Full Text Political Headlines February 9, 2013: GOP Weekly Address: Senator Lisa Murkowski’s New Energy ‘Blueprint’

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

GOP Address: Sen. Murkowski’s New Energy ‘Blueprint’

Source: ABC News Radio, 2-9-13

US Senate

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, the ranking member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, delivers this week’s Republican address, in which she discusses her “blueprint” for more “abundant, affordable, clean, diverse, and secure” energy….READ MORE

Hi, I’m Senator Lisa Murkowski from the state of Alaska.  In this new Congress I continue to serve as the lead Republican on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and today I want to discuss the tremendous opportunities that await us in those areas.

Energy has been a source of anxiety for our nation since the 1970s.  And yet thanks to new technologies, an era of scarcity is quickly giving way to one of abundance.  We now have a 90-year supply of natural gas, enough oil to eliminate OPEC imports for decades, and a broad range of promising options for alternatives and efficiency.  There may never have been a time when America has had more potential for energy production—or better ability to use our energy wisely.

But of course, we recognize all is not well.  Energy production on public lands owned by the federal government either stayed flat or fell in recent years.  America’s energy infrastructure has aged, the price of oil is high, and the need for reliable energy has never been more urgent.  Projects are too often hamstrung by burdensome regulations, delayed permits, and overzealous litigation.  Our energy situation has improved in some respects, but we can still demand better.

In fact, we should demand better.

To take full advantage of our energy opportunities—and to face up to our energy challenges—this week I released a report entitled, Energy 20/20: A Vision for America’s Energy Future.  It’s based on a simple insight: energy is good.  Energy provides the basis of modern society and allows us to lead comfortable and productive lives.  It allows us to produce food and manufacture and communicate.  As we found out during the power outage at the Super Bowl, it’s also pretty important to professional football.

Energy is not a necessary evil.  Energy is good.  And that’s why it is in our national interest to make energy abundant, affordable, clean, diverse, and secure.  I believe that there’s a consensus around these five objectives, and our challenge now is to align federal policy with them.

To accomplish that, my blueprint offers some 200 recommendations.  These span the spectrum of resources and reforms, from the immediate approval of the Keystone XL pipeline to a trust fund for energy research that is paid for with the revenues from new production.

Every recommendation in my blueprint is associated with a clear goal for the year 2020.  We can end our dependence on OPEC oil.  We can help make renewable energy more competitive, build on our efficiency gains, and re-establish the supply chain for critical minerals.  We can ensure that research, and not endless regulation, is the force behind technological innovation.  Through sensible regulatory reforms, we can prevent the misuse of environmental laws and allow projects to proceed—and all the while maintaining the highest environmental standards in the world.

The ideas in my blueprint would create new jobs, generate new revenues, and slash our dependence on foreign energy.  They would shore up our security and strengthen our economy.  They would help us minimize the impacts of energy development and reduce the emissions that are blamed for climate change.

Now, it is true that my blueprint does not rely on new mandates or new regulations to achieve these goals.  And it doesn’t drive up taxes or energy prices.  It doesn’t limit choice or lavish subsidies.  Now, there are some who continue to believe that those options represent the best or perhaps the only path forward.  But that’s wrong.  There is a resource that must be protected, left untapped and undisturbed—and that’s you, the American taxpayer.

It’s fair to say that not every member of Congress will support every proposal in my blueprint.  And that’s why I describe it as a conversation starter.  It’s intended to provoke a new and a better discussion about energy, to recognize how bright our future can be, and to provide a prudent alternative to the heavy-handed approaches coming from the Administration and the EPA.

We can do better.  We can renew and reimagine our energy policies. And now that we have a blueprint that can help guide the way.

I want to thank you for listening.  If you’re interested in reading Energy 20/20, it’s available on my committee website at energy.senate.gov. Thanks so much.

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Political Headlines January 30, 2013: Senators Again Call for Bipartisan “Date Night” Seating at State of the Union Address

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Senators Again Call for Bipartisan “Date Night” Seating at State of the Union Address

Source: ABC News Radio, 1-30-13

For the third straight year, Senators Mark Udall, D-Colo., and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, called for bipartisan seating during the president’s State of the Union address on Feb. 12, a so-called “date night” as it has been informally dubbed in the past.

Rather than Republicans and Democrats sitting en masse together on their respective sides of the aisle during the president’s address to a joint session of Congress, the senators call for members of Congress to team up with a member of the opposite party sitting as “dates” together.

This is a tradition the senators started in 2011, in the wake of the shooting of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona. The simple idea, aimed at projecting a greater sense of unity and civility in politics, was continued on in 2012, yet without the matching depth of participation as the first time around….READ MORE

Political Highlights January 1, 2011: Looking Towards 112th Congress & Republican House — Obama’s Hawaii Vacation — Chicago’s Mayoral Campaign

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 111TH & 112TH CONGRESS:

The President records the Weekly Address

STATS & POLLS

  • CNN Poll: Americans more optimistic about the world in 2011: Americans are looking forward to the new year with much more optimism about the state of the world than they did a year ago, according to a new national poll. But a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll released Friday also indicates Americans’ optimism regarding their own personal lives is down a bit from last year.
    Sixty-three percent of people questioned in the poll say they are hopeful about what the new year holds in store for the world in general, up 12 points from last December, with 35% saying they are fearful, down 13 points.
    “On the home front, Americans are just as optimistic, with 64% saying they are hopeful about their own personal lives in the new year,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “But that number is down from 69% who felt that way 12 months ago.”
    The survey indicates a gender gap, with seven of ten men saying they are optimistic about the state of the world in 2011, 11 points higher than the 59% of women who say they feel that way. And according to the poll, Democrats and Republicans are more positive about the state of the world in the new year than independent voters…. – CNN, 12-31-10
  • Poll: Fewer hope for Obama success: Americans are less supportive of President Barack Obama’s policies than they were a year ago, but a majority of those surveyed in a new poll still hope his policies will be successful.
    In a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll released Wednesday, 61 percent of Americans surveyed said they hope Obama’s policies succeed. A year ago, 71 percent hoped for Obama’s policy success.
    Those surveyed were also less confident that the president’s policies would succeed, with 44 percent saying they would and 47 percent saying they would fail. A year ago, 52 percent of Americans said they thought Obama’s policies would be successful, while 41 percent said they thought his policies would fail.
    Fifty-one percent of Americans said they think the GOP majority in the House of Representatives will be a good thing for the country, while 42 percent said they think it will be a bad thing…. – Politico, 12-30-10
  • Poll: Majority rooting for Obama, GOP wants him to fail: Sixty-one percent of Americans, from all ethnic backgrounds, income groups and age levels, hope that President Obama’s policies will succeed, according to a new Opinion Research poll for CNN. Two groups disagree.
    By a 61 percent to 27 percent margin – exactly the reverse of the poll’s overall numbers – Republicans hope that the president’s policies will fail. Fifty-one percent of self-described Conservatives are also hoping for failure.
    The nation’s 44th president gets positive marks as a person in the Opinion Research findings. “Would you say you approve of him or disapprove of him?” asked a question in the survey.
    Seventy-three percent answered “Approve,” and just 22 percent “Disapprove.” In job approval, however, the latest Gallup Poll has Americans evenly divided: 47 percent give thumbs up to Obama while 46 percent disapprove…. – Seattle PI, 12-29-10

THE HEADLINES….

  • Spending showdowns will test new Congress leaders: Two early showdowns on spending and debt will signal whether the new Congress can find common ground despite its partisan divisions or whether it’s destined for gridlock and brinkmanship that could threaten the nation’s economic health. Not all of the bickering in the 112th Congress that convenes Wednesday will be between Republicans and Democrats. House Republicans, back in power after four years in the minority, will include numerous freshmen whose unyielding stands on the deficit, in particular, could severely test soon-to-be Speaker John Boehner’s ability to bridge differences and pass major bills.
    His first big challenge will come in February, when Congress must pass a huge spending bill to keep the government running. Many House Republicans — veterans and newcomers alike — have pledged to cut discretionary domestic spending by up to $100 billion.
    Even if they agree on a plan, it probably will be changed by the Senate, where Democrats will hold 53-47 edge. And President Barack Obama can veto almost any bill he opposes during the next two years.
    Before Boehner, R-Ohio, deals with Democrats’ objections, he may have trouble getting his own 241-member caucus to agree on what to cut, and how deeply. Republicans have a history of promising far more cuts in spending than they deliver. Some conservative activists and commentators are tired of it…. – AP, 1-11-11
  • Obama asks Republicans to help him revitalize economy: In his weekly radio address, Obama speaks of a ‘shared responsibility’ for Democrats and Republicans. He pledges to work in good faith with the GOP as it assumes more power when Congress reconvenes on Wednesday.
    President Obama called on Republicans to be equal partners in his efforts to jump-start the nation’s fragile economy in the new year, pledging to work in good faith with the party as it prepares to assume greater power in Washington.
    In his weekly address Saturday, Obama said economic data showed the economy has been “gaining traction” for months, and said his personal resolution for 2011 was to “do everything I can to make sure our economy is growing, creating jobs, and strengthening our middle class.” While tending to the short-term recovery, the president said lawmakers also must continue making investments that will ensure the nation’s long-term prosperity. Days before Republicans will be sworn in as the majority party in the House of Representatives, Obama said it is now a “shared responsibility” of both parties to do so.
    “Here’s what I want you to know: I’m willing to work with anyone of either party who’s got a good idea and the commitment to see it through. And we should all expect you to hold us accountable for our progress or our failure to deliver,” Obama said…. – LAT, 1-1-11
  • Obama Is Serious About His Vacation. And, Please, No Shirtless Shots: President Obama has accomplished something extraordinary during his Hawaiian escape from Washington: his White House has gone dark for more than a week. Here on Oahu, where Mr. Obama and his family are staying in a luxury oceanfront rental home in the sleepy town of Kailua, the president is cloaked in the comfort of a news-free zone. The public does not see much of him, except for when he is zipping by in his armored sport utility vehicle, and it does not much seem to care. Images of the president at leisure — sharing a Hawaiian shave ice with daughters Malia and Sasha, golfing, dining out with his wife — have trickled out, orchestrated by aides who have also taken care to allow pictures of the president at church and visiting the troops on Christmas Day. His advisers calculate that there has been roughly one photo opportunity every day and a half…. – NYT, 1-1-11
  • Tea Party Activists Angry at G.O.P. Leaders: As Tea Party politicians prepare to take their seats when the 112th Congress convenes this week, they are already taking issue with Republicans for failing to hold the line against the flurry of legislation enacted in the waning weeks of Democratic control of the House of Representatives and for not giving some candidates backed by Tea Party groups powerful leadership positions…. – NYT, 1-1-11
  • Cities Around the World Mark New Year; Napolitano Spends Holiday with Troops: 2011 has begun in New Zealand and Australia with massive fireworks displays at Sky Tower in Auckland and across the Sydney skyline. Asian nations rung in the new year — traditionally, in Japan, where some ventured to offer prayers at Buddhist temples, and for the very first time officially in Hanoi, which normally reserves celebrations for the Tet, the lunar new year beginning in February.
    Days after an unusually severe winter blizzard blanketed New York city, revelers were preparing to watch the Times Square Ball drop at midnight EST as higher temperatures began turning the accumulated snow into a wet slush.
    Napolitano to Spend New Year’s with Troops in Afghanistan Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is in Kabul to celebrate the new year with troops, the first stop in a tour through Qatar, Israel and Belgium. Napolitano will meet with officials to discuss the flow of funds for terrorist activities and efforts to boost aviation security in light of two cargo bombs that were intercepted en route to the U.S…. – PBS Newshour, 12-31-10
  • Holder, diplomats expected at Gray mayoral inauguration: U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder and more than 60 members of the diplomatic community are expected to attend Vincent C. Gray’s swearing-in as the District’s next mayor Sunday at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, according to sources familiar with the planning for the inauguration. Holder, who met with Gray shortly after the Nov. 2 general election, will administer the oath to D.C. Council- Chairman-elect Kwame Brown (D), who will also be sworn in that day. Eric T. Washington, the chief judge of the Court of Appeals, is expected to swear in Gray, according to the sources, who asked for anonymity because they are not authorized to speak publicly about the preparations…. – WaPo, 12-31-10
  • Roberts Urges Obama and Senate to Fill Judicial Posts: Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. called on President Obama and the Senate on Friday to solve what he called “the persistent problem of judicial vacancies.”
    “We do not comment on the merits of individual nominees,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote on Friday. “That is as it should be. The judiciary must respect the constitutional prerogatives of the president and Congress in the same way that the judiciary expects respect for its constitutional role.” But he identified what he called a systemic problem.
    “Each political party has found it easy to turn on a dime from decrying to defending the blocking of judicial nominations, depending on their changing political fortunes,” he said. The upshot, he said, was “acute difficulties for some judicial districts.”
    The chief justice noted that the Senate recently filled a number of vacancies. Including 19 recently confirmed judges, the Senate has confirmed 62 of Mr. Obama’s nominees. There are 96 federal court vacancies, according to the Administrative Office of the United States Courts…. – NYT, 12-31-10
  • Even Snow Has Politics: Some major East Coast cities are still struggling to recover from snowstorms that battered the region on Sunday and Monday. In New York, many streets remain unplowed and angry residents have criticized Mayor Michael Bloomberg for the city’s slow response. Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker has, meanwhile, been praised nationally for his personal handling of the blizzard. Host Michel Martin speaks with NPR Senior Washington Editor Ron Elving about the politics of snow…. – NPR, 12-30-10
  • Mississippi Gov “unethical” over jail release: surgeon: Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour acted unethically when he suspended a woman’s life sentence on condition she donate a kidney to her sister, a prominent transplant surgeon said on Thursday. Barbour agreed to free sisters Gladys and Jamie Scott, who have served 16 years of a double life sentence for an armed robbery in which nobody was hurt and $11 was stolen. The case has drawn national attention.
    A condition of Gladys Scott’s release is that she donate a kidney to her sister in an operation that should be performed urgently, Barbour said in a statement on Wednesday. She had agreed to be a donor for her sister, who requires dialysis. Barbour, chairman of the Republican Governor’s Association, is considering whether to run for president in 2012…. – Reuters, 12-30-10
  • Kidney parole condition raises ethical questions: A debate is unfolding over an unusual offer from Mississippi’s governor: He will free two sisters imprisoned for an armed robbery that netted $11, but one woman’s release requires her to donate her kidney to the other. The condition is alarming some experts, who have raised legal and ethical questions. Among them: If it turns out the sisters aren’t a good tissue match, does that mean the healthy one goes back to jail?
    Gov. Haley Barbour’s decision to suspend the life sentences of Jamie and Gladys Scott was applauded by civil rights organizations and the women’s attorney, who have long said the sentences were too harsh for the crime. The sisters are black, and their case has been a cause celebre in the state’s African-American community…. – AP, 12-30-10
  • Former Obama ‘car czar’ makes $10 mln graft payment: An investor once tapped as US President Barack Obama’s “car czar” has agreed to pay 10 million dollars to New York state after being accused of graft, officials said Thursday. US watchdogs accused Steven Rattner of participating in a widespread kickback scheme to get investments from the New York State Common Retirement Fund, the city’s biggest pension fund.
    “Mr. Rattner will pay 10,000,000 dollars in restitution to the State of New York and be banned from appearing in any capacity before any public pension fund within the State of New York for five years,” a statement from New York attorney general Andrew Cuomo said.
    Rattner had earlier agreed to settle similar charges with the Securities and Exchange Commission, by paying 6.2 million dollars, without admitting or denying guilt. On Thursday he expressed hope that a line had been drawn under the issue. “I am pleased to have reached a settlement with the New York Attorney General’s Office, which allows me to put this matter behind me.”… – AFP, 12-30-10
  • Christine O’Donnell: Why she’s no Sarah Palin: Christine O’Donnell, who faces allegations of improper use of campaign funds, seems to be cut from the same cloth as Sarah Palin. Where they may differ is the ability to withstand adversity…. – CS Monitor, 12-31-10
  • Some GOP stalwarts defend first lady’s anti-obesity campaign from Palin’s shots: Some Republicans watching the cluttered 2012 presidential field may have found an unlikely point of disagreement: the first lady and flab…. In a recent broadcast of “Sarah Palin’s Alaska,” the former governor, high school basketball player and avid runner prepared s’mores (ingredients: marshmallows, Hershey’s chocolate bars and graham crackers) and said the treat was “in honor of Michelle Obama, who said the other day we should not have dessert.”
    In fact, the first lady has never suggested that sweets be banned from the dinner table, cafeteria or campground. She says she tells her daughters, Sasha and Malia, that “dessert is not a right” and that meals should be balanced with fruits and vegetables.
    In a recent interview with conservative radio host Laura Ingraham to promote her latest book, Palin again dismissed Obama’s anti-obesity effort as “some politician or politician’s wife’s priorities,” which amount to what she has in the past called a “nanny state run amok.” She told Ingraham that the first lady should “get off our back and allow us as individuals to exercise our own God- given rights to make our own decisions.” And, apparently, to make as many s’mores as they want.
    Palin’s criticism tracks closely with those of many other conservatives who have complained of government overreach and consider Obama’s initiative and the recently passed child nutrition law as intrusions into the school cafeteria…. – WaPo, 12-29-10
  • Hawaii’s governor wants to reveal Obama birth info: Democratic Gov. Neil Abercrombie wants to find a way to release more information about President Barack Obama’s Hawaii birth and dispel conspiracy theories that he was born elsewhere. Abercrombie was a friend of Obama’s parents and knew him as a child, and is deeply troubled by the effort to cast doubt on the president’s citizenship. The newly elected governor will ask the state attorney general’s office about what can be done to put an end to questions about Obama’s birth documentation from Aug. 4, 1961, spokeswoman Donalyn Dela Cruz said Tuesday.
    “He had a friendship with Mr. Obama’s parents, and so there is a personal issue at hand,” Dela Cruz said. “Is it going to be done immediately? No, the first thing on our list is the economy.” It’s unclear what Abercrombie could do because Hawaii’s privacy laws have long barred the release of a certified birth certificate to anyone who doesn’t have a tangible interest…. – AP, 12-28-10

111TH & 112TH CONGRESS

Incoming House Speaker John Boehner, center, and top Republicans must prove themselves in 2011.

  • Bipartisanship or Gridlock? Despite Breakthroughs, Lawmakers Face Rocky Session in 2011: With a divided Congress moving into Washington, President Obama’s New Year’s resolution might be to channel his inner uniter. Perhaps the White House will cool it on the John Boehner taunting and telling Republicans to “sit in back.” But no matter the president’s tone, civility and cooperation will be a heavy lift considering all the outstanding legislative fights lawmakers, new and old, are eager to wage. While the president and his allies deftly cleared away a massive tax-cut extension package, the Russian nuclear arms treaty and the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” at the end of the lame duck, that just made room for new disagreements. Political analysts say hopes for a new era of bipartisanship could yield to the more established Beltway tradition of gridlock.
    Here’s a sampling of the rumbles Americans can expect to see out of Washington in 2011…
    Health Care Post-Game…
    Out of Afghanistan?…
    Oversight Overload…
    Deficit Reduction vs. Stimulus and Jobs Creation…
    2012 Gamesmanship….
    Climate Regulation Backlash… – Fox News, 12-31-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • The Manchurian Candidate: When Barack Obama posted Jon Huntsman to Beijing, it looked like a crafty way to sideline a 2012 rival. Don’t bet on it.
    …Now, it appears, the ambassador is ready to make some noise of his own. Sitting in the echo-y living room of his new Washington home, Huntsman, a tall, lean man with silver hair and impeccable posture, pauses only briefly when faced with the question of presidential aspirations. “You know, I’m really focused on what we’re doing in our current position,” he says. “But we won’t do this forever, and I think we may have one final run left in our bones.” Asked whether he is prepared to rule out a run in 2012 (since it would require him to campaign against his current boss), he declines to comment.
    The winking response—about as close to a hat-in-ring announcement as you’ll get from a sitting member of the incumbent’s administration—could just be a hollow cry for attention. But sources close to Huntsman (who requested anonymity to speak freely without his permission) say that during his December trip to the U.S., he met with several former political advisers in Washington and Salt Lake City to discuss a potential campaign. “I’m not saying he’s running,” says one supporter who has worked with him in the past. “But we’re a fire squad; if he says the word, we can get things going fast.” What’s more, Huntsman tells NEWSWEEK that when he accepted the ambassadorial appointment, he promised his family they would “come up for air” sometime in 2010 to decide how much longer they would stay in Beijing. “I’m not announcing anything at all,” he says. But he sure seems to be hinting…. – Newsweek, 1-4-10
  • Ex-Senator Is Now the Only Black Hopeful in a Chicago Race: Danny K. Davis, a longtime United States representative, has dropped out of the race to become Chicago’s mayor, creating the situation that black leaders here had for months been clamoring for: a campaign that includes only one major African-American candidate.
    Carol Moseley Braun, a former senator, became that candidate this weekend, as Mr. Davis announced his plans to step aside and to support Ms. Braun. The Rev. James T. Meeks, the pastor of a large South Side church, quit his campaign about a week ago.
    Pressure to unite around one African-American candidate has been bubbling here for months, in part out of fear that the city’s black vote would be split — diminishing its influence and all but ensuring that a white candidate (like Rahm Emanuel, the former White House chief of staff) or a Latino candidate (like Gery Chico, a former board of education leader) might win on Feb. 22…. – NYT, 1-1-11
  • Braun left as main black candidate in Chicago race: Carol Moseley Braun, the first black woman ever elected to the U.S. Senate, has emerged as the sole prominent African American candidate in the Chicago mayor’s race after the withdrawal of U.S. Rep. Danny Davis. Davis’ decision, announced at a New Year’s Eve news conference, followed weeks of pressure from many African American leaders who believe that only a consensus black candidate can beat former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and other prominent contenders in the race to replace retiring Mayor Richard Daley.
    And on Saturday morning, Davis and State Sen. James Meeks, who ended his own run for mayor days ago, appeared at a rally at the Rainbow Push Coalition with the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., his son, U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., and U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush to drum up support for Braun.
    “We believe that our community needed to see some unity . . . they needed to see togetherness and we need one African American candidate for mayor of the city of Chicago.,” Meeks said to loud applause…. – AP, 1-1-11
  • Davis to drop out of mayor’s race, support Braun: source: U.S. Rep. Danny Davis is expected to drop out of the race for mayor of Chicago tonight and throw his support behind former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun, a source said. Davis’ campaign would not confirm the dramatic development, but did acknowledge the congressman has scheduled a 7 p.m. news conference at his downtown office. Davis’ departure would clear the way for Braun to run as the only major African American candidate. Braun had been pressing her fund-raising advantage with Davis, releasing a list of black business leaders who have pledged to support her Friday. Braun’s campaign was apparently able to persuade Davis that she would be better able to compete financially with Rahm Emanuel…. – Chicago Sun_Times, 12-31-10
  • Miller says he’s ending legal fight, conceding Alaska election: Republican Joe Miller is ending his fight over Alaska’s Senate seat, conceding the race to his bitter rival, incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski. Miller’s decision, announced Friday at a news conference in Anchorage, comes one day after the state certified Murkowski as the winner. He had the option of appealing a federal judge’s ruling or lodging a formal contest to the election results. While he said he believes he is right about the law, he said it was “very unlikely” an appeals court would side with him and that he had to accept “practical realities.” Ultimately, Miller said, “the courts have spoken.”… – AP, 12-31-10
  • African-American leaders search for unity in mayoral race Davis, Braun meet with Jesse Jackson in an attempt to find the best black candidate for February election African-American leaders search for unity in mayoral race: U.S. Rep. Danny Davis and former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun both insisted Thursday that they would keep running for Chicago mayor, despite renewed calls by black leaders to unite behind a single candidate who could improve the odds of an African-American winning the February election.
    The Rev. Jesse Jackson brokered a roughly four-hour meeting Wednesday night with Davis and Braun at his Rainbow PUSH headquarters that was also attended by several ministers, business leaders and politicians. Among them was U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, who is backing Braun, and state Sen. Rickey Hendon, who is backing Davis. Jackson said he talked with the candidates about who has the best chance in the election as well as where they stand on myriad issues facing the city, but neither Davis nor Braun budged.
    “They know it’s going to be difficult to get two candidates through the race. There will be two losers and no winner,” Jackson said. “It’s difficult to get one camel through the eye of the needle. It’s impossible to get two.”… – Chicago Tribune, 12-30-10
  • Bill Clinton urged not to pick sides in Chicago: Rep. Danny Davis has a message for former President Bill Clinton: Stay out of the Chicago mayor’s race. Davis, a Democrat, is one of many candidates seeking to succeed Richard Daley as mayor. But so is Rahm Emanuel, who worked for Clinton and, most recently, President Obama. Davis, one of the more prominent black candidates in the race, warned Clinton could risk damaging his relationship with African Americans if he takes sides in Chicago.
    “The African-American community has enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship with the Clintons, however it appears as though some of that relationship may be fractured and perhaps even broken should former president Clinton come to town and participate overtly in efforts to thwart the legitimate political aspirations of Chicago’s black community,” Davis said in a statement…. – USA Today, 12-29-10
  • Alaska certifies Murkowski’s write-in Senate victory: The state of Alaska certified Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski’s victory over Tea Party favorite Joe Miller on Thursday, nearly three months after the incumbent won the race with an unconventional write-in campaign.
    The certification document was signed in the state capitol in Juneau by Governor Sean Parnell and Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell, a spokeswoman for Parnell said. “It’s been certified. The governor signed the certificate and the lieutenant governor notarized it,” Parnell spokeswoman Sharon Leighow said. “From there it gets on a plane tonight with Gail.” Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai will carry it personally to the Secretary of the Senate, who must receive it by noon Monday, Leighow said. It will be hand-carried by a state employee to Washington, D.C. so that it can be delivered to the Secretary of the Senate by Monday, the deadline to ensure Murkowski is sworn in for the start of the new Congress…. – Reuters, 12-30-10
  • New governors scale back inaugural celebrations: In Georgia, between 4,000 and 5,000 people are expected to attend an invitation-only gala on Jan. 10, the day of Republican Nathan Deal’s inauguration. While at least a third of the nation’s 26 new governors are collecting sizable contributions from corporations and wealthy individuals to finance inaugural celebrations next month, some are scaling back plans or adding events that encourage community service.
    “It’s a sign of the times that governors, new governors especially, don’t want to appear ostentatious,” says Joe Heim, professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. “Being frugal is more of the mode these days. The recession may be over with, but millions of people are out of work yet.”… – USA Today, 12-29-10
  • O’Donnell faces federal investigation: A top Delaware Republican confirms to POLITICO that former Republican Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell is under federal investigation for allegedly misusing campaign funds. The Associated Press first reported Wednesday that O’Donnell was the target of a federal criminal probe, quoting an anonymous source.
    A spokeswoman with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Delaware did not immediately return a call for comment, but a top state Republican said he was aware of the investigation, which likely centers around a complaint that was sparked by a Washington-based watchdog group and supported by top GOP officials in the state.
    “I was told by the state party chairman that the complaint he filed was alive and under investigation after the election,” said the GOP source.
    The watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission alleging O’Donnell used campaign contributions to pay her own personal expenses. Several of O’Donnell’s former campaign workers have also charged that the tea party favorite used donations to pay personal expenses, including rent for her home, which she argued doubled as campaign headquarters…. – Politico, 12-29-10

