more needed to boost U.S. economy: President Barack Obama said on Tuesday a just-passed bill to raise the U.S. debt ceiling and cut spending was a first step toward ensuring the United States lives within its means but that more was needed to rebuild the world’s largest economy.
    Speaking at the White House, Obama made clear he expects tax reform to emerge from deliberations by a new committee of Democrats and Republicans to be established by the legislation and that a “balanced approach” in which the wealthier pay more taxes is needed for more deficit reduction.
    Obama, a Democrat, said uncertainty from the bitter debt debate had been an impediment to business but the economic recovery also suffered from unforeseen problems such as the Japan earthquake and tsunami.
    Obama urged Congress to pass stalled trade bills and said he wants tax cuts for the middle class and unemployment benefits extended.
    “Both parties share power in Washington. And both parties need to take responsibility for improving this economy,” Obama said shortly after the Senate passed the debt bill and sent it to him for signing into law.
    “I’ll be discussing additional ideas in the weeks ahead to help companies hire, invest and expand.”… – Reuters, 8-2-11
  • Obama hails passage of debt limit compromise: President Obama hailed a hard-fought, last-minute deal to avert economic catastrophe Tuesday, saying a compromise to cut spending and increase the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt limit marked an “important first step to ensuring that as a nation we live within our means.”
    The bill, he said, was the outcome of a “long and contentious debate” to avoid a man-made economic disaster that he described as creating “unsettling” economic uncertainty. He said that while voters chose divided government, “they sure didn’t vote for dysfunctional government.”
    “It shouldn’t take the risk of default, the risk of economic catastrophe, to get folks in this town to get together and do their jobs,” the president said. He added: “Our economy didn’t need Washington to come along with a manufactured crisis to make things worse.”
    Mr. Obama plans to sign the legislation in a closed-door ceremony Tuesday afternoon. It will effectively increase the nation’s borrowing authority through the end of next year and promises more than $2 trillion in deficit reduction over ten years.
    Now that the debt limit fight is effectively over, Mr. Obama and Congressional Democrats say they will pivot to a focus on jobs and the economy, which they say should be Congress’ top priority.
    “We’ve got to do everything in our power to grow this economy and put Americans back to work,” Mr. Obama said Tuesday. He called on Congress to extend middle class tax cuts and unemployment benefits, pass trade deals and plow money into infrastructure when it returns from its August recess…. – CBS News, 8-2-11
  • Obama signs debt-limit bill into law: The Senate passed a landmark plan to raise the federal debt limit and reduce government spending Tuesday, ending a partisan stalemate that threatened to plunge the nation into default and destabilize the world economy.
    The measure was approved by a vote of 74 to 26. It promptly went to President Obama, who signed it into law, giving the government the money to pay its bills ahead of a midnight deadline.
    Speaking in the White House Rose Garden after the Senate vote, Obama called the legislation “an important first step” in ensuring that the nation lives within its means, and he said it avoids “cutting too abruptly while the economy is still fragile.” He vowed to keep working for a “balanced approach” to deficit reduction that includes “reforming our tax code so that the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations pay their fair share.”
    The Senate vote came a day after the House voted 269 to 161 to pass the plan, as recalcitrant Republicans and disappointed Democrats rallied around calls to avert the nation’s first default and rein in ballooning deficits. The measure immediately grants the Treasury $400 billion in additional borrowing authority, with more to follow…. – WaPo, 8-2-11
  • Debt ceiling bill passes Senate, 74-26: Treasury won an immediate reprieve of $400 billion in new borrowing authority Tuesday, as the Senate gave final approval to a hotly contested debt and deficit-reduction agreement hammered out with the White House Sunday night.
    The bipartisan 74-26 roll call followed a 269-161 vote in the House Monday evening and the bill will be quickly signed by President Barack Obama, ending an unprecedented, hard-edged political struggle that pushed the nation to the brink of default.
    Indeed, the stakes were far larger than the April shutdown fight, and more than any single event this year, the debt ceiling fight captured all the power—and critics would say extreme risk-taking—of the anti-government backlash that fueled the GOP’s gains in the 2010 elections…. – Politico, 8-2-11
  • Done Deal Senate Passes Debt Ceiling Bill 74-26: Members of the Senate this afternoon approved a bill to raise the nation’s debt ceiling, narrowly avoiding the nation’s first-ever default.
    The bill garnered broad bipartisan support in today’s 74-26 vote. The House passed the measure yesterday by a vote of 269-to-161, with only two members of the city’s congressional delegation supporting it.
    The bill now heads straight to President Barack Obama’s desk for signing…. – NY1, 8-2-11
  • Senate Passes Debt Plan to Avert Default: The Senate put an end to months of partisan impasse on Tuesday, passing a landmark budget agreement to raise the debt ceiling and sending the measure to the White House for President Obama’s signature — just hours before the government’s borrowing authority was set to run out at midnight.
    The bipartisan vote was 74 to 26 , a margin that belied the intensity of a fight that has left both parties bruised and exhausted.
    With the ambivalent support of Congressional leaders in both parties and Mr. Obama, the compromise, which passed the House with bipartisan support on Monday night, averts a potential default on the government’s debt and provides for increases in the debt ceiling to be phased in, with compensating budget cuts, lasting beyond the 2012 elections. Enactment of the legislation would signal a pronounced shift in fiscal policy, from the heavy spending on economic stimulus and warfare of the past few years to a regime of steep spending cuts aimed at reducing the deficits — so far, without new revenues sought by the White House…. – NYT, 8-2-11
  • Senate passes debt deal: The Senate approved — and President Obama is likely to sign — $2.4 trillion in budget cuts and a roughly equal amount of additional debt capacity, ending months of gridlock.
    The 74-26 Senate vote came just in time to avoid an unprecedented default that Treasury officials predicted could happen if Congress didn’t raise the $14.3 trillion debt limit by today.
    The debt drama wasn’t a one-act play. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said it would be the “template” for all future debt limit increases…. – USA Today, 8-2-11
  • Senate approves bill to raise debt ceiling; sends to President Obama: The Senate voted on Tuesday to approve a deal to raise the nation’s borrowing limit, voting 74-26 for a bill that would cut government spending by trillions and effectively raise the debt ceiling through the end of 2012. The bill will now be sent to President Obama, who is expected to sign it immediately.
    The bill was brokered Sunday night in last-minute negotiations between the White House and congressional leaders.
    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., a key player in the negotiations, and Majority Leader Harry Reid,D-Nev., both backed the bill – paving the way for its easy passage in the Senate.
    The six Democrats who voted against the measure on Tuesday were sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Tom Harkin (Ia.), Frank Lautenberg (N.J.), Bob Menendez (N.J.), Jeff Merkley (Ore.) and Ben Nelson (Neb.). Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who caucuses with Democrats, also voted against the measure.
    Nineteen Republican senators voted against the bill…. – CBS News, 8-2-11
  • Debt battle set to draw to close, for now: The United States is poised to step back from the brink of economic disaster on Tuesday when a bitterly fought deal to cut the budget deficit is expected to clear its final hurdles.
    Just hours before the Treasury’s authority to borrow funds runs out — risking a damaging U.S. debt default — the Senate and President Barack Obama are expected to approve a deal to cut a bulging deficit and lift the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling enough to last beyond the November 2012 elections.
    The bill overcame its biggest obstacle late on Monday when the Republican-led House of Representatives passed the measure despite noisy opposition from both conservative Tea Party members, who wanted more spending cuts, and liberal Democrats angered by potential hits to programs for the poor.
    The vote in the Democratic-controlled Senate, due to take place at noon EDT, is expected to be less dramatic. If approved, Obama would sign the bill into law shortly afterward.
    That would mark the end of a fierce partisan battle that has paralyzed Washington for weeks and spooked investors already nervous about a weak U.S. economy and Europe’s sovereign debt woes…. – Reuters, 8-2-11
  • Senate expected to vote in favor of debt-limit bill: The Senate is set to vote this afternoon on the bill to raise the debt limit that the House approved Monday. Senators are expected to approve it and then send the bill to President Barack Obama for his signature.
    With a strong backing from Democrats, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the House on Monday approved raising the nation’s debt ceiling.
    The Senate is expected to approve it at noon today, and President Barack Obama is prepared to sign it almost immediately, averting the prospect of an unprecedented default…. – AP, 8-2-11
  • House Approved Debt Bill Faces Final Hurdle: The Senate today is expected to sign off on a compromise bill to raise the nation’s debt ceiling and avoid the country’s first ever default on its bills.
    The House passed the measure yesterday by a vote of 269-to-161, with only two members of the city’s congressional delegation supporting it.
    Once approved, the bill will head straight to President Barack Obama’s desk for signing.
    The measure allows for a $2.4 trillion increase to the debt ceiling, but also slashes about $2 trillion from the federal budget. It also means Congress doesn’t have to deal with the debt ceiling again until 2013.
    Many Republicans say it still does not cut enough spending, while many Democrats slammed the deal because it does not include tax hikes…. – NY1, 8-2-11
  • Republicans Turn to Dealmaker McConnell for Compromise: While Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell stayed out of the spotlight during much of the negotiations over the U.S. debt limit, the deal that’s headed for approval by Congress today has his fingerprints all over it.
    Those who have worked with McConnell say that is typical of the lawmaker from Kentucky, a tight-lipped veteran of 26 years in the Senate who says little in public while wielding broad power behind closed doors.
    He “tends to be underestimated by the press, because they don’t see him doing things,” said former Senator Judd Gregg, a New Hampshire Republican and longtime ally. “He’s not at the microphones all the time, so they underestimate his capacity to do things. And he’s the last person in the Senate you want to underestimate.”
    The deficit-reduction deal that is set for a Senate vote today is largely a product of direct negotiations among McConnell, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, as well as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Speaker John Boehner and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi…. – Bloomberg, 8-2-11
  • Senate to Vote on Debt-Ceiling Bill: The Senate is expected at noon Tuesday to sign off on a bipartisan agreement to raise the federal debt ceiling and cut as much as $2.4 trillion from budget deficits, after the House passed the measure 269-161 last night.
    The deal is the product of one of the most ferocious fights ever over government spending and political brinksmanship that caused economic uncertainty and continues to threaten the nation’s prized AAA credit rating. Its passage through the Senate makes it likely that Congress won’t break Tuesday’s deadline set by the Treasury Department after which the nation could run out of money to pay all of its bills.
    WSJ’s Alan Murray and Joe White join the News Hub panel to discuss Monday evening’s House vote to raise the debt ceiling by $2.4 trillion, and look ahead to Tuesday’s vote in the Senate. WSJ Photo.
    Passage in the House came despite the opposition of both conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats, both of whom balked at the deal reached over the weekend between President Barack Obama and congressional leaders.
    However, the agreement was expected to obtain the 60 votes needed for it to pass the Senate, paving the way for Mr. Obama to sign it into law Tuesday afternoon…. – WSJ, 8-2-11
  • Senate poised to pass debt deal despite criticism from left, right: The Senate will vote at noon Tuesday to approve a bipartisan deal to raise the debt limit by at least $2.1 trillion and send it President Obama before the 11:59 p.m. deadline.
    The deal is expected to attract strong support from mainstream senators on both sides of the aisle while the chamber’s most liberal and conservative members will vote no.
    It passed the House easily Monday evening by a vote of 269 to 161.
    Wall Street, however, did not seem impressed by the deficit-reduction package, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by 0.75 percent and the Standard & Poor’s 500 fell by 1 percent Tuesday morning.
    Senators from both parties lined up to praise and criticize the agreement…. – The Hill, 8-2-11
  • Obama, GOP brace for ‘Super Committee’: It’s a bird … it’s a plane … It’s Super Committee!
    As President Obama prepares to sign the debt ceiling agreement later today, lawmakers are already positioning themselves for the special congressional committee that will be assigned to look for $1.5 trillion in debt reduction over the next ten years.
    Some observers are joking about whether members of so-called “Super Committee” will don capes and costumes with dollar sign logos, but the political parties are preparing another serious battle over the topics that dominated the debt ceiling debate: Taxes, spending, and the scope of government.
    Obama and aides said they will continue pushing the idea that any debt reduction plan must be “balanced,” including not only spending cuts but more taxes from the nation’s wealthiest Americans.
    House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said “it’s going to be pretty hard” for the committee to recommend taxes, and suggested that GOP appointees would block such a move…. – USA Today, 8-2-11
  • Obama shifts to the right: President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks from White House briefing room, Sunday, July 31, 2011 in Washington, about a deal being reached to raise the debt limit. (AP)
    The most distressing outcome of the deficit hysteria gripping Washington may be what Barack Obama has revealed about himself. It was disconcerting to watch the president slip-slide so easily into voicing the fallacious economic arguments of the right. It was shocking when he betrayed core principles of the Democratic Party, portraying himself as high-minded and brave because he defied his loyal constituents. Supporters may hope this rightward shift was only a matter of political tactics, but I think Obama has at last revealed his sincere convictions. If he wins a second term, he will be free to strike a truly rotten “grand bargain” with Republicans—“pragmatic” compromises that will destroy the crown jewels of democratic reform.
    The president has done grievous damage to the most vulnerable by trying to fight the GOP on its ground—accepting the premise that deficits and debt should be a national priority. He made the choice more than a year ago to push aside the real problem—the vast loss and suffering generated by a failing economy…. – CBS News, 8-2-11
  • Debt ceiling agreement a fair compromise?Politico Arena, 7-31-11
  • Joe Biden, Mitch McConnell and the making of a debt deal: Almost as abruptly, the compromise started coming together. What happened during a weekend of frenzied negotiations to salvage the deal is a tale of cataclysm narrowly averted, a historic debt-reduction plan that satisfies none of its signatories and a lesson on how even the most dysfunctional political system can be made functional through the injection of fear, finesse and Joe Biden’s old friendships…. – Politico, 8-2-11
  • Pols all ‘look like idiots’ during debt crisis, but President Obama takes biggest hit of them all: There are no real winners in the debt-crisis debacle, and in such moments the leader of the country absorbs a larger hit than most.
    The tawdry spectacle of governmental paralysis, engineered by take-no-prisoner Tea Party newbies and abetted by Republicans fearful of crossing them, is more reminiscent of a banana republic.
    “We all look like idiots,” a dismayed Democratic Party elder complained as Congress lurched toward sidestepping a financial meltdown. “The extremists have taken over the system. This is not a good omen for anyone.”
    President Obama, least of all.
    Obama got less than a half loaf, but came away with some positives from the shotgun-wedding compromise. He pushed back the next debt extension donnybrook to 2013, guaranteeing this summer’s legislative chaos won’t be rerun during next year’s campaign.
    He also averted an even bigger embarrassment – America didn’t, on his watch, default on its debt obligations for the first time in history.
    But even Obama loyalists on Capitol Hill privately say he didn’t exactly burnish his leadership credentials in this process. “At the end of the day, voters expect their President to bring people together,” one of them said. “He hasn’t been able to on this.”…. – NY Daily News, 8-2-11

Political Buzz Debt Ceiling Showdown August 1, 2011: House Bipartisan Vote 269-161 for Debt Ceiling Bill — Gabrielle Giffords First Vote Since Being Shot — Senate Votes Tuesday

POLITICAL BUZZ

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

THE HEADLINES: DEBT CEILING SHOWDOWN: OBAMA VS CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS

Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in January, appeared on the floor of the House of Representatives after the vote.

House Television, via Associated PressRepresentative Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in January, appeared on the floor of the House of Representatives after the vote.

IN FOCUS

AUGUST 1, 2011: HOUSE VOTES 269-161 FOR DEBT CEILING BILL — GABRIELLE GIFFORDS’S FIRST VOTE IN HOUSE SINCE BEING SHOT — SENATE VOTES NEXT — DEFAULT AVERTED

House approves raise in federal debt ceiling; bill goes to Senate: The House approved a bill Monday night that raises the federal debt limit and cuts discretionary spending by $1 trillion over the next 10 years, a key step toward averting a government default. The 269 to 161 vote sends the bill to the Senate, which is likely to consider the plan Tuesday — the day that the Treasury has said it would begin running short of cash to pay the nation’s bills. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords cast her first vote in the House since being shot in January, voting yes.

I would like to say this bill solves our problem. It doesn’t. It’s a solid first step.” — Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R) of Texas, the House Republican Conference chairman

“Although not perfect, [it] will begin to change the culture here in Washington.” — House majority leader Eric Cantor (R) Virginia

“Beginning to take steps toward fixing our fiscal problems will in fact provide more confidence for employers in America.” — Speaker John Boehner (R) of Ohio

“The Capitol looks beautiful, and I am honored to be at work tonight… I had to be here for this vote. I could not take the chance that my absence could crash our economy. I have closely followed the debate over our debt ceiling and have been deeply disappointed at what’s going on in Washington. After weeks of failed debate in Washington, I was pleased to see a solution to this crisis emerge.” — Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Arizona

“Gabby is voting to support the bipartisan debt-ceiling compromise. This is a huge step in her recovery, and an example of what we all know — she is determined to get better, and to serve CD8 and our nation. This vote — expected to be very close — was simply too important for her to miss.” — Gabrielle Gifford’s Facebook Page

“There isn’t a name that stirs more love, more admiration, more respect, more wishing for our daughters to be like her than the name of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords. Thank you, Gabby.” — Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the minority leader

“That’s why I’m here. Nancy [Pelosi] was kind enough to call me.”…
When I went up, she said, ‘Joe.’ I said, ‘Now we’re both members of the Cracked Head Club.’ You know, I had two craniotomies. For real. They literally took the top of my head off. Twice. Now, the wags in Delaware, when the second operation occurred, wrote and said, ‘Well, it’s because they couldn’t find a brain the first time!’
She and I just commiserated about the steps to recovery. Hers, much more consequential. But it scares the living devil out of you when you’re recovering from a serious operation or injury to your head. But it comes back. And knowing people who’ve been through it and came back was helpful, for me anyway. You know what I mean?
She’s remarkable. She’s remarkable. Will matters. Will matters. I tell you what, she’s the embodiment of a strong, strong woman. Think about what that woman has been through, and think about her determination.
It’s really good. Here I am hugging Gabby and Michele Bachmann. Seriously. I’m being literal. Sure! I like Michele Bachmann. For real. We’re all standing there around and Michele walks up to see Gabby because she cares about her… There is a basic humanity here, man. It matters, between people. I know that sounds corny.”…
He then recalled what he said was one of the most emotional moments he ever saw. Hubert Humphrey, the former vice president and US senator from Minnesota, was dying of cancer and made an appearance on the Senate floor. “He could hardly walk. He walked into the well. And Barry Goldwater got out of his seat, hugged him in the well, and the both embraced each other for a good three minutes, crying. These were arch, arch, arch ideological enemies. There’s a lot of humanity left here.” — Vice President Joe Biden Boston Globe, 8-1-11

  • House OKs debt; Giffords brings down the House: Crisis legislation to yank the nation past the threat of a historic financial default sped through the House Monday night, breaking weeks of deadlock. The rare moment of cooperation turned celebratory when Rep. Gabrielle Giffords strode in for the first time since she was shot in the head nearly seven months ago.
    The vote was 269-161, a scant day ahead of the deadline for action. But all eyes were on Giffords, who drew thunderous applause as she walked into the House chamber unannounced and cast her vote in favor of the bill.
    A final Senate sign-off for the measure is virtually assured on Tuesday. Aside from raising the debt limit, the bill would slice federal spending by at least $2.1 trillion, and perhaps much more.
    “If the bill were presented to the president, he would sign it,” the White House said, an understatement of enormous proportions…. – AP, 8-1-11
  • House Passes Deal to Avert Debt Crisis: After months of partisan impasse, the House on Monday approved a budget agreement intended to head off a potential government default, pushing Congress a big step closer to the conclusion of a bitter fight that has left both parties bruised and exhausted. Despite the tension and uncertainty that has surrounded efforts to raise the debt ceiling, the vote of 269 to 161 was relatively strong in support of the plan, which would cut more than $2.1 trillion in government spending over 10 years while extending the borrowing authority of the Treasury Department. It would also create a powerful new joint Congressional committee to recommend broad changes in spending — and possibly in tax policy — to reduce the deficit.
    Scores of Democrats initially held back from voting, to force Republicans to register their positions first. Then, as the time for voting wound down, Representative Gabrielle Giffords, Democrat of Arizona, returned to the floor for the first time since being shot in January and voted for the bill to jubilant applause and embraces from her colleagues. It provided an unexpected, unifying ending to a fierce standoff in the House.
    The Senate, where approval is considered likely, is scheduled to vote at noon on Tuesday and then send the measure to Mr. Obama less than 12 hours before the time when the Treasury Department has said it could become unable to meet all of its financial obligations…. – NYT, 8-1-11
  • Debt-ceiling bill clears House. Now, hopes that Round 2 will be better: With the House passing a debt-ceiling bill Monday, and end of the debt crisis is in sight. But more cutting lies ahead, and both sides are hopeful they’ll get more of what they want…. – CS Monitor, 8-1-11
  • Debt deal easily clears House, final passage likely: Congress was poised to send President Obama a compromise deficit-reduction package topping $2 trillion Tuesday, just hours before the nation could run out of borrowed money to pay its bills.
    After months of bitter partisan wrangling, the House on Monday easily approved the landmark measure raising the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt limit by a 269-161 vote. The Senate is expected to approve it at noon Tuesday, and Obama is prepared to sign it almost immediately, averting the prospect of an unprecedented default…..
    Republican leaders boasted that they got two-thirds of the spending cuts they sought, leading GOP House members to vote 174-66 in favor of the bill. Democrats who split 95-95 on the measure were left to highlight the cuts they averted…. – USA Today, 8-1-11
  • Debt deal clears House on 269-161 vote; Senate passage expected Tuesday: A bipartisan bill to increase the nation’s debt limit and cut as much as $2.4 trillion in government spending passed the House of Representatives, overcoming the key hurdle on the road to averting an unprecedented federal default.
    The legislation, which passed Monday evening by a relatively comfortable 269-161 margin, came after a weekend of tense meetings, exhausted staff discussions and, in the end, a compromise worked out at the highest levels of government. If passed by the Senate on Tuesday, which is widely expected, it will end a months-long standoff between a new Republican House majority, which refused to pass an increase without a deficit reduction package, and the Democratic majority in the Senate and President Barack Obama…. – Bellingham Herald, 8-1-11
  • House passes debt ceiling agreement; Senate vote expected Tuesday: The U.S. House on Monday passed the debt-ceiling deal worked out by President Barack Obama and congressional leaders, sending it to the Senate for consideration a day before the deadline for the government to face possible default.
    A Senate vote was expected Tuesday, according to multiple Senate leadership aides from each party…. – CNN, 8-1-11
  • Pelosi rallies Dems to help pass debt plan: House minority leader Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco provided 95 Democratic votes – half of her caucus – to approve a $2 trillion-plus, 10-year debt-reduction package Monday that helped make up for a slew of defections by Tea Party-backed Republicans.
    Pelosi urged Democrats to swallow hard on the package, which did not include new taxes as they had wanted, to save the nation from a potentially calamitous cash shortfall. The final vote was 269 to 161, with 66 Republicans voting no on grounds that the spending cuts did not go deep enough.
    Rep. Gabrielle Giffords,the Arizona Democrat shot in the head by a gunman in January, made a dramatic entrance onto the House floor to cast her vote for the deal…. – San Francisco Chronicle, 8-1-11
  • House Passes Compromise Debt Bill: 7:42 p.m. | Updated The House of Representatives approved the debt ceiling bargain negotiated over the weekend by President Obama and leaders from both parties, sending the measure to the Senate. Final approval that could come Tuesday.
    Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, told his colleagues that the Senate will take up the debt bill at noon on Tuesday, just hours before the midnight deadline when the nation’s borrowing authority will run out.
    The final vote was 269 to 161, with 66 Republicans and 95 Democrats voting no. Many Democratic lawmakers joined dozens of Tea Party-backed Republicans in calling it a bad deal for the country. But the complicated legislation to raise the debt ceiling by $2.1 trillion earned the support of members from both parties to win approval.
    Senators said they planned to take up the legislation as soon as Monday evening or Tuesday, hours before a deadline that might have led to a federal default.
    The passage came in dramatic fashion as Representative Gabrielle Giffords, Democrat of Arizona, made her first appearance back in the chamber since she was shot in the head by an assailant during a meet and greet in her district. Members in both parties stood up for a long and enthusiastic standing ovation for Ms. Giffords, who entered dressed in a teal shirt and with her brown hair trimmed short. She has been recuperating since the shooting and it had been unclear when she would return…. – NYT, 8-1-11
  • Giffords Returns, as Does Unity, Briefly: With two minutes to go and roughly 20 votes needed to pass a bill to raise the nation’s debt limit, a smattering of applause rippled from a corner of the House chamber. After a few seconds of confusion, a flash of teal jacket could be seen almost floating among a sea of Democrats.
    There she was, Representative Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, appearing unexpectedly Monday evening to cast one of the last votes needed to send the measure over the top.
    The full chamber erupted in loud applause as Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the House whip, flicked his eyes from the vote board to Ms. Giffords. It was the first time she had been in the chamber since she was critically injured in an assassination attempt in January in Tucson…. – NYT, 8-1-11
  • Rep. Giffords casts debt-limit vote on House floor: As minutes remained on a critical vote to raise the debt limit, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords burst onto the House floor Monday and cast a “yes” vote, the first time the Arizona Democrat had voted since a gunman shot her in the head at a political event in Tucson seven months ago.
    Lawmakers, tense after weeks of contentious negotiations, erupted into applause as Giffords entered the chamber accompanied by her close friend and colleague Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., and her husband, space shuttle astronaut Mark Kelly. Giffords waved and said, “Thank you” as her colleagues gave her a standing ovation.
    Giffords, who wore glasses and a teal blazer, turned to watch the tally as voting ended on the debt-ceiling compromise package….
    Vice President Biden said Pelosi told him earlier Monday that Giffords would return to the House. “That’s why I’m here,” Biden said…. – USA Today, 8-1-11
  • Julian Zelizer on House Debt Deal Vote: Many bills that eventually take on big issues start as a modest, first step, says Julian Zelizer, a congressional historian at Princeton University, citing the 1957 civil rights bill, which disappointed most of its supporters for not going far enough to redress the nation’s record on civil rights.
    President “Lyndon Johnson pushed back against liberals saying, ‘If I can get Southerners to vote for something, you can do more down the road,’ ” he says.
    “The debt deal is trying to give some assurance that it’s a first step and will continue,” he adds. “The legislation is vague enough about this new committee that everyone can look at it and think that the committee will later give them what they want.”… – CS Monitor, 8-1-11

Political Headlines June 12, 2011: First Photos of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords Released Since Shooting

POLITICAL HEADLINES

IN FOCUS: GABBY GIFFORDS PHOTOS RELEASED

 

First photos of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords since the January 8, 2011 shooting were released early morning on June 12, 2011.
To correct the AP article, it does not seem to be discoloration on the left side of her foreheard, but an indent, a result of the injuries Gabby Gifford endured from the shooting.

  • First photos of Gabrielle Giffords released: The first photos of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords since she was shot in the head in a mass shooting in Tucson about five months ago were released early Sunday. The photos appeared on her Facebook page.
    Both pictures show the congresswoman outside. In one she is alone and smiling at the camera, her hair trimmed short with the skin on the side of her head slightly disclored but with no clear sign of any scarring. In the other, she is sitting with a woman.
    Giffords has been in a Houston rehab facility since two weeks after the Jan. 8 shooting. Six people were killed and 13 were injured, including Giffords.
    Since the shooting, the only time the public was able to glimpse Giffords was April 27 as she boarded a plane to Florida to watch astronaut husband Mark Kelly launch into space. The grainy footage showed Giffords slowly but purposefully walking up the airplane’s stairs…. – AP, 6-12-11
  • Gabrielle Giffords’s life and career: Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, known as a rising star in the Democratic party, is smiling in the latest photos released of her, five months a Tucson shooting left her hospitalized… – WaPo, 6-12-11
  • Photos of Congresswoman Giffords:
    Background of the photographer
    The photos were taken by P.K. Weis of SouthwestPhotoBank.com. He has worked as a photojournalist in the Southwest for about four decades. He worked at the Tucson Citizen for 36 years, including 30 as photo editor, until the paper closed in 2009. Weis has known Congresswoman Giffords for more than a decade, since before she was first elected to the Legislature.
    Statement by the photographer “Any photographer in the country would have loved the opportunity to take these pictures and I was delighted to be asked. I’ve known Gabby for more than a decade and her staff asked me to do it because she wanted someone who was not a stranger – someone she would be comfortable around. The photos were taken in her room and in an outside area of the hospital.
    “In addition to the congresswoman, her mother, one of her staff members and a close friend were there. Doctors and nurses also came in and out.“
    It was very inspiring to see how much she had recovered in 4½ months. I was excited to see her and to see her smile. She was glad to see me, was in a good mood, smiling and laughing and seemed to enjoy the experience. I certainly did, too.” — Rep. Gabrielle Gifford Official Facebook Page, 6-12-11

 

Political Highlights January 16, 2011: Looking Back, A Nation Heals after Giffords / Arizona Shootings, McCain v. Palin on Obama as Healer in Chief — Aftermath & Attempts at Bipartisanship

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Speaks at Richard Holbrooke's Memorial

STATS & POLLS

  • AP-GfK Poll: Raw feelings ease over health law: As lawmakers shaken by the shooting of a colleague return to the health care debate, an Associated Press-GfK poll finds raw feelings over President Barack Obama’s overhaul have subsided.
    Ahead of a vote on repeal in the GOP-led House this week, strong opposition to the law stands at 30 percent, close to the lowest level registered in AP-GfK surveys dating to September 2009.
    The nation is divided over the law, but the strength and intensity of the opposition appear diminished. The law expands coverage to more than 30 million uninsured, and would require, for the first time, that most people in the United States carry health insurance.
    The poll finds that 40 percent of those surveyed said they support the law, while 41 percent oppose it. Just after the November congressional elections, opposition stood at 47 percent and support was 38 percent.
    As for repeal, only about one in four say they want to do away with the law completely. Among Republicans support for repeal has dropped sharply, from 61 percent after the elections to 49 percent now.
    Also, 43 percent say they want the law changed so it does more to re-engineer the health care system. Fewer than one in five say it should be left as it is…. – AP, 1-16-11
  • Obama’s Approval Rating Rises to 48 Percent in Quinnipiac Opinion Poll: President Barack Obama’s approval rating has climbed to 48 percent, the highest figure since the 50 percent recorded in October 2009, a Quinnipiac University poll shows. The percentage of voters who support Obama’s job performance rose 4 percentage points from the previous Quinnipiac poll in November, taken shortly after that month’s midterm elections. Registered voters in the new survey split almost evenly, 47 percent to 45 percent, on whether Obama’s presidency is a success or failure as the president reaches the midpoint of his term…. – Bloomberg, 1-13-11
  • AP-GfK Poll: Obama, GOP improve their standing: Americans give higher marks to President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans after a holiday season of compromise paid dividends for both, according to the latest Associated Press-GfK poll. At the start of the divided government era, the survey found that 53 percent of Americans approve of how Obama is doing his job, his best numbers since the divisive health care vote 10 months ago. And, compared with just after the November elections, more now express confidence that Obama and the new Republican-controlled House can work together to solve the country’s most urgent problems, chief among them the struggling economy…. – AP, 1-12-11
  • Poll: Emanuel expands lead in Chicago: Former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel has a double-digit lead in a new poll for Chicago mayor. Emanuel leads former U.S. senator Carol Moseley Braun, 42%-26%, in a survey commissioned by the Chicago Teamsters. Emanuel led with 36% in the Teamsters’ November poll.
    Voters in the Windy City go to the polls on Feb. 22 to pick a successor to Richard M. Daley, Chicago’s longest- serving mayor…. – USA Today, 1-11-11
  • Poll: Huckabee most liked, Palin best known: Republicans with an eye on the White House have some work to do on improving their image and recognition by voters. A new Gallup Poll shows Mike Huckabee is the most liked and Sarah Palin is the best known in the crowded field of potential 2012 GOP presidential candidates.
    Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor and winner of the 2008 Iowa GOP caucuses, has a net favorable rating of 30% among Republicans and is recognized by 87%. Palin, the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee, comes in fourth in favorability (22%) but is recognized by 95%…. – USA Today, 1-10-11

GABRIELLE GIFFORDS: SHOOTING IN TUCSON, ARIZONA

  • Arizona shooting: a week of agonizing, arguing, praying, investigating: US Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, targeted in last week’s Arizona shooting, continues to improve; a Tucson Safeway store reopens; and investigators work to build their case against Jared Loughner.
    A week has passed since America – and Tucson, Ariz., in particular – was horrified, revolted, and grieved by a mass shooting at a congresswoman’s routine event with constituents outside a Safeway supermarket.
    In that time President Obama has three times spoken to the nation, in a bid to comfort and unite. In that time three of the six people killed in the shooting have been laid to rest. In that time the Safeway has reopened, with store spokeswoman Cathy Kloos on Saturday noting employees’ desire to “reconnect with their customers” and affirming, “We’re doing OK.”
    The initial round of castigation – liberals and conservatives feuding over who’s more at fault for a climate of political “vitriol” and whether that played into the tragedy – has subsided. Lawmakers in Congress are considering whether Republicans and Democrats ought to intermingle in the audience at the upcoming State of the Union address, in a gesture of comity. Doctors say Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D), the apparent target of the attack, continues to improve after being shot in the head and is off a ventilator, raising hopes for her recovery, and 10 of the 13 wounded have been released from the hospital.
    Things will never be the same, especially for families who lost loved ones. But for many they are starting to be manageable, if still not explainable…. – CS Monitor, 1-15-11
  • Senator: Giffords moving both sides of her body, breathing on her own: U.S.Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who remains in critical condition after a shooting at a January 8 public event, is moving both sides of her body and is able to breathe on her own, a fellow member of Congress said Sunday. “She’s doing great,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York and a friend of the Arizona congresswoman, on NBC’s “Meet The Press.” Gillibrand said she spoke to Giffords’ husband, Mark Kelly, on Saturday night and that Giffords is “making progress every day.” Gillibrand told CBS’ “Face the Nation” that Giffords is moving both sides of her body and is “showing people that she can communicate well by, you know, holding our hands and moving her arms and legs and looking at us. So she’s making great progress.”… – CNN, 1-16-11
  • Who had the Worst Week in Washington? Sarah Palin: In moments of crisis, great politicians rise to the occasion. Bad ones tend to fall flat. Sarah Palin learned that the hard way this past week, when a statement she released hoping to quell the controversy that surrounded her after the attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) only helped create a new and even larger controversy.
    At issue was a map that Palin’s political team published during the 2010 campaign. It had cross hairs on 20 Democratic districts – including Giffords’s – that Palin was targeting as politically vulnerable.
    In the aftermath of the Jan. 8 shootings, many on the left unfairly blamed Palin for somehow inciting the gunman. (The details that have emerged since last Saturday suggest that the suspect, Jared Loughner, was deeply troubled and without any coherent political philosophy.)
    Palin, rightly, felt aggrieved. But her 1,141-word statement issued via Facebook not only cast her as a victim (not good), but also used the phrase “blood libel,” a loaded term with deep anti-Semitic roots (double not good).
    Palin’s folly was exacerbated by the speech that President Obama delivered Wednesday night, a stirring address that made the former Alaska governor’s words seem small and self-interested by comparison…. – WaPo, 1-16-11
  • McCain, Palin Appear to Be Split on Obama Senator Says Obama Is a Patriot While Former Governor Believes President Trying to Weaken US: There appears to be a serious difference opinion at the top of the 2008 Republican ticket, with John McCain and Sarah Palin split on the issue of President Obama. Much has been written about turmoil and infighting during that campaign. But the conflict now has nothing to do with politics in 2008, and everything to do with the direction of the Republican Party in 2011. One says the president actively wants to help America, the other, actively hurt it.
    In Sunday’s Washington Post, Sen. McCain wrote an Op-Ed lavishing praise on President Obama for his speech Wednesday night in Tucson. “President Obama gave a terrific speech Wednesday night,” the senator wrote, “[he] “comforted and inspired the country.” And in notably gracious language, McCain added, “”I disagree with many of the president’s policies, but I believe he is a patriot sincerely intent on using his time in office to advance our country’s cause.” Read that carefully. He called President Obama a “patriot” who wants to “advance our country’s cause.”
    Now contrast those words to language used by former Gov. Palin a little more than a week ago, when she said the President was, “Hell-bent on weakening America.” That statement came during an interview on Laura Ingraham’s radio show that has drifted into that background a bit because of the discussion about the Arizona shootings, not to mention “cross-hairs’ and “blood libel.” Palin used that notably strong language the day before the Arizona shootings in a discussion with Ingraham on raising the national debt ceiling, which she opposes, and the White House currently supports. Palin told Ingraham that by supporting raising the debt ceiling, “what Obama is doing–purposefully weakening America.”… – ABC News, 1-16-11
  • After Tucson, a thaw between Obama and McCain?: Could the long-icy relationship between President Obama and his 2008 presidential opponent, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), be thawing?
    McCain took a significant step toward reconciling with the president in a graceful op-ed in Sunday’s Washington Post. If that article marks a genuine fresh beginning, it would be one positive thing to come out of the horrific shooting spree in Tucson eight days ago.
    McCain and Obama will never be comrades in arms. They have too much history, too much mutual ill will and too many philosophical differences for that. In the two years since McCain went down in defeat against Obama, the tension between them has been evident in almost every public setting in which they’ve appeared.
    But in praising the president’s speech at Wednesday’s memorial service in Tucson, McCain has reached out to Obama with an open hand. Not since his gracious concession speech on the night of the election has McCain spoken so generously of his rival. Obama should not let the opportunity pass to reach out to McCain in return…. – WaPo, 1-15-11
  • The Suddenly Quiet McCain: As politicians across the spectrum weigh in on the Arizona shooting, the state’s senior senator has been surprisingly silent…. – Newsweek, 1-15-11
  • For Giffords, Tucson Roots Shaped Views: Gabrielle Giffords grew up in an old house filled with old things at the edge of a city being remade by the new. While strip malls and subdivisions were rising everywhere else, her rambling brick residence was surrounded by 18 arid acres of cactuses and mesquite trees and decorated with Mexican art and Southwestern relics.
    When she gave up her big-city dreams in New York to come home and run her family’s tire business, she passed on a new condominium or house in the suburbs, instead moving into an adobe duplex in an old neighborhood with shade trees, where crime might be higher but people knew who lived down the street.
    And when Ms. Giffords, now a congresswoman, married an astronaut years later, she borrowed her Vera Wang wedding dress, served dinner on plates made of biodegradable sugar cane, had a cook make tortillas on the spot and invited fellow lawmakers to the working farm where she said her vows…. – NYT, 1-14-11
  • Arizona shooting victim arrested after threat: One of the Arizona shooting victims was arrested Saturday and then taken for a psychiatric evaluation after authorities said he took a picture of a tea party leader at televised town hall meeting and yelled: “you’re dead.” James Eric Fuller, 63, objected to something Trent Humphries said during the forum taped for a special edition of ABC’s “This Week” with Christiane Amanpour, Pima County sheriff’s spokesman Jason Ogan said. Fuller was in the front row and apparently became upset when Humphries suggested that any conversations about gun control should be delayed until all the dead were buried, KGUN-TV in Tucson reported.
    Fuller was arrested on misdemeanor disorderly conduct and threat charges, Ogan said. While Fuller was being escorted out, deputies decided he needed a mental health evaluation and he was taken to a hospital, where he remained Saturday evening…. – AP, 1-15-11

REMEMBERING RICHARD HOLBROOKE

  • Richard Holbrooke’s Lonely Mission: The late diplomat never lost his passion for peacemaking, but it turned out that some of his toughest adversaries were on his own side…. – Newsweek, 1-16-11
  • A Leading Diplomat Is Remembered With Affection and Humor: There are not many people who can pack a Kennedy Center hall with 1,100 people — including five world leaders — and not only personally know just about every single one of them, but have all of them believe that they have a personal relationship with him.
    On Friday afternoon, Richard C. Holbrooke appeared to do just that. His memorial service drew an array of the world’s brightest diplomatic lights. There was President Obama, sitting next to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who sat next to her husband, former President Bill Clinton, who sat next to the former secretary general of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, who sat two seats down from Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
    They all came to pay homage to the man who, in the words of Mr. Obama, was “the leading light of a generation of American diplomats who came of age in Vietnam.”
    It was perhaps Mr. Obama’s misfortune that he, of the 14 people who spoke, knew Mr. Holbrooke the least. As Mr. Obama’s larger-than-life envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Mr. Holbrooke and Mr. Obama had only two years together before Mr. Holbrooke died last month of an aortic tear.
    So Mr. Obama could not sprinkle his remarks with the personal remembrances offered by speakers like Mr. Clinton (“He wanted to interview me to see if I was qualified to be president.”) or Mrs. Clinton (when he wanted something, “he would follow me onto a stage when I was making a speech, into my hotel room, into a ladies’ room — in Pakistan”)…. – NYT, 1-15-11
  • Holbrooke Eulogized by Obama as ‘Leading Light’ of U.S. Diplomatic Efforts: President Barack Obama eulogized the late Richard Holbrooke as a “leading light” of U.S. diplomacy whose career formed a chronicle of American foreign policy. Holbrooke, who died Dec. 13 at the age of 69, was at the center of U.S. foreign affairs from the war against the communists in Vietnam to the fight against the Taliban and al- Qaeda in Afghanistan.
    “He was the leading light of a generation of American diplomats who came of age in Vietnam,” Obama said. It was a generation that came to know the tragic limits and awesome possibilities of American power.”
    Obama was among the dignitaries who gathered for a memorial service for Holbrooke, special U.S. envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, at Washington’s John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Those in attendance included former President Bill Clinton, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari and Vice President Joe Biden, who just returned from a trip to Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq…. – Bloomberg, 1-14-11
  • Richard C. Holbrooke, 1941-2010 Strong American Voice in Diplomacy and Crisis: Richard C. Holbrooke, the Obama administration’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan since 2009 and a diplomatic troubleshooter who worked for every Democratic president since the late 1960s and oversaw the negotiations that ended the war in Bosnia, died Monday evening in Washington. He was 69 and lived in Manhattan.
    His death was confirmed by an Obama administration official. Mr. Holbrooke was hospitalized on Friday afternoon after becoming ill while meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in her Washington office. Doctors found a tear to his aorta, and he underwent a 21-hour operation. Mr. Holbrooke had additional surgery on Sunday and remained in very critical condition until his death.
    Mr. Holbrooke’s signal accomplishment in a distinguished career that involved diplomacy in Asia, Europe and the Middle East was his role as chief architect of the 1995 Dayton peace accords, which ended the war in Bosnia. It was a coup preceded and followed by his peacekeeping missions to the tinderbox of ethnic, religious and regional conflicts that was formerly Yugoslavia.
    More recently, Mr. Holbrooke wrestled with the stunning complexity of Afghanistan and Pakistan: how to bring stability to the region while fighting a resurgent Taliban and coping with corrupt governments, rigged elections, fragile economies, a rampant narcotics trade, nuclear weapons in Pakistan, and the presence of Al Qaeda, and presumably Osama bin Laden, in the wild tribal borderlands…. – NYT, 12-14-11

THE HEADLINES….

