Political Buzz May 26, 2011: Supreme Court Rules 5-3 to Uphold Arizona Immigration Law — US Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting

POLITICAL BUZZ

By Bonnie K. Goodman

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

COURT AND LEGAL NEWS:

John Roberts is pictured. | AP Photo

SCOTUS Chief Justice John Roberts: The law “expressly reserves to the states the authority to impose sanctions on employers hiring unauthorized workers, through licensing and similar laws,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote. “It uses the federal government’s own definition of ‘unauthorized alien,’ it relies solely on the federal government’s own determination of who is an unauthorized alien, and it requires Arizona employers to use the federal government’s own system for checking…

  • Supreme Court backs Arizona immigration law: The Supreme Court today upheld an Arizona law penalizing companies that hire illegal immigrants, rejecting a challenge by business groups and civil liberties organizations, our court correspondent Joan Biskupic reports.
    U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, released a statement supporting the ruling: “Not only is this law constitutional, it is common sense. American jobs should be preserved for Americans and legal workers.”
    The Associated Press reports that Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for a majority made up of Republican-appointed justices, said the Arizona’s employer sanctions law “falls well within the confines of the authority Congress chose to leave to the states.”
    Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor, all Democratic appointees, dissented. The fourth Democratic appointee, Justice Elena Kagan, did not participate because she worked on it while serving as President Obama’s solicitor general.
    The law permits the state to take away the business licenses of companies that knowingly hire illegal workers. It requires employers to use an otherwise optional federal verification program, known as the E-Verify system, which collects data on workers from the Social Security Administration and Department of Homeland Security.
    The ruling, by a 5-3 vote, comes off oral arguments presented in December. Reporting on those arguments, Biskupic had noted that the court “appeared poised … to uphold” the law.
    The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Obama administration had opposed the law…. – USA Today, 5-26-11
  • Supreme Court Upholds Arizona Immigration Law: The Supreme Court today backed an Arizona law that sanctions businesses that hire illegal immigrants.
    On a 5-3 vote, the court held that federal immigration law does not preempt Arizona from suspending or revoking the licenses of businesses that violate state immigration law.
    Chief Justice Roberts wrote the 27-page opinion, which can be found here. And here’s a report from WSJ.
    Then-Gov. Janet Napolitano signed the Arizona law in 2007, saying that while immigration is a federal responsibility, Arizona had been forced to deal with the issue because the demand for cheap, undocumented labor in the state was contributing to illegal immigration…. – WSJ, 5-26-11
  • Supreme Court sustains Arizona employer sanctions law: The Supreme Court has sustained Arizona’s law that penalizes businesses for hiring workers who are in the United States illegally, rejecting arguments that states have no role in immigration matters.
    By a 5-3 vote, the court said Thursday that federal immigration law gives states the authority to impose sanctions on employers who hire unauthorized workers.
    The decision upholding the validity of the 2007 law comes as the state is appealing a ruling that blocked key components of a second, more controversial Arizona immigration enforcement law. Thursday’s decision applies only to business licenses and does not signal how the high court might rule if the other law comes before it.
    Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for a majority made up of Republican-appointed justices, said the Arizona’s employer sanctions law “falls well within the confines of the authority Congress chose to leave to the states.”
    Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor, all Democratic appointees, dissented. The fourth Democratic appointee, Justice Elena Kagan, did not participate in the case because she worked on it while serving as President Barack Obama’s solicitor general
    Breyer said the Arizona law upsets a balance in federal law between dissuading employers from hiring illegal workers and ensuring that people are not discriminated against because they may speak with an accent or look like they might be immigrants.
    Employers “will hesitate to hire those they fear will turn out to lack the right to work in the United States,” he said…. – AP, 5-26-11
  • Justices Uphold Law Penalizing Hiring of Illegal Immigrants: The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld an Arizona law that imposes harsh penalties on businesses that hire illegal immigrants.
    The 5-to-3 decision amounted to a green light for vigorous state efforts to combat the employment of illegal workers. The majority opinion, written by Chief Justice John G. Roberts on behalf of the court’s five more conservative members, noted that Colorado, Mississippi, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia had recently enacted laws similar to the one at issue in the case.
    The decision did not directly address a second, more recent Arizona law that in some circumstances requires police there to question people they stop about their immigration status. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit blocked enforcement of that law in April, and the case may reach the Supreme Court soon.
    The challenge to the older Arizona law that was the subject of Thursday’s decision was brought by a coalition of business and civil liberties groups, with support from the Obama administration. They said the law, the Legal Arizona Workers Act, conflicted with federal immigration policy.
    The decision turned mostly on the meaning of a provision of a 1986 federal law, the Immigration Reform and Control Act, which said that it overrode “any state or local law imposing civil or criminal sanctions (other than through licensing and similar laws) upon those who employ” unauthorized aliens…. – NYT, 5-26-11
  • Supreme Court upholds Ariz. law punishing companies that hire illegal immigrants: The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that Arizona may revoke the business licenses of companies that knowingly employ illegal immigrants, rejecting arguments that the state’s law intrudes on the federal government’s power to control immigration.
    The court ruled 5 to 3 that Congress specifically allowed states such an option, and dismissed the objections of an unusual coalition that challenged the state law: the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, civil rights groups, labor unions and the Obama administration.
    The 1986 federal Immigration Reform and Control Act generally preempts states from using employer sanctions to control immigration. But Arizona took advantage of a parenthetical clause in the statute — “other than through licensing and similar laws” — to go after companies that knowingly and intentionally hired undocumented workers.
    Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. agreed with the state’s reading of the federal law.
    “It makes little sense to preserve state authority to impose sanctions through licensing, but not allow states to revoke licenses when appropriate as one of those sanctions,” he wrote.
    Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony M. Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. agreed with the outcome.
    The law at issue — the Legal Arizona Workers Act — is different from a more recent Arizona law that the Obama administration is battling in lower courts…. – WaPo, 5-26-11
  • SCOTUS upholds Arizona immigrant hiring law: The Supreme Court ruled Thursday to uphold Arizona’s law that penalizes companies that knowingly hire illegal immigrants.
    In a 5-3 vote, the court concluded that federal immigration law doesn’t prevent the state from revoking the business licenses of companies that violate state law.
    Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority opinion that the court had come to its decision because “the state’s licensing provisions fall squarely within the federal statute’s savings clause and that the Arizona regulation does not otherwise conflict with federal law.”
    The Arizona law also requires employers to use the federal government’s web-based E-Verify system to determine whether potential employees are eligible to work within the United States. The court upheld this provision, saying it is “entirely consistent” with federal law…. – Politico, 5-26-11
  • US states can shut firms with illegals: Supreme Court: The US Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a state has the right to revoke the license of a business that knowingly employs illegal immigrants, in a case watched for implications on related judicial battles.
    The top US court in a 5-3 decision upheld Arizona’s 2007 law, saying the state was within its rights under a 1986 federal immigration reform measure.
    The ruling comes amid a legal battle on another Arizona law that took effect last July and which makes it a crime to be in the state, which borders Mexico, without proper immigration papers.
    In Thursday’s decision, the court cited the federal Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, which preempts state or local law imposing civil or criminal sanctions other than through licensing and similar laws on firms that employ, recruit, or refer unauthorized aliens for employment.
    The law “expressly reserves to the states the authority to impose sanctions on employers hiring unauthorized workers, through licensing and similar laws,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote.
    “It uses the federal government’s own definition of ‘unauthorized alien,’ it relies solely on the federal government’s own determination of who is an unauthorized alien, and it requires Arizona employers to use the federal government’s own system for checking employee status.”… – AFP, 5-26-11
  • ‘Business death penalty’ for hiring illegal workers is upheld by Supreme Court: The 5-3 decision gives states more authority to act against illegal immigrants. Justices rule that states can take away the business licenses of companies that knowingly hire illegal immigrants.
    The Supreme Court on Thursday gave Arizona and other states more authority to take action against illegal immigrants and the companies that hire them, ruling that employers who knowingly hire illegal workers can lose their license to do business.
    The 5-3 decision upholds the Legal Arizona Workers Act of 2007 and its so-called business death penalty for employers who are caught repeatedly hiring illegal immigrants. The state law also requires employers to check the federal E-Verify system before hiring new workers, a provision that was also upheld Thursday.
    The court’s decision did not deal with the more controversial Arizona law passed last year that gave police more authority to stop and question those who are suspected of being in the state illegally. But the ruling is likely to encourage the state and its supporters because the court majority said states remained free to take action involving immigrants…. – LAT, 5-26-11
Advertisements

October 11, 2010: Obama Shuffles Cabinet, Talk of Obama-Hillary Ticket in 2012

By Bonnie K. Goodman

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

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 111TH CONGRESS:

President Obama with his Incoming and Outgoing Chiefs of Staff   following the Personel Announcement

