History Buzz May 18, 2009: Philip Zelikow Testifies on Torture

HISTORY BUZZ:

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS:

BIGGEST NEWS STORIES:

THIS WEEK IN HISTORY:

IN THE NEWS:

OP-EDs & BLOGS:

REVIEWS & FIRST CHAPTERS:

  • Richard J. Evans: ‘We Are All Guilty’ THE THIRD REICH AT WAR Source: NYT, 5-17-09
  • Bruce Kuklick: America’s First Legal Coup IMPEACHED The Trial of President Andrew Johnson and the Fight for Lincoln’s Legacy Source: WaPo, 5-15-09
  • David C. Frederick: LAW SCOTUS Seizes Power THE GREAT DECISION Jefferson, Adams, Marshall, and the Battle for the Supreme Court Source: WaPo, 5-15-09
  • Philipp Freiherr von Boeselager: WORLD WAR II Targeting Hitler VALKYRIE Source: WaPo, 5-15-09
  • Ronald Hutton: Blood and Mistletoe: The History of the Druids in Britain By Ronald Hutton: review As Ronald Hutton’s Blood and Mistletoe makes clear, we like the idea of the Druids so much that we’ve made up almost everything we know about them, says Noel Malcolm – Source: Telegraph, UK, 5-14-09

QUOTES:

  • William R. Pinch “No Food for Thought: The Way of the Warrior”: You have to marvel at how Lt. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, a former Special Operations commander and the newly appointed leader of American forces in Afghanistan, does it….”The Christians grafted notions of piety and reverence onto asceticism, but the Greeks saw it as about power,” said William R. Pinch, a history professor at Wesleyan University. “They believed you could create power by disciplining the body.” – Source: NYT, 5-16-09

PROFILES & FEATURES:

INTERVIEWS:

HONORS, AWARDED &APPOINTED:

SPOTTED:

EVENTS CALENDAR:

  • June 11-14, 2009: The ninth annual “Reacting to the Past” Institute at Barnard College (New York), Annual summer history institute at Barnard College – Source: Press Release (4-21-09)

ON TV:

  • C-SPAN2: BOOK TV Weekend Schedule
  • PBS American Experience: Mondays at 9pm
  • History Channel: Weekly Schedule
  • History Channel: “The Hitler Conspiracy ” – Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 2pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Nostradamus: 2012” – Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 8pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Life After People: The Invaders” – Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 10pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “God vs. Satan” – Wednesday, May 20, 2009 at 2pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Ku Klux Klan: A Secret History” – Thursday, May 21, 2009 at 2pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “he True Story of Charlie Wilson” – Friday, May 22, 2009 at 2pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Cities Of The Underworld: Alcatraz Down Under” – Friday, May 22, 2009 at 8pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Band Of Brothers” Marathon – Saturday, May 23, 2009 at 12-11pm ET/PT

BEST SELLERS (NYT):

COMING SOON BOOKS:

  • Simon Schama, American Future: A History, May 19, 2009
  • Geoffrey Blainey, Sea of Dangers: Captain Cook and His Rivals in the South Pacific, May 25, 2009
  • Richard Ben-Veniste: Emperor’s New Clothes: Exposing the Truth from Watergate To 9/11, May 26, 2009
  • Douglas Brinkley, Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America, 1858-1919, June 30, 2009

DEPARTED:

  • Professor Norman Gash: Gash, who died on May 1 aged 97, was one of the foremost scholars of 19th–century Britain and an acknowledged authority on Sir Robert Peel – Source: Telegraph, UK, 5-17-09
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May 18, 2009: President Obama and Notre Dame’s Convocation

THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

John Gress/Reuters

President Obama with Richard Notebaert, chairman of the board of trustees at Notre Dame, after delivering his commencement address on Sunday. More Photos >

IN FOCUS: STATS

In Focus: Stats

  • Poll indicates more Americans call themselves ‘pro-life’: It’s the first time since Gallup began asking the question 14 years ago that more don’t say they’re ‘pro-choice’ on abortion.
    For the first time since it began asking the question in 1995, the Gallup Poll reported Friday, 51% of the American adults questioned for its annual Values and Beliefs survey said that when it comes to abortion, they consider themselves “pro-life.” Forty-two percent consider themselves “pro-choice.”… – LAT, 5-15-09

THE HEADLINES….

The Headlines…

  • At Notre Dame, Obama Calls for Dialogue on Abortion: President Obama directly confronted America’s deep divide over abortion on Sunday as he appealed to partisans on each side to find ways to respect one another’s basic decency and even work together to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies…. – NYT, 5-17-09
  • At Notre Dame, Obama confronts abortion uproar: The president’s commencement speech calls for greater understanding and for each side to stop dehumanizing the other. On and off campus, antiabortion protests are staged…. – LAT, 5-17-09
  • Obama to face right-to-life protesters: US President Barack Obama wades into a political thicket Sunday when he speaks at a prestigious Catholic university, where right-to-life protesters have gathered to oppose his support of abortion rights. Obama is to deliver the commencement speech at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, founded in 1842 and one of the leading US Catholic universities…. – AFP, 5-17-09
  • Obama taps aide to guide nominee for Supreme Court: A seasoned Democratic political operative will guide President Barack Obama’s eventual Supreme Court nominee on Capitol Hill, where the Senate’s top Republican on Sunday refused to rule out a filibuster. Stephanie Cutter is expected to leave her job as an adviser to Treasury Secretary Geithner and move next door to the White House, an administration official said. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss personnel decisions and strategy…. – AP, 5-17-09
  • Obama’s Long War Against Cheneyism? – The Atlantic, 5-17-09
  • Obama, Netanyahu to Meet at White House Differences Unlikely to Come to Fore: When President Obama meets one on one with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office tomorrow morning, one thing is virtually guaranteed not to happen: fireworks…. “For different but complementary reasons, both Obama and Netanyahu do not want this meeting to fail,” said Daniel C. Kurtzer, a former ambassador to Israel and a foreign policy adviser to the Obama campaign…. – WaPO, 5-17-09
  • Utah’s GOP governor picked to be envoy to China: With a single stroke Saturday, President Obama swept aside a potential 2012 rival, made his administration more bipartisan and assigned a respected Asia expert to handle the delicate relationship with the United States’ largest economic competitor. Obama announced Saturday that he is nominating Utah’s Republican governor, Jon Huntsman Jr., to be U.S. ambassador to China, choosing an envoy who is fluent in Mandarin Chinese and has deep ties to a country that is critical to U.S. national and economic security.
    “With Jon Huntsman representing the United States in China, I’m confident that we will launch a new era of partnership between our two nations that will advance our shared dreams of opportunity and security in America, in Asia and around the world,” Obama said in the White House Diplomatic Room…. – SF Chronicle, 5-17-09
  • Obama puts pragmatism over promises: His willingness to consider new perspectives and change his position, even when it angers his supporters, is a stark contrast to predecessor George W. Bush’s inflexibility….
    Unlike his predecessor, George W. Bush, who styled himself as “the Decider” and took pride in sticking with decisions come what might, Obama is emerging as a leader so committed to pragmatism that he will move to a new position with barely a shrug…. – LAT, 5-16-09
  • White House laughs at GOP idea to call Democrats “Socialists”: Well, add one more person to the list of people laughing at an effort in the Republican Party to rename their opposition the “Democrat Socialist Party.” White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was asked about the rebranding effort today in his press briefing. “Given the challenges that they face, that;s exactly the way I would be using my time too,” he said chuckling…. – CS Monitor, 5-16-09
  • Panetta’s First Speech as CIA Director to Come Amid Pelosi Controversy: Most of the media attention is certain to remain on Leon Panetta’s repudiation of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s explosive accusation that the CIA lied to Congress about Bush-era interrogation tactics…. – Fox News, 5-16-09
  • Conservatives Map Strategies on Court Fight: …Ten memorandums dissect possible nominees’ records, noting statements the groups find objectionable on issues like abortion, same-sex marriage, the separation of church and state and the propriety of citing foreign law in interpreting the Constitution…. – NYT, 5-16-09
  • Police make arrests at University of Notre Dame: Graduation festivities got under way at the University of Notre Dame on Saturday — as well as another day of demonstrations over President Barack Obama’s appearance Sunday…. – AP, 5-16-09
  • Obama revives terror tribunals, dismaying liberals: President Barack Obama said Friday he would reform and restart the military tribunals he once reviled for Guantanamo Bay detainees, jeopardizing his timetable for closing the prison by January and dismaying many supporters who suggested he was going back on campaign promises…. – AP, 5-15-09
  • Analysis: Democrats focus on torture a gamble: Barack Obama warned Democrats in Congress against making a partisan cause out of the Bush administration’s harsh interrogation tactics. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is ignoring him — loudly — and the party, from the president on down, may pay the price. So far, it’s Pelosi who’s suffered the greatest harm…. – AP, 5-15-09
  • In Detainee Furor, GOP Lands a Rare Blow to Pelosi: After many failed efforts, Republicans have finally found a weak spot in Nancy Pelosi’s political armor as a fight over detainee interrogations engulfs Ms. Pelosi, Republicans and intelligence officials. The furor was heightened on Friday when the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Leon E. Panetta, pushed back against an assertion by Ms. Pelosi, a Democrat who is the House speaker, that she had been misled by agency representatives seven years ago about harsh treatment of terrorism suspects, a claim that struck a raw nerve at the spy headquarters…. – NYT, 5-15-09
  • Reports detail Obama’s new book deal: In the category of It’s Never Too Early to Seek New Supporters, the forms show that Obama in January struck a $500,000 advance deal with Crown Publishing Group for an abridged version of his best-seller, “Dreams From My Father,” aimed at “middle grade or young adult readers.” When the book comes out, Obama will rack up more in royalties: 15% of the hardcover sales price and 10% of the paperback price.
    It’s hard to figure out net worth from these forms because they only ask for broad ranges when reporting value of assets and debts. But the Obamas tax day filing had showed they paid $855,323 in taxes on a combined income of $2,656,902…. USA Today, 5-15-09
  • Obama asks Israel to drop out of Senate race: By persuading Rep. Steve Israel on Friday to drop a run for the Senate just days before he was to announce it, President Barack Obama sought to clear the field in next year’s Democratic primary for appointed Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand…. – Newsday, 5-15-09
  • Pennsylvania Democrats give Specter mixed welcome: Some Democrats who opened their arms to party switcher Sen. Arlen Specter have softened the embrace. Progressive grassroots activists this week posted a fundraising Web link to draft Rep. Joe Sestak to challenge Specter in next year’s Pennsylvania Democratic primary…. – AP, 5-15-09
  • RNC boss: Democrats want to take away gun rights: Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele says Democrats in Washington want to take away the rights of law-abiding Americans to buy and own guns. Steele told thousands of people Friday at the National Rifle Association’s convention in Phoenix that the Obama administration has a theory that drug crime in Mexico could be prevented by banning guns in the United States…. – AP, 5-15-09
  • Cheney talks and the GOP squirms: PLEASE, Dick Cheney, keep talking! Now we know why he was so hunkered down as vice president, except to proclaim that we would be welcomed as liberators in Iraq. Had he been more candid sooner, even more Republicans would have staked their lawns with Obama signs, ashamed of the rock their party lives under. Why Cheney is hitting the news-show circuit at all is amazing, given that his job approval rating was down to 30 percent by the time he left office, according a Washington Post/ABC News poll. Worse, a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll last month found that only 18 percent of Americans had positive feelings for him. This compared with 56 percent in the months after 9/11…. – Boston Globe, 5-15-09
  • Joe Biden announces $100M for lead-paint removal: Nearly $100 million in federal stimulus money will go toward a program to remove lead-based paint and other health and safety hazards from low-income homes, Vice President Joe Biden announced Friday. “This is a real bang for the buck here,” he said. “You have people from this community filling good jobs, helping other families, helping children to stay healthy.”… – AP, 5-15-09
  • Notre Dame’s Invitation to Obama Sparks Protests and Soul-Searching: For more than a century, a statue of the Virgin Mary has presided over the University of Notre Dame here from the top of the iconic golden dome in the center of campus. This week, a different image dominates the sky above: an airplane trailing a giant photograph of a fetus aborted at 10 weeks. Antiabortion groups have sponsored the airplane banner to protest the commencement speech President Barack Obama is scheduled to deliver here on May 17…. – WSJ, 5-9-09