The President & First Lady after his remarks in Tucson

  • Obama may face new kind of crowd at State of the Union: It’s starting to sound like President Obama will be speaking to a different kind of audience at this month’s State of the Union, and there will be less of a pep rally atmosphere. Two prominent senators from different parties — Democrat Charles Schumer of New York and Republican Tom Coburn of Oklahoma — said today that they will sit together during Obama’s annual address, and hope that congressional colleagues will follow suit.
    “We hope that many others will follow us,” Schumer said today on NBC’s Meet The Press. “Now that’s symbolic, but maybe it just sets a tone and everything gets a little bit more civil.” Obama’s nationally televised address will be the night of Jan. 25. Other lawmakers have also expressed interest in mixing party members during the speech in a show of national unity in the wake of the Arizona shooting. The idea was proposed by Sen. Mark Udall, D-Col0.
    Coburn, who appeared with Schumer on Meet The Press, said, “Chuck and I have been able to work on multiple bills, because we sit down, one on one, and work things out. And what we need to do is have more of that, not less of it.”
    Traditionally, Republicans sit on one side of the chamber and Democrats on the other during the annual address. In recent years, that arrangement has produced alternate standing ovations from each side of the chamber, depending on the nature of the proposals being made and the party of the president making them…. – USA Today, 1-16-11
  • Obama, Republicans plan more civil health care debate: Things return more to normal in Washington this week, include a long-awaited House vote to repeal President Obama’s health care bill– though the tone of the discussion is likely to be different in the wake of the Arizona shooting. “I think you’ll see a more civil debate than you would have had otherwise,” said U.S. Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., today on CBS’ Face The Nation. Flake added that “I’m not sure the substance of the debate will change that much,” and that the Republican-run House probably has the votes to repeal the bill that it says will increase health care costs and compromise medical care. It’s likely to a symbolic move — members of the Democratic-run Senate said they will not take up the measure, and Obama would veto it in any case…. – USA Today, 1-16-11
  • Pawlenty opposes raising federal debt ceiling: Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a potential GOP presidential candidate in 2012, says he opposes raising the nation’s debt ceiling and is urging Republicans in Congress to do the same. Pawlenty says lawmakers should take action that prevents the government from defaulting on its obligations, then have a debate over what spending should be reduced…. – AP, 1-16-11
  • Obama’s education focus faces big hurdles: Signs of trouble are arising for President Barack Obama’s plan to put education overhaul at the forefront of his agenda as he adjusts to the new reality of a divided government. Giving students and teachers more flexibility is an idea with bipartisan support. Yet the debate about the overdue renewal of the nation’s chief education law, known as No Child Left Behind, is complicated by political pressures from the coming 2012 presidential campaign and disputes over timing, money and scope of the update. While education might offer the best chance for the White House to work with newly empowered Republicans, any consensus could fade in the pitiless political crosscurrents, leaving the debate for another day, perhaps even another presidency…. – AP, 1-16-11
  • G.O.P. Elects a New Chairman as Steele Drops Out: The Republican National Committee selected a new leader on Friday, with its choice, Reince Priebus of Wisconsin, surviving seven contentious rounds of balloting to overtake Michael Steele, the embattled chairman, as party officials demanded new leadership to fortify the party for the 2012 presidential race. Mr. Priebus, who broke away from Mr. Steele’s close circle of advisers to run against him, said he would work to rebuild the trust of major contributors who had lost faith in the party and begin preparing to challenge President Obama. He pledged to heal any divisions among Republican constituencies. “We all recognize that there’s a steep hill ahead of us,” Mr. Priebus said, delivering his first remarks as party chairman. “The only way we’ll be able to move forward is if we’re all together.” NYT, 1-14-11
  • G.O.P. Leader’s Promise: Humility and Hard Work: For Reince Priebus, the new chairman of the Republican National Committee, politics has long been more than simply a hobby. It provided the entertainment for the first date with his wife. More than a decade ago, when Representatives Henry J. Hyde of Illinois and James F. Sensenbrenner Jr. of Wisconsin were delivering keynote speeches at a Lincoln Day Dinner in Kenosha, Wis., Mr. Priebus reserved two tickets and turned the event into part of his courtship.
    “I know. Nerd alert,” Mr. Priebus said in an interview a few hours after he was elected on Friday to lead the national Republican Party. His voice was filled with self-deprecation as he recalled the moment. “But we went to a movie after that.”
    Humility was a key selling point for Mr. Priebus as he embarked on a two-month campaign to overthrow Michael Steele, the controversial party chairman, and begin the challenging task of rebuilding a committee that is more than $21 million in debt and competing for relevance in an age when the political establishment is no longer the most popular place to be…. – NYT, 1-15-11
  • New chairman targets GOP team setting up 2012 national convention in Tampa: There’s a new Republican National Chairman in office, and he’s about to clean house on the team putting together the 2012 Republican convention in Tampa. Responding to complaints about excessive spending by the RNC’s convention team, newly elected chairman Reince Priebus told Republican U.S. House members in a closed door meeting Saturday that he was going to replace the RNC’s convention team in Tampa Bay with his own team, Politico reported Saturday.
    The RNC has about a half dozen staffers working on the convention out of donated office space in downtown Tampa, but the work has drawn considerable criticism and helped fuel opposition to former RNC chairman Michael Steele. For instance, he hired his former assistant, Belinda Cook, for $15,000-per-month, and she spent thousands of dollars renting a 3,200 square foot waterfront Treasure Island home…. – St Petersburg Times, 1-15-11
  • Reince Priebus replaces Michael Steele as GOP chairman: The Republican National Committee selected Reince Priebus as its new chairman, replacing Michael Steele, the former lieutenant governor of Maryland. Steele’s two-year tenure was marked by high spending, financial debt and verbal gaffes. Priebus won late Friday afternoon after seven rounds of balloting. He received 97 votes out 168 ballots cast.
    Steele, the party’s first African-American chairman, sought a second term, but conceded midafternoon. “I think the party is ready for something different,” Steele said. Priebus is the Wisconsin GOP chairman and a former general counsel for the RNC…. – USA Today, 1-14-11
  • Reince Priebus: “We Can Defeat Barack Obama in 2012”: The Republican Party will face significant challenges in the 2012 election cycle: A geared-up Democratic electorate excited to see President Obama back on the ballot, a rowdy and somewhat unpredictable Tea Party base, funds flowing through multiple outside organizations. On top of all that, the Republican National Committee must deal with its splintered membership and more than $20 million in debt. New RNC Chairman Reince Priebus today acknowledged as much after his fellow committee members chose him to put him at the helm of the organization.
    “We recognize that the Democrats have taken this country on the wrong path, and it isn’t going to be easy or glamorous, but together we must lead,” he said. Priebus, a 38-year-old lawyer who served as chairman of the Wisconsin GOP, said he plans to keep his head down and get to work. That means restructuring the RNC’s financial operation, hiring a top-notch staff, improving the lines of communication with state parties and — perhaps most importantly — restoring the faith of the party’s donors. “Together we can defeat Barack Obama in 2012, together, unified as a committee,” Priebus said…. – CBS News, 1-14-11
  • Michael Steele’s many blunders led to defeat in RNC chair reelection campaign: Republicans emerged from a 2008 electoral drubbing not only lacking a telegenic spokesman for the party but virtually any major officials who were not white, a major void after the election of the nation’s first black president. Michael Steele seemed like the right man at the right time: an African-American Republican who loved going on television. But instead of turning into a solution for the GOP, critics say Steele blundered so many times in his first few months as chairman of the Republican National Committee that party officials openly considered replacing him well before the first quarter of his two-year tenure had ended. Republicans completed the dumping of Steele on Friday, voting out the party’s first-ever black chairman…. – WaPo, 1-14-11
  • Outgoing Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele’s 10 best gaffes: Embattled Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele abandoned his re-election bid Friday after four rounds of balloting left him far short of a second term.
    Steele, who just finished his first two-year term in the job, dropped out as four other hopefuls competed to become his successor. Steele, 52, urged his backers to give their support to GOP operative Maria Cino, who worked in George W. Bush’s administration, but Reince Priebus, the head of the Wisconsin Republican Party, ultimately was elected after seven rounds of voting.
    The GOP’s first black chairman received a standing ovation from the party regulars after pulling out of the race. His spotty two-year reign included huge victories by the GOP in the November elections, but for many, Steele is known more for his verbal gaffes than his electoral accomplishments…. – NY Daily News, 1-14-11
  • Dewey Clayton Professor of Political Science, University of Louisville: Michael Steele’s legacy will be a mixed one. On the one hand, Steele first and foremost will be remembered as the first African-American to be elected as chairman of the RNC. Secondly, it was under Steele’s stewardship that Republicans gained the majority in the House in 2010. Many saw Steele’s election as an effort by the Republican Party to reach out to African-American voters and portray an image of being open to all and not as an exclusive party. To that end, two black Republicans were elected to Congress in 2010. They will be the first black Republicans in Congress since J.C. Watts of Oklahoma retired in 2003. And they are also the first black Republicans in the House since Reconstruction.
    Unfortunately, much of the attention that Steele received during his tenure was negative. He was criticized for often acting too independently, people questioned some of his paid speaking engagements, and there were issues of excessive spending. I think the controversy surrounding Steele may have caused many Republican donors to scale back their contributions to the RNC. Because of this, his lack of fundraising will be a lasting legacy. It’s hard to say whether Steele did more harm than good. He was a charismatic leader and some of the controversy during his tenure was not really his fault. I think that ultimately, he did more good than harm and the Republicans did gain the majority in the House under his leadership. The next chairman, assuming that Steele does not win another term, should probably maintain a lower profile and concentrate on improving the level of fundraising.. – Politico Arena, 1-14-11
  • Bruce Reed: Another Clinton centrist joins Obama White House: Bruce Reed will be Vice President Biden’s new chief of staff. He was a senior aide to President Clinton and a leader in centrist Democratic policy circles. Does this bode ill for liberals’ agenda? The Obama White House is beginning to look like a reunion of the Clinton administration. On Friday, Vice President Joe Biden announced that Bruce Reed will be his new chief of staff. Though not a household name, Mr. Reed is well known in Washington for his role as a senior aide to President Bill Clinton and for his continued leadership in centrist policy circles. He recently served as executive director of President Obama’s bipartisan deficit commission, and since 2001 has been chief executive officer of the centrist Democratic Leadership Council. “I’ve known and admired Bruce for over 20 years,” said Mr. Biden in a statement. “We worked closely together to pass the crime bill in the 1990s, and I’ve frequently sought his advice and counsel in the years since.” CS Monitor, 1-14-11
  • In Seoul, Gates Reaffirms American Support for South Korea: Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates met with President Lee Myung-bak and South Korea’s defense minister here on Friday as South Korea and the United States again declared solidarity against North Korean aggression. In comments to reporters at the start of a meeting with the defense minister, Kim Kwan-jin, Mr. Gates reiterated that the United States was concerned that “North Korea’s continued belligerence and repeated provocations” had raised tensions on the Korean Peninsula…. – NYT, 1-14-11
  • Miss. Gov. Barbour to speak at House GOP retreat: Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who’s contemplating a 2012 presidential run, will be dispensing political advice to congressional Republicans this weekend during their private retreat in Baltimore. Barbour spokesman Dan Turner said the governor flew Thursday from Mississippi to the nation’s capital. “He’s got kind of a mixture of meetings in Washington,” said Turner, adding that some meetings are for state business and some are for politics. Barbour and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich are among the potential presidential candidates speaking during congressional Republicans’ three-day retreat. Turner said the governor is skipping the Republican National Committee meeting Friday in Washington, where a new chairman is being chosen…. – WaPo, 1-13-11
  • Economy facing headwinds, but Bernanke hopeful: Jobless claims hit a 10-week high last week while producer prices shot up in December, pointing to headwinds for an economy that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said was showing fresh vigor…. – Reuters, 1-13-11
  • Ariz. GOP official quits in wake of Giffords shooting, says he received threats, feared for life: A prominent Republican in Arizona resigned in the wake of Saturday’s shooting, saying that threats from Tea Party members had him fearing for his life. Anthony Miller, the chairman of Arizona Legislative District 20 and the only black Republican to hold a chairmanship in the state, was reelected to a second one-year term last month. He said he was stepping down due to constant verbal threats against him and his family from people with Tea Party ties, The Arizona Republic reported. “I wasn’t going to resign, but decided to quit after what happened Saturday,” Miller told paper. “I love the Republican Party, but I don’t want to take a bullet for anyone.”…. – NY Daily News, 1-13-11
  • Obama Administration Reverses a Mountaintop Removal Permit: In nearly four decades since the Clean Water Act was passed, the Environmental Protection Agency has never vetoed any mining permit retroactively. That changed this morning. Word is just coming down via Coal Tattoo that the Obama administration EPA has just vetoed the largest single mountaintop removal permit in West Virginia history. The permit was initially awarded during the previous very fossil-friendly Bush administration, after a fractious decades-long court battle. By retracting the Clean Water Air permit for Arch Coal’s 2,300-acre mine proposed for the Blair area of Logan County, West Virginia, the EPA is effectively suspending most major activity…. – Reuters, 1-13-11
  • Obama to deliver State of the Union address on Jan. 25: ‘We welcome an opportunity to hear your proposals,’ House Speaker John Boehner says in his formal invitation to President Obama to deliver the State of the Union address. The new GOP majority in the House and the Tucson shooting are expected to add drama to the speech…. – LAT, 1-12-11
  • Joe Biden tells Afghans the U.S. is there for them, even beyond 2014: Vice President Joe Biden backs away from his earlier promise that, no matter what, the U.S. would be ‘totally out’ of Afghanistan by 2014. LAT, 1-12-11
  • Man arrested after threats to Rep. Jim McDermott: ‘I’ll kill his family’: FBI agents arrest a California man who called Rep. Jim McDermott’s Seattle office in December and left two threatening messages linked to the Democrat’s stand on extending the Bush tax cuts…. – CS Monitor, 1-12-11
  • US could take Sudan off state terror list by July: Sudan could be removed from the US list of state sponsors of terrorism as early as July if Khartoum recognizes the results of the referendum on independence for the south, a US official said Tuesday. “Should the referendum be carried out successfully and the results are recognized by the government, President Obama would indicate his intention to begin the process of removing them,” Princeton Lyman, the lead US negotiator with Sudan, told AFP. “It is a process that takes some time, but by beginning the process in the wake of the referendum, the hope is if they meet all the conditions it can be done by July,” Lyman said. The referendum is widely expected to lead to mainly Christian and animist southern Sudan seceding from the predominantly Muslim north of the country. Results are expected around the end of the month, US officials said…. – AFP, 1-11-11
  • Assange Lawyers See U.S. Extradition ‘Risk’: If WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is extradited to Sweden to face a sexual-assault investigation, there is a “real risk” the U.S. would seek to extradite him from there, Mr. Assange’s lawyers argued in documents published Tuesday. The attorneys cited a risk the U.S. could detain Mr. Assange at Guantanamo Bay or subject him to the death penalty. A U.S. Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment on the lawyers’ document or on the likelihood of Mr. Assange being charged with a crime in the U.S. The Obama administration has said it is trying to close Guantanamo Bay. Mr. Assange’s lawyers didn’t say in their document which charges they believe the U.S. might levy that could lead to the death penalty for Mr. Assange, who is a citizen of Australia…. – WSJ, 1-11-11
  • DeLay Sentenced to 3 Years in Money Laundering Case: Tom DeLay, the former House majority leader, was sentenced to three years in prison on Monday after convictions for money laundering and conspiracy stemming from his role in a scheme to channel corporate contributions to Texas state races in 2002.
    Mr. DeLay, once one of the most powerful and polemical Republican congressmen in the state’s history, was ushered out of Travis County Court after the sentencing and was taken by sheriff’s deputies to the county jail, where he was expected to post a $10,000 bond and be released pending an appeal.
    After listening to Mr. DeLay say he felt he had done nothing wrong, Judge Pat Priest sentenced him to three years in prison for the conspiracy count and 10 years’ probation for the money laundering count. The judge rejected arguments from Mr. DeLay that the trial had been a politically motivated vendetta mounted by an overzealous Democratic District Attorney. “Before there were Republicans and Democrats, there was America, and what America is about is the rule of law,” the judge said just before pronouncing the sentence…. – NYT, 1-10-11
  • Supreme Court declines to rein in Congress’ regulatory powers: The justices reject a constitutional challenge to a law that makes it a federal crime for a felon to have body armor or a bulletproof vest. The case involves the same point of law that is at the heart of pending legal battles over the healthcare law.
    The Supreme Court gave a strong hint Monday that the justices are not anxious to rein in Congress’ broad power to pass regulatory laws under the Constitution’s commerce clause, the key point of dispute in the pending court battles over President Obama’s health insurance law.
    By a 7-2 vote, the justices turned down a constitutional challenge to a 2002 law that makes it a federal crime for a felon to have body armor or a bulletproof vest. The law came in response to several shootouts involving police, including a bank robbery in North Hollywood where the robbers came equipped in body armor.
    But the dispute in the Supreme Court concerned only whether Congress had the power to enact a law regulating the possession of a product — in this instance, body armor. An appeal filed on behalf of Cedrick Alderman, a Seattle man, argued that the possession of a bulletproof vest had nothing to do with interstate commerce and, therefore, was beyond Congress’ power…. – LAT, 1-10-11
  • Supreme Court: Did it just hint at stance on a health-care law challenge?: The Supreme Court refused to take up a case examining Congress’s authority under the commerce clause, a key issue in a legal challenge to Obama’s health-care law. Two justices dissented…. – CS Monitor, 1-10-11
  • Colo. man accused of threatening Sen. Bennet staff: A Colorado man is accused of threatening to set fire around Sen. Michael Bennet’s office and shoot members of his staff, prompting authorities to step up patrols around the senator’s home and office. John Troy Davis, 44, faces a charge of assault on a federal employee. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The alleged threat happened two days before six people died in Saturday’s shootings at a Safeway grocery store in Tucson, Ariz., where U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was meeting constituents. A federal judge, a congressional aide and a young girl were among the six killed, while Giffords and 13 others were wounded… – AP, 1-10-11
  • Former Capitol Hill Aide, Wife of White House Staffer Found in Burned Car Ashley Turton Was Found Dead in Burning Car in Southeast Washington: Ashley Turton, a former aide to Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., and the wife of White House staff member Dan Turton, was found dead this morning in her burned-out car in the garage of her home in Southeast Washington, D.C. Turton, a mother of 3-year-old twins and a 1-year-old, worked as a lobbyist for Progress Energy… – WaPo, 1-11-11

112TH CONGRESS

  • Schumer Pushes for Military to Report Applicants’ Drug Use to Prevent Gun Purchases: If someone admits to a federal official that he’s used illegal drugs, that information should be sent to the FBI so that person can be disqualified from purchasing a gun, Sen. Chuck Schumer said Sunday…. – Fox News, 1-16-11
  • House panel will probe health overhaul, gas curbs: President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, new rules overseeing the Internet and administration plans to curb gas emissions will be scrutinized in congressional hearings, the Republican chairman of a House subcommittee said Friday. The announcement by Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., was the latest signal from GOP leaders that they will use their control of the House over the next two years to aggressively pick through administration actions in a broad range of areas. Republicans are hoping to help their business allies and blunt some Obama initiatives while providing fodder for next year’s presidential and congressional elections. “My priority will be on job creation and removing government barriers to economic growth,” Stearns said in a written statement…. – AP, 1-14-11
  • House set to vote on healthcare repeal: The U.S. House of Representatives will resume action next week on repealing President Barack Obama’s landmark healthcare overhaul, a House Republican spokesman said on Thursday. The House had been expected to act this week on the repeal bill, but the vote was postponed after a shooting spree in Arizona killed six people and critically wounded U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords.
    “As the White House noted, it is important for Congress to get back to work, and to that end we will resume thoughtful consideration of the health care bill next week,” said Brad Dayspring, a spokesman for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. “Americans have legitimate concerns about the cost of the new healthcare law and its effect on the ability to grow jobs in our country,” he added. The vote is set for Wednesday, said another Republican aide who asked not to be identified…. – Reuters, 1-13-11
  • Kay Bailey Hutchison Won’t Seek Reelection: Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas announced Thursday that she will not seek reelection in 2012. “When my current term is up, I will have served Texas for 19 years in the United States Senate,” she said in a statement. “I intended to leave this office long before now, but I was persuaded to continue in order to avoid disadvantage to our state. The last two years have been particularly difficult, especially for my family, but I felt it would be wrong to leave the Senate during such a critical period.” Hutchison, who took office in 1993, vowed to continue to “fight the massive spending that has increased our national debt; the government takeover of our health care system; and the growth of the federal bureaucracy, which threatens our economy” until her term ends next year.
    Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Communications Director Eric Schultz: “We look forward to running a competitive race in Texas as the Lone Star state is now one of several Democratic pick-up opportunities next November.”
    Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell called Hutchison “a trusted advisor and friend, a senator who always serves Texas first.” “Fortunately, she’s not leaving soon,” he said in a statement. “While I’m confident she’ll continue to be a powerful advocate for her state and nation over the next two years, the Senate will miss her strength and energy when she leaves.” CBS News, 1-13-11
  • No cut in U.S. funds for Lebanon, but more scrutiny: Lebanon’s political turmoil will not trigger an immediate cut in U.S. aid to the Lebanese Armed Forces but will likely sharpen U.S. Congressional scrutiny of how the money is used, analysts said on Wednesday…. – Reuters, 1-12-11
  • House tribute to Giffords: ‘Violence cannot silence’: House Speaker John Boehner has formally introduced a resolution paying tribute to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords that “condemns in the strongest possible terms” the Arizona shooting spree that left her gravely wounded and six others dead. The four-page resolution is simply written, with sections honoring Giffords, each of the deceased, the wounded, and people such as Giffords intern Daniel Hernandez and event attendee Patricia Maisch who tried to save lives and apprehend the shooter.
    The resolution offers the condolences of the House and reaffirms the belief of lawmakers “in a democracy in which all can participate and in which intimidation and threats of violence cannot silence the voices of any American.” The first of the deceased recognized in the “whereas” clauses is Christina-Taylor Green, the youngest of those slain. The 9-year-old girl and her life story have captured the nation’s attention. As the House resolution states, Christina was at Giffords’ “Congress on your Corner” event on Saturday because she had “an avid interest in government.”
    Boehner will gavel the House to order on Wednesday and then open four to six hours of debate on the resolution. A bipartisan prayer service honoring Giffords and the Arizona shooting victims will be held at 1 p.m. ET…. – USA Today, 1-11-11
  • House Resolution Honors Heroes, Victims of Tucson Tragedy:
    112TH CONGRESS
    1ST SESSION H. RES. ___
    Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives with respect to the tragic shooting in Tucson, Arizona, on January 8, 2011.
    IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
    Mr. BOEHNER submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on lll
    RESOLUTION
    Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives with respect to the tragic shooting in Tucson, Arizona, on January 8, 2011.
    Whereas on January 8, 2011, an armed gunman opened fire at a “Congress on your Corner” event hosted by Representative Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Arizona, killing and wounding at least 14 others…. – ABC, 1-11-11

STATE & LOCAL POLITICS

  • Mayoral candidates debate for first time Four major candidates face each other before Chicago Tribune editorial board: The four major candidates for Chicago mayor debated each other for the first time at a forum before the Tribune editorial board Friday. Here are excerpts from their exchanges…. – Chicago Tribune, 1-15-11
  • Former President Bill Clinton to Stump for Rahm Emanuel Next Week: Former president Bill Clinton will campaign for Chicago mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel at a rally next Tuesday, according to a campaign spokesperson. Emanuel served as a senior advisor to Clinton at the White House from 1993 to 1998.
    Clinton will speak at a rally at the Chicago Cultural Center, 77. E. Randolph St., on January 18 at 11 a.m. The event is open to the public. Tickets are available at chicagoforrahm.com/clinton – Fox Chicago, 1-13-11
  • Emanuel Not Tied to New Political Group: Aide: Mayoral hopeful Rahm Emanuel has not injected himself in the City Council races but could get involved at some point in the campaign, his spokesman said Thursday. But campaign aide Ben LaBolt said Emanuel has no involvement in a new political action committee created by his former political aide to help candidates for council. “Rahm does not plan to endorse City Council candidates, though we are not ruling out dedicating resources to candidates who share his vision for the city,” LaBolt told the Chicago News Cooperative. He added that Emanuel is taking the same wait-and-see approach to the other two city-wide races, for treasurer and clerk…. – Chicago News Cooperative, 1-13-11
  • Barbour pushes for Mississippi civil rights museum: Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour drew mixed reactions from analysts on Wednesday for his decision to push for a civil rights museum for his state ahead of a possible presidential bid. Barbour urged the state’s legislature during an annual address to build the $50 million museum in a state that became notorious during the 1950s and 1960s for violent enforcement of racial segregation and opposition to civil and voting rights.
    Barbour, the chairman of the Republican Governor’s Association, says he is mulling a bid to be his party’s nominee in 2012 where he would likely face President Barack Obama vying for a second term in the White House.
    “I urge you to move this museum forward as an appropriate way to do justice to the Civil Rights Movement and to stand as a monument of remembrance and reconciliation,” Barbour said in the speech late on Tuesday. “The civil rights struggle is an important part of our history, and millions of people are interested in learning more about it. People from around the world would flock to see the museum and learn about the movement,” he said…. – Reuters, 1-12-11
  • >Bill to abolish death penalty awaits Ill. governor: More than a decade after Illinois put all executions on hold, a bill to abolish the death penalty altogether awaits only the governor’s signature. But Pat Quinn’s approval is hardly assured. While he says he supports capital punishment when properly applied, he has not yet indicated whether he will sign the proposal, despite intense pressure from fellow Democrats.
    “I think it’s important, given the importance of this measure, that people from all over Illinois express their opinions,” Quinn said Wednesday, a day after lawmakers sent the historic bill to his desk. “I’m happy to listen and reflect, and I’ll follow my conscience.” And as he listens, the world watches…. – AP, 1-12-11
  • Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget plan at a glance: Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday proposed $12.5 billion in cuts to a wide range of state programs and $12 billion in revenue, partly from an extension of tax increases, to close California’s budget deficit. Here are some of his proposals…. _ Total spending, including special funds and bond payments, is $127.4 billion for the 2011-12 fiscal year, slightly ahead of the current total spending of $125.2 billion.
    _ General fund spending is $84.6 billion, slightly less than the $86.5 billion adopted for the current fiscal year.
    _ The deficit is $8.2 billion in the current fiscal year and $17.2 billion in the fiscal year that begins July 1…. – AP, 1-10-11

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • The GOP Wildcard, The former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza wants to upend the race for the 2012 Republican nomination: Any day now, one of the many Republican worthies who long to be president will make an announcement, everyone else will follow in rapid succession, and the 2012 presidential campaign will officially be under way. Feels like it is already, doesn’t it? And has been for eons? Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney never stopped running. Newt Gingrich has been running since the ’90s. The rest of the field is likely to include Mike Huckabee, Tim Pawlenty, Mitch Daniels, and the list only gets duller from there—none could be accused of inciting a crowd. Are we doomed to a dull campaign? Not if the Hermanator has his way.
    If you don’t attend Tea Party rallies or listen to political talk radio, the name Herman Cain may not register. Cain intends to rectify that. He’s planning to seek the GOP nomination, so he’s spreading his blustery, relentlessly upbeat right-wing social and economic message, which can be heard weeknights from 7 to 10 on WSB in Atlanta. Cain is so exuberantly confident of his message that he has upgraded its status: he bestows upon audiences not speeches or talking points but “The Hermanator Experience.” He’s even trademarked the phrase…. – The Atlantic, 1-13-11
  • Herman Cain inches closer to presidential run: Atlanta businessman and conservative activist Herman Cain announced Wednesday he was launching a presidential exploratory committee, bringing him one step closer to a bid for the GOP nomination in 2012. “We are now going to test the waters for voter support and financial support,” Cain told Fox News’ Mario Cavuto Wednesday afternoon. The former Godfather’s Pizza CEO confirmed his plans to Condace Pressley, assistant program director at 750 AM and now 95.5 FM News Talk WSB, where he hosts a nightly talk show. On that show Wednesday, he said he is considering a run for office to “make this a better world” for his three grandchildren. He said the White House needs a president “that will listen to the people first” and who is “a problem solver… that’s what I’ve done my entire business career.” He said the “American dream is under attack” by excessive legislation, regulation and taxation…. – The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 1-2-11
  • Priebus leads Steele in race for GOP chairman: The election for chairman of the Republican National Committee is on Friday and some of the focus is on front-runner Reince Priebus, a lawyer and chairman of the Wisconsin GOP. In the latest whip count, Priebus has the committed support of 38 RNC members — more than a third of the way toward the 85 votes needed to win — according to a tally by National Journal’s Hotline. He’s followed by incumbent chairman Michael Steele with 17 commitments.
    The chairmanship is crucial as Republicans try to defeat President Obama, win control of the Senate and keep their majority in the House…. – USA Today, 1-11-11
  • Can Tim Pawlenty light a fire with Republicans?: Can Tim Pawlenty light a fire with Republicans?… Pawlenty criticizes Palin’s crosshairs map… Right Turn: Tim Pawlenty’s Reagan-esque agenda… Pawlenty’s book pushes blue-collar appeal
    Even his adversaries say they can’t help but like former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, who left office on Jan. 1 and is on a book tour, the next step in a campaign for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination that he has been quietly running for more than a year. But there is one thing that gets a rise out of Pawlenty, and that is to suggest that he lacks a certain . . . pizazz.
    “Compared to who?” Pawlenty retorted in an interview. “I’ll concede that Sarah Palin is in a league of her own, and a force of nature. As to most of the rest in the field? If you get to know me, I don’t think that’s an accurate rap. I mean, you think about all the other people running. With the possible exception of Mike Huckabee, and Palin, there aren’t exactly a bunch of Lady Gagas.”… – WaPo, 1-11-11

QUOTES

The President records the Weekly Address

  • Weekly Address: “Before We are Democrats or Republicans, We are Americans”: Remarks of President Barack Obama As Prepared for Delivery The White House January 15, 2011: It’s been one week since tragedy visited Tucson, Arizona.
    We properly spent much of the week mourning the victims and remembering their lives. We also discovered stories that serve to lift us up – stories of heroism and bravery, of courage and community – stories that remind us that we are one American family, 300 million strong.
    One of the places we saw that sense of community on display was on the floor of Congress, where Gabby Giffords, who inspires us with her recovery, is deeply missed by her colleagues. One by one, Representatives from all parts of the country and all points of view rose in common cause to honor Gabby and the other victims, and to reflect on our shared hopes for this country.
    As shrill and discordant as our politics can be at times, it was a moment that reminded us of who we really are – and how much we depend on one another.
    While we can’t escape our grief for those we’ve lost, we carry on now, mindful of those truths.
    We carry on because we have to. After all, this is still a time of great challenges for us to solve. We’ve got to grow jobs faster, and forge a stronger, more competitive economy. We’ve got to shore up our budget, and bring down our deficits. We’ve got to keep our people safe, and see to it that the American Dream remains vibrant and alive for our children and grandchildren.
    These are challenges I believe we can meet. And I believe we can do it in a way worthy of those who sent us here to serve. So as business resumes, I look forward to working together in that same spirit of common cause with members of Congress from both parties – because before we are Democrats or Republicans, we are Americans.
    And as we perform the work of this nation, my prayer is that we stay true to our words, and turn to those examples of heroism, and courage, and perseverance, to bring out the better in all of us…. – WH, 1-15-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
  • Honoring Holbrooke: “Because We Could Make a Difference…”: To Kati, Anthony, David and Elizabeth, to all the friends and admirers of Richard, we come together to celebrate an extraordinary life.
    In 1999, at the height of the crisis in Kosovo, Richard gave an interview in which he addressed the question of why the United States was engaged in bringing peace to that war-torn corner of the world. Why bother? His answer was simple: “Because we could make a difference.” Because we could make a difference.
    That is the story of American leadership in the world. And that is also the story of Richard Holbrooke. He made a difference….
    The list of places he served and the things he did reads as a chronicle of American foreign policy. Speaking truth to power from the Mekong Delta to the Paris peace talks.
    Paving the way to our normalization of relations with China. Serving as ambassador in a newly unified Germany. Bringing peace to the Balkans. Strengthening our relationship with the United Nations. And working to advance peace and progress in Afghanistan and Pakistan….
    He understood American power, in all its complexity, and believed that when it is applied with purpose and principle, it can tip the scales of history. And that coupling of realism and idealism, which has always represented what is best in American foreign policy, that was at the heart of his work in Bosnia, where he negotiated and cajoled and threatened all at once, until peace was the only outcome possible….
    Richard is gone now, but we carry with us his thirst to know, to grasp, and to heal the world around him. – WH, 1-14-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
  • Memorial Service for Richard C. Holbrooke Remarks Hillary Rodham Clinton Secretary of State The Kennedy Center Washington, DC January 14, 2011: Well, I am last because my office is on the 7th floor which is as close to heaven as you can get, so I end the program by being and bringing you with me to be as close to Richard as we can be.
    I’m very, very moved by the outpouring of love and admiration and respect that has been sent to me on behalf of our country from so many places across the world. And in this audience this afternoon are so many who have worked with Richard in the past and were working with him today. If we had time, each and every one of you would have you own stories. …
    There are few people in any time, but certainly in our time, who can say, I stopped a war. I made peace. I saved lives. I helped countries heal. Richard Holbrooke did these things. He believed that great men and women could change history. And he did. He wanted to be a great man so he could change history. He was, and he did.
    His time with us ended far too soon. And yet he lived enough for 10 lives. So while we mourn, we have reason for joy – joy for the life that Richard lived, joy that we were able to be part of it – that we went along for the ride…. – State.gov, 1-14-11
  • John McCain: After the shootings, Obama reminds the nation of the golden rule: President Obama gave a terrific speech Wednesday night. He movingly mourned and honored the victims of Saturday’s senseless atrocity outside Tucson, comforted and inspired the country, and encouraged those of us who have the privilege of serving America. He encouraged every American who participates in our political debates – whether we are on the left or right or in the media – to aspire to a more generous appreciation of one another and a more modest one of ourselves.
    The president appropriately disputed the injurious suggestion that some participants in our political debates were responsible for a depraved man’s inhumanity. He asked us all to conduct ourselves in those debates in a manner that would not disillusion an innocent child’s hopeful patriotism. I agree wholeheartedly with these sentiments. We should respect the sincerity of the convictions that enliven our debates but also the mutual purpose that we and all preceding generations of Americans serve: a better country; stronger, more prosperous and just than the one we inherited…. – WaPo, 1-14-11
  • SHMULEY BOTEACH: Sarah Palin Is Right About ‘Blood Libel’ Judaism rejects the idea of collective responsibility for murder: The term “blood libel”—which Sarah Palin invoked this week to describe the suggestions by journalists and politicians that conservative figures like herself are responsible for last weekend’s shooting rampage in Tucson, Ariz.—is fraught with perilous meaning in Jewish history.
    The term connotes the earliest accusations that Jews killed Jesus and enthusiastically embraced responsibility for his murder, telling Pontius Pilate, “His blood be upon us and our children” (Matthew 27:25). Thus was born the legend of Jewish bloodlust and of Hebrew ritual use of Christian blood for sacramental purposes. The term was later used more specifically to describe accusations against Jews—primarily in Europe—of sacrificing kidnapped Christian children to use their blood in the baking of Passover matzos….
    How unfortunate that some have chosen to compound a national tragedy by politicizing the murder of six innocent lives and the attempted assassination of a congresswoman.
    To be sure, America should embrace civil political discourse for its own sake, and no political faction should engage in demonizing rhetoric. But promoting this high principle by simultaneously violating it and engaging in a blood libel against innocent parties is both irresponsible and immoral. – WSJ, 1-14-11
  • President Obama in Tucson: “The Forces that Divide Us are Not as Strong as Those that Unite Us”: Last night the President spoke to an emotional crowd at a memorial event in Tucson, Arizona. The grief for the victims of the tragic shooting there was overwhelming, but so too was the admiration for the heroes who risked their lives to prevent even greater loss, as well as the hope for the survivors to see full recoveries. The President asked those in the hall and across America to channel their emotions toward the pursuit of a more perfect union, saying that “If this tragedy prompts reflection and debate — as it should — let’s make sure it’s worthy of those we have lost.”… – WH, 1-13-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
  • Text Obama’s Remarks in Tucson: Following is a text of President Obama’s prepared address on Wednesday to honor those killed and wounded in a shooting on Jan. 8, as released by the White House….
    But at a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized – at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do – it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.
    Scripture tells us that there is evil in the world, and that terrible things happen for reasons that defy human understanding. In the words of Job, “when I looked for light, then came darkness.” Bad things happen, and we must guard against simple explanations in the aftermath.
    For the truth is that none of us can know exactly what triggered this vicious attack. None of us can know with any certainty what might have stopped those shots from being fired, or what thoughts lurked in the inner recesses of a violent man’s mind.
    So yes, we must examine all the facts behind this tragedy. We cannot and will not be passive in the face of such violence. We should be willing to challenge old assumptions in order to lessen the prospects of violence in the future….
    That process of reflection, of making sure we align our values with our actions – that, I believe, is what a tragedy like this requires. For those who were harmed, those who were killed – they are part of our family, an American family 300 million strong. We may not have known them personally, but we surely see ourselves in them. In George and Dot, in Dorwan and Mavy, we sense the abiding love we have for our own husbands, our own wives, our own life partners. Phyllis – she’s our mom or grandma; Gabe our brother or son. In Judge Roll, we recognize not only a man who prized his family and doing his job well, but also a man who embodied America’s fidelity to the law. In Gabby, we see a reflection of our public spiritedness, that desire to participate in that sometimes frustrating, sometimes contentious, but always necessary and never-ending process to form a more perfect union.
    And in Christina…in Christina we see all of our children. So curious, so trusting, so energetic and full of magic. So deserving of our love.
    And so deserving of our good example. If this tragedy prompts reflection and debate, as it should, let’s make sure it’s worthy of those we have lost. Let’s make sure it’s not on the usual plane of politics and point scoring and pettiness that drifts away with the next news cycle…. – NYT, 1-12-11
  • Sarah Palin: America’s Enduring Strength: ….The last election was all about taking responsibility for our country’s future. President Obama and I may not agree on everything, but I know he would join me in affirming the health of our democratic process. Two years ago his party was victorious. Last November, the other party won. In both elections the will of the American people was heard, and the peaceful transition of power proved yet again the enduring strength of our Republic.
    Vigorous and spirited public debates during elections are among our most cherished traditions. And after the election, we shake hands and get back to work, and often both sides find common ground back in D.C. and elsewhere. If you don’t like a person’s vision for the country, you’re free to debate that vision. If you don’t like their ideas, you’re free to propose better ideas. But, especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible.
    There are those who claim political rhetoric is to blame for the despicable act of this deranged, apparently apolitical criminal. And they claim political debate has somehow gotten more heated just recently. But when was it less heated? Back in those “calm days” when political figures literally settled their differences with dueling pistols? In an ideal world all discourse would be civil and all disagreements cordial. But our Founding Fathers knew they weren’t designing a system for perfect men and women. If men and women were angels, there would be no need for government. Our Founders’ genius was to design a system that helped settle the inevitable conflicts caused by our imperfect passions in civil ways. So, we must condemn violence if our Republic is to endure…. – Sarah Palin on Facebook, 1-12-11Video