President Barack Obama leaves the East Room of the White House after announcing that Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, left, is leaving to return to Chicago and will be replaced on an interim basis by Senior Advisor Pete Rouse, right, October 1, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • Poll: Half of voters disapprove of Obama’s job: Half of registered voters nationwide — 50 percent — disapprove of the job President Barack Obama is doing in In that September poll, the same proportion of the national electorate — 50 percent — disapproved of the president’s job performance while 45 percent approved. Five percent were unsure. “The battle lines are drawn for the midterm elections,” says Lee M. Miringoff, director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “President Obama’s approval rating is not a disaster, but it’s not high enough to be a battle cry for many of his fellow Democrats facing the 2010 electorate.” Poughkeepsie Journal, 10-8-10
  • Poll: Republicans remain revved up about Nov. 2 elections: Republicans enjoy a substantial “enthusiasm gap” in which their supporters are more likely to vote in this fall’s elections for control of Congress than Democratic voters, according to a new McClatchy-Marist poll.
    The poll found that 51 percent of Republicans are very enthusiastic about voting, a large edge over the 32 percent of independents who are very enthusiastic and almost twice the 28 percent of Democrats. That large gap – a strong indicator that Republicans are more likely to vote – dominates the landscape despite claims by top Democrats that they’re slowly but surely getting their voters more excited and closing the gap…. – Miami Herald, 10-7-10
  • NEWSWEEK Poll: Anger Unlikely to Be Deciding Factor in Midterms: Self-described “angry voters” no more likely to vote; Democrats trusted more than GOP on key issues: Anger is dominating the current political conversation—especially if you’re an older, whiter, economically anxious voter who dislikes President Barack Obama and tends to prefer Republicans to Democrats. But according to the new NEWSWEEK Poll, there’s little reason to believe that anger alone will be the determining factor in November’s midterm elections.
    Self-described “angry” voters fit a rather predictable political and demographic profile. The survey found that only 14 percent are Democrats. The rest are either Republicans (52 percent) or independents (29 percent), with 42 percent of the angry voters declaring themselves Tea Party supporters. For the midterms, angry voters favor Republican candidates over their Democratic rivals, 73 percent to 19 percent. Three quarters want the GOP to win control of Congress. More than seven in 10 specifically describe themselves as angry with Obama and congressional Democrats, and a full 60 percent see their vote in November as a vote against the president. Compared with voters in general, angry voters are 21 percent more likely to say they’re worried about their economic future. They are 10 percent whiter than voters in general and 7 percent less likely to be under 30…. – Newsweek, 10-1-10
  • Bob Woodward Sheds Light on Possibility of Obama/Clinton 2012 Ticket: Longtime Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward made waves when he said late Tuesday that it was “on the table” for Barack Obama to run with Hillary Clinton instead of Joe Biden as a vice president in 2012. The possibility was actually first written in his book “Obama’s Wars.” “Some of Hillary Clinton’s advisers see it as a real possibility in 2012,” Woodward said on CNN yesterday. In an interview with CBS News chief Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer on Wednesday, Woodward said the possibility should be taken “seriously, because it’s politics.” “In the book what I lay out when Hillary Clinton was under consideration for Secretary of State, Mark Penn, one of her former top advisers said ‘look, it’s a no-brainer, take the job.'” “‘In 2012, Obama might be in trouble. You represent voting blocks Obama did not during the primaries.’ She did very well with working class, women, Latinos and with seniors,” Woodward said. “Obama might need those groups if he’s in political trouble.” Penn stepped down as chief strategist of Clinton’s presidential campaign in April 2008, though remained involved with the campaign. Mr. Obama named Clinton as his nominee to be Secretary of State on December 1, 2008…. – CBS News, 10-6-10
  • Dumping Biden for Clinton: What Would That Accomplish?: One has to wonder what the White House was thinking when a report leaked that President Barack Obama is thinking about dropping Vice President Joe Biden from the ticket in 2012 and replacing him with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Even though David Axelrod, Mr. Obama’s top White House political strategist, quickly shot down the report as “absolutely” without merit, that would be the case no matter what the truth of the matter. The initial report that the idea was on the table at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., came from the Washington Post’s Bob Woodward, whose Watergate fame in the early 1970s and bevy of books since then demonstrate exquisite White House sources regardless of administration. Mr. Woodward being the reporter who got such a leak gave it credibility. Mr. Axelrod and Hillary Clinton’s aides can say whatever they want, but they are not going to be able to stop the talking. Anyone with a brain had to know that would be the case once Mr. Woodward brought rumors about a job swap with Mr. Biden becoming secretary of State and Ms. Clinton vice president into the public domain. And that raises two intriguing questions: Would the switch be a good idea for the president from either a political or a policy point of view?…. – WSJ, 10-6-10
  • THE HEADLINES….

    President Obama Greets Justice Elena Kagan and Chief Justice John   Roberts Before Justice Kagan's Investiture Ceremony