QUOTES

  • Weekly Address: Democrats and Republicans Have Shared Responsibility to Move America Forward Remarks of President Barack Obama Weekly Address The White House January 1, 2011:
    Hello, everybody. As we close the books on one year and begin another, I wanted to take a moment today to wish you a very Happy New Year and talk a little bit about the year that lies ahead.
    At the start of 2011, we’re still just emerging from a once-in-a-lifetime recession that’s taken a terrible toll on millions of families. We all have friends and neighbors trying to get their lives back on track.
    We are, however, riding a few months of economic news that suggests our recovery is gaining traction. And our most important task now is to keep that recovery going. As President, that’s my commitment to you: to do everything I can to make sure our economy is growing, creating jobs, and strengthening our middle class. That’s my resolution for the coming year.
    Still, even as we work to boost our economy in the short-term, it’s time to make some serious decisions about how to keep our economy strong, growing, and competitive in the long run. We have to look ahead – not just to this year, but to the next 10 years, and the next 20 years. Where will new innovations come from? How will we attract the companies of tomorrow to set up shop and create jobs in our communities? What will it take to get those jobs? What will it take to out-compete other countries around the world? What will it take to see the American Dream come true for our children and grandchildren?
    Our parents and grandparents asked themselves those questions. And because they had the courage to answer them, we’ve had the good fortune to grow up in the greatest nation on Earth.
    Now it’s our turn to think about the future. In a few days, a new Congress will form, with one house controlled by Democrats, and one house controlled by Republicans – who now have a shared responsibility to move this country forward. And here’s what I want you to know: I’m willing to work with anyone of either party who’s got a good idea and the commitment to see it through. And we should all expect you to hold us accountable for our progress or our failure to deliver.
    As I’ve said since I first ran for this office, solving our challenges won’t be quick or easy. We have come through a difficult decade; one of new threats and new trials we didn’t expect when it began. But a new year and a new decade stretch out before us. And if we just remember what America is capable of, and live up to that legacy, then I’m confident that we are poised for a period of progress – one in which our economy is growing, our standing in the world is rising, and we do what it takes to make sure America remains in the 21st century what it was in the 20th: the greatest country in the world.
    Thanks for listening. And Happy New Year. — WH, 1-1-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
  • O’Donnell angrily denies misusing campaign funds The ‘tea party’-backed Senate candidate from Delaware calls a federal inquiry a ‘thug-politic tactic.’: Christine O’Donnell, who was backed by the conservative “tea party” movement in her unsuccessful bid for a Senate seat from Delaware, denied Thursday that she had misused campaign funds, and she criticized opponents for pursuing a federal investigation into her spending.
    “There’s been no impermissible use of campaign funds whatsoever,” O’Donnell said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “You have to look at this whole thug-politic tactic for what it is.”
    Speaking on NBC’s “Today” show, O’Donnell was more explicit, castigating mainstream Republicans and Democrats. “This is part of the political apparatus who want to make sure that this anti-establishment movement is stopped in its tracks,” O’Donnell said. “They are trying to discredit me.”… – LAT, 12-30-10
  • Juan Williams: Palin not on same ‘intellectual stage’ as Obama: Fox News contributor Juan Williams said Sunday that Sarah Palin “can’t stand on the intellectual stage” with President Obama. Williams, in his role as an analyst on Fox News Sunday, was breaking down the Republican presidential field, which he saw as weak.
    “There’s nobody out there, except for Sarah Palin, who can absolutely dominate the stage, and she can’t stand on the intellectual stage with Obama,” Williams said…. – WaPo, 12-29-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Will Obama’s lame-duck dealmaking survive in the new year?: Even with the deep partisan divide, Obama and Congress worked together in the lame-duck session. But pressure on the president from the left and right will grow in the new year.
    President Obama and Congress proved during the lame-duck session that they can work together to resolve big and thorny issues, but that remarkable show of bipartisanship in all likelihood will be short-lived.
    The Democrats don’t own the House anymore, and their Senate majority is smaller. In securing the $858 billion tax-cut and unemployment-benefit package, Mr. Obama cashed in his one big bargaining chip with the Republicans: allowing the Bush-era tax cuts to continue even for the wealthiest taxpayers. He also infuriated his liberal base.
    “He doesn’t have much to bargain with come January,” says historian Julian Zelizer, at Princeton University…. – CS Monitor, 12-31-10
  • What Republicans have done — and what they need to do: After being left for dead in the wake of the 2008 election, Republicans staged a stunning comeback over the past year. Winning back the House and gaining a significant number of seats in the Senate in November gives them another stab at governing. The energized GOP, added to Americans’ discontent with the way the country is headed, played a large factor in the midterm election wins.
    “Almost nobody broke ranks, and they kept up their attacks on Democrats,” historian and CNN.com Opinion columnist Julian Zelizer wrote. “Republicans have remained united in their opposition to President Obama’s policies as well, charging that he has undertaken a socialistic experiment by expanding government and criticizing the administration for being left of center.”… – CNN, 12-30-10
  • Julian E. Zelizer Professor of History and Public Affairs, Princeton Christie’s political snowpocalypse?: Large snowstorms create moments when many Americans want government to take charge. The need for public service becomes very clear to people of all income levels and social backgrounds. Everyone can get stuck in a snowstorm. When mayors and governors fail to tackle this kind of crisis it becomes a negative mark on their leadership record. To have juxtaposed images of the governor in sunny Disney World will make for some good ads come reelection time. – Politico Arena, 12-29-10
  • Julian E. Zelizer Professor of History and Public Affairs, Princeton Lame-duck sessions the ‘new normal’?: The lame duck session was a win in that Obama received approval for unemployment benefits, the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” and the ratification of START. But the victories came with a huge price tag — the extension of the Bush tax cuts which will vastly increase the size of the deficit and set up a difficult political environment in the coming year where Republicans will put Obama on the defensive. The deficit will allow the GOP to switch the agenda toward the politics of spending reduction and Social Security reform which will open up significant tensions within the Democratic Party…. – Politico Arena, 12-23-10

Political Highlights, November 22, 2010: Obama and Congress Wrestles over Tax Cuts, New Start Treaty, and NATO, Obama Set End of Afghanistan War

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor / Features Editor at HNN. She has a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & MIDTERM ELECTIONS 2010:

The President meets with national security experts on the New   START treaty

STATS & POLLS

     

  • Douglas E. Schoen and Patrick H. Caddell: One and done: To be a great president, Obama should not seek reelection in 2012: President Obama must decide now how he wants to govern in the two years leading up to the 2012 presidential election. In recent days, he has offered differing visions of how he might approach the country’s problems. At one point, he spoke of the need for “mid-course corrections.” At another, he expressed a desire to take ideas from both sides of the aisle. And before this month’s midterm elections, he said he believed that the next two years would involve “hand-to-hand combat” with Republicans, whom he also referred to as “enemies.”… – WaPo, 11-14-10

THE HEADLINES….

     

  • Hillary Clinton Says She Won’t Run Again for Elective Office: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said today she won’t run again for elective office, ruling out a future presidential bid. “I am very happy doing what I’m doing and I am not in any way interested in or pursuing anything in elective office,” the 63-year-old former First Lady said on the “Fox News Sunday” program…. – Bloomberg, 11-21-10
  • Obama and Medvedev urge Republicans to support START: Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev have urged Republicans to support a new sweeping arms control treaty between the two countries after the pair held an impromptu meeting on the sidelines of the Nato summit. The US administration has warned that failing to ratify the treaty would endanger the substantial gains made in relations with Russia.
    Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, said the issue was one of “life and death” with thousands of Russian nuclear missiles still pointing at American soil. “This is in the national security interests of the United States, there is no doubt about it,” she said on US television…. – Telegraph UK, 11-21-10
  • ‘Invasive’ airport pat-downs not going away for the holidays: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says she herself wouldn’t like to get one, ‘but everybody’s trying to do the right thing.’ The TSA’s John Pistole cites the determination of terrorists to take American lives…. – LAT, 11-21-10
  • Palin book lauds ‘Juno,’ snubs JFK: ‘America by Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith and Flag,’ due out Nov. 23, has been billed as a tribute to American values…. – LAT, 11-20-10
  • Sarah Palin’s ‘America by Heart’ sure to stir friends – and enemies: Sarah Palin’s new book ‘America by Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith, and Flag’ goes on sale Tuesday. It arrives as Palin ponders a run for the presidency, drawing criticism from the right…. – LAT, 11-21-10
  • Medal of Honor recipient cheered at Jets game: Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta, the first living Medal of Honor recipient from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, has received a standing ovation from the crowd during the second quarter of the New York Jets’ game against the Houston Texans. Giunta was brought out to one of the end zones with his wife, Jennifer, just before halftime and waved to the cheering crowd at the New Meadowlands Stadium on Sunday. The Jets are celebrating Military Appreciation Day. Giunta received the nation’s top military award from President Barack Obama on Tuesday, three years after retrieving a wounded comrade under gunfire in Afghanistan as the Taliban carried the stricken soldier away…. – WSJ, 11-21-10
  • Obama says boosting jobs, growth can help Europe: U.S. President Barack Obama said on Saturday the best thing he could do to help Europe as it tackles debt problems was to promote jobs and growth, and also reiterated calls for en end to economic imbalances. “The most important thing that I can do for Europe is the same thing that I need to do for the United States, and that is to promote growth and increased employment in the United States,” he told a news conference after a NATO summit…. – Reuters, 11-20-10
  • NATO adopts transition plan for Afghan war: President Obama said Sunday he was confident that a U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan would begin in July and that “the objective assessment is that we have made progress” in the war effort. “We are in a better place now than we were a year ago,” Obama said in anticipation of next month’s promised White House review of the surge strategy he announced last December. He said Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of the U.S.- led coalition, had begun “planning and mapping” areas where security conditions would allow a drawdown. Obama spoke at the end of a two-day NATO summit at which the coalition agreed to start turning parts of Afghanistan over to Afghan security control this spring, in a transition to be completed by the end of 2014, and secured Russia’s promise to cooperate in a Europe-based missile-defense program…. – WaPo, 11-20-10
  • EU and U.S. look to secure Doha trade deal in 2011: The United States and the European Union promised on Saturday to use their considerable economic weight to try to secure a successful conclusion to the Doha round of global trade negotiations in 2011. President Barack Obama held two hours of talks with Herman Van Rompuy, the president of the European Council, and Jose Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission, on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Lisbon, with both sides emphasizing the importance of their economic relationship. They reaffirmed a commitment made at the G20 summit in Seoul this month to promote balanced growth and avoid competitive currency devaluations that can lead to global imbalances, and underlined the critical importance of bolstering trade.
    “We highlighted our commitment to reject protectionism as a response to the challenges our economies face,” read a joint statement released after their first summit in a year. “We reiterated our strong commitment to direct our negotiators to engage in across-the-board negotiations to promptly bring the Doha Development Agenda to a successful, ambitious, comprehensive and balanced conclusion…. – Reuters, 11-20-10
  • Obama: NATO backs missile defense shield Leaders also review plan to pull most foreign troops from Afghanistan by end of 2014: President Barack Obama won NATO summit agreement Friday to build a missile shield over Europe, an ambitious commitment to protect against Iranian attack while demonstrating the alliance’s continuing relevance — but at the risk of further aggravating Russia. That end date is three years beyond the time that Obama has said he will start withdrawing U.S. troops, and the challenge is to avoid a rush to the exits as public opinion turns more sharply against the war and Afghan President Hamid Karzai pushes for greater Afghan control. While celebrating the missile shield decision, Obama also made a renewed pitch for Senate ratification back in the U.S. of a nuclear arms treaty with Russia, asserting that Europeans believe rejection of the deal would hurt their security and damage relations with the Russians.
    “It offers a role for all of our allies,” Obama told reporters. “It responds to the threats of our times. It shows our determination to protect our citizens from the threat of ballistic missiles.” He did not mention Iran by name, acceding to the wishes of NATO member Turkey, which had threatened to block the deal if its neighbor was singled out…. – CS Monitor, 11-19-10
  • NATO Agrees to Build Missile Defense System: NATO leaders agreed on Friday evening to establish a missile defense shield that would cover all NATO member states, and on Saturday they expect Russia to agree to discuss the possibility of cooperating on the system’s development. President Obama, who has promoted a less costly, more flexible missile defense system that will have components in Europe and at sea, praised the day’s work, saying that for the first time “we’ve agreed to develop a missile defense capability that is strong enough to cover all NATO European territory and populations as well as the United States.”… – NYT, 11-19-10
  • Obama’s Democrats in disarray over expiring tax cuts: President Barack Obama’s fellow Democrats in the U.S. Congress, many upset with him for election losses, are in disarray over what to do about tax cuts for millions of Americans that are set to expire on December 31. With time running out and high political and economic stakes, Obama is pushing Democratic leaders to determine if they can win an acceptable extension of the cuts, which he could sign into law…. Despite a number of options — including renewing all tax cuts or only those for the middle class or tying any extension to a renewal of jobless benefits — there is no indication a consensus is near.
    “How the hell should we know when we will figure this out?” said a senior Senate Democratic aide. “This is the Democratic Party,” long known for internal struggles and diverse views…. – Reuters, 11-19-10
  • Obama, Biden to visit Chrysler plant in Indiana Tuesday: President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will visit a Chrysler Group LLC transmission plant in Indiana on Tuesday — the president’s fourth trip to a U.S. auto factory this year. Obama will visit Chrysler’s Indiana Transmission Plant II in Kokomo, a plant that opened in late 2003. He will tout the overall recovery of the U.S. auto industry, underscored Thursday with General Motors Co.’s successful launch of its initial public stock offering. Chrysler Group LLC hopes to do so the same in late 2011…. – Detroit News, 11-19-10
  • An uproar over Palin — Bristol, that is: The ‘Dancing with the Stars’ contestant is voted by viewers into the finals. Critics charge that ‘tea party’ activists did some scheming at the ballot box in favor of Sarah Palin’s daughter. LAT, 11-19-10
  • Obama helps Biden cover campaign debts: Vice President Joe Biden’s effort to pay off campaign debt is getting a hand from his boss and former rival, President Barack Obama. The Federal Election Commission said Thursday that Obama for America, Obama’s presidential campaign with running mate Biden, can use leftover money to give Biden’s unsuccessful presidential primary campaign $138,000 to help it cover its bills…. – WaPo, 11-18-10
  • Bristol Palin apologizes for Facebook rant: Bristol Palin is apologizing for herself and her younger sister for their Facebook rant against posters criticizing their family. Palin posted the apology on her Facebook page, saying she and her 16-year-old sister Willow “shouldn’t have reacted to negative comments about our family. We apologize.”…. – AP, 11-18-10
  • Republicans may be less eager than Obama for bipartisanship: Never mind figuring out what to do about the national debt or the tax cuts that are set to expire soon. President Obama and the Republicans who just won control of the House seem to be having a hard time even setting up a meeting. GOP congressional leaders told the White House that scheduling conflicts will prevent them from attending a meeting Thursday to which Obama invited them during a news conference two days after his party’s drubbing in the midterm elections. They said the timing was bad, with leadership elections and new members to welcome. And they pointed out that they had never officially confirmed.
    Presidential aides accepted the explanations. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs joked Wednesday that the announcement of a new date for the gathering, Nov. 30, is a sign that “bipartisanship has happened.” But the postponement – whatever the reason – could be a bad omen for Obama, who was counting on the meeting to start turning around his political fortunes. It appeared to signal that Republicans are less eager than the White House to begin a new era of bipartisanship, and it was a stark example of Obama’s diminished ability to bend lawmakers to his will…. – WaPo, 11-17-10
  • Deficit Panels Go Where Politicians Won’t: Two bipartisan plans for reining in the federal debt have been tossed onto the national stage in the past week, after a campaign season in which President Obama and Congressional Republicans separately promised to act but offered few specifics. The two plans suggest why: Each proposes substantial cuts to spending across the board and an end to popular tax breaks for individuals and corporations after 2012. Those are not the kind of promises that candidates generally make. The sponsors of the plans say that the scale of the nation’s fiscal problem is too great to resolve without both raising taxes and cutting projected spending on Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, all popular entitlement programs…. – NYT, 11-17-10
  • TSA boss: New pat-downs are more invasive: The head of the Transportation Security Administration is acknowledging that the new pat-downs are more invasive than what travelers were used to in the past. TSA administrator John Pistole says he has received the new pat-down, as has his boss, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. Some travelers complain that the new inspections target sensitive body areas. Pistole says he understands those privacy concerns, but says the government must provide the best possible security for air travelers…. – AP, 11-17-10
  • White House: Bipartisan Congressional Meeting Delayed To Nov 30: A meeting between Congressional leaders from both parties that was scheduled for later this week is being postponed, dashing any hopes of a quick resolution to a dispute over Bush-era tax breaks, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Tuesday…. WSJ, 11-16-10
  • Court Backs Illegal Immigrant Students: In a unanimous decision, the California Supreme Court ruled Monday that illegal immigrants can be eligible for the same reduced tuition at public colleges and universities as legal residents of the state. The ruling is the latest in a series of high-profile battles about state immigration policies. In addition to Arizona’s strict new immigration law, which the United States Department of Justice has challenged in court, nine other states have laws similar to California’s, with lawsuits pending in Nebraska and Texas. Currently, students who attend at least three years of high school in California and graduate are eligible for in- state tuition at public schools, which can save them as much as $12,000 a year compared with students who come from other states. Illegal immigrants remain ineligible for state or federal financial aid…. – NYT, 11-15-10
  • People: ‘Sarah Palin’s Alaska’ brings record viewers to TLC: The first episode of “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” Sunday night drew nearly 5 million viewers for TLC, the biggest launch in the channel’s history. MediaBistro.com gave exact numbers as 4.96 million, further breaking down the viewership as 1.8 million adults ages 25-54 and 1.6 million adults 18-49, key demographics for the reality-centric channel…. – Mercury News, 11-15-10
  • As His Ethics Trial Begins, Rangel Meets With Farm Workers: Thirty minutes into his Congressional ethics trial on Monday, all that remained of Representative Charles B. Rangel was the conspicuous presence of his absence. He had just announced that he would not take part in the proceedings and left behind an empty desk with his name card, a vacant chair and an untouched bottle of Poland Spring. Mr. Rangel, the Harlem Democrat who is the former chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, had left the building — literally — but did not remain idle very long. Within minutes of leaving the hearing room, where he was to face a jury of his peers and a series of internal allegations, he installed himself in a different sort of chair: the one in his office, in the Rayburn House Office Building, next door. There, instead of calling witnesses or pleading his own defense, he tried as best he could to immerse himself in work. His aides came and went toting briefing books and sandwiches from the first-floor cafeteria. Some farmworkers turned up for a meeting on the Healthy Families Act. They stayed for more than an hour. “It’ll be a normal day of business,” said George Henry, Mr. Rangel’s chief of staff…. – NYT, 11-15-10
  • Delaware’s Coons, West Virginia’s Manchin sworn in as U.S. senators: The 112th Congress doesn’t kick off until Jan. 5, but on Monday, the two winners of special elections in Delaware and West Virginia became the Senate’s newest members. Democratic Sens. Chris Coons (Del.) and Joe Manchin (W.Va.) were sworn in by Vice President Biden on the first day of Congress’s lame-duck session… – WaPo, 1-15-10

111TH/112TH CONGRESS

     