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Gil Troy: America’s search for civility It’s time to return to the notion of ‘malice toward none’ and ‘charity for all’: The tragic Arizona rampage that critically injured Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and killed six citizens, including 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green, who wanted to see “how our government works,” has triggered the predictable recitations about America’s long history of political violence -without any evidence that this was a political crime.
    That vast numbers of shocked observers immediately concluded that the gunman’s lunatic actions were in some way linked to the present fervid red-blue debate in the United States speaks volumes about the overheated rhetoric that has come to characterize much of America’s political discourse in recent years.
    But political civility has an equally long and robust U.S. pedigree. We should appreciate the coalition-builders, not the partisans; the statesmen, not the demagogues; the magnanimous uniters, not the cranky dividers. In matters political, the big broad tent with stakes driven deep into America’s rich soil is more constructive and more lasting than partisan lean-tos tilting left or right…. – Montreal Gazette, 1-13-11
  • Historian Douglas Brinkley says Tucson will be a place in ‘history like a Selma or Birmingham in the 1960s’: As the shock wanes from the aftermath of Saturday’s Tucson tragedy, how might this event be remembered historically? According to noted historian Douglas Brinkley, a fellow at the Baker Institute and a professor of history at Rice University, it will rank up there with one of the bloodiest times in U.S. history, the Civil Rights Era in Alabama, including the September 15, 1963 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham and the March 7, 1965 “Bloody Sunday” march in Selma.
    “Well you know Tucson now is one of these places people are going to talk about in history like a Selma or Birmingham in the 1960s,” Brinkley said. “It seems like a war zone spot and if you go to Selma or Birmingham today, they cope with that past. They have museums and memorials. This is the beginning of the healing for that community of Tucson and it’s very significant that President Obama’s coming, and hugging people, talking to people – making them know he feels the pain of the entire community and the nation.”… – The Daily Caller, 1-13-11
  • Julian E. Zelizer Professor of History and Public Affairs, Princeton: The health care will not be an inevitable problem for Romney. He can also position himself as the Republican who tackled health care, but did it the “right” way. In this political world it won’t be hard for him to claim there are major differences between what he did and what the president did. Romney also offers some pluses for the GOP — he has been in the business world, he is very intelligent and he looks like a president. Moreover, he can claim to be a Republican who has a chance to win moderate and independent votes. It would be a mistake for Republican challengers to dismiss him. – Politico Arena, 1-14-11
  • Douglas Brinkley: A Country of Guns: Assassination Throughout History: It’s sad that this is on the rise now, and I do think we need to ask these questions: Do our congresspeople and federal judges need better protection than we’re giving them, in a world where semi-automatic weapons and guns with scopes are just so easy to acquire?… – — The Daily Caller, 1-11-11, Mp3

History Buzz: January 16, 2011: AHA Recap — Virginia Textbook Controversy — Civil War at 150 — Historians Reflect on Arizona Shootings

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

IN FOCUS:

  • American Historical Association’s (AHA) 125th Annual Meeting / Conference: Daily RecapsHistory Musings
  • Producers already pitch Kennedy project elsewhere: After the History channel said it would not air a controversial miniseries on the Kennedy family, producers were already seeking another television home.
    The Showtime pay cable network has been approached to air the eight-part series, a spokesman said on Saturday. Eight years ago, Showtime aired a movie about President Reagan that CBS had made but decided not to broadcast when it faced pressure from some of that former president’s family. Showtime won’t make a decision about the Kennedy miniseries until its executives have a chance to see it, spokesman Richard Licata said….
    A concerted effort was made to quash the series. Liberal filmmaker Robert Greenwald collected 50,000 petitions urging History not to air it, and he produced a short film condemning the project on a website, stopkennedysmears.com. He had been given an early script, which included one scene where President Kennedy tells his brother Robert about his need to have sex with other women. Former Kennedy aide Theodore Sorensen also harshly condemned the film, saying scenes in the script where he was depicted didn’t actually occur. History also likely felt corporate pressure. The network is owned by the A&E Television Networks, which itself is owned jointly by NBC Universal, the Walt Disney Co. and the Hearst Corp…. – AP, 1-8-11
  • History network pulls plug on Kennedy project: The History Channel will not air a controversial miniseries it produced about the Kennedy family, saying the multimillion project that had become the network’s most expensive on record did not fit the “History brand.”
    The eight-part series had already been completed, and starred Greg Kinnear and Katie Holmes as President John F. Kennedy and his wife, Jackie. But during its production, critics like former Kennedy administration aide Theodore Sorenson attacked the scripts as inaccurate. The role of producer Joel Surnow, a political conservative, also drew suspicion from fans of the Kennedy family.
    “We have concluded this dramatic interpretation is not a fit for the History brand,” the network said in a statement late Friday. History, in its statement, said the decision was made after viewing the series in its totality. “We recognize historical fiction is an important medium for storytelling and commend all the hard work and passion that has gone into the making of the series, but ultimately deem this as the right programming decision for our network,” History said in a statement…. – AP, 1-8-11
  • ‘Kennedys’ gets pulled: A&E Television Networks will not broadcast the miniseries “The Kennedys’’ on the History Channel this spring. The network has canceled the series starring Greg Kinnear as John F. Kennedy and Katie Holmes as Jackie Kennedy, concluding it was “not a fit’’ for the History Channel, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “Upon completion of the production of ‘The Kennedys,’ History has decided not to air the eight-part miniseries,’’ a rep for A&E told the trade publication. The multimillion dollar project has been the subject of controversy since it was announced in December 2009. Developed by Joel Surnow, the conservative co-creator of “24,’’ the project was criticized by some Democrats and Kennedy historians. The miniseries is still set to air in Canada on March 6, and will still be broadcast internationally. – Boston Globe, 1-8-11
  • History Channel Pulls ‘The Kennedys’; Says Controversial Miniseries ‘Not a Fit’: Ambitious miniseries was set to air this spring; stars Greg Kinnear and Katie Holmes, and producer Joel Surnow were told today of cancellation.
    In a surprise move, A&E Television Networks has canceled plans to broadcast The Kennedys, the ambitious and much- anticipated miniseries about the American political family that was set to air this spring on the History channel.
    “Upon completion of the production of The Kennedys, History has decided not to air the 8-part miniseries on the network,” a rep for the network tells The Hollywood Reporter in a statement. “While the film is produced and acted with the highest quality, after viewing the final product in its totality, we have concluded this dramatic interpretation is not a fit for the History brand.”
    The multi-million dollar project—History and Lifetime president and general manager Nancy Dubuc’s first scripted miniseries at the network and its most expensive program ever—has been embroiled in controversy since it was announced in December 2009.
    Developed by Joel Surnow, the conservative co-creator of 24, along with production companies Asylum Entertainment and Muse Entertainment and writer Stephen Kronish, the project drew fire from the political left and some Kennedy historians. Even before cameras rolled, a front-page New York Times story last February included a sharp attack from former John F. Kennedy adviser Theodore Sorenson, who called an early version of the script “vindictive” and “malicious.”
    History and parent A&E said at the time that the script had been revised and that the final version had been vetted by experts. Indeed, the script used in production had passed muster with History historians for accuracy.
    Despite the controversy, History was able to recruit a big-ticket cast to the project, announcing in April that Greg Kinnear (John F. Kennedy), Katie Holmes (Jackie Kennedy), Barry Pepper (Robert F. Kennedy) and Tom Wilkinson (Joe Kennedy) would co-star. The actors and CAA, which reps both Kinnear and Holmes, were told this afternoon of the cancellation. Surnow also was told today.
    No advertisers had registered complaints or concerns with the miniseries, confirms an A&E spokesperson, but the content was not considered historically accurate enough for the network’s rigorous standards. So an air date, which had not been announced but was planned for spring, was scrapped.
    “We recognize historical fiction is an important medium for storytelling and commend all the hard work and passion that has gone into the making of the series, but ultimately deem this as the right programming decision for our network,” a rep tells THR in the statement.
    The miniseries is still scheduled to air in Canada on March 6, and will still be broadcast internationally…. – The Hollywood Reporter, 1-8-11

HISTORY NEWS:

  • Va. Board Of Ed Wants To Improve Book Review Process: The Virginia Board of Education will review two error-filled textbooks to determine whether they’re fit to be used in the state’s schools.
    At its Thursday meeting, the board directed Superintendent of Public Instruction Patricia Wright to come up with a process to help the board decide whether the two books, both published by Connecticut-based Five Ponds Press, should be included on a list of approved books. The board adopted the directives as a motion made by board member David Foster of Arlington.
    The board also asked Wright to ask experts to review all Five Ponds textbooks included on the approved books list and seek potential remedies from the publisher for school divisions that purchased the books. The books are the fourth-grade textbook, “Our Virginia: Past and Present” and the fifth-grade book, “Our America: To 1865.” – WY Daily, 1-15-11
  • Va. withdraws approval of textbooks: The Virginia Board of Education on Thursday withdrew its approval of two elementary school history textbooks, which a panel of historians found to have dozens of errors. On Thursday, the Board of Education also ordered a review by experts of any other approved textbooks published by Five Ponds Press. The company currently has four world history books which are approved for use in the state’s classrooms. Those books passed the state’s textbook review process, in which panels of reviewers, often elementary school teachers, verified that the books cover each of the Standards of Learning themes. Experts in particular subject matters also sometimes review books…. – WaPo, 1-13-11
  • Virginia Textbook Controversy: Publisher Will Replace VA Textbooks For Free — Board of Education Withdraws Approval: The publisher of this textbook will replace it at no cost to school divisions, due to errors found in two books. In response to criticism of errors found in its textbooks, Five Ponds Press announced Tuesday it intends to replace all copies of “Our Virginia” and “Our America: To 1865” for free…. – Williamsburg Yorktown Daily, 1-13-11
  • Business Metaphor Still Ascendant at AHA: it was difficult to escape the conclusion, during the American Historical Association’s annual meeting here over the weekend, that higher education is in the throes of a crisis. Panels used the word “crisis” to describe the state of the job market for historians, the state of public universities, and the state of higher education in general. And the enemy was consistently identified as the ideology and analytical tools of business.
    For example, the scarcity of faculty jobs in history — 569 this year, which marked the smallest number in two decades — was driven by more than simple laws of supply and demand, argued Martin Mulford, a self-described “rogue scholar” and former businessman, during a Saturday session, “The Academic Job Market: Finding Solutions in a Time of Crisis.” The lack of history jobs has been hastened and worsened by a larger trend of hiring adjuncts and contingent faculty instead of full-time faculty in the interest of cost-cutting, he said. This reflects a larger transformation of the role of business in higher education, which he likened to the shift from being a stepchild to the head of a household. “This is a problem of the colonization of the academy by business,” said Mulford…. – Inside Higher Ed (1-11-11)
  • Turns Out, Jobs for Historians Are…History: While Wednesday’s ADP number for December was surprisingly strong, skeptical strategists emphasize that this US labor market remains in a state of disarray.
    How about the well educated among us? How are our PhD-carrying comrades navigating this lousy labor market? Interestingly, it depends on the area in which they specialize. According to a new report by Inside Higher Ed, historians have it rough: During the 2009-10 academic year, the number of positions listed with the American Historical Association dropped by 29.4%. That follows a 23.8% drop the year before. Last year, the association announced that the number of listings it received — 806 — was the smallest in a decade; this year’s total of 569 marks the smallest number in 25 years…. – Minyanville, 1-6-11
  • Historians Continue to Face Tough Job Market: The job market for historians continued to deteriorate last year, although there is reason to hope it may be poised to rebound somewhat, according to a report released on Monday by the American Historical Association. The report, published in the group’s Perspectives on History, a newsletter, in advance of its annual conference this week, said the number of jobs posted with the association fell by more than 29 percent—from 806 to 569—during the 2009-10 academic year. Since two years ago, when the association posted an all-time high of 1,059 job openings, the number of jobs advertised with it has dropped by more than 46 percent, to the lowest level in 25 years.
    The report does contain a glimmer of hope: Looking at the current academic year, it found that the number of job advertisements posted as of December 1 was up by more than 21 percent from the same period a year earlier. The report also offers an important caveat to its findings: Not all of the jobs available in the discipline are listed with the association, and some “are advertised only in The Chronicle of Higher Education or H-Net, for instance.”… – Chronicle of Higher Education, 1-3-11
  • Historians Expose Error-Filled Virginia Textbooks: In the version of history being taught in some Virginia classrooms, New Orleans began the 1800s as a bustling U.S. harbor (instead of as a Spanish colonial one). The Confederacy included 12 states (instead of 11). And the United States entered World War I in 1916 (instead of 1917). These are among the dozens of errors historians have found since Virginia officials ordered a review of textbooks by Five Ponds Press, the publisher responsible for a controversial claim that African-American soldiers fought for the Confederacy in large numbers during the Civil War.
    Our Virginia: Past and Present, the textbook including that claim, has many other inaccuracies, according to historians who reviewed it. Similar problems, historians say, were found in another book by Five Ponds Press, Our America: To 1865. A reviewer has found errors in social studies textbooks by other publishers as well, underscoring the limits of a textbook-approval process once regarded as among the nation’s most stringent…. – AP, 1-3-11
  • Carol Sheriff: Virgina History Textbook Inaccuracies Controversy: It’s a textbook case of getting it wrong. A Virginia elementary school textbook will soon be history after a college professor and parent, caught more than one mistake in it. Turns out the errors she spotted were not the only ones. Some of the glaring errors had to do with African-Americans and the Civil War. These and dozens of other errors can be found in the textbook handed out to thousands of Virginia fourth graders. Problems with the book ‘Our Virginia: Past and Present’, published by Five Ponds Press, first surfaced last October, as reported by the Washington Post, when the mother of one student, a college history professor, spotted several lines on page 122.
    “It was particularly jarring when I got to this one passage that was so at odds with what historians have been saying about who participated in the Civil War,” said William & Mary Professor Carol Sheriff, a parent of one student.
    The book says thousands of southern blacks fought in the confederate ranks, something not supported by mainstream Civil War scholarship. But it’s the next line that’s just plain wrong: “including two black battalions under the command of Stonewall Jackson.” The textbook actually, does note that it wasn’t ’til 1865 that African-Americans could legally serve in the confederate army. It also tells children that Stonewall Jackson died in 1863. The error about blacks serving in the confederate army was outrageous to many in academia… – CNN, 12-30-10

HISTORIANS NEWS:

  • James McPherson: Battle Over the Battlefields: One hundred and fifty years after the start of the Civil War, we’re still fighting. This time it’s development vs. preservation—and development’s winning. The Battle to Preserve History “There has to be a reasonable balance,” says James McPherson, the foremost living Civil War historian and professor emeritus of history at Princeton. “If you preserved every square foot of battlefield in Virginia, there wouldn’t be much land left. There’s a tendency among preservationists to want to save everything, but realistically there have to be compromises.”
    One place McPherson isn’t willing to compromise, however, is the Virginia Walmart, a 140,000-square-foot supercenter the company wants to build in Orange County on a parcel that’s been zoned for commercial use for 37 years. The bloody May 1864 encounter fought there was the beginning of the end for the Confederacy. In Grant’s first battle since becoming chief of the U.S. Army, he pounded Lee and began driving him south toward Richmond. Historians say his army’s “nerve center,” including his own headquarters, was located on and near the Walmart site, which is also across the street from the entrance to the Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park…. – Newsweek, 1-13-11
  • AnneMarie Luijendijk: A flax merchant from Egypt! Owner of 4th century New Testament papyrus identified: A Princeton University researcher has identified the owner of a New Testament papyrus that dates to the time of Constantine the Great…. “It is the first and only ancient instance where we know the owner of a Greek New Testament papyrus,” writes Professor AnneMarie Luijendijk in an article recently published in the Journal of Biblical Literature. “For most early New Testament manuscripts, we do not know where they were found, let alone who had owned them.”… – Unreported Heritage News, 1-2-11
  • After 130 years, will Billy the Kid finally get a governor’s pardon?: Outgoing New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson is considering a pardon for celebrated outlaw Billy the Kid. An informal e-mail poll shows support. But time is running out.
    Public perception regarding the Kid is split into two camps, says Paul Hutton, a history professor and Old West expert at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque: “people who see him as this homicidal maniac and [others] who see him as a romantic character fighting for justice against a corrupt New Mexico system.”
    Hutton says most historians agree that Billy the Kid’s life was not as violent as the legend suggests and that he was a product of his unwieldy times of government corruption and vigilante justice. “He certainly felt solving problems with a gun was the way to go, but that was the world in which he lived in,” he says. “The forces of authority in 1877 New Mexico were nothing to brag about.”… – CS Monitor, 12-29-10

HISTORY OP-EDs:

  • DISUNION: One-hundred-and-fifty years ago, Americans went to war with themselves. Disunion revisits and reconsiders America’s most perilous period — using contemporary accounts, diaries, images and historical assessments to follow the Civil War as it unfolded…. – NYT, Disunion
  • James Loewen’s “5 Myths about why the South seceded” Washington Post’s Most Viewed: James Loewens’ op-ed in the Washington Post “5 Myths about Why the South Seceded,” published last Sunday, has become the most viewed article at their website, garnering more than a half a million views as of Monday, and combined with print views, now more than a million views:
    One hundred fifty years after the Civil War began, we’re still fighting it – or at least fighting over its history. I’ve polled thousands of high school history teachers and spoken about the war to audiences across the country, and there is little agreement even about why the South seceded. Was it over slavery? States’ rights? Tariffs and taxes? As the nation begins to commemorate the anniversaries of the war’s various battles – from Fort Sumter to Appomattox – let’s first dispense with some of the more prevalent myths about why it all began…. – WaPo, 1-9-11
  • Simon Schama: An America Lost in Fantasy Must Recover Its Dream: As it says goodbye and good riddance to 2010, is America also saying so long to depression, both the economic and the psychic varieties? Is double-dip now just another way to get your hot fudge sundae? Riding the Metro North commuter train from Pleasantville to Grand Central Station on the last weekend before Christmas, you’d certainly suppose so. The consumer confidence index had been rising for two straight months now and most of it seemed to be on board, wallets bursting to get in on the action. Heavy-set thirtysomethings on parole from suburbia, fists popping cans of Bud Lite, boomed to all who wanted to hear (Ben Bernanke maybe?) that they were “gonna do some serious shopping DAMAGE dude!” In the month before Christmas Grand Central turns into a retail bazaar, and to the strains of jingle tills vendors selling silk scarves, Thai and Polish jewellery, hammered leather goods and fancy stationery were all doing brisk trade to elbow-working crowds…. – Financial Times (UK), 12-23-10
  • Paul Kengor: Stalin’s dupes, past and present: It’s customary at year’s end to share our favorite news items from the year past – from happy moments to outrages. As a professor and historian, I tend to highlight things I fear are lost to American education. To that end, I’ve become somewhat of a pessimist, especially as I observe what the next generation is not being taught. So, my enduring “news item” of 2010 falls under the category of historical outrage, though it is redeemed somewhat by another item considerably more positive. I’d like to link them here as a teachable moment.
    My outrage of 2010: the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Va., erected a statue of Josef Stalin, architect of the Great Purge, Ukrainian famine, gulag, war on religion and upwards of 60 million deaths. We learned about this travesty, thanks to the vigilant work of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, which has the heroic goal of trying to educate Americans about the forgotten holocaust committed by communists. The group created a website (Stalinstatue.com) to call attention to this moral-historical slander. The site featured a petition to remove the statue, with thousands of signatures from all over the world. Addressed to the National D-Day Memorial Foundation and to President Obama‘s secretary of the interior, it demanded that the “true history of World War II must be protected from distortion and misinformation.”… – The Washington Times, 12-28-10

HISTORY REVIEWS:

  • Peter L. Bergen: Determined to Strike: THE LONGEST WAR The Enduring Conflict Between America and Al-Qaeda For years, I tried to read every new novel about how 9/11 affected our lives. Some were very thoughtful, but I always came away unsatisfied, feeling that the authors had worked hard but had somehow fallen short. As I read the stunning first section of Peter L. Bergen’s new book on the war between the United States and Al Qaeda, I realized I had been looking in the wrong genre. None of the novels were as effective or moving as “The Longest War,” which is a history of our time.
    Bergen, a national security analyst for CNN, impressively covers it all: Al ­Qaeda’s aspirations and its 9/11 attack, the Bush administration’s panicky response, the subsequent invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the crucial and continuing unhelpful role of Pakistan, and the terrorist episodes in London and Madrid. Other books, most notably Bob Woodward’s series on the wars as viewed from Washington, have bitten off big chunks of this story, but Bergen’s, to my knowledge, is the first to credibly cover the global sweep of events over the last 10 years, exploring not just American views but also Al Qaeda’s…. – NYT, 1-16-11
  • PSYCHOLOGY REVIEW BY STEVEN F. HAYWARD: Putting George W. Bush on the psychologist’s couch: Dan P. McAdams, a professor of psychology at Northwestern University, offers one of the first comprehensive psychological profiles of Bush in “George W. Bush and the Redemptive Dream.” To his credit, McAdams tries not to pre-judge Bush, and he avoids making moral or political judgments about the president’s major decisions. McAdams will further disappoint Bush-haters in his measured rejection of several pop-psych themes, such as that Bush was in thrall to an Oedipal rivalry (though he does think a desire to avenge his father in Iraq was a factor). But in the end, McAdams’s framework sinks into a mire of professional jargon that tells us more about contemporary theory than about the former president…. – WaPo, 1-14-11
  • Chappaqua’s Kenneth Jackson is the executive editor of the second edition of “The Encyclopedia of New York City,” which boasts some 5,000 entries spanning 1,561 pages: Chappaqua’s Kenneth Jackson was first approached about assembling a New York City encyclopedia in 1982. The late Edward Tripp, a former editor-in-chief for Yale University Press, pitched the idea. “I thought it would be fun, and I was teaching New York City history,” says Jackson, a historian at Columbia University and the book’s executive editor. “It took a little while to get it going.” Officially, it took about 13 years, as the first edition of “The Encyclopedia of New York City” hit bookshelves in 1995. Heaped with critical acclaim, it sold out its first printing before it was published, and seven more printings followed. Some 75,000 copies have been sold to date. But a lot’s happened since then. New stadiums have been built for the Yankees and Mets. AirTrain and E-ZPass have become transportation norms. And the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, changed everything…. – LoHud, 1-16-11
  • Dark Tales Illuminate Haiti, Before and After Quake: “Haiti Noir,” released last week, has taken on new resonance amid the first anniversary of the devastating Jan. 12 earthquake that killed 300,000 people and left over one million homeless. While only 3 of the 18 stories deal with the earthquake directly, Edwidge Danticat, the volume’s editor, said many were filled with reminders of what was lost.
    “I had this fear that the stories would lose their relevance,” said Ms. Danticat, the most widely known contemporary writer to come from Haiti. “But the post-earthquake neighborhoods have a new intrigue. Some of these stories are elegies to lost, broken and destroyed neighborhoods.”… – NYT, 1-10-11
  • NYT 100 Notable Books of 2010NYT, 12-5-10
  • NYT: The 10 Best Books of 2010: Stacy Schiff: CLEOPATRA: A Life: With her signature blend of wit, intelligence and superb prose, Schiff strips away 2,000 years of prejudices and propaganda in her elegant reimagining of the Egyptian queen who, even in her own day, was mythologized and misrepresented.
    Isabel Wilkerson: THE WARMTH OF OTHER SUNS: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration: Wilkerson, a former national correspondent for The Times, has written a masterly and engrossing account of the Great Migration, in which six million African-Americans abandoned the South between 1915 and 1970. The book centers on the journeys of three black migrants, each representing a different decade and a different destination. – NYT, 12-12-10
  • Glenn W. LaFantasie: The top 12 Civil War books ever written: One great book for each month of 2011, the sesquicentennial of the War Between the States. In any event, here are a dozen books that, for me, tell the story of the Civil War with literary elegance, intellectual gusto and enormous flair….
    12. “The American Heritage Picture History of the Civil War” by Bruce Catton
    11. “Abraham Lincoln and Civil War America”: by William E. Gienapp
    10. “Lincoln’s Men: How President Lincoln Became Father to an Army and a Nation”: By William C. Davis
    9. “Grant and Sherman: The Friendship That Won the Civil War”: By Charles Bracelen Flood
    8. “Chancellorsville 1863: The Souls of the Brave”: By Ernest B. (“Pat”) Furgurson
    7. “Landscape Turned Red: The Battle of Antietam”: By Stephen W. Sears
    6. “Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches From the Unfinished Civil War”: By Tony Horwitz
    5. “Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory”: By David W. Blight
    4. “This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War”: By Drew Gilpin Faust
    3. “Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era”: By James M. McPherson
    2. “The Destructive War: William Tecumseh Sherman, Stonewall Jackson, and the Americans”: By Charles Royster
    1. “A Stillness at Appomattox”: By Bruce Catton — Salon, 12-26-10
  • An American turning point: Review of Jim Murphy’s ‘The Crossing’: THE CROSSING How George Washington Saved the American Revolution (Juvenile History) George Washington was not the world’s most confident leader in June 1776. He turned to Patrick Henry after the Continental Congress voted for his appointment and said, “From the day I enter upon the command of the American armies, I date my fall, and the ruin of my reputation.” Fortunately, he guessed wrong, as author Jim Murphy clearly explains in “The Crossing.” By focusing on Washington’s initial self-doubt and tactical mistakes, the book makes his boldness and leadership in December 1776 all the more impressive. Amid mass desertions, foul weather and lack of equipment (including adequate shoes), Washington devised a plan to surprise the enemy and deliver a victory to the beleaguered Revolutionary cause… – WaPo, 1-5-11
  • Alan Riding: Nazi occupation, when the City of Light had its darkest hour: AND THE SHOW WENT ON Cultural Life in Nazi-Occupied Paris “And the Show Went On” deserves a comparable success. It is certainly one of the finest works of serious popular history since the heyday of Barbara Tuchman…. – WaPo, 1-5-11
  • Boastful and bullying to the end: Reading Edmund Morris’s “Colonel Roosevelt” is a rewarding journey, as it must also have been for its author, who concludes his three-volume saga begun in 1980 with publication of “The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt.” “Theodore Rex” (2001) covered the middle years. “Colonel Roosevelt” begins with the ex-president in Africa, having, in 1908, installed in office his acolyte William Howard Taft. Roosevelt was prevented from running again by a pledge he had made in the 1904 campaign. Taft’s mission was to advance Roosevelt’s progressive blueprint…. – WaPo, 1-2-11
  • Tony Judt: Elegy for England, Book Review – The Memory Chalet – By Tony Judt: THE MEMORY CHALET Tony Judt ranges back over his life, particularly his youth in England, in these autobiographical fragments.
    “The Memory Chalet” bears little resemblance to the densely researched works of history that preceded it, but some of its preoccupations were hinted at in “Ill Fares the Land,” Judt’s post-illness overview of the state of contemporary politics. His trenchant analysis was supported, naturally, by statistics and citations, but there were a couple of places where the book moved into warmly personal focus. One was where he reflected on the diminishing importance of “visual representations of collective identity”: London’s black taxis, school uniforms, postmen’s uniforms…. – NYT, 1-3-11Excerpt
  • Samuel Moyn: The Last Utopia traces the history of human rights policy: Human rights—the notion that the protection of the immutable rights and freedoms of every individual on the planet supersedes all other concerns—did not always enjoy this prominent place in our political debate. Most historians have located the ideology’s origins in previous eras, from the ancient Greeks and Hebrews to the Enlightenment to post-World War II. In his erudite new book, The Last Utopia: Human Rights in History, Samuel Moyn proposes a more recent source. He argues that it was only in the 1970s, when other utopian ideologies—socialism, anti-colonialism, and anti-communism—fell by the wayside that human rights assumed its stature as the ultimate moral arbiter of international conduct.
    As Moyn tells it, human rights might trace its philosophical lineage to earlier times—few ideas emerge from the intellectual womb as orphans—but its dominant role was not assured until a particular point in time. He takes issue most forcefully with the belief that human rights’ ascension was an answer to the extermination of European Jewry. “Contrary to conventional assumptions, there was no widespread Holocaust consciousness in the postwar era, so human rights could not have been a response to it,” he writes…. – Slate, 1-1-11

HISTORY FEATURES:

  • Son Suggests Reagan Had Alzheimer’s as President: Ronald Reagan’s son suggests in a new book that his father suffered from the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s disease while he was still in the White House. The memoir quotes excerpts from Ron Reagan’s book “My Father at 100,” published by Viking, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA)….
    But Reagan says the issue of his father’s health should not tarnish his legacy as the nation’s 40th president. “Does this delegitimize his presidency? Only to the extent that President Kennedy’s Addison’s disease or Lincoln’s clinical depression undermine theirs,” Reagan writes. “Better, it seems to me, to judge our presidents by what they actually accomplish than what hidden factors may be weighing on them.” He continues: “That likely condition, though, serves as a reminder that when we elect presidents, we elect human beings with all their foibles and weaknesses, psychological and physiological.”… – AP, 1-15-11
  • Journey to Remember: Stepping onto the platform of a Victorian-era train station here, you wouldn’t know you are standing over the foundation of Harpers Ferry’s original armory and arsenal buildings…. In April 2011, our country marks the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Fort Sumter, which most historians consider to be the start of the Civil War (although, technically, the first shots were fired at Sumter in January 1861).
    One can argue, however, that Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry really was the first shot, says James McPherson, Civil War historian and professor emeritus of history at Princeton University. “It vastly intensified Southern fears of Northern anti-slavery forces, and Brown’s martyrdom by hanging increased anti-slavery sentiments in the North,” McPherson says….
    “What happened here in 1859 caused a panic across the country,” says Caroline Janney, a Purdue University history professor. “While the majority of white northerners denounced Brown’s actions, there was enough mixed reaction (church bells ringing in his honor, newspapers praising him) to cause a stir among white southerners.”
    A massive slave rebellion long had been one of the South’s great fears. “As the 150th anniversary of the war approaches, we should seek to avoid the pitfalls that beset the Civil War’s centennial, which was mired in racism and Cold War politics,” Janney says. That does not mean we should avoid controversial topics such as slavery….. – Town Hall, 1-16-11
  • Robert Caro remembers the moment when he could finally start writing his biography of Robert Moses: [A] reporter invited Mr. Caro to join her for a sneak peek at the budding musical, “Robert Moses Astride New York,” a work in progress that will have its world premiere in a one-night-only free performance at 7 p.m. on Saturday at the World Financial Center in Lower Manhattan….
    To be sure, the musical is considerably less comprehensive than Mr. Caro’s 1,286-page 1974 book, “The Power Broker,” which follows Moses’ career as city parks commissioner and chairman of the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority. “Robert Moses Astride New York” moves through major chapters of history in just a few stanzas, and the piece to be performed Saturday is only a sampling of what the composer, Gary Fagin, ultimately hopes will become a full-fledged production featuring additional characters like the neighborhood activist Jane Jacobs and Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia…. – NYT, 1-13-11
  • US historian: Millions of Turks suffered during Ottoman Empire’s collapse: A map prepared by Justin McCarthy, professor of history at the University of Louisville in the United States, shows that the breakup of the Ottoman Empire set thousands upon thousands of forlorn refugees on the move — including Ottoman Muslims.
    Since most Western chronicles of this era focus only on those of the Christian faith who suffered, the Turkish Coalition of America (TCA), which is based in Washington, D.C., has published an annotated map displaying the travels of 5 million Ottoman Muslims who were displaced from the Balkans. the Caucasus and Crimea from 1770-1923. The map also records and provides historical context for the 5 million Ottoman Muslims who died from 1864-1922 in the wars that were fought to dismantle the Ottoman Empire…. – Todays Zaman, 1-13-11
  • Bill Betts: Indiana historian tells story of Armstrong County namesake: From his career as a surveyor for the Penn family to becoming the “Hero of Armstrong County,” retired Indiana University of Pennsylvania English professor and history author Bill Betts of Indiana provides a comprehensive view of the life and accomplishments of Gen. John Armstrong in a biography of Armstrong published by Heritage Books being released this month. “Rank and Gravity, The Life of General John Armstrong of Carlisle” will soon be available for purchase online at Heritage Books of Westminster, Md, and at Amazon.com.
    “The book is the first, and long overdue, biography of this very important colonial figure, one of the most notable and consequential of 18th-century Pennsylvania,” said Betts. “I think it will be of great interest to the people of Armstrong County, especially in Kittanning.”…. – Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 1-15-11
  • Baby Boomers rocked our pop culture, says Steve Gillon: When historians at the end of the 21st century look back at the impact of 20th-century Baby Boomers on entertainment and the arts, two things will stand out: TV and rock and roll….
    Steven Gillon, resident historian at the History Channel and a professor at the University of Oklahoma, says, “We still have episodes of ‘Leave It to Beaver’ playing in our heads – it accounts for our desire to re-create a world that was always imaginary…. – Arizona Republic, 1-2-11
  • Stanley Harrold: Prof examines role of border states in Civil War: A South Carolina State University professor goes beyond the traditional understanding of the Civil War’s causes in his new book. History professor Stanley Harrold explores the conflict and bloody violence over slavery in the border states in his latest book, “Border War” (University of North Carolina Press)…. – The Times and Democrat, 12-21-10

HISTORY PROFILES:

  • Rodolfo Acuña: Cal State Northridge professor caught in Arizona controversy: Rodolfo Acuña’s Mexican American history book, first published four decades ago, has become fuel for Arizona politicians targeting ethnic studies programs…. – LAT, 1-13-11
  • William Fitzhugh: The Concord Review — Journal Showcases Dying Art of the Research Paper: William H. Fitzhugh publishes The Concord Review, featuring research papers written by high school students. “Most kids don’t know how to write, don’t know any history, and that’s a disgrace,” Mr. Fitzhugh said. “Writing is the most dumbed-down subject in our schools.”
    His mood brightens, however, when talk turns to the occasionally brilliant work of the students whose heavily footnoted history papers appear in his quarterly, The Concord Review. Over 23 years, the review has printed 924 essays by teenagers from 44 states and 39 nations.
    The review’s exacting standards have won influential admirers. William R. Fitzsimmons, Harvard’s dean of admissions, said he keeps a few issues in his Cambridge office to inspire applicants. Harvard considers it “something that’s impressive,” like winning a national math competition, if an applicant’s essay has appeared in the review, he said…. – NYT, 1-8-11
  • Daniel Rasmussen: New book chronicles largest slave revolt in U.S. history: While many are familiar with the stories of uprisings led by Nat Turner, Denmark Vesey and John Brown, a significantly fewer number of people know the story of revolutionaries Charles Deslondes, Harry Kenner, Kook and Quamana who led a group of enslaved Africans toward a vulnerable New Orleans during the annual Mardi Gras celebration in hopes of gaining their freedom. That is about to change. American Uprising The Untold Story of America’s Largest Slave Revolt, a new book written by Daniel Rasmussen and slated for an early January 2011 release tells the story of the planning and execution of this uprising and its aftermath.
    Rasmussen, a recent Harvard University grad, says he began researching and writing the book about three years ago after stumbling upon the story of the revolt while working on his senior thesis. “In a lot of history about slavery there were only three sentences about this revolt, the largest slave revolt in America,” he told The Louisiana Weekly. “Very little was known about it. The more I came upon this in different books, I said to myself ‘I’ve got to figure this out.’ I’ve done a fair amount of investigative journalism so the idea of looking into something that other people didn’t know about and I think some people have consciously tried to keep secret was really intriguing to me.”… – Louisiana Weekly, 12-27-10

HISTORY QUOTES:

  • Obama speech recalls Reagan: “It was different than Clinton at Oklahoma City or Reagan after the Challenger crash, but it was equally important for his presidency,” said presidential historian Douglas Brinkley, who has written books on Reagan as well as Presidents Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford and both Roosevelts. “Remember, he took some shots when he first took office, and that has bred caution in his speechwriting,” added Brinkley. “The Oval Office speech on the BP spill was boilerplate. Even the Fort Hood eulogy, while heartfelt, was pretty unmemorable. But this was a great presidential speech. This was a serious, transformational moment in his presidency.”… – Politico, 1-14-11
  • Bernanke Saved the World From Another Great Depression, Niall Ferguson Says: U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke saved the global economy from falling into a great depression by presiding over an historic increase in the size of the central bank’s balance sheet, said Harvard’s Niall Ferguson. “He turned the Fed into the biggest hedge fund in history,” said Ferguson, an historian at Harvard University, in a speech delivered at a conference in Copenhagen hosted by the Skagen Fund. “He bought stuff that no central bank has ever bought before. He bought utter garbage and in doing so, I believe he saved us from a great depression.”… – Bloomberg News, 1-12-11
  • Brian Black: Oil Spill Commission report could shape industry’s future: Brian Black, a professor of history and environmental studies at Penn State Altoona, also views the spill and the study as a turning point in taming the oil industry. “I hope that when I teach about this event in 10 years, I will cite the commission and then trace how our energy transition picked up steam from 2010 forward, and Big Oil was brought under more regulation and monitoring than ever before,” Black said. “The problem is that being in the eye of such change often makes its overall trajectory hard to discern.”… – NOLA.com, 1-10-11
  • Joseph Palermo: U.S. assassination attempts not that rare: Joseph Palermo, an expert on political history at California State University in Sacramento, said the struggling U.S. economy, combined with the polarizing hype created by the 24-hour news cycle, means conditions were ripe for the shooting of a congresswoman in Arizona on Saturday. “People are very quick to try and pretend that the political assassination is very rare,” he said in an interview with Postmedia News. “Sadly, the truth is, it’s a very common element of any society, especially the United States.”… – Montreal Gazette, 1-11-11
  • Chester Pach and Julian Zelizer: Obama’s Choice Of Daley Fits Mold For Embattled Presidents Bringing in an outside critic to run his operation might help change the narrative of the presidency: “He reflected the more moderate wing of the GOP that felt Reagan had gone too far in his budgetary policies that were busting the deficit,” Julian Zelizer, an expert on American political history and professor at Princeton University, wrote in an email. “In this case, the criticism [Baker had made of Reagan’s policies] was in some ways a positive for his later appointment as chief of staff since it signaled that Reagan had moderated his views by bringing in someone who held different perspectives into his inner circle.”
    “Daley is a Democratic centrist who believes that the center is where his party can thrive and win,” says Chester Pach, a history professor at Ohio University who has written histories of the Nixon, Reagan, and Lyndon Johnson presidencies. “It seems as if Obama has similar views. Maybe he’s come to that conclusion only since Nov. 2.” – Newsweek, 1-6-11
  • E.J. Dionne Jr. Quotes Gordon Wood in Washington Post op-ed: Yet as Gordon Wood, the widely admired historian of the Revolutionary era has noted, we “can recognize the extraordinary character of the Founding Fathers while also knowing that those 18th-century political leaders were not outside history. . . . They were as enmeshed in historical circumstances as we are, they had no special divine insight into politics, and their thinking was certainly not free of passion, ignorance, and foolishness.”… – WaPo, 1-3-11

HISTORY INTERVIEWS:

  • Douglas Brinkley: 2010 In Review: The Year For White Americans: America ends the decade with its first black president, and census numbers have revealed that the country isn’t so black-and-white anymore. Hispanics and Asians are increasing in numbers compared to an aging white population. Historian Douglas Brinkley reflects on what’s shaking up the status quo….
    Prof. BRINKLEY: Well, I think the big change was when Barack Obama got elected president. It seems surreal to a lot of white Americans. Nobody ever thought the country was ready to have an African-American as president, let alone one with only a modest background in politics. He was quite young, and with a name like Barack Hussein Obama. The right thought that this was a guy they’d be able to, you know, dissolve on the campaign trail, and instead he beat John McCain and was sworn in in this historic inauguration. And you had, as first family in the White House, a black family…. – NPR, 12-30-10Mp3 Download

HISTORY AWARDS & APPOINTMENTS:

  • John Welsh: Centennial Professor of History, University of Penn: Richard R. Beeman has been appointed the John Welsh Centennial Professor of History in the School of Arts and Sciences. As a historian of the American Revolutionary Era, Dr. Beeman’s research focuses on aspects of America’s political and constitutional history in the 18th and 19th centuries. He has written seven books and is currently working on his eighth, which is focused on the Continental Congress. His latest, The Penguin Guide to the United States was published by Penguin Press in August. His book, Plain Honest Men: The Making of the American Constitution (Random House, 2009) won the George Washington Book Prize and the Literary Award of the Philadelphia Athenaeum. He has also written several dozen articles…. – University of Penn Almanac, 12-21-10

