July 12, 2010: Financial Regulation Overhaul Set to Pass & Obama meets with Benjamin Netanyahu

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 & Senate Democratic Leaders before final votes on Wall Street Reform, White House Photo, Pete Souza, 7/13/10

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • 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
  • After 18 months of Obama, Americans already feeling fonder of Dick Cheney, less so of Al Gore: The new Gallup Poll, released overnight, shows that a near-majority of Americans now views almost-president Gore unfavorably (49%), while 44% are favorable, down 14 points since his Nobel Prize glory days of 2007. As the most recent former White House No. 2, Cheney had the most to improve in favorable ratings. And, actually, he did improve the most in the opinion of surveyed Americans.
    Cheney’s robust unfavorable rating melted 11 points during the past 18 months of the Democrat duo of Obama-Biden to 52% now. While the Republican’s favorables surged from their low point of 30% all the way up to an impressive 36% now. That’s a stunning 20% improvement. LAT, 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
  • Poll finds Pennsylvania Senate race in dead heat: Pennsylvania’s Senate race is dead even, with Democratic Rep. Joe Sestak and Republican Pat Toomey both drawing 43% of support in a Quinnipiac University poll released today.
    At this point in the race, momentum appears to be on Sestak’s side. He was down 2 percentage points in May and 8 percentage points in an April survey by Quinnipiac.
    “Congressman Joe Sestak, a decided underdog who knocked off U.S. Arlen Specter in the Democratic primary, has now closed an 8-point gap in the last three months to tie Pat Toomey,” Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said in a statement…. – USA Today, 7-14-10
  • Crist leads 3-way Senate race in Florida: Florida Governor Charlie Crist holds a narrow edge over Republican Marco Rubio in a three-way Senate race dominated by economic worries, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Tuesday.
    Crist, who left the Republican Party to run as an independent after Rubio mounted a primary challenge against him, leads Rubio 35 percent to 28 percent. Democrat Kendrick Meek trails with 17 percent less than four months before the November election for the open Senate seat.
    Crist holds a similar 34 to 29 percent edge over Rubio in a three-way race against Democrat Jeff Greene, who is locked in a tough party primary fight with Meek. The Florida primary will be held August 24.
    In the race to succeed Crist as governor, Republican Rick Scott leads Democrat Alex Sink by 34 percent to 31 percent. But Sink leads slightly, 31 percent to 30 percent, when matched against Republican Bill McCollum. McCollum and Scott are waging a bitter Republican primary race…. – Reuters, 7-13-10

THE HEADLINES….

President Obama Shakes Hand with Jacob Lew, His Nominee for OMB   Director

President Barack Obama announces the nomination of Jack Lew to replace Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Peter Orszag during a statement to the press in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House July 13, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

  • 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
  • US should better define, counter Islamic extremism: The Obama administration’s recent move to drop rhetorical references to Islamic radicalism is drawing fire in a new report warning the decision ignores the role religion can play in motivating terrorists. Several prominent counterterror experts are challenging the administration’s shift in its recently unveiled National Security Strategy, saying the terror threat should be defined in order to fight it. The question of how to frame the conflict against al-Qaida and other terrorists poses a knotty problem. The U.S. is trying to mend fences with Muslim communities while toughening its strikes against militant groups. In the report, scheduled to be released this week, counterterrorism experts from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy argue that the U.S. could clearly articulate the threat from radical Islamic extremists “without denigrating the Islamic religion in any way.” President Barack Obama has argued that words matter, and administration officials have said that the use of inflammatory descriptions linking Islam to the terror threat feed the enemy’s propaganda and may alienate moderate Muslims in the U.S…. – AP, 7-12-10
  • Congress returns from recess to even more of the same: Congress will return this week from the July 4th recess to a pile of unfinished business. Yes, the same might be said of every Congress returning from every recess since lawmakers wore wigs and tights. But this time it could be a big problem, especially for the party in power. When Barack Obama took office and the Democrats took control of Washington, they made ambitious promises about how much they’d get done, with or without Republican help. Now, with relatively few working days left before the November midterm elections (in part because lawmakers granted themselves another long break beginning at the end of July), they might not be able to convince skeptical, frustrated voters that they delivered — and that they deserve to stay in charge…. – WaPo, 7-11-10
  • U.S. might launch 2nd suit against Arizona immigration law, Holder says: 2nd lawsuit weighed on immigration law. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said Sunday that if the federal government does not stop Arizona’s immigration law from taking effect, it might launch a second legal challenge to combat any racial profiling that occurs. The Obama administration is suing Arizona over the law, set to take effect July 29, which would make it a state crime for someone to be in the country illegally. During “lawful stops,” local law enforcement officers will be required to question people about their immigration status if there is “reasonable suspicion” that they might be illegal immigrants. WaPo, 7-11-10
  • Governors: Obama’s Immigration Suit Is ‘Toxic’: Democratic governors expressed “grave” concerns to White House officials this weekend about the Obama administration’s suit against Arizona’s new immigration law, warning it could cost the party in crucial elections this fall, The New York Times reported late Sunday. The closed-door meeting took place at the National Governors Association in Boston on Saturday, according to two unnamed governors who spoke to the Times. “Universally the governors are saying, ‘We’ve got to talk about jobs, and all of a sudden we have immigration going on,'” Gov. Phil Bredesen of Tennessee, a Democrat, was quoted as saying. “It is such a toxic subject, such an important time for Democrats.” The Arizona law, which is facing a U.S. Justice Department challenge, requires police to question people about their immigration status while enforcing other laws if there’s reason to suspect someone is in the country illegally….. – Fox News, 7-12-10
  • With votes looming, Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan plays it cool: With committee and floor votes beginning this week on the Supreme Court nomination of Elena Kagan, skeptical lawmakers could not resist the opportunity to search for a weak point that might provoke last-minute controversy. Six Republican senators submitted questions that produced 74 pages of written responses from Kagan. In ritual form, her answers — released Friday — were finely sanded to avoid any clamor. Kagan carefully hewed to the themes she struck at last month’s hearings: In cases in which she voiced opinion, she said, it was that of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, for whom she once worked…. – WaPo, 7-10-10
  • Obama changes VA rule to help vets get stress disorder aid: War-zone veterans will no longer have to submit specific evidence to get benefits and treatment for post-traumatic stress….- LAT, 7-11-10
  • PM: Israel-US alliance strong: “The alliance between Israel and the US is stable and strong. It has the support of the American administration and people,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said at a cabinet meeting Sunday. Netanyahu said that he reiterated to Obama “Israel’s desire to proceed immediately to direct negotiations with the PA, with the goal being to advance the diplomatic process and try to reach a peace agreement.”… – JPost, 7-11-10
  • Governors avoid debate on Arizona’s immigration law: The topic’s not on their convention agenda, but it’s on everyone’s mind as demonstrators rally nearby…. – LAT, 7-11-10
  • No full Social Security benefits until age 70?: Young Americans might not get full Social Security retirement benefits until they reach age 70 if some trial balloons that prominent lawmakers of both parties are floating become law. No one who’s slated to receive benefits in the next decade or two is likely to be affected, but there’s a gentle, growing and unusually bipartisan push to raise the retirement age for full Social Security benefits for people born in the 1960s and after. The suggestions are being taken seriously after decades when they were politically impossible because officials – and, increasingly, their constituents – are confronting the inescapable challenge of the nation’s enormous debt…. – McClatchy Newspapers, 7-11-10
  • Obama turns a corner on Middle East peace: Two bits of good news emerged during Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s brief visit to Washington this week: First, that Netanyahu and President Barack Obama publicly reaffirmed the strength of U.S.-Israeli relations, and, second, that Netanyahu said he expects direct talks with the Palestinians to begin soon. Both items suggest a maturing of the Obama administration’s foreign policy as it relates to the Middle East, and may even portend real results soon. Israel has been participating in indirect negotiations with the Palestinians through former Sen. George Mitchell since Obama named him a special envoy last year…. – Detroit Free Press, 7-10-10
  • In spy swap, agents were pawns in a practiced game: In the rapid-fire spy swap, the United States and Russia worked together as only old enemies could. Less than two weeks after the FBI broke the spy ring in a counterintelligence operation cultivated for a decade, 10 Russian secret agents caught in the U.S. are back in Russia, four convicted of spying for the West have been pardoned and released by Moscow, and bilateral relations appear on track again. In describing how the swap unfolded, U.S. officials made clear that even before the arrests, Washington wanted not only to take down a spy network but to move beyond the provocative moment…. – AP, 7-10-10
  • U.S.-Russia spy swap is complete: The speed of the exchange has some wondering what was behind the deal…. – LAT, 7-9-10
  • Going Nuclear: Romney vs. Obama (and Kerry): Yesterday Mitt Romney blasted Barack Obama via a Washington Post op-ed denouncing Obama’s nuclear Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with Russia as the president’s “worst foreign policy mistake yet.” Romney complains that the Russians “badly out-negotiated” Obama and came out with a decided strategic advantage in the treaty, including the power to walk away from the treaty if the U.S. presses too far ahead with missile defense systems. Today, John Kerry, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman, hit back at Romney (also in the Post), calling his argument “baloney,” and tossing in some tart insults:
    I have nothing against Massachusetts politicians running for president. But the world’s most important elected office carries responsibilities, including the duty to check your facts even if you’re in a footrace to the right against Sarah Palin. More than that, you need to understand that when it comes to nuclear danger, the nation’s security is more important than scoring cheap political points…. – Time, 7-7-10
  • Relief well drilling ahead of schedule: While workers keep drilling the wells, the battle over President Barack Obama’s effort to suspend deepwater drilling moves Thursday to a federal appeals court in Louisiana. Oral arguments in a case that challenged the Obama administration’s six-month ban on deepwater drilling start in the afternoon in New Orleans. An advocacy group called Alliance for Justice made a pre-emptive strike against the court on Wednesday. It released a scathing report alleging that many appeals court judges have extensive ties to the oil industry, including the three-judge panel that will preside over the drilling ban hearing. As the case proceeds, others hope the seas will be calm enough for vessels to return to cleaning up the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. CNN, 7-8-10
  • Department of Justice seeks injunction against Arizona immigration law: In a lawsuit filed July 6 in federal court in Arizona, the U.S. Department of Justice made good on its promise to challenge Arizona’s immigration law. Arizona law S.B. 1070, due to take effect July 29, was challenged on the basis that it unconstitutionally interferes with the federal government’s authority to set and enforce immigration policy, accoridng to a July 6 news release from the Department of Justice.
    In the brief, the administration said that “the Constitution and federal law do not permit the development of a patchwork of state and local immigration policies throughout the country,” the release said.
    The Department of Justice has requested a preliminary injunction to enjoin enforcement of the law, the news release said. The department believes law’s operation will cause irreparable harm, the release said.
    “Arizonans are understandably frustrated with illegal immigration, and the federal government has a responsibility to comprehensively address those concerns,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in the news release. “But diverting federal resources away from dangerous aliens such as terrorism suspects and aliens with criminal records will impact the entire country’s safety.” The Packer, 7-6-10
  • President Obama wants injunction to stall Arizona’s controversial new immigration law: The Obama administration sued Arizona on Tuesday to kill, or at least stall, the state’s hotly disputed new law allowing local cops to target suspected illegal immigrants. In seeking an injunction to block the law from going into effect July 29, Attorney General Eric Holder said he sympathized with Arizonans and others who are “frustrated with illegal immigration.”
    But “setting immigration policy and enforcing immigration laws is a national responsibility,” Holder declared, and “seeking to address the issue through a patchwork of state laws will only create more problems than it solves.” His lawsuit said it’s also flat-out unconstitutional, usurping federal power to control the borders…. – NY Daily News, 7-7-10
  • Obama trying carrot, not stick, on Netanyahu: Netanyahu got off easy in Washington: He left strengthened by Obama and without having to make any real concessions. Haaretz, 7-7-10
  • Obama Bypassing Senate for New Medicare Chief: Obama to use a recess appointment to put a new director in place for Medicare and Medicaid… – ABC News, 7-7-10
  • Obama Returns to Missouri, Site of Slim 2008 Loss: For some in President Obama’s White House, Missouri remains the state that got away, nearly two years after his election. Mr. Obama was the first Democrat since 1964 to win Indiana and the first since 1976 to win North Carolina. But his loss in Missouri by the narrowest of slivers (fewer than 4,000 votes) was of special disappointment. After all, the state has sided with the winner of the presidential race in nearly every election in the past century. Who would wish to be remembered for breaking that sort of trend? Now, even as President Obama juggles a barrage of dire matters, relatively calm Missouri seems to continue to carry some particular attention for the White House. This week, Mr. Obama will be in the state again, raising money in a competitive Senate campaign in a challenging political season for Democrats…. – NYT, 7-6-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • 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
  • GOP candidate Angle rallies GOP against Reid: U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle on Friday denounced Majority Leader Harry Reid as a “desperate man” who was distorting her conservative record while ignoring a state that leads the nation in joblessness, foreclosures and bankruptcies. A day after President Barack Obama delivered a mocking indictment of her candidacy at a rally in Las Vegas, Angle accused the president and Reid of pushing billions of dollars in stimulus spending while Nevada struggles with “an economy that is a disaster.”… – AP, 7-10-10
  • Democrats digging harder than ever for dirt on Republicans: The Democratic Party is moving faster and more aggressively than in previous election years to dig up unflattering details about Republican challengers. In House races from New Jersey to Ohio to California, Democratic operatives are seizing on evidence of GOP candidates’ unpaid income taxes, property tax breaks and ties to financial firms that received taxpayer bailout money…. – WaPo, 7-6-10
  • Once a withdrawn teen, SC man now takes on senator: Alvin Greene earned the nickname “turtle” in high school — a quiet, withdrawn boy who was smart when he applied himself but rarely took a chance and tried to put himself in comfortable situations. Nearly four weeks ago, the 32-year-old unemployed military veteran turned South Carolina’s political scene upside down when he won the Democratic nomination for a U.S. Senate seat. And unlike that high school student, he’s taking a big chance: running against powerhouse Republican Sen. Jim DeMint…. – AP, 7-6-10
  • Poll: Meg Whitman, Jerry Brown in virtual tie: California’s race for governor is a dead heat, as Republican Meg Whitman’s massive advertising blitz coupled with Democrat Jerry Brown’s lo-fi campaign have raised doubts about Brown and cut his lead among Latino voters and other key Democratic constituencies, a Field Poll released today shows.
    Brown leads Whitman 44 to 43 percent in the poll, with 13 percent undecided, according to Field’s survey of 1,005 likely voters. The poll, conducted June 22 to July 5, has a margin of error of 3.2 percentage points.
    But billionaire Whitman’s relentless advertising campaign has helped sour voters’ views of Brown, with 40 percent holding an unfavorable opinion of him – up from 25 percent in March 2009. Still, 42 percent view him favorably…. – SF Chronicle, 7-6-10
  • Feingold faces unexpectedly tough race: Add Russ Feingold to the list of Senate Democrats who find themselves in unexpectedly tough races, the latest evidence of the GOP’s success in widening the playing field that President Barack Obama’s party has to defend.
    The Wisconsin Democrat faces a wealthy political newcomer with early backing from tea party activists in a state that has many independent voters and is known for doing its own thing. Likely GOP nominee Ron Johnson is running an outsider’s campaign in a year that seems to favor outsiders…. – AP, 7-6-10
  • McCain’s Immigration Shift: ‘Many’ Should Be Sent Back: A lot has changed since 2007, when John McCain was the #1 immigration compromiser in the U.S. Senate, leading the way with a large, bipartisan bill that would have given illegal immigrants an opportunity to become U.S. citizens while beefing up border security….
    Now, McCain finds himself in a different political situation, and so does the immigration issue. McCain lost the 2008 election, during which he was sharply criticized as an immigration liberal by his GOP primary rivals, and he’s facing a primary challenge from Tea-Party-style candidate J.D. Hayworth. As a national issue, immigration has heated up after Arizona passed its new law and as a drug war has raged in Mexico…. – The Atlantic, 7-6-10