POLITICAL QUOTES

The President gives the Weekly Address on health care and energy

Political Quotes

  • Transcript: Obama’s Commencement Address at Notre Dame: Following is a transcript of President Obama’s commencement address at the University of Notre Dame on May 17, 2009, as released by the White House….. – NYT, 5-17-09
  • Obama calls for understanding in Notre Dame speech: Obama acknowledged that “no matter how much we want to fudge it … the fact is that at some level, the views of the two camps are irreconcilable.” But he still implored the University of Notre Dame’s graduating class and all in the U.S. to stop “reducing those with differing views to caricature. Open hearts. Open minds. Fair-minded words. It’s a way of life that always has been the Notre Dame tradition.” One of the noisiest controversies of his young presidency flared after Obama, who supports abortion rights but says the procedure should be rare, was invited to speak at the school and receive an honorary degree. “I do not suggest that the debate surrounding abortion can or should go away,” the president said…. – AP, 5-17-09
  • Remarks of President Barack Obama Weekly Address Saturday, May 16, 2009: This week the President discusses breakthroughs on two issues where stakeholders from all sides, who once opposed each other, are coming together for real reform. On health care and energy, solutions would provide key pillars for a new foundation for the country. – WH Blog, 5-16-09
  • Changes: Energy, health care 2 areas Obama cites: President Obama said Saturday in his weekly radio and Internet address that he was heartened by the “willingness of those with different points of view and disparate interests to come together around common goals, to embrace a shared sense of responsibility and make historic progress.” “I have always believed that it is better to talk than not to talk, that it is far more productive to reach over a divide than to shake your fist across it,” he said. “This has been an alien notion in Washington for far too long, but we are seeing that the ways of Washington are beginning to change.”…. AP, 5-16-09
  • Michelle Obama’s Commencement Address: Following is a transcript of Michelle Obama’s commencement speech at the University of California, Merced, as provided by the White House…. – NYT, 5-16-09
  • First Lady Delivers a Charge to Graduates: Michelle Obama on Saturday encouraged the first full graduating class at the University of California, Merced, to help change the world by using the same determination they had shown in bringing her to campus.
    “A few people may be wondering why did I choose the University of California, Merced, to deliver my first commencement speech as first lady,” Mrs. Obama said. “The answer is simple: you inspired me, you touched me.” “There are few things that are more rewarding than to watch young people recognize that they have the power to make their dreams come true. And you did just that.”
    Mrs. Obama was drafted to speak here at the smallest, newest campus in the University of California system through a lobbying effort by students and their families. They peppered the White House with letters, videos and hundreds of Valentine’s Day cards. “And let me tell you, it worked,” she said. “Because I’m here.”…. – NYT, 5-16-09
  • Michelle Obama urges graduates to give back: “Many of you may be considering leaving town with your diploma in hand, and it wouldn’t be unreasonable,” Mrs. Obama said before a crowd of 12,000 wilting in the afternoon sun. “By using what you’ve learned here you can shorten the path perhaps for kids who may not see a path at all. I was once one of those kids.” “You will face tough times. You will certainly have doubts, and let me tell you because I know I did when I was your age,” she said. “Remember that you are blessed. Remember that in exchange for those blessings, you must give something back. You must reach back and pull someone up. You must bend down and let someone else stand on your shoulders so that they can see a brighter future.”… – AP, 5-16-09

HISTORIANS’ COMMENTS

Jim Wilson/The New York Times

First Lady Michelle Obama waves to the first full four year graduates of the Univ of California at Merced on Saturday.

Historians’ Comments

  • Myra Gutin “A campus – and a whole town – await the first lady”: The rise in the first lady’s popularity, says Myra Gutin, a first lady historian and professor of communications at Rider University in Lawrenceville, N.J., is in part because Obama’s advisers have done a skillful job of shaping her image and keeping her away from anything controversial. “She and the president have shown very much that they are of the people. She’s going out in the community in Washington, she planted the vegetable garden, and all those things have a cumulative effect,” says Ms. Gutin. Gutin says she can’t know for sure why Obama, who attended Princeton University and Harvard Law School, chose UC Merced, but suspects it’s because it fits within her own particular interests in education. “It seems to go along with the whole philosophy of change and trying to revitalize American education that the Obama administration has endorsed.”…
    When Barbara Bush spoke before Wellesley, the women’s liberal arts college in Massachusetts, in 1990, she knew that she wasn’t the students’ first choice and that her presence had sparked quite a bit of controversy, says historian Gutin. But she ended up winning over the audience and brought down the house when she told the graduating class: “Who knows, somewhere out in this audience may even be someone who will one day follow in my footsteps and preside over the White House as the president’s spouse – and I wish him well.” – CS Monitor, 5-15-09

May 15, 2009: President Obama & Health Care Reform

THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

The President speaks at a town hall in New Mexico

IN FOCUS: STATS

In Focus: Stats

  • Giuliani Narrows Gap With Cuomo in NY Governor Race: In an early look at the 2010 Governor’s race, former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani leads Paterson 54 – 32 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University Poll released this week.
    Giuliani leads 86 – 6 percent among Republicans and 60 – 21 percent among independent voters, while Democrats back Paterson 56 – 30 percent. Giuliani leads 62 – 25 percent among white voters and 51 – 42 percent among Hispanics, while black voters back Paterson 64 – 18 percent.
    Cuomo leads Giuliani 47 – 41 percent in a head-to-head matchup, down from a 53 – 36 percent lead April 6. Independent voters have shifted from 49 – 38 percent for Cuomo April 8 to 44 – 40 percent for Giuliani today. In this latest survey, Giuliani leads 80 – 9 percent among Republicans while Democrats back Cuomo 78 – 16 percent. Cuomo leads 76 – 13 percent among black voters and 52 – 40 percent among Hispanics, as white voters go to Giuliani 47 – 42 percent…. – Newsmax, 5-13-09
  • Obama Approval Picks Up in May Still, only 25% say they would definitely vote to re-elect him in 2012: President Barack Obama appears to be slightly more popular with Americans at the start of his second 100 days in office than he was, on average, during his first 100. Gallup Poll Daily tracking from May 7-9 finds 66% of Americans approving of how he is handling his job, compared with an average 63% from January through April.
    Obama’s approval rating has registered 66% or better in each Gallup three-day rolling average since May 2. His 68% approval rating reported on May 3 is tied for the second highest of his presidency, exceeded only by the 69% recorded immediately after his inauguration. And except for one 66% approval rating in late April, all of Obama’s previous 66% to 68% readings were obtained near the start of his term…. – Gallop, 5-11-09

THE HEADLINES….

The President meets with House Leaders
(President Barack Obama meets with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, and House Education and Labor Committee Chair Rep. George Miller, in the Oval Office Wednesday, May 13, 2009.  House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Rep. Henry Waxman, and House Ways and Means Committee  Chair Rep. Charlie Rangel also attended the meeting but are not in the photo.  Official White house Photo by Pete Souza.)