HISTORY ANNOUNCEMENTS & EVENTS CALENDAR:

  • Thomas J. Sugrue: Barack Obama and the Burden of Race, January 21, 2011 at the Miller Center: THOMAS J. SUGRUE is the David Boies Professor of History and Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania. Sugrue is the author of Not Even Past: Barack Obama and the Burden of Race (2010) and Sweet Land of Liberty: The Forgotten Struggle for Civil Rights in the North (2008), a Main Selection of the History Book Club and a finalist for the 2008 Los Angeles Times Book Prize. His first book, The Origins of the Urban Crisis (1996), won the Bancroft Prize in American History, the Philip Taft Prize in Labor History, the President’s Book Award of the Social Science History Association, and the Urban History Association Award for Best Book in North American Urban History and was selected a Choice Outstanding Academic Book, an American Prospect On-Line Top Shelf Book on Race and Inequality, and a Lingua Franca Breakthrough Book on Race. This colloquium will be hosted by Brian Balogh, with comments from Claudrena Harold of UVa’s Corcoran Department of History. RSVP required to 434.243.8726 or gage@virginia.edu. – Miller Center Colloquium Paper PDF
  • David Bell: French history expert visits MSU for Distinguished Lecture Series: The Institute for the Humanities Distinguished Lecture Series returns for the spring semester at Mississippi State Jan. 27 with a presentation from noted Princeton University professor and author David Bell. An expert on the early modern history of France, Bell will discuss his latest book, “The First Total War: Napoleon’s Europe and the Birth of Warfare as We Know It.” The free, public program is at 4 p.m. in the university’s McCool Hall atrium.
    Prior to joining the staff at Princeton where he earned a doctorate, Bell taught at Yale and Johns Hopkins. In addition to holding the Andrew W. Mellon Chair in the Humanities, he was dean of faculty in the School of Arts and Sciences…. – MS State, 1-14-11
  • UT Austin launches new website “Not Even Past”: The History Department at UT Austin is launching an informative, interactive history web site today, January 10. Not Even Past provides current historical writing to a popular audience. For history buffs who want reading recommendations and short, interesting, digestible stories every day, the website offers a meaningful, dynamic, and ongoing conversation about History in the form of text, audio, and video histories on subjects that span the globe. The site is designed for anyone who is interested in history, from an avid reader of history to a history film aficionado. The content and “picks” are written by the department’s 60-person faculty with additional input from the graduate students. Notevenpast.org is rich with book and film recommendations, video interviews, podcasts, online commentary, and even virtual classes (free) every semester. You can learn from exceptional faculty and dialog with other history aficionados and Texas Exes, enrolled globally…. – Notevenpast.org
  • Readex to Launch Ethnic American Newspapers from the Balch Collection, 1799-1971: Ethnic American Newspapers from the Balch Collection, 1799-1971, will be released by Readex, a division of NewsBank, in spring 2011. Featuring more than 130 fully searchable newspapers in 10 languages from 25 states—including many rare 19th-century titles—this online collection will provide extensive coverage of many of the most influential ethnic groups in U.S. history. With an emphasis on Americans of Czech, French, German, Hungarian, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Jewish, Lithuanian, Polish, Slovak and Welsh descent, this unique resource will enable students and scholars to explore often-overlooked aspects of this nation’s history, politics and culture…. – Readex Press Release, 1-5-11
  • Bruce Catton papers now indexed online at the University of Wyoming: An inventory of papers and correspondence of Bruce Catton, widely regarded (along with Shelby Foote) as the most popular of America’s Civil War historians, is now accessible online through the University of Wyoming American Heritage Center. There are no access restrictions on the materials for research purposes, and the collection is open to the public…. A description and inventory for this collection [is now] accessible at http://rmoa.unm.edu/docviewer.php?docId=wyu-ah04032.xml/University of Wyoming, 12-20-10
  • Black history catalogued at new U. of C. website: ….On Friday at the University of Chicago’s Joseph Regenstein Library, researchers unveiled a new website intended to make it easy for the public and scholars alike to locate these African-American artifacts as well as a host of others in the city from the same period in history…. The website is the “cutting edge portal into discovering primary source materials to study and know black Chicago’s history from the 1930s to the 1970s,” said Jacqueline Goldsby, a former U. of C. professor who headed up the three-year project…. – Chicago Sun-Times, 12-11-10uncap.lib.uchicago.edu
  • Camelot’s archives, available with the click of a mouse: During a 1962 news conference, a reporter asked President John F. Kennedy if he’d consider locating his presidential library in Washington, D.C., after leaving the White House so scholars and historians would have the broadest possible access to it. No, he replied playfully, “I’m going to put it in Cambridge, Massachusetts.”…
    A four-year, $10 million effort to digitize the JFK Library and Museum’s archives, making hundreds of thousands of documents, photographs, and recordings available online, is nearing completion of its first phase. A formal announcement will come Jan. 13, one week before the 50th anniversary of JFK’s inauguration, at a press conference in the nation’s capitol.
    “Access to a Legacy,” as the project is called, marks the first time a presidential library established in the paper age has fully committed itself to the digital era. The amount of material to be posted online in January is huge — 200,000 pages of text, 1,500 photos, 1,250 files of audio recordings and moving images, and 340 phone conversations totaling 17 1/2 hours — but represents just a small portion of the collection….
    Presidential historian Robert Dallek, who has made liberal use of the Kennedy archives, said the primary payoff is reaching the largest possible international audience. “What this means is, people in Japan or Germany can have access to [JFK’s] office files, and that’s a splendid step forward.” Other presidential libraries will probably follow suit, he added, “because they don’t want to expire, so to speak. Plus, there’s still tremendous interest in subjects like World War II, Vietnam, and the New Deal.”… – Boston Globe (11-28-10)
  • THE NEW-YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY MAKES ITS MOST IMPORTANT COLLECTIONS RELATING TO SLAVERY AVAILABLE ONLINE: Rich trove of material becomes easily accessible at www.nyhistory.org/slaverycollection The New-York Historical Society is proud to announce the launch of a new online portal to nearly 12,000 pages of source materials documenting the history of slavery in the United States, the Atlantic slave trade and the abolitionist movement. Made readily accessible to the general public for the first time at www.nyhistory.org/slaverycollections, these documents from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries represent fourteen of the most important collections in the library’s Manuscript Department….
  • Understanding the Iran-Contra Affairs,” is the only comprehensive website on the famous Reagan-era government scandal, which stemmed from the U.S. government’s policies toward two seemingly unrelated countries, Nicaragua and Iran. Despite stated and repeated denials to Congress and to the public, Reagan Administration officials supported the militant contra rebels in Nicaragua and sold arms to a hostile Iranian government. These events have led to questions about the appropriateness of covert operations, congressional oversight, and even the presidential power to pardon…. – irancontra.org
  • Thousands of Studs Terkel interviews going online: The Library of Congress will digitize the Studs Terkel Oral History Archive, according to the agreement, while the museum will retain ownership of the roughly 5,500 interviews in the archive and the copyrights to the content. Project officials expect digitizing the collection to take more than two years…. – NYT, 5-13-10
  • Digital Southern Historical Collection: The 41,626 scans reproduce diaries, letters, business records, and photographs that provide a window into the lives of Americans in the South from the 18th through mid-20th centuries.

HISTORIANS SPOTTED:

  • American Historical Association’s (AHA) 125th Annual Meeting / Conference: Daily RecapsHistory Musings

HISTORY ON TV:

  • Robert E. Lee PBS special airs on Jan. 3, 2011 @ 9pm: The local PBS stations will present a 90-minute documentary on the life of Robert E. Lee tomorrow evening at 9:00 p.m., the first of a series of three programs in the “American Experience” series, kicking off the Sesquicentennial observance which begins this year. The program was duly dissected by Washington Post writer Hank Stuever, who seemed to bend over backwards in his desire to NOT like it, with grudging admissions here and there that at least there had been no “biographical bombshells, undiscovered offspring or recently unearthed documents.”… – Washington Times, 1-20-11
  • C-SPAN2: BOOK TV Weekend Schedule
  • PBS American Experience: Mondays at 9pm
  • History Channel: Weekly Schedule

HISTORY BEST SELLERS (NYT):

UPCOMING HISTORY BOOK RELEASES:

  • T. Harry Williams: Lincoln and His Generals, (Paperback), January 11, 2011
  • Robert Wright: Our Man in Tehran: The Truth Behind the Secret Mission to Save Six Americans during the Iran Hostage Crisis and the Ambassador Who Worked with the CIA to Bring Them Home, (Hardcover), January 11, 2011
  • Jay M. Shafritz: Classics of Public Administration, (Paperback), January 14, 2011
  • Petra Pertici: Battle of San Romano: A Day in History, (Paperback), January 16, 2011
  • Alan Bennett: Captain Roy Brown: The Definitive Biography, Including His Encounter with the Red Baron, Manfred von Richthofen, (Hardcover), January 16, 2011
  • Douglas Brinkley: The Quiet World: Saving Alaska’s Wilderness Kingdom, 1879-1960, (Hardcover), January 18, 2011
  • Lawrence Goldstone: Inherently Unequal: The Betrayal of Equal Rights by the Supreme Court, 1865-1903, (Hardcover), January 18, 2011
  • Michael G. Long: Marshalling Justice: The Early Civil Rights Letters of Thurgood Marshall, (Hardcover), January 18, 2011
  • Edward G. Lengel: Inventing George Washington: America’s Founder, in Myth and Memory, (Hardcover), January 18, 2011
  • Ron Reagan: My Father at 100, January 18, 2011
  • Deborah Blum: The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York, (Paperback), January 25, 2011
  • Peter N. Stearns: World Civilizations: The Global Experience (New Edition), (Hardcover), January 28, 2011
  • Barbara F. Stokes: Myrtle Beach: A History, 1900-1980, (Paperback), January 28, 2011
  • Donald A. Clark: The Notorious “Bull” Nelson: Murdered Civil War General (1st Edition), (Hardcover), January 31, 2011
  • Michael D. Coe: The Maya (Eighth Edition), (Paperback), January 31, 2011
  • Molly Caldwell Crosby: Asleep: The Forgotten Epidemic That Remains One of Medicine’s Greatest Mysteries, (Paperback), February 1, 2011
  • Jonathan Gill: Harlem: The Four Hundred Year History from Dutch Village to Capital of Black America, (Hardcover), February 1, 2011
  • Amy Louise Wood: Lynching and Spectacle: Witnessing Racial Violence in America, 1890-1940, (Paperback), February 1, 2011
  • David Eisenhower: Going Home to Glory: A Memoir of Life with Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1961-1969, (Hardcover), February 2, 2011
  • Frederick Brown: For the Soul of France: Culture Wars in the Age of Dreyfus, (Paperback), February 8, 2011
  • Donald Rumsfeld: Known and Unknown: A Memoir, (Hardcover), February 8, 2011
  • Holger H. Herwig: The Marne, 1914: The Opening of World War I and the Battle That Changed the World, (Paperback), February 8, 2011
  • Christopher Corbett: The Poker Bride: The First Chinese in the Wild West (Reprint), (Paperback), February 8, 2011
  • Justin Fox: The Myth of the Rational Market: A History of Risk, Reward, and Delusion on Wall Street, (Paperback), February 8, 2011
  • Julia P. Gelardi: From Splendor to Revolution: The Romanov Women, 1847–1928, (Hardcover), February 15, 2011
  • Lucy Moore: Anything Goes: A Biography of the Roaring Twenties, (Paperback), February 22, 2011
  • Sarah Rose: For All the Tea in China: How England Stole the World’s Favorite Drink and Changed History, (Paperback), February 22, 2011
  • David Strauss: Setting the Table for Julia Child: Gourmet Dining in America, 1934-1961, (Hardcover), February 26, 2011
  • G.J. Meyer: The Tudors: The Complete Story of England’s Most Notorious Dynasty, (Paperback), March 1, 2011
  • Jack Weatherford: The Secret History of the Mongol Queens: How the Daughters of Genghis Khan Rescued His Empire, (Paperback), March 1, 2011
  • Bruce S. Thornton: The Wages of Appeasement: Ancient Athens, Munich, and Obama’s America, (Hardcover), March 1, 2011
  • Miranda Carter: George, Nicholas and Wilhelm: Three Royal Cousins and the Road to World War I, (Paperback), March 8, 2011
  • John D. Plating: The Hump: America’s Strategy for Keeping China in World War II (General), (Hardcover), March 9, 2011
  • David Goldfield: America Aflame: How the Civil War Created a Nation, (Hardcover), March 15, 2011
  • Matt Spruill: Decisions at Gettysburg: The Nineteen Critical Decisions That Defined the Campaign, (Paperback), March 16, 2011
  • Adrienne Mayor: The Poison King: The Life and Legend of Mithradates, Rome’s Deadliest Enemy, (Paperback), March 22, 2011
  • Michael O’Brien: Mrs. Adams in Winter: A Journey in the Last Days of Napoleon, (Paperback), March 29, 2011
  • Dominic Lieven: Russia Against Napoleon: The True Story of the Campaigns of War and Peace, (Paperback), March 29, 2011
  • Rudy Tomedi: General Matthew Ridgway, (Hardcover), March 30, 2011
  • Kim Wilson: Tea with Jane Austen (Second Edition), (Hardcover), April 1, 2011
  • Nick Bunker: Making Haste from Babylon: The Mayflower Pilgrims and Their World: A New History, (Paperback), April 5, 2011
  • Nell Irvin Painter: The History of White People, (Paperback), April 18, 2011
  • Christopher I. Beckwith: Empires of the Silk Road: A History of Central Eurasia from the Bronze Age to the Present, (Paperback), April 21, 2011
  • Andrew F. Smith: Eating History: Thirty Turning Points in the Making of American Cuisine, (Paperback), April 22, 2011
  • Barbara Frale: The Templars: The Secret History Revealed, (Paperback), May 1, 2011
  • Alison Plowden: The Young Victoria (New), (Paperback), May 1, 2011
  • Bill Morgan: The Typewriter Is Holy: The Complete, Uncensored History of the Beat Generation, (Paperback), May 1, 2011
  • Rebecca Skloot: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, (Paperback), May 3, 2011
  • Lynne Olson: Citizens of London: The Americans Who Stood with Britain in Its Darkest, Finest Hour, (Paperback), May 3, 2011
  • Jane Ziegelman: 97 Orchard: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement, (Paperback), May 31, 2011
  • Jonathan R. Dull: The Age of the Ship of the Line: The British and French Navies, 1650-1815, (Paperback), June 1, 2011
  • Jasper Ridley: The Freemasons: A History of the World’s Most Powerful Secret Society, (Paperback), June 1, 2011
  • David Howard: Lost Rights: The Misadventures of a Stolen American Relic, (Paperback), June 8, 2011
  • Kelly Hart: The Mistresses of Henry VIII, (Paperback), July 1, 2011
  • Christopher Heaney: Cradle of Gold: The Story of Hiram Bingham, a Real-Life Indiana Jones, and the Search for Machu Picchu, (Paperback), July 5, 2011
  • Eric Jay Dolin: Fur, Fortune, and Empire: The Epic History of the Fur Trade in America, (Paperback), July 5, 2011
  • Edward P. Kohn: Hot Time in the Old Town: The Great Heat Wave of 1896 and the Making of Theodore Roosevelt (First Trade Paper Edition), (Paperback), July 12, 2011

HISTORIANS PASSINGS:

  • Oleg Grabar: Historian Who Studied Islamic Culture, Dies at 81: Oleg Grabar, a historian of Islamic art and architecture whose imposingly broad range and analytical subtlety helped transform the Western study of Islamic culture, died Saturday at his home in Princeton, N.J. He was 81… – NYT, 1-12-11
  • Kevin Mark Britz, 56, dies of cancer: Center of Southwest Studies Director Kevin Mark Britz died after a yearlong battle with cancer Friday, Jan. 7, 2011, at his home in Durango. He was 56…. – Durango Herald, 1-11-11
  • In Memoriam – Norman Cooke, RIC emeritus professor: Norman H. Cooke of Glocester, associate professor emeritus of history, died at the Philip Hulitar Center on Dec. 26. He was 86. Cooke began at RIC as an assistant professor in 1961, and retired in 1986…. – Rhode Island College, 1-6-11
  • Memorial service set Jan. 8 for history professor emeritus Robert Kingdon: Robert McCune Kingdon, Hilldale Professor of History Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, mentor of generations of Reformation scholars and path-breaking historian of the Reformation, died on Friday, Dec. 3, 2010. He will be missed by many friends, colleagues and students whose lives he touched over the years. He was the preeminent American historian of the French Reformation…. – University of Wisconsin-Madison, 12-27-10
  • Irwin Abrams. professor at Antioch, dies at 96: Irwin M. Abrams, a longtime professor of history at Antioch College, a pioneer in the field of peace research and a global authority on the Nobel Peace Prize, died on Dec. 16 at the Friends Care Center, just a block away from the house on Xenia Avenue where he had lived for almost 60 years. He was 96. Abrams, who had not been ill, had become frail in recent years. He died peacefully, just as he had lived his life, according to his daughter, Carole Morrill, who was his primary caregiver…. – Yellow Spring News, 12-23-10

January 12, 2011: Obama as the Nation’s Consoler / Comforter-In-Chief in Speech at Tucson Shooting Memorial Service, Palin Causes Uproar Invoking the Term ‘Blood Libel’

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

The President & First Lady after his remarks in Tucson

IN FOCUS:

THE HEADLINES….

  • President Obama in Tucson: “The Forces that Divide Us are Not as Strong as Those that Unite Us”: Last night the President spoke to an emotional crowd at a memorial event in Tucson, Arizona. The grief for the victims of the tragic shooting there was overwhelming, but so too was the admiration for the heroes who risked their lives to prevent even greater loss, as well as the hope for the survivors to see full recoveries. The President asked those in the hall and across America to channel their emotions toward the pursuit of a more perfect union, saying that “If this tragedy prompts reflection and debate — as it should — let’s make sure it’s worthy of those we have lost.”… – WH, 1-13-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
  • How Obama’s Tucson Speech Elevated the Political Debate: In Tucson Wednesday night, it sounded like a campaign rally. A memorial service is no place for the cheers and applause. But the noise was perfect. Not because the president’s words were powerful, though they were, but because the scene matched this moment of noisy distractions. The solemnity of the event was interrupted in the same way the period after the shooting has been interrupted by the political debate. The president’s job was to move past both–to get a message out and through the noise so the country could hear. If it can be done, he did it.
    The president memorialized the dead and celebrated the heroes. He could have stopped there. He could have decided not to tarnish their memory with politics. He made another decision, using just enough politics and the power of his office to build a memorial to their lives by calling the rest of us to live up to their example. That they are deserving of our good example. That was the message. He used that expression when talking about our children but it was his request of the country. “What, beyond prayers and expressions of concern, is required of us going forward? How can we honor the fallen? How can we be true to their memory?”… – Slate, CBS News, 1-13-11
  • Obama Calls for New Era of Civility in U.S. Politics: President Obama offered the nation’s condolences to the victims of the Tucson shooting rampage, urging Americans on Wednesday to draw a lesson from the lives of the fallen and the actions of the heroes and usher in a new era of civility in their memory.
    The president, speaking at a memorial service at the University of Arizona on Wednesday evening, eulogized the six people who were killed here on Saturday and asked Americans to pray for the wounded, including Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who the authorities say was the target of an attempted assassination. He sought to elevate his remarks above the politics of the moment, challenging all Americans to take a lesson from the tragedy.
    The memorial service, which was carried on all broadcast and cable television networks, was a largely upbeat celebration to the lives of the fallen. The officials who delivered remarks before the president were interrupted by applause from the audience of 14,000, which included many students. The crowd included retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, a native of Arizona, as well as Senators John McCain and Jon Kyl and Gov. Jan Brewer, all Republicans.
    Mr. Obama spoke after stopping to visit Ms. Giffords in her hospital room. He said he was told that shortly after his visit, Ms. Giffords opened her eyes for the first time…. – NYT, 1-12-11
  • President Obama Calls for Talk That Heals, Not Wounds: President Obama traveled to Tucson Wednesday to help memorialize those who died in Saturday’s shooting rampage, and to honor those who are still struggling with their wounds. He clearly chose to stay above the fray of the partisan commentary that has been flinging across television and computer screens over the last several days, but he didn’t shy away in joining the call for a more civil discourse…. – PBS Newshour, 1-12-11
  • Tucson shootings: Let us heal together, Obama says at memorial event: President Obama comforted a community suffused with grief and summoned the nation to recommit to a more civil public discourse as he delivered a eulogy Wednesday evening urging Americans to talk with each other “in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds.”
    Evoking memories of the six killed here Saturday, Obama seized upon the mass shooting at a congresswoman’s supermarket meet-and-greet to tackle directly the subject of the nation’s harsh political dialogue. He sharply decried the “politics and point-scoring and pettiness that drifts away with the next news cycle.”… – WaPo, 1-12-11
  • Obama urges Americans to unite in tragedy’s wake: At a memorial in Tucson, the president pays tribute to the victims and heroes of the weekend shooting spree. He also reports that Rep. Giffords, whom he visited earlier, opened her eyes for the first time since she was shot… – LAT, 1-12-11
  • Obama honors Arizona victims and heroes: President Obama urged a divided nation Wednesday to come together in memory of six fellow Americans who lost their lives in Saturday’s mass shooting.
    “What we cannot do is use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on one another,” Obama said during a memorial service at the University of Arizona-Tucson. Obama said Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz. — seriously wounded in the attack — opened her eyes for the first time during his visit to the hospital.
    “She knows we’re here, and she knows we love her, and she knows that we will be rooting for her throughout what will be a difficult journey,” Obama said.
    The president spent most of his time talking about the victims but did allude to the political controversy surrounding the shooting…. – USA Today, 1-12-11
  • Glenn Beck praises Obama for Tucson speech. Can partisan pause last?: Some of President Obama’s sharpest critics – from Glenn Beck to Pat Buchanan – spoke positively of his speech at the memorial service in Tucson Wednesday. But the collegial tone will be tested next week with a repeal of health- care reform on the docket.
    Pat Buchanan, who wrote speeches for President Nixon, called it “splendid.” Michael Gerson, chief speechwriter under President George W. Bush, says “it had a good heart.” Fox News panelists Brit Hume, Charles Krauthammer, and Chris Wallace all voiced praise. Some conservatives have suggested that Mr. Obama should have given such a speech sooner after last Saturday’s shooting rampage at Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’s event for constituents.
    And then there’s talk radio host Rush Limbaugh, who suggested a more craven reason for the timing of the speech. He accused Obama of waiting to deliver his message of “civility” until the polling data were in, confirming that most Americans don’t buy a connection between the shooting and heated political rhetoric. But even in his populist conservative manner, he found an indirect way to acknowledge some positives in the speech. “Fox loved it,” Mr. Limbaugh said. “The Fox All Stars, when this was done, were slobbering over the speech. It was predictable. They were slobbering for the predictable reasons – it as smart, it was articulate…. It was everything the educated, ruling class wants their leaders to be and sound like.”… – CS Monitor, 1-13-11
  • Some question pep rally atmosphere at Obama speech: What was billed as a memorial for victims of the Arizona shooting rampage turned into a rollicking rally, leaving some conservative commentators wondering whether President Barack Obama’s speech was a scripted political event. Not so, insisted the White House and host University of Arizona.
    Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs said Thursday he and other aides didn’t expect the president’s remarks at the school’s basketball arena to receive as much rousing applause as it did. Gibbs said the crowd’s response, at times cheering and shouting, was understandable.
    “I think part of the grieving process is celebrating the lives of those that were lost, and celebrating the miracles of those that survived,” he said. The university said it did the planning with minimal input from the White House. The school paid for the event, including $60,000 for 10,000 T-shirts bearing the words “Together We Thrive,” which were handed out for free. The money will not come student tuition, fees or tax dollars…. – AP, 1-13-11
  • President Obama to Lead Nation in Mourning at Memorial Service: President Obama was poised Wednesday to honor the victims and heroes of the Arizona shooting rampage at a memorial service in Tucson. Nearly 30,000 people gathered at the University of Arizona’s football stadium, the McKale Memorial Center, for the nighttime service, including Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, and former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.
    One of the first speakers at the service was Daniel Hernandez Jr., an intern for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords who has been called a hero for applying pressure to the Arizona Democrat’s wound after she was shot in the head. He delivered a brief but spirited speech in which he said he wasn’t a hero but rather the first responders to the attack and surgeons who saved Giffords’ life.
    “The one thing we have learned from this great tragedy is we have come together,” he said. “On Saturday we all became Tucsonians. On Saturday, we all became Arizonans. And above all, we all became Americans.”
    The crowd in the main venue warmed up with a number of live performances, though “Amazing Grace” was almost drowned out by cheers as the surgeons treating the victims of the massacre were escorted to their seats…. – Fox News, 1-12-11
  • Obama’s role at Tucson memorial service tonight: healer-in-chief: At Tucson memorial service Wednesday, Obama shoulders the duty of trying help a shaken nation heal. After the apparent targeting of a US congresswoman, what will he say? What should he say?
    President Obama on Wednesday travels to Tucson, Ariz., to shoulder a sad responsibility: serving as healer-in-chief of the United States.
    It is a responsibility that too many of his predecessors had to shoulder during their own terms. When assassins strike, or a space shuttle explodes, or terrorists attack the nation, voters look to the White House to honor the victims of the tragedy and to try to explain how strength can be drawn from grief.
    Now it is Mr. Obama’s turn as he speaks Wednesday night from the city where a mass shooting left six dead, a congresswoman gravely injured, and the nation shaken.
    “Every person in the city of Tucson – and I trust in the state and the nation – recognizes the importance of the president of the United States coming to help us pray and heal from this [terrible] tragedy,” said Tucson Mayor Bob Walkup on Wednesday…. – CS Monitor, 1-12-11
  • Palin Joins Debate on Heated Speech With Words That Stir New Controversy: Sarah Palin broke her silence on Wednesday and delivered a forceful denunciation of her critics in a video message about the Arizona shootings, accusing commentators and journalists of “blood libel” in a frenzied rush to blame heated political speech for the violence.
    As she sought to defend herself and seize control of a debate that has been boiling for days, Ms. Palin awakened a new controversy by invoking a phrase fraught with religious symbolism about the false accusation used by anti- Semites of Jews murdering Christian children. It was unclear whether Ms. Palin was aware of the historical meaning of the phrase.
    “Acts of monstrous criminality stand on their own,” Ms. Palin said. “Especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence that they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible.”
    The video from Ms. Palin, running nearly eight minutes, was recorded in her home television studio in Alaska and released early Wednesday morning. Her words dominated the political landscape for nearly 12 hours before President Obama arrived in Tucson to speak at a memorial service honoring the six dead and 14 injured in the shootings…. – NYT, 1-12-11
  • Palin Calls Criticism ‘Blood Libel’: The term blood libel is generally used to mean the false accusation that Jews murder Christian children to use their blood in religious rituals, in particular the baking of matzos for passover. That false claim was circulated for centuries to incite anti-Semitism and justify violent pogroms against Jews. Ms. Palin’s use of the phrase in her video, which helped make it rapidly go viral, is itself attracting criticism, not least because Ms. Giffords, who remains in critical condition in a Tucson hospital, is Jewish. Reaction to Ms. Palin’s video was swift… – NYT, 1-12-11
  • Palin’s ‘blood libel’ remark overwhelms message: It was a well-crafted message preaching unity — and mined with a “blood libel” that blew it all apart. Sarah Palin’s video message Wednesday, her first substantial commentary since Saturday’s shooting in Tucson that critically injured Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and killed six others, at first appeared to succeed in reconciling two American precepts that have seemed irreconcilable in recent days: a common purpose and a rough- and-tumble political culture….
    The question, said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, a communications expert at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School, was whether using a charged term like blood libel reinforced Palin’s legitimate argument at the unfair targeting of the right wing in the days after the shooting – or whether using the term undercuts the point. “It distracts from her argument, which is thoughtful,” Jamieson told JTA. “If you are trying to get an audience to rethink, you don’t inject this particular historic analogy.”… – JTA, 1-13-11
  • Palin slammed for using ‘blood libel’ term: Sarah Palin’s use of the term “blood libel” to decry blaming conservatives for the Arizona shooting has raised the ire of some in the Jewish community…. – JTA, 1-12-11
  • Sarah Palin’s ‘blood libel’ claim stirs controversy: Sarah Palin’s newest Facebook page video scolds critics who say her high-firepower rhetoric could have contributed to Saturday’s Arizona shooting rampage. But her use of an emotionally-charged phrase has spawned a controversy all its own.
    Palin called herself the victim of “blood libel” — the original term for blaming Jews for the death of Jesus and an anti-Semitic rallying call that led to countless deaths of Jews, primarily in Europe and Russia.
    Many rabbis called her remarks insensitive, ill-chosen and offensive to Holocaust survivors and other victims of anti-Semitism. Palin’s new video “was like waving a red flag,” said Rabbi David Sapperstein, executive director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. “It concerns us. It escalates the intensity of the rhetoric, rather than calming it down. It seems to me she’s missed an opportunity at real leadership.”
    Palin aide Rebecca Mansour said the former Alaska governor stands by her video. “There has been an incredible increase in death threats against Gov. Palin since the tragedy in Arizona, since she’s been accused of having the blood of those victims on her hands,” Mansour said. “When you start to accuse people of having the blood of innocent people on their hands, it incites violence.”… – USA Today, 1-12-11
  • ‘Blood libel’ has particular, painful meaning to Jewish people: The phrase used by Sarah Palin against her detractors usually refers to the false accusations made for centuries against Jews, often to malign them as child killers — and sometimes leading to massacres of their communities.
    In saying her critics “manufactured a blood libel,” Sarah Palin deployed a phrase linked to the false accusations made for centuries against Jews, often to malign them as child killers who coveted the blood of Christian children.
    Blood libel has been a central fable of anti-Semitism in which Jews have been accused of using the blood of gentile children for medicinal purposes or to mix in with matzo, the unleavened bread traditionally eaten at Passover. The spreading of the blood libel dates to the Middle Ages — and perhaps further — and those allegations have led to massacres of Jewish communities for just as long.
    The term blood libel carries particular power in the Jewish community, though it has taken on other shades of meaning. Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said Wednesday that “while the term blood libel has become part of the English parlance to refer to someone being falsely accused, we wish that Palin had used another phrase, instead of one so fraught with pain in Jewish history.” LAT, 1-12-11
  • Sarah Palin’s charge of ‘blood libel’ spurs outcry from Jewish leaders: Sarah Palin’s remarks Wednesday in which she accused critics who would tie her political tone to the Arizona shootings of committing a “blood libel” against her have prompted an instant and pronounced backlash from some in America’s Jewish community. The term dates to the Middle Ages and refers to a prejudice that Jewish people used Christian blood in religious rituals…. – LAT, 1-12-11
  • Palin death threats rise to unprecedented levels: Death threats to former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin have increased to unprecedented levels in the wake of Saturday’s shooting in Tucson, an aide tells ABC News…. – The Daily Caller, 1-13-11
  • Krauthammer on debating Palin’s use of ‘blood libel’: ‘Have we completely lost our minds?’: It has been over four days since a shooting in Tucson that claimed six lives and injured 14, including Arizona Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. However, one of the dominating themes of the day is a debate over former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s response. On Fox News Channel’s Wednesday broadcast of “Special Report with Bret Baier,” syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer questioned the sanity of this debate, which involved Palin accusing “journalists and pundits” of manufacturing “a blood libel.”
    “[T]he fact is that even the ADL, the Anti-Defamation League in expressing a mild rebuke to Palin for using this admitted itself in its statement that the term ‘blood libel’ has become part of English parlance to refer to someone falsely accused,” Krauthammer said. “Let’s step back for a second. Here we have a brilliant, intelligent, articulate, beautiful, wife, mother and congresswoman fighting for her life, in a hospital in Tucson, and we’re having a national debate over whether the term ‘blood libel’ can be used appropriately in a non-Jewish context? Have we completely lost our minds?”… – Daily Caller, 1-13-11

112TH CONGRESS

 

 

  • John Boehner, House speaker, picks RNC cocktail party over Tucson, Arizona shooting memorial: House Speaker John Boehner is taking heat from some Democrats after skipping out on Wednesday’s memorial service for the shooting victims in Arizona and instead hosting a cocktail party for the Republican National Committee. The Ohio Republican turned down President Obama’s invitation to travel on Air Force One to Tucson, Politico reported.
    “It is disrespectful for Speaker Boehner to skip joining the President’s and bipartisan congressional delegation to the Tucson Memorial so he could host a Washington D.C. cocktail party for RNC members,” a Democratic leadership aide told the political website.
    But the reception was billed as a chance for the Boehner to meet with RNC delegates in his new role as House leader. “Yesterday, Rep. Giffords’ colleagues on both sides of the aisle honored her and mourned those who were lost,” Michael Steel, a spokesman for Boehner told the Daily News. “The Speaker felt his place was here in the House, with them,” He added that Boehner left his RNC event before Obama spoke in Arizona and watched the President’s speech…. – NY Daily News, 1-13-11
  • Arizona shootings won’t isolate lawmakers, John Boehner tells House: As the House prepares to pass a resolution honoring the Tucson shooting victims — including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords — Speaker John Boehner says the attack won’t stop members from ‘being among the people we serve.’… – LAT, 1-12-11
  • House tribute to Giffords: ‘Violence cannot silence’: House Speaker John Boehner has formally introduced a resolution paying tribute to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords that “condemns in the strongest possible terms” the Arizona shooting spree that left her gravely wounded and six others dead. The four-page resolution is simply written, with sections honoring Giffords, each of the deceased, the wounded, and people such as Giffords intern Daniel Hernandez and event attendee Patricia Maisch who tried to save lives and apprehend the shooter.
    The resolution offers the condolences of the House and reaffirms the belief of lawmakers “in a democracy in which all can participate and in which intimidation and threats of violence cannot silence the voices of any American.” The first of the deceased recognized in the “whereas” clauses is Christina-Taylor Green, the youngest of those slain. The 9-year-old girl and her life story have captured the nation’s attention. As the House resolution states, Christina was at Giffords’ “Congress on your Corner” event on Saturday because she had “an avid interest in government.”
    Boehner will gavel the House to order on Wednesday and then open four to six hours of debate on the resolution. A bipartisan prayer service honoring Giffords and the Arizona shooting victims will be held at 1 p.m. ET…. – USA Today, 1-11-11
  • House Resolution Honors Heroes, Victims of Tucson Tragedy:
    112TH CONGRESS
    1ST SESSION H. RES. ___
    Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives with respect to the tragic shooting in Tucson, Arizona, on January 8, 2011.
    IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
    Mr. BOEHNER submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on lll
    RESOLUTION
    Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives with respect to the tragic shooting in Tucson, Arizona, on January 8, 2011.
    Whereas on January 8, 2011, an armed gunman opened fire at a “Congress on your Corner” event hosted by Representative Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Arizona, killing and wounding at least 14 others…. – ABC, 1-11-11

QUOTES

https://i0.wp.com/newshour.s3.amazonaws.com/photos/2011/01/12/108011528_homepage_lede.jpg

 

  • Text Obama’s Remarks in Tucson: Following is a text of President Obama’s prepared address on Wednesday to honor those killed and wounded in a shooting on Jan. 8, as released by the White House….
    But at a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized – at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do – it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.
    Scripture tells us that there is evil in the world, and that terrible things happen for reasons that defy human understanding. In the words of Job, “when I looked for light, then came darkness.” Bad things happen, and we must guard against simple explanations in the aftermath.
    For the truth is that none of us can know exactly what triggered this vicious attack. None of us can know with any certainty what might have stopped those shots from being fired, or what thoughts lurked in the inner recesses of a violent man’s mind.
    So yes, we must examine all the facts behind this tragedy. We cannot and will not be passive in the face of such violence. We should be willing to challenge old assumptions in order to lessen the prospects of violence in the future….
    That process of reflection, of making sure we align our values with our actions – that, I believe, is what a tragedy like this requires. For those who were harmed, those who were killed – they are part of our family, an American family 300 million strong. We may not have known them personally, but we surely see ourselves in them. In George and Dot, in Dorwan and Mavy, we sense the abiding love we have for our own husbands, our own wives, our own life partners. Phyllis – she’s our mom or grandma; Gabe our brother or son. In Judge Roll, we recognize not only a man who prized his family and doing his job well, but also a man who embodied America’s fidelity to the law. In Gabby, we see a reflection of our public spiritedness, that desire to participate in that sometimes frustrating, sometimes contentious, but always necessary and never-ending process to form a more perfect union.
    And in Christina…in Christina we see all of our children. So curious, so trusting, so energetic and full of magic. So deserving of our love.
    And so deserving of our good example. If this tragedy prompts reflection and debate, as it should, let’s make sure it’s worthy of those we have lost. Let’s make sure it’s not on the usual plane of politics and point scoring and pettiness that drifts away with the next news cycle…. – NYT, 1-12-11
  • Michelle Obama: An Open Letter to Parents Following the Tragedy in Tucson: Dear parents, Like so many Americans all across the country, Barack and I were shocked and heartbroken by the horrific act of violence committed in Arizona this past weekend. Yesterday, we had the chance to attend a memorial service and meet with some of the families of those who lost their lives, and both of us were deeply moved by their strength and resilience in the face of such unspeakable tragedy….
    And that’s something else we can do for our children – we can tell them about Christina and about how much she wanted to give back. We can tell them about John Roll, a judge with a reputation for fairness; about Dorothy Morris, a devoted wife to her husband, her high school sweetheart, to whom she’d been married for 55 years; about Phyllis Schneck, a great-grandmother who sewed aprons for church fundraisers; about Dorwan Stoddard, a retired construction worker who helped neighbors down on their luck; and about Gabe Zimmerman, who did community outreach for Congresswoman Giffords, working tirelessly to help folks who were struggling, and was engaged to be married next year. We can tell them about the brave men and women who risked their lives that day to save others. And we can work together to honor their legacy by following their example – by embracing our fellow citizens; by standing up for what we believe is right; and by doing our part, however we can, to serve our communities and our country. – WH, 1-13-11
  • Sarah Palin: America’s Enduring Strength: ….The last election was all about taking responsibility for our country’s future. President Obama and I may not agree on everything, but I know he would join me in affirming the health of our democratic process. Two years ago his party was victorious. Last November, the other party won. In both elections the will of the American people was heard, and the peaceful transition of power proved yet again the enduring strength of our Republic.
    Vigorous and spirited public debates during elections are among our most cherished traditions. And after the election, we shake hands and get back to work, and often both sides find common ground back in D.C. and elsewhere. If you don’t like a person’s vision for the country, you’re free to debate that vision. If you don’t like their ideas, you’re free to propose better ideas. But, especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible.
    There are those who claim political rhetoric is to blame for the despicable act of this deranged, apparently apolitical criminal. And they claim political debate has somehow gotten more heated just recently. But when was it less heated? Back in those “calm days” when political figures literally settled their differences with dueling pistols? In an ideal world all discourse would be civil and all disagreements cordial. But our Founding Fathers knew they weren’t designing a system for perfect men and women. If men and women were angels, there would be no need for government. Our Founders’ genius was to design a system that helped settle the inevitable conflicts caused by our imperfect passions in civil ways. So, we must condemn violence if our Republic is to endure…. – Sarah Palin on Facebook, 1-12-11Video
  • The Anti-Defamation League issued a statement that, in part, came to Ms. Palin’s defense, Abraham Foxman, the group’s national director, said in a statement: “It was inappropriate at the outset to blame Sarah Palin and others for causing this tragedy or for being an accessory to murder, Palin has every right to defend herself against these kinds of attacks.” But Mr. Foxman added that “we wish that Palin had not invoked the phrase ‘blood-libel.'” He called it a phrase “fraught with pain in Jewish history.” – NYT, 1-12-11
  • Benyamin Korn, Director Jewish Americans for Sarah Palin: “Sarah Palin got it right, and we Jews, of all people, should know a blood libel when we see one. Falsely accusing someone of shedding blood is a blood libel, whether it’s medieval Christians accusing Jews of baking blood in Passover matzahs, or contemporary Muslim extremists accusing Israel of slaughtering Arabs to harvest their organs, or political partisans blaming conservative political figures and talk show hosts for the Tucson massacre.”
  • David Harris, president of the National Democratic Jewish Council, in a statement: “Instead of dialing down the rhetoric at this difficult moment, Sarah Palin chose to accuse others trying to sort out the meaning of this tragedy of somehow engaging in a ‘blood libel’ against her and others. This is of course a particularly heinous term for American Jews, given that the repeated fiction of blood libels are directly responsible for the murder of so many Jews across centuries — and given that blood libels are so directly intertwined with deeply ingrained anti-Semitism around the globe, even today.”
  • Simon Greer, president of Jewish Funds for Justice: “The term ‘blood libel’ is not a synonym for ‘false accusation,’ It refers to a specific falsehood perpetuated by Christians about Jews for centuries, a falsehood that motivated a good deal of anti-Jewish violence and discrimination. Unless someone has been accusing Ms. Palin of killing Christian babies and making matzoh from their blood, her use of the term is totally out of line.”
  • Benyamin Korn: Op-Ed: Blame real inciters, not Palin and Tea Parties: Extreme rhetoric can inspire extreme behavior, even violence. But there isn’t a shred of evidence that anything that anyone on the political right — or left — said or wrote inspired Jared Lee Loughner to launch his deadly rampage in Arizona…. – JTA, 1-13-11
  • Noam Neusner, a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush in Pundit Wire: “The term ‘blood libel’ is so unique, and so tinged with the context of anti-Semitism, that its use in this case — even when Ms. Palin has a legitimate gripe — is either cynically calculated to stimulate media interest or historically illiterate. It is therefore distracting to Ms. Palin’s underlying message, which is one of sympathy for the victims and outrage that she and others are being accused of inspiring a mass murderer.”