  • Republicans Stymie Democrats on Top Measures: Empowered by their election gains, Congressional Republicans are giving little ground to President Obama and weakened Democrats in the final weeks of the 111th Congress, imperiling Democratic efforts to pass major tax and spending legislation, unemployment aid and a nuclear nonproliferation treaty among other issues. One week into a lame-duck session, Democrats have been unable to gain traction on their top priorities, leaving them casting about for ways to avoid a year-end pileup of expired tax breaks, exhausted jobless benefits and federal agencies running out of money.
    “While there’s business that needs to be done, I would hope that the leaders that are still in charge would heed the advice of the American people that occurred on Election Day in terms of being prudent in their actions here before the end of the year,” said Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, the incoming speaker… – NYT, 11-20-10
  • US Sen. Reid to seek START ratification this year: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said on Thursday he would try to win Senate ratification of the START nuclear arms treaty with Russia this year. “We’re going to do our best to get to that,” Reid told reporters after a meeting with fellow Democrats about the legislative schedule for the rest of the year…. – Reuters, 11-19-10
  • Democrat Israel of New York to Lead House Campaign Committee: Representative Steve Israel of New York will be the next chairman of the House Democrats’ campaign committee, outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi said today. Israel, 52, first elected to the House in 2000, will be in charge of recruiting candidates, raising money and providing other campaign help for the 2012 House elections…. – Bloomberg, 11-19-10
  • Rep. Maxine Waters House Ethics Case Delayed House Ethics Committee to Investigate New Information in Calif. Dems Case: The House Ethics Committee Friday cancelled the upcoming public trial set for Nov. 29, for California Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters, saying the discovery of “new materials” in the case means further investigation is required. Waters, a senior member of the House Financial Services Committee, stands accused of improperly using her influence in 2008 to help secure $12 million in TARP funds for a struggling bank with financial ties to her husband. She has denied any wrongdoing…. – ABC News,
  • Democrats to hold votes on middle class tax cuts: After meeting with President Barack Obama Thursday, Democratic leaders in Congress said they plan to hold a series of politically charged votes to extend middle-class tax cuts while letting tax cuts for the wealthy expire. Republicans are expected to block the plan, leaving both sides back at square one as they try to negotiate a deal to spare families at every income level from a big tax increase in January. Democratic officials said Obama did not embrace a particular approach to the tax cuts in his Oval Office meeting with Democratic leaders. He indicated he wanted to wait for a meeting with Democratic and Republican leaders on Nov. 30 before staking out a position. “I think there’s a reality here which is that while it might be best to continue the middle-class tax cuts and raise taxes on higher income people, the votes are not there to do that,” said Sen. Joseph Lieberman, a Connecticut independent who caucuses with the Democrats. “I think everybody’s got to deal with a stark reality which is, are we going to leave here knowing that we haven’t come to an agreement and that everybody’s taxes are going to go up Jan. 1?”… – AP, 11-18-10
  • House Panel Recommends Censure for Rangel: The House ethics committee Thursday recommended that Rep. Charles B. Rangel be formally censured for ethical misconduct, the most serious punishment the House can mete out short of expelling a member. The 9 to 1 vote ends the committee’s two-year investigation into the Harlem Democrat’s improper fundraising, failure to pay taxes, and failure to report income on his Congressional financial disclosure forms. Committee Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat, called the deliberations “wrenching.” The censure must now be approved by the full House, which plans to take up the matter after its Thanksgiving recess. If, as expected, the censure is approved, Mr. Rangel will become the first member to receive such punishment since 1983, when two congressmen were rebuked for sexual misconduct with House pages. Mr. Rangel will be required to stand in the well of the House while the Speaker reads a resolution rebuking him. The committee also ordered Mr. Rangel to pay thousands of dollars in unpaid taxes from rental income on a villa he owns in the Dominican Republic…. – NYT, 11-18-10
  • Why Nancy Pelosi remains leader of House Democrats despite huge loss: Nancy Pelosi wins her bid to remain leader of the House Democrats, as leadership on both sides of the aisle remains largely the same – despite Election 2010’s mandate for change. Despite presiding over the loss of more than 60 seats in midterm elections, Speaker Nancy Pelosi today retained control of her caucus, with only token opposition. Just minutes later, incoming 61st Speaker John Boehner – who overcame tea party critics and ambitions in GOP leadership ranks – was unanimously confirmed as Republican leader, while celebrating his 61st birthday and, at latest count, his party’s 61-seat net gain. Managing the aspirations unleashed by a big victory can be as challenging as containing the rifts opened by a big loss. In both cases, Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Boehner made it look easy – a sign of how deeply entrenched leadership on both sides of the aisle has become…. – CS Monitor, 11-17-10
  • Murkowski wins in Alaska as write-in to keep Senate seat: Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski won her re-election bid Wednesday, making her the first person elected to the Senate as a write-in candidate since South Carolina’s Strom Thurmond in 1954. Murkowski, a Republican who lost her party’s nomination to a Tea Party candidate backed by former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, flew back from Washington to speak to supporters at an Anchorage union hall Wednesday night. After two weeks of hand counting 103,569 write-in ballots in a corrugated steel building outside Juneau, the unofficial count put Murkowski ahead by more than 10,000 votes. The Associated Press declared her the winner Wednesday afternoon. But the man who beat Murkowski for the Republican nomination — Fairbanks lawyer Joe Miller — has not conceded, citing “irregularities” in the counting…. – USA Today, 11-18-10
  • Rep. Charlie Rangel found guilty of 11 ethics violations: A House ethics panel has found Democratic Rep. Charles Rangel of New York guilty on 11 counts of breaking House rules. The eight-lawmaker subcommittee that handled the trial – and reached a unanimous verdict on 10 of the counts – will now send the case to the full ethics committee for the equivalent of sentencing. Potential punishments include a formal reprimand or censure, with either of those needing to be ratified by a vote on the House floor. Expulsion is another possible penalty but is considered highly unlikely. The full committee will begin considering Rangel’s punishment Thursday. Rangel was not present for the ruling. He walked out of the trial Monday after the panel rejected his request to delay the proceedings because he had spent $2 million on his defense and had no campaign money left to pay for a legal team.
    He released a statement blasting the decision. “How can anyone have confidence in the decision of the Ethics Subcommittee when I was deprived of due process rights, right to counsel and was not even in the room?” it said. “I can only hope that the full Committee will treat me more fairly, and take into account my entire 40 years of service to the Congress.”… – WaPo, 11-16-10
  • Senate GOP agrees on earmark prohibition: Senate Republicans voted Tuesday to abandon their use of earmarks in the new Congress, a move setting up an unusual alliance with the White House and exerting pressure on reluctant Democratic lawmakers to follow suit. The vote by Senate Republican represented an internal party decision. But along with a similar step expected today by counterparts in the House, it provided an early example of the influence of the tea party and the rising conservative movement that fueled the mid-term electoral wave. Just eight months ago, a similar proposal to do away with earmarks was shot down in an overwhelming vote of the Senate that included substantial Republican opposition. Supporters of the earmark ban now will push for a full Senate floor vote and a promise from President Obama to veto any spending bill containing earmarks.
    “It’s a great first step,” said incoming Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida. “We said we wanted to come up here and be an alternative to the direction that the president and the Democratic leadership were taking our country, and this is the first step towards putting our money literally where our mouth is.”… – LAT, 11-16-10
  • Hobbled Dems, eager GOP back for lame-duck session: Dejected Democrats and invigorated Republicans returned to the Capitol Monday to face a mountain of unfinished work and greet more than 100 mainly Republican freshmen-elect lawmakers determined to change how they do business. Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, in line to become speaker when the new Republican-led Congress convenes in January, told GOP newcomers Sunday evening that they may spend their next two years doing just two things: stopping what he called “job-killing policies” and the “spending binge.” “The American people are sick and tired of the ‘Washington knows best’ mentality. All the power in this town is on loan from the people,” he told the group, which he noted includes seven farmers, six physicians, three car dealers, two funeral home directors, a former FBI agent, a pizzeria owner, an NFL lineman, and an airline pilot. On the other side of the Capitol, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell met 12 of the 13 newly elected Republicans. He noted that two years ago there were only two freshmen Republicans, and said the new class would bring a “huge improvement” to the Senate…. – AP, 11-15-10
  • Rangel ethics case in hands of jury of lawmakers: Once one of the most powerful members of Congress, veteran Rep. Charles Rangel of New York was reduced Monday to pleading with colleagues for more time to raise money for a lawyer before they took up misconduct charges against him. No, they said, and quickly began deliberations, saying the facts were so clear they didn’t need to call witnesses. The panel met for several hours before quitting for the day. Deliberations were to resume Tuesday. Rangel, 80 years old and a 20-term Democrat representing New York’s famed Harlem neighborhood, implored a House ethics committee panel to delay, declaring in an emotional address that “50 years of public service is on the line.” But the panel basically decided that the 2 1/2-year-old case had gone on long enough — and Congress had little time left to deal with it in the lame duck session that commenced Monday. He faces 13 counts of alleged financial and fundraising misconduct that could bring formal condemnation. He left the hearing before his request was formally rejected, and the rare proceeding — only the second for this type of hearing in two decades — went on without him. AP, 11-15-10
  • Delaware’s Coons, West Virginia’s Manchin sworn in as U.S. senators: The 112th Congress doesn’t kick off until Jan. 5, but on Monday, the two winners of special elections in Delaware and West Virginia became the Senate’s newest members. Democratic Sens. Chris Coons (Del.) and Joe Manchin (W.Va.) were sworn in by Vice President Biden on the first day of Congress’s lame-duck session…. – WaPo, 11-15-10
  • Hill Democrats split on tax cuts: As Republicans held firm to a no-new-taxes mantra, congressional Democrats returned to the Capitol on Monday, divided over a strategy for resolving the standoff over the expiring Bush tax cuts. House and Senate Democratic leaders said that they were waiting to hear from members Tuesday during the first caucus meetings of the lame-duck session, but that nothing may become clear until all sides sit down with President Barack Obama on Thursday.
    Underscoring the absence of party unity, House liberals and progressive groups stepped up their campaign against cutting a deal of any kind with Republicans to temporarily extend the tax cuts for high-income earners — even though the White House has said it’s open to compromise. But moderate Democrats had their own ideas, too. Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor questioned whether it was wise to permanently renew any tax breaks, given the extent of the national debt. Meanwhile, at least two other Senate Democrats floated compromise proposals.
    Republicans, however, weren’t showing any interest in alternatives. “Leaving everything like it is for the next two years is the best approach,” Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker said. “Just leave everything like it is. Let’s deal with this issue over the next few years.”… – Politico, 11-15-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

     

  • Moseley Braun announces candidacy for mayor: In front of roughly 200 supporters gathered at a cold, windy Northerly Island, former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun formally announced her candidacy for Chicago mayor Saturday. “I just want to serve,” Braun said. “Government is about the people’s business and my life’s work has been dedicated to making government work for all of the people.”…
    “Chicago will always be a great city, because its people will tolerate nothing less,” Braun said. She said the challenge is “whether our city will be great for all its citizens or only for those who live in the right neighborhoods, who have the right jobs, who have the right connections, who get the no-bid contracts, and the multimillion dollar paychecks.”… – Chicago Sun-Times, 11-20-10
  • Sarah Palin in 2012: Could she really beat President Obama?: With 2010 midterms over, the big questions for Sarah Palin are will she run in 2012, and if she does, can she win? Her big challenge: lower her high unfavorable ratings…. – CS Monitor, 11-18-10
  • Republican governors target public employee unions: Several leaders at a San Diego conference frame unions as the enemy, and call for trimming pay and benefits for teachers and others…. – LAT, 11-18-10
  • GOP governors kick off conference in San Diego: The Republican Party hails a new crop of rising stars, including more women and minorities. The message, however, remains the same: States need to fight big government…. – LAT, 11-17-10
  • USA Today, 11-17-10
  • Murkowski emerges as winner in Alaska Senate race: Sen. Lisa Murkowski on Wednesday became the first Senate candidate in more than 50 years to win a write-in campaign, emerging victorious over her tea party rival following a painstaking, week-long count of hand-written votes. The victory completes a remarkable comeback for the Republican after her humiliating loss in the GOP primary to Joe Miller.
    Her victory became clear when Alaska election officials confirmed they had only about 700 votes left to count, putting Murkowski in safe territory to win re-election. Murkowski is flying back from Washington to Alaska to make an “exciting announcement” to supporters Wednesday, proclaiming in an e-mail that the campaign “made history.”
    Murkowski has a lead of about 10,000 votes, a total that includes 8,153 ballots in which Miller observers challenged over things like misspellings, extra words or legibility issues. AP, 11-17-10
  • Sarah Palin May be the Savviest Presidential Hopeful Ever: There is little doubt that Sarah Palin is running for president. But while Mitt Romney is archaically gallivanting across the country to raise money for his run, Palin has molded her platform into a 21st Century media sensation. Topping off her unofficial campaign for the White House, Sarah Palin’s reality show premiered Sunday night with a viewership of over 5 million — TCL’s largest premiere to date. And it is with this show, that Palin will reintroduce herself to the county…. – Death and Taxes Mag
  • Write-in votes tally over 100,000 in Alaska: No clear winner emerged Monday after the addition of the last big batch of absentee ballots in Alaska’s still- undecided Senate race between Sen. Lisa Murkowski and GOP nominee Joe Miller. More than 8,700 ballots were added, bringing the total number of write-in ballots cast for numerous candidates to 102,028. Miller had 90,458 votes, which includes 10 write-in votes. Murkowski has 84,563 undisputed votes. Murkowski is seeking to make history and win redemption through the write-in campaign she mounted after losing her party primary to Miller. No U.S. Senate candidate has won a write-in bid since 1954. Murkowski has consistently been getting about 89 percent of the write-in vote as ballots are counted. If the trend holds, she would outright pull ahead of Miller by several hundred votes. It’s estimated that as many as 600 more ballots from overseas and military addresses could be submitted by a Wednesday deadline. The state plans to count those ballots later this week. The number of contested ballots is critical to whether one candidate will be able to declare victory or the race heads to court…. – AP, 11-15-10

QUOTES

The President Records the Weekly Address

White House Photo, Chuck Kennedy, 11/18/10
  • Weekly Address: Senators Opposing New START “Want to Trust But Not Verify”
    Remarks of President Barack Obama Weekly Address The White House November 20, 2010:
    Today, I’d like to speak with you about an issue that is fundamental to America’s national security: the need for the Senate to approve the New START Treaty this year….
    The choice is clear: a failure to ratify New START would be a dangerous gamble with America’s national security, setting back our understanding of Russia’s nuclear weapons, as well as our leadership in the world. That is not what the American people sent us to Washington to do.
    There is enough gridlock, enough bickering. If there is one issue that should unite us – as Republicans and Democrats – it should be our national security.
    Some things are bigger than politics. As Republican Dick Lugar said the other day, “Every Senator has an obligation in the national security interest to take a stand, to do his or her duty.”
    Senator Lugar is right. And if the Senate passes this treaty, it will not be an achievement for Democrats or Republicans – it will be a win for America. – WH, 11-20-10
  • President Obama at NATO: “And Today We Stand United in Afghanistan”: Good afternoon, everyone. We have just concluded an extremely productive NATO summit, and I want to thank our hosts, the government and the people of Portugal, for their hospitality in this beautiful city of Lisbon. And I thank my fellow leaders for the sense of common purpose that they brought to our work here.
    For more than 60 years, NATO has proven itself as the most successful alliance in history. It’s defended the independence and freedom of its members. It has nurtured young democracies and welcomed them into Europe that is whole and free. It has acted to end ethnic cleansing beyond our borders. And today we stand united in Afghanistan, so that terrorists who threaten us all have no safe haven and so that the Afghan people can forge a more hopeful future.
    At no time during these past six decades was our success guaranteed. Indeed, there have been many times when skeptics have predicted the end of this alliance. But each time NATO has risen to the occasion and adapted to meet the challenges of that time. And now, as we face a new century with very different challenges from the last, we have come together here in Lisbon to take action in four areas that are critical to the future of the alliance.
    First, we aligned our approach on the way forward in Afghanistan, particularly on a transition to full Afghan lead that will begin in early 2011 and will conclude in 2014.
    It is important for the American people to remember that Afghanistan is not just an American battle. We are joined by a NATO-led coalition made up of 48 nations with over 40,000 troops from allied and partner countries. And we honor the service and sacrifice of every single one.
    With the additional resources that we’ve put in place we’re now achieving our objective of breaking the Taliban’s momentum and doing the hard work of training Afghan security forces and assisting the Afghan people. And I want to thank our allies who committed additional trainers and mentors to support the vital mission of training Afghan forces. With these commitments I am confident that we can meet our objective.
    Here in Lisbon we agreed that early 2011 will mark the beginning of a transition to Afghan responsibility, and we adopted the goal of Afghan forces taking the lead for security across the country by the end of 2014. This is a goal that President Karzai has put forward.
    I’ve made it clear that even as Americans transition and troop reductions will begin in July, we will also forge a long-term partnership with the Afghan people. And today, NATO has done the same. So this leaves no doubt that as Afghans stand up and take the lead they will not be standing alone. – WH, 11-20-10
  • Biden: Palin Formidable, but Couldn’t Beat Obama: Sarah Palin has used the weeks since the Nov. 2 election to declare that she is indeed considering a run for president in 2012 and that she believes she could defeat President Obama. In television appearances Thursday and Friday, Vice President Joe Biden pushed back – at least a little – saying that he believes Palin has a good chance of winning the Republican nomination in 2012 but that Mr. Obama “would be in good shape” to beat her in the general election. “My mom used to have an expression – ‘Be careful what you wish for, Joe, you may get it.’ So I never underestimate anyone,” Biden told CNN’s Larry King Thursday. “But I think, in that race, it would be a clear, clear choice for the country to make, and I believe President Obama would be in very good shape.”…. – CBS News, 11-19-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

     

  • Frank Rich: Could She Reach the Top in 2012? You Betcha: “THE perception I had, anyway, was that we were on top of the world,” Sarah Palin said at the climax of last Sunday’s premiere of her new television series, “Sarah Palin’s Alaska.” At that point our fearless heroine had just completed a perilous rock climb, and if she looked as if she’d just stepped out of a spa instead, don’t expect her fans to question the reality. For them, Palin’s perception is the only reality that counts.
    Palin is on the top of her worlds — both the Republican Party and the media universe. “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” set a ratings record for a premiere on TLC, attracting nearly five million viewers — twice the audience of last month’s season finale of the blue-state cable favorite, “Mad Men.” The next night Palin and her husband Todd were enshrined as proud parents in touchy-feely interviews on “Dancing With the Stars,” the network sensation (21 million viewers) where their daughter Bristol has miraculously escaped elimination all season despite being neither a star nor a dancer. This week Sarah Palin will most likely vanquish George W. Bush and Keith Richards on the best-seller list with her new book…. – NYT, 11-21-10
  • Halfhearted Soul-Searching at the White House: Unlike Bill Clinton, Obama hasn’t yet experienced a political loss that taught him how to reinvent himself. He needs to surround himself with advisers who will challenge his world view.
    Democrats got the lowest share of the white vote in this midterm election than in any congressional election since World War II, losing key races in Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Michigan, and every contested election in Ohio, which spells trouble for President Obama’s reelection. No Democrat can win the White House without these Midwestern swing states, and they are all decimated by job losses that Obama has offered no road map to recover.
    Soul-searching is under way at the White House, but so far it looks pretty sterile. There’s no Dick Morris sneaking in with advice from outside the bubble, or late-night bull sessions with Terry McAuliffe about how to raise money and stage a comeback. Granted, some of the tactics these Clinton-era advisers used wouldn’t pass muster with the Obama crowd, or with Common Cause, but they shook up the White House and got Clinton out of his post-election funk and into fighting form…. – Newsweek, 11-21-10
  • Search for civility grows in Washington after midterms: “The gloves are off,” University of Texas presidential historian Bruce Buchanan says. “Ultimately, politics is a substitute for war. … Is civility impossible? No. Is it likely? No.”… – USA Today, 11-19-10
  • How Obama Can Still Push His Agenda: “Obama and his advisers must make a strategic decision, partly based on their understanding of how the Republicans will respond, and partly based on what the public expects,” says Joseph Pika, co-author of The Politics of the Presidency and a historian at the University of Delaware…. – NPR, 11-18-10
  • Analysis: Obama’s GM success dented by bailout and jobs angst: “They saved the company, they saved an industry, but it doesn’t seem to have any political traction,” said Julian Zelizer, a historian and public policy expert at Princeton University. “As long as high unemployment continues, people are just suspicious of any claims of success,” he added. “That’s not what most Americans see on the ground.”… – Reuters, 11-18-10
  • Why Nancy Pelosi remains leader of House Democrats despite huge loss: “Usually, you bet on the establishment in congressional politics,” says Julian Zelizer, a congressional historian at Princeton University in New Jersey. “Pelosi and Boehner are strong congressional leaders and powerful insiders. They know how to survive these moments of turmoil.”
    “Boehner gave tea party candidates enough promises that they will be heard and at the same time reminding all the other Republicans of what they owe him and what he can do for them – and the combination is enough to retain leadership,” he adds…. – CS Monitor, 11-17-10
  • Julian E. Zelizer: Democrats’ best defense? Good offense: In professional football, teams need a good offense if they hope to win the Super Bowl….
    The same can be said about politics. Being good at defense is important, but you need to play offense to win elections and shape political debate. When parties only respond to criticism and participate in the discussion that their opponents want to have, eventually their team will get tired of just being in a reactive mode and the other side will score points….
    The Democrats might want to take a page from the playbook of the Republican Party. Instead of backing down and running away from their platform, they might instead embrace what the party has stood for and make a case as to why their record is better than what Republicans have to offer. If Democrats can’t do this, Republicans will shape the political dialogue in the next two years, regardless of what shifts Obama makes, and Democrats will be looking at a defeat in 2012…. – CNN, 11-18-10
  • Obama=Bush? President Obama isn’t the new Carter, but he just might be the new (first) Bush: Months before Election Day, the name of Jimmy Carter had assumed an incantatory power among observers of politics. President Obama’s supporters began to fret that his presidency was declining as Carter’s did, while his opponents salivated at the prospect, as though the more the 39th president was mentioned, the worse the chances of the 44th. In addition to columnists and bloggers, historians Walter Russell Mead and Sean Wilentz have written on the comparison, while Carter’s vice president, Walter Mondale, has worried over it. Carter himself recently discussed it with Larry King….
    Yet there is a recent one-term president he resembles. George H.W. Bush doesn’t often come up in discussions of Obama, but two years into Obama’s term, the two presidents’ tenures bear a striking resemblance. So too do their governing styles and temperaments, and even, unlikely though it may seem, their speech. Here are two leaders “buffeted by circumstance,” as the presidential historian Bert Rockman characterized Bush, whose same signal qualities in repulsing buffets and discussing them with the public — sobriety, patience, and, yes, prudence, to use Bush- impersonator Dana Carvey’s favorite Bushism — are often enough their least appreciated…. – Boston Globe, 11-14-10
  • Tea Party Rooted in Religious Fervor for Constitution, say Mary Beth Norton, Jon Butler, and David Greenberg: …”There’s a strong strand of divine-guidance thinking, thinking about American exceptionalism,” said Mary Beth Norton, a professor of early American history at Cornell University. “People have certainly seen the texts of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence as the equivalent of a secular religion, with the idea then that you can’t challenge these texts.”…
    If anything, the Constitution is especially vulnerable to literalism. “There is a major translation problem for literalism in relation to Christian doctrine,” said Jon Butler, a professor of the history of religion in America at Yale. “And there’s the matter of the age of the texts. But there is no translation issue with the Constitution, and it’s only a couple of centuries old. So that makes it so much more susceptible. There it is. You can find it on the Internet.”
    And from there, it is a short trip indeed to the engaged, enraged Tea Party of 2010, and a campaign that charged Democrats with a kind of Constitutional heresy. “The Constitution has always been the trump card, the ultimate political weapon,” noted David Greenberg, a professor of history and presidential biographer at Rutgers University. “If you don’t like what the other side is doing, you say it’s unconstitutional.” NYT (11-5-10)