    President Barack Obama talks with Justice Elena Kagan and Chief Justice John Roberts before Kagan’s Investiture Ceremony at the Supreme Court, October 1, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    • White House staff exodus exposes Obama to charges of disarray More senior staff including defence secretary Robert Gates, and senior advisor David Axelrod, leave their jobs: More senior White House staff are to leave in the next few months, adding to the high exit rate from President Barack Obama’s administration. Political analysts attribute the attrition rate to exhaustion, but Republican opponents blame disarray inside the White House, with an insular team responsible for too many policy failures. The imminent departures include those of defence secretary Robert Gates, who has said he hopes to retire early next year, and Obama’s senior White House adviser, David Axelrod, who is planning a return to his home town of Chicago early next year to concentrate on planning for Obama’s 2012 re-election bid. The White House press secretary, Robert Gibbs, has been mentioned in the past few weeks in connection with a range of jobs, including White House adviser or chairman of the Democratic national committee, which runs the party. This follows the departure of the national security adviser, General James Jones, after less than two years in office, as well as almost the entire economics team, of whom Peter Orszag and Christina Romer have already gone. Larry Summers is due to return to Harvard before the end of the year. The chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, left last month to stand for mayor of Chicago…. – Guardian, UK, 10-10-10
    • Obama Ratchets Up Tone Against G.O.P.: With his party facing losses in next month’s election, President Obama pressed his argument Sunday that the opposition is trying to steal the election with secret special-interest money, possibly including money from foreign companies. “Don’t let them hijack your agenda,” President Obama told supporters in Philadelphia at the second of four rallies planned. In a speech to a large rally here and in a new television advertisement, Mr. Obama and the Democrats escalated their efforts to present the Republicans as captive to moneyed interests. But Republicans and their allies fired back, dismissing the assertions as desperate last-minute allegations with no evidence to back them up. “You can’t let it happen,” Mr. Obama told thousands of supporters gathered at a school park in a predominantly African-American, working-class neighborhood in northern Philadelphia. “Don’t let them hijack your agenda. The American people deserve to know who’s trying to sway their elections, and you can’t stand by and let the special interests drown out the voices of the American people.”
      “You don’t know,” he said here. “It could be the oil industry, it could be the insurance industry, it could even be foreign-owned corporations. You don’t know because they don’t have to disclose. Now that’s not just a threat to Democrats, that’s a threat to our democracy.”… – NYT, 10-10-10
    • Obama, Biden Energize Voters at Philadelphia Rally: President Barack Obama, campaigning as if his name were on the ballot, implored voters in Philadelphia stump speech to use the three weeks left in the congressional election campaign to “stay fired up” and go to the polls to prevent a Republican landslide. The president relied on an oft-used speech as he addressed the crowd in the city’s Germantown community with the driving cadences that swept him into the White House two years ago.
      “I think the pundits are wrong. I think we’re going to win. But you’ve got to prove them wrong,” Obama said, jabbing his finger toward the audience. “They’re counting on you staying home. If that happens they win.”… – Fox News, 10-10-10
    • Obama: GOP plan to cut funding will hurt education: Offering voters a reason to keep Democrats in power on Capitol Hill, President Barack Obama says Republicans would cut education spending and put the country’s economic future at risk if they had their way. A quality education is paramount, Obama said. He suggested that federal spending on education is one area where he would not compromise. “What I’m not prepared to do is shortchange our children’s education,” Obama said Saturday in his weekly radio and Internet address….
      In his weekly message, Obama acknowledged that the country faces tight fiscal times, but he said a good education is too important to the country’s future prosperity to do it on the cheap.
      “At a time when most of the new jobs being created will require some kind of higher education, when countries that out-educate us today will out-compete us tomorrow, giving our kids the best education is an economic imperative,” he said…. – AP, 10-9-10
    • Jones an awkward fit in Obama circle: The question about James L. Jones was never whether he would be among the first senior officials to depart the Obama administration. The question was always how soon. Jones was the obvious outsider in the White House he called “Obama Nation,” a rarified land populated by veterans of the rough-and-tumble 2008 presidential campaign. A generation older than the president and those immediately around him, Jones is a retired Marine general of stature and experience who believes in the hierarchy of command and the inherent wisdom of orderly decision making…. – WaPo, 10-9-10
    • Economy loses 95K jobs due to government layoffs: A wave of government layoffs in September outpaced weak hiring in the private sector, pushing down the nation’s payrolls by a net total of 95,000 jobs. The unemployment rate held at 9.6 percent last month, the Labor Department said Friday. The jobless rate has now topped 9.5 percent for 14 straight months, the longest stretch since the 1930s. The report is the final one before the November elections, which means members of Congress will face voters next month who are frustrated with an economy that is still struggling to create jobs. The figure that may matter most is 18,000 — the number of positions lost after subtracting the 77,000 temporary census jobs that ended in September. That marks the first loss for that grouping since last December, according to economists at Nomura Securities…. – 10-8-10
    • Analysis: Jobs report is bleak news for Democrats: The die is cast, and it’s grim news for the Democrats. There’s nothing now that Congress or President Barack Obama can do to before the November midterm elections to jolt the nation’s stagnant economy. Friday’s government report — the last major economic news before the midterm elections — showed the nation continued to lose jobs last month, reinforcing the bleak reality that it probably will be years — not months — before employment returns to pre-recession levels below 6 percent. That tightens the pressure on Democrats ahead of the Nov. 2 elections. And it also casts a dark shadow well into the 2012 election season and beyond. “We won’t see under 6 percent for five years,” David Wyss, chief economist at Standard & Poor’s in New York, said Friday after the Labor Department reported that 95,000 more jobs were lost in September and the unemployment rate held at 9.6 percent. “It’s going to be a slow recovery.”…. – AP, 10-8-10
    • Obama economic trends on right track despite job losses: President Barack Obama said Friday economic trends were favorable despite a net loss of jobs in September, after officials released the last unemployment data before mid-term elections. Obama also attacked Republican policies which he said were hampering his capacity to ease the unemployment crisis, less than four weeks ahead of congressional polls in which his Democrats fear heavy losses.
      The president chose to highlight the fact that the economy had now produced “nine straight months of private sector jobs growth” but admitted “that news is tempered by a net job loss in September.”
      “The Republican position doesn’t make much sense, especially since the weakness in public sector employment is a drag on the private sector as well,” Obama said, after touring a small business in suburban Maryland. “The trendline in private sector jobs growth is moving in the right direction,” he said, but added he was not interested in trends or figures but the people behind them…. – AFP, 10-8-10
    • US sends $727 million to community health centers: The Obama administration on Friday announced $727 million will go to help fix up community health centers across the country, the first of $11 billion for the centers promised by the U.S. healthcare reform law. The money will go to 143 community health centers — which provide services regardless of patients’ ability to pay — in about 40 states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico, the Health and Human Services department said…. – Reuters, 10-8-10
    • James Jones to step down as national security advisor: The retired Marine general will be replaced by his deputy, Tom Donilon, an administration official says. The move comes amid a larger turnover in the Obama White House…. – LAT, 10-8-10
    • Year After Obama Won Nobel, World Looks for Signs of Peace Increased Fighting in Afghanistan, Stalled Negotiations in Middle East: One year after the Nobel prize jury made its controversial decision to award President Obama the prize for world peace, a larger jury is still waiting for the president to live up to those lofty expectations. Even some of Obama’s allies — like former Nobel laureates Al Gore and Jimmy Carter — declined to assess his performance in fulfilling what the peace prize citation said was his “vision” of world harmony.
      The one year anniversary of Obama’s prize comes as fighting is escalating in Afghanistan, the war in Iraq continues to smolder and Obama struggles to keep fledgling Middle East peace talks from collapsing. Drones are firing missiles in unprecedened numbers and confrontations with Iran and North Korea are hotter than ever…. – ABC News, 10-8-10
    • Obama sends foreclosure docs bill back to Congress: President Barack Obama has rejected a bill that the White House fears could worsen the mounting problems caused by flawed or misleading documents used by banks in home foreclosures. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Thursday that Obama is sending a newly passed bill back to Congress to be fixed because the current version has “unintended consequences on consumer protections.” The bill would loosen the process for providing a notary’s seal to documents and allow them to be done electronically. Obama will not sign a bill that would allow foreclosure and other documents to be accepted among multiple states. Consumer advocates and state officials had argued the legislation would make it difficult for homeowners to challenge foreclosure documents prepared in other states…. – AP, 10-7-10
    • Christie Halts Train Tunnel, Citing Its Cost: The largest public transit project in the nation, a commuter train tunnel under the Hudson River to Manhattan, was halted on Thursday by Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey because, he said, the state could not afford its share of the project’s rising cost. Gov. Chris Christie said that his state could not afford the rising cost of the multibillion-dollar project. Work had already started. Mr. Christie’s decision stunned other government officials and advocates of public transportation because work on the tunnel was under way and $3 billion of federal financing had already been arranged — more money than had been committed to any other transit project in America…. – NYT, 10-7-10
    • Spill Panel Finds U.S. Was Slow to React: The Obama administration was slow to ramp up its response to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, then overreacted as public criticism turned the disaster into a political liability, the staff of a special commission investigating the disaster say in papers released Wednesday. In four papers issued by the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, commission investigators fault the administration for giving too much credence to initial estimates that just 1,000 barrels of oil a day were flowing from the ruptured BP PLC well, and for later allowing political concerns to drive decisions such as how to deploy people and material—such as oil-containing boom—to contain the spreading oil. “Though some of the command structure was put in place very quickly, in other respects the mobilization of resources to combat the spill seemed to lag,” the commission investigators found…. – WSJ, 10-6-10
    • U.S. ‘Supportive’ of Peace Talks as Afghans Meet Former Taliban in Kabul: The White House repeated U.S. support for Afghan peace talks with the Taliban as an aide to President Hamid Karzai met former leaders of the guerrilla movement. Education Minister Ghulam Farooq Wardak, a member of a peacemaking council appointed by Karzai, conferred in Kabul this week with ex-officials of the former Taliban regime, Afghanistan’s Pajhwok news agency reported. Pakistani politicians and Arab delegates joined the meeting in the capital, which focused on how best to build a settlement with the insurgency, said a former Taliban official who attended, and who asked not to be named. Karzai’s deputy spokesman, Siamak Herawy, confirmed the meeting, which took place at Kabul’s Serena Hotel, and declined to give details. The Afghan president today summoned his peace council for an inaugural formal meeting on the ninth anniversary of the start of a U.S. bombing campaign that helped force the Taliban from power and install Karzai’s government…. – Bloomberg, 10-6-10
    • Post-election ethics trials set for Rangel, Waters: Ethics trials for two prominent House Democrats were set Thursday for after the midterm elections, depriving Republicans of headlines that could become campaign ads. An angry Rep. Zoe Lofgren, the House ethics committee chairwoman, unilaterally announced the mid-to-late November proceedings for Charles Rangel of New York and Maxine Waters of California. Lofgren, D-Calif., in a written statement, said the five Republicans on the 10-member committee blindsided her last week — when they publicly requested pre-election trials. Republicans made the request while Lofgren was flying from California to Washington. The disagreement has for the moment seriously damaged efforts to run the ethics committee without the partisan rancor evident in most House proceedings…. – AP, 10-7-10
    • Obama asks New Jersey donors for help: President Barack Obama asked wealthy donors Wednesday to help him close an “enthusiasm gap” with Republicans four weeks ahead of pivotal midterm elections. Speaking at a small dinner fundraiser, the president acknowledged that Democrats have a disadvantage because of the high unemployment rate, which he said would inevitably be blamed on the party in power. “Right now all the reports out there are that the main challenge we have is closing an enthusiasm gap between the Democrats and the Republicans,” the president said. “We’re not finished unless we lose sight of that long game and start sulking and sitting back and not doing everything we need to do in terms of making sure our folks turn out.”… – AP, 10-6-10
    • Obama awards Medal of Honor to Green Beret who died in Afghanistan: ‘America is forever in your debt,’ the president tells the parents of Staff Sgt. Robert J. Miller, an Illinois man credited with saving more than 20 U.S. and Afghan troops as he was dying. Full text: Obama awards Medal of Honor
