Politics November 7, 2016: WikiLeaks CNN embroiled in Clinton bias over favors for Democratic National Committee

HEADLINE NEWS

Headline_News

POLITICS

WikiLeaks CNN embroiled in Clinton bias over favors for Democratic National Committee

By Bonnie K. Goodman

PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 07: Democratic presidential nominee former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during a campaign rally on November 7, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. With one day to go until election day, Hillary Clinton is campaigning in Pennsylvania, Michigan and North Carolina. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

PITTSBURGH, PA – NOVEMBER 07: Democratic presidential nominee former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during a campaign rally on November 7, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. With one day to go until election day, Hillary Clinton is campaigning in Pennsylvania, Michigan and North Carolina. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Republican nominee Donald Trump likes to call CNN the Clinton News Network and he might be right. WikLeaks released over 8,000 more emails from the Democratic National Committee on Monday, Nov. 7, 2016, and among the most damaging is an email where the Clinton campaign coordinated with CNN to sabotage interviews in April with Republican candidates Donald Trump who became the nominee and Texas Senator Ted Cruz.

In April the DNC “colluded” with CNN to create questions to trip Trump during a CNN interview including having the DNC choosing the CNN anchor who would interview Trump.
The email dated April 25, was a DNC staffer named Lauren Dillon who served as the DNC Research Director, her email address was DillonL@dnc.org.

The DNC staffer requested that Wolf Blitzer conduct the interview. Dillon wrote CNN, “Wolf Blitzer is interviewing Trump on Tues ahead of his foreign policy address on Wed. … Please send me thoughts by 10:30 AM tomorrow.” Dillon sent another email after CNN notified her that the interview had been canceled “as of now.”

In the second email, Dillon provided suggested questions the CNN anchor should ask Trump when the interview was rescheduled. Dillon wrote some of the questions down, suggesting CNN ask Trump “Who helped you write the foreign policy speech you’re giving tomorrow? Which advisors specifically did you talk to? What advice did they give you? Did they give you any advice that you chose not to take?”

Additionally, as the Washington Examiner noted Dillon suggested questions regarding “Saudi Arabia’s alleged involvement in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, a pre-preemptive strike against North Korea and court martials for members of the military who didn’t follow orders.”

Dillon did the same when it came to interviews with Cruz and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina who Cruz at that point was choosing as running mate in unprecedented move since he was not the presumptive nominee. Dillon wrote in that third email “CNN is looking for questions” on Cruz and “maybe a couple on” Fiorina.

CNN dismissed the emails with a spokeswoman commenting, “This is completely unremarkable. We have similar communications with Republicans. When preparing for interviews we are regularly sent suggestions from rival campaigns and political parties, both solicited and unsolicited. Casting a wide net to ensure a tough and fair interview isn’t just common media practice, it’s smart.”

WikLeaks released a damaging batch of DNC emails back in July just before the Democratic National Convention revealing how much the party wanted to sabotage and work against the party’s other primary candidate Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Then DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s damaging emails forced her to resign as the party’s head.

This is not the first time WikiLeaks unearthed CNN helping the Clinton campaign during the primaries. This first time was with interim DNC Chair woman Donna Brazile. Brazile acquired two CNN primary debate questions and handed them over to the Clinton campaign. The revelation prompted CNN to cut ties with Brazile.

WikLeaks released 50,000 hacked emails since the beginning of October in an attempt to sway the election. The majority of the emails have been from the Gmail account of Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta. The emails not released in any order include both emails and internal memos and documents showing the Clintons’ used their political connections to gain favors.

The emails have shown a calculated Clinton campaign that has used the Democratic National Committee and the news media to get an advantage for Clinton in the primary and general election. The news media has downplayed the revelation but they are still damaging to the Clinton campaign and the DNC showing a manipulatively run campaign.

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Politics November 7, 2016: WikiLeaks Chelsea Clinton’s husband used Clinton Foundation for hedge fund

HEADLINE NEWS

Headline_News

POLITICS

WikiLeaks Chelsea Clinton’s husband used Clinton Foundation for hedge fund

By Bonnie K. Goodman

HEMPSTEAD, NY - SEPTEMBER 26: (L-R) Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton looks on with husband and former U.S. President Bill Clinton and daughter, Chelsea Clinton after the Presidential Debate with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump at Hofstra University on September 26, 2016 in Hempstead, New York. The first of four debates for the 2016 Election, three Presidential and one Vice Presidential, is moderated by NBC's Lester Holt. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

HEMPSTEAD, NY – SEPTEMBER 26: (L-R) Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton looks on with husband and former U.S. President Bill Clinton and daughter, Chelsea Clinton after the Presidential Debate with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump at Hofstra University on September 26, 2016 in Hempstead, New York. The first of four debates for the 2016 Election, three Presidential and one Vice Presidential, is moderated by NBC’s Lester Holt. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Another day another Clinton scandal exposed. The FBI might not be charging Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton over her private email server, but does not mean the Clintons’ are not without scandal and general abuse of power privilege. On Sunday evening, Nov. 6, 2016, WikiLeaks released another batch of 8,000 emails relating to Hillary and former President Bill Clinton. Among those emails was two indicating that daughter Chelsea Clinton’s husband, Marc Mezvinsky used his connections with the Clinton Foundation to secure money for his hedge fund.

Wikileaks released two specific emails between ex-Bill Clinton aide Doug Band to Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta and long-time aide Cheryl Mills who at the time was serving as Clinton’s Chief of Staff at the State Department. There was a memo from 2011 and an email from 2012 outlining how Mezvinky used the foundation’s donors to invest his hedge fund.

Mezvinsky invited prospective donors to a Clinton Foundation poker event to “court” his potential investors and was introduced to a “billionaire foundation donor” who contributed to his fund. Chelsea was also actively involved she phoned foundation donors inquiring if they would invest in her husband’s hedge fund.

Mezvinsky was working as an investment for Goldman Sachs, and he and two others were trying to gain enough capital and investments for a hedge fund. The three called their enterprise Eaglevale Partners. As Politico pointed out in their report, “The word among rich Clinton backers on Wall Street was that the family would look favorably on investments in Eaglevale.”

The emails are a part of the 50,000 hacked Podesta emails WikiLeaks has released since the beginning of October in an attempt to sway the election. The emails have shown a calculated Clinton campaign that has used the Democratic National Committee and the news media to get an advantage for Clinton in the primary and general election. The emails not released in any order include both emails and internal memos and documents showing the Clintons’ used their political connections to gain favors.

Full Text Campaign Buzz 2016 October 16, 2016: WikiLeaks Transcripts of Hillary Clinton’s Goldman Sachs Speeches

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

2016 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN:

Hillary Clinton Goldman Sachs Speeches

GOLDMAN SACHS, CO 2013 IBD CEO ANNUAL CONFERENCE

KEYNOTE SPEAKERS: FORMER UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON and LLOYD BLANKFEIN The Inn at Palmetto Bluff

The Inn at Palmetto Bluff Bluffton, South Carolina June 4, 2013 8:05 P.M.

GOLDMAN SACHS ASSET MANAGEMENT AIMS ALTERNATIVE INVESTMENTS SYMPOSIUM 2013

FORMER UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON

200 West Street New York, New York October 24, 2013 12:50 p.m.

SECRETARY HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON SPEAKER AT GOLDMAN SACHS BUILDERS AND INNOVATORS SUMMIT

Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain, Marana, Arizona, Tuesday, October 29, 2013

 

 

 

Full Text Campaign Buzz 2016 October 14, 2016: Search WikiLeaks for Clinton Campaign Manager Podesta’s Emails

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

2016 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN:

The Podesta Emails

Source: Wikileaks

“WikiLeaks series on deals involving Hillary Clinton campaign Chairman John Podesta. Mr Podesta is a long-term associate of the Clintons and was President Bill Clinton’s Chief of Staff from 1998 until 2001. Mr Podesta also owns the Podesta Group with his brother Tony, a major lobbying firm and is the Chair of the Center for American Progress (CAP), a Washington DC-based think tank.”

Read The Podesta Emails, Part 1: John Podesta and The Uranium One Story

WikiLeaks DNC Email Database

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

2016 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN:

Search the WikiLeaks DNC email database

On Friday, July 22, 2016, WikiLeaks released 19,252 emails and 8,034 attachments from seven staffers of the  Democratic National Committee: Communications Director Luis Miranda (10770 emails), National Finance Director Jordon Kaplan (3797 emails), Finance Chief of Staff Scott Comer (3095 emails), Finance Director of Data & Strategic Initiatives Daniel Parrish (1472 emails), Finance Director Allen Zachary (1611 emails), Senior Advisor Andrew Wright (938 emails) and Northern California Finance Director Robert (Erik) Stowe (751 emails). The emails are from January to May 25, 2016.

 

WikiLeaks Week 3: Julian Assange Out on Bail

By Bonnie K. Goodman

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

IN FOCUS: WIKILEAKS SCANDAL

  • Bank of America Suspends Payments to WikiLeaks: In a sign of the increasing tensions between WikiLeaks and the corporate world, Bank of America has said it will no longer help process payments for the organization, which released a huge cache of secret State Department cables in late November and has threatened to “take down” a major United States bank with another data dump.
    “Bank of America joins in the actions previously announced by MasterCard, PayPal, Visa Europe and others and will not process transactions of any type that we have reason to believe are intended for WikiLeaks,” the bank said in a statement issued on Friday. “This decision is based upon our reasonable belief that WikiLeaks may be engaged in activities that are, among other things, inconsistent with our internal policies for processing payments.” In a Twitter post put up soon after Bank of America’s announcement, WikiLeaks called on supporters to boycott the bank, urging that “all people who love freedom close out their accounts at Bank of America.”…. – NYT, 12-18-10
  • Pro-WikiLeaks hackers may be hard for U.S. to pursue: Legal hurdles could make it tough for U.S. prosecutors to go after pro-WikiLeaks hackers who waged cyber attacks last week on Visa, MasterCard, PayPal and other companies. Attorney General Eric Holder said last week he was “looking into” it but there are enormous challenges finding, moving, investigating and finally convicting those the United States might accuse. Typically the federal government prosecutes hacking under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which prohibits the “transmission of a program, information, code, or command” that “intentionally causes damage without authorization, to a protected computer.” It’s a broad, powerful statute that applies even to computer crime committed abroad, and can carry prison sentences and heavy fines. But to use it, authorities will first have to locate the elusive hackers and bring them to the United States…. – Reuters, 12-18-10
  • Bradley Manning, WikiLeaks’ Alleged Leaker, ‘Very Annoyed’ At Solitary Confinement: Detained U.S. Army Private Bradley Manning’s supporters went public with their concerns about the harsh conditions of his imprisonment — he has no access to exercise or even a pillow and bedsheets during his solitary confinement — only after their complaints to the military over several months went unheeded. As Salon’s Glenn Greenwald reported on Wednesday, Manning, who has been accused of leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks, has never been convicted of any crime but has been detained at the U.S. Marine brig in Quantico “under conditions that constitute cruel and inhumane treatment and, by the standards of many nations, even torture.”
    “We were aware of those situations and we were hoping that they would improve without applying public pressure through the media,” Jeff Paterson, who runs Manning’s legal defense fund, told The Huffington Post. “His attorney and supporters were hoping that this could be taken care of through the appropriate channels.”
    Paterson says that Manning is “very annoyed” at the conditions of his confinement, adding that he is primarily upset at his inability to exercise. “He sits in this small box, for the most part only to take a shower – he just sits and eats and four months have gone by.”… – Huff Post, 12-15-10
  • Julian Assange freed on bail: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange emerges from high court and is driven away to backer’s country estate. With a smile and a short statement of quiet defiance, Julian Assange tonight walked free from custody and into the kind of media scrum more commonly seen after a decades-long prison sentence, rather than nine days on remand. This was the third hearing in as many weeks relating to the WikiLeaks founder’s bail application over sex assault charges against two Swedish women, for which his extradition is being sought, and is unlikely to be the last before the allegations, which he denies, are resolved…. – Guardian UK, 12-16-10
  • Julian Assange bail decision made by UK authorities, not Sweden: Swedish prosecutor’s office says it has ‘not got a view at all on bail’ and that Britain made decision to oppose it
    The decision to have Julian Assange sent to a London jail and kept there was taken by the British authorities and not by prosecutors in Sweden, as previously thought, the Guardian has learned. The Crown Prosecution Service will go to the high court tomorrow to seek the reversal of a decision to free the WikiLeaks founder on bail, made yesterday by a judge at City of Westminster magistrates court.
    It had been widely thought Sweden had made the decision to oppose bail, with the CPS acting merely as its representative. But today the Swedish prosecutor’s office told the Guardian it had “not got a view at all on bail” and that Britain had made the decision to oppose bail…. – Guardian UK, 12-15-10
  • Court costs strain WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s finances: Julian Assange might be freed tomorrow but an extradition battle with Sweden looms and his legal bill is growing. If, as seems likely, Julian Assange walks free from the high court tomorrow, his triumph will be a brief one. As well as a looming extradition battle with Sweden, he faces a familiar headache known to defendants everywhere: how to pay his lawyers? Since his dramatic arrest last week, and incarceration in Wandsworth jail, Assange’s legal bill has been growing. In theory, the founder of WikiLeaks is sitting on a pile of cash. But currently all his bank accounts are frozen. And his legal costs are separate from donations to WikiLeaks, which since October 2009 have reached €900,000 (£770,000). Today Assange’s lawyers said they were trying to organise a legal defence fund to pay for his bills, including ones he is likely to incur in his extradition hearing in February…. — Guardian UK, 12-15-10
  • Release on Bail of WikiLeaks Founder Is Delayed by Appeal: Julian Assange, the jailed founder of the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, was ordered freed on $315,000 bail on Tuesday but remained at least temporarily in custody awaiting a final decision on whether he will be extradited to Sweden over allegations of sexual offenses against two women.
    Protesters demonstrated outside the City of Westminster Magistrates Court, where Julian Assange attended a bail hearing on Tuesday.
    Mr. Assange was driven back to Wandsworth Prison in London on Tuesday night, past cheering and whistling supporters and scores of flashbulbs, pending an appeal of the bail ruling by the Swedish authorities, which must be heard at Britain’s High Court within the next 48 hours.
    Judge Howard Riddle, presiding over a packed and rapt courtroom at Westminster Magistrate’s Court in Central London, said that his decision to jail Mr. Assange as a “serious flight risk” at an initial hearing on Dec. 7 was “marginal” and that, with conditions, Mr. Assange should now be freed until further proceedings on Jan. 11.
    Judge Riddle was swayed Tuesday, he told the court, when a friend of Mr. Assange offered to allow him to stay at a lavish country mansion in Sussex, an hour away from London. Mr. Assange, according to conditions the judge laid out, must spend every night at the mansion, Ellingham Hall, a 10-bedroom home on a 650-acre estate owned by Vaughan Smith, the wealthy founder of a journalists’ club in London…. – NYT, 12-15-10
  • Swedish Prosecutor Raises Possible Extradition of WikiLeaks Founder to U.S.: A Swedish prosecutor raised the possibility that Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, could eventually be extradited to the United States in a statement posted online on Tuesday. Marianne Ny, the Swedish prosecutor who asked British authorities to detain Mr. Assange and send him to Sweden for questioning about possible sex crimes, discussed the possibility of sending him to the United States in a statement posted on the Swedish Prosecution Authority’s Web site on Tuesday. Perhaps prompted by speculation that Mr. Assange might be indicted by a grand jury meeting in secret in the United States to consider charges against him related to the publication of leaked American military and diplomatic documents, one section of the Swedish prosecutor’s statement, under the heading, “Facts About Extradition of a Person Who Has Been Surrendered,” reads…. – NYT, 12-14-10
  • WikiLeaks Founder’s Statement From Prison: My convictions are unfaltering. I remain true to the ideals I have expressed. This circumstance shall not shake them. If anything this process has increased my determination that they are true and correct.
    We now know that Visa, MasterCard, PayPal and others are instruments of U.S. foreign policy. It’s not something we knew before. I am calling for the world to protect my work and my people from these illegal and immoral attacks. – NYT, 12-14-10
  • Poll: Almost half of Britons feel WikiLeaks sex charges are “excuse”: Almost half of Britons believe that the sex charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange are “an excuse” to keep him in custody so that the US government can prosecute him for releasing secret diplomatic cables, … CNN, 12-13-10
  • US grand jury works on Assange charges: lawyer: Julian Assange’s British attorney, Mark Stephens, said Monday a secret US grand jury had been set up in Virginia to work on charges that could be filed against the WikiLeaks founder.
    Stephens said in an interview with Al Jazeera, citing unnamed Swedish authorities, that “there has been a secretly impaneled grand jury in Alexandria,” Virginia, just outside Washington.
    If the report proves true, it could mean an indictment of Assange is possible. The Australian Assange became the world’s most wanted man after he dumped to several media 250,000 US diplomatic cables in late November. So far, 1,300 have been published. He is currently being held in Britain on sex assault claims in Sweden which is seeking his extradition.
    But according to Stephens, “we understand that if it comes to Sweden they will defer their interest in him to the Americans. That shows some level of collusion and embarrassment,” he stressed.
    The 39-year-old Australian will appear in court in London for a second time Tuesday where his lawyers will make a second application for bail. He faces allegations of sexual assault and rape made against him in Sweden…. – AFP, 12-13-10

WikiLeaks: Week 2 Julian Assange is Arrested and Held without Bail, Hackers Avenge

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.

WIKILEAKS SCANDAL:

IN FOCUS: WIKILEAKS

  • A Selection From the Cache of Diplomatic Dispatches: Below are a selection of the documents from a cache of a quarter-million confidential American diplomatic cables that WikiLeaks intends to make public starting on Nov. 28. A small number of names and passages in some of the cables have been removed by The New York Times to protect diplomats’ confidential sources, to keep from compromising American intelligence efforts or to protect the privacy of ordinary citizens…. – NYT
  • A look at the 251,287 diplomatic cables, based on WikiLeaks’ analysisWaPo
  • What is Wiki Leaks? CNN
  • WikiLeaks embassy cables: the key points at a glance: There are no fewer than 251,287 cables from more than 250 US embassies around the world, obtained by WikiLeaks. We present a day-by-day guide to the revelations from the US embassy cables both from the Guardian and its international media partners in the story…. – Guardian UK
  • WikiLeaks, Guardian UK
  • Leaked Cables Uncloak U.S. Diplomacy: A cache of a quarter-million confidential American diplomatic cables, most of them from the past three years, provides an unprecedented look at backroom bargaining by embassies around the world, brutally candid views of foreign leaders and frank assessments of nuclear and terrorist threats.
    Some of the cables, made available to The New York Times and several other news organizations, were written as recently as late February, revealing the Obama administration’s exchanges over crises and conflicts. The material was originally obtained by WikiLeaks, an organization devoted to revealing secret documents. WikiLeaks intends to make the archive public on its Web site in batches, beginning Sunday…. – NYT, 11-28-10
  • State Secrets: A cache of diplomatic cables provide a chronicle of the United States’ relations with the world: About the Documents A mammoth cache of a quarter-million confidential American diplomatic cables, most of them from the last three years, provides an unprecedented look at bargaining by embassies, candid views of foreign leaders and assessments of threats. The material was obtained by WikiLeaks and made available to a number of news organizations in advance….. – NYT, 11-28-10

THE HEADLINES….

     

  • Anonymous Wikileaks supporters explain web attacks: A group of pro-Wikileaks activists who coordinated a series of web attacks have explained their actions. The Anonymous group said they were not hackers but “average internet citizens” who felt motivated to act because of perceived injustices against Wikileaks. The group said it had no interest in stealing credit card details or attacking critical infrastructure. The details were posted online by one of the many factions claiming to carry out the attacks.
    “Anonymous is not a group, but rather an internet gathering,” it said in a statement published on 10 December. It said the ongoing attacks were a “symbolic action” targeted at corporate website that had withdrawn services from Wikileaks. “We do not want to steal your personal information or credit card numbers. We also do not seek to attack critical infrastructure of companies such as Mastercard, Visa, PayPal or Amazon,” it read.
    The statement comes as other documents have come to light suggesting the group may be changing its tactics…. – BBC, 12-10-10
  • Assange Lawyers Prepare for U.S. Spying Indictment Attorney Says American Indictment Related to Espionage Act In the Works for Wikileaks Founder: Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, the man behind the publication of more than a 250,000 classified U.S. diplomatic cables, could face spying charges in the U.S. related to the Espionage Act, Assange’s lawyer said today.
    “Our position of course is that we don’t believe it applies to Mr. Assange and that in any event he’s entitled to First Amendment protection as publisher of Wikileaks and any prosecution under the Espionage Act would in my view be unconstitutional and puts at risk all media organizations in the U.S.,” Assange’s attorney Jennifer Robinson told ABC News. Robinson said they’re hearing from lawyers in the U.S. that an indictment of Assange could be imminent…. – ABC News, 12-10-10
  • Hackers strike at MasterCard to support WikiLeaks: Hackers rushed to the defense of WikiLeaks on Wednesday, launching attacks on MasterCard, Visa, Swedish prosecutors, a Swiss bank, Sarah Palin and others who have acted against the site and its jailed founder Julian Assange. Internet “hacktivists” operating under the label “Operation Payback” claimed responsibility in a Twitter message for causing severe technological problems at the website for MasterCard, which pulled the plug on its relationship with WikiLeaks a day ago. MasterCard acknowledged “a service disruption” involving its Secure Code system for verifying online payments, but spokesman James Issokson said consumers could still use their credit cards for secure transactions. Later Wednesday, Visa’s website was inaccessible. The online attacks are part of a wave of support for WikiLeaks that is sweeping the Internet. Twitter was choked with messages of solidarity for the group, while the site’s Facebook page hit 1 million fans…. – WaPo, 12-8-10
  • Julian Assange denied bail over sexual assault allegations Judge fears WikiLeaks founder – who denies all charges – has ‘means and ability’ to abscond: The WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, who is wanted in Sweden over claims he sexually assaulted two women, was in Wandsworth prison tonight after a judge refused him bail at an extradition hearing in London. The 39-year-old Australian, who denies the allegations, was driven away in a white prison van after an extraordinary one-hour hearing at City of Westminster magistrates court. The district judge, Howard Riddle, ruled there was a risk Assange would fail to surrender if granted bail.
    Despite Jemima Khan, former wife of Pakistan cricketer Imran Khan, the campaigning journalist John Pilger, the British film director Ken Loach and others offering to stand surety totalling £180,000, the judge said Assange’s “weak community ties” in the UK, and his “means and ability” to abscond, were “substantial grounds” for refusing bail.
    He was remanded until 14 December, when the case can be reviewed at the same court. His legal team said he would again apply for bail at that hearing. The move against Assange came on a day when increasing pressure was brought to bear in the US on companies and organisations with ties to WikiLeaks.
    As Joe Lieberman, chairman of the Senate homeland security committee, urged businesses to sever their ties with the website, Visa suspended all donations through its credit card. Asked about the New York Times’s role in publishing the leaked cables, Lieberman told Fox news the newspaper “has committed at least an act of bad citizenship. Whether they have committed a crime I think bears very intensive inquiry”…. – Guardian UK, 12-7-10
  • WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange Has Been Arrested on a Swedish Warrant: British police said on Tuesday they had arrested Julian Assange, the beleaguered founder of the WikiLeaks anti-secrecy group, on a warrant issued in Sweden in connection with alleged sex offenses.
    Mr. Assange, a 39-year-old Australian, was arrested by officers from Scotland Yard when he went to a central London police station by prior agreement with the authorities, the police said. A court hearing was expected later.
    The widely anticipated arrested came after Mr. Assange, who denies the charges of sexual misconduct said to have been committed while he was in Sweden in August, threatened to release many more diplomatic cables if legal action is taken against him or his organization…. – NYT, 12-7-10
  • WikiLeaks lists sites key to U.S. security: WikiLeaks has published a secret U.S. diplomatic cable listing places the United States considers vital to its national security, prompting criticism that the website is inviting terrorist attacks on American interests. A State Department spokesman said the disclosure “gives a group like al Qaeda a targeting list.”
    The list is part of a lengthy cable the State Department sent in February 2009 to its posts around the world. The cable asked American diplomats to identify key resources, facilities and installations outside the United States “whose loss could critically impact the public health, economic security, and/or national and homeland security of the United States.”
    The diplomats identified dozens of places on every continent, including mines, manufacturing complexes, ports and research establishments. CNN is not publishing specific details from the list, which refers to pipelines and undersea telecommunications cables as well as the location of minerals or chemicals critical to U.S. industry.
    The list also mentions dams close to the U.S. border and a telecommunications hub whose destruction might seriously disrupt global communications. Diplomats also identified sites of strategic importance for supplying U.S. forces and interests abroad, such as in the Strait of Hormuz, the Persian Gulf and the Panama Canal. The cable is classified secret and not for review by non-U.S. personnel…. – CNN, 12-6-10
  • Assange making arrangements to meet police, lawyer says: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is “in the process of making arrangements” to meet with British police regarding a Swedish arrest warrant, his attorney said Monday. Assange is wanted for questioning by Swedish authorities over sex-crime allegations unrelated to WikiLeaks’ recent disclosure of secret U.S. documents. Mark Stephens, his British lawyer, told the BBC no time had been set for the meeting as of Monday evening, but one is likely “in the foreseeable future.” “We are in the process of making arrangements to meet with the police by consent in order to facilitate the taking of that question-and-answer as needed,” Stephens said…. – CNN, 12-6-10
  • Julian Assange to be questioned by British police: New extradition warrant issued over alleged sexual assaults — Assange appeals for supporters to put up surety and bail
    Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, is expected to appear in a UK court tomorrow after his lawyers said he would meet police to discuss a European extradition warrant from Sweden relating to alleged sexual assaults.
    As the legal net continued to close around the whistleblowers’ website and US attorney general, Eric Holder, said he had authorised “a number of things to be done” to combat the group, Assange appeared to be reconciling himself to a lengthy personal court battle to avoid extradition.
    Jennifer Robinson, a solicitor with Finers Stephens Innocent which represents the Australian freedom of information campaigner, told the Guardian: “We have a received an arrest warrant [related to claims in Sweden]. We are negotiating a meeting with police.”
    Another lawyer representing Assange, Mark Stephens, added: “He has not been charged with anything. We are in the process of making arrangements to meet the police by consent in order to facilitate the taking of that question and answer that is needed.” Stephens explained that the interview would happen in the “foreseeable future” but he could not give a precise time. According to other sources, it is thought that Assange would appear before a court to negotiate bail…. – Guardian UK, 12-6-10
  • Australia: Assange allowed to return home: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange would be allowed to return to his Australian homeland, and has the same protections any other Australian citizen would, the nation’s attorney general said Monday. Attorney General Robert McClelland’s comments came in response to Assange’s assertion last week that McClelland and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard “have made it clear that not only is my return impossible, but that they are actively working to assist the United States government in its attacks on myself and our people.
    “This brings into question what does it mean to be an Australian citizen — does that mean anything at all?” Assange said Friday in written answers to readers’ questions posted on the website of the British newspaper The Guardian. “Mr. Assange, like every Australian citizen, has rights, and nothing is stopping him from coming home to Australia,” McClelland said, according to his spokesman. Assange “is entitled to the same rights as any other Australian citizen. This includes the right to return to Australia and also to receive consular assistance while he is overseas if that is requested.”
    However, McClelland also said WikiLeaks’ publishing of leaked documents is “irresponsible,” according to the spokesman…. – CNN, 12-6-10

QUOTES

  • Ron Paul Defends WikiLeaks On House Floor: WikiLeaks release of classified information has generated a lot of attention in the past few weeks. The hysterical reaction makes one wonder if this is not an example of killing the messenger for the bad news. Despite what is claimed, the information that has been so far released, though classified, has caused no known harm to any individual, but it has caused plenty of embarrassment to our government. Losing our grip on our empire is not welcomed by the neoconservatives in charge.
    There is now more information confirming that Saudi Arabia is a principal supporter and financier of al Qaeda, and that this should set off alarm bells since we guarantee its Sharia-run government. This emphasizes even more the fact that no al Qaeda existed in Iraq before 9/11, and yet we went to war against Iraq based on the lie that it did. It has been charged by experts that Julian Assange, the internet publisher of this information, has committed a heinous crime, deserving prosecution for treason and execution, or even assassination. But should we not at least ask how the U.S. government should prosecute an Australian citizen for treason for publishing U.S. secret information that he did not steal? And if WikiLeaks is to be prosecuted for publishing classified documents, why shouldn’t the Washington Post, the New York Times, and others also published these documents be prosecuted? Actually, some in Congress are threatening this as well. Huff Post, 12-10-10

Political Highlights December 6, 2010: Obama Attempts Bipartisanship with New Congressional Leaders & Tax Cuts Negotiations — Obama’s Surprise Visit to Afghanistan

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 & THE 111TH & 112TH CONGRESS:

Pete Souza, 12/2/10

Speaking to newly-elected governors from around the country, the President discusses how not extending unemployment benefits will be a crushing blow not only to those hit hardest by the economy, but to the economy itself.

STATS & POLLS

  • Palin gives over $500k to candidates, causes: Sarah Palin gave at least $507,000 to candidates and political causes in 2010 as she earned a reputation as kingmaker and raised her profile ahead of a possible presidential run. The biggest chunk of that money, about $306,500, was doled out in the month leading to the Nov. 2 general election by her political action committee, SarahPAC, filings with the Federal Election Commission show. Her latest filing Tuesday showed contributions of nearly $465,000 between Oct. 14 and Nov. 22. During that period, Palin gave $244,000 to conservative candidates, state Republican parties and ballot fights…. – AP, 11-30-10
  • WikiLeaks, Guardian UK
  • A Selection From the Cache of Diplomatic Dispatches: Below are a selection of the documents from a cache of a quarter-million confidential American diplomatic cables that WikiLeaks intends to make public starting on Nov. 28. A small number of names and passages in some of the cables have been removed by The New York Times to protect diplomats’ confidential sources, to keep from compromising American intelligence efforts or to protect the privacy of ordinary citizens…. – NYT
  • WikiLeaks embassy cables: the key points at a glance: There are no fewer than 251,287 cables from more than 250 US embassies around the world, obtained by WikiLeaks. We present a day-by-day guide to the revelations from the US embassy cables both from the Guardian and its international media partners in the story…. – Guardian UK
  • The WikiLeaks War Logs: On Oct. 22, Internet-based watchdog organization WikiLeaks posted 391,832 classified U.S. military documents on the war in Iraq, the largest such leak in history. As he did with the July release of 77,000 secret documents related to the war in Afghanistan, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange shared the documents with several newspapers — including the New York Times, the Guardian and Der Spiegel — in advance of making them public. Among the major revelations were many instances of the U.S. military deliberately ignoring detainee abuse by Iraqi allies and an increase of the civilian-casualty count by 15,000. The July Afghanistan papers consisted primarily of secret reports from troops in the field covering local intelligence and recounting clashes — including a number of missives that detailed civilian casualties at the hands of coalition forces. Another important (though not altogether surprising) revelation was that members of the U.S. military suspect what others have long assumed: that Pakistan’s military intelligence agency has secretly assisted the Afghan Taliban insurgency…. – Time

THE HEADLINES….

Doug Mills/The New York Times

President Obama greeted troops at Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan with Gen. David H. Petraeus, right, on Friday.

  • Let’s Make a Deal: Obama Poised to Break Campaign Promise and Extend Tax Cuts In Exchange, Obama May Get Extension of Unemployment Benefits: The payback for the president: he will get an extension of unemployment benefits. “I think it’s pretty clear now taxes are not going up on anybody in the middle of this recession. We’re discussing how long we should maintain current tax rates,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said this morning on NBC’s Meet the Press. In exchange, McConnell said he could agree to an extension of jobless benefits as part of a tax cut package.
    “I think we will extend unemployment compensation,” he said. “We’ve had some very vigorous debates in the Senate. Not about whether to do it but whether to pay for it as opposed to adding it to the deficit. All of those discussions are still under way.” For Democrats, giving in on taxes to get unemployment benefits extended is a tough pill to swallow…. – ABC News, 12-5-10
  • Tax deal ‘recipe’ could mix in help for all Americans: Members of Congress said Sunday they are on track for a deal that would include a temporary extension of the George W. Bush-era tax cuts for all Americans. An extension of unemployment insurance — a demand of President Obama and many Democrats — would also be part of a potential agreement, lawmakers from both parties said on various talk shows.
    “Most folks believe that the recipe would include at least an extension of unemployment benefits … and an extension of all of the tax rates for all Americans for some period of time,” said Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., who is involved in negotiations with the White House.
    Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., who appeared with Kyl on CBS’ Face the Nation, said, “We’re moving in that direction,” though he opposes extending tax cuts for the wealthy because it would add $700 billion to the federal budget deficit over 10 years.
    Obama, meanwhile, said this weekend that he would be “rolling up my sleeves” to work with both parties on an agreement. “It will require some compromise, but I’m confident that we can get it done,” he said.
    Both sides are up against a tight deadline: The Bush tax cuts expire at the end of the year. Without an extension, Americans will be looking at a tax hike…. – USA Today, 12-5-10
  • Lawmakers upbeat on extension of tax cuts, unemployment benefits: Leaders from both parties see a compromise in the offing on renewing Bush-era tax cuts for all income levels and extending jobless aid.
    Top lawmakers predicted Sunday that a deal would be reached soon to renew the Bush-era tax cuts for all income levels and to extend unemployment benefits.
    “I’m optimistic we’ll be able to come together,” Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
    Senate Republican Whip Jon Kyl of Arizona, one of his party’s negotiators with the White House, said he was open to discussing making jobless aid, a Democratic priority, part of a bipartisan compromise that would extend the 2001 and 2003 tax rates for all Americans for some period of time, a GOP goal.
    “I think that most folks believe that the recipe would include at least an extension of unemployment benefits for those who are unemployed and an extension of all of the tax rates for all Americans for some period of time,” Kyl said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”…. – LAT, 12-5-10
  • Winfrey, McCartney in DC for Kennedy Center Honors: When The Beatles were storming America, Oprah Winfrey had the band’s poster on her bedroom wall, Merle Haggard was free from prison, Jerry Herman was making Broadway sing and Bill T. Jones was not yet a dancer but growing up in a migrant labor camp.
    On Sunday, these leading artists who followed divergent paths since the 1960s will join Paul McCartney to receive the Kennedy Center Honors. They’ll hear accolades from President Barack Obama and stars who will perform as part of the nation’s top prize for those who define U.S. culture through the arts.
    Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton hosted a dinner Saturday for the honorees, along with visiting celebrities, including Julia Roberts, Claire Danes, Steven Tyler from Aerosmith, and Gwen Stefani and her band, No Doubt. The guests also included veteran entertainers Carol Channing, Angela Lansbury and Sidney Poitier…. – AP, 12-5-10
  • Prop 8. gay marriage ban to be argued in federal appeals court: The long-running fight over gay marriage in California heads to a federal appeals court Monday. A panel of the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals must decide whether a federal judge was correct in ruling that the US Constitution protects the right of gay and lesbian couples to marry…. – CS Monitor, 12-5-10
  • Senate blocks extension of Bush-era tax cuts: The Senate on Saturday rejected two Democratic proposals to let tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans expire, a symbolic but bitter defeat that now forces the Democratic majority to compromise with Republicans or risk allowing tax breaks to lapse for virtually everyone at year’s end.
    Efforts quickly shifted to negotiations that would temporarily extend the Bush-era tax cuts for all Americans, an outcome that seemed increasingly likely. The pair of nearly party-line votes – one to preserve the tax cuts for only the first $250,000 of family income, and the other for the first $1 million of income – also represented a final stand for Democrats as the session winds down and political posturing gives way to pragmatic dealmaking.
    Congress has much to do before its self-imposed deadline of concluding the session by Dec. 17, including passing a funding resolution to keep the federal government operating into next year, renewing jobless benefits for millions of Americans and ratifying an arms treaty with Russia, a top priority for President Obama…. – WaPo, 12-4-10
  • Senate Rejects Obama’s Tax Plan, Setting Stage for Deal: The Senate on Saturday rejected President Obama’s proposal to extend the Bush-era tax breaks for all but the wealthiest taxpayers, a triumph for Republicans who have long called for continuing the income tax cuts for everyone. The Senate’s verdict set the stage for a possible deal in the coming days to extend the reduced tax rates even on high incomes temporarily, perhaps for up to two years. But with Senate Democrats and the White House badly splintered, and some lawmakers increasingly angry at the idea of sustaining President George W. Bush’s economic policies, the prospects of a compromise remain uncertain.
    If Congress does not act, the tax rates expire for everyone on Dec. 31, meaning an increase across the board. The rate in the lowest bracket would rise to 15 percent from 10 percent and in the highest bracket to 39.6 percent from 35 percent. The administration and Congressional leaders have been discussing a plan that would temporarily extend the income tax rates, and also include a one-year extension of jobless aid for the long-term unemployed, which has started to run out…. – NYT, 12-4-10
  • Biden turns up heat in U.S. tax debate: U.S. Vice President Joe Biden urged lawmakers on Saturday to extend middle-class tax cuts and aid for the jobless, fanning a political debate between Democrats and Republicans that is set to intensify next week. Biden, delivering the weekly White House radio and Internet address because President Barack Obama was flying home from Afghanistan, framed the issue as Democrats sticking up for the middle class while Republicans protected richer Americans.
    “I just don’t agree with the folks who’ve said we can’t afford a lifeline for Americans who lost their jobs during the worst recession in generations, but we can afford to borrow hundreds of billions of dollars to extend tax cuts for the wealthiest two percent,” he said…. – Reuters, 12-4-10
  • Military’s ‘Don’t Ask’ Testimony Won’t Be Final Word: It’s been an important week — but not a decisive one — in the debate over gays in the military. First, a Pentagon survey of troops found that more than two-thirds of them had little problem serving with gays and lesbians. Then, the secretary of Defense and the nation’s top military officer testified in favor of repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the law barring homosexuals from serving openly. But Friday, the top generals in the Marine Corps and Army told a Senate committee that they are not ready for change just yet…. – NPR, 12-4-10
  • Obama in Unannounced Afghan Visit: President Obama made an unannounced visit to Afghanistan on Friday as he sought to smooth over a troubled relationship with President Hamid Karzai and take stock of a nine-year-old American-led war that he hopes to begin winding down next summer. Mr. Obama arrived at Bagram Air Base after a secret overnight flight. Bad weather and high winds forced the White House to drop plans for Mr. Obama to fly by helicopter into Kabul to meet with Mr. Karzai, who has complained vocally about American military tactics in recent weeks. Technical difficulties then kept the two leaders from speaking by videoconference, officials said, but they later spoke by phone. Mr. Obama also consulted with his commanding general and visited American troops who are heading into another holiday season far from home. “As we begin this holiday season, there is no place I’d rather be than here with you,” Mr. Obama said, speaking to thousands of troops in a hangar at Bagram after awarding Purple Hearts to five injured service members. Many of those in the audience at the hangar were from the 101st Airborne Division — now on its fourth combat deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001. “Thanks to your service, we are making important progress,” he said…. – NYT, 12-3-10
  • Bush tax cuts: why Democrats are planning two votes they know will fail: Senate Democrats are planning for two votes on the Bush tax cuts Saturday. But neither would extend all the Bush tax cuts, and Republicans have vowed to defeat any such proposals…. – CS Monitor, 12-3-10
  • US Stocks Edge Higher; Traders Hope Jobs Report Spurs Action: U.S. stocks closed higher Friday after a late rally erased the session’s wallowing over a disappointing jobs report. The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 19.68 points, or 0.17%, to 11382.09 on Friday, extending its December rally to a third day. The measure climbed 2.6% this week, boosted by a dose of better-than-expected economic reports. The Nasdaq Composite gained 12.11, or 0.47%, to 2591.46, its highest close in nearly three years. The Standard ∓ Poor’s 500-stock index rose 3.18, or 0.26% to 1224.71. The market had lagged for much of the day Friday after the November jobs report … – Dow Jones, 12-3-10
  • Biden: Senate should extend middle class tax cuts: Vice President Joe Biden on Friday urged the Senate to extend tax cuts for middle-class Americans, following the example of a politically charged vote by the House of Representatives earlier this week. Biden addressed reporters at the White House during a meeting with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and budget director Jack Lew, who are leading talks with congressional leaders on a deal to extend Bush-era tax cuts that expire at the end of the year. He did not comment on the status of those talks…. – Reuters, 12-3-10
  • Biden: November Jobs Report ‘Disappointing’ Biden says jobs report is ‘disappointing,’ urges lawmakers to extend unemployment insurance: Vice President Joe Biden says a weak November jobs report is “disappointing” and a sign that the economic recovery is fragile. Biden says the uptick in the jobless rate to 9.8 percent means it is critical that Congress extend unemployment benefits before the end of the year. He also urged the Senate to follow the House in voting to continue tax cuts for the middle class. Biden spoke before being briefed by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and budget director Jacob Lew on the negotiations surrounding those tax cuts. A deal to extend the tax cuts for all taxpayers is starting to take shape, although it is not clear how quickly it might come together…. – ABC News, 12-3-10
  • Not so fast on ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ repeal, say top Pentagon brass: Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chair Adm. Mike Mullen have been strong backers of a repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ But the heads of the Army, Marines, and Air Force said Friday the repeal could cause problems and should be delayed…. – CS Monitor, 12-3-10
  • Obama visits Afghanistan to thank troops, rally support back home: President Obama’s visit to Afghanistan comes just as WikiLeaks cables are bringing fresh attention to grave problems on the war front. President Obama addressed US troops Friday on a surprise visit to Afghanistan to thank servicemen and women serving over the holidays and rally support for the war back home.
    “On behalf of more than 300 million Americans, we are here to say thank you for everything that you do,” Mr. Obama told a large gathering of uniformed troops at Bagram Airbase outside Kabul. He made note that nearly one year ago he ordered a surge of 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan: “We said we were going to break the Taliban’s momentum and that’s what you’re doing. You’re going on the offensive; [we are] tired of playing defense.” Obama emphasized that despite political divisions at home, the nation was united in support of the troops…. – CS Monitor, 12-3-10
  • GOP resolve dominates the agenda in Congress: Republicans’ confidence levels are so high that they are barreling over what might be considered standard political traps, assuming long-term risks along with their added clout now. LAT, 12-2-10
  • GOP resolve dominates the agenda in Congress: Republicans’ confidence levels are so high that they are barreling over what might be considered standard political traps, assuming long-term risks along with their added clout now…. – LAT, 12-2-10
  • U.S. House Passes Middle-Income Tax Cut Extension: The U.S. House passed a Democratic plan to extend Bush-era tax cuts for middle-income families over the objections of Republicans who say it would harm the economy by letting taxes go up on Jan. 1 for those with higher incomes. The vote was 234-188 for the measure, which would permanently extend lower rates and expanded tax credits on the first $200,000 of individuals’ income and the first $250,000 for married couples. Taxpayers with higher annual income would face increased taxes on wages, capital gains and dividends. Republicans say they plan to block the measure in the Senate.
    Republicans “are determined to take care of the rich,” said Representative Jim McDermott of Washington. “That political maneuvering by the Republicans brings uncertainty to the middle class when they really need certainty.” Republicans derided the vote as political theater, and House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio said it was “chicken crap.”… – Bloomberg, 12-2-10
  • House Votes Rare Censure of Rangel in Ethics Case: With his gaze steady and his hands clasped in front of him, Representative Charles B. Rangel stood silently on the floor of House of Representatives on Thursday afternoon as the House speaker read a formal resolution of censure rebuking him for an assortment of ethics violations said to have brought discredit to Congress. Representative Charles B. Rangel outside his office in the Rayburn House office building on Thursday. Despite impassioned last-minute pleas for mercy from Mr. Rangel and a half-dozen of his colleagues, the House voted 333-79 for censure, the sternest punishment it can administer short of expulsion. Moments after the vote, Mr. Rangel rose from his seat, walked to the well of the House, between the members and the speaker’s podium, where he stood alone as the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, seeming at times uncomfortable, read the one-paragraph resolution censuring him for 11 violations of Congressional ethics rules.
    Mr. Rangel asked for a minute to address his colleagues after the censure was read. “I know in my heart I am not going to be judged by this Congress,” he said. “I’ll be judged by my life in its entirety.” NYT, 12-2-10
  • With censure, Charles Rangel joins infamous list in history of Congress: Rep. Charles Rangel becomes the 23rd member of the House to be censured, Congress’s harshest punishment short of expulsion. The vote in favor of censure was 333 to 79….
    In a rare move, the House on Thursday voted, 333 to 79, to censure 15-term Rep. Charles Rangel (D) of New York for 11 ethics violations ranging from failure to disclose income to violating House gift bans. In a solemn moment, Mr. Rangel stood silently, as Speaker Nancy Pelosi, looking anguished, read out the 11-line censure resolution, the first delivered in this chamber in 27 years. Rangel became the 23rd congressman in the history of the House to be censured. The vote requires Rangel, former chair of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, to pay restitution for any unpaid estimated taxes on income from properties in the Dominican Republic and to provide proof of payment to the ethics panel…. – CS Monitor, 12-2-10
  • Reid “confident” Senate to consider START soon: Majority Leader Harry Reid expressed confidence on Thursday the U.S. Senate would debate the New START nuclear treaty with Russia this year, as he gave no sign of yielding to Republican pressure to scale back his agenda for the coming weeks. The treaty is one of President Barack Obama’s top priorities for the current Congress. Some leading Republicans have indicated a willingness to debate the treaty if Reid allowed ample time for discussion and first resolved outstanding tax and spending legislation. Reid is pushing Congress to do considerably more before it breaks for the holidays, including an immigration bill, legislation lifting the ban on gays serving openly in the military and ratifying New START. He also wants measures to fund the government and extend tax breaks due to expire soon.
    “I’m confident and hopeful that we can work our way through all these things. All those things are on my agenda,” Reid told reporters on Capitol Hill. “I think if we set our mind to it (START), we can get it done.”… – Reuters, 12-2-10
  • Geithner and lawmakers seek deal on Bush-era tax cuts: President Barack Obama’s top economic advisers sought to break a deadlock over taxes with congressional leaders on Wednesday, haggling over how to extend Bush-era rates while the country struggles with sky-high debt. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who is leading talks for the White House along with budget director Jack Lew, said congressional Republicans and Democrats held a “civil, constructive discussion,” but declined to give specifics. Obama expressed confidence a deal could be reached. “There are going to be ups and downs in this process but I’m confident that we’re going to be able to get it done,” he told reporters at the White House. Negotiators met again later in the day but emerged without a resolution. They were set to meet again on Thursday…. – Reuters, 12-1-10
  • Unemployment benefits: not until Bush tax cuts pass, Senate GOP says: Senate Republicans pledge not to take up any issues, including extending unemployment benefits, until the Bush tax cuts and federal spending bills are sorted out. The lame-duck Congress, mired in a partisan clash over taxes and spending and preoccupied with a battle over extending the Bush tax cuts, refused Wednesday to restore federal financing of extended unemployment benefits, which had lapsed overnight. The inaction means the imminent loss of unemployment compensation for some 800,000 out-of-work Americans, with nearly 2 million long-term unemployed expected to be affected by Jan. 1, according to the Labor Department. US Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, speaking Wednesday at a press conference organized by Democratic congressional leaders, said that by next spring, another 6 million unemployed workers will lose benefits if Congress does not act. “Millions of families are going to struggle to put food on the table or put gas in the gas tank,” she said…. – CS Monitor, 12-1-10
  • The secret life of Julian Assange: Julian Assange can be charming yet cagey about his private life and is rarely shaken by discussions of even the most controversial revelations on WikiLeaks. He grew up constantly on the move, the son of parents who were in the theater business in Australia. Now, Julian Assange, 39, finds himself on the move again, wanted in Sweden for alleged sex crimes and wanted by officials around the world for his website WikiLeaks’ publication of thousands of documents containing confidential information. If he has succeeded in creating a public firewall of sorts around himself, it is perhaps because he learned as a child to cope with solitude and exposed his mind to the machinery that would overtake his life. Assange has been described by his mother, Christine, as “highly intelligent.”… – CNN, 12-1-10
  • US embassy cables: US and Pakistan deny revelations of mutual mistrust: But security experts say leaks expose threat of terrorism that western governments have deliberately played down
    Pakistani and US officials presented a united front today against revelations in the WikiLeaks cables that portray a fragile relationship dogged by subterfuge, suspicion and worries over the safety of Pakistan’s expanding nuclear arsenal. The American ambassador to Pakistan, Cameron Munter, visited the prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, at his hilltop residence in Islamabad where the men played down the significance of the leaked dispatches. Gilani said Pakistan’s national interests “would not be compromised by such mischief in any manner”, while Munter said: “Working together, we will get past the WikiLeaks problems.” But outside Pakistan experts in nuclear counterproliferation said the leaked cables exposed a serious threat of nuclear terrorism that western governments have deliberately played down – until now…. – Guardian UK, 12-1-10
  • WikiLeaks disclosures highlight Russia as U.S. scrambles: The United States scrambled to contain the fallout from the slow-motion leak of cables from its embassies worldwide Wednesday as new documents showed American diplomats casting a jaundiced eye toward corruption’s grip on Russia. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton personally made “several dozen” calls to counterparts in other countries in an effort to mitigate the damage from WikiLeaks, a website that facilitates the anonymous leaking of secret information, a senior State Department official said. In a CNN interview Wednesday night, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley called WikiLeaks founder and editor-in-chief Julian Assange an “anarchist.” “He’s trying to undermine the collaboration, the cooperation, the system by which we engage with other governments, cooperate with other governments and solve regional challenges,” Crowley told CNN’s “John King USA.” But while Clinton is facing other world leaders, “trying to solve the world’s challenges,” Assange is in hiding, he said…. – m CNN, 12-1-10
  • Obama bans offshore oil drilling in Atlantic waters: In a policy reversal, President Obama’s administration announced Wednesday that it will not allow offshore oil drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico or off the Atlantic coast for at least seven more years. “The changes we’re making are based on the lessons we have learned,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told reporters, citing the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion that killed 11 workers and caused the release of an estimated 5 million barrels of oil into the Gulf. He said drilling possibilities in the Arctic will proceed “with utmost caution.”… – USA Today, 12-1-10
  • No tax cut deal, as bipartisan meeting shows ‘sincere effort’: President Obama and congressional Republicans cast aside the sharp-tongued rhetoric of the fall campaign in their first post-election meeting on Tuesday, but they failed to breach an impasse over whether to extend tax cuts for top earners. The sides remained in opposition as a deadline looms: The George W. Bush-era cuts for all taxpayers will expire at the end of the year unless Congress and the White House act. Republicans want to extend the tax cuts for those at all income levels, arguing that’s the best way to boost the economy. Obama opposes extending the cuts to include taxable income for couples exceeding $250,000, saying the government can’t afford the $700 billion it would add to the nation’s debt over the next decade.
    OBAMA TO GOP: I haven’t reached out enough “Here we disagree,” Obama said at the end of the two-hour session. “I continue to believe that it would be unwise and unfair” to extend the tax cuts for those with higher incomes. Republicans sounded just as determined. “If President Obama and the Democratic leaders come up with a plan … to cut spending and stop all the tax hikes, they can expect a positive response from Republicans,” incoming House speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said after the meeting…. – USA Today, 11-30-10
  • Who will get Bush tax cuts? Congress can’t decide: Unable to agree on who should be eligible to continue to receive the Bush tax cuts, which expire Jan. 1, President Obama and congressional leaders decided to convene a panel Tuesday. President Obama and congressional leaders on Tuesday tasked a six-man panel with finding a compromise on extension of the Bush tax cuts. The president met with congressional leaders of both parties in a gathering Mr. Obama called “productive,” and Republican leaders called “frank.” There was no deal on the Bush-era tax cuts – which Republicans want to extend for all families and Obama wants to extend only for families making less than 250,000. But both sides committed to extending at least some of the Bush-era tax cuts before the 111th Congress winds down in December. Two Democrats and two Republicans – one each from the House and Senate – will join Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Jacob Lew, who directs the White House Office of Management and Budget, to “break the logjam,” Obama said…. – CS Monitor, 11-30-10
  • For Obama and GOP leaders, just meeting is a bipartisan accomplishment: President Obama met with GOP leaders at the White House Tuesday. The gathering appeared long enough for little else but pleasantries – though, in the current climate, that’s no small thing. The much anticipated White House meeting between President Obama and bipartisan congressional leaders has finally taken place. The president called it “productive.” Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell called it “a useful and frank discussion.” Both Mr. Obama and likely new House speaker John Boehner (R) spoke of finding common ground. Over the hour, there seemed to be enough time just to air the various topics of concern, starting with the soon-to- expire Bush-era tax cuts and the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with Russia that Obama wants ratified before Congress adjourns…. – CS Monitor, 11-30-10
  • ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ report: Little risk to allowing gays to serve openly: The Pentagon’s long-awaited report on gays in the military concludes that repealing the 17-year-old “don’t ask, don’t tell” law would present only a low risk to the armed forces’ ability to carry out their mission and that 70 percent of service members believe it would have little or no effect on their units, according to sources briefed on the report’s findings. An extensive Pentagon report about the armed forces’ attitudes toward gays in the military gives a boost to the stalled push by President Obama to repeal the 17-year-old “don’t ask, don’t tell” law, undercutting arguments by Republicans and others that such a change would unduly strain the armed forces…. – WaPo, 11-30-10
  • Before Business Leaders, Bernanke Discusses Unemployment’s Toll on Americans: The Federal Reserve chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, found some respite on Tuesday from the second-guessing the central bank has faced since it announced a $600 billion effort to stimulate the slow recovery. During a 75-minute discussion here with five business leaders, including the chief executives of I.B.M. and Ford Motor, inflation and monetary policy were not even mentioned, much less debated. Mr. Bernanke did, however, emphasize the toll high unemployment was taking on families and on the share of the unemployed — more than 40 percent — who have been jobless for at least six months. “At the pace of growth that we’re seeing now, we’re not growing fast enough to materially reduce the unemployment rate,” he said. The economy needs to grow at an annualized rate of 2 to 2.5 percent just to accommodate new workers coming into the labor force, he said. Mr. Bernanke has made this point repeatedly this year…. – NYT, 11-30-10
  • WikiLeaks ‘attack’: How damaging to US foreign relations?: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemns the WikiLeaks ‘attack on the international community’ as harmful to US policy goals. But major geopolitical shifts are unlikely, analysts say. The US intensified its efforts at damage control on Monday following the publication by WikiLeaks of more than a quarter-million diplomatic cables, with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton calling the massive release not just a problem for American foreign policy but “an attack on the international community.” In a statement to journalists in the State Department’s Treaty Room before she was to leave on a four-country trip through Central Asia and the Persian Gulf, Secretary Clinton said that both the furthering of US national interests and the operation of the world’s international political system depend on thousands of confidential exchanges, assessments, and conversations every day…. – CS Monitor, 11-29-10
  • Federal Pay Freeze Planned Obama Proposes Two-Year Raise Pause in Bid to Seize Agenda in Deficit Talks: President Barack Obama on Monday proposed a two-year salary freeze for all federal civilian employees, signaling an apparent willingness to reach toward Republicans ahead of negotiations on deficit-cutting that are likely to dominate Washington next year. The freeze, which would require congressional approval, would affect about two million workers in 2011 and 2012 and save just $5 billion, a tiny fraction of the current $1.3 trillion annual budget deficit. The GOP has called for much bigger reductions in federal spending and has specifically targeted the federal work force. But the gesture could have broader political ramifications. It was seen by members of both parties as a sign that Mr. Obama, in the wake of what he called his electoral “shellacking,” might be willing to tack away from his liberal base in search of compromise with Republicans. “Going forward, we’re going to have to make some additional very tough decisions that this town has put off for a very long time,” Mr. Obama said. “And that’s what this upcoming week is really about. My hope is that, starting today, we can begin a bipartisan conversation about our future.”… – WSJ, 11-29-10

111TH & 112TH CONGRESS

  • Incoming GOP freshmen rapidly embracing big-money fundraisers The Republicans have taken the House. Now, meet the new lawmakers: After winning election with an anti-Washington battle cry, Canseco and other incoming Republican freshmen have rapidly embraced the capital’s culture of big-money fundraisers, according to new campaign-finance reports and other records.
    Dozens of freshmen lawmakers have held receptions at Capitol Hill bistros and corporate townhouses in recent weeks, taking money from K Street lobbyists and other powerbrokers within days of their victories. Newly elected House members have raised at least $2 million since the election, according to preliminary Federal Election Commission records filed last week, and many more contributions have yet to be tallied.
    The aggressive fundraising efforts underscore the financial pressures facing new members of Congress even before they take their seats. The contributions also represent a symbolic challenge for the Republican class of 2010, many of whom gained office by running against the ways of official Washington and monied interests…. – WaPo, 12-5-10
  • State Lawmakers Bolt Democratic Party After Election Day: Adding insult to injury for their party, at least 13 Democratic state lawmakers have joined the Republican ranks since Election Day — deepening GOP gains and in one case handing the party the state House majority. Democrats in five states have switched parties since Nov. 2, citing concerns about the economy and the political leanings of their constituents. The defections are a troubling sign for state Democratic operations clinging to life following their election drubbing. Though Republicans’ congressional gains drew more attention, the party picked up more than 675 seats at the state level last month and in some cases took over entire state capitals…. – Fox News, 12-3-10
  • Republican Kirk formally takes over Obama seat: President Barack Obama’s old Senate seat formally came under control of his Republican adversaries on Monday, as former Representative Mark Kirk was sworn in as junior senator from Illinois. Kirk replaced Democratic Senator Roland Burris, who had been serving out the remainder of Obama’s term, and brought the number of Republicans in the Senate to 42, strengthening their ability to block the president’s agenda. Kirk, 51, is an intelligence officer in the US Naval Reserve and has been a voice in the US Congress for confronting Iran over its suspect nuclear program and for robust engagement with China…. – AFP, 11-29-10
  • Democrats to Test Republican Mettle With Tax-Cut Vote This Week: Congressional Democrats are ready to test Republican resolve on taxes this week by hastening votes on their proposal to extend middle-class tax cuts. U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will schedule a vote this week on legislation that would retain lower tax rates and increased credits that apply to the first $250,000 of a married couple’s gross income or $200,000 for a single person, said her assistant, Maryland Democrat Chris Van Hollen. The Senate will vote “by next week” on Democrats’ proposal to extend middle-income tax cuts, Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus told reporters yesterday. “There should be an early vote on middle-income tax cuts” before the Senate considers alternatives on Bush-era tax cuts set to expire on Dec. 31, said Baucus, a Montana Democrat. The vote’s timing will depend on the rest of the Senate’s agenda, he said…. – Business Week, 11-29-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • Sen. Murray agrees to lead Democratic fundraising for 2012 election: Sen. Patty Murray will once again spearhead the tough job of raising millions of dollars for Democrats for the 2012 general election. Girding for a tough fight to preserve their shrunken majority, U.S. Senate Democrats finally persuaded Sen. Patty Murray to once again spearhead the grunt work of raising millions of dollars for the 2012 general elections. In naming Murray as the chairwoman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada tapped an experienced — albeit reluctant — fundraiser who helped rake in $158 million for Democratic candidates a decade ago…. –
  • Pence says he hasn’t decided on White House bid: The third-ranking Republican in the U.S. House says he’ll decide after Jan. 1 whether to run for president. Indiana Rep. Mike Pence said Monday he and his family are “determined to take the next few months and pray about” a possible White House run. Pence won a sixth congressional term this month and then announced he would step down from his position as the House Republican conference chairman. The decision sparked talk that Pence might run for higher office…. – AP, 11-29-10

QUOTES

The President holds a bipartisan meeting

White House Photo, Pete Souza, 11/30/10

The President expresses optimism on working across the aisle after a meeting with bipartisan Congressional leaders on issues ranging from tax cuts to unemployment benefits to the New START treaty with Russia.

  • Weekly Address: Vice President Biden Calls on Congress to Preserve the Middle Class Tax Cuts and to Extend Unemployment Insurance This Year
    Remarks of Vice President Joe Biden As Prepared for Delivery Weekly Address December 4, 2010:

    Hi, this is Joe Biden. I’m filling in for President Obama this weekend because he’s on his way back from Afghanistan, where he was spending some time with the brave men and women of our Armed Forces.
    …One: we’ve got to extend the tax cuts for the middle class that are set to expire at the end of the month. If we don’t, millions of middle-class families will see a big bite out of their paychecks starting January 1. And that’s the last thing we should let happen. After a decade in which they lost ground, middle class families can ill-afford a tax hike – and our economy can’t afford the hit it will take if middle class families have less money to spend.
    And the second thing we’ve got to do is extend unemployment insurance for Americans who have lost their jobs in a tough economy. Without unemployment benefits, families can’t spend on basic necessities that are grown, made, and sold by other Americans.
    Together, the economic hit caused by raising taxes on the middle class, and denying two million Americans unemployment insurance, will wind up costing us hundreds of thousands of more jobs. It just isn’t smart.
    And, cutting unemployment insurance is not only not smart, it’s not right either. It would mean telling millions of our neighbors who are out of work today through no fault of their own, that they’re on their own.
    That’s no message to send in the season of hope. We all know someone who’s hit a rough patch. When that happens in America, we help him get back up on his feet. That’s who we are. That’s the American way.
    So I just don’t agree with the folks who’ve said we can’t afford a lifeline for Americans who lost their jobs during the worst recession in generations, but we can afford to borrow hundreds of billions of dollars to extend tax cuts for the wealthiest two percent of Americans. That’s bad economic policy, and it’s also just simply wrong.
    Congress must extend these needed unemployment benefits before it goes home for the year. And it must bolster economic growth by preserving tax cuts for our middle class. I’m glad that the House of Representatives voted to do that this week, and I call on the United States Senate to do the same.
    Look, there’s no doubt these are tough times. But we are slowly but surely fighting our way back, moving forward. And we’re going to keep fighting – to grow this economy, to strengthen our middle class, and to restore the American Dream. That’s my pledge to you.
    And hey, one last thing – since the President will be back to record this message next week, let me take this chance to say from my family to yours: Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, have a great Holiday season and an even better New Year. –
    WH, 12-4-10
  • Harry Reid rips John McCain over ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’: The majority leader likened McCain and other Republicans to the Peanuts cartoon character Lucy, who continues to pull the football away at the last second as Charlie Brown runs to kick it.
    “First, Sen. McCain said he would seriously consider repealing it if the military leadership thought we should, and [when] the military leadership said it should be repealed, he pulled away the football. Then Sen. McCain said he would need to see a study from the Pentagon. When the Pentagon produced the study saying repeal would have no negative effect at all, he pulled away the football again,” Reid said.
    “And his latest trick, he said yesterday that he opposed repealing ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ a proposal that would be a great stride forward for both equality and military readiness … because of the economy,” Reid added. “I repeat, the senior senator from Arizona said he couldn’t support repealing ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ because of the economy. “I have no idea what he’s talking about and no one else does either,” Reid said.
    McCain spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan responded in an e-mail: “Perhaps someone should inform the majority leader the election is over.”… – Politico, 12-4-10
  • A Surprise Visit to the Troops in Afghanistan: Remarks by the President to the Troops at Bagram Air Base:
    So on behalf of me, on behalf of Michelle, on behalf of Malia and Sasha, on behalf of more than 300 million Americans, we are here to say thank you. (Hooah!) We are here to say thank you for everything that you do.
    Now, I also want to say thank you to your families back home so that when you talk to them you know that they know. (Applause.) They’re serving here with you — in mind and spirit, if not in body.
    Millions of Americans give thanks this holiday season just as generations have before when they think about our armed services. You’re part of an unbroken line of Americans who have given up your comfort, your ease, your convenience for America’s security. — WH, 12-3-10Remarks
  • Text: Obama’s Remarks at Bagram Air Force Base: Following is the transcript of President Obama’s remarks to troops at Bagram Air Force Base on Friday, as released by the White House…. – NYT, 12-3-10
  • ‘Don’t ask’ repeal could hurt war effort, generals warn: “I cannot reconcile, nor turn my back, on the negative perceptions held by our Marines who are most engaged in the hard work of day-to-day operations in Afghanistan,” Marine commandant Gen. James Amos said, citing a Pentagon survey that found 58 percent of Marines and 48 percent of Army respondents think lifting the ban would have negative consequences. “Successfully integrating gays and lesbians into small Marine combat units has strong potential for disruption and will no doubt divert leadership attention away from an almost singular focus of preparing units for combat,” Amos said.
    Gen. George W. Casey, the chief of staff of the Army, and Gen. Norman Schwarz, Air Force chief of staff, agreed. “Implementation of the repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ would be a major cultural and policy change in the middle of a war,” Casey said. “It would be implemented by a force and leaders that are already stretched by the cumulative impacts of almost a decade at war.”
    Said Schwartz, “It is difficult for me, as a member of the Joint Chiefs, to recommend placing any additional discretionary demands on our leadership cadres in Afghanistan at this particularly challenging time.” He recommended that any change not take effect until 2012.
    “I will not agree to have this bill go forward, and neither will, I believe, 41 of my colleagues, either, because our economy is in the tank,” said Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the ranking Republican on the Armed Services Committee and the leading opponent of an immediate repeal. “Our economy is in the tank, and the American people want that issue addressed. … So to somehow believe that this is some kind of compelling issue at a time we’re in two wars … is obviously not something that we shouldn’t be exercising a rush to judgment.”
    Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., said he wonders if service members will ever be ready to accept openly gay colleagues. “I can’t imagine that that situation is going to be that different in 2012 for that Marine lieutenant or in 2013,” Wicker said. “I wonder if 2012 or 2013 is going to make that lieutenant or that type of lieutenant feel better about it.”
    Of special concern, said Adm. Gary Roughhead, the chief of naval operations, were the 24 percent of sailors who told Pentagon surveyors they were worried about sleeping and showering facilities aboard ships and submarines. “I believe these concerns can be effectively mitigated through leadership, effective communications, training and education, and clear and concise standards of conduct,” he said….. – Miami Herald, 12-3-10
  • Palin Accuses Media of Double Standard in Playing Up Korean Gaffe: Even on Thanksgiving Day, Sarah Palin found time to lash out at her political foes — in this case the media for blowing out of proportion her gaffe on the Korean crisis. In a Facebook posting, the combative Palin addressed a Thanksgiving message to “57 states” — mocking a mistake President Obama made in his 2008 campaign as a way of arguing that the news uses a double standard. “If you can’t remember hearing about them [Obama slip-ups), that’s because for the most part the media didn’t consider them newsworthy,” she wrote, according to ABC News. “I have no complaint about that. Everybody makes the occasional verbal gaffe — even news anchors.” Palin drew ridicule earlier this week when she said in a radio interview with Glenn Beck, “We gotta stand with our North Korean allies” during a discussion about the deadly attack by the North on a South Korean island. Beck quickly corrected her and she replied, “We’re bound by prudence to stand with our South Korean allies, yes.” Roughly 24 hours after reports of the incident, Palin was criticizing the Obama team’s response to the attack. “We’re not having a lot of faith that the White House is going to come out with a strong enough policy to sanction what it is that North Korea is going to do.” Of the media reports that followed her little mix-up, she said, “Obviously, I would have been even more impressed if the media showed some consistency on this issue. Unfortunately, it seems they couldn’t resist the temptation to turn a simple one word slip-of-the-tongue of mine into a major political headline.” And for her part, Palin couldn’t resist firing back…. – Politics Daily, 11-30-10
  • CNN Regrets Not Asking John McCain A Follow-Up Question: So, over the weekend, Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) went on CNN’s “State Of The Union”, where he talked about the need for “regime change” in North Korea. John McCain is always doing things like this! During the 2008 campaign, he wanted to bomb Iran, liberate the teensy region of South Ossetia from the Russians, and was even angry at Spain for some reason. And one often wonders, “Where, exactly, are we going to get the troops and/or money to do these things? Or is the hope that somehow, the Green Lantern Corps will kit out McCain with a power ring?”
    In the case of North Korea, if you dial back the interview, you’ll see that in this instance, McCain puts the onus for changing the regime in Pyongyang on China. “They could bring the North Korean economy to its knees if they wanted to,” said McCain, who went on to muse, “And I cannot believe that the Chinese should, in a mature fashion, not find it in their interest to restrain North Korea. So far, they are not.”
    But if not China, where does this leave this dream of regime change in North Korea? As you might expect, CNN had to “leave it there.” And that sets up my favorite read out of the CNN-McCain tete-a-tete, courtesy of Evan McMorris- Santoro:
    Though [State Of The Union host Candy] Crowley moved the interview ahead to Afghanistan shortly after McCain’s “regime change” comments, in a CNN post-mortem webcast after the show she and State Of The Union producer Tom Bettag seemed to scratch their heads over just what it was McCain meant when he said “regime change” during the show.
    “That’s why you always want an hour and half with these guys,” Crowley said. “‘Cuz you want to say, ‘And, so, how would we go about doing that?'”…. – Huff Post, 11-29-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

President Obama and General Colin Powell

White House Photo, Pete Souza, 12/1/10
  • Melissa Harris-Perry: The Misunderestimation of Sarah Palin: ….Whatever her failings, Palin has successfully harnessed new media forms to engage and direct emotional reactions in ways that are surprisingly effective. Using Twitter, Facebook, corporate-news punditry, readable memoirs and reality television, Palin has managed to subvert traditional media. Rather than pay for advertising, she is getting paid to advertise her politics. Rather than wait for kingmakers to declare her a contender, she smirks while predicting her victories. Her reality show is a pinnacle of this new media-saturation strategy. The show’s producer, Mark Burnett of Survivor and The Apprentice, pioneered the infiltration of reality shows into network lineups. His ingenious use of product integration exploded the profitability and desirability of reality television. While highbrow critics mocked the lame, melodramatic obviousness of reality TV, the genre revolutionized American entertainment. Sarah Palin’s Alaska is the ultimate test of this form. Will product placement of a candidate prove to be the flattest, fastest, newest route to the American presidency?… – The Nation, 12-13-10
  • Ed Rollins: Palin, I knew Reagan. You’re no Reagan: And speaking of Obama and the election two years from now, Sarah Palin now says she thinks she can beat him.
    Maybe she can, but 2012 is a long way off, and there is a nominating process that is intense — and it takes more than selling a few hundred books in Iowa to win it. Several other serious political players think they can beat her and will wage full-scale political war against her if she tries. On November 4, I wrote a column under the headline: “Don’t underestimate Palin for 2012 run” (I write the columns, not the headlines). It was not a pro- or anti-Palin article but an analysis of the potential candidates for the Republican nomination in 2012. If I were to title this one, it would be “Sarah, don’t overestimate your chances!” And quit comparing yourself to Ronald Reagan. To paraphrase the late Sen. Lloyd Bentsen’s comments to Dan Quayle in the 1988 vice presidential debate: I knew Ronald Reagan, and you’re no Ronald Reagan…. – CNN, 12-1-10

Political Highlights Special: Julian Assange & the WikiLeaks Scandal

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.

WIKILEAKS SCANDAL:

https://i0.wp.com/i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/WORLD/asiapcf/12/06/australia.wikileaks/t1larg.jpg

IN FOCUS: WIKILEAKS

  • A Selection From the Cache of Diplomatic Dispatches: Below are a selection of the documents from a cache of a quarter-million confidential American diplomatic cables that WikiLeaks intends to make public starting on Nov. 28. A small number of names and passages in some of the cables have been removed by The New York Times to protect diplomats’ confidential sources, to keep from compromising American intelligence efforts or to protect the privacy of ordinary citizens…. – NYT
  • A look at the 251,287 diplomatic cables, based on WikiLeaks’ analysisWaPo
  • What is Wiki Leaks? CNN
  • WikiLeaks embassy cables: the key points at a glance: There are no fewer than 251,287 cables from more than 250 US embassies around the world, obtained by WikiLeaks. We present a day-by-day guide to the revelations from the US embassy cables both from the Guardian and its international media partners in the story…. – Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4Guardian UK
  • WikiLeaks, Guardian UK
  • Leaked Cables Uncloak U.S. Diplomacy: A cache of a quarter-million confidential American diplomatic cables, most of them from the past three years, provides an unprecedented look at backroom bargaining by embassies around the world, brutally candid views of foreign leaders and frank assessments of nuclear and terrorist threats.
    Some of the cables, made available to The New York Times and several other news organizations, were written as recently as late February, revealing the Obama administration’s exchanges over crises and conflicts. The material was originally obtained by WikiLeaks, an organization devoted to revealing secret documents. WikiLeaks intends to make the archive public on its Web site in batches, beginning Sunday…. – NYT, 11-28-10
  • State Secrets: A cache of diplomatic cables provide a chronicle of the United States’ relations with the world: About the Documents A mammoth cache of a quarter-million confidential American diplomatic cables, most of them from the last three years, provides an unprecedented look at bargaining by embassies, candid views of foreign leaders and assessments of threats. The material was obtained by WikiLeaks and made available to a number of news organizations in advance….. – NYT, 11-28-10
  • Julian Assange, WikiLeaks founder, up for Time’s ‘Person of the Year,’ with Obama, Palin and more: Could the man on Interpol’s most wanted list also be Time’s Person of the Year? If it were up to the magazine’s readers, Julian Assange, founder of the controversial whistleblower website WikiLeaks, would certainly have a shot. More than 90,000 readers have voted for the 39-year-old Australian, placing him in third place, alongside comedians Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Strangely, leading the pack is Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister of Turkey. And in second place is pop singer Lady Gaga.
    “For better or for worse, Julian Assange has changed the accessibility to knowledge of the two wars that involve the U.S., within a matter of months,” Lauren Zalaznick, president of NBC Universal Women and Lifestyle Entertainment Networks, told Time. “He has also put journalistic integrity on a knife-blade edge: What is the responsibility of the journalist to make public or keep private?”… – NY Daily News, 12-1-10

THE HEADLINES….

  • WikiLeaks Turns to Swiss Party for Help With Web Address: The battle lines between supporters of the whistle-blowing Web site WikiLeaks and its detractors began to form on Sunday, as supporters erected numerous copies of the site on the Internet and the United States put pressure on Switzerland not to offer a haven to the site’s founder, Julian Assange.
    Since several major Internet companies cut off services to WikiLeaks in recent days, activists have created hundreds of mirror sites, Web sites that host exact copies of another site’s content, making censorship difficult.
    The collective Anonymous, an informal but notorious group of hackers and activists, also declared war on Sunday against enemies of Mr. Assange, calling on supporters to attack sites companies that do not support WikiLeaks and to spread the leaked material online…. – NYT, 12-5-10
  • WikiLeaks uses Swiss Web address as options narrow: WikiLeaks’ elusive founder, his options dwindling, has turned to Switzerland’s credit, postal and Internet infrastructure to keep his online trove of U.S. State Department cables afloat. Supporters say Julian Assange is considering seeking asylum in Switzerland. He told a Spanish newspaper that he faced “hundreds of death threats,” including some targeting his lawyers and children, aside from the pressure he is getting from prosecutors in the U.S. and other countries. After a number of web companies dropped WikiLeaks, much of the site’s traffic was coming through the wikileaks.ch Web address Sunday. The address is controlled by the Swiss Pirate Party, a group that formed two years ago to campaign for freedom of information. The site’s main server in France went offline but it remained reachable through a Swedish server.
    The site showed Assange had begun seeking donations to an account under his name through the Swiss postal system in Bern, the Swiss capital, while also using a Swiss-Icelandic credit card processing center and other accounts in Iceland and Germany. He lost a major source of revenue when the online payment service provider PayPal cut off the WikiLeaks account over the weekend…. – AP, 12-5-10
  • Under pressure, WikiLeaks asks supporters for mirror sites: Under heavy pressure from the United States and allied governments, WikiLeaks appealed to supporters worldwide to mirror its website Sunday as it continued the process of releasing thousands of sensitive U.S. diplomatic cables.
    “Wikileaks is currently under heavy attack. In order to make it impossible to ever fully remove Wikileaks from the Internet, we need your help,” the site told followers Sunday. The message was followed by instructions on how website operators could set up mirror sites that would distribute the documents as WikiLeaks released them.
    On the microblogging site Twitter, supporters have rallied by offering their sites or by posting links to other mirrors…. “All the censoring of WikiLeaks is more alarming than the actual content of the leaks. It only further justifies WL’s actions,” read one widely distributed comment…. – CNN, 12-5-10
  • Julian Assange’s lawyers say they are being watched: WikiLeaks founder’s lawyers also accuse US state department of inappropriate behaviour in not respecting attorney-client protocol …Jennifer Robinson and Mark Stephens of the law firm Finers Stephens Innocent told the Guardian they had been watched by people parked outside their houses for the past week. “I’ve noticed people consistently sitting outside my house in the same cars with newspapers,” said Robinson. “I probably noticed certain things a week ago, but mostly it’s been the last three or four days.” Stephens said he, too, had had his home watched. Asked who he thought was monitoring him, he said: “The security services.” Robinson said the legal team was also experiencing “other forms of pressure” from Washington…. – Guardian UK, 12-5-10
  • From WikiLemons, Clinton Tries to Make Lemonade: When American diplomats get together these days, there is lots of dark talk about the fallout from the sensational disclosure of secret diplomatic cables. Will angry foreign governments kick out ambassadors? Will spooked locals stop talking to their embassy contacts? Behind all the public hand-wringing, however, there is another, more muted reaction: pride.
    The WikiLeaks affair has turned an unaccustomed spotlight on the diplomatic corps — pinstriped authors who pour their hearts and minds into cables, which are filed to the State Department and often barely read by desk officers, let alone senior diplomats or the secretary of state.
    Whatever damage the leaks may do, and nobody doubts it could be substantial, they have showcased the many roles of the Foreign Service officer in the field: part intelligence analyst, part schmoozer, part spy — and to judge by these often artful cables, part foreign correspondent.
    The pride of authorship is shared by their boss, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who found a silver lining in the disclosures, even after she spent last week trying to smooth the feathers of foreign leaders described in the cables as feckless, profligate, vain, corrupt, or worse.
    “What you see are diplomats doing the work of diplomacy: reporting and analyzing and providing information, solving problems, worrying about big complex challenges,” Mrs. Clinton said to reporters at the end of a four- country trip to Central Asia and the Persian Gulf that wound up being a contrition tour. “In a way,” she said, “it should be reassuring, despite the occasional tidbit that is pulled out and unfortunately blown up.”… – NYT, 12-4-10
  • WikiLeaks founder defends website in online session: WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange defended its posting of confidential documents Friday, saying that not a single person in the website’s four-year publishing history has ever been harmed as a result of material it put online.
    “During that time there has been no credible allegation, even by (organizations) like the Pentagon that even a single person has come to harm as a result of our activities,” Assange said in written answers to readers’ questions posted on the website of the British newspaper The Guardian.
    “This is despite much-attempted manipulation and spin trying to lead people to a counter-factual conclusion. We do not expect any change in this regard,” Assange said.
    He was supposed to have started an online chat at 1 p.m. Almost a thousand comments had been posted, many containing questions, when The Guardian announced it was experiencing technical difficulties. The newspaper, one of several with early access to the leaked diplomatic cables, had already warned readers that Assange’s ability to answer would depend on internet accessibility…. – CNN, 12-3-10
  • US blocks access to WikiLeaks for federal workers Employees unable to call up WikiLeaks on government computers as material is still formally classified, says US: WikiLeaks has been blocked from being accessed by federal employees of the US, because the files are still seen as classified.
    The Obama administration is banning hundreds of thousands of federal employees from calling up the WikiLeaks site on government computers because the leaked material is still formally regarded as classified. The Library of Congress tonight joined the education department, the commerce department and other government agencies in confirming that the ban is in place. Although thousands of leaked cables are freely available on the Guardian, New York Times and other newspaper websites, as well as the WikiLeaks site, the Obama administration insists they are still classified and, as such, have to be protected…. – Guardian UK, 12-3-10
  • Clinton begins effort to limit damage with apology to UK: US secretary of state tries to make amends for US scorn over Britain’s stewardship of Helmand province
    “I personally want to convey to the government and the people of the United Kingdom both my deep respect and admiration for the extraordinary efforts and our regret if anything that was said by anyone suggested the contrary,” the US secretary of state said. “I have found in my many conversations in the last week that there is certainly an understanding of what diplomacy means.” Turning to humour as a means of defusing embarrassment, she added: “As one of my counterparts jokingly said: ‘Don’t worry about it – you should see what we say about you!”‘… – Guardian UK, 12-3-10
  • WikiLeaks Rogue activist Julian Assange wants to curb government secrecy, but his massive leak of classified U.S. diplomatic cables is undermining the Obama Administration’s efforts to do just that: British politicians and military chiefs are already fighting an uphill battle in trying to persuade a skeptical public that the operation in Afghanistan is worth the continuing loss of life. The latest batch of WikiLeaks cables, showing U.S. and Afghan officials — including President Hamid Karzai — expressing severe doubts over the U.K.’s effectiveness in the country are unlikely to make that task any easier.
    The cables released on Friday highlight concerns from Karzai and U.S. officials over the U.K.’s effort, specifically in the Helmand province. According to one 2008 memo, the U.S. embassy in Kabul reported: “We and Karzai agree the British are not up to the task of securing Helmand.” A separate cable from the same period relays Karzai’s telling Senator John McCain that he was relieved U.S. marines were being sent to reinforce the British-led mission in Helmand. Meanwhile, then-Afghan foreign minister Rangin Dadfar Spanta is quoted as saying that U.K. troops “were not ready to fight as actively as American soldiers.”…. – Time, 12-3-10
  • British police know location of WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange: report WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange is reportedly in England, but British police have not acted on a Swedish warrant for his arrest nor Interpol’s ‘red notice’ because they need more information…. – CS Monitor, 12-2-10
  • WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange: Has US already indicted him?: It is entirely possible that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is already under indictment in the US. Grand juries work in secret, and indictments can be sealed, but there have been hints….
    Sweden has issued an arrest warrant for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and according to one newspaper report, he is hiding out in Britain. But is he already under indictment in the United States on charges related to his online release of a vast trove of secret US documents? It’s certainly possible. US officials publicly will only say that they are investigating the matter and that no legal options have been ruled out. But an indictment in such an important federal matter would be handed down by a grand jury, and grand jury proceedings are secret, notes Stephen Vladeck, an expert in national security law at American University. There may be an empaneled grand jury considering the Assange case right now. “We wouldn’t know what they’re doing until the whole thing is concluded,” he says. – CS Monitor, 12-2-10
  • Cables released by WikiLeaks reveal U.S. concerns over South America: The State Department wanted to know whether Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner was on medication. American diplomats in Brazil, meanwhile, heard that Bolivia’s indigenous president, Evo Morales, had a tumor. And farther north, U.S. officials outlined how Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was isolating his country by aligning his government with Iran’s. A slew of diplomatic messages from South America, where the United States has had testy relations with several leaders, reveal U.S. concerns over issues ranging from terrorism to a spat over oil between Argentina and Britain. But dozens of private messages released by WikiLeaks also highlight Washington’s focus on the personalities on a continent largely ruled by leftist presidents, some of them European-style technocrats and others virulently anti- American populists…. – WaPo, 12-2-10
  • The secret life of Julian Assange: Julian Assange can be charming yet cagey about his private life and is rarely shaken by discussions of even the most controversial revelations on WikiLeaks. He grew up constantly on the move, the son of parents who were in the theater business in Australia. Now, Julian Assange, 39, finds himself on the move again, wanted in Sweden for alleged sex crimes and wanted by officials around the world for his website WikiLeaks’ publication of thousands of documents containing confidential information. If he has succeeded in creating a public firewall of sorts around himself, it is perhaps because he learned as a child to cope with solitude and exposed his mind to the machinery that would overtake his life. Assange has been described by his mother, Christine, as “highly intelligent.”… – CNN, 12-1-10
  • WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange: How much trouble is he in?: Wikileaks founder Julian Assange could be prosecuted under the Espionage Act, but the US has historically avoided pursuing leak recipients. His primary concern is a ‘red alert’ issued by Interpol for alleged sex crimes in Sweden…. – CS Monitor, 12-1-10
  • US embassy cables: US and Pakistan deny revelations of mutual mistrust: But security experts say leaks expose threat of terrorism that western governments have deliberately played down
    Pakistani and US officials presented a united front today against revelations in the WikiLeaks cables that portray a fragile relationship dogged by subterfuge, suspicion and worries over the safety of Pakistan’s expanding nuclear arsenal. The American ambassador to Pakistan, Cameron Munter, visited the prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, at his hilltop residence in Islamabad where the men played down the significance of the leaked dispatches. Gilani said Pakistan’s national interests “would not be compromised by such mischief in any manner”, while Munter said: “Working together, we will get past the WikiLeaks problems.” But outside Pakistan experts in nuclear counterproliferation said the leaked cables exposed a serious threat of nuclear terrorism that western governments have deliberately played down – until now…. – Guardian UK, 12-1-10
  • WikiLeaks disclosures highlight Russia as U.S. scrambles: The United States scrambled to contain the fallout from the slow-motion leak of cables from its embassies worldwide Wednesday as new documents showed American diplomats casting a jaundiced eye toward corruption’s grip on Russia. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton personally made “several dozen” calls to counterparts in other countries in an effort to mitigate the damage from WikiLeaks, a website that facilitates the anonymous leaking of secret information, a senior State Department official said. In a CNN interview Wednesday night, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley called WikiLeaks founder and editor-in-chief Julian Assange an “anarchist.” “He’s trying to undermine the collaboration, the cooperation, the system by which we engage with other governments, cooperate with other governments and solve regional challenges,” Crowley told CNN’s “John King USA.” But while Clinton is facing other world leaders, “trying to solve the world’s challenges,” Assange is in hiding, he said…. – m CNN, 12-1-10
  • Blunt and Blustery, Putin Responds to State Department Cables on Russia: Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin responded Wednesday to criticism of Russia revealed in United States diplomatic cables published by the Web site WikiLeaks, warning Washington not to interfere in Russian domestic affairs. His comments, made in an interview broadcast Wednesday night on CNN’s “Larry King Live,” referred to a cable that said “Russian democracy has disappeared” and that described the government as “an oligarchy run by the security services,” a statement attributed to the American defense secretary, Robert M. Gates. Mr. Putin said in the interview that Mr. Gates had been “deeply misled.” Asked about a cable that described President Dmitri A. Medvedev as “playing Robin to Putin’s Batman,” he said the author had “aimed to slander one of us.”… – NYT, 12-1-10
  • Wikileaks’ Assange in UK, police know where: report: Wikileaks website founder Julian Assange is in Britain and police know his whereabouts but have refrained so far from acting on an international warrant for his arrest, a British newspaper said on Thursday. The 39-year-old Australian, who founded the whistle-blowing website that has disclosed a trove of secret U.S. diplomatic cables, supplied British police with contact details upon his arrival in October, The Independent said. The newspaper cited police sources who said they knew where Assange was staying and had his telephone number. It added that it was believed he was in southeast England. The international police agency Interpol this week issued a “red notice” to assist in the arrest of Assange, who is wanted in Sweden on suspicion of sexual crimes, but Britain’s Serious Organized Crime Agency (Soca) so far has refused to authorize this, the paper said…. – Reuters, 12-1-10
  • WikiLeaks website kicked off Amazon’s servers: Amazon.com Inc. forced WikiLeaks to stop using the U.S. company’s computers to distribute embarrassing State Department communications and other documents, WikiLeaks said Wednesday. The ouster came after congressional staff questioned Amazon about its relationship with WikiLeaks, said Sen. Joe Lieberman, an independent from Connecticut. WikiLeaks confirmed it hours after The Associated Press reported that Amazon’s servers had stopped hosting WikiLeaks’ site. The site was unavailable for several hours before it moved back to its previous Swedish host, Bahnhof AB. WikiLeaks released a trove of sensitive diplomatic documents on Sunday. Just before the release, its website came under an Internet-based attack that made it unavailable for hours at a time…. – AP, 12-1-10
  • U.S. diplomat: ‘Grueling’ effort to patch up international ties: A senior State Department official conceded Wednesday that, “This was a rough week for American diplomacy.” The official, speaking with reporters in a conference call, said the WikiLeaks disclosures of State Department diplomatic cables “have done substantial damage.” “We’ll probably never have a neat scorecard to show you with meetings not granted, confidences not shared, cooperation that’s hedged or denied,” he said, “and it is going to take time and hard work to rebuild trust…we’ve got a tough road ahead of us and a lot of rebuilding to do.”
    The official described what he called a “grueling” effort by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to contain damage from the leaks. Clinton, he said, has made several dozen calls to world leaders “to express our deep regret and underscore steps we’ve taken to ensure confidentiality and underscore important diplomatic work before us.” State Department officials in Washington and at embassies around the world, he said, have reached out to a total of 186 governments to reinforce Clinton’s message, adding “to virtually everyone who takes our calls.”… – CNN, 12-1-10
  • US embassy cables culprit should be executed, says Mike Huckabee: Republican presidential hopeful wants the person responsible for the WikiLeaks cables to face capital punishment for treason
    Huckabee said: “Whoever in our government leaked that information is guilty of treason, and I think anything less than execution is too kind a penalty.” He added, according to Politico: “They’ve put American lives at risk. They put relationships that will take decades to rebuild at risk. They knew full well that they were handling sensitive documents they were entrusted. “And anyone who had access to that level of information was not only a person who understood what their rules were, but they also signed, under oath, a commitment that they would not violate. They did … Any lives they endangered, they’re personally responsible for and the blood is on their hands.”… – Guardian UK, 12-1-10
  • WikiLeaks opens the floodgates for critics of the Obama administration: The WikiLeaks uproar has folks jumping all over President Obama’s administration for a variety of alleged sins of omission and commission. Sarah Palin weighed in big time on Facebook, blasting the administration for “incompetently handling the whole fiasco,” and for not going after WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange with greater urgency.
    She tweeted that the administration might have gone to court to stop the disclosures. “Inexplicable: I recently won in court to stop my book ‘America by Heart’ from being leaked,” she wrote, “but US Govt can’t stop Wikileaks’ treasonous act?” Probably not. We’re told there’s a big legal difference between copyright law and First Amendment law. Also, while Assange might be charged, there was this Supreme Court case a long time ago, something about publishing the Pentagon Papers…. – WaPo, 11-30-10
  • Interpol puts Assange on most-wanted list: Interpol, at the request of a Swedish court looking into alleged sex crimes from earlier this year, has put WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on its most-wanted listed. The Stockholm Criminal Court two weeks ago issued an international arrest warrant for Assange on probable cause, saying he is suspected of rape, sexual molestation and illegal use of force in August incidents.
    Sweden asked Interpol, the international police organization, to post a “Red Notice” after a judge approved a motion to bring him into custody. The “Red Notice” is not an international arrest warrant. It is an advisory and request, issued to 188 member countries “to assist the national police forces in identifying or locating those persons with a view to their arrest and extradition,” according to Interpol…. – CNN, 11-30-10
  • WikiLeaks ‘attack’: How damaging to US foreign relations?: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemns the WikiLeaks ‘attack on the international community’ as harmful to US policy goals. But major geopolitical shifts are unlikely, analysts say. The US intensified its efforts at damage control on Monday following the publication by WikiLeaks of more than a quarter-million diplomatic cables, with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton calling the massive release not just a problem for American foreign policy but “an attack on the international community.” In a statement to journalists in the State Department’s Treaty Room before she was to leave on a four-country trip through Central Asia and the Persian Gulf, Secretary Clinton said that both the furthering of US national interests and the operation of the world’s international political system depend on thousands of confidential exchanges, assessments, and conversations every day…. – CS Monitor, 11-29-10
  • WikiLeaks plans to release a U.S. bank’s documents: The founder of whistle-blower website WikiLeaks plans to release tens of thousands of internal documents from a major U.S. bank early next year, Forbes Magazine reported on Monday. Julian Assange declined in an interview with Forbes to identify the bank, but he said that he expected that the disclosures, which follow his group’s release of U.S. military and diplomatic documents, would lead to investigations. “We have one related to a bank coming up, that’s a megaleak. It’s not as big a scale as the Iraq material, but it’s either tens or hundreds of thousands of documents depending on how you define it,” Assange said in the interview posted on the Forbes website. He declined to identify the bank, describing it only as a major U.S. bank that is still in existence…. – Reuters, 11-29-10
  • Israel greets WikiLeaks cables as vindication of its Iran policy: The latest WikiLeaks release of documents gives Israel proof that its Arab neighbors, even those that are sworn enemies of the Jewish state, share its concerns about Iran. Wikileaks’ publication of US diplomatic cables could have sparked a fresh controversy between Israel and its most important ally after a year of strained relations. But instead, Wikileaks’ release of the documents on Sunday has proved to be something of a public relations coup for Israel: on-the-record confirmation that its Arab neighbors are just as frightened as the Jewish state by a nuclear Iran. The cables confirmed previous anonymous reports that Israel has quiet partners in the region pushing the US to take bolder steps to stop what they consider an existential threat.
    “I don’t see any damage. Quite the opposite,” said Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, in an interview with Israel Radio. “Maybe there’s an indirect benefit that the truth is coming out, that the entire Middle East, including Arab states, are very fearful from the Iranian nuclear threat, and are calling on the West to be much more aggressive toward Iran.”… – CS Monitor, 11-29-10
  • WikiLeaks: The five strangest stories…so far: The release of US diplomatic cables by WikiLeaks contains some serious stuff: US diplomats have been trying to steal the credit card numbers of top UN officials, Saudi Arabia is putting pressure on the US to attack Iran, Iran has obtained advanced long-range missiles from North Korea. Other cables are not so earth-shaking, but they nonetheless reveal personalities and events that are comical, surprising, or just plain weird. Here’s our top five… – CS Monitor, 11-29-10
  • WikiLeaks spurned New York Times, but Guardian leaked State Department cables: This time, the New York Times didn’t get the goods from WikiLeaks. Instead, on Sunday, the newspaper began reporting a bombshell – the contents of thousands of private State Department cables – as a result of a leak of a leak. The Times was the only American news organization to receive a massive cache of government documents that were released by WikiLeaks, the “stateless” Internet organization that specializes in exposing government secrets through leaked information. But the Times wasn’t on WikiLeaks’ list of original recipients. The newspaper got its hands on the trove of about 250,000 cables thanks to the Guardian newspaper of Great Britain, which quietly passed the Times the raw material that it had received as one of five news organizations favored by WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks had worked with the Times this summer in releasing about 90,000 documents prepared by U.S. military sources about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan…. – WaPo, 11-29-10
  • Cables Shine Light Into Secret Diplomatic Channels: A huge trove of State Department communiqués offer an extraordinary look at the inner workings, and sharp elbows, of diplomacy…. – NYT, 11-28-10
  • Around the World, Distress Over Iran: Diplomatic cables show how two presidents have dealt with Iran and how President Obama built support for a harsher package of sanctions…. – NYT, 11-28-10
  • Iran Is Fortified With North Korean Aid: American intelligence assessments say that Iran has obtained Russian-designed missiles that are much more powerful than other weapons in its arsenal…. – NYT, 11-28-10
  • Mixing Diplomacy With Spying: State Department personnel were told to gather the credit card and frequent-flier numbers, schedules and other personal data of foreign officials…. – NYT, 11-28-10
  • Documents: Selected Dispatches: Cables obtained by WikiLeaks offer a huge sampling of the daily traffic between the State Department and 270 embassies and consulates worldwide…. – NYT, 11-28-10
  • U.S. Expands Role of Diplomats in Spying: The United States has expanded the role of American diplomats in collecting intelligence overseas and at the United Nations, ordering State Department personnel to gather the credit card and frequent-flier numbers, work schedules and other personal information of foreign dignitaries. Revealed in classified State Department cables, the directives, going back to 2008, appear to blur the traditional boundaries between statesmen and spies…. – NYT, 11-28-10
  • WikiLeaks: Clinton ordered probe on UN chief Secret files show Washington wanted to find links between UN members, terror groups: WikiLeaks revealed Sunday that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ordered a probe on UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, as well as an investigation on possible ties between UN members and terror groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah.
    “Washington wanted intelligence on the contentious issue of the ‘relationship or funding between UN personnel and/or missions and terrorist organizations’ and links between the UN Relief and Works Agency in the Middle East, and Hamas and Hezbollah,” the British Guardian reported, citing the documents leaked by the controversial Web entity.
    Washington also sent out orders signed by Clinton or Rice (aka Condoleezza Rice, Clinton’s predecessor) ordering diplomats to gather “biographic and biometric” on various UN officials, including Ban, the report says.
    It adds that the US may have “blurred the line between diplomacy and spying”, and that the country’s relations with the UN may now suffer due to the publication of the secret orders…. – YNet News, 11-28-10
  • WikiLeaks: Leaked cables reveal the rough workings of diplomacy: WikiLeaks gave some 250,000 confidential and secret diplomatic cables to several news outlets, which published them Sunday. The leaks could prove embarrassing and potentially dangerous. After days of anticipation and unheeded warnings from the Obama administration, the huge and controversial data dump from whistle-blower website WikiLeaks is being published and broadcast. As reported by the New York Times (which, along with the British newspaper the Guardian and the German news magazine Der Spiegel, began revealing the data Sunday afternoon), the cache of a quarter-million confidential American diplomatic cables “provides an unprecedented look at backroom bargaining by embassies around the world, brutally candid views of foreign leaders and frank assessments of nuclear and terrorist threats.”… – CS Monitor, 11-28-10

QUOTES

  • Julian Assange answers your questions: The founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, answers readers’ questions about the release of more than 250,000 US diplomatic cables…
    For the past four years one of our goals has been to lionise the source who take the real risks in nearly every journalistic disclosure and without whose efforts, journalists would be nothing. If indeed it is the case, as alleged by the Pentagon, that the young soldier – Bradley Manning – is behind some of our recent disclosures, then he is without doubt an unparalleled hero.
    WikiLeaks has a four-year publishing history. During that time there has been no credible allegation, even by organisations like the Pentagon that even a single person has come to harm as a result of our activities. This is despite much-attempted manipulation and spin trying to lead people to a counter-factual conclusion. We do not expect any change in this regard.
    I coauthored my first nonfiction book by the time I was 25. I have been involved in nonfiction documentaries, newspapers, TV and internet since that time. However, it is not necessary to debate whether I am a journalist, or how our people mysteriously are alleged to cease to be journalists when they start writing for our organisaiton. Although I still write, research and investigate my role is primarily that of a publisher and editor-in-chief who organises and directs other journalists.
    Many of these are still available at mirror.wikileaks.info and the rest will be returning as soon as we can find a moment to do address the engineering complexities. Since April of this year our timetable has not been our own, rather it has been one that has centred on the moves of abusive elements of the United States government against us. But rest assured I am deeply unhappy that the three-and-a-half years of my work and others is not easily available or searchable by the general public.
    I always believed that WikiLeaks as a concept would perform a global role and to some degree it was clear that is was doing that as far back as 2007 when it changed the result of the Kenyan general election. I thought it would take two years instead of four to be recognised by others as having this important role, so we are still a little behind schedule and have much more work to do. The threats against our lives are a matter of public record, however, we are taking the appropriate precautions to the degree that we are able when dealing with a super power.
    The cables we have release correspond to stories released by our main stream media partners and ourselves. They have been redacted by the journalists working on the stories, as these people must know the material well in order to write about it. The redactions are then reviewed by at least one other journalist or editor, and we review samples supplied by the other organisations to make sure the process is working….
    The Cable Gate archive has been spread, along with significant material from the US and other countries to over 100,000 people in encrypted form. If something happens to us, the key parts will be released automatically. Further, the Cable Gate archives is in the hands of multiple news organisations. History will win. The world will be elevated to a better place. Will we survive? That depends on you.
    Guardian UK, 12-3-10
  • Text of State Department letter to Wikileaks: Text of a letter from the State Department to Julian Assange, the founder of whistleblowing website WikiLeaks, and his lawyer Jennifer Robinson concerning its intended publication of classified State Department documents. The letter, dated November 27, was released by the department…. – Reuters, 11-28-10
  • Mike Huckabee: Execute WikiLeaks Cable Source: Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said in an interview while on his book tour in California that the person responsible for the leaked diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks should be executed.
    “Whoever in our government leaked that information is guilty of treason, and I think anything less than execution is too kind a penalty,” he told reporters while signing books at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, Calif. He went on:
    “They’ve put American lives at risks. They have put relationships that will take decades to rebuild at risk, and they knew full well that they were handling sensitive documents. They were entrusted and anyone who had access to that level of information was not only a person who understood what their rules were, but they also signed under oath a commitment that they would not violate it. They did. And I believe they have committed treason against this country, and any lives they endanger, they’re personally responsible for and the blood is on their hands.”… – Politics Daily, 11-30-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Historian Relishes WikiLeaks Cable Dump: Author and historian Timothy Garton Ash says WikiLeaks’ release of 250,000 U.S. cables is a diplomats’ nightmare and a historians’ dream. The cables reveal the inner workings of the State Department. Garton Ash tells Renee Montagne that the mass of diplomatic cables is like a multi-course banquet.
    Professor TIMOTHY GARTON ASH (Oxford University): It’s very, very rich material. The only other time you have that opportunity is when a state collapses, like communist East Germany or Nazi Germany. Then historians get to see all this stuff. But it’s incredibly unusual and strange for it to happen with a functioning superpower…. – NPR, 12-1-10
  • WikiLeaks vs. U.S. Diplomacy: Geoffrey Berridge, an emeritus professor of diplomatic history at Britain’s Leicester University, says that the aftereffects of the WikiLeaks revelations are likely to be short-term — “as long as the experience is not repeated.” “What will inflict temporary damage on U.S. prestige is the fact it was stupid enough to allow such wide circulation of such material in the electronic age,” he says…. – Radio Free Europe, 12-3-10
  • Toobin: First Amendment may not protect WikiLeaks: Since this summer, WikiLeaks has published huge tranches of classified U.S. intelligence. The online organization’s actions have ignited fierce debate over whether the First Amendment’s free speech rights will keep its members and its founder, Julian Assange, safe from prosecution. Jeffrey Toobin , CNN’s senior legal analyst, says federal prosecutors could pursue criminal charges against Assange, an Australian citizen. Lawyers for the U.S. government could argue WikiLeaks and Assange have jeopardized national security and make their case. Further, Interpol has recently named the 39-year-old Assange in a most-wanted persons alert. That alert is related to a sex crimes investigation of Assange in Sweden, not to the WikiLeaks affair. Assange’s whereabouts, at the time this story was published, is unknown…. – CNN, 12-1-10
  • Missing the point of WikiLeaks: DAVID BROOK’s recent column and Ross Douthat’s reply to my defence of WikiLeaks have helped me to pin down and articulate the source of a nagging but previously inchoate sense that somehow we’re all missing the bigger picture. Let me start by suggesting that the politicians and pundits calling for Julian Assange’s head are playing into his hands. As all eyes track the international albino of mystery, the human and physical infrastructure of a much larger, more distributed movement continues to expand and consolidate far beyond the spotlight. If Mr Assange is murdered tomorrow, if WikiLeaks’ servers are cut off for a few hours, or a few days, or forever, nothing fundamental is really changed. With or without WikiLeaks, the technology exists to allow whistleblowers to leak data and documents while maintaining anonymity. With or without WikiLeaks, the personel, technical know-how, and ideological will exists to enable anonymous leaking and to make this information available to the public. Jailing Thomas Edison in 1890 would not have darkened the night.
    Yet the debate over WikiLeaks has proceeded as if the matter might conclude with the eradication of these kinds of data dumps—as if this is a temporary glitch in the system that can be fixed; as if this is a nuisance that can be made to go away with the application of sufficient government gusto. But I don’t think the matter can end this way. Just as technology has made it easier for governments and corporations to snoop ever more invasively into the private lives of individuals, it has also made it easier for individuals, working alone or together, to root through and make off with the secret files of governments and corporations. WikiLeaks is simply an early manifestation of what I predict will be a more-or-less permanent feature of contemporary life, and a more-or-less permanent constraint on strategies of secret-keeping…. – Economist, 12-1-10

Political Highlights November 29, 2010: Wikileaks Releases New State Documents, Thanksgiving and Stitches at the Obama White House & Sarah Palin Releases “American by Heart”

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:

Image: Obama pardons a turkey

STATS & POLLS

  • Poll: Sarah Palin can’t beat Obama. But Mitt Romney can. Sarah Palin is the front-runner for the GOP nomination in 2012, according to a new Quinnipiac survey. But the poll indicates she wouldn’t win the general election: Sarah Palin can’t beat Barack Obama. But Mitt Romney can – beat Mr. Obama, that is. Except he won’t get the chance, because he can’t beat Ms. Palin to get the chance to run against Obama. Let’s start at the beginning. In a new Quinnipiac poll of GOP 2012 front-runners, Palin would lose a head-to-head matchup with Obama, if it were held today. She would win 40 percent of the vote, and Obama would get 48 percent, according to Quinnipiac survey respondents. But that does not mean Obama is in a strong position. Far from it. By 49 to 43 percent, the respondents to Quinnipiac said that the president does not deserve a second term. Mr. Romney would edge Obama by 45 to 44 percent, according to the Quinnipiac survey. Mike Huckabee would effectively tie with the incumbent US chief executive…. – CS Monitor, 11-22-10

THE HEADLINES….

  • Leaked Cables Uncloak U.S. Diplomacy: A cache of a quarter-million confidential American diplomatic cables, most of them from the past three years, provides an unprecedented look at backroom bargaining by embassies around the world, brutally candid views of foreign leaders and frank assessments of nuclear and terrorist threats.
    Some of the cables, made available to The New York Times and several other news organizations, were written as recently as late February, revealing the Obama administration’s exchanges over crises and conflicts. The material was originally obtained by WikiLeaks, an organization devoted to revealing secret documents. WikiLeaks intends to make the archive public on its Web site in batches, beginning Sunday…. – NYT, 11-28-10
  • State Secrets: A cache of diplomatic cables provide a chronicle of the United States’ relations with the world: About the Documents A mammoth cache of a quarter-million confidential American diplomatic cables, most of them from the last three years, provides an unprecedented look at bargaining by embassies, candid views of foreign leaders and assessments of threats. The material was obtained by WikiLeaks and made available to a number of news organizations in advance….. – NYT, 11-28-10
  • Cables Shine Light Into Secret Diplomatic Channels: A huge trove of State Department communiqués offer an extraordinary look at the inner workings, and sharp elbows, of diplomacy…. – NYT, 11-28-10
  • Around the World, Distress Over Iran: Diplomatic cables show how two presidents have dealt with Iran and how President Obama built support for a harsher package of sanctions…. – NYT, 11-28-10
  • Iran Is Fortified With North Korean Aid: American intelligence assessments say that Iran has obtained Russian-designed missiles that are much more powerful than other weapons in its arsenal…. – NYT, 11-28-10
  • Mixing Diplomacy With Spying: State Department personnel were told to gather the credit card and frequent-flier numbers, schedules and other personal data of foreign officials…. – NYT, 11-28-10
  • Documents: Selected Dispatches: Cables obtained by WikiLeaks offer a huge sampling of the daily traffic between the State Department and 270 embassies and consulates worldwide…. – NYT, 11-28-10
  • U.S. Expands Role of Diplomats in Spying: The United States has expanded the role of American diplomats in collecting intelligence overseas and at the United Nations, ordering State Department personnel to gather the credit card and frequent-flier numbers, work schedules and other personal information of foreign dignitaries. Revealed in classified State Department cables, the directives, going back to 2008, appear to blur the traditional boundaries between statesmen and spies…. – NYT, 11-28-10
  • WikiLeaks: Clinton ordered probe on UN chief Secret files show Washington wanted to find links between UN members, terror groups: WikiLeaks revealed Sunday that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ordered a probe on UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, as well as an investigation on possible ties between UN members and terror groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah.
    “Washington wanted intelligence on the contentious issue of the ‘relationship or funding between UN personnel and/or missions and terrorist organizations’ and links between the UN Relief and Works Agency in the Middle East, and Hamas and Hezbollah,” the British Guardian reported, citing the documents leaked by the controversial Web entity.
    Washington also sent out orders signed by Clinton or Rice (aka Condoleezza Rice, Clinton’s predecessor) ordering diplomats to gather “biographic and biometric” on various UN officials, including Ban, the report says.
    It adds that the US may have “blurred the line between diplomacy and spying”, and that the country’s relations with the UN may now suffer due to the publication of the secret orders…. – YNet News, 11-28-10
  • WikiLeaks: Leaked cables reveal the rough workings of diplomacy: WikiLeaks gave some 250,000 confidential and secret diplomatic cables to several news outlets, which published them Sunday. The leaks could prove embarrassing and potentially dangerous. After days of anticipation and unheeded warnings from the Obama administration, the huge and controversial data dump from whistle-blower website WikiLeaks is being published and broadcast. As reported by the New York Times (which, along with the British newspaper the Guardian and the German news magazine Der Spiegel, began revealing the data Sunday afternoon), the cache of a quarter-million confidential American diplomatic cables “provides an unprecedented look at backroom bargaining by embassies around the world, brutally candid views of foreign leaders and frank assessments of nuclear and terrorist threats.”… – CS Monitor, 11-28-10
  • Obama back on basketball court two days after busting lip, shoots hoops with daughters Malia, Sasha: President Barack Obama got back on the basketball court Sunday, shaking off his lip injury to take on two tough opponents: his kids. Obama brought daughters Malia, 12, and Sasha, 9, to a gym in the Interior Department building for an early morning game, according to the White House. He seemed in good spirits, despite getting 12 stitches in his lower lip on Friday after taking an elbow to the face during a game with family and friends at Fort McNair. The stray elbow belonged to Rey Decerega, director of programs for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, who said in a press release from the White House that the President was a “tough competitor and a good sport.” “I’m sure he’ll be back out on the court again soon,” Decerega said after the incident.
    Sure enough, Obama and his daughters were all smiles on the court on Sunday, capping off an eventful weekend in which all eyes were on the President’s lip. Known for his jump shot in high school as “Barry O’bomber,” the President is an avid basketball player, and is often snapped throwing the ball around with his family…. – NY Daily News, 11-28-10
  • Obama: “Real and Honest Discussion” on Expiring Tax Cuts: President Obama says he wants a “real and honest discussion” at the White House on Tuesday morning, as Democratic and Republican House and Senate leaders meet to talk about the expiring Bush tax cuts and other issues. In his weekly address, the President said, “I believe that if we stop talking at one another, and start talking with one another, we can get a lot done.” The main point of contention is what to do with the tax rates for American families making over $250,000. Republicans say they should be included in any tax cut extensions. The top Senate Republican, Mitch McConnell, who is expected to attend the meeting at the White House on Tuesday, said last week, “Americans don’t think we should be raising taxes on anybody, especially in the middle of a recession.” But President Obama and Congressional Democrats, who argue the government can’t afford to lose tax money coming in from the wealthy, want to extend the tax cuts for those families making $250,000 or less, about 98% of taxpayers. The tax cuts expire at the end of this year…. – Fox News, 11-27-10
  • Horse-drawn wagon delivers White House Christmas tree: A horse-drawn wagon delivered the White House Christmas tree on Friday, with first lady Michelle Obama and her children Sasha and Malia on hand to receive it as a military band played “Oh Christmas Tree.” The family gave the tree — a Douglas fir from Lehighton, Pennsylvania — a thumbs up before heading back into the White House on a cool day under overcast skies…. – Reuters, 11-26-10
  • Obama’s lip busted in basketball game The president receives 12 stitches after being elbowed during a post-Thanksgiving pickup game: Presidential politics can be a bloody business, but it was a friendly basketball game Friday that gave President Obama a cut on his lip that required 12 stitches. Playing in a post-Thanksgiving pickup game with visiting family members and personal aide Reggie Love, Obama caught an elbow to the lip. The injury was treated by the medical unit located on the first floor of the White House. Obama was given a local anesthetic. The medical staff used a procedure that required more stitches than usual in an effort to minimize the scar. The White House did not name the player who bloodied the presidential lip, though in Washington’s hothouse media environment, that name isn’t likely to stay secret for long…. – LAT, 11-26-10
  • Obama Gets 12 Stitches in Lip After Basketball Mishap: President Barack Obama got 12 stitches in his lip after being injured during a basketball game, spokesman Robert Gibbs said. “After being inadvertently hit with an opposing player’s elbow in the lip while playing basketball with friends and family, the president received 12 stitches today administered by the White House medical unit,” Gibbs said in a statement. The president played basketball for about 90 minutes at a gym at Fort McNair in Washington…. – Bloomberg, 11-26-10
  • US says joint South Korea war games ‘not directed’ at China: The United States sought Friday to reassure China over joint US-South Korean military exercises, with the Pentagon insisting the war games were “not directed” at Beijing. The four-day exercises starting Sunday come in the wake of North Korea’s artillery bombardment of a South Korean island, and will include a US aircraft carrier in a bid to deter the North.
    “The Chinese government was informed of our intent to conduct this naval exercise in the areas west of the Korean Peninsula,” said Pentagon spokesman Darryn James. “It is important to point out that this exercise is not directed at China. As with previous exercises in this series, these operations are defensive in nature and designed to strengthen deterrence against North Korea,” he said…. – India Times, 11-27-10
  • North Korea Issues Warning: Tension mounted Friday near a South Korean island bombarded this week by North Korea, as the North’s military again fired artillery, this time in what appeared to be a drill on its own territory. As an American aircraft carrier steamed toward the Yellow Sea for joint exercises with South Korea, the North’s state- run media warned that the maneuvers could push the Korean Peninsula closer to “the brink of war,” while China also raised objections. South Korea, meanwhile, was struggling with domestic political fallout from Tuesday’s deadly attack, which exposed the weakness of South Korean defenses and brought criticism of President Lee Myung-bak for failing to retaliate more forcefully. On Friday, he appointed a new defense minister, whose predecessor resigned Thursday for failing to keep forces ready in an area that has been the site of repeated military clashes with North Korea…. – NYT, 11-26-10
  • Co-founder of Libertarian Party dies in Arizona: Libertarian Party co-founder David F. Nolan died unexpectedly in Arizona after making runs in recent years for the U.S. Senate and House, the party said Friday. He was 66. Nolan died unexpectedly Sunday in Tucson, where he lived, according to a statement released by the party in Washington. His cause of death remained unclear.
    Nolan helped found the party with a group of colleagues at his home in Denver on Dec. 11, 1971, the statement said. “He not only helped found the Libertarian Party but remained active and helped to guide our party for the last 40 years,” Mark Hinkle, chairman of the Libertarian Party, said in the statement. “We are now the third-largest political party in America, and one of the most persistent and successful third parties in American history, thanks in large part to David Nolan,” he said…. – AP, 11-26-10
  • WikiLeaks has a new batch of classified files: The documents, believed to include thousands of diplomatic cables between the U.S. and other countries, could be released this weekend. The State Department says international relations could be harmed…. – LAT, 11-25-10
  • U.S. embassies warn allies of possible fallout from new WikiLeaks disclosure: U.S. embassies around the world are warning allies that WikiLeaks might be poised to release classified cables that could negatively impact relations by revealing sensitive assessments and exposing U.S. sources, a State Department spokesman said Thursday. The State Department has prepared for the possible release – which WikiLeaks has said would be seven times larger than the Iraq files released last month – by reviewing thousands of diplomatic cables and “assessing the potential consequences of the public release of these documents,” spokesman P.J. Crowley said…. – WaPo, 11-25-10
  • Judge Has Many Options in Sentencing Ex-Rep. DeLay: Former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay argued throughout his trial that the deck was stacked against him by a politically motivated prosecutor and a jury from the most Democratic city in one of the most Republican states. But following DeLay’s conviction Wednesday on money laundering and conspiracy charges, some legal experts say the edge may now shift to the Republican who represented a conservative Houston suburb for 22 years. Before DeLay’s inevitable appeal, which his lawyers predict will be a far friendlier process than his trial, he faces sentencing next month from Senior Judge Pat Priest. While technically the money laundering charge carries a punishment of up to life in prison, the judge has wide latitude and could end up just giving him probation…. – AP, 11-25-10
  • Obama spares turkeys ‘shellacking’ he got at polls Following decades-old tradition, president pardons ‘Cider’ and ‘Apple’ in Rose Garden ceremony: It’s official: President Barack Obama has pardoned the National Thanksgiving Turkey. Continuing a decades-old White House tradition, Obama issued pardons Wednesday to a gobbler named “Apple” and its alternate, “Cider.’ The two 21-week-old, 45-pound turkeys were raised on a California farm. Obama said it “feels pretty good to stop at least one shellacking this November.”… – AP, 11-25-10
  • Obama pardons 2 turkeys on Thanksgiving Eve: A good-natured President Barack Obama on Wednesday spared the lives of two turkeys that played their own parts perfectly. In what has become a Thanksgiving-eve ritual, Obama offered a presidential pardon to “Apple” and its pal “Cider.” The turkeys remained calm and statesmanlike as the president blessed them with a pointed reminder of his own recent political woes. “Let me say,” Obama said, “that it feels pretty good to stop at least one shellacking this November.” Officially, Apple is now the National Thanksgiving Turkey. Cider is the feathered understudy. Both of the 21-week-old birds were raised on the Foster Farms’ Wellsford Ranch, outside of Modesto, Calif. Both will now live out their remaining days at Mount Vernon, George Washington’s home. The turkeys will be part of a special holiday display through Jan. 6, and then will live with the estate’s other livestock…. – Miami Herald, 11-24-10
  • Obama to call China’s Hu over Korean crisis: With top U.S. officials continuing to declare that help from China will be key in calming tensions between North and South Korea, President Obama is planning to call Chinese President Hu Jintao in the next few days to discuss the critical situation, according to senior administration officials. The phone call will come just days after Obama held a bilateral meeting with Hu on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Seoul, South Korea, where administration officials were quick to tout the fact that it was the seventh face-to-face meeting the two leaders have had since Obama took office. “I think that the region looks to the United States, with respect to China, to engage in a positive, constructive relationship with China,” White House National Security Adviser Tom Donilon told reporters in Asia earlier this month. “We obviously pursue our interest; they pursue their interest. But I think the region looks to us to engage that relationship and manage that relationship in a positive and constructive way.”… – CNN, 11-24-10
  • DeLay Is Convicted in Texas Donation Case: Tom DeLay, one of the most powerful and divisive Republican lawmakers ever to come out of Texas, was convicted Wednesday of money-laundering charges in a state trial, five years after his indictment here forced him to resign as majority leader in the House of Representatives. After 19 hours of deliberation, a jury of six men and six women decided that Mr. DeLay was guilty of conspiring with two associates in 2002 to circumvent a state law against corporate contributions to political campaigns. He was convicted of one charge of money laundering and one charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering…. – NYT, 11-24-10
  • US warns of likely harm from WikiLeaks release: The Obama administration said Wednesday it has alerted Congress and begun notifying foreign governments that the WikiLeaks website is preparing to release sensitive U.S. diplomatic files that could damage U.S. relations with friends and allies across the globe. “These revelations are harmful to the United States and our interests,” State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said. “They are going to create tension in relationships between our diplomats and our friends around the world.”… – AP, 11-24-10
  • Obama touts Chrysler rebound during Indiana visit: A week after General Motors made a showy return to Wall Street, President Obama highlighted the revival of the other bailed-out auto company during a trip to an Indiana transmission factory. The campaign-style visit to a Chrysler plant here, a city battered by plant closures, was meant to underscore the message that the stimulus, the auto-company bailouts and other federal measures had prevented even worse economic devastation. The unemployment rate in Kokomo has dropped from 20 percent last year to 12 percent, thanks in part to $400 million in stimulus money and the rescue of General Motors and Chrysler, administration officials said.
    “No, we aren’t out of the woods yet,” Obama said at the plant. “It took a lot of years to get us into this mess. It will take longer than anybody would like to get us out. But I want everybody to be absolutely clear, we are moving in the right direction.”… – WaPo, 11-23-10
  • Obama Meets with Top Advisers on Korea Situation: U.S. President Barack Obama met Tuesday with his top advisers about the situation on the Korean peninsula, in the wake of North Korea’s artillery attack on a South Korean island. Obama is expected to telephone South Korean President Lee Myung-bak to reiterate U.S. support for South Korea. Immediately upon his return to the White House from a brief trip to the Midwestern state of Indiana, the president went into a meeting of his national security team. According to a White House statement, National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, and Secretaries of State and Defense Hillary Clinton and Robert Gates were among those taking part…. – VOA, 11-23-10
  • Obama Is Preparing New Overtures to Counter Anti-Business Image: President Barack Obama is preparing new overtures to business that may start with a walk into the headquarters of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a retreat with corporate chief executive officers, according to people familiar with his plans. The Obama administration has been at odds with the Chamber, which fought Obama’s health-care and financial regulatory overhauls and committed $75 million to political ads in the midterm congressional elections, mainly directed against Democrats. The CEO summit would be a way to address complaints from some executives the Democratic administration is anti- business. The Chamber had invited Obama to speak on Dec. 2 and the administration hadn’t yet replied when the Chamber canceled the event, said an administration official. The cancellation wasn’t related to the president’s potential participation, said a Chamber official who declined to be identified….. – Bloomberg, 11-23-10
  • Sarah Palin’s attacks on Barack Obama get personal in new book In America by Heart, Palin tackles race and Obama’s former pastor as well as liberals and being unpatriotic: Sarah Palin’s new book, America by Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith and Flag, added to indications she will seek the Republican nomination for the 2012 election. Sarah Palin’s new book published tomorrow reads like a dress rehearsal for a campaign against Barack Obama for the White House in 2012, making pointed criticism not just of his policies but about his personal life. In America by Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith and Flag, Palin tackles areas that even Obama’s 2008 Republican challenger, John McCain, regarded as off-limits: race and Obama’s incendiary former pastor, the Rev Jeremiah Wright. In a lengthy passage, she questions whether Obama is proud of America. “I think ordinary Americans are tired of Obama’s global apology tour and of hearing about what a weak country America is from left-wing professors and journalists,” Palin says…. – Guardian UK, 11-22-10

111TH & 112TH CONGRESS

  • Full agenda as Congress tries to finish for year: The unemployed and millionaires. Doctors and black farmers. Illegal immigrants hiding from the law and gays hiding in the military. Along with just about everybody else, they all have something at stake as Congress struggles to wrap up its work for the year. Lawmakers, after taking Thanksgiving week off, arrive in town Monday along with the Capitol Christmas tree for the final stretch of the postelection session. Facing a daunting agenda, they could have that tree in their sights well into Christmas week. At the top of the to-do list are the George W. Bush-era tax cuts, enacted in 2001 and 2003 and due to expire at year’s end. President Barack Obama and most Democrats want to retain them for any couple earning $250,000 or less a year. Republicans are bent on making them permanent for everybody, including the richest. The cuts apply to rates on wage income as well as to dividends and capital gains. A failure to act would mean big tax increases for people at every income level. Obama has scheduled a meeting at the White House with Republican leaders on Tuesday, and possible options for compromise will be on the table, including providing a temporary extension for the wealthy….. – AP, 11-28-10
  • DC voting rights effort appears doomed: Advocates of voting rights for D.C. in the House of Representatives say the Republican takeover of Congress appears to have doomed their efforts for now. The D.C. voting rights push had momentum in 2008 after the election of President Barack Obama. But House leaders decided to pull a voting rights bill from the floor this year rather than have it coupled with a measure to weaken D.C.’s gun laws. Now, former Congressman Tom Davis of Virginia puts the chances of voting rights getting through Congress as “zero.” Davis was the lead Republican supporter of voting rights before he retired in 2008, and he says Democrats missed their best chance this year. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, who sits on committees but can’t vote on the House floor, is not as pessimistic as Davis. She says she’s looking forward to meeting with new House Speaker John Boehner…. – AP, 11-28-10
  • Lame duck cuts Congress’ break short: Once again, the Capitol could be in for a long winter. Senate aides and senators believe that adjournment this year will be close to Christmas – again. And House Republicans are signaling that they’ll begin their legislating right after the Jan. 5 swearing-in of new members. And with the House planning to come into session in early January, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) might feel pressure to bring the Democratic-led upper chamber back into session around the same time. The result? A short vacation for Washington. “Voters sent a clear message on Election Day that not only didn’t they approve of the policies being pursued by Democrats, but that they expect Congress to listen and shape up,” said Brad Dayspring, a spokesman for incoming Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), explaining the GOP’s desire to get a quick start…. – Politico, 11-24-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • Palin says Iowa book signing stop not political: Hundreds turned out for a Sarah Palin book signing in Iowa, an event the former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate insisted was not for political purposes. Palin’s stop Saturday at the Borders in West Des Moines brought her back to Iowa, which hosts the caucuses that kick off the presidential nominating season. The “American by Heart” author has hinted that she’s considering a 2012 presidential run, but says the visit was to promote her new book and that’s all. Security was tight, and Palin did no media interviews….. – AP, 11-28-10
  • Is Sarah Palin’s new book a bid for the White House in 2012?: Sarah Palin, the former governor of Alaska and former Republican vice-presidential candidate is publishing a new book called America By Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith and Flag. Her first book, Going Rogue, sold two million copies. She has yet to reveal whether she intends to run for president in 2012, but some see this book as a strong hint…. – BBC, 11-27-10
  • California’s ailing Republicans: A dying breed?: Republicans are relishing the coming of a new day on Capitol Hill. But across the country in California, the party of Nixon and Reagan is drifting toward obscurity. The latest sign of imperiled health: In a year Republicans notched big victories in Congress, governor’s offices and statehouses around the nation, California Democrats made a clean sweep of eight statewide contests on Nov. 2. Democrats padded their majority in the Legislature, where the party controls both chambers and no congressional seats changed parties. California counted more registered Republicans in 1988 than it does today, even though the state population has since grown by about 10 million. Setting aside the politically ambidextrous Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose celebrity eclipsed his Republican registration, the California GOP counts only a single victory in 21 statewide contests since 2002 – that of insurance commissioner in 2006. You’d have to go back more than two decades to find a Republican, George H.W. Bush, who carried the state in a presidential election. “They know who we are and they don’t like us,” former state Republican Party Chairman Duf Sundheim says bluntly. “The brand of the Republican Party in California is tarnished.”…. – WaPo, 11-28-10
  • McNerney takes 11th Congressional District; Harmer yet to concede: Rep. Jerry McNerney has won the race to retain his 11th Congressional District seat. The latest ballot-tallying updates from the most populous part of the district showed McNerney, D-Pleasanton, again had widened his lead over Republican challenger David Harmer to a margin of 2,475 votes, or about 1 percent of the 237,808 ballots counted. The Associated Press reported fewer than 1,900 ballots remained to be counted. McNerney declared victory Nov. 10, when he was up by 1,681 votes, about seven-tenths of a percent. Harmer, an attorney from San Ramon’s Dougherty Valley area, has yet to concede, and recently attended the GOP’s freshman orientation on Capitol Hill. Harmer’s campaign spokesman didn’t return phone calls and an e-mail Wednesday…. – Mercury News, 11-24-10
  • Democratic Rep. Jim Costa holds on to Calif. seat: Democratic Rep. Jim Costa has narrowly won enough votes to retain his seat in a California district where Democrats hold a 20-point registration advantage. Costa, a conservative Democrat, beat Republican Andy Vidak, a farmer running for his first political office, in the 20th Congressional District. With just a small number of ballots outstanding Tuesday – three weeks after Election Day – Costa had a lead of 3,031 votes over Vidak, 51.7 percent to 48.2 percent…. – AP, 11-23-10
  • President Palin? Don’t dare dismiss it Could Prime Minister David Cameron shake hands with President Sarah Palin in two years’ time?: Before explaining why, let me interject: it is not just Brits who cringe at the prospect of the Alaskan matriarch running for the White House, let alone winning. Plenty of Americans, by no means all of them Democrats, were horrified when Palin last week all but confirmed that she would bid for the 2012 Republican nomination. But with her ineffable talent for publicity, she is proving impossible to ignore. Every speech, every tweet, every Facebook posting, every political endorsement makes headlines….
    With the recession enduring, and Obama and the Democrats over-reaching with healthcare reform, these are propitious times for a populist such as Palin, especially one from a frontier state that reinforces the nation’s pioneering spirit. Moreover, the Republican field for the nomination is, to her benefit, wide open. There is no outstanding candidate and her rivals are all men, who will be wary of criticising not only the only woman among them, but the only candidate with a solid nationwide following…. – Telegraph UK, 11-23-10
  • And Then There Were Two: 2010 Midterms Almost Over: The 2010 midterms are almost, almost over. With five House races and one Senate race yet to be decided this morning, two concessions and an executive decision by the Associated Press have narrowed things down. Democratic Rep. Jim Costa has held onto his seat in Fresno, California, the Associated Press declared Tuesday evening, fending off a challenge from Republican Andy Vidak. Costa led by over 3,000 votes after Election Day. That leaves Republicans’ total 2010 House gains at 63, with only two House races still undecided. Democrats are poised to hold onto their seats in those races…. – The Atlantic, 11-23-10
  • Factbox: Five House races still undecided: Nearly three weeks after Republicans swept Democrats from power in the U.S. House of Representatives, five House races remain undecided and the winners might not be clear for days — or longer…. – Reuters, 11-22-10
  • Mike Huckabee in Iowa: There’s no timetable for 2012 decision: Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said in Iowa on Sunday that he is considering a 2012 presidential campaign, but he stopped short of giving a time frame for a decision as other prospective candidates have done. “I’m not on a timetable. I’m not on somebody’s calendar to say this is the time when I have to decide,” Huckabee said at a news conference before headlining a meeting of evangelical conservatives in Des Moines. “Am I keeping the option open? Yes. Am I open to it, considering it and giving, you know, thought? Of course. I think it would be foolish not to in light of having been through it, understanding what it’s about.”… – Des Moines Register, 11-22-10

QUOTES

The President records the Weekly Address
White House Photo, Lawrence Jackson, 11/24/10
  • Weekly Address: President Obama Delivers Thanksgiving Greeting:
    Today, like millions of other families across America, Michelle, Malia, Sasha and I will sit down to share a Thanksgiving filled with family and friends – and a few helpings of food and football, too. And just as folks have done in every Thanksgiving since the first, we’ll spend some time taking stock of what we’re thankful for: the God-given bounty of America, and the blessings of one another.
    This is also a holiday that captures that distinctly American impulse to give something of ourselves. Even as we speak, there are countless Americans serving at soup kitchens and food pantries; contributing to their communities; and standing guard around the world.
    And in a larger sense, that’s emblematic of what Americans have always done. We come together and do what’s required to make tomorrow better than today. That’s who we are.
    Consider our journey since that first Thanksgiving. We are among the world’s youngest of peoples, but time and again, we have boldly and resiliently led the way forward. Against tough odds, we are a people who endure – who explored and settled a vast and untamed continent; who built a powerful economy and stood against tyranny in all its forms; who marched and fought for equality, and connected a globe with our own science and imagination.
    None of that progress was predestined. None of it came easily. Instead, the blessings for which we give thanks today are the product of choices made by our parents, and grandparents, and generations before – whose determination and sacrifice ensured a better future for us.
    This holiday season, we must resolve once more to do the same.
    This is not the hardest Thanksgiving America has ever faced. But as long as many members of our American family are hurting, we’ve got to look out for one another. As long as many of our sons and daughters and husbands and wives are at war, we’ve got to support their mission and honor their service. And as long as many of our friends and neighbors are looking for work, we’ve got to do everything we can to accelerate this recovery and keep our economy moving forward.
    And we will. But we won’t do it as any one political party. We’ve got to do it as one people. And in the coming weeks and months, I hope that we can work together, Democrats and Republicans and Independents alike, to make progress on these and other issues.
    That’s why, next week, I’ve invited the leadership of both parties to the White House for a real and honest discussion – because I believe that if we stop talking at one another, and start talking with one another, we can get a lot done.
    For what we are called to do again today isn’t about Democrats or Republicans. It’s not about left or right. It’s about us. It’s about what we know this country is capable of. It’s about what we want America to be in this new century.
    A vibrant nation that makes sure its children are the best-educated in the world. A healthy, growing economy that runs on clean energy and creates the jobs of tomorrow. A responsible government that reduces its deficits. An America where every citizen is able to go as far as he or she desires.
    We can do all this, because we’ve done it before. We’re made of the same sturdy stuff as the travelers who sat down to the first Thanksgiving, and all who came after – who worked, and sacrificed, and invested, because they believed that their efforts would make the difference for us.
    That’s who we are. We shape our own destiny with conviction, compassion, and clear and common purpose. We honor our past and press forward with the knowledge that tomorrow will be better than today. We are Americans. That’s the vision we won’t lose sight of. That’s the legacy that falls to our generation. That’s the challenge that together, we are going to meet.
    To every American, I am thankful for the privilege of being your President. To all our service members stationed around the world, I am honored to be your Commander-in-Chief. And from the Obama family to yours, have a very Happy Thanksgiving. Thank you. – WH, 11-25-10
  • Michelle Obama: Giving Thanks and Giving Back:
    Thanksgiving is a great opportunity to come together with family and friends to give thanks for all the blessings in our lives. It’s also an important time to be thankful for our men and women in uniform and their families who risk everything so that we can be safe and free. And we must also remember those in our community who are in need of our help and support — especially during these tough economic times.
    In our family, we have a tradition: Every year on the day before Thanksgiving, we take some time as a family to help out people in our community who are in need. Today, we’re handing out turkeys, stuffing, pumpkin pies and all the Thanksgiving fixings with our friends and family at Martha’s Table, a local non-profit organization.
    This Thanksgiving, I encourage all Americans to find a way to give back — and maybe even start a family tradition of your own. Whether you volunteer at a local soup kitchen, visit the elderly at a nursing home or reach out to a neighbor or friend who comes from a military family, there are plenty of ways to get involved in your community. If you’re not sure how to get started, visit Serve.gov.
    President Obama and I wish you and your family a very happy and safe Thanksgiving.
    Sincerely,
    Michelle Obama
    First Lady of the United States WH, 11-24-10
  • Remarks by the President Pardoning the National Thanksgiving Turkey: THE PRESIDENT: Please, everybody, have a seat. Good morning.
    AUDIENCE: Good morning.
    THE PRESIDENT: I have my two trusty assistants here — (laughter) — Malia and Sasha for one of the most important duties that I carry out as President.
    Before everybody heads home for Thanksgiving, there is one official duty I am sworn to uphold as the leader of the most powerful nation on Earth. Today, I have the awesome responsibility of granting a presidential pardon to a pair of turkeys. Now, for the record, let me say that it feels pretty good to stop at least one shellacking this November. (Laughter.)
    This year’s national turkey goes by the name of Apple, and his feathered understudy is appropriately named Cider. They are being presented today by the Chairman of the National Turkey Federation, Yubert Envia — and I want to just point out that Yubert seems very comfortable with that turkey. (Laughter.) As well as the man who helped raise and handle them since birth, Ira Brister. Where’s Ira? There’s Ira. Give Ira a big round of applause for raising such outstanding turkeys. (Applause.) I want to thank you both for joining us here at the White House.
    Now, Apple and Cider came to us from the Foster Farms Wellsford Ranch, just outside of Modesto, California. Out of about 20,000 turkeys born at Foster Farms this summer, 25 were selected for a final competition that involved strutting their stuff before a panel of judges with an eclectic mix of music playing in the background. (Laughter.) It’s kind of like a turkey version of “Dancing With the Stars” — (laughter) — except the stakes for the contestants was much higher. (Laughter.)
    Only one pair would survive and win the big prize: life — (laughter) — and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, where they’ve been living it up on corn feed at the W hotel. The W hotel has really been putting them up. (Laughter.) It’s great advertising. (Laughter.) It makes you want to stay at the W. (Laughter.) And after today, Apple and Cider will spend their retirement at the same beautiful place our first President spent his –- Mount Vernon, Virginia…. – WH, 11-24-10
  • Pardoning the National Thanksgiving Turkey: This, of course, is what’s truly meant by Thanksgiving -– a holiday that asks us to be thankful for what we have, and generous to those who have less. It’s a time to spend with the ones we love, and a chance to show compassion and concern to people we’ve never met. It’s a tradition that’s brought us together as a community since before we were a nation, when the ground we’re standing on was nothing but wilderness.
    Back then, the simple act of survival was often the greatest blessing of all. And later, President Lincoln declared the first national day of Thanksgiving in the midst of the Civil War. During the depths of the Great Depression, local businesses gave donations and charities opened their doors to families who didn’t have a place to celebrate Thanksgiving. In times of war, our military has gone through great lengths to give our men and women on the front lines a turkey dinner and a taste of home.
    So in America, we come together when times are hard. We don’t give up. We don’t complain. And we don’t turn our backs on one another. Instead, we look out for another and we pitch in and we give what we can. And in the process, we reveal to the world what we love so much about this country.
    That’s who we are. And that’s who Thanksgiving reminds us to be. So I hope everyone takes some time during this holiday season to give back and serve their community in some way. And I also want to take a moment to say how grateful I am to the men and women who are serving this country bravely and selflessly in places far away from home right now. You and your families are in our thoughts and in our prayers, and you make me so very proud to be your Commander-in-Chief. – WH, 11-24-10
  • Obama sets out to defend record (including health care): “The fact is, is that we stabilized the financial system,” Obama said during the interview broadcast on ABC’s 20/20. “We turned an economy that was contracting to one that was growing. We have added a million jobs over the last year to the economy.”
    I am absolutely confident that when we fully implemented health care, and we started to see those costs go down and we have seen people who don’t have health insurance get health insurance, and we have seen families who have health insurance more secure and they are not being jerked around by arbitrary rules from their insurance companies, that that’s gonna be a lasting legacy that I am extraordinarily proud of.
    We haven’t seen all the progress that they said they were going to engage in. So part of what we’re doing right now is monitoring: have, in fact, all the political prisoners who they said were going to be released, have they been released?
    Step by step, we’re exploring other ways that we can break the impasse. But my watchword is how do we assure freedom and dignity for the Cuban people? And if in fact Cuba’s ready to turn a corner, I think they will find a welcome partner in the United States of America. But we’re not there yet…. – USA Today, 11-27-10
  • Obama to ABC’s Barbara Walters: Pursuing an overhaul of the nation’s health care system was worth the time and effort. “That’s going to be a lasting legacy that I am extraordinarily proud of,” Obama says.
    The first family says grace together every night it can. “In the end we always say, ‘We hope we live long and strong,’” Michelle Obama says.
    Thanksgiving at the White House was a family-and-friends affair, but the guests didn’t have to contribute. “The Secret Service would have to taste everything,” the president quips…. – USA Today, 11-26-10
  • Exclusive: President Barack and Michelle Obama Reflect on Tenure President and First Lady Open Up to Barbara Walters on Family Life, Thanksgiving Traditions: “This is gonna be something that evolves. We are gonna have to work on it,” Obama told Barbara Walters, indicating the need for new technologies. “I understand people’s frustrations with it, but I also know that if there was an explosion in the air that killed a couple of hundred people…and it turned out that we could have prevented it possibly… that would be something that would be pretty upsetting to most of us — including me.”…. – ABC News, 11-26-10
  • Obama to ABC: Pat-downs worth the price: President Obama says full-body screenings and extensive pat-downs are part of an evolving air travel security strategy that’s needed to prevent further acts of terrorism. Obama tells ABC’s Barbara Walters that and more on a Thanksgiving special airing at 10 p.m. ET tonight. “This is going to be something that evolves. We are going to have to work on it,” Obama says, indicating the need for new technologies. “I understand people’s frustrations with it, but I also know that if there was an explosion in the air that killed a couple of hundred people … and it turned out that we could have prevented it possibly … that would be something that would be pretty upsetting to most of us, including me.”… USA Today, 11-26-10
  • Obama Hints at Greater Focus on Education, Research: President Barack Obama defends his legislative priorities in an interview with ABC’s Barbara Walters that airs Friday night, while hinting at a greater focus on education and research in the future.
    “We have got a lot more work to do, but I am confident that if we make the investments we need to make sure our kids are getting the best education…if we are investing in our infrastructure…We have got a lot more work to do, but I am confident that if we are investing in research and development that continues to make us an innovation leader for the future, that we are gonna do great,” Mr. Obama says, according to excerpts released by ABC. “I am very, very confident that our best days are still ahead of us.” “This notion that somehow you can only do one thing at once is simply not true,” Mr. Obama said. “The fact is, is that we stabilized the financial system…we turned an economy that was contracting to one that was growing. We have added a million jobs over the last year to the economy…. “I am absolutely confident that when we fully implemented health care, and we started to see those costs go down and we have seen people who don’t have health insurance get health insurance, and we have seen families who have health insurance more secure and they are not being jerked around by arbitrary rules from their insurance companies, that that’s gonna be a lasting legacy that I am extraordinarily proud of,” he said. WSJ, 11-26-10
  • Sarah Palin: ‘We Gotta Stand With Our North Korean Allies’: Was it a simple blunder or did a possible 2012 presidential contender really get her geography wrong? That’s the question being debated after Sarah Palin said in an interview with Glenn Beck Wednesday that North Korea was a U.S. ally. When asked by Beck how she would handle a situation like the one that was developing in North Korea, Palin responded: “This is stemming from, I think, a greater problem when we’re all sitting around asking, ‘Oh no, what are we going to do,’ and we’re not having a lot of faith that the White House is going to come out with a strong enough policy to sanction what it is that North Korea is going to do.” It is unclear whether Palin is talking about sanctions against North Korea, or U.S. sanctioning — i.e. approving or supporting — its actions. Palin continued: “Obviously, we gotta stand with our North Korean allies,” when Beck interrupted and corrected her to say “South Korea.”… – ABC News, 11-25-10
  • Palin fires back at ‘blue-blood’ Barbara Bush: In an interview with Larry King, former first lady Barbara Bush said she hopes former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin chooses to stay in Alaska. “I sat next to her once, thought she was beautiful,” Bush said. “And I think she’s very happy in Alaska — and I hope she’ll stay there.” Also of note in the Larry King interview, former President George H.W. Bush said he is “confused” by the tea party, adding that he doesn’t “know what it really is.” Still, he said, “some of [their] ideas make a lot of sense.”… – WaPo, 11-24-10
  • Palin fires back at ‘blue-blood’ Barbara Bush: “I don’t want to concede that we have to get used to this kind of thing, because I don’t think the majority of Americans want to put up with the blue-bloods — and I want to say it will all due respect because I love the Bushes — the blue-bloods who want to pick and choose their winners instead of allowing competition,” Palin said.
    Palin also suggested that the Bushes upper-class status had contributed to “the economic policies that were in place that got us into these economic woeful times.”…. – WaPo, 11-24-10
  • Sarah Palin Hits George and Barbara Bush as Elite “Blue Bloods”: Appearing on Laura Ingraham’s radio show today, Sarah Palin said that while she “love[s] the Bushes,” she sees George H.W. and Barbara Bush as “blue bloods” who are trying to “pick and choose” the 2012 Republican presidential nominee for president. Palin replied that said elites don’t understand that “competition is good.” Efforts to “shoot internally” don’t make sense, Palin continued, but “that’s the way they roll.”
    “I don’t want to sort of concede that we have to get used to this kind of thing, because I don’t think the majority of Americans want to put up with the blue-bloods — and I say it with all due respect, because I love the Bushes — but the blue bloods who want to pick and chose their winners instead of allowing competition to pick and choose the winners.”
    “I don’t know if that kind of stuff is planned out, but it is what it is, we deal with it, and as I say we forge ahead and we keep doing what we’re doing,” Palin added. Top Republicans are reportedly working behind the scenes to keep Palin from winning the Republican nomination out of fears that the polarizing former vice presidential candidate would lose badly to President Obama in a general election.
    “Instead of a government thinking that they need to take over, make decisions for us according to some politician or politician’s wife’s priority, just leave us alone, get off our back, and allow us as individuals to exercise our own God-given rights to make our own decisions, and then our country gets back on the right track,” she said…. – CBS News, 11-24-10
  • Barack Obama reveals he doesn’t view Palin as a threat: President Barack Obama indicated he is not worried about a possible 2012 presidential contest against Sarah Palin, saying: “I don’t think about her.” A poll this week showed Mr Obama, right, leading Mrs Palin, left, by 48 per cent to 40 per cent…
    Barack Obama indicated that he was not worried about a possible 2012 presidential contest against Sarah Palin, saying: “I don’t think about her.” The US president said he had “respect for her skills” but dismissed the notion that he could be defeated by the former governor of Alaska in a race for the White House. He has previously avoided discussing such a contest, but he opened up during an interview with the veteran broadcaster Barbara Walters. Asked whether he could beat Mrs Palin in 2012, he said: “I don’t speculate on what’s going to happen two years from now.” When pressed, he said: “I don’t think about Sarah Palin. Obviously, Sarah Palin has a strong base of support in the Republican Party and I respect those skills. “But I spend most of my time right now on how I can be the best possible president.”… – Telegraph UK, 11-24-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Dear First Lady Michelle: And it’s not just the president who has captured their attention — his wife, Michelle, has, too. From our students’ perspective, Mrs. Obama is glamorous but accessible, maternal but cool. They trust her. So, earlier this fall, 826 National hosted a series of workshops inviting students to write to the first lady. The results were collected in the book “I Live Real Close to Where You Used to Live: Kids’ Letters to Michelle Obama (and to Sasha, Malia and Bo).” Here is a sampling of what they came up with; some letters have been edited for space. — LAUREN HALL, grants director for 826 National… – NYT, 11-27-10
  • Is America on the path to ‘permanent war’?: When the president decided to send more troops to a distant country during an unpopular war, one powerful senator had enough…. As the Afghanistan war enters its ninth year, Andrew Bacevich and other commentators are asking: When does it end? They say the nation’s national security leaders have put the U.S. on an unsustainable path to perpetual war and that President Obama is doing little to stop them. Bacevich has become a leading voice among anti-war critics. He is a retired colonel in the U.S. Army, a former West Point instructor and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He’s also a Boston University international relations professor who offers a historical perspective with his criticism. He says Obama has been ensnared by the “Washington Rules,” a set of assumptions that have guided presidents since Harry Truman.
    The rules say that the U.S. should act as a global policeman. “Fixing Iraq or Afghanistan ends up taking precedence over fixing Cleveland or Detroit,” Bacevich writes. His solution: The U.S. should stop deploying a “global occupation force” and focus on nation-building at home. “The job is too big,” he says of the U.S. global military presence. “We don’t have enough money. We don’t have enough troops. There’s a growing recognition that the amount of red ink we’re spilling is unsustainable.”…. – CNN, 11-23-10
  • Dan Mulcare, Assistant Professor of Political Science: Election: Why Republicans Fared: The 2010 midterm election had something for everyone, especially Republicans. If you were part of the Grand Old Party, you rejoiced in the winning of the House of Representatives, with a monumental swing of at least 60 seats. Additionally, the gain of six Senate seats has put additional pressure on Democrats to consider conservative policies. For Democrats, despite their drubbing, they can take solace in that the upper chamber and the White House remained blue, and they have time to convince the public to support them in 2012. Before I detail what I believe the parties should and should not do in order to remain viable, I should first discuss the reason that the Republicans fared so well and the Democrats faltered. First, it should be noted that every election cycle produces its own electorate, far from the entire American populace speaking as one at the ballot box; there are certain groups that are overrepresented and those whose voices are conspicuously absent…. – Salem State Log, 11-26-10
  • WikiLeaks release could damage diplomatic relations, former envoy says: Diplomatic cables expected to be released soon by WikiLeaks could contain highly sensitive information that reveals U.S. negotiating positions, secret intelligence and other confidential matters, a former U.S. ambassador to Russia told CNN. The expected online disclosure has to be taken seriously, said James F. Collins, who served as ambassador to Moscow from 1997 to 2001 and is currently director of the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
    “Leaking information of this kind will be detrimental to building the trust among officials necessary to conduct effective and productive diplomacy. It will impede doing things in a normal, civilized way,” Collins said. “I would think the information they will leak is likely to contain analysis, records of discussions or reporting on confidential conversations between officials or official policy recommendations or suggestions about policy or diplomatic actions,” he added…. – CNN, 11-26-10
  • Michelle Obama’s White House is ‘not Camelot’: “Because of the campaign, people expected Obama and the first lady to revitalize some of the glamour of the White House and bring Camelot back to Washington,” said Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University who has studied recent presidencies. “But the realities of Washington make that difficult. We’re in an era where it’s hard to recreate Camelot. People are increasingly cynical about politics, and it’s really a partisan world. I don’t think either party would allow the president of the opposite party and the first lady to enjoy that kind of existence.”… – Politico, 11-24-10
  • Michelle Obama’s White House is ‘not Camelot’: But Catherine Allgor, a history professor at the University of California at Riverside, who studies the “parlor politics” of first ladies, said it would be a mistake to dismiss the Washington social scene. “When it comes to politics, parties are never frivolous,” she said. And Allgor has some advice for Michelle Obama: “Get out there and start making friends.”… – Politico, 11-24-10
  • Julian Zelizer: Palin pioneers reality campaigning Sarah Palin’s new reality show looks like it might become a hit.
    During its first week, “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” attracted almost five million viewers, the best that a premiere has done on the TLC network.
    The same week that the show debuted, there were reports that Palin was talking with insiders about a presidential run. She told ABC News that she believed she could defeat President Obama in 2012.
    The launch of the show has felt very much like the start of a presidential campaign.
    If this turns out to be true, Palin’s reality show could be a harbinger of campaigns to come. We might be witnessing the start of a new era in presidential campaigning, where candidates take their message directly to the voters while avoiding almost any filters in the process….
    If the nation does shift toward an era of direct campaigning, the process would likely deteriorate. Voters will be exposed to a constant stream of infomercials. Much of the media, now more polarized than ever, won’t be reliable as a source of objective analysis, but rather will function as a cheering section for one of the two teams in Washington.
    We will enter deeper into a world of virtual politics where it is difficult for voters to tell fact from fiction and too easy for politicians to promote an image and arguments that have little basis in reality. – CNN, 11-26-10

First Family at Martha’s Table

President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, daughters Sasha and Malia, and mother-in-law Marian Robinson help distribute Thanksgiving food items at Martha’s Table, a food pantry in Washington, D.C., Nov. 24, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

First Lady Michelle Obama and Malia at Martha’s Table

First Lady Michelle Obama and daughter Malia distribute various Thanksgiving food items to members of the community at Martha’s Table, a food pantry in Washington, D.C., Nov. 24, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

Political Highlights October 25, 2010: Obama & Palin Campaign for Democrats & Republicans – Polls Predict GOP House Victory

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:

Image: Sarah Palin in Florida and President Obama in Minnesota
Reuters, AP
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin addresses a Republican rally in Orlando, Fla., Saturday, the same day President Barack Obama addresses a Democratic rally in Minneapolis, Minn.

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • Brown surges against Whitman in Calif. gov race-poll: Democrat Jerry Brown has more than doubled his lead over Republican rival Meg Whitman in the California governor’s race, gaining support from Latino voters after an illegal immigration furor over the former eBay chief’s ex- housekeeper. A Los Angeles Times/USC poll on Sunday gave Brown, the state’s attorney general who first served as California governor from 1975 to 1983, a 13 point lead over Whitman. Brown has 52 percent support, compared to 39 percent for Whitman. In the same poll a month ago, Brown had a five point overall lead over Whitman. Sunday’s survey showed he now has a 36 percentage point lead over Whitman among Latino voters, up from 19 percent in September…. – Reuters, 10-24-10
  • Jobless Rate Declines in 23 States: Unemployment rates were little changed in most states in September, as a recovery in the labor market remained sluggish across the country. The Labor Department reported Friday that 23 states and Washington, D.C., experienced decreases in jobless rates, while the rate rose in 11 states and was unchanged in 16.
    States hardest-hit by the housing bust, such as Florida and California, continue to struggle with double-digit unemployment rates. Nevada remained the state with the highest unemployment rate, at 14.4%, more than a percentage point higher than the 13% recorded in second-place Michigan. In all, 15 states had rates above the 9.6% national figure released earlier this month.
    North and South Dakota continued to have the lowest rates in the country, at 3.7% and 4.4%, respectively.
    Despite some improvement in jobless rates, 34 states reported a decrease in the number of people employed, possibly as fewer people hunted for jobs. Fourteen of the state declines are regarded as statistically significant. Just New Mexico, New Hampshire and Washington, D.C., posted statistically significant increases in employment from August…. – WSJ, 10-20-10
  • Prop. 19 trailing badly, poll shows: Prop. 19 would legalize marijuana in California. But the Los Angeles Times/USC Poll found that voters oppose the measure 51% to 39%. The poll found that the measure is far behind in Southern California…. – LAT, 10-22-10
  • American Voices: Candidates Want More than “Maybe” From the Youth Vote: The midterm elections potentially bring major victories for the Republican party, which was run out of town in the 2008 presidential election. Now that the tables are turned, the Democrats are scrambling to convince voters to support their candidates on November 2. A key constituency for both parties is the youth vote, which made up 18 percent of the electorate in 2008 and helped catapult Barack Obama into the presidency. A recent Rock the Vote survey found 34 percent of adults ages 18 to 29 favor the Democrats, compared with 28 percent for Republicans, with 36 percent not concerned about which party ends up controlling Congress. A CBS News-Knowledge Networks poll released Tuesday found that two-thirds of Obama voters in 2008 (67 percent), which included young voters, say they’ll vote for one of his fellow Democrats in 2010. Eight percent of those voters say they will vote Republican this year, and 21 percent say it depends…. – CBS News, 10-21-10
  • AP-GfK Poll: Likely voters ready to embrace GOP: All signs point to huge Republican victories in two weeks, with the GOP now leading Democrats on virtually every measure in an Associated Press-GfK poll of people likely to vote in the first major elections of Barack Obama’s presidency. In the final survey before Election Day, likely voters say the GOP would do a better job than Democrats on handling the economy, creating jobs and running the government. Most also think the country’s headed in the wrong direction. More than half disapprove of Obama’s job performance. And even more don’t like the Democratic-controlled Congress. Neither party is popular. But likely voters view the GOP a bit more positively than they do the Democrats. Slightly more say they will vote for the Republican congressional candidate in their district over the Democrat. And most think the GOP will win control of Congress from the Democrats…. – AP, 10-20-10
  • GOP in Lead in Final Lap: A vigorous post-Labor Day Democratic offensive has failed to diminish the resurgent Republicans’ lead among likely voters, leaving the GOP poised for major gains in congressional elections two weeks away, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll.
    Among likely voters, Republicans hold a 50% to 43% edge, up from a three-percentage-point lead a month ago.
    In the broader category of registered voters, 46% favor a Democratic-controlled Congress, compared with 44% who want Republican control. But in the 92 House districts considered most competitive, the GOP’s lead among registered voters is 14 points, underscoring the Democrats’ challenge in maintaining their hold on the House. The poll of 1,000 registered voters was taken Oct. 14-18…. – WSJ, 10-19-10
  • Need to get voters excited? Call Bill Clinton, not Obama: A Gallup poll suggests that both Democrats and independents are more likely to be enthusiastic about a campaign visit from former President Bill Clinton than from President Obama. In a poll conducted October 14-17, Gallup asked registered voters whether having Clinton or Obama campaign for a candidate would be a plus, minus, or make no difference. From those responses, Gallup calculated a “net impact” by subtracting the percentage who said campaigning would make them less likely to vote for a candidate from the percentage who said it would make them more likely to vote for a candidate.
    “Clinton does modestly better than Obama among Democrats,” writes Gallup editor in chief Frank Newport. The net positive impact of Clinton’s campaigning among Democrats is 48 percent, while for Obama it is 42 percent. Where the former president dramatically outshines Obama is with independent voters. Among independents, “Clinton’s impact breaks about even,” Mr. Newport writes. Some 21 percent of independents are more likely to support a candidate if Mr. Clinton works for them, while 23 percent are less likely, leaving the net result at a negative 2 percent…. – CS Monitor, 10-19-10
  • Election 2010 Monday Polls: Voter Enthusiasm, Nevada, Colorado Obama voters vs. McCain Voters, Nevada, Colorado, Hawaii, Utah Senate Races: An AP-Knowledge Networks poll released today shows 67 percent (about two-thirds) of John McCain voters are certain to vote in the 2010 election, compared to only 51 percent of Obama voters. The same study indicated that the majority of Obama voters (59 percent) feel “hopeful” about Obama’s presidency, while the majority of McCain voters (71 percent) feel “frustrated.” The poll also shows that 30 percent of Obama voters think he is maintaining his promise to change Washington. And, about 25 percent of Obama voters say they are thinking about voting for the GOP in 2010.
    A Gallup Poll released today shows that 66 percent of Republicans think the federal government “poses an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens” in 2010 compared to 21 percent of Democrats. However, the same poll found the opposite results when George W. Bush was president. In 2006, 57 percent of Democrats saw the federal government as a threat compared to 21 percent of Republicans. The overall percentage of Americans who agree has shifted only 2 percentage points in the four years, with 46 percent of Americans viewing the government as a threat in 2010…. – US News, 10-18-10

THE HEADLINES….

A backyard discussion with Seattle area families

White House Photo, Chuck Kennedy, 10/21/10
  • Obama likely to focus on deficit in next 2 years: Preparing for political life after a bruising election, President Barack Obama will put greater emphasis on fiscal discipline, a nod to a nation sick of spending and to a Congress poised to become more Republican, conservative and determined to stop him. He is already giving clues about how he will govern in the last two years of his term.
    Obama will try to make gains on deficit reduction, education and energy. He will enforce his health care and inancial overhauls and try to protect them from repeal should Republicans win control of Capitol Hill. He will use executive authority when blocked by Congress, and steel for scrutiny and investigations if the GOP is in charge.
    While trying to save money, Obama will have to decide whether to bend to Republican and growing Democratic pressure to extend Bush-era tax cuts, even for the wealthy, that expire at year’s end. Obama wants to extend them for people making less than $200,000 and married couples making less than $250,000, but a broader extension is gaining favor with an increasing number of Democrats. Moving to the fore will be a more serious focus on how to balance the federal budget and pay for the programs that keep sinking the country into debt…. – AP, 10-24-10
  • In Losing the Midterms, There May Be Winning: Let there be no mistake: President Obama wants the Democrats to win next week’s midterm elections. His voice has gone hoarse telling every audience that from Delaware to Oregon. But let’s also acknowledge this: Although he will not say so, there is at least a plausible argument that he might be better off if they lose. ADVERSARY President Clinton was able to play off Speaker Newt Gingrich, left. The reality of presidential politics is that it helps to have an enemy. With Democrats controlling the White House and Congress, they shoulder responsibility for the country’s troubles. No amount of venting about George W. Bush or the filibuster rule has convinced the public otherwise. But if Republicans capture Congress, Mr. Obama will finally have a foil heading toward his own re-election battle in 2012.
    “The best possible result for Obama politically is for the Republicans to gain control of both houses,” said Douglas E. Schoen, a Democratic pollster and strategist who helped President Bill Clinton recover from his own midterm Congressional defeat in 1994 to win re-election two years later. “That’s what Obama should want.”… – NYT, 10-24-10
  • G.O.P. Is Poised To Seize House, If Not Senate: A costly and polarizing Congressional campaign heads into its closing week with Republicans in a strong position to win the House but with Democrats maintaining a narrow edge in the battle for the Senate, according to a race-by- race review and lawmakers and strategists on both sides. President Obama campaigned for a fourth consecutive day on Saturday as the Democratic Party threw its full weight into preventing a defeat of historic proportions in an election shaped by a sour economy, intense debate over the White House’s far-reaching domestic agenda and the rise of a highly energized grass-roots conservative movement. But Republicans have placed enough seats into play that Democrats now seem likely to give up many of the gains they made in the last two election cycles, leaving Washington on the brink of a substantial shift in the balance of power. The final nine days of the midterm election are unfolding across a wide landscape, with several dozen House races close enough to break either way, determining whether the election produces a Republican wave that reaches deep into the Democratic ranks. In the Senate, Democrats were bracing to lose seats, but the crucial contests remained highly fluid as Republicans struggled to pull away in several Democratic-leaning states…. – NYT, 10-23-10
  • Big guns push midterm campaigns into high gear In Florida, Palin invokes past; in Minneapolis, Obama says don’t repeat it: President Barack Obama warned against a return to the past while former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin invoked a past president’s name Saturday as each led midterm election rallies thousands of miles and millions of voters apart. Obama closed a four-day campaign swing ahead of the Nov. 2 elections by imploring supporters to defeat the conventional wisdom that Democrats face steep losses. He cast the choice Election Day as one between the economic policies “that got us into this mess” and the policies leading the nation out…. – MSNBC, 10-23-10
  • President Seeks Edge in a Contest for Governor: President Obama wrapped up a four-day campaign swing on Saturday, telling students and the Democratic Party faithful to seize the chance to win a Republican-held governor’s seat here next month. Mr. Obama appeared at a rally on behalf of the candidate Mark Dayton, who probably represents the Democrats’ best chance in the midterm elections to take a seat held by a Republican governor. Unlike many other races across the country where polls show Republicans with an edge, in Minnesota, Mr. Dayton, a former United States senator, is polling ahead of Tom Emmer, a Republican, and Tom Horner of the Independence Party…. – NYT, 10-23-10
  • G-20 powers agree to Geithner currency and trade plan: Finance ministers from the world’s major nations agreed to a U.S.-brokered plan for easing tensions over exchange rates and world trade patterns, saying that a “fragile and uneven” economic recovery was at risk if top powers pursued conflicting policies or used the value of their currencies to gain an edge for their exports. Aiming to head off what some have dubbed a developing “currency war,” the statement from the finance leaders of the Group of 20 nations was a carefully worded bargain across a range of issues. It put China on the record as seeking to bring down its massive trade surplus and let its exchange rate fluctuate more. It also hinted that any move by the U.S. Federal Reserve to further ease monetary policy would be measured so as not to disrupt currency values or capital flows in emerging market nations…. – WaPo, 10-23-10
  • Despite latest coup, WikiLeaks facing challenges: “Wikileaks,” said the godfather of whistleblowers, Daniel Ellsberg, “has become the future of unauthorized disclosure.” Speaking Saturday in London, the man who leaked the Pentagon Papers and their damning history of American involvement in Vietnam a generation ago, expressed what is partly hope and partly a reflection of reality: the Internet makes it harder to keep secrets. But still to be determined is whether WikiLeaks itself is that future, or some other Web site or collection of online organizations. WikiLeaks is evolving, working through challenges posed by the new media model, such as to what degree can a site devoted to holding the powerful accountable hold itself beyond reach? And can a site dedicated to combating secrecy continue to be so secret… – WaPo, 10-23-10
  • U.S. Offers Pakistan Army $2 Billion Aid Package: Even as the Obama administration moved to stop training and equipping Pakistani Army units that have killed civilians in the offensive against the Taliban, the United States said Friday that it planned increased aid for Pakistan’s military over the next five years. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton made the announcement in Washington alongside the Pakistani foreign minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, as leaders from both nations convened for a series of meetings.
    The new aid package, totaling $2 billion, is meant to replace one that expired Oct. 1. It would complement $7.5 billion in aid that the United States has already pledged to Pakistan for civilian projects, some have which have been directed toward helping the nation recover from the damaging floods…. – NYT, 10-22-10
  • The Iraq Archive: The Strands of a War: A huge trove of secret field reports from the battlegrounds of Iraq sheds new light on the war, including such fraught subjects as civilian deaths, detainee abuse and the involvement of Iran. The secret archive is the second such cache obtained by the independent organization WikiLeaks and made available to several news organizations. Like the first release, some 92,000 reports covering six years of the war in Afghanistan, the Iraq documents provide no earthshaking revelations, but they offer insight, texture and context from the people actually fighting the war. A close analysis of the 391,832 documents helps illuminate several important aspects of this war…. – NYT, 10-22-10Read the full Pentagon response
  • Detainees Fared Worse in Iraqi Hands, Logs Say: The public image of detainees in Iraq was defined by the photographs, now infamous, of American abuse at Abu Ghraib, like the hooded prisoner and the snarling attack dog. While the documents disclosed by WikiLeaks offer few glimpses of what was happening inside American detention facilities, they do contain indelible details of abuse carried out by Iraq’s army and police…. – NYT, 10-22-10
  • Obama rallies voters in Los Angeles to support Sen. Boxer, Democratic control of Congress: President Barack Obama is accusing Republicans of peddling “snake oil” as he asks voters who backed him over the GOP in 2008 for a repeat performance. Obama was raising money and rallying support for Sen. Barbara Boxer of California on Friday, day three of a four-day tour ahead of the Nov. 2 election. Boxer is one of several endangered Democratic incumbents Obama is trying to help on a campaign trip that started Wednesday in Portland and ends Saturday in Minneapolis…. – CP, 10-22-10
  • Obama targets women voters in Seattle trip with talk of jobs, cupcakes: President Obama tried to energize women voters at a town hall meeting Thursday in Seattle. He’s also set to campaign for Washington’s Patty Murray and California’s Barbara Boxer…. – CS Monitor, 10-21-10
  • Happy Dems, a few GOPers pack Obama-Murray rally: With Washington’s vote-by-mail election already under way, President Barack Obama urged a raucous crowd Thursday to quickly cast their votes for Democratic Sen. Patty Murray. With Washington’s vote-by-mail election already under way, President Barack Obama urged a raucous crowd Thursday to quickly cast their votes for Democratic Sen. Patty Murray. “You need to go, right after this rally, fill out that ballot, and mail it in,” Obama told a packed crowd at the University of Washington’s basketball arena. “Today. Not tomorrow, not the next day, but today.” Obama’s second campaign trip to Washington state this year was part of a flood of high-profile Democrats trying to whip up voters for Murray this month. The three-term incumbent is in a competitive race with Republican Dino Rossi, a two-time runner-up for governor. “I am proud to be at your back, and I know you’re proud to be at mine,” Murray told the crowd. “We are going to continue to move forward with leadership for this state.”…. – Seattle Times, AP, 10-21-10
  • ‘The Daily Show,’ Rolling Stone, and MTV: Obama’s youth vote push: President Obama isn’t trying to make Stephen Colbert jealous by appearing on ‘The Daily Show’ five days before the midterm elections – he’s trying to fire up young voters. President Obama is going to appear on “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart before the November elections. Last night the White House announced that Obama will tape a segment for the show on October 27. What’s the point of that? Is the president angling to get a good spot on the stage for Mr. Stewart’s “Rally to Restore Sanity,” which will be held on the National Mall the following weekend? Or is he just trying to make Stephen Colbert jealous? Well, he’s probably not going to hang around Washington for the “Sanity” meeting and Mr. Colbert’s competing “March to Keep Fear Alive.” In all likelihood Obama will be out campaigning that weekend in a last-minute push to avoid a Democratic electoral apocalypse. Obama has called the dueling-rally premise “amusing”, but that’s not exactly a full-throated endorsement is it? No, Obama is appearing on “The Daily Show” for the same reason he recently gave an interview to “Rolling Stone” and appeared in an hour-long MTV “town hall” – young voters. He’s trying hard to fire up a cohort that went overwhelmingly for Democrats in 2008. The audience for Stewart’s show skews young, and many of them view it as a main source of news, even if the producers insist their product is really a hybrid of pseudo-news and comedy…. – CS Monitor, 10-20-10
  • Justice Department asks appeals court to overturn ‘don’t ask’ injunction: The motion calls on the appeals court to lift a judge’s order immediately. The government says the ‘extraordinary decision’ went too far, too fast and is causing ‘confusion and uncertainty’ in the Pentagon and among gays and lesbians in the ranks…. – LAT, 10-20-10
  • The Conversation: Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas, Nearly 20 Years Later After Virginia Thomas Asks Hill for an Apology, Explosive Hearings Are Back in the News: In October 1991, the Senate was set to confirm Clarence Thomas as a Justice of the United States Supreme Court when Anita Hill, a former aide to Thomas, came forward publicly with allegations of sexual harassment. Hill’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee riveted the nation, airing live on the broadcast networks. After three days of contentious hearings, the Senate voted to confirm Thomas as a Supreme Court justice in a narrow 52-to-48 vote. A New York Times/CBS News poll at the time found that 58 percent of Americans believed Thomas, while only 24 percent believed Hill. Hill’s words and Thomas’s denial turned sexual harassment into a national discussion, prompting a wholesale reexamination of workplace policies and training procedures. To this day, Anita Hill and her allegations are firmly linked to Justice Thomas and his reputation. That, perhaps, is why Thomas’s wife, Ginny Thomas, called Hill to ask for her apology, catapulting the story back into the news all these years later…. – CBS News, 10-20-10
  • Official: Shooting at Pentagon appears to be a ‘random incident’: A Pentagon official said he believes the shooting early Tuesday at the U.S. Defense Department headquarters was a “random incident.” “We are looking at all the possibilities,” Steven E. Calvery, director of the Pentagon Force Protection Agency, said at a news conference late Tuesday morning. “What we have is an isolated incident, so far.” Pentagon police officers, as well as several construction workers in the area, heard at least five shots fired around 4:50 a.m., Pentagon officials said…. – CNN, 10-19-10
  • Obama and Democrats count on Senate wins out West: With Republicans headed to big election gains on November 2, Democrats are counting on the liberal-leaning West Coast to counter the national trend and help them preserve their fragile Senate majority. President Barack Obama heads to California and Washington state this week to drum up support for endangered incumbents Barbara Boxer and Patty Murray in the last days of a campaign that finds his Democrats playing defense around the country. Wins in those two Democratic-leaning states — most polls show Boxer and Murray with slight leads — likely would be enough to ensure Democrats retain narrow control of the Senate even if Republicans sweep the other competitive races…. – Reuters, 10-19-10
  • Democrats try to woo women as more embrace GOP candidates: In the final stretch before the midterms, President Obama is giving a lot of attention to the traditional Democratic base: young people, black voters and white women. But women are his most urgent target. Unlike the other core groups, women are undecided, rather than merely unmotivated. And there are signs in parts of the country that they are open to defecting to the Republicans, potentially defying the long-standing “gender gap” that has skewed heavily toward Democratic candidates…. – WaPo, 10-19-10
  • Is Obama’s Excuse for Not Repealing ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ Legitimate?: President Obama claims he must defend and enforce the ban on gays serving in the military, even though he opposes it. But most experts in constitutional and military law say he has other options…. – Newsweek, 10-19-10
  • US military ready to accept gay applicants: Pentagon: The US military is ready to accept gays applying to join the armed forces, a spokeswoman said Tuesday after a federal judge struck down a ban on homosexuals serving openly in uniform. But the military will tell potential recruits that a law barring openly gay members — known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” — could still be reinstated depending on the outcome of pending court decisions, spokeswoman Cynthia Smith said.
    “Recruiters have been given guidance, and they will process applications for applicants who admit they are openly gay or lesbian,” she told AFP. “Recruiters are reminded to set the applicants’ expectations by informing them that a reversal in the court’s decision of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law/policy may occur,” she said in an email.
    A federal judge in California, Virginia Phillips, last week ordered the government to immediately suspend the rule, which requires gay troops to keep quiet about their sexual orientation or face expulsion…. – AFP, 10-19-10
  • Republican Candidates Outpacing Democrats in Race for Campaign Cash: Republican candidates have pulled ahead in the bare-knuckles race for campaign cash, registering big hauls in the final weeks and months before Election Day. Though the Democratic congressional campaign arms are outpacing their GOP counterparts in the fundraising race, individual GOP candidates are consistently attracting the most money. In Nevada, Republican Senate nominee Sharron Angle reported raising a whopping $14 million in the critical third quarter, compared with less than $3 million for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. In Kentucky, Republican Senate nominee Rand Paul raised $2.7 million in that period, $1 million more than Democrat Jack Conway. According to local reports, Delaware Senate nominee Christine O’Donnell raised $3.8 million between the end of August and the end of September, while Democrat Chris Coons raised just over $1 million…. – Fox News, 10-18-10
  • Five myths about Sarah Palin: Think you know Sarah Palin? The former Alaska governor has been in the spotlight ever since John McCain named her as his running mate on Aug. 29, 2008. Yet, while practically everybody has an opinion about Palin, not all of those opinions are grounded in reality. Many of them are based more on a “Saturday Night Live” caricature than on the living, breathing, 46-year-old mother of five. The real Sarah Palin is a complex woman who has risen in no time from obscurity to the stratosphere of American politics, fusing celebrity and populism in novel ways. Now that she’s laying the foundation for a possible presidential run in 2012, it’s worth taking a moment to separate the facts about Palin from the fables…. – WaPo, 10-17-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

Doug Mills/The New York Times

Mr. Obama at a rally Saturday at the University of Minnesota.

  • Political ads: Mean, and getting meaner, before Nov. 2: It’s nastier than ever this election cycle. Coast to coast, North to South, hotly contested mid-term races have candidates going negative in ads in a big way. And it’s getting personal, with zingers aimed at the private lives and even the religious beliefs of opponents. Political operatives and observers wonder how low it can go before Nov. 2. While no one can put a hard number on negative ads, neither does anyone dispute that they are especially rampant this election season…. – AP, 10-24-10
  • Crist, Meek gang up on Rubio in Fla. Senate debate: Florida Gov. Charlie Crist defends his changing positions on issues by saying as a former college quarterback he knows how to call an audible. By the end of Sunday’s debate with his opponents for U.S. Senate, it looked like he was throwing a Hail Mary. The debate spun out of control near the end as independent Crist and Republican Marco Rubio rapidly talked over each other. Crist, who is down by double digits in multiple polls with just more than a week left before the election, repeatedly interrupted Rubio with accusations that as House speaker he steered money to a university and a hospital and later took jobs from them. He also said Rubio doesn’t advocate transparency because he won’t release credit card records from his state GOP-issued American Express card.
    “I’ve never had a heckler at the debate, I’ve always had them in the audience,” Rubio said with a laugh.
    “Welcome to the NFL,” responded Crist.
    It was clear that Crist and Democrat Kendrick Meek stepped up their efforts to make up ground against Rubio. Earlier in the debate, Meek, a congressman from Miami-Dade County, argued with Rubio about whether tax cuts passed under President George W. Bush should be extended. The debate was sponsored by CNN, the University of South Florida and the St. Petersburg Times…. – AP, 10-23-10
  • Love-hate relationship with Washington plays out in Nevada politics: The West has long been torn between attacking and cozying up to the federal government. Now Harry Reid and Sharron Angle have picked sides in that fight…. – LAT, 10-23-10
  • Rand Paul will face Jack Conway in final debate after all: Republican U.S. Senate nominee Rand Paul will participate in a debate Monday night on Kentucky Educational Television with his Democratic rival, Jack Conway. Paul, who said earlier in the week that he was not sure if he would appear with Conway in the fifth and final scheduled debate before the Nov. 2 election, held a news conference Friday afternoon at the Lexington Hyatt Regency to discuss his decision…. – The Lexington Herald-Leader, 10-22-10
  • Sharron Angle, Harry Reid Nevada race: Wild, woolly, and weird: If you believe the ads, Harry Reid is a rich playboy and Sharron Angle doesn’t know the difference between Latinos and Asians. Then there’s the former Republican Party chief who’s endorsed the Democrat…. – CS Monitor, 10-22-10
  • Reid Speculates Angle’s in “Cheney’s Bunker”: Leader discusses opponent’s absence from interviews, addresses questions of his “manhood” in MSNBC interview…. – Time, 10-21-10
  • Former GOP national chairman endorses Reid: Former Republican National Committee Chairman Frank Fahrenkopf Jr. has endorsed Democratic Sen. Harry Reid, saying it would be a mistake for Nevadans to elect Republican Sharron Angle and lose Reid’s clout to protect the state’s lifeblood gambling industry. Fahrenkopf, president of the American Gaming Association, suggested Angle should distance herself from the anti- gambling Campaign for Working Families, which has endorsed her and begun running television advertisements attacking Reid. The political action committee’s founder and chairman is Gary Bauer, a former Republican presidential candidate affiliated with several Christian right groups over the years. “It’s disturbing that she (Angle) is taking money from people who oppose gambling,” Fahrenkopf told The Associated Press. “She may not even know it, but Gary Bauer has been a longtime, outspoken opponent of legalized gambling. I did a double-take when I read she was receiving assistance from someone who has opposed Nevada’s chief industry for so long.”…. – Business Week, 10-21-10
  • In California midterm election’s tight races, voter turnout is key: Voter turnout will be especially important for Democrats in the midterm elections. The higher the overall turnout, the more likely Democrats will benefit. Both parties are appealing energetically to independents and the undecided…. – CS Monitor, 10-21-10
  • Sarah Palin endorses Pat Toomey for Pa. Senate: Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin is backing Republican Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania’s competitive race for U.S. Senate against Democratic Rep. Joe Sestak. In a note posted on her Facebook page — her preferred method of endorsing candidates — the conservative stalwart tied Toomey to several other Republican candidates running in “‘rust belt’ and energy producing states,” including West Virginia and Kentucky. “I’ve made no secret of the fact that I think cap-and-tax could potentially be more disastrous to our economy than Obamacare because it would devastate our businesses and cripple our energy and industrial sectors,” Palin wrote, referring to the Democratic energy policy approved by the House last year to curb greenhouse gas emissions. “Senate races in particular have national significance when it comes to legislation like cap-and-tax.”… – AP, 10-20-10
  • Is Giannoulias ready to take on Senate job?: At 34 years old and yet to complete his first term as Illinois treasurer, Alexi Giannoulias decided the time was right for him to succeed an admired friend and basketball buddy, President Barack Obama, in the U.S. Senate. Giannoulias, whose only other big job was working at his late father’s bank, was told by some to get more experience under his belt. Even the White House courted another Democrat for the job. But Giannoulias pushed ahead — eventually winning the nomination and the embrace of national party leaders — in what some call a mark of the drive and ambition that also characterizes his style on the basketball court, where he likes to have his hands on the ball and admittedly doesn’t pass as much as he should. Giannoulias attributes his ambition to his Greek family’s immigrant background, and some of his success to a lucky sense of timing…. – Chicago Tribune, 10-20-10
  • Why Republicans shouldn’t take a Pennsylvania Senate win for granted: Polls suggested that Republican Senate candidate Pat Toomey had a firm grip on his race with Joe Sestak in Pennsylvania. But new polls point to hope for Democrats here and elsewhere…. – CS Monitor, 10-20-10
  • Separation of church and state questioned by Christine O’Donnell: Delaware Senate candidates Chris Coons (D) and Christine O’Donnell (R) met again Tuesday at Widener University’s School of Law for a debate over, among other contentious topics, the separation of church and state. After a squabble over whether or not schools should be permitted to teach creationism as a competing theory to evolution, Coons said that the First Amendment has been interpreted by the Supreme Court to imply the case for the separation of church and state…. – WaPO, 10-19-10
  • Did Jack Conway go too far?: A new ad being run by state Attorney General Jack Conway (D) against ophthalmologist Rand Paul (R) in the Kentucky Senate race using several college-era incidents to raise questions about the Republican’s character has created a national firestorm.
    “Why was Rand Paul a member of a secret society that called the Holy Bible a ‘hoax’,” asks the ad’s narrator. “Why did Rand Paul once tie a woman up, tell her to bow down before a false idol and say his god was ‘Aqua Buddha’.” The ad’s charges both can be traced back to Paul’s collegiate years…. – WaPo, 10-19-10
  • Sarah Palin kick-starts final Tea Party Express bus tour of 2010: Tea Party Express launches its last tour of the 2010 campaign in (guess where) Sen. Harry Reid’s home state of Nevada with an event headlined by (guess who) Sarah Palin…. – CS Monitor, 10-18-10
  • Palin in Nevada launch Tea Party Express tour: Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was back in Nevada on Monday to help rev up the Tea Party Express for the stretch drive of a coast-to-coast campaign determined to throw out Sen. Harry Reid and his Democratic allies in Congress. Palin headlined a rally outside county GOP headquarters in Reno to kick off the 15-day bus tour hoping to capitalize on government discontent and unify conservatives two weeks away from the off-year election…. – AP, 10-18-10
  • Kentucky Senate Election 2010: Rand Paul and Jack Conway trade attacks in contentious final weeks until election: The Kentucky Senate race has turned ugly, as both Rand Paul and Jack Conway traded barbs in their final debate, even refusing to chake hands afterwards. As election day nears this contest will receive ample national attention from both parties and the national media. As WhoRunsGov explains: In May 2010, riding a wave of anti-Washington anger as part of the tea party movement, he crushed the competition to win the Republican nod for the open seat of retiring Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.). “I have a message, a message from the tea party, a message that is loud and clear and does not mince words: We have come to take our government back,” Paul said…. – WaPo, 10-18-10
  • Nevada Senate Election 2010: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid looks to fend off Sharron Angle, retain seat: Nevada’s Senate race has attracted national attention as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid fights for his political life against Republican Sharron Angle, who has been a lightning rod of controversy from the start of her campaign…. – WaPo, 10-18-10
  • Sharron Angle Tells Hispanic Students That They Might Be Asian: When Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle dropped by the Rancho High School Hispanic Student Union in Las Vegas on Friday, she was asked about an ad she aired which, in criticizing Harry Reid on immigration, included a photo of three allegedly menacing-looking Hispanics…. – NY Mag, 10-18-10
  • Miller cites Communist East Germany as effective in dealing with border security: The scuffle between the editor of Alaska Dispatch and Joe Miller’s security guards at a public forum in Anchorage late Sunday is getting much national attention today. Getting lesser but growing attention is Miller’s answer at the forum to a question from the audience about how he would deal with illegal immigration. Anchorage blogger Steve Aufrecht was there and is among those today who are criticizing Miller’s response that Communist East ermany is a good example of a nation achieving border security. He quotes Miller as saying: “The first thing that has to be done is secure the border. … East Germany was very, very able to reduce the flow. Now, obviously, other things were involved. We have the capacity to, as a great nation, secure the border. If East Germany could do it, we could do it.”… – Anchorage Daily News, 10-18-10

POLITICAL QUOTES

The President Records the Weekly Address

White House Photo, Samantha Appleton, 10/20/10
  • No surprise: Democrats and Republicans differ on election predictions: Will an anti-incumbent wave return Republicans to power in the House and Senate, or can Democrats engineer a late rush to hold on to their congressional majorities? The 2010 mid-term elections comes down to campaign basics in the final nine days until vote-counting begins. For now, the two parties agree that Republicans will win more seats than they currently hold, but they differ sharply on how many and whether a major power shift will occur.Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele told NBC’s “Meet the Press” program that an unprecedented GOP wave would win control of both chambers as well as state legislatures in a broad condemnation of President Barack Obama and Democratic policies.
    “The voters are tired of the fact that the federal government has not listened to them over the past two years, has moved in its own direction, at its own rhythm and they want to pull back on that,” Steele said. “And I think you’re going to see a wave, an unprecedented wave on election day that’s going to surprise a lot of people.”
    His Democratic counterpart, former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, pointed to strengthening poll numbers for his party’s candidates as a sign that the Democratic base was getting energized. “From this point forward, it’s all about turnout and ground game, and we’re seeing good early voting trends,” said Kaine, the Democratic National Committee chairman, when asked on the ABC program “This Week” if Democrats can hold their majorities. “We’ve got work to do, but we think we can do it.”
    While Kaine said the House remains uncertain, he sounded much more confident about the Senate.
    “Four or five months ago, the Republicans thought they had a great chance at taking both houses,” Kaine said. “For a variety of reasons, the Senate has gotten much more difficult for them. And again, we’re seeing this week strong moves in polling for our Senate candidates” in several states…. – CNN, 10-24-10
  • Weekly Address: Warns of GOP Efforts to Repeal Wall Street Reform – Including Foreclosure Protections
    Remarks of President Barack Obama, Saturday, October 23, 2010, Weekly Address, Washington, DC:
    Over the past two years, we’ve won a number of battles to defend the interests of the middle class. One of the most important victories we achieved was the passage of Wall Street Reform.
    This was a bill designed to rein in the secret deals and reckless gambling that nearly brought down the financial system. It set new rules so that taxpayers would never again be on the hook for a bailout if a big financial company went under. And reform included the strongest consumer protections in history – to put an end to a lot of the hidden fees, deceptive mortgages, and other abusive practices used to tilt the tables against ordinary people in their financial dealings.
    Yet despite the importance of this law – and despite the terrible economic dislocation caused by the failures in our financial system under the old rules – top Republicans in Congress are now beating the drum to repeal all of these reforms and consumer protections. Recently, one of the Republican leaders in the Senate said that if Republicans take charge of Congress, repeal would be one of the first orders of business. And he joins the top Republican in the House who actually called for the law to be repealed even before it passed. I think that would be a terrible mistake. Our economy depends on a financial system in which everyone competes on a level playing field, and everyone is held to the same rules – whether you’re a big bank, a small business owner, or a family looking to buy a house or open a credit card. And as we saw, without sound oversight and common-sense protections for consumers, the whole economy is put in jeopardy. That doesn’t serve Main Street. That doesn’t serve Wall Street. That doesn’t serve anyone. And that’s why I think it’s so important that we not take this country backward – that we don’t go back to the broken system we had before. We’ve got to keep moving forward. – WH, 10-23-10
  • Big guns push midterm campaigns into high gear In Florida, Palin invokes past; in Minneapolis, Obama says don’t repeat it: Palin, at a Republican rally in Orlando, Fla., claimed Obama and other Democratic leaders created more debt instead of jobs by funding “shovel-ready” projects such as a $3 million Tallahasee turtle tunnel. “We know what he’s shoveling and it’s not asphalt,” Palin said. No matter what your political views may be, if you’re in a contested race for federal office this cycle, someone, somewhere, is probably calling you “extreme.”
    “The momentum is with us but now is not the time to let up; now is the time to dig deep,” Palin said with 10 days to go until the elections. Hundreds of Republicans with “Fire Pelosi” and “Listen to Me!” signs clapped, hooted and waved American flags in the ballroom of the Marriott World Center near Walt Disney World. The gathering was cast as a fundraising rally but had the feel of a county fair.
    “You know, the president is now telling us that we’re not thinking straight because of all the fear and frustration,” Palin said. “You know Mr. President, you have it right on one point there. We are afraid, knowing that your economic policies are driving us off a cliff.” Palin referred to the rally as a “Reagan crowd,” and invoked late President Ronald Reagan’s name several times, noting he was for “the little guy.” “What I love best is he didn’t waste time looking back,” Palin said.
    “Remember the national security policy back then, that was lived out by (former Florida Gov.) Jeb and (former President) G.W. Bush, of we win and they lose.”
    “Before spending more or borrowing or printing, adopt the test of Reagan: Will it empower the individual and make us reach for the stars?”… – MSNBC, 10-23-10
  • In Seattle, Obama tells party faithful: ‘We need you fired up’: President Obama swooped into this traditionally Democratic corner of the country Thursday to implore the party faithful to rekindle the enthusiasm they felt in 2008 and help propel a senator locked in a surprisingly close reelection contest.
    “We need you fired up,” Obama told a packed crowd inside a basketball arena here at the University of Washington to rally for Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.). He added: “We are grinding it out. We are doing the hard, frustrating, inch-by- inch, day-by-day, week-by-week work of bringing about change.”
    “They figured if they just sat on the sidelines and opposed us every step of the way, then eventually they could ride that anger and that frustration to success in this election,” Obama said. “In other words, they were betting on amnesia. They were betting on the idea that you’d forget who caused this mess in the first place. Now let me tell you, Seattle: It’s up to you to tell them you haven’t forgotten.”
    Obama drew about 10,000 students and area residents to the arena here, with 3,000 more watching from a nearby stadium, in a gathering reminiscent of the huge rallies he staged during his 2008 presidential campaign. As Seattle’s morning fog was lifting, the line of supporters wrapped around the university’s soccer field and stretched for several blocks through campus…. – WaPo, 10-21-10
  • Obama: Biden and Clinton are doing great ‘where they are’: President Obama said today that stories about Vice President Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton switching jobs are “completely unfounded.” “They are both doing outstanding jobs where they are,” Obama said in an interview with National Journal. It’s the surest sign yet that Biden will be on the ticket when Obama seeks re-election in 2012. The president has been chatting up his veep ever since book author Bob Woodward and others began talking about the prospect of a Biden-Clinton switch. During a Democratic fundraiser Friday in Biden’s home of Wilmington, Del., Obama said, “The single best decision that I have made was selecting Joe Biden as my running mate.” USA Today, 10-19-10
  • Helen Thomas Cries, Denies Anti-Semitism, Calls President Obama ‘Reprehensible’: In a radio interview, former White House correspondent Helen Thomas acknowledges she touched a nerve with remarks about Israel that led to her retirement. But she says the comments were “exactly what I thought,” even though she realized soon afterward that it was the end of her job. “I hit the third rail. You cannot criticize Israel in this country and survive,” Thomas told Ohio station WMRN-AM in a sometimes emotional 35-minute interview that aired Tuesday. It was recorded a week earlier by WMRN reporter Scott Spears at Thomas’ Washington, D.C., condominium. Thomas, 90, stepped down from her job as a columnist for Hearst News Service in June after a rabbi and independent filmmaker videotaped her outside the White House calling on Israelis to get “out of Palestine.” She gave up her front row seat in the White House press room, where she had aimed often pointed questions at 10 presidents, going back to Dwight D. Eisenhower. She has kept a low profile since then….
    In the below clip (via Mediaite), Thomas can be heard crying after learning that President Obama condemned her remarks about Israel on the “Today” show, calling them “offensive and out of line.” “I think he was very unfair, and I return the compliment on his remarks,” Thomas said. “Reprehensible.”… – Huffington Post, 10-13-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Julian E. Zelizer: Why Democrats are hurting: With the midterm elections just a week away, many Democrats are scratching their heads and wondering what went wrong.
    After Barack Obama’s election in 2008, many in the party thought that they were on the cusp of a new era in American politics. Republicans, and the conservative philosophy that had shaped their party for several decades, seemed to be in retreat.
    Yet less than years later, Republicans are on the verge of recapturing control of the House of Representatives and maybe the Senate. President Obama’s approval ratings have slid since his first year, while Republicans are now looking forward to the election of 2012.
    The most conventional argument about what went wrong for Democrats is that Obama moved too far to the left in a country that is center-right. But this argument is not supported by a recent study by The Washington Post, Henry Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard University.
    The study found that Americans are philosophically conservative but operationally liberal…. 

    Conservatives have also done very well at playing the politics of the media by staying on message and framing Obama and his policies in a negative light. They have been able to turn the president’s legislative victories into political defeats. Obama and his supporters have spent the last few months trying to explain all that he has done. But when a president has to do so much explaining, that means that he has already lost the battle.
    Whatever the outcome of the midterms, Democrats will need to regroup in the coming months. Rather than focusing on allegations of foreign money flowing into the campaign or embarking on some wholesale philosophical shift to the right, Democrats would do better to look at the specific strategic mistakes that they have made along the way and make sure that they don’t repeat them on the road to 2012. – CNN, 10-25-10

  • FRANK RICH: What Happened to Change We Can Believe In?: PRESIDENT Obama, the Rodney Dangerfield of 2010, gets no respect for averting another Great Depression, for saving 3.3 million jobs with stimulus spending, or for salvaging GM and Chrysler from the junkyard. And none of these good deeds, no matter how substantial, will go unpunished if the projected Democratic bloodbath materializes on Election Day. Some are even going unremembered. For Obama, the ultimate indignity is the Times/CBS News poll in September showing that only 8 percent of Americans know that he gave 95 percent of American taxpayers a tax cut.
    The reasons for his failure to reap credit for any economic accomplishments are a catechism by now: the dark cloud cast by undiminished unemployment, the relentless disinformation campaign of his political opponents, and the White House’s surprising ineptitude at selling its own achievements. But the most relentless drag on a chief executive who promised change we can believe in is even more ominous. It’s the country’s fatalistic sense that the stacked economic order that gave us the Great Recession remains not just in place but more entrenched and powerful than ever.
    No matter how much Obama talks about his “tough” new financial regulatory reforms or offers rote condemnations of Wall Street greed, few believe there’s been real change. That’s not just because so many have lost their jobs, their savings and their homes. It’s also because so many know that the loftiest perpetrators of this national devastation got get-out-of-jail-free cards, that too-big-to-fail banks have grown bigger and that the rich are still the only Americans getting richer… – NYT, 10-24-10
  • MARK HALPERIN: After the Midterm Elections: How Obama Can Meet Promises: It is time for a new White House plan. Even the best case for Democrats in the midterms will leave President Barack Obama with the tarnish of repudiation and far fewer members of his own party with whom to work.
    If he wants to continue to achieve his campaign promises, the President is going to have to make some profound changes, something Obama’s stay-the-course history suggests does not come naturally to him. (See scenes from a midterm-elections road trip.)
    By luck or design, however, the newly installed interim chief of staff, Pete Rouse, is one of Washington’s great long-range planners. And Obama and Rouse have at least one comeback model. The Clinton game plan circa 1994 shows how a young Democratic President, seen as overreaching and lurching leftward two years into his term, can move back to the political center, reconnect with the opposition, reclaim his momentum and successfully maintain his agenda…. – Time, 10-25-10
  • Julian Zelizer: FDR Has Suffered This, Too Just when Democrats think they’re making headway, voters send them a midterm message”: President Obama has warned Democratic voters not to be apathetic. “If the other side does win,” he told an audience in Wisconsin on Sept. 28, “They will spend the next two years fighting for the very same policies that led to this recession in the first place.” But Obama probably understated the case. Over the last century, a series of pivotal midterm elections has severely undermined liberal policies—at just those moments when it seemed they were flourishing. With polls predicting strong Republican gains, this election looks to be another such turnaround…. – Newswweek, 10-22-10

August 2, 2010: Obama on “The View” & WikiLeaks Scandal

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 at the convention of Disabled American Veterans, White House Photo, Pete Souza, 8/2/10

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • USA Today poll puts Obama approval at 41%: Public support for President Obama’s Afghanistan war policy has plummeted amid a rising U.S. death toll and the unauthorized release of classified military documents, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll shows. Support for Obama’s management of the war fell to 36%, down from 48% in a February poll. Now, a record 43% also say it was a mistake to go to war there after the terrorist attacks in 2001. Only 41% of those surveyed Tuesday through Sunday approved of the way Obama is handling his job, his lowest rating in the USA TODAY/Gallup Poll since he took office in January 2009. In Gallup’s separate daily tracking poll, his approval was at 45% Monday…. – Gallop, USA Today, 8-3-10
  • President Obama and Vice President Biden’s Daily Public Schedules Now Online – WH Schedules
  • Fox News Poll: Republicans Garner 11-Point Lead in Midterms: With less than 100 days until the midterm elections, American voters would give the edge to Republicans by an 11 percentage-point margin if the Congressional election were today. Yet a majority doesn’t think a Republican takeover of Congress would lead to positive change.
    A Fox News poll released Thursday finds that if Americans were heading to the voting booth today, they would back the Republican candidate in their district over the Democrat by 47-36 percent. Two weeks ago the Republicans had a slimmer 4-point advantage (41-37 percent)…. – Fox News, 7-29-10
  • Obama would lose Presidential election to Republican – ANY Republican – if held today: poll: Two-plus years before the 2012 election, a Republican candidate — any Republican candidate — has a better chance of being President than current White House occupant Barack Obama does. According to a new Quinnipiac University poll , Americans would rather vote for an unnamed Republican than Obama in 2012 by a 39% to 36% margin.
    Obama’s approval rating is now at an all-time low. According to the poll, 44% of Americans approved of the president, while 48% disapproved. Just two months ago, 48% of voters approved while 43% did not.
    “It was a year ago, during the summer of 2009 that America’s love affair with President Barack Obama began to wane,” said Peter A. Brown., assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. And it is the confidence of those critical independent voters he is losing the most. “Today, his support among Democrats remains strong, but the disillusionment among independent voters, who dropped from 52% to 37% approval to 52% to 38% disapproval in the last 12 months, is what leads to his weakness overall when voters start thinking about 2012.”… – NY Daily News, 7-22-10

THE HEADLINES….

Obama-with-The-View-team-004

  • Obama: Officials shouldn’t ‘demagogue’ immigration issue: President Obama said today that public officials who “demagogue” the immigration issue are only making it harder to address “a national problem.”
    “I understand the frustration of people in Arizona,” Obama said. “But what we can’t do is demagogue the issue, and what we can’t do is allow a patchwork of 50 different states, or cities or localities, where anybody who wants to make a name for themselves suddenly says, ‘I’m going to be anti-immigrant, and I’m going try to see if I can solve the problem ourself.’ This is a national problem.”
    “We’ve got a lot of debt,” Obama said. “We’ve got a lot of deficit. Now the Republicans have said that this is their No. 1 concern. I’m going to call them on their bluff. I want to see their ideas for how we’re going to deal with these issues. I’m going to have a bunch of ideas.” USA Today, 8-1-10
  • Obama gives himself a grade of ‘incomplete’ after 18 months: It’s still too early to judge his administration, President Barack Obama says. In an interview broadcast on the CBS “Sunday Morning” program, Obama gave himself a grade of “incomplete” on the first 18 months of his presidency.
    While citing some accomplishments, Obama said the true measure of success will be when the economy has rebounded fully and people are feeling better about it.
    “We still have a long way to go,” Obama said…. – CNN, 8-1-10
  • Ethics trials highlight racial tensions in Congress: Proceedings slated for House members Maxine Waters and Charles Rangel could create a rift between the Congressional Black Caucus and other Democratic leaders…. – LAT, 8-1-10
  • Rangel using 3-way defense against ethics charges: To rebut a lengthy list of alleged ethical misdeeds, Rep. Charles Rangel is trotting out this three-way defense: I didn’t do it. I did it, but was inattentive. Others lawmakers were allowed to do the same thing without penalty. It’s an approach that nervous Democrats are watching closely in one of the most politically explosive cases in years. Should it go to a public trial this fall, smack in the middle of the election season, and should his defense fall short, that won’t help Democratic candidates forced to defend their party’s ethics against Republican campaign attacks…. – AP, 8-1-10
  • Obama to sell auto bailout good news in Michigan: President Barack Obama said Friday that the recent turnaround for U.S. automakers vindicated his unpopular decision to bailout the industry. With Americans facing a still-limping economy and potentially pivotal congressional elections in three months, Obama is seizing on the positive new trends in the auto industry as evidence of broader economic good news. He launched an intensive campaign to highlight the story as a concrete area of improvement with direct ties to his administration’s actions.
    “This industry is growing stronger,” Obama declared from the floor of Chrysler’s Jefferson North plant, which recently added a second shift of production to the tune of about 1,100 jobs. “You are proving the naysayers wrong.” AP, 7-30-10
  • NY reps. spar in House over 9/11 responder bill: The House’s rejection of bill that would have provided up to $7.4 billion in aid to people sickened by World Trade Center dust has opened a sharp rift between two New York congressmen, Republican Peter King and Democrat Anthony Weiner.
    The verbal jousting came on the House floor Thursday night as the vote neared. The results fell largely along party lines, with 12 Republicans joining Democrats supporting the measure, but it failed to win the needed two- thirds majority…. – AP, 7-30-10
  • Andy Griffith’s new role: pitching health care law: Actor Andy Griffith has a new role: pitching President Barack Obama’s health care law to seniors in a cable television ad paid for by Medicare. The TV star — whose role as sheriff of Mayberry made him an enduring symbol of small-town American values — tells seniors that “good things are coming” under the health care overhaul, including free preventive checkups and lower- cost prescriptions for Medicare recipients…. – AP, 7-30-10
  • Rangel to Stand Trial Before House Panel in Ethics Case: The House ethics committee laid out 13 charges of House rules violations against Representative Charles B. Rangel on Thursday, and began the process for a rare public trial on the charges.
    The move came after Mr. Rangel, a veteran congressman, failed to reach a settlement to avoid the rare and potentially embarrassing proceeding before the committee gathered at 1 p.m.
    Mr. Rangel’s lawyers continued to hope they could still settle the case.
    The charges against Mr. Rangel, a Democrat from Harlem, include multiple breaches of the House ban on accepting gifts of more than $50 and of the requirement that members act at all times in a way that reflects creditably on the House…. – NYT, 7-29-10
  • Senator says 6,600 Arlington graves may have been mismanaged: As many as 6,600 graves at Arlington Cemetery, the historic and hallowed burial place for fallen U.S. soldiers, may be “unmarked, improperly marked or mislabeled,” Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, said Thursday…. – CNN, 7-29-10
  • Ousted USDA employee Sherrod plans to sue blogger: Ousted Agriculture Department employee Shirley Sherrod said Thursday she will sue a conservative blogger who posted a video edited in a way that made her appear racist…. – AP, 7-29-10
  • WikiLeaks controversy hovers, but House passes war funding bill: WikiLeaks documents barely made a dent in Congress’s decision to continue funding a surge of US forces into Afghanistan. The House passed the measure 308 to 114…. – CS Monitor, 7-28-10
  • Parts of Ariz. Immigration Law Blocked by Judge: U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton Blocks Controversial Sections of Arizona’s Immigration Law from Taking Effect… – CBS News, 7-28-10
  • Bush tax cuts: Keep some, allow others to expire: With the economy still struggling and worries about the deficit continuing, Congress must carefully evaluate and revise tax policy…. – LAT, 7-28-10
  • Jury gets case in Blagojevich corruption trial: Rod Blagojevich’s fate was in the hands of jurors Wednesday as they prepared to begin deciding whether the impeached Illinois governor tried to sell a nomination to President Barack Obama’s former Senate seat and schemed to use his political power for personal gain. Jurors, weighing evidence against the second Illinois governor in a row to be charged with corruption in office, first received lengthy instructions from the judge on how their deliberations should be conducted — including one instruction that they are not to consider the fact that Blagojevich did not testify. “I’m not expecting” a speedy verdict, Judge James B. Zagel said earlier…. – AP, 7-28-10
  • Obama to make history with appearance on ‘The View’: President Obama becomes the first sitting president to appear on a daytime talk show when he records a pre-taped interview with the ladies of The View on Wednesday. The interview will touch on topics including his administration’s accomplishments, jobs, the economy, the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster and family life inside the White House. The segment is scheduled to air Thursday… – CNN, 7-28-10
  • Obama on ‘The View’: ratings blockbuster or presidential epitaph?: Daytime talk show has political observers split over whether Obama on ‘The View’ will help or hurt his image.
    President Barack Obama’s chat with the ladies of ABC’s daytime talk show, “The View” – taped Wednesday for air on Thursday – has got more than a few media mavens, brand experts and public relations pros in a tizzy. Depending on your, well, viewpoint, Mr. Obama on “The View” is either committing political suicide, making a master marketing move, or contributing to the decline of western civilization, specifically, the United States…. – CS Monitor, 7-28-10
  • Paterson won’t face charges in aide’s incident: New York’s former chief judge says Gov. David Paterson shouldn’t face criminal charges for calling a woman who later dropped domestic violence charges against a key adviser. Retired Judge Judith Kaye said in a report Wednesday that the aide could still face prosecution. But she says the Democratic governor’s actions did not constitute witness tampering…. – AP, 7-28-10
  • Obama: Nothing new in leaked Afghan documents: President Barack Obama says he is concerned about the massive leak of sensitive documents about the Afghanistan war, but says the papers don’t reveal any concerns that were not already part of the debate. In his first public comments on the matter, Obama said the disclosure of classified information from the battlefield “could potentially jeopardize individuals or operations.” But he said the papers fail to generate any information that hadn’t already been explored as part of the White House’s revamped war effort. AP, 7-27-10
  • Obama says WikiLeaks disclosure is reason for concern but doesn’t reveal new issues: Gibbs: Leaked documents a potential threat The White House says the release of 91,000 secret military documents is a breach of federal law and a potential threat to U.S. military personnel. President Obama said Tuesday that the disclosure of “sensitive information from the battlefield” is reason for concern, but that the documents leaked this week about the Afghanistan war do not fundamentally reveal new issues. His remarks came as the Pentagon announced it is launching a criminal probe — led by the Army — to discover the source of the leak, in which 92,000 documents were posted on WikiLeaks.org…. – WaPo, 7-27-10
  • Obama says he still supports climate legislation: Despite setbacks on Capitol Hill, President Barack Obama said Monday he still supports the need for broad climate legislation. Speaking in the Rose Garden following a bipartisan meeting of congressional leaders, Obama said the energy bill making its way through Congress now is “an important step in the right direction.” But, he said, “I want to emphasize that it’s only the first step.” He pledged to keep pushing for passage of a comprehensive energy policy overhaul that addresses climate change. “Our current energy policy is unsustainable,” Obama said…. – AP, 7-27-10
  • Rangel, ethics panel lawyers talking settlement: New York Democrat Charles Rangel is making a last-minute effort to settle his ethics case and prevent a trial that could embarrass him and damage the Democratic Party. The House ethics committee chairman, Democrat Zoe Lofgren of California, says the secret talks are between Rangel’s attorney and the non-partisan staff of the committee. She heads the full ethics committee and also the panel that would decide in a trial whether charges of ethical misconduct could be proved…. – AP, 7-27-10
  • Closing arguments to begin in Blagojevich trial: Contrasting styles of the attorneys likely to produce fireworks… – LAT, 7-26-10
  • Dudley’s path followed unusual turns to CEO of BP: Bob Dudley’s sudden rise to the top at BP PLC shows how the Gulf oil spill has dramatically changed the fortunes of people from local fishermen to corporate executives. Seen as an unlikely candidate just a few months ago, Dudley is set to become the first American to lead the oil giant in its century long history. Dudley will become CEO on Oct. 1 and try to salvage the company’s reputation and investments in the United States. On a phone call with reporters on Tuesday, Dudley said he understands the complexity of rebuilding BP’s image and financial strength. He said BP will emerge as a slimmer but stronger company. Dudley believes the investigation will show “individual misjudgments” by experienced people and “multiple failures” of equipment involving several companies led to the April 20 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig. “I think it is a very complicated industrial accident,” he said…. – AP, 7-26-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • GOP looks to erase Democrats’ comfy House majority: No fewer than 65 House seats across the country — an overwhelming majority held by Democrats — are at risk of changing political hands this fall, enough to bolster Republican hopes of regaining power. Even more races could become competitive as voters look to blame someone for the sluggish economy and take out their frustration on the Democrats who run the government. Already enough seats are in play that Republicans could gain the 39 they need to reclaim the House…. – AP, 8-1-10
  • Ed Rendell: Obama Could Get Primary Challenge in 2012: There has been plenty of speculation about which Republicans will enter the race to challenge President Obama in the 2012 presidential elections. But on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” yesterday, Democratic Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell threw a curveball into the discussion when he suggested that Mr. Obama could face a challenge from within his own party if he were to escalate U.S. involvement in Afghanistan. While the governor didn’t point to any specific potential primary challengers, he implied that Mr. Obama would need to keep his word on beginning to withdraw troops from Afghanistan in July 2011 to avoid a challenge from the left.
    “[A primary challenge] is really possible,” Rendell told Pat Buchanan. “It depends on how far it [the war in Afghanistan] deteriorates.” He added: “But if we start to begin to reduce our presence, I think that’s probably enough to keep an anti-war candidate out of the race.”… — CBS News, 7-28-10
  • Dems election strategy: Equate GOP and tea party: The Democrats’ national chairman on Wednesday trotted out his party’s fall election strategy to limit potential GOP gains, claiming Republican goals are inseparable from the tea party’s, from killing off Medicare to abolishing the departments of Education and Energy. Republicans brushed off Tim Kaine’s attack and struck back at the Democrats who run Washington, saying their “arrogant agenda” has so frustrated voters that they want a new party in charge…. – AP, 7-28-10
  • Could Palin survive a New Hampshire drubbing in ’12? A new poll suggests trouble for her in the first-in-the-nation primary state: PPP is out with a new poll that purports to show Sarah Palin dragging down the GOP’s top Senate prospect in New Hampshire, Kelly Ayotte. Palin raised eyebrows recently by endorsing Ayotte, the party establishment’s preferred choice, and snubbing a candidate with more obvious Tea Party credentials in the September GOP primary. But PPP’s new data shows Ayotte, who has led the presumptive Democratic nominee, Rep. Paul Hodes, by wide margins all year, suddenly losing support among moderate voters, with her overall lead over Hodes dropping to three points…. – Salon.com, 7-27-10
  • Jeb Bush chided for attending Rand Paul event: A Kentucky Democrat running for U.S. Senate says former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is tarnishing his family legacy by appearing at a fundraiser on behalf of Republican Rand Paul. Bush is set to attend a fundraiser for Paul’s U.S. Senate campaign in Louisville on Monday, the 20th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act. Jack Conway says Bush is helping a candidate that doesn’t fully support the act, which was signed into law by Bush’s father, former Republican President George H.W. Bush…. – WaPo, 7-26-10
  • Tancredo plans switch from GOP to run for Colo gov: Former GOP congressman Tom Tancredo plans to switch parties and run for Colorado governor on the American Constitution Party ticket, his spokesman said Monday. WaPo, 7-26-10

POLITICAL QUOTES

President Obama speaks to crowd at GM Auto Plant in Michigan

President Barack Obama delivers remarks at General Motors Auto Plant in Hamtramck, Michigan. The Hamtramck GM plant is one of nine that GM recently kept open during a scheduled summer shutdown in production. July 30, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

  • Weekly Address: President Obama Hails Successes of the Restructuring of the Auto Industry, Calls on GOP Leaders to Stop Blocking Aid for Small Businesses
    emarks of President Barack Obama As Prepared for Delivery Saturday, July 31, 2010 Detroit, Michigan

    Hello everyone. I’m speaking to you from the GM auto plant here in Detroit, Michigan, where a hopeful story is unfolding in a place that’s been one of the hardest hit in America….
    …There’s no doubt that we have a long way to go and a lot of work to do before folks here and across the country can feel whole again. But what’s important is that we’re finally beginning to see some of the tough decisions we made pay off. And if we had listened to the cynics and the naysayers – if we had simply done what the politics of the moment required – none of this progress would have happened.
    Still, even as these icons of American industry are being reborn, we also need to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with America’s small businessmen and women, as well — particularly since they’re the ones who create most of the new jobs in this country.
    As we work to rebuild our economy, I can’t imagine anything more common-sense than giving additional tax breaks and badly-needed lending assistance to America’s small business owners so they can grow and hire. That’s what we’re trying to do with the Small Business Jobs Act – a bill that has been praised as being good for small businesses by groups like the Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Business. It’s a bill that includes provision after provision authored by both Democrats and Republicans. But yesterday, the Republican leaders in the Senate once again used parliamentary procedures to block it. Understand, a majority of Senators support the plan. It’s just that the Republican leaders in the Senate won’t even allow it to come up for a vote.
    That isn’t right. And I’m calling on the Republican leaders in the Senate to stop holding America’s small businesses hostage to politics, and allow an up-or-down vote on this small business jobs bill.
    At a time when America is just starting to move forward again, we can’t afford the do-nothing policies and partisan maneuvering that will only take us backward. I won’t stand here and pretend everything’s wonderful. I know that times are tough. But what I also know is that we’ve made it through tough times before. And we’ll make it through again. The men and women hard at work in this plant make me absolutely confident of that.
    So to all the naysayers out there, I say this: Don’t ever bet against the American people. Because we don’t take the easy way out. That’s not how we deal with challenge. That’s not how we build this country into the greatest economic power the world has ever known. We did it by summoning the courage to persevere, and adapt, and push this country forward, inch by inch. That’s the spirit I see in this plant today, and as long as I have the privilege of being your President, I will keep fighting alongside you until we reach a better day. – WH, 7-30-10
  • Rosie O’Donnell, Sarah Palin disapprove of Obama’s ‘View’ visit: “I have mixed feelings about that,” said O’Donnell, 48, on her Sirius XM radio show Wednesday, the day before Obama’s episode aired. “I don’t really think sitting presidents should go do fluffy daytime TV shows. Maybe an hour on Oprah or something,” said O’Donnell, adding, “although I’m happy for them. That’s a good booking.”
    Sarah Palin also criticized the appearance. On Twitter yesterday, she wrote: “President w/no time to visit porous US/Mexican border to offer help to those risking life to secure us,but lotso’ time to chat on The View?” – USA Today, 7-30-10
  • Obama seeks his “mojo” on daytime TV’s “The View”: President Barack Obama tried to revive his common touch on Thursday with a mainly light-hearted appearance on daytime television where five women hosts grilled him about his Blackberry, Lindsay Lohan and the Afghan war.
    “If we get our mojo back over the next several months, then I am absolutely confident that we are going to be doing terrific, but we’re going to have to make some fundamental structural changes as we go along,” he said.
    “When you feel as if every single initiative that we’re doing is subject to Washington politics instead of ‘is this good for the country,’ that can be frustrating,” he said.
    “If you’ve got chaos … in this region where there’s no functioning government and warlords and terrorist affiliates are able to operate, that is going to be that much tougher for us to make sure that they are not attacking us,” Obama said.
    “I have a Blackberry, but only 10 people have (access to) it,” he said. “And I’ve got to admit it’s no fun, because they think it’s going to be subject to the presidential records act, so nobody sends me the juicy stuff.” – Reuters, 7-29-10
  • Obama defends education policies to critics: Challenging civil rights organizations and teachers’ unions that have criticized his education policies, President Barack Obama said Thursday that minority students have the most to gain from overhauling the nation’s schools. “We have an obligation to lift up every child in every school in this country, especially those who are starting out furthest behind,” Obama told the centennial convention of the National Urban League…. – WH, 7-29-10
  • America stands with Pakistan after plane crash: Obama: US President Barack Obama offered his “deepest condolence” on Wednesday to families and friends of the 152 people killed in a plane crash near Islamabad, which included two Americans. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of those touched by this horrible accident,” Obama said in a statement. “The American people stand with the people of Pakistan in this moment of tragedy.”… – AFP, 7-28-10
  • Kerry plays down significance of leaked war documents: Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. John Kerry said Tuesday the importance of Afghanistan war documents leaked by the whistleblower website WikiLeaks.org should not be overstated.
    “I think it’s important not to over-hype, or get excessively excited about the meaning of those documents,” Kerry, D-Massachusetts, told the committee. The senator called the leak of the documents “unacceptable.” “It breaks the law and equally importantly it compromises the efforts of our troops, potentially, in the field and has the potential of putting people in harm’s way,” he said…. – CNN, 7-27-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Julian Zelizer: Afghan leaks hand Obama new political nightmare: “It makes Bush’s problems his problems. There is no way (Obama) can really separate himself from it,” said Julian Zelizer, professor of history at Princeton University.
    “People will have suspicions about what is going on now.”…
    “The political energy gets sucked out of your administration,” said Zelizer. “We are entering a politically difficult period for this president over the war.” – AFP,
  • Why Some Republicans Want to ‘Restore’ the 13th Amendment: No, it’s not about slavery; like so much of our politics these days, it’s about Barack Obama…. – Newsweek, 7-27-10
  • Julian Zelizer: Why Obama’s fate is tied to congressional Democrats: Last weekend, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke to the Netroots Nation convention, telling liberals to remain supportive of the Obama administration.
    Speaking of achieving landmark legislation on health care and financial regulation, Pelosi said, “The leverage has changed. This doesn’t happen in a Republican Congress. … Understand what is at risk when we go into these elections 100 days from tomorrow.”…
    The president has not been sensitive enough to the fact that his fate rests on the fate of congressional Democrats. Obama can’t separate himself from his party regardless of how much his agenda and political interests might differ from theirs. This is particularly true in an age of intense polarization, when winning bipartisan support is virtually impossible on most legislation….
    If the president can’t do more to improve economic conditions and continues to hand his party colleagues politically explosive bills over the coming years, bad feelings can become as big a problem for this White House as the opposition it faces from the other side of the aisle. – CNN, 7-28-10
  • Joe Klein: Democrats Are Different: It’s hard to imagine two prominent Republican pollsters slagging a sitting Republican President. And yet here we have Pat Caddell, who gave Jimmy Carter to the world, and Doug Schoen, who helped salvage a second term for Bill Clinton, disgorging an incendiary and outrageous argument against Barack Obama on the Wall Street Journal’s op-ed page. (Actually, both Caddell and Schoen are more emeritus than active when it comes to polling, but no matter.)
    The argument is that Barack Obama is divisive. One reason he is divisive, they say, is that he supports immigration reform. George W. Bush supported immigration reform. The Wall Street Journal editorial page has supported immigration reform. Plenty of enlightened Republicans do–for moral reasons and, in the case of the Journal, for valid economic reasons. But Obama supports it–they aver, with zero evidence–solely for political reasons. He wants to gin up the Latino vote. One wonders–and I know I’m going out on a real limb here–if it is possible that the President supports immigration reform because it is the right thing to do. Caddell and Schoen don’t even mention the possibility…. – Time, 7-28-10

President Obama Speaks with Small Business Owners

President Barack Obama talks with small business owners, from left, Brian Bovio, Dave Thornton, and Catherine Horsburgh at the Tastee Sub Shop in Edison, N.J. The President is visiting Edison to discuss the economy and urge Congress to pass support for small businesses. July 28, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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