Political Highlights November 15, 2010: Obama’s Asia Trip, Possible Deal with Israel, Rahm Emanuel’s Chicago Run, and Nancy Pelosi Retains Democratic Leadership

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor / Features Editor at HNN. She has a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & MIDTERM ELECTIONS 2010:

The President speaks at the University of Indonesia
White House Photo, Samantha Appleton, 11/10/10

STATS & POLLS

  • Better News For Palin: PPP’s newest batch of 2012 Republican primary polls conducted right before last week’s election finds Mitt Romney ahead in the critical early state of Florida, Tim Pawlenty surprisingly weak in his home state of Minnesota, and Sarah Palin posting leads in Texas, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and Maine…. – NYT, 11-12-10
  • Republican election win fails to excite public: poll: The Republican Party may have excited conservatives when it recaptured the House of Representatives in last week’s midterm elections but a recession-jilted public is less than enthused, according to a poll released on Thursday by the Pew Research Center.
    The survey found that 48 percent of those polled were happy with the Republican victory.
    This compared to 60 percent who said they were happy in 2006 when the Democrats regained majorities in both branches of Congress and the 57 percent who applauded the historic 1994 midterm gains for the Republican Party that saw them take control of the legislature for the first time in 40 years.
    “The nature of the victory itself is a little different because the Republicans this time only captured one chamber as opposed to the whole Congress,” said Carroll Doherty, associate director of the Pew Research Center. “One of the things that you see here is that we have seen these transitions of power before and they are happening more frequently and so it is not so novel,” he told Reuters in a telephone interview…. – Reuters, 11-11-10
  • Poll: 77% say elections more negative than 2006 campaign: Americans believe the midterm elections were more negative than the 2006 campaign, a new Pew Research Center poll says. Nearly 8 in 10 voters, or 77%, say there was more mudslinging and negative campaigning than in previous elections. That compares with 69% after the elections four years ago.
    The 2010 elections may be remembered in history for these images: attacks on President Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, voters clamoring for less government and taxes participating in Tea Party rallies, and people railing against “Obamacare” and the new health insurance law. Most important, this election was about the economy. So maybe it’s not surprising that the low grades for Campaign 2010 weren’t partisan: 70% of Republicans, 79% of Democrats and 81% of independents said this political season was more negative than in 2006… – USA Today, 11-11-10
  • Nine Congress and governor races not yet decided: Here are the congressional and gubernatorial races that remain uncalled after Tuesday’s election… – WaPo, 11-10-10
  • AP-GfK Poll: Palin most polarizing of 2012 crowd: Sarah Palin is the most polarizing of the potential 2012 Republican presidential candidates, while impressions of Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney lean more positive, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll. As for the rest — Pawlenty, Barbour, Thune, Daniels — most Americans say, “Who?”
    Palin, the former Alaska governor and 2008 vice presidential nominee, is the best-known and most divisive of the bunch. In the wake of her high-profile role in endorsing candidates all over the country, 46 percent of Americans view her favorably, 49 percent unfavorably, and 5 percent don’t know enough about her to form an opinion.
    Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor who won the 2008 GOP Iowa caucus, received the highest favorability rating, 49 percent. About one in four people has no opinion of him, and 27 percent view him unfavorably.
    Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who ran in 2008, had similar results. Nearly a quarter of all Americans have no opinion about him, while 46 percent view him favorably, and 31 percent unfavorably.
    In terms of winning the 2012 nomination, the question is how Republican-leaning Americans view the contenders. Palin comes out on top. Among adults who identify themselves as Republicans or GOP-leaning independents, 79 percent view her favorably, and 17 percent unfavorably.
    These findings worry many Republican officials. The poll suggests Palin might be able to win the nomination. But among independents_they could be the deciding factor in the general election — just 43 percent hold a favorable view of Palin, compared with 61 percent with a positive view of Obama…. – AP, 11-10-10
  • 2010: An Aligning Election: Elections with results as dramatic as those of Tuesday night are sometimes referred to as “realigning elections.” The term — although somewhat ambiguous and overused — usually refers to a case in which one or another party not only gains a significant amount of power, but also, in which coalitions are shifted, the signature of which is usually that the rising party performs particularly well in certain geographic regions or among certain demographic groups.
    The 1980 election, for instance, arguably marked the beginning of a long-term shift toward Republicans in America’s suburbs, with Jimmy Carter’s share of the suburban vote dropping from 53 percent in 1976 to 37 percent in 1980: the 16-point swing against Mr. Carter was about twice the one he suffered in cities or rural areas. Likewise, in 1994, the shift against Democrats was particularly sharp in the South: 19 of the 52 representatives which they lost having come from that part of the country.
    The 2010 elections, by contrast, were remarkable for their orderliness — and they tended to reinforce, to an almost uncanny degree, existing political coalitions.
    Below is a chart that arranges America’s 435 congressional districts from those (on the left) which gave the highest percentage of their vote to Barack Obama in 2008 to those (on the right) which gave the highest share to John McCain; the chart then compares which party each district had elected to the House before and after Tuesday night…. – NYT, 11-8-10

THE HEADLINES….

President Barack Obama at a Press Conference at the G20 Summit at    Coex Center in Seoul, South Korea

President Barack Obama answers questions during a press conference at the G20 Summit at Coex Center in Seoul, South Korea, November 12, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

  • Netanyahu Backs U.S. Proposal for Freeze: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will ask cabinet ministers to support a U.S. proposal to extend restrictions on building in Jewish settlements for 90 days in exchange for a package of incentives from Washington, according to Israeli officials. If approved by the Israeli government, the deal could help revive peace talks with the Palestinians, which collapsed at the end of September when a 10-month period of building restrictions expired and Israel refused to extend it. Also Sunday, one of Israel’s most senior intelligence officials issued a stark warning that without immediate and meaningful progress toward peace, the Palestinian security services, which have earned consistent Israeli praise in recent months, could rapidly start to unravel. In a rare briefing to a small group of journalists, the intelligence official said there was a window of between three months and a year to show progress toward peace. “If there will not be real progress, I believe we can find that sometime within three months, six months or one year from now, that the functioning of the Palestinian security system is in a very different place,” the intelligence official said. “In order to keep the legitimacy and functioning of the Palestinian security system we need real progress in the peace process.”… – WSJ, 11-14-10
  • Obama calls latest Israeli plan promising: President Barack Obama on Sunday hailed the prospect of a new settlement freeze in the disputed West Bank as a promising step toward peace, urging Israelis and Palestinians to get back into serious negotiations quickly. An upbeat president also pledged to return to the basic principles that drove his thinking when he first came to the White House, including sticking to a more bipartisan tone and better explaining his decisions to the American people. He spoke of moving from an “obsessive focus” on policy and making changes to his approach after a humbling midterm election.
    “The fact that we are out of crisis — although still obviously in a difficult time — I think will give me the capacity,” Obama told reporters aboard Air Force One at the end of long Asia trip.
    On the Mideast, Washington’s new proposal for reviving peace talks includes a 90-day ban on housing starts in West Bank settlements — but not in east Jerusalem, the Palestinians’ hoped-for capital. The goal is to give the two sides a three-month period to shape borders of side-by-side states, a daunting, elusive mission.
    Obama commended Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for making a “very constructive step” toward creating an environment for peace. “I think it’s a signal that he’s serious,” Obama said…. – AP, 11-14-10
  • White House, GOP look for middle ground on taxes: The White House and Republican lawmakers set the terms for a looming tax debate Sunday, coalescing around a possible temporary extension of existing income tax rates that would protect middle class and wealthy Americans from sharp tax increases next year. Top White House adviser David Axelrod stressed that President Barack Obama opposes a “permanent” extension of current tax rates for individuals making more than $200,000 a year and married couples making more than $250,000. But Axelrod, appearing on two Sunday television talk shows, was carefully silent on the possibility of extending current tax rates for the short term. He said he wants to leave negotiations to Obama and members of Congress. “The bottom line is he wants to sit down and talk about this,” Axelrod said. “There is no bend on the permanent extension of tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.”… – AP, 11-14-10
  • US asks Israel for 90-day settlement building moratorium: Netanyahu discusses possibility of halting building with septet; in exchange, US would support Israel in the UN and give 20 fighter jets; request does not include e. Jerusalem. The US asked Israel to freeze all new settlement construction begun after September 26th for a 90-day period in exchange for support in the United Nations and 20 additional advanced fighter planes worth $3 billion, The Jerusalem Post has learned. The principles of this agreement designed to restart peace talks with the Palestinians, were relayed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to his inner cabinet, a forum of seven ministers, on Saturday night and will be explained to the full cabinet on Sunday. The US said that if the deal was accepted it would not request an additional settlement freeze. The request does not include east Jerusalem…. – Jpost, 11-13-10
  • Obama and Republicans find common ground on ‘earmarks’: The president and GOP House leaders agree that curtailing or eliminating the provisions would be a step toward restoring fiscal responsibility.
    “I agree with those Republican and Democratic members of Congress who’ve recently said that, in these challenging days, we can’t afford what are called ‘earmarks,’” Obama said. “We can’t afford ‘Bridges to Nowhere,’ like the one that was planned a few years back in Alaska.”
    In his radio address Saturday, Obama said that curtailing or eliminating earmarks would be a first step toward restoring fiscal responsibility.
    “I agree with those Republican and Democratic members of Congress who’ve recently said that, in these challenging days, we can’t afford what are called ‘earmarks,’” Obama said. “We can’t afford ‘Bridges to Nowhere,’ like the one that was planned a few years back in Alaska.”
    “Earmarks have become a symbol of a dysfunctional Congress and serve as a fuel line for the culture of spending that has dominated Washington for too long,” said Rep. John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), the presumptive incoming House speaker, and Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), likely the next majority whip. “We welcome President Obama’s remarks on earmark reform, and we call upon him to urge congressional Democrats to vote on a similar measure next week,” they said…. – LAT, 11-13-10
  • Justices Leave Military Gay Ban in Place: The military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy restricting openly gay, lesbian and bisexual people from serving will remain in force while a legal challenge is considered by a federal appeals court, the United States Supreme Court declared Friday. In an unsigned, two-paragraph order, the justices denied a request by the Log Cabin Republicans, the group trying to overturn the law, to reinstate an order by a federal district judge in California, Virginia A. Phillips, that prohibited enforcement during the appeal. The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit had ruled, however, that the military could continue enforcement during the appeal, and on Friday the Supreme Court agreed. The decision did not address the merits of the case.
    The Supreme Court order noted that the newest justice, Elena Kagan, “took no part in the consideration or decision” of the application; she may have recused herself because she was involved in the case as solicitor general, the position she held before President Obama nominated her to the court…. – NYT, 11-12-10
  • Obama Tells Business Leaders That U.S. Is `Here to Stay’ in Asian Markets: President Barack Obama told Japanese business leaders that the U.S. is “here to stay” in Asia as he neared the end of a 10-day trip across the region. Speaking to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation’s CEO Business Summit in Yokohama, Japan, Obama said engagement with Asia is a “jobs strategy,” important to his goal of increasing U.S. exports and spurring economic growth around the world.
    “We don’t want to lose the opportunity to sell our goods and services in fast-growing markets. We don’t want to lose the opportunity to create new jobs back home,” he said according to the prepared text of the speech. “When it comes to this growing, sprawling region of the world, the United States is here to stay.”
    Obama is in Japan for the APEC leaders meeting on a trip that has taken him to India, Indonesia and South Korea. At each stop he’s highlighted the need to boost exports in Asia’s rapidly growing economies in order to create jobs at home, where the unemployment rate has been 9.5 percent or higher for the last 14 months.
    Obama told the hundreds of Japanese chief executives gathered at the conference that he makes “no apologies” for trying to bring jobs to the U.S. through trade, but that economic growth in any country is good for others.
    “There’s no need to view trade, commerce, or economic growth as zero sum games, where one country always has to prosper at the expense of another,” he said. “If we work together, and act together, strengthening our economic ties can be a win-win for all of our nations.”… – Bloomberg, 11-12-10
  • Obama seeking compromise on Bush tax cuts: With tax breaks for millions of Americans set to expire Dec. 31, President Obama has opened the door to a compromise with Republicans, signaling a new willingness to accept tax breaks for the wealthy to avoid immediate tax hikes across the board. But as lawmakers head back to town next week for their first battle since this month’s congressional elections, no one is sure just how far Obama is willing to go.
    In recent days, the White House has appeared to vacillate on the expiring tax cuts, swerving from a humble tone of capitulation back to one of defiance. On Wednesday, White House senior adviser David Axelrod seemed to suggest in an interview with the Huffington Post that Obama was poised to acquiesce to GOP demands to extend all the tax cuts in tandem, saying “we have to deal with the world as we find it.”
    On Friday, Obama pushed back, telling reporters with him on a trip to South Korea that “that is the wrong interpretation.” “Here’s the right interpretation: I want to make sure that taxes don’t go up for middle-class families starting on January 1,” Obama said. “That’s my number one priority for those families and for our economy.”…. – WaPo, 11-12-10
  • Obama, GOP could meet halfway on foreign policy: Voters gave no clear direction to U.S. foreign policy in this month’s congressional elections, leaving President Barack Obama and his strengthened Republican opponents plenty of room in which to find common ground — or duke it out over pressing international challenges. Senior GOP lawmakers say Republicans will challenge Obama over his approach to Iran’s nuclear program, and are balking at Senate approval of a new nuclear arms control accord with Moscow. They’ll help cushion Obama, however, against criticism of his Afghanistan war strategy from his own Democratic Party’s liberal wing. Afghanistan “is one area where Republicans feel comfortable standing with the president,” Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, told the Halifax International Security Forum, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Nov. 6… – Miami Herald, 11-12-10
  • After G20, Obama says his global influence is intact: President Obama asserted Friday that the punishment his party took in midterm elections has not damaged his ability to advance U.S. interests overseas, saying his Asia trip has shown that many countries still want to work with the United States. In a news conference following the Group of 20 summit, Obama said the United States, while still the world’s most powerful economy, can no longer dictate the terms of how the world does business, especially after a global economic turndown that many blame on American policies. But he said his relationships with fellow heads of state have evolved during his two years in office – relying less on the novelty of his election and the enthusiasm it generated than on a shared view of where the global economy should be heading…. – WaPo, 11-12-10
  • Deficit report favors ‘do-nothing Congress’ Debt-to-GDP ratio benefits from inaction: Buried inside the wide-ranging blueprint put out this week by the respected co-chairmen of President Obama’s bipartisan commission to slash the federal deficit is a powerful argument for doing nothing. The commission’s recipe of tax increases, spending cuts, elimination of popular tax breaks and reductions in Social Security and Medicare benefits continued to roil Washington on Thursday, as both liberals and conservatives condemned some of the painful steps contained in the draft proposal to reduce federal red ink over the coming decades. But the report, offered by Democrat Erskine Bowles and former Wyoming Republican Sen. Alan Simpson, also demonstrates that Congress and Mr. Obama can take a major chunk out of the deficit without passing a single bill or issuing a single veto…. – The Washington Times, 11-11-10
  • Action, not talk: Deficit panel pushes Dems, GOP: The leaders of the deficit commission are baldly calling out the budget myths of both political parties, challenging lawmakers to engage in the “adult conversation” they say they want. Their plan — mixing painful cuts to Social Security and Medicare with big tax increases — has no chance of enactment as written, certainly not as a whole. But the commission’s high profile will make it harder for Republicans and Democrats to simply keep reciting their tax and spending talking points without acknowledging the real sacrifices that progress against government deficits would demand. It’s time for both conservatives and liberals to “put up or shut up,” says Jon Cowan, head of the centrist-Democratic group Third Way, which praised the bold new proposals and urged politicians to show courage. Republicans failed to produce their often-promised deficit reductions when they controlled the government, Cowan said, and Democrats refuse to acknowledge that entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare must be trimmed…. – AP, 11-11-10
  • Clinton offers Netanyahu security pledge on peace talks: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton assured Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday that Israel’s security requirements would be fully taken into account in any peace deal with the Palestinians. In a move that could allow Netanyahu to persuade his governing coalition to back a new freeze on Israeli settlement construction, Clinton and the visiting Israeli leader ended a marathon round of talks in New York with a strong declaration of Washington’s “unshakable commitment to Israel’s security and to peace in the region.”
    “The prime minister and the secretary agreed on the importance of continuing direct negotiations to achieve our goals,” the two sides said in a joint statement, which did not mention the settlement issue directly. But Clinton repeated that the peace talks — which have hit an impasse over the settlement issue — could yet yield an independent Palestine living next to Israel “with secure and recognized borders that reflect subsequent developments and meet Israeli security requirements.”
    “Those requirements will be fully taken into account in any future peace agreement,” the joint statement said…. – Reuters, 11-11-10
  • As G-20 begins, Obama gets few concessions from other leaders: Obama predicts that leaders will reach ‘a broad-based consensus’ on trade and currency issues, but the opening session of the summit offers little evidence that other nations are willing to help the U.S…. – LAT, 11-11-10
  • SKorea-US trade chiefs end talks as Obama arrives: South Korea and the United States ended a third day of talks aimed at jump-starting a long-stalled trade agreement, offering no clues on progress a day before their presidents meet. Washington and Seoul have been holding what are seen as make-or-break negotiations to infuse new life into the deal to slash tariffs and other barriers to trade that was signed in 2007 when previous administrations were in power. It remains unratified by lawmakers in both countries…. – Business Week, 11-10-10
  • Netanyahu defiantly answers Obama’s warning over construction in East Jerusalem: The Israeli leader’s sharp words come hours after Obama, in Indonesia, said new construction could harm a renewed Mideast peace effort. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu clashed publicly with President Obama on Tuesday over Israeli construction in disputed East Jerusalem, throwing a teetering Mideast peace effort deeper in doubt. Responding to criticism from Obama, Netanyahu struck a defiant tone in commenting on plans to build 1,300 more Jewish housing units in East Jerusalem, saying his government had never agreed to limit construction in the city. “Jerusalem is not a settlement. It is the capital of the state of Israel,” Netanyahu said in a statement. “Israel sees no connection between the diplomatic process and the planning and building policy in Jerusalem.”
    Netanyahu’s statement came hours after Obama warned that the new construction, announced by Israel on Monday, could harm a renewed Mideast peace effort began in early September. Obama made the remarks a few hours after arriving in Indonesia, his boyhood home for four years, where he was set to deliver the second major speech Wednesday in his outreach to the Muslim world.
    “This kind of activity is never helpful when it comes to peace negotiations, and I’m concerned that we’re not seeing each side make that extra effort involved to get a breakthrough,” Obama said. “Each of these incremental steps end up breaking trust.”
    Israel also is moving ahead with 800 units in the West Bank settlement of Ariel, Israeli news reports said Tuesday. Netanyahu’s pronouncement was consistent with Israeli policy, yet his sharp tone may embarrass Obama at a moment of vulnerability. Obama is visiting the world’s largest Muslim country, and the rebuke may again raise questions in the Muslim world about how much influence the American leader really has on a priority issue. The disagreement also comes a week after Obama suffered a setback in the midterm elections, which gave Republicans, who are likely to be sympathetic to Netanyahu’s point of view, majority control of the House of Representatives. Some Israeli officials and U.S. analysts had predicted before the election that Netanyahu might feel emboldened to push back on Obama if the Democrats fared poorly…. – LAT, 11-9-10
  • No Charges in Destruction of C.I.A. Interrogation Tapes: Central Intelligence Agency officials will not face criminal charges for the destruction of dozens of videotapes depicting the brutal interrogation of terrorism suspects, the Justice Department said Tuesday. After a closely watched investigation of nearly three years, the decision by a special federal prosecutor is the latest example of Justice Department officials’ declining to seek criminal penalties for some of the controversial episodes in the C.I.A.’s now defunct detention and interrogation program. The destruction of the tapes, in particular, was seen as so striking that the Bush administration itself launched the special investigation after the action was publicly disclosed…. – NYT, 11-9-10
  • Obama trip welcomes India to high table of global influence: President Obama left India with reassurances of his strong support for a ‘strategic partnership’ – as well as strong words about his commitment to free trade…. – CS Monitor, 11-9-10
  • Fed Global Backlash Grows China and Russia Join Germany in Scolding; Obama Defends Move as Pro-Growth: Global controversy mounted over the Federal Reserve’s decision to pump billions of dollars into the U.S. economy, with President Barack Obama defending the move as China, Russia and the euro zone added to a chorus of criticism. Mr. Obama returned fire in the growing confrontation over trade and currencies Monday in a joint news conference with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, taking the unusual step of publicly backing the Fed’s decision to buy $600 billion in U.S. Treasury bonds—a move that has come under withering international criticism for weakening the U.S. dollar…. – WSJ, 11-8-10
  • Obama heads to Indonesia, finally: President Barack Obama finally heads to Jakarta on Tuesday for a visit during which he will seek to boost U.S. security and trade ties with Indonesia, and also reach out to the larger Islamic world. His visit to a country where he spent four years of his childhood comes after two previously scheduled trips were put off because of problems at home — in March as he fought to pass his healthcare overhaul law and in June as he faced the cleanup of the massive BP oil spill. The delays disappointed and angered some Indonesians, and even this visit had been in some doubt because of concerns about volcanic ash from repeated eruptions of Mount Merapi volcano. Indonesia is important destination for Obama for a variety of strategic and personal reasons, aides said. Its importance as a U.S. ally is on the rise, even if the joy over Obama’s election has faded since he became president almost two years ago. Indonesia is an emerging economy, a democracy, a member of the G20 and the world’s most populous Muslim country…. – Reuters, 11-8-10
  • Obama boosts India for ‘rightful place in world’: Deepening America’s stake in Asian power politics, President Barack Obama on Monday endorsed India’s bid to become a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, hoping to elevate the nation of a billion people to “its rightful place in the world” alongside an assertive China.
    Obama’s declaration, delivered to the pounding applause of India’s parliament members, spoke to a mission broader than the makeup of one global institution. By spending three packed days in India, announcing trade deals, dismissing job-outsourcing gripes and admonishing India’s rival Pakistan, Obama went all in for an ally whose support he hopes to bank on for years.
    “I want every Indian citizen to know: The United States of America will not simply be cheering you on from the sidelines,” Obama said inside the soaring legislative chamber of the capital city. “We will be right there with you, shoulder to shoulder, because we believe in the promise of India.”… – AP, 11-8-10
  • Diplomacy, Diwali, dinner on Obama’s agenda in India: A female tribal leader working to get more girls into classrooms, in a rural society that places boys first. A former civil servant running a website to battle corruption. Schoolchildren who got the first couple dancing for the Hindu festival Diwali.
    These were some of the Indians whom President Obama met Sunday on the second day of his four-nation Asia tour. The issues raised highlight the massive challenges facing this poor but fast-growing nation of 1.1 billion people, to whom Obama promised he would elevate the U.S.-India partnership “to an entirely new level.”
    He also faced the sensitive question of Pakistan-based terrorism, when asked, at a town-hall-style meeting with students, the question on many Indians’ minds: Why hasn’t the USA declared Pakistan a terrorist state? Obama stressed the need to work with Islamabad “to eradicate this extremism that we consider a cancer within the country that can potentially engulf the country.”… – 11-7-10
  • Fresh Slate at the Pentagon Lies Ahead for Obama: With critical decisions ahead on the war in Afghanistan, President Obama is about to receive an unusual opportunity to reshape the Pentagon’s leadership, naming a new defense secretary as well as several top generals and admirals in the next several months…. – NYT, 11-7-10
  • Obama calls India creator, not poacher, of US jobs: Searching for help half a world away, President Barack Obama on Saturday embraced India as the next jobs-creating giant for hurting Americans, not a cheap-labor rival that outsources opportunity from the United States. “For America, this is a jobs strategy,” Obama said of his emphasis on trade, although it could stand as a motto for his 10-day trip. He is spending Sunday with young people in Mumbai and then heading onto meetings in New Delhi, the capital, before shifting later in the week ahead to Indonesia and economic talks in South Korea and Japan…. – AP, 11-6-10
  • Obama Invokes Gandhi, Whose Ideal Eludes Modern India: President Obama and his wife, Michelle, with Usha Thakkar, director of Mani Bhavan, the Gandhi Museum in Mumbai, “He is a hero not just to India, but to the world,” the president wrote in a guest book on Saturday in Gandhi’s modest former home in Mumbai, now the Mani Bhavan museum. Yet if paying homage to Gandhi is expected of visiting dignitaries, Mr. Obama’s more personal identification with the Gandhian legacy — the president once named him the person he would most like to dine with — places him on complicated terrain…. – NYT, 11-7-10