      President Obama awarded the Medal of Honor on Wednesday to Army Staff Sgt. Robert J. Miller, who died in Afghanistan after exposing himself to enemy fire and saving the lives of more than 20 U.S. and Afghan troops. Obama presented the award — the nation’s highest military recognition — to Miller’s parents during a somber ceremony in the East Room of the White House. More than 100 of Miller’s friends and family attended the ceremony. “You gave your oldest son to America, and America is forever in your debt,” Obama told Miller’s parents, Phil and Maureen Miller. The 24-year-old Green Beret was raised in Wheaton, Ill., and “born to lead,” Obama said, noting that Miller earned two Army Commendation Medals during his first tour in Afghanistan.
      “It has been said that courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point,” Obama said at the ceremony. “For Rob Miller, that testing point came three years ago, deep in a snowy Afghan valley.”… – LAT, 10-6-10
    • Rick Sanchez Tells Jon Stewart Sorry, Wife Says: Former CNN anchor Rick Sanchez apologized to “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart Monday, four days after the journalist called the comedian a bigot during a satellite radio interview, according to a post on the Facebook page for Sanchez’s wife (account required). Suzanne Sanchez wrote that her husband was “caught up in the banter and deeply apologizes to anyone who was offended by his unintended comments.” “they had a good talk,” Suzanne Sanchez wrote. “jon was gracious and called rick, ‘thin-skinned.’ he’s right. rick feels horrible that in an effort to make a broader point about the media, his exhaustion from working 14 hr days for 2 mo. straight, caused him to mangle his thought process inartfully.”…. – CBS News, 10-5-10
    • New high court era: Kagan makes 3 women on bench: The Supreme Court began a new era Monday with three women serving together for the first time, Elena Kagan taking her place at the end of the bench and quickly joining in the give-and-take. In a scene that will repeat itself over the next few months, Kagan left the courtroom while the other justices remained to hear a case in which she will take no part. She has taken herself out of 24 pending cases, including the second of the two argued Monday, because of her work as the Obama administration’s solicitor general prior to joining the court in August…. – AP, 10-4-10
    • Kagan fills seats, makes her mark on first day of court term: Their membership has changed, and they haven’t sat together in months. Yet on Monday when Supreme Court justices took up the first case of the term, they quickly fell into familiar patterns. And newest Justice Elena Kagan was right in there with them…. – USA Today, 10-4-10
    • Justice Kagan makes her mark on day one, then has to go: Justice Elena Kagan made the most of her first day on the Supreme Court bench before reluctantly vanishing behind the burgundy curtains — leaving behind her bench-mates. The high court opened its new term Monday hearing oral arguments in two relatively low-profile appeals, but Kagan sat out the second case. It is one of 25 petitions from which the 50-year-old justice has so far recused herself. Because of her recent service as the Obama administration’s solicitor general, Kagan has decided to avoid any conflict of interest by withdrawing from cases the Obama administration had been involved in briefing. This means she will not sit on the bench during arguments or vote on the outcome of cases. The solicitor general works in the Justice Department as the government’s chief advocate before the high court…. – CNN, 10-4-10
    • Obama’s economic board members challenge him on taxes: The conversation was supposed to be about education and community colleges, but two Republicans on President Obama’s economic recovery advisory board challenged him this afternoon on his tax policies. Martin Feldstein and William Donaldson, who date to the Reagan and second Bush administrations, respectively, urged Obama not to raise taxes on the wealthiest 2% of Americans, as the president has proposed. No surprise? Well, Donaldson endorsed Obama in 2008, and Feldstein supported his economic stimulus plan in 2009. So they’re not conservative die-hards…. – USA Today, 10-4-10
    • Obama slams GOP over tax and spending cut plans: Intending to talk about colleges and worker training, President Barack Obama on Monday suddenly found himself in a spirited, election-year debate with a business advisory group about whose tax cuts should be extended and for how long. At a meeting of the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board, Harvard economist Martin Feldstein pressed Obama to keep all the Bush-era tax cuts, not just the middle-class cuts the president wants to extend. “That would give a boost to confidence,” Feldstein declared. SEC Chairman William Donaldson added that an extension would allay business and consumer uncertainty.
      Obama replied that his stand would benefit 98 percent of American taxpayers. “You’d think (that) would provide some level of certainty,” he said. Obama also reiterated his view that top-income tax brackets would do little to boost the recovery, since the wealthy aren’t holding off buying flat-screen TVs and other big-ticket purchases for lack of a tax cut. Plus, he said, those tax cuts are unaffordable. “If we were going to spend $700 billion, it seems it would be wiser having that $700 billion going to folks who would spend that money right away,” he said. Obama dismissed the notion that the well-off — he included himself — would simply “take our ball and go home” if they didn’t continue to get a big tax cut…. – AP, 10-4-10
    • Jon Stewart responds to Rick Sanchez comments: “The Daily Show” host Jon Stewart had a good laugh at Rick Sanchez’s expense this weekend, making light of the former CNN anchor’s recent departure over controversial comments he made about Jews and Stewart. However, Stewart did have a solution for Sanchez: “All he has to do is apologize to us,” he said, “and we’ll hire him back.” Not to be outdone, David Letterman made a surprise cameo at the benefit, telling Stewart that he decided to stop by because he was in the neighborhood, “helping Rick Sanchez clean out his office.”… – CNN, 1-4-10
    • Emanuel Says He’s Preparing Run For Chicago Mayor: Former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel announced Sunday that he’s preparing to run for mayor of Chicago, a position widely known as being one he has long desired. Emanuel made the announcement in a video posted Sunday on his website, ChicagoforRahm.com. He had been careful not to launch his candidacy from Washington and headed to Chicago immediately after his resignation was announced by President Barack Obama on Friday.
      In the video, Emanuel said he’s embarking on a “Tell It Like It Is” listening tour of Chicago. “As I prepare to run for mayor, I’m going to spend the next few weeks visiting our neighborhoods at grocery stores, L stops, bowling alleys, and hot dog stands,” Emanuel said. The two-minute video shows a relaxed Emanuel sitting behind a desk wearing a white shirt that’s open at the collar and a dark jacket. Behind him is a photo of his family and several books…. – NPR, 10-3-10
    • Liberal coalition rallies in Washington for jobs, education: A coalition of liberal and progressive groups, including unions and civil rights activists, rallied in Washington Saturday to press for good jobs, immigration and education reform and to make a show of strength one month out from midterm elections. The “One Nation Working Together” rally was held at the Lincoln Memorial, just five weeks after Tea Party enthusiasts met in Washington.
      NAACP President Ben Jealous told CNN the “One Nation” movement is not “the alternative to the Tea Party, we’re the antidote to the Tea Party.”…. – CNN, 10-2-10
    • Big crowd gathers for liberal rally in Washington: Tens of thousands of people rallied near the Lincoln Memorial in the U.S. capital on Saturday as liberal groups attempted to energize their base a month before pivotal congressional elections.
      The rally, held under sunny skies, was billed as “One Nation Working Together” and followed a large rally by conservatives at the same site just over a month earlier. Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO labor organization, urged the crowd to “promise that you’ll make your voices heard, for good jobs and justice and education today and on Election Day.”…. – Reuters, 10-2-10
    • DC rally shows support for struggling Democrats: Tapping into anger as the tea party movement has done, a coalition of progressive and civil rights groups marched Saturday on the Lincoln Memorial and pledged to support Democrats struggling to keep power on Capitol Hill.
      “We are together. This march is about the power to the people,” said Ed Schultz, host of “The Ed Show” on MSNBC. “It is about the people standing up to the corporations. Are you ready to fight back?”
      In a fiery speech that opened the “One Nation Working Together” rally on the National Mall, Schultz blamed Republicans for shipping jobs overseas and curtailing freedoms. He borrowed some of conservative commentator Glenn Beck’s rhetoric and vowed to “take back our country.”
      “This is a defining moment in America. Are you American?” Schultz told the raucous crowd of thousands. “This is no time to back down. This is time to fight for America.”… – AP, 10-2-10
    • Obama promotes clean energy; GOP hits Dem spending: Wind, solar and other clean energy technologies produce jobs and are essential for the country’s environment and economy, President Barack Obama said in promoting his administration’s efforts. The president used his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday, a month away from congressional elections, to charge Republicans with wanting to scrap incentives for such projects.
      “That’s what’s at stake in this debate,” the president said. “We can go back to the failed energy policies that profited the oil companies but weakened our country. We can go back to the days when promising industries got set up overseas. Or we can go after new jobs in growing industries. And we can spur innovation and help make our economy more competitive.”
      “With projects like this one and others across this country, we are staking our claim to continued leadership in the new global economy,” Obama said. “And we’re putting Americans to work producing clean, homegrown American energy that will help lower our reliance on foreign oil and protect our planet for future generations.”… – AP, 10-2-10
    • Rouse wastes no time in first day on job: The Pete Rouse era began shortly before noon on Friday. It didn’t take long before the White House started feeling the difference. Rouse, ushered in as interim White House chief of staff by President Obama in the East Room, called his first senior staff meeting for that afternoon – and scheduled it to last just 10 minutes. It is typical Rouse, advisers said: swift and to the point, without leaving room for people to show off or hold endless debates.
      “If a meeting should take 10 minutes, Pete is not going to make it go 11,” one senior administration official said. “Pete does not want to meet for the sake of meeting.” Rouse will soon move into the large corner office being vacated by Rahm Emanuel, whose resignation Obama announced Friday during an emotional farewell…. – WaPo, 10-1-10
    • Rahm Emanuel: Why Chicago mayor bid may be his toughest race yet: Rahm Emanuel was sent off from his post as White House chief of staff by President Obama on Friday. Political analysts say he won’t have it easy trying to win the race for Chicago mayor…. – CS Monitor, 10-1-10
    • Peter Rouse: out of the shadows and into the limelight Low-key troubleshooter is losing his cherished anonymity to take over as Obama’s chief of staff: Reporting from Washington — Many of the unpleasant little tasks that a White House confronts — nudging an aide out the door, perhaps, or helping a senator find someone a job — tend to wind up on Pete Rouse’s desk. Rouse, 64, a low-key troubleshooter and consummate backroom player whose work is seldom publicized, is being elevated to a post in which he may lose some of his cherished anonymity: White House chief of staff. Rouse will succeed Rahm Emanuel, who is leaving to run for mayor of Chicago. It’s an interim appointment, although White House aides say Rouse could end up getting the post on a permanent basis…. – LAT, 10-1-10
    • Chicago aldermen offended by Emanuel’s royal send-off: President Obama’s royal send-off for Rahm Emanuel may have played well in Washington today, but it laid an egg at Chicago’s City Hall. Some aldermen were downright offended by what they perceived to be Obama’s attempt to dictate Chicago’s next mayor by praising his departing chief of staff to the hilt.
      Others went so far as to advise the president of the United States to butt out or risk a political backlash.
      “The resentment is someone who appears to come in from out of state with a bunch of money — and no significant ties to the South or the West Side — and appearing to clout and buy his way into an election,” said Ald. Howard Brookins (21st). “It would be a mistake if the President goes out for Rahm Emanuel. In communities of color, I don’t believe Rahm has shown himself to be the peoples’ candidate. And I don’t know that Rahm being forced down our throats is the right thing to do.”
      Ald. George Cardenas (12th) went public with sentiment that his suddenly liberated colleagues have been expressing privately ever since Mayor Daley announced his political retirement…. – Chicago Sun-Times
    • White House defends economic stimulus plan: President Barack Obama’s $814 billion economic stimulus plan is meeting its targets for spending and job creation, White House officials said on Friday, however unpopular it may be with the public. Seventy percent of the plan’s funds were paid out by Sept. 30, with $308 billion spent and $243 billion in tax breaks provided, they said, adding that every spending deadline Congress set for the funds was met on time or ahead of schedule, with little fraud or abuse.
      Polls have shown the plan is unpopular with much of the public and has fallen short of expectations for the economy, even though the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates it boosted real gross domestic product in the second quarter by up to 4.5 percent and raised employment by up to 3.3 million jobs…. – Reuters, 10-1-10
    • CNN’s Sanchez out after controversial comments: CNN anchor Rick Sanchez abruptly left the network Friday afternoon, just one day after making controversial comments on a satellite radio program. “Rick Sanchez is no longer with the company,” according to a statement from CNN. “We thank Rick for his years of service and we wish him well.”
      On Thursday, Sanchez appeared on the XM Sirius radio program “Stand-Up with Pete Dominick.” During the interview with Dominick, Sanchez called “The Daily Show’s” Jon Stewart “a bigot” and then said that he was bigoted against “everybody else who’s not like him. Look at his show, I mean, what does he surround himself with?” Dominick pressed for specifics, and Sanchez, who is Cuban-American, responded, “That’s what happens when you watch yourself on his show every day, and all they ever do is call you stupid.” Dominick, who was once the warm-up comic at Stewart’s Comedy Central show and now has a spot on CNN’s “John King, USA,” noted that Stewart is Jewish and so a minority himself. “I’m telling you that everybody who runs CNN is a lot like Stewart, and a lot of people who run all the other networks are a lot like Stewart, and to imply that somehow they, the people in this country who are Jewish, are an oppressed minority? Yeah,” Sanchez responded…. – CNN, 10-1-10

    ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

    Stephen Crowley/The New York TimesRecommend
    “Don’t let them hijack your agenda,” President Obama told supporters in Philadelphia at the second of four rallies planned.

    • Democratic struggles could cost handful of contests: Rick Snyder may be House Democrats’ biggest nightmare. The Michigan Republican, a former head of the Gateway computer company, is running way ahead of Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero (D) in the Wolverine State’s gubernatorial race. (A poll released Sunday gave him a 20-point advantage.) Such a wide margin for Snyder creates the potential for a down-ballot sweep that could wash out Democrats’ chances in two hotly contested House districts.
      State Rep. Gary McDowell (D) and surgeon Dan Benishek (R) are competing for retiring Democratic Rep. Bart Stupak’s seat in the 1st District – a swing district in northern Michigan that Barack Obama won with just 50 percent two years ago…. – WaPo, 10-10-10
    • Paladino Laces Speech With Antigay Remarks: The Republican candidate for governor, Carl P. Paladino, told a gathering in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, on Sunday that children should not be “brainwashed” into thinking that homosexuality was acceptable, and criticized his opponent, Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo, for marching in a gay pride parade earlier this year. Addressing Orthodox Jewish leaders, Mr. Paladino described his opposition to same-sex marriage. “I just think my children and your children would be much better off and much more successful getting married and raising a family, and I don’t want them brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid and successful option — it isn’t,” he said, reading from a prepared address, according to a video of the event. And then, to applause at Congregation Shaarei Chaim, he said: “I didn’t march in the gay parade this year — the gay pride parade this year. My opponent did, and that’s not the example we should be showing our children.” Newsday.com reported that Mr. Paladino’s prepared text had included the sentence: “There is nothing to be proud of in being a dysfunctional homosexual.” But Mr. Paladino omitted the sentence in his speech…. – NYT, 10-10-10
    • Feingold defends health care vote in debate: Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold is defending his vote for health care reform, saying Republican challenger Ron Johnson wants to wipe out a program that saves people from being at the mercy of insurance companies. The Democratic incumbent is seeking his fourth term, though polls show him slightly trailing Johnson, a political newcomer. The two met Friday in Milwaukee for the first of three debates ahead of the Nov. 2 election…. – AP, 10-10-10
    • Paul: Wealthy should pay more for Medicare plan: Republican Senate candidate Rand Paul raised the idea Sunday that wealthier people like his opponent, the co-owner of a Kentucky Derby horse, should pay more for Medicare coverage. Paul also warned in a speech in his hometown that unless the U.S. starts dealing with its mounting debt, it could eventually face the same chaos that erupted in Greece when violent protests rocked that debt-plagued country. Paul said his Democratic opponent Jack Conway has ducked serious discussions about shoring up entitlement programs facing mounting financial strain as baby boomers retire and live longer. He also accused Conway of vilifying him in television ads showing clips of Paul once seeming to tout the idea of a $2,000 Medicare deductible…. – AP, 10-10-10
    • Kirk, Giannoulias debate on ‘Meet the Press’: The leading contenders for Illinois’ open U.S. Senate seat debated their character issues Sunday on TV, with Democrat Alexi Giannoulias insisting he knew little about convicted felons who got loans from his family bank and Republican Mark Kirk acknowledging he is accountable for embellishing his military record. Credibility has been a campaign-long theme for both men, and a recent Tribune/WGN-TV poll showed voters have difficulty trusting either in the neck-and-neck race for the Senate seat formerly held by President Barack Obama. The contest has national symbolism for both parties in the struggle for control of Congress and as a referendum on Obama. Moderator David Gregory focused on the trust issue and Obama’s policies during the half-hour debate with the two candidates on “Meet the Press” that included excerpts from attack ads used by both sides…. – Chicago Tribune, 10-10-10
    • Sen. Brown stumps for Conn. GOP Senate candidate: U.S. Sen. Scott Brown told a crowd of several hundred on Saturday that Connecticut voters can make history and shake up the Democratic establishment — just like when he was elected in Massachusetts — if they send Linda McMahon to Washington.
      Brown said the Republican newcomer, best known as the former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, is a political outsider who is “not beholden to anybody, who doesn’t owe anybody anything.” He said McMahon won’t be “in lockstep” with either the Democratic or Republican Senate leaders, and will fight for Connecticut voters. “Ever since Jan. 19 there’s a very, very powerful message that was sent, not only to Beacon Hill in Massachusetts but to Capitol Hill: That people are tired, they’re hurting, they’ve had enough,” said Brown, referring to his surprise victory last winter when he rode a wave of voter anger with Democrats and Washington and won the seat held by the late Democratic U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. “They want somebody who is going to be working and looking out for their interests and not the special interests and you guys have a great chance, a great chance,” he said. “The state of Connecticut has a chance to be part of history.”… – AP, 10-9-10
    • Tea party fuels GOP midterm enthusiasm, action: President Obama and Vice President Biden will travel to Philadelphia on Sunday for another rally designed to energize Democratic voters. The crowd at their Madison, Wis., rally last month was impressive, and this one may be, too. But any way you cut it, the Republicans still have the advantage in enthusiasm this fall, thanks in large measure to the tea party movement. The latest evidence comes in another of a long series of surveys conducted by The Washington Post, the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard University. What it shows is that tea party supporters and other conservatives are the most energized and are prepared to work the hardest to persuade friends and neighbors to vote Nov. 2…. – WaPo, 10-9-10
    • Jerry Brown reinvents himself as elder statesman: Jerry Brown sees himself as a regular guy who buys his suits on sale, drives around in a Ford Crown Victoria and enjoys dinner at home with his wife. What he wants Californians to see past is the Jerry Brown of three decades ago who was derisively dubbed “Governor Moonbeam.”
      The 72-year-old Democrat, locked in a close race with Republican Meg Whitman for governor, is determined to project an everyman image, a far cry from the eccentric Californian who romanced singer Linda Ronstadt along with a few other Hollywood actresses, recited poetry on the campaign trail and moved to Japan to study in a Buddhist monastery.
      Brown faces businesswoman and political novice Whitman, the billionaire former head of eBay who has spent more than $121 million of her own money in her bid to lead the nation’s most populous state, which has been wracked by ongoing budget crises…. – AP, 10-8-10
    • Will Brown aide’s slur of Meg Whitman tip California governor’s race?: Recent polls had shown Jerry Brown opening a slight lead over Meg Whitman. Putting him on the defensive could give her a boost. Meg Whitman was the target of ‘salty’ language by a Jerry Brown campaign aide in a voice mail released Thursday. Someone from Jerry Brown’s camp has been caught on tape using an extremely inelegant term to refer to opponent Meg Whitman. Will this remark make a difference in the already-heated California gubernatorial race? Well, we won’t know for some time whether it has an effect on the polls. The Brown-Whitman contest is already a boiling cauldron of charges and counter-charges, so the airing of the slur may make the tone of the campaign only marginally harsher. But this slip by a Brown aide may give Whitman a much-needed chance to get past the issue of whether she knowingly employed an illegal immigrant as a housekeeper. For the media there’s a new flap in town – what did Brown know about the use of this language, and how did he respond to it?…. – CS Monitor, 10-8-10
    • GOP pulling W.Va. Senate ad with ‘hicky’ actors: National Republicans pulled back a West Virginia Senate ad Thursday after Democrats revealed its casting call had sought actors who looked like hicks to play state voters. The 30-second spot, filmed in Philadelphia, was dropped from the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s YouTube channel Thursday. Republicans expected it to also be withdrawn from TV, where it has been in heavy rotation since Tuesday, according to a party official not directly involved in handling the ad. The official was not authorized to comment and requested anonymity. The ad showed men in flannel shirts and baseball caps worrying that Democratic Gov. Joe Manchin would side with President Barack Obama if elected to the Senate….. – AP, 10-7-10
    • G.O.P. Senate Odds Improve for Third Consecutive Week: Democrats are on the verge of locking up several Senate races in the Northeast, including one in Connecticut that some analysts had considered a toss-up. But Republicans have gained ground overall in this week’s Senate forecast by virtue of improved polling in Nevada and West Virginia. Their odds of taking over the Senate on Nov. 2 have now improved to 24 percent — up from 22 percent last week and 15 percent three weeks ago, according to the FiveThirtyEight forecast model…. – NYT, 10-7-10
    • Obama urges support for Illinois Senate hopeful: President Barack Obama is working to keep his old Senate seat in Democratic hands, urging a crowd of supporters in his hometown of Chicago to send State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias (jeh-NOO’-lee-ehs) to Washington. Obama called Giannoulias a competitor who can be trusted to fight for the people who elected him. Giannoulias is battling Republican Rep. Mark Kirk in a tight contest.
      The president spoke at a fundraiser at the Drake Hotel. Earlier in the day he was in Maryland campaigning for Gov. Martin O’Malley…. – AP, 10-7-10
    • Obama urges O’Malley supporters to get involved in Maryland: President Barack Obama on Thursday challenged young Democrats at an election rally for Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, saying political pundits were predicting they lacked the enthusiasm of Republicans. “They say their followers are more energized,” Obama told the rally at Bowie State University. “They say you might be willing to let the other folks who left the economy in a shambles go back to Annapolis and go back to Washington.” Adding that he was betting on the young voters to prove the pundits wrong, Obama told the crowd: “Don’t make me look bad.”…. – CNN, 10-7-10
    • Dozens Fall Ill at Obama Rally in Maryland: About three dozen people fell ill at President Obama’s campaign rally at Bowie State University in Bowie, Md., Thursday, WTOP radio reported. The individuals passed out after complaining of “dizziness and fainting,” Prince George’s County fire department spokesman Mark Brady said. Two people were taken to the hospital while the rest were treated at the scene, Brady told the radio station….
      Approximately half an hour into the president’s remarks, another audience member swooned, briefly derailing Obama’s criticisms of Republicans. He leaned away from the microphone. “Can we get a medic up here?” he asked…. – Fox News, 10-7-10
