July 26, 2010: Obama Signs Finanicial Overhaul Bill, Newt Gingrich Contemplates Running for President

By Bonnie K. Goodman

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

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 111TH CONGRESS:

The President speaks for campaign finance reforms

White House Photo, Chuck Kennedy, 7/26/10

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • President Obama and Vice President Biden’s Daily Public Schedules Now Online – WH Schedules
  • Obama would lose Presidential election to Republican – ANY Republican – if held today: poll: Two-plus years before the 2012 election, a Republican candidate — any Republican candidate — has a better chance of being President than current White House occupant Barack Obama does. According to a new Quinnipiac University poll , Americans would rather vote for an unnamed Republican than Obama in 2012 by a 39% to 36% margin.
    Obama’s approval rating is now at an all-time low. According to the poll, 44% of Americans approved of the president, while 48% disapproved. Just two months ago, 48% of voters approved while 43% did not.
    “It was a year ago, during the summer of 2009 that America’s love affair with President Barack Obama began to wane,” said Peter A. Brown., assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. And it is the confidence of those critical independent voters he is losing the most. “Today, his support among Democrats remains strong, but the disillusionment among independent voters, who dropped from 52% to 37% approval to 52% to 38% disapproval in the last 12 months, is what leads to his weakness overall when voters start thinking about 2012.”… – NY Daily News, 7-22-10

THE HEADLINES….

The President signs Wall Street Reform White House Photo, Lawrence Jackson, 7/21/10

  • Obama and Republicans trade charges over economy: In his weekly radio address, the president says a House GOP plan would kill jobs. Republicans respond that the administration’s policies have failed…. – LAT, 7-24-10
  • Obama, Boehner turn up the partisan rhetoric: President Obama and House Minority Leader John Boehner blasted each other Saturday. As the November elections approach, partisan rhetorical sniping can be expected to escalate, especially on the economy…. – CS Monitor, 7-24-10
  • Obama signs bill targeting government waste: President Barack Obama turned his attention to the ongoing fight against government waste Thursday, signing a bill requiring federal agencies to spend at least $1 million annually on audits targeting improper payments and fraud. Among other things, the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act provides new financial incentives for auditors to track down government waste and requires the administration to report to Congress each fiscal year on steps taken to cut down on inappropriate expenditures.
    Government needs to be a “responsible steward” of taxpayer dollars, Obama said shortly before signing the bill at the White House. “There are outstanding public servants … but too often their best efforts are thwarted by outdated technologies and outmoded” ways of doing business…. – CNN, 7-22-10
  • Less money for dead people: Obama signs waste law: President Barack Obama on Thursday signed legislation intended to slash by $50 billion the taxpayer money improperly paid to dead people, fugitives and those in jail who shouldn’t be getting benefits. But that goal, if achieved, would not even halve the $110 billion made in such payments last year. The new law will strengthen the efforts by federal agencies to halt the flow of improper money in a series of ways. Among those steps: requiring more audits of programs and adding penalties for agencies that don’t comply with the law. The legislation also broadens how any recovered money can be used. Obama chose to sign the bill in front of cameras in the White House’s State Dining Room in hopes of bringing attention to the new law. He announced a goal of reducing improper payments by $50 billion by 2012; the White House says that last year’s total of nearly $110 billion in these payments was the highest ever…. – AP, 7-22-10
  • Judge starts hearing on Arizona immigration law: A federal judge heard arguments Thursday in a packed Phoenix courtroom over whether Arizona’s tough new immigration law should take effect next week. U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton was holding the hearing on whether the law should be put on hold and whether a lawsuit filed by civil rights groups and others challenging it should be dismissed. About 30 lawyers were in court to represent defendants in the case. There also were about 150 spectators in the courtroom, many in a second-floor gallery. Defendants include various county officials from throughout the state, most of whom sent lawyers to the hearing. Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever was there in person, however, sitting at the front of the courtroom…. – AP, 7-22-10
  • Bernanke Says Extending Bush Tax Cuts Would Maintain Stimulus: Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said extending the tax cuts passed during former President George W. Bush’s administration would help strengthen a U.S. economy still in need of stimulus. “In the short term I would believe that we ought to maintain a reasonable degree of fiscal support, stimulus for the economy,” Bernanke said today in testimony before the House Financial Services Committee. “There are many ways to do that. This is one way.” – Business Week, 7-22-10
  • Obama voices regret to ousted Agriculture official: The White House says President Barack Obama has conveyed “his regret” to ousted Agriculture Department official Shirley Sherrod over her ouster in the midst of a racially-tinged firestorm. It says Obama made the call to Sherrod after she declared publicly that she would like to speak with him. In a statement, the White House says Obama told her that “this misfortune can present an opportunity for her to continue her hard work on behalf of those in need.”… – AP, 7-22-10
  • Sherrod speaks to President Obama in a telephone call: President Barack Obama spoke Thursday with Shirley Sherrod, the former Agriculture Department employee who was forced to resign from her job based on incomplete and misleading reports about a speech she gave in March. Sherrod received a text message telling her Obama had been trying to reach her since Wednesday night, said Julie O’Neill, a CNN Special Investigations Unit producer who was with her at the time. Sherrod called the White House and was asked to call back in 10 minutes, at which time she spoke to the president. Sherrod was “very, very pleased with the conversation,” O’Neill said, and told her Obama had said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was “very apologetic and very sincere.” Vilsack apologized to Sherrod on Wednesday and offered her a different position within the department…. – CNN, 7-22-10
  • Obama signs financial overhaul law: Declaring that “the American people will never again be asked to foot the bill for Wall Street’s mistakes,” President Obama on Wednesday signed landmark legislation providing the most sweeping overhaul of financial rules since the Great Depression.
    The new law reverses decades of deregulation, aiming to provide greater government protection for consumers and reduce risky practices at financial institutions to prevent a repeat of the financial crisis.
    Its controversial centerpiece is a new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which will have broad authority to write new rules for mortgages, credit cards, payday loans and other consumer products and make sure firms are adhering to them…. – LAT, 7-21-10
  • Factbox: Major financial regulation reform proposals: Following are the key elements of the 2,300-page bill… – Reuters, 7-21-10
  • The Top 10 Things You May Not Know About the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection ActWH, 7-21-10
  • Bernanke Sees No Quick End to High Rate of Joblessness: The unemployment rate in the United States is likely to remain well above 7 percent through the end of 2012 and the duration of President Obama’s current term, according to the Federal Reserve. Federal Reserve chairman Ben S. Bernanke struck a more cautious tone than he did when he last submitted the report, in February.
    Ben S. Bernanke, the Fed chairman, told Congress on Wednesday that it would take “a significant amount of time” to restore the 8.5 million jobs lost in the United States in 2008 and 2009, and warned that “the economic outlook remains unusually uncertain.” He also warned that financial conditions, particularly the European sovereign debt crisis, had “become less supportive of economic growth in recent months.” In presenting the Fed’s semiannual monetary policy report to Congress, Mr. Bernanke struck a more cautious tone than he did when he last submitted the report, in February…. – NYT, 7-21-10
  • Clinton announces new sanctions against North Korea: The U.S. announced that it will strengthen sanctions against North Korea as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates toured South Korea…. – WaPo, 7-21-10
  • AP sources: No charges for ’06 US attorney firings: The Justice Department has concluded its two-year investigation into the Bush administration’s firing of U.S. attorneys and will file no charges, people close to the case said Wednesday. The investigation looked into whether the Bush administration dismissed the nine U.S. attorneys as a way to influence investigations. The scandal contributed to mounting criticism that the administration had politicized the Justice Department, a charge that contributed to the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales…. – AP, 7-21-10
  • Key U.S. Democrat backs keeping tax cuts for rich: A fiscally conservative Democrat who chairs the U.S. Senate’s budget committee on Wednesday said he supports extending all of the tax cuts that expire this year, including for the wealthy. “The general rule of thumb would be you’d not want to do tax changes, tax increases … until the recovery is on more solid ground,” Senator Kent Conrad said in an interview with reporters outside the Senate chambers, adding he did not believe the recovery has come yet…. – Reuters, 7-21-10
  • Cameron grabs hot dog in NYC, plans meetings: British Prime Minister David Cameron grabbed a quick hot dog lunch with Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Wednesday as he arrived in New York for his first official visit, but he remained silent ahead of planned meetings with business leaders and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
    Cameron, who took office 10 weeks ago, arrived in New York by train after a visit to Washington, where he met with President Barack Obama and Pentagon officials.
    Bloomberg met Cameron on a street corner outside the station, and the pair grabbed lunch from a street vendor but ignored questions from reporters while they ate. Cameron did flash a thumbs-up when asked about his lunch…. – AP, 7-21-10
  • Vilsack to apologize to ousted Agriculture worker: The White House says Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is reaching out to a black employee to apologize on behalf of the “entire administration” for forcing her ouster because of her remarks on race. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Wednesday that Vilsack had been unable to reach Shirley Sherrod so far. Sherrod was asked by department officials to resign on Monday after conservative bloggers posted an edited video of her saying she didn’t initially give a white farmer as much help as she could have 24 years ago. Sherrod says the video distorted her full speech…. – AP, 7-21-10
  • Senate Democrats set to leap hurdle on extending jobless benefits: Democrats are expected to overcome Republican opposition to the package of new aid for unemployed Americans…. – LAT, 7-20-10
  • Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan approved by Senate Judiciary Committee in 13-6 vote: Kagan wins approval in a nearly party-line vote, with Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina joining the majority Democrats. She is expected to gain full Senate confirmation in August…. – LAT, 7-20-10
  • BP stealing thunder from Cameron’s US visit: On the way to Washington, British Prime Minister David Cameron said he wants to talk about Afghanistan, Middle East peace prospects and the global economy. Everyone else wants to talk about BP. Cameron’s first trip to Washington as prime minister begins Tuesday and is being overshadowed by anger in the United States over BP’s spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and the British oil giant’s alleged involvement in the decision to free Lockerbie bomber Abdel Baset al-Megrahi from jail last year and send him home to Libya…. – AP, 7-20-10
  • Florida Legislature rejects oil drilling ban vote, adjourns: The Florida House abruptly adjourned a special legislative session after 49 minutes Tuesday, rejecting Gov. Charlie Crist’s proposal to let voters place a permanent ban on offshore drilling in the Florida Constitution. The party-line vote to adjourn the session was 67-44, with Republicans supporting adjournment and Democrats in favor of continuing the debate. A heckler from the visitors’ gallery shouted that all 67 were “in the pocket of BP.” The Senate adjourned at 2:20 p.m. with an 18-16 vote…. – Miami Herald, 7-20-10
  • Bush Tax Cuts: To Extend or Not to Extend?: The political battle for the hearts and minds of Main Street reached new levels in Washington, D.C., on Monday, a day ahead of a scheduled vote on extending unemployment benefits for millions of out-of-work Americans. While seemingly contradictory on the surface, the battle over unemployment benefits for struggling Americans is linked to the battle over extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest, which are set to expire at the end of 2010. How can politics over giving minimal support to the jobless be tied up with making the rich richer? That’s just politics, and it actually makes perfect sense, and it’s all coming to a head in Washington…. – Newsweek, 7-20-10
  • Sarah Palin stands by made-up word ‘refudiate,’ compares self to Shakespeare: Refudiate is not a word — at least, not one that appears in the dictionary. But don’t try telling former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. She’s been dropping refudiate bombs all over the place lately, and she’s not about to give up. Last week, Palin went on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show to claim that it’s “divisive” for the NAACP to call out racist elements in the Tea Party movement. (See the clip below.) Her I-know-you-are-but-what-am-I argument built to this stirring conclusion: “[The Obamas] could refudiate what it is that this group is saying. They could set the record straight.” Liberal bloggers LOL’d at her word choice, but then she did it again yesterday. In a since-deleted tweet, Palin wrote, “Ground Zero Mosque supporters: doesn’t it stab you in the heart, as it does ours throughout the heartland? Peaceful Muslims, pls refudiate.” After much Twitter mockery, she erased the tweet, re-posting new versions that used actual words like reject and refute instead of the one she made up. Yet she followed this with another tweet defending her imaginary word: “‘Refudiate,’ ‘misunderestimate,’ ‘wee-wee’d up.’ English is a living language. Shakespeare liked to coin new words too. Got to celebrate it!”… – EW, 7-19-10
  • A hidden world, growing beyond control: The top-secret world the government created in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work. These are some of the findings of a two-year investigation by The Washington Post that discovered what amounts to an alternative geography of the United States, a Top Secret America hidden from public view and lacking in thorough oversight. After nine years of unprecedented spending and growth, the result is that the system put in place to keep the United States safe is so massive that its effectiveness is impossible to determine…. – WaPo, 7-19-10
  • Washington Post exposes US ‘intelligence flaws’: Secret US intelligence gathering has grown so much since 9/11 no-one knows its exact cost, nor how many people are involved, the Washington Post reports. It says nearly 2,000 private companies and 1,270 government agencies are involved in counter-terror work at 10,000 locations across the country. The report, Top Secret America, follows a two-year investigation by the paper. Officials quoted acknowledge the system has shortcomings, but question some of the newspaper’s conclusions. Before the report was published, the White House told the Washington Post it knew about the problems within US intelligence gathering and was trying to fix them…. – BBC, 7-19-10
  • Next up on unfinished Senate agenda: unemployment insurance: Once Democrat Carte Goodwin is sworn in Tuesday to replace the late Sen. Robert Byrd, Senate Democrats will have the votes to try again to extend unemployment insurance to the jobless…. – CS Monitor, 7-19-10
  • Clinton tries to win over skeptical Pakistan: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton sought Monday to convince skeptical Pakistanis that American interest in their country extends beyond the fight against Islamist militants by announcing a raft of new aid projects worth $500 million.
    “Of course there is a legacy of suspicion that we inherited. It is not going to be eliminated overnight,” said Clinton following talks in Islamabad. “It is however our goal to slowly but surely demonstrate that the United States is concerned about Pakistan for the long term and that our partnership goes far beyond security against our common enemies,” she said…. – AP, 7-19-10
  • Sarah Palin Joins Chorus Slamming Ground Zero Mosque: Palin Calls on ‘Peace-Loving Muslims’ to Oppose Mosque Near 9/11 Site…
    Sarah Palin plunged into the raging debate over a proposed Islamic community center and mosque two blocks from Ground Zero in lower Manhattan, saying in series of posts on Twitter that the project should not be built. “Peace-seeking Muslims, pls understand. Ground Zero mosque is UNNECESSARY provocation; it stabs hearts. Pls reject it in the interest of healing,” the former Alaska governor and Republican vice presidential candidate tweeted on Sunday. In another message, she wrote, “Peaceful New Yorkers, pls refute the Ground Zero mosque plan if you believe catastrophic pain caused @ Twin Towers site is too raw, too real.”… – ABC News, 7-19-10
  • Clinton, With Initiatives in Hand, Arrives in Pakistan: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton arrived here Sunday for high-level deliberations with Pakistani leaders, the latest in a series of encounters that the Obama administration hopes will chip away at decades of suspicion between Pakistan and the United States. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was greeted by Ghalib Iqbal, Pakistan’s chief of protocol, in Islamabad on Sunday. Mrs. Clinton will announce a raft of initiatives to help Pakistan in public health, water distribution and agriculture, to be funded by $500 million in American economic aid. Among other things, the United States will build a 60-bed hospital in Karachi and help farmers export their mangoes…. – NYT, 7-19-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • Gingrich to wait for November elections before deciding on White House run: “I think that’s a decision we’ll make in February or March,” Gingrich said on “Fox News Sunday” of a presidential run. “This is a very hard family decision because it’s such a deep commitment, and it is so absorbing.”… – LAT, 7-25-10
  • GOP Rivals Jane Norton, Ken Buck Fight Over “High Heels” and Manhood: Who needs to fight about race when you can fight about gender? Jane Norton, who is facing off against Ken Buck in the GOP Senate primary in Colorado, has released an ad spotlighting Buck’s comment that people should vote for him because he does not “wear high heels.” “Why should you vote for me? Because I do not wear high heels,” Buck is shown saying in the spot, in comments he made last week. “I have cowboy boots. They have real bullsh** on them.” Says a narrator: “Now Ken Buck wants to go to Washington? He’d fit right in.” In a statement trumpeting the fact that the ad is going “viral,” Norton campaign spokesman Cinamon Watson said, “Ken is going to have to use all of his best lawyer-speak to explain this really stupid statement.” Watson went on to argue that the comment could have a significant impact on the race… – CBS News,7-22-10
  • W.Va.’s US Senate seat attracts 5 GOP candidates: Five Republicans filed paperwork Thursday to challenge West Virginia’s popular Democratic governor for the U.S. Senate seat held by the late Robert C. Byrd. Industrialist and media owner John Raese is the best known among the Republicans who joined a field of candidates that already included Gov. Joe Manchin and two other Democrats. The GOP pack also includes a substitute teacher’s aide also running for the state Legislature and a California man who attracted 44 votes in the party’s 2008 New Hampshire presidential primary. The parties will hold Aug. 28 primaries before the Nov. 2 general election. The candidate filing period ends Friday. U.S. Senate candidates must be residents of the state they wish to serve by Election Day…. – AP, 7-22-10
  • W.Va. gov, a popular Dem, to go for US Senate seat: Gov. Joe Manchin, a centrist and popular Democrat known for his handling of a coal mine disaster that killed 29 in April, declared Tuesday that he will run for the late Robert C. Byrd’s U.S. Senate seat. The bid marks the latest rise in profile for the 62-year-old Manchin since the former state lawmaker captured the governor’s office in 2004 after a term as secretary of state. He became chairman of the influential National Governors Association earlier this month, enjoys high approval ratings in his state and was seen as a comforter- in-chief to victims’ families following April’s Upper Big Branch mine explosion and the 2006 Sago mine disaster…. – AP, 7-20-10
  • Democrats retake lead in generic ballot: 1. A week removed from an internecine fight about whether or not control of the House is up for grabs this fall (it is), Democrats got some welcome news this morning as the party re-took the lead in Gallup’s generic congressional ballot question.
    Forty-nine percent of those tested said they preferred a generic Democratic candidate for Congress while 43 percent said they would opt for a generic Republican. Democrats’ six point margin represents a bump from the Gallup data earlier this month — Democrat 47 percent, Republican 46 percent — and marks the first time that Democrats have had a statistically significant edge on the question so far this election cycle.
    The reason for Democrats’ upward movement in the poll appears to be independent voters where Republicans now hold a four point generic edge (43 percent to 39 percent), a major drop from Gallup polling earlier this month that showed the GOP with a 14-point margin…. – WaPo, 7-20-10
  • Surprise SC Senate candidate makes first speech: In his first campaign appearance, South Carolina’s surprising U.S. Senate candidate Alvin Greene avoided any major gaffes Sunday as he hit his three major themes of jobs, education and justice. The speech started off with a joke and ended with Greene timidly waving, a shy smile spreading across his face as he got a standing ovation before a friendly audience in his hometown of Manning. Greene’s 6 1/2 minute speech at the local NAAP’s monthly meeting was mostly serious. Left out was any mention of his suggestion earlier this month that creating a line of action figures modeled after him could give South Carolinians jobs. In their place came platitudes familiar to anyone who has heard a stump speech.
    “Let’s get South Carolina and America back to work and let’s move South Carolina forward,” said Greene, one of about a dozen lines that got applause from the several hundred folks crammed into a sweltering junior high gymnasium…. – AP, 7-19-10