112TH CONGRESS

  • Democrats avoid House leadership battle Nancy Pelosi helps craft an accord with potential rivals that will make her the minority leader: House Democrats, already hurting from their election shellacking, averted a potentially ugly leadership fight Saturday. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco helped broker an agreement that paves the way for her to remain Democratic leader, Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland to remain in the party’s second-ranking position of minority whip, and James E. Clyburn of South Carolina to take the new title of assistant leader. Democrats who will serve in the new Congress will vote on their leaders Wednesday. The arrangement, which Pelosi announced in a letter to her party’s rank and file, averts a clash between Hoyer, whose appeal to more conservative Democrats is seen as crucial to helping the Democrats win back control of the House in 2012, and Clyburn, a black member who is popular with the liberal base…. – LAT, 11-13-10
  • House Democrats Avoid Fight on No. 2 Position: Updated: Shuler Considers Run Top House Democrats said late Friday night that they had settled on an arrangement that avoided a divisive fight for the No. 2 position in the party when it reverts to the minority in January. In a statement, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she would nominate Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina to be the No. 3 Democrat when the party holds an internal party election on Wednesday. “Over the past four years, Congressman Clyburn’s effective leadership in the whip’s office was crucial to our passage of historic legislation on jobs, health care, veterans and Wall Street reform on behalf of the American people,” Ms. Pelosi said…. – NYT, 11-13-10
  • Ambition is curbed, but Democrats still have a lame-duck agenda: With a few weeks left in control of both houses of Congress, Democrats are pressing a scaled-back agenda that would extend middle-class tax cuts, fund the government and possibly repeal ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ Lawmakers return to the Capitol on Monday to begin a complicated lame-duck session that will mark the last time Democrats will be in control of Congress for the foreseeable future….
    Despite electoral losses that handed control of the House to Republicans and diminished Democrats’ majority in the Senate, Democratic leaders are pressing an agenda that would extend middle-class tax cuts, fund the government and perhaps repeal the ban on openly gay men and women serving inthe military.
    Yet nothing is certain in the new political climate. As many as 80 incoming House Republicans elected two weeks ago will arrive in town for freshman orientation in advance of their January swearing-in ceremony, and some plan to join a rally Monday to protest the Democrats’ plans.
    In addition, lawmakers who will be members of the 112th Congress will vote for their leaders next week. Rep. John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) is expected to become the next House speaker, while Democrats will decide whether to retain the outgoing speaker, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), as their leader. In the Senate, Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is expected to remain majority leader, with Mitch McConnell of Kentucky to continue leading the GOP…. – LAT, 11-13-10
  • Rahm: It’s on Presumptive front-runner makes official entry into race for mayor: As Rahm Emanuel made his entry into Chicago’s mayoral race official Saturday, a major theme of his campaign echoed off the school gymnasium walls: He is the tenacious leader Chicago needs during tough times. The former North Side congressman and White House chief of staff laid out a broad agenda, declaring he’d work to help generate jobs, improve education and decrease crime at a juncture in the city’s history when all three need to be addressed.
    “The choices we make in the next few years will define Chicago for future generations. They will determine whether we remain a world-class city — or fall back,” he told 250 supporters jammed in the gym at Coonley Elementary School. “The question in this election is who has the experience, imagination and strength to see a better future for Chicago? And who has the determination to see that vision through the end?” While providing few specifics in an 18-minute speech, Emanuel did say increasing taxes to address the city’s continued budget woes isn’t on the table. Still, Emanuel hinted at service cuts by promising that “necessary changes” and “tough choices” will be made and residents will “share in the sacrifices.”… – Chicago Tribune, 11-13-10
  • Recount Could Trap Pawlenty in Governor’s Mansion: Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota has been gearing up for a bid for the Republican presidential nomination for months. He chose not to run for re-election as governor. He has hit the early-state circuit. Everything is ready once he leaves office on Jan. 3. Except for this: He may not be able to leave. Under Minnesota law, the governor’s term extends as long as it takes to swear in a successor, even if a recount takes months. And that could just happen.
    The race to replace Mr. Pawlenty between the Democrat Mark Dayton and the Republican Tom Emmer ended last Tuesday in what is becoming a regular outcome in the North Star state — a virtual tie. Out of about 2.1 million votes cast, Mr. Dayton leads Mr. Emmer by about 8,500 votes, less than the half-percentage point margin that mandates an automatic recount.
    That recount will start on Nov. 27 and is scheduled to last until early December, at which point the trailing candidate could choose to challenge the recount by filing a lawsuit. Mr. Emmer’s advisers and state Republicans have made it clear they will do so if they feel they have a legitimate case.
    “If we are behind and we think that there are issues with the recount, we could file a contest,” said Tony Sutton, the chairman of the Republican Party of Minnesota. “We’re not looking to kick this past the first of the year. We are not going to do things to throw stuff against the law and see what sticks.”… – NYT, 11-13-10
  • No. 2 House Democrat Will Try to Retain Post: Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 Democrat in the House, said Monday that he would try to hold on to that position when his party slips into the minority next year as the leadership of House Democrats remained in turmoil one week after devastating election losses…. – NYT, 11-8-10
  • Hoyer collecting liberal support in whip bid: Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) continued Tuesday to collect high-profile endorsements from his party’s liberal wing in his bid to become House minority whip, trying to counter the impression that his candidacy is built around support from moderate-to-conservative Democrats. Seven Democratic committee chairmen issued a letter Tuesday endorsing Hoyer’s candidacy for the No. 2 post in the House leadership, including a trio of the leading legislative liberals: Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard L. Berman (D-Calif.), Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.).
    Hoyer, currently the majority leader, has publicly touted his momentum in his campaign against Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.), unveiling a string of key endorsements. With Tuesday’s rollout – first reported by Politico – Hoyer now has nearly 50 public endorsements, almost halfway to the roughly 95 or so supporters he will need to win the secret ballot later next week.
    Clyburn, currently the majority whip, the No. 3 post in the majority, has about 10 public endorsements but is also expected to collect the lion’s share of the roughly 40 members of the Congressional Black Caucus. He has won some key backing, including Monday’s endorsement by Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.), who is the highest-ranking Latino member of congressional leadership…. – WaPo, 11-9-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • Congressman Danny Davis announces bid for Chicago mayor: U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, a veteran Chicago politician, struck populist tones as he declared his candidacy for mayor today, saying he will bridge the gap between wealthy and struggling communities.
    “Notwithstanding the economic climate, we the people, we the grassroots, everyday people, we the policeman, we the postman, we the clerks. . . can exercise our God-given rights to participate, be involved and make decisions about ourselves and our city,” Davis said at a rally held in a ballroom of the Hotel Allegro downtown.
    The announcement felt a little like a church service. Davis started with an invocation, and some of his 200 supporters gathered in the ballroom engaged in a call and response as Davis and others spoke.
    While Davis offered few policy details, he said he would create jobs and economic development opportunities and attempt to “save our children from lifetimes of drug use, abuse, (and) incarceration.”
    “I know that everyone in our city is concerned about balancing the budget and finding ways to keep our city solvent,” he said. “I don’t pretend at the moment to have the answers to all of our financial problems. . . but I can assure you that we have a team of researchers and experts looking at the issues and preparing recommendations.” … – Chicago Tribune, 11-14-10
  • Miller: Ballot fight unlikely if math doesn’t work: Republican Senate nominee Joe Miller is watching absentee ballots from military voters as he takes his next steps in Alaska’s still-undecided Senate race….
    The state has so far recorded more than 98,500 write-in ballots cast. Saturday marked the fourth day of a write-in ballot hand count that could stretch well into next week, with thousands of absentee and questioned ballots yet to be combed through.
    The count Saturday showed Murkowski with 74,449 votes, or 89.6 percent of the write-in vote undisputedly — a trend that has largely held throughout the process. Another 7.9 percent was credited to her tally over challenges by Miller observers, generally for things like misspellings of her name or penmanship. Murkowski’s campaign believes it needs to win at least 90 percent of the unchallenged vote to declare victory. Miller’s vote total, as of Friday night, was 87,517…. – AP, 11-14-10
  • Paging Jeb Bush — for 2012: In fact, some folks in the GOP are so convinced that there is a Bush renaissance in the offing that they’re hoping to turn that wave into another White House victory for the Bush family. That’s right. If the era of Bush fatigue is really over, then here comes baby brother. Jeb Bush, the popular former two-term governor of Florida, is being mentioned as a viable Republican candidate for the presidency in 2012, although he has denied having an interest in running.
    (Both Bush brothers will be guests on a special edition of State of the Union with Candy Crowley, Sunday at 8 and 11 p.m. ET.)
    While Jeb has his share of detractors, he also seems to have the same knack for bringing people together that his big brother had for driving them apart. And, with the Tea Party ready to go to war with the GOP establishment in the political equivalent of a cage match for control of the Republican Party, that skill set could come in handy…. – CNN, 11-12-10
  • Murkowski confident in re-election chances: If wrestling with a variety of spellings for write-in candidate Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s name isn’t enough, officials counting ballots in Alaska’s U.S. Senate race are also dealing with such oddball entries as “Donald Duck,” ”Elmo” and “Revolt.”
    Those ballots were quickly tossed Friday even as a count showed the Republican incumbent maintaining a healthy 90 percent of the write-in vote.
    Saying she feels “pretty good about the direction” the tally is headed, Murkowski expressed confidence that she’ll pull off an improbable write-in victory over Republican nominee Joe Miller.
    So far, the state has recorded 98,565 write-in votes and 87,517 votes for Miller. Murkowski has been getting about 90 percent of write-in votes. Another 7.6 percent have been apparent votes for Murkowski that have been challenged, generally by observers for Miller for things like penmanship issues and misspellings.
    The hand count is scheduled to go through the weekend and run well into next week to determine if Murkowski got enough write-in votes to win…. – AP, 11-13-10
  • Michigan Republican Anuzis to challenge RNC’s Michael Steele: Former Michigan Republican Party Chairman Saul Anuzis announced Friday that he will run for chairman of the Republican National Committee, making him the first official challenge to current leader Michael Steele. Anuzis said in a statement that the decision for him was not easy, since he regards Steele as a “friend and colleague.” “As someone who believes in loyalty, my natural instinct would be to sit this out,” Anuzis wrote. “But the simple fact is that the overriding challenge we face is winning back the Presidency in 2012 and we will not accomplish that objective unless there is dramatic change in the way the RNC does business.”… – Yahoo News, 11-12-10
  • Reagan Library to Host First Republican Debate for 2012 Primary: What took so long? It’s been over a week since the 2010 vote and debate plans are finally being made for the presidential election in two years. The first Republican primary debate is set for spring 2011 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Southern California, The Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.
    “Ronnie would be thrilled that the road to the White House will begin at his Presidential Library,” former first lady Nancy Reagan said in a press release. “I look forward to welcoming and watching the top candidates debate the issues next spring.” NBC News and Politico will be the event’s media partners. No Republicans have announced their intentions to challenge President Obama. Among names being floated are Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum.
    “The fact that we are already talking about the 2012 presidential race only foreshadows how invested and deeply rooted America will be in the political discussion come next spring,” NBC News President Steve Capus…. – Politics Daily, 11-11-10
  • Nancy Reagan to host debate for 2012 GOP hopefuls: Republicans hoping to take back the White House in 2012 will have an audition of sorts at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. Former first lady Nancy Reagan announced today she will invite the leading 2012 GOP presidential hopefuls to a debate at the library in spring 2011. The debate will be co-hosted by NBC News and Politico. “Ronnie would be thrilled that the road to the White House will begin at his presidential library,” Mrs. Reagan said in a statement. A second Republican debate will be held at the library before the Super Tuesday primaries….. – USA Today, 11-11-10
  • Murkowski returning to Alaska amid ballot count: U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski is returning to Alaska as election workers continue tabulating write-in ballots that will help determine whether she wins re-election. Anchorge Daily News, 11-11-10
  • Nurkowski? Makowski? Murckoski? Counting the Write-In Votes in Alaska: “Liza Makowski?” “Challenge.” So said Terry Campo, an observer working on behalf of Joe Miller, the Republican Senate candidate, as he hovered over a table where two election workers on Wednesday helped sift through more than 230,000 ballots cast in the Alaska Senate race. The question looming over the warehouse in this remote state capital: will Senator Lisa Murkowski become the first write-in candidate elected to the Senate since 1954? Write-in votes have a clear lead over Mr. Miller, but the process of actually seeing whose name is on them did not begin until Wednesday. The count is expected to last until at least Friday – but a court fight could last much longer…. – NYT, 11-10-10
  • 2012 Senate races pose challenge to President Obama: The votes are still being counted in some states for this year’s congressional elections, but already some political types are sweating the 2012 contests in the Senate. An analysis by The National Journal discusses a “civil war” brewing for Republicans in 2012, since the anti-tax, small-government Tea Party movement roiled the GOP this year.
    There’s also been some sniping between Rep. Spencer Bachus and former GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin about the Tea Party’s role in the 2010 elections. Palin has pushed back on the Alabama Republican’s comment that “Palin cost us control of the Senate” with her support of candidates such as Christine O’Donnell, who was defeated in her bid for a Delaware Senate seat. But some 2012 Senate races aren’t just interesting for Republicans. The contests also pose a challenge to Democrats and President Obama, especially in some of the states he won in 2008. In all, Democrats will have to defend 23 Senate seats including the two held by independents who vote with them. Republicans hold 10 Senate seats up for grabs in two years…. – USA Today, 11-10-10
  • Republicans Maneuver to Oust Their Leader: Turning their attention to the 2012 presidential election, Republican leaders are digging in for a battle over control of the Republican National Committee, judging that its role in fund-raising, get-out-the-vote operations and other tasks will be critical to the effort to topple President Obama. Some senior party officials are maneuvering to put pressure on Michael Steele, the controversial party chairman, not to seek re-election when his term ends in January or, failing that, to encourage a challenger to step forward to take him on…. – NYT, 11-9-10
  • GOP lawmaker: Palin cost party control of Senate: Questioned about those comments on Tuesday, a spokesman for Rep. Spencer Bachus of Alabama said the remarks had been taken out of context but didn’t retract them. Bachus, in line to become chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, initially blamed Palin last week at a local Chamber of Commerce luncheon. According to the Shelby County Reporter, he said the Senate would be in Republican hands if not for losses by tea party candidates endorsed by the former Alaska governor and 2008 vice presidential nominee.
    “Sarah Palin cost us control of the Senate,” the newspaper quoted him as saying. He added that while tea party candidates did well in House races, “they didn’t do well at all” in Senate contests.
    In a statement Tuesday, Bachus spokesman Tim Johnson said the congressman was expressing a widely held belief that stronger Republican candidates could have won in states such as Delaware and Nevada, where Republicans Christine O’Donnell and Sharron Angle lost. “That’s a lesson going forward,” Johnson said. “As the article noted, (Bachus) was extremely complimentary of the tea party movement and Governor Palin in crediting them with the great turnout of conservatives that led to many of the successes on Tuesday.” “He said that the tea party, rather than being criticized, is on the same page as many in the country, including independents, in cutting spending, lowering taxes and limiting the size of government,” Johnson added…. – WaPo, 11-9-10
  • Joe Miller: Cautiously optimistic on prospects: Alaska Senate hopeful Joe Miller says he’s cautiously optimistic about his prospects for winning on the eve of the absentee ballot count. Election workers plan to begin tallying more than 30,000 absentee ballots Tuesday; the counting of write-in ballots will begin Wednesday. Initial returns from last week’s election showed Miller trailing write-ins by more than 13,000 votes. Sen. Lisa Murkowski ran as a write-in following her loss in the GOP primary to Miller. It’s not clear how many of those votes are for her or how many for her were properly cast. Murkowski has sounded confident, telling supporters they’d “made history.” But Miller tells The Associated Press this is premature, and says her hiring of a “high-power” legal team suggests she’s nervous. – WaPo, 11-9-10
  • 12 in 2012: Jim DeMint Earns His Stripes as Tea Party Power Broker: Senator Tea Party, as Jim DeMint is sometimes known, is a moniker the first-term senator began wearing before the Tea Party became a household name. It’s also a description that has pushed the South Carolina Republican out of the shadows and into the forefront of electoral politics.
    “I’m proud to be called Senator Tea Party. I feel like I’m giving a voice to people who are very frustrated that Washington’s not listening,” DeMint told Fox News.
    This fall, DeMint, who was just re-elected to his second term in the Senate, took his commitment to making Washington listen out on the campaign trail – and not merely in his own race. He endorsed high-profile conservatives and donated millions from his political action committee to failed Senate candidates Ken Buck of Colorado, Sharron Angle of Nevada and Christine O’Donnell of Delaware as well as successful contestants Marco Rubio of Florida and Rand Paul of Kentucky…. – Fox News, 11-9-10
  • Clyburn: Pelosi has a role in House leadership: Congressman Jim Clyburn of South Carolina says House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has a place in the Democratic leadership after Republicans take control next year. The South Carolina Democrat is downplaying the emerging contest between himself and Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer for the No. 2 spot when Democrats become the minority party. Clyburn says he plans to keep his current job as whip…. – AP, 11-7-10
  • Pence, Pawlenty Still Weigh 2012 Bids: Rep. Mike Pence (R., Ind.) and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty said they were still weighing whether to run for president in 2012, but decisions could be coming shortly. Mr. Pence, in an interview on ABC’s “This Week,” said he was “intent on taking the coming weeks to really prayerfully consider that, to wait on the Lord, to seek counsel. And after the first of the year, we’ll make a decision.”
    “Well, I don’t know for sure what I’m going to do after I’m done being governor,” Mr. Pawlenty told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. “I’ll decide that early next year.”
    Sen. Jim DeMint (R. S.C.) had some advice for whoever wants to win the Republican nomination. “I think the next Republican running for president needs to run on complete repeal” of the new health care law, he in an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
    New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, said he “absolutely” was not running for president in 2012. Or vice president, for that matter.
    “Can you see me as somebody who’s a vice president?” he said on “Meet the Press.” “After that question about ‘Governor Wrecking Ball?’ I would feel bad for that poor man or woman.” – WSJ, 11-7-10

QUOTES

The President Records the Weekly Address

For this edition of West Wing Week, walk step by step with the President as he travels through Asia.