    • Fight for Congress could last past Election Day: The nation may be waiting well beyond Election Day this year to find out who won control of Congress. It’s a troubling ballot-box scenario that has hundreds of lawyers from both parties preparing for battles that could drag on days, weeks or even months past the Nov. 3 day-after. Some states don’t count substantial amounts of votes until after Election Day. Others require mail-in ballots to be postmarked — not received — by Nov. 2, leaving the tally until well afterward. And with polls showing many Republican and Democratic candidates in tight contests, there’s plenty of opportunity for confusion, challenges and recounts that could delay the results and ultimately tip the balance of power on Capitol Hill. A muddled outcome could give rise to yet another kind of election uncertainty. If Republicans emerge from the balloting just short of a Senate majority, their leaders would almost certainly try to prod centrist lawmakers — like Nebraska Democrat Ben Nelson or Connecticut independent Joe Lieberman — to switch and hand them control…. – AP, 10-6-10
    • President Trump? Time for 2012 handicapping: Have you heard the one about President Donald Trump? How about the notion that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will replace Vice President Joe Biden on the Democrats’ 2012 ticket? More than a year before the Iowa caucuses, political speculation ranges from the serious to the silly as pundits and prognosticators look ahead to the next presidential election. The open Republican field and the likelihood of President Barack Obama seeking a second term has led to rampant handicapping…. – AP, 10-6-10
    • Kendrick Meek, Charlie Crist battle Marco Rubio in U.S. Senate debate: Marco Rubio got the frontrunner treatment in a combative U.S. Senate debate Wednesday night, with both his rivals attacking him as an extremist out of step with Florida. “It’s abundantly clear that there’s an extreme right faction in the Republican party,” said said independent candidate Charlie Crist. “I’m the only candidate that can both win in November and crash that tea party in Washington.” “You want to take us back to Dick Cheney days,” said Democratic U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, describing Rubio as a “radical” who won’t stand up for middle class Floridians. Rubio, the former state House Speaker from Miami, held his own and cast the race as a choice between two status quo candidates or a Republican who will stand up to the agenda of Barack Obama. “If you like Obamacare, if you like the stimulus plan, you can vote for Charlie Crist or Kendrick Meek. I’m probably not your candidate,” Rubio said….. – Miami Herald, 10-6-10
    • Gallup: Poll of ‘likely voters’ portends big House gains for Republicans Among likely voters, the Republican advantage for this election is at least 13 percentage points, says a new Gallup poll. That’s higher than the three-point GOP edge among registered voters: Gallup gave its first estimates for “likely” voters, rather than registered voters – historically a far better predictor of the actual vote. The results are staggering. While the registered-voter ballot still gives Republicans a slight three-point lead, the Republican advantage jumps – a lot – in the poll of likely voters. Gallup gives estimates for two different likely-voter scenarios – one assuming higher turnout and one lower turnout. If voter turnout is high, Republican candidates have a 13-point advantage. If it’s low, they have a whopping 18-point edge over Democrats. Most voter surveys have shown Republicans to be much more energized about this election, but Gallup’s poll shows by far the biggest gap between registered and likely voters to date. So, what does it mean in terms of numbers? Historically, Gallup’s likely-voter poll correlates closely to the final results for midterm elections in the House. In 1994, when Republicans picked up 54 seats in the House, the last Gallup poll gave Republicans a 7-point lead. According to this model, by the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, the current 13-point lead would translate to Republicans picking up at least 71 seats (86 seats, in the low-turnout model). But that is pretty far outside even the most pro-Republican predictions so far…. – CS Monitor, 10-5-10
    • Republicans Hampered by Low Approval Ratings: Republicans are hanging their midterm election prospects on voters’ frustration with the Democratic Party, but a poll released by National Journal Tuesday indicates people are just as unhappy with Republicans. Six in 10 Americans polled have a negative view of GOP leadership. Perhaps that’s why Republicans have tried to efforts to frame Election Day as a referendum on the Democratic Party, not the GOP. Democratic leaders did only slightly better, with a 30/53 approval/disapproval split — though it is significant to note that their numbers are unchanged since National Journal’s polling in July. Republican disapproval figures have climbed seven points in the same amount of time, and they have the lowest performance rating in the poll’s history…. – CBS News, 10-5-10
    • Christine O’Donnell’s new ad by Republican ad wizard keeps things simple: Christine O’Donnell took to the airwaves on Tuesday with a simple message for Delaware voters: “I’m you.” When O’Donnell recently hired Fred Davis, the Republican ad wizard known for such provocative hits as “Demon Sheep,” many assumed she would use the millions she raised online to launch a shock-and-awe ad offensive. And she still might. But O’Donnell’s first general election ad is decidedly simple. Davis filmed O’Donnell, in pearls and a dark jacket, talking directly to the camera. No bells or whistles.
      “I wanted people to get to know the real Christine,” Davis said in an interview. He said the ad was designed to show “that she was not what everyone thought, that she was an everywoman – with one exception. She was one of us, but was so disappointed in our government that she was moved to action, to try and do something about it.” O’Donnell opens the 30-second spot by saying, “I’m not a witch.” It was a reference to her much-publicized 1999 statement that she dabbled in witchcraft. Davis said he included that line in the script to “once and for all put that behind her, and let people know we’re moving on from that to things that really matter today.”…. – WaPo, 10-5-10
    • Democrats hang on to leads in California: Democratic candidates hold a narrow advantage in the run-up to November’s U.S. congressional elections in California where big-spending Republican Meg Whitman is struggling in the race for governor, a Reuters/Ipsos poll found on Tuesday. As Democratic voters show increased enthusiasm in the country’s most-populous state, Democrat Jerry Brown leads Whitman in the race to succeed Arnold Schwarzenegger as governor, 50 percent to 43 percent…. – Reuters, 10-5-10
    • Donald Trump hints at presidential bid, sort of: Guess what television star is floating a political trial balloon (certainly inflated a bit with his own hot air), looking ahead to the 2012 presidential elections? If you said Donald Trump, you win. The cable airwaves have been chock-a-block with appearances by Trump, the reality television star, real estate developer, celebrity, beauty pageant mogul and self-promoter. He has even injected himself into the recent dispute over a Muslim community center and mosque near the former World Trade Center, destroyed on Sept. 11, 2001 in a terrorist attack. Trump has offered to buy the site. Just this week, the media was again filled with discussions of Trump after word of a poll in New Hampshire, an early state in the presidential sweepstakes, included questions about Trump, host of “The Apprentice,” now in another season on NBC…. – LAT, 10-5-10
    • US Election Results Could Affect Foreign Policy: U.S. voters will elect a new Congress on November 2, and public opinion polls indicate the domestic economy will be the top issue this year. Experts say foreign policy concerns do not appear to be a major factor in the congressional midterm elections. Republican gains in November, though, could have an impact on the conduct of U.S. foreign policy over the next two years. Political experts agree that the economy and worries about the high unemployment rate will be the dominant issues in this year’s election, even though the United States and its allies remain at war in Afghanistan. President Barack Obama would like to begin drawing down U.S. forces in Afghanistan by the middle of next year, battlefield conditions permitting.
      “The pace of our troop reductions will be determined by conditions on the ground and our support for Afghanistan will endure,” said President Obama. But make no mistake. This transition will begin, because open-ended war serves neither our interests nor the Afghan people’s.”…. – VOA, 10-4-10
    • Emanuel hits Chicago streets, makes case for mayor: Last week, Afghanistan. This week, parents protesting the proposed demolition of a park field house. Former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel hit the campaign trail on Monday and got a sudden taste of the vastly different agenda he’d face as Chicago’s mayor — and the hurdles he must overcome to be elected. A day after unveiling his campaign on a new Website, Emanuel hit the streets, vowing to “hear from Chicagoans — in blunt and honest terms” what they want from their next mayor. Many were happy just to shake hands, exchange hugs, or drink coffee with President Barack Obama’s hard-charging former right hand man. But he also faced skepticism about his intentions, loyalties and whether he even has the legal right to run to lead a city he hasn’t lived in for nearly two years. A few of his potential rivals also surfaced in public, though they insisted it had nothing to do with him….. – AP, 10-4-10
    • Democrat Feingold runs ad touting health care vote: Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin boldly embraces and defends his vote for the health care reform law in his latest campaign television ad, even as other Democrats avoid the topic and Republicans rail against it. Feingold’s Republican opponent, Ron Johnson, has his own ad taking Feingold to task for the March vote, saying Feingold went against the wishes of Wisconsin residents…. – AP, 10-4-10
    • Immigration dominates Whitman-Brown debate: Republican Meg Whitman and Democrat Jerry Brown clashed in an impassioned, sometimes angry gubernatorial debate Saturday in which immigration dominated the harsh exchanges and stoked the fallout from Whitman’s admission last week that she had employed an undocumented immigrant. San Francisco Chronicle, 10-3-10
    • Jewish voters don’t reflexively back Rahm Emanuel for Chicago mayor: Some local Jewish voters at odds with Emanuel’s role in Obama’s Israel policy, his politics when in Congress — and his coarse language Chicago Tribune, 10-3-10
    • Chicago mayor’s race may be battle of shoe leather: It used to be that getting elected in Chicago meant relying on the ward boss, the precinct captain and the small armies they deployed to fix potholes, hand out frozen turkeys and even drive people to the polls. Court rulings and corruption convictions have ended the primacy of the Machine, leaving get-out-the-vote efforts in the hands of what officials say are volunteers. But the city’s first real mayor’s race in more than two decades will test how far Chicago has advanced since the Machine’s heyday, and how badly big-name, well-funded candidates like Rahm Emanuel still need that old street-level help.
      “Never underestimate the power of the precinct worker,” said Tom Manion, a longtime political operative who directed Mayor Richard M. Daley’s first re-election campaign in 1991. “This is going to be a Generation X campaign with Facebook, Twitter and all that … but you should never forget the power of friend talking to friend, neighbor talking to neighbor.”
      After resigning as White House chief of staff, Emanuel is expected to reintroduce himself to Chicago this week with visits to neighborhoods to meet voters. He easily has greater name recognition than other contenders, and he is among several candidates seeking the support of wealthy businessmen and politicians…. – AP, 10-2-10
    • Democrats hope organizing will counter voters’ apathy: Republicans galvanized by the ‘tea party’ movement have passion on their side as the election approaches. The imperiled majority party mobilizes its get-out-the-vote machine in Nevada and elsewhere…. – LAT, 10-1-10