The Headlines…

  • House votes $97 billion war funds, despite doubts: Despite Democrats’ rising anxiety about Afghanistan, the House on Thursday easily passed a $96.7 billion measure filling President Barack Obama’s request for war spending and foreign aid efforts there and in Iraq. Some 51 Democrats broke with Obama, who is sending thousands more troops into Afghanistan, but all but a handful of Republicans stood behind the president to produce a 368-60 tally. Republicans supported the measure even though majority Democrats added almost $12 billion to Obama’s $85 billion request…. – AP, 5-14-09
  • Pelosi Says She Knew of Waterboarding by 2003: The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, acknowledged for the first time Thursday that she knew by early 2003 that the Central Intelligence Agency had subjected terror detainees to waterboarding but saw little recourse to challenge the practice except by achieving Democratic control of Congress and the White House…. – NYT, 5-14-09
  • GOP recruiters tilting toward center in 2010 races: Dick Cheney and Rush Limbaugh contend the Republican Party needs less moderation and more conservative backbone to win back voters who have been abandoning it in droves. Leaders of the party’s 2010 election efforts are showing they don’t think ideological purity is the answer…. – AP, 5-14-09
  • CIA rebuffs Cheney over interrogation documents: The CIA on Thursday rejected a request by former Vice President Dick Cheney that it make public documents that he said showed the effectiveness of using harsh interrogation methods on terrorism suspects…. – Reuters, 5-14-09
  • Obama to revive terror tribunals, with more rights: President Barack Obama will restart Bush-era military tribunals for a small number of Guantanamo detainees, reviving a fiercely disputed trial system he once denounced but with new legal protections for terror suspects, U.S. officials said Thursday. The military trials will remain frozen for another four months as the administration adjusts the legal system that is expected to try fewer than 20 of the 241 detainees currently at the U.S. naval detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Thirteen detainees — including five charged with helping orchestrate the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks — are already in the tribunal system…. – AP, 5-14-09
  • Obama administration to expand housing plan: The Obama administration expanded its $50 billion mortgage aid program on Thursday, announcing new measures that would help homeowners avoid a foreclosure if they don’t qualify for other assistance…. – AP, 5-14-09
  • Obama seeks to block release of abuse photos: President Barack Obama declared Wednesday he would try to block the court-ordered release of photos showing U.S. troops abusing prisoners, abruptly reversing his position out of concern the pictures would “further inflame anti-American opinion” and endanger U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan…. – AP, 5-13-09
  • Bill Clinton Takes ‘Aim’ at Cheney’s Criticisms of Obama’s Foreign Policy: At a campaign event for Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe, former President Bill Clinton said he believes the country’s foreign policy is better off in the hands of the Obama administration. “I like this new approach. I think it will serve us well,” he said, referring to the administration’s diplomatic outreach to countries that were isolated by Bush officials…. – Fox News, 5-13-09
  • Republicans block Obama pick for Interior No. 2: Republicans blocked President Barack Obama’s pick for the No. 2 job at the Interior Department on Wednesday in a dispute over oil and gas development on federal lands, but Democrats vowed they would soon make a second attempt to win confirmation. The 57-39 vote was three short of the 60 needed to advance David Hayes past Republican objections, and made him the first of Obama’s top-level nominees to be sidetracked on the Senate floor. – AP, 5-13-09
  • Obama, Dems press unified message on health care: The White House scrambled to unify Democrats behind a single health care appeal Wednesday — lower costs, plenty of choice — amid concerns Republicans could scare votes away with images of a ghastly system run by bureaucrats. A key senator pushed to enforce an offer from care providers to trim $2 trillion in costs over the next decade…. – AP, 5-13-09
  • Obama has more than 6 people for court: President Barack Obama is considering more than six contenders for the Supreme Court, a list dominated by women and Hispanics, including judges and leaders from own his administration who have never donned a judicial robe. Among those under consideration are Solicitor General Elena Kagan, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and U.S. Appeals Court judges Sonia Sotomayor and Diane Pamela Wood. California Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno is also under review by Obama…. – AP, 5-13-09
  • Steele praises Romney after criticizing him: The head of the Republican Party said Tuesday he regrets the public interpretation of comments in which he said the GOP voted against Mitt Romney last year in part because he was a Mormon. “Chairman Steele regrets the way his comments have been interpreted,” Republican National Committee spokeswoman Gail Gitcho said in a statement. “Chairman Steele believes Mitt Romney is a respected and influential voice in the Republican Party and looks to his leadership and ideas to help move our party and our nation in the right direction.”… – AP, 5-12-09
  • Sarah Palin’s book deal a done deal with HarperCollins: Word just in by snow machine that Alaska’s Republican Governor and most famous hockey mom Sarah Palin has signed a book deal with HarperCollins. She’ll have a collaborator but wants to write much of it herself for publication a year from now. The advance figure was not revealed, but safe to say given her celebrityhood and controversy and loyal advocates and venom-filled non-advocates, it’s significant. Certainly sufficient to buy a few winters’ worth of snow machine gas and oil…. – LAT, 5-12-09
  • Crist Senate bid seen as sign of resurgent GOP fortunes: Florida Gov. Charlie Crist’s announcement Tuesday that he will run for the Senate is being cast by Republicans as a sign that their political fortunes are turning with the emergence of a new crop of moderate voices lining up for 2010 races. “It’s a big tent with plenty of room for the Charlie Crists of this world,” said Ari Fleischer, a former White House press secretary, of the current state of the GOP…. – WaPo, 5-12-09
  • House Democrats Block Republican Effort to Force Ethics Inquiries of Several Lawmakers: The Republican resolution focused on a lobbying firm, PMA, which was raided by the FBI last year…. – Fox News, 5-12-09
  • Cheney Emerges as Defender-in-Chief for Bush Years, Says He Won’t ‘Roll Over’: Former Vice President Dick Cheney has taken an aggressive approach to his post-administration life, holding on to the spotlight in order to defend the Bush administration against criticism from the party in power…. – Fox News, 5-12-09
  • Senators weigh tax hikes to pay for health care: Senators are considering limiting — but not eliminating — the tax-free status of employer-provided health benefits to help pay for President Barack Obama’s plan to provide coverage to 50 million uninsured Americans…. – AP, 5-12-09
  • Social Security and Medicare finances worsen: Social Security and Medicare are fading even faster under the weight of the recession, heading for insolvency years sooner than previously expected, the government warned Tuesday…. – AP, 5-12-09
  • Reboot in Afghanistan: Gates replaces top general: Taking a cue from voters who elected a president promising a different approach, the Obama administration is replacing the general overseeing the war in Afghanistan with a commander who has special-forces experience. Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, a senior administrator with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will take the place of Gen. David McKiernan once he is confirmed by the Senate. Lt. Gen. David M. Rodriguez will become McChrystal’s deputy with the Senate’s approval, which Defense Secretary Robert Gates asked be granted as soon as possible…. – AP, 5-12-09
  • US to borrow 46 cents for every dollar spent: The government will have to borrow nearly 50 cents for every dollar it spends this year, exploding the record federal deficit past $1.8 trillion under new White House estimates. Budget office figures released Monday would add $89 billion to the 2009 red ink — increasing it to more than four times last year’s all-time high as the government hands out billions more than expected for people who have lost jobs and takes in less tax revenue from people and companies making less money…. – AP, 5-11-09
  • Obama’s Push for Health Care Cuts Faces Daunting Odds: President Obama engineered a political coup on Monday by bringing leaders of the health care industry to the White House to build momentum for his ambitious health care agenda. Mr. Obama pronounced it “a historic day, a watershed event,” because doctors, hospitals, drug makers and insurance companies voluntarily offered $2 trillion in cost reductions over 10 years. The savings, he said, “will help us take the next and most important step — comprehensive health care reform.”… – NYT, 5-11-09

POLITICAL QUOTES

The President speaks at a town hall in New Mexico

White House Photo, 5/14/09, Chuck Kennedy

Credit Card Town Hall

At a town hall in New Mexico, the President emphasizes his commitment to signing the Credit Card Bill of Rights into law by Memorial Day.

Read the Remarks

The President discusses health care reform

Political Quotes

  • Pelosi: CIA misled her on waterboarding: “We were told that waterboarding was not being used,” the speaker said. “That’s the only mention, that they were not using it. And we now know that earlier they were.” She suggested the CIA release the briefing material…. – AP, 5-14-09
  • STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT AFTER MEETING WITH HOUSE DEMOCRATIC LEADERSHIP: ….In the coming weeks and months, I believe that the House and Senate will be engaged in a difficult issue, and I’m committed to building a transparent process to get this moving. But whatever plans emerge, both from the House and the Senate, I do believe that they’ve got to uphold three basic principles: first, that the rising cost of health care has to be brought down; second, that Americans have to be able to choose their own doctor and their own plan; and third, all Americans have to have quality, affordable health care…. – White House, 5-14-09
  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT IN RIO RANCHO TOWN HALL ON CREDIT CARD REFORM: ….You should not have to worry that when you sign up for a credit card, you’re signing away all your rights. You shouldn’t need a magnifying glass or a law degree to read the fine print that sometimes don’t even appear to be written in English — or Spanish. (Applause.) And frankly, when you’re trying to navigate your way through this economy, you shouldn’t feel like you’re getting ripped off by “any time, any reason” rate hikes, and payment deadlines that seem to move around every month. That happen to anybody? You think you’re supposed to pay it this day, and suddenly — and it’s never on the end of the month where you’re paying all the rest of your bills, right? It’s like on the 19th. (Laughter.) All kinds of harsh penalties and fees that you never knew about.
    Enough is enough. It’s time for strong, reliable protections for our consumers. It’s time for reform — (applause) — it’s time for reform that’s built on transparency and accountability and mutual responsibility — values fundamental to the new foundation we seek to build for our economy…. – White House, 5-14-09
  • Obama urges Congress to act on credit card bill: President Barack Obama urged Congress on Thursday to quickly send him legislation ending abusive credit card practices. But his populist appeal also included a stern warning to shoppers whose eyes are bigger than their budgets.
    “There’s no doubt that people need to accept responsibility,” Obama said at a town hall-style appearance at a high school here. “This is not free money — it’s debt and you should not take on more than you can handle.”… “Banks are businesses too. So they have a right to insist that timely payments are made,” Obama said. “Those days are over,” he said. “This is America and we don’t begrudge a company’s success when that success is based on honest dealings with consumers,” Obama said. “We need reform to restore some sense of balance.”… “We didn’t agree on anything — everything — as you might imagine,” Obama said about the meeting, then laughing as he realized his verbal mistake. “That was a slip of the tongue,” he joked. “We didn’t agree on everything.” AP, 5-14-09
  • Treasury asks for control of derivatives market: “All (over-the-counter) derivatives dealers and all other firms whose activities in those markets create large exposures to counterparties should be subject to a robust regime of prudential supervision and regulation,” Geithner wrote in his letter. “Key elements of that robust regulatory regime must include conservative capital requirements, business conduct standards, reporting requirements and conservative requirements relating to initial margins on counterparty credit exposures.”…. – AP, 5-14-09
  • Obama seeks to block release of abuse photos: President Barack Obama declared Wednesday he would try to block the court-ordered release of photos showing U.S. troops abusing prisoners, abruptly reversing his position out of concern the pictures would “further inflame anti-American opinion” and endanger U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan…. He said the photos had already served their purpose in investigations of “a small number of individuals.” Those cases were all concluded by 2004, and the president said “the individuals who were involved have been identified, and appropriate actions have been taken.”… “This is not a situation in which the Pentagon has concealed or sought to justify inappropriate action,” Obama said of the photos. “In fact, the most direct consequence of releasing them, I believe, would be to further inflame anti- American opinion and to put our troops in greater danger.” – AP, 5-13-09
  • Obama say his, graduates’ best work ahead: “I come here not to dispute the suggestion that I haven’t yet achieved enough in my life,” Obama said. With a smile he added: “First of all, (first lady) Michelle (Obama) concurs with that assessment. She has a long list of things that I have not yet done waiting for me when I get home.” “But more than that I come to embrace the notion that I haven’t done enough in my life. I heartily concur,” the president said. “I come to affirm that one’s title, even a title like ‘president of the United States,’ says very little about how well one’s life has been led.” “I want to say to you today, graduates, class of 2009, that despite having achieved a remarkable milestone in your life — despite the fact that you and your families are so rightfully proud — you, too, cannot rest on your laurels. … Your own body of work is also yet to come,” the president said, wearing a black gown with red embellishments…. – AP, 5-13-09
  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON REFORMING THE HEALTH CARE SYSTEM TO REDUCE COSTS: And that’s what makes today’s meeting so remarkable — because it’s a meeting that might not have been held just a few years ago. The groups who are here today represent different constituencies with different sets of interests. They’ve not always seen eye to eye with each other or with our government on what needs to be done to reform health care in this country. In fact, some of these groups were among the strongest critics of past plans for comprehensive reform.
    But what’s brought us all together today is a recognition that we can’t continue down the same dangerous road we’ve been traveling for so many years; that costs are out of control; and that reform is not a luxury that can be postponed, but a necessity that cannot wait. It’s a recognition that the fictional television couple, Harry and Louise, who became the iconic faces of those who opposed health care reform in the ’90s, desperately need health care reform in 2009. And so does America….
    Ultimately, the debate about reducing costs — and the larger debate about health care reform itself — is not just about numbers; it’s not just about forms or systems; it’s about our own lives and the lives of our loved ones. And I understand that. As I’ve mentioned before during the course of the campaign, my mother passed away from ovarian cancer a little over a decade ago. And in the last weeks of her life, when she was coming to grips with her own mortality and showing extraordinary courage just to get through each day, she was spending too much time worrying about whether her health insurance would cover her bills. So I know what it’s like to see a loved one who is suffering, but also having to deal with a broken health care system. I know that pain is shared by millions of Americans all across this country. WH Blog, 5-11-09

HISTORIANS’ COMMENTS

The President speaks at a town hall in New Mexico

White House Photo, 5/14/09, Chuck Kennedy

Credit Card Town Hall

At a town hall in New Mexico, the President emphasizes his commitment to signing the Credit Card Bill of Rights into law by Memorial Day.