  • President Obama at the G-20 in Seoul: “Focusing on Growth”WH, 11-12-10
  • Weekly Address: President Obama Calls for Earmark Reform Remarks of President Barack Obama Weekly Address November 13, 2010: This weekend, I’m concluding a trip to Asia whose purpose was to open new markets for American products in this fast-growing part of the world. The economic battle for these markets is fierce, and we’re up against strong competitors. But as I’ve said many times, America doesn’t play for second place. The future we’re fighting for isn’t as the world’s largest importer, consuming products made elsewhere, but as the world’s largest manufacturer of ideas and goods sold around the world.
    Opening new markets will not only help America’s businesses create new jobs for American workers. It will also help us reduce our deficits – because the single greatest tool for getting our fiscal house in order is robust economic growth. That kind of growth will require ensuring that our students are getting the best education possible; that we’re on the cutting edge of research and development; and that we’re rebuilding our roads and railways, runways and ports – so our infrastructure is up to the challenges of the 21st century.
    Given the deficits that have mounted up over the past decade, we can’t afford to make these investments unless we’re also willing to cut what we don’t need. That’s why I’ve submitted to Congress a plan for a three-year budget freeze, and I’m prepared to offer additional savings. But as we work to reform our budget, Congress should also put some skin in the game. I agree with those Republican and Democratic members of Congress who’ve recently said that in these challenging days, we can’t afford what are called earmarks. These are items inserted into spending bills by members of Congress without adequate review….
    As a Senator, I helped eliminate anonymous earmarks and created new measures of transparency so Americans can better follow how their tax dollars are being spent. As President, time and again, I’ve called for new limitations on earmarks. We’ve reduced the cost of earmarks by over $3 billion. And we’ve put in place higher standards of transparency by putting as much information as possible on earmarks.gov. In fact, this week, we updated the site with more information about where last year’s earmarks were actually spent, and made it easier to look up Members of Congress and the earmarks they fought for.
    Today, we have a chance to go further. We have a chance to not only shine a light on a bad Washington habit that wastes billions of taxpayer dollars, but take a step towards restoring public trust. We have a chance to advance the interests not of Republicans or Democrats, but of the American people; to put our country on the path of fiscal discipline and responsibility that will lead to a brighter economic future for all. And that’s a future I hope we can reach across party lines to build together. – WH, 11-13-10
  • President Obama in Jakarta: “Indonesia’s Example To the World”: I first came to this country when my mother married an Indonesian named Lolo Soetoro. And as a young boy I was — as a young boy I was coming to a different world. But the people of Indonesia quickly made me feel at home.
    And we lived in a small house. We had a mango tree out front. And I learned to love Indonesia while flying kites and running along the paddy fields and catching dragonflies, buying satay and baso from the street vendors. (Applause.) I still remember the call of the vendors. Satay! (Laughter.) I remember that. Baso! (Laughter.) But most of all, I remember the people — the old men and women who welcomed us with smiles; the children who made a foreign child feel like a neighbor and a friend; and the teachers who helped me learn about this country.
    In the years since then, Indonesia has charted its own course through an extraordinary democratic transformation — from the rule of an iron fist to the rule of the people. In recent years, the world has watched with hope and admiration as Indonesians embraced the peaceful transfer of power and the direct election of leaders. And just as your democracy is symbolized by your elected President and legislature, your democracy is sustained and fortified by its checks and balances: a dynamic civil society; political parties and unions; a vibrant media and engaged citizens who have ensured that — in Indonesia — there will be no turning back from democracy.
    But even as this land of my youth has changed in so many ways, those things that I learned to love about Indonesia — that spirit of tolerance that is written into your Constitution; symbolized in mosques and churches and temples standing alongside each other; that spirit that’s embodied in your people — that still lives on. (Applause.) Bhinneka Tunggal Ika — unity in diversity. (Applause.) This is the foundation of Indonesia’s example to the world, and this is why Indonesia will play such an important part in the 21st century.
    When I moved to Indonesia, it would have been hard to imagine a future in which the prosperity of families in Chicago and Jakarta would be connected. But our economies are now global, and Indonesians have experienced both the promise and the perils of globalization: from the shock of the Asian financial crisis in the ‘90s, to the millions lifted out of poverty because of increased trade and commerce. What that means — and what we learned in the recent economic crisis — is that we have a stake in each other’s success.
    America has a stake in Indonesia growing and developing, with prosperity that is broadly shared among the Indonesian people — because a rising middle class here in Indonesia means new markets for our goods, just as America is a market for goods coming from Indonesia. So we are investing more in Indonesia, and our exports have grown by nearly 50 percent, and we are opening doors for Americans and Indonesians to do business with one another.
    These are the issues that really matter in our daily lives. Development, after all, is not simply about growth rates and numbers on a balance sheet. It’s about whether a child can learn the skills they need to make it in a changing world. It’s about whether a good idea is allowed to grow into a business, and not suffocated by corruption. It’s about whether those forces that have transformed the Jakarta I once knew — technology and trade and the flow of people and goods — can translate into a better life for all Indonesians, for all human beings, a life marked by dignity and opportunity.
    Now, this kind of development is inseparable from the role of democracy.
    Today, we sometimes hear that democracy stands in the way of economic progress. This is not a new argument. Particularly in times of change and economic uncertainty, some will say that it is easier to take a shortcut to development by trading away the right of human beings for the power of the state. But that’s not what I saw on my trip to India, and that is not what I see here in Indonesia. Your achievements demonstrate that democracy and development reinforce one another.
    I said then, and I will repeat now, that no single speech can eradicate years of mistrust. But I believed then, and I believe today, that we do have a choice. We can choose to be defined by our differences, and give in to a future of suspicion and mistrust. Or we can choose to do the hard work of forging common ground, and commit ourselves to the steady pursuit of progress. And I can promise you — no matter what setbacks may come, the United States is committed to human progress. That is who we are. That is what we’ve done. And that is what we will do. (Applause.)
    Now, we know well the issues that have caused tensions for many years — and these are issues that I addressed in Cairo. In the 17 months that have passed since that speech, we have made some progress, but we have much more work to do.
    Innocent civilians in America, in Indonesia and across the world are still targeted by violent extremism. I made clear that America is not, and never will be, at war with Islam. Instead, all of us must work together to defeat al Qaeda and its affiliates, who have no claim to be leaders of any religion –– certainly not a great, world religion like Islam. But those who want to build must not cede ground to terrorists who seek to destroy. And this is not a task for America alone. Indeed, here in Indonesia, you’ve made progress in rooting out extremists and combating such violence.
    That spark of the divine lives within each of us. We cannot give in to doubt or cynicism or despair. The stories of Indonesia and America should make us optimistic, because it tells us that history is on the side of human progress; that unity is more powerful than division; and that the people of this world can live together in peace. May our two nations, working together, with faith and determination, share these truths with all mankind. WH, 11-10-10
  • Palin calls Obama ‘most pro-abortion president’: Sarah Palin attacked President Barack Obama on Wednesday for his support of abortion rights and for the federal health care overhaul as the former Alaska governor appeared in Texas with another tea party favorte, Gov. Rick Perry. Palin described Obama as “the most pro-abortion president to occupy the White House” at the Dallas event, which was sponsored by a nonprofit organization that promotes an anti-abortion message. The 2008 Republican vice-presidential nominee also said the federal health care law is the “mother of all unfunded mandates” and means federal funding will go toward abortions…. – AP, 11-11-10
  • Obama says Indonesia, U.S. ‘on right path’: President Obama on Tuesday said his efforts to find ways to cooperate with Indonesia were “direct results of my call … for a new beginning between the United States and Muslim communities.” “Our efforts have been earnest, sustained,” Obama said. “We don’t expect that we are going to completely eliminate some of the misunderstandings and mistrust that have developed … but we do think that we’re on the right path.” “I have made it clear that America is not, and never will be, at war with Islam,” he said in remarks prepared prior to the speech and distributed to the news media. “Instead, all of us must defeat al-Qaeda and its affiliates, who have no claim to be leaders of any religion — certainly not a great, world religion like Islam.”
    Most of Indonesia’s 240 million people follow a moderate form of Islam…. – USA Today, 11-9-10
  • Peggy Noonan: Sarah Palin A ‘Nincompoop’ For Reagan Reduction: Excuse me, but this was ignorant even for Mrs. Palin. Reagan people quietly flipped their lids, but I’ll voice their consternation to make a larger point. Ronald Reagan was an artist who willed himself into leadership as president of a major American labor union (Screen Actors Guild, seven terms, 1947-59.) He led that union successfully through major upheavals (the Hollywood communist wars, labor-management struggles); discovered and honed his ability to speak persuasively by talking to workers on the line at General Electric for eight years; was elected to and completed two full terms as governor of California; challenged and almost unseated an incumbent president of his own party; and went on to popularize modern conservative political philosophy without the help of a conservative infrastructure. Then he was elected president…. – WSJ, 11-6-10
  • Obama: US elections force ‘midcourse corrections’: Hampered by heavy election losses at home, President Barack Obama promised on Sunday from Indian to make “midcourse corrections” to reinvigorate his embattled domestic agenda in the face of a testier American public and more combative Congress….
    The president agreed that people vented their frustration about the economy by sacking many incumbents. A “healthy thing,” he said, even though his Democratic Party suffered, losing control of one of the chambers in Congress. He said he would not retreat on spending money for energy and education, and offered no specific policy changes.
    But then he added that the election “requires me to make some midcourse corrections and adjustments. And how those play themselves out over the next several months will be a matter of me being in discussions with the Republican Party.”… – AP, 11-7-10
  • Obama Says Vote Turned on Economy: President Obama said in an interview broadcast Sunday night that he views last week’s mid-term Congressional elections as “a referendum on the economy” rather than a referendum on him, his policies or the Democratic Party.
    While he said he should be held accountable for the economy as the nation’s leader, he did not accept the suggestion that he pursued the wrong agenda over the last two years, and he focused blame on his failure to build public support for what he was doing or to change the way Washington works.
    In a session taped for CBS’s “60 Minutes” before Mr. Obama left for Asia, the correspondent Steve Kroft pointed out to the president that Republicans view the election as a referendum on him and the Democrats, and asked if he agreed. “I think first and foremost it was a referendum on the economy,” Mr. Obama said. “And the party in power was held responsible for an economy that is still underperforming.”… – NYT, 11-10-10
  • Weekly Address: President Obama Calls for Compromise and Explains his Priorities on Taxes Remarks of President Barack Obama Weekly Address The White House November 6, 2010: This week, Americans across the country cast their votes and made their voices heard. And your message was clear.
    You’re rightly frustrated with the pace of our economic recovery. So am I.
    You’re fed up with partisan politics and want results. I do too.
    So I congratulate all of this week’s winners – Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. But now, the campaign season is over. And it’s time to focus on our shared responsibilities to work together and deliver those results: speeding up our economic recovery, creating jobs, and strengthening the middle class so that the American Dream feels like it’s back within reach….
    Here’s why this lame duck session is so important. Early in the last decade, President Bush and Congress enacted a series of tax cuts that were designed to expire at the end of this year.
    What that means is, if Congress doesn’t act by New Year’s Eve, middle-class families will see their taxes go up starting on New Year’s Day.
    But the last thing we should do is raise taxes on middle-class families. For the past decade, they saw their costs rise, their incomes fall, and too many jobs go overseas. They’re the ones bearing the brunt of the recession. They’re the ones having trouble making ends meet. They are the ones who need relief right now.
    So something’s got to be done. And I believe there’s room for us to compromise and get it done together.
    But at a time when we are going to ask folks across the board to make such difficult sacrifices, I don’t see how we can afford to borrow an additional $700 billion from other countries to make all the Bush tax cuts permanent, even for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans. We’d be digging ourselves into an even deeper fiscal hole and passing the burden on to our children.
    I recognize that both parties are going to have to work together and compromise to get something done here. But I want to make my priorities clear from the start. One: middle class families need permanent tax relief. And two: I believe we can’t afford to borrow and spend another $700 billion on permanent tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.
    There are new public servants in Washington, but we still face the same challenges. And you made it clear that it’s time for results. This a great opportunity to show everyone that we got the message and that we’re willing, in this post-election season, to come together and do what’s best for the country we all love. – WH, 11-6-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

President Barack Obama places a wreath at the base of the Yongsan    War Memorial
The President places a wreath at the base of the Yongsan War Memorial, White House Photo, Samantha Appleton, 11/11/10
  • Lawrence Goodwyn: The Great Predicament Facing Obama: What happened to the dream of Barack Obama’s transformational politics? There’s been very little deviation from the disastrous Bush years on the key issues of war, empire and the distribution of wealth in the country. I turned to Lawrence Goodwyn, historian of social movements whose books and methods of explaining history have had a profound influence on many of the best known authors, activists and social theorists of our time. Goodwyn’s account of the Populist movement, Democratic Promise, is quoted extensively by Howard Zinn in People’s History of the United States, and also in William Greider’s masterpiece on the Federal Reserve, Secrets of the Temple. You can find Goodwyn quoted in the first paragraph of Bill Moyers’ recent book, On Democracy, and cited in just the same way in countless other books and essays.
    I interviewed Goodwyn from his home in Durham, North Carolina about the pitfalls of recording American history, Obama’s presidency in light of previous presidents, and portents of change in our political culture…. – Alternet (10-30-10)
  • Can the Tea Party endure? CNN asks Michael Kazin: The midterm elections dealt a powerful blow to President Obama and the Democratic Party as the country appeared to shift decisively to the right, moved by mass anger, “due to a combination of two kinds of fear,” historian Michael Kazin told CNN…. Kazin, a professor of history at Georgetown University, editor of The Princeton Encyclopedia of American Political History and author of “A Godly Hero: The Life of William Jennings Bryan” and other books, spoke to CNN last week.
    CNN: Would Republicans have captured the House without the Tea Party?
    Michael Kazin: We historians hate counterfactual questions! But clearly, the aura of a grass-roots rebellion helped to obscure the fact that most of corporate America was rooting for the GOP and helping finance Republican campaigns. The specific policy ideas of the Tea Partiers mattered less than did their anger at the perceived sins of “big government” and of President Obama. As [political writer] Kevin Phillips once wrote, much of political conflict comes down to the question of “who hates whom.”… – CNN.com (11-7-10)
  • Julian Zelizer: GOP leaders, beware the newcomers John Boehner has a huge problem on his hands. Now that the elections are over, and Republicans were victorious, he will need to tame the passions of the GOP freshmen who are coming to town determined to change everything about the way that Washington works.
    If he does not, the Republicans could divide among themselves, thereby undercutting their ability to push forward legislation and giving President Obama an opportunity to challenge their competence….
    Just as Democrats would do well to remember that life wasn’t so great for Clinton after 1994, even with his high approval rates, Republicans would do the same to recall how a massive opportunity was wasted and ultimately consumed some of its own leaders. – CNN, 11-8-1

September 6, 2010: Larry Sabato Predicts Republican Congress in November; Obama Officially Ends Combat in Iraq

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor / Features Editor at HNN. She has a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 111TH CONGRESS:

The President in the Rose Garden
The President and his economic team in the Rose Garden, White House Photo, Chuck Kennedy, 9/3/10

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • Blacks, Young Voters Not Poised for High Turnout on Nov. 2 Republicans — and conservative Republicans in particular — are already tuned in to midterms: Minority and young voters made a significant mark on the 2008 presidential election with their high turnout; today, however, these groups appear to have reverted to previous levels of interest in voting in the context of midterm elections. Most notably, in contrast to 2008, when whites and blacks were about equally likely to say they were giving “quite a lot of” or “some” thought to the presidential election, whites are much more likely than blacks to be thinking about the 2010 elections: 42% vs. 25%, a gap exceeding those from recent midterm elections…. – Gallop.com, 9-3-10Center for Politics
  • Analysis: Democrats face grim election prospects: An unrelenting sour mood among voters has steadily eroded support for President Barack Obama’s Democrats, putting the party’s grip on Congress at growing risk two months before the November 2 election. Worries about the economy and plummeting confidence in Obama have Democrats on the defensive in dozens of once-safe races, sparking new predictions of a 1994-style sweep that would restore Republicans to power in the House of Representatives and even the Senate.
    “A big wave for Republicans is almost guaranteed in November barring some cataclysmic event,” said University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato, who on Thursday increased his projected Republican gains in the House to 47 seats — enough to win a majority. “The political climate for Democrats has deteriorated badly over the summer,” Sabato said. “The rotten economy and President Obama’s failure to turn it around is killing Democrats.”
    Obama and Democrats got little help on Friday from the latest jobless report, which showed the unemployment rate inching up to 9.6 percent after employment fell for the third consecutive month…. – Reuters, 9-3-10
  • GOP will take over House, political guru Sabato predicts: The Democrats are likely to lose 47 seats and control of the House of Representatives in November’s elections, a top political analyst says in a new forecast Thursday. Larry Sabato, a political scientist at the University of Virginia, also says that the Democrats are likely to lose eight or nine seats in the Senate, eight governors’ offices and 300 to 500 seats in state legislatures.
    “The numbers are eye-catching. Republicans are dramatically gaining in all categories,” Sabato said in an interview. “It’s generated by a rotten economy and a strong conservative reaction against President Obama.”
    The analysis marks the first time this year that Sabato and the University’s Center for Politics have predicted a Republican takeover of the House. Sabato is one of the most consistently accurate election prognosticators. His final pre-election analysis in 2006 got the exact number of Democratic gains in the House and Senate and was off by only one in governors’ races. In 2008, he missed the final Electoral College count by only one, and missed the final House tally by only five seats.
    “2010 was always going to be a Republican year, in the midterm tradition. It has simply been a matter of degree,” Sabato said in a written analysis released Thursday. “Had Democratic hopes on economic revitalization materialized, it is easy to see how the party could have used its superior financial resources, combined with the tendency of Republicans in some districts and states to nominate ideological fringe candidates, to keep losses to the low 30s in the House and a handful in the Senate.”
    With Labor Day looming, Sabato wrote, it’s now clear that the summer didn’t turn out as Democrats wanted. “Conditions have deteriorated badly for Democrats over the summer. The economy appears rotten, with little chance of a substantial comeback by November 2nd. “Unemployment is very high, income growth sluggish and public confidence quite low. The Democrats’ self-proclaimed ‘Recovery Summer’ has become a term of derision, and to most voters – fair or not – it seems that President Obama has over-promised and under-delivered.”
    Across the board, Sabato forecasts larger Democratic losses than he projected in the spring, when he and his Center for Politics predicted that the Democrats could lose 32 House seats. That would be a large setback, but Republicans must gain 39 seats to take control of the House. Democrats now control the House by 255-178, with two vacancies, one previously held by each major party. A switch of 47 seats would put the Republicans in charge by at least 226-209, assuming the two vacant seats remain in the same partisan control. Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, is in line to be the new speaker of the House. His party would chair all House committees, and would gain subpoena power to force the Obama administration to answer questions.
    At least one other nonpartisan analyst also is now predicting a Republican takeover of the House. University of Buffalo political scientist James Campbell forecasts that the Democrats will lose 51 or 52 seats. Sabato’s new forecast also envisions larger losses in the Senate: eight or nine, up from the seven seats he previously predicted. Republicans must gain 10 Senate seats to take control there, however…. –
    McClachy Newspapers, 9-2-10
  • James E. Campbell: UB professor predicts House will go to Republicans: A University at Buffalo political scientist with a sterling record of prognosticating presidential elections is predicting that Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will turn over her gavel to the GOP come January. The presiding Democrats stand to lose about 51 seats in November, says James E. Campbell, professor of political science at UB. His prediction stems from a crystal ball filled with scientific equations based on polling and current events, all pointing to a stunning reversal of fortune for Democrats, who took over the House in 2006.
    “After two election setbacks, they are poised for a comeback,” Campbell says of Republicans. “Partisanship, ideology, the midterm decline from the prior presidential surge, the partisanship of districts being defended, and even President Obama’s approval ratings have set the stage for significant seat gains by Republicans in the House.”
    In a paper he will deliver this week to the American Political Science Association meeting in Washington, Campbell analyzes a variety of political elements that he plugs into his final equation….
    “In June 2010, 42 percent of respondents told Gallup that they were conservatives, while 20 percent claimed to be liberals, and 35 percent said they were moderates,” he said. “The nearly even division in partisanship and the conservative tilt in ideology suggest that the current equilibrium in the electorate is far more Republican than the status quo in the House.” “Polls, primary turnouts, the emergence of the tea party movement, and Republican victories in 2009 [including Scott Brown’s 2010 Senate win in Massachusetts] are unmistakable stirrings of a revitalized right,” he concluded.
    “Although President Obama is not unpopular at this point [his approval ratings stand in the mid- 40s], neither does he have the strong approval ratings that would provide much help to his party in staving off significant midterm losses,” Campbell said. “There is still an outside chance the Democrats could hold on,” he said Saturday…. –
    Buffalo News, 9-2-10
  • Shock Prediction: GOP to Take House, Maybe Senate in 2010 Election UVA’s Larry Sabato also sees Republicans gaining eight governorships in his crystal ball: Typically cautious Larry Sabato, head of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, is rocking the political world with a new “Crystal Ball” prediction: The GOP will win the House, making Ohio’s John Boehner speaker, might get a 50-50 split in the Senate, and will pick up some eight new governors.
    “2010 was always going to be a Republican year, in the midterm tradition,” Sabato said in his latest prediction, issued Thursday. “But conditions have deteriorated badly for Democrats over the summer. The economy appears rotten, with little chance of a substantial comeback by November 2nd. Unemployment is very high, income growth sluggish, and public confidence quite low. The Democrats’ self-proclaimed ‘Recovery Summer’ has become a term of derision, and to most voters—fair or not—it seems that President Obama has over-promised and under-delivered.”
    Sabato on House elections: “Given what we can see at this moment, Republicans have a good chance to win the House by picking up as many as 47 seats, net. This is a ‘net’ number since the GOP will probably lose several of its own congressional districts in Delaware, Hawaii, and Louisiana. This estimate, which may be raised or lowered by Election Day, is based on a careful district-by-district analysis, plus electoral modeling based on trends in President Obama’s Gallup job approval rating and the Democratic-versus-Republican congressional generic ballot. If anything, we have been conservative in estimating the probable GOP House gains, if the election were being held today.”
    Sabato on the Senate: “In the Senate, we now believe the GOP will do a bit better than our long-time prediction of +7 seats. Republicans have an outside shot at winning full control (+10), but are more likely to end up with +8 (or maybe +9, at which point it will be interesting to see how senators such as Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, and others react). GOP leaders themselves did not believe such a result was truly possible just a few months ago. If the Republican wave on November 2 is as large as some polls are suggesting it may be, then the surprise on election night could be a full GOP takeover. Since World War II, the House of Representatives has flipped parties on six occasions (1946, 1948, 1952, 1954, 1994, and 2006). Every time, the Senate flipped too, even when it had not been predicted to do so. These few examples do not create an iron law of politics, but they do suggest an electoral tendency.”
    US News, 9-2-10

THE HEADLINES….

President Obama meets with the leaders of Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Jor

President Obama with leaders of Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan & Egypt, White House Photo, Pete Souza, 9/1/10