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Historian Douglas Brinkley says Tucson will be a place in ‘history like a Selma or Birmingham in the 1960s’: As the shock wanes from the aftermath of Saturday’s Tucson tragedy, how might this event be remembered historically? According to noted historian Douglas Brinkley, a fellow at the Baker Institute and a professor of history at Rice University, it will rank up there with one of the bloodiest times in U.S. history, the Civil Rights Era in Alabama, including the September 15, 1963 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham and the March 7, 1965 “Bloody Sunday” march in Selma.
    “Well you know Tucson now is one of these places people are going to talk about in history like a Selma or Birmingham in the 1960s,” Brinkley said. “It seems like a war zone spot and if you go to Selma or Birmingham today, they cope with that past. They have museums and memorials. This is the beginning of the healing for that community of Tucson and it’s very significant that President Obama’s coming, and hugging people, talking to people – making them know he feels the pain of the entire community and the nation.”… – The Daily Caller, 1-13-11
  • Obama Offers Words of Comfort at Arizona Shooting Memorial: This is a moment in which he speaks for the country as a whole, and when the rhetoric succeeds, we, as a country, feel a sense of renewal; the moment of destruction is translated into a moment of recommitment to our basic democratic ideals. — Kathleen Hall Jamieson
    Edward Widmer, a former speech writer for President Bill Clinton, and a historian at Brown University; and Kathleen Hall Jamieson, a professor of communication at the Annenberg School for Communication, tell us how Obama goes about writing and delivering such an important speech…. – The Take Away, 1-12-11Mp3 Download
  • In Times of Tragedy, Presidents Often Called on as ‘Comforters-In-Chief’: President Obama’s address in Tucson will echo a broader role presidents must play as leaders of national mourning. Jim Lehrer looks back on presidential responses to national crises with historian Michael Beschloss and Ellen Fitzpatrick, professor of history at the University of New Hampshire. – PBS Newshour, 1-12-11Mp3
  • ELLEN FITZPATRICK, professor, University of New Hampshire: I think it’s true in the sense of various kinds of national tragedies like the explosion of the Challenger, one example, of course, an obvious one. But, in acts of political violence, there’s an interesting history to this. In 1935, when Senator Huey Long was assassinated, President Roosevelt issued a two-sentence statement upon that occasion, saying that he deeply regretted this attack on Long and that violence was un-American.
    But, in 1968, when Senator Robert Kennedy was assassinated in Los Angeles in the midst of a presidential campaign, President Johnson gave a national address in which he decried the climate of violence, the rhetoric of extremism in the country. He called for Congress to enact gun control laws. And it was really, actually, quite a powerful speech. It was a different speech in many ways, which I think are more common in recent years, in which the themes really are of the nation speaking through its president its condolences to the victims and trying to bring the country together in this moment of national mourning.
    And today, of course, the newspapers were filled with discussions of what President Obama would say. So, there’s a greatly heightened attention to the president in his role as the chief executive of our country, as in some sense the person who we look to for moral leadership at a moment like this.
    These tragedies, unfortunately, have happened all across our country. But for the people that live locally and experience them very — very immediately, there’s a kind of visceral response and a worry that their — the place that they live will be associated, as if somehow violence and irrationality and this horrific attack would be something that would be restricted to one place, and not symptomatic of some sort of deeper problem. One of the interesting themes in the presidential addresses on these occasions is that they try to personalize the victims of these tragedies very often to make them real people, and so that everyone will understand the nature of the loss that is sustained in these mass murder events. Presidents very often have done that. And they often reach out to children who, tragically, have been so deeply impacted by these events, in this case, a young — young child losing her life.
  • MICHAEL BESCHLOSS: But, you know, mthe founders said one of the jobs of a president is head of state. That’s a unifying function. Another part of it is prime minister, essentially, which is divisive. And, so, especially in the wake of an election loss like Barack Obama’s, it’s a moment that he can show that he can do a very good job of unifying the country in explaining what has happened. And there’s the echo — you had it in your report — Bill Clinton in 1995. He had lost both houses of Congress. Many people were saying, was he relevant? He gave a very moving speech that caused people to think, maybe there’s more to Clinton than I thought.
    Well, one of them is, you don’t shoot members of Congress. And anyone who doesn’t agree with that doesn’t deserve to be in this country at all. So, there really are. And the sweet thing is that we’re living in this poisonous time. There’s so much conflict. Everyone seems to be cynical. There’s still something in Americans that causes them, even if it’s a president they didn’t vote for, to listen to what a president says and say, how does he see this? What is he going to tell us about what this means?
  • Gil Troy: The Political Fight after the Arizona Gunfight: Right Target, Wrong Trigger: The Tucson, Arizona, rampage left Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords critically wounded, six citizens dead, and millions of Americans jumping to the right conclusions for the wrong reasons. Yes, we need more civility in our politics. But no, we should not use one crazy gunman’s random fixations and horrific violence to trigger the kind of reform modern political culture needs.
    I confess, having written in 2008 Leading from the Center: Why Moderates Make the Best Presidents, calling for centrism and civility, I am tempted to flow with the conventional wisdom this time. Right after this mass shooting at one of Gifford’s “Congress on Your Corner” citizen meet-and-greets, preaching pundits began blaming the vitriol in general, and Republicans in particular. The fact that Sarah Palin’s website featured Giffords’s district in crosshairs in in 2010, supposedly symbolized everything wrong with politics today….
    Recently, in Tucson, Arizona, a sweet nine-year-old girl named Christina Taylor Green was elected to her student council. Born on September 11, 2001, Christina was always a particularly welcome symbol of hope to her friends and family. Last Saturday, a neighbor invited Christina to meet Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and “see how democracy works.” Christina ended up murdered, shot in the chest.
    We should cultivate a politics of civility, not because of the insane murderer but because we all want to show “how democracy works,” in Christina’s memory, to honor Gabrille Giffords’ lifework, and for our common good… – 1-11-11
  • Julian E. Zelizer: Extremism is a vice, not a virtue: …The shooting may have been the result of mental illness without any connection to recent political debates. But, given the political climate, it has immediately stimulated debate about the dangers of extremism in American politics.
    In an age that has fueled all sorts of extremist organizations and writers — facilitated by the ease of reaching an audience over the internet — the major political parties need to take extremely strong stands against fringe organizations that promote violence or use incendiary rhetoric to target opponents.
    Extremist organizations have always existed in American politics, but the internet is now giving them an easy forum to reach national audiences quickly…. – CNN, 1-12-11

Arizona Shootings & Gabrielle Giffords Assassination Attempt — A Nation Reacts

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

IN FOCUS:

  • TIMELINE-Tucson shooting rampage as it unfolded: Here is a timeline of events leading up to the January 8 shooting rampage in Tucson, when a college dropout sprayed a crowd with semi-automatic fire killing six people and wounding 13 including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Police arrested suspect Jared Lee Loughner who was charged in a federal court Monday on five counts including the attempted assassination of Giffords, who remains in critical condition in hospital. Reuters, 1-14-11

    THE HEADLINES….

    The President & First Lady after his remarks in Tucson
    • From Bloody Scene to E.R., Life-Saving Choices in Tucson NYT, 1-14-11
    • Gabrielle Giffords’ breathing tube might be removed Saturday: Doctors in Tucson say that if they are able to remove Gabrielle Giffords’ breathing tube, they’ll be able to assess how well she is able to talk. Physicians at University Medical Center may try to remove Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ breathing tube on Saturday, the next major hurdle in her recovery, Dr. Peter Rhee said Friday morning in Tucson. Doing so will finally allow them to assess how well she is able to talk after being shot in the head last Saturday morning in the mass shooting outside a Safeway. Her recovery continues to amaze the doctors who have been treating her. “We couldn’t have hoped for any better improvement than we are seeing now given the severity of her injury,” said Dr. Michael Lemole, a neurosurgeon who has been a key member of the team treating her. During the week, Giffords has passed a number of milestones, including moving her hands and arms, opening her eyes, responding to commands, sitting up in bed and lifting her legs. The medical team stopped placing her in the medically induced coma on Thursday and planned to have her start sitting in a chair for brief periods on Friday…. – LAT, 1-14-11
    • Giffords’ doctors balancing role as rock stars: One is an irrepressible South Korea native who has treated some of the most horrific wartime injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan. The other is a reserved neurosurgeon who happens to be the brother-in-law of television show host Dr. Oz. Together, they have stood in their white lab coats before a gaggle of TV cameras every morning to update the nation about their highest-profile patient to date: Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was critically wounded after being shot point-blank in the head last weekend. It’s a role both are still getting used to. Veteran trauma surgeon Dr. Peter Rhee is boisterous, using phrases like “101 percent” survival to describe Giffords’ prognosis. His willingness to share day-to-day details about her progress and his joking demeanor is a draw to those tuning in for the latest signs of improvement. The yin to Rhee’s yang, neurosurgeon Dr. Michael Lemole is more measured. He speaks of Giffords’ recovery with caveats and has declined to speculate on the one question everyone wants to know: what her life might look like down the road. AP, 1-14-11
    • Tucson bishop buries a close friend: Judge John Roll, a Catholic who had just left Mass when he was fatally shot last week, was buried Friday. ‘A lot of emotion,’ says Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas, who performed the service…. – LAT, 1-14-11
    • Police describe accused Arizona gunman’s night: Jared Lee Loughner, charged with killing six people and trying to assassinate a U.S. congresswoman in Arizona, checked into a motel, bought bullets and had photographs developed on the night before the shooting, police said on Friday. The New York Times said the roll of film had “multiple photos” of the 22-year-old college dropout posing in red G-string underwear with a Glock semi-automatic pistol. FBI sources told Reuters they could neither confirm nor deny the report…. – Reuters, 1-14-11
    • Loughner video with ‘genocide’ and ‘torture’ ramblings is released: The YouTube video, which is no longer on the website, prompted the suspension of the Tucson shooting suspect from Pima Community College last year…. – LAT, 1-14-11
    • Loughner’s ‘Dark Personality’ Eluded Scrutineers in Mental Health System: Jared Loughner’s behavior often caught the attention of those around him in the years before he was accused of a mass shooting in Arizona. It took a massacre to raise the question of why no one intervened… “Why didn’t they make sure the mental health system knew about him?” Ira Burnim, legal director of the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law in Washington, said of the community college Loughner attended, where complaints were filed. Authorities are now scrutinizing Loughner’s past for clues about what led to the attack that killed six and wounded 13, including U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who authorities believe was the target and remains in critical condition after being shot in the head…. – Bloomberg, 1-14-11
    • Tucson says farewell to youngest shooting victim: Hundreds of people gathered to say farewell on Thursday to a bright 9-year-old who loved to dance and play baseball, but was gunned down when she went to learn about politics from her congresswoman. Christina Green was the youngest victim of a shooting spree last Saturday that claimed six lives and left Rep. Gabrielle Giffords battling for her life. Her funeral was the first to be held.
      Hundreds of mourners including a group of leather-clad bikers and several of Christina’s classmates began lining both sides of the road outside St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church ahead of her funeral at 1 p.m.. A church bell signaling noon broke the quiet as mourners waited for the service. Family members escorted the small wooden coffin into the church in silence for the service, which was closed to the news media. They filed out to the solemn strains of a piper…. – Reuters, 1-13-11
    • Christina Green’s Short Life Had a Big Impact A Nation Mourns the Death of an Ambitious 9-Year-Old Who Loved Her Country and Baseball: The nine-year-old girl who was born on Sept. 11, 2001 was carried to her funeral beneath a flag that survived the attack that day on the World Trade Center — a symbol of both tragedy and resilience. The service for Christina Green was private, but in death she’s become a public figure. “In Christina we see all of our children,” said President Barack Obama as he spoke at a memorial service for the Ariz. shooting victims on Jan. 12…. – CBS News, 1-13-11
    • Giffords’s Condition Still Improving: Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, recovering from a gunshot wound to the head, is opening both eyes, moving her arms and legs, and undergoing intense physical therapy, her doctors said Thursday. Doctors at the University Medical Center in Tucson said the congresswoman was rubbing her eyes and yawning, and that her eyes could also track people’s movements—a sign that she could see.
      “This is a major leap forward,” said G. Michael Lemole, chief of neurosurgery at the University Medical Center in Tucson. “This is a major milestone for her, and we are hoping she crosses through many more.”… – WSJ, 1-13-11
    • Silence greets calls for changes in gun laws: Most lawmakers are greeting calls for tougher gun restrictions after the Arizona shootings with silence, reflecting the tilt in recent years toward expanding access to firearms rather than curtailing it. The White House, too, is sidestepping questions on an issue that is among the most toxic in U.S. politics. So far, proposed legislation has focused on prohibiting magazine clips that allow a shooter to fire off numerous rounds of ammunition without reloading. The shooter in Tucson, using a Glock semiautomatic pistol with a 33-round magazine, shot 19 people, six fatally. One of the wounded was a member of Congress, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., now in critical condition…. – AP, 1-13-11
    • 911 tapes log harrowing chronicle of Tucson shootings: A calm male voice surrounded by haunting cries of pain tells a 911 dispatcher of multiple shooting victims outside a Tucson supermarket and of wounds to Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
      “There was a shooting at Safeway at Ina and Oracle where Gabrielle Giffords was, I do believe Gaby Giffords was hit,” the male voice says, with almost animal cries and groans of pain in the background.
      “At the Safeway sir? … Was somebody shot there sir?”
      “It looks like a guy had a semi-automatic pistol, and he went in, he just started firing and then he ran,” said the unidentified male voice, adding that the Congresswoman was “hit.”
      “She’s hit, she’s breathing, she still got a pulse … we got one dead… there’s multiple shot.”
      Responder: “Oh my God.”
      The emergency calls, partially redacted, were released by the Pima County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday, and tell a raw, harrowing chronicle of the bloody events as reported by the witnesses at the scene. Reuters, 1-13-11
    • Arizona shooting survivors may face emotional trauma: Doctors say the physical wounds of the mass shooting, in which six people died and 13 were wounded, are healing, but many of the survivors face a long recovery from the emotional trauma. “As far as putting things back together from a surgical point of view, that’s all been done very well,” says Peter Rhee, trauma chief at University Medical Center. “But we’ve got to bring them back as a whole human being. That’s what we try to concentrate on in a trauma center. More than if you’re just alive or dead.” Hospital psychiatrists and social workers experienced in treating emotional issues, post-traumatic stress and depression are stepping in, Rhee says…. – USA Today, 1-13-11
    • College’s Policy on Students Raises Questions: Many people had a glimpse of the deep delusions and festering anger of Jared L. Loughner, but none seemed in a better position to connect the dots than officials at Pima Community College. How should colleges handle emotionally disturbed students, given their limited budgets and resources? After the release of detailed reports the college kept of Mr. Loughner’s bizarre outbursts and violent Internet fantasies, the focus has turned to whether it did all it could to prevent his apparent descent into explosive violence. In September, Pima suspended Mr. Loughner and told him not to return without a psychologist’s letter certifying that he posed no danger. But it took no steps to mandate that he have a psychiatric evaluation, which in Arizona is easier than in many states. Pima, a low-cost commuter school with 68,400 students, is typical of community colleges in having no mental health center of its own. At residential colleges, the centers can make it easier to connect needy students to psychologists…. – NYT, 1-13-11
    • President Obama in Tucson: “The Forces that Divide Us are Not as Strong as Those that Unite Us”: Last night the President spoke to an emotional crowd at a memorial event in Tucson, Arizona. The grief for the victims of the tragic shooting there was overwhelming, but so too was the admiration for the heroes who risked their lives to prevent even greater loss, as well as the hope for the survivors to see full recoveries. The President asked those in the hall and across America to channel their emotions toward the pursuit of a more perfect union, saying that “If this tragedy prompts reflection and debate — as it should — let’s make sure it’s worthy of those we have lost.”… – WH, 1-13-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
    • Obama Calls for New Era of Civility in U.S. Politics: President Obama offered the nation’s condolences to the victims of the Tucson shooting rampage, urging Americans on Wednesday to draw a lesson from the lives of the fallen and the actions of the heroes and usher in a new era of civility in their memory.
      The president, speaking at a memorial service at the University of Arizona on Wednesday evening, eulogized the six people who were killed here on Saturday and asked Americans to pray for the wounded, including Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who the authorities say was the target of an attempted assassination. He sought to elevate his remarks above the politics of the moment, challenging all Americans to take a lesson from the tragedy.
      The memorial service, which was carried on all broadcast and cable television networks, was a largely upbeat celebration to the lives of the fallen. The officials who delivered remarks before the president were interrupted by applause from the audience of 14,000, which included many students. The crowd included retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, a native of Arizona, as well as Senators John McCain and Jon Kyl and Gov. Jan Brewer, all Republicans.
      Mr. Obama spoke after stopping to visit Ms. Giffords in her hospital room. He said he was told that shortly after his visit, Ms. Giffords opened her eyes for the first time…. – NYT, 1-12-11
    • President Obama Calls for Talk That Heals, Not Wounds: President Obama traveled to Tucson Wednesday to help memorialize those who died in Saturday’s shooting rampage, and to honor those who are still struggling with their wounds. He clearly chose to stay above the fray of the partisan commentary that has been flinging across television and computer screens over the last several days, but he didn’t shy away in joining the call for a more civil discourse…. – PBS Newshour, 1-12-11

    The President & First Lady observe a moment of silence

    • Blood libel comment by Sarah Palin sparkes rebuke from Dems, Sen. Gillibrand: ‘This is unhelpful’: Far from backing down, Sarah Palin defended herself today against critics who linked her rhetoric to the Arizona shootings, accusing them of the long-condemned anti-Semitic slur “blood libel.” Palin opponents noted soon after the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) that left six people dead that Palin had posted a map on her website last fall with gun sights on 20 districts, including Giffords’. She announced it with a tweet: “Don’t Retreat, Instead – RELOAD!”
      In her defense, Palin argues that she merely used a map of swing states, just like political operations on both sides of the aisle. Her spokeswoman earler said the targets were actually surveyors’ marks. While she absolved herself, she slammed her critics, linking them to the ancient anti-Semitic charge that Jews mix the blood of gentiles in matzoh.
      “Within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible,” Palin said.
      But her evocation of the slur on Jews in connection with the shooting of Arizona’s first Jewish representative did not sit well with many.
      “This is unhelpful,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) before boarding Air Force 1 with President Obama on his way to Tucson to call for healing. “As leaders, we have to use language that brings people together, not more vitriol that divides us.”
      “Instead of dialing down the rhetoric at this difficult moment, Sarah Palin chose to accuse others trying to sort out the meaning of this tragedy of somehow engaging in a ‘blood libel’ against her and others,” said David Harris, president of the National Jewish Democratic Council. “This is of course a particularly heinous term for American Jews, given that the repeated fiction of blood libels are directly responsible for the murder of so many Jews across centuries — and given that blood libels are so directly intertwined with deeply ingrained anti-Semitism around the globe, even today.”… – NY Daily News, 1-12-11
    • Giffords Staffers Keep Working Amid Grief: Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’s district office here at the corner of North Swan Road and East Pima Street opened for business at 8 a.m. Monday, as usual. But the days since Ms. Giffords and three members of her staff were shot—one was killed—have been anything but normal for the employees at the Arizona Democrat’s office, where a shrine of candles, flowers, balloons and posters sprawls out in front…. – WSJ, 1-12-11
    • Cop stopped Jared Lee Loughner hours before he shot Giffords, others in Tucson massacre: An Arizona wildlife officer pulled over Jared Lee Loughner hours before the unstable loner shot Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 19 others, officials said Wednesday. Loughner, 22, was stopped after he ran a red light at 7:30 a.m. Saturday, but he was let go with just a warning, officials said. The unidentified officer from the Arizona Game and Fish Department took Loughner’s driver’s license and car registration, but found no outstanding warrants on him – or his vehicle. “He was warned and released because we had no probable cause to hold, or do an extensive search,” said Game and Parks spokesman Jim Paxon. Less than three hours later, police say, Loughner turned Giffords’ meet-and-greet at a grocery store into a bloodbath, killing six people and leaving the Democratic congresswoman in critical condition with a gunshot wound to the head…. – NY Daily, 1-12-11
    • ‘Creepy,’ ‘Very Hostile’: A College Recorded Its Fears: Officials at Pima Community College, where Jared L. Loughner was a student, believed that he might be mentally ill or under the influence of drugs after a series of bizarre classroom disruptions in which he unnerved instructors and fellow students, including one occasion when he insisted that the number 6 was actually the number 18, according to internal reports from the college.
      A campus officer wrote in one report in September, six days before Mr. Loughner was suspended, that he and a fellow officer thought “there might be a mental health concern involved with Loughner.”
      In 51 pages of confidential documents released by the college on Wednesday, instructors, students and others described Mr. Loughren as “creepy,” “very hostile,” “suspicious” and someone who had a “dark personality.”… – NYT, 1-12-11
    • Giffords wasn’t shot because of her Judaism, ADL says: An analysis of Internet musings by Jared Lee Loughner dismisses speculation that the accused Arizona gunman may have targeted U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords because she is Jewish. “In the end, the writings so far revealed seem to indicate no particular leanings about race, and it is difficult to come away from the postings with such a conclusion,” according to the analysis published Tuesday by the Anti- Defamation League. The ADL analysis also said that the writings do not “point to a particular ideology or belief system.” Loughner’s “semi-coherent” writings “are indicative of an individual who has been exposed to a number of different ideas, from across the political spectrum, and has sometimes appropriated external concepts — often seemingly divorced from their original context,” the analysis said…. – JTA, 1-12-11
    • In Arizona, Obama to honor memories, speak of hope: Under high expectations to provide healing, President Barack Obama on Wednesday will try to convert the horror of the Arizona shootings into a moment of national unity centering his memorial speech in Tucson on the lives of the victims and the heroism of those who rushed to stop the madness. The president was crafting his speech on Tuesday, and his aides were reluctant to discuss it even broadly in its unfinished form, other than to say it will emphasize the memories of those lost. Still, Obama’s comments since the shooting on Saturday, his experience in dealing with other tragedies and history’s guide offer signs about how he is likely to respond to this moment. At the service Wednesday night, Obama’s main mission will be to honor those who were killed by describing them in personal terms, so the country remembers how they lived, not how they died. He will seek to assure families in grief that the whole country is behind them. And to those grasping for answers after the assassination attempt on Democratic U.S Rep Gabrielle Giffords, Obama will likely explore how “we can come together as a stronger nation” in the aftermath of the tragedy, as he put it earlier this week. What the speech is not likely to be: An examination of divisive partisan rhetoric, or whether it is connected in any way to the rampage that led to the killing of six people and the wounding of 14 others. Standing amidst the people of a grieving community, Obama is expected to focus on a memorial, not a commentary on political civility. This moment as chief consoler comes to all presidents – often many times. And this will not be Obama’s first…. – AP, 1-11-11
    • Doctor: Giffords has ‘101 percent chance’ of surviving Ariz. Congresswoman is moving both arms, breathing on her own: U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was breathing on her own and moving both arms after being shot in the head, doctors said Tuesday. Giffords still has a breathing tube to prevent infections such as pneumonia, said her neurosurgeon Dr. Michael Lemole. “I’m happy to say that she’s holding her own,” he said. Giffords, a three-time Democrat, remained in critical condition at Tucson’s University Medical Center since Saturday when she was shot during a meeting with constituents outside a grocery store. The attack killed six and injured 14 others. Six remained hospitalized. Giffords previously raised two fingers with her left hand and gave a thumbs-up when responding to doctors’ verbal commands. Although her condition has remained virtually unchanged the past few days, doctors were hopeful. “She has a 101 percent chance of surviving,” said trauma chief Dr. Peter Rhee said. “She will not die. She does not have that permission from me.”… – MSNBC, 1-11-11
    • Arizona governor asks residents to pray for victims: Arizona Governor Jan Brewer asked Arizonans on Tuesday to pray for the victims of a Tucson shooting spree that killed six people and wounded 14. Devoting most of her annual State of the State speech to the rampage, Brewer called it “something dark and ugly”, according to a transcript of the speech released by her office. “There is no way to measure what Tucson and all of Arizona lost in that moment,” Brewer said. “The statistics — six dead, 14 wounded — in no way explain the depth of this tragedy.” After paying tribute to the victims, the governor said: “So I ask you to join me in a moment of silence, to pray for those we’ve lost, the injured and the suffering.”… – Reuters, 1-11-11
    • Family of Ariz. mass shooting suspect speaks: The parents of a man charged with trying to assassinate Rep. Gabrielle Giffords expressed sorrow Tuesday for the “heinous events,” their first public remarks since their 22-year-old son was accused of killing six people.
      “There are no words that can possibly express how we feel,” the family of Jared Loughner said in a statement handed to reporters outside their home. “We don’t understand why this happened. It may not make any difference, but we wish that we could change the heinous events of Saturday. We care very deeply about the victims and their families.”
      The family’s statement came as Tucson residents prepared for a community memorial service Tuesday night and a visit from the president a day later…. – AP, 1-11-11
    • Arizona lawmakers take up funeral protest legislation: The Arizona legislature is expected to pass legislation Tuesday targeting a Kansas church whose members have announced they plan to picket the funerals of the victims of Saturday’s shootings in Tucson. The proposed legislation would make it a misdemeanor to protest within 300 feet of a funeral from one hour before until one hour after a funeral, a spokesman for the state House said. The action, according to House spokesman Daniel Scarpinato, is in direct response to the Westboro Baptist Church’s announcement that it will picket the funeral of Christina Green, the 9-year-old who was among six people killed during Saturday’s attempted assassination of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Arizona…. – CNN, 1-11-11
    • Loughner’s Parents Plead for Privacy, and Express Sorrow: The parents of Jared L. Loughner broke their silence Tuesday, asking the media to protect their privacy as their son stands accused of trying to kill a congresswoman in a rampage that killed six people and left 14 others injured.
      “This is a very difficult time for us,” said the statement, issued Tuesday afternoon by Randy and Amy Loughner. “We ask the media to respect our privacy. There are no words that can possibly express how we feel. We wish that there were, so we could make you feel better. We don’t understand why this happened. It may not make any difference, but we wish that we could change the heinous events of Saturday. We care very deeply about the victims and their families. We are so sorry for their loss.”
      The statement came as friends of Jared Loughner said Tuesday that his behavior had become increasingly erratic over the last year, underscored by his fear that two of his closest friends were planning to kill him, one of those friends said Tuesday. “He did not have many friends,” said Zane Gutierrez, 21, who met Mr. Loughner in high school. “We stopped talking to him in March of 2010. He started getting weird.”… – NYT, 1-11-11
    • Suspect in Arizona shooting held without bail: The nation got its first look on Monday at the 22-year-old loner accused of trying to assassinate Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Jared Loughner, head shaved, a cut above the right temple and his hands cuffed, scanned a packed courtroom and sat down. His attorney, who defended “Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski, whispered to him. The judge asked Loughner if he understood that he could get life in prison — or the death penalty — for killing federal Judge John Roll, one of the six who died in the shooting rampage at Giffords’ meeting with constituents on Saturday in Tucson. “Yes,” he said, standing at a lecturn in his beige prison jumpsuit. His attorney, Judy Clarke, stood nearby, as did a U.S. marshal. The judge ordered Loughner held without bail…. – AP, 1-10-11
    • Congresswoman raises 2 fingers, gives thumbs-up: Doctors treating Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords said Monday the congresswoman was responding to verbal commands by raising two fingers of her left hand and even managed to give a thumbs-up. Giffords, 40, is in critical condition in the intensive care unit of Tucson’s University Medical Center after she was shot through the head Saturday during a meet-and-greet with voters outside a supermarket. Two patients were discharged Sunday night. Eight others, including Giffords, remained hospitalized. Recent CAT scans showed no further swelling in the brain, but doctors were guarded…. – AP, 1-10-11
    • Palin, Amid Criticism, Stays in Electronic Comfort Zone: Under criticism that her political rhetoric had helped create a climate for political violence, Sarah Palin addressed the issue in trademark fashion: via e-mail to the conservative commentator Glenn Beck. “Our children will not have peace if politicos just capitalize on this to succeed in portraying anyone as inciting terror and violence,” Ms. Palin wrote to Mr. Beck in an e-mail that he read Monday on his radio program.
      Mr. Beck said he received the message over the weekend, when Ms. Palin and her aides were otherwise ignoring requests for comment about the Tucson shootings from members of the mainstream news media. Such unconventional political communication has served Ms. Palin well in the past two years…. – NYT, 1-10-11
    • Gabrielle Giffords recovery continues in aftermath of Tucson shootingWaPo, 1-10-11
    • While Doctors Are Optimistic, Prognosis for Wounded Congresswoman Is Unclear: It could be a year before extent of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ recovery is evident, experts say… – Business Week, 1-10-11
    • Accused Tucson Shooter Jared Loughner Smirks in Court, Smiles for Mug Shot: Doctors ‘Breathe Sigh of Relief’ as Giffords Has No Significant Brain Swelling… – ABC News, 1-10-11
    • Giffords ‘hero’ intern springs into action after shooting: Daniel Hernandez had been intern for Gabrielle Giffords for less than a week… Hernandez lifted her head to make it easier for her to breathe, applied pressure to her wound… “She was obviously in a lot of pain, so I let her know to squeeze my hand,” he says… An Arizona lawmaker calls intern a hero and says he helped save Giffords’ life… – CNN, 1-10-11
    • At Giffords’s Synagogue, Prayers for Recovery: They spilled into the aisles and the corridor, past the extra rows of folding chairs and the congregants packed into the synagogue’s corners. More than 100 people crowded into a special healing service Sunday morning for Representative Gabrielle Giffords at Congregation Chaverim, where she was married three years ago, for a tearful ceremony. Ms. Giffords’s rabbi, friends and admirers gathered to pray for a swift recovery and to honor a woman many described as an inspiration. If the shooting in Tucson on Saturday of 20 people, including Ms. Giffords, shook the entire nation, it hit this city’s Jewish community especially hard, most of all those who belong to Ms. Gifford’s small Reform temple, hidden among tall cactuses on a quiet suburban street…. – NYT, 1-10-11
    • Palin caught in crosshairs map controversy after Tucson shootings: The controversy, which may have caught the Republican by surprise, is the kind of test candidates commonly face in a presidential campaign. How she navigates it, several Republican strategists said Monday, could be a defining moment for her politically. What makes her challenge unique is that it comes as a result of a national tragedy in which there is no known connection between anything Palin said or did and the alleged actions of Jared Loughner, who is accused of fatally shooting six and severely wounding Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and 13 others.
      “It’s absurd to point fingers at Palin, and people who are doing that are just as guilty of politicizing this tragedy as anyone else,” said Todd Harris, a Republican strategist. “At the same time, to the degree that this is a so-called learning moment for the country, I think the public looks to its leaders and pretty quickly decides who has something to teach and who has something to learn. I think that Palin is missing an opportunity to show that she can be a leader at a higher level than she’s been viewed before.”… – WaPo, 1-10-11
    • Sheriff In Giffords Case Lashes Out About Politics: Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik was thrust into the spotlight to face a nation demanding answers in the aftermath of the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. He didn’t mince words. The rampage, he said, grew in part from extreme political rhetoric, bigotry and hatred, especially in his home state of Arizona. Dupnik said he was angry and heartbroken over the tragedy, and was simply speaking his mind as an American, not a law enforcement official. But in the midst of a national media pressure cooker, his comments raised the question: Did he overstep his authority in making the comments that he did?… – NPR, 1-10-11
    • Loughner’s Meltdown Began in Adulthood, Those Near Him Say:
      The cloudy image of the gunman in Saturday’s horrific shooting in Tucson is starting to come into focus, as neighbors and acquaintances paint a picture of a troubled young man whose disturbing behavior started to flare up in just the last few years.
      Alleged gunman Jared Lee Loughner, charged in the shooting that left six dead and 14 wounded including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, has a minor criminal record dating back to 2007. But his former high school principal, Richard Faidley, told FoxNews.com that he didn’t have any major disciplinary problems in school before that.
      But Loughner’s problems have now escalated to the point that his family has barricaded itself in their home, hounded by reporters and spectators who want to know how the 22-year-old could have gone on a killing spree on a sunny Saturday afternoon in Tucson.
      The FBI was forced to wait outdoors Monday while the family removed the plywood it had used to blockade the door. After a few minutes of removing the wood, FBI began another search of the property that has been upended in the orderly and ongoing law enforcement investigation.
      Speaking in her annual state of the state speech, Gov. Jan Brewer said the attack was an assault not merely on individuals, but on “on our republic, on our democracy.” She said despite the impact, Arizona will not be brought down. “In fact, we’ve been lifted up by America’s thoughts and prayers and we’re deeply grateful for them,” she said…. – Fox News, 1-10-11
    • Nihilism or Sarah Palin: What motivated Arizona shooting suspect?: Early reports suggest that the philosophies of shooting suspect Jared Loughner are tangled and largely incoherent – ranging from nihilism to ‘lucid dreaming.’ So far, there does not appear to be clear link to talk radio or hyperpartisanship, though that could change.
      Initial reports about Jared Loughner, the 22-year-old college dropout charged with killing six and gravely wounding Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Ariz., Saturday, so far present a picture of a person inspired by a tangled and in some ways nonsensical web of philosophies more than any one person, political movement, or line of thought.
      Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik suggested Saturday that the shootings might have been influenced by “vitriolic rhetoric” in the political discourse. He went on to single out talk radio and Sarah Palin, who, on her website last fall, targeted 20 House districts for Republican takeovers with cross hairs – including Congresswoman Giffords’s.
      Rep. Robert Brady (D) of Pennsylvania is reportedly preparing a bill that would outlaw the use of threatening rhetoric against lawmakers. The investigation of the incident has clearly not finished, and new revelations are sure to come. But at this early stage, no clear links have emerged between Loughner and the current political climate. Rather, acquaintences and criminologists point to a convoluted worldview that appears largely incoherent – ranging from a fascination with dreams to an apparent penchant for nihilism…. – CS Monitor, 1-10-11
    • Jared Loughner appears in court on murder charges: It remains unclear whether Loughner’s alleged actions were politically motivated, stemmed from mental illness or both. But the nice, skinny kid some classmates remember from Tucson’s Mountain View High School appears to have transformed into an oddball with psychological problems. Rants in Loughner’s name on MySpace and YouTube suggest his alleged attack on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, a Democrat, was a politically motivated rebellion, but former friends, co-workers and mental health specialists suggest a personality gone awry, a social outcast whose instability seems to have fallen through the cracks despite the fears of bewildered peers, bosses and educators. Photographed after his arrest with a shaved head and a jarring smile, Loughner bears little resemblance to the longhaired teen high school pals remember… – USA Today, 1-11-11
    • Arizona suspect could face death penalty Report: Jared Loughner purchased ammo hours before shooting spree: Jared Loughner, head shaved, a cut on his right temple and his hands cuffed, stared vacantly at a packed courtroom Monday and sat down. His attorney, who defended “Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski, whispered to him. It was the nation’s first look at the 22-year-old loner accused of trying to assassinate Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. The three-term Democrat lay about a 100 miles away in a Tucson intensive care unit, gravely wounded after being shot through the head but able to give a thumbs-up sign that doctors found as a reason to hope.
      Loughner seemed impassive and at one point stood at a lectern in his beige prison jumpsuit. A U.S. marshal stood guard nearby. The judge asked if he understood that he could get life in prison — or the death penalty — for killing federal Judge John Roll, one of six who died in the shooting rampage at Giffords’ outdoor meeting with constituents Saturday in Tucson.
      The judge ordered Loughner held without bail. The next court hearing was set for Jan. 24…. – MSNBC, 1-10-11
    • Thumbnail Sketches Of Victims In Tucson ShootingNPR, 1-9-11
    • Obama Orders U.S. Flags Lowered, Moment Of Silence For Tucson: President Obama ordered all U.S. flags on government buildings and properties lowered to half mast out of respect for the victims of Saturday’s shootings in Tucson.
      The White House also called for the observance of a moment of silence at 11 am EST Monday, “to honor the innocent victims of the senseless tragedy in Tucson, Arizona, including those still fighting for their lives.”
      The White House also postponed a planned trip to Schenectady, NY Tuesday in which the president was to highlight his administration’s efforts to create the enhance the climate for job creation. White House officials hoped to reschedule the trip.
      The move by Obama and his aides to place on hold some of their plans for the week followed the announcement by the House leadership that they were postponing a vote to repeal the health care law and other business in response to the shootings…. – AP, 1-9-11
    • U.S. sees evidence of assassination plot: Federal authorities filed murder charges Sunday against 22-year-old Jared Loughner, as new evidence suggested the alleged gunman in Saturday’s rampage had fixated on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) while his mental health deteriorated…. – WaPo, 1-9-11
    • Federal Charges Cite Assassination Plan: Prosecutors charged Jared L. Loughner, a troubled 22-year-old college dropout, of five federal counts on Sunday, including the attempted assassination of a member of Congress, for his role in a shooting rampage that left 20 people wounded, six of them fatally, on Saturday morning.
      Evidence seized from Mr. Loughner’s home, about five miles from the shooting, indicated that he had planned to kill Representative Gabrielle Giffords, Democrat of Arizona, according to documents filed in the Federal District Court in Phoenix. Special Agent Tony M. Taylor Jr. of the Federal Bureau of Investigation said in an affidavit that an envelope found in a safe in the home bore these handwritten words: “I planned ahead,” “My assassination” and “Giffords.”
      Mr. Loughner, who is believed to have acted alone, is in federal custody, and is scheduled to make his first appearance before a magistrate judge in Phoenix on Monday…. – NYT, 1-9-11
    • U.S. Files Charges Against Jared Loughner For Tucson Shootings: The federal government formally charged Jared Lee Loughner for a shooting incident in Tucson, AZ that left six people dead and 16 wounded. The charges included two counts of killing a federal employee and one count of trying to assassinate a member of Congress as well as two additional counts of trying to kill federal workers. Prosecutors also said investigators found allegedly incriminating evidence at Loughner’s residence that indicated that he his actions were premeditated…. – NPR, 1-9-11
    • Alleged Tucson Shooter Faces Federal Charges: A Law enforcement official said the man authorities earlier described as a “person of interest” in connection with the mass shootings in Tucson has talked to authorities and was cleared. NPR has confirmed through the Federal Bureau of Investigation that the man in an image taken by a security camera at the shopping center where the shootings occurred has talked with authorities and was cleared of any involvment. Authorities had wanted to talk with the man because he was seen entering the general area of the shootings at about the same time as the alleged guman, Jared Lee Loughner…. – NPR, 1-9-11
    • Giffords known for her openness and Judaism: She gained prominence quickly in that body and in 2006, at 36, she became the first Jewish woman elected to Congress from her state. At the same time, her Judaism was becoming more central to her identity. The turning point came in 2001 following a tour of Israel with the American Jewish Committee, she told The Arizona Star in 2007. “It just cemented the fact that I wanted to spend more time with my own personal, spiritual growth. I felt very committed to Judaism,” she said. “Religion means different things to different people. It provides me with grounding, a better understanding of who I came from.”… – JTA, 1-9-11
    • Memo notes Giffords’ Judaism in motives of alleged attacker: A U.S. Department of Homeland Security memo reportedly notes that Gabriel Giffords is Jewish in describing the motives of the Arizona congresswoman’s alleged assailant. The memo, obtained by Fox News Channel, says that Jared Lee Loughner mentioned American Renaissance, an extremist anti-immigrant group, in some of his own postings. “The group’s ideology is anti-government, anti-immigration, anti-ZOG (Zionist Occupational Government), anti- Semitic,” says the memo sent to law enforcement, which also notes that Giffords, a Democrat, was the first Jewish congresswoman from Arizona…. – JTA, 1-9-11
    • Survival is possible for Giffords: Doctors treating Rep. Gabrielle Giffords said Sunday that while she remains in critical condition, early signs have made them hopeful. Giffords is able to communicate with doctors by following simple commands, such as squeezing her hand, said Dr. Michael Lemole, Jr., chief of neurosurgery at University Medical Center in Tuscon, Arizona. “We are very encouraged by that,” he said, adding, “I am cautiously optimistic.” Brain swelling is the biggest threat Giffords faces now, said Lemole…. – CNN, 1-9-11
    • Massacre suspect “mentally disturbed,” former teacher says: The suspect in the weekend massacre in Arizona was kicked out of an algebra class at a community college in June after repeated interruptions and clearly “needed psychological help,” his instructor said Sunday. Jared Lee Loughner was “physically removed” from the Pima Community College course less than a month after it began, its instructor, Ben McGahee told CNN. McGahee said Loughner sometimes shook, blurted things out in class, and appeared to be under the influence of drugs at times. “I was scared of what he could do,” McGahee said. “I wasn’t scared of him physically, but I was scared of him bringing a weapon to class.”… – CNN, 1-9-11
    • Born on Sept. 11, Claimed by a New Horror: Christina Green was on the student council of her elementary school, so on Saturday her mother’s friend thought she might enjoy seeing government in action: the local congresswoman meeting with constituents outside a supermarket near Christina’s home. “I allowed her to go, thinking it would be an innocent thing,” said the girl’s mother, Roxanna Green, 45. It did not turn out that way. A gunman shot Representative Gabrielle Giffords, leaving her in critical condition, and his fusillade killed six people, including Christina, a 9-year-old who loved animals and volunteered at a children’s charity…. – NYT, 1-9-11
    • 9-year-old killed in US shooting was born on 9/11: Christina-Taylor Green, the nine-year-old who was killed Saturday along with five other people at an Arizona political event, was drawn to politics from the awareness she was born on September 11, 2001, her parents have said. “She was born back east, and September 11 affected everyone there, and Christina-Taylor was always very aware of it. She was very patriotic and wearing red, white and blue was really special to her,” Roxanne Green told the Arizona Daily Star.
      “She was born on 9/11, the day the towers came down in New York City,” her father John Green told Fox News on Sunday. The dark-haired, brown-eyed third-grader was one of 50 babies born on that date featured in a book called “Faces of Hope.” She had gone to the Tucson strip mall with a neighbor on Saturday to meet congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was still in critical condition Sunday after being shot through the head, according to the newspaper.
      Christina-Taylor died in hospital after the shooting. Her neighbor, identified by the girl’s father as Susy Almond, was shot four times and recovering from surgery at Tucson’s University Medical Center, the daily said.
      Six people were killed, including a federal judge, and 14 were wounded in the shooting spree, in which 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner was charged Sunday…. – AP, 1-9-11
    • Suspect’s Odd Behavior Caused Growing Alarm: In a community college classroom here last June, on the first day of the term, the instructor in Jared L. Loughner’s basic algebra class, Ben McGahee, posed what he thought was a simple arithmetic question to his students. He was not prepared for the explosive response.
      “How can you deny math instead of accepting it?” Mr. Loughner asked, after blurting out a random number, according to Mr. McGahee.
      Mr. McGahee, for one, was disturbed enough by the experience to complain to school authorities, who as early as last June were apparently concerned enough themselves to have a campus officer visit the classroom. And what Mr. McGahee described as a pattern of behavior by Mr. Loughner, marked by hysterical laughter, bizarre non sequiturs and aggressive outbursts, only continued.
      “I was getting concerned about the safety of the students and the school,” said Mr. McGahee, who took to glancing out of the corner of his eye when he was writing on the board for fear that Mr. Loughner might do something. “I was afraid he was going to pull out a weapon.”… – NYT, 1-9-11
    • Six dead in shooting that wounds Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords: The Democrat was shot in the head when a gunman opened fire at a meet-and-greet at a supermarket. She is responsive after surgery. The dead include a 9-year-old girl and a federal judge, and at least 12 others are injured…. – LAT, 1-8-11
    • Arizona shooting suspect Jared Loughner may have posted anti-government messages: The 22-year-old suspect in the shooting of U.S. Rep Gabrielle Giffords and others at a Tucson grocery is Jared Loughner, who lives in the same city. On MySpace and YouTube web pages, a man who identifies himself as 22-year-old Jared Loughner posted anti-government messages that talk about mind control and suggested he will soon be adopting a new consciousness. “Goodbye,” Loughner posted on his MySpace account at approximately 5 a.m. Saturday. “Dear friends … Please don’t be mad at me.”… – USA Today, 1-8-11
    • Second suspect sought in Arizona shooting: Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., and several others were shot Saturday morning when a gunman opened fire outside a supermarket where Giffords was meeting with constituents. A 22-year-old suspect was in custody, law enforcement officials said. But at a Saturday evening news conference, investigators said they were looking for an accomplice who may have helped the gunman. Six of the victims died. The Pima County sheriff, Clarence W. Dupnik, said among those killed were John M. Roll, the chief judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, and a 9-year-old girl…. – NYT, 1-8-11
    • Arizona massacre suspect: ‘Kind of a troubled past’: The 22-year-old man under arrest in Saturday’s massacre in Arizona railed against government “mind control” and illiteracy in online missives and had “kind of a troubled past,” as the local sheriff put it. “There’s reason to believe this individual may have a mental issue,” Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik told reporters Saturday night. An Arizona law enforcement source and a U.S. law enforcement source have identified the suspect as Jared Lee Loughner, a 22-year-old former community college student. He was taken into custody after the massacre at a Tucson supermarket that killed a federal judge, a 9-year-old girl and four others and seriously wounded U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was hosting a meeting with constituents at the Safeway…. – CNN, 1-8-11
    • Rep. Giffords Critical After Ariz. Attack: Representative Gabrielle Giffords, an Arizona Democrat, and 17 other people were shot just north of Tucson on Saturday morning when a gunman opened fire outside a supermarket where Ms. Giffords was meeting with constituents for a “Congress on Your Corner” event.
      Ms. Giffords, 40, was described as being in very critical condition at the University Medical Center in Tucson, where she was operated on by a team of neurosurgeons. Dr. Peter Rhee, medical director of the hospital’s trauma and critical care unit, said that she had been shot once in the head, “through and through,” with the bullet going through her brain.
      “I can tell you at this time, I am very optimistic about her recovery,” Dr. Rhee said in a news conference. “We cannot tell what kind of recovery but I’m as optimistic as it can get in this kind of situation.”…. – NYT, 1-8-11
    • Arizona Rep. Giffords shot, at least 5 killed: Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona was shot in the head Saturday when an assailant opened fire outside a grocery store during a meeting with constituents, killing at least five people and wounding several others in a rampage that rattled the nation.
      Giffords was among at least 10 people wounded, and the hospital said her outlook was “optimistic” and that she was responding to commands from doctors despite having a bullet go through her head. The hospital said a 9-year-old child was among the dead, and a U.S. Marshal said a federal judge was also fatally shot in the attack.
      Giffords spokesman C.J. Karamargin said an unspecified number of her staff members were injured in the shooting. Congressional officials said an aide to the Democrat was killed, and President Barack Obama said five people died in all. The reaction to the shooting was swift and rippled across the globe. Obama held a nationally televised news conference to express his condolences. The shooting cast a pall over Capitol as politicians of all stripes denounced the shooting as a horrific act of violence. Capitol police asked members of Congress to step up security in the wake of the shooting, and some politicians expressed hope that the killing spree serves as a wakeup call at a time when the political climate has become so emotionally charged.
      Police say the shooter was in custody, and was identified by people familiar with the investigation as Jared Loughner, 22. Pima County Sheriff’s officials said he used a pistol to carry out the shooting spree. U.S. officials who provided his name to the AP spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release it publicly…. – AP, 1-8-11
    • Authorities Suspect Gunman in Arizona Rampage Posted Pre-Shooting Video Online: Jared Loughner, the 22-year-old man who sources identify to Fox News as the gunman in custody in the deadly shooting rampage Saturday in Arizona, is suspected of posting a series of YouTube videos that show a focus on literacy and currency — as well as his distrust in the government. “Hello, my name is Jared Lee Loughner,” one of the videos says, in words appearing on the screen. “This video is my introduction to you! My favorite activity is conscience dreaming; the greatest inspiration for my political business information. Some of you don’t dream – sadly.”
      The video, posted Dec. 15, later turns more political. “The majority of citizens in the united states of America have never read the united states of America’s constitution. You don’t have to accept the federalist laws,” the video’s titles say. “In conclusion, reading the second United States constitution, I can’t trust the current government because of the ratifications: the government is implying mind control and brainwash on the people by controlling grammar. No! I won’t pay debt with a currency that’s not backed by gold and silver! No! I won’t trust in god!”
      Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was among the people critically wounded in the shooting at a public event in Tucson, and several people were killed, including a federal judge and a 9-year-old boy…. – Fox News, 1-8-11
    • Giffords had been target of violent threats: It is not yet known whether or not the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, an Arizona Democrat, and as many as a dozen other people at a public event in Tucson, was an act of political violence. The AP has reported that the gunman has been identified as Jared Loughner. There’s still uncertainty about Loughner’s motives and politics. But a Youtube video posted under the name Jared Lee Loughner of Tucson proposes creating a “new currency,” and rails against non-English speakers “in District 8” — Giffords’s congressional district.
      But it’s worth noting that Giffords — who in 2006 became the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, at 36 — has, for more than a year, been the target of violence-tinged rhetoric from political opponents and of threats that appear to have come from right-wing activists.
      Asked by the New York Post whether his daughter had any enemies, Giffords’s father replied: “The whole tea party.”
      In August 2009, an attendee at a Giffords town-hall meeting dropped a handgun, leading Giffords’s staff to call the police. “We have never felt the need before to notify law enforcement when we hold these events,” her spokesman said at the time.
      After Giffords voted in favor of the health-care overhaul in March, she said that vandals had broken the glass door of her Tucson office. “The rhetoric is incredibly heated, not just the calls but the emails, the slurs,” she told MSNBC at the time. “Things have really gotten spun up.” She added: “We do have these polarized parts of our parties that really get excited, and that’s where … all of us have to come together and say, ‘OK, there’s a fine line here.'”… – Yahoo News, 1-8-11