POLITICAL QUOTES

President Barack Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron of the   United Kingdom Stop to Talk on the South Lawn

President Barack Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom stop to talk during a walk across the South Lawn of the White House July 20, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

  • Geithner Says U.S. Employers `Very Cautious,’ Job Growth Not Fast Enough: Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner said U.S. companies scarred by the financial crisis remain “very cautious” and are trying to get more productivity from current employees before hiring new ones. Job growth is “not as fast as we need,” Geithner said in an interview broadcast today on NBC’s “Meet the Press” program. Employers “are still cautious, still very cautious,” he said. “So they’ve been trying to get as much productivity out of their employees as possible.” Geithner also said, in a separate interview on ABC’s “This Week” program, that allowing tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans to lapse at the end of this year wouldn’t hurt economic growth…. – Bloomberg, 7-25-10
  • Obama to ‘Netroots’: We have begun to deliver on change: President Obama addressed a group of generally supportive skeptics this week: Internet-based political activists known as “Netroots,” some of whom have criticized Obama over such items as Afghanistan and the failure to create a truly government-run health care system. “Change hasn’t come fast enough for too many Americans, I know that,” Obama said by video to a Netroots Nation convention in Las Vegas. “I know it hasn’t come fast enough for many of you who fought so hard during the election.” But Obama added, “we’ve begun to deliver on the change we promised.” His video included a review — narrated by MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow — of such accomplishments as the health care bill, the stimulus bill and the recently signed Wall Street regulation bill. “In ways large and small, we’ve begun to deliver on the change you fought so hard for,” Obama said. “And we’re not finished.”… – USA Today, 7-25-10
  • Biden praises Spratt as ‘graceful’ Vice president talks at Columbia fundraiser: Recalling the nearly 30 years they served together in Congress, Vice President Joe Biden on Friday praised U.S. Rep. John Spratt, D-S.C., as “a graceful man who has more decency, and a more powerful intellect, than almost anybody I’ve worked with.” Biden spoke at a fundraiser at the South Carolina State Museum, where 150 to 200 invited guests enjoyed a grilled chicken buffet lunch and then filed into an auditorium to hear from the vice president. Tickets started at $500, Spratt campaign officials said.
    “This man engineered a balanced budget,” Biden said, pointing toward Spratt. “These guys, our opponents, talking about balanced budgets and deficits is like an arsonist lecturing us on fire safety.”
    “Here’s the problem – we’ve been working so hard to get these major new building blocks laid down,” Biden said. “They are so big, so heavy, that the American people don’t understand what’s in it for them yet.
    “Now that the hard lifting is done, we’re going to spend the next 90 days going out explaining to people exactly what it means to them.” Rock Hill SC Herald, 7-24-10
  • Weekly Address: President Obama Praises New Wall Street Reform Law; Says GOP Plan Will Take Us Backward
    Remarks of President Barack Obama As Prepared for Delivery Weekly Address The White House July 24, 2010:
    ….Unfortunately, those are the ideas we keep hearing from our friends in the other party. This week, the Republican leader in the House of Representatives offered his plan to create jobs. It’s a plan that’s surprisingly short, and sadly familiar.
    First, he would repeal health insurance reform, which would take away tax credits from millions of small business owners, and take us back to the days when insurance companies had free rein to drop coverage and jack up premiums. Second, he would say no to new investments in clean energy, after his party already voted against the clean energy tax credits and loans that are creating thousands of new jobs and hundreds of new businesses. And third, even though his party voted against tax cuts for middle-class families, he would permanently keep in place the tax cuts for the very wealthiest Americans – the same tax cuts that have added hundreds of billions to our debt.
    These are not new ideas. They are the same policies that led us into this recession. They will not create jobs, they will kill them. They will not reduce our deficit, they will add $1 trillion to our deficit. They will take us backward at a time when we need to keep America moving forward.
    I know times are tough. I know that the progress we’ve made isn’t good enough for the millions of Americans who are still out of work or struggling to pay the bills. But I also know the character of this nation. I know that in times of great challenge and difficulty, we don’t fear the future – we shape the future. We harness the skills and ingenuity of the most dynamic country on Earth to reach a better day. We do it with optimism, and we do it with confidence. That’s the spirit we need right now, and that’s the future I know we can build together. – WH, 7-24-10
  • Remarks by the President on the Economy: I want to talk about the progress that we made this week on three fronts, as we work to repair the damage to our economy from this recession and build a stronger foundation for the future…
    …And to unlock the growth of our entrepreneurs, we’ll finally do what I’ve been advocating since I ran for President, which is to eliminate capital gains taxes entirely for key investments in small businesses.
    Now, last night, after a series of partisan delays, the Senate took an important step forward by supporting a lending fund in the overall small business jobs bill. I want to thanks Senators Mary Landrieu and George Lemieux for their leadership and advocacy on behalf of the millions of small business people for whom this will make a meaningful difference. I was heartened that Senator LeMieux and Senator George Voinovich crossed party lines to help pass this lending provision last night, and I hope we can now finish the job and pass the small business jobs plan without delay and without additional partisan wrangling.
    You know, the small businessmen and women who write to me every day, and the folks who I’ve met with across this country, they can’t afford any more political games. They need us to do what they sent us here to do. They didn’t send us here to wage a never-ending campaign. They didn’t send us here to do what’s best for our political party. They sent us here to do what’s best for the United States of America and all its citizens, whether Democrats or Republicans or independents. In other words, they sent us here to govern. And that’s what I hope we will do in the remaining days before the Congress takes its August recess. – WH, 7-23-10
  • President Obama Signs Wall Street Reform: “No Easy Task”
    Remarks by the President at Signing of Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act:

    Passing this bill was no easy task. To get there, we had to overcome the furious lobbying of an array of powerful interest groups and a partisan minority determined to block change. So the members who are here today, both on the stage and in the audience, they have done a great service in devoting so much time and expertise to this effort, to looking out for the public interests and not the special interests. (Applause.) And I also want to thank the three Republican senators who put partisanship aside — (applause) — judged this bill on the merits, and voted for reform. We’re grateful to them. (Applause.) And the Republican House members. (Applause.) Good to see you, Joe. (Applause.)
    Now, let’s put this in perspective. The fact is, the financial industry is central to our nation’s ability to grow, to prosper, to compete and to innovate. There are a lot of banks that understand and fulfill this vital role, and there are a whole lot of bankers who want to do right — and do right — by their customers. This reform will help foster innovation, not hamper it. It is designed to make sure that everybody follows the same set of rules, so that firms compete on price and quality, not on tricks and not on traps.
    It demands accountability and responsibility from everyone. It provides certainty to everybody, from bankers to farmers to business owners to consumers. And unless your business model depends on cutting corners or bilking your customers, you’ve got nothing to fear from reform. (Applause.)
    Now, for all those Americans who are wondering what Wall Street reform means for you, here’s what you can expect. If you’ve ever applied for a credit card, a student loan, or a mortgage, you know the feeling of signing your name to pages of barely understandable fine print. What often happens as a result is that many Americans are caught by hidden fees and penalties, or saddled with loans they can’t afford.
    That’s what happened to Robin Fox, hit with a massive rate increase on her credit card balance even though she paid her bills on time. That’s what happened to Andrew Giordano, who discovered hundreds of dollars in overdraft fees on his bank statement –- fees he had no idea he might face. Both are here today. Well, with this law, unfair rate hikes, like the one that hit Robin, will end for good. (Applause.) And we’ll ensure that people like Andrew aren’t unwittingly caught by overdraft fees when they sign up for a checking account. (Applause.)
    With this law, we’ll crack down on abusive practices in the mortgage industry. We’ll make sure that contracts are simpler -– putting an end to many hidden penalties and fees in complex mortgages -– so folks know what they’re signing.
    With this law, students who take out college loans will be provided clear and concise information about their obligations.
    And with this law, ordinary investors -– like seniors and folks saving for retirement –- will be able to receive more information about the costs and risks of mutual funds and other investment products, so that they can make better financial decisions as to what will work for them.
    So, all told, these reforms represent the strongest consumer financial protections in history. (Applause.) In history. And these protections will be enforced by a new consumer watchdog with just one job: looking out for people -– not big banks, not lenders, not investment houses -– looking out for people as they interact with the financial system. – WH, 7-21-10
  • Remarks by President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron of the United Kingdom in Joint Press Availability:
    We have just concluded some excellent discussions — including whether the beers from our hometowns that we exchanged are best served warm or cold. My understanding is, is that the Prime Minister enjoyed our 312 beer and we may send him some more. I thought the beer we got was excellent — but I did drink it cold. (Laughter.)
    Mr. Prime Minister, we can never say it enough. The United States and the United Kingdom enjoy a truly special relationship. We celebrate a common heritage. We cherish common values. And we speak a common language —- most of the time. We honor the sacrifices of our brave men and women in uniform who have served together, bled together, and even lay at rest together.
    Above all, our alliance thrives because it advances our common interests. Whether it’s preventing the spread of nuclear weapons or securing vulnerable nuclear materials, thwarting terrorist attacks, or confronting climate change, or promoting global economic growth and development, when the United States and the United Kingdom stand together, our people —- and people around the world — are more secure and they are more prosperous.
    In short, the United States has no closer ally and no stronger partner than Great Britain. And I appreciate the opportunity to renew our relationship with my partner, Prime Minister Cameron.
    In his campaign, David was known for his extensive town halls discussions with voters —- “Cameron Direct.” And that’s the same spirit that we had here today. I appreciate David’s steady leadership and his pragmatic approach. And just as he’s off to an energetic start at home, I think we’ve had a brilliant start as partners who see eye-to- eye on virtually every challenge before us. – WH, 7-20-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Maureen Dowd: You’ll Never Believe What This White House Is Missing: The Obama White House is too white. It has Barack Obama, raised in the Hawaiian hood and Indonesia, and Valerie Jarrett, who spent her early years in Iran. But unlike Bill Clinton, who never needed help fathoming Southern black culture, Obama lacks advisers who are descended from the central African-American experience, ones who understand “the slave thing,” as a top black Democrat dryly puts it…. – NYT, 7-25-10
  • Julian E. Zelizer: Why Obama’s poll numbers have sunk: President Obama’s supporters have been frustrated about the apparent paradox of this administration. With the recent passage of historic financial regulation legislation, many Democrats are having trouble grasping why his approval ratings still lag and why Democrats might lose control of the House in the fall elections.
    Supporters say the economic stimulus bill, education and health care reform, and now financial reform, should have Americans looking at the White House with the same admiration they had for President Roosevelt in the 1930s or President Johnson at the height of his success in 1964 and 1965.
    But according to a recent CBS News poll, just 40 percent of those polled approved of how the president was handling the economy. This was a drop of five percentage points since June….
    Rather than complain about what the public thinks or dismiss liberals as unrealistic, Obama would do better to be more responsive to public concerns, with joblessness at the top of his list. The president must give serious consideration to another stimulus package, and be willing to spend the kind of political capital that he used in pushing for health care and financial regulation. He must also be willing to look at some of the shortcomings of the first bill, such as insufficient funds for public works projects and for assistance to the states. – CNN, 7-19-10
  • Robert Dallek: Obama’s vacation: Time with the family … and the nuclear codes: Obama’s vacation in Maine will be a short one. But no matter where they go, presidents never really leave their job the way a typical white-collar professional does when he packs his beach towel and powers down his Blackberry. “The president is always on call, 24/7, if there is a crisis,” says presidential historian Robert Dallek. “They’re lucky if they go on vacation and there’s no crisis, and then they get some downtime. But they’re always on call.”
    Mr. Dallek recalls that when President Dwight Eisenhower showed John Kennedy around the White House after the 1960 election, Eisenhower showed the president-elect a special button that would call a helicopter to the South Lawn within seconds. That kind of rapid response follows the president everywhere, and it has only gotten better over time.
    “That was 50 years ago,” Dallek says. “Now, it’s pretty instantaneous.”… – CS Monitor, 7-16-10