  • Obama to hold press conference next Friday: President Barack Obama will hold a press conference on Friday, September 10, the White House said on Thursday…. – Reuters, 9-3-10
  • Obama: New jobs numbers ‘positive’ but not enough: President Barack Obama welcomed news Friday of better-than-expected private sector job growth. But with the unemployment rate ticking upward nevertheless, he said he’d roll out new plans next week to spur the economy. Obama spoke after the Labor Department reported that private employers added 67,000 new jobs last month, and both July and June’s private-sector job figures were revised upward. Those numbers were better than first thought and pushed stock prices up.
    Standing with his economic team in the Rose Garden, Obama said the jobs report was “positive news, and it reflects the steps we’ve already taken to break the back of this recession. But it’s not nearly good enough.” “That’s why we need to take further steps to create jobs and keep the economy growing including extending tax cuts for the middle class and investing in the areas of our economy where the potential for job growth is greatest,” the president said…. – AP, 9-3-10
  • Obama Declares an End to Combat Mission in Iraq: President Obama declared an end on Tuesday to the seven-year American combat mission in Iraq, saying that the United States has met its responsibility to that country and that it is now time to turn to pressing problems at home.
    In a prime-time address from the Oval Office, Mr. Obama balanced praise for the troops who fought and died in Iraq with his conviction that getting into the conflict had been a mistake in the first place. But he also used the moment to emphasize that he sees his primary job as addressing the weak economy and other domestic issues — and to make clear that he intends to begin disengaging from the war in Afghanistan next summer.
    “We have sent our young men and women to make enormous sacrifices in Iraq, and spent vast resources abroad at a time of tight budgets at home,” Mr. Obama said. “Through this remarkable chapter in the history of the United States and Iraq, we have met our responsibility. Now, it’s time to turn the page.”… – NYT, 9-1-10
  • Obama’s Oval Office Address: In Oval Office address last night, Obama said the country was turning the page on Iraq… But it’s still something we’ll have to return to — when violence continues and when judging whether the war was worth the sacrifice… Surprisingly, Obama used a good part of the speech to discuss the economy… He also talked about Afghanistan, his opposition to the war, and George W. Bush… What he didn’t say: whether the surge worked… Today, Obama turns the page from Iraq to Middle East peace, meeting individually with the heads of Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, and Egypt… The president makes statement to reporters at 5:20 pm ET… Murkowski concedes, becoming the seventh incumbent to lose a primary for re-election this cycle… Three takeaways on Pawlenty’s executive order… Profiling AZ-8… And Boxer and Fiorina debate…. – MSNBC, 9-1-10
  • Biden marks transfer of U.S. command in Iraq: U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and Defense Secretary Robert Gates helped usher in the next chapter for the United States in Iraq on Wednesday, presiding over a ceremony launching a new military operation designed to train, assist and advise the Iraqis.
    Biden said Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, but promised that “American engagement with Iraq will continue” with the new stability mission.
    “This change of mission, to state the obvious, would never have been possible without the resolve and tremendous sacrifice and competence of our military — the finest, if our Iraqi friends will forgive us, the finest fighting force in the world, and I would argue the finest fighting force that ever has existed,” Biden said. ….
    On Tuesday night, U.S. President Barack Obama addressed Americans about the transition in a televised speech.
    “The United States has paid a huge price to put the future of Iraq in the hands of its people,” Obama said from the Oval Office. “We have sent our young men and women to make enormous sacrifices in Iraq, and spent vast resources abroad at a time of tight budgets at home. We have persevered because of a belief we share with the Iraqi people — a belief that out of the ashes of war, a new beginning could be born in this cradle of civilization.”
    Obama said he was “awed” by the sacrifices of service members and their families and that the U.S. has met its responsibility.
    “Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, and the Iraqi people now have lead responsibility for the security of their country,” Obama said. “We have removed nearly 100,000 U.S. troops from Iraq. We have closed or transferred hundreds of bases to the Iraqis. And we have moved millions of pieces of equipment out of Iraq.”… – CNN, 9-1-10
  • Why Wall St. Is Deserting Obama: Daniel S. Loeb, the hedge fund manager, was one of Barack Obama’s biggest backers in the 2008 presidential campaign. A registered Democrat, Mr. Loeb has given and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Democrats. Less than a year ago, he was considered to be among the Wall Street elite still close enough to the White House to be invited to a speech in Lower Manhattan, where President Obama outlined the need for a financial regulatory overhaul. So it came as quite a surprise on Friday, when Mr. Loeb sent a letter to his investors that sounded as if he were preparing to join Glenn Beck in Washington over the weekend.
    “As every student of American history knows, this country’s core founding principles included nonpunitive taxation, constitutionally guaranteed protections against persecution of the minority and an inexorable right of self- determination,” he wrote. “Washington has taken actions over the past months, like the Goldman suit that seem designed to fracture the populace by pulling capital and power from the hands of some and putting it in the hands of others.”… – NYT, 8-31-10
  • Blair: Bush world view had ‘immense simplicity’: Former U.S. President George W. Bush was a “true idealist” who displayed “genuine integrity and political courage,” former British prime minister Tony Blair reveals in his memoirs. Detailing the close professional and personal relationship which developed between the two leaders in the wake of the 2001 terror attacks in the U.S. and during the build-up to the Iraq war in 2003, Blair writes that Bush was “very smart” while having “immense simplicity in how he saw the world.” “Right or wrong, it led to decisive leadership… he sincerely believed in spreading freedom and democracy,” he writes in “A Journey;” which hit book stores in the UK on Wednesday.
    But Blair, whose premiership overlapped the presidencies of Bush and Bill Clinton, reserves his warmest words for Bush’s Democratic predecessor, describing him as a “political soulmate” and “the most formidable politician I had ever encountered.” He also defends Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky affair. CNN, 9-1-10
  • Pawlenty Rejects “Obamacare” Funding for Minnesota: Attacking President Obama’s health care reforms from all angles, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty today issued an executive order directing state agencies to turn down any discretionary funding from the legislation. The health care reform package signed into law earlier this year “represents a dramatic attempt to assert federal command and control over this country’s health care system,” the potential Republican presidential candidate wrote in the executive order…. – CBS News, 9-1-10
  • NYC mayor disapproves of probe of mosque financing: New York’s mayor says an investigation by the state attorney general into the finances of a proposed Islamic center and mosque near ground zero would set “a terrible precedent.” Mayor Michael Bloomberg says there’s no reason for the government to investigate donations to religious organizations. Congressman Peter King disagrees. The ranking minority leader of the Homeland Security Committee says “a number” of terrorist plots have “emanated from mosques.” He cites the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center as an example… – AP, 8-31-10
  • Glenn Beck rally attendance: calculating how many really showed up: Glenn Beck rally attendance has become hotly contested following Saturday’s event in Washington. But from Woodstock to the Million Man March, figuring out the number of people who show up at big events has never been easy. CS Monitor, 8-30-08
  • For New Orleans, Katrina anniversary is both solemn and festive: Dancing, singing, mourning, and crying mixed throughout New Orleans this weekend as the city showcased the progress made since Katrina and honored those who died…. – CS Monitor, 8-30-10
  • Biden in Iraq to mark end of U.S. combat mission The vice president will press Iraqi leaders to form a new government and reassure them that the U.S. is not abandoning the country, officials say. LAT, 8-30-10
  • Obama Dismisses Faith Rumors: President Obama said on Sunday that he was not worried that increasing and significant numbers of Americans believe he is Muslim.
    Mr. Obama attributed the spread of the rumors about his religion and birthplace to “a network of misinformation that in a new media era can get churned out there constantly.” “We dealt with it when we were first running for the presidency,” he said. ‘There were those who said I couldn’t win as U.S. senator because I had a funny name and people would be too unfamiliar with it. “And yet we ended up winning that Senate seat in Illinois because I trusted the American people’s capacity to get beyond all this nonsense and focus on, ‘Is this somebody who cares about me and cares about my family and has a vision for the future?’” Mr. Obama said. “And so, I will always put my money on the American people. And I’m not going to be worrying too much about whatever rumors are floating on out there.”… – NYT, 8-29-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • Boxer, Fiorina debate: California economy is center stage: Sen. Barbara Boxer and GOP challenger Carly Fiorina faced off Wednesday night, drawing sharp distinctions between them. The Boxer, Fiorna debate was gaffe-free but too scripted, analysts say…. – CS Monitor, 9-2-10
  • Democratic party braced for midterm beating: Barack Obama’s party likely to lose heavily in November elections, polls suggest The Democratic party is staring at heavy losses in Congress and at the state level in the November midterm elections, according to several public opinion polls. The latest weekly survey from Gallup gives the Republicans a 10-point advantage – 51% to 41% – among registered voters. The lead is the Republican party’s largest so far this year and its widest margin in 68 years. The national poll, released this week, also found Republicans twice as likely to say they are “very” excited about voting in November, amid widespread dissatisfaction with the economy, where the unemployment rate is near double digits…. – Guardian UK, 9-1-10
  • Murkowski was ‘capable, energetic’ for Alaska: U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s stunning defeat in the Alaska primary ends a 30-year family legacy of holding that seat, an era that spanned a majority of Alaska’s statehood. Joe Miller, a self-styled constitutional conservative backed by the Tea Party Express and former Gov. Sarah Palin, upset Murkowski in a close primary race. Miller had a more than 1,600-vote lead with outstanding ballots yet to count, but Murkowski conceded Tuesday night. There are multiple theories on what led to Murkowski’s demise — from her not taking Miller seriously or being aggressive enough, to Palin’s endorsement of Miller, to an abortion ballot measure that drew conservative voters to the polls…. – AP, 9-1-10
  • Palin returns to Iowa for GOP’s biggest fundraiser: Potential 2012 presidential candidate Sarah Palin will headline the Iowa Republican Party’s biggest annual fundraiser, party officials announced Tuesday in the state that launches the presidential nominating process. The Sept. 17 speech at the annual Reagan Dinner in Des Moines will be the first Iowa appearance by the former Alaska governor and 2008 vice presidential candidate since a brief book-signing stop last December. “I know Iowa Republicans will be energized and motivated by Governor Palin to stand up and fight for these principles all the way to Election Day and beyond,” said Matt Strawn, chairman of the Iowa Republican Party…. – AP, 8-31-10
  • 1980 revisited: Are upstart Republicans ready to be US senators?: Will Senate candidate Joe Miller be part of a 2010 Republican takeover in D.C. this fall? While we’re waiting for absentee and questioned primary ballots to be counted in Alaska, Carl Hulse of The New York Times wonders whether the November midterm election will bring results resembling that of 1980, when Republicans riding Ronald Reagan’s coattails — including Frank Murkowski, father of Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski — surprised Democrats by taking over the U.S. Senate…. – Anchorage Daily News, 8-31-10
  • Murkowski narrows gap in US Senate seat in Alaska: Sen. Lisa Murkowski gained ground Tuesday on Republican challenger Joe Miller in their razor-thin GOP primary as Alaska began counting thousands of outstanding ballots. Murkowski trailed Miller by 1,294 votes in early counting Tuesday. She was down by 1,668 votes after the Aug. 24 primary. The contest has turned bitter in recent days with Miller accusing Murkowski of trying to steal the election by tampering with the vote. Murkowski shot back by saying Miller is paranoid and dealing in trumped-up, misleading rhetoric…. – AP, 8-31-10
  • Strategist: “Enthusiasm Gap” Between GOP, Dems: Says Republicans Have Midterm Advantage With Dems Facing “Toxic” Combination of Tea Party Activists, Economy, Afghanistan. The success in several primary races of far-right candidates backed by Tea Party activists, and the energetic crowd assembled in Washington last Saturday for Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally, indicate an “enthusiasm gap” that portends trouble for Democrats in November, according to a Republic strategist. Appearing on CBS’ “The Early Show” this morning, Dan Bartlett said, “The Tea Party and whoever else assembles with the Tea Party, like they did this weekend, is demonstrating that Republicans in this election cycle coming up in November have that advantage. “In midterm elections, that is a crucial difference.”…. – CBS News, 8-30-10

POLITICAL QUOTES

The President speaks to the Nation from the Oval Office
White House Photo, Pete Souza, 8/31/10
  • Remarks by the President in Address to the Nation on the End of Combat Operations in Iraq Oval Office:
    At every turn, America’s men and women in uniform have served with courage and resolve. As Commander-in-Chief, I am incredibly proud of their service. And like all Americans, I’m awed by their sacrifice, and by the sacrifices of their families.
    The Americans who have served in Iraq completed every mission they were given. They defeated a regime that had terrorized its people. Together with Iraqis and coalition partners who made huge sacrifices of their own, our troops fought block by block to help Iraq seize the chance for a better future. They shifted tactics to protect the Iraqi people, trained Iraqi Security Forces, and took out terrorist leaders. Because of our troops and civilians — and because of the resilience of the Iraqi people — Iraq has the opportunity to embrace a new destiny, even though many challenges remain.
    So tonight, I am announcing that the American combat mission in Iraq has ended. Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, and the Iraqi people now have lead responsibility for the security of their country. Having drawn down 100,000 troops since taking office, a much smaller force will stay to train and assist the Iraqi forces during the transition period. All U.S. troops will leave by the end of next year….
    Americans across the political spectrum supported the use of force against those who attacked us on 9/11. Now, as we approach our 10th year of combat in Afghanistan, there are those who are understandably asking tough questions about our mission there. But we must never lose sight of what’s at stake. As we speak, al Qaeda continues to plot against us, and its leadership remains anchored in the border regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan. We will disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda, while preventing Afghanistan from again serving as a base for terrorists. And because of our drawdown in Iraq, we are now able to apply the resources necessary to go on offense. In fact, over the last 19 months, nearly a dozen al Qaeda leaders — and hundreds of al Qaeda’s extremist allies — have been killed or captured around the world….
    Unfortunately, over the last decade, we’ve not done what’s necessary to shore up the foundations of our own prosperity. We spent a trillion dollars at war, often financed by borrowing from overseas. This, in turn, has short-changed investments in our own people, and contributed to record deficits. For too long, we have put off tough decisions on everything from our manufacturing base to our energy policy to education reform. As a result, too many middle-class families find themselves working harder for less, while our nation’s long-term competitiveness is put at risk.
    And so at this moment, as we wind down the war in Iraq, we must tackle those challenges at home with as much energy, and grit, and sense of common purpose as our men and women in uniform who have served abroad. They have met every test that they faced. Now, it’s our turn. Now, it’s our responsibility to honor them by coming together, all of us, and working to secure the dream that so many generations have fought for — the dream that a better life awaits anyone who is willing to work for it and reach for it.
    Our most urgent task is to restore our economy, and put the millions of Americans who have lost their jobs back to work. To strengthen our middle class, we must give all our children the education they deserve, and all our workers the skills that they need to compete in a global economy. We must jumpstart industries that create jobs, and end our dependence on foreign oil. We must unleash the innovation that allows new products to roll off our assembly lines, and nurture the ideas that spring from our entrepreneurs. This will be difficult. But in the days to come, it must be our central mission as a people, and my central responsibility as President.
    Part of that responsibility is making sure that we honor our commitments to those who have served our country with such valor. As long as I am President, we will maintain the finest fighting force that the world has ever known, and we will do whatever it takes to serve our veterans as well as they have served us. This is a sacred trust. That’s why we’ve already made one of the largest increases in funding for veterans in decades. We’re treating the signature wounds of today’s wars — post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury — while providing the health care and benefits that all of our veterans have earned. And we’re funding a Post-9/11 GI Bill that helps our veterans and their families pursue the dream of a college education. Just as the GI Bill helped those who fought World War II — including my grandfather — become the backbone of our middle class, so today’s servicemen and women must have the chance to apply their gifts to expand the American economy. Because part of ending a war responsibly is standing by those who have fought it…. – WH, 8-31-10
  • Obama formally ends Iraq combat mission President says nation’s top priority now is repairing economy: President Barack Obama made it official Tuesday: Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, and the nation’s No. 1 priority is fixing the economy. “The end of our combat mission in Iraq” comes at “a time of great uncertainty for many Americans,” Obama said in a nationally televised address from the Oval Office of the White House.
    “But this milestone should serve as a reminder to all Americans that the future is ours to shape if we move forward with confidence and commitment,” he added. “It should also serve as a message to the world that the United States of America intends to sustain and strengthen our leadership in this young century.”
    And it opens up another opportunity “to rebuild our nation here at home,” the president said, declaring that “now, it is time to turn the page.”… – MSNBC, 8-31-10Read the full text of the speech
  • Meghan McCain’s ‘Conflicting Feelings’ About Sarah Palin: Meghan McCain, who has tended to keep any strong feelings she may have about Sarah Palin to herself, opened up a bit on “Good Morning America” today while promoting her new book, “Dirty Sexy Politics.” McCain’s opinion on the former Alaska governor is of greater interest than most, since some Republicans blame Palin’s vice-presidential bid for derailing her father’s presidential campaign. “I do clearly state at the end that we did not lose because of her,” McCain said, referring to her book. When pressed by host George Stephanopoulos, McCain admitted to “conflicting feelings” about Palin and went on to discuss the way Bristol Palin’s pregnancy was mishandled by the campaign…. – WSJ, 8-31-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Julian E. Zelizer: Time for Obama to put cards on table: If current polls are a guide, the midterm elections probably won’t be good for President Obama and his party. The Democrats are in danger of losing control of the House of Representatives and of seeing their majority in the Senate diminish.
    With Obama’s approval rating sagging to 45 percent according to a Reuters-Ipsos poll, even his most ardent supporters admit that he will need a stimulus act for his presidency before 2012 comes around.
    One of Obama’s biggest challenges has been his reticence about defining a clear agenda and a set of governing principles. Doing so has been at odds with his legislative strategy, which has hinged on avoiding big proclamations to give himself wiggle room with Congress….
    But Obama must also do a better job at telling voters what he is about. While the president has a large legislative record to boast of, it remains unclear to many voters, including Democrats who support much of the record, what it all adds up to.
    It’s time for Obama to state his agenda and lay out a set of governing principles that will guide him in his next two years as president. It’s likely that the pressure of the 2010 midterm elections will compel Obama to present an argument to the public to build a case for his presidency. – CNN, 8-30-10
  • KATHRYN OLMSTED: Why Americans love conspiracies: According to recent polls, large numbers of Americans are convinced of two things that are verifiably not true: that President Barack Obama is a Muslim, and that Muslims are building a mosque at ground zero. A great many are also convinced that Obama was not even born in America. The tendency of most pundits and public officials is to dismiss these stories as the easily ignored theories of the lunatic fringe. But the “ground zero mosque” and “Obama-is-a-Muslim” stories have traction in the media for two reasons.
    First, they’re highly effective because they tap into deep, historic American anxieties about “un-American” agents within the republic — perhaps even within the White House. Second, these stories have some powerful sponsors in the media and in politics, sponsors who insinuate their paranoid theories into the mainstream debate to promote their own political goals. Americans have a special relationship to conspiracy theories involving insidious foreigners. Immigrants to America have brought a wider mix of religions and ethnicities and political histories than to any other New World country, and Americans have worried that their country is especially open —and vulnerable — to alien subversion. The historian Richard Hofstadter argued that there was a “paranoid style” in U.S. politics, prompted in part by Americans’ need to define themselves by casting out the un-Americans — or anyone who was not white, native-born and Protestant.
    Over the past two hundred years, frightened Americans have targeted Roman Catholics, Masons, Mormons, and Jews because these native groups were allegedly guided by the instructions of an alien power. Now, it’s the Muslims’ turn…. – Politico, 8-27-10

August 30, 2010: Obama & Katrina 5 Years Later, John McCain wins Arizona Primary

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor / Features Editor at HNN. She has a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 111TH CONGRESS:

President Obama at Xavier University in New Orleans, La.
President Obama at Xavier University in New Orleans, La., White House Photo, Pete Souza, 8/29/10

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • Election 2010 map: Track House, Senate and governor racesUSA Today
  • Poll: Six in 10 say Sarah Palin would be ineffective as president: She has been helping to drive conservative candidates to victory in GOP primaries across the country, but six in 10 Americans say Sarah Palin would not be an effective president, according to a 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll released today. Palin, the former Republican governor of Alaska, did better among GOP voters. Forty-seven percent of Republicans say she could be an effective president, compared with 12% of Democrats and 21% of independents, according to the poll…. – NY Daily News, 8-30-10

THE HEADLINES….

  • Vice President Joe Biden arrives in Baghdad; will meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki: Biden’s back in Baghdad. The vice president landed in Iraq on Monday in a surprise visit to mark the end of combat operations in the war-torn nation. The last American combat troops left Iraq earlier this month, and the White House says the number of U.S. troops in Iraq is now the lowest since the beginning of the conflict in 2003. A ceremony on Wednesday will signal the beginning of a new phase of the ongoing mission to establish a democratic government there, with the U.S. moving away from military operations and toward a largely diplomatic one.
    Biden and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki will “discuss the political situation and withdrawal, and Iraqis taking over responsibility for security,” the prime minister’s adviser, Yasin Majeed, told The Associated Press…. – NY Daily News , 8-30-10
  • Obama Pledges Commitment to New Orleans: Speaking at Xavier University on the fifth anniversary of the hurricane that took 1,800 lives, Mr. Obama emphasized the resilience of New Orleans residents.
    The legacy of Katrina, Mr. Obama said, must be “not one of neglect, but of action; not one of indifference, but of empathy; not of abandonment, but of a community working together to meet shared challenges.” “There are some wounds that do not heal,” the president acknowledged. “There are some losses that cannot be repaid. And for many who lived through those harrowing days five years ago, there is a searing memory that time will not erase.”… – NYT, 8-29-10
  • Obama, in New Orleans, promises to ‘fight alongside’ Gulf Coast: In New Orleans, the president talks Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill, pointing up post-Katrina aid improvements and work on shoring up levees…. – LAT, 8-29-10
  • President Obama hails New Orleans’ comeback; samples local seafood: President Obama visited New Orleans Sunday on the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina to hail the storied city’s return from the dead and promise to keep it safe from new monsters whirling offshore.
    “Five years ago, many questioned whether people could ever return to this city. Today, New Orleans is one of the fastest-growing cities in America, with a big surge in new small businesses,” Obama said. “You’re not only rebuilding; you’re rebuilding stronger than before,” Obama said. “My administration is going to stand with you, and fight alongside you, until the job is done.”… – NY Daily News, 8-29-10
  • Glenn Beck and Al Sharpton: The rallies of 8/28WaPo
  • Glenn Beck rally: A warning to Obama and Democrats?: There may have been some Democrats at the Glenn Beck rally Saturday, but even many of them aren’t happy with the country’s direction. Does the large turnout portend trouble for Democrats? One hundred to two hundred thousand people attended a rally organized by Fox TV commentator, Glenn Beck, at the foot of the Lincoln memorial. Although it was avowedly “non-political,” Sarah Palin was one of the main speakers and the crowd resembled very much the Tea Party crowd…. – CS Monitor, 8-29-10
  • Sharpton’s ‘Reclaim the Dream’ event brings thousands to honor MLK Sharpton: ‘The dream has not been achieved’: Thousands of people joined the Rev. Al Sharpton and other leaders Saturday in a counter-protest to the rally called by conservative talk show host Glenn Beck. The event, billed as “Reclaim the Dream,” included a march that culminated at the Mall, the site of Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally.
    In an interview before the rally began at Dunbar High School in Northwest Washington, Sharpton said he called the event to show respect for the dream of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who made his famous “I Have a Dream” speech 47 years ago at the March on Washington near where Beck spoke to thousands Saturday.
    “People are clear in what Dr. King’s dream was about, and we will not react to those who try to distort that dream,” Sharpton said. He was one of several prominent leaders who condemned Beck’s rally, despite cries from organizers that “Restoring Honor” was not intended to dishonor King or his work…. – WaPo, 8-28-10
  • Beck says US has ‘wandered in darkness’ too long: From the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, conservative broadcaster Glenn Beck told the tens of thousands of activists he drew from around the nation Saturday that the U.S. has too long “wandered in darkness.”
    At an event billed as nonpolitical but reflecting the mood of a sizable number in the country, the rally’s marquee speaker, Sarah Palin, praised “patriots” in the audience for “knowing never to retreat.”
    “Something beyond imagination is happening,” he said. “America today begins to turn back to God.” “For too long, this country has wandered in darkness,” said Beck, a Fox News host. He said it was now time to “concentrate on the good things in America, the things we have accomplished and the things we can do tomorrow.”… – AP, 8-28-10
  • Glenn Beck rally: Sarah Palin and President Obama agree on one thing: President Obama and Sarah Palin disagreed sharply on the war in Iraq. But in Obama’s radio address Saturday and Palin’s speech at Glenn Beck’s ‘Restoring Honor’ rally, they agreed on the need to honor and support the troops…. – CS Monitor, 8-28-10
  • Family Feud Erupts Over Martin Luther King’s Legacy Martin Luther King’s son, Martin Luther King III, and King’s niece, Dr. Alveda King, found themselves on opposing sides when it came to the Glenn Beck rally: A day of activism and protest in the nation’s Capitol today featured two prominent members of the King family laying very different claims on the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy.
    Addressing a massive crowd gathered at the Lincoln Memorial for Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally, King’s niece, Dr. Alveda King, tied the civil rights icon’s legacy to the featured themes of honor, patriotism, service and faith that were highlighted at the gathering.
    “Today, we are here to honor special men and women, who like my uncle Martin are blessed with servant’s hearts” said King. “Though they gave their service in ways very different from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., like him they are people who are not afraid to give their lives for the freedom of other. If uncle Martin could be here today, he would surely commend them.”
    But Martin Luther King II, King’s son, seemed not to share that belief, instead joining civil rights leaders in a counter protest. “This is not about a left side or a right side,” he said. “This is about God’s side in terms of doing what’s right for all of America. That’s what Martin Luther King’s dream is about.” AOL News, 8-28-10
  • Carter and Former Prisoner Return to U.S.: Mr. Gomes, 31, stepped off a private plane at Logan International Airport about 2 p.m. on Friday, a day after Mr. Carter secured his release in Pyongyang, the North Korean capital. He was immediately surrounded by more than a dozen relatives who enveloped him in a group hug. Neither Mr. Gomes (pronounced GOHMZ) nor Mr. Carter spoke with reporters upon their arrival, and it was unclear if or when either man would share details of Mr. Gomes’s detainment and release. Mr. Gomes quickly left the airport with his family and stayed out of the public eye for the rest of the day. But Mr. McCarthy later said that Mr. Gomes appeared in good health and that Mr. Carter had told the family that “the Koreans had taken good care of him.”… – NYT, 8-27-10
  • US implores Americans not to visit NKorea: The State Department on Friday urged Americans to respect its warning against traveling to North Korea, saying in a cheeky Twitter message that there are not too many former U.S. presidents left available for rescue missions. In a Tweet posted shortly after former President Jimmy Carter arrived in Boston from North Korea with American Aijalon Gomes who had been detained in the communist country for seven months, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said: “Americans should heed our travel warning and avoid North Korea. We only have a handful of former presidents.”
    His message referred to the fact that Carter was the second former U.S. president to travel to North Korea in the past year to win the release of American citizens imprisoned there. Last August, former President Bill Clinton secured the release of two television reporters who had been arrested for illegally entering North Korea…. – AP, 8-27-10
  • Sharpton: Beck rally goes against King’s vision: Broadcaster Glenn Beck and tea party activists have a right to rally in the nation’s capital but not to distort Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision, the Rev. Al Sharpton said Friday.
    Sharpton described the demonstration planned for Saturday by Beck and his supporters as an anti-government rally advocating states’ rights. And he said that goes against the message in King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, in which the civil rights leader appealed to the federal government to ensure equality.
    Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally will be held at the Lincoln Memorial, where King delivered his speech exactly 47 years earlier. Beck and other organizers say the aim is to pay tribute to America’s military personnel and others “who embody our nation’s founding principles of integrity, truth and honor.” The broadcaster toured the site Friday as supporters cheered…. – AP, 8-27-10
  • Obama to commemorate Katrina on 5th anniversary: President Barack Obama will use the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina to reaffirm his commitment to the Gulf Coast amid lingering questions over his administration’s response to the BP oil spill.
    Obama ends his Martha’s Vineyard vacation Sunday and heads to New Orleans, five years to the day from when Hurricane Katrina raged ashore, busting through crumbling levees and flooding 80 percent of the city, killing more than 1,600 people. Then-President George W. Bush was harshly criticized in many quarters for not responding aggressively enough to the disaster.
    The unfinished business of helping make New Orleans whole is Obama’s responsibility now. On Sunday, he will have the delicate task of commemorating the ravaging storm while reassuring residents who may still believe the government has failed them — both when it comes to Katrina and to the BP spill…. – AP, 8-27-10
  • On Martha’s Vineyard, Obamas savor local produce: For a vacationing President Barack Obama, it seems all produce — like politics — is local. So far, in their only dinner outings since arriving on Martha’s Vineyard last week, the president and his wife have twice eaten at restaurants that feature locally grown fruits, vegetables and herbs. And the White House has let it be known that the meals being cooked at their rented vacation compound feature all manner of things from farms and gardens on this island off Cape Cod. It seems the passion for freshness behind first lady Michelle Obama’s backyard garden at the White House hasn’t taken a holiday during her family’s stay here…. – AP, 8-27-10
  • Obama Hits Fairway With UBS’s Wolf, Lawyer Jordan During Vineyard Vacation: The biggest names on the links this week aren’t all teeing off at the PGA tournament in Paramus, New Jersey. The power foursomes are on Martha’s Vineyard, where President Barack Obama is spending a chunk of his vacation playing golf with partners who have included Robert Wolf, chairman and chief executive officer of UBS Americas, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Vernon Jordan, Lazard Ltd. senior managing director and a longtime Democratic Party supporter.
    Obama had a 15-minute discussion with Bloomberg about the economy in the clubhouse before heading out to the fairways yesterday, Reid Cherlin, an administration spokesman, said…. – Bloomberg, 8-27-10
  • Rain lifts, vacationing Obamas dine out for lunch: Emerging from semi-seclusion after four days of drenching rain, a cheery President Barack Obama lunched with his wife and daughters at a wharfside restaurant Wednesday and mingled with fellow vacationers. It was the family’s first public appearance together since beginning their Martha’s Vineyard stay.
    “Good to see you guys, you doing alright?” the smiling president asked a crowd that cheered his arrival at Nancy’s, an eatery well known for its fried local seafood. First lady Michelle Obama commiserated with the onlookers over the lousy weather. “You dried off finally?” she asked…. – AP, 8-26-10
  • U.S. deficit panel chair stirs uproar over remark: The co-chairman of a commission on the U.S. budget deficit came under fire on Wednesday after an off-color remark that likened the payment of government retirement benefits to milking cows. Women’s groups and some lawmakers called for the resignation of Alan Simpson, a Republican who serves on the bipartisan deficit panel created by President Barack Obama. Simpson wrote this week in an email to one of his critics the Social Security retirement program has reached the point “where it’s like a milk cow with 310 million tits.” He later issued an apology for the comment…. – Reuters, 8-26-10
  • Glenn Beck supporters head for Washington, D.C., rally: Glenn Beck’s supporters started boarding buses days ago in cities as far from the nation’s capital as Sacramento, Salt Lake City and Houston. Heading east for a grass-roots show of force on Saturday, they will join the conservative icon for a rally that he says is aimed at “restoring honor” to a troubled nation.
    “People are upset with the direction of the country,” says Patti Weaver, head of the Pittsburgh Tea Party, who is bringing 900 people on 16 buses to the event at the Lincoln Memorial. The rally will “continue to unite people who are upset with our government. … We can take our country back.”
    Beck has been criticized by civil rights groups such as the National Urban League for holding the rally at the site of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech on racial equality and on its 47th anniversary. The Fox News and radio talk-show host insists that his rally is about supporting the nation’s troops — not about politics…. – USA Today, 8-26-10
  • David & Charles Koch: Covert Operations: The billionaire brothers who are waging a war against Obama: …One dignitary was conspicuously absent from the gala: the event’s third honorary co-chair, Michelle Obama. Her office said that a scheduling conflict had prevented her from attending. Yet had the First Lady shared the stage with Koch it might have created an awkward tableau. In Washington, Koch is best known as part of a family that has repeatedly funded stealth attacks on the federal government, and on the Obama Administration in particular…. – New Yorker, 8-30-10
  • Jimmy Carter: Can Obama trust him in North Korea talks?: Jimmy Carter gained a reputation as an independent actor when President Clinton sent him to North Korea in 1994. President Obama will hope Carter – on a mission to bring back a jailed American – does not stray into talks about North Korea’s nuclear program…. – Cs Monitor, 8-25-10
  • US general: Afghan deadline ‘giving enemy sustenance’: General James Conway said troops in southern Afghanistan were likely to have to remain for a few years. A senior US general has warned President Barack Obama’s deadline to begin pulling troops out of Afghanistan is encouraging the Taliban. US General James Conway, head of the US Marine Corps, said the deadline was “giving our enemy sustenance”. Gen Conway warned that US forces in southern Afghanistan will likely have to stay in place for several years. His comments are likely to fuel debate over US strategy in Afghanistan and Mr Obama’s July 2011 withdrawal date… – BBC, 8-24-10
  • Stem cell ruling to be appealed, some work to stop: The government will quickly appeal a court ruling that undercut federally funded embryonic stem cell research, the Obama administration declared Tuesday, but dozens of experiments aimed at fighting spinal cord injuries, Parkinson’s disease and other ailments probably will stop in the meantime.
    The White House and scientists said Monday’s court ruling was broader than first thought because it would prohibit even the more restricted stem cell research allowed for the past decade under President George W. Bush’s rules.
    The Justice Department said an appeal is expected this week of the federal judge’s preliminary injunction that disrupted an entire field of science…. – Boston Globe, 8-24-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