    QUOTES

    https://i0.wp.com/newshour.s3.amazonaws.com/photos/2011/01/12/108011528_homepage_lede.jpg
    • Text Obama’s Remarks in Tucson: Following is a text of President Obama’s prepared address on Wednesday to honor those killed and wounded in a shooting on Jan. 8, as released by the White House….But at a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized – at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do – it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.

      Scripture tells us that there is evil in the world, and that terrible things happen for reasons that defy human understanding. In the words of Job, “when I looked for light, then came darkness.” Bad things happen, and we must guard against simple explanations in the aftermath.

      For the truth is that none of us can know exactly what triggered this vicious attack. None of us can know with any certainty what might have stopped those shots from being fired, or what thoughts lurked in the inner recesses of a violent man’s mind.

      So yes, we must examine all the facts behind this tragedy. We cannot and will not be passive in the face of such violence. We should be willing to challenge old assumptions in order to lessen the prospects of violence in the future….

      That process of reflection, of making sure we align our values with our actions – that, I believe, is what a tragedy like this requires. For those who were harmed, those who were killed – they are part of our family, an American family 300 million strong. We may not have known them personally, but we surely see ourselves in them. In George and Dot, in Dorwan and Mavy, we sense the abiding love we have for our own husbands, our own wives, our own life partners. Phyllis – she’s our mom or grandma; Gabe our brother or son. In Judge Roll, we recognize not only a man who prized his family and doing his job well, but also a man who embodied America’s fidelity to the law. In Gabby, we see a reflection of our public spiritedness, that desire to participate in that sometimes frustrating, sometimes contentious, but always necessary and never-ending process to form a more perfect union.

      And in Christina…in Christina we see all of our children. So curious, so trusting, so energetic and full of magic. So deserving of our love.

      And so deserving of our good example. If this tragedy prompts reflection and debate, as it should, let’s make sure it’s worthy of those we have lost. Let’s make sure it’s not on the usual plane of politics and point scoring and pettiness that drifts away with the next news cycle…. – NYT, 1-12-11

    • Sarah Palin: America’s Enduring Strength: ….The last election was all about taking responsibility for our country’s future. President Obama and I may not agree on everything, but I know he would join me in affirming the health of our democratic process. Two years ago his party was victorious. Last November, the other party won. In both elections the will of the American people was heard, and the peaceful transition of power proved yet again the enduring strength of our Republic.Vigorous and spirited public debates during elections are among our most cherished traditions. And after the election, we shake hands and get back to work, and often both sides find common ground back in D.C. and elsewhere. If you don’t like a person’s vision for the country, you’re free to debate that vision. If you don’t like their ideas, you’re free to propose better ideas. But, especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible.

      There are those who claim political rhetoric is to blame for the despicable act of this deranged, apparently apolitical criminal. And they claim political debate has somehow gotten more heated just recently. But when was it less heated? Back in those “calm days” when political figures literally settled their differences with dueling pistols? In an ideal world all discourse would be civil and all disagreements cordial. But our Founding Fathers knew they weren’t designing a system for perfect men and women. If men and women were angels, there would be no need for government. Our Founders’ genius was to design a system that helped settle the inevitable conflicts caused by our imperfect passions in civil ways. So, we must condemn violence if our Republic is to endure…. – Sarah Palin on Facebook, 1-12-11Video

    The American flag flies at half-mast on the U.S. Capitol in Washington Sunday, Jan. 9, 2011.
    • Moment of Silence for the Victims in Arizona: This morning at 11:00AM EST President Obama, the First Lady and White House staff joined many across the country in observing a moment of silence to honor the innocent victims of the senseless tragedy in Tucson, Arizona, including those still fighting for their lives. In addition to staying on top of the investigation and helping wherever possible. The President has been and will continue to be in close contact with those concerned, having made calls to Representative Gifford’s husband, Mark Kelly, the families of Christina-Taylor Green and Gabe Zimmerman, as well as House Leadership and members of the Arizona delegation in both the House and Senate…. – WH, 1-10-11Mp4Mp3
    • President Obama on Tucson, Grief & Courage: PRESIDENT OBAMA: We’ll, I’m very grateful to have my dear friend, Nicolas Sarkozy, here. And I think Nicolas has agreed that at the top I want to just make a few comments about the situation in Tucson, Arizona.Obviously all of us are still grieving and in shock from the tragedy that took place. Gabby Giffords and others are still fighting to recover. Families are still absorbing the enormity of their losses. We have a criminal investigation that is ongoing and charges that no doubt will be brought against the perpetrator of this heinous crime.

      I think it’s important for us to also focus, though, on the extraordinary courage that was shown during the course of these events: a 20-year-old college student who ran into the line of fire to rescue his boss; a wounded woman who helped secure the ammunition that might have caused even more damage; the citizens who wrestled down the gunman. Part of what I think that speaks to is the best of America, even in the face of such mindless violence.

      And so, in the coming days we’re going to have a lot of time to reflect. Right now, the main thing we’re doing is to offer our thoughts and prayers to those who’ve been impacted, making sure that we’re joining together and pulling together as a country. And as President of the United States, but also as a father, obviously I’m spending a lot of time just thinking about the families and reaching out to them. – WH, 1-10-11TranscriptMp4Mp3

    • Presidential Proclamation–Honoring the Victims of the Tragedy in Tucson, Arizona: As a mark of respect for the victims of the senseless acts of violence perpetrated on Saturday, January 8, 2011, in Tucson, Arizona, by the authority vested in me as President of the United States by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I hereby order that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half- staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset, January 14, 2011. I also direct that the flag shall be flown at half-staff for the same length of time at all United States embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations.IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this

      ninth day of January, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fifth. – WH, 1-9-11

    • Gabrielle Giffords shooting stirs outpouring of concern and support: Leaders react to the shooting of the Arizona congresswoman. Obama: ‘We are going to get to the bottom of this, and we’re going to get through this.’…. – LAT, 1-8-11
    • President Obama: The President Speaks on the Shootings in Tucson: “We Are Going to Get to the Bottom of This, and We’re Going to Get Through This”: As many of you are aware, earlier today a number of people were shot in Tucson, Arizona, including several who were meeting at a supermarket with their congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords. We are still assembling all the facts, but we know that Representative Giffords was one of the victims. She is currently at a hospital in the area, and she is battling for her life.We also know that at least five people lost their lives in this tragedy. Among them were a federal judge, John Roll, who has served America’s legal system for almost 40 years; and a young girl who was barely nine years old.

      I’ve spoken to Arizona governor Jan Brewer and offered the full resources of the federal government. A suspect is currently in custody, but we don’t yet know what provoked this unspeakable act. A comprehensive investigation is currently underway, and at my direction, Director Bob Mueller is en route to Arizona to help coordinate these efforts. I’ve also spoken to the Democratic and Republican leaders in the House.

      Gabby Giffords was a friend of mine. She is not only an extraordinary public servant, but she is also somebody who is warm and caring. She is well liked by her colleagues and well liked by her constituents. Her husband, Mark Kelly, is a Navy captain and one of America’s valiant astronauts.

      It’s not surprising that today Gabby was doing what she always does — listening to the hopes and concerns of her neighbors. That is the essence of what our democracy is all about. That is why this is more than a tragedy for those involved. It is a tragedy for Arizona and a tragedy for our entire country.

      What Americans do at times of tragedy is to come together and support each other. So at this time I ask all Americans to join me and Michelle in keeping all the victims and their families, including Gabby, in our thoughts and prayers. Those who have been injured, we are rooting for them. And I know Gabby is as tough as they come, and I am hopeful that she’s going to pull through.

      Obviously our hearts go out to the family members of those who have been slain. We are going to get to the bottom of this, and we’re going to get through this. But in the meantime, I think all of us need to make sure that we’re offering our thoughts and prayers to those concerned. WH, 1-8-11TranscriptMp4Mp3

    • Sarah Palin, On the tragedy in Arizona: My sincere condolences are offered to the family of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the other victims of today’s tragic shooting in Arizona. On behalf of Todd and my family, we all pray for the victims and their families, and for peace and justice. –
    • Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz): “I am horrified by the violent attack on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and many other innocent people by a wicked person who has no sense of justice or compassion. I pray for Gabby and the other victims, and for the repose of the souls of the dead and comfort for their families. I beg our loving Creator to spare the lives of those who are still alive, heal them in body and spirit, and return them to their loved ones.
      Whoever did this; whatever their reason, they are a disgrace to Arizona, this country and the human race, and they deserve and will receive the contempt of all decent people and the strongest punishment of the law. – McCain Senate, 1-8-11
    • House Speaker John A. Boehner (R- Ohio): I am horrified by the senseless attack on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and members of her staff. An attack on one who serves is an attack on all who serve. Acts and threats of violence against public officials have no place in our society. Our prayers are with Congresswoman Giffords, her staff, all who were injured, and their families. This is a sad day for our country.
    • House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D- San Francisco): “Our prayers and thoughts are will all of them. … Congresswoman Giffords is a great patriotic American.
    • Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer: I am just heartbroken. Gabby is more than just a colleague, she’s actually a friend. She’s always been a noble public servant.

    HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

    • Historian Douglas Brinkley says Tucson will be a place in ‘history like a Selma or Birmingham in the 1960s’: As the shock wanes from the aftermath of Saturday’s Tucson tragedy, how might this event be remembered historically? According to noted historian Douglas Brinkley, a fellow at the Baker Institute and a professor of history at Rice University, it will rank up there with one of the bloodiest times in U.S. history, the Civil Rights Era in Alabama, including the September 15, 1963 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham and the March 7, 1965 “Bloody Sunday” march in Selma.
      “Well you know Tucson now is one of these places people are going to talk about in history like a Selma or Birmingham in the 1960s,” Brinkley said. “It seems like a war zone spot and if you go to Selma or Birmingham today, they cope with that past. They have museums and memorials. This is the beginning of the healing for that community of Tucson and it’s very significant that President Obama’s coming, and hugging people, talking to people – making them know he feels the pain of the entire community and the nation.”… – The Daily Caller, 1-13-11
    • Gil Troy: The Political Fight after the Arizona Gunfight: Right Target, Wrong Trigger: The Tucson, Arizona, rampage left Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords critically wounded, six citizens dead, and millions of Americans jumping to the right conclusions for the wrong reasons. Yes, we need more civility in our politics. But no, we should not use one crazy gunman’s random fixations and horrific violence to trigger the kind of reform modern political culture needs.
      I confess, having written in 2008 Leading from the Center: Why Moderates Make the Best Presidents, calling for centrism and civility, I am tempted to flow with the conventional wisdom this time. Right after this mass shooting at one of Gifford’s “Congress on Your Corner” citizen meet-and-greets, preaching pundits began blaming the vitriol in general, and Republicans in particular. The fact that Sarah Palin’s website featured Giffords’s district in crosshairs in in 2010, supposedly symbolized everything wrong with politics today….
      Recently, in Tucson, Arizona, a sweet nine-year-old girl named Christina Taylor Green was elected to her student council. Born on September 11, 2001, Christina was always a particularly welcome symbol of hope to her friends and family. Last Saturday, a neighbor invited Christina to meet Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and “see how democracy works.” Christina ended up murdered, shot in the chest.
      We should cultivate a politics of civility, not because of the insane murderer but because we all want to show “how democracy works,” in Christina’s memory, to honor Gabrille Giffords’ lifework, and for our common good… – 1-11-11
    • Assassins and American History: Is there a tie between political speech and the violent acts of unbalanced individuals?… – NYT, 1-10-11
    • Robert Dallek, historian: The Means to Commit Mass Murder: Common sense gun control is a more important question than how much all the overstated speech facilitates violence…. – NYT, 1-10-11
    • Jill Lepore, Harvard historian: What Thomas Jefferson Would Say: The U.S. system of government demands both dissent, and tolerance of it…. – NYT, 1-10-11
    • Steven F. Hayward, American Enterprise Institute: Political Attacks, Circa 1800: The vitriol in the 1800 election would make Fox News and MSNBC blush…. – NYT, 1-10-11
    • Steven Mintz, history professor, Columbia University: The Facts About Political Assailants: Assailants of politicians have mostly been paranoid outsiders, unusually sensitive to the political sensations of the time…. – NYT, 1-10-11
    • Kevin Baker, novelist and historian: The Cost of Thuggish Prattle: Attempts on the lives of public figures rarely correspond directly to hate speech, but others have suffered the cost of thuggish prattle about resorting to arms…. – NYT, 1-10-11
    • Julian E. Zelizer, history professor, Princeton University: Toxic Speech in Politics: That people instantly wondered about the connection between political speech and the Tucson shootings is a sign of a toxic political culture…. – NYT, 1-10-11
    • Catherine McNicol Stock, historian, “Rural Radicals”: Violence in the 1930’s: The “shoot the banker” cry in the Depression did not lead to mass killings but to vicious acts like tarring and feathering…. – NYT, 1-10-11
    • UW Professor Mordecai Lee: Shooting Will Impact Democratic Process Expert Predicts Tighter Security For Members Of Congress: “From now on, going to a town hall meeting with a member of congress is going be like going to the airport — you’re going to have to walk through one of those body scans,” said UW Milwaukee Government Affairs professor Mordecai Lee.
      “If we have to put U.S. senators and members of congress in the same secret service bubble that now extends to presidents and presidential candidates, the nature of American politics will change,” he said.
      “You can’t live in a bubble. You can’t view every single person as a potential assassin or a potential assailant. The essence of being a politician is being amongst people,” he said.
      “This is terrible for democracy, but I’m afraid it’s really the only pragmatic answer for these horrible kind of situations,” he said…. – WISN, 1-9-11
    • Gabrielle Giffords shooting fuels debate over rhetoric: Has the nation’s harsh political rhetoric become more than just talk — to the point of being dangerous? The attempted assassination of Arizona Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords as she spoke with voters outside a grocery store in Tucson fueled a debate Sunday over whether the sharp partisanship and anti-government language that now mark American politics have created a climate that makes violence against public officials more likely. As a moderate Democrat who barely won re-election in a state torn by disputes over immigration policy, economic angst and growing mistrust in the government, Giffords was familiar with today’s increasingly nasty political rhetoric. Her opponent last fall accused her of betraying her district. Meanwhile, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin’s website posted a map with crosshairs on 20 Democrat-held congressional districts Palin was targeting for takeover by Republicans in the November elections. Giffords’ was one of them.
      “You can’t say they’re just words; they have consequences,” said South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn, a member of the Democratic leadership. He said he worries about the effect of words on “people who may not be clicking on all cylinders.”
      He cautioned, “We need to take a look at what we’re drifting into here.” However, some Republican leaders and conservative activists rejected the suggestion that their hard-edged language on issues such as health care and immigration could fairly be tied to Saturday’s attack by a gunman in Tucson that left six people dead, including a federal judge and a 9-year-old girl. Giffords, who was shot in the head, was in critical condition Sunday after surgery.
      “This is a terrible politicization of a tragedy,” said Rebecca Mansour, an aide to Palin. “We don’t know (the suspect’s) motive. It doesn’t seem like he was motivated by a political ideology. Craziness is not an ideology.”… – USA Today, 1-9-11
    • Bloodshed Puts New Focus on Vitriol in Politics: The shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords and others at a neighborhood meeting in Arizona on Saturday set off what is likely to be a wrenching debate over anger and violence in American politics. While the exact motivations of the suspect in the shootings remained unclear, an Internet site tied to the man, Jared Lee Loughner, contained antigovernment ramblings. And regardless of what led to the episode, it quickly focused attention on the degree to which inflammatory language, threats and implicit instigations to violence have become a steady undercurrent in the nation’s political culture.
      Clarence W. Dupnik, the Pima County sheriff, seemed to capture the mood of the day at an evening news conference when he said it was time for the country to “do a little soul-searching.” “It’s not unusual for all public officials to get threats constantly, myself included,” Sheriff Dupnik said. “That’s the sad thing about what’s going on in America: pretty soon we’re not going to be able to find reasonable, decent people willing to subject themselves to serve in public office.”… – NYT, 1-9-11

    Political Highlights, January 10, 2011: 112th Congress Sworn-in — Obama Chooses Bill Daley as Chief of Staff — Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords Shot in Assassination Attempt

    POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS

    By Bonnie K. Goodman

    Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

    OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 112TH CONGRESS:


    The President talks with AZ Gov. Jan Brewer on the shootings, White House Photo, Pete Souza, 1/8/11

    STATS & POLLS

    • Gallup Poll: U.S. split on health care law repeal: Forty-six percent of those surveyed Tuesday and Wednesday say they want their representative to vote for repeal; 40% want the law to stand. Nearly eight of 10 Republicans support repeal. In contrast, about two-thirds of Democrats want the law to stay in effect. Independents are inclined to support repeal, but by a margin too small to be statistically significant…. – USA Today, 1-7-11
    • Factbox: Basic provisions and timeline for health law: More parts of the sweeping healthcare law passed in March 2010 take effect this month just as Republicans take over the House of Representatives vowing to dismantle the bill. Any changes would require support from both the House and the Democrat-controlled Senate as well as President Barack Obama, who made the healthcare law a top domestic goal. The law aims to expand healthcare insurance to roughly 30 million Americans and imposes a host of new industry rules and taxes…. – Reuters, 1-7-11
    • Obama Gets Modest Lame-Duck Poll Bump: Did President Obama get a bump in the polls after the successes of the congressional lame-duck session? While only a handful of pollsters have updated their job-approval numbers since the holidays, those who have seem to be showing movement in Obama’s favor, though the change is slight and may be fleeting. The question came up earlier this week when Obama’s approval percentage in Gallup’s daily tracking rose to 50 percent for the first time since June. His approval ratings have been “in the mid-40% range” since last Summer, as Gallup reported on Monday. Over the last three days, Obama’s approval rating has fallen slightly back to 48 percent. However, the average of the three non-overlapping samples released by Gallup since Dec. 22 give Obama an average rating of 47.3 percent, roughly two points higher than earlier in December (45.4 percent), and slightly better still than in November (45.0 percent) and October (44.8 percent). While a two-point difference is small, given the large numbers of interviews available from the pooled sample (roughly 4,500 since Dec. 22, more than 10,000 earlier in the month), these small differences are statistically meaningful…. – Huff Post, 1-6-11
    • Boehner pledges an open ‘people’s House’, 112th Congress Commences — Minute by Minute Analysis: Speaker John Boehner today ushered in a new era for the House of Representatives, pledging his Republican Party will lead with humility and be “honest, accountable and responsive” to the American people.
      Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi transferred power and the speaker’s gavel to Boehner, who leads a House with 242 Republicans aiming to overturn some of President Obama’s domestic achievements, including the nation’s sweeping health care law.
      “This is the people’s House. This is their Congress. It’s about them, not us,” Boehner said. “What they want is a government that is honest, accountable and responsive to their needs — a government that respects individual liberty, honors our heritage, and bows before the public it serves.”
      Boehner gave a nod to the partisanship that has divided the House, noting “a great deal of scar tissue” has been built up. He urged lawmakers to “disagree without being disagreeable” and to keep their eyes on common goals…. – USA Today, 1-5-11

    THE HEADLINES….