History Buzz, July 19-26, 2010: The FBI & Howard Zinn & Alan Brinkley Blogs “Mad Men”

HISTORY BUZZ:

By Bonnie K. Goodman

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

RELATED LINKS & ANNOUNCEMENTS

THIS WEEK IN HISTORY:

  • Coventry historian helps identify Battle of Fromelles fallen: TODAY marks the 94th anniversary of the Battle of Fromelles where 30 Coventry and Warwickshire servicemen are thought to have died. More than 7,000 British and Australian soldiers died, were wounded or taken prisoner during the First World War battle in Northern France. Bodies of the dead soldiers were buried in six mass graves by the Germans but the names of many of these remain unknown…. – Coventry Telegraph (UK) (7-19-10)

IN FOCUS:

  • FBI admits probing ‘radical’ historian Zinn for criticizing bureau: FBI files show bureau may have tried to get Zinn fired from Boston University for his political opinions. Those who knew of the dissident historian Howard Zinn would not be surprised that J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI kept tabs on him for decades during the Cold War. But in a release of documents pertaining to Zinn, the bureau admitted that one of its investigations into the left-wing academic was prompted not by suspicion of criminal activity, but by Zinn’s criticism of the FBI’s record on civil rights investigations…. – The Raw Story (7-30-10)

HISTORY NEWS:

  • Teaching history may become a thing of past: As the start of a new school year approaches, not to mention the November elections, Americans face a dizzying array of fiscal, human, environmental and other crises. More than ever, our democracy requires an educated citizenry capable of analyzing the world around us and of making informed judgments. So this is why Americans — from parents to voters to policymakers – must address yet another deepening crisis, the one in history education at the K-12 level. As if the approval in May of gravely flawed social studies standards by the Texas State Board of Education is not depressing enough, the nation lost one of its most learned, passionate and effective public champions for the study and appreciation of our collective past with the passing of Sen. Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia in June. However complicated his own legacy, Byrd understood that we must invest in the future by understanding the past, which is why he used his considerable influence to sponsor the Teaching American History grants program. – Houston Chronicle, 7-31-10
  • Japan asked for annexation apology by Korean scholars: Over 1,000 scholars, writers and attorneys from Korea and Japan asked the Japanese government for a formal apology for the annexation of Korea ahead of its 100-year anniversary next month…. – JoongAng Daily (7-29-10)
  • Christopher Waldrep, Michael Pfeifer: Experts on history of lynching rebut Jeffrey Lord’s Sherrod claim: Experts on the history of lynching are criticizing an American Spectator report which claimed that Shirley Sherrod’s statement that her relative Bobby Hall was lynched was “factually, provably untrue.” Media Matters (7-27-10)
  • Construction History Society of America – Newest AHA Affiliate: The AHA welcomes the Construction History Society of America as its newest Affiliated Society…. – AHA Blog (7-20-10)
  • Niall Ferguson slams Australian immigration policy: ONE of the world’s leading economic historians has slammed Labor’s “needless pseudo stimulus” spending. Niall Ferguson has also criticised the election campaign’s “pathetic” debate over capping immigration and population growth…. – The Australian (7-27-10)
  • Historian stages sleep-ins to save SC slave cabins: When Joe McGill spreads his sleeping bag on the floor of a slave cabin, he knows that spending the night there will conjure the specter of slavery…. – AP (7-23-10)
  • Daniel Kevles, David Reynolds, Lizabeth Cohen, Sean Wilentz, Simon Schama: Sixteen economists and historians joined in a consensus statement demanding urgent action on unemployment and the faltering recovery: Fourteen million out of work! Sixteen notable economists and historians have joined in a consensus statement for The Daily Beast demanding urgent action on unemployment and the faltering recovery. Joseph Stiglitz, Alan Blinder, Robert Reich, Richard Parker, Derek Shearer, Laura Tyson, Sir Harold Evans, and other thought leaders have produced a manifesto calling for more government stimulus and tax credits to put America back to work…. – Hot Indie News (7-19-10)
  • Conrad Black to be released from prison on bail: Conrad Black will likely be out on bail within days from the Florida jail that has been his home for the last 28 months. But it’s the bail conditions that will determine where he goes next. The bail conditions will be set by U.S. District Court Judge Amy St. Eve in Chicago. St. Eve is the judge who presided over Black’s trial in 2007 and who ended up sentencing him to 78 months after a jury found him guilty of three counts of fraud and one count of obstruction of justice…. – CBC News (7-20-10)
  • Historian Orlando Figes agrees to pay damages for fake reviews: One of Britain’s leading historians, Orlando Figes, is to pay damages and costs to two rivals who launched a libel case after a row erupted over fake reviews posted on the Amazon website…. – Guardian (UK) (7-16-10)

OP-EDs:

  • Alan Brinkley: ‘Mad Men’: A Conversation (Season 4, Episode 1, ‘Public Relations’): I’m flattered to have been invited to join this conversation about “Mad Men.” Like most of us on this blog, I suspect, I grew up in the 1950s and 1960s, and one of the pleasures of watching the show is being reminded of so many aspects of life in those years that now seem so much a part of the past.
    I’ve been watching the show since it began, and I’ve always been impressed by the unflinching portrayal of flawed characters whom we really want to like but are never wholly allowed to. It echoes so many parts of the culture of that era and of some of the greatest artists of the era: Cheever, Bellow, Yates, Updike, Miller, Albee, among others. And it¹s terrific on the quotidian details of the era as well ­ the clothes, the décor, the smoking, the drinking, the jargon, the sexism, the closeted homosexuality, and the casual antisemitism. Parts of it remind me of my parents. I remember the omnipresence of cigarettes and cocktails. Only later did I understand their own struggle to find a place in a world that did not come naturally to them ­ my mother, from a middle-class Jewish family, marrying a man from a lower-middle class Protestant family in North Carolina, both of them fleeing into the postwar suburban world — where backgrounds were supposed to disappear — and trying to find a place in it, not always successfully…. – WSJ, 7-25-10
  • Alan Brinkley: ‘Mad Men’: A Conversation Every Sunday after the newest episode of “Mad Men,” lawyer and Supreme Court advocate Walter Dellinger will host an online dialogue about the show. The participants include literature professor Toril Moi, political science professor David L. Paletz, media expert Evangeline Morphos, and historian Alan Brinkley. Dellinger will post his thoughts shortly after each episode ends at 11 p.m., and the others will add their commentary in the hours and days that follow…. – WSJ, 7-25-10
  • Mark Bauerlein: An Episode at Hamilton–Paquette and UrgoThe Chronicle of Higher Education (7-20-10)
  • Peter Zarrow: Me, Wang Hui, and Liberal Wishy-washy-ness: Wang Hui is a cultural historian and critic, and professor at Qinghua University in Beijing. He was for several years editor of Dushu, a serious general interest magazine perhaps roughly — very roughly — equivalent to the Atlantic monthly in the US. He is also known as a leader of the so-called “New Left” intellectuals, who highlight the costs of economic liberalization, global capitalism, and rigid Western-style modernization policies. Early this year, charges of plagiarism began to appear concerning some of some of Wang Hui’s work. He has since been subject to numerous attacks, including ad hominen blog attacks…. – The China Beat (Blog) (7-16-10)

REVIEWS & FIRST CHAPTERS:

  • Rick Perlstein’s “Nixonland” gets the digital treatment, E-Books Fly Beyond Mere Text: E-books of the latest generation are so brand new that publishers can’t agree on what to call them. In the spring Hachette Book Group called its version, by David Baldacci, an “enriched” book. Penguin Group released an “amplified” version of a novel by Ken Follett last week. And on Thursday Simon & Schuster will come out with one of its own, an “enhanced” e-book version of “Nixonland” by Rick Perlstein…. Simon & Schuster has taken the best-selling “Nixonland,” first published in hardcover in 2008 in a whopping 896 pages, and scattered 27 videos throughout the e-book…. – NYT (7-29-10)
  • Niall Ferguson: Yesterday’s Banker: HIGH FINANCIER The Lives and Time of Siegmund Warburg Niall Ferguson’s “High Financier,” the biography of the Anglo-German banker Sir Siegmund Warburg, takes us back to a different era — the 1950s and ’60s — and a different conception of banking. Profits from trading were modest, and bankers made most of their money by giving advice to clients and helping businesses to raise capital. Bankers like Warburg thought of themselves as rather like family doctors, whose job it was to get to know their clients well, understand their problems and act in their best interest — a far cry from the ethos that dominates today’s Wall Street…. – NYT, 7-30-10
  • Jane Ziegelman: In a Tenement’s Meager Kitchens, a Historian Looks for Insight: 97 ORCHARD An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement In the meantime we have Jane Ziegelman’s modest but absorbing “97 Orchard: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement.” The story it tells, about Old World habits clashing and ultimately melding with new American ones, is familiar. But Ms. Ziegelman is a patient scholar and a graceful writer, and she rummages in these families’ histories and larders to smart, chewy effect. Ms. Ziegelman, whose previous book, “Foie Gras: A Passion,” occupies a place at the plummier end of the food history spectrum, introduces us to the Glockners, the Moores, the Gumpertzes, the Rogarshevskys and the Baldizzis, who all lived at 97 Orchard Street, on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, between 1863 and 1935…. – NYT, 7-28-10
  • Julie Flavell: Colonials Abroad: WHEN LONDON WAS CAPITAL OF AMERICA Julie Flavell’s “When London Was Capital of America” illuminates this fascinating chapter of London’s — and North America’s — past, showing how the metropolis functioned as a magnet for colonists from across the Atlantic (including the West Indies) who sought accomplishment, opportunity and commerce. An American-born scholar who is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society, Flavell has unearthed a host of stories that bring alive a previously neglected aspect of the colonial experience…. – NYT, 7-30-10
  • Geoffrey O’Brien: Saratoga Gothic: THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF WALWORTH A Tale of Madness and Murder in Gilded Age America In addition to publishing six books of poetry as well as eight of cultural history and criticism, Geoffrey O’Brien is the editor in chief of the Library of America, whose handsome, authoritative volumes now more or less constitute the nation’s literary canon. But however central the novelist Mansfield Tracy Walworth (1830-73) may be to O’Brien’s crackerjack new history of one family’s mayhem, it seems safe to say that he will not soon be joining Welty, Wharton and Whitman at the right-hand reaches of the Library’s long, august shelf…. – NYT, 7-30-10Excerpt
  • Thomas L. Jeffers: Turning Right: NORMAN PODHORETZ A Biography …Thomas L. Jeffers’s exhaustive but frustratingly uncritical biography, “Norman Podhoretz,” is most engaging in its early chapters, telling the story of how this brilliant and ambitious child of Jewish immigrants from Galicia rose from poverty in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn to become first, the star student of the great literary critic Lionel Trilling at Columbia University and then, at the age of 30, the editor of Commentary, the magazine of the American Jewish Committee and one of the two leading journals (along with Partisan Review) of the legendary New York Intellectuals…. – NYT, 7-30-10Excerpt
  • Lyndall Gordon: Explosive Inheritance LIVES LIKE LOADED GUNS Emily Dickinson and Her Family’s Feuds The tale that Lyndall Gordon unveils in “Lives Like Loaded Guns” is so lurid, so fraught with forbidden passions, that readers may be disappointed to find that no actual gun goes off in this feverish account of the Dickinson family “feuds.” There are metaphorical guns galore, including Dickinson’s self-portrait as lethal wallflower: “My Life had stood — a Loaded Gun — / In Corners — till a Day / The Owner passed — identified — / And carried Me away.” Gordon, who has written highly regarded biographies of Charlotte Brontë, T. S. Eliot and Mary Wollstonecraft, detects two patterns of “explosive inheritance” in Dickinson, who happened to have a grandmother named Gunn: eruptions in the lives and in the poems…. – NYT, 7-30-10
  • Jane Brox: Up From Darkness: BRILLIANT The Evolution of Artificial Light The lights eventually came back on, and I forgot about the burger lamp until reading Jane Brox’s “Brilliant: The Evolution of Artificial Light,” which takes us from fat to fluorescence and on into the future (beyond the bulb, that is). The book starts off promisingly, in the dim past…. – NYT, 7-30-10
  • Mark Atwood Lawrence: John Lukacs: The Heart of a Realist: THROUGH THE HISTORY OF THE COLD WAR The Correspondence of George F. Kennan and John Lukacs This powerful sense of estrangement from mainstream America pervades “Through the History of the Cold War,” a gloomy but fascinating volume containing more than 200 letters exchanged by Kennan and John Lukacs over half a century. The correspondence began in 1952, when Lukacs, a Hungarian émigré who later became a prolific historian of modern Europe, wrote Kennan to commend his view that the United States needed to resist Soviet expansion through political and economic, rather than military, means. To Lukacs’s surprise, Kennan wrote back… – NYT, 7-25-10
  • Wendy Moffat: Lives of the Novelists: E. M. Forster: A GREAT UNRECORDED HISTORY A New Life of E. M. Forster In “A Great Unrecorded History,” a well-written, intelligent and perceptive biography of Forster, Wendy Moffat attempts to explore that silence and at the same time to draw a picture of a figure who was sensitive, sensuous and kind, an artist who possessed a keen, plain sort of wisdom and lightness of touch that make him, to this day, an immensely influential novelist, almost a prophet. She uses the sources for our knowledge of Forster’s sexuality, including letters and diaries, without reducing the mystery and sheer individuality of Forster, without making his sexuality explain everything…. – NYT, 7-25-10
  • Powerful Political Figures, Historians and Scholars Assert President Calvin Coolidge’s Relevance in Today’s Politically Charged Climate in a New Book Titled, Why Coolidge Matters: A collection of 21 essays authored by an impressive bipartisan list of historians, political figures, scholars and journalists, that includes Senator John Kerry, former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis, Governors M. Jodi Rell (CT) and James Douglas (VT), Ward Connerly, founder/chairman of the American Civil Rights Institute, and Jerry Wallace, Presidential archivist, among others, Why Coolidge Matters reflects a common denominator: President Coolidge’s civility, integrity, even-handedness and scrupulous attention to propriety provides much wisdom that can be applied to present day politics…. – Earth Times (7-20-10)
  • James T. Patterson’s “Freedom Is Not Enough,” reviewed by Kevin Boyle: FREEDOM IS NOT ENOUGH The Moynihan Report and America’s Struggle Over Black Family Life — from LBJ to Obama Shortly after the cataclysmic Watts riot in the summer of 1965, word spread around Washington that the Johnson administration had in its hands a secret report on the state of Black America. It had been written, said the rumors, by a little-known official in the Department of Labor: Daniel Patrick Moynihan. And it was “a political atom bomb,” according to columnists Rowland Evans and Robert Novak, “which strips away usual equivocations and exposes the ugly truth about the big-city Negros’ plight.” What followed, as Brown University historian James T. Patterson makes clear in this fine-grained study, was one of the great tragedies of postwar policy making…. – WaPo, 7-18-10
  • Alex Heard’s “The Eyes of Willie McGee,” reviewed by Michael Kazin: THE EYES OF WILLIE MCGEE A Tragedy of Race, Sex, and Secrets in the Jim Crow South The bare facts about the case of Willie McGee seem to fit the dreadful image of a legal lynching in the Deep South back when white supremacy ruled. In 1945, McGee, a handsome black truck-driver, was jailed for allegedly raping a white housewife named Willette Hawkins in Laurel, Miss. — while her husband slept in a nearby room and a small child slept beside her. Despite the improbable circumstances, McGee was convicted by an all-white jury and, after two appeals, was electrocuted in 1951….
    But Alex Heard, a veteran journalist who grew up in Mississippi, uncovers a story that is a good deal more intriguing, if less dramatic, than Harper Lee’s iconic Southern novel. The McGee case was fought out on a global terrain. That tearful young lawyer’s name was Bella Abzug. Years before she became a politician famous for big hats and robust feminism, Abzug worked for the Civil Rights Congress, a small but aggressive group with close ties to the Communist Party. The CRC, with aid from the Soviet bloc, whipped up an international outcry against McGee’s execution. Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo and Dmitri Shostakovich dispatched cables of outrage, and a band of protesters chained themselves to one of the columns at the Lincoln Memorial….. – WaPo, 7-18-10
  • Bruce Cumings: Carpet-Bombing Falsehoods About a War That’s Little Understood: THE KOREAN WAR The world will be watching, and here’s a book that American policymakers may hope it won’t be reading: Bruce Cumings’s “Korean War,” a powerful revisionist history of America’s intervention in Korea. Beneath its bland title, Mr. Cumings’s book is a squirm-inducing assault on America’s moral behavior during the Korean War, a conflict that he says is misremembered when it is remembered at all. It’s a book that puts the reflexive anti-Americanism of North Korea’s leaders into sympathetic historical context…. – NYT, 7-22-10Excerpt
  • Alexandra Popoff: The Tolstoys’ War: SOPHIA TOLSTOY A Biography As Alexandra Popoff suggests in her new biography, “Sophia Tolstoy,” the countess has been maligned by history, viewed as hysterical and insanely jealous, a shrew. These misconceptions, Popoff insists (with some exaggeration), “all have one source: Chertkov. For decades, he suppressed favorable information about Sophia and exaggerated his own role in Tolstoy’s life.”… – NYT, 7-18-10

FEATURES:

  • Douglas Brinkley: Electric cars like Chevy’s new Volt are too expensive today, but they won’t be for long, if history is a guide: In 1903, most car companies were “turning out products with steep prices of $3,000 or even $4,000,” writes Douglas Brinkley in Wheels for the World: Henry Ford, His Company, and a Century of Progress. In 1903, about 12,000 cars were sold in the United States The following year, Henry Ford introduced his Model B “at a startling $2,000.” Now, the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ inflation calculator only goes back to 1913. But $3,000 in 1913 is worth about $66,114 today. This BLS report suggests that average family income in 1901 was about $750. Any way you slice it, cars were very expensive. A luxury car cost about four times what a family earned in a year. What kind of future was there for the car as a democratic object?… – Slate (7-28-10)
  • Shelley E. Roff: Women workers could be found on the medieval construction site, study finds: According to a recently published study, women could be found working on construction sites, if only occasionally, including in specialized roles such as carpenters and masons. The research is found in the article, “Appropriate to Her Sex?” Women’s Participation on the Construction Site in Medieval and Early Modern Europe, by Shelley E. Roff…. – Medieval News (7-27-10)
  • Richard K. Lieberman: A 19th-Century Piano Is So Square, It’s Cool: Mr. Lieberman, a professor of history at LaGuardia and director of the La Guardia and Wagner Archives, said it had an interesting history: It survived the Civil War in Kentucky, hidden in a barn where it was not burned as troops crisscrossed the area. The family legend was that someone played “Dixie” when Confederates were within earshot. It is not known whether the same pianist struck up “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” when Union soldiers were around…. – NYT (7-25-10)
  • ‘Mad Men’ series inaccurately depicts difficulties of divorce for women in ’60s: …”As historians, most of us just love ‘Mad Men’ — it is so realistic, not just in the details, but in the gender dynamics,” said Stephanie Coontz, a sociologist and professor at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash. “But, I think in this case they’ve gotten it wrong.”
    “In 1964, Nelson Rockefeller could not run for president because he was divorced — anyone with high aspirations, unless he was absolutely besotted with love, would never have considered getting involved in a divorce.”… Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (7-25-10)

QUOTES:

  • New FDR letters could be a “trove,” says Goodwin: The writer was Lucy Mercer Rutherfurd, who decades before had been FDR’s mistress and who now was making arrangements for what would be their last meeting. Elegantly handwritten, the letter never mentions Roosevelt by name — her love letters to him had been their undoing a quarter-century earlier when Eleanor Roosevelt found them in her husband’s steamer trunk…. “Wow,” said historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of “No Ordinary Time,” a chronicle of the Roosevelts during the war. “This stuff sounds like it’s going to be very exciting. You very rarely get a whole new trove of material.”… – Star Tribune (7-28-10)
  • Geoff Wade, Edward Friedman: Zheng He: Symbol of China’s ‘peaceful rise’: “The rise of China has induced a lot of fear,” says Geoff Wade of the Institute of South-east Asian Studies in Singapore. “Zheng is being portrayed as a symbol of China’s openness to the world, as an envoy of its peace and friendship – these two words keep cropping up in virtually every reference to Zheng He out of China,” says Prof Wade….
    Zheng He was an admiral in the time of “empire”, when there were no boundaries, no frontier limits, says China expert Edward Friedman. “The expeditions were real events – Zheng’s achievements were extraordinary and a marvel of the time,” says Prof Friedman of the University of Wisconsin-Madison…. BBC News (7-28-10)
  • Brian Carso: Treason expert says release of military files on war is not treason under the law: “But, it harms our democratic process,” Carso said. “Our democratic leaders have made a decision to pursue the war effort, and while we are right to constantly debate that decision as we go forward, by the same token we shouldn’t undermine our own ability to carry out the war effort.”… – The Times Leader (PA) (7-27-10)
  • Nostalgia drives ‘Mad Men’ culture beyond small screen: Taken together, New York University’s Jonathan Zimmerman says viewers aren’t watching Mad Men because it affirms any secret sexism they might harbour, but rather because the show enables a kind of self-congratulation.
    “The well-to-do pride themselves on their notions of gender equality,” says Zimmerman, a professor of history and culture. “They look especially at Mad Men’s gender roles and say: ‘My goodness, wasn’t it barbaric back then?'” “Nostalgia is a profound emotion that affects us in a guttural way,” says Zimmerman, a fan of the AMC series. “With just a shot of a corridor or a desk or a type of car, baby boomers can quite literally relive their youth.”… Vancouver Sun (7-20-10)

INTERVIEWS:

  • Will Israel’s New Archive Policy Set Back a Generation of Scholarship? CHE asks Benny Morris: Earlier this month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu extended the classification of certain national- security related state archives for an additional 20 years…. For more on the potential implications of Netanyahu’s decision, I turned to Benny Morris, a professor of history at Ben Gurion University of the Negev…. – CHE (7-30-10)

AWARDS &APPOINTMENTS:

  • MU prof’s book recognized by the Wall Street Journal: James Tobin, associate professor of journalism at Miami University, was recently recognized by the Wall Street Journal for writing one of the five best books on inventions. Tobin’s 2003 book, “To Conquer the Air,” was ranked third, following “Longitude” by Dava Sobel and “The Making of the Atomic Bomb” by Richard Rhodes. “To Conquer the Air” is the story of Wilbur and Orville Wright in early 20th-century America and the competition they faced from other top inventors of the time, including Alexander Graham Bell and Glenn Curtiss, to be the first aloft…. – Oxford Press, 7-23-10

ANNOUNCEMENTS & EVENTS CALENDAR:

  • September 17-18, 2010 at Notre Dame University: Conference aims to bring medieval, early modern and Latin American historians together: An interdisciplinary conference to be held at the University of Notre Dame this fall is making a final call for papers to explore the issue surrounding similarities between late-medieval Iberia and its colonies in the New World. “From Iberian Kingdoms to Atlantic Empires: Spain, Portugal, and the New World, 1250-1700” is being hosted by the university’s Nanovic Institute for European Studies and will take place on September 17-18, 2010. Medieval News, 4-29-10
  • Jeff Shesol to give Jackson Lecture at the Chautauqua Institution: Historian, presidential speechwriter and author Jeff Shesol will deliver Chautauqua Institution’s sixth annual Robert H. Jackson Lecture on the Supreme Court of the United States. Jeff Shesol will give the Jackson Lecture on Wednesday, August 18, 2010, at 4:00 p.m. in Chautauqua’s Hall of Philosophy…. – John Q. Barrett at the Jackson List (6-14-10)
  • Thousands of Studs Terkel interviews going online: The Library of Congress will digitize the Studs Terkel Oral History Archive, according to the agreement, while the museum will retain ownership of the roughly 5,500 interviews in the archive and the copyrights to the content. Project officials expect digitizing the collection to take more than two years…. – NYT, 5-13-10
  • Digital Southern Historical Collection: The 41,626 scans reproduce diaries, letters, business records, and photographs that provide a window into the lives of Americans in the South from the 18th through mid-20th centuries.

ON TV:

BEST SELLERS (NYT):

BOOKS COMING SOON:

  • Richard Toye: Churchill’s Empire: The World That Made Him and the World He Made, (Hardcover), August 3, 2010.
  • Alexander Hamilton: The Federalist Papers, (Hardcover), August 16, 2010
  • Christopher Tomlins, Freedom Bound: Law, Labor, and Civic Identity in Colonizing English America, 1580-1865 (Paperback and Hardcover), September 1, 2010
  • Holger Hoock: Empires of the Imagination: Politics, War, and the Arts in the British World, 1750-1850, (Hardcover), September 1, 2010
  • Anna Whitelock: Mary Tudor: Princess, Bastard, Queen, (Hardcover), September 7, 2010
  • James L. Swanson: Bloody Crimes: The Chase for Jefferson Davis and the Death Pageant for Lincoln’s Corpse, (Hardcover), September 28, 2010
  • Timothy Snyder: The Red Prince: The Secret Lives of a Habsburg Archduke (First Trade Paper Edition), (Paperback), September 28, 2010
  • Ron Chernow: Washington: A Life, (Hardcover), October 5, 2010
  • George William Van Cleve: A Slaveholders’ Union: Slavery, Politics, and the Constitution in the Early American Republic, (Hardcover), October 1, 2010.
  • John Keegan: The American Civil War: A Military History, (Paperback), October 5, 2010
  • Bill Bryson: At Home: A Short History of Private Life, (Hardcover), October 5, 2010
  • Robert M. Poole: On Hallowed Ground: The Story of Arlington National Cemetery, (Paperback), October 26, 2010
  • Robert Leckie: Challenge for the Pacific: Guadalcanal: The Turning Point of the War, (Paperback), October 26, 2010
  • Manning Marable: Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention, (Hardcover), November 9, 2010
  • Elizabeth White: The Socialist Alternative to Bolshevik Russia: The Socialist Revolutionary Party, 1917-39, (Hardcover), November 10, 2010
  • Elizabeth White: The Socialist Alternative to Bolshevik Russia: The Socialist Revolutionary Party, 1917-39, (Hardcover), November 10, 2010
  • G. J. Barker-Benfield: Abigail and John Adams: The Americanization of Sensibility, (Hardcover), November 15, 2010
  • Edmund Morris: Colonel Roosevelt, (Hardcover), November 23, 2010
  • Michael Goldfarb: Emancipation: How Liberating Europe’s Jews from the Ghetto Led to Revolution and Renaissance, (Paperback), November 23, 2010

DEPARTED:

  • Robert C. Tucker, 92, dies; scholar of Soviet-era politics and history: Robert C. Tucker, 92, whose early State Department assignment in Moscow launched a distinguished career as a scholar of Soviet-era politics and history, notably tracing the enduring impact of Joseph Stalin’s reign, died July 29 at his home in Princeton, N.J. He had pneumonia. His death was confirmed by Princeton University, where he was a professor of politics from 1962 to 1984 and the founding director of the university’s Russian studies program…. – WaPo (7-31-10)
  • Robert C. Tucker, a Scholar of Marx, Stalin and Soviet Affairs, Dies at 92 (NYT): Robert C. Tucker, a distinguished Sovietologist whose frustrations in persuading the authorities in Stalin’s Russia to let his new Russian wife accompany him home to the United States gave him crucial and influential insights into the Soviet leader, died Thursday at his home in Princeton, N.J. He was 92…. – NYT (7-31-10)
  • Peggy Ann Pascoe, 55, historian at the University of Oregon: Peggy Ann Pascoe, 55, of Eugene, Ore., died Friday, July 23, 2010, of ovarian cancer. She taught women’s history at the University of Utah from 1986 to 1996. She was the Beekman Chair of Pacific and Northwest History at the University of Oregon starting in 1996; in 2005 she also became a Professor of Ethnic S tudies at UO… – MT Standard (7-25-10)
  • Historian Carola Hicks Has Died: Carola Hicks, British historian and biographer, has passed away at age 68. Her resume included college professor, research fellow, museum curator, and of course, published author. She has published several nonfiction works…. – mediabistro (7-28-10)
  • Ramon Eduardo Ruiz: Honored scholar wrote a detailed history of Mexico: Pride in his heritage helped spark an interest in history and led Ramon Eduardo Ruiz to a life of teaching, researching and writing about the past…. – SD Union-Tribune (7-26-10)
  • Indian historian, academician dies at 84: The writings of historian A Sreedhara Menon who died here on Friday are the most important references on Kerala history…. – Express Buzz (India) (7-24-10)
  • John P. Gerber, 65, librarian and historian: John Paul Gerber of Quincy, Mass., passed away suddenly on Saturday, June 12, 2010, after a valiant year-long fight against pancreatic cancer…. – Dunn County Record (WI) (7-25-10)
  • ‘Legendary’ SD historian dies at 92: Gilbert Fite devoted a great deal of his life to uncovering and preserving South Dakota history. In doing so, he became a part of it. Fite, 92, a history professor and acclaimed author, died July 13 in Fort Meyers, Fla…. – Mitchell Republic (SD) (7-21-10)
  • George Robert Healy, 87, dies: With real sadness, I share the news that George Robert Healy died on July 8th in Auburn, Maine. He was 87. A marvelous leader and cherished friend to those who worked with him, Dr. Healy was described as “a man Thomas Jefferson would have respected.”… – College of William & Mary (7-15-10)
  • Jim Clifford: Dr. Georgina Feldberg, 1956-2010: The history community lost a great teacher, scholar and active historian this week. I had the pleasure of knowing Dr. Feldberg during my first year at York. She was one of the professors in a graduate course on the history of science, health and the environment. I learned a lot from her as a teacher and from her book, Disease and Class: Tuberculosis and the Shaping of Modern North American Society. A few weeks after I last met with her, I heard she had been diagnosed with cancer. This came as a big shock to all of us in the history of medicine field and particularly to a number of my friends who Feldberg supervised. Sadly, she finally lost her four year long battle with this disease, leaving behind her husband and daughter… – ActiveHistory.ca (7-14-10)

Top Young Historians: 112- Jennifer Burns, 34

Top Young Historians

Jennifer Burns, 34

Basic Facts

Teaching Position: Assistant Professor of History, University of Virginia, 2007- present
Area of Research: American political, cultural, and intellectual history
Education: Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley, History, 2005
Major Publications: Burns is the author of Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right (Oxford University Press 2009), an intellectual biography of the controversial novelist and philosopher. Based on exclusive access to Rand’s personal papers, Goddess of the Market is the only book to draw upon Rand’s unedited letters and journals. Jennifer Burns JPG Burns is also the author of numerous scholarly journal articles, book chapters and reviews including among others: “O Libertarian, Where is Thy Sting?” Journal of Policy History, Vol. 19, No. 4, 2007: 453-471; “Liberalism and The Conservative Imagination,” in Liberalism for a New Century, Eds. Neil Jumonville and Kevin Mattson (University of California Press, 2007); “In Retrospect: George Nash’s The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945,” Reviews in American History, 32 (September 2004): 447-462; “Godless Capitalism: Ayn Rand and the Conservative Movement,” Modern Intellectual History, 1, 3 (November 2004): 1-27. Reprinted in American Capitalism: Social Thought and Political Economy in Twentieth Century America, ed. Nelson Lichtenstein (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006).
Awards: Burns is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including among others:
Organization of American Historians Distinguished Lecturer, 2010-2013;
University of Virginia Sesquicentennial Fellowship, 2010-2011;
University of Virginia Bankard Fund for Political Economy, 2010-2011, 2009;
University of Virginia Summer Research Grant, 2009;
University of Virginia Excellence in Diversity Fellow, 2008-2009;
University of Virginia Professors as Writers Fellow, 2008-2009;
Campbell National Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University, 2007-2008;
National Endowment for the Humanities, Summer Stipend, 2007;
James H. Kettner Graduate Prize for best dissertation, 2006, Berkeley History Department;
Library Prize for Undergraduate Research, UC Berkeley. Mentor of prizewinners, 2006 and 2003;
Research Fellow, Herbert Hoover Presidential Library, 2006;
Grantee, F.A. Hayek Fund for Scholars, Institute for Humane Studies, 2006, 2007;
University of California, Berkeley, History Department Block Grant Fellowship, 2004, 2000;
University of California, Berkeley, Dean’s Competitive Fellowship, 2002;
Derek Bok Certificate of Distinction for excellence in teaching, Harvard University, 2000;

Additional Info:
Burns has appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, C-Span’s Book TV, NPR’s Weekend America, and Here & Now. She has also contributed articles to Harvard Magazine, Foreign Policy, the Christian Science Monitor, and several academic journals.
Burns has been a guest lecturer at Harvard, Columbia Business School, UC Berkeley, UC Santa Barbara, Rice University, and the Cato Institute.
Jennifer Burns personal website www.jenniferburns.org

Personal Anecdote

In 2006 I was starting my first job as a lecturer at UC Berkeley when the technology office phoned up and asked if I would like to podcast my course “Introduction to United States History Since 1865.” I didn’t even have an iPod, but I said “yes” without thinking much about it, thus launching the most unexpected and rewarding aspect of my career as a historian. Six months later, my lectures were up on iTunes and had been downloaded nearly 300,000 times. My inbox was bursting with emails from enthusiastic history students around the world. Accustomed to the private sanctuary of my books and my study, I panicked. It felt as though I had lost some cherished measure of privacy, and I wanted the lectures taken down immediately.

But then I paused and began to reflect on my goals and values as a historian. I had spent years of advanced study gathering knowledge – was this now to be shared only with specialists in my field? I had always believed historians should seek a broader audience, and now I was living that vision. As a Ph.D. student I had benefited from the intellectual vitality and openness of a public university, and my lectures were one small way to further the Berkeley legacy.

Instead of taking the lectures down, I decided to create a website for podcasters and began corresponding regularly with my listeners. Since then, the sense of speaking to a larger audience has shaped and strengthened all of my scholarship. Podcasting helped me craft my first book, Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right, so that it appealed to both academics and general readers. Engaging with the public has deepened my commitment to educational equity and convinced me that there need not be a firewall between professional and popular history. I have learned that even from the ivory tower, our profession can still foster and connect with the ongoing human search for meaning, story, and a shared past. Though I may be an accidental podcaster, I have become and hope to remain a deliberate historian.

Quotes

By Jennifer Burns

  • Writing my first book, Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right, was like being a detective at Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right JPG the heart of an intellectual mystery story. Though Rand’s legend was well established among both her fans and enemies, there was little scholarly work about her life and career. I was the first historian to work in her personal papers, and thus it was essential to document her life with archival evidence. Then came the challenge of fitting Rand into the evolving ideological landscape of the American right, which historians were just beginning to chart. The final step was crafting an analytic narrative that would demystify Rand yet retain the tension and sense of discovery that animated my years of detective work. — Jennifer Burns about “Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right”
  • This book firmly locates Rand within the tumultuous American century that her life spanned. Rand’s defense of individualism, celebration of capitalism, and controversial morality of selfishness can be understood only against the backdrop of her historical moment. All sprang from her early experiences in Communist Russia and became the most powerful and enduring of her messages. What Rand confronted in her work was a basic human dilemma; the failure of good intentions. Her indictment of altruism, social welfare, and services to others sprang from her belief that these ideals underlay Communism, Nazism, and the wars that wracked the century. Rand’s solution, characteristically was extreme: to eliminate all virtues that could possibly be used in the service of totalitarianism. It was also simplistic. If Rand’s great strength as a thinker was to grasp interrelated underlying principles and weave them into an impenetrable logical edifice, it was also her great weakness. In her effort to find a unifying cause for all the trauma and the trauma and bloodshed of the twentieth century, Rand was attempting the impossible. But it was this deadly serious quest that animated all her writing. Rand was among the first to identify the problem of the modern state’s often terrifying power and make it an issue of popular concern…..
    Goddess of the Market focuses on Rand’s contributions as a political philosopher, for it is here that she has exerted her greatest influence. Rand’s Romantic Realism has not changed American literature, nor has Objectivism penetrated far into the philosophy profession. She does however, remain a veritable institution within the American right. Atlas Shrugged is still devoured by eager young conservatives, cited by political candidates, and promoted by corporate tycoons. Critics who dismiss Rand as a shallow thinker appealing only to adolescents miss her significance altogether. For over a half a century Rand has been the ultimate gateway drug to life on the right.
    The story of Ayn Rand is also the story of libertarianism, conservatism, Objectivism, and the three schools of thought that intersected more prominently with her life. – Jennifer Burns in “Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right”
  • Jennifer Burns on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

About Jennifer Burns

  • “An important study… Burns’s dispassionate intellectual history makes a persuasive case that Ayn Rand was no joke; she was a forceful and original thinker, and a gifted manipulator of fictional conventions for ideological ends.” — Elaine Showalter, Times Literary Supplement
  • “A lovingly crafted piece of scholarly work, thrifty and concise, that follows Rand’s shifting sands of ideology.” — News Blaze
  • “Burns’ thoroughly engaging biography of writer, philosopher, and all-around controversial figure Rand delves deeply into both Rands life and her fervent devotion to capitalism and individualism…. Burns’ clear, crisp writing and piercing insights into Rand and her motivations make this eminently readable biography a must-read not only for Rand devotees but for anyone interested in the merging of literature and politics.”– Booklist(starred review)
  • “A smart assessment of Rand’s life and ideas and how they influenced each other… As Ms. Burns successfully demonstrates, Rand’s ideas have remained an importaAs Ms. Burns successfully demonstrates, Rand’s ideas have remained an important part of the American ideological mix, especially in how she honored the creative powers of American business in a free market to improve human lives. Ms. Burns’ readers will see Rand still has the power to instruct on the meaning and scary implications of government growth in the age of Barack Obama. — Brian Doherty, The Washington Times
  • “Burns… spent 8 years researching the development of Rand’s thinking and principles, and she has produced a terrific book–a serious consideration of Rand’s ideas, and her role in the conservative movement of the past three quarters of a century, that is empty of academic jargon and accessible to those unfamiliar with Rand’s life or ideas.” — The American Thinker
  • “Burns… situates Rand in a rich intellectual and cultural tradition that predated the New Deal and eventually gave rise to a revitalized limited-government movement that culminated in figures such as Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. Burns is particularly sharp at analyzing how Cold War conservatives such as Buckley rejected Rands rationalism but eventually benefited from her popularity with college students during the 1960s. Since the demise of their common foe, the Soviet Union, conservatives and libertarians increasingly find themselves at odds with one another over precisely the same issues that Rand and Buckley fought over decades ago. These range from questions about the proper role of religion in a secular society to whether the state should be used to restrict alternative lifestyles to the legitimate circumstances for military action.”– Nick Gillespie, Wilson Quarterly
  • “What University of Virginia historian Burns does well is to explicate the evolution of Rand’s individualist worldview, placing her within the context of American conservative and libertarian thought: from H.L. Mencken to William Buckley and later the Vietnam War… Overall, this contributes to an understanding of a complex life in relation to American conservatism.”–Publishers Weekly
  • “Burns has assembled a book that will interest anyone who was influenced by Ayn Rand.When a major academic publisher, like Oxford University Press, sets out to explore to the impact of Ayn Rand on American politics, that alone is a significant event… Jennifer Burns has produced a fascinating work. It is the first serious study of Rands ideas that had full access to Rands own papers. As such it is valuable. I would recommend all those interested in Ayn Rand, and Objectivism, to place their order for the book today.” — Laissez Faire Books
  • “One of the most influential, most infuriating figures in the history of American conservatism has finally met her match. Goddess of the Market is both insightful scholarship and a compelling piece of writing. Jennifer Burns has created a model for intellectual biographers to follow.”– Michael Kazin, author of A Godly Hero: The Life of William Jennings Bryan
  • “This provocative intellectual biography is must-reading for all those interested in the life and work of one of the most controversial thinkers of the 20th century. Drawing carefully from primary and secondary sources, Jennifer Burns has made a significant contribution to Ayn Rand scholarship.” — Chris Matthew Sciabarra, author of Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical
  • “Jennifer Burns has written a brilliant book about Ayn Rand–why many men and women praise her, but others despise her. She places Rand in the intellectual and political history of her times, moving adroitly between Rand’s fiction, non-fiction, and the people with whom she interacted.” — Martin Anderson, Hoover Institution
  • “Ayn Rand has always been a difficult figure to fit into the history of conservatism, but surely she mattered–and matters still. This important and beautifully written book shows how. It seamlessly links Rand’s operatic personal life with her political ideals and influence of those ideas, conversations, tirades, friendships, fights, and intimacies with finely-drawn and memorable characters. This is biography, intellectual history, and political genealogy that gets the story right, told with drama, skill, and insight.” — Paula Baker, Ohio State University
  • “Goddess of the Market by Jennifer Burns just arrived. I ripped open the package and got stuck reading and reading and reading. The emails, phonecalls, and IMs just had to wait. Let me just say that this is a wonderful book: beautifully written, completely balanced, extensively researched. The match between author and subject is so perfect that one might believe that the author was chosen by the gods to write this book. She has sympathy and affection for her subject but treats her as a human being, with no attempt to cover up the foibles. It is quite wonderful. I so look forward to getting back to it. It is hard to imagine that it can be surpassed as a history of Rand, her ideas, and life.” — Mises Economics Blog
  • “Burns has the edge, though, in identifying Rand’s intellectual legacy. She describes Rand as “the ultimate gateway drug to life on the right,” elaborating: “Just as Rand had provided businessmen with a set of ideas that met their need to feel righteous and honorable in their professional lives, she gave young people a philosophical system that met their deep need for order and certainty.” — Washington Monthly Magazine
  • “One of the strengths of Burns’ book is that she, unlike some other liberal scholars, has an excellent understanding of the issues that divided libertarians and conservatives, and also of the distinctions between different types of libertarianism. Burns’ book is a great analysis of Rand’s place in history, and I certainly recommend it to anyone interested in Rand or the history of libertarian and pro-free market movements.” — The Volokh Conspiracy.com
  • “A well-written and absorbing biography of Rand, it also places her ideas and influence in three overlapping contexts. Goddess of the Market goes a long way toward explaining both the popularity of Rand’s ideas and their somewhat marginalized status. — U.S. Intellectual History
  • “A lovingly crafted piece of scholarly work, thrifty and concise, that follows Rand’s shifting sands of ideology.” — News Blaze
  • “Historian Jennifer Burns’s GODDESS OF THE MARKET–the stronger of the two [biographies]–situates Rand in the 20th- century American political scene, painting her as an influential advocate for capitalism and freedom.” — The Weekly Standard
  • “Although it is hard to imagine that Rand would have been pleased with either of these biographies, both should have satisfied her desire to be treated respectfully, as a woman of ideas. The two books cover much of the same ground despite their methodological differences: Heller relies more heavily on interviews, whereas Burns has done more work in the archives (both Rand’s and those of other conservative thinkers). Heller’s book also emphasizes the affair with Nathaniel Branden, which has been explored before in memoirs by both Brandens. Burns seeks instead to tell the story of Rand’s intellectual development, situating her in the constellation of postwar conservatism, and in this way her more academic treatment is also the more original.” –- Harper’s
  • “The class was very engaging and I enjoyed the material thoroughly. The analysis of cultural and political trends is a topic that often does not get enough attention in high school. Professor Burns did a great job choosing readings to reinforce her lectures… This woman can really lecture and my fifty minutes goes quickly in this class. She is enthusiastic and audible, and it is obvious she is knowledgeable in her field of study. She speaks to her class and does not simply just read off a slide show. Professor Burns is also very easy to reach outside of class. She always notifies us via email if there are changes to her office hours. I also appreciate the effort on her part to notify students when there are political and historical forums on Grounds related to the course. She has been a great professor and this has been a very informative class and one that I made a point never to miss.”…
    “I loved the material presented in this class, it gave me a clearer perspective of todays world. This is really a worthwhile and interesting class.”…
    “GREAT course! I learned so much from Professor Burns and she was one of the most effective and efficient lecturers I have had thus far. Her lectures are very easy to follow and she gives a great synopsis of historical events. LOVED this course.”
    “Listening to Prof. Burns lecture, it’s obviously how passionate she is about the subject matter. She’s extremely knowledgeable about the subject matter and lectures were neatly organized in an easy-to-follow manner. She did an excellent job of looking at all aspects of events that have (comparatively) occurred so recently so that we could view them in proper historical context.”…
    “She was an excellent lecturer and I could tell she cared about the students.”…
    “This was by far my favorite class at UVA.”…
    “I am a history major, and this was one of the best history classes I have taken here. Professor Burns is an excellent lecturer, the readings were fascinating, and the workload was challenging but manageable.”…
    “Burns is an AMAZING lecturer; very organized, very lively, very articulate. Overall, extremely effective.”…
    “Professor Jennifer Burns is wonderful. It would be a huge mistake not to tenure this brilliant, approachable, unbelievably articulate woman. Her classes were always fascinating, and she has an ability to tie everything together. I can’t stress enough how much I admire her ability to articulate not only the history, but the circumstances combining that shaped the events we studied. SHE IS AN INCREDIBLE TEACHER. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE TENURE HER SO I CAN TAKE MORE OF HER CLASSES! I almost want to give her a round of applause after each class, and I am not exaggerating.”…
    “Fantastic and well-organized coverage of the material. Readings were well chosen, supplemented the lecture and added depth to the course. Very dynamic professor.” — Undergraduate Student Comments
  • “The course was informative, compelling, and rigorous. Altogether, everything a graduate seminar should be.”…
    “Dr. Burns was very willing to allow me to use a topic related to my dissertation for my papers in this class. This was extremely helpful for me. Thanks for your patience and help!”…
    “I found Prof. Burns to be an excellent Professor, and am sure she will teach many great courses in the future, and be a real asset to the department.” – Great class – got a lot out of it. — Grad Student Comment

Posted on Sunday, July 25, 2010 at 5:45 PM

Obama Signs Wall Street Reform Bill into Law

By Bonnie K. Goodman

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

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 111TH CONGRESS:

The President signs Wall Street Reform

White House Photo, Lawrence Jackson, 7/21/10

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010 – Full text of the bill
  • Senate Vote 208 – Passes Financial Regulation Bill – NYT, 7-16-10
  • Senate Vote 206 – Final Senate Hurdle for Financial Regulation Bill – NYT, 7-15-10

THE HEADLINES….

  • Obama signs financial overhaul law: Declaring that “the American people will never again be asked to foot the bill for Wall Street’s mistakes,” President Obama on Wednesday signed landmark legislation providing the most sweeping overhaul of financial rules since the Great Depression.
    The new law reverses decades of deregulation, aiming to provide greater government protection for consumers and reduce risky practices at financial institutions to prevent a repeat of the financial crisis.
    Its controversial centerpiece is a new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which will have broad authority to write new rules for mortgages, credit cards, payday loans and other consumer products and make sure firms are adhering to them…. – LAT, 7-21-10
  • Factbox: Major financial regulation reform proposals: Following are the key elements of the 2,300-page bill… – Reuters, 7-21-10
  • The Top 10 Things You May Not Know About the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection ActWH, 7-21-10
  • Obama, Republicans get ready for new Wall Street battle: We’ve long had the political debate over the effectiveness of the stimulus bill; then this year came the battle over the impact of new health care law. Get ready for the political fight over the value of new Wall Street regulations. President Obama is set to sign the financial regulation bill next week, and he and the Republicans have started an argument that will last until the Nov. 2 congressional elections and beyond. The law will protect consumers, stop the “shadowy deals” that led to the financial crisis of 2008, and keep taxpayers from being “on the hook for Wall Street’s mistakes,” Obama said last evening…. – USA Today, 7-17-10
  • Financial Overhaul Signals Shift on Deregulation: Congress approved a sweeping expansion of federal financial regulation on Thursday, reflecting a renewed mistrust of financial markets after decades in which Washington stood back from Wall Street with wide-eyed admiration. The bill, heavily promoted by President Obama and Congressional Democrats as a response to the 2008 financial crisis, cleared the Senate by a vote of 60 to 39, largely along party lines, after weeks of wrangling that allowed Democrats to pick up the three Republican votes to ensure passage. The vote was the culmination of nearly two years of fierce lobbying and intense debate over the appropriate response to the financial excesses that dragged the nation into the worst recession since the Great Depression…. – NYT, 7-16-10
  • Congress acts, but bank bill has work ahead: In the end, it’s only a beginning. The far-reaching new banking and consumer protection bill awaiting President Barack Obama’s signature now shifts from the politicians to the technocrats. The legislation gives regulators latitude and time to come up with new rules, requires scores of studies and, in some instances, depends on international agreements falling into place. For Wall Street, the next phase represents continuing uncertainty. It also offers banks and other financial institutions yet another opportunity to influence and shape the rules that govern their businesses…. – AP, 7-16-10
  • Financial reform bill another win for Obama, but will the public care?: Following the Recovery Act and health-care reform, the newly approved financial reform bill shows that President Obama is adept at getting his agenda through Congress. But the American public cares about one thing right now: the economy…. – CS Monitor, 7-16-10
  • Major banking bill faces final vote this week: President Barack Obama on Tuesday secured the 60 votes he needs in the Senate to pass a sweeping overhaul of financial regulations, all but ensuring that he soon will sign into law one of the top initiatives of his presidency. With the votes in hand to overcome Republican delaying tactics, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Tuesday took steps to end debate on the bill Thursday, setting the stage for final passage perhaps later in the day. The House already has passed the bill.
    “This reform is good for families, it is good for businesses, it’s good for the entire economy,” Obama said as he prodded the Senate to act quickly…. – AP, 7-14-10
  • Nelson ensures 60 votes for bank regulation bill: All but clearing the way for passage of financial regulations, conservative Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska said Tuesday he will vote for the sweeping overhaul of banking. His support ensures the legislation now has 60 votes to clear the Senate and land on President Barack Obama’s desk for his signature. The House passed the bill last month.
    “This reform is good for families, it is good for businesses , it’s good for the entire economy,” Obama said as he announced his nomination of Jacob Lew to be the new director of the White House budget office…. – AP, 7-13-10

POLITICAL QUOTES

  • President Obama Signs Wall Street Reform: “No Easy Task”
    Remarks by the President at Signing of Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act:

    Passing this bill was no easy task. To get there, we had to overcome the furious lobbying of an array of powerful interest groups and a partisan minority determined to block change. So the members who are here today, both on the stage and in the audience, they have done a great service in devoting so much time and expertise to this effort, to looking out for the public interests and not the special interests. (Applause.) And I also want to thank the three Republican senators who put partisanship aside — (applause) — judged this bill on the merits, and voted for reform. We’re grateful to them. (Applause.) And the Republican House members. (Applause.) Good to see you, Joe. (Applause.)
    Now, let’s put this in perspective. The fact is, the financial industry is central to our nation’s ability to grow, to prosper, to compete and to innovate. There are a lot of banks that understand and fulfill this vital role, and there are a whole lot of bankers who want to do right — and do right — by their customers. This reform will help foster innovation, not hamper it. It is designed to make sure that everybody follows the same set of rules, so that firms compete on price and quality, not on tricks and not on traps.
    It demands accountability and responsibility from everyone. It provides certainty to everybody, from bankers to farmers to business owners to consumers. And unless your business model depends on cutting corners or bilking your customers, you’ve got nothing to fear from reform. (Applause.)
    Now, for all those Americans who are wondering what Wall Street reform means for you, here’s what you can expect. If you’ve ever applied for a credit card, a student loan, or a mortgage, you know the feeling of signing your name to pages of barely understandable fine print. What often happens as a result is that many Americans are caught by hidden fees and penalties, or saddled with loans they can’t afford.
    That’s what happened to Robin Fox, hit with a massive rate increase on her credit card balance even though she paid her bills on time. That’s what happened to Andrew Giordano, who discovered hundreds of dollars in overdraft fees on his bank statement –- fees he had no idea he might face. Both are here today. Well, with this law, unfair rate hikes, like the one that hit Robin, will end for good. (Applause.) And we’ll ensure that people like Andrew aren’t unwittingly caught by overdraft fees when they sign up for a checking account. (Applause.)
    With this law, we’ll crack down on abusive practices in the mortgage industry. We’ll make sure that contracts are simpler -– putting an end to many hidden penalties and fees in complex mortgages -– so folks know what they’re signing.
    With this law, students who take out college loans will be provided clear and concise information about their obligations.
    And with this law, ordinary investors -– like seniors and folks saving for retirement –- will be able to receive more information about the costs and risks of mutual funds and other investment products, so that they can make better financial decisions as to what will work for them.
    So, all told, these reforms represent the strongest consumer financial protections in history. (Applause.) In history. And these protections will be enforced by a new consumer watchdog with just one job: looking out for people -– not big banks, not lenders, not investment houses -– looking out for people as they interact with the financial system. – WH, 7-21-10
  • Wall Street Reform: Final Votes Approach: Remarks by the President in Selection of Jack Lew to be Director of OMB: Before I begin, I just want to note a breakthrough that we’ve had on our efforts to pass the most comprehensive reform of Wall Street since the Great Depression. Three Republican senators have put politics and partisanship aside to support this reform, and I’m grateful for their decision, as well as all the Democrats who’ve worked so hard to make this reform a reality, particularly Chairman Dodd and Chairman Barney Frank.
    What members of both parties realize is that we can’t allow a financial crisis like this one that we just went through to happen again. This reform will prevent that from happening. It will prevent a financial crisis like this from happening again, by protecting consumers against the unfair practices of credit card companies and mortgage lenders. It will ensure that taxpayers are never again on the hook for Wall Street’s mistakes. And it will end an era of irresponsibility that led to the loss of 8 million jobs and trillions of dollars of wealth.
    Now, as we finish our work on Wall Street reform, we’re also mindful that we’ve got significant work to do when it comes to reforming our government and reducing our deficit.
    This reform is good for families. It’s good for businesses. It’s good for the entire economy. And I urge the Senate to act quickly so that I can sign it into law next week….. – WH, 7-13-10

President Barack Obama, with Vice President Joe Biden, Delivers   Remarks Before Signing the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer   Protection Act

President Barack Obama, with Vice President Joe Biden, delivers remarks before signing the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C. July 21, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

July 19, 2010: Congress Passes Financial Overhaul & Obama’s Maine Vacation

By Bonnie K. Goodman

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

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 111TH CONGRESS:

The President speaks on the news from the Gulf

White House Photo, Lawrence Jackson, 7/16/10

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010 – Full text of the bill
  • Senate Vote 208 – Passes Financial Regulation Bill – NYT, 7-16-10
  • Senate Vote 206 – Final Senate Hurdle for Financial Regulation Bill – NYT, 7-15-10
  • Obama must listen to Bill Clinton to get re-elected: The news that Barack Obama is behind Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee in a new national opinion poll and even with Sarah Palin will surely give the White House much food for thought. How does President Huckabee sound to you? Or President Palin? If the election were held today they seem at least as likely as Obama to win. It signals a major reversal for the Democratic Party in the midterm election for one reason only — they are unable to get their message out starting at the top. In the era of the one-word sound bites, Republicans are outmaneuvering Obama and his fellow Democrats in the all- important message stakes…. – Irish Central, 7-18-10
  • Americans Disapproving Obama May Enable Republicans: Americans disapprove of U.S. President Barack Obama’s handling of almost every major issue and are deeply pessimistic about the nation’s direction, offering a bullish environment for Republicans in the November congressional elections. A majority or plurality disapproves of Obama’s management of the economy, health care, the budget deficit, the overhaul of financial market regulations and the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, according to a Bloomberg National Poll conducted July 9- 12. In addition, almost 6 in 10 respondents say the war in Afghanistan is a lost cause. The Senate is scheduled to begin voting on the financial regulation bill today. Almost two-thirds say they feel the nation is headed in the wrong direction, an even more sour assessment than in March when 58 percent felt that way. Two-thirds of independent voters are pessimistic, while just 56 percent of Democrats offer a vote of confidence…. – Bloomberg, 7-15-10
  • Harry Reid Jumps Out to a Lead Over Sharron Angle in New Nevada Senate Poll: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has regained a solid lead over his Republican opponent Sharron Angle in the Nevada Senate race, a new poll shows, after weeks of relentlessly portraying Angle as too extreme. Reid leads Angle 44 percent to 37 percent in the new Mason-Dixon poll, conducted for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Ten percent were undecided, and 5 percent chose “none of these candidates.”… – CBS News, 7-16-10
  • Obama White House tries to turn around bad poll numbers: The polls aren’t looking good for President Obama. ABC News says 51% would prefer to see a Republican Congress elected in November, as a check on Obama. A CBS News poll says only 13% of Americans say Obama’s economic plan has helped them personally…. – USA Today, 7-14-10
  • VP Favorable Ratings: Gore Down; Cheney, Biden Flat Americans more negative than positive toward Gore, Cheney: Americans’ current views of former Vice President Al Gore have become significantly more negative compared with three years ago, and are among the worst for him in more than a decade. The July 8-11 Gallup poll, finding 44% of Americans viewing Gore favorably and 49% unfavorably, was conducted after the announcement that he and his wife were separating, and amid a police investigation into allegations that he committed sexual assault in 2006. Gallup last measured Gore’s image in October 2007, after he was named winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, when 58% of Americans had a favorable view of him. All three party groups are less favorable toward Gore now compared with 2007, though his rating has declined more among Republicans (from 32% to 16%) and independents (from 57% to 43%) than among Democrats (from 79% to 72%)… – Gallop.com, 7-14-10

THE HEADLINES….

  • Obama, Republicans get ready for new Wall Street battle: We’ve long had the political debate over the effectiveness of the stimulus bill; then this year came the battle over the impact of new health care law. Get ready for the political fight over the value of new Wall Street regulations. President Obama is set to sign the financial regulation bill next week, and he and the Republicans have started an argument that will last until the Nov. 2 congressional elections and beyond. The law will protect consumers, stop the “shadowy deals” that led to the financial crisis of 2008, and keep taxpayers from being “on the hook for Wall Street’s mistakes,” Obama said last evening…. – USA Today, 7-17-10
  • Obama chides Republicans for thwarting jobless extension: President Barack Obama stepped up criticism of Republicans Saturday for blocking jobless aid, hammering home a Democratic election year attack line that casts the opposition as the party of the rich.
    “Too often, the Republican leadership in the United States Senate chooses to filibuster our recovery and obstruct our progress. And that has very real consequences,” Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address. Senate Republicans have used the filibuster, a procedural hurdle demanding 60 votes in the 100-member chamber, to block at least three Democratic initiatives to extend unemployment insurance. Republicans cite the need to curb government spending amid a record budget deficit.
    “Think about what these stalling tactics mean for the millions of Americans who’ve lost their jobs since the recession began. Over the past several weeks, more than two million of them have seen their unemployment insurance expire,” the president said…. – LAT, 7-17-10
  • White House Memo Shifting Politics in Presidents’ Vacations: It has been 100 years, the local newspaper reports, since a sitting president chose this picturesque seaside village as his vacation spot. When William Howard Taft arrived in July 1910, he sprained his ankle playing golf, the captain of his yacht got “a terrible sunburn” and the townsfolk made such a ruckus about who would entertain him that Mr. Taft decided to give a speech from the bandstand on the village green. President Obama faces pressures of a different sort. Mr. Obama arrived here Friday for a summer weekend getaway with his wife, Michelle, and their daughters, Malia, 12, and Sasha, 9 — a precursor to a longer family vacation they are planning next month on Martha’s Vineyard. But what sounds like a much-needed family escape from the literal and political heat of Washington to some sounds like hypocrisy to others, given recent statements by both the president and first lady urging Americans to spend their vacation time and money along the shores of the oil-stricken Gulf of Mexico…. – NYT, 7-16-10
  • Senators Look for BP-Lockerbie Link: Just as BP stopped oil from flowing into the Gulf of Mexico, the company faces unwelcome attention from the U.S. Congress on another issue: whether it sought the release of convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdel Baset al-Megrahi to help get a $900 million exploration agreement with Libya off the ground. Soon after his release last year, BP acknowledged that it urged the British government to sign a prisoner transfer agreement with Libya, but stressed it did not specify al-Megrahi’s case. It reiterated that stance this week when four U.S. Democratic senators asked the State Department to investigate whether there was a quid pro quo for the Lockerbie bomber’s release…. – Fox News, 7-17-10
  • West Virginia Governor Picks Ex-General Counsel to Succeed Byrd: West Virginia’s governor, Joe Manchin III, announced on Friday that he had chosen Carte P. Goodwin, his former general counsel, to temporarily fill the Senate seat long held by Robert C. Byrd. Mr. Goodwin, 36, will serve until a special election is held, which will probably be later this year. Mr. Manchin has expressed interest in being a candidate in that race. At an event announcing his appointment in Charleston, Mr. Goodwin said it would be impossible to fill the shoes of Mr. Byrd, a Democrat who died last month after serving more than a half-century in the Senate…. – NYT, 7-17-10
  • Financial Overhaul Signals Shift on Deregulation: Congress approved a sweeping expansion of federal financial regulation on Thursday, reflecting a renewed mistrust of financial markets after decades in which Washington stood back from Wall Street with wide-eyed admiration. The bill, heavily promoted by President Obama and Congressional Democrats as a response to the 2008 financial crisis, cleared the Senate by a vote of 60 to 39, largely along party lines, after weeks of wrangling that allowed Democrats to pick up the three Republican votes to ensure passage. The vote was the culmination of nearly two years of fierce lobbying and intense debate over the appropriate response to the financial excesses that dragged the nation into the worst recession since the Great Depression…. – NYT, 7-16-10
  • Congress acts, but bank bill has work ahead: In the end, it’s only a beginning. The far-reaching new banking and consumer protection bill awaiting President Barack Obama’s signature now shifts from the politicians to the technocrats. The legislation gives regulators latitude and time to come up with new rules, requires scores of studies and, in some instances, depends on international agreements falling into place. For Wall Street, the next phase represents continuing uncertainty. It also offers banks and other financial institutions yet another opportunity to influence and shape the rules that govern their businesses…. – AP, 7-16-10
  • Obama Pushes Agenda, Despite Political Risks: If passage of the financial regulatory overhaul on Thursday proves anything about President Obama, it is this: He knows how to push big bills through a balky Congress. But Mr. Obama’s legislative success poses a paradox: while he may be winning on Capitol Hill, he is losing with voters at a time of economic distress, and soon may be forced to scale back his ambitions. The financial regulatory bill is the final piece of a legislative hat trick that also included the stimulus bill and the landmark new health care law. Over the last 18 months, Mr. Obama and the Democratic Congress have made considerable inroads in passing what could be the most ambitious agenda in decades… – NYT, 7-16-10
  • Ex-Manchin Aide Tapped For Byrd Seat, W.Va. Gov. Picks Former Aide Carte Goodwin To Fill Byrd’s US Senate Seat: Gov. Joe Manchin is tapping former chief counsel Carte Goodwin, a member of a prominent West Virginia family, to succeed the late U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd, Democratic officials told The Associated Press on Friday. Manchin is scheduled to present his appointee at a Friday afternoon press conference at the Capitol.
    The 36-year-old Goodwin, a Charleston lawyer, would hold the seat until November. That’s when the governor wants general election voters to decide who will serve the final two years of Byrd’s term. The Legislature has begun a special session to consider a proposal from Manchin to allow for a fall vote…. – AP, 7-16-10
  • Financial reform bill another win for Obama, but will the public care?: Following the Recovery Act and health-care reform, the newly approved financial reform bill shows that President Obama is adept at getting his agenda through Congress. But the American public cares about one thing right now: the economy…. – CS Monitor, 7-16-10
  • Pelosi plays down tensions between White House, Democratic lawmakers: At her weekly news briefing Thursday, less than 48 hours after she and other House Democrats criticized Obama’s political operation at a private caucus meeting, she said she and her fellow leaders visited the White House on Wednesday to smooth over the tension and discuss the legislative agenda.
    “We had a very positive meeting with the president yesterday,” Pelosi said. “Our major focus was on jobs. . . . There is absolutely no reason to think that the White House has been anything but cooperative with us in terms of our political efforts to retain control of Congress.”
    The current flare-up was sparked by White House press secretary Robert Gibbs’s public comments over the weekend that the House majority was in doubt and that it would take “strong campaigns by Democrats” to avert dramatic losses. WaPo, 7-15-10
  • Obama to share electric vision at Holland stop Other agencies less optimistic on costs: President Barack Obama will hail a vision of low-cost, high-powered electric vehicles in Michigan today that other government agencies have suggested is overly optimistic, especially in its estimates of how much the cost of batteries can be reduced. The president’s trip to the groundbreaking for a battery plant in Holland will highlight the more than $5 billion the administration has committed toward boosting electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids. White House officials said Wednesday that the programs would help lower the cost of some batteries by 70% and provide enough components to build 500,000 electric-drive vehicles a year in the U.S. by 2015…. – Detroit Free Press, 7-15-10
  • AZ immigration law gets first major court hearing: A federal judge is scheduled to hear arguments Thursday over whether Arizona’s new immigration crackdown should take effect later this month, marking the first major hearing in one of seven challenges to the strict law. U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton also will consider arguments over Gov. Jan Brewer’s request to dismiss the challenge filed by Phoenix police Officer David Salgado and the statewide nonprofit group Chicanos Por La Causa…. – AP, 7-15-10
  • Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston reunite: What it means for Sarah Palin: Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston – former boyfriend and father of her son – have reconciled and could be married in six weeks. Politically speaking, is this good for Sarah Palin or Roger Clinton redux?… – CS Monitor, 7-15-10
  • Obama enlists Bill Clinton’s aid on economy: U.S. President Barack Obama sought on Wednesday to lift sagging confidence in his economic stewardship by enlisting the help of predecessor Bill Clinton, as a leading business group issued a scathing critique of the administration’s policies… – Reuters, 7-14-10
  • Major banking bill faces final vote this week: President Barack Obama on Tuesday secured the 60 votes he needs in the Senate to pass a sweeping overhaul of financial regulations, all but ensuring that he soon will sign into law one of the top initiatives of his presidency. With the votes in hand to overcome Republican delaying tactics, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Tuesday took steps to end debate on the bill Thursday, setting the stage for final passage perhaps later in the day. The House already has passed the bill.
    “This reform is good for families, it is good for businesses, it’s good for the entire economy,” Obama said as he prodded the Senate to act quickly…. – AP, 7-14-10
  • White House Official: Recovery Act Has Created 3 Mln Jobs: The Obama administration’s stimulus push has saved or created about 3 million jobs and is on track to save an additional 500,000 by the end of the year, according to a new report by President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers…. – WSJ, 7-14-10
  • For Obama, more on legislative priorities: President Barack Obama is discussing legislative priorities with Democratic congressional leaders for a second day Wednesday. The president met with the Senate Democratic leadership on Tuesday. On Wednesday it’s the House Democrats’ turn. Obama is getting the meetings in before Congress takes its August break…. – AP, 7-14-10
  • Sarah Palin rebuts NAACP charge of Tea Party racism: Using her favored and unorthodox means of communicating with nearly 2 million followers via her Facebook page, Sarah Palin Tuesday night expressed sadness over an as yet unpublished NAACP convention resolution accusing Tea Party activists of tolerating racist elements in their midst. The former Republican governor of Alaska, who appears to be positioning herself for a possible run at the 2012 GOP presidential nomination using the disgruntled Tea Party’s concerns over expanding and fiscally irresponsible government as a major portion of her base, said:
    I am saddened by the NAACP’s claim that patriotic Americans who stand up for the United States of America’s Constitutional rights are somehow “racists.” The charge that Tea Party Americans judge people by the color of their skin is false, appalling and is a regressive and diversionary tactic to change the subject at hand. – 7-14-10
  • As NAACP aims to stay in national debate, charge of tea party racism draws fire: One thing is clear as the NAACP gathers this week for its 101st annual meeting: The civil rights organization is intent on being seen as still relevant. Even former Alaska governor Sarah Palin sent out a Twitter message and posted a statement on her Facebook page, helping to make the NAACP convention a hot topic on conservative Web sites. She condemned the organization’s passage of a resolution denouncing what it called “racist elements” within the “tea party” movement…. – WaPo, 7-14-10
  • Pelosi, White House Feud Over Gibbs’ House Prediction: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the driving force behind the Obama agenda in Congress, sharply criticized White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs during a closed-door House Democratic caucus meeting late Tuesday, according to Democratic sources.
    Pelosi, irked since Sunday by what she and other top Democrats considered Gibbs’ careless and dismissive comments that Democrats could lose their House majority this November, upbraided a top White House aide as she knocked Gibbs’ unwelcome handicapping of House races.
    “How could he [Gibbs] know what’s going on in our districts?” Pelosi said, according to Democrats who attended the meeting. “Some may weigh his words more closely than others. We have made our disagreements known to the White House.”… – Fox News, 7-14-10
  • Obama To Nominate Former Clinton Official To Head OMB: President Barack Obama plans to nominate a former Clinton administration official to head the Office of Management and Budget, which is grappling with how to best reduce a $1.4 trillion deficit while the economy is on shaky ground. Obama will nominate Jacob Lew, who ran OMB from 1998 to 2001 under former President Bill Clinton… WSJ, 7-13-10
  • Nelson ensures 60 votes for bank regulation bill: All but clearing the way for passage of financial regulations, conservative Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska said Tuesday he will vote for the sweeping overhaul of banking. His support ensures the legislation now has 60 votes to clear the Senate and land on President Barack Obama’s desk for his signature. The House passed the bill last month.
    “This reform is good for families, it is good for businesses , it’s good for the entire economy,” Obama said as he announced his nomination of Jacob Lew to be the new director of the White House budget office…. – AP, 7-13-10
  • Senior Republican wins weeklong delay on Kagan: The Senate Judiciary Committee postponed scheduled action Tuesday to send Elena Kagan’s Supreme Court nomination to the full Senate for confirmation, setting a panel vote for next week.
    Republicans insisted on the delay, saying they needed more time to review Kagan’s written answers to questions they posed to her after her confirmation hearings, and to inquire still further into how she would behave as a justice…. – AP, 7-13-10
  • NAACP to vote on controversial resolution condemning ‘tea party’ supporters: Members of the NAACP will vote Tuesday on a resolution that condemns what the group calls “explicitly racist behavior” by supporters of the “tea party.” The resolution, which is expected to pass, pits the civil rights group against the conservative grass-roots movement, which has repeatedly denied allegations of racism…. – WaPo, 7-13-10
  • Obama looks to Bush’s worldwide strategy on AIDS: President Barack Obama is trying to bring home some of the much-lauded strategies his predecessor used to fight AIDS around the world. The national strategy for combatting HIV and AIDS the Obama administration released Tuesday credits the Bush-era international campaign against AIDS for setting clear targets and ensuring a variety of agencies and groups worked together smoothly to achieve them…. – AP, 7-13-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • Surprise SC Senate candidate makes first speech: In his first campaign appearance, South Carolina’s surprising U.S. Senate candidate Alvin Greene avoided any major gaffes Sunday as he hit his three major themes of jobs, education and justice. The speech started off with a joke and ended with Greene timidly waving, a shy smile spreading across his face as he got a standing ovation before a friendly audience in his hometown of Manning. Greene’s 6 1/2 minute speech at the local NAAP’s monthly meeting was mostly serious. Left out was any mention of his suggestion earlier this month that creating a line of action figures modeled after him could give South Carolinians jobs. In their place came platitudes familiar to anyone who has heard a stump speech.
    “Let’s get South Carolina and America back to work and let’s move South Carolina forward,” said Greene, one of about a dozen lines that got applause from the several hundred folks crammed into a sweltering junior high gymnasium…. – AP, 7-19-10
  • Obama foes Romney, Palin start to mix it up a little bit: President Obama and House Democrats have had their differences lately, but so have some of the Republicans who would like to replace Obama.
    An anonymous adviser to Mitt Romney went after Sarah Palin this week, telling Time magazine’s Mark Halperin that the ex-Alaska governor is “not a serious human being.” Another nameless Romney aide added about Palin: “If she’s standing up there in a debate and the answers are more than 15 seconds long, she’s in trouble.” Ouch!
    Politico ran those quotes by an equally anonymous Palin aide, who said the former Massachusetts governor’s team is violating Ronald Reagan’s 11th commandment: Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican. “You’d think we’d all be working together toward a common goal — that being 2010 — and that should be the focus right now,” the aide said. “Those who try to claim the mantle of Reagan would be good to follow one of his most sacred tenets.”… – USA Today, 7-16-10
  • Can Republicans take back the Senate?: The kerfuffle caused by White House press secretary Robert Gibbs’ acknowledgment that there are enough seats in play to flip control of the House this fall has eclipsed another interesting political debate: Could Republicans win the Senate majority too? The answer? Yes — but it remains a significantly longer shot than the GOP taking over the House. Senate Republicans need a net gain of 10 seats, which, if history is any guide, will be difficult. The last time one party made double digit seat gains was in 1980 when Republicans defeated nine incumbents and won three more Democratic open seats for a 12-seat pickup. (Thank you Ronald Reagan!) Still, if the last few elections have taught us anything, it’s that history isn’t always determinative… – WaPo, 7-16-10
  • Palin’s Ground Game Spurs Campaign Buzz: Through Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has burst back into the political spotlight this month, while her family life has once again become part of the broader American conversation. But it is Ms. Palin’s groundwork on behalf of candidates across the country, along with her continued fund-raising abilities, that has Republican leaders and political strategists wondering whether she is gearing up for a presidential bid in 2012. Ms. Palin’s intentions remain unclear, and unstated. She declined to comment through her political-action committee.
    But her influence is undeniable: On Sunday, SarahPAC disclosed contributions of at least $87,500 to Republican candidates she has endorsed, and a tantalizing $210,000 she has spent on consultants of her own. Ms. Palin also appears to have honed her pitch. Last week, SarahPAC posted a “Mama Grizzlies” video online aimed at reaching out to women voters. In the clip, women carried signs such as “I am not the ‘Angry Mob.’ I am an angry tax-bled ‘Hockey Mom.’ ” Political experts said the video—with its high production values…. – WSJ, 7-17-10
  • GOP Candidates Seize Funding Edge: Republican candidates for Congress have seized the fund-raising lead from Democrats in the closest House and Senate races. Republicans in a dozen of the closest Senate contests claimed 58% of the nearly $50 million in total contributions during the three-month period that ended June 30, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of financial reports filed with the Federal Election Commission. That is a change from the first fund-raising period of the year when Democrats brought in a slight majority of contributions in those races…. – WSJ, 7-17-10
  • Is Jim DeMint an Ace in the Hole for Barack Obama?: South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint , who once proclaimed that he’d rather have “30 Republicans in the Senate who believe in principles of freedom than 60 who don’t believe in anything,” continues to endorse Senate candidates and give leaders in his own party migraine headaches. But one politician must be smiling from ear to ear when he follows DeMint’s antics: President Barack Obama . That’s because, more than Florida’s Marco Rubio, Kentucky’s Rand Paul or Colorado’s Ken Buck — all endorsed by DeMint in GOP Senate primaries against the wishes of party strategists and insiders — the president stands to benefit the most, long term, from DeMint’s rhetoric and actions leading up to the 2010 midterm elections…. – Roll Call, 7-15-10
  • Outsider Wins Alabama GOP Gov Nomination: Self-described outsider Robert Bentley won Alabama’s Republican nomination for governor Tuesday night over establishment candidate Bradley Byrne with a strong showing in rural areas.
    In the unofficial count, Bentley had 56 percent of the vote to Byrne’s 44 percent with 83 percent of the precincts reporting. Bryne ran strong in the state’s four big counties, but Bentley outperformed Byrne in small counties, including areas where Tim James and Roy Moore did well when they ran third and fourth in the June 1 Republican primary…. – AP, 7-14-10