POLITICAL QUOTES

The President Records the Weekly Address

White House Photo, Pete Souza, 7/9/10

  • 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 Obama & President Fernandez Meet on Trade, Drug-Trafficking, and HaitiWH, 7-12-10
  • Weekly Address: President Obama Announces Changes to Help Veterans with PTSD Receive the Benefits They Need
    Remarks of President Barack Obama As Prepared for Delivery Weekly Address July 10, 2010
    …Today, we’ve made it clear up and down the chain of command that folks should seek help if they need it. In fact, we’ve expanded mental health counseling and services for our vets.
    But for years, many veterans with PTSD who have tried to seek benefits – veterans of today’s wars and earlier wars – have often found themselves stymied. They’ve been required to produce evidence proving that a specific event caused their PTSD. And that practice has kept the vast majority of those with PTSD who served in non-combat roles, but who still waged war, from getting the care they need.
    Well, I don’t think our troops on the battlefield should have to take notes to keep for a claims application. And I’ve met enough veterans to know that you don’t have to engage in a firefight to endure the trauma of war.
    So we’re changing the way things are done.
    On Monday, the Department of Veterans Affairs, led by Secretary Ric Shinseki, will begin making it easier for a veteran with PTSD to get the benefits he or she needs.
    This is a long-overdue step that will help veterans not just of the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars, but generations of their brave predecessors who proudly served and sacrificed in all our wars.
    It’s a step that proves America will always be here for our veterans, just as they’ve been there for us. We won’t let them down. We take care of our own. And as long as I’m Commander-in-Chief, that’s what we’re going to keep doing. WH, 7-10-10
  • Treasury Secretary Geithner on Wall Street Reform: “All Americans Have a Stake in Reforms”: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner appeared on PBS NewsHour last night to discuss, among other items, the financial reform bill that is awaiting final passage by the Senate when they return from recess next week. In his conversation with NewsHour host Jim Lehrer, Secretary Geithner expressed confidence that the Congress will soon deliver a strong bill to President Obama’s desk… – WH, 7-7-10
  • Obama thanks Europe for renewing anti-terrorist financing program: The United States welcomes today’s decision by the European Parliament to join the Council and Commission of the European Union in approving a revised agreement between the United States and the European Union on the processing and transfer of financial messaging data for the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program (TFTP). We look forward to the Council’s completion of the process, allowing the agreement to enter into force on August 1, 2010, thus fully restoring this important counterterrorism tool and resuming the sharing of investigative data that has been suspended since January 2010. The threat of terrorism faced by the United States and the European Union continues and, with this agreement, all of our citizens will be safer.
    The TFTP has provided critical investigative leads — more than 1,550 to EU Member States — since its creation after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. These leads have aided countries around the world in preventing or investigating many of the past decade’s most visible and violent terrorist attacks and attempted attacks, including Bali (2002), Madrid (2004), London (2005), the liquids bomb plot against transatlantic aircraft (2006), New York’s John F. Kennedy airport (2007), Germany (2007), Mumbai (2008), and Jakarta (2009).
    This new, legally binding agreement reflects significant additional data privacy safeguards but still retains the effectiveness and integrity of this indispensable counterterrorism program.
    Protecting privacy and civil liberties is a top priority of the Obama Administration. We are determined to protect citizens of all nations while also upholding fundamental rights, using every legitimate tool available to combat terrorism that is consistent with our laws and principles. – USA Today, 7-8-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • 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
  • Julian E. Zelizer: Sarah Palin likes government too: During a speech at an event called “Freedom Fest,” former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin warned Tea Party activists that while government spending was a bad thing, conservatives should not go too far and start calling for reductions in the military budget.
    While Palin told the crowd in Norfolk, Virginia, “Something has to be done urgently to stop the out-of-control Obama-Reid-Pelosi spending machine,” she also told them, “We must make sure, however, that we do nothing to undermine the effectiveness of our military.”
    Palin’s speech touched on a historic problem for the conservative movement. Ever since conservatives embraced a hawkish stance toward national security policy in the early Cold War in the late 1940s and started to challenge Democrats for not being tough enough, national security has always been the poison pill for anti-government conservatism.
    Despite all their rhetoric about the dangers of government intervention and the virtues of private markets, conservatives have rather consistently supported an expansion of the government when it comes to national security….
    But when it comes to Republicans, Palin’s recent comments at the conservative rally show why voters should take right-wing arguments about the dangers of government with a grain of salt. While conservative activists like to talk about a choice between big government and small government, the real debate is over what kinds of government we must have, what our priorities should be, and where our federal money should be directed…. – CNN, 7-12-10
  • The Bush Tax Cuts and the Deficit Myth: Runaway government spending, not declining tax revenues, is the reason the U.S. faces dramatic budget shortfalls for years to come…. – WSJ, 7-14-10
  • Julian E. Zelizer Professor of History and Public Affairs, Princeton “Bringing down the House? Why is the White House warning of a Republican takeover of Congress?”: If the White House starts to talk about the other party gaining control of Congress or about how terrible midterms usually are, then they are trying to manage expectations. The White House has depended on the Democratic House to move its legislative agenda. Having votes on Capitol Hill is better than a foil and the perception of weakness…. – Politico, 7-12-10
  • Gil Troy: Obama’s ‘we’ philosophy collides with capitalism’s ‘me’: Business leaders accuse President of using failures of a few to justify expansion of government regulatory authority…
    For McGill University political historian Gil Troy, Mr. Obama’s attacks on business put him well within a presidential tradition that goes back at least as far as Andrew Jackson in the 1830s. But they also betray his particular world view and a career spent entirely outside the private sector.
    “Not only does Barack Obama lack corporate experience, but his defining experiences were as a community organizer, public interest lawyer and law lecturer,” Prof. Troy said in an interview. “That puts him ideologically, structurally and professionally in opposition to business.”
    Mr. Obama, Mr. Troy continued, is “trying to convince Americans of the efficacy of government. He’s enough of a [Ronald] Reagan baby to know that is not necessarily the easiest sell to make. So, if [the economic crisis] is not a God-given opportunity, it’s at least a Goldman Sachs-given opportunity to make that sell.”… – Globe & Mail, 7-9-10
  • Republicans should embrace Paul Ryan’s Road Map: For now, the road map has a relatively small but growing cheering section. A dozen House members have endorsed it. Sen. Jim DeMint praised it in his book “Saving Freedom.” Jeb Bush likes it. On CNN last week, economic historian Niall Ferguson called Ryan “a serious thinker on the Republican right who’s prepared to grapple with these issues of fiscal sustainability and come up with a plan.”… – Washington Examiner, 7-11-10
  • Kennedy’s clout could grow on high court: David Garrow, a Cambridge University historian who has written about the court, said the 74-year-old Kennedy already writes a disproportionate share of the court’s big decisions and will have even more chances to do so now because he can assign opinions to himself…. – AP, 7-11-10
  • Julian Zelizer: Senate bill to repeal health reform lacks backing from Republican leaders: “Unified party positions are better than divided party positions,” Julian Zelizer, a congressional expert at Princeton University, said in an e-mail. “When the GOP is not all on board with legislation,” he added, Democrats can argue “Republicans calling for repeal are on the wrong track.”
    “Equally important, in an age of party unity, when divisions like this emerge it suggests [what] pollsters are saying: there is support for the healthcare bill in red America,” he said. The Hill, 7-5-10

President Barack Obama Talks with President Leonel Fernandez of   the Dominican Republic Following Their Meeting in the Oval Office

President Barack Obama talks with President Leonel Fernandez of the Dominican Republic following their meeting in the Oval Office July 12, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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May 10, 2010: Obama Nominates Kagan & Financial Overhaul Debates

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 111TH CONGRESS:

The President, Vice President, and Elena Kagan

White House Photo, Lawrence Jackson, 5/10/1

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • Polls say Sestak now leads Specter in U.S. Senate race: U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter’s once seemingly insurmountable lead in the polls is gone. Reflecting a trend that developed over the last month, two new polls released Monday showed Mr. Specter trailing his challenger for the Democratic Senate nomination, U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak, a suburban Philadelphia congressman. Polls by Rasmussen Reports and the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion each showed Mr. Sestak with the support of 47 percent of likely Democratic voters and Mr. Specter with 42 percent. They come a week after a Quinnipiac University poll showed Mr. Specter’s lead had been cut from 21 percentage points in early April to 8 points early last week… – Scranton Times Tribune, 5-10-10
  • Poll: Lincoln, Boozman leading Ark. Senate race: A new poll shows incumbent U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas holding an edge over Lt. Gov. Bill Halter as both seek the Democratic nomination for the post. The Mason-Dixon poll of likely voters released Friday showed Lincoln with 44 percent support among likely voters and Halter next with 32 percent. Among eight Republicans, Congressman John Boozman led the pack with 48 percent support…. – AP, 5-7-10
  • Crist Holds 6-Point Lead as Independent in Florida Senate Race, Poll Shows: Florida Gov. Charlie Crist is holding a six-point lead in his state’s Senate race, according to a poll conducted after Crist left the Republican Party to run as an independent last week. The poll showed Crist with 38 percent support, compared with 32 percent for Rubio and 19 percent for Meek. Eleven percent were undecided. Pollster Brad Coker told the Orlando Sentinel that since most of Crist’s supporters are Democrats a large bloc of his support could abandon him as Meek raises his profile in the race. The poll showed 48 percent of Crist’s supporters were Democrats…. – Fox News, 5-6-10
  • Poll: Tea party platform fares best among GOP conservatives: The conservative “tea party” movement appeals almost exclusively to supporters of the Republican Party, bolstering the view that the tea party divides the GOP even as it has energized its base. That conclusion, backed by numbers from a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, also suggests that the tea party may have little room for growth. Most Americans — including large majorities of those who don’t already count themselves as supporters — say they’re not interested in learning more about the movement. A sizable share of those not already sympathetic to the tea party also say that the more they hear, the less they like the movement.
    Overall, the tea party remains divisive, with 27 percent of those polled saying they’re supportive but about as many, 24 percent, opposed. Supporters overwhelmingly identify themselves as Republicans or GOP-leaning independents; opponents are even more heavily Democratic. The new movement is also relatively small, with 8 percent of supporters claiming to be “active participants” — about 2 percent of the total population…. – WaPo, 5-4-10

THE HEADLINES….

  • Kagan fits Obama’s vision for the Supreme Court: With his second Supreme Court nomination in as many years, President Barack Obama has laid down clear markers of his vision for the court, one that could prove to be among his most enduring legacies….
    Kagan, 50, the solicitor general named to replace outgoing liberal Justice John Paul Stevens, would not immediately alter the ideological balance of the bench. But her addition would almost certainly provide a lasting, liberal presence, and administration officials hope she would, in the words of one, “start to move the court into a different posture and profile.”….
    Rep. Lamar Smith of San Antonio, the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, said Kagan will have to show “that she was not chosen by the president as a political ally who will rubber-stamp his agenda — but as an impartial jurist who will uphold the Constitution’s limits on the proper role of the federal government and defend the liberties of everyday Americans.”…. – WaPo, 5-10-10
  • Republican senators pressing to end federal control of Fannie, Freddie: The total price tag for mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie MacFannie will be $145 billion, easily becoming the costliest element of the government’s rescue of the financial system.
    As the Senate resumed debate Monday on legislation to overhaul financial regulation, leading Republican lawmakers are pushing an amendment that would wind down the government-controlled mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The proposal by Sens. John McCain (Ariz.), Richard C. Shelby (Ala.) and Judd Gregg (N.H.) calls for the government to end its control of the companies within two years. Under the amendment, Fannie and Freddie would have to reduce the size of their mortgage portfolios and begin paying state and local sales taxes…. WaPo, 5-11-10
  • Obama Is Said to Select Kagan as Justice: President Obama will nominate Solicitor General Elena Kagan as the nation’s 112th justice, choosing his own chief advocate before the Supreme Court to join it in ruling on cases critical to his view of the country’s future, Democrats close to the White House said Sunday. After a monthlong search, Mr. Obama informed Ms. Kagan and his advisers on Sunday of his choice to succeed the retiring Justice John Paul Stevens. He plans to announce the nomination at 10 a.m. Monday in the East Room of the White House with Ms. Kagan by his side, said the Democrats, who insisted on anonymity to discuss the decision before it was formally made public…. – NYT, 5-10-10
  • A Climb Marked by Confidence and Canniness – NYT, 5-10-10
  • Holder Backs a Miranda Limit for Terror Suspects: The Obama administration said Sunday it would seek a law allowing investigators to interrogate terrorism suspects without informing them of their rights, as Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. flatly asserted that the defendant in the Times Square bombing attempt was trained by the Taliban in Pakistan. Mr. Holder proposed carving out a broad new exception to the Miranda rights established in a landmark 1966 Supreme Court ruling. It generally forbids prosecutors from using as evidence statements made before suspects have been warned that they have a right to remain silent and to consult a lawyer…. – NYT, 5-10-10
  • Oil executives face U.S. Congress on Gulf spill: Big oil goes under the spotlight on Tuesday when U.S. lawmakers grill top executives on a drilling rig explosion and oil spill that threatens an environmental catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico.
    The hearings come during a desperate race against time to stem the oil gushing from a well ruptured after an explosion last month that killed 11 workers, sank the rig and set in motion the unfolding economic and ecological disaster…. – Reuters, 5-11-10
  • Reid seeks to fast-track financial overhaul bill Network News: ….”We have had a big day in the Senate,” Reid said, his voice oozing sarcasm. “Because of my Republican friends, we have been able to accomplish almost nothing — not quite, but almost nothing.”… While his frustration seemed genuine, Reid’s scolding in the empty chamber was part political theater, aimed at speeding up a top policy priority for President Obama. His remarks presaged a week in which the Senate moved forward on the landmark legislation in brief spurts of action during long periods of procedural delays and partisan bickering.
    Republicans have warned against pushing ahead too quickly with the far-reaching legislation, arguing that such haste could lead to unintended consequences that harm the very people that lawmakers are trying to help…. – WaPo, 5-10-10
  • US warns Pakistan over Times Square bomb attempt: The United States has delivered a tough new warning to Pakistan to crack down on Islamic militants or face severe consequences after the failed Times Square bombing. In a meeting on Friday between Stanley McChrystal, the US military commander in Afghanistan, and Pakistani military commander General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, General McChrystal urged Pakistan quickly to begin a military offensive against the Pakistani Taleban and al-Qaeda in North Waziristan, according to the New York Times newspaper…. – Times Online, 5-9-10
  • GOP loses consumer plan vote in Senate: Prodded by President Obama, the Senate rejected a Republican consumer protection plan yesterday that would have diluted a central element of the administration’s financial regulation package. Democrats and the president argued that the GOP proposal would have gutted consumer protections. The vote was 61 to 38, with two Republicans — Senators Olympia Snowe of Maine and Charles Grassley of Iowa — joining Democrats to defeat the GOP measure…. – Boston Globe, 5-7-10
  • Walter Hickel, former Alaska governor and Nixon Cabinet Member Walter Hickel dies at 90: Former Alaska Gov. Walter Hickel, who was Richard Nixon’s interior secretary until he was fired after criticizing the handling of Vietnam protests, has died at age 90. Longtime assistant Malcolm Roberts says Hickel died Friday night at Horizon House, an assisted living facility in Anchorage. – AP, 5-8-10
  • Origin of Wall Street’s Plunge Continues to Elude Officials: A day after a harrowing plunge in the stock market, federal regulators were still unable on Friday to answer the one question on every investor’s mind: What caused that near panic on Wall Street? Through the day and into the evening, officials from the Securities and Exchange Commission and other federal agencies hunted for clues amid a tangle of electronic trading records from the nation’s increasingly high-tech exchanges. But, maddeningly, the cause or causes of the market’s wild swing remained elusive, leaving what amounts to a $1 trillion question mark hanging over the world’s largest, and most celebrated, stock market…. – NYT, 5-8-10
  • New Justice to Confront Evolution in Powers: As President Obama prepares to nominate somebody to succeed Justice John Paul Stevens, his administration appears to be on a collision course with the Supreme Court in legal disputes that will test the limits of executive power. Those disputes — involving issues like detainee rights and secrecy — throw into sharp relief the differences in the records of several leading contenders for the nomination, including Solicitor General Elena Kagan and two appeals court judges, Merrick B. Garland and Diane P. Wood. While any plausible Democratic nominee would probably rule the same way Justice Stevens would have in many areas of law, including abortion rights and the new health care law, executive power may be an exception. Justice Stevens was a critical vote in a five-justice faction that rejected expansive assertions of executive authority by former President George W. Bush. If his successor is more sympathetic to the vantage point of the Obama White House, the balance could shift to a new bare majority that is far more willing to uphold broad presidential powers… – NYT, 5-8-10
  • Pressure on Pakistan amid fresh terror links: Alleged links between the Times Square plot and extremist networks are adding to perceptions of Pakistan as a global exporter of terrorism and increasing pressure on its military to crack down on extremists along the Afghan border.
    U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Friday that Pakistan has become far more helpful in battling extremists over the past year but that cooperation could be improved.
    She also warned that the Obama administration has made it clear there will be “severe consequences” if an attack on U.S. soil is traced back to Pakistan. Clinton spoke in an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes” to air this weekend AP, 5-8-10
  • Faithful mark prayer day at Capitol after judge’s ruling: Congress established the National Day of Prayer in 1952. But last month, a federal judge in Wisconsin declared that the government’s observance of the event is unconstitutional, calling it “an inherently religious exercise that serves no secular function.” The ruling angered many in the faith community. The Obama administration has decided to appeal the ruling. And as he did last year, President Obama issued a National Day of Prayer proclamation: “I call upon the citizens of our Nation to pray, or otherwise give thanks, in accordance with their own faiths and consciences, for our many freedoms and blessings.”…. – WaPo, 5-6-10
  • “Joe the Plumber” Wins Local GOP Elected Office: Samuel “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher became famous in 2008 when the John McCain presidential campaign heralded him as an average small business owner. Now, he is an elected official himself. Wurzelbacher won one of nearly 400 seats on the Republican Party committee for northwest Ohio’s Lucas County, the Associated Press reports. The group only meets a few times a year to elect the county chairman and sets the party agenda…. – CBS News,
  • Republicans want to lift bank swaps ban: senator: Banks would be allowed to keep their lucrative swaps-trading desks under a softened set of regulations for the $450 trillion derivatives market proposed by U.S. Senate Republicans on Wednesday… – Reuters, 5-6-10
  • Financial regulations still face delays, disputes: A tentative agreement in hand, Democrats and Republicans still face an array of hurdles and uncertain timing over a Senate bill that would rein in financial institutions. While Democrats agreed to jettison a $50 billion fund to liquidate large, failing firms, disputes over consumer protections, Federal Reserve oversight and regulation of complex securities are for the moment beyond compromise. Democrats and Republicans were preparing to fight those issues out on the Senate floor.
    “They’re stalling everything we do,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid complained Tuesday evening. He called for the bill to be completed by the end of next week.
    Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell had a different timetable in mind. “I must tell you, I don’t think this is a couple-of-weeks bill,” he said. “It’s not that we don’t want to pass it, but we do want to cover the subject.”… – AP, 5-5-10
  • Chicago judge interviewed for Supreme Court vacancy: Diane Wood, a Chicago federal appeals court judge, was interviewed by President Obama on Tuesday about replacing retiring Justice John Paul Stevens on the Supreme Court, a source told the Chicago Sun-Times. Wood had a second interview with Vice President Joe Biden about the upcoming vacancy. Stevens, a Chicago native, was in Chicago on Monday to speak at a 7th Circuit lawyers and judges conference where another person in the running to replace him — Solicitor General Elena Kagan — was also on the program. Wood and Obama know each other from the days when he taught law at the University of Chicago…. – Chicago Sun Times, 5-5-10
  • Barack Obama extends US sanctions against Syria US president accuses Damascus of supporting terrorist groups and pursuing weapons of mass destruction: President Barack Obama extended US sanctions against Syria, saying yesterday it supported terrorist organisations and pursued weapons of mass destruction and missile programmes. Syria’s actions and policies “pose a continuing unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States”, Obama said in a statement…. – Guardian.co.uk, 5-4-10
  • Obama administration discloses size of U.S. nuclear arsenal: Shattering a taboo dating from the Cold War, the Obama administration revealed Monday the size of the American nuclear arsenal — 5,113 weapons — as it embarked on a campaign for tougher measures against countries with hidden nuclear programs. The figure was in line with previous estimates by arms-control groups. But Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton emphasized that it was the very disclosure of the long-held secret that was important. “We think it is in our national security interest to be as transparent as we can about the nuclear program of the United States,” she told reporters at a high-level nuclear conference in New York, where she announced the change in policy. “We think that builds confidence.”… –  WaPo, 5-3-10
  • Voting begins in Senate on Wall Street reform: The U.S. Senate will cast its first votes on Tuesday on a sweeping Wall Street reform bill, with passage of a handful of uncontroversial amendments expected and a key procedural question still unsettled. Democratic leaders had not yet determined as of late Monday whether amendments will need 50 or 60 votes to pass. The difference is important because Democrats control 59 votes in the 100-member chamber, versus the Republicans’ 41 votes…. – Reuters, 5-4-10
  • Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens silent on his replacement in speech Justice bypasses court discussion, instead talks about his beloved Cubs: In one of his last public speeches before retiring, Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens on Monday bypassed talk of the court’s deep ideological divide and the battle to replace him and instead talked to a Chicago legal group about his beloved Cubs. The Chicago native recalled one of his most precious boyhood memories — watching Babe Ruth hit his famous “called shot” for the New York Yankees in the 1932 World Series with the Cubs… – Chicago Tribune, 5-4-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • Outside groups fuel heated Ark. Senate race: Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter of Arkansas recently complained about a Senate campaign ad in which Indian-American actors thanked him for allegedly outsourcing jobs to India. (Americans for Job Security via Associated Press); For Arkansas voters, the names on the ballot in the Democratic Senate primary election next week will be well known: US Senator Blanche Lincoln, the two-term incumbent, and her opponent, Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter, the father of the state’s lottery. But the campaign they have waged is like nothing Arkansas has seen before.
    In a state known for face-to-face politics where candidates make the rounds of small-town events such as the Gillett Coon Supper and the Slovak Oyster Supper, the race for Lincoln’s Senate seat has been overwhelmed by a multimillion-dollar, televised proxy battle among some of the nation’s largest interest groups for supremacy in the Democratic Party…. – Boston Globe, 5-10-10
  • Ohio Democrats respond to racy GOP ad: Ohio Democrats have released a political ad full of shirtless workers. It’s the party’s answer to a sexually suggestive GOP ad that depicted a bare-chested U.S. Senate candidate. The original ad, created by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, features an image of a shirtless Ohio Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher in a provocative pose….- AP, 5-10-10
  • National Democrats pull out of Hawaii: National Democrats pull their money out of Hawaii’s special election and local Republicans are rejoicing over the end of their opponent’s smear tactics. Even the local Democrats say they are pleased the national Democrats are leaving saying the negative ads didn’t play well in Hawaii. Voters won’t be getting anymore recorded calls from President Obama either…. – HawaiiNewsNow, 5-10-10
  • Paul may not vote for McConnell as floor leader: Front-runner Rand Paul said in a U.S. Senate debate Monday night that he may not support Kentucky’s other senator, Mitch McConnell, for minority floor leader if he’s elected. “I’d have to know who the opponent is and make a decision at that time,” Paul said in a sometimes testy televised debate, the final face off in what has become an increasing acrimonious race to replace Sen. Jim Bunning…. – AP, 5-11-10
  • Veteran Democrat faces anti-incumbent challenge: Democratic Rep. Alan Mollohan has delivered for his West Virginia district for nearly three decades — steering millions of dollars in projects that have helped an anemic economy.
    His rival in Tuesday’s primary is state Sen. Mike Oliverio, who has criticized the agenda of President Barack Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. In a state where Republican presidential nominee John McCain won handily in 2008, that criticism has helped the 46-year-old financial adviser attract the support of some of West Virginia’s tea party supporters as well as former Mollohan allies. “I think the voters in northern West Virginia have simply lost confidence in Congressman Mollohan,” Oliverio said… – AP/USA Today, 5-9-10
  • Some Palin Facebook fans unhappy with endorsement: Ex-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has outraged some of her fans with an endorsement of former Hewlett-Packard executive Carly Fiorina in the GOP’s U.S. Senate primary in California…. In the Thursday posting, Palin called Fiorina a “Commonsense Conservative” who has the potential to beat “liberal” Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer in November…. – AP, 5-8-10
  • Last weeks of GOP Senate primary race focus on Boxer Tom Campbell and Carly Fiorina face the challenge of drawing attention from Republicans Steve Poizner and Meg Whitman in race for governor. LAT, 5-8-10
  • Bennett out; GOP delegates reject 18-year Senate veteran Delegates reject 18-year Senate veteran; Bridgewater and Lee move to June primary: Three-term Sen. Bob Bennett became the first victim this year of a wave of voter anger toward Washington in a defeat that will likely send a jolt through incumbents everywhere. Businessman Tim Bridgewater finished first in the final round of balloting, beating attorney Mike Lee 57 percent to 43 percent, meaning they will face off in a June 22 primary battle. “I always think I’m going to win. I met 2,700 delegates. I knew where the delegates were,” Bridgewater said. “I feel like I can relate to people from all walks of life in this state.”…. – The Salt Lake Tribune, 5-8-10
  • Suddenly, Rubio likes Arizona’s immigration law: Facing a media throng recently in West Miami that included Spanish-language television, U.S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio left no doubt where he stood on a contentious new immigration law in Arizona.
    “I think the law has potential unintended consequences, and it’s one of the reasons why I think immigration needs to be a federal issue, not a state one,” Rubio said at the April 27 event, where he signed the official papers to be on the 2010 ballot. “That’s how I felt when I was in the Florida House.” Rubio added at the West Miami event: “Everyone is concerned with the prospect of the reasonable suspicion provisions where individuals could be pulled over because someone suspects they may not be legal in this country,” he said. “I think over time people will grow uncomfortable with that.”… – Miami Herald, 5-8-10
  • Bush backs Rubio, rips Crist in speech: In one of his first political campaign appearances since he left the Florida governor’s office, and an indication of his political re-emergence, former Gov. Jeb Bush endorsed Marco Rubio in a speech to a gathering of Tampa Bay area Republicans on Friday.
    “I’m a little rusty; I don’t speak that much to partisan crowds these days. I haven’t been on the stump that much,” Bush said at the Pasco County Republican Party’s annual fundraising dinner…. – TBO, 5-8-10
  • Last weeks of GOP Senate primary race focus on Boxer: Tom Campbell and Carly Fiorina face the challenge of drawing attention from Republicans Steve Poizner and Meg Whitman in race for governor…. – LAT, 5-8-10
  • GOP Senate candidates spar in first face-to-face debate: Campbell, DeVore and Fiorina tussle over immigration, the Wall Street bailout and taxes at L.A.’s Museum of Tolerance. The debate will air in California on ABC stations on Sunday…. – LAT, 5-7-10
  • Case ties himself to Obama in new ad: In a last-ditch attempt to gain momentum, former congressman Ed Case is latching himself to President Obama in his latest television ad – even though the White House hasn’t publicly backed him in the three-way special election taking place in Hawaii. “Only one candidate is strong enough to stand with the president: Ed Case,” a narrator says in the ad. “The White House believes Ed Case has the best chance of beating Djou and moving America forward. Ed Case, President Obama – putting Hawaii first.” The ad also accuses Republicans of wanting Obama to fail in office, and is using Republican Charles Djou, a Honolulu city councilman, to achieve that goal.??… – Politico, 5-6-10
  • Sen. DeMint endorses Paul in US Senate race in Ky.: U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint put himself at odds with Kentucky’s Sen. Mitch McConnell on Wednesday by endorsing an antiestablishment candidate for U.S. Senate in Kentucky. DeMint, a South Carolina Republican, gave his support to political outsider Rand Paul, one day after Minority Floor Leader McConnell endorsed establishment candidate Trey Grayson. “I’m endorsing Rand Paul because he’s a true conservative who will stand up to the Washington establishment,” said DeMint, who released a written statement saying he still supports McConnell as floor leader even though the two disagree on Kentucky’s Senate race. “Rand has been running on the issues that matter since the beginning of this campaign, DeMint said in the statement. “He’s a strong advocate for balanced budgets. He wants to end the culture of earmarks. He supports term limits. And he’s 100 percent pro-life.”… – AP, 5-5-10
  • Bennett appeals to GOP to let him keep Senate seat: Sen. Bob Bennett abandoned Washington this week, spending his days in Utah pleading with Republicans until he was hoarse to let him keep his job — in Washington. The three-term conservative is in serious danger of losing at a GOP state convention Saturday, tripped up by anti- incumbent sentiment and Utah’s quirky nomination system. His only hope is to win over enough delegates to force the party to hold a primary in June. He has until Saturday morning to pitch some 3,500 die-hard GOP convention delegates, who tend to be more conservative than Utah Republicans overall. Polls show Bennett trailing in third place…. – AP, 5-6-10
  • Obey retirement gives GOP hopeful opening in Wis.: Democratic U.S. Rep. David Obey’s unexpected retirement has thrust a conservative former cast member of MTV’s “The Real World” into position to capture a Wisconsin seat held by a leading liberal for four decades. It also left several Democrats pondering the legacy of Obey, at 71 the third longest-serving current member of the House, and weighing whether to get in the race…. – AP, 5-6-10
  • Jeb Bush endorses Marco Rubio in Fla. Senate race: Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is endorsing Marco Rubio’s campaign for U.S. Senate. Bush, still popular and influential with Florida Republicans, has long been rumored to be a Rubio backer, but his endorsement comes less than a week after Gov. Charlie crist decided to run as an independent rather than face Rubio in the GOP primary. Bush says Rubio is a passionate, principled leader who wouldn’t change his views when political winds shift… – AP, 5-5-10
  • Cohen hits campaign trail for governor Former lieutenant governor candidate who quit amid political scandal is launching independent bid: Pawnbroker Scott Lee Cohen announced his independent candidacy for governor Monday, trying to leap back into the political fray that chewed him up and spit him out in February. Cohen said he was still searching for a running mate, and he was vague on details about how he would circulate enough petitions by June 21 to secure the 25,000 signatures needed for a spot on the ballot. But he claimed that polling he conducted in March suggested he was a viable candidate. “I am not perfect, but I am honest,” Cohen said at a news conference in the plaza outside the Thompson Center. “Illinois needs honesty more than perfection.”… – Chicago Tribune, 5-3-10
  • Union: Ads chiding Ark. Senate candidate ‘racist’: A Virginia-based advocacy group began airing television ads in Arkansas on Monday in which Indian actors “thank” Democratic Senate candidate Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, claiming he outsourced jobs overseas. The ad, which features Indian-American actors thanking Halter while superimposed in front of various street scenes in India, was denounced by Halter’s campaign and that of his Democratic rival, Sen. Blanche Lincoln, as offensive. The Arkansas chapter of the AFL-CIO, which has endorsed Halter, called it “horribly racist.” The spot has been criticized as playing up stereotypes of India because it features actors with Indian accents and uses the street scenes…. – AP, 5-3-10