    • Obama welcomes vote on Southern Sudan independence: US President Barack Obama has hailed the start of a landmark referendum on independence in Southern Sudan. He said the week-long vote – which is expected to result in Africa’s largest country being split in two – represented a “new chapter in history”. The poll was agreed as part of the 2005 deal that ended a two-decade civil war. The mainly Muslim north has promised to allow the potential new country, where most people are Christian or animists, to secede peacefully.
      Mr Obama said in a statement: “After 50 years of civil wars that have killed two million people and turned millions more into refugees this is the opportunity before the people of Southern Sudan.” He added that the action of Sudanese leaders would help determine whether Sudanese people move “toward peace and prosperity, or slide backward into bloodshed”…. – BBC, 1-10-11
    • Obama Orders U.S. Flags Lowered, Moment Of Silence For Tucson: President Obama ordered all U.S. flags on government buildings and properties lowered to half mast out of respect for the victims of Saturday’s shootings in Tucson.
      The White House also called for the observance of a moment of silence at 11 am EST Monday, “to honor the innocent victims of the senseless tragedy in Tucson, Arizona, including those still fighting for their lives.”
      The White House also postponed a planned trip to Schenectady, NY Tuesday in which the president was to highlight his administration’s efforts to create the enhance the climate for job creation. White House officials hoped to reschedule the trip.
      The move by Obama and his aides to place on hold some of their plans for the week followed the announcement by the House leadership that they were postponing a vote to repeal the health care law and other business in response to the shootings…. – AP, 1-9-11
    • U.S. sees evidence of assassination plot: Federal authorities filed murder charges Sunday against 22-year-old Jared Loughner, as new evidence suggested the alleged gunman in Saturday’s rampage had fixated on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) while his mental health deteriorated…. – WaPo, 1-9-11
    • Clinton Tries to Keep Gulf From Easing Iran Sanctions: The Obama administration is working to keep up the pressure on Iran from its neighbors in the Persian Gulf, despite new reports suggesting that a combination of sanctions and sabotage may have delayed by several years Iran’s ability to produce a nuclear bomb.
      Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, arriving in this Arab emirate Sunday for a four-day visit to the region, urged Iran’s neighbors to stay focused on enforcing sanctions. Many Persian Gulf states have curtailed their commercial ties with Iran, and Mrs. Clinton said she did not want these reports to be used as a justification for them to backtrack.
      “We don’t want anyone to be misled by anyone’s intelligence analysis — this remains a serious concern,” Mrs. Clinton said to reporters traveling with her. “We expect all of our partners who share that concern, as these countries certainly do, to stay as focused as they can, and to do everything within reason that will help to implement these sanctions.”… – NYT, 1-9-11
    • ‘Sarah Palin’s Alaska’: Will Palin be a one-termer on TLC?: Sarah Palin and Todd Palin on Sarah Palin’s Alaska The finale of “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” on Sunday might be the former governor’s last episode. Unless, of course, it isn’t. That Palin’s show would be a one-termer was reported by Entertainment Weekly on Friday, the day before a mass shooting at a Rep. Gabrielle Giffords event in Arizona. The shooting claimed six lives, including those of a federal judge and a little girl born on Sept. 11, 2001, and left the Democratic congresswoman recovering from brain surgery after a bullet passed through her brain. Various bloggers and news outlets on Saturday linked Palin and a 10-month-old “crosshairs” campaign graphic to the shooting, despite no immediate indications that suspect Jared Loughner had any connection with Palin, the “tea party,” the GOP or the crosshairs map. Loughner, who had attended another Giffords event in 2007, left an envelope at his home with the words “I planned ahead,” “my assassination” and “Giffords,” according to the FBI’s criminal complaint. Fellow students’ concerns about Loughner being a disjointed, disturbing presence in a junior college algebra class went public Sunday.
      “On behalf of Todd and my family, we all pray for the victims and their families, and for peace and justice,” Palin said Saturday via Facebook, offering condolences to those hurt and killed in the shooting.
      “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” was “always planned as a special event and beyond that there have been no discussions or decisions,” a source told People on Sunday…. – LAT, 1-9-11
    • House to Vote on Bill to Repeal Health-Care Law: Health-Care Debate: The Republican-controlled House is expected to vote Wednesday on a bill to repeal the health-care law. But the measure is unlikely to be taken up by the Senate, where Democrats have a majority. WSJ, 1-8-11
    • Obama White House battles GOP health care bill repeal plan: It’s back to the future on the health care debate. Just as they did a year ago, the Obama White House and congressional Republicans are going at it over the health care bill — using speeches, interviews, blogs, and commissioned reports to argue over whether it produces or kills jobs, and increases or reduces the federal debt. The difference is that last year Obama prevailed and signed the bill into the law March 23; now the new House Republican is trying to repeal it, setting a vote for Wednesday.
      “At a time when we need to do everything in our power to encourage job creation, the health care law hangs around the necks of businesses small and large,” said House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor, R-Va., in today’s Republican radio address.
      At this point, however, the debate is largely academic — while the Republican-run House is likely to vote for repeal, the Democratic Senate is unlikely to follow suit.
      But the health care debate will likely follow Obama for the rest of his presidency…. – USA Today, 1-8-11
    • Obama draws fighting critic of health care: President Obama has another fierce health care critic, and he’s quite an aggressive one: Mixed martial artist Jacob Volkmann. After winning a recent Ultimate Fighting Championship bout, Volkmann joked — we think — that he might like to fight Obama next.
      “He’s not too bright,” said Volkmann, a licensed chiropractor who is particularly critical of Obama’s health care bill. “Someone needs to knock some sense into that idiot.” Volkmann also said he’s not a fan of Republican stalwart Sarah Palin, it’s only that “I just don’t like what Barack is doing.” Joke or not, the Secret Service is obliged to take any physical threat to the president seriously — and Volkmann later reported he did receive a visit from an agent. USA Today, 1-8-11
    • Arizona Rep. Giffords shot, at least 5 killed: Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona was shot in the head Saturday when an assailant opened fire outside a grocery store during a meeting with constituents, killing at least five people and wounding several others in a rampage that rattled the nation.
      Giffords was among at least 10 people wounded, and the hospital said her outlook was “optimistic” and that she was responding to commands from doctors despite having a bullet go through her head. The hospital said a 9-year-old child was among the dead, and a U.S. Marshal said a federal judge was also fatally shot in the attack.
      Giffords spokesman C.J. Karamargin said an unspecified number of her staff members were injured in the shooting. Congressional officials said an aide to the Democrat was killed, and President Barack Obama said five people died in all. The reaction to the shooting was swift and rippled across the globe. Obama held a nationally televised news conference to express his condolences. The shooting cast a pall over Capitol as politicians of all stripes denounced the shooting as a horrific act of violence. Capitol police asked members of Congress to step up security in the wake of the shooting, and some politicians expressed hope that the killing spree serves as a wakeup call at a time when the political climate has become so emotionally charged.
      Police say the shooter was in custody, and was identified by people familiar with the investigation as Jared Loughner, 22. Pima County Sheriff’s officials said he used a pistol to carry out the shooting spree. U.S. officials who provided his name to the AP spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release it publicly…. – AP, 1-8-11
    • Fiery package in DC triggers memories of anthrax: Postal workers who returned to work Saturday said a package that ignited at a government mail facility conjured painful memories of the anthrax attacks that killed two of their colleagues in 2001. The fiery package found Friday, which was addressed to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, followed two packages that ignited Thursday in Maryland state government mailrooms. It halted government mail until bomb-sniffing dogs could sweep the D.C. facility. Mail processing resumed Saturday morning after a meeting with workers, the local postmaster and the workers’ union…. – AP, 1-8-11
    • How do you follow Gibbs’s show?: With the departure of Robert Gibbs, senior administration officials are expanding their search for a new White House press secretary to include a dangerous breed: working journalists. Advisers have been compiling a fairly predictable list of Democratic spokesmen who could assume the “podium job,” as it’s known. There are internal front-runners – Vice President Biden’s communications director, Jay Carney, and deputy press secretary Bill Burton are at the top of the list – and other candidates, including another deputy, Josh Earnest, whom Gibbs asked to be added for consideration. A more senior White House adviser, Stephanie Cutter, had been asked to apply but declined, and she is now involved in the search process. There are a number of external contenders, as well, including Democratic operative Karen Finney, a frequent paid television commentator.
      But further down the wish list that officials have compiled so far are some reporters, mainly ones who appear on television, people involved in the process said. Officials acknowledge it is a long shot that one of them will make the final cut: There are logistical considerations, such as contracts, and the all-important question of trust. But the mere fact that working journalists are being discussed for a job so visible is a sign of change within a White House that has typically been allergic to it…. – WaPo, 1-7-11
    • U.S. to offer more support to Pakistan: The Obama administration has decided to offer Pakistan more military, intelligence and economic support, and to intensify U.S. efforts to forge a regional peace, despite ongoing frustration that Pakistani officials are not doing enough to combat terrorist groups in the country’s tribal areas, officials said. The decision to double down on Pakistan represents the administration’s attempt to call the bluff of Pakistani officials who have long complained that the United States has failed to understand their security priorities or provide adequate support. That message will be delivered by Vice President Biden, who plans to travel to Pakistan next week for meetings with its military chief, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, and top government leaders. Biden will challenge the Pakistanis to articulate their long-term strategy for the region and indicate exactly what assistance is needed for them to move against Taliban sanctuaries in areas bordering Afghanistan…. – WaPo, 1-7-11
    • Defense chief aims on China trip to build trust: U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates heads to China next week looking to soothe strained ties with the People’s Liberation Army, but long-held policies feeding deep suspicion on both sides may undermine that goal. The visit from Sunday to Wednesday comes a week before Chinese President Hu Jintao’s state visit to Washington, creating diplomatic momentum that U.S. officials hope will allow Gates to make headway on sticky security issues….
      In some ways, Gates’ visit to China may be a result of that momentum. U.S. and Chinese military ties were suspended through most of 2010, as Beijing protested President Barack Obama’s proposed arms sale to Taiwan. His trip to China is the most visible demonstration that relations have normalized…. – Reuters, 1-7-11
    • Bernanke Sees Slow Drop in Unemployment Amid Recovery: Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said the unemployment rate will probably fall slowly even with a pickup in U.S. growth this year, signaling no change in the central bank’s monetary stimulus. At the pace of improvement projected by Fed officials, “it could take four to five more years for the job market to normalize fully,” Bernanke said today in testimony to the Senate Budget Committee. Bernanke also stepped up the urgency of his call for a plan to reduce the federal budget deficit, saying “prompt adoption” of one could have economic benefits in the long and short run.
      “It’s about what we expected,” Bernanke said of the jobs report during a question-and-answer period. “If we continue at this pace, we’re not going to see sustained declines in the unemployment rate.” His prepared testimony was submitted before the government data were released Bloomberg, 1-7-11
    • At Obama White House, Back to the Future: The president hailed William M. Daley first, describing him as a “man of rare effectiveness,” one who “embodies the values of hard work and fair play.”
      A bit later, the president heaped praise on Gene B. Sperling for his economic knowledge and his penchant for working all hours, with little sleep. “I rely on him heavily — on his knowledge and skill, his mind and his heart,” the president told reporters as he nominated Mr. Sperling to head the National Economic Council. “He certainly shows that the work ethic is alive and well in America.”
      It was December 1996. And the president was Bill Clinton, who was appointing both men to prominent posts in his administration. The back-to-the-future moment was caught by the C-Span cameras (see video below) to be watched almost 15 years later as history repeated itself. On Thursday, President Obama stood on a stage and introduced Mr. Daley as the new White House chief of staff. Mr. Obama hailed his “tremendous experience, his strong values and his forward-looking vision.”… – NYT, 1-8-11
    • Obama chooses William Daley as chief of staff: President Barack Obama named veteran political manager William Daley to be his new chief of staff Thursday, selecting a centrist with Wall Street ties to help navigate a newly divided Congress and a looming re-election.
      “Few Americans can boast the breadth of experience that Bill brings to this job,” Obama told reporters in the East Room as Daley, 62, stood at his side.
      “But most of all, I know Bill to be somebody who cares deeply about this country, believes in its promise, and considers no calling higher and more important than serving the American people,” the president said.
      The appointment represented the most significant move in a far-reaching and ongoing staff shakeup that included the departure of Obama’s press secretary and several key deputies and economic advisers. It came the day after Republicans officially assumed control of the House and increased their numbers in the Senate…. – AP, 1-6-11
    • Business Background Defines Chief of Staff: He is a top executive at JPMorgan Chase, where he is paid as much as $5 million a year and supervises the Washington lobbying efforts for the nation’s second-largest bank. William M. Daley also serves on the board of directors at Boeing, the giant defense contractor, and Abbott Laboratories, the global drug company, which has billions of dollars at stake in the overhaul of the health care system. And now, Mr. Daley, a longtime Illinois political operative, will hold one of the most powerful jobs in Washington: chief of staff in the White House, where he will help decide who gets access to the Oval Office and what President Obama’s Capitol Hill agenda should be. The recruitment of Mr. Daley to Pennsylvania Avenue from the corporate board room is seen as a savvy step by some in Washington, who argue that Mr. Obama has long needed a White House confidant who has the ear of the business community and a record of bipartisanship that might help the president negotiate with Republicans on Capitol Hill…. – NYT, 1-6-11
    • In Daley, Obama gets change, not continuity President Obama has selected former Commerce Secretary William Daley as his new Chief of Staff: By all outward appearances, the appointment of William Daley on Thursday as White House chief of staff is a total inside job. In reality, it’s anything but, signaling another significant step in the post-election evolution of President Obama.
      The chain of events reads like this: Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley announces he will not run for reelection. Rahm Emanuel resigns as White House chief of staff to run for Daley’s job. Obama picks Daley’s younger brother, Bill, to succeed Emanuel. Neat and tidy. One Chicagoan for another. All in the family.
      In fact, in tapping Daley, Obama has begun to reach outside his comfort zone. Although he and Daley have known each other for years, they have not had a close relationship. Daley may have been an occasional resource for advice but hardly the kind of confidant that Obama’s other Chicago advisers – Emanuel, David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett – have been. Daley has had a far longer relationship with Vice President Biden than with the president.
      In a White House where most of the top jobs have been held by people who went through the fires of the election with Obama, Daley’s arrival can provide a circuit breaker to normal operations. All White Houses are insular, and Obama’s has been no exception. Although the president and Daley share a Chicago connection, Daley is clearly an outsider to Obama’s world and therefore someone who can see the presidency and the operation with fresh eyes…. – WaPo, 1-6-11
    • Obama names new chief of staff, drawing outcries from the left: Overhauling his team at the top, President Obama named banker and seasoned political fighter William Daley as his new chief of staff yesterday, hoping to rejuvenate both a White House storming into reelection mode and an economy trying to maintain growth. The choice of Daley immediately brought protest from the left flank of the Democratic Party, where advocates questioned his insider ties to Wall Street. Centrists and business leaders rallied around the move, one that underscored just how much and how fast the face of the White House is changing. Obama, whose hopes for a second term will be shaped largely by how the economy does, immediately linked Daley’s appointment to that task. For the most influential staff job in American politics, Obama chose a fellow Chicagoan and former Cabinet secretary who has run both companies and campaigns. “I’m convinced that he’ll help us in our mission of growing our economy,” an upbeat Obama said in a White House ceremony as Daley stood to one side. On the other side of the president was Pete Rouse, the interim chief of staff who oversaw a busy three months but did not want to stay in the job. Said Daley to his new boss: “This team will not let you down, nor the nation.”… – AP, 1-6-11
    • Daley choice puts a moderate in play: President Obama’s choice of Chicago business executive William Daley to run his White House operation is the clearest sign yet that he intends to move toward the political center as he approaches a likely 2012 re-election campaign, members of both parties say. Daley’s appointment Thursday follows several other efforts by Obama to work with Republicans after what the president described as a “shellacking” in the November midterm elections. He agreed to continue all of George W. Bush’s tax cuts for two years and helped persuade 13 Republicans to back a new strategic arms agreement with Russia. Obama also made clear he intends to woo Republican leaders personally, perhaps with an invitation to Camp David. His State of the Union address this month is likely to call for budget austerity and free trade agreements.
      “I’ve always thought Obama had moderate instincts. I hope Daley will bring them out,” says Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., a leader among centrist “Blue Dog” Democrats in Congress. “Daley knows business, he understands business, he lives business. And those qualities have been sorely lacking in this administration.”
      The direction Obama took with his choice was clear from the reaction: Republicans were pleasantly surprised. Liberal Democrats were disappointed…. – USA Today, 1-7-11
    • Gates Proposes Troop Cuts, $78 Billion Budget Reduction by 2016: U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates today laid out a $553 billion budget for fiscal 2012, along with a five-year military spending plan that will cut the number of troops, cancel programs and move money saved from those measures into current and new weapons.
      “We must come to realize that not every defense program is necessary, not every defense dollar is sacred and well- spent,” Gates said at a Pentagon news conference. “And that more of nearly everything is simply not sustainable.”… – Bloomberg, 1-6-11
    • Ex-CIA officer charged with giving reporter secrets: A former CIA officer was arrested on Thursday on charges of illegally disclosing national defense information about Iran to a New York Times reporter who wrote a book. The U.S. Justice Department said Jeffrey Sterling, 43, was charged with six counts of unauthorized disclosure of national defense information and one count of unlawfully keeping national defense information, mail fraud, unauthorized conveyance of government property and obstructing justice. The arrest marked the latest case brought by the Obama administration charging current or former U.S. officials with leaking classified information to the news media…. – Reuters, 1-6-11
    • Boehner Takes Gavel in House With Pledge to Bring Change: The new speaker of the House, John Boehner, promised a new era of transparency in lawmaking on Wednesday, but he also pledged to aggressively push forward the conservative agenda that swept his party into power. A roll-call vote of the chamber’s 435 members ended the way the results of November’s election determined that it would: with more votes for Mr. Boehner than for the Democratic leader, Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, making him speaker.
      In remarks after taking the gavel from Ms. Pelosi, Mr. Boehner described himself as humbled, and said that the changes he envisions would restore trust to “the people’s House.”
      “We will honor our Pledge to America, built through a process of listening to the people, and we will stand firm on our Constitutional principles that built our party, and built a great nation,” said Mr. Boehner, now second in line of succession to the presidency. “We will do these things, however, in a manner that restores and respects the time-honored right of the minority to an honest debate — a fair and open process.”… – NYT, 1-5-11
    • Gibbs Leaving Post as Obama’s Press Secretary to Help With Re-Election Bid: White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said he is stepping down to become an outside political adviser to President Barack Obama and help with his re-election campaign. Gibbs, 39, who has worked with Obama since 2004, said today he intends to leave sometime next month. The choice of a successor hasn’t been made, he said.
      “There’s no doubt this is a tough place to work,” Gibbs said. “It’s time to take a little break.”
      Obama called Gibbs “a close friend, one of my closest advisers and an effective advocate” for the administration. In a statement, he said Gibbs will continue to play an important role as part of his team of advisers.
      Among the candidates Obama is considering to be the next press secretary are Jay Carney, a spokesman for Vice President Joe Biden, as well as Bill Burton and Josh Earnest, who have served as deputies to Gibbs since the campaign, according to an administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity because no decision has been made…. – Bloomberg, 1-5-11
    • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo talks ‘change’ but not budget cuts: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told state leaders simply that it was ‘time for New York to change’ in his first State of the State speech. He faces daunting budget, education, and oversight issues…. – CS Monitor, 1-5-11
    • House GOP challenges Obama to join them: On the brink of power, House Republicans challenged President Barack Obama on Tuesday to join them in a drive to cut federal spending, ban earmarks for favored projects and overhaul the nation’s tax code. At the same time, incoming House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., conceded the new GOP majority intends to bypass its own new rules when it votes next week to wipe out the health care law approved by Democrats in 2010. “We just need to repeal it,” Cantor said of the effort to fulfill one of the party’s main campaign promises from last fall. Republicans, their ranks expanded by tea party-backed freshmen, take control of the House when the 112th Congress convenes at noon on Wednesday. One of the first orders of business will be the election of Ohio Republican John Boehner as speaker, replacing Democrat Nancy Pelosi…. – AP, 1-4-11
    • Obama’s shave ice order: A sign of bipartisanship?: Does the president’s flexibility on shave ice flavors show an openness to compromise as the Republicans take control of the House?… – CS Monitor, 1-4-11
    • Both sides prepare to battle over repeal of health-care law: As Congress members prepare to fight anew over the federal law overhauling the health-care system, activists on both sides of the issue are gearing up for a sequel to last year’s raucous debate. Supporters of the law have begun planning protests, petitions and phone calls to block repeal. Its opponents are cheering efforts to dismantle the measure, which House GOP leaders have said they will put up for a vote on Jan. 12.
      The strategies that are emerging could set up a grass-roots battle that rivals the shouting town halls and Capitol Hill marches that made headlines before the law was passed…. – WaPo, 1-4-11
    • NYC officials to probe response to last week’s blizzard: Officials in New York said Tuesday they are looking into what happened to cleanup efforts during last week’s monster blizzard. The New York City Department of Sanitation has drawn sharp criticism since the storm that blanketed much of the Northeast. Workers there have been accused of deliberately slowing down the response in retaliation for the city’s belt-tightening measures…. – CNN, 1-4-11
    • Prop. 8 gay marriage case takes detour to California Supreme Court: Do gay couples have a constitutional right to marry? A US appeals court withholds judgment, instead asking California’s Supreme Court to resolve whether Prop. 8 backers have legal standing to defend the gay marriage ban…. – CS Monitor, 1-4-11
    • Sacked Navy captain once had a bright future: Navy Capt. Owen Honors was an officer with a bright future, a hotshot fighter jock who rose to become commander of one of the most storied ships in the fleet, the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise. His undoing was a sense of humor that seemed a throwback to the Navy’s raucous, macho Tailhook days nearly two decades ago.
      Honors, 49, was sacked as commander of the Enterprise on Tuesday for what the Navy called a “profound lack of good judgment and professionalism” in making and showing to his crew raunchy comic videos three or four years ago. In the videos, Honors used gay slurs and pantomimed masturbation. Once on track to be an admiral, Honors has been reassigned to administrative duties. Military experts said his career is probably over…. – AP, 1-4-11
    • Democrats Hunting for Vulnerable Republicans to Shoot Down in 2012: Democrats are sharpening their swords ahead of the next congressional session, looking to target vulnerable Republicans who could either be picked off in 2012 or at least caricatured so that they become liabilities for their party. Basically, it’s payback time.
      After Republicans routed Democrats in November by ousting moderates in GOP-friendly territory and turning House Speaker Nancy Pelosi into political kryptonite for her caucus, the election losers are mapping a strategy to reverse the tide in two years. They want to halt in their tracks GOP ambitions to build an absolute majority on Capitol Hill over the course of two elections…. – Fox News, 1-3-11
    • Democrats Plan Push to Curtail Use of Filibusters: A band of Senate Democrats signaled on Monday that it would press forward when Congress convenes this week with a proposal to curtail filibusters and other methods of slowing the chamber’s work, but a bit of procedural sleight-of- hand could delay any floor fight over the contentious rules changes until later in January.
      Senator Tom Udall, Democrat of New Mexico, said that he intended to call for new limits on filibusters that would require senators to be on the floor if they seek to derail legislation. He and other Democrats, frustrated at Republicans’ ability to tie up the Senate, want to make it harder to erect other procedural obstacles as well.
      Citing the Constitution and prior Senate rulings, Mr. Udall has argued that senators have the ability to change the chamber’s rules by a majority vote on the first day of the new Congress, which for the 112th Congress begins at noon Wednesday.
      “I am intending on offering my constitutional option on the first day,” Mr. Udall said in a telephone interview as he prepared to return to Capitol Hill…. – NYT, 1-3-11
    • Steele pleads for new term; challengers say no way: GOP Chairman Michael Steele defended his rocky two-year tenure anew Monday and asked for another term, boiling his re-election pitch down to this: “My record stands for itself. We won.” The embattled Republican National Committee chief was referring to coast-to-coast GOP victories that included winning control of the House. Still, as he debated four challengers ahead of next week’s balloting by the 168-member panel, Steele added: “We can do more and we will do it better” and “the opportunity for all of us now is to go forward to continue to build on the successes that we’ve had.”
      Pressing for change and claiming fiscal mismanagement, Steele’s opponents were unified in saying that fundraising ahead of the 2012 presidential election must be the primary focus of the next chairman in the wake of debt as high as $20 million. They also said the party leader must lure back to the RNC deep-pocketed donors who supported independent organizations out of a concern that Steele would misappropriate their money.
      It was the second debate of the race, though the first that Steele attended. The brash former lieutenant governor of Maryland who won the chairmanship two years ago shocked many in Washington last month, including some of his closest aides, when he announced that he would seek a second two-year term after a first riddled with financial woes and verbal missteps that irked many GOP veterans…. – WSJ, 1-3-11
    • Jerry Brown’s California: Five big changes from 1975 to 2011: Once California’s youngest governor, Jerry Brown reprises his role as the state’s chief executive starting Monday, now as the oldest person elected to that office. Then, as now, Brown replaced a Hollywood actor-gone-governor – Ronald Reagan in 1975 and Arnold Schwarzenegger now – and the top issue was high unemployment amid a sagging economy. Here’s a look at California and Brown then and now…. – CS Monitor, 1-3-11
    • Obama signs health bill for 9/11 responders: US President Barack Obama signed into law Sunday a bill to compensate emergency responders sickened in the rubble of the September 11 attacks, the White House said in a statement. The president is currently in Hawaii, where he spent the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, and was expected back in Washington on Tuesday. He had been due to sign the bill at the Kaneohe Marine base near his vacation home.
      The US Congress on December 22 approved a 10-year, four-billion-dollar program to help police, firefighters and other workers made ill by the fumes left in the wake of the worst terrorist attack on US soil. The Senate and then the House of Representatives passed the measure after a last-minute compromise ended a Republican blockade in one of the final acts of the Democrat-led US Congress…. – AFP, 1-2-11
    • Obama Signs Bill to Help 9/11 Workers: President Obama took time out of his Hawaiian vacation on Sunday to sign into law one of the surprise accomplishments of the lame-duck Congress: a measure covering the cost of medical care for rescue workers and others sickened by toxic fumes and dust after the 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.
      To become law, the bill required Mr. Obama’s signature before he returned to Washington on Tuesday, so he signed it at his rented vacation home in the town of Kailua, near Honolulu. There was no signing ceremony, as there would probably have been had the president been at the White House. Instead, Mr. Obama’s official photographer recorded the moment, and the White House said it would release a picture.
      The $4.3 billion bill became a major point of contention in the waning days of the Congressional session. Republican senators blocked a more expensive House version, and as it appeared that the measure was going to die, the comedian Jon Stewart took up the cause, using his Comedy Central television program to advocate passage. Ultimately, the Senate approved the less expensive measure; the House quickly followed suit and sent the bill to the president…. – NYT, 1-2-11
    • Obama aide: Don’t ‘play chicken’ with debt ceiling: Some Republican lawmakers said Sunday opposed raising the ceiling on the nation’s debt without tackling government spending, and President Barack Obama’s top economic adviser warned against “playing chicken” on the issue….
      Austan Goolsbee, the chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, said that refusing to raise the debt ceiling would essentially push the country into defaulting on its financial obligations for the first time in its history.
      “The impact on the economy would be catastrophic,” Goolsbee told “This Week” on ABC. “That would be a worse financial economic crisis than anything we saw in 2008.” Goolsbee added: “I don’t see why anybody’s talking about playing chicken with the debt ceiling.”… – AP, 1-2-11
    • Vincent Gray inaugurated as D.C. mayor: Vincent Gray is sworn in as the District’s mayor, becoming the sixth person to hold the position. Vincent C. Gray, who won election on a pledge to unite the city and to usher in a more collaborative District government, was sworn in as mayor Sunday in a ceremony at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center that drew more than 70 dignitaries and hundreds of other guests.
      In an inaugural speech that quoted four presidents, Gray, a 68-year-old widowed grandfather, tried to motivate the city’s residents to work with him over the next four years to reform public education, lower the unemployment and crime rates, bring transparency to city finances and achieve statehood for the nation’s capital. He put a twist on his campaign theme of “One City” and repeatedly called the District “Our City.”… – WaPo, 1-2-11
    • Arizona town buzzing over Palin’s purchase: Bristol Palin buys a five-bedroom house on the edge of Maricopa, Ariz. Locals wonder whether it’s a sign of a housing market rebound in the sleepy Phoenix suburb.
      No one here really knows why she bought a five-bedroom house in a sprawling subdivision, or if she even intends to live in it. But, already, Bristol Palin’s real estate acquisition has residents in one hard-hit desert neighborhood chatting about their hopes for a housing market rebound…. – LAT, 1-2-11
    • US Navy to probe lewd videos shown to carrier crew: A top officer aboard a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier broadcast to his crew a series of profanity-laced comedy sketches in which he uses gay slurs, mimics masturbation and opens the shower curtain on women pretending to bathe together, a newspaper reported.
      The Virginian-Pilot reported in its Sunday editions that Capt. Owen Honors appeared in the videos in 2006 and 2007 while he was the USS Enterprise’s second-ranking officer, and showed them across the ship on closed-circuit television. He took over as the ship’s commander in May. The Navy said it plans to investigate the videos, which it called “clearly inappropriate.”
      “The videos were intended to be humorous skits focusing the crew’s attention on specific issues such as port visits, traffic safety, water conservation, ship cleanliness, etc.,” the Navy said in a statement to the newspaper…. – AP, 1-2-11

    112TH CONGRESS

    • House hearing Thursday over ousting NH lawmaker: Republicans will attempt to show Thursday why a New Hampshire lawmaker should forfeit his seat because he works for the Democratic Party. A House Legislative Administration elections subcommittee is holding a hearing into a complaint that Manchester Rep. Mike Brunelle violated the constitution by filing legislation that furthers his party’s agenda. Brunelle denies the allegation and says he has filed no bills that benefit his party…. – Boston Globe, 1-9-11
    • Reid doubts McConnell is focused on Obama’s defeat: Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid says he doesn’t think top Republican Mitch McConnell is serious when he says his No. 1 goal is to make Barack Obama a one-term president. Reid, D-Nev., says he believes McConnell, R-Ky., is more concerned with the economy, immigration and other problems facing the country…. – AP, 1-9-11
    • McConnell Assumes Kennedy’s Old Suite At Capitol Rand Paul Housed In Temporary Office: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is moving into the office suites of his longtime office neighbor and political opposite, the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass. The Kentucky Republican’s offices are moving into Kennedy’s old suite in the Russell Senate Office Building by spring…. – WLKY, 1-9-11
    • House Democrats Rapidly Unleash Sharp Attacks: After four years of harassment by an aggressive Republican minority, House Democrats evidently absorbed a lesson along with all those political blows: the route back to Congressional power is paved with frontal assaults on the practices and policies of the majority.
      In the opening days of the 112th Congress, members of the new Democratic minority have been unrelenting in their attacks on the way Republicans have begun their reign. Via news conferences, Web videos, floor speeches, media appearances and a steady stream of critical statements and e-mails, Democrats have accused the new regime of ignoring the deficit implications of repealing the new health care law, breaking promises to run a more open House and, for good measure, letting lawmakers who were not sworn in cast votes.
      House Democrats would obviously prefer to still be in charge. But falling from power — and relinquishing the responsibility of running the House — has freed them to unleash the same kind of attacks that Republicans and their allies so effectively employed against Democrats, particularly over the last two years…. – NYT, 1-8-11
    • House Clears Way for Floor Vote on Health Care Law Repeal: The House of Representatives has cleared the way to hold a vote next week on repealing the health care overhaul, while at the same time dealing with a parliamentary snag over the credentials of two GOP lawmakers. In a test vote Friday, the House formally approved the rules for debate on the health law repeal. The procedural measure passed largely along party lines on a 236-181 vote.
      “Today we are taking the first step in fulfilling a key promise to the American people,” said Rep. David Dreier, R-Calif., who led the GOP side in the debate. “We are setting in motion a process to repeal President Obama’s job- killing health care bill and replace it with real solutions.”
      The move sets up a rhetorical battle ahead of a full vote in the House Wednesday. That vote is seen as largely symbolic, since Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has vowed to block it in the Senate — and President Obama would surely veto anything of the sort that clears Congress…. – Fox News, 1-7-11
    • Health care law repeal: Why would it increase the deficit?: Health care reform, which the new Republican House leadership is pushing to repeal, includes cuts to government Medicare payments and increased taxes and fees.
      Why might that be the case? First off, it must be noted that Republicans think this is hooey. Getting rid of big government programs doesn’t cost money, they say. Five ways Republicans will change the House
      “I do not believe that repealing the job-killing health care law will increase the deficit,” said House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio on Thursday…. – CS Monitor, 1-7-11
    • U.S. Republican bid to scrap healthcare hits snag: Republican efforts to scrap President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform took a hit on Thursday when budget analysts said repeal would add billions of dollars to the federal budget deficit. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated overturning the reform signed by Obama last year would add about $230 billion to the deficit by 2021 and result in 32 million fewer people having health insurance. That was a blow to Republican campaign promises to slash the federal budget deficit…. – Reuters, 1-7-11
    • Democrats’ defection from Pelosi is historic: How divided are Democrats’ right now? With 19 Democrats withholding support from Nancy Pelosi for House speaker on Wednesday, it represented the largest defection from a party’s speaker nominee in nearly a century. The resistance in the Democratic Party to back now-former Speaker Pelosi (D-Calif.) in the ceremonial first vote of the 112th Congress registered higher than at any point since 1913, according to data from the Congressional Research Service. That year, which happens to be the last year for which records are available, featured 23 votes for Republicans other than that party’s speaker nominee. Of the 19 Democrats who didn’t support Pelosi on Wednesday, 18 voted for other Democrats and one voted “present.”… – WaPo, 1-6-11
    • Notable passages of Constitution left out of reading in the House: And on the second day of Republican rule, the House reads the Constitution. Volunteers gave voice to the seven articles and 27 amendments that make up the nation’s governing document on Thursday. Notable passages left out: (Text taken from the National Archives’ official Constitution site)…. – WaPo, 1-6-11
    • Historic Constitution reading comes with glitches: In a symbolic move by a new Republican majority, the people who make our laws read the document that is the foundation for our laws in its entirety in Congress. But like lawmaking itself, Thursday’s unprecedented reading of the U.S. Constitution by members of the House didn’t come without glitches — including some involving Georgians. Shortly after new Republican House Speaker John Boehner read the preamble and ousted speaker Nancy Pelosi read its first section, members were called up one by one to read parts of the government’s most important document…. – The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 1-6-11
    • House cuts its own budget by 5 percent: The Republican-controlled House voted Thursday to trim members’ office budgets by $35 million, a symbolic down payment on a promise to bring the budget deficit under control. That 5 percent cut is enough to keep the government running for about five minutes. With the bipartisan 410-13 vote, lawmakers said they were leading by example as they work to fulfill a promise to return most domestic accounts to the levels in effect before President Barack Obama took office…. – AP, 1-6-11
    • Analysis: Budget antics more theater than reality show: Hours after taking control of the House of Representatives, Republican lawmakers were already rolling back pledges to slash spending — a rollback that may actually be the best thing they can do for the economy. One giant-but-remote risk remains that the newly empowered Republicans, channeling voter angst over debt, will make good on threats to block the Treasury Department from issuing any more bonds once it hits a debt ceiling this spring.
      Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said on Thursday if Congress refused to lift the $14.3 trillion debt limit, it would be akin to default and “catastrophic” for the economy. But so far, in their first few hours of power, Republicans have eased concerns that their attempts to shrink the government — and a $1.3 trillion deficit — will inadvertently derail a still-vulnerable economic recovery….n- Reuters, 1-6-11
    • Geithner urges Congress to raise debt limit: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner warned congressional leaders Thursday that the government could reach its borrowing limit by spring and failure to raise it could affect millions of American jobs. Geithner’s warning is directed chiefly at Republicans, who are vowing to block an increase in the debt limit and use the fight to restrain government spending.
      House Speaker John Boehner said spending cuts and reforming a broken budget process must come first. Those are the top priorities for the new Republican majority in the House. “While America cannot default on its debt, we also cannot continue to borrow recklessly, dig ourselves deeper into this hole and mortgage the future of our children and grandchildren,” Boehner, an Ohio Republican, said in a statement…. – AP, 1-6-11

    ELECTIONS 2012….

    • Chicago mayoral candidates open campaign offices: The race for Chicago’s next mayor is heating up across the city. Two candidates vying to replace retiring Mayor Richard Daley are opening more campaign offices this weekend. Former Chicago School Board president Gery Chico opened five field offices on Saturday. His campaign’s headquarters are downtown. The new locations include offices in the city’s heavily Latino Pilsen and Little Village neighborhoods. City Clerk Miguel del Valle opened an office on the city’s South Side on Saturday. His campaign’s headquarters are on the city’s West Side…. – Chicago Tribune, 1-9-11
    • Republican Pawlenty hints at 2012 presidential run: U.S. Republican Tim Pawlenty denounces “runaway spending” in Washington and blames the Obama administration for a mountain of debt in a new book that lays out his case for possibly running for president in 2012. Pawlenty’s “Courage to Stand” hits bookstores next week and comes as he gets closer to deciding whether to launch a bid for the Republican presidential nomination and the right to battle Democratic President Barack Obama in 2012.
      Pawlenty, just ending eight years as Minnesota governor, said some Republicans shared the blame for violating their conservative principles of fiscal responsibility. “But the fact is, the current administration, through the smoke-and-mirror effect of bailouts and big-government spending, has taken America’s future and leveraged it into a mountain of debt so large it’s nearly impossible for anyone to wrap their heads around,” he writes…. – Reuters, 1-7-11
    • Judge: Rahm Emanuel remains on Feb. 22 Chicago mayoral ballot: Former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel meets the residency requirement to run for mayor of Chicago and will remain on the Feb. 22 ballot, a Cook County judge ruled Tuesday. In a ruling issued early Tuesday afternoon, Cook County Circuit Judge Mark Ballard upheld an earlier ruling by the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners that Emanuel — despite having lived in Washington, D.C. for the past two years — is eligible to run. Emanuel doesn’t need to prove he had a “place to sleep” in Chicago to prove he “resided” here, Ballard wrote. Burt Odelson, the attorney who went to court seeking to oust Emanuel from the ballot, argued that because Emanuel rented his house out to Rob and Lori Halpin — unlike President Obama and senior advisor David Axelrod — he had no place to sleep in the city. Therefore, he fails to meet a state requirement that candidates for mayor “reside” in the city for a year prior to Election Day, Odelson said. Odelson even quoted Obama, who on his first trip back to Chicago said, “It’s good to be back home and to be able to sleep in my own bed.” “Mr. Emanuel couldn’t say that because Mr. Halpin was sleeping in his bed,” Odelson said. Chicago Sun-Times, 1-4-11
    • Obama to face challenge from his ambassador to China?: When President Obama tapped Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman in 2009 to be his ambassador to China, many of us figured that was the end of whatever plans Huntsman might have to seek the Republican presidential nomination in 2012. We may have figured too soon. Huntsman, who recently bought a house in Washington, made comments to Newsweek magazine that suggest the political bug hasn’t been suppressed by his diplomatic work in Beijing.
      “You know, I’m really focused on what we’re doing in our current position,” Huntsman told Newsweek. “But we won’t do this forever, and I think we may have one final run left in our bones.”… – USA Today, 1-3-11
    • Gentry Collins: Critic of Steele Drops Bid to Replace Him: Gentry Collins, a former political director of the Republican National Committee who resigned in November after delivering a scathing condemnation of the party’s fund-raising practices, said Sunday that he was withdrawing his candidacy to succeed Michael Steele as chairman of the Republican Party.
      Mr. Collins announced his decision on Sunday evening in an e-mail to members of the Republican National Committee. He did not offer an endorsement of any of the five remaining candidates, who are scheduled to appear at a debate on Monday afternoon in Washington.
      “It is after much consideration and thought that I announce my withdrawal from the race for chairman of the R.N.C.,” Mr. Collins said in a statement. “I believe that there are several qualified candidates in the race for chairman, each of whom would do a fine job leading the committee through the 2012 election cycle.”…. – NYT, 1-2-11
    • No challenge to Obama in 2012 race: party leader: US President Barack Obama is unlikely to face a serious challenge in the 2012 White House race from within his party, the Democratic Party leader said Sunday. Obama, who became the first black president of the United States after defeating Republican rival John McCain in the November 2008 presidential election, is expected to run for a second term in office next year.
      “I think it’s very unlikely that the president is going to face any kind of a serious primary challenge within the Democratic Party,” party leader Tim Kaine said on CNN.
      “You can always get a fringe candidate or somebody to run. So, you know, could somebody throw in their name? Yes, it’s possible. But I think the likelihood of any serious challenge to the president is virtually nil.”… – AFP, 1-2-11
    • African-American leaders unite around Carol Moseley Braun for mayor ‘Ain’t no stopping us now,’ says former rival, U.S. Rep. Danny Davis: African-American political leaders rallied around former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun on Saturday as a unity candidate best qualified to be Chicago mayor, capping a holiday week of private negotiations that left her the only major black politician in the campaign. Flanked by prominent black elected officials who dropped out and endorsed her bid, Braun told a crowd at the weekly Rainbow/PUSH Coalition meeting on the South Side that she has “the most credentials and the most qualifications and experience of all of the candidates running” to replace retiring Mayor Richard Daley.
      “And so they just chose the most qualified candidate for the job,” said Braun, who made history as the nation’s first black female senator but dropped out of elected politics after losing her re-election bid in 1998…. – Chicago Tribune, 1-1-11

    QUOTES

    The President records the Weekly Address

    hite House Photo, Lawrence Jackson, 1/7/11

    • Statement by the President on Sudan: I am extremely pleased that polling has started for the Southern Sudan Referendum, and congratulate the people of Southern Sudan who are determining their own destiny. This is an historic step in the years-long process to fully implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended the civil war between north and south. The international community is united and determined to ensure that all parties in Sudan live up to their obligations. We know that there are those who may try to disrupt the voting. Voters must be allowed access to polling stations, and must be able to cast their ballots free from intimidation and coercion. All sides should refrain from inflammatory rhetoric or provocative actions that could raise tensions or prevent voters from expressing their will. Violence in the Abyei region should cease. And while a successful vote will be cause for celebration, an enormous amount of work remains to ensure the people of Sudan can live with security and dignity. The world will be watching in the coming days, and the United States will remain fully committed to helping the parties solve critical post-referendum issues regardless of the outcome of the vote. – WH, 1-9-11
    • Presidential Proclamation–Honoring the Victims of the Tragedy in Tucson, Arizona: As a mark of respect for the victims of the senseless acts of violence perpetrated on Saturday, January 8, 2011, in Tucson, Arizona, by the authority vested in me as President of the United States by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I hereby order that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half- staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset, January 14, 2011. I also direct that the flag shall be flown at half-staff for the same length of time at all United States embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations.
      IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this
      ninth day of January, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fifth. – WH, 1-9-11
    • Gabrielle Giffords shooting stirs outpouring of concern and support: Leaders react to the shooting of the Arizona congresswoman. Obama: ‘We are going to get to the bottom of this, and we’re going to get through this.’…. – LAT, 1-8-11
    • President Obama: The President Speaks on the Shootings in Tucson: “We Are Going to Get to the Bottom of This, and We’re Going to Get Through This”: As many of you are aware, earlier today a number of people were shot in Tucson, Arizona, including several who were meeting at a supermarket with their congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords. We are still assembling all the facts, but we know that Representative Giffords was one of the victims. She is currently at a hospital in the area, and she is battling for her life.
      We also know that at least five people lost their lives in this tragedy. Among them were a federal judge, John Roll, who has served America’s legal system for almost 40 years; and a young girl who was barely nine years old.
      I’ve spoken to Arizona governor Jan Brewer and offered the full resources of the federal government. A suspect is currently in custody, but we don’t yet know what provoked this unspeakable act. A comprehensive investigation is currently underway, and at my direction, Director Bob Mueller is en route to Arizona to help coordinate these efforts. I’ve also spoken to the Democratic and Republican leaders in the House.
      Gabby Giffords was a friend of mine. She is not only an extraordinary public servant, but she is also somebody who is warm and caring. She is well liked by her colleagues and well liked by her constituents. Her husband, Mark Kelly, is a Navy captain and one of America’s valiant astronauts.
      It’s not surprising that today Gabby was doing what she always does — listening to the hopes and concerns of her neighbors. That is the essence of what our democracy is all about. That is why this is more than a tragedy for those involved. It is a tragedy for Arizona and a tragedy for our entire country.
      What Americans do at times of tragedy is to come together and support each other. So at this time I ask all Americans to join me and Michelle in keeping all the victims and their families, including Gabby, in our thoughts and prayers. Those who have been injured, we are rooting for them. And I know Gabby is as tough as they come, and I am hopeful that she’s going to pull through.
      Obviously our hearts go out to the family members of those who have been slain. We are going to get to the bottom of this, and we’re going to get through this. But in the meantime, I think all of us need to make sure that we’re offering our thoughts and prayers to those concerned. WH, 1-8-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
    • Sarah Palin, On the tragedy in Arizona: My sincere condolences are offered to the family of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the other victims of today’s tragic shooting in Arizona. On behalf of Todd and my family, we all pray for the victims and their families, and for peace and justice. –
    • Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz): “I am horrified by the violent attack on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and many other innocent people by a wicked person who has no sense of justice or compassion. I pray for Gabby and the other victims, and for the repose of the souls of the dead and comfort for their families. I beg our loving Creator to spare the lives of those who are still alive, heal them in body and spirit, and return them to their loved ones.
      Whoever did this; whatever their reason, they are a disgrace to Arizona, this country and the human race, and they deserve and will receive the contempt of all decent people and the strongest punishment of the law. – McCain Senate, 1-8-11
    • Weekly Address: President Obama Touts Benefits of Tax Cut Package to Take Place in the New Year Remarks of President Barack Obama As Prepared for Delivery The White House January 08, 2011:
      …This incentive is part of the economic package I signed into law last month – a package that also includes a payroll tax cut that will mean $1,000 more this year for a typical family. In fact, 155 million workers will see larger paychecks this month as a result of this tax cut.
      Twelve million families will benefit from a $1,000 child tax credit and an expanded Earned Income Tax Credit. Eight million students and families will continue to benefit from a $2,500 tuition tax credit to make college more affordable.
      And millions of entrepreneurs in big cities and small towns across the country will benefit not only from the business expensing plan I mentioned, but from additional tax cuts that will spur research and development.
      Independent experts have concluded that, taken together, this package of tax cuts will significantly accelerate the pace of our economic recovery, spurring additional jobs and growth.
      And that is our mission. That should be the focus, day in and day out, of our work in Washington in the coming months, as we wrestle with a challenging budget and long-term deficits. And I’m determined to work with everyone, Republicans and Democrats, to achieve that goal. What we can’t do is refight the battles of the past two years that distract us from the hard work of moving our economy forward. What we can’t do is engage in the kinds of symbolic battles that so often consume Washington while the rest of America waits for us to solve problems.
      The tax cuts and other progress we made in December were a much-needed departure from that pattern. Let’s build on that admirable example and do our part, here in Washington, so the doers, builders, and innovators in America can do their best in 2011 and beyond. – WH, 1-8-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
    • Text Obama’s Remarks Introducing His New Chief of Staff: Following is a text of the remarks made on Thursday by President Obama and his newly selected chief of staff, William M. Daley, as released by the White House…. – NYT, 1-6-11
    • President Obama Announces Bill Daley as Chief of Staff: As part of that process, today I am proud to announce the appointment of an experienced public servant, a devoted patriot, my friend, fellow Chicagoan Bill Daley, to serve as my Chief of Staff. (Applause.)
      Few Americans can boast the breadth of experience that Bill brings to this job. He served as a member of President Clinton’s Cabinet as Commerce Secretary. He took on several other important duties over the years on behalf of our country. He’s led major corporations. He possesses a deep understanding of how jobs are created and how to grow our economy. And needless to say, Bill also has a smidgen of awareness of how our system of government and politics works. You might say it is a genetic trait. (Laughter.)
      But most of all, I know Bill to be somebody who cares deeply about this country, believes in its promise and considers no calling higher and more important than serving the American people. He will bring his tremendous experience, his strong values and forward-looking vision to this White House. I’m convinced that he’ll help us in our mission of growing our economy and moving America forward. And I very much look forward to working with Bill in the years to come…. – WH, 1-6-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
    • Scalia: Women Don’t Have Constitutional Protection Against Discrimination: The equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution does not protect against discrimination on the basis of gender or sexual orientation, according to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. In a newly published interview in the legal magazine California Lawyer, Scalia said that while the Constitution does not disallow the passage of legislation outlawing such discrimination, it doesn’t itself outlaw that behavior…. – Huff Post, 1-3-11
    • Tim Kaine, DNC chair: Obama won’t ‘play mother may I?’ with GOP: “What we saw at the end of the 2010 in that lame duck session was dramatic accomplishments, the repeal of don’t ask, don’t tell, the approval of the START Treaty, tax compromise going forward with additional stimulus, all those were done with some Republican votes,” said Kaine. “So if there are going to be members of the Republican party who are willing to reach out and work as the president reaches toward them, we’ll see some strong accomplishments. We’re also going to see this president not being afraid to be the chief executive of the American public asked him to be. He’s not going to play “mother may I?” with the Republicans. He’s going to govern, but if the Republicans are willing to work as they did at the end of that lame duck session, I think we will see productive efforts in a number of ways. There will be disagreements, surely, that’s part of the process, but there are many more areas where we can continue to agree and move forward.” – NECN, 1-2-11
    • Sarah Palin ‘some months’ away from any decision to seek presidency: But former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin says in an ABC interview she would be ‘in it to win it’ if she decides to enter the 2012 primary. Palin says polls showing she not may be the best Republican choice to beat Obama would not deter her. Sarah Palin says she’s still “some months” away from a decision about whether to seek the presidency in 2012, and that she won’t be deterred by polls showing that she may not be the Republican Party’s best candidate to beat President Obama.”We don’t need a fundamental transformation. We need a renewal and a restoration of what is good about America,” she “You know, other folks can jump in, and that kind of helps you get that lay of the land. But my decision won’t be made for some months still,” she said.
      “If I were to participate in that contested primary, I would be in it to win it,” she said.said. “That’s strong national defense. That’s free-market principles being allowed to be applied so that our private sector grows and prospers.”
      She accused Obama of “flip flopping” by embracing a compromise plan that would extend the George W. Bush-era tax rates. “He realized that, oh, yeah, the rich – 70% of the job creators are considered, I guess, the rich in this country — they will see an extension of the Bush tax cuts,” she said.
      “You can term it ‘compromise.’ I term it ‘flip-flop.’ I was thankful that he did, but it’s still not good enough.”
      In the last year Palin has limited her exposure to what she often derides as the “lamestream” media — traditional outlets like ABC — preferring to interact with the public through Facebook and Twitter, or in her capacity as a paid contributor to Fox News. Friday, she used Facebook to state her opposition to the new START treaty, another priority for Obama in the lame duck session of Congress.
      “Every word that I speak is scrutinized and ultimately, in some corners of the world, it gets mocked and ridiculed and spun into something that it is not,” she said. “There has been the temptation to kind of pull back a little bit and maybe not be as candid.” – LAT, 12-18-10

    HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

    • FRANK RICH: Let Obama’s Reagan Revolution Begin: …The present-day radicals donning Reagan drag, led by Sarah Palin, seem not to know, as Cannon writes, that their hero lurched “from excessive tax cuts to corrective tax increases disguised as tax reform” and “submitted eight unbalanced budgets to Congress in succession.” Reagan made no promise whatsoever of a balanced budget in the document that codified Reaganomics, his White House’s 281-page message to Congress in February 1981. The historian Gil Troy has calculated that spending on entitlement programs more than doubled on Reagan’s watch. America slid into debtor-nation status, and Americans “went from owing 16 cents for every dollar in national income in 1981” to owing 44 cents per dollar in 1988….
      At this point the speed of our own halting recovery is not in the president’s hands. The ability to remake his style of leadership still is. But that makeover can come only from him, not from old Clinton hands in a reshuffled West Wing. Without it, the miracle of his Christmas resurrection could be over by Easter. – NYT, 1-8-11
    • Obama’s Choice Of Daley Fits Mold For Embattled Presidents Bringing in an outside critic to run his operation might help change the narrative of the presidency: “He reflected the more moderate wing of the GOP that felt Reagan had gone too far in his budgetary policies that were busting the deficit,” Julian Zelizer, an expert on American political history and professor at Princeton University, wrote in an email. “In this case, the criticism [Baker had made of Reagan’s policies] was in some ways a positive for his later appointment as chief of staff since it signaled that Reagan had moderated his views by bringing in someone who held different perspectives into his inner circle.”
      “Clinton was turning to someone who was corporate, pragmatic, centrist—to signal his move to the center, and actually get there effectively,” says Gil Troy, an expert on the American presidency who teaches history at McGill University.
      “Daley is a Democratic centrist who believes that the center is where his party can thrive and win,” says Chester Pach, a history professor at Ohio University who has written histories of the Nixon, Reagan, and Lyndon Johnson presidencies. “It seems as if Obama has similar views. Maybe he’s come to that conclusion only since Nov. 2.” – Newsweek, 1-6-11
    • Gil Troy: Internal rivals could be Barack Obama’s downfall: While much of the discussion since U.S. President Barack Obama’s “shellacking” in the 2010 congressional midterm elections has focused on the Republican surge, Obama also should worry about his base. In the last 50 years, the only incumbent presidents who have lost their re-election bids first faced primary challenges for renomination. In short, Obama better worry about his own party before dealing with the Tea Party.
      Although in the age of modern communications the power of any incumbent is considerable, the American president’s powers are particularly formidable. By being both the head of state and head of government, in effect the king and the prime minister, the president can tap all kinds of non-partisan patriotic emotions while monopolizing the airwaves and using political muscle. During the Christmas season, for example, as the president hosts thousands of influential Americans in the White House, as he lights the national Christmas tree and calls for national unity, he serves as the high priest of America’s civic religion, transcending mundane partisan concerns.
      So it is difficult — and has always been wrenching — to fire a president. In the 20th century, only five incumbents lost re-election bids, and in the last half century, it occurred only three times. Each time it required a major crisis and a serious insurgency, whereby someone with purer ideological credentials from the president’s own party first weakened the incumbent before the general election….
      History is instructive not predictive. Still, it is hard to see how Obama could lose if the economy is booming and his party is united. And it is hard to see Obama winning if the economy remains depressed, Democrats are deeply divided, and Republicans find a candidate who is popular, credible and effective. – Toronto Star, 1-4-11

    Arizona Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords shot, 6 killed

    By Bonnie K. Goodman

    Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

    THE HEADLINES….