Read the Remarks

The President discusses health care reform

Health Care Reform July 31st

The President and the House of Representatives set a target of July 31st for passage. The President sends his first White House email to spread the news.
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Chart of health care cost savings

Historians’ Comments

  • Julian Zelizer “Commentary: News can outlast newspapers”: Last week, Sen. John Kerry convened a discussion of the troubled state of journalism in America by way of a hearing by the Senate Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet.
    In Kerry’s home state of Massachusetts, the Boston Globe is barely surviving. Several major metro papers have closed down, and there are indications that many more could soon follow. Experts have been warning in recent months that much of the newspaper industry may not survive.
    While the end of the metro newspaper would constitute a huge blow to journalism and the political system, realistically there might be nothing that we can do. The popularity of news on the Web and the potential of mobile devices such as the Kindle makes it difficult to see how we can sustain news in print — unless electronic delivery can produce enough revenue to support the cost of newspaper staffs.
    Sometimes technological innovations and consumer preferences cause changes that are irreversible. The industry has seen other important shifts in the way that Americans receive their news, such as the advent of television news in the 1950s and 1960s.
    But the real issue is not whether we can save the newspapers, but how we can create the best Internet news system possible. As Kerry said in his opening statement: “There also is the important question of whether online journalism will sustain the values of professional journalism, the way the newspaper industry has.”…
    The Internet can also combine written news with video and audio sources, as well as disseminate stories through social networking sites. Readers have the opportunities to interact with reporters and comment on stories.
    The death of the metro newspaper would be a huge loss. But rather than only focusing on lament, our best response would be to make the new medium of Internet news as strong as it can possibly be.
    We must address the major challenges by developing sites with the resources to edit, insisting on venues where the pursuit of objectivity remains a goal, and cultivating sites that help bring together different subject matter. If we do, the technological transition that we are living through can turn into a positive moment of advance for the media rather than a moment of decline. – CNN, 5-11-09

May 11, 2009: President Obama Unrolls Budget, Credit Card and Health Care Plans

THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

The President discusses fiscal responsibility

IN FOCUS: STATS

In Focus: Stats

  • Obama Approval Picks Up in May Still, only 25% say they would definitely vote to re-elect him in 2012: President Barack Obama appears to be slightly more popular with Americans at the start of his second 100 days in office than he was, on average, during his first 100. Gallup Poll Daily tracking from May 7-9 finds 66% of Americans approving of how he is handling his job, compared with an average 63% from January through April.
    Obama’s approval rating has registered 66% or better in each Gallup three-day rolling average since May 2. His 68% approval rating reported on May 3 is tied for the second highest of his presidency, exceeded only by the 69% recorded immediately after his inauguration. And except for one 66% approval rating in late April, all of Obama’s previous 66% to 68% readings were obtained near the start of his term…. – Gallop, 5-11-09

THE HEADLINES.

..

The President talks to the stakeholders
(President Barack Obama meeting with healthcare stakeholders in the Roosevelt Room at White House
May 11, 2009. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The Headlines….

  • Reboot in Afghanistan: Gates replaces top general: Taking a cue from voters who elected a president promising a different approach, the Obama administration is replacing the general overseeing the war in Afghanistan with a commander who has special-forces experience. Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, a senior administrator with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will take the place of Gen. David McKiernan once he is confirmed by the Senate. Lt. Gen. David M. Rodriguez will become McChrystal’s deputy with the Senate’s approval, which Defense Secretary Robert Gates asked be granted as soon as possible…. – AP, 5-12-09
  • US to borrow 46 cents for every dollar spent: The government will have to borrow nearly 50 cents for every dollar it spends this year, exploding the record federal deficit past $1.8 trillion under new White House estimates. Budget office figures released Monday would add $89 billion to the 2009 red ink — increasing it to more than four times last year’s all-time high as the government hands out billions more than expected for people who have lost jobs and takes in less tax revenue from people and companies making less money…. – AP, 5-11-09
  • Obama’s Push for Health Care Cuts Faces Daunting Odds: President Obama engineered a political coup on Monday by bringing leaders of the health care industry to the White House to build momentum for his ambitious health care agenda. Mr. Obama pronounced it “a historic day, a watershed event,” because doctors, hospitals, drug makers and insurance companies voluntarily offered $2 trillion in cost reductions over 10 years. The savings, he said, “will help us take the next and most important step — comprehensive health care reform.”… – NYT, 5-11-09
  • Governor of Florida Plans Bid for Senate: Gov. Charlie Crist is expected to announce Tuesday that he will run next year for the United States Senate, ending months of speculation and creating a domino effect that will leave several state positions up for grabs…. – NYT, 5-11-09
  • Obama changes office name, pushes Web work: Someone really is reading those comments left on Barack Obama’s Web sites: the president himself. The White House on Monday changed the name of a major office to reflect how much the administration is using the Internet to sell its agenda and communicate directly with voters. For a candidate who harnessed the Internet to win the presidency, the move — announced on the White House Web site, naturally — underscores Obama’s understanding of new media’s power. “This office will seek to engage as many Americans as possible in the difficult work of changing this country, through meetings and conversations with groups and individuals held in Washington and across the country,” Obama said in a video message posted to the Web…. – AP, 5-11-09
  • Obama Enlists Biden’s Expertise About High Court: The person in the White House most knowledgeable about Supreme Court nominations sits in the vice president’s office. With President Obama filling his first high court vacancy with the retirement of Justice David H. Souter, Vice President Biden finds himself regularly consulting with the president and fielding queries from the White House counsel and others for insights on the process…. – WaPo,
  • Obama says Health overhaul could save U.S. trillions: President Barack Obama will aim on Monday to build support for a sweeping overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system by highlighting a drive for greater efficiency he predicts could save trillions of dollars…. – Reuters, 5-10-09
  • Health Industry Is Said to Promise to Rein In Costs: Doctors, hospitals, drug makers and insurance companies will join President Obama on Monday in announcing their commitment to a sharp reduction in the growth of national health spending, White House officials said Sunday…. – NYT, 5-10-09
  • U.S. Adviser Holds Firm on Airstrikes in Afghanistan: President Obama’s top national security adviser said on Sunday that the United States would likely continue conducting airstrikes against extremists in Afghanistan despite a sharp warning from President Hamid Karzai that civilian casualties were fast turning ordinary Afghans against the United States…. – NYT, 5-10-09
  • Cheney backs Limbaugh over Powell on GOP future: Dick Cheney made clear Sunday he’d rather follow firebrand broadcaster Rush Limbaugh than former Joint Chiefs chairman Colin Powell into political battle over the future of the Republican Party. Even as Cheney embraced efforts to expand the party by ex-Govs. Jeb Bush of Florida and Mitt Romney of Massachusetts and the House’s No. 2 Republican, Virginia Rep. Eric Cantor, the former vice president appeared to write his one-time colleague Powell out of the GOP. Asked about recent verbal broadsides between Limbaugh and Powell, Cheney said, “If I had to choose in terms of being a Republican, I’d go with Rush Limbaugh. My take on it was Colin had already left the party. I didn’t know he was still a Republican.”… – AP, 5-10-09 Washington Times, 5-10-09
  • Obama pokes fun at himself, Dems and GOP: It was the hottest ticket in town, a black-tie dinner gathering of Washington’s political and media elite but Dick Cheney couldn’t make it. The former vice president was busy, President Barack Obama joked, working on his memoir “tentatively titled, How to Shoot Friends and Interrogate People.'”…. – AP, 5-9-09
  • Obama: Send me credit card legislation this month: Send me a bill that stops credit card companies from taking advantage of consumers, and do it by month’s end, President Barack Obama is demanding of Congress. But there’s no guarantee lawmakers will deliver by Memorial Day, and the banking industry is fighting back…. – AP, 5-9-09
  • Republicans and ObamaCare The sound of silence is deafening: Listen. That sound of silence? That’s what’s known as the united Republican response to President Barack Obama’s drive to socialize health care. The president has a plan, and he’s laid it on the table. The industry groups that once helped Republicans beat HillaryCare are today sitting at that table. Unions are mobilized. A liberal umbrella group, Health Care for American Now, is spending $40 million to get a “public option,” a new federal entitlement that would kill off private insurance. Democrats passed a budget blueprint that will allow them to cram through that “public option” with just 51 votes…. – WSJ, 5-9-09
  • Gaps Appear in G.O.P. Solidarity: WAfter being stingy with their support in the early days of the Obama administration, significant numbers of House Republicans have begun breaking from their party leaders and voting for legislation moving through the Democratic-led Congress…. – NYT, 5-9-09
  • On Politics: Dwindling, Connecticut G.O.P. Won’t Look Inward: ON June 4, Newt Gingrich is to address a shrinking Connecticut Republican Party that has sworn off God, guns and gays as wedge issues and rallied around the Yankee ideals of “common sense” and “fiscal responsibility.” Not exactly bumper-sticker material. But this is a state where the G.O.P. has badly withered as Republicans in other states thrived using gay marriage, abortion and the death penalty to energize social conservatives and twice elect George W. Bush as president…. – NYT, 5-9-09
  • US report blames Taliban for civilian deaths: The U.S. coalition blamed Taliban militants Saturday for causing what Afghan officials say are dozens of civilian deaths during a prolonged battle that included American airstrikes. The U.S. said an unspecified number of civilians died but did not take responsibility for any deaths…. – AP, 5-9-09
  • Obama to hold town hall meeting on credit cards: U.S. President Barack Obama will hold a town hall meeting next week in New Mexico to promote congressional efforts to reform credit card practices, the White House said on Friday…. – Rreuters, 5-8-09
  • Analysis: Slow recovery no help for Obama’s plans: Barack Obama’s budget, unveiled with fanfare, fails to deal with his biggest money problems. A molasses-slow economic recovery will make it hard to find the huge sums he’ll need to reach his biggest goals — fixing health care, confronting climate change and overhauling the tax system — without much deeper cuts than he’s proposing in other programs. Obama faces not only fiscal obstacles but political ones, as well…. – AP, 5-8-09
  • The Half-Penny Solution Cutting the budget paper clip by paper clip: President Obama unveiled a budget Thursday with a 2010 price tag of $3.5 trillion financed with $1.2 trillion of new debt. For domestic agencies, that’s a 9.3% spending hike over last year…. – WSJ, 5-8-09
  • List Says Top Democrats Were Briefed on Interrogations: Congressional Republicans on Friday accused Democrats of full complicity in the approval of the Bush administration’s brutal interrogations, citing a new accounting that shows briefings for some top Democrats on waterboarding and other harsh methods starting in 2002…. – NYT, 5-8-09
  • Pelosi still explaining interrogation briefing: It’s a political squall that won’t die: What did House Speaker Nancy Pelosi know about harsh questioning of detainees, and when did she know it? On Friday, the California Democrat was forced to issue yet another press release, reiterating her past assertions that she had been briefed in 2002 only on new interrogation techniques that had been deemed legal and were planned for future use. Pelosi had made the same comments in 2007 when word first leaked that she was aware of the interrogation program and had not objected to it. Her latest statement came three weeks after the Justice Department released formerly classified legal memos that detailed the once-secret CIA harsh interrogation program, and two weeks after she told reporters that when she got her sole CIA briefing on interrogation back in 2002, she had no idea the technique of waterboarding had already been used on a prisoner. Waterboarding is a form of simulated drowning that President Barack Obama last week called torture…. – AP, 5-8-09
  • New Jersey’s GOP Sees Opportunity in Corzine Another moderate Christie seeks the Republican nod: One bright spot for Northeast Republicans is the chance this year to retake the governorship of New Jersey. The seat is now held by Democrat Jon Corzine — a former Goldman-Sachs CEO who has been trailing or tied in the polls with the two Republicans running in the party’s June 2 primary for the chance to unseat him. But the party is divided between moderates who say that only a centrist can win and conservatives who believe that only a bold agenda of tax cuts, spending restraint, and school reform can catch fire with voters…. – WSJ, 5-8-09
  • Souter’s Exit Opens Door for a More Influential Justice: A couple of days ago, Fred R. Shapiro, the editor of The Oxford Dictionary of American Legal Quotations, asked constitutional law scholars for memorable quotations from Justice David H. Souter of the Supreme Court. Mr. Shapiro got only four responses. One was about television coverage of the court (“The day you see a camera come into our courtroom, it’s going to roll over my dead body”). Another concerned the limited pleasures of reading legal briefs rather than serious books (“I find the workload of what I do sufficiently great that when the term of court starts I undergo a sort of annual intellectual lobotomy”). Just two quotations came from the hundreds of opinions that Justice Souter, who is retiring in June, wrote in his 19 years on the court. Neither had much juice to it. ….Instead, he told Mr. Obama that was retiring “under the provision of 28 U.S.C. Section 371(b)(1), having attained the age and met the service requirements of subsection (c) of that section.” He appeared to have signed it in fountain pen, in script that would not have looked out of place on the Declaration of Independence. – NYT, 5-8-09
  • Official Quits Over Jet Flight That Alarmed New Yorkers: The photo shoot of Air Force One soaring above the Statue of Liberty cost taxpayers $328,835. Now the incident, which incited panic among scores of people in New York City, has cost the director of the White House Military Office his job. The White House released the photo that caused the controversy on Friday. The director, Louis Caldera, who was appointed by President Obama to the White House post and had been a secretary of the Army in the Clinton administration, resigned on Friday for his role in approving the April 27 flyover. In a brief letter to Mr. Obama, Mr. Caldera said that the matter “has become a distraction for the important work you are doing as president.”…. – NYT, 5-8-09
  • Aide resigns over NYC flyover; probe continues: The Pentagon and Air Force are reviewing whether their officials may be partly to blame for a $328,835 photo-op of a jumbo jet used by the president soaring above New York City that has already forced the White House military director to step down… – AP, 5-9-09
  • Banks’ tests results lift cloud of uncertainty: Government exams of the nation’s biggest banks have helped lift a cloud of uncertainty that has hung over the economy. The so-called stress tests — a key Obama administration effort to boost confidence in the financial system — showed nine of the 19 biggest banks have enough capital to withstand a deeper recession. Ten must raise a total of $75 billion in new capital to withstand possible future losses…. – AP, 5-8-09
  • Obama opts out of prayer day The move disappoints evangelicals. Under President George W. Bush, the event was held at the White House with political fanfare: For years, it’s been a staple of the White House calendar. On the first Thursday of May, dedicated as the National Day of Prayer, President George W. Bush hosted an ecumenical service in the East Room, a big public endorsement of evangelical Christians. (The event is different from the National Prayer Breakfast, held elsewhere in Washington on the first Thursday of February.) President Obama opted not to have a service in the White House this year. “Prayer is something that the president does every day,” said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, adding that Obama will sign a proclamation to recognize the day. “I think the president understands, in his own life and in his family’s life, the role that prayer plays.” President Truman signed the first National Day of Prayer proclamation, and President Reagan made it a permanent occasion…. – LAT, 5-7-09
  • Specter gets chairmanship consolation prize Seniority to be settled in 2011 caucus: Senate Democratic leaders on Thursday gave Sen. Arlen Specter the chairmanship of a key Judiciary subcommittee, pacifying the veteran Pennsylvania lawmaker after his shaky start as the chambers newest Democrat. In another reversal of fortune, Mr. Specter’s prospects for re-election as a Democrat in 2010 improved slightly when Republican heavyweight Tom Ridge announced he would not enter the U.S. Senate race in Pennsylvania…. – Washington Times, 5-7-09
  • Colin Powell’s Bad Advice Nobody wants the government in their living room: In good times or bad, there’s always someone willing to tell the Republican Party that the road to success is to embrace the liberal agenda. In a speech in Washington Monday, former Secretary of State Colin Powell joined the chorus. We hope for the sake of the country that his party doesn’t listen. Mr. Powell insisted that he doesn’t want the Republicans to turn into Democrats or clones of the Democrats. But it’s hard to see what other space he hopes the GOP will carve out for itself given his analysis. According to press accounts, Mr. Powell argued that America has changed, and “Americans do want to pay taxes for services” and “Americans are looking for more government in their life, not less.”… – WSJ, 5-7-09
  • Specter gets subcommittee chair, primary challenge: Republican-turned-Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter gained a Judiciary subcommittee chairmanship but also a potential primary challenger Thursday, the latest twists in a turbulent episode of party switching. The good news-bad news day for Specter didn’t stop there. Former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge announced he would not challenge Specter next year. Ridge, a moderate Republican and the first homeland security chief, had been running about even against Specter in a hypothetical general election race, according to a recent poll. “My desire and intention is to help my party craft solutions that both sides of the aisle can embrace,” said Ridge, whose decision eliminates one major challenge to Specter…. – AP, 5-7-09
  • Obama touts $17 billion ‘lot of money’ budget cuts: President Barack Obama sent Congress a detailed budget Thursday boasting of cutting or killing 121 federal programs in a belt-tightening he likened to that of most Americans in difficult times. But the trims amounted to a tiny fraction of the new spending he wants, and some have already been nixed by allies on Capitol Hill. Obama said his cuts would amount to $17 billion — in a budget totaling well over $3 trillion for the fiscal year that begins in October. He’s estimating the government’s red ink will still be about $1.2 trillion, down only slightly from this year’s all-time record…. – AP, 5-7-09
  • Bush attorneys who wrote terror memo face backlash: Pressure is mounting against two former Bush administration attorneys who wrote the legal memos used to support harsh interrogation techniques that critics say constituted torture. John Yoo, a constitutional law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, is fighting calls for disbarment and dismissal, while Judge Jay Bybee of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals faces calls for impeachment…. – AP, 5-7-09
  • Souter chokes up at farewell: Supreme Court Justice David Souter, momentarily choked with emotion, bid an affectionate farewell yesterday to judges and lawyers he has worked with for nearly two decades. AP, 5-6-09
  • Baucus, Obama talk health care at White House: Montana Sen. Max Baucus says a private lunch with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden should help as he leads efforts to overhaul the nation’s health care system. Baucus, a veteran Democrat who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, had lunch with Obama and Biden at the White House Wednesday, along with Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley, the senior Republican on the finance panel. Baucus said the four men had a wide-ranging discussion, but focused on health care. Baucus called the meeting productive. He pledged to continue to work with Obama, Biden, Grassley and others to get a bill passed…. – AP, 5-6-09
  • Franken meets with vice president in Washington: Democratic Senate candidate Al Franken met privately with Vice President Joe Biden late Wednesday afternoon to update him on the still-contested Minnesota Senate race. Franken, who said he is eager to join the Senate, said the two men also discussed President Barack Obama’s policy goals…. – AP, 5-6-09
  • New Democrat Specter loses committee seniority: Arlen Specter’s switch to the Democratic Party has cost him his seniority on Senate committees. The Senate passed a resolution Tuesday night that made him the most junior Democrat on the committees on which he serves. The resolution was passed after an agreement was reached between leadership in both parties and Specter, said Jim Manley, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. Manley said the seniority issue will be revisited after the 2010 elections…. Specter serves on the Appropriations, Judiciary, Veterans Affairs, Environment and Public Works, and Special Aging committees…. – AP, 5-6-09
  • Source: No charges seen over interrogation memos: Justice Department investigators say Bush administration lawyers who approved harsh interrogation techniques of terror suspects should not face criminal charges, according to a draft report that also recommends two of the three attorneys face possible professional sanctions…. – AP, 5-6-09
  • Senate hears a dim forecast for newspapers’ future: One way to save some of the nation’s struggling newspapers would be to let them become nonprofits similar to public broadcasting stations, a senator said Wednesday as editors and other journalists painted a grim future for daily print journalism. “We need to save our community newspapers and the investigative journalism they provide,” Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., told a subcommittee of the Senate’s Commerce Committee. Under a bill proposed by Cardin, newspapers turning to nonprofit status would no longer be able to make political endorsements but could report on all issues including political campaigns. Advertising and subscription revenue would be tax-exempt and contributions to support coverage could be tax deductible…. – AP, 5-6-09
  • AP sources: Obama to seek $17B in budget savings: After a line-by-line scrub of the federal budget, President Barack Obama has signed off on a roster of 121 budget cuts totaling $17 billion — or about one-half of 1 percent of the $3.4 trillion budget Congress has approved for next year. Budget Director Peter Orszag briefed Democratic lawmakers on a partial roster of the cuts Wednesday before a public release on Thursday. Obama also is fleshing out the details of the $1.3 trillion portion of the budget that he requested Congress pass through appropriations bills for the budget year beginning Oct. 1…. – AP, 5-6-09
  • Top Judiciary Republican Inclined Against Blocking Supreme Court Nominee: Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama said a deal among centrist senators four yours ago that averted filibusters against some of former President George W. Bush’s judicial nominees established a “standard” that shouldn’t be discarded except in unusual circumstances…. – Fox News, 5-6-09
  • U.S. Says Bank of America Needs $33.9 Billion Cushion: The government has told Bank of America it needs $33.9 billion in capital to withstand any worsening of the economic downturn, according to an executive at the bank…. – NYT, 5-5-09
  • Pakistani President Tries to Assure U.S. on Taliban: Pakistan’s leaders began an arduous campaign here on Tuesday to convince the United States that they will repel recent incursions by Taliban militant groups, secure their own nuclear arsenal and make good use of American military and economic assistance. NYT, 5-5-09
  • House Dems narrow energy, climate bill differences: Key lawmakers agreed Tuesday on a strategy for replacing gas-guzzling cars with more fuel-efficient models, but much tougher negotiations lie ahead on a bill that would, for the first time, limit emissions linked to global warming. President Barack Obama summoned three dozen House Democrats to the White House to build consensus around climate and energy legislation that is under increasing criticism from Republicans and members of his own party. AP, 5-5-09
  • Party Switch Costs Specter His Seniority on Senate Committees: The Senate last night stripped Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.) of his seniority on committees, a week after the 29-year veteran of the chamber quit the Republican Party to join the Democrats. In announcing his move across the aisle last week, Specter asserted that Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) had assured him he would retain his seniority in the Senate and on the five committees on which he serves. Specter’s tenure ranked him ahead of all but seven Democrats. Instead, though, on a voice vote last night, the Senate approved a resolution that made Specter the most junior Democrat on four committees for the remainder of this Congress. Reid himself read the resolution on the Senate floor, underscoring the reversal…. – WaPo, 5-5-09
  • Michelle Obama captivates glittery crowd in NYC: She’s already conquered Britain, France and Germany. On Tuesday, it was time for Michelle Obama to conquer New York. After a visit to the U.S. Mission to the United Nations and an appearance on “Sesame Street,” Mrs. Obama capped her first visit to New York as first lady with an appearance before a glittery crowd at Time magazine’s annual Time 100 gala, honoring its 100 “Most Influential People.” There, she mixed sparkle with substance, introducing the administration’s proposal to give $50 million to innovative nonprofit groups…. – AP, 5-5-09
  • Republicans attacking Obama on terror policy: After weeks of concentrating their attacks against President Barack Obama on the economy, Republicans are branching out. They’re taking aim at his anti-terrorism policy. “Just what is the administration’s overarching plan to take on the terrorist threat and to keep America safe?” asks House Republican leader John Boehner in a new Web video featuring ominous music, unsettling images and less than flattering photos of the president…. – AP, 5-5-09
  • G.O.P. Picks Conservative for Senate Judiciary Post: Senator Jeff Sessions, a conservative from Alabama, has struck an agreement to assume the top Republican position on the Judiciary Committee, making him the chief voice of the opposition in summer confirmation hearings for President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee…. – NYT, 5-5-09
  • At Annual Meeting, Pro-Israel Group Reasserts Clout: The formidable political strength of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the nation’s major pro-Israel lobby, has been on decidedly intentional display here in the last few days. But this year, Aipac’s annual conference comes after a period fraught with small anxieties for the group and its supporters…. – NYT, 5-5-09
  • White House seeks comments on education law: Education Secretary Arne Duncan, a former big-city schools chief, traveled through rural terrain Tuesday as he asked educators and parents how the Obama administration should overhaul the No Child Left Behind law. Duncan is from Chicago, but he made West Virginia the first stop on a 15-state “listening tour.” “I think the challenges are very similar,” Duncan told The Associated Press in an interview. “I know there are high-performing schools in every state in the country, and what’s important to me is to really understand what enables them to beat the odds.”… – AP, 5-5-09
  • Republicans branch out from criticism over economy to hit Obama on terror policy: After weeks of concentrating their attacks against President Barack Obama on the economy, Republicans are branching out. They’re taking aim at his anti-terrorism policy. “Just what is the administration’s overarching plan to take on the terrorist threat and to keep America safe?” asks House Republican leader John Boehner in a new Web video featuring ominous music, unsettling images and less than flattering photos of the president…. – AP, 5-5-09
  • Congress leery about Obama’s plan on tax loopholes: President Barack Obama promised sternly on Monday to crack down on companies “that ship jobs overseas” and duck U.S. taxes with offshore havens. It won’t be easy. Democrats have been fighting — and losing — this battle since John F. Kennedy made a similar proposal in 1961. Obama’s proposal to close tax loopholes was a reliable applause line during the presidential campaign, but it got a lukewarm response Monday from Capitol Hill…. – AP, 5-5-09
  • Obama vows tougher overseas tax policies: President Barack Obama vowed on Monday to overhaul tax policies that he said reward companies for shifting U.S. jobs overseas and allow wealthy people to evade taxes using offshore accounts. The White House estimated the plan would save $210 billion over the next decade. In one proposal businesses are poised to fight, Obama would tighten tax-code provisions that allow firms to defer paying taxes on profits they make overseas as long as those earnings are ploughed back into the foreign subsidiaries…. – Reuters, 5-4-09
  • Standing on Ceremony Is the press showing more respect for Obama than Bush?: A video, put together by Politico’s Patrick Gavin, is making the rounds showing two presidential visits to the White House briefing room. In one, George Bush arrives for a press conference in February 2008, and the press remains seated. In the second, from last Friday, Barack Obama surprises the press by appearing in the midst of the daily briefing. They stand to greet him. (Given that the press is supposedly in the tank for Obama, shouldn’t critics be happy they didn’t kneel?)… – Slate, 5-4-09
  • Palin To Be Part of National Council: Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will be part of the National Council for a New America, an attempt by leaders in Congress and potential 2012 presidential candidates to rebrand the struggling party. “I am pleased to announce that Governor Palin has joined the National Council for a New America’s panel of experts,” said House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (Va.) today. “When NCNA was announced last week, we spoke about a dynamic organization that worked to constantly bring in new people and innovative ideas.”… – WaPo, 5-4-09
  • Senators to Obama: Look beyond the federal bench: Wanted: Supreme Court justice. Judicial experience not required. Not only is experience as a judge not a requirement under the Constitution, some of the senators who will conduct confirmation hearings for Justice David Souter’s replacement think it’s time for a nominee who hasn’t served on the federal appeals court. For all nine of the current justices, the appeals court was a final stepping stone to the Supreme Court. “I would like to see more people from outside the judicial monastery, somebody who has had some real-life experience, not just as a judge,” said Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee…. – AP, 5-4-09
  • Obama calls senators about high court pick: President Barack Obama, eager to have his Supreme Court nominee seated by early October, has begun calling senators who will play key roles in the confirmation process. While it is unclear when Obama will name a nominee, aides said he wants the process to move rapidly enough so that the Senate can confirm the person shortly after Congress returns from its August recess, if not sooner…. – AP, 5-4-09
  • Vanity, Karma Continue to Take Toll on Edwards: Feds are combing through John Edwards’ 2008 presidential campaign checkbook to see if there’s more to the story of his payments to his former mistress Reille Hunter, a probe that some observers say couldn’t have happened to a more deserving guy…. – FOX News, 5-4-09
  • Ridge May Run for Specter’s Senate Seat: Former Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge (R) is seriously considering a 2010 bid for the Senate seat held by Republican-turned-Democrat Arlen Specter and will make his decision in the next two weeks, according to several sources familiar with his thinking…. – WaPo, 5-4-09
  • Obama to meet Afghan and Pakistan leaders: President Barack Obama presents his strategy for defeating al Qaeda to the leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan on Wednesday amid growing U.S. concern it is losing the war and neither is a reliable ally. The White House meetings with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Afghan President Hamid Karzai are likely to be cagey affairs — both visitors have been heavily criticized by Obama’s administration and are also wary of each other…. – Reuters, 5-4-09

POLITICAL QUOTES

The President gives his Weekly Address on credit card reform

Political Quotes

  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON REFORMING THE HEALTH CARE SYSTEM TO REDUCE COSTS: And that’s what makes today’s meeting so remarkable — because it’s a meeting that might not have been held just a few years ago. The groups who are here today represent different constituencies with different sets of interests. They’ve not always seen eye to eye with each other or with our government on what needs to be done to reform health care in this country. In fact, some of these groups were among the strongest critics of past plans for comprehensive reform.
    But what’s brought us all together today is a recognition that we can’t continue down the same dangerous road we’ve been traveling for so many years; that costs are out of control; and that reform is not a luxury that can be postponed, but a necessity that cannot wait. It’s a recognition that the fictional television couple, Harry and Louise, who became the iconic faces of those who opposed health care reform in the ’90s, desperately need health care reform in 2009. And so does America….
    Ultimately, the debate about reducing costs — and the larger debate about health care reform itself — is not just about numbers; it’s not just about forms or systems; it’s about our own lives and the lives of our loved ones. And I understand that. As I’ve mentioned before during the course of the campaign, my mother passed away from ovarian cancer a little over a decade ago. And in the last weeks of her life, when she was coming to grips with her own mortality and showing extraordinary courage just to get through each day, she was spending too much time worrying about whether her health insurance would cover her bills. So I know what it’s like to see a loved one who is suffering, but also having to deal with a broken health care system. I know that pain is shared by millions of Americans all across this country. WH Blog, 5-11-09
  • Obama does turn as comedian in chief: “I must confess I really did not want to be here tonight,” Obama told guests at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner — an annual black-tie gathering of journalists, politicians and Hollywood celebrities. “But I knew I had to come. That’s one more problem that I inherited from George W. Bush.”…. “The last thing Tim Geithner needs is someone else treating him like a fire hydrant,” he said…. “Finally, I believe that my next 100 days will be so successful that I will be able to complete them in 72 days. And on the 73rd day, I will rest,” he joshed…. In a dig at the press, Obama said: “We look for you for truth — even if it’s always an approximation.” Reuters, 5-10-09
  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENTS’ ASSOCIATION DINNERWH, 5-9-09
  • Obama Delivers the Zingers at Journalists’ Dinner: Not Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton: “The minute she got back from Mexico, she pulled me into a hug and said I should go down there myself.”… Not Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel: “This is a tough holiday for Rahm. He’s not used to saying the word ‘day’ after ‘mother.’ “… Not even, it turned out, himself: “During the second 100 days, we will design, build and open a library dedicated to my first 100 days.”… And: “My next 100 days will be so successful, I will complete them in 72 days. And on the 73rd day, I will rest.”… The routine brought mostly guffaws from the 2,500 journalists, politicians and celebrities jammed into the Washington Hilton ballroom for the press corps’ annual celebration of itself. The president acknowledged perceptions that he’s a media darling: “Most of you covered me; all of you voted for me. Apologies to the Fox table.” – WaPo, 5-10-09
  • Biden to grads: You have chance to shape history: “There is a much greater risk in accepting a situation we know we cannot sustain than in steeling our spine and embracing the challenge of change,” Biden said to students from Syracuse University and the State University of New York’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry…. “It is totally within your power to shape history. … This has been the journey of America since its inception,” said Biden, a 1968 graduate of Syracuse’s law school, speaking to more than 19,000 people in the Carrier Dome…. “All over this great country, a sense of hopelessness and helplessness began to take hold,” Biden said. “But as I walked across that stage, I never doubted for one instant that we could change that history, that we could rewrite the outcome we were careening toward, and we did,” he said. “It’s 2009. Now it’s your turn. You are graduating into a world of anxiety and uncertainty … ,” said Biden, pointing to a troubled economy, two wars and a planet in environmental peril. “These are the challenges you face. But these are the moments you can embrace. Throughout the span of history, only a handful of us ever get a chance to actually shape the course of history,” said the vice president, who received several standing ovations…. – AP, 5-10-09
  • Latino Town Hall: Full Video and Transcript: REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT LATINO TOWN HALL: ….So I’m very proud of this first White House town hall meeting conducted entirely in Spanish. I am grateful — except for my part. (Laughter.) You know, I’m kind of messing up the whole thing. (Laughter.) I’m grateful for Univision for hosting us, and I’m happy to see that we’ve got officials from many different departments, including my Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis.
    So I want to let you continue with your conversation. I hope you learn something. Please ask questions — these folks are extraordinarily well informed — and then distribute the information that you learn from this town hall throughout your communities. And this is just the first of many, I hope, mechanisms for outreach that will improve the quality of service that the White House provides to the American people. – WH Blog, 5-9-09
  • WEEKLY ADDRESS: President Obama Calls on Congress to Pass Credit Card Reform Bill: Good morning. I want to briefly share some news about our economy, and talk about the work that we’re doing both to protect American consumers, and to put our economy back on a path to growth and prosperity.
    This week, we saw some signs that the gears of America’s economic engine are slowly beginning to turn. Consumer spending and home sales are stabilizing. Unemployment claims are dropping and job losses are beginning to slow. But these trends are far from satisfactory. The unemployment rate is at its highest point in twenty-five years. We are still in the midst of a deep recession that was years in the making, and it will take time to fully turn this economy around. We cannot rest until our work is done. Not when Americans continue to lose their jobs and struggle to pay their bills. Not when we are wrestling with record deficits and an over-burdened middle class. That is why every action that my Administration is taking is focused on clearing away the wreckage of this recession, and building a new foundation for job-creation and long-term growth…. – WH Blog, 5-9-09
  • Obama: Send me credit card legislation this month: “Americans know that they have a responsibility to live within their means and pay what they owe,” Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday. “But they also have a right to not get ripped off by the sudden rate hikes, unfair penalties and hidden fees that have become all too common.” “You shouldn’t have to fear that any new credit card is going to come with strings attached, nor should you need a magnifying glass and a reference book to read a credit card application. And the abuses in our credit card industry have only multiplied in the midst of this recession, when Americans can least afford to bear an extra burden,” the president said. Obama wants to sign the legislation by Memorial Day. “There is no time for delay. We need a durable and successful flow of credit in our economy, but we can’t tolerate profits that depend upon misleading working families. Those days are over,” he said. Railing against what he said was “abuse that goes unpunished,” the president stressed the need “to strengthen monitoring, enforcement and penalties for credit card companies that take advantage of ordinary Americans.” “Instead of fine print that hides the truth, we need credit card forms and statements that have plain language in plain sight, and we need to give people the tools they need to find a credit card that meets their needs,” he said. – AP, 5-9-09
  • Cheney: Mistake for GOP to ‘moderate’: “This is about fundamental beliefs and values and ideas … what the role of government should be in our society, and our commitment to the Constitution and constitutional principles,” Cheney said in an interview with North Dakota radio host Scott Hennen Thursday, according to a transcript. “You know, when you add all those things up, the idea that we ought to moderate basically means we ought to fundamentally change our philosophy,” Cheney also said. “I for one am not prepared to do that, and I think most of us aren’t. Most Republicans have a pretty good idea of values, and aren’t eager to have someone come along and say, ‘Well, the only way you can win is if you start to act more like a Democrat.'” “I think periodically we have to go through one these sessions. It helps clear away some of the underbrush … some of the older folks who’ve been around a long time — like yours truly — need to move on and make room for that young talent that’s coming along,” he said. “We resorted … to waterboarding, which is the source of much of the controversy, with only three individuals. In those cases, it was only after we’d gone through all the other steps of the process,” he said. “The way the whole program was set up was very careful, to use other methods and only to resort to the enhanced techniques in those special circumstances.” “If anybody takes a look at the record, they’ll find that we had significant success as a result of these policies,” he said. “One way to nail that down is that there are two documents in particular that I personally have read and know about that are still classified in that National Archives,” he said. – CNN, 5-7-09
  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON REDUCING SPENDING IN THE BUDGET: We’re doing everything that we can to create jobs and to get our economy moving while building a new foundation for lasting prosperity — a foundation that invests in quality education, lowers health care costs, and develops new sources of energy powered by new jobs and industries.
    But one of the pillars of this foundation is fiscal responsibility. We can no longer afford to spend as if deficits don’t matter and waste is not our problem. We can no longer afford to leave the hard choices for the next budget, the next administration — or the next generation.
    That’s why I’ve charged the Office of Management and Budget, led by Peter Orszag and Rob Nabors who are standing behind me today, with going through the budget — program by program, item by item, line by line — looking for areas where we can save taxpayer dollars….
    In addition, we’re going to save money by eliminating unnecessary defense programs that do nothing to keep us safe, but rather prevent us from spending money on what does keep us safe. One example is a $465 million program to build an alternate engine for the Joint Strike Fighter. The Defense Department is already pleased with the engine it has. The engine it has works. The Pentagon does not want and does not plan to use the alternative version. That’s why the Pentagon stopped requesting this funding two years ago. Yet it’s still being funded.
    These are just a few examples. But the point to remember is that there are consequences for this kind of spending. It makes the development of new tools for our military, like the Joint Strike Fighter, more expensive — even prohibitively so — and crowds out money that we could be using, for example, to improve our troops’ quality of life and their safety and security. It makes government less effective. It makes our nation less resilient and less able to address immediate concerns and long-term challenges. And it leaves behind a massive burden for our children and grandchildren. – WH Blog, 5-7-09
  • Obama applauds Afghan and Pakistan cooperation: President Barack Obama is applauding Pakistan and Afghanistan for their commitment to helping the U.S. fight terrorists holed up in their territory, but he also is cautioning that the path to success is slow and unsure. “The road ahead will be difficult,” Obama said Wednesday after a series of meetings with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari that yielded few announced new commitments. “There will be more violence, and there will be setbacks.” Obama added, “The United States has made a lasting commitment to defeat al-Qaida, but also to support the democratically elected sovereign governments of both Pakistan and Afghanistan. That commitment will not waver, and that support will be sustained.”… – AP, 5-7-09
  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AFTER THE TRILATERAL MEETING WITH PRESIDENT KARZAI OF AFGHANISTAN AND PRESIDENT ZARDARI OF PAKISTAN: We meet today as three sovereign nations joined by a common goal: to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda and its extremist allies in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to prevent their ability to operate in either country in the future. And to achieve that goal, we must deny them the space to threaten the Pakistani, Afghan, or American people. And we must also advance security and opportunity, so that Pakistanis and Afghans can pursue the promise of a better life.
    There is much to be done. Along the border where insurgents often move freely, we must work together with a renewed sense of partnership to share intelligence, and to coordinate our efforts to isolate, target and take out our common enemy. But, we must also meet the threat of extremism with a positive program of growth and opportunity. That is why my Administration is working with members of Congress to create opportunity zones to spark development. And that is why I’m proud that we’ve helped advance negotiations toward a landmark transit-trade agreement to open the Afghanistan and Pakistan border to more commerce.
    Within Afghanistan, we must help grow the economy, while developing alternatives to the drug trade by tapping the resilience and ingenuity of the Afghan people. We must support free and open national elections later this fall, while helping to protect the hard-earned rights of all Afghans. And we must support the capacity of local governments and stand up to corruption that blocks progress. I also made it clear that the United States will work with our Afghan and international partners to make every effort to avoid civilian casualties as we help the Afghan government combat our common enemy.
    Within Pakistan, we must provide lasting support to democratic institutions, while helping the government confront the insurgents who are the single greatest threat to the Pakistani state. And we must do more than stand against those who would destroy Pakistan – we must stand with those who want to build. That is why I have asked Congress for sustained funding for schools, roads, and hospitals. I want the Pakistani people to understand that America is not simply against terrorism – we are on the side of their hopes, and their aspirations. Because we know that the future of Pakistan must be determined by the talent, innovation and intelligence of its people…. – WH Blog, 5-6-09
  • Specter: Reid Promised Seniority, Eventual Judiciary Chairmanship: “When I talked to Senator Reid he assured me that my seniority would be as if I came in (as a Democrat) in 1980, and I relied . . . on his representation, and that’s the long and short of it,” Specter said in an interview in his Capitol “hideaway” office…. “There was no mention of the caucus when we talked. We talked more particularly about if Leahy became chairman of Appropriations, I would become chairman of the Judiciary. Ask him about that. That was the arrangement,” Specter said…. Assuming he wins that reelection, Specter is confident Reid will convince the Democrats to stand down from their concerns and give him his seniority back. “I think Senator Reid speaks for the caucus, he’s a very strong leader,” Specter said. – WaPo, 5-6-09
  • REMARKS OF FIRST LADY MICHELLE OBAMA AT TIME 100 MOST INFLUENTIAL PEOPLE AWARDS: The idea is simple: to find the most effective programs out there and then provide the capital needed to replicate their success in communities around the country that are facing similar challenges. By focusing on high-impact, result-oriented non-profits, we will ensure that government dollars are spent in a way that is effective, accountable and worthy of the public trust….
    Careers focused on lifting up our communities – whether helping transform troubled schools or training workers for green jobs or helping low-income families access health care – are not always obvious. But, at a time when our nation is facing unprecedented challenges, encouraging careers in public service and social innovation are more important than ever…. – WH, 5-5-09
  • Good Jobs Here at Home REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON INTERNATIONAL TAX POLICY REFORM: So the steps I am announcing today will help us deal with some of the most egregious examples of what’s wrong with our tax code and will help us strengthen some of these other efforts. It’s a down payment on the larger tax reform we need to make our tax system simpler and fairer and more efficient for individuals and corporations.
    Now, it will take time to undo the damage of distorted provisions that were slipped into our tax code by lobbyists and special interests, but with the steps I’m announcing today we are beginning to crack down on Americans who are bending or breaking the rules, and we’re helping to ensure that all Americans are contributing their fair share.
    In other words, we’re beginning to restore fairness and balance to our tax code. That’s what I promised I would do during the campaign, that’s what I’m committed to doing as President, and that is what I will work with members of my administration and members of Congress to accomplish in the months and years to come…. – WH Blog, 5-4-09
  • Vanity, Karma Continue to Take Toll on Edwards: “I think the biggest problem we’re hearing from people when they talk about this case, aside from the criminal possibilities, is how angry a lot of people still are at John Edwards, not for his infidelity but for claiming the mantle of his wife’s illness as part of the reason for his running for president, and then while he was running for president engaging in this kind of conduct,” said Washington Examiner political editor Chris Stirewalt. “I think there’s going to be very little sympathy for the former senator as this goes forward. I mean, people are mad,” Stirewalt said. – FOX News, 5-4-09
  • Vanity, Karma Continue to Take Toll on Edwards: In a carefully worded statement issued Sunday, Edwards said none of the money Hunter received was wrongly paid. “I am confident that no funds from my campaign were used improperly. However, I know that it is the role of government to ensure that this is true. We have made available to the United States both the people and the information necessary to help them get the issue resolved efficiently and in a timely matter,” he said. – FOX News, 5-4-09