    POLITICAL QUOTES

    • Weekly Address: President Obama Underscores Commitment to Strengthening Our Education System Remarks of President Barack Obama As Prepared for Delivery Saturday, October 9, 2010 Washington, DC:
      …Now, it is true that when it comes to our budget, we have real challenges to meet. And if we’re serious about getting our fiscal house in order, we’ll need to make some tough choices. I’m prepared to make those choices. But what I’m not prepared to do is shortchange our children’s education. What I’m not prepared to do is undercut their economic future, your economic future, or the economic future of the United States of America.
      Nothing would be more detrimental to our prospects for success than cutting back on education. It would consign America to second place in our fiercely competitive global economy. But China and India aren’t playing for second. South Korea and Germany aren’t playing for second. They’re playing for first – and so should America.
      Instead of being shortsighted and shortchanging our kids, we should be doubling down on them. We should be giving every child in America a chance to make the most of their lives; to fulfill their God-given potential. We should be fighting to lead the global economy in this century, just like we did in the last. And that’s what I’ll continue fighting to do in the months and years ahead. Thanks, everybody, and have a nice weekend. – WH, 10-9-10
    • Rick Sanchez is sorry. Really: In an appearance on ABC’s “Good Morning America” Friday morning, the ousted CNN anchor said flatly that he “screwed up” in calling Jon Stewart a bigot and suggesting that Jews run the networks–comments that cost him his job last week.
      “I apologize and it was wrong for me to be so careless and so inartful,” Sanchez said. “But it happened and I can’t take it back and you know what now I have to stand up and be responsible.”
      The tone was much different than in a statement earlier this week, when Sanchez extended an apology to anyone who “may have been offended.”
      “I was feeling a little bit put out. And I was feeling a little sensitive,” Sanchez said. “And I was looking at the landscape and I was looking and I was seeing [little diversity] and I externalized the problem and I put it on Jon S tewart’s shoulders and I was wrong to do that.”…. – WaPo, 10-8-10
    • Weekly Address: President Obama Lauds Clean Energy Projects as Key to Creating Jobs and Building a Stronger Economy
      Remarks of President Barack Obama Weekly Address The White House October 2, 2010:
      Over the past twenty months, we’ve been fighting not just to create more jobs today, but to rebuild our economy on a stronger foundation. Our future as a nation depends on making sure that the jobs and industries of the 21st century take root here in America. And there is perhaps no industry with more potential to create jobs now – and growth in the coming years – than clean energy.
      For decades, we’ve talked about the importance of ending our dependence on foreign oil and pursuing new kinds of energy, like wind and solar power. But for just as long, progress had been prevented at every turn by the special interests and their allies in Washington….
      It was essential – for our economy, our security, and our planet – that we finally tackle this challenge. That is why, since we took office, my administration has made an historic commitment to promote clean energy technology. This will mean hundreds of thousands of new American jobs by 2012. Jobs for contractors to install energy-saving windows and insulation. Jobs for factory workers to build high-tech vehicle batteries, electric cars, and hybrid trucks. Jobs for engineers and construction crews to create wind farms and solar plants that are going to double the renewable energy we can generate in this country. These are jobs building the future….
      With projects like this one, and others across this country, we are staking our claim to continued leadership in the new global economy. And we’re putting Americans to work producing clean, home-grown American energy that will help lower our reliance on foreign oil and protect our planet for future generations.
      Now there are some in Washington who want to shut them down. In fact, in the Pledge they recently released, the Republican leadership is promising to scrap all the incentives for clean energy projects, including those currently underway – even with all the jobs and potential that they hold.
      This doesn’t make sense for our economy. It doesn’t make sense for Americans who are looking for jobs. And it doesn’t make sense for our future. To go backwards and scrap these plans means handing the competitive edge to China and other nations. It means that we’ll grow even more dependent on foreign oil. And, at a time of economic hardship, it means forgoing jobs we desperately need. In fact, shutting down just this one project would cost about a thousand jobs.
      That’s what’s at stake in this debate. We can go back to the failed energy policies that profited the oil companies but weakened our country. We can go back to the days when promising industries got set up overseas. Or we can go after new jobs in growing industries. And we can spur innovation and help make our economy more competitive. We know the choice that’s right for America. We need to do what we’ve always done – put our ingenuity and can do spirit to work to fight for a brighter future. – WH, 10-2-10
    • Goodbye, Rahm – Remarks by the President at the Departure of Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel: This is a bittersweet day here at the White House. On the one hand, we are all very excited for Rahm as he takes on a new challenge for which he is extraordinarily well qualified. But we’re also losing an incomparable leader of our staff and one who we are going to miss very much.
      When I first started assembling this administration, I knew we were about to face some of the most difficult years this country has seen in generations. The challenges were big and the margin for error was small — two wars, an economy on the brinks of collapse, and a set of tough choices about issues that we had put off for decades; choices about health care and energy and education, how to rebuild a middle class that had been struggling for far too long.
      And I knew that I needed somebody at my side who I could count on, day and night, to help get the job done. In my mind, there was no candidate for the job of chief of staff who would meet the bill as well as Rahm Emanuel. And that’s why I told him that he had no choice in the matter. He was not allowed to say no. It wasn’t just Rahm’s broad array of experiences in Congress and in the White House, in politics and in business. It was also the fact that he just brings an unmatched level of energy and enthusiasm and commitment to every single thing that he does.
      This was a great sacrifice for Rahm and Amy and the family to move out here. Rahm gave up one of the most powerful positions on Capitol Hill to do this. And in the last 20 months, Rahm has exceeded all of my expectations. It’s fair to say that we could not have accomplished what we’ve accomplished without Rahm’s leadership — from preventing a second depression to passing historic health care and financial reform legislation to restoring America’s leadership in the world.
      So for nearly two years, I’ve begun my workday with Rahm. I’ve ended my workday with Rahm. Much to Amy’s chagrin, I’ve intruded on his life at almost any hour of the day, any day of the week, with just enormous challenges. His advice has always been candid; his opinions have always been insightful; his commitment to his job has always been heartfelt, born of a passionate desire to move this country forward and lift up the lives of the middle class and people who are struggling to get there.
      He has been a great friend of mine, and will continue to be a great friend of mine. He has been a selfless public servant. He has been an outstanding chief of staff. I will miss him dearly, as will members of my staff and Cabinet with whom he’s worked so closely and so well. – WH, 10-1-10
      WH, 10-1-10
    • Rahm Emanuel closed his remarks aterwards touching on his own journey, the President’s, and Pete Rouse’s:
      Both my parents raised me to give something back to the country and the community that has given us so much. And I want to thank you for the opportunity to repay in a small portion of the blessings this country has given my family. I give you my word that even as I leave the White House, I will never leave that spirit of service behind. (Applause.)
      Now, because my temperament is sometimes a bit different than yours, Mr. President — (laughter) — I want to thank my colleagues for your patience the last two years that you have shown. I’m sure you’ve learned some words that you’ve never heard before — (laughter) — and in an assortment of combination of words. (Laughter.) What we learned together was what a group of tireless, talented, committed people can achieve together. And as difficult as it is to leave, I do so with the great comfort of knowing that Pete Rouse will be there to lead the operation forward.
      From the moment I arrived, and the moment he arrived, Pete has been a good friend with great judgment. He commands the respect of everyone in this building and brings decades of experience to this assignment.
      Finally, I want to thank my wife Amy and our three remarkable children — Zach, Ilana and Leah — without whose love and support none of this would have been possible. I hope to end this soon so they can all get back to school today and finish their exams. (Laughter.)
      Mr. President, thank you. And thank you all. I look forward to seeing you in Chicago. (Applause.) – WH, 10-1-10
    • Eric Cantor: ‘Things Could Get Pretty Messy’ The man who would be the next House majority leader talks about the GOP agenda and working with Obama: ‘Look, we know we screwed up when we were in the majority. We fell in love with power. We spent way too much money— especially on earmarks. There was too much corruption when we ran this place. We were guilty. And that’s why we lost.”
      That’s the confession of Eric Cantor, the 47-year old congressman from Richmond, Va. If Republicans win back the House in November’s elections, Mr. Cantor would be the next majority leader—the second most powerful post in that chamber behind the speaker. And he could be Barack Obama’s worst nightmare…. – WSJ, 10-2-10

    HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

    The President Records the Weekly Address
    White House Photo, Lawrence Jackson, 10/1/10
    • Gerald Uelmen: Meg Whitman fuzzes Rose Bird quote as Jerry Brown backpedals: Brown hasn’t said anything like that about Bird. But his attempt to distance himself from his appointee by invoking Eisenhower is a tough comparison to make. Eisenhower wasn’t especially close to Warren, but appointed him in a well- documented political trade: the California governor pledged to support Ike at the 1952 Republican convention in exchange for the first available Supreme Court vacancy.
      Gerald Uelmen, a Santa Clara University law professor and court historian, said he doesn’t buy Brown’s “Eisenhower defense.” “I think he (Brown) knew what he was getting,” Uelmen said. “I think what’s going on here is a little rewriting of history.” San Francisco Chronicle, 10-8-10
    • Alan Brinkley: Anatomy of an Uprising: GIVE US LIBERTY A Tea Party Manifesto By Dick Armey and Matt Kibbe, BOILING MAD Inside Tea Party America, By Kate Zernike THE WHITES OF THEIR EYES The Tea Party’s Revolution and the Battle Over American History By Jill Lepore
      Jill Lepore, a historian of the American Revolution and a staff writer at The New Yorker, has written a brief but valuable book, “The Whites of Their Eyes: The Tea Party’s Revolution and the Battle Over American History,” which combines her own interviews with Tea Partiers (mostly from her home state, Massachusetts) and her deep knowledge of the founders and of their view of the Constitution. The architects of the Constitution, she makes clear, did not agree about what it meant. Nor did they believe that the Constitution would or should be the final word on the character of the nation and the government. It was the product of much compromise, and few were satisfied with all its parts…. – NYT, 10-8-10
    • Victor Davis Hanson: Rope-a-dope: Obama’s plan: After 2010, will he be Carter or Clinton? That is the ongoing parlor game now played among pundits over how President Barack Obama will react to a probable shellacking of the Democrats in midterm elections next month. Jimmy Carter stuck to his liberal agenda after suffering a modest rebuke in the 1978 midterms amid sky-high inflation, interest rates and unemployment. He didn’t take voters’ hint and went on to get clobbered two years later by Ronald Reagan. In contrast, after his party was slaughtered in the 1994 midterms (losing 51 House and eight Senate seats), a triangulating Bill Clinton moved to the center and handily won re-election in 1996. So what will Obama do if he loses a Democratic majority in the House and quite possibly the Senate, as his approval ratings tank to 40 percent? Most likely, he will stick to his liberal orthodoxy — but in a way unlike Carter. Yet, like Clinton, Obama may still have a good chance at re-election…. – Chicago Tribune, 10-7-10
    • Julian E. Zelizer: ‘Facebook politics’ is fleeting: The Tea Party has rekindled excitement in the potential of the internet to nurture mass political movements by using the Web to raise money and mobilize manpower.
      Activists have used many aspects of cyberspace: Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, iPod apps and more to rally their supporters. According to Investors.com, “Democrats and their allies dominated cyberspace for years. Now the political right, with the Tea Party explosion, at the very least is matching the left.”
      The stories about the Tea Party movement resemble the narrative about Barack Obama’s campaign.
      In 2008, Democrats used cyberspace to the same effect. Relying on what I called “Facebook politics,” the Democrats took Republicans by surprise by demonstrating how powerful a vehicle the internet could be in promoting a candidacy, bringing like-minded citizens together and offering an organizational infrastructure for movement politics.
      Yet will this form of organizing work over the long term? Can it sustain a movement after the drama of an election is over?….
      Without question, Facebook politics has reshaped the political landscape….
      It is far too easy for the most fervent supporter of a candidate or cause to simply defriend the movement and move on to something else.
      Rather than strong, shared memories of participating in something bigger than themselves, the experience might just leave behind the address of a Web page in the auto-fill mechanism of their browser or an occasional text alert to remind them of their political past. – CNN, 10-5-10

    August 9, 2010: President Obama Celebrates his Birthday, Jobs Bill & the Economy

    OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 111TH CONGRESS:

    The President Records the Weekly Address
    White House Photo, Samantha Appleton, 8/6/10

    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.

    IN FOCUS: THE PRESIDENT’S BIRTHDAY

    • Obama gets to test his game against hoops greats: Every hoops fan dreams of that one special birthday when his pro-ball heroes gather on a court to see if he’s got game. President Obama had that chance Sunday, assembling a virtual dream team of college and pro basketball players for a presidential pickup game in front of wounded veterans and participants in a White House mentoring program. Obama, who turned 49 on Wednesday, took to the court for a game with a stunning list of all-stars, including Grant Hill, Shane Battier, Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Derek Fisher, LeBron James, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Maya Moore, Alonzo Mourning, Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Bill Russell, Etan Thomas, Dwyane Wade and David West. The game was closed to the media… – WaPo, 8-8-10
    • Obama’s ladies phone in happy birthday wishes: President Barack Obama got a couple of birthday presents that didn’t need unwrapping, and the White House says they were the highlight of his day. Obama turned 49 on Wednesday. Spokesman Robert Gibbs says the president got birthday wishes by telephone from first lady Michelle Obama and their daughter Sasha, who are visiting Spain. And daughter Malia, who is away at camp, used her allotted phone time to call around lunchtime to wish her dad a happy birthday…. – AP, 8-5-10
    • Obama celebrates with Chicago friends (including Oprah): President Obama enjoyed a birthday dinner last night with some old Chicago friends, including one very prominent one: Oprah Winfrey. The talk show queen and friend Gayle King joined Obama at the Chicago restaurant graham elliot (the name really is in small letters, so you know it’s fancy). Long-time pals Eric Whittaker, Marty Nesbitt, and Valerie Jarrett also helped Obama celebrate his 49th birthday, as a crowd of about 75 people gathered on the street in the River North neighborhood. Obama — dark jacket, white shirt, no tie — spent more than three hours at the restaurant and left about 10:50 p.m…. – USA Today, 8-5-10
    • Obama celebrates with Chicago friends: Obama had to celebrate with friends because his family is spread out across the globe. Wife Michelle and daughter Sasha are vacationing in Spain, while daughter Malia is at camp — and all checked in throughout the day, as reported by spokesman Robert Gibbs:
      The President received two phone calls, first from the First Lady and Sasha, who, as you know, are traveling, to wish him a happy birthday …. I think everyone knows that, much to the President’s chagrin, Malia is away at camp. She gets one phone call during that time away, and she used that phone call around lunchtime today to call in and wish her Dad a happy birthday. And needless to say, both those calls were the highlights of his day. – USA Today, 8-5-10
    • Obama to have belated birthday bash: President Barack Obama may be celebrating his 49th birthday Wednesday without his wife and daughters, but CNN has learned there will be a hush-hush party at the White House on Sunday with close family and friends to make it up to him. Two top White House aides confirmed the belated birthday bash on the condition of anonymity because the details are a state secret around the corridors of the West Wing.
      “There will be some stuff Sunday,” a top adviser to the president said vaguely without giving away any of the details…. – CNN, 8-4-10