    THE HEADLINES….

    The President & First Lady observe a moment of silence

    • In Arizona, Obama to honor memories, speak of hope: Under high expectations to provide healing, President Barack Obama on Wednesday will try to convert the horror of the Arizona shootings into a moment of national unity centering his memorial speech in Tucson on the lives of the victims and the heroism of those who rushed to stop the madness. The president was crafting his speech on Tuesday, and his aides were reluctant to discuss it even broadly in its unfinished form, other than to say it will emphasize the memories of those lost. Still, Obama’s comments since the shooting on Saturday, his experience in dealing with other tragedies and history’s guide offer signs about how he is likely to respond to this moment. At the service Wednesday night, Obama’s main mission will be to honor those who were killed by describing them in personal terms, so the country remembers how they lived, not how they died. He will seek to assure families in grief that the whole country is behind them. And to those grasping for answers after the assassination attempt on Democratic U.S Rep Gabrielle Giffords, Obama will likely explore how “we can come together as a stronger nation” in the aftermath of the tragedy, as he put it earlier this week. What the speech is not likely to be: An examination of divisive partisan rhetoric, or whether it is connected in any way to the rampage that led to the killing of six people and the wounding of 14 others. Standing amidst the people of a grieving community, Obama is expected to focus on a memorial, not a commentary on political civility. This moment as chief consoler comes to all presidents – often many times. And this will not be Obama’s first…. – AP, 1-11-11
    • Doctor: Giffords has ‘101 percent chance’ of surviving Ariz. Congresswoman is moving both arms, breathing on her own: U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was breathing on her own and moving both arms after being shot in the head, doctors said Tuesday. Giffords still has a breathing tube to prevent infections such as pneumonia, said her neurosurgeon Dr. Michael Lemole. “I’m happy to say that she’s holding her own,” he said. Giffords, a three-time Democrat, remained in critical condition at Tucson’s University Medical Center since Saturday when she was shot during a meeting with constituents outside a grocery store. The attack killed six and injured 14 others. Six remained hospitalized. Giffords previously raised two fingers with her left hand and gave a thumbs-up when responding to doctors’ verbal commands. Although her condition has remained virtually unchanged the past few days, doctors were hopeful. “She has a 101 percent chance of surviving,” said trauma chief Dr. Peter Rhee said. “She will not die. She does not have that permission from me.”… – MSNBC, 1-11-11
    • Arizona governor asks residents to pray for victims: Arizona Governor Jan Brewer asked Arizonans on Tuesday to pray for the victims of a Tucson shooting spree that killed six people and wounded 14. Devoting most of her annual State of the State speech to the rampage, Brewer called it “something dark and ugly”, according to a transcript of the speech released by her office. “There is no way to measure what Tucson and all of Arizona lost in that moment,” Brewer said. “The statistics — six dead, 14 wounded — in no way explain the depth of this tragedy.” After paying tribute to the victims, the governor said: “So I ask you to join me in a moment of silence, to pray for those we’ve lost, the injured and the suffering.”… – Reuters, 1-11-11
    • Family of Ariz. mass shooting suspect speaks: The parents of a man charged with trying to assassinate Rep. Gabrielle Giffords expressed sorrow Tuesday for the “heinous events,” their first public remarks since their 22-year-old son was accused of killing six people.
      “There are no words that can possibly express how we feel,” the family of Jared Loughner said in a statement handed to reporters outside their home. “We don’t understand why this happened. It may not make any difference, but we wish that we could change the heinous events of Saturday. We care very deeply about the victims and their families.”
      The family’s statement came as Tucson residents prepared for a community memorial service Tuesday night and a visit from the president a day later…. – AP, 1-11-11
    • Arizona lawmakers take up funeral protest legislation: The Arizona legislature is expected to pass legislation Tuesday targeting a Kansas church whose members have announced they plan to picket the funerals of the victims of Saturday’s shootings in Tucson. The proposed legislation would make it a misdemeanor to protest within 300 feet of a funeral from one hour before until one hour after a funeral, a spokesman for the state House said. The action, according to House spokesman Daniel Scarpinato, is in direct response to the Westboro Baptist Church’s announcement that it will picket the funeral of Christina Green, the 9-year-old who was among six people killed during Saturday’s attempted assassination of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Arizona…. – CNN, 1-11-11
    • Loughner’s Parents Plead for Privacy, and Express Sorrow: The parents of Jared L. Loughner broke their silence Tuesday, asking the media to protect their privacy as their son stands accused of trying to kill a congresswoman in a rampage that killed six people and left 14 others injured.
      “This is a very difficult time for us,” said the statement, issued Tuesday afternoon by Randy and Amy Loughner. “We ask the media to respect our privacy. There are no words that can possibly express how we feel. We wish that there were, so we could make you feel better. We don’t understand why this happened. It may not make any difference, but we wish that we could change the heinous events of Saturday. We care very deeply about the victims and their families. We are so sorry for their loss.”
      The statement came as friends of Jared Loughner said Tuesday that his behavior had become increasingly erratic over the last year, underscored by his fear that two of his closest friends were planning to kill him, one of those friends said Tuesday. “He did not have many friends,” said Zane Gutierrez, 21, who met Mr. Loughner in high school. “We stopped talking to him in March of 2010. He started getting weird.”… – NYT, 1-11-11
    • Suspect in Arizona shooting held without bail: The nation got its first look on Monday at the 22-year-old loner accused of trying to assassinate Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Jared Loughner, head shaved, a cut above the right temple and his hands cuffed, scanned a packed courtroom and sat down. His attorney, who defended “Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski, whispered to him. The judge asked Loughner if he understood that he could get life in prison — or the death penalty — for killing federal Judge John Roll, one of the six who died in the shooting rampage at Giffords’ meeting with constituents on Saturday in Tucson. “Yes,” he said, standing at a lecturn in his beige prison jumpsuit. His attorney, Judy Clarke, stood nearby, as did a U.S. marshal. The judge ordered Loughner held without bail…. – AP, 1-10-11
    • Congresswoman raises 2 fingers, gives thumbs-up: Doctors treating Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords said Monday the congresswoman was responding to verbal commands by raising two fingers of her left hand and even managed to give a thumbs-up. Giffords, 40, is in critical condition in the intensive care unit of Tucson’s University Medical Center after she was shot through the head Saturday during a meet-and-greet with voters outside a supermarket. Two patients were discharged Sunday night. Eight others, including Giffords, remained hospitalized. Recent CAT scans showed no further swelling in the brain, but doctors were guarded…. – AP, 1-10-11
    • Palin, Amid Criticism, Stays in Electronic Comfort Zone: Under criticism that her political rhetoric had helped create a climate for political violence, Sarah Palin addressed the issue in trademark fashion: via e-mail to the conservative commentator Glenn Beck. “Our children will not have peace if politicos just capitalize on this to succeed in portraying anyone as inciting terror and violence,” Ms. Palin wrote to Mr. Beck in an e-mail that he read Monday on his radio program.
      Mr. Beck said he received the message over the weekend, when Ms. Palin and her aides were otherwise ignoring requests for comment about the Tucson shootings from members of the mainstream news media. Such unconventional political communication has served Ms. Palin well in the past two years…. – NYT, 1-10-11
    • Gabrielle Giffords recovery continues in aftermath of Tucson shootingWaPo, 1-10-11
    • While Doctors Are Optimistic, Prognosis for Wounded Congresswoman Is Unclear: It could be a year before extent of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ recovery is evident, experts say… – Business Week, 1-10-11
    • Accused Tucson Shooter Jared Loughner Smirks in Court, Smiles for Mug Shot: Doctors ‘Breathe Sigh of Relief’ as Giffords Has No Significant Brain Swelling… – ABC News, 1-10-11
    • Giffords ‘hero’ intern springs into action after shooting: Daniel Hernandez had been intern for Gabrielle Giffords for less than a week… Hernandez lifted her head to make it easier for her to breathe, applied pressure to her wound… “She was obviously in a lot of pain, so I let her know to squeeze my hand,” he says… An Arizona lawmaker calls intern a hero and says he helped save Giffords’ life… – CNN, 1-10-11
    • At Giffords’s Synagogue, Prayers for Recovery: They spilled into the aisles and the corridor, past the extra rows of folding chairs and the congregants packed into the synagogue’s corners. More than 100 people crowded into a special healing service Sunday morning for Representative Gabrielle Giffords at Congregation Chaverim, where she was married three years ago, for a tearful ceremony. Ms. Giffords’s rabbi, friends and admirers gathered to pray for a swift recovery and to honor a woman many described as an inspiration. If the shooting in Tucson on Saturday of 20 people, including Ms. Giffords, shook the entire nation, it hit this city’s Jewish community especially hard, most of all those who belong to Ms. Gifford’s small Reform temple, hidden among tall cactuses on a quiet suburban street…. – NYT, 1-10-11
    • Palin caught in crosshairs map controversy after Tucson shootings: The controversy, which may have caught the Republican by surprise, is the kind of test candidates commonly face in a presidential campaign. How she navigates it, several Republican strategists said Monday, could be a defining moment for her politically. What makes her challenge unique is that it comes as a result of a national tragedy in which there is no known connection between anything Palin said or did and the alleged actions of Jared Loughner, who is accused of fatally shooting six and severely wounding Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and 13 others.
      “It’s absurd to point fingers at Palin, and people who are doing that are just as guilty of politicizing this tragedy as anyone else,” said Todd Harris, a Republican strategist. “At the same time, to the degree that this is a so-called learning moment for the country, I think the public looks to its leaders and pretty quickly decides who has something to teach and who has something to learn. I think that Palin is missing an opportunity to show that she can be a leader at a higher level than she’s been viewed before.”… – WaPo, 1-10-11
    • Sheriff In Giffords Case Lashes Out About Politics: Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik was thrust into the spotlight to face a nation demanding answers in the aftermath of the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. He didn’t mince words. The rampage, he said, grew in part from extreme political rhetoric, bigotry and hatred, especially in his home state of Arizona. Dupnik said he was angry and heartbroken over the tragedy, and was simply speaking his mind as an American, not a law enforcement official. But in the midst of a national media pressure cooker, his comments raised the question: Did he overstep his authority in making the comments that he did?… – NPR, 1-10-11
    • Loughner’s Meltdown Began in Adulthood, Those Near Him Say:
      The cloudy image of the gunman in Saturday’s horrific shooting in Tucson is starting to come into focus, as neighbors and acquaintances paint a picture of a troubled young man whose disturbing behavior started to flare up in just the last few years.
      Alleged gunman Jared Lee Loughner, charged in the shooting that left six dead and 14 wounded including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, has a minor criminal record dating back to 2007. But his former high school principal, Richard Faidley, told FoxNews.com that he didn’t have any major disciplinary problems in school before that.
      But Loughner’s problems have now escalated to the point that his family has barricaded itself in their home, hounded by reporters and spectators who want to know how the 22-year-old could have gone on a killing spree on a sunny Saturday afternoon in Tucson.
      The FBI was forced to wait outdoors Monday while the family removed the plywood it had used to blockade the door. After a few minutes of removing the wood, FBI began another search of the property that has been upended in the orderly and ongoing law enforcement investigation.
      Speaking in her annual state of the state speech, Gov. Jan Brewer said the attack was an assault not merely on individuals, but on “on our republic, on our democracy.” She said despite the impact, Arizona will not be brought down. “In fact, we’ve been lifted up by America’s thoughts and prayers and we’re deeply grateful for them,” she said…. – Fox News, 1-10-11
    • Nihilism or Sarah Palin: What motivated Arizona shooting suspect?: Early reports suggest that the philosophies of shooting suspect Jared Loughner are tangled and largely incoherent – ranging from nihilism to ‘lucid dreaming.’ So far, there does not appear to be clear link to talk radio or hyperpartisanship, though that could change.
      Initial reports about Jared Loughner, the 22-year-old college dropout charged with killing six and gravely wounding Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Ariz., Saturday, so far present a picture of a person inspired by a tangled and in some ways nonsensical web of philosophies more than any one person, political movement, or line of thought.
      Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik suggested Saturday that the shootings might have been influenced by “vitriolic rhetoric” in the political discourse. He went on to single out talk radio and Sarah Palin, who, on her website last fall, targeted 20 House districts for Republican takeovers with cross hairs – including Congresswoman Giffords’s.
      Rep. Robert Brady (D) of Pennsylvania is reportedly preparing a bill that would outlaw the use of threatening rhetoric against lawmakers. The investigation of the incident has clearly not finished, and new revelations are sure to come. But at this early stage, no clear links have emerged between Loughner and the current political climate. Rather, acquaintences and criminologists point to a convoluted worldview that appears largely incoherent – ranging from a fascination with dreams to an apparent penchant for nihilism…. – CS Monitor, 1-10-11
    • Jared Loughner appears in court on murder charges: It remains unclear whether Loughner’s alleged actions were politically motivated, stemmed from mental illness or both. But the nice, skinny kid some classmates remember from Tucson’s Mountain View High School appears to have transformed into an oddball with psychological problems. Rants in Loughner’s name on MySpace and YouTube suggest his alleged attack on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, a Democrat, was a politically motivated rebellion, but former friends, co-workers and mental health specialists suggest a personality gone awry, a social outcast whose instability seems to have fallen through the cracks despite the fears of bewildered peers, bosses and educators. Photographed after his arrest with a shaved head and a jarring smile, Loughner bears little resemblance to the longhaired teen high school pals remember… – USA Today, 1-11-11
    • Arizona suspect could face death penalty Report: Jared Loughner purchased ammo hours before shooting spree: Jared Loughner, head shaved, a cut on his right temple and his hands cuffed, stared vacantly at a packed courtroom Monday and sat down. His attorney, who defended “Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski, whispered to him. It was the nation’s first look at the 22-year-old loner accused of trying to assassinate Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. The three-term Democrat lay about a 100 miles away in a Tucson intensive care unit, gravely wounded after being shot through the head but able to give a thumbs-up sign that doctors found as a reason to hope.
      Loughner seemed impassive and at one point stood at a lectern in his beige prison jumpsuit. A U.S. marshal stood guard nearby. The judge asked if he understood that he could get life in prison — or the death penalty — for killing federal Judge John Roll, one of six who died in the shooting rampage at Giffords’ outdoor meeting with constituents Saturday in Tucson.
      The judge ordered Loughner held without bail. The next court hearing was set for Jan. 24…. – MSNBC, 1-10-11
    • Thumbnail Sketches Of Victims In Tucson ShootingNPR, 1-9-11
    • Obama Orders U.S. Flags Lowered, Moment Of Silence For Tucson: President Obama ordered all U.S. flags on government buildings and properties lowered to half mast out of respect for the victims of Saturday’s shootings in Tucson.
      The White House also called for the observance of a moment of silence at 11 am EST Monday, “to honor the innocent victims of the senseless tragedy in Tucson, Arizona, including those still fighting for their lives.”
      The White House also postponed a planned trip to Schenectady, NY Tuesday in which the president was to highlight his administration’s efforts to create the enhance the climate for job creation. White House officials hoped to reschedule the trip.
      The move by Obama and his aides to place on hold some of their plans for the week followed the announcement by the House leadership that they were postponing a vote to repeal the health care law and other business in response to the shootings…. – AP, 1-9-11
    • U.S. sees evidence of assassination plot: Federal authorities filed murder charges Sunday against 22-year-old Jared Loughner, as new evidence suggested the alleged gunman in Saturday’s rampage had fixated on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) while his mental health deteriorated…. – WaPo, 1-9-11
    • Federal Charges Cite Assassination Plan: Prosecutors charged Jared L. Loughner, a troubled 22-year-old college dropout, of five federal counts on Sunday, including the attempted assassination of a member of Congress, for his role in a shooting rampage that left 20 people wounded, six of them fatally, on Saturday morning.
      Evidence seized from Mr. Loughner’s home, about five miles from the shooting, indicated that he had planned to kill Representative Gabrielle Giffords, Democrat of Arizona, according to documents filed in the Federal District Court in Phoenix. Special Agent Tony M. Taylor Jr. of the Federal Bureau of Investigation said in an affidavit that an envelope found in a safe in the home bore these handwritten words: “I planned ahead,” “My assassination” and “Giffords.”
      Mr. Loughner, who is believed to have acted alone, is in federal custody, and is scheduled to make his first appearance before a magistrate judge in Phoenix on Monday…. – NYT, 1-9-11
    • U.S. Files Charges Against Jared Loughner For Tucson Shootings: The federal government formally charged Jared Lee Loughner for a shooting incident in Tucson, AZ that left six people dead and 16 wounded. The charges included two counts of killing a federal employee and one count of trying to assassinate a member of Congress as well as two additional counts of trying to kill federal workers. Prosecutors also said investigators found allegedly incriminating evidence at Loughner’s residence that indicated that he his actions were premeditated…. – NPR, 1-9-11
    • Alleged Tucson Shooter Faces Federal Charges: A Law enforcement official said the man authorities earlier described as a “person of interest” in connection with the mass shootings in Tucson has talked to authorities and was cleared. NPR has confirmed through the Federal Bureau of Investigation that the man in an image taken by a security camera at the shopping center where the shootings occurred has talked with authorities and was cleared of any involvment. Authorities had wanted to talk with the man because he was seen entering the general area of the shootings at about the same time as the alleged guman, Jared Lee Loughner…. – NPR, 1-9-11
    • Giffords known for her openness and Judaism: She gained prominence quickly in that body and in 2006, at 36, she became the first Jewish woman elected to Congress from her state. At the same time, her Judaism was becoming more central to her identity. The turning point came in 2001 following a tour of Israel with the American Jewish Committee, she told The Arizona Star in 2007. “It just cemented the fact that I wanted to spend more time with my own personal, spiritual growth. I felt very committed to Judaism,” she said. “Religion means different things to different people. It provides me with grounding, a better understanding of who I came from.”… – JTA, 1-9-11
    • Memo notes Giffords’ Judaism in motives of alleged attacker: A U.S. Department of Homeland Security memo reportedly notes that Gabriel Giffords is Jewish in describing the motives of the Arizona congresswoman’s alleged assailant. The memo, obtained by Fox News Channel, says that Jared Lee Loughner mentioned American Renaissance, an extremist anti-immigrant group, in some of his own postings. “The group’s ideology is anti-government, anti-immigration, anti-ZOG (Zionist Occupational Government), anti- Semitic,” says the memo sent to law enforcement, which also notes that Giffords, a Democrat, was the first Jewish congresswoman from Arizona…. – JTA, 1-9-11
    • Survival is possible for Giffords: Doctors treating Rep. Gabrielle Giffords said Sunday that while she remains in critical condition, early signs have made them hopeful. Giffords is able to communicate with doctors by following simple commands, such as squeezing her hand, said Dr. Michael Lemole, Jr., chief of neurosurgery at University Medical Center in Tuscon, Arizona. “We are very encouraged by that,” he said, adding, “I am cautiously optimistic.” Brain swelling is the biggest threat Giffords faces now, said Lemole…. – CNN, 1-9-11
    • Massacre suspect “mentally disturbed,” former teacher says: The suspect in the weekend massacre in Arizona was kicked out of an algebra class at a community college in June after repeated interruptions and clearly “needed psychological help,” his instructor said Sunday. Jared Lee Loughner was “physically removed” from the Pima Community College course less than a month after it began, its instructor, Ben McGahee told CNN. McGahee said Loughner sometimes shook, blurted things out in class, and appeared to be under the influence of drugs at times. “I was scared of what he could do,” McGahee said. “I wasn’t scared of him physically, but I was scared of him bringing a weapon to class.”… – CNN, 1-9-11
    • Born on Sept. 11, Claimed by a New Horror: Christina Green was on the student council of her elementary school, so on Saturday her mother’s friend thought she might enjoy seeing government in action: the local congresswoman meeting with constituents outside a supermarket near Christina’s home. “I allowed her to go, thinking it would be an innocent thing,” said the girl’s mother, Roxanna Green, 45. It did not turn out that way. A gunman shot Representative Gabrielle Giffords, leaving her in critical condition, and his fusillade killed six people, including Christina, a 9-year-old who loved animals and volunteered at a children’s charity…. – NYT, 1-9-11
    • 9-year-old killed in US shooting was born on 9/11: Christina-Taylor Green, the nine-year-old who was killed Saturday along with five other people at an Arizona political event, was drawn to politics from the awareness she was born on September 11, 2001, her parents have said. “She was born back east, and September 11 affected everyone there, and Christina-Taylor was always very aware of it. She was very patriotic and wearing red, white and blue was really special to her,” Roxanne Green told the Arizona Daily Star.
      “She was born on 9/11, the day the towers came down in New York City,” her father John Green told Fox News on Sunday. The dark-haired, brown-eyed third-grader was one of 50 babies born on that date featured in a book called “Faces of Hope.” She had gone to the Tucson strip mall with a neighbor on Saturday to meet congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was still in critical condition Sunday after being shot through the head, according to the newspaper.
      Christina-Taylor died in hospital after the shooting. Her neighbor, identified by the girl’s father as Susy Almond, was shot four times and recovering from surgery at Tucson’s University Medical Center, the daily said.
      Six people were killed, including a federal judge, and 14 were wounded in the shooting spree, in which 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner was charged Sunday…. – AP, 1-9-11
    • Suspect’s Odd Behavior Caused Growing Alarm: In a community college classroom here last June, on the first day of the term, the instructor in Jared L. Loughner’s basic algebra class, Ben McGahee, posed what he thought was a simple arithmetic question to his students. He was not prepared for the explosive response.
      “How can you deny math instead of accepting it?” Mr. Loughner asked, after blurting out a random number, according to Mr. McGahee.
      Mr. McGahee, for one, was disturbed enough by the experience to complain to school authorities, who as early as last June were apparently concerned enough themselves to have a campus officer visit the classroom. And what Mr. McGahee described as a pattern of behavior by Mr. Loughner, marked by hysterical laughter, bizarre non sequiturs and aggressive outbursts, only continued.
      “I was getting concerned about the safety of the students and the school,” said Mr. McGahee, who took to glancing out of the corner of his eye when he was writing on the board for fear that Mr. Loughner might do something. “I was afraid he was going to pull out a weapon.”… – NYT, 1-9-11
    • Six dead in shooting that wounds Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords: The Democrat was shot in the head when a gunman opened fire at a meet-and-greet at a supermarket. She is responsive after surgery. The dead include a 9-year-old girl and a federal judge, and at least 12 others are injured…. – LAT, 1-8-11
    • Arizona shooting suspect Jared Loughner may have posted anti-government messages: The 22-year-old suspect in the shooting of U.S. Rep Gabrielle Giffords and others at a Tucson grocery is Jared Loughner, who lives in the same city. On MySpace and YouTube web pages, a man who identifies himself as 22-year-old Jared Loughner posted anti-government messages that talk about mind control and suggested he will soon be adopting a new consciousness. “Goodbye,” Loughner posted on his MySpace account at approximately 5 a.m. Saturday. “Dear friends … Please don’t be mad at me.”… – USA Today, 1-8-11
    • Second suspect sought in Arizona shooting: Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., and several others were shot Saturday morning when a gunman opened fire outside a supermarket where Giffords was meeting with constituents. A 22-year-old suspect was in custody, law enforcement officials said. But at a Saturday evening news conference, investigators said they were looking for an accomplice who may have helped the gunman. Six of the victims died. The Pima County sheriff, Clarence W. Dupnik, said among those killed were John M. Roll, the chief judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, and a 9-year-old girl…. – NYT, 1-8-11
    • Arizona massacre suspect: ‘Kind of a troubled past’: The 22-year-old man under arrest in Saturday’s massacre in Arizona railed against government “mind control” and illiteracy in online missives and had “kind of a troubled past,” as the local sheriff put it. “There’s reason to believe this individual may have a mental issue,” Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik told reporters Saturday night. An Arizona law enforcement source and a U.S. law enforcement source have identified the suspect as Jared Lee Loughner, a 22-year-old former community college student. He was taken into custody after the massacre at a Tucson supermarket that killed a federal judge, a 9-year-old girl and four others and seriously wounded U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was hosting a meeting with constituents at the Safeway…. – CNN, 1-8-11
    • Rep. Giffords Critical After Ariz. Attack: Representative Gabrielle Giffords, an Arizona Democrat, and 17 other people were shot just north of Tucson on Saturday morning when a gunman opened fire outside a supermarket where Ms. Giffords was meeting with constituents for a “Congress on Your Corner” event.
      Ms. Giffords, 40, was described as being in very critical condition at the University Medical Center in Tucson, where she was operated on by a team of neurosurgeons. Dr. Peter Rhee, medical director of the hospital’s trauma and critical care unit, said that she had been shot once in the head, “through and through,” with the bullet going through her brain.
      “I can tell you at this time, I am very optimistic about her recovery,” Dr. Rhee said in a news conference. “We cannot tell what kind of recovery but I’m as optimistic as it can get in this kind of situation.”…. – NYT, 1-8-11
    • Arizona Rep. Giffords shot, at least 5 killed: Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona was shot in the head Saturday when an assailant opened fire outside a grocery store during a meeting with constituents, killing at least five people and wounding several others in a rampage that rattled the nation.
      Giffords was among at least 10 people wounded, and the hospital said her outlook was “optimistic” and that she was responding to commands from doctors despite having a bullet go through her head. The hospital said a 9-year-old child was among the dead, and a U.S. Marshal said a federal judge was also fatally shot in the attack.
      Giffords spokesman C.J. Karamargin said an unspecified number of her staff members were injured in the shooting. Congressional officials said an aide to the Democrat was killed, and President Barack Obama said five people died in all. The reaction to the shooting was swift and rippled across the globe. Obama held a nationally televised news conference to express his condolences. The shooting cast a pall over Capitol as politicians of all stripes denounced the shooting as a horrific act of violence. Capitol police asked members of Congress to step up security in the wake of the shooting, and some politicians expressed hope that the killing spree serves as a wakeup call at a time when the political climate has become so emotionally charged.
      Police say the shooter was in custody, and was identified by people familiar with the investigation as Jared Loughner, 22. Pima County Sheriff’s officials said he used a pistol to carry out the shooting spree. U.S. officials who provided his name to the AP spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release it publicly…. – AP, 1-8-11
    • Authorities Suspect Gunman in Arizona Rampage Posted Pre-Shooting Video Online: Jared Loughner, the 22-year-old man who sources identify to Fox News as the gunman in custody in the deadly shooting rampage Saturday in Arizona, is suspected of posting a series of YouTube videos that show a focus on literacy and currency — as well as his distrust in the government. “Hello, my name is Jared Lee Loughner,” one of the videos says, in words appearing on the screen. “This video is my introduction to you! My favorite activity is conscience dreaming; the greatest inspiration for my political business information. Some of you don’t dream – sadly.”
      The video, posted Dec. 15, later turns more political. “The majority of citizens in the united states of America have never read the united states of America’s constitution. You don’t have to accept the federalist laws,” the video’s titles say. “In conclusion, reading the second United States constitution, I can’t trust the current government because of the ratifications: the government is implying mind control and brainwash on the people by controlling grammar. No! I won’t pay debt with a currency that’s not backed by gold and silver! No! I won’t trust in god!”
      Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was among the people critically wounded in the shooting at a public event in Tucson, and several people were killed, including a federal judge and a 9-year-old boy…. – Fox News, 1-8-11
    • Giffords had been target of violent threats: It is not yet known whether or not the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, an Arizona Democrat, and as many as a dozen other people at a public event in Tucson, was an act of political violence. The AP has reported that the gunman has been identified as Jared Loughner. There’s still uncertainty about Loughner’s motives and politics. But a Youtube video posted under the name Jared Lee Loughner of Tucson proposes creating a “new currency,” and rails against non-English speakers “in District 8” — Giffords’s congressional district.
      But it’s worth noting that Giffords — who in 2006 became the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, at 36 — has, for more than a year, been the target of violence-tinged rhetoric from political opponents and of threats that appear to have come from right-wing activists.
      Asked by the New York Post whether his daughter had any enemies, Giffords’s father replied: “The whole tea party.”
      In August 2009, an attendee at a Giffords town-hall meeting dropped a handgun, leading Giffords’s staff to call the police. “We have never felt the need before to notify law enforcement when we hold these events,” her spokesman said at the time.
      After Giffords voted in favor of the health-care overhaul in March, she said that vandals had broken the glass door of her Tucson office. “The rhetoric is incredibly heated, not just the calls but the emails, the slurs,” she told MSNBC at the time. “Things have really gotten spun up.” She added: “We do have these polarized parts of our parties that really get excited, and that’s where … all of us have to come together and say, ‘OK, there’s a fine line here.'”… – Yahoo News, 1-8-11

    QUOTES

    The American flag flies at half-mast on the U.S. Capitol in Washington Sunday, Jan. 9, 2011.
    • Moment of Silence for the Victims in Arizona: This morning at 11:00AM EST President Obama, the First Lady and White House staff joined many across the country in observing a moment of silence to honor the innocent victims of the senseless tragedy in Tucson, Arizona, including those still fighting for their lives. In addition to staying on top of the investigation and helping wherever possible. The President has been and will continue to be in close contact with those concerned, having made calls to Representative Gifford’s husband, Mark Kelly, the families of Christina-Taylor Green and Gabe Zimmerman, as well as House Leadership and members of the Arizona delegation in both the House and Senate…. – WH, 1-10-11Mp4Mp3
    • President Obama on Tucson, Grief & Courage: PRESIDENT OBAMA: We’ll, I’m very grateful to have my dear friend, Nicolas Sarkozy, here. And I think Nicolas has agreed that at the top I want to just make a few comments about the situation in Tucson, Arizona.
      Obviously all of us are still grieving and in shock from the tragedy that took place. Gabby Giffords and others are still fighting to recover. Families are still absorbing the enormity of their losses. We have a criminal investigation that is ongoing and charges that no doubt will be brought against the perpetrator of this heinous crime.
      I think it’s important for us to also focus, though, on the extraordinary courage that was shown during the course of these events: a 20-year-old college student who ran into the line of fire to rescue his boss; a wounded woman who helped secure the ammunition that might have caused even more damage; the citizens who wrestled down the gunman. Part of what I think that speaks to is the best of America, even in the face of such mindless violence.
      And so, in the coming days we’re going to have a lot of time to reflect. Right now, the main thing we’re doing is to offer our thoughts and prayers to those who’ve been impacted, making sure that we’re joining together and pulling together as a country. And as President of the United States, but also as a father, obviously I’m spending a lot of time just thinking about the families and reaching out to them. – WH, 1-10-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
    • Presidential Proclamation–Honoring the Victims of the Tragedy in Tucson, Arizona: As a mark of respect for the victims of the senseless acts of violence perpetrated on Saturday, January 8, 2011, in Tucson, Arizona, by the authority vested in me as President of the United States by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I hereby order that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half- staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset, January 14, 2011. I also direct that the flag shall be flown at half-staff for the same length of time at all United States embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations.
      IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this
      ninth day of January, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fifth. – WH, 1-9-11
    • Gabrielle Giffords shooting stirs outpouring of concern and support: Leaders react to the shooting of the Arizona congresswoman. Obama: ‘We are going to get to the bottom of this, and we’re going to get through this.’…. – LAT, 1-8-11
    • President Obama: The President Speaks on the Shootings in Tucson: “We Are Going to Get to the Bottom of This, and We’re Going to Get Through This”: As many of you are aware, earlier today a number of people were shot in Tucson, Arizona, including several who were meeting at a supermarket with their congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords. We are still assembling all the facts, but we know that Representative Giffords was one of the victims. She is currently at a hospital in the area, and she is battling for her life.
      We also know that at least five people lost their lives in this tragedy. Among them were a federal judge, John Roll, who has served America’s legal system for almost 40 years; and a young girl who was barely nine years old.
      I’ve spoken to Arizona governor Jan Brewer and offered the full resources of the federal government. A suspect is currently in custody, but we don’t yet know what provoked this unspeakable act. A comprehensive investigation is currently underway, and at my direction, Director Bob Mueller is en route to Arizona to help coordinate these efforts. I’ve also spoken to the Democratic and Republican leaders in the House.
      Gabby Giffords was a friend of mine. She is not only an extraordinary public servant, but she is also somebody who is warm and caring. She is well liked by her colleagues and well liked by her constituents. Her husband, Mark Kelly, is a Navy captain and one of America’s valiant astronauts.
      It’s not surprising that today Gabby was doing what she always does — listening to the hopes and concerns of her neighbors. That is the essence of what our democracy is all about. That is why this is more than a tragedy for those involved. It is a tragedy for Arizona and a tragedy for our entire country.
      What Americans do at times of tragedy is to come together and support each other. So at this time I ask all Americans to join me and Michelle in keeping all the victims and their families, including Gabby, in our thoughts and prayers. Those who have been injured, we are rooting for them. And I know Gabby is as tough as they come, and I am hopeful that she’s going to pull through.
      Obviously our hearts go out to the family members of those who have been slain. We are going to get to the bottom of this, and we’re going to get through this. But in the meantime, I think all of us need to make sure that we’re offering our thoughts and prayers to those concerned. WH, 1-8-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
    • Sarah Palin, On the tragedy in Arizona: My sincere condolences are offered to the family of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the other victims of today’s tragic shooting in Arizona. On behalf of Todd and my family, we all pray for the victims and their families, and for peace and justice. –
    • Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz): “I am horrified by the violent attack on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and many other innocent people by a wicked person who has no sense of justice or compassion. I pray for Gabby and the other victims, and for the repose of the souls of the dead and comfort for their families. I beg our loving Creator to spare the lives of those who are still alive, heal them in body and spirit, and return them to their loved ones.
      Whoever did this; whatever their reason, they are a disgrace to Arizona, this country and the human race, and they deserve and will receive the contempt of all decent people and the strongest punishment of the law. – McCain Senate, 1-8-11
    • House Speaker John A. Boehner (R- Ohio): I am horrified by the senseless attack on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and members of her staff. An attack on one who serves is an attack on all who serve. Acts and threats of violence against public officials have no place in our society. Our prayers are with Congresswoman Giffords, her staff, all who were injured, and their families. This is a sad day for our country.
    • House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D- San Francisco): “Our prayers and thoughts are will all of them. … Congresswoman Giffords is a great patriotic American.
    • Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer: I am just heartbroken. Gabby is more than just a colleague, she’s actually a friend. She’s always been a noble public servant.

    HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

       

    • Assassins and American History: Is there a tie between political speech and the violent acts of unbalanced individuals?… – NYT, 1-10-11
    • Robert Dallek, historian: The Means to Commit Mass Murder: Common sense gun control is a more important question than how much all the overstated speech facilitates violence…. – NYT, 1-10-11
    • Jill Lepore, Harvard historian: What Thomas Jefferson Would Say: The U.S. system of government demands both dissent, and tolerance of it…. – NYT, 1-10-11
    • Steven F. Hayward, American Enterprise Institute: Political Attacks, Circa 1800: The vitriol in the 1800 election would make Fox News and MSNBC blush…. – NYT, 1-10-11
    • Steven Mintz, history professor, Columbia University: The Facts About Political Assailants: Assailants of politicians have mostly been paranoid outsiders, unusually sensitive to the political sensations of the time…. – NYT, 1-10-11
    • Kevin Baker, novelist and historian: The Cost of Thuggish Prattle: Attempts on the lives of public figures rarely correspond directly to hate speech, but others have suffered the cost of thuggish prattle about resorting to arms…. – NYT, 1-10-11
    • Julian E. Zelizer, history professor, Princeton University: Toxic Speech in Politics: That people instantly wondered about the connection between political speech and the Tucson shootings is a sign of a toxic political culture…. – NYT, 1-10-11
    • Catherine McNicol Stock, historian, “Rural Radicals”: Violence in the 1930’s: The “shoot the banker” cry in the Depression did not lead to mass killings but to vicious acts like tarring and feathering…. – NYT, 1-10-11
    • UW Professor Mordecai Lee: Shooting Will Impact Democratic Process Expert Predicts Tighter Security For Members Of Congress: “From now on, going to a town hall meeting with a member of congress is going be like going to the airport — you’re going to have to walk through one of those body scans,” said UW Milwaukee Government Affairs professor Mordecai Lee.
      “If we have to put U.S. senators and members of congress in the same secret service bubble that now extends to presidents and presidential candidates, the nature of American politics will change,” he said.
      “You can’t live in a bubble. You can’t view every single person as a potential assassin or a potential assailant. The essence of being a politician is being amongst people,” he said.
      “This is terrible for democracy, but I’m afraid it’s really the only pragmatic answer for these horrible kind of situations,” he said…. – WISN, 1-9-11
    • Gabrielle Giffords shooting fuels debate over rhetoric: Has the nation’s harsh political rhetoric become more than just talk — to the point of being dangerous? The attempted assassination of Arizona Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords as she spoke with voters outside a grocery store in Tucson fueled a debate Sunday over whether the sharp partisanship and anti-government language that now mark American politics have created a climate that makes violence against public officials more likely. As a moderate Democrat who barely won re-election in a state torn by disputes over immigration policy, economic angst and growing mistrust in the government, Giffords was familiar with today’s increasingly nasty political rhetoric. Her opponent last fall accused her of betraying her district. Meanwhile, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin’s website posted a map with crosshairs on 20 Democrat-held congressional districts Palin was targeting for takeover by Republicans in the November elections. Giffords’ was one of them.
      “You can’t say they’re just words; they have consequences,” said South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn, a member of the Democratic leadership. He said he worries about the effect of words on “people who may not be clicking on all cylinders.”
      He cautioned, “We need to take a look at what we’re drifting into here.” However, some Republican leaders and conservative activists rejected the suggestion that their hard-edged language on issues such as health care and immigration could fairly be tied to Saturday’s attack by a gunman in Tucson that left six people dead, including a federal judge and a 9-year-old girl. Giffords, who was shot in the head, was in critical condition Sunday after surgery.
      “This is a terrible politicization of a tragedy,” said Rebecca Mansour, an aide to Palin. “We don’t know (the suspect’s) motive. It doesn’t seem like he was motivated by a political ideology. Craziness is not an ideology.”… – USA Today, 1-9-11
    • Bloodshed Puts New Focus on Vitriol in Politics: The shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords and others at a neighborhood meeting in Arizona on Saturday set off what is likely to be a wrenching debate over anger and violence in American politics. While the exact motivations of the suspect in the shootings remained unclear, an Internet site tied to the man, Jared Lee Loughner, contained antigovernment ramblings. And regardless of what led to the episode, it quickly focused attention on the degree to which inflammatory language, threats and implicit instigations to violence have become a steady undercurrent in the nation’s political culture.
      Clarence W. Dupnik, the Pima County sheriff, seemed to capture the mood of the day at an evening news conference when he said it was time for the country to “do a little soul-searching.” “It’s not unusual for all public officials to get threats constantly, myself included,” Sheriff Dupnik said. “That’s the sad thing about what’s going on in America: pretty soon we’re not going to be able to find reasonable, decent people willing to subject themselves to serve in public office.”… – NYT, 1-9-11