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  • ‘World News’ Political Insights — Tea Party’s Boil Still Singing Republicans: Movement Continues as Mixed Blessing for GOP, as More Primaries Loom… – ABC News, 8-29-10
  • Dems’ bright spots in foreboding election year: John Carney of Delaware is a rarity in a campaign season of foreboding for Democrats, a practicing politician with a strong chance of winning a Republican-held seat in Congress. Not that Carney is interested in attaching any national significance to his race. “I’ll support (President Barack Obama) when I think he’s right and I won’t when I think he proposes something that isn’t in the best interests of Delaware,” he says…. – AP, 8-29-10
  • W.Va. Gov. Manchin wins Dem primary for US Senate: Popular Gov. Joe Manchin won the Democratic nomination Saturday and will face GOP primary winner and wealthy businessman John Raese in the race to fill the Senate seat vacated by the late Robert C. Byrd. Raese defeated a crowded field of Republicans and becomes part of the GOP quest to dismantle the Democratic Senate majority as high unemployment and the slow economic recovery take a toll on their political prospects this fall…. – AP, 8-29-10
  • Crist, Meek tout plans to stimulate economy: Two of Florida’s U.S. Senate hopefuls, Gov. Charlie Crist and Congressman Kendrick Meek, on Sunday touted their plans to stimulate the lagging economy…. – AP, 8-29-10
  • Tweet by AK Senate candidate’s staffer causes stir: Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Joe Miller apologized on Twitter and a campaign staffer was told to exercise more caution Friday after someone in Miller’s campaign sent a tweet that appeared to liken a possible party switch by Sen. Lisa Murkowski to prostitution. The item posted on Miller’s Twitter account Friday said, “What’s the difference b/n selling out your party’s values and the oldest profession?” The tweet linked to an online article speculating on whether Murkowski would run on the Libertarian Party ticket if she loses the GOP primary to Miller. Murkowski’s campaign responded by calling the tweet “disgusting” and demanding an apology, after which Miller issued another tweet that said: “Please accept my apologies. Staffer trying to encourage Libertarians not to sell out.”… – AP, 8-28-10
  • Democratic Campaign Chief Says Tea Party Will Hurt Republicans: Victories of “extreme right” Tea Party-backed congressional candidates in Republican primaries will help the Democratic Party retain control of the House by alienating independent voters who will determine the November election outcome, the House Democrats’ campaign chief said.
    Many Republican candidates “emerging from the primaries are on the far right of the political spectrum, and many are driven by the Tea Party movement,” Representative Chris Van Hollen told reporters in Washington…. – Bloomberg, 8-27-10
  • Low-Profile Alaskan Swaps Law Court for the Limelight: This time last year, Joe Miller was augmenting his income from his private legal practice by working as a part-time attorney for the borough here, and had to put in for leave to take an elk-hunting trip with two of his sons.
    Now, the 43-year-old Mr. Miller stands on the brink of what would be one of this year’s biggest political upsets. If his slim lead in last Tuesday’s GOP primary holds, he will oust Sen. Lisa Murkowski from a seat she and her father, Frank, have held for 30 years.
    The final vote tally is expected within two weeks, after the state finishes counting 11,266 absentee ballots. With 100% of precincts counted, Mr. Miller currently leads by 1,668 votes. Most political watchers expect a Miller victory, and observers in Alaska and across the U.S. are taking a closer look at a man who, even in Fairbanks, maintained a low profile before he jumped into the race against Ms. Murkowski last April…. – WSJ, 5-27-10
  • Harry Reid vs. Sharron Angle: this season’s must-see political slugfest: The US Senate race between Harry Reid and Sharron Angle in Nevada is so close and the stakes are so high that the political world is riveted…. – CS Monitor, 8-27-10
  • John McCain survives Tea Party challenge at US primaries John McCain wins in Arizona after Sarah Palin endorsement, Tea Party’s Joe Miller set for surprise defeat of Alaska senator: Tea Party activists were on the verge of achieving one of the biggest upsets of the year by ousting the sitting Republican senator for Alaska, a scalp that would compensate for their failure earlier in the day to defeat the former presidential candidate John McCain.
    With 98% (91,000) of the votes counted in Alaska, the senator, Lisa Murkowski, was trailing Joe Miller on 51%. Miller has a lead of 1,190 votes, but still with 16,000 absentee ballots to be counted. Although Murkowski has been the senator since 2002 and polls suggested an easy win, Miller enjoyed Tea Party support, including one of its unofficial figureheads, the former Alaska governor Sarah Palin.
    In a year that has seen establishment candidates beaten by outsiders in Republican primaries across the country, Alaska could be added to a list of Tea Party battle honours that already include Kentucky, Florida, Nevada and Utah.
    Miller’s surprise success suggests nationwide resentment over lack of jobs and the slowness of economic recovery remains as strong as ever, with voters blaming Washington…. – Guardian UK, 8-25-10
  • As GOP civil war rages, Democrats look to benefit: A Republican civil war is raging, with righter-than-thou conservatives dominating ever more primaries in a fight for the party’s soul. And the Democrats hope to benefit. The latest examples of conservative insurgents’ clout came Tuesday at opposite ends of the country. In Florida, political newcomer Rick Scott beat longtime congressman and state Attorney General Bill McCollum for the GOP gubernatorial nomination. And in Alaska, tea party activists and Sarah Palin pushed Sen. Lisa Murkowski to the brink of defeat, depending on absentee ballot counts in her race against outsider Joe Miller…. – AP, 8-26-10
  • McCain, Murkowski Primary Results Send Mixed Messages Incumbents McCain and Meek win, while Palin, Tea Party flex their Alaska muscle: Tuesday’s Senate primaries in Arizona, Florida, and Alaska were a test for the major players in the 2010 primaries: the establishment, wealthy political newcomers, and the Tea Party movement. Two establishment candidates prevailed, GOP Sen. John McCain in Arizona and Democratic Rep. Kendrick Meek in Florida. And the fate of a third hangs in the balance in Alaska, where officials determined that the race between eight-year incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Sarah Palin-backed candidate Joe Miller is too close to call. The Alaska outcome will be decided by the 16,000 absentee ballots, and officials said it could take a week to determine the final results. Murkowski, the fifth ranking Republican in the Senate, said she will not concede the race in which she was about 2,000 votes behind Miller as of Wednesday morning. If Murkowski loses, she will be the seventh incumbent, and fourth Republican, taken down by voters this primary season. A Miller win would be seen as a substantial victory for Palin in her home state and for the Tea Party movement nationally, though a high-profile Tea Party candidate, J.D. Hayworth, lost to McCain in Arizona…. – US News, 8-25-10
  • In Alaska, Doubts About Climate Change Rise With a New Politician: Alaska’s cliffhanger primary is poised to propel a climate skeptic toward the U.S. Senate, observers say, likely bolstering the number of nominations achieved by conservative candidates who challenge manmade global warming. Republican Joe Miller, a former judge with a Yale law degree, showcased Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s past support for climate legislation, among other things, before slipping by her at the voting stations Tuesday to capture a 1,900 vote lead with several thousand absentee ballots still being counted…. – NYT, 8-26-10
  • Where GOP’s Lisa Murkowski went wrong and John McCain went right: Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska didn’t open her war chest in time, and it may have cost her the GOP primary. Arizona’s Sen. John McCain, by contrast, spent early and often… – CS Monitor, 8-25-10
  • Murkowski Counts on History Lesson to Remain Confident in Alaska: Sen. Lisa Murkowski declared Wednesday that “it ain’t over yet, folks” as she faced the prospect of being ousted by a conservative challenger backed by Sarah Palin amid widespread anti-incumbent rage this year. Joe Miller leads Murkowski by about 2,000 votes with several thousand absentee ballots still to be counted, putting him in position to potentially be the latest political newcomer to defeat a well-known incumbent.
    At a news conference in Anchorage, Murkowski mentioned that then-Sen. Ted Stevens in 2008 went to bed one night in the lead and learned later he had lost his Senate seat of 40 years to Mark Begich. She said U.S. Rep. Don Young also reminded her of a race he had won after going into the election thinking he would be the clear loser. “There is much, much yet to be counted,” she said.
    Regardless of who prevails, the Republican primary is a sign of Palin’s clout in her home state after the former governor and vice presidential candidate had suffered a string of loses recently in endorsing other candidates nationally…. – AP, 8-25-10
  • Arizona primary: Why McCain is set to beat the anti-incumbent backlash: Polls suggest Sen. John McCain is set to win his primary Tuesday. Some voters have been turned off by his attack ads and big spending in the race against J.D. Hayworth. But it has worked…. – CS Monitor, 8-24-10
  • Establishment vs. outsiders in primaries: It’s the political establishment vs. the outsiders in Tuesday’s primaries. And the establishment has the better odds.
    Republican Sens. John McCain and Lisa Murkowski were poised to win bitter primaries in Arizona and Alaska against tea-party-backed candidates.
    In Florida, boatloads of cash may not be enough to propel former health care executive Rick Scott and real estate businessman Jeff Greene to victory in gubernatorial and Senate primaries.
    “I think the voters have figured out that no matter how much money some guy spends, just because he’s wealthy and can run ads that slam the other guy doesn’t make him the right person to govern Florida,” said state Attorney General Bill McCollum, who is locked in a bruising Republican gubernatorial campaign against Scott…. – AP, 8-24-10
  • Republican Chuck Hagel backs Democrat in Pa. Senate race: Republican Chuck Hagel, the former Nebraska senator, will endorse Democrat Rep. Joe Sestak in Pennsylvania’s competitive U.S. Senate race…. – USA Today, 8-23-10

POLITICAL QUOTES

The President Records the Weekly Address

White House Photo, Lawrence Jackson

  • Remarks by the President on the Fifth Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, Louisiana Xavier University New Orleans, Louisiana: … Now, even as we continue our recovery efforts, we’re also focusing on preparing for future threats so that there is never another disaster like Katrina. The largest civil works project in American history is underway to build a fortified levee system. And as I — just as I pledged as a candidate, we’re going to finish this system by next year so that this city is protected against a 100-year storm. We should not be playing Russian roulette every hurricane season. (Applause.) And we’re also working to restore protective wetlands and natural barriers that were not only damaged by Katrina — were not just damaged by Katrina but had been rapidly disappearing for decades.
    And when I came here four years ago, one thing I found striking was all the greenery that had begun to come back. And I was reminded of a passage from the book of Job. “There is hope for a tree if it be cut down that it will sprout again, and that its tender branch will not cease.” The work ahead will not be easy, and there will be setbacks. There will be challenges along the way. But thanks to you, thanks to the great people of this great city, New Orleans is blossoming again. – WH, 8-29-10
  • Weekly Address: President Obama: As the Combat Mission in Iraq Ends, We Must Pay Tribute to Those Who Have Served: Remarks of President Barack Obama Weekly Address The White House August 28, 2010: On Tuesday, after more than seven years, the United States of America will end its combat mission in Iraq and take an important step forward in responsibly ending the Iraq war.
    As a candidate for this office, I pledged I would end this war. As President, that is what I am doing. We have brought home more than 90,000 troops since I took office. We have closed or turned over to Iraq hundreds of bases. In many parts of the country, Iraqis have already taken the lead for security.
    In the months ahead, our troops will continue to support and train Iraqi forces, partner with Iraqis in counterterrorism missions, and protect our civilian and military efforts. But the bottom line is this: the war is ending. Like any sovereign, independent nation, Iraq is free to chart its own course. And by the end of next year, all of our troops will be home.
    As we mark the end of America’s combat mission in Iraq, a grateful nation must pay tribute to all who have served there. Because part of responsibly ending this war is meeting our responsibility to those who have fought it.
    The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan now make up America’s longest continuous combat engagement. For the better part of a decade, our troops and their families have served tour after tour with honor and heroism, risking and often giving their lives for the defense of our freedom and security. More than one million Americans in uniform have served in Iraq – far more than any conflict since Vietnam. And more than one million who have served in both wars have now finished their service and joined the proud ranks of America’s veterans.
    What this new generation of veterans must know is this: our nation’s commitment to all who wear its uniform is a sacred trust that is as old as our republic itself. It is one that, as President, I consider a moral obligation to uphold.
    At the same time, these are new wars; with new missions, new methods, and new perils. And what today’s veterans have earned – what they have every right to expect – is new care, new opportunity, and a new commitment to their service when they come home…. – WH, 8-28-10
  • Hurricane Katrina: Five Years of Remembering & RebuildingWH, 8-25-10
  • Vice President Biden on Iraq and Our Veterans: “These Homecomings Are Something I Have Long Looked Forward To…”: These homecomings are something I have long looked forward to, and I know many of you have as well. The day my son Beau returned from a yearlong tour in Iraq, and I watched him embrace his wife and children, was one of the proudest and happiest moments of my life. By the end of next year—2011—our remaining troops in Iraq will have come home to their families and a grateful nation. This is only possible because of the extraordinary progress our military—the finest fighting force this planet has ever seen—has brought about, led by the great General Ray Odierno…. – WH, 8-24-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Julian E. Zelizer: Time for Obama to put cards on table: If current polls are a guide, the midterm elections probably won’t be good for President Obama and his party. The Democrats are in danger of losing control of the House of Representatives and of seeing their majority in the Senate diminish.
    With Obama’s approval rating sagging to 45 percent according to a Reuters-Ipsos poll, even his most ardent supporters admit that he will need a stimulus act for his presidency before 2012 comes around.
    One of Obama’s biggest challenges has been his reticence about defining a clear agenda and a set of governing principles. Doing so has been at odds with his legislative strategy, which has hinged on avoiding big proclamations to give himself wiggle room with Congress….
    But Obama must also do a better job at telling voters what he is about. While the president has a large legislative record to boast of, it remains unclear to many voters, including Democrats who support much of the record, what it all adds up to.
    It’s time for Obama to state his agenda and lay out a set of governing principles that will guide him in his next two years as president. It’s likely that the pressure of the 2010 midterm elections will compel Obama to present an argument to the public to build a case for his presidency. – CNN, 8-30-10
  • PETER BERKOWITZ: The Death of Conservatism Was Greatly Exaggerated In 2008 liberals proclaimed the collapse of Reaganism. Two years later the idea of limited government is back in vogue: Last August left little doubt that a conservative revival was underway. Constituents packed town-hall meetings across the country to confront Democratic House members and senators ill-prepared to explain why, in the teeth of a historic economic downturn and nearly 10% employment, President Obama and his party were pressing ahead with costly health-care legislation instead of reining in spending, cutting the deficit and spurring economic growth.
    Still, whether that revival would have staying power was very much open to question. A year later—and notwithstanding the Democrats’ steadily declining poll numbers and the mounting electoral momentum that could well produce a Republican majority in the House and a substantial swing in the Senate—it still is.
    Sustaining the revival depends on the ability of GOP leaders, office-holders and candidates to harness the extraordinary upsurge of popular opposition to Mr. Obama’s aggressive progressivism. Our constitutional tradition provides enduring principles that should guide them…. – WSJ, 8-28-10
  • PEGGY NOONAN: We Just Don’t Understand Americans look at the president and see a stranger: All presidents take vacations, and all are criticized for it. It’s never the right place, the right time. Ronald Reagan went to the ranch, George W. Bush to Crawford, both got knocked. Bill Clinton even poll-tested a vacation site and still was criticized. But Martha’s Vineyard—elite, upscale—can’t have done President Obama any good, especially following the first lady’s foray in Spain. The general feeling this week was summed up by David Letterman: “He’ll have plenty of time for vacations when his one term is up. Plenty of time.”… – WSJ, 8-27-10
  • E.J. Dionne Jr.: Tuesday’s tutorial: a GOP too far right: Republicans are in the midst of an insurrection. Democrats are not. This vast gulf between the situations of the two parties — not some grand revolt against “the establishment” or “incumbents” — explains the year’s primary results, including Tuesday’s jarring outcomes in Florida and Alaska.
    The agitation among Republicans is not surprising, given the trauma of the final years of George W. Bush’s presidency. After heavy losses in 2006 and 2008, it was natural that GOP loyalists would seek a new direction.
    Liberals who saw Bush’s presidency as a failed right-wing experiment thought Republicans would search for more moderate ground, much as Britain’s Tories turned to the soothing leadership of David Cameron to organize their comeback. But this expectation overlooked the exodus of moderates over the past decade, which has shifted the balance of power in Republican primaries far to the right. As a result, the main critique of Bush in Republican ranks casts him as insufficiently conservative — too inclined to support federal action on education and in expanding prescription drug assistance to the elderly, and too ready to run up the deficit…. – WaPo, 8-26-10
  • Julian E. Zelizer: GOP needs a Reagan to unite its factions: The debate over the construction of an Islamic center and mosque in New York exploded into a fierce national controversy. President Obama was unable to contain the issue, and his comments only added fuel to the fire. Polls show that his approval ratings continue to fall.
    But the debate over the Islamic center and mosque tells us as much about the tensions that are brewing within the Republican Party as it does about the challenges facing the White House. It is unclear whether any Republican has the capacity to unite the party and help repair the damage inflicted by the final year of President George W. Bush’s presidency.
    The same week that many conservatives were laser-focused on Muslims and the mosque, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney wrote an op-ed published in The Boston Globe criticizing the administration’s economic policies. Romney argued that Obama’s policies have been hampering, not helping, economic recovery and outlined as an alternative a package of tax cuts that he believes would generate growth.
    If Republicans can’t find a unifying figure like Reagan, and instead move toward one of the candidates who leans heavily toward one of these factions, the party won’t be able to prevent the contradictions and internal tensions from drowning any effort to challenge Obama. – CNN, 8-24-10
  • Joe Klein: Dems Depressed and Disheartened: The lead item on Politico–titled “Dems Urge Obama to Take a Stand”–is almost surrealistic. Take a stand? The guy passed health care, a stimulus bill that helped avoid a Depression, a groundbreaking financial reform bill that is too complicated to be popularly described, a bailout that enabled General Motors and Chrysler to survive. He nominated two estimable women to the Supreme Court. He restored America’s image in the world. I can go on…
    But Dems are distressed? He’s not populist or ideological enough? Oh please. There are several ways to go about the presidency. Ronald Reagan chose one way: he said one thing and did another. He was for cutting back the size of government, but didn’t. He was for lowering taxes and he did, but then he raised taxes–two of the laegest percentage increases in American history–when his supply-side “philosophy” proved a phony. He confronted the Soviet Union, but he also would have agreed to massive reductions in nuclear arsenals if the Soviets had allowed him to pursue his Star Wars fantasy…. – Times, 8-23-10
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