POLITICAL QUOTES

  • Weekly Address: Health Reform Starts to Kick In WH, 5-8-10
  • Education vital to U.S. success, Obama tells Hampton University graduates: President Obama delivered a strong argument Sunday on the importance of education, telling the new graduates of the historic black university here that “all of us have a responsibility, as Americans, to change” the comparatively low academic achievement of African Americans in this country.
    Before an audience of more than 12,000 students, family members and guests at Hampton University’s commencement, Obama said the nation must “offer every single child in this country an education that will make them competitive in our knowledge economy.”
    “But I have to say, Class of 2010, all of you have a separate responsibility. To be role models for your brothers and sisters,” Obama told the 1,072 students receiving undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees on the cool but lovely spring morning. “To be mentors in your communities. And, when the time comes, to pass that sense of an education’s value down to your children, a sense of personal responsibility and self-respect.”… – WaPo, 5-10-10
  • President Obama says health law benefits already being felt: “Already we are seeing a health care system that holds insurance companies more accountable and gives consumers more control,” Obama said during his weekly radio address. “For too long, we have been held hostage to an insurance industry that jacks up premiums and drops coverage as they please,” he said. “The new health care law has also begun to end the worst practices of insurance companies,” he said… – NY Daily News, 5-9-10
  • Kerry, Lieberman press climate bill without Graham: The leading sponsors of a long-delayed energy and climate change bill said Friday they will press ahead despite losing the support of their only Republican partner. Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass, and Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., said they plan to introduce a bill on Wednesday. The pair made the announcement just hours after Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said it’s impossible to pass the legislation now because of disagreements over offshore drilling and immigration reform.
    “Regrettably, in my view, this has become impossible in the current environment,” Graham said in a statement. “I believe there could be more than 60 votes for this bipartisan concept in the future. But there are not nearly 60 votes today and I do not see them materializing until we deal with the uncertainty of the immigration debate and the consequences of the oil spill.”
    Kerry and Lieberman said they plan to introduce the bill on Wednesday — two weeks after they first pledged to unveil it. “We are more encouraged today that we can secure the necessary votes to pass this legislation this year in part because the last (few) weeks have given everyone with a stake in this issue a heightened understanding that as a nation, we can no longer wait to solve this problem which threatens our economy, our security and our environment,” Kerry and Lieberman said. “We look forward to … passing the legislation with the support of Senator Graham and other Republicans, Democrats and independents this year,” they said…. – AP, 5-7-10
  • Obama: ‘Our obligations to our troops don’t end on the battlefield’: President Obama signed legislation today designed to help keep severely wounded troops in their homes by providing aid to family members who care for them. “Keeping faith with our veterans and their families is work that is never truly finished,” Obama said before signing the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act. The law increases health benefits for veterans, and provides new assistance to family members who care for loved ones injured in Iraq and Afghanistan. “We’re forever mindful that our obligations to our troops don’t end on the battlefield,” Obama said…. – USA Today, 5-5-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Julian Zelizer: Gov. Daniels: GOP’s best hope for 2012?: Conservative pundits are in love with a candidate for 2012, and it is not Sarah Palin. If you ask many top Republicans their favorite pick for the presidential campaign, they will answer Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels….
    Certain Republicans find Daniels attractive because they realize the 2012 campaign will not only be a mandate on President Obama; the GOP will undertake its campaign in the long shadow of President Bush, who ended his presidency with historically low approval ratings and a demoralized party.
    Daniels could help Republicans reclaim the mantel of fiscal conservatism. The skyrocketing federal deficit has emerged as a significant political issue. Concerns about how European countries will handle their debt have amplified fears within the United States….
    If Daniels decides to run, and he says he does not want to, his fate within the party would tell us a lot about the direction the Republican Party is heading. It is clear that there are other candidates, such as Palin or Romney or former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who might be an easier and more predictable choice for the GOP.
    Yet it is not clear whether any of them are candidates, as Daniels might be, who could help Republicans win back suburban and independent voters who went blue in 2008. – CNN, 5-9-10
  • Is Gulf oil spill Obama’s Katrina moment?: “The Obama administration has done nothing wrong,” said Katrina historian Douglas Brinkley. “This has been British Petroleum not having a Plan ‘A’ or Plan ‘B’ or Plan ‘C’ or Plan ‘D.” – CNN, 5-7-10
  • Julian Zelizer: Arizona law foes’ best weapon is dollars: In response to Arizona’s law cracking down on illegal immigration, pro-immigration and Hispanic organizations have launched a national protest campaign…..
    Pro-immigration groups have started a national boycott against Arizona. The boycott promises to be substantial in scale and scope. San Francisco, California, Mayor Gavin Newsom has announced that he will ban city employees from traveling to the state. Los Angeles officials are considering doing the same. There is growing pressure on Major League Baseball to pull next year’s all-star game out of Phoenix if the law is not changed. In other words, Arizona has a potentially big economic problem on its hands.
    The economic boycott has been a powerful tool in the struggle for social rights. During the civil rights era, African-American activists used boycotts to create pressure for social change and to draw national attention to their cause…. – CNN, 5-4-10
  • Douglas Brinkley: White House Expects Battle Over Supreme Court Nominee Advisers say Obama’s pick will draw controversy no matter who he chooses: “There’s no ‘Kumbaya’ going on—it’s gotten harsh and bitter,” says historian Doug Brinkley. He traces the acrimony to President Nixon’s controversial and unsuccessful high court nominations of Clement Haynsworth and Harrold Carswell in 1969 and 1970, respectively, and later, the defeat of Ronald Reagan’s nomination of Robert Bork in 1987, and the divisive but successful nomination of Clarence Thomas by George H.W. Bush in 1991. “Now it’s almost par for the course,” Brinkley says. The pattern is for opponents to dredge up everything they can to harm a nominee, including books checked out of a library and movies rented from a video store. “We live in glass houses,” he says, and the result too often is a media circus. US News & World Report, 4-29-10

April 26, 2010: Obama up against Wall Street

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 111TH CONGRESS:

The President speaks in New York

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • Poll: Majority lacks trust in government Can you trust Washington?: Nearly 80 percent of Americans say they can’t and they have little faith that the massive federal bureaucracy can solve the nation’s ills, according to a survey from the Pew Research Center that shows public confidence in the federal government at one of the lowest points in a half-century.
    The poll released Sunday illustrates the ominous situation facing President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party as they struggle to maintain their comfortable congressional majorities in this fall’s elections. Midterm prospects are typically tough for the party in power. Add a toxic environment like this and lots of incumbent Democrats could be out of work.
    The survey found that just 22 percent of those questioned say they can trust Washington almost always or most of the time and just 19 percent say they are basically content with it. Nearly half say the government negatively effects their daily lives, a sentiment that’s grown over the past dozen years. This anti-government feeling has driven the tea party movement, reflected in fierce protests this past week…. – AP, 4-18-10
  • Polls paint murky picture for November: Two independent polls released today paint a different picture of which political party is in better shape heading into November’s congressional elections.
    A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll today shows that 50% of Americans say they would support a Democratic congressional candidate if the election were held today, compared with 46% who say they’d vote for a Republican. That’s a reversal from CNN’s last poll, conducted in March, which showed the GOP with a 4 percentage point advantage.
    Meanwhile, Republicans beat Democrats 48% to 44% in a generic ballot poll conducted by Gallup. The survey, also released today, marks the third week since President Obama’s health care proposal was approved by the House that Republicans have led or tied Democrats, according to Gallup.
    In the CNN poll, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton continues to enjoy a higher favorability rating (61%) than Obama (57%), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (38%) and former Alaska governor Sarah Palin (39%)… – Today, 4-14-10
  • Poll Finds Tea Party Backers Wealthier and More Educated: Tea Party supporters are wealthier and more well-educated than the general public, and are no more or less afraid of falling into a lower socioeconomic class, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll. The 18 percent of Americans who identify themselves as Tea Party supporters tend to be Republican, white, male, married and older than 45. They hold more conservative views on a range of issues than Republicans generally. They are also more likely to describe themselves as “very conservative” and President Obama as “very liberal.”… – 4-14-10

THE HEADLINES….