    KAGAN CONFIRMED AND SWORN IN AS THE 112TH JUSTICE

    • Kagan Is Sworn in as the Fourth Woman, and 112th Justice, on the Supreme Court: Elena Kagan was sworn in on Saturday as the 112th person, and fourth woman, to serve on the Supreme Court, continuing a generational and demographic transformation of the nation’s highest bench.
      In keeping with tradition, Ms. Kagan first took the constitutional oath given to a wide array of officials and then the judicial oath administered to those wearing the robe. Joined by family and friends in the Supreme Court building, she swore to “administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich.”
      The low-key formal ceremony came two days after she was confirmed by the Senate and a day after President Obama marked her ascension with a jubilant televised celebration in the East Room of the White House. She was Mr. Obama’s second successful nominee to the court, and her approval by the Senate was taken as a jolt of validation for a White House battered by political and economic troubles…. – NYT, 8-8-10
    • Kagan sworn in as fourth woman on Supreme Court: Elena Kagan was sworn in Saturday as the 112th justice and fourth woman ever to serve on the Supreme Court. Chief Justice John Roberts administered the oath to Kagan in a brief private ceremony at the court. Kagan, joined by family and friends, pledged to faithfully and impartially uphold the law. Afterward, she smiled broadly as a crowd of onlookers stood and applauded. “We look forward to serving with you,” Roberts said…. – AP, 8-7-10
    • Elena Kagan sworn in as Supreme Court justice: Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. administers the oath two days after her confirmation by the Senate. She is not expected to dramatically alter the ideological makeup of the court…. – LAT, 8-7-10
    • Brewing legal disputes could define Kagan’s early tenure: Reporting from Washington– This summer, as Elena Kagan quietly moved toward confirmation to the Supreme Court, three major legal disputes took shape that could define her early years. The justices soon will be called upon to decide whether states like Arizona can enforce immigration laws, whether same-sex couples have a right to marry and whether Americans can be required to buy health insurance. Kagan’s record strongly suggests she will vote in favor of federal regulation of immigration and health insurance and vote to oppose discrimination against gays and lesbians. What is less clear is whether she will be voting with a center-left majority that includes Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, or as liberal dissenter on a court whose five Republican appointees outvote the four Democratic appointees…. – LAT, 8-8-10
    • Kagan celebrates with Obama, to be sworn Saturday: A beaming Elena Kagan and President Barack Obama on Friday celebrated her imminent ascension to the Supreme Court with jokes and references to the irreverent sense of humor she put on display during her Senate confirmation hearing.
      An audience in the East Room of the White House, filled with Kagan’s friends and extended family, along with Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Anthony Kennedy, screamed with joy and applauded as Obama introduced “Justice Elena Kagan.” Kagan, 50, holds the title of U.S. solicitor general for one more day.
      “While she may be feeling a twinge of sadness about giving up the title of general — a cool title — I think we can agree that Justice Elena Kagan has a pretty nice ring to it,” Obama said of his second successful appointment to the court…. – AP, 8-6-10
    • Obama on Kagan: ‘This is a good day’: After receiving some so-so news on unemployment this morning, President Obama got to kick back today and celebrate the elevation of his second Supreme Court justice. “This is a good day,” Obama said in a ceremony for Elena Kagan, who on Saturday will be sworn in as the high court’s 112th justice. Noting that he appointed Kagan as U.S. solicitor general two years ago, Obama said: “While she may be feeling a twinge of sadness about giving up the title of general — a cool title — I think we can all agree that Justice Elena Kagan has a pretty nice ring to it.”… – USA Today, 8-6-10
    • Senate confirms Kagan as 112th justice: The Senate confirmed Elena Kagan Thursday as the Supreme Court’s 112th justice and the fourth woman in its history, granting a lifetime term to a lawyer and academic with a reputation for brilliance, a dry sense of humor and a liberal bent.
      The vote was 63-37 for President Barack Obama’s nominee to succeed retired Justice John Paul Stevens.
      Five Republicans joined all but one Democrat and the Senate’s two independents to support Kagan. In a rarely practiced ritual reserved for the most historic votes, senators sat at their desks and stood to cast their votes with “ayes” and “nays.”
      Kagan watched the vote with her Justice Department colleagues in the solicitor general’s conference room, the White House said. Obama, traveling in Chicago, said her confirmation was an affirmation of her character and judicial temperament, and called the addition of another woman to the court a sign of progress for the country…. – AP, 8-5-10
    • Honoring Elena Kagan: Remarks by the President and Elena Kagan at Reception Honoring Her Confirmation: These folks may not agree on much, but they’ve all been impressed, as I have, by Elena’s formidable intellect and path-breaking career — as an acclaimed scholar and presidential advisor, as the first woman to serve as Dean of the Harvard Law School, and most recently as Solicitor General. They admire how, while she could easily have settled into a comfortable practice in corporate law, she chose instead to devote her life to public service. They appreciate her even-handedness and open-mindedness, and her excellent — and often irreverent — sense of humor.
      These are traits that she happens to share with the last Solicitor General who went on to become a Supreme Court Justice — one for whom Elena clerked, and whom she considers one of her heroes — Justice Thurgood Marshall. And we are very proud to have Justice Marshall’s widow here today joining us. (Applause.)
      In a tribute she wrote after Justice Marshall’s death, Elena recalled how she and her fellow clerks took turns standing guard when his casket lay in state at the Supreme Court — and how 20,000 people stood in a line that stretched around the block to pay their respects. They were people from every background and every walk of life: black, white, rich and poor, young and old. Many brought their children, hoping to impress upon them the lessons of Justice Marshall’s extraordinary life. Some left notes, some left flowers. One mourner left a worn slip opinion of Brown v. Board of Education.
      It is, to this day, a moving reminder that the work of our highest Court shapes not just the character of our democracy, but the most fundamental aspects of our daily lives — how we work, how we worship, whether we can speak freely and live fully, whether those words put to paper more than two centuries ago will truly mean something for each of us in our time. – WH, 8-6-10
    • Honoring Elena Kagan: Remarks by Elena Kagan at Reception Honoring Her Confirmation: Finally, I want to thank my family and friends. I have a lot of family here today — my brothers and sister-in- law, a nephew, a niece, aunts, uncles, cousins — and I have a great many friends here as well. You came from all over the country as soon as you heard the Senate had approved my nomination. And I’m moved and deeply grateful for your support.
      And all around me in this room, I feel the presence of my parents. I wouldn’t be standing here today if not for their love and sacrifice and devotion. And although my parents didn’t live to see this day, what I can almost hear them saying — and I think I can hear Justice Marshall saying this to me right now as well — is that this appointment is not just an honor. Much more importantly, it is an obligation — an obligation to protect and preserve the rule of law in this country; an obligation to uphold the rights and liberties afforded by our remarkable Constitution; and an obligation to provide what the inscription on the Supreme Court building promises: equal justice under law.
      Tomorrow, I will take two oaths to uphold this solemn obligation: one, to support and defend the Constitution; and the other, to administer justice without respect to persons, to the rich and poor alike.
      Today, Mr. President, I will simply say to you and to everyone here and across the nation that I will work my hardest and try my best to fulfill these commitments and to serve this country I love as well as I am able. – WH, 8-6-10

    IN FOCUS: STATS

    • Bush Pushes Back Memoirs So GOP Isn’t Hurt In Midterms, Friends Say: George W. Bush pushed back publication of his memoirs, “Decision Points,” out of fear that a public reminder of his presidential legacy would hurt Republicans heading into November’s midterm elections, Bush’s friends tell the Financial Times. The FT reports that Bush refused to allow publication in September, which would have been a better time to unveil his book from a sales perspective. Instead, it’s slated to hit stores on Nov. 9, one week after Election Day. Bush isn’t scheduled to give any interviews for the book tour until Nov. 8.
      For their part, Random House’s Crown group said they made the call to delay “Decision Points,” concluding, “From a media perspective the period leading up to the midterm elections is a very noisy and crowded space and we believe the president’s book will be better served by being launched following that time.” Huff Post, 8-4-10

    THE HEADLINES….

    President Barack Obama Signs the Fair Sentencing Act in the Oval Office

    President Barack Obama signs the Fair Sentencing Act in the Oval Office, Aug. 3, 2010. Joining the President are, from left, Gil Kerlikowske, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Attorney General Eric Holder, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin, of Ill., Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    • Obama touts benefits to Medicare from health law: President Barack Obama says Medicare will exist for many more years, thanks to new legislation that helped put the health care program for America’s seniors on stronger financial footing. Seniors already are benefiting from that new health care law, said Obama, noting that many have received $250 rebates to help buy medicine, for example. Obama said the law and efforts by his administration to eliminate waste, fraud and abuse both in Medicare and across government generally are making the program stronger and cutting health care costs for seniors.
      “Medicare isn’t just a program,” Obama said Saturday in his weekly radio and Internet message. “It’s a commitment to America’s seniors — that after working your whole life, you’ve earned the security of quality health care you can afford.” “As long as I am president, that’s a commitment this country is going to keep” he said. AP, 8-7-10
    • Why GOP reaction is muted as judge affirms gay marriage rights: GOP conservatives may not be itching for a culture war over a judge’s decision overturning California’s gay marriage ban. Economic issues, not cultural ones, are their focus heading into Election 2010…. – CS Monitor, 8-7-10
    • Jobs report puts a damper on Obama’s effort to keep the message positