Political Buzz June 6, 2011: Weinergate: Rep. Anthony Weiner Sexting Scandal

POLITICAL BUZZ

By Bonnie K. Goodman

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

IN FOCUS: WEINERGATE: REP. ANTHONY WEINER SEXTING SCANDAL

US Congressman Anthony Weiner speaks to the media in New York, Monday. Representative Anthony Weiner admitted to sending a lewd photo of himself to a 21-year-old female college student over his Twitter account after previously denying he had done so.

NY Democrat acknowledged ‘inappropriate’ online conduct, had insisted he has no plans to resign: Weiner spokeswoman Risa Heller said Saturday afternoon that the congressman “departed this morning to seek professional treatment to focus on becoming a better husband and healthier person.”
She added that he would request “a short leave of absence from the House” after which he would make a decision on his political future.

Pelosi and Other Leaders Call On Weiner to Resign: The move by the House Democratic leader underscored Democrats’ growing concern about Representative Anthony D. Weiner’s online exchanges with women.

Rep. Anthony Weiner admits sending lewd Twitter picture of himself: Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) acknowledged Monday that he tweeted the lewd picture that has been at the center of a controversy since it surfaced a week ago, and he said the image was of him. “It was something that I did that was just wrong and I regret it,” he said. He apologized and said he is not resigning.

  • Timeline of Rep. Weiner’s online sex scandalWatertown Daily News, 6-11-11
  • Timeline: From a Photo to an Apology (June 7, 2011)NYTREP. ANTHONY WEINER, D-N.Y.:
    Last Friday night, I tweeted a photograph of myself that I intended to send as a direct message as part of a joke to a woman in Seattle.
    Once I realized I had posted it to Twitter, I panicked. I took it down, and said that I had been hacked. I then continued with that story, to stick to that story, which was a usually regrettable mistake.
    To be clear, the picture was of me, and I sent it. I am deeply sorry for the pain this has caused my wife, Huma, and our family and my constituents, my friends, supporters, and staff.
    In addition, over the past few years, I have engaged in several inappropriate conversations conducted over Twitter, Facebook, email, and occasionally on the phone with women I have met online. I have exchanged messages and photos of an explicit nature with about six women over the last three years.
    For the most part, these relations — these communications took place before my marriage, though some have, sadly, took place after. To be clear, I have never met any of these women or had physical relationships at any time.
    I am deeply regret — regretting what I have done, and I am not resigning.
    I have made it clear that I accept responsibility for this, and people who draw conclusions about me are free to do so. I have worked for the people of my district for 13 years and in politics for 20 years. And I hope that they see fit to see in the light that it is, which is a deeply regrettable mistake.
    For my use of Twitter, I mean, it’s not — it’s something that I found useful. And Facebook is a way to get out the message. But I — I certainly wouldn’t obviously do the things that I have done that — that led me — that led me — that led me to this place.
  • Poll backs Weiner vow not to quit: Under growing pressure to quit, Rep. Anthony Weiner insisted again Thursday that he won’t resign, and a new poll showed a majority of voters in his district agreed he should stay in office.
    A new Marist poll released Thursday found 56 percent of registered voters in his 9th Congressional District in Queens and Brooklyn don’t think he should quit over revelations of his salacious social-media life. But the poll also included troubling news for Weiner: Only 30 percent said they definitely would vote for him again…. – Seattle Times, 6-9-11
  • Weiner to Enter Treatment Center and Seek Leave From House: Representative Anthony D. Weiner planned to check himself into a treatment center on Saturday after House Democratic leaders, including Nancy Pelosi, called on him to resign and suggested he needed psychiatric counseling.
    A spokeswoman for Mr. Weiner said he would request a leave of absence from the House and seek treatment, but provided no further details. “Congressman Weiner departed this morning to seek professional treatment to focus on becoming a better husband and healthier person,” said the spokeswoman, Risa Heller. “In light of that, he will request a short leave of absence from the House of Representatives so that he can get evaluated and map out a course of treatment to make himself well. “Congressman Weiner takes the views of his colleagues very seriously and has determined that he needs this time to get healthy and make the best decision possible for himself, his family and his constituents.”
    Ms. Pelosi, the minority leader, was joined in her call for Mr. Weiner to step down by other leading Democrats, including the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida; and the leader of the House Democrats’ re-election efforts, Representative Steve J. Israel of New York. Their calls underscored the growing concern that his online exchanges with women had become a distraction for the party. “Congressman Weiner has the love of his family, the confidence of his constituents, and the recognition that he needs help,” Ms. Pelosi said in a statement. “I urge Congressman Weiner to seek that help without the pressures of being a member of Congress.”
    Ms. Wasserman Schultz called Mr. Weiner’s online exchanges a “sordid affair” that had become an “unacceptable distraction” for the congressman, his constituents and the House. “The behavior he has exhibited is indefensible and Rep. Weiner’s continued service in Congress is untenable,” Ms. Wasserman Schultz said…. – NYT, 6-11-11
  • Abandoned by party leaders, how long can Anthony Weiner hang on?: In a major blow to Rep. Anthony Weiner’s attempt to hold onto his job in the wake of a “sexting” scandal, three top Democratic leaders Saturday told the embattled New York congressman that he has to go…. – CS Monitor, 6-11-11
  • Rep. Anthony Weiner Could Face Trouble For Interacting With 17-Year-Old: A 17-year-old high school student went to a Delaware Police Station Friday with her laptop and cell phone to help authorities analyze the conversations made between her and New York Rep. Anthony Weiner.
    According to Fox News, the girl’s mother said her daughter told her that none of the messages between her and Weiner were inappropriate.
    The Philadelphia Inquirer also reported Friday that Daniel P. McElhatton, who represents the high school student’s family, issued a statement saying: “The ‘Tweets’ in question between the student in question and the Congressman were not salacious or in any manner inappropriate. No photographers were ever sent to her or from her.”… – Neon Tommy (USC), 6-10-11
  • Weiner’s Fifth Sexting Partner Revealed: The fifth woman in the Weinergate scandal has been identified as Traci Nobles, a Pilates and Zumba instructor who repeatedly referred to the Rep. Anthony Weiner’s genitalia in their online chats, the New York Post reported Friday….
    The other women who have come forward are Meagan Broussard, a 26-year-old single mother, Lisa Weiss, a 40-year-old Las Vegas blackjack dealer, and porn star Ginger Lee…. – Fox News, 6-10-11
  • Congressman Anthony Weiner: Why Democrats are extra mad at him: Congressman Weiner faces some steep political fallout – in addition to any personal consequences – after admitting to ‘regrettable’ interactions with several women other than his wife…. – CS Monitor, 6-7-11
  • Huma Abedin, Rep. Anthony Weiner’s wife: Abedin, 34, is a longtime top aide to Hillary Rodham Clinton. She usually stays out of the limelight, in contrast to her headline-grabbing husband, who has been an outspoken Democrat on Capitol Hill…. – WaPo, 6-7-11
  • Report: Rep. Weiner’s wife is pregnant: Huma Abedin, the wife of embattled Rep. Anthony Weiner, is pregnant with the couple’s first child, according to The New York Times.
    The newspaper, citing “three people with knowledge of the situation,” said the couple has disclosed the pregnancy to close friends and family.
    The revelation tops a wild day in which key Democrats have called on Weiner to resign. After days of denials, the New York congressman admitted Monday that he sent a lewd, crotch-level photo of himself to a Seattle woman. He also said he had “inappropriate” relationships with women on Facebook and Twitter.
    Weiner has said he will not resign. During his sometimes-tearful news conference, Weiner also said he and his wife — an aide to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton — have no plans to split up. They got married in July 2010.
    His Democratic colleagues are starting to show their impatience. Rep. Allyson Schwartz of Pennsylvania, who recruits Democratic candidates to run for office, said Weiner has lost his credibility.
    “Having the respect of your constituents is fundamental for a member of Congress. In light of Anthony Weiner’s offensive behavior online, he should resign,” Schwartz, a top lieutenant of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said in a statement…. – USA Today, 6-8-11
  • Weiner’s Wife Is Pregnant: Their marriage has become the subject of intense speculation and scrutiny amid an embarrassing online sex scandal.
    Now, Representative Anthony D. Weiner and Huma Abedin are about to make news of a different kind: they are expecting their first child.
    Ms. Abedin, 35, is in the early stages of pregnancy, according to three people with knowledge of the situation…. – NYT, 6-8-11
  • Huma Abedin, Rep. Anthony Weiner’s unflappable wife: Huma Abedin, the wife of Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.), has for years drawn notice in Washington. In a town that demands conservative conformity, she has been seen as a high-powered professional with exotic beauty and a closet full of Prada suits and heels.
    Now, with her husband’s admission of sexually explicit Internet and phone exchanges with several women, Abedin, 35, joins a more pedestrian group — the wives of wayward and powerful husbands. And her dilemma may be even greater than previously thought after the New York Times reported late Wednesday that the senior State Department aide is pregnant with the couple’s first child. The Times said that Abedin, who is very close to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, was in the early stages of pregnancy when the Weiner scandal unfolded. Abedin left Wednesday for a trip to Northern Africa with Clinton. A person close to the Clinton family confirmed the pregnancy to The Post on Wednesday.
    When asked directly about the development late Wednesday, State Department official Philippe Reines, e-mailed from the Clinton trip in Abu Dhabi: “no comment.”… – WaPo, 6-7-11
  • Online Flirtation With Weiner Started With One Word: Meagan Broussard, a 26-year-old Texan, came to Representative Anthony D. Weiner’s attention when she posted a single word on his Facebook page: “Hottttt.” But, she says, it was the New York congressman who turned up the heat.
    In an interview broadcast Tuesday morning on “Good Morning America,” Ms. Broussard said it was Mr. Weiner who quickly initiated a conversation via instant messaging, Mr. Weiner who moved that conversation in a sexual direction and Mr. Weiner who sent racy photos. “It wasn’t like I was chasing him, at all,” she said.
    Ms. Broussard said she first wrote on Mr. Weiner’s Facebook page in April, after being impressed by a speech she saw on the Internet, delivered by Mr. Weiner, who until last week had best been known for his fiery liberal speech. “He sent me a friend request the same day,” Ms. Broussard said. “I just thought, that’s weird.”
    Ms. Broussard, in the first on-the-record mainstream media interview offering a window into how Mr. Weiner entered into at least six sexually explicit online relationships with women he met via Facebook, said her online exchange with the congressman started simply enough. The congressman, she said, was “asking about Texas, that sort of thing, just joking back and forth.”… – NYT, 6-8-11
  • Weiner exchanges ‘didn’t make sense’ Student’s story fits online pattern: Gennette Cordova said she did not even think the photo was real. It was nearly 9 p.m. on a Friday when Cordova, who was preparing to head out for the night with a friend, logged onto Twitter and discovered that Representative Anthony D. Weiner had sent her a suggestive photo of himself in gray boxer briefs.
    “It didn’t make any sense,” Cordova, a 21-year-old college student in northwestern Washington state, said in her first extensive interview since Weiner confessed in a news conference Monday to sending her the photo. “I figured it must have been a fake.”
    Cordova’s experience with Weiner appears to fit a pattern: In rapid and reckless fashion, he sought to transform informal online conversations about politics and policy into sexually charged exchanges, often laced with racy language and explicit images.
    Cordova, who had text-messaged with Weiner, a New York Democrat, about their shared concern over his conservative critics, said she had never sent Weiner anything provocative. Asked if she was taken aback by Weiner’s decision to send the photo, she said, “Oh gosh, yes.”
    Cordova spoke to The New York Times as Weiner faced intensifying calls for his resignation because of his acknowledged online sexual communications with at least six women over a period of three years. Yesterday, House leaders began a concerted effort to persuade him to step down, as another of his missives, more explicit in nature, surfaced and word went out that his wife, Huma Abedin, an aide to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, is pregnant…. – Boston Globe, 6-8-11
  • Weiner’s downfall a reminder of perils of Jewish pride: He was supposed to be one of Congress’ rising stars, a Jewish boy from Brooklyn with great ambition and promise.
    A truculent Democrat with a penchant for media attention, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) was an unabashed liberal on domestic affairs and a hard-liner on foreign policy, particularly Israel. Like his predecessor in his U.S. House of Representatives seat, Sen. Charles Schumer, Weiner had larger ambitions — in his case, mayor of New York City.
    But then came his shamefaced news conference Monday, when the 46-year-old congressman, who was married last year, admitted to lying about sending a lewd photo to a woman he met on the internet…. – JTA, 6-7-11
  • Weiner should resign, Cantor says: Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the U.S. House of Representatives majority leader, called on Congressman Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) to resign.
    “I don’t condone his activity. And I think he should resign,” Cantor said Tuesday after a Chamber of Commerce luncheon, the Charlottesville Daily Progress reported.
    “We’ve got a lot of serious challenges in this country and a lot of work for Congress to do,” Cantor said. “The last thing we need to do is get enmeshed in a discussion about Congressman Weiner and his Twitter activities.”… – JTA, 6-7-11
  • Anthony Weiner: Jon Stewart Says Congressman’s Confession Is ‘Killing Me’: “This is the weirdest f—ing story I’ve ever seen in my life — or the greatest episode of ‘Maury’ ever,” the “Daily Show” host quips of Andrew Breitbart’s press conference interruption…. – Hollywood Reporter, 6-7-11
  • Weiner Constituents Grapple With ‘Juvenile’ Behavior: Fierce advocate for heavily Jewish district on the ropes after admitting lies and lewd tweeting…. – The Jewish Week, 6-7-11
  • Weiner silent as few colleagues defend him: With pressure increasing from colleagues on both sides of the aisle, embattled Rep. Anthony Weiner fell uncharacteristically silent Tuesday: no news conferences, no cable television appearances and certainly no Twitter posts.
    One day after admitting he had sent sexually charged messages via Twitter and Facebook to half a dozen women over three years — and then lying about it when evidence surfaced last week — the New York Democrat found few friends on Capitol Hill.
    His party’s leader in the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, formally referred his case to the Ethics Committee. Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said Weiner should resign. And when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., was asked what he would tell the congressman if Weiner called seeking advice, he replied, “Call somebody else.”
    Nevertheless, even Weiner’s critics suggested the decision on his fate was up to the congressman and his Brooklyn and Queens constituency…. – USA Today, 6-8-11
  • Anthony Weiner explained self to Bill Clinton: Rep. Anthony Weiner explained himself and apologized for his conduct to Bill Clinton, who officiated his wedding to wife Huma Abedin, sources familiar with the call said.
    Weiner made the call within the past 48 hours. It took place following his emotional press conference Monday in New York City, where he admitted that he had posted a lewd photo of himself to Twitter 10 days earlier, the sources said…. – Politco, 6-7-11
  • Weiner admits he sent lewd picture; won’t quit: After days of denials, a choked-up Rep. Anthony Weiner confessed Monday that he tweeted a photo of his bulging underpants to a young woman, and he also admitted to “inappropriate” exchanges with six women before and after he got married. He apologized for lying but said he would not resign.
    “This was me doing a dumb thing and doing it repeatedly and lying about it,” the 46-year-old New York Democrat said after a week of double-entendre headlines and late-night wisecracks full of Weiner jokes.
    House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi immediately called for an ethics committee investigation into whether Weiner broke House rules…. – AP, 6-6-11
  • Weiner Admits He Sent Lewd Photos; Vows Not to Resign: Representative Anthony D. Weiner, a rising star in Democratic politics who has long aspired to be mayor of New York City, admitted on Monday to having inappropriate online exchanges with at least six women, and repeatedly lying about his role in sending a sexually suggestive photograph to a young woman over Twitter last month.
    An image of Representative Anthony D. Weiner, one of several posted on Andrew Breitbart’s Web site, BigGovernment.com.
    After a week of sometimes indignant public denials and insistence that he was the victim of an Internet hacker, a weeping and stammering Mr. Weiner, 46, acknowledged at a news conference that he had sent the photo of himself in his underwear to the woman in Seattle.
    The six-term congressman from Brooklyn insisted that he had broken no laws and vowed to remain in office, calling the matter an “aberration from which I’ve learned.”
    During an extraordinary 27-minute appearance, the congressman went on to describe a side of his life that he had kept secret from his closest confidants and family members, in which he befriended young female admirers over the Internet and engaged in intimate sexual banter with them. “Over the past few years, I have engaged in several inappropriate conversations conducted over Twitter, Facebook, e-mail and occasionally on the phone with women I had met online,” Mr. Weiner said.
    Mr. Weiner said he had never met the women with whom he corresponded in person and added: “I don’t know what I was thinking. This was a destructive thing to do. I’m apologetic for doing it.”
    But Mr. Weiner’s political standing appeared in grave danger after his news conference. There was a striking absence of any public expressions of support from his colleagues, and the House Democratic leader, Representative Nancy Pelosi, called for an ethics investigation into Mr. Weiner’s conduct. “I am deeply disappointed and saddened about this situation,” she said.
    House ethics rules state that members should conduct themselves “at all times in a manner that shall reflect creditably on the House.”… – NYT, 6-6-11
  • Weiner Says He Sent Photos and Lied, But Won’t Resign: At a news conference in Midtown Monday afternoon, Representative Anthony D. Weiner tearfully confessed to sending a photo of himself in his underwear to a woman via Twitter and then lying about it.
    Mr. Weiner said the indiscretion was part of a pattern of sending inappropriate and at times explicit photos and messages to women he met over the Internet.
    Mr. Weiner, 46, a popular and brash Democrat from Queens who has been considering a run for mayor of New York City and is known for aggressive and sometimes intemperate political commentary on Twitter, apologized repeatedly.
    “I have made terrible mistakes that have hurt the people I care about the most and I’m deeply sorry,” Mr. Weiner said. “I have not been honest with myself, my family, my constituents, my friends and supporters and the media.”
    He said he had no intention of resigning, that he had broken no laws and that while his wife “made it clear that she thought that what I did was very dumb,” his marriage was not ending. He said he never met any of the women.
    After Mr. Weiner’s appearance, the House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, called for an ethics investigation of her Democratic colleague to see if he broke any House rules. Mr. Weiner responded that he would “fully cooperate” with it.
    Mr. Weiner’s speech and question-and-answer session was the culmination (so far) of a drama that began over Memorial Day weekend when the conservative blog BigGovernment.com published a close-up of a man in underwear that appeared to have gone out over Mr. Weiner’s Twitter account to the attention of a woman in Seattle. Mr. Weiner had maintained ever since that he had not sent the photograph, though he said he could not be certain whether he was the person in it.
    On Monday, though, BigGovernment.com published a series of embarrassing photos of Mr. Weiner that it said he had sent to another woman last month, prompting Mr. Weiner to call a 4 p.m. news conference at the Sheraton hotel in Midtown…. – NYT, 6-6-11
  • Rep. Weiner confesses ‘terrible mistakes.’ Did he save his career?: After a week of dodging questions, Rep. Weiner says he sent a lewd photo of himself and lied about it. Nancy Pelosi calls for a federal investigation. Will voters forgive him?… -
    Saying he had made “terrible mistakes” and had lied about it, Rep. Anthony Weiner finally came clean.
    After a week of dodging questions over whether he had sent a lewd photo of himself to a coed in Seattle, the grim faced congressman admitted that and more at a press conference Monday in New York City.
    He admitted he sent photos and had on-line chats – even intimate phone calls – with at least six women over the last three years. He termed his own behavior “destructive,” especially since he continued the practice of communicating with women and sending them risky – even nude – photos, even after he was married…. – CS Monitor, 6-6-11
  • Rep. Anthony Weiner admits sending lewd photos: Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., held a news conference in New York Monday afternoon. He said he lied last week when he claimed that his Twitter account had been hacked by someone who sent photos of a man’s underwear-clad crotch to a young woman in Seattle. At the time, he said he could not say “with certitude” whether the photo was of him…. – USA Today, 6-6-11
  • Rep. Weiner admits tweeting lewd photo of himself: In an extraordinary reversal at an extraordinary news conference, Rep. Anthony Weiner of New York admitted Monday afternoon that he had repeatedly lied to his constituents and the country in denying that he had sent a lewd picture of himself to a college-age woman on Twitter. In a tearful admission, he said that he had in fact sent multiple inappropriate messages to multiple women but that he had done nothing illegal and would not resign.
    “The picture was of me, and I sent it,” said Weiner (D), who called it “a very dumb thing to do,” “a hugely regrettable mistake” and “destructive.” “I am deeply ashamed,” said Weiner, his jaw clenched.
    Soon after Weiner finished speaking, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who he said had urged him to tell the whole truth, called on the House ethics committee to conduct an investigation into his case…. – WaPo, 6-6-11
  • Breitbart publishes alleged photos of Anthony Weiner: Rep. Anthony Weiner is set to to hold a 4 p.m. news conference on Monday after two Web sites run by conservative activists posted stories claiming the lawmaker sent a shirtless photo of himself to a young woman.
    The photo, which has not been independently verified by Weiner or other news organizations, could raise a new problem for the New York Democrat, who gave a muddled account last week in explaining how a photo of a man’s crotch was sent under his Twitter account to a young woman in Washington state.
    At a dramatic Manhattan news conference, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) said he won’t resign despite taking and sending lewd pictures to women. (June 6)
    The new photo shows the bare torso and part of the face of a man resembling Weiner. The websites BigGovernment.com and BigJournalism.com, both of which are run by conservative Andrew Breitbart, posted the photo this morning and said they came from a young woman who got them from Weiner. The websites didn’t identify the woman.
    The photograph is reminiscent of one sent by Rep. Chris Lee (R-N.Y.) to a young woman in the Washington area via the “personals” category on Craigslist.com. Lee resigned shortly after the photo became public…. – WaPo, 6-6-11
  • Rep. Anthony Weiner: ‘The Picture Was of Me and I Sent It’: Rep. Anthony Weiner of New York said today he has engaged in “several inappropriate” electronic relationships with six women over three years, and that he publicly lied about a photo of himself sent over Twitter to a college student in Seattle over a week ago.
    “I take full responsibility for my actions,” Weiner said. “The picture was of me, and I sent it.”
    The announcement came as ABC News prepared to release an interview with Meagan Broussard, a 26-year-old single mother from Texas who provided dozens of photos, emails, Facebook messages and cell phone call logs that she says chronicle a sexually-charged electronic relationship with Weiner that rapidly-evolved for more than a month, starting on April 20, 2011.
    ABC News reached out to Weiner earlier today for comment about his possible ties to Broussard, but he did not respond to requests for an interview. At a press conference later, Weiner confirmed Broussard was one of the women with whom he sexted…. – ABC News, 6-6-11View an exclusive slideshow of images obtained by ABC News.
  • Web Site Posts Image Said to Be of Bare-Chested Weiner: A conservative blog published a series of embarrassing photographs and e-mails on Monday that it claimed had been sent by Representative Anthony D. Weiner to an unidentified woman over the last few weeks.
    The blogger, Andrew Breitbart, said he had obtained the photos and messages from the woman, but did not describe either her or her connection to Mr. Weiner, who is married.
    The photos, posted throughout the day on BigGovernment.com, apparently depict Mr. Weiner barechested and sitting at his computer and show him lounging on a couch in a T-shirt, with two cats at his side.
    Mr. Breitbart said the photos were sent last month, on May 4, 5 and 20.
    Mr. Breitbart, a provocative scourge of the political left, said in an interview that he knows who the woman is and that she would be stepping forward shortly to explain how she came into possession of the photos.
    “You’re going to know who this person is by tomorrow,” Mr. Breitbart said. “She is going to come out of her anonymity in a very short time. She will be coming forward to communicate the means by which she received these photos. I think it will be clear that she is telling the truth.”
    An ABC News employee said that the network has conducted an interview with a woman, who says she received the photos from Mr. Weiner, evidently the same photos Mr. Breitbart obtained.
    As of this afternoon, the network was determining when it would broadcast the interview.
    Mr. Weiner is expected to address the news media at 4 p.m. at a Midtown Manhattan, breaking several days of silence.
    Two people close to Mr. Weiner said he would not resign on Monday, but rather express some responsibility for his actions…. – NYT, 6-6-11Big Government Photos
  • Anthony Weiner: How Twitter’s features tripped him upCS Monitor, 6-6-11
  • Anthony Weiner: Were his dreams of being mayor just Twittered away?CS Monitor, 6-2-11
  • Weiner Admits to Sending Lewd Photos, Faces Call for Ethics Investigation: Rep. Anthony Weiner, D – N.Y., went before cameras Monday to admit to sending sexually explicit photos and messages to several different women. Jeffrey Brown discusses the scandal with NewsHour Political Editor David Chalian. … – PBS Newshour, 6-6-11
  • Twitter scandal: a mess for Anthony Weiner, a lesson for CongressCS Monitor, 6-1-11
  • Why Weiner’s no-sex scandal has him hanging by a thread: It never gets old. The political sex scandal occupies such an integral place in the American experience that it should get a wing of its own at the Smithsonian.
    The past month has been particularly fecund in revelations of gasp-worthy behaviour by the power elite. Dominique Strauss-Kahn (allegedly) and Arnold Schwarzenegger (definitively) became examples of foreign-born bigwigs whose reputations were soiled on U.S. soil.
    U.S. Congressman Anthony Weiner, D-NY, wipes his eye during a news conference in New York where he admitted that he tweeted a bulging-underpants photo of himself to a young woman. Richard Drew/AP
    Then new details of John Edwards’s shameless duplicity emerged in his six-count indictment last week on charges of violating campaign finance laws to hide the affair he was having during his last presidential run.
    New York congressman Anthony Weiner, perhaps proving that one’s patronymic is destiny after all, is the latest to join the bad boys’ club.
    There’s only one problem with this so-called sex scandal, however. Apparently, there was no sex. Unlike Mr. Edwards and Mr. Schwarzenegger, the newlywed Mr. Weiner did not get physical with any of the six women to whom he has admitted sending sexually suggestive photos of himself and talking (lewdly, one presumes) on the phone. He never even met them in person.
    “In an era where we are more and more tolerant and less and less embarrassed by various sexual content – we see more of it on TV and are more explicit about it in our daily conversations – we’re making scandals of things that wouldn’t even have been that scandalous in the Victorian era,” Robert Thompson, director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University, remarked in an interview…. – Globe and Mail, 6-8-11
  • Julian E. Zelizer: Surviving sex scandals: Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) has been at the center of a major scandal ever since the conservative web mogul Andrew Breitbart revealed that the congressman’s Twitter account was a little more interesting than most. As details about Weiner’s tweets and Facebook chats became public, along with photos of naked body parts, the congressman made a profuse public apology.
    House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called for an ethics investigation less than five minutes after he spoke. A growing number of legislators are now demanding that Weiner resign.
    Though the pressure has intensified, Weiner insists he is staying in office. A new poll supports his decision — revealing that more than 60 percent of his constituents believe he should not resign…. – Politico, 6-10-11
  • History shows Weiner could persevere past scandal: If he manages to keep his seat in Congress, Anthony Weiner would join a handful of political figures who survived what initially looked like a career-ending debacle.
    And even if the experiences of the likes of Bill Clinton, Barney Frank, David Vitter and others weren’t enough, a new poll points to a forgiving constituency.
    Both factors point to what observers call a truism in the fast-paced world of seamy gossip and online revelations — the first few days after a politician comes clean are invariably the worst.
    “By sitting tight, most of the politicians were able to stay in office,” said Julian Zelizer, professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. “In general, voters are interested in these sex scandals, but they are not willing to kick their senators or representatives out of office.”… – AP, 6-11-11
  • Rabbi Joshua Hammerman: Jewish Ethics and Anthony Weiner’s Very Bad Week: Q – Does Rep. Weiner’s admitted act of sending out explicit photos of himself disqualify him from public office? Is this a new form of adultery? Given the fact that “sexting” is so common these days among young people, will it become a political albatross comparable to pot smoking for aspiring pols who came of age in the ’60s? After all, isn’t this just a byproduct of the Internet revolution in the way that drug use was the byproduct of the counter culture? Eventually, won’t the culture simply catch up to these new freedoms and no one will care that he did this?
    A – I see what you are getting it. “I took the photo but did not send it” comes perilously close to “I didn’t inhale.” And now, having inhaled pot in one’s youth does not even raise an eyebrow, much less disqualify one from office, as President Obama has proven. So will the same be said for “sexting” a few years from now?
    I doubt it, at least in the case of Rep. Wiener. Politicians may get a pass for other recklessness, but our tolerance for sexual indiscretion while in office has been decreasing with each shocking new revelation…. – The NY Jewish Week, 6-9-11

Budget Showdown: Q & A – How Many Times in US History has the Government Shutdown Over the Budget?

HISTORY Q & A: How Many Times in US History Has the Government Shutdown Over the Budget?

By Bonnie K. Goodman

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

EPA USA BUDGET CONGRESS GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN

Night falls on the Capitol on the eve of a government shutdown in Washington, D.C.(Photo: Michael Reynolds, EPA)

Days to the start of the 2014 fiscal year Congress cannot come to an agreement for a continuing resolution that would keep the government solvent. Adding to the issue this time is not just a budget that the administration could not agree, but also the debt ceiling is reaching its limit about 15 days after the budget expires.

This is second time in Barack Obama’s presidency that a major threat loomed with the pressure of government shutdown. There have been 17 shutdowns in American history concentrated between the 1970s to the 1990s. This will be the 18th shutdown to hit Washington, and by October 17, the government would not have enough funds to meet its international loan obligations.

The government’s budget has been at the center of all previous shutdowns, and the 2013 budget battle is only different that there is the added threat of hit the debt ceiling at the same time. A budget (annual appropriation bills) needs to be passed by Congress and signed by the President prior to the commence of the new fiscal year on October 1, or continuing resolutions also known as stopgap spending bills need to be passed to keep the government operating at the prior year’s fiscal spending limits. However, if Congress fails to pass the appropriation bills, a continuing resolution, or the President vetoes or does not sign the resolution; these results in a government shutdown as there are no funds allocations to operate government.

The last and longest government shutdown in American history was when Democrat Bill Clinton was President and Newt Gingrich was the Speaker of the Republican Congress in November 1995 and in December 1995 through to January 1996. The clash over the 1996 budget caused a government shutdown for six days in the first shutdown and for 21 days during the second shutdown. High partisanship affected the budget negotiation process resulting in the shutdown. According to Charles Tien writing on continuing resolutions in Robert E. Dewhirst, John David Rausch Encyclopedia of the United States Congress, “The government has shut down (partially) a total of 11 times since 1980; the fiscal year 1996 budget battle included two lengthy shutdowns. To avoid or end a government shutdown, the president or Congress must pass either the regular appropriation bill or a continuing resolution.” (149)


JIMMY CARTER

  • September 30 to October 11, 1976 (10 days)
  • September 30 to October 13, 1977 (12 days)
  • October 31 to November 9, 1977 (8 days)
  • November 30 to December 9, 1977 (8 days)
  • September 30 to October 18, 1978 (18 days
  • September 30 to October 12, 1979 (11 days)

Throughout the 1970s, various agencies have had to shutdown because of budget issues. As economic problems increased throughout the 1970s, Democratic President Jimmy Carter became the first president to face the issue of budget fights in Congress leading to the threat of government shutdowns. Lowell Barrington, Michael J. Bosia, Kathleen Bruhn Comparative Politics: Structures and Choices explain Despite being a Democratic President with a Democratic Congress “As Jimmy Carter found out during his four years as president of the United States, even having a legislature controlled by your own party is no guarantee that your policies will pass quickly, or resemble the original initiatives once they do.” (240)

The whole concept of shutting down the government if a budget, appropriation bills, or continuing resolution, started with President Jimmy Carter. Charles Tien writing on continuing resolutions in Robert E. Dewhirst, John David Rausch Encyclopedia of the United States Congress explains, “Since 1980, failure to pass a CR or an appropriations bill has led to a government shutdown. In 1980 President Jimmy Carter’s administration, in reevaluating a law passed in 1870, the Anti-deficiency Act ruled that agencies without appropriations had to close operations. The 1870 law said that “[I]t shall not lawful for any department of the government to expend in any one fiscal year any sum in excess of appropriations made by Congress for that fiscal year, or to involve the government in any contract for the future payment of money in a excess of appropriations.” The Carter administrations ruling of the 1870 Anti-deficiency Act required Agencies without appropriations to shut down immediately.”(149)

Congress used the law to shut down operations at the FTC in 1980. Tien explains; “The first agency to ever shut down for a lapse in appropriations was the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC shutdown for one day in 1980 because Congress refused to pass a full-year appropriation for the agency until it had authorizing legislation.” (149)

RONALD REAGAN

  • November 20 to November 23, 1981 (2 days)
  • September 30 to October 2, 1982 (1 day)
  • December 17 to December 21, 1982 (3 days)
  • November 10 to November 14, 1983 (3 days)
  • September 30 to October 3, 1984 (2 days)
  • October 3 to October 5, 1984 (1 day)
  • October 16 to October 18, 1986 (1 day)
  • December 18 to December 20, 1987 (1 day)

The trend of government showdowns and shutdowns over the budget did not slow with the election of Republican President Ronald Reagan. The introduction of Keynesian supply-side economics to the Federal government, differing economic philosophies regarding spending, and an increase of partisanship between Democrats and Republicans accounted for the succession of government shutdowns throughout the 1980s.

During the Reagan administration, the government spent the most time on the brink of government closures. Steven Hayward writes in The Age of Reagan: The Conservative Counterrevolution 1980-1989; “Unable to agree on a budget, Congress passed a “continuing resolution” in November to keep the government running at current levels. Reagan cast his first veto and brieftly shut down the government, in a pattern that would repeat itself much of the next six years (and which was repeated most dramatically during Bill Clinton’s presidency in 1995).” (188)

It was a battle that began from the onset of the administration and spanning the administration’s two terms. Reagan and David Stockman worked to implement and impose his economic policies on Congress from the very start of his administration, causing friction.

The most remembered government shutdown in the Reagan Administration was in 1981. Tien explains that “President Ronald Reagan’s administration used the shutdown guidelines the following year when Reagan vetoed a continuing resolution that resulted in a three-day broader government shutdown.” (149) After short closures in 1981, 1984, 1985, and 1986, the government again faced similar situation in 1987 a closures were averted.

The Reagan administration in presenting and pursuing the passing of their first federal budget in 1981 looked to cut taxes, and cut spending in order to reduce the deficit and balance the budget. Reagan’s economic solution was a program entitled “America’s New Beginning”; a expansive program that would cut taxes, and spending across the board including social programs in order to reduce the swelling deficit, and infuse the lagging economic situation with life. The 1982 deficit was estimated to reach $109 billion.

Reagan in presenting his 1982 budget pleaded with the American people in a televised address; “Our immediate challenge is to hold down the deficit in the fiscal year that begins next week. A number of threats are now appearing that will drive the deficit upward if we fail to act… And without further cuts, we can’t achieve our goal of a balance budget by 1984…. I’m asking all of you who joined in this crusade to save our economy to help again, to let your representatives know that you will support them in making the hard decisions to further reduce the cost and size of government.” (187) Senator Ted Kennedy gave the Democratic response, “This is the government of the rich, by the rich for the rich.” Summing up that the Democratic Congress was not interested in cutting the deficit or spending especially when it came to social programs.

The Reagan administration looked to cut spending in the upcoming 1982 budget. However, as the economy became increasingly worse by September and the Democratic Congress inability to find areas to cut that would have limited impact to rely upon social programs, there was an impass. Reagan reduced the numbers to 13 billion and then again by late October to half that amount, 7-8 billion, without any tax raises, and finally to meet Congress halfway at 4 billion and no less.

Nov 23, 1981: The spending feud between the Republican President Reagan and the Democratic Congress led to a shutdown. The November 20 deadline for a stop gap spending bill was on a Friday, however the House-Senate Conference delayed it to the following Monday to finalize a bill. The compromise bill consisted of 4 billion in spending savings/cuts, by reducing 2 percent of government spending. The White House in reviewing the numbers claimed there would only be 2 billion in savings from the proposed cuts. When presented with the bill in the morning, Reagan refused to sign Congress’s continuing resolution.

Reporting in the New York Times stated; “President Reagan vetoed the measure as “budget-busting.” Faced with the “difficult choice” of either signing the bill or disrupting Government services, the President said, “I have chosen the latter.”  Reagan’s veto led to a shutdown in the government for the afternoon, forcing 400,000 of the 2.1 million federal employees home. Congress approved a stop gap spending bill which later the same day Reagan signed, ending the shutdown with work resuming the next morning. Only on December 12, 1981, did the Congress and and President Reagan approve an Omnibus spending bill, “setting the spending ceilings for the entire year, except in foreign aid. Thus, although the continuing resolution will be superseded by enactment of individual appropriation bills.” (NYT, 12-13-1981, pg. 80)

The one day shutdown cost the government $65 million with a total of 670,000 workers furloughed. A worker who came to work as part of the essential government workers described it as a “snow day without snow…. People come to work sit around confused worry about their car pools, then maybe get interviewed on television.” (NYT, 12-15-1985, pg. D23)

Oct. 4 1984: Congress failed to pass a stopgap money bill, when a new budget was not passed for the new fiscal year. On October 4th500,000 civil servants out of the 2.9 million civil servants where sent home from their jobs; leading to a partial shutdown. An emergency spending bill passed, which Reagan signed, and normal government operations continued the next morning. Both times the shutdowns were limited in their implications and impacts.

Nov 11, 1985: In Reagan’s second term the government again faced a shutdown. Congress could not agree over a budget agreement, and the need to extend the federal borrowing limit, beyond the limit which was 1,823 trillion, which contradicted plans to balance the budget by 1991.

Oct. 17, 1986: The Democratic Congress and the Presidency’s inability to agree on a new fiscal budget led to another half day furlough. Congress had also failed to come to an agreement and pass a spending bill. At Midday 500,000 non-essential federal employees were forced home. An emergency spending bill passed, returning employees the next day to work.

GEORGE H.W. BUSH

  • October 5 to October 9, 1990 (3 days)

All previous government shutdowns lasted only short periods of time, in 1990 that changed under Reagan’s successor and former Vice President, and then President George H.W. Bush when the government experienced its longest shutdown. In October 1990 the government was shut down a total of three days, because of Democratic Congress and the Republican President could not agree on a budget for 1991. As signs of economic problems were visible on the horizon, the battle was centered on the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act to balance the budget.

Democrats wanted to increase taxes on the nation’s richest to reduce the ballooning deficit, but in the 1988 campaign Bush had promise he would not increase any taxes across the board. Bush threatened to veto any budget that Congress presented to him that included a tax increase.
Oct. 6, 1990: President Bush made good on his veto threat; with the budget vetoed and without a continuing resolution agreed upon, the government was shut down throughout the three day Columbus Day weekend. Both the President and Congress wanted to limit the negative impact of a shutdown, and they agreed the new budget would not include any surtax or tax increases. Over the weekend President Bush then signed a continuance, and government opened on Tuesday morning.

The closure during the holiday weekend, limited the impact a three day closure would had on running the government, had it been closed for three days during the week. Bush was however, was forced to agree to tax increases, going against his main campaign pledge. The President signed the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990 on November 5, 1990 securing a budget for the fiscal year.


BILL CLINTON

  • November 13  to November 19, 1995 (5 days)
  • December 5, 1995 to January 6, 1996 (21 days)

The 1995-1996 shutdowns were the longest amid the most heated battle over the budget between Congress and the President. President Clinton chose to veto several appropriation bills in the 1996 budget, at issue was funding amounts for social programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, public health, education, and the environment, all programs Clinton pledged to maintain to the public, however, the Republicans wanted Clinton to submit a seven year plan for a balanced budget. The Republican Congress could have voted on a continuance to keep the government operating on the previous fiscal years spending limits. However, the Republican controlled Congress looked to shut down the government hoping the public would blame the Democratic President, leading to a Republican victory in the next year’s Presidential election.

Many believed Gingrich was motivated by revenge as opposed to policy when allowed the shutdown to occur, Senator Tom Delay in his memoirNo Retreat, No Surrender wrote, “He told a room full of reporters that he forced the shutdown because Clinton had rudely made him and Bob Dole sit at the back of Air Force One… (After Yizhak Rabin’s funeral, where Clinton refused to discuss the budget as well on the flight) Newt had been careless to say such a thing, and now the whole moral tone of the shutdown had been lost. What had been a noble battle for fiscal sanity began to look like the tirade of a spoiled child. The revolution, I can tell you, was never the same.” Throughout the shutdown Clinton suffered in the polls, but in the end the backlash was against the Republicans instead, whose popularity waned after the shutdowns, and in the 1996 election they actually lost 5 seats in the Congress to Democrats.

Nov 13, 1995: The first shutdown commenced at midnight on November 13, 2005, after a last minute attempt to avert the shut down; Clinton, Gingrich, House Majority Leader Dick Armey, and Senator Bob Dole met, but failed to reach a compromise. Clinton described the negotiations in his memoirs, My Life; “Armey replied gruffly that if I didn’t give in to them, they would shut the government down and my presidency would be over. I shot back, saying I would never allow their budget to become law, “even if I drop to 5 percent in the polls. If you want your budget, you’ll have to get someone else to sit in this chair!” Not surprisingly, we didn’t make a deal.” At the midnight, a partial shutdown led to 800,000 “nonessential employees” being sent home or told not to come into to work, with only emergency government services remained open. This represented 42 percent of the civil servants employed. The shutdown only ceased with an agreement on a temporary spending bill.

Dec 16, 1995-Jan 5, 1996: When the temporary funding measures expired, and no continuance was yet again signed, the government shut down this time for 14 days from December 16, 1995 and finally ending on January 5, 1996; the longest shutdown period in US history. Although Congress enacted resolutions to end the shutdown and another temporary spending bill was signed ending the 21 day partial government shut down, the government did not go back to fully functioning until April. Clinton agreed to submit a seven year balanced budget plan approved by the Congressional Budget Office to ensure the government would keep running after the January 26, 1996 spending extension end date. With the agreement, Clinton declared ‘The era of big government is over.’

In 1990 and in 1995, 1996, the budget battles and their subsequent shutdowns forced compromises, especially on the side of the President more than Congress. In 1990 Bush had to agree to tax increases, while in 1996, Clinton had to agree to a seven year balanced budget plan. Bush going against his campaign pledge lost his 1992 bid for re-election, Clinton however, escaped with a higher approval rating for his handling of the 1996 budget showdown, and was re-elected later that same year, while Republicans heavily shouldered the blame for the shutdowns.

BARACK OBAMA

  • April 2011

President Obama and Congress were able to avert a shutdown during the last battle in April 2011, when at issue was the 7 million difference between the Democrats proposed 33 million and the Republicans 40 million in spending cuts. The President was willing to negotiate with Congress; discussions and reasoning averted a crisis at the last moment.

  • October 1, 2013

The U.S. began shutting down the government on Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013 at midnight after the battling Republican controlled House of Representatives and the Democratic controlled Senate could not agree on a continuing resolution, a stop-gap spending bill to keep the government funded for the new fiscal year. At the core of the conflict is the Senate and President Barack Obama wanting a “clean bill” without out any provisions, while the House has been insisting on some provisions to delays aspects of Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act, the new healthcare law which is beginning to be formally implemented and ready for individuals and families to start enrolling in also on Oct. 1, 2013.

With time run out and negotiations played out by Congress, the Office of Management and Budget’s Director Sylvia Mathews Burwell formally sent out a memo late Monday evening for all government agencies to begin the first government shut down in 17 years, stating that “agencies should now execute plans for an orderly shutdown due to the absence of appropriations.” Approximately 800,000 federal employees will be furloughed as a result of the shutdown.

One aspect is almost certain, 2013 will be added to the list of recent government shutdowns over a budget battle, while only time will tell the long term political ramifications such a shutdown at a time when the economy is slowly recovering.

Political Highlights April 4, 2011: Obama Addresses Libya & Energy Policy; Republican and Democratic Budget Showdown

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS

By Bonnie K. Goodman

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

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

The President speaks at Georgetown University

The President speaks at Georgetown University, Pete Souza, 3/30/11

STATS & POLLS

  • Hillary Clinton now most popular figure in Obama administration: A recent Gallup poll has indicated that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is enjoying a high favorable rating of 66%. That is 7 points higher than President Obama, 9 points higher than Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and 15 points beyond that of Vice President Joe Biden. Are you pleased with her performance so far?
    As war rages on several fronts and much of the Middle East and northern Africa is in turmoil, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton enjoys a favorable rating higher than President Obama, Vice President Biden, or Secretary of Defense Gates…. – CS Monitor, 4-4-11
  • Obama plays long game as crises rage: Obama’s approval ratings in most polls remain in the high 40 percent range — down from the heady days of his early presidency, but still viable, especially with what looks like a weak Republican 2012 field in prospect.
    But there are some warning signs. About half of Americans viewed Obama as a strong and decisive leader in a new Gallup poll this week, down from 60 percent a year ago and 73 percent in April 2009…. – AFP, 4-3-11
  • AP-GfK Poll: Americans souring more on economy: Obama’s approval ratings have held steady at around 50 percent over the past month. But the disconnect between negative perceptions of the economy and signs that a rebound are under way could provide an opening for Republicans at the outset of the 2012 campaign…. – AP, 3-30-11
  • Few Americans see Obama as strong military leader: Only 17 percent of Americans see President Barack Obama as a strong and decisive military leader, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll taken after the United States and its allies began bombing Libya. Nearly half of those polled view Obama as a cautious and consultative commander-in-chief and more than a third see him as indecisive in military matters…. – Reuters, 3-24-11

IN FOCUS

  • Wisconsin: Judge Again Halts Law Stripping Union Rights: A judge on Thursday halted Gov. Scott Walker’s plans — at least temporarily — to cut most public workers’ pay and strip them of most of their union rights. Judge Maryann Sumi of Dane County Circuit Court issued a declaration stating in no uncertain terms that the collective bargaining law that led to weeks of protests had not taken effect, contradicting Republican arguments that it had because a state office published it online. Governor Walker, a Republican, said his administration would comply, despite misgivings…. – AP, 3-31-11

REVOLUTIONS IN THE MIDDLE EAST: LIBYA IN TURMOIL

The President on Libya
President Obama at the National Defense University, White House Photo, Pete Souza, 3/28/11
  • US planes attack as US cuts back Libya mission: U.S. Air Force and Marine attack planes struck targets in Libya on a stretch of Mediterranean coastline near the cities of Sirte and Brega on Monday, the final day of planned U.S. combat missions in the North African nation, U.S. officials said…. – AP, 4-4-11
  • US lifts sanctions on ex-Libyan foreign minister: The Treasury Department said Monday that it had dropped the former minister, Moussa Koussa, from a blacklist of Libyan officials who had been banned from traveling to the United States and whose assets in U.S. jurisdictions had been frozen. The department said it took the step to reward Koussa for his decision last week to defect and encourage other members of Gadhafi’s inner circle to follow suit…. – AP, 4-4-11
  • Former president suggests aiding Libyan rebels: Former President Bill Clinton says the Obama administration should consider arming rebels fighting to oust strongman Moammar Gadhafi in Libya. Clinton tells ABC News in an interview that he “sure wouldn’t shut the door” to assistance for the rebels, reflecting a position that some in Congress have urged President Barack Obama to pursue…. – AP, 4-4-11
  • UN uses attack helicopters in Ivory Coast: The United Nations and French forces opened fire with attack helicopters Monday on the arsenal of this country’s entrenched ruler, as columns of Ivorian fighters allied with his challenger finally pierced the city limit. The fighters aiming to topple strongman Laurent Gbagbo after a decade in power had succeeded in taking nearly the entire countryside in just three days last week, but they faltered once they reached the country’s largest city, where the presidential palace and residence are located…. – AP, 4-4-11
  • US ending its air combat role in Libya: The Pentagon is about to pull its attack planes out of the international air campaign in Libya, hoping NATO partners can take up the slack. The announcement Thursday drew incredulous reactions from some in Congress who wondered aloud why the Obama administration would bow out of a key element of the strategy for protecting Libyan civilians and crippling Moammar Gadhafi’s army.
    “Odd,” “troubling” and “unnerving” were among critical comments by senators pressing for an explanation of the announcement by Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs chairman Adm. Mike Mullen that American combat missions will end Saturday.
    “Your timing is exquisite,” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said sarcastically, alluding to Gadhafi’s military advances this week and the planned halt to U.S. airstrikes. “I believe this would be a profound mistake with potentially disastrous consequences.”… – AP, 4-1-11
  • Gates Calls for Limited Role Aiding Libyan Rebels: Gates, Mullen get tough questioning from House members on US involvement in Gadhafi’s Libya The U.S. should avoid developing a closer relationship with Libyan opposition forces, defense leaders said Thursday, telling an often hostile Congress that foreign nations must now take over airstrike responsibilities and any effort to train and equip the rebels. With the U.S. role in Libya at a turning point, the next critical decision is how, if at all, the U.S. chooses to support the opposition forces, particularly in the face of the ongoing budget crisis at home. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he is opposed to arming the rebels, a step his boss President Barack Obama has not ruled out…. – ABC News, 3-31-11
  • CIA sends teams to Libya; US considers rebel aid: Political and economic pressures will eventually drive Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi from power, but the military operation will help force him to make those choices by degrading his defense capabilities, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday.
    As the U.S. turned over control of the military operation to NATO, Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen told Congress that the U.S. participation will be limited and will not involve an active role in airstrikes as time goes on…. – AP, 3-31-11
  • US rips Assad’s speech but can’t do much about it: The Obama administration sharply criticized Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for failing Wednesday to address any of the reforms demanded by anti-government protesters, saying his widely anticipated address to the Syrian parliament lacked substance and would not satisfy calls for change or ease unrest. However, the administration’s displeasure is unlikely to progress beyond verbal reprimands as the U.S. doesn’t see the Syrian government’s two-week crackdown on dissent as requiring the same response as the large-scale violence launched against protesters by Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi… – AP, 3-30-11
  • Rebels retreat from Libya oil port under attack: Moammar Gadhafi’s ground forces recaptured a strategic oil town Wednesday as they made new inroads in beating back a rebel advance toward the capital Tripoli. Western powers kept up the pressure to force Gadhafi out with new airstrikes to weaken his military, hints that they may arm the opposition and intense negotiations behind the scenes to persuade Libya’s leader of nearly 42 years to step down.
    Airstrikes have neutralized Gadhafi’s air force and pounded his army, but those ground forces remain far better armed, trained and organized than the opposition. Rebels have few weapons more powerful than rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns, and are no match for Gadhafi’s tanks and longer- range heavy weapons…. – AP, 3-30-11
  • Lawmakers seek answers on Libya: A top NATO commander says the U.S. Military role in Libya will be reduced “measurably” with other partners handling responsibilities…. – AP, 3-30-11
  • Obama: Too early to negotiate exit with Gadhafi: President Barack Obama pledged Tuesday to increase diplomatic and political pressure on Moammar Gadhafi to compel the Libyan strongman to step down.
    “Hopefully, he’s going to be getting the message soon,” the president said.
    “One of the questions that we want to answer is: Do we start getting to a stage where Gadhafi’s forces are sufficiently degraded, where it may not be necessary to arm opposition groups,” Obama said on NBC Nightly News.
    He told CBS Evening News that Gadhafi’s inner circle is beginning to recognize that “their days are numbered.” He said some may be negotiating to leave the regime. “But that information may not have filtered to Gadhafi yet,” he said, AP, 3-29-11
  • Renewed US missile barrage amid Libya talks: Stepping up attacks far from the front-line fighting, a U.S. Navy ship fired 22 Tomahawk cruise missiles at weapon storage sites around Tripoli on Tuesday, while President Barack Obama said the effectiveness of the allies’ fight is a factor in deciding whether to arm the rebels.
    Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, meanwhile, held talks in London with an envoy from the Libyan political opposition group trying to overthrow Moammar Gadhafi…. – AP, 3-29-11
  • Levin, McCain back Obama on Libya military action: The top Democrat and Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee say President Barack Obama was right to use military force in Libya.
    Democratic Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan and Republican John McCain of Arizona made the comments Tuesday at the start of a congressional hearing and the day after Obama’s speech on Libya… – AP, 3-29-11
  • Obama adviser: Nonmilitary means can oust Gadhafi: The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations says there are plenty of “non-military means at our disposal” to oust Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi.
    Appearing on the same show, Sen. John McCain said he doesn’t believe it’s possible “in the short term” to get rid of Gadhafi through non-military means such as economic and diplomatic pressure. McCain says “Gadhafi in power is unacceptable. We should use any means to bring him down.”… – AP, 3-29-11
  • FACT CHECK: How Obama’s Libya claims fit the facts: There may be less than meets the eye to President Barack Obama’s statements Monday night that NATO is taking over from the U.S. in Libya and that U.S. action is limited to defending people under attack there by Moammar Gadhafi’s forces.
    In transferring command and control to NATO, the U.S. is turning the reins over to an organization dominated by the U.S., both militarily and politically. In essence, the U.S. runs the show that is taking over running the show.
    And the rapid advance of rebels in recent days strongly suggests they are not merely benefiting from military aid in a defensive crouch, but rather using the multinational force in some fashion — coordinated or not — to advance an offensive.
    Here is a look at some of Obama’s assertions in his address to the nation Monday, and how they compare with the facts…. – AP, 3-28-11
  • Obama on Libya: ‘We have a responsibility to act': Vigorously defending American attacks in Libya, President Barack Obama declared Monday night that the United States intervened to prevent a slaughter of civilians that would have stained the world’s conscience and “been a betrayal of who we are” as Americans. Yet he ruled out targeting Moammar Gadhafi, warning that trying to oust him militarily would be a mistake as costly as the war in Iraq….
    “To brush aside America’s responsibility as a leader and — more profoundly — our responsibilities to our fellow human beings under such circumstances would have been a betrayal of who we are,” Obama said. He spoke in a televised address to the nation, delivered in front of a respectful audience of military members and diplomats.
    “Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different,” Obama said. “And as president, I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action.”…. – AP, 3-28-11

INTERNATIONAL POLITICS

  • Israel panel approving new east Jerusalem building: Jerusalem officials on Monday gave preliminary approval for the building of 942 new apartments in a Jewish development in the city’s contested eastern sector, threatening to create new friction ahead of the Israeli president’s White House visit.
    Although it would take years before construction starts, the project in the neighborhood of Gilo will likely infuriate the Palestinians at an especially delicate diplomatic moment. Israeli President Shimon Peres is scheduled to meet Tuesday with President Barack Obama to explore ways to jump-start stalled Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking…. – AP, 4-4-11
  • Quran protests spread to turbulent Afghan east: In Jalalabad, the largest city in the east, hundreds of people blocked the main highway for three hours, shouting for U.S. troops to leave, burning an effigy of President Barack Obama and stomping on a drawing of a U.S. flag. More than 1,000 people set tires ablaze to block another highway in eastern Parwan province for about an hour, said provincial police chief Sher Ahmad Maladani…. – AP, 4-3-11
  • US to seek new term on UN human rights panel: The Obama administration announced on Wednesday that it will seek a new term on the United Nations Human Rights Council despite concerns that the panel remains a hotbed of anti-Israel sentiment and a forum for repressive nations to deflect attention from abuses they may have committed. The State Department said the U.S. intends to run in 2012 for another three-year term on the oft-criticized council. Officials said the U.S. believes its presence on the panel for the past two years has helped steer it in the right direction and that it can continue to do so…. – AP, 3-30-11
  • US hits Belarus firm with Iran-related sanctions: The Obama administration on Tuesday slapped sanctions on a state-owned energy company in Belarus over a $500 million investment with an Iranian firm accused of contributing to Iran’s suspect nuclear program…. – AP, 3-29-11
  • Papers: Guatemalans welcomed US syphilis doctor: As U.S. doctors in Guatemala were wrapping up one of the most unethical medical experiments they had ever conducted, a Guatemalan medical official praised the lead researcher as noble and thanked him profusely. The Guatemalan official’s praising letter from more than 60 years ago is among thousands of documents released Tuesday concerning the doctor who led the study that infected Guatemalan prison inmates and mental patients with syphilis in the 1940s…. – AP, 3-29-11
  • US sending robots to Japan to help nuclear plant: The U.S. government is sending some robotic help to Japan to help regain control of the tsunami-damaged nuclear plant. A top Energy Department official told a Senate panel Tuesday that a shipment of “radiation hardened robotics” will be sent to Japan to assist in the crisis. A department spokeswoman said a robotic device from the Energy Department’s Idaho National Laboratory is being shipped to Japan along with several radiation-hardened cameras…. – AP, 3-29-11

THE HEADLINES….

  • New Hurdles in Race to Avert Federal Shutdown: House Republicans demanded on Monday that President Obama and Senate Democrats agree to federal spending cuts beyond $33 billion for this year as budget talks hit serious new obstacles just four days before financing for federal agencies runs out. Trying to head off a crisis, President Obama invited Congressional leaders to the White House for a meeting Tuesday to try to resolve the impasse that is threatening to shutter a large part of the federal government as of Saturday. But the administration also accelerated preparations for a potential shutdown.
    “We are aware of the calendar, and to be prudent and prepare for the chance that Congress may not pass a funding bill in time, O.M.B. today encouraged agency heads to begin sharing their contingency plans with senior managers throughout their organizations to ensure that they will have their feedback and input,” Kenneth Baer, a spokesman for the Office of Management and Budget, said Monday…. – NYT, 4-4-11
  • In abrupt reversal, 9/11 suspects to get Guantánamo military tribunals: The Obama administration had wanted to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other 9/11 suspects in a civilian court in New York. It abandoned that plan Monday in favor of military tribunals…. – CS Monitor, 4-4-11
  • Holder: 9/11 suspects to face military tribunals: Yielding to political opposition, Attorney General Eric Holder announced Monday that 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four alleged henchmen will be referred to military commissions for trial rather than to a civilian federal court in New York.
    The families of those killed in the Sept. 11 attacks have waited almost a decade for justice, and “it must not be delayed any longer,” Holder told a news conference.
    Holder had announced the earlier plan for trial in New York City in November 2009, but that foundered amid widespread opposition to a civilian court trial, particularly in New York. Congress passed legislation that prohibits bringing any detainees from the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the United States…. – AP, 4-4-11
  • Government shutdown Friday? Why Tuesday could be crucial: Rep. Paul Ryan will release a ‘dramatic’ budget for 2012 Tuesday that looks to cut $4 trillion over 10 years. That plan makes the $30 billion at issue in a potential government shutdown over 2011 spending look like small potatoes…. – CS Monitor, 4-4-11
  • Obama invites lawmakers to budget session: President Barack Obama on Monday summoned key lawmakers from both parties to the White House for budget talks in hopes of avoiding a government shutdown this weekend. The White House said the president has invited House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and top negotiators on the appropriations committees to a session Tuesday. Obama spokesman Jay Carney said time was running short and the president would urge the lawmakers to reach an agreement.
    “Despite attempts by Democrats to lock in a number among themselves, I’ve made clear that their $33 billion is not enough and many of the cuts that the White House and Senate Democrats are talking about are full of smoke and mirrors,” Boehner said in a statement. “That’s unacceptable.”… – AP, 4-4-11
  • Obama begins 2012 run with challenges, advantages: He was a long shot when he launched his race for the White House in 2008. This time, he’s the front-runner. Surprising no one, President Obama is poised to file papers with the Federal Election Commission as early as today, officially launching his bid for a second term.
    He starts his re-election campaign in one of the stronger positions of sitting presidents over the past four decades. His job-approval rating at this point in his tenure is higher than that of Bill Clinton or Ronald Reagan, presidents who won second terms, and the nation’s jobless rate, now 8.8%, has been slowly declining.
    But as he turns 50 this year, Obama must traverse some perilous landscape. The economic recovery is fragile, and the U.S. military now is involved in three controversial military campaigns — in Afghanistan, Iraq and now Libya — that draw significant opposition from war-weary Americans. What’s more, the big legislative achievement of his presidency, an overhaul of the health care system, fails to win majority support in national public opinion polls more than a year after he signed it…. – USA Today, 4-3-11
  • Obama: Shift from imported oil, new jobs will come: Obama used his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday to promote his ideas for bringing down gasoline prices by decreasing U.S. dependence on foreign oil. A blueprint he outlined in a recent speech calls for increasing domestic oil exploration and production, making cars and trucks more energy efficient and building vehicles that run on alternative fuels or electricity….
    “By doing so, we’re going to make our economy less vulnerable to wild swings in oil prices,” Obama said. “We’re going to use cleaner sources of energy that don’t imperil our climate. And we’re going to spark new products and businesses all over the country by tapping America’s greatest renewable resource: our ingenuity.”… – AP, 4-2-11
  • Obama: Lawmakers close to agreement on budget: President Barack Obama says Democrats and Republicans are close to an agreement on the amount of spending cuts needed in order to keep the government operating and avoid a government shutdown. Obama says there are details and differences to work out, but he says a compromise is within reach…. – AP, 4-1-11
  • Obama: Jobs numbers are sign of economy’s strength: President Barack Obama says unemployment numbers released Friday indicate the economy is showing signs of strength. The unemployment rate fell to a two-year low of 8.8 percent in March, capping the strongest two months of hiring since the recession began. The rate has fallen a full percentage point over the past four months, the sharpest drop since 1983…. – AP, 4-1-11
  • Pentagon defends lifting ban on gays in military: The Pentagon said Friday the military should be trained in working with openly gay members by summer’s end, prompting House Republicans to complain that repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” was moving too quickly in wartime. In a status report to Congress, Clifford Stanley, the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, and Vice Adm. William Gortney of the Joint Staff said the Pentagon was moving forward on educating members of the military on the new policy, what’s expected of them and the responsibilities for commanders and other leaders…. – AP, 4-1-11
  • Obama showcases fuel-saving vehicles: With one eye on the gas pump and the other on his energy agenda, President Barack Obama is showcasing fuel- efficient vehicles as part of his goal to reduce U.S. dependency on foreign oil. The president was to make a short trip Friday to Landover, Md., to visit a UPS shipping facility that features fuel-saving vehicles. Obama was to launch a public-private partnership designed to help large commercial fleets cut back on their diesel and gasoline use. Besides UPS vehicles, Obama also was to view examples of fuel efficiency in the fleets of AT&T, PepsiCo and Verizon…. – AP, 4-1-11
  • For federal workers, anxiety over a possible shutdown: The government could shut down in a week if Congress can’t reach a budget deal. And the Obama administration hasn’t told workers what a shutdown would look like — who will be asked to come to work and who will be told to stay home…. – WaPo, 3-31-11
  • Families urge Obama to end deportations: Hispanic families and immigrant advocates criticized President Barack Obama Thursday for failing to keep campaign promises to change the U.S. immigration system. The critics questioned Obama’s recent comment that he could not use his executive order powers to suspend deportations because doing so “would not conform with my appropriate role as president.” Obama made the comment at a town hall organized by Univision TV network.
    The statement has received a lot of attention in immigrant and some Latino communities. Hispanics voted heavily for Obama in 2008 and some have felt he has let Latino supporters down by failing to move an immigration bill providing legal status to some illegal immigrants, while deporting record numbers of immigrants, many of them Hispanics…. – AP, 3-31-11
  • Obama woos Hispanic vote on education: President Barack Obama, aware of news that the U.S. Hispanic population has hit 50 million, is turning his attention on issues key to Hispanics, including education. Early this week, Obama held a town hall meeting at a D.C. high school, roughly three miles from the White House, where two-thirds of the students are Hispanic. The town hall, broadcast by the Spanish-language TV network Univision, overlapped with the president’s live address to the nation on Libya, but reportedly drew 2.7 million viewers.
    “This is an issue that is critical for the success of America generally,” Obama said. “We already have a situation where one out of five students are Latino in our schools, and when you look at those who are 10 years old or younger, it’s actually one in four.
    “So what this means is, is that our workforce is going to be more diverse; it is going to be, to a large percentage, Latino. And if our young people are not getting the kind of education they need, we won’t succeed as a nation,” the president said….- AP, 3-31-11
  • Obama health idea could mean better care, savings: The Obama administration on Thursday outlined a new approach to medical care that it said could mean higher quality and less risk for patients, while also saving millions of dollars for taxpayers. The plan involves accountable care organizations, which are networks of hospitals, doctors, rehabilitation centers and other providers. They would work together to cut out duplicative tests and procedures, prevent medical errors, and focus on keeping patients healthier and out of the emergency room.
    “We need to bring the days of fragmented care to an end,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said as she announced a proposal regulation that defines how the networks would operate within Medicare…. – AP, 3-31-11
  • Clinton deputy steps down from State Department: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s top deputy, James Steinberg, is resigning his position to take an academic post at Syracuse University. Clinton told State Department personnel on Wednesday that Steinberg will be replaced as the agency’s second-in-command by Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns, who is currently the highest-ranking career diplomat in the foreign service. She said President Barack Obama would nominate Burns for the job, which requires Senate confirmation.
    Clinton said in a notice to employees he had been “indispensable” in helping to formulate and execute policy “on every foreign policy challenge, big and small.”… – AP, 3-30-11
  • Obama to unveil energy security plan: President Barack Obama is outlining a plan for America’s energy security. He’ll give the speech Wednesday morning at Georgetown University in Washington…. – AP, 3-30-11
  • US back to denying same sex couple visas: After a brief reprieve, immigration authorities are once again denying applications for immigration benefits for same sex couples following a legal review. Chris Bentley, a spokesman for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency, said Wednesday that after a review by lawyers from the Homeland Security Department, it was concluded that a law prohibiting the government from recognizing same sex marriages must be followed, despite the Obama administration’s decision to stop defending the constitutionality of the law in court. The law, the Defense of Marriage Act, defines marriage as being between a man and a woman…. – AP, 3-30-11
  • Analysis: US still lacks border strategy: The federal government hasn’t come up with a comprehensive strategy to secure the U.S.-Mexico border, even as an all- out war between Mexico and its violent drug gangs has claimed 35,000 lives and pushed hundreds of thousands of immigrants into the United States…. – AP, 3-30-11
  • Two-thirds of oil and gas leases in Gulf inactive: More than two-thirds of offshore leases in the Gulf of Mexico are sitting idle, neither producing oil and gas, nor being actively explored by the companies who hold the leases, according to an Interior Department report released Tuesday…. – AP, 3-29-11
  • Cost shift seen in raising Medicare age to 67: Employers and even some younger people would pay more for health insurance if lawmakers raise the eligibility age for Medicare, a study to be released Tuesday concludes. The findings suggest that the emerging debate over Medicare’s future matters not only to seniors and those nearing retirement, but to a broad cross-section of Americans. The report from the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation shows that federal taxpayers would save billions if the Medicare eligibility age, currently 65, is increased by two years. But people ages 65 and 66, employers — along with states, Medicare recipients and even some younger families — would see ripple effects that add to their costs…. – AP, 3-29-11
  • Obama says too much testing makes education boring: President Barack Obama said Monday that students should take fewer standardized tests and school performance should be measured in other ways than just exam results. Too much testing makes education boring for kids, he said. “Too often what we have been doing is using these tests to punish students or to, in some cases, punish schools,” the president told students and parents at a town hall hosted by the Univision Spanish-language television network at Bell Multicultural High School in Washington, D.C.
    “One thing I never want to see happen is schools that are just teaching the test because then you’re not learning about the world, you’re not learning about different cultures, you’re not learning about science, you’re not learning about math,” the president said. “All you’re learning about is how to fill out a little bubble on an exam and little tricks that you need to do in order to take a test and that’s not going to make education interesting.”
    “And young people do well in stuff that they’re interested in,” Obama said. “They’re not going to do as well if it’s boring.”… – AP, 3-28-11

112TH CONGRESS

  • House Republicans Propose $4 Trillion in Cuts Over Decade: House Republicans plan this week to propose more than $4 trillion in federal spending reductions over the next decade by reshaping popular programs like Medicare, the Budget Committee chairman said Sunday in opening a new front in the intensifying budget wars.
    Appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” the chairman, Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, also said Republicans would call for strict caps on all government spending that would require cuts to take effect whenever Congress exceeded those limits.
    “We are going to put out a plan that gets our debt on a downward trajectory and gets us to a point of giving our next generation a debt-free nation,” Mr. Ryan said, even as he predicted that the politically charged initiatives he intended to lay out in the 2012 budget beginning Tuesday would give Democrats a “political weapon to go against us.” “But they will have to lie and demagogue to make that a political weapon,” he said…. – NYT, 4-4-11
  • GOP 2012 budget to make $4 trillion-plus in cuts: A Republican plan for the 2012 budget would cut more than $4 trillion over the next decade, more than even the president’s debt commission proposed, with spending caps as well as changes in the Medicare and Medicaid health programs, its principal author said Sunday. The spending blueprint from Rep. Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, is to be released Tuesday. It deals with the budget year that begins Oct. 1, not the current one that is the subject of negotiations aimed at preventing a partial government shutdown on Friday…. – AP, 4-4-11
  • Boehner wants to pass spending cuts with GOP alone: Sometimes in politics and legislation, whether you win is less important than how you win. That’s the dilemma facing House Speaker John Boehner as he tries to round up the votes to pass a fast-approaching spending compromise and avert a partial government shutdown by week’s end.
    Boehner, R-Ohio, wants the overwhelming majority of those votes to come from his fellow Republicans, even if dozens of easily attainable Democratic votes could help carry the budget bill to victory…. – AP, 4-3-11
  • Rubio speaks out after low profile early in Senate: Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a breakout star of the 2010 election and a tea party favorite, kept a low profile early on in the Senate. That’s begun to change. In a matter of days, Rubio made his opposition clear in a Wall Street Journal article to raising the federal debt ceiling and he has called on lawmakers to authorize force to capture Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi…. – AP, 4-2-11
  • House GOP votes to go it alone on budget cuts: The House has passed a Republican bill that declares their $61 billion in budget cuts the law of the land if the Senate and Obama don’t act on the spending measure before April 9. They acknowledge the bill has no practical effect. But House Republicans say it reminds voters that they have passed a budget bill while the Democratic-controlled Senate has not. They say they want to ensure that Democrats are held accountable if there’s a government shutdown next week…. – AP, 4-1-11
  • As Budget Talks Continue, Hard-Liners Get Support From Tea Party: As House Republican leaders worked to cobble together a spending plan for this year that can win bipartisan support, their more conservative members made increasingly clear on Thursday that they consider a proposed $33 billion budget cut to be insufficient. Even as Speaker John A. Boehner urged Republicans to keep in mind that they would have additional opportunities in the coming weeks to cut long-term spending, some members of his caucus said they would be willing to accept a government shutdown if necessary to back up their demand for $61 billion in cuts for the current fiscal year…. – NYT, 3-31-11
  • House amendments undermine safety regulations: The House has approved an amendment that would effectively block a safety regulation proposed by the Obama administration to prevent fires involving air shipments of lithium batteries. The amendment was added Thursday, by a vote of 251-168, to a sweeping aviation bill in the House. The battery regulation has been the focus of intense lobbying by U.S. industry and foreign governments who say it would increase the cost of countless products…. – AP, 3-31-11
  • Democrats lack a heavy hitter against Sen. Brown: Democrats haven’t found a solid challenger to GOP Sen. Scott Brown in liberal Massachusetts next year, stoking concerns the party could blow its best shot to take back the seat held for nearly a half-century by the late Sen. Edward Kennedy. It’s a seat close to Democrats’ hearts, still raw from their humiliating loss to the upstart Brown in 2010.
    The senator’s widow, Vicki Kennedy, has flatly ruled out running. So did former Rep. Joe Kennedy, who joked he was “feeling ill all of a sudden” when reporters recently asked him about challenging Brown.
    The state’s leading Democrat, Gov. Deval Patrick, insists he’s not interested. Former Rep. Martin Meehan, flush with $4.8 million in campaign cash, has rejected pleas from party officials to jump in.
    Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, who rarely minces words, described Brown’s prospects bluntly. “There’s nobody that can beat him,” he told the Boston Herald recently…. – AP, 3-31-11
  • Plane revelations dog McCaskill’s re-election bid: Sen. Claire McCaskill once turned a political opponent’s use of a plane to her advantage. Now she’s seeing the issue from a different vantage point. With a tough re-election race in 2012, the Missouri Democrat has come under heavy criticism for her use of a plane she owns with her husband. First it was revealed that McCaskill, among the wealthiest members of the Senate, had received approximately $79,000 in federal reimbursements for her flights, including at least one to a political event. A few days later, McCaskill revealed that she and her husband had also failed to pay about $320,000 in state taxes on the plane…. – AP, 3-30-11
  • Republicans grill DHS officials on FOIA delays: Republicans in Congress objected Thursday to the Homeland Security Department’s now-rescinded practice of requiring secretive reviews by political advisers of hundreds of requests for government files under the Freedom of Information Act. The chairman of a House oversight committee said the process “reeks of a Nixonian enemies list” and was unacceptable.
    The senior official in charge of submitting files for the reviews, Mary Ellen Callahan, acknowledged there had been “management challenges” in the program and said the political scrutiny “at times took longer than anticipated.” But Callahan deflected suggestions by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., that the process injected political considerations into decisions about federal records the government was turning over to journalists, watchdog groups or even members of Congress…. – AP, 3-30-11
  • House votes to end mortgage reduction program: House Republicans pushed through legislation Tuesday to terminate an underachieving Obama administration program designed to reduce mortgage payments for homeowners in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure. Most Democrats, while acknowledging that the Home Affordable Modification Program has fallen short of original goals, protested the vote to kill it. The White House, in a statement, said that if the bill ever reaches President Barack Obama’s desk, his senior advisers would recommend he veto it. The vote was 252-170…. – AP, 3-29-11
  • House GOP: No stopgap spending bill beyond April 8: The No. 2 Republican in the House said Tuesday that the chamber won’t pass another short-term federal funding bill to avert a government shutdown if talks between the GOP and the White House fail to produce a 2011 spending agreement by an April 8 deadline.
    Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia said “time is up” and that it’s up to Democrats controlling the White House and the Senate to offer significant spending cuts as part of legislation to fund the government for the rest of the budget year.
    “We’re going to need to see a deal struck where our members can go home and tell their constituents that we’re doing what we said we would do,” Cantor said…. – AP, 3-29-11
  • Time short, tempers flare in budget showdown: With the clock ticking toward a possible government shutdown, spending-cut talks between Senate Democrats and the Republicans controlling the House have broken off in a whom-do-you-trust battle over legislation to keep operations running for another six months.
    “Republicans refuse to negotiate,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid declared on Monday. “The infighting between the tea party and the rest of the Republican Party — including the Republican leadership in Congress — is keeping our negotiating partner from the negotiating table. And it’s pretty hard to negotiate without someone else on the other side of the table,” the Nevada Democrat said…. – AP, 3-28-11

COURT AND LEGAL NEWS:

  • Court leaves in place Ariz. school tax break: The Supreme Court rejected a challenge Monday to an Arizona tax break that directs millions of dollars to private religious schools. The justices, in a 5-4 ruling, said that Arizona taxpayers who filed a lawsuit to block the tax break have no legal claim because they are not forced to contribute to the state program that sends money to the religious schools.
    Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the court’s majority opinion, joined by the four conservative justices. Justice Elena Kagan dissented, along with three other liberal justices…. – AP, 4-4-11
  • Government appeals judge’s health care ruling: The Obama administration has appealed a judge’s ruling that found the federal overhaul of the health care system unconstitutional. The Justice Department filed a 62-page motion Friday to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta that said there’s clear and well-established precedent that Congress acted within its authority in adopting the overhaul. It said Congress made “detailed findings establishing a foundation” for exercising the authority.
    Florida and 25 other states filed the lawsuit that said Congress exceeded its authority by requiring all citizens to purchase health insurance or face tax penalties. U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson agreed in a Jan. 31 ruling that said Obama’s entire health care overhaul is unconstitutional. It is considered the most sweeping ruling against the health care law.
    Some states, including Alaska, have cited the decision in refusing to cooperate with the health care law. But Vinson issued another ruling in March ordering states to continue implementing the law while the case makes its way through the courts…. – AP, 4-3-11
  • DOJ probe says Panthers case handled appropriately: In a case that has drawn strong criticism from Republican conservatives, the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility has found no evidence that politics played a role when department attorneys dismissed three defendants from a voting rights lawsuit against the New Black Panther Party.
    “We found no evidence of improper political interference or influence from within or outside the department” and the government attorneys acted appropriately in the exercise of their supervisory duties, OPR said in a letter Tuesday to the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas…. – AP, 3-29-11

STATE & LOCAL POLITICS

  • La Follette says union law not in effect, Walker official disagrees: Special Section: Ongoing coverage of Gov. Scott Walker’s controversial budget-repair bill and the battle over the 2011-’13 state budget Secretary of State Doug La Follette said Saturday that the budget-repair bill has not taken effect because it has not been published by his office.
    “It’s still an act of the Legislature that has not yet become law because I have not yet designated a publication date,” La Follette said. He added the law cannot take effect until he directs publication in the official state newspaper, the Wisconsin State Journal. Normally, a bill takes effect the day after publication…. – Journal Sentinel

ELECTIONS — PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN 2012….

  • A Tea Party Star Stirs Iowans, and She Isn’t Palin Michele Bachmann is weighing a run for president in 2012: Sarah Palin, the reigning heroine of many social conservatives, has given few signals that she will make a presidential bid. Mike Huckabee, who won the Iowa caucuses in 2008 on the strength of his appeal to evangelicals and other constituencies, has mostly offered reasons for not joining the race.
    “It isn’t that I was born thinking I had to be president,” she said, leaning in and talking softer than she does on television or at Tea Party rallies. “I’m getting a lot of encouragement to run from people across the country. I don’t believe this is a rash decision.”… – NYT, 4-3-11
  • For Romney, 2012 strategy runs through NH, Nevada: In his first presidential run in 2008, Mitt Romney sought back-to-back victories in Iowa and New Hampshire to propel him to the GOP nomination. He won neither, the two-state sprint failed and so did his candidacy.
    This time his strategy is more of a multi-state marathon, with economically suffering Nevada an important round in what advisers predict could be a protracted fight to be the party’s 2012 nominee.
    “Seeing somebody learn on the job in the presidency has not been a pretty sight,” Romney said Saturday to the Republican Jewish Coalition in a speech casting himself as a seasoned business executive. “I think the president’s inexperience in negotiations contributed to less than positive developments on the Israeli-Palestinian negotiating front,” Romney said…. – AP, 4-2-11
  • AP sources: Obama set to launch re-election bid: President Barack Obama is about to make one of Washington’s worst kept secrets official: He wants a second term. Democratic officials familiar with the president’s plans said Saturday that Obama intends to file papers as early as this coming week with the Federal Election Commission to launch his 2012 re-election campaign. He also will announce his candidacy to supporters by email and text messages. The officials asked not to be identified in order to speak before the papers are filed…. – AP, 4-2-11
  • Bachmann says she wouldn’t have gone into Libya: A tea party-backed conservative congresswoman says President Barack Obama has failed to demonstrate a vital U.S. national security interest for going into Libya. Rep. Michele Bachmann also says “I would not have gone in” to the strife-torn North African country where strongman Moammar Gadhafi is fighting to cling to power against a resistance force. She says the “Obama doctrine” would provide a rationale for the United States “to enter into one country after another.” Bachmann says she’s against giving military assistance to the rebels fighting Gadhafi, saying she fears there are al Qaida elements among their numbers…. – AP, 3-30-11

QUOTES

The President records the Weekly Address

White House Photo, Pete Souza, 4/1/11

  • Weekly Address: Gas Prices & Energy Security: Remarks of President Barack Obama As Prepared for Delivery Landover, Maryland April 2, 2011: This week, I released a Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future. It’s a strategy to reduce the oil we import from around the world, and to make our economy stronger at home. Part of this strategy involves increasing our oil exploration right here in America. In fact, our oil production last year reached its highest level since 2003, and we want to encourage more safe, responsible drilling where we can.
    But the truth is, drilling alone is not a real strategy to replace our dependence on foreign oil. And that’s because even though America uses 25 percent of the world’s oil, we currently have only about 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves. Even if we used every last drop of all the oil we have, it wouldn’t be enough to meet our long-term energy needs. So, real energy security can only come if we find ways to use less oil – if we invest in cleaner fuels and greater efficiency.
    That’s what we’ve been doing since I took office. For example, we secured an agreement from all the major auto companies to raise the fuel efficiency of their cars and trucks. So if you buy a new car, the better gas mileage is going to save you about $3,000. Altogether, this will save us about 1.8 billion barrels of oil as a country.
    We need to build on this progress. As we make our cars and trucks more efficient, we’ve got to harness new technologies to fuel our vehicles with everything from biofuels to natural gas to advanced batteries. And the good news is, these technologies aren’t science fiction anymore. They exist today. Already, American car companies are producing electric vehicles that use little or no gas. And innovators across America are testing new products that hold incredible promise not just for new vehicles, but for countless new jobs.
    To help jumpstart this market, the federal government has doubled the number of clean energy vehicles that we have in our fleet. In the next few years, we’re going to switch the entire fleet over. And I’m here at UPS because it’s not just the government getting in on the action. Companies like UPS, FedEx, AT&T, Verizon, and PepsiCo – firms with some of the largest fleets in the country – are switching to more efficient vehicles. And through our Clean Fleets Partnership, driven not by government, but by business, more companies are going to be switching to electric and alternative vehicles, too – not out of the goodness of their hearts, but because it’s good for their bottom lines.
    The goal is simple. When I was elected to this office, America imported 11 million barrels of oil a day. Through these and other steps, by a little more than a decade from now, we will have cut that by one third. And by doing so, we’re going to make our economy less vulnerable to wild swings in oil prices. We’re going to use cleaner sources of energy that don’t imperil our climate. And we’re going to spark new products and businesses all over the country by tapping America’s greatest renewable resource: our ingenuity.
    We know how important that is. This week, we learned that the economy added 230,000 private sector jobs last month. That makes 1.8 million private sector jobs created in the last thirteen months. That’s a good sign. But we have to keep up the momentum, and transitioning to a clean energy economy will help us do that. It will ensure that the United States of America is home to the jobs and industries of tomorrow. That’s how we’ll win the future. And that’s how we’ll leave our children an America that is more secure and prosperous than before. – WH, 4-2-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
  • John Boehner: I and my GOP colleagues continue to fight for the largest possible spending cuts. Washington Democrats have claimed there is an “agreement” on cuts – there isn’t. Nothing will be agreed to until everything is agreed to. It’s been 41 days since the House passed H.R. 1 to cut spending & keep the government running. Instead of “rooting for a shutdown,” the Democrat-run Senate should do its job and pass a bill. – Facebook, 4-1-11
  • The Obama Administration’s Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future: Remarks by the President on America’s Energy Security Georgetown University Washington, D.C.: The United States of America cannot afford to bet our long-term prosperity, our long-term security on a resource that will eventually run out, and even before it runs out will get more and more expensive to extract from the ground. We can’t afford it when the costs to our economy, our country, and our planet are so high. Not when your generation needs us to get this right. It’s time to do what we can to secure our energy future.
    And today, I want to announce a new goal, one that is reasonable, one that is achievable, and one that is necessary. When I was elected to this office, America imported 11 million barrels of oil a day. By a little more than a decade from now, we will have cut that by one-third. That is something that we can achieve. (Applause.) We can cut our oil dependence — we can cut our oil dependence by a third.
    I set this goal knowing that we’re still going to have to import some oil. It will remain an important part of our energy portfolio for quite some time, until we’ve gotten alternative energy strategies fully in force. And when it comes to the oil we import from other nations, obviously we’ve got to look at neighbors like Canada and Mexico that are stable and steady and reliable sources. We also have to look at other countries like Brazil. Part of the reason I went down there is to talk about energy with the Brazilians. They recently discovered significant new oil reserves, and we can share American technology and know-how with them as they develop these resources.
    But our best opportunities to enhance our energy security can be found in our own backyard — because we boast one critical, renewable resource that the rest of the world can’t match: American ingenuity. American ingenuity, American know-how.
    To make ourselves more secure, to control our energy future, we’re going to have to harness all of that ingenuity. It’s a task we won’t be finished with by the end of my presidency, or even by the end of the next presidency. But if we continue the work that we’ve already begun over the last two years, we won’t just spark new jobs, industries and innovations — we will leave your generation and future generations with a country that is safer, that is healthier, and that’s more prosperous.
    So today, my administration is releasing a Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future that outlines a comprehensive national energy policy, one that we’ve been pursuing since the day I took office. And cutting our oil dependence by a third is part of that plan.
    Here at Georgetown, I’d like to talk in broad strokes about how we can achieve these goals.
    Now, meeting the goal of cutting our oil dependence depends largely on two things: first, finding and producing more oil at home; second, reducing our overall dependence on oil with cleaner alternative fuels and greater efficiency…. – Read the full Blueprint (pdf) WH, 3-30-11Transcript
  • Mitt Romney: On Jobs, Where is Obama?: Sometimes truth arrives from the most unexpected sources. Christina Romer, President Obama’s former chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisors, said last week that she was dismayed at Washington’s lack of focus on jobs.
    “I frankly don’t understand why policymakers aren’t more worried about the suffering of real families,” Romer said. “We need to realize that there is still a lot of devastation out there.” She called the 8.9% unemployment rate “an absolute crisis.”
    How bad is it? Last week, in the blue-collar community ofTaunton, Mass., the annual jobs fair was canceled because not enough companies came forward to offer jobs.
    Defining Deviancy Down was the title of Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s seminal account of how American society came to condone previously stigmatized conditions and behavior. Moynihan focused on the growing acceptance of the deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill, the expansion of single-parent families and the violence in inner cities. To his examples, we can now add joblessness…. – Mitt Romney, 3-30-11
  • Sarah Palin: FLASHBACK: What We Were Saying One Year Ago About Obama’s Failed Energy Policy: It’s unbelievable (literally) the rhetoric coming from President Obama today. This is coming from he who is manipulating the U.S. energy supply. President Obama is once again giving lip service to a “new energy proposal”; but let’s remember the last time he trotted out a “new energy proposal” – nearly a year ago to the day. The main difference is today we have $4 a gallon gas in some places in the country. This is no accident. This administration is not a passive observer to the trends that have inflated oil prices to dangerous levels. His war on domestic oil and gas exploration and production has caused us pain at the pump, endangered our already sluggish economic recovery, and threatened our national security. Through a process of what candidate Obama once called “gradual adjustment,” American consumers have seen prices at the pump rise 67 percent since he took office. Meanwhile, the vast undeveloped reserves that could help to keep prices at the pump affordable remain locked up because of President Obama’s deliberate unwillingness to drill here and drill now. We’re subsidizing offshore drilling in Brazil and purchasing energy from them, instead of drilling ourselves and keeping those dollars circulating in our own economy to generate jobs here. The President said today, “There are no quick fixes.” He’s been in office for nearly three years now, and he’s about to launch his $1 billion re-election campaign. When can we expect any “fixes” from him? How high does the price of energy have to go?… – Sarah Palin on Facebook, 3-30-11
  • President Obama’s Speech on Libya: Remarks by the President in Address to the Nation on Libya National Defense University Washington, D.C.: Ten days ago, having tried to end the violence without using force, the international community offered Qaddafi a final chance to stop his campaign of killing, or face the consequences. Rather than stand down, his forces continued their advance, bearing down on the city of Benghazi, home to nearly 700,000 men, women and children who sought their freedom from fear.
    At this point, the United States and the world faced a choice. Qaddafi declared he would show “no mercy” to his own people. He compared them to rats, and threatened to go door to door to inflict punishment. In the past, we have seen him hang civilians in the streets, and kill over a thousand people in a single day. Now we saw regime forces on the outskirts of the city. We knew that if we wanted — if we waited one more day, Benghazi, a city nearly the size of Charlotte, could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world.
    It was not in our national interest to let that happen. I refused to let that happen. And so nine days ago, after consulting the bipartisan leadership of Congress, I authorized military action to stop the killing and enforce U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973.
    We struck regime forces approaching Benghazi to save that city and the people within it. We hit Qaddafi’s troops in neighboring Ajdabiya, allowing the opposition to drive them out. We hit Qaddafi’s air defenses, which paved the way for a no-fly zone. We targeted tanks and military assets that had been choking off towns and cities, and we cut off much of their source of supply. And tonight, I can report that we have stopped Qaddafi’s deadly advance.
    In this effort, the United States has not acted alone. Instead, we have been joined by a strong and growing coalition. This includes our closest allies -– nations like the United Kingdom, France, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Italy, Spain, Greece, and Turkey –- all of whom have fought by our sides for decades. And it includes Arab partners like Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, who have chosen to meet their responsibilities to defend the Libyan people.
    To summarize, then: In just one month, the United States has worked with our international partners to mobilize a broad coalition, secure an international mandate to protect civilians, stop an advancing army, prevent a massacre, and establish a no-fly zone with our allies and partners. To lend some perspective on how rapidly this military and diplomatic response came together, when people were being brutalized in Bosnia in the 1990s, it took the international community more than a year to intervene with air power to protect civilians. It took us 31 days. – WH, 3-28-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
  • Weekly Address: The Military Mission in Libya: Remarks of President Barack Obama Washington D.C. March 26, 2011: Last week, when I ordered our armed forces to help protect the Libyan people from the brutality of Moammar Qaddafi, I pledged to keep the American people fully informed. Since then, I’ve spoken about the limited scope and specific purpose of this mission. Today, I can report that thanks to our brave men and women in uniform, we’ve made important progress.
    As Commander in Chief, I face no greater decision than sending our military men and women into harm’s way. And the United States should not—and cannot—intervene every time there’s a crisis somewhere in the world.
    But I firmly believe that when innocent people are being brutalized; when someone like Qaddafi threatens a bloodbath that could destabilize an entire region; and when the international community is prepared to come together to save many thousands of lives—then it’s in our national interest to act. And it’s our responsibility. This is one of those times.
    Our military mission in Libya is clear and focused. Along with our allies and partners, we’re enforcing the mandate of the United Nations Security Council. We’re protecting the Libyan people from Qaddafi’s forces. And we’ve put in place a no fly zone and other measures to prevent further atrocities.
    We’re succeeding in our mission. We’ve taken out Libya’s air defenses. Qaddafi’s forces are no longer advancing across Libya. In places like Benghazi, a city of some 700,000 that Qaddafi threatened to show “no mercy,” his forces have been pushed back. So make no mistake, because we acted quickly, a humanitarian catastrophe has been avoided and the lives of countless civilians—innocent men, women and children—have been saved.
    As I pledged at the outset, the role of American forces has been limited. We are not putting any ground forces into Libya. Our military has provided unique capabilities at the beginning, but this is now a broad, international effort. Our allies and partners are enforcing the no fly zone over Libya and the arms embargo at sea. Key Arab partners like Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have committed aircraft. And as agreed this week, responsibility for this operation is being transferred from the United States to our NATO allies and partners.
    This is how the international community should work—more nations, not just the United States, bearing the responsibility and cost of upholding peace and security.
    This military effort is part of our larger strategy to support the Libyan people and hold the Qaddafi regime accountable. Together with the international community, we’re delivering urgent humanitarian assistance. We’re offering support to the Libyan opposition. We’ve frozen tens of billions of dollars of Qaddafi’s assets that can help meet the needs and aspirations of the Libyan people. And every day, the pressure on Qaddafi and his regime is increasing.
    Our message is clear and unwavering. Qaddafi’s attacks against civilians must stop. His forces must pull back. Humanitarian assistance must be allowed to reach those in need. Those responsible for violence must be held accountable. Moammar Qaddafi has lost the confidence of his people and the legitimacy to rule, and the aspirations of the Libyan people must be realized.
    In recent days, we’ve heard the voices of Libyans expressing their gratitude for this mission. “You saved our lives,” said one Libyan. Said another, “Today, there is hope.”
    Every American can be proud of the lives we’ve saved in Libya and of the service of our men and women in uniform who once again have stood up for our interests and our ideals. And people in Libya and around the world are seeing that the United States of America stands with those who hope for a future where they can determine their own destiny. – WH, 3-26-11TranscriptMp4Mp3

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Government shutdown Friday? Why Tuesday could be crucial: The 2012 budget “is a dramatic proposal, and it gives the freshmen some cover,” says Julian Zelizer, a congressional historian at Princeton University in New Jersey. Congressman “Ryan is talking about going after all the big entitlements and making the kind of cuts in the future that will fundamentally restructure government.”
    “They’ve made this [2012] budget symbolically so charged that it gives Republicans an excuse to compromise [on FY 2011 spending] based on the compromise that they’re going to go big in the budget,” he adds. “That’s quite useful.” – CS Monitor, 4-4-11
  • Obama plays long game as crises rage: “He is a pragmatist, he is also a leader who is elusive, I think on purpose, he doesn’t like to be boxed in ideologically… he purposely makes that difficult for his opponents,” said presidential scholar Julian Zelizer. Zelizer, of Princeton University, said Obama’s approach allows him the elasticity to shift positions if needed — as witnessed in his apparently swift reversal of tack on a no-fly zone in Libya.
    “It’s a strength in that it gives him wiggle room,” said Bruce Buchanan, a University of Texas professor of government.
    “It’s a weakness in that it makes him too chameleon-like, a little bit too easily changed, a little bit too fuzzy for some audiences — especially Republican audiences.”… – AFP, 4-3-11

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

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS

By Bonnie K. Goodman

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

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Speaks at Richard Holbrooke's Memorial

STATS & POLLS

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

GABRIELLE GIFFORDS: SHOOTING IN TUCSON, ARIZONA

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

REMEMBERING RICHARD HOLBROOKE

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

THE HEADLINES….

The President & First Lady after his remarks in Tucson

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

112TH CONGRESS

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

STATE & LOCAL POLITICS

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

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

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

QUOTES

The President records the Weekly Address

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

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

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

January 12, 2011: Haiti Earthquake: One Year Later…

By Bonnie K. Goodman

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

HAITI EARTHQUAKE: ONE YEAR LATER….

http://www.csmonitor.com/var/ezflow_site/storage/images/media/images/0112-haiti-earthquake-anniversary.jpg/9333495-1-eng-US/0112-HAITI-EARTHQUAKE-ANNIVERSARY.JPG_full_600.jpg

IN FOCUS:

  • In Photos: A Year of Tragedy and Survival in Haiti: Wednesday marks one year since a magnitude-7 earthquake devastated Haiti on January 12, 2010, killing more than 230,000 people and injuring many more. – PBS Newshour, 1-12-11
  • Former President George W. Bush on Facebook: Today, we remember and pray for our friends in Haiti whose lives were lost or disrupted by the tragic events last year. To join us in our work to help rebuild a better Haiti, please visit www.clintonbushhaitifund.org.

THE HEADLINES….

  • Haitians recall 2010 quake “hell” as death toll upped: Haiti mourned more than 300,000 victims of its devastating 2010 earthquake on Wednesday in a somber, poignant one-year anniversary clouded by pessimism over slow reconstruction and political uncertainty. When the precise 4:53 p.m. one year anniversary of the moment the January 12 catastrophe struck, many in the poor Caribbean country’s rubble-clogged capital recalled with quiet emotion where they had been and how lucky they were to have survived…. – Reuters, 1-12-11
  • A year after quake, so much undone in Haiti: It took only a half-minute for the earthquake to shatter this island. A year later, the optimism that followed an international outpouring of sympathy, volunteers and money has given way to reality: The problems here are too great to solve in a year’s time. Too much of the skilled labor force perished in the quake; concerns about corruption and the need for planning have slowed the delivery of funds; and bickering over how and where to rebuild to avoid re-creating slums has hampered reconstruction.
    The United Nations, U.S. aid officials and Haiti’s government insist that progress is being made though it’s hard to see amid the widespread devastation. Still, that progress is piecemeal, a reflection of Haitian poverty and institutional weakness before the quake, the scale of devastation after, and the challenge of coordinating an international cast of actors carrying out their own rebuilding objectives, say aid experts…. – USA Today, 1-11-11
  • Haitians turn out for one-year anniversary of quake: The trauma remains fresh for survivors of the magnitude 7.0 earthquake. Nearly a million remain in tents and other temporary housing.
    Hundreds of white balloons were released into the air, buglers played taps and Haitians sang their national anthem a capella Wednesday afternoon to mark the moment when exactly one year ago a ferocious earthquake destroyed much of the nation’s capital and killed more than 300,000 people.
    The magnitude 7.0 quake, which left the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country reeling, wrecked tens of thousands of homes, hospitals, government buildings and national symbols such as the Roman Catholic cathedral and the presidential palace.
    A year later, nearly a million Haitians remain in tents or other temporary shelter. The death of so many has left gaping holes in Haitian society, and the psychological wounds are still fresh.
    In this fervently religious nation, Wednesday was an official “day of reflection.” To mourn, thousands of Haitians walked miles to reach churches throughout Port-au-Prince, the capital, where priests and ministers extolled survivors to be thankful they were alive and to never forget the dead. In at least one case, a minister also scolded the international community for failing to achieve significant reconstruction…. – LAT, 1-12-11
  • One year on, Haiti still in ruins: One year on from the earthquake that devastated Haiti, the massive aid effort has yet to bring stability to the country as cholera, rape and despair take hold. Some $11bn (£7bn) worth of aid has been pledged to the country over the next 10 years, but much of that money has yet to arrive following concerns about government corruption and ongoing riots after November’s disputed election.
    In the centre of Port-au-Prince, the presidential palace still lies in ruins. What was a large, green open space just beyond the palace grounds is nothing but a sea of tents. After all this time, the piles of rocks, wood and mangled metal that were once homes and offices still line the streets. Mountains of it fester between the homes that were spared, like rotten teeth.
    For many, the blame lies firmly at the door of the estimated 4,000 international aid agencies operating in the country. “Nobody knows what they are doing, nobody knows who is sending here, nobody knows how much money they have, nobody knows in what field they are intervening,” says Haitian sociologist and university lecturer Daniel Supplice. “They are all over the place.”… – BBC, 1-12-11
  • Risk of fresh Haiti earthquake could be greater than previously thought: Scientists had thought the Haiti earthquake a year ago released stress on a well-known fault. It didn’t. Instead, it revealed faults that scientists didn’t know existed… – CS Monitor, 1-12-11

QUOTES

  • President Obama on Haiti, One Year Later: As we mark one year since the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti, we honor the memory of the quarter of a million Haitians who were lost, along with more than one hundred Americans, many United Nations personnel and citizens from dozens of nations. We recall how Americans, civilian and military, joined with people from around the world in one of the largest humanitarian efforts ever attempted. And we continue to be inspired by the Haitian people, and our vibrant Haitian American community, who have faced unimaginable loss with extraordinary courage and faith.
    Since the first moments of the disaster, the United States has helped to rally international support for Haiti’s recovery and reconstruction and respond to new challenges, such as the outbreak of cholera and Hurricane Tomas. This global effort, led by the Haitian government, continues today and has been matched by the tremendous compassion of the American people, who in difficult economic times have given generously to help.
    Over the past year, countless lives have been saved and many Haitians affected by the earthquake now have better access to food, water and health care than they did before the disaster. Still, too much rubble continues to clog the streets, too many people are still living in tents, and for so many Haitians progress has not come fast enough. As we have said all along, helping the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere recover from one of the worst natural disasters ever to strike our hemisphere will take years, if not decades.
    So on this day when our thoughts and prayers are with the Haitian people, my message is the same as it was last year. Haiti can and must lead the way, with a strong vision for its future. The international community must now fulfill the pledges it has made to ensure a strong and sustained long-term effort. And as they forge ahead with the hard work of rebuilding their proud country, the people of Haiti will continue to have an enduring partner in the United States. – WH, 1-12-11
  • Patrick Gaspard: Haiti: One Year Later: Today marks the one year anniversary of the catastrophic earthquake that struck Haiti. Nearly a quarter of a million lives were lost, more than three hundred thousand people were injured and more than a million people were left homeless. The President called it a “cruel and incomprehensible” blow to a nation that has known its share of hardship and suffering. None of us will soon forget the images of despair in the days after the earthquake, or the moments of hope as Americans joined together with people from around the world in a massive humanitarian effort.
    This is an important time for us to reflect on the important progress that’s been made, and the many players who have made it possible, while reaffirming the American commitment to Haiti and looking ahead to the work that remains to be done in cooperation with the Haitian people and international partners…. – WH, 1-27-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

UCLA associate professor of history Robin Derby: UC Haiti Initiative works to empower students and improve country’s conditions: Living conditions in Haiti have not improved since the aftermath of the quake, according to associate professor of history Robin Derby, who visited Haiti in November. Many people still live in temporary tent camps where there is a lack of infrastructure, jobs and basic necessities, such as water. Derby visited two tent camps – one in Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, and one on the city’s outskirts.
“People (in Haiti) are just extremely frustrated,” she said. “They want a return to normalcy.”
Derby said many Haitians feel promised aid to Haiti from abroad never arrived. Derby and other members of the UCLA community are trying to change that. Like Morrison, Derby is involved with the UC Haiti Initiative, which hopes to strengthen a University of California partnership with the Université d’Etat d’Haiti, Haiti’s main university. The university’s campus was mostly destroyed during the earthquake. The initiative’s goal is to give the Haitian university access to the UC’s resources, including faculty and research…. – Daily Bruin, 1-11-11

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