  • Is progressive Asheville Obama’s vision for America?: Hip, environmentally aware, self-reliant and undeniably quaint, Asheville, N.C is a progressive’s vision of what America could be. But mountain liberalism comes at a price…. – CS Monitor, 4-24-10
  • Obama lauds auto industry rebound and pushes for financial regulations: The president says the auto bailout will cost taxpayers ‘a fraction’ of what had been feared. In his weekly address, he also urges Congress to pass his regulatory package to help avert new economic crises…. – LAT, 4-25-10
  • Analysis: GOP, Dems compete for populist title: Republicans and Democrats are furiously casting each other as the handmaidens of Wall Street, playing to election-year anger surging on Main Street. Neither party has clean hands when it comes to the financial industry. Both parties have accepted huge amounts of campaign cash from companies like Goldman Sachs. Both welcomed big business’ chief executives to the White House when in power. Both share the blame for deregulating the industry in the 1990s and bailing out Wall Street when the financial sector was on the brink of collapse. Not that either side will acknowledge it. Instead, Republicans and Democrats are using President Barack Obama’s push for tighter controls on the industry to try to gain the political advantage with the proverbial Joe Six-Pack — the voters — ahead of critical midterm congressional elections, when the balance of power in Washington is at stake. “We need to enact a set of updated, commonsense rules to ensure accountability on Wall Street and to protect consumers in our financial system,” Obama said Thursday in New York, tapping into public outrage over excesses that led to the economic meltdown…. – AP, 4-24-10
  • Biden to visit Belgium, Spain May 5-8: Vice President Joe Biden plans to travel to Belgium and Spain next month for meetings with European Union representatives and to address the European parliament. The White House announced the trip on Friday… – AP, 4-23-10
  • Scott Brown: No presidential run in 2012: U.S. Sen. Scott Brown is ruling out a presidential run in 2012 and spurning Tea Partiers by throwing his support – for now, anyway – behind former Bay State Gov. Mitt Romney over conservative darling Sarah Palin. “Absolutely 2012, I’m ruling that out,” Brown said yesterday on NBCs “Today” show. Brown said former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is qualified for the presidency, but said he’s sticking with Romney – while keeping his options open. “I’m going to support Gov. Romney,” he said. “I’m going to see who’s out there in the field and then, you know, make my decision.”…. NBC reporter Jamie Gangel pressed Brown on whether he’s ruling out a presidential run altogether. “I’m not even going to jump at that,” Brown said. “Nice try.” – Boston Herald, 4-24-10
  • Brown: Backs Romney now, thinks Palin qualified: Sen. Scott Brown says he thinks former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is qualified to be president but right now he’s supporting former Gov. Mitt Romney for the 2012 Republican nomination. As for his own ambitions, he say “absolutely in 2012” he’s ruling out any run for the presidency. And in an NBC interview Friday, Brown said “I’m not even going to jump” at a question about whether he would seek the presidency later on. Brown said, “I’ve been here three months … and I’m very focused on doing my job.” Asked if he regretted bolting the Republican caucus recently to support Democrats on a jobs bill, he said, “I don’t really care. .. I’m going to be the independent person I have always been.”… – AP, 4-23-10
  • Obama to Wall St.: ‘Join Us, Instead of Fighting Us’: President Obama talked of Wall Street’s “reckless practices” in his address to the top bankers on Thursday in New York. Addressing leaders of New York’s financial giants, including Goldman Sachs, Mr. Obama described himself as a champion of change battling “battalions of financial industry lobbyists” and the “withering forces” of the economic elite. With his poll numbers sagging, the choreographed confrontation seemed aimed at tapping the nation’s antiestablishment mood as well as muscling financial regulation legislation through Congress. But the president also struck a note of conciliation with an industry that has contributed generously to his party, beseeching bankers to work with him to forge a new regulatory structure. While he spoke, his Democratic allies in Washington moved to force a showdown in the Senate on Monday, scheduling a procedural vote that will test the prospects for bipartisan compromise and Republican resolve to block the president’s plans.
    “I want to urge you to join us, instead of fighting us in this effort,” Mr. Obama said in his address at Cooper Union in Manhattan. “I’m here because I believe that these reforms are, in the end, not only in the best interest of our country, but in the best interest of the financial sector.” NYT, 4-23-10
  • Obama’s NASA Blueprint Is Challenged in Congress: President Obama may have hoped that a speech a week ago at the Kennedy Space Center would sway skeptics to his proposed space policy, but a Congressional hearing on Thursday gave little signs that the lines of contention have shifted yet.
    Opponents like Richard C. Shelby, the Republican senator from Alabama where NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center has been leading the design of the Ares I rocket that the Obama administration would like to cancel, continued to denounce Mr. Obama’s plans. Those plans call for ending NASA’s current Constellation program that was to send astronauts back to the moon and turning to private companies for transportation into orbit. At a hearing of an appropriations subcommittee, Mr. Shelby said that the proposal would abdicate the United States’ leadership in space.
    “Future generations will learn how the Chinese, the Russians, and even the Indians took the reins of space exploration away from the United States,” said Mr. Shelby, the ranking minority member of the commerce, justice and science subcommittee…. – NYT, 4-23-10
  • Aide to Kennedy, Kerry will help Obama pitch health care law Bay State native to assist projects and initiatives: President Obama has chosen Stephanie Cutter, who served as a top aide to Senator Edward M. Kennedy and communications director for Senator John F. Kerry’s presidential campaign in 2004, to be in charge of getting out the word about the benefits of the new health care insurance overhaul. “Stephanie is one of the most respected professionals in public affairs and has an innate understanding of the nexus between policy and communications,” Obama said yesterday in a statement. Cutter will begin her post as assistant to the president for special projects next month. In addition to improving communications on the health care law, she is to assist in other presidential initiatives…. – Boston Globe, 4-22-10
  • Biden explains open mic health care gaffe: “I realized there was a microphone, but I had no idea it was that sensitive,” Biden explained to the hostesses of ABC’s “The View,” who queried him about the incident in an appearance Thursday. “I was whispering in his ear, and after it was over we walked out, and we got in the limo to go over to another event, and he was laughing like the devil,” Biden continued. “I said, ‘What’s so funny, I don’t see what’s funny about this.’ And he said, ‘Well,’ he said, ‘Katie, my secretary, told me that when you said that to me everybody could hear it.'”… – AP, 4-22-10
  • Obamas head to North Carolina for quick vacation: The last time Barack Obama was in Asheville, N.C., he complained he was too busy to play golf. The president plans to fix that this weekend. Obama and his family were to leave the White House at midday Friday and fly to Asheville, located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina. On his previous visit, Obama prepared for a debate and rallied supporters during the final month of his presidential campaign…. – AP, 4-23-10
  • Arizona Enacts Stringent Law on Immigration: Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona signed the nation’s toughest bill on illegal immigration into law on Friday. Its aim is to identify, prosecute and deport illegal immigrants. The move unleashed immediate protests and reignited the divisive battle over immigration reform nationally. Even before she signed the bill at an afternoon news conference here, President Obama strongly criticized it.
    Speaking at a naturalization ceremony for 24 active-duty service members in the Rose Garden, he called for a federal overhaul of immigration laws, which Congressional leaders signaled they were preparing to take up soon, to avoid “irresponsibility by others.” The Arizona law, he added, threatened “to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and our communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe.”… – NYT, 4-23-10
  • GOP ramps up attacks on SEC over porn surfing: Republicans are stepping up their criticism of the Securities and Exchange Commission following reports that senior agency staffers spent hours surfing pornographic websites on government-issued computers while they were supposed to be policing the nation’s financial system.
    California Rep. Darrell Issa, the top Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said it was “disturbing that high-ranking officials within the SEC were spending more time looking at porn than taking action to help stave off the events that put our nation’s economy on the brink of collapse.” He said in a statement Thursday that SEC officials “were preoccupied with other distractions” when they should have been overseeing the growing problems in the financial system. The SEC’s inspector general conducted 33 probes of employees looking at explicit images in the past five years, according to a memo obtained by The Associated Press. The memo says 31 of those probes occurred in the 2 1/2 years since the financial system teetered and nearly crashed…. – AP, 4-23-10
  • Financial District workers can’t bear to watch President Obama take Wall Street to task – NY Daily News, 4-23-10
  • Obama Looks to Close Sale on Financial Reform: …It is an approach that he is likely to outline again on Thursday, as the president speaks near Wall Street in a bid to make the closing argument for the regulatory overhaul now before the Senate.
    “Throughout our history there have been times where the financial sector swung way out of balance,” Mr. Obama said on Wednesday in an interview with CNBC and The New York Times, citing the period that led to the Depression as the primary example. “We have gotten into one of those places where we need to update those rules of the road,” he said. “And if we do so, not only is that good for the economy, not only does it protect consumers and investors, it’s also good for the financial sector, because it will rebuild trust.”… – NYT, 4-22-10
  • Bill would shun Obama birth certificate requests: Hawaii lawmakers are moving closer to passing a measure allowing the state to ignore repeated requests for President Barack Obama’s birth certificate. A conference committee unanimously voted Tuesday to advance the bill to final votes in the House and Senate… – AP, 4-21-10
  • Familiar rain sends Olympians indoors to see Obama: The weather problems of the Vancouver Games followed the U.S. Olympians to the White House. Steady rain forced the pleasantries indoors when the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams visited President Barack Obama on Wednesday. Instead of hanging out on the South Portico for the customary public words of support from the president, the 225 or so athletes clustered about in several rooms in the executive mansion to hobnob privately with the first family and Vice President Joe Biden. “It never gets old coming to the White House,” said short-track speedskater Apolo Anton Ohno, whose three medals in Vancouver gave him a U.S.-record eight career Winter Olympic medals. “We get to see something new every time. We actually got to see Obama’s dog today.”… – AP, 4-21-10
  • Justice John Paul Stevens: Justice John Paul Stevens wore a bright red bow tie Tuesday and celebrated his 90th birthday in a way only one other American ever has: as a member of the Supreme Court. There was no mention of the milestone during the court’s public appearance, as the justices issued an opinion and heard an argument. But President Obama took note of the occasion, as Stevens joined Oliver Wendell Holmes as the only men who started their 10th decades on the court.
    Obama said President Herbert Hoover sent Holmes a note that day. “And so do I, on the occasion of your 90th birthday, congratulate both you and our country for your long and esteemed tenure in public service. “For the last 35 years of your remarkable 90, the nation has benefited from the rigor, courage and integrity that have marked your service. . . . With the thoughtfulness and humility of your questions from the bench, and the independence and wisdom you have brought to the judgments the court has rendered, you have stood guardian of the Constitution and the rule of law and helped move this nation towards that more perfect union,” Obama wrote…. – WaPo, 4-20-10
  • President Obama Talking With Possible Court Picks Conversations underway with potential Supreme Court nominees: According to the Associated Press, President Barack Obama has begun conversations with potential Supreme Court nominees, a senior administration official said Tuesday, signaling an upswing in the president’s consideration of an already coalescing list of candidates. Obama’s review will throttle ahead on Wednesday morning when he meets privately with the top Democrat and Republican in the Senate along with the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the panel that will hold confirmation hearings on Obama’s nominee. The president’s nomination is expected over the next few weeks…. – WCTV, 4-20-10
  • House abandons vote bill for US capital: The people of the nation’s capital have waited more than two centuries to get a vote in Congress, and now it looks like Washington’s roughly 600,000 residents will have to wait even longer. Majority Leader Steny Hoyer announced Tuesday that lawmakers will not take up legislation this week giving District of Columbia citizens a vote in the House of Representatives, and said he was “profoundly disappointed.” The Democrat also said it was unlikely the enfranchisement bill, which became embroiled in a gun rights dispute and other issues, would be considered in the House later this year…. – AP, 4-20-10
  • Senate Takes Steps on Backlog of Nominations: The Senate showed signs on Tuesday of breaking a logjam of nominations being blocked by Republicans over growing objections from the White House and Democrats in Congress. The Senate voted to confirm Lael Brainard on Tuesday to be Treasury under secretary for international affairs, nine months after she was nominated. The vote was 78 to 19. The Senate then moved on to consider four other nominees who have been held up…. – NYT, 4-20-10
  • Wall Street, governments are targets in congressional election: It’s the Democrats versus Wall Street and Republicans against Big Government in the latest battle on the road to November’s congressional elections. Both sides have found easy targets as they try to solidify their support base and also appeal to independent voters who are likely to be the deciding factor in dozens of races for seats in the House of Representatives and the Senate.
    “One of the main reasons our economy faltered was because some on Wall Street made irresponsible bets, with no accountability,” said President Barack Obama.
    “On every front, they want to raise taxes, spend more, have politicians become more powerful, and citizens become less powerful,” said Newt Gingrich, a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2012…. – Reuters, 4-21-10
  • Obama falters on immigration reform promises: Advocates for illegal immigrants fear the White House is doing the bare minimum to appease Latino voters before midterm elections as it focuses on other issues…. – LAT, 4-21-10
  • White House: Obama to return to Calif. for Boxer: A White House official says President Barack Obama will return to California next month to help raise money for Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer and other candidates…. – AP, 4-20-10
  • Obama says Boxer could lose if Dems don’t work: President Barack Obama delivered Democrat-friendly California a stark message Monday: Liberal Sen. Barbara Boxer might lose her re-election race if her supporters don’t work hard. The president’s stern words in a state where he remains popular and Boxer won her last re-election race in a rout underscored the perilous political environment confronting all Democrats in this midterm election year — and showed Obama is all too aware of the dangers.
    “I don’t want anyone here taking this for granted,” he said at a reception at the California Science Center, the first of a trio of fundraisers Monday night for Boxer and the Democratic National Committee. “Unless she’s got that support she might not win this thing, and I don’t think that’s an acceptable outcome. So I want everyone to work hard,” the president said. All incumbents face an uphill battle because of the economy, Obama said, though he insisted it’s turning around…. – AP, 4-20-10
  • Mayor Emanuel? White House chief of staff says he’d like the post if Daley doesn’t run for re-election: He has been equivocal on the subject in the past, but on Monday night White House chief of staff and native Chicagoan Rahm Emanuel made no bones about it: He wants to be the mayor of Chicago. “I hope Mayor [Richard] Daley seeks re-election. I will work and support him if he seeks re-election,” Emanuel told Charlie Rose on the host’s PBS talk show, in an interview broadcast Monday night. “But if Mayor Daley doesn’t, one day I would like to run for mayor of the city of Chicago. That’s always been an aspiration of mine, even when I was in the House of Representatives.”… – Chicago Tribune, 4-19-10
  • Obama Will Eulogize Miners: President Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. will travel to West Virginia this weekend to mourn the 29 miners killed in an explosion this month in the worst mining accident in the United States in four decades, the White House announced Monday. Mr. Obama “will deliver a eulogy honoring the lives of those who perished and offering his deepest condolences” to loved ones, Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, said. – AP, 4-19-10
  • Obama taps Harvard professor to head Medicare: President Barack Obama has nominated Harvard medical professor Donald Berwick to oversee Medicare and Medicaid…. – AP, 4-19-10
  • Senate committee subpoenas Fort Hood documents: In a rare public dispute between a Democratic-led Congress and the White House, a Senate committee on Monday subpoenaed the Obama administration for secret documents and access to witnesses in last year’s mass shooting at the Fort Hood Army base in Texas.
    Congress has been largely supportive of President Barack Obama’s policies and the White House prides itself on increased government transparency. Nonetheless, the chairman and ranking Republican of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee have alleged that the administration is covering up critical details on the case, including whether the government had access to information that could have prevented the shooting.
    “Unfortunately, it is impossible for us to avoid reaching the conclusion that the departments simply do not want to cooperate with our investigation,” wrote Sens. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, in a letter accompanying the subpoena… – AP, 4-19-10
  • Clinton: Look beyond judges for high court pick: Bill Clinton says someone who hasn’t been a judge should be considered for the Supreme Court. But scratch the idea of the ex-president or his wife as a justice.
    Clinton, who has not been a judge, said that at 63, told ABC’s “This Week” that he’s too old to be considered, much as he might enjoy serving on the Supreme Court. He said his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, also might have been interested in past years, but not now…. – AP, 4-18-10
  • Obama’s asteroid goal: tougher, riskier than moon: Landing a man on the moon was a towering achievement. Now the president has given NASA an even harder job, one with a certain Hollywood quality: sending astronauts to an asteroid, a giant speeding rock, just 15 years from now.
    President Barack Obama outlined NASA’s new path during a visit to the Kennedy Space Center on Thursday. “By 2025, we expect new spacecraft designed for long journeys to allow us to begin the first-ever crewed missions beyond the moon into deep space,” he said. “We’ll start by sending astronauts to an asteroid for the first time in history.”… – AP, 4-16-10
  • Report: Gates sent White House memo on Iran policy: A memo from Defense Secretary Robert Gates to the White House warned that the United States lacks a nimble long-term plan for dealing with Iran’s nuclear program, according to a published report. Gates wrote the three-page memo in January and it set off efforts in the Pentagon, White House and intelligence agencies to come up with new options, including the use of the military, The New York Times said in its Sunday editions, quoting unnamed government officials. White House officials Saturday night strongly disagreed with the comments that the memo caused a reconsideration of the administration’s approach to Iran…. – AP, 4-18-10
  • Palin taken aback by Obama ‘superpower’ remark: Sarah Palin criticized President Barack Obama on Saturday for saying America is a military superpower “whether we like it or not,” saying she was taken aback by his comment. “I would hope that our leaders in Washington, D.C., understand we like to be a dominant superpower,” the former Alaska governor said. “I don’t understand a world view where we have to question whether we like it or not that America is powerful.” Obama said earlier this week that the United States must do its best to resolve conflicts around the world before they grow too serious. “It is a vital national security interest of the United States to reduce these conflicts because whether we like it or not, we remain a dominant military superpower, and when conflicts break out, one way or another we get pulled into them,” Obama said. “And that ends up costing us significantly in terms of both blood and treasure.”… – 4-18-10
  • All 41 GOP Senators United in Opposition to Financial Reform Bill: All 41 Republican senators have signed a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid saying they are opposed to the financial regulation bill put forward by Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell’s office announced today. The letter calls for further negotiations, but it does not go as far as to say all 41 senators would support a filibuster of the legislation.
    “Inaction is not an option. However, it is imperative that what we do does not worsen the current economic climate or codify the circumstances that led to the last financial crisis,” the letter says. “As currently constructed, this bill allows for endless taxpayer bailouts of Wall Street and establishes new and unlimited regulatory powers that will stifle small businesses and community banks.” The letter calls for a “bipartisan and inclusive approach” and asks Reid to support bipartisan negotiations in the Banking and Agriculture Committees…. – CBS News, 4-17-10
  • Bank bill in peril, WH urges part be dropped: In the face of stiff GOP opposition, Obama administration officials want Senate Democrats to purge a $50 billion fund for dismantling “too big to fail” banks from legislation that aims to protect against a new financial crisis. Republicans contend the provision would simply continue government bailouts of Wall Street. The sweeping bill aims to prevent a recurrence of the crisis that nearly caused a Wall Street meltdown in 2008. Beside creating a mechanism for liquidating large firms, House and Senate bills would govern previously unregulated derivatives, create a council to detect systemwide financial threats and establish a consumer protection agency to police lending, credit cards and other bank-customer transactions. President Barack Obama declared Friday that he would veto the bill if it doesn’t regulate the freewheeling derivatives market. “We can’t afford another AIG,” the president said, referring to the giant insurance conglomerate that relied heavily on the complex, sometimes exotic investment instruments. AP, 4-16-10
  • Obama makes hospitals allow gay visitation rights: President Barack Obama issued a memo on Thursday that would require hospitals accepting Medicare or Medicaid funds to allow visitation rights to gay and lesbian partners.
    “It should be made clear that designated visitors … should enjoy visitation privileges that are no more restrictive than those that immediate family members enjoy,” the memo said.
    “Every day across America, patients are denied the kindness and caring of a loved one at their sides — whether in a sudden medical emergency or a prolonged hospital stay,” Obama wrote. “Also uniquely affected are gay and lesbian Americans who are often barred from the bedsides of the partners with whom they may have spent decades of their lives — unable to be there for the person they love and unable to act as a legal surrogate if their partner is incapacitated,” he said…. – Reuters, 4-15-10
  • Obama blames owner for West Virginia mine disaster: U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday put primary blame for last week’s deadly West Virginia coal mine disaster on owner Massey Energy and called for better mine oversight nationwide to prevent more accidents.
    “The people of West Virginia are in our prayers. But we owe them more than prayers. We owe them action,” Obama told reporters in the White House Rose Garden. “This tragedy was triggered by a failure at the Upper Big Branch mine, a failure first and foremost of management, but also a failure of oversight and a failure of laws so riddled with loopholes that they allow unsafe conditions to continue.” “Owners responsible for conditions in the Upper Big Branch mine should be held accountable for decisions they made and preventive measures they failed to take,” he said… – Reuters, 4-15-10
  • Florida Governor Splits With G.O.P. on Teacher Pay: Gov. Charlie Crist has been jawboned and buttonholed as he has traveled around the state in recent days, and his office was deluged with 120,000 messages. Passions have not run so high in Florida, the governor said, since the controversy over ending the life of Terri Schiavo in 2005. This time, the point of contention was eliminating tenure for Florida public school teachers and tying their pay and job security to how well their students were learning. On Thursday, Mr. Crist picked a side, vetoing a bill passed last week by the Florida Legislature that would have introduced the most sweeping teacher pay changes in the nation. The veto puts Mr. Crist, a moderate Republican, at odds with his party base in the Republican-controlled Legislature. His decision has also renewed speculation that he might drop out of the Republican primary for a United States Senate seat and run in the general election as an independent. For months, he has been trailing the more conservative Republican candidate, Marco Rubio, a Tea Party favorite, in polls…. – NYT, 4-15-10
  • Finance Bill Consensus on a Point: No Bailouts: As the Obama administration and Senate Republicans clash over the future of the nation’s financial regulatory system, there is one principle on which they agree: Taxpayers should never again have to bail out giant financial institutions. President Obama says his legislation would let the Treasury Department, with court approval, take over and dismantle failing companies without costing the public a dime. It would resemble the process used since the Depression to take over failing commercial banks… – NYT, 4-15-10
  • Obama makes light of anti-tax protests: President Barack Obama said Thursday he’s amused by the anti-tax tea party protests that have been taking place around Tax Day. Obama told a fundraiser in Miami that he’s cut taxes, contrary to the claims of protesters. “You would think they’d be saying thank you,” he said. At that, many in the crowd at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts stood and yelled, “Thank you!” The fundraiser was one of two Obama held after a speech at Cape Canaveral on his administration’s space policy. The other was hosted by Gloria and Emilio Estefan, a $30,400-per-couple fete that stirred some controversy in the traditionally Republican Cuban-American community. Together, the events raised $2.5 million for the Democratic National Committee…. – AP, 4-16-10
  • Obama Reports $5.5 Million In Income: Brisk book sales lifted President Obama’s income to $5.5 million in his first year in office, an amount that dwarfs that of his recent predecessors while in power and reflects the public’s continued willingness to pay to read his autobiographies. On tax day, the White House released 2009 returns showing that Obama’s income more than doubled from the year before. He collected $2.7 million in 2008, and $4.2 million in ’07. The returns show Obama paid nearly $1.8 million in federal taxes and another $163,000 in Illinois state taxes. A total of 40 charities received $329,100 from the Obama family in 2009, with the biggest chunk of that ($100,000) going to the United Negro College Fund and to CARE, an organization that combats world poverty…. – LAT, 4-15-10
  • Discarded Palin contract sparks investigation: A document fished out of a California state university trash bin last week has prompted a state investigation into the university’s foundation arm and its refusal to disclose details related to Sarah Palin’s upcoming speech at the school. On Tuesday, California Attorney General Jerry Brown said his office would look into the finances of the California State University, Stanislaus Foundation, as well as allegations that the nonprofit organization violated public disclosure laws by keeping details of Palin’s contract secret. Palin is scheduled to speak at a June 25 gala hosted by the foundation to mark the university’s 50th anniversary… – AP, 4-14-10
  • White House to host Olympic athletes next week: America’s Olympic athletes are preparing for another honor — a visit to the White House. Members of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams will be the guests next week of President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama… – AP, 4-14-10
  • Obama’s nuclear summit yields early dividends: President Barack Obama’s nuclear summit has paid early dividends: China’s agreement to work with the U.S. on possible sanctions against Iran and Ukraine’s decision to rid itself of nuclear bomb-making materials. Obama opened the global security summit Monday night after two days of meetings with selected presidents and prime ministers of the 47 countries assembled to recharge efforts to keep nuclear material out of terrorist hands. It ends Tuesday with a joint declaration to guide future work toward locking away and cleansing the globe of materials still too easily accessible to terrorists…. – AP, 4-13-10
  • In Appeal for Diplomacy, Obama Invokes the Mushroom Cloud: Nearly a decade ago, a President of the United States used the specter of a nuclear blast to argue his case for invading a foreign country. “We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud,” President Bush’s then National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice told CNN in 2002, a sound bite that came to define the rationale for a pre-emptive war in Iraq despite the lack of proof that it presented a WMD threat.
    This week, another U.S. President, Barack Obama, invoked mushroom-cloud imagery to argue for a major diplomatic initiative. “If there was ever a detonation in New York City, or London, or Johannesburg, the ramifications economically, politically and from a security perspective would be devastating,” Obama said Sunday. He was speaking just hours before the start of the Nuclear Security Summit, arguably the largest diplomatic gathering on U.S. soil since the U.N.’s founding conference in San Francisco in 1945…. – Time, 4-13-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • Potential clouds over Fla. Senate front-runner: Now that Republicans have made him the U.S. Senate front-runner, Marco Rubio is trying to weather potentially damaging revelations about his credit card use, double billing for airfare and murky finances. A few months ago, the former Florida House speaker seemed an unlikely bet to beat Gov. Charlie Crist in the party’s Senate primary. And in those months, Rubio’s lavish spending has come under scrutiny of federal investigators. In that same stretch, his poll numbers have soared, carrying him well ahead of Crist and forcing the once seemingly unbeatable governor to consider running as an independent for Senate. Crist has until Friday to decide…. – AP, 4-25-10
  • Candidate for Obama’s old US Senate seat undaunted: Illinois Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias appears undaunted by the shuttering of his family’s bank, saying his bid to keep President Barack Obama’s old Senate seat in Democratic hands will move forward with renewed purpose. Regulators shut down Broadway Bank on Friday when it became clear that the failing institution would not raise about $85 million in new capital by a Monday deadline…. – AP, 4-24-10
  • GOP calls on members to oppose Charlie Crist if he runs as independent: Florida’s Republican Party says its members would have to oppose Gov. Charlie Crist’s campaign for U.S. Senate if he jumps from the GOP to an independent bid for the office…. – Miami Herald, 4-23-10
  • Possible GOP tide drawing has-beens into campaigns: Republicans once saddled with the burden of President George W. Bush’s unpopularity are now experiencing a boon from another struggling president: Barack Obama…. The time seems ripe for Republicans, who largely remain unified against Obama’s domestic agenda, including health care overhaul. Both the president and his signature legislative achievement remain unpopular at this point in a midterm election year, according to a recent AP-GfK poll. Voters’ opinions also have turned against Democrats and their stewardship of the economy; Obama’s approval rating is at a new low. That bodes well for — and feels familiar to — some Republicans….
    Just 49 percent of people now approve of the job Obama’s doing overall, and less than that — 44 percent — like the way he’s handled health care and the economy, according to an AP-GfK poll. The news is worse for other Democrats. For the first time this year, about as many Americans approve of congressional Republicans as Democrats — 38 percent to 41 percent — and neither has an edge when it comes to the party voters want controlling Congress. AP, 4-20-10
  • California Democrats close convention with eye on tough races ahead: The party, which has dominated most state elections for a generation, is facing stiff challenges from wealthy Republicans and strong GOP momentum across the nation…. – LAT, 4-19-10
  • McCain and Brewer Continue Lead in Arizona: The latest poll out of Arizona show Republicans continuing to make inroads in the state’s upcoming election contest. The poll, released Friday, shows U.S. Senate challenger J.D. Hayworth continuing to eat into incumbent Senator John McCain’s lead. A Rasmussen Reports polls released Friday says McCain is leading his primary challenger 47 percent to 42 percent. The polling organization had McCain with a seven-point lead last month, down from a 22-point lead in January…. – State Column, 4-18-10
  • Romney Endorses Rubio Over Crist in Florida Race: Two years after he was shunned by Gov. Charlie Crist of Florida during the state’s Republican presidential primary, former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts endorsed Marco Rubio, Mr. Crist’s opponent in Florida’s Republican Senate primary, on Saturday. The Rubio campaign announced the endorsement on its Web site.
    “While I respect Governor Crist, Marco Rubio’s proven record of conservative, principled and idea-driven leadership is what Florida needs now,” Mr. Romney said in a statement posted on the Web site. “Marco Rubio will be a reliable spokesman against the Washington culture of higher spending, higher taxes and higher debt.”
    Mr. Romney also said that his Free and Strong America political action committee would make the maximum $5,000 contribution to Mr. Rubio’s primary election campaign…. – AP, 4-17-10
  • Jerry Brown calls for debate with GOP rivals: The candidate for governor issues the challenge at the California Democratic convention as the party looks to counter the national GOP tide.
    “Campaigning and democracy is not about buying hundreds of millions of dollars of 30-second TV ads,” Brown told the delegates, vastly exaggerating her spending. “When we live in a democracy, we’re not consumers of advertising. We’re agents of democratic choice. We’re actors in a historical drama.”… – LAT, 4-18-10
  • GOP Hits Stride in Campaign Funding: Republicans are turning their political momentum into money in the bank. GOP candidates are starting to catch up to their Democratic opponents in fund-raising efforts and have pulled ahead in some key races, finance reports for the first three months of the election year show. The reports, filed with the Federal Election Commission before a Thursday deadline, offer evidence the GOP is heading into election season with the tools to make big gains in Congress. Republican voters are far more enthusiastic about going to the polls this fall than are Democrats, and the GOP recently took a rare lead in Gallup’s so called generic ballot, which asks voters which party should win in their district. In the nine most competitive Senate races, the reports show Republican candidates, as a group, ahead of Democrats during the January-to-March period, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis. That marks a reversal from 2009, when Democrats held the financial advantage in those races…. – WSJ, 4-17-10
  • DNC to put up $50M for midterms: The Democratic National Committee plans to put up $50 million for House, Senate and gubernatorial races in November, a top party official says. The official told Politico in a story published Friday aides are deciding how to target the contribution and what the split will be between cash and services. The money is to start flowing in June. The DNC plans both record amounts of cash and field staff “with a special emphasis on base turnout — youth, African-Americans, Latinos and first-time voters,” the official said. President Barack Obama, who got heavy support from those groups in 2008, will help energize his base, he added…. – UPI, 4-16-10
  • Romney’s fund-raising outpaces potential rivals: Mitt Romney, Harvard Business School grad and ace venture capitalist, has put a greenback spin on Sarah Palin’s signature call of “Don’t retreat, reload.” Romney, a former GOP presidential candidate who is said to be considering another run in 2012, has loaded the coffers of his political action committee with $1,447,228.70 in the first quarter of the year, according to a news release from his Free and Strong America PAC. That fund-raising far outpaces the efforts of two potential opponents in 2012: Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, at $566,000, and Palin, at about $400,000. Since leaving her post as governor of Alaska eight months ago, Palin has made millions of dollars in speeches and television deals, but most of that money was not funneled to her PAC, SarahPac. Palin spoke at a tea party rally on Boston Common yesterday…. – 4-15-10