HISTORIANS’ COMMENTS

The President and the Russian Foreign Minister
(President Barack Obama meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in the Oval Office of the
White House May 7, 2009. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Historians’ Comments

  • Julian Zelizer “Commentary: News can outlast newspapers”: Last week, Sen. John Kerry convened a discussion of the troubled state of journalism in America by way of a hearing by the Senate Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet.
    In Kerry’s home state of Massachusetts, the Boston Globe is barely surviving. Several major metro papers have closed down, and there are indications that many more could soon follow. Experts have been warning in recent months that much of the newspaper industry may not survive.
    While the end of the metro newspaper would constitute a huge blow to journalism and the political system, realistically there might be nothing that we can do. The popularity of news on the Web and the potential of mobile devices such as the Kindle makes it difficult to see how we can sustain news in print — unless electronic delivery can produce enough revenue to support the cost of newspaper staffs.
    Sometimes technological innovations and consumer preferences cause changes that are irreversible. The industry has seen other important shifts in the way that Americans receive their news, such as the advent of television news in the 1950s and 1960s.
    But the real issue is not whether we can save the newspapers, but how we can create the best Internet news system possible. As Kerry said in his opening statement: “There also is the important question of whether online journalism will sustain the values of professional journalism, the way the newspaper industry has.”…
    The Internet can also combine written news with video and audio sources, as well as disseminate stories through social networking sites. Readers have the opportunities to interact with reporters and comment on stories.
    The death of the metro newspaper would be a huge loss. But rather than only focusing on lament, our best response would be to make the new medium of Internet news as strong as it can possibly be.
    We must address the major challenges by developing sites with the resources to edit, insisting on venues where the pursuit of objectivity remains a goal, and cultivating sites that help bring together different subject matter. If we do, the technological transition that we are living through can turn into a positive moment of advance for the media rather than a moment of decline. – CNN, 5-11-09
  • Conservative Historian Andrew Bacevich Warns Against Obama’s Escalation of War in Afghanistan and Intensifying Use of Air Power in Region: Well, I was invited to testify by Senator Kerry and thought it was appropriate for me to accept the invitation. I have been deeply disappointed by the direction of US policy in AfPak, as the Obama administration chooses to call it, ever since President Obama was inaugurated. I know, as do others, that when he was running for the office, he promised to reorient the US military effort from Iraq to Afghanistan. I had hoped that that was simply campaign talk to protect himself from the charge of being weak on national security. And therefore, I regret that it turns out that he’s serious on doubling down in Afghanistan and expanding US military efforts in Pakistan. I think both of those are mistaken…. – Democracy Now, 5-11-09
  • Robert Dallek “Obama Faces Mounting Challenges in His Next 100 Days With Iraq, Afghanistan, and the struggling economy, Obama is just getting started”: “He comes across as self-confident but not arrogant,” says historian Robert Dallek. “It reminds me of what Oliver Wendell Holmes said about Franklin Roosevelt—that he had a first-class temperament but a second-class intellect. Only with Obama, you have both a first-class temperament and a first-class intellect.” But Dallek adds that those personal traits will take him only so far. “The economy has to start coming back,” he says. “Patience will only last so long.” US News & World Report, 5-5-09
  • Julian Zelizer “Commentary: Grateful Dead on health care”: All the stars seem to have aligned for the passage of national health care reform. Victory, supporters say, is inevitable. During the past week, two important developments excited health care proponents. First, President Obama and Senate Democrats included reconciliation instructions in the budget for health care. If a deal is not reached by October, congressional Democrats can use a process that prohibits a filibuster and allows passage of the bill with 51 rather than 60 votes in the Senate. And even if opponents of the bill attempted to stage a filibuster, the switch of Sen. Arlen Specter to the Democratic Party, combined with the likely victory of Al Franken as a senator from Minnesota, would provide Democrats with 60 votes to fight it off. Yet, as the Grateful Dead sang in one of their most famous songs, “When life looks like Easy Street, there is danger at your door.”…
    But some of the older pitfalls remain. The administration and congressional Democrats need to reach an agreement sooner rather than later about how these benefits will be financed, or they will be bogged down by the same kinds of internal conflicts over taxes. Once they have a plan in place, Democrats also need to think of an effective way to package it to the public in order to counteract attacks from Republicans who may characterize it as socialized medicine. If Democrats are able to achieve national health care reform, they will go into the 2010 and 2012 election with a major, concrete political achievement. If they fail, as Clinton’s experience reminds us, they might give Republicans the kind of issue that they have been looking for to recover from 2008. – CNN, 5-4-09
  • Allan Lichtman “Measuring Obama by FDR’s yardstick If the first 100 days mean anything, the president is looking a lot like Franklin Roosevelt. But recent history shows a lot can change after the early days of a presidency”: “He’s not a revolutionary; he’s a liberal,” said historian Allan Lichtman of American University. “Obama’s made big changes, but within the normal liberal-conservative arc. Yes, the pendulum has swung, but it’s swung from mainstream conservatism to mainstream liberalism.” One more thing, Lichtman noted: Obama is a fox, not a hedgehog. The phrase comes from British philosopher Isaiah Berlin, who quoted an ancient Greek poet: “The fox knows many things; the hedgehog knows one big thing.”… – LAT, 4-21-09

History Buzz May 11, 2009: Professor Runs for President of Sudan & Obama’s History Budget

HISTORY BUZZ:

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS:

BIGGEST NEWS STORIES:

THIS WEEK IN HISTORY:

IN THE NEWS:

OP-EDs & BLOGS:

REVIEWS & FIRST CHAPTERS:

  • Jeff Guinn, Paul Schneider: Outlaws in Love GO DOWN TOGETHER The True, Untold Story of Bonnie and Clyde, BONNIE AND CLYDE The Lives Behind the Legend NYT, 5-10-09
  • Jeff Guinn: GO DOWN TOGETHER The True, Untold Story of Bonnie and Clyde, First Chapter – NYT, 5-10-09
  • MICHAEL KAZIN on T. J. Stiles: Ruthless in Manhattan THE FIRST TYCOON The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt NYT, 5-10-09
  • T. J. Stiles: THE FIRST TYCOON The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt, Excerpts – NYT, 4-29-09
  • Susan Jacoby: A Clash of Symbols ALGER HISS AND THE BATTLE FOR HISTORY NYT, 5-10-09
  • Susan Jacoby: ALGER HISS AND THE BATTLE FOR HISTORY, First Chapter – NYT, 5-10-09
  • John Dittmer: Bancroft Prize Recipient Prof. Publishes The Good Doctors DePauw University, 5-9-09
  • Juan Cole: Islamophobia ENGAGING THE MUSLIM WORLD NYT, 5-7-09
  • Peter W. Rodman: The Deciders and How They Decided PRESIDENTIAL COMMAND Power, Leadership, and the Making of Foreign Policy From Richard Nixon to George W. Bush NYT, 5-8-09
  • Peter W. Rodman: PRESIDENTIAL COMMAND Power, Leadership, and the Making of Foreign Policy From Richard Nixon to George W. Bush, First Chapter – NYT
  • Benjamin Carter Hett on Richard J. Evans: HISTORY Brutally Violent and Destined for Defeat THE THIRD REICH AT WAR WaPo, 5-10-09
  • Leslie H. Gelb: A Wonky Witness to History POWER RULES How Common Sense Can Rescue American Foreign Policy WaPo, 5-10-09
  • Diana Butler Bass: RELIGION Christian Conundrums A People’s History of Christianity WaPo, 5-10-09
  • Kathleen Burk: Professor looks at relationship between Britain and USA Swindon Advertiser, 5-6-09
  • Allan M. Winkler: History professor writes book on Pete Seeger To Everything There is a Season: Pete Seeger and the Power of Song Source: Press Release–Miami University (Ohio) (4-30-09)

QUOTES:

  • Alan Sked “Inbreeding May Have Doomed Spain’s Habsburg Dynasty” Enfeebled and sterile, Charles II’s genes made him the last of his line, researchers say: The family faced a challenge because they needed to marry Catholic spouses of equal rank — a rarity — and because dynastic marriages were used to keep territories within the family’s grasp, explained Alan Sked, a historian at the London School of Economics and Political Science. What would have happened if the Habsburgs hadn’t married each other? Sked, the historian, said “there would have been changes in alliances, boundaries and policies. Most of all, the Habsburgs would have produced more capable and intelligent rulers.” – Forbes, 5-8-09
  • William Loren Katz: Historian notes that Reagan wanted torturers put on trial – Source: William Loren Katz in an email circulating on the Internet (5-2-09)

PROFILES & FEATURES:

INTERVIEWS:

HONORS, AWARDED &APPOINTED:

  • Bruce Moran: Named Outstanding Researcher of the Year at the University of Nevada, Reno – UNR NevadaNews, 5-6-09
  • Ken Heineman: Ohio University Lancaster veteran leaving Lancaster to head up history department in Texas – Lancaster Eagle Gazette, 5-3-09
  • Ken Coates, Whitney Lackenbauer, William Morrison: Arctic Front sweeps the Donner Three historians and one political scientist share $35,000 prize for best book on Canadian public policy Arctic Front: Defending Canada in the Far North Globe and Mail, 4-30-09

SPOTTED:

EVENTS CALENDAR:

  • June 11-14, 2009: The ninth annual “Reacting to the Past” Institute at Barnard College (New York), Annual summer history institute at Barnard College – Source: Press Release (4-21-09)

ON TV:

  • PBS, Monday April 20, at 9pm: Seeing History Through Indians’ Eyes: “We Shall Remain” NYT, 4-12-09 (pbs.org/wgbh/amex/weshallremain)
  • Donald Fixico: History professor advises new PBS documentary “We Shall Remain” – ASU Web Devil, 4-21-09
  • C-SPAN2: BOOK TV Weekend Schedule
  • PBS American Experience: Mondays at 9pm
  • History Channel: Weekly Schedule
  • History Channel: “Art of War” – Sunday, May 3, 2009 at 8pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “The Plague” – Tuesday, May 12, 2009 at 2pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “The Lost Pyramid” – Wednesday, May 13, 2009 at 2pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Patton 360” Marathon – Friday, May 15, 2009 at 2-7pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “The Templar Code” – Friday, May 15, 2009 at 10pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Last Stand of The 300” – Saturday, May 16, 2009 at 5pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Angels & Demons Decoded” – Saturday, May 16, 2009 at 8pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Beyond The Da Vinci Code” – Saturday, May 16, 2009 at 10pm ET/PT

BEST SELLERS (NYT):

COMING SOON BOOKS:

  • Thomas Childers: Soldier from the War Returning: The Greatest Generation’s Troubled Homecoming from World War II, May 13, 2009
  • Simon Schama, American Future: A History, May 19, 2009
  • Geoffrey Blainey, Sea of Dangers: Captain Cook and His Rivals in the South Pacific, May 25, 2009
  • Richard Ben-Veniste: Emperor’s New Clothes: Exposing the Truth from Watergate To 9/11, May 26, 2009
  • Douglas Brinkley, Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America, 1858-1919, June 30, 2009
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