POLITICAL QUOTES

  • Biden: Afghan withdrawal may start with ‘a couple of thousand troops’: As few as “a couple of thousand” U.S. troops may leave Afghanistan in the first phase of withdrawing forces from there beginning a year from now, Vice President Joe Biden said in an interview broadcast Sunday. “It could be as few as a couple of thousand troops; it could be more,” Biden told ABC’s “This Week.” Asked about a book that quotes him as saying the troop withdrawal would start with “a whole lot of people” leaving Afghanistan, Biden confirmed the comment but said he was responding to an assertion that there might be no withdrawal at all at that time. “I did say it,” Biden acknowledged, calling the July 2011 withdrawal date “the beginning of a transition” based on the ability of Afghanistan forces to provide security around the country…. – CNN, 7-18-10
  • Vice President Joe Biden defends Tea Party against ‘racist’ claims: Tea Partiers have gotten some support from an unlikely source — the Vice President of the United States. VP Joe Biden told ABC News’ Jake Tapper on Sunday that he doesn’t think the ultra-conservative group is “racist.”
    “I wouldn’t characterize the Tea Party as racist,” he said on Sunday’s “This Week.” But “there are individuals who are either members of or on the periphery of some of their things, their — their protests — that have expressed really unfortunate comments.”
    The remarks come on the heels of the NAACP’s move last week to demand that Tea Party leaders “repudiate it’s racist elements.”
    Sarah Palin was quick to defend the group.
    “I am saddened by the NAACP’s claim that patriotic Americans who stand up for the United States of America’s Constitutional rights are somehow ‘racists,'” she said via Facebook…. – NY Daily News, 7-18-10
  • Weekly Address: President Obama Says GOP Senate Leadership Choosing to “Filibuster Our Recovery and Obstruct Our Progress”
    Remarks of President Barack Obama Weekly Address The White House July 17, 2010:
    Now in the past, Presidents and Congresses of both parties have treated unemployment insurance for what it is – an emergency expenditure. That’s because an economic disaster can devastate families and communities just as surely as a flood or tornado.
    Suddenly, Republican leaders want to change that. They say we shouldn’t provide unemployment insurance because it costs money. So after years of championing policies that turned a record surplus into a massive deficit, including a tax cut for the wealthiest Americans, they’ve finally decided to make their stand on the backs of the unemployed. They’ve got no problem spending money on tax breaks for folks at the top who don’t need them and didn’t even ask for them; but they object to helping folks laid off in this recession who really do need help. And every day this goes on, another 50,000 Americans lose that badly needed lifeline.
    Well, I think these Senators are wrong. We can’t afford to go back to the same misguided policies that led us into this mess. We need to move forward with the policies that are leading us out of this mess.
    The fact is, most economists agree that extending unemployment insurance is one of the single most cost-effective ways to help jumpstart the economy. It puts money into the pockets of folks who not only need it most, but who also are most likely to spend it quickly. That boosts local economies. And that means jobs.
    Increasing loans to small business. Renewing unemployment insurance. These steps aren’t just the right thing to do for those hardest hit by the recession – they’re the right thing to do for all of us. And I’m calling on Congress once more to take these steps on behalf of America’s workers, and families, and small business owners – the people we were sent here to serve.
    Because when storms strike Main Street, we don’t play politics with emergency aid. We don’t desert our fellow Americans when they fall on hard times. We come together. We do what we can to help. We rebuild stronger, and we move forward. That’s what we’re doing today. And I’m absolutely convinced that’s how we’re going to come through this storm to better days ahead. – WH, 7-17-10
  • Obama: GOP blocking unemployed, small business aid: President Barack Obama says Senate Republicans are playing politics with bills that would extend benefits to the unemployed and increase lending to small businesses. Striking a deeply partisan tone in his weekly radio and online address, Obama said the GOP leadership has chosen to “filibuster our recovery and obstruct our progress” by blocking votes on agenda items the president says would breath life into the economic recovery.
    “These steps aren’t just the right thing to do for those hardest hit by the recession,” Obama said. “They’re the right thing to do for all of us.” The address was recorded at the White House before Obama flew to Maine on Friday for a weekend family vacation… – AP, 7-17-10
  • Wall Street Reform: Final Votes Approach: Remarks by the President in Selection of Jack Lew to be Director of OMB: Before I begin, I just want to note a breakthrough that we’ve had on our efforts to pass the most comprehensive reform of Wall Street since the Great Depression. Three Republican senators have put politics and partisanship aside to support this reform, and I’m grateful for their decision, as well as all the Democrats who’ve worked so hard to make this reform a reality, particularly Chairman Dodd and Chairman Barney Frank.
    What members of both parties realize is that we can’t allow a financial crisis like this one that we just went through to happen again. This reform will prevent that from happening. It will prevent a financial crisis like this from happening again, by protecting consumers against the unfair practices of credit card companies and mortgage lenders. It will ensure that taxpayers are never again on the hook for Wall Street’s mistakes. And it will end an era of irresponsibility that led to the loss of 8 million jobs and trillions of dollars of wealth.
    Now, as we finish our work on Wall Street reform, we’re also mindful that we’ve got significant work to do when it comes to reforming our government and reducing our deficit.
    This reform is good for families. It’s good for businesses. It’s good for the entire economy. And I urge the Senate to act quickly so that I can sign it into law next week….. – WH, 7-13-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Julian E. Zelizer: Why Obama’s poll numbers have sunk: President Obama’s supporters have been frustrated about the apparent paradox of this administration. With the recent passage of historic financial regulation legislation, many Democrats are having trouble grasping why his approval ratings still lag and why Democrats might lose control of the House in the fall elections. Supporters say the economic stimulus bill, education and health care reform, and now financial reform, should have Americans looking at the White House with the same admiration they had for President Roosevelt in the 1930s or President Johnson at the height of his success in 1964 and 1965. But according to a recent CBS News poll, just 40 percent of those polled approved of how the president was handling the economy. This was a drop of five percentage points since June….
    Rather than complain about what the public thinks or dismiss liberals as unrealistic, Obama would do better to be more responsive to public concerns, with joblessness at the top of his list. The president must give serious consideration to another stimulus package, and be willing to spend the kind of political capital that he used in pushing for health care and financial regulation. He must also be willing to look at some of the shortcomings of the first bill, such as insufficient funds for public works projects and for assistance to the states. – CNN, 7-19-10
  • Analysis: Dems enacted much of Obama’s agenda: Far-reaching legislation aimed at reining in Wall Street marks the latest and likely the last major achievement by President Barack Obama and the Democratic-controlled Congress, an 18-month partnership that strove simultaneously to fix a battered economy and enact sweeping changes to health care, education and more. Whatever the longer term impact — the most far-reaching changes in the health care legislation won’t start until 2014 — the immediate aftermath is unemployment that scrapes double digits and deficits far deeper than Obama and his allies inherited in January 2009. The Republicans who worked ceaselessly to thwart the president’s agenda are emboldened, while Democrats who voted it into law brace for majority-threatening election losses…. – AP, 7-17-10
  • Julian E. Zelizer: Professor of History and Public Affairs, Princeton Gulf oil spill containment: Obama’s Katrina or turning point toward reelection?: When President Clinton responded to the Oklahoma City bombing, he did so forcefully, with an expansive legislative agenda to strengthen the nation’s ability to fight against domestic terrorism. Just because the Gulf Oil spill might finally have reached a turning point, there is no way to see victory for the administration. It is clear that administration policies allowed for this kind of off-shore drilling to take place, despite great doubts and concerns, and there is evidence the administration is still authorizing risky drilling to occur (see offshore drilling). The response has not been forceful and a huge amount of environmental damage has been caused as a result of this — damage that won’t be repaired…. – Politico, 7-16-10
  • DANIEL HENNINGER: Berwick: Bigger Than Kagan: If the American people want the health-care world Dr. Berwick wishes to give them, that’s their choice. But they must be given that choice…. – WSJ, 7-14-10
  • Allan Lichtman: Scholar’s “13 Keys” Predict Another Obama Win: Although the next presidential election is 28 months away, President Barack Obama’s reelection in 2012 is nearly guaranteed despite former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s prediction that Obama has only a 20 percent chance, according to American University Professor Allan Lichtman. Lichtman’s “13 Keys” system predicts the outcome of the popular vote based on the performance of the party and not the use of candidate preference polls, campaign tactics, or events…. – American University, 7-14-10
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