POLITICAL QUOTES

The President delivers the Weekly Address

  • Weekly Address: Good News from the Auto Industry: As the auto industry and financial markets begin to stabilize, the President says the government’s emergency interventions are now winding down. He pledges that real reform, particularly on Wall Street, must now begin. WH, 4-24-10
  • Text Obama’s Speech on Overhauling Financial Regulation: Following is a transcript of President Obama’s speech in New York City on Thursday promoting the need to overhaul financial regulation in the United States, as released by the White House…
    …In the end, our system only works — our markets are only free — when there are basic safeguards that prevent abuse, that check excesses, that ensure that it is more profitable to play by the rules than to game the system. And that is what the reforms we’ve been proposing are designed to achieve — no more, no less. And because that is how we will ensure that our economy works for consumers, that it works for investors, and that it works for financial institutions — in other words, that it works for all of us — that’s why we’re working so hard to get this stuff passed.
    This is the central lesson not only of this crisis but of our history. It’s what I said when I spoke here two years ago. Because ultimately, there is no dividing line between Main Street and Wall Street. We will rise or we will fall together as one nation. (Applause.) And that is why I urge all of you to join me. I urge all of you to join me, to join those who are seeking to pass these commonsense reforms. And for those of you in the financial industry, I urge you to join me not only because it is in the interest of your industry, but also because it’s in the interest of your country. NYT, 4-22-10
  • Transcript: “This Week” with Former President Bill Clinton: TAPPER: You’ve made some news over this weekend. You gave a speech on Friday talking about — on the 15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing which is coming up. How public officials have a responsibility to be careful with their words. This prompted a response from — from Rush Limbaugh
    Rush Limbaugh: “With this comment you have just set the stage for violence in this country. Any future acts of violence are on your shoulders, Mr. Clinton.”
    TAPPER: Do you have any response?
    CLINTON: Doesn’t make any sense. The only point I tried to make is that when I went back and started preparing for the 15th anniversary of Oklahoma City, I realized that there were a lot of parallels between the early ’90s and now, both in the feeling of economic dislocation, and the level of uncertainty people felt. The rise of kind of identity politics. The rise of the militia movements and the right wing talk radio with a lot of what’s going on in the blogosphere now.
    And in the right wing media, and with Oath Keepers, the 3 percenters, the — all these people, you know, who are saying things like, “If Idaho wants to succeed from the union,” the militia group out there says, you know, “We’ll back them.” One leader of one of these groups said that all politics was just a prelude to civil war. And then the politicians of course have not been that serious, but a lot of the things that have been said, they — they create a climate in which people who are vulnerable to violence because they are disoriented like Timothy McVeigh was are more likely to act.
    And the only point I tried to make was that we ought to have a lot of political dissent — a lot of political argument. Nobody is right all the time. But we also have to take responsibility for the possible consequences of what we say. And we shouldn’t demonize the government or its public employees or its elected officials. We can disagree with them. We can harshly criticize them. But when we turn them into an object of demonization, you know, you — you increase the number of threats.
    But I worry about these threats against the president and the Congress. And I worry about more careless language even against — some of which we’ve seen against the Republican governor in New Jersey, Governor Christie.
    I just think we all have to be careful. We ought to remember after Oklahoma City. We learned something about the difference in disagreement and demonization…. – ABC News, 4-18-10
  • WEEKLY ADDRESS: President Obama Says We Must Move Forward on Wall Street Reform: Remarks of President Barack Obama As Prepared for Delivery The White House April 17, 2010
    …So my hope is that we can put this kind of politics aside. My hope is that Democrats and Republicans can find common ground and move forward together. But this is certain: one way or another, we will move forward. This issue is too important. The costs of inaction are too great. We will hold Wall Street accountable. We will protect and empower consumers in our financial system. That’s what reform is all about. That’s what we’re fighting for. And that’s exactly what we’re going to achieve. – WH, 4-17-10
  • Transcript: Scott Brown remarks at Republican State Convention: …People are yearning for candidates who believe in our free enterprise system, who want a government that is accountable and transparent, who will make job creation their main focus and who understand that a competitive America is one where taxes are low and government does not overspend and does not try to dominate or interfere in our everyday lives.
    That’s the message the voters of Massachusetts sent when the elected me to the U.S. Senate.
    For months now, the American people have been telling this White House and this Congress exactly what they want…. but Washington still hasn’t been listening!
    While many families in Massachusetts and across are America hurting and struggling to make ends meet, cutting costs and tightening their belts, Washington is doing the exact opposite – they are continuing their reckless spending spree, raising taxes driving up our national debt to an astronomical level to almost 13 trillion. And what is their answer? Their answer is to print more money.
    Well, will you tell me how your kids, grandkids and great grandkids are going to repay that debt?
    And on Beacon Hill, the political machine that runs this state is making the same mistakes. Higher and higher taxes, rising unemployment, chronic budget deficits, corruption, cronyism and patronage . . . this is the sad legacy of the one-party political monopoly in Massachusetts.
    There’s one way to put a quick end to it, and that’s to elect Charlie Baker as our next Governor and give him some foot soldiers to help him sustain a veto. We need more state representatives and senators to help. We need balance and THAT is REAL change… – Boston Herald, 4-17-10
  • Sarah Palin: Where Is Obama’s ‘Faith In American Exceptionalism?’: “The truth is this: by his actions we see a president who seems to be much more comfortable with an American military that isn’t quite so dominant and who feels the need to apologize for America when he travels overseas,” Palin wrote. “Could it be a lack of faith in American exceptionalism? The fact is that America and our allies are safer when we are a dominant military superpower – whether President Obama likes it or not.” – Huff Post, 4-15-10
  • Obama: America a Superpower ‘Whether We Like It or Not’: In a little-noticed remark at the close of the two-day nuclear security summit in Washington, D.C., this week, President Obama suggested the United States was somehow burdened by its military might.
    “Given the progress you have cited in recent days on your foreign policy agenda, to what extent do you feel like you have gained political capital with which to take further to the international stage for the rest of this year, to perhaps rejuvenate some initiatives in trouble spots such as the Middle East and elsewhere?”
    “What we can make sure of is, is that we are constantly present, constantly engaged, and setting out very clearly to both sides our belief that not only is it in the interests of each party to resolve these conflicts but it’s also in the interest of the United States. It is a vital national security interest of the United States to reduce these conflicts because whether we like it or not, we remain a dominant military superpower, and when conflicts break out, one way or another we get pulled into them. And that ends up costing us significantly in terms of both blood and treasure.”… – Fox News, 4-15-10
  • O’Connor expects tough road for high court nominee: Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor said Monday a fight is inevitable over whoever becomes President Barack Obama’s choice to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens. O’Connor chatted with an audience of about 300 law students, faculty and community at the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas. She is spending two days on the campus sharing her experiences with students.
    She spoke with fondness of Stevens as “a remarkable man.” “He’s still so active physically and mentally,” O’Connor said. “I hope we don’t end up at odds in the selection of a new justice. I don’t know how that can be avoided.”… – AP, 4-12-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Julian Zelizer “Inaction on immigration reform a travesty”: Republicans and Democrats in Congress seem to have found one issue on which they agree. Neither party wants to get near immigration reform, the new “third rail” in American politics — an issue so politically charged that politicians risk their careers by touching it.
    Although President Obama has repeatedly stated his support for immigration reform, there is still little evidence that the Democratic Party or the GOP is prepared to join colleagues like Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, to fight for legislation.
    If Congress is unable to pass immigration reform, it will create more opportunities for states to move forward with the kind of harsh restrictionist measures passed by the Arizona Senate on Monday. The failure of Congress to pass immigration reform has been a national travesty…
    President Obama has stated his support for liberalized immigration reform, but thus far his party has not taken action. We will have to see whether Obama is willing to demonstrate the same kind of political courage he did with health care, when he took on another issue that everyone thought to be a third rail in politics. – CNN, 4-21-10
  • Douglas Brinkley “Race issues still haunt Obama”: With an African-American in the Oval Office, is this a good time to honour the 19th century soldiers who fought for slavery? “It’s idiocy,” says historian Douglas Brinkley. “I don’t think you can understand the Confederacy or the Civil War unless you understand slavery. And so I think that was an unacceptable omission. I think the governor’s now acknowledged that.” Historian Brinkley says in fact, Republicans are hoping that a few kind words about the Confederacy will help them rally white voters in South who supported Mr Obama but can be roused by an appeal to regional pride. “Barack Obama won North Carolina and Virginia. The Republicans have no formula to regaining power in 2012 without those two states.” The Republicans, according to Brinkley, “are trying to make a play for those two states.” But the former head of the Republican Party, Governor Haley Barbour of the southern state of Mississippi, says the controversy “is trying to make a big deal out of something that doesn’t matter for diddly” (a colorful way of saying it doesn’t matter at all)…. – Next, 4-19-10
  • Julian E. Zelizer “Why controlling nukes is good politics”: In the week leading up to the meeting of world leaders in Washington, President Obama has been demonstrating a strong commitment to nuclear arms control.
    Last week, he signed the first major agreement with the Russians since 2002, which reduces the number of nuclear warheads and long-range missiles.
    Obama released the Nuclear Posture Review, saying the United States would not use nuclear weapons against countries that complied with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, even if they attacked with conventional weapons. At the same time, the president said the countries that refused to abide by the treaty could be subject to nuclear reprisal….
    The president must remind fellow Democrats, as well as Republicans, that historically the public has tended to strongly support nuclear weapons treaties, and the presidents who pursue them.
    When national security is on the table, Democrats tend to get nervous politically, particularly if they support a position that can be characterized as too dovish. But when it comes to nuclear weapons, President Obama is on a path that is politically sustainable.
    During the Cold War, presidents from both parties learned that the American public tends to prefer politicians who are willing to take risks to reduce nuclear stockpiles rather than those who beat the drums of war. CNN, 4-13-10

April 12, 2010: Obama Signs Nuclear Arms Treaty & Palin at the Republican Southern Leadership Conference

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 111TH CONGRESS:

P040810PS-0776 by The White House.

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • Weekend Talk Shows: Nuclear arms treaty with Russia is Sunday’s hot topic – LAT, 4-10-10
  • Poll: Most Americans Remain Against Health Care Overhaul: The public is increasingly skeptical of the health care reform bill signed into law last week, a new CBS News poll shows.
    The poll, conducted March 29 through April 1, found that so far the president’s efforts to build up support for the bill appear to be ineffective. Fifty-three percent of Americans say they disapprove of the new reforms, including 39 percent who say they disapprove strongly. In the days before the bill passed the House, 37 percent said they approved and 48 percent disapproved… – CBS News, 4-2-10
  • CNN Poll: Democrats lose edge on economy: Democrats have lost their large advantage over Republicans when Americans are asked which party would do a better job with the economy, according to a new national poll. A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Thursday indicates 48 percent of Americans say Republicans in Congress would do a better job dealing with the economy, compared to 45 percent for Democrats. That’s a switch from last August, when Democrats held a 52 percent to 39 percent advantage on the economy. According to the poll, Democrats have lost some ground on health care as well. In August, 51 percent thought Democrats would do a better job with health care reform than the GOP. That’s now down to 48 percent, but it’s still slightly higher than the 46 percent who say Republicans would do a better job on the issue… – CNN, 4-1-10
  • Poll: More blame Obama for poor economy, unemployment: Americans anxious about unemployment and the economy increasingly blame President Obama for hard times, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds, amid signs of turbulence in November’s midterm elections. Last week’s jubilant signing of the health care overhaul, Obama’s signature domestic initiative, seems to have given the president little boost. Instead, his standing on four personal qualities has sagged, and 50% of those surveyed say he doesn’t deserve re-election.
    By 50%-46%, those surveyed say Obama doesn’t deserve re-election. The president fares better than other Washington leaders. In the poll, 52% say they have a favorable opinion of Obama. That’s much higher than House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (36%), House Republican Leader John Boehner (29%), Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (29%) and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (31%)…. – USA Today, 3-31-10
  • More Health Care Polling: Gallup Sees the Bump Disappear: Gallup conducted a poll the day after the House voted, finding that the public supported the House’s vote by a 49%-40% margin. Health reform had become more popular, Gallup found, since its March 4-7 survey found 45% support/48% opposition. In a poll released yesterday, Gallup saw the bump disappear: 47% said Congress had done a “good thing” by passing health care, while 50% said it had done a “bad thing.” That poll was conducted March 26-28, beginning five days after the House voted. Democrats (81% “good thing”/15% “bad thing”) and Republicans (11% “good thing”/86% “bad thing”) are nearly mirror opposites in their leanings. Independents broke 54% to 43% against the bill… – The Atlantic, 3-30-10
  • Health care law too costly, most say: Nearly two-thirds of Americans say the health care overhaul signed into law last week costs too much and expands the government’s role in health care too far, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds, underscoring an uphill selling job ahead for President Obama and congressional Democrats. USA Today, 3-29-10

THE HEADLINES….

  • Romney wins 2012 test vote: Mitt Romney didn’t attend the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, but still got a boost from those at the conference. The former Massachusetts governor won a test vote of likely 2012 presidential candidates — by one vote. He got 439. Texas Rep. Ron Paul came in second with 438 votes, followed by Sarah Palin with 330 and Newt Gingrich with 321… – AP, 4-10-10
  • Barbour calls Obama policies a “man-made disaster”: Evoking the memory of Hurricane Katrina, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour is telling Republicans that the policies of President Barack Obama and other Democrats are a “man-made disaster.”… After recalling the 2005 hurricane, Barbour said, “Today we’re here because we know we have to deal with a man-made disaster.” – AP, 4-10-10
  • Stevens, the Only Protestant on the Supreme Court: With just five exceptions, every member of the Supreme Court in the nation’s history has been a white male, like Justice John Paul Stevens. But Justice Stevens cuts a lone figure on the current court in one demographic category: He is the only Protestant. His retirement, which was announced on Friday, makes possible something that would have been unimaginable a generation or two ago — a court without a single member of the nation’s majority religion.
    “The practical reality of life in America is that religion plays much less of a role in everyday life than it did 50 or 100 years ago,” said Geoffrey R. Stone, a law professor at the University of Chicago. Adding a Protestant to the court, he said, would not bring an important element to its discussions. NYT, 4-11-10
  • U.S. Tries to Keep Summit Nuclear: Leaders from 47 countries are descending on Washington for a two-day summit the Obama administration hopes will kick-start efforts to make all nuclear materials secure from smugglers and terrorists within four years. The conference, which officially begins Monday evening, is the third act in a monthlong effort by the White House to give momentum to nuclear disarmament, following a new nuclear military doctrine released by the Pentagon on Tuesday and an arms-control treaty with Russia signed on Thursday.
    Meanwhile, the decision by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to withdraw from the summit at the last minute, in order to avoid questions about his country’s undeclared nuclear arsenal, has caused ripples before the summit has begun. – WSJ, 4-9-10
  • Obama to hold bipartisan meeting on financial reform: President Barack Obama will hold a meeting with congressional Republicans and Democrats on Wednesday to discuss proposals to overhaul financial regulation, a White House official said on Friday…. – Reuters, 4-9-10
  • John Paul Stevens’ unexpectedly liberal legacy: The retiring Supreme Court justice started out as a conservative in 1975, but as he saw it, the court shifted right as he held to the center… – LAT, 4-10-10
  • Palin, Obama spar from a distance: President Barack Obama and Republican Sarah Palin sparred from a distance over nuclear policy with each questioning the other’s experience on the issue in a potential preview of the 2012 White House race. “Unbelievable,” Palin said earlier this week after Obama rewrote the U.S. nuclear strategy, and she suggested the president was weak on nuclear defense. Obama, in Prague to sign a nuclear reduction treaty with Russia, countered by deriding the former Alaska governor who resigned midway through her first term as “not much of an expert” on nuclear issues. Palin then shot back Friday during a speech to the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans with a reference to Obama’s early career choice. Mocking the president, she dismissed “all the vast nuclear experience that he acquired as a community organizer.”… – AP, 4-9-10
  • Sarah Palin Fires Back at Obama, Mocks His “Experience” on Nuclear Issues: In a high profile address before thousands of conservative activists at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference Friday, Sarah Palin attacked the Obama administration for its energy policy, mocked the media and liberals for suggesting she is inciting violence and hit back at the president’s criticism of her knowledge on nuclear issues…. – CBS News, 4-9-10
  • Republicans Weighing Party’s Message: Should Republicans be the party of no? Or the party of yes? There was a hint of disagreement on that count as a parade of Republicans took the stage here on Friday at one of the largest party gatherings — Sarah Palin rallies not included — since the Republican National Convention two years ago…. – NYT, 4-10-10
  • Palin Presence Steers Rivals Away From Republican Casting Call: Sarah Palin, whose celebrity has the power to steer the spotlight from other Republican presidential hopefuls, is set to retake her party’s stage today as she considers a White House bid. The former 2008 vice-presidential candidate is the marquee speaker at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, an event unofficially billed as the first cattle call for those aspiring to take on President Barack Obama in 2012. “The press has a seemingly insatiable appetite for all things Sarah, and at some point Republicans who want to fill the space at the head of our table need to overcome that appetite,” said Tucker Eskew, who advised former President George W. Bush and worked as a Palin counselor in 2008. “She is certainly a huge draw, and that shouldn’t be a fundamental driver for big strategic decisions. But on occasion it will drive some scheduling decisions.” – Bloomberg, 4-9-10
  • Newt Gingrich: We Need a President, Not an Athlete: Newt Gingrich made a rock star’s entrance at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference Thursday night, entering to a standing ovation as the song “Eye of the Tiger” blared over the speakers and lights shined out over the crowd.
    When Gingrich eventually got to the podium, he delivered a self-assured address peppered with historical allusions. Democrats in Washington, he said, had put together a “perfect unrepresentative left-wing machine dedicated to a secular socialist future.”
    Mr. Obama is “the most radical president in American history,” Gingrich said. “He has said, ‘I run a machine, I own Washington, and there is nothing you can do about it.'”
    “What we need is a president, not an athlete,” Gingrich said during a question and answer period after his speech. He added: “Shooting three point shots may be clever, but it doesn’t put anybody to work.” – CBS News, 4-8-10
  • Liz Cheney: Obama Putting America on Path to Decline: Liz Cheney kicked off the Southern Republican Leadership Conference here Thursday night with a direct and unapologetic speech attacking President Obama for his health care push, intelligence posture and foreign policy.
    “The Obama administration is putting us on the path to decline,” added Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney…. “President Obama is playing a reckless game if he continues down the path of diminishing the United States’ ties to Israel,” she said, deeming the world safer when there is “no daylight” between the two countries…. – CBS News, 4-8-10
  • GOP gathers, gets look at possible picks for ’12: Little more than a year into President Obama’s first term, Republicans considering a challenge to the Democrat in his reelection bid were gauging their political strength yesterday at the first candidate “cattle call” far from Washington — the three-day Southern Republican Leadership Conference. Yet as Sarah Palin, Haley Barbour, Newt Gingrich, and several others gather in Louisiana, they face a stark reality: The Republican Party’s task will be tough no matter who wins the GOP nomination. Only five times in the last century has an incumbent president lost reelection; the most recent were Democrat Jimmy Carter in 1980 and Republican George H.W. Bush in 1992…. – Boston Globe, 4-9-10
  • Eyes will be on Palin at Republican conference: The former Alaska governor is one of several possible 2012 presidential hopefuls gathering in New Orleans. But others, like Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee, are staying away…. – LAT, 4-7-10
  • America’s first black President hasn’t done enough for black Americans: On Sunday, the presidential motorcade made a remarkable detour east of the Anacostia River, as the Obamas popped in for an Easter service at southeast Washington’s Allen Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Just a few days earlier, the deadliest drive-by shooting in years had taken five lives in the same neighbourhood, a woe-begotten quarter known for its sorry superlatives, which include the city’s highest rates of murder, poverty and single-parent households. African-Americans also account for more than 90 per cent of southeast Washington’s residents and Barack Obama’s visit was another example of how, when it comes to the still volatile issue of race, the first black President has tread cautiously – too much so for many black Americans. By attending the service, where he sang and swayed with the rest of the congregation, Mr. Obama pointedly reminded Americans of his own complicated trajectory: raised by a white mother and grandparents, appropriating his black identity only after a wrenching voyage of self-examination…. – Globe & Mail, 4-7-10
  • Nuclear treaty would cut only long-range arms: The new nuclear arms treaty that the U.S. and Russia will sign Thursday in Prague may mark a historic return to arms control efforts for the world’s nuclear superpowers, but the pact is more a modest step than a major leap along the road to reductions in the world’s deadliest weaponry. Some questions and answers about the new treaty, a replacement for the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, and its place in the bigger picture of U.S. and international security…. – AP, 4-8-10
  • Obama, Russian president sign arms treaty: President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Thursday signed a major nuclear arms control agreement that reduces the nuclear stockpiles of both nations. The new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty — known by its acronym, START– builds on a previous agreement that expired in December. The agreement cuts the number of nuclear weapons held by the United States and Russia by about a third. “This day demonstrates the determination of the United States and Russia — the two nations that hold over 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons — to pursue responsible global leadership,” Obama said after the signing. “Together, we are keeping our commitments under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which must be the foundation for global nonproliferation.”… – CNN, 4-8-10
  • Bachmann, Palin rock, rally the faithful: They took the stage with heads unbowed, a pair of defiant heroines to Sarah Jane Nicoll. Nicoll, of Sartell, was awed by Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Stillwater, and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who headlined a Wednesday afternoon rally at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Palin and Bachmann, perhaps the Republican Party’s top female figures, got the rock star treatment from Nicoll and a crowd estimated at more than 10,000. Palin was in Minnesota to help raise money for Bachmann’s re-election and for the Minnesota Republican Party… – SC Times, 4-8-10
  • Confederate History Month — Virginia’s new governor accused of racial insensitivity, political cynicism: Reviving an observance that many thought had been buried eight years ago, Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell has declared April “Confederate History Month” in Virginia. Maybe it’s not like firing on Ft. Sumter, but it’s close. One of two Republicans elected to statehouses last year in races widely seen as a referendum on Barack Obama’s presidency, McDonnell said he is restoring the commemoration because it is important to study history. In fact, Virginia and other states are preparing commemorations in 2011 to mark the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War. But in McDonnell’s proclamation announcing the commemoration, he never mentions slavery — or the 500,000 slaves who constituted one-fourth of Virginia’s population and cheered the Union soldiers to victory. Instead, the governor declares that Virginians fought…. …”for their homes and communities and Commonwealth” and that “all Virginians” must appreciate the state’s “shared” history and the Confederacy’s sacrifices…. – LAT, 4-7-10
  • Obama’s Nuclear Strategy Intended as a Message: At the heart of President Obama’s new nuclear strategy lies a central gamble: that an aging, oversize, increasingly outmoded nuclear arsenal can be turned to the new purpose of adding leverage to the faltering effort to force Iran and North Korea to rethink the value of their nuclear programs. The 50-page “Nuclear Posture Review” released on Tuesday acknowledged outright that “the massive nuclear arsenal we inherited from the cold-war era” is “poorly suited to address the challenges posed by suicidal terrorist and unfriendly regimes seeking nuclear weapons.”… – NYT, 4-6-10
  • Obama Limits When U.S. Would Use Nuclear Arms: President Obama said Monday that he was revamping American nuclear strategy to substantially narrow the conditions under which the United States would use nuclear weapons. But the president said in an interview that he was carving out an exception for “outliers like Iran and North Korea” that have violated or renounced the main treaty to halt nuclear proliferation…. – NYT, 4-5-10
  • Obama meets Christian leaders: Christian leaders from across the United States are joining U.S. President Barack Obama Tuesday for an Easter prayer breakfast at the White House…. – UPI, 4-6-10
  • Obama family attends Easter service at DC church: President Barack Obama and his family have attended Easter service at a historically black Methodist church in southeast Washington. Obama took communion Sunday at the Allen Chapel AME Church. Joining him at the service were his wife, Michelle, daughters Sasha and Malia, and his mother-in-law, Marian Robinson. Also attending were the mayor of Washington, Adrian Fenty, and his wife…. – AP, 4-5-10
  • True or false? Top 7 health care fears Is the IRS going to hunt you down? Will your doc have a waiting line?: The sweeping health care overhaul signed into law his month by President Barack Obama is more than 2,000 pages long and has been dissected by analysts, politicians and pundits. It’s no wonder that some consumers are confused – and perhaps frightened – about how the law might affect them. Some concerns were raised during the congressional debate or have been swirling around the Internet. Kaiser Health News checked out some of the most common claims: MSNBC, 4-4-10
  • Brown Charts Future, Vows to Keep Fighting After Health Care Defeat: Scott Brown, who won election to the U.S. Senate vowing to defeat health care reform, still says he’s focused on weakening the health bill despite its passage. And in the meantime, he’s taking on an outsized role on the campaign trail and pledging to use his position to strike a hard bargain on other issues the “fired-up” Obama administration might try to push… – Fox News, 4-4-10
  • Republicans dispute course of financial overhaul: End the public lifeline for large financial institutions, Republicans are demanding as they push back against Democratic efforts to set new rules for the financial industry. The GOP is trying to fight many of the changes that President Barack Obama and majority Democrats want. Legislation would give the government authority to split up big financial companies and force the industry to pay for its most massive failures…. – AP, 4-3-10
  • For Obama, too soon for another partisan battle: After a bitter fight on healthcare, the White House has shown little appetite to engage aggressively on immigration and energy initiatives as congressional elections near…. – LAT, 4-4-10
  • Justice Stevens to leave while Obama in office: Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens says he “will surely” retire while President Barack Obama is still in office, giving the president the opportunity to maintain the high court’s ideological balance. Stevens said in newspaper interviews on the Web Saturday that he will decide soon on the timing of his retirement, whether it will be this year or next. Stevens, the leader of the court’s liberals, turns 90 this month and is the oldest justice. “I will surely do it while he’s still president,” Stevens told The Washington Post…. – AP, 4-4-10
  • CAPITAL CULTURE: Tales from WH Easter Egg Roll: If it’s Easter Monday in Washington, it’s time for the White House Easter Egg Roll. The White House is getting ready, putting on the finishing touches before the gates open and 30,000 men, women and children scramble to take part in the annual tradition. The Easter Bunny and more than 14,500 hard-boiled eggs are dyed and waiting…. – AP, 4-4-10
  • The great elaborator: Obama gives 17-minute answer to health-care query in N.C.: Even by President Obama’s loquacious standards, an answer he gave here on health care Friday was a doozy. Toward the end of a question-and-answer session with workers at an advanced battery technology manufacturer, a woman named Doris stood to ask the president whether it was a “wise decision to add more taxes to us with the health care” package. “We are overtaxed as it is,” Doris said bluntly.
    Obama started out feisty. “Well, let’s talk about that, because this is an area where there’s been just a whole lot of misinformation, and I’m going to have to work hard over the next several months to clean up a lot of the misapprehensions that people have,” the president said. He then spent the next 17 minutes and 12 seconds lulling the crowd into a daze. His discursive answer — more than 2,500 words long — wandered from topic to topic, including commentary on the deficit, pay-as-you-go rules passed by Congress, Congressional Budget Office reports on Medicare waste, COBRA coverage, the Recovery Act and Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (he referred to this last item by its inside-the-Beltway name, “F-Map”). He talked about the notion of eliminating foreign aid (not worth it, he said). He invoked Warren Buffett, earmarks and the payroll tax that funds Medicare (referring to it, in fluent Washington lingo, as “FICA”). WaPo, 4-2-10
  • Airline Screening Plan Wins Tentative Praise: Aviation security experts and industry officials said Friday that new screening protocols for air passengers coming to the United States were a marked improvement over an emergency plan that has required extra screening of every passenger from 14 countries since the attempted bombing of an airliner on Christmas Day. They said that the new system promised to bring more complete and timely threat information to bear on decisions about who should be prevented from boarding an airliner. But they also said that the impact of the changes on both the safety and convenience of air travel would not be evident for months…. – NYT, 4-2-10
  • No Production From Obama’s Offshore Drilling Proposal Until at Least 2014, MMS Says: While President Obama this week opened the door to oil and gas drilling in large swaths off the U.S. coastline, the specifics of which areas actually might be leased will be slowly decided over the next two or more years. Although Obama proposed new areas in the Atlantic and eastern Gulf of Mexico for potential development, they will “not necessarily” be open to oil and gas development in the next five-year drilling program that takes effect in July 2012, the Interior Department said…. – NYT, 4-2-10
  • Obama’s still stumping for healthcare: The president is in Maine trying to appeal to small business owners and the middle class in an effort to convince them that the law is necessary and should be supported…. – LAT, 4-2-10
  • President thanks flood workers as area waits for waters to recede: As rivers crested throughout the state and weary residents began returning to their flooded homes, President Obama visited the state’s flood-fighting headquarters yesterday, thanking workers for their round-the-clock efforts. After a briefing from Governor Deval Patrick and other officials, Obama shook hands with staff in the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency’s underground bunker and offered a few words of encouragement.
    “The one thing I would say is whether you are a governor or a president . . . when these kinds of natural disasters hit, what really matters is the people on the ground,” Obama told the officials. “I just want to say thanks on behalf of the country, as well.”… – Boston Globe, 4-2-10
  • Overhaul a job-saver, Obama tells Maine: An ebullient President Obama pitched his newly-minted health care law to Mainers yesterday, casting it as a job- saving plan, ridiculing those who predict a disaster, and daring opponents to try to repeal it.
    “This is the reform that some folks in Washington are still hollering about. And now that it’s passed, they’re already promising to repeal it. They’re actually going to run on a platform of repeal in November,” Obama, in mock incredulity, told a raucous, cheering crowd at Portland Expo Center. “My attitude is, go for it,” the president said. “I want these members of Congress to come out of Washington, come here to Maine, and tell [small-business owners], we’re going to take away your tax credit. If they want to do that, be my guest,’’ Obama said. “If they want to have a fight, I welcome that fight, because I don’t think the American people are going to put the insurance industry back in the driver’s seat!”
    The speech reflected a newly confident tone by the president, whose first year was characterized by an uphill struggle to overhaul health care while fending off complaints he was not paying enough attention to the high unemployment rate. Fellow Democrats, meanwhile, began to grumble that the White House had allowed Republicans to control the message on the issue, making it even harder for congressional Democrats to pass it…. – Boston Globe, 4-2-10
  • Burr: I still want to repeal health care law: Republican Sen. Richard Burr said Thursday that he has not budged from his “repeal and replace” position on the new health care law passed by Congress. Burr said his recent remarks about supporting revisions in the health care law had been misconstrued. “Somebody asked me about the likelihood of repeal,” Burr said after speaking to the Fuquay-Varina Rotary Club. “I said that given that the president would be in office for two and half years it’s unlikely that he would” sign such a bill. “But I said that was not going to stop us in the interim from making incremental changes that members of Congress thought we needed,” Burr said. “I think that is the basis of the discrepancy.” – News & Observer, 4-2-10
  • Obama Urges China’s Hu to Get Behind Iran Push: U.S. President Barack Obama urged his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao to work together on pressing Iran over its nuclear activities, but Hu did not openly commit to new sanctions on Tehran, according to official reports on Friday. Obama and Hu discussed the growing international push to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions in an hour-long telephone call that followed China’s agreement on Wednesday to enter into serious negotiations over possible new U.N.-backed sanctions against Tehran…. – Reuters, 4-2-10
  • U.S. to use profiling checks for incoming flights The new system is a response to an attempt to blow up a plane last year by a Nigerian passenger: The Obama administration will announce Friday a new screening system for flights to the United States under which passengers who fit an intelligence profile of potential terrorists will be searched before boarding their flight, a senior administration official said. The procedures, which have been approved by President Obama, are aimed at preventing another terror attack like the one attempted by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian suspected of ties to al Qaeda who tried to blow up an airliner Christmas Day with a bomb hidden in his under wear, the official said…. – LAT, 4-1-10
  • States Challenge New Health Care Law Three pass health care Freedom Acts, more consider proposals: Governors of three states have signed “Freedom Acts” prohibiting implementation of federal health care reform legislation as resistance to the Health Care Reform Act surfaces in state governments. Utah Gov. Gary Herbert signed H.B. 67 into law last week, which “prohibits an individual in this state from being required to purchase health insurance,” and authorizes the state legislature to approve or deny federal reform legislation. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell signed similar legislation—the Virginia Health Care Freedom Act—in Richmond on March 24, and Idaho’s Gov. Otter signed the Idaho Health Freedom Act on March 17…. – Epoch Times, 3-31-10
  • Risk Is Clear in Drilling; Payoff Isn’t: In proposing a major expansion of offshore oil and gas development, President Obama set out to fashion a carefully balanced plan that would attract bipartisan support for climate and energy legislation while increasing production of domestic oil. It is not clear that the plan announced Wednesday will do either….
    “This is not a decision I’ve made lightly,” Obama said as he stood at Andrews Air Force base in Maryland on Wednesday near an Air Force fighter converted to burn renewable biofuels. “There will be those who strongly disagree with this decision, including those who say we should not open any new areas to drilling,” Mr. Obama said. “But what I want to emphasize is that this announcement is part of a broader strategy that will move us from an economy that runs on fossil fuels and foreign oil to one that relies more on homegrown fuels and clean energy.”… – NYT, 3-31-10
  • Next Year in the White House: A Seder Tradition: …So begins the story of the Obama Seder, now one of the newest, most intimate and least likely of White House traditions. When Passover begins at sunset on Monday evening, Mr. Obama and about 20 others will gather for a ritual that neither the rabbinic sages nor the founding fathers would recognize. In the Old Family Dining Room, under sparkling chandeliers and portraits of former first ladies, the mostly Jewish and African-American guests will recite prayers and retell the biblical story of slavery and liberation, ending with the traditional declaration “Next year in Jerusalem.” (Never mind the current chill in the administration’s relationship with Israel.)… – NYT, 3-28-10
  • Obama signs reconciliation bill with major student loan change: The government will take the place of private banks, cut program costs and channel the extra money to the neediest students…. – LAT, 3-31-10
  • Obama to Open Offshore Areas to Oil Drilling for First Time: The Obama administration is proposing to open vast expanses of water along the Atlantic coastline, the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the north coast of Alaska to oil and natural gas drilling, much of it for the first time, officials said Tuesday. The proposal — a compromise that will please oil companies and domestic drilling advocates but anger some residents of affected states and many environmental organizations — would end a longstanding moratorium on oil exploration along the East Coast from the northern tip of Delaware to the central coast of Florida, covering 167 million acres of ocean…. – NYT, 3-30-10
  • Obama wants to sign financial bill by late May: President Barack Obama wants legislation in place overhauling financial regulations by the September anniversary of the 2008 Wall Street collapse, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said on Tuesday. Gibbs said Obama does not believe it is unrealistic to expect a bill could be on his desk by the end of May. “The president would like to see with his signature strong rules in place certainly by the two-year anniversary” of the cascade of events that prompted the Wall Street collapse, Gibbs told reporters at a regular White House briefing…. – WaPo, 3-30-10
  • Obama signs final piece of health care bill: President Obama on Tuesday signed his second piece of major legislation in a week, an overhaul of student lending and the final piece of health care legislation that incorporates more generous benefits demanded by the House. “This is the last leg of a very long journey,” said Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, who helped write both measures. Obama struck a populist tone, saying he was delivering on his promise to fight “sweetheart deals” and special interests in Washington…. – SF Chronicle, 3-30-10
  • President Obama image captured two Roosevelts who sought health reform: Who says bipartisanship was completely absent from the historic vote March 21 on American access to medical care? Certainly not the White House, which released an official photograph of President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and about 40 staffers who assembled to applaud the late-night passage of the bill. Shot by White House photographer Pete Souza, the picture ran on the front pages of newspapers and websites Monday morning, including The Times and latimes.com. And it’s a picture that inserts Obama squarely into the middle of healthcare reform’s bipartisan history. The staffers met in the West Wing’s windowless Roosevelt Room, across from the Oval Office. Souza shows the president standing in the foreground, flanked by painted portraits of two venerable if failed predecessors in the fight for federal healthcare legislation. One is Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt, seated at a desk on the left. The other is Republican President Theodore Roosevelt, FDR’s fifth cousin, mounted on horseback at the right…. – LAT, 3-28-10
  • Obama set to sign health care ‘fixes’ bill: President Obama is set to claim final victory on his top domestic priority Tuesday by signing into law a package of changes to the newly enacted health care reform bill. The signing ceremony at a community college in northern Virginia will culminate almost a year of fiercely partisan debate and a tortuous legislative journey on the proposals generated by Democrats and unanimously opposed by Republicans. Due to a shifting political landscape, Democrats eventually needed the separate bill being signed Tuesday to make changes in the original legislation in order to get the overall package passed by Congress…. – CNN, 3-29-10
  • Obama’s Seder includes 10 drops of sympathy: President Obama moved swiftly from his visit to Afghanistan Sunday to a festive Passover Seder table with Jewish friends and White House workers Monday night… – USA Today, 3-29-10
  • Obama wants “positive relationship” with China: W.House: President Barack Obama is determined “to further develop a positive relationship with China,” the White House said after Obama received credentials from Beijing’s new envoy to Washington. Obama made the remark after he received the credentials of China’s new ambassador to the United States, Zhang Yesui, according to a White House statement from Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs. “During their meeting, the president stated his determination to further develop a positive relationship with China,” the statement read. “He reaffirmed our one China policy and our support for the efforts made by Beijing and Taipei to reduce friction across the Taiwan Strait.” Obama “also stressed the need for the United States and China to work together and with the international community on critical global issues including nonproliferation and pursuing sustained and balanced global growth,” the statement read…. – AFP, 3-3-10
  • Health care battle on new front: Democrats and Republicans said Sunday that they are confident the new health care law will help them in the November congressional elections once voters understand it better. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said more Americans will like the new law as they realize the benefits. “By November, those who voted for health care will find it an asset,” Schumer said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “Those who voted against it will find it a liability.” Republican Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina said on CBS’ Face the Nation that the bill costs too much and gives the government too much power. DeMint said he and others will work to repeal the health care law and make it an election issue. “We’ll find out in November who won or lost this battle,” DeMint said… – USA Today, 3-28-10
  • Sarah Palin Alaska deal reinforces the power of Discovery: The news last week that Sarah Palin’s eight-part series about Alaska had been bought by Discovery Communications in a deal worth a little under $1m (£675m) per episode will be rightly seen by many in the industry as another sign of how powerful the Discovery brand has become in the 25 years of its existence…. – Guardian UK, 3-29-10
  • Democrats Cheer Now, but Grim November May Lie Ahead: President Obama with Kathleen Sebelius and Nancy Pelosi in the East Room last week after he signed the health care bill.Charles Dharapak/Associated Press President Obama with Kathleen Sebelius and Nancy Pelosi in the East Room last week after he signed the health care bill. In politics, as in sports, the thrill of victory sometimes pales alongside the agony of defeat. In 2010, Democrats remain on track to experience both. Achievement of their decades-long quest for comprehensive health care legislation left Congressional leaders and White House aides jubilant. It broke, at least temporarily, the psychology of failure that threatened President Obama’s administration as it had burdened President George W. Bush’s tenure. But the new spring in the steps of Democratic lawmakers has not reversed the likelihood that there will be fewer of them next year. Mr. Obama’s signature on the health care law did not reduce a national unemployment rate that hovers around double digits and is likely to stay there through the November elections…. – NYT, 3-28-10
  • Medicare Nominee Would Face Big Changes: Donald Berwick, President Barack Obama’s choice to lead the agency that runs Medicare and Medicaid, would face the major challenge of overseeing sweeping changes to both programs required under the recently enacted health-care overhaul, if elected. According to two administration officials, Mr. Obama will nominate Dr. Berwick, a Harvard University professor and specialist in patient safety, to take over the top post at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services…. – WSJ, 3-29-10
  • Obama presses Karzai in Kabul visit: President Obama made a surprise visit Sunday to Afghanistan to prod Kabul to make good on promises to improve internal security and crack down on corruption. The short nighttime trip, Obama’s first to Afghanistan as president, was made under extraordinary secrecy and comes at a critical time in a war that Obama has made his own. In a joint appearance with President Hamid Karzai, Obama praised the “progress with respect to the military campaign … but we also want to continue to make progress on the civilian process.” “The United States is a partner, but our intent is to make sure that the Afghans have the capacity to provide for their own security. That is core to our mission,” Obama later told a gathering of about 2,500 servicemembers and civilians…. – USA Today, 3-28-10
  • Obama Rallies Troops in Afghanistan Trip Caps a String of Successes, Gives the President a ‘Hard Pivot’ from Health Care to Foreign and Domestic Issues: President Barack Obama’s unannounced trip to Afghanistan capped the most eventful week of his presidency, a week that saw victory on his signature domestic initiative, completion of a nuclear-arms accord with Russia and a night- time rally with thousands of cheering troops. It also signaled that after a year mired in health-care politics, Mr. Obama hopes to turn to the multiplicity of issues—at home and abroad—that have languished in the shadows of his one huge domestic fight. Those include the war in Afghanistan, confronting Iran over its nuclear weapons, job creation and senior-level appointments… – WSJ, 3-27-10
  • Palin kicks off Tea Party Express tour: Organizers described this gathering Saturday of thousands of Tea Partiers minutes from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s home in desolate Nevada scrub as a “conservative Woodstock.” But instead of gorging on LSD, free love and Jimi Hendrix, thousands of attendees binged on seething anger at Washington and swooned to former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as the Tea Party Express kicked off a 43-city cross-country bus tour that’s intended to rouse voters to their cause.
    “We’re sending a message to Washington,” Palin told the crowd that exploded in chants of “Sarah! Sarah!” when she took the stage. “The big government, big tax Obama-Pelosi-Reid spending spree is over,” she said, referring also to the president and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco. “You’re fired.”… – SF Chronicle, 3-27-10
  • What didn’t get into the healthcare bill: In the year it took Congress to write and pass a healthcare overhaul, turbulent political shifts — including the Democrats’ loss of the seat long held by the late Sen. Edward Kennedy and the rise of the tea party movement — forced critical compromises on the scope of legislation. The downsized ambitions of the final package mean that 32 million more people — not the 37 million in the original proposals — will end up insured by 2019. Others will face greater financial strain than lawmakers originally envisioned…. – Miami Herald, 3-28-10
  • Obama Announces 15 Recess Appointments, Scolds GOP Obama announces 15 recess appointments in agencies, citing GOP stalling tactics in Senate: Fed up with waiting, President Barack Obama announced Saturday he would bypass a vacationing Senate and name 15 people to key administration jobs, wielding for the first time the blunt political tool known as the recess appointment. The move immediately deepened the divide between the Democratic president and Republicans in the Senate following a long, bruising fight over health care. Obama revealed his decision by blistering Republicans, accusing them of holding up nominees for months solely to try to score a political advantage on him. “I simply cannot allow partisan politics to stand in the way of the basic functioning of government,” Obama said in a statement…. – AP, 3-28-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • Stupak constituents seek federal aid over ideology: Even as tea party activists gloat over Rep. Bart Stupak’s decision to retire after becoming one of their top targets for defeat, it’s far from certain that his constituents will choose a successor who shares the conservative movement’s antipathy to government spending. Michigan’s sprawling northernmost 1st District has a history of electing moderates more concerned with getting federal money for local projects and helping constituents deal with government agencies than with partisanship or ideology — as long as they stay on the right side of hot-button issues such as protecting gun ownership…. – AP, 4-10-10
  • For a GOP in need of stars, Florida’s Marco Rubio shines: A Republican insurgent deftly courts tea partyers and overtakes once-popular Gov. Charlie Crist in a U.S. Senate primary race…. – LAT, 4-9-10
  • Romney: Grassroots intensity increasing: Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said yesterday that on his 19-state book tour, he is seeing “a growing passion and intensity on the grassroots level” prompted by outrage over the huge federal deficit and “too intrusive a government.”
    Romney, spending his second day in New Hampshire promoting “No Apology: The Case for American Greatness,” said he won’t decide whether to make a second run for President until after the November mid-term elections.
    “If the election were held this week,” he said, “I think we’d pick up the House and a lot of seats in the Senate. I don’t know what things are going to look like in November, but people are not happy.”… – Union Leader, 4-9-10
  • McCain backs former adviser in Calif. Senate race: In the heat of the 2008 presidential race, Carly Fiorina made a splash when she opined that neither John McCain nor Sarah Palin — both fellow Republicans — or their Democratic rivals could run a major corporation. On Tuesday, it was the Arizona senator’s turn to speak about Fiorina’s qualifications. It worked out much better for her. McCain called Fiorina, who served as a top economic adviser to him during his presidential bid, inspiring and a great American success story. “I think she is eminently qualified to serve in the United States Senate,” he said, citing her experience running a major business…. – AP, 4-6-10
  • The McCain Mutiny A maverick fights for his political life—and his soul: Late last month, at a dusty fairground outside Tucson, John McCain stood behind the person who is, at least for the next few years, surely his most important legacy to American politics. And speaking to the adoring mob, Sarah Palin stood behind John McCain, repaying his inestimable gift to her in the most compelling possible fashion: by helping him to survive.
    Facing an impertinent challenge for his Senate seat in the Republican primary this summer, McCain listened to the former Alaska governor heap praise on him. Throughout, he fidgeted with a couple of pieces of paper, sneaking peeks at them every few seconds, and wore a slightly nervous smile, as if not knowing quite what might come out of Palin next… – Newsweek, 4-3-10
  • Looks likely Ted Kennedy Jr. will face Scott Brown in 2012 Senate race: Ted Kennedy Jr.is shaping up like he will run for his father’s seat against Scott Brown in Massachusetts in 2012. Over the weekend, Ted Jr., who lost a leg to cancer, spoke in Worcester, MA, to a conference on disabled issues. The choice of location was no accident, I’ll bet. What he said was even more indicative. He was asked about a possible political career. “Politics is in my blood,” he said, going on to state that “at the moment,” he’s more devoted to his young children and the needs of the disabled community… – Irish Central, 3-28-10
  • Democrats stand by candidate for Obama’s old seat: Democrats are quietly worrying about whether Illinois Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias can win President Barack Obama’s old Senate seat. His family’s bank is believed to be on the verge of collapse and reportedly made $20 million in loans to two convicted felons. Republican Rep. Mark Kirk is already accusing Giannoulias of lying to the voters about the loans, and his campaign is guaranteed to be pounding away at the bank’s problems in millions of dollars worth of television ads. But the 34-year-old Giannoulias is still electable if he meets the bank embarrassment head on and strikes back at the Republican congressman as more conservative than this Democratic-trending state, Democratic insiders say. AP, 4-3-10
  • GOP hopes repeal-the-bill fire won’t burn them: Top Republicans are starting to worry about their health care rallying cry “Repeal the bill.” It just might singe GOP candidates in November’s elections, they fear, if voters begin to see benefits from the new law. Democrats, hoping the GOP is indeed positioning itself too far to the right for the elections, are taking note of every Republican who pledges to fight for repeal. Such a pledge might work well in conservative-dominated Republican primaries, they say, but it could backfire in the fall when more moderate voters turn out…. – AP, 3-31-10
  • Political Insider: Sen. John McCain collects $2.2 million for race: Sen. John McCain’s campaign announced Wednesday that it raised more than $2.2 million in the first quarter of 2010, and the four-term Arizona Republican still has $4.5 million on hand to spend. The fundraising quarter ended Wednesday at midnight. McCain’s most prominent GOP opponent, former Rep. J.D. Hayworth, had a “Million Dollar March” goal of raising $1 million. As of Wednesday evening, he had raised $871,671, or 87.2 percent of his goal, according to his campaign Web site… – The Arizona Republic, 4-1-10
  • 2012 clues are scarce as Romney visits Des Moines, Ames today: If former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney runs again for president, the eyes of the political world will be watching to see how deeply he digs into Iowa’s political soil. Romney is leaving few clues as he prepares for his first trip back to the state since finishing second in Iowa’s GOP caucuses in 2008. Today, Romney will conduct a book-signing at the downtown library in Des Moines and give a speech at Iowa State University. A top Romney adviser in Iowa had said last year that the more evangelical complexion of Iowa Republicans compared to the national party might make an all-out caucus campaign optional for candidates with a more economy-based message…. – Des Moines Register, 3-29-10

POLITICAL QUOTES

President Obama Throws Out First Pitch at Nationals Opening Day

President Barack Obama throws out the ceremonial first pitch on the opening day of baseball season at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. April 5, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

  • Sen. John McCain Interview: Immigration: STAR: And the administration. What exactly have you done in Congress to achieve that end? McCAIN: Well, as a new member of the Homeland Security committee, last April we had a hearing in Phoenix with the various law enforcement agencies and Border Patrol, et cetera, specifically on the issue of border violence. Obviously I visited the border on several occasions, and at that time, it became clear that we didn’t have sufficient forces on the border. And it was at that time that I said we needed to send the guard down to the border. I’ve had the UAV issue to get them stationed at Fort Huachuca. Have had numerous conversations with the secretary of Health and Human Services, Homeland Security on this issue and was very much in favor and strongly supported the construction of a virtual fence. And as you know, that whole thing has collapsed at a huge cost to the taxpayers. And we are having a hearing the week after next when we get back with the Homeland Security committee. Why that failed and what the situation is and what is needed to try to provide the proper security. My view is you need a physical fence. But we all know that unless physical fences are surveilled, and then people just punch holes in them. And so I saw in Iraq on my visit there that their ability to serveil areas is that we have the technology now. And why they failed so badly is still an outrage at this point. And just one other small point because I know that you don’t want me to give real long answers. But for a long time in Yuma at the Barry Goldwater (bombing) range, they had a continuous incursion of illegals which caused them to cancel missions. Obviously you are not going to be dropping weapons when human beings are on the range. So they went out themselves and got very inexpensive but very effective surveillance equipment. And now there is hardly any incursions of illegals. Not a vast Boeing contract of billions of dollars, but just some really basic surveillance equipment, and it’s worked extremely well. And I did bring that up with Janet (Napolitano). And I’m not trying to beat up on the secretary of Homeland Security, she’s working hard, she’s got a lot of things to do. I did bring it up with her, and she agreed that they are going to now try to buy some very inexpensive equipment at least in the interim to put on the border. So what have I done? Not enough. – AZ Daily Star, 4-11-10
  • Weekly Address: Recovery Act Benefiting American Families During Tax Season: Remarks of President Barack Obama Weekly Address The White House April 10, 2010
    ….And just as each of us meets our responsibilities as citizens, we expect our businesses and our government to meet theirs in return. That’s why I’ve asked Congress to close some of the biggest tax loopholes exploited by some of our most profitable corporations to avoid paying their fair share – or, in some cases, paying taxes at all. That’s why we’re tightening Washington’s belt by cutting programs that don’t work, contracts that aren’t fair, and spending we don’t need. And that’s why I’ve proposed a freeze on discretionary spending, signed a law that restores the pay-as-you-go principle that helped produce the surpluses of the 1990s, and created a bipartisan, independent commission to help solve our fiscal crisis and close the deficits that have been growing for a decade. Because I refuse to leave our problems to the next generation.
    It’s been a tough couple years for America. But the economy is growing again. Companies are beginning to hire again. We are rewarding work and helping more of our people reach for the American Dream again. And while there’s no doubt we still face a long journey together, with more steps to take, more obstacles to overcome, and more challenges to face along the way; if there is one thing of which the people of this great country have convinced me, it’s that the United States of America will recover, stronger than before. – WH, 4-10-10
  • Gingrich: Obama is ‘most radical president ever: Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a potential presidential candidate in 2012, called Barack Obama on Thursday “the most radical president in American history” who oversees a “secular, socialist machine.” “The most radical president in American history has now thrown down the gauntlet to the American people: ‘I run a machine. I own Washington and there’s nothing you can do about it,'” Gingrich said. He urged his fellow Republicans to stop what he called Obama’s “secular, socialist machine.”… – AP, 4-8-10
  • Excerpts From Obama Interview: Following are excerpts of a New York Times interview with President Obama conducted Monday by David E. Sanger and Peter Baker in the Oval Office, about the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty…
    What I hope everybody understands is that coming into office I’ve tried to maintain a consistent, comprehensive strategy that moves us in the direction of strengthening the Non-Proliferation Treaty and that encourages countries to abide by international codes of conduct and basic rules of the road…. – NYT, 4-6-10
  • Weekly Address: President Obama Extends Holiday Greeting: Remarks of President Barack Obama Weekly Address The White House April 3, 2009
    This is a week of faithful celebration. On Monday and Tuesday nights, Jewish families and friends in the United States and around the world gathered for a Seder to commemorate the Exodus from Egypt and the triumph of hope and perseverance over injustice and oppression. On Sunday, my family will join other Christians all over the world in marking the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
    And while we worship in different ways, we also remember the shared spirit of humanity that inhabits us all – Jews and Christians, Muslims and Hindus, believers and nonbelievers alike.
    Amid the storm of public debate, with our 24/7 media cycle, in a town like Washington that’s consumed with the day-to-day, it can sometimes be easy to lose sight of the eternal. So, on this Easter weekend, let us hold fast to those aspirations we hold in common as brothers and sisters, as members of the same family – the family of man….
    On this weekend, as Easter begins and Passover comes to a close, let us remain ever mindful of the unity of purpose, the common bond, the love of you and of me, for which they sacrificed all they had; and for which so many others have sacrificed so much. And let us make its pursuit – and fulfillment – our highest aspiration, as individuals and as a nation. Happy Easter and Happy Passover to all those celebrating, here in America, and around the world. – WH, 4-3-10
  • NORMAN PODHORETZ: In Defense of Sarah Palin She understands that the U.S. has been a force for good in the world—which is more than can be said of our president: Nothing annoys certain of my fellow conservative intellectuals more than when I remind them, as on occasion I mischievously do, that the derogatory things they say about Sarah Palin are uncannily similar to what many of their forebears once said about Ronald Reagan….
    I fear that the attitude satirically exaggerated here by Iowahawk is what underlies the rejection of Sarah Palin by so many conservative intellectuals. When push came to shove, they could not resist what Van Voorhees calls Mr. Obama’s “prodigious oratorical and intellectuals gifts” and they could not resist attributing Sarah Palin’s emergence as a formidable political force to “the base enthusiasms and simian grunts” of “the loathesome Tea Party rabble.”
    As for me, after more than a year of seeing how those “prodigious oratorical and intellectual gifts” have worked themselves out in action, I remain more convinced than ever of the soundness of Buckley’s quip, in the spirit of which I hereby declare that I would rather be ruled by the Tea Party than by the Democratic Party, and I would rather have Sarah Palin sitting in the Oval Office than Barack Obama. WSJ, 3-29-10
  • Sarah Palin: Best Wishes for a Blessed Passover: Tonight Jewish families all over the world will gather to celebrate Passover, the story of Exodus and the freedom of the Jewish people from bondage. This holiday reminds us of the sacrifices that are still being made for freedom – the U.S. troops who are away from their families so that we can be with ours, and the Israeli people, who struggle for peace with their neighbors even as they face the threat of war.
    “Next year in Jerusalem” will be the refrain echoed by Jewish families as they finish their Seders tonight. It is a stark reminder that whatever the threats the Jewish people have faced, whatever the struggles, their connection to Jerusalem is ancient and unshakable. On this Passover holiday, our family sends our best wishes to all who are celebrating. Chag kasher V’Sameach. Happy Passover. And next year in Jerusalem. – Sarah Palin Facebook Page
  • Scott Brown “The health care fight is not over”: BY ELECTING me to the US Senate, the people of Massachusetts sent a clear message: Washington needs to get its priorities straight. Voters believed I would be the best candidate to fight for jobs and a stronger economy, keep our country safe, and serve as the 41st vote against the health care reform legislation debated in the Senate.
    After my election, Washington politicians began an aggressive push to bend the rules and force their unpopular health care bill on an unwilling nation. They went into secret negotiations to make up their own rules, and eventually found a way to circumvent the will of the people by using the reconciliation process to ram through their health care bill. For the last year, the American people have been shaking their heads at the closed-door meetings, sweetheart deals, and special carve-outs. It has been a very ugly process, and caused many Americans to lose faith in their elected officials in Washington.
    This bill constitutes a massive increase in spending that our country can’t afford and will result in a huge expansion in the size and reach of the federal government. When this legislation is fully implemented, the real cost to taxpayers is $2.6 trillion over years. Instead of reforming the health care system and bending the cost curve down, we are doing the exact opposite….
    This disastrous detour of a health care bill has distracted the attention and energy of Congress for the past year. Now, it is time to listen to the people and focus on their top priority: jobs. It would be a mistake for the administration to try to ram through other items on the liberal agenda when so many Americas are struggling. Americans want their government to fully focus its attention on the economy and getting our citizens back to work.
    Washington is broken. All across the country, people believe that their elected officials are working for themselves and not on behalf of their constituents. Only when we start heeding the will of the American people can we begin to restore faith in government, and it all starts with commonsense, practical solutions that will put Americans back to work and get our economy back on track. – Boston Globe, 3-30-10
  • Weekly Address: Reforms Will End Student Loan Bank Subsidies and Expand Access to College: Remarks of President Barack Obama Weekly Address The White House March 27, 2009
    This was a momentous week for America. It was a week in which together, we took bold new steps toward restoring economic security for our middle class and rebuilding a stronger foundation for our future. It was a week in which some of the change that generations have hoped for and worked for finally became reality in America.
    It began with the passage of comprehensive health insurance reform that will begin to end the worst practices of the insurance industry, rein in our exploding deficits, and, over time, finally offer millions of families and small businesses quality, affordable care – and the security and peace of mind that comes with it.
    And it ended with Congress casting a final vote on another piece of legislation that accomplished what we’ve been talking about for decades – legislation that will reform our student loan system and help us educate all Americans to compete and win in the 21st century….
    Education. Health care. Two of the most important pillars of a strong America grew stronger this week. These achievements don’t represent the end of our challenges; nor do they signify the end of the work that faces our country. But what they do represent is real and major reform. What they show is that we’re a nation still capable of doing big things. What they prove is what’s possible when we can come together to overcome the politics of the moment; push back on the special interests; and look beyond the next election to do what’s right for the next generation.
    That’s the spirit in which we continue the work of tackling our greatest common tasks – an economy rebuilt; job creation revitalized; an American Dream renewed – for all our people. WH, 3-27-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Is President Obama Fulfilling Clinton’s Promise?: “Clinton’s problem was trying to change the system during a time of peace and prosperity,” said H. W. Brands, a presidential historian who has written books on Wilson and F.D.R. “Americans are status quo friendly; if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Obama’s opportunity was to arrive when the status quo had been jolted and, in the eyes of many, discredited.” – NYT, 4-4-10
  • Gil Troy “For Obama, What A Difference A Week Made”: The protracted health care battle looks to have taught the White House something about power, says presidential historian Gil Troy — a lesson that will inform Obama’s pursuit of his initiatives going forward.
    “I think that Obama realizes that presidential power is a muscle, and the more you exercise it, the stronger it gets,” Troy says. “He exercised that power and had a success with health care passage, and now he wants to make sure people realize it’s not just a blip on the map.”…
    One of the questions that has trailed Obama is how he would deal with criticism and the prospect of failure, says Troy, a McGill University history professor and visiting scholar affiliated with the bipartisan Policy Center in Washington.
    “He is one of those golden boys who never failed in his life, and people like that are often not used to criticism and failure,” Troy says.
    Obama and his campaign were temporarily knocked for a loop early in the 2008 presidential campaign by then-GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s “zingers,” Troy says, “and Obama was thrown off balance again by the loss of the Massachusetts Senate seat.”
    The arc of the health care debate reminded observers that Obama is not just a product of Harvard, but also of tough Chicago politics, Troy says.
    “You don’t travel as far and as fast as Barack Obama without having a spine of steel,” he says. “He has an ability to regenerate, to come back, and knows that there is no such thing as a dirty win: a win is a win” — even if it infuriates the progressive wing of the president’s party, which wanted far more sweeping changes to the nation’s health care system….
    But observers like Troy say they believe that though initially unrelated, a boost in employment among Americans would encourage voters to look more favorably on the health care overhauls.
    “The perceived success of health care legislation rides on job creation,” Troy says…. – NPR, 4-6-10
  • Authors: White House no open book: The White House has practically been overrun by journalists pumping top officials for behind-the-scenes details for behind-the-scenes books. The blitz has created complications for presidential aides, who have a country to run, and frustrations for the authors, who are clamoring for face time with their sources. One White House official calls the mounting demands “a pain” in the posterior, saying: “We try to engage when we can. No one is getting as much time as they want.” With the publishing world loving all things Obama, those working on such books include Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter, NBC’s Chuck Todd, MSNBC’s Richard Wolffe, The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward and David Maraniss, the New York Times’ Jodi Kantor and two New Yorker writers – editor David Remnick and Washington correspondent Ryan Lizza. Time’s Mark Halperin and New York magazine’s John Heilemann, whose campaign chronicle “Game Change” became a huge best-seller, have signed a deal with Penguin Press to chronicle the 2012 contest – for an advance reported to be about $5 million… – WaPo, 4-6-10
  • Julian Zelizer: New RNC scandal, old GOP arrogance: Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele might be reminding conservative activists of a past Republican leadership turned arrogant with power.
    Under Michael Steele’s leadership, the RNC has been accused of spending campaign funds on private jets, booze, limousines, five-star hotels, overseas resorts and a party donor’s trip to a Hollywood bondage club. Most conservatives will agree that these expenditures are a horrible waste of funds at a time when Republicans are hoping to enjoy sizable gains in the 2010 midterm elections….
    On Monday, the Republican National Committee chief of staff resigned, with many assuming he was fired by Steele in an effort to clean house. The resignation is a start. But much more needs to be done. If the Republican leadership does not respond more aggressively, recent efforts to revive the party won’t amount to very much. Conservative voters will not be enthusiastic about supporting a party whose leaders partake in lavish and questionable activities, and Democrats will have more evidence that their opponents cannot be trusted with power. – CNN, 4-6-10
  • Julian Zelizer: Who is the father of healthcare reform: Obama or Mitt Romney?: President Obama is likening his federal healthcare reform bill to the Massachusetts healthcare bill signed by former Gov. Mitt Romney. That could cause problems for Romney in 2012.
    “The healthcare debate presents big problems for Romney,” says Julian Zelizer, a political scientist at Princeton University in New Jersey. It “will be a big issue for Republicans in 2012, and Romney is not well-positioned to lead the Republican charge against Obama.” To be sure, that comment will not be on Romney’s fundraising letter. “It is ironic,” says Mr. Zelizer, “that Romney’s biggest accomplishment as governor would be his biggest liability as a candidate.” – CS Monitor, 3-31-10
  • ERIC M. PATASHNIK & JULIAN E. ZELIZER: Now the real health care fight begins: Many liberals are euphoric about Congress passing health care reform. When President Barack Obama signed the most ambitious social legislation since President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society, the tide seemed to have turned for the Democrats. But this is not the end of the political struggle. Just the start of a new chapter. While outright repeal of health care reform — as many conservatives demand — seems unlikely, there is no guarantee this reform will stick. Future Congresses could erode or undercut the law. For there is a long history of major social legislation coming under attack post-enactment. New legislation, whether misunderstood or poorly designed, often can take several years to gain solid public support. Political sustainability is not automatic…. – Politico, 3-30-10
  • Michael Beschloss: President Obama to Sign Second Part of Health Bill: NBC News Presidential Historian Michael Beschloss said, “And because of the healthcare victory last week, you can assume that foreign leaders around the world are saying, ‘This is a bigger leader than perhaps we expected, and he may be here a for a long time.'” – WSAV NBC, 3-30-10
  • Julian E. Zelizer: Risk for GOP comes from extreme fringe: As he stood before the delegates of the 1964 Republican Convention in San Francisco, California, Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater, the party’s presidential nominee, said, “I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.”
    The delegates, who had booed New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller when he called for the party to respect moderation, were thrilled. Many of Goldwater’s supporters were determined to push their party toward the right wing of the political spectrum. They felt that their party leaders, including President Eisenhower, had simply offered a watered-down version of the New Deal.
    Yet Goldwater soon learned that extremism could quickly become a political vice, particularly to a party seeking to regain control of the White House….
    Now Republicans are facing the Goldwater threat once again. At the same time that conservatives have every right to oppose and challenge President Obama’s agenda, they must make clear that there are limits and that the kinds of actions that we have seen in recent days are not something that either party will be willing to tolerate in the year ahead. – CNN, 3-30-10
  • Meena Bose: CAPITAL CULTURE: Obama’s surprising sense of humor: “I think he does have a good sense of humor,” said Meena Bose, a presidential historian at Hofstra University. “He has a cerebral one, though. It’s this dry irony. You have to pay pretty close attention to get some of what he’s saying.” “A good sense of humor won’t make the reputation of a president,” Bose said. “But a good sense of humor can bolster a good reputation. “It indicates comfort, a sense of not being overwhelmed by the demands of the job,” she said…. – AP, 3-29-10
  • Robert Dallek: The Take: Historic win or not, Democrats could pay a price: “I think this will be seen as a really major reform initiative,” said presidential historian Robert Dallek. “How it plays out remains to be seen. But if Social Security and Medicare and civil rights are any preludes to this initiative, then I think it will become a fixed part of the national political/social/economic culture.” – WaPo, 3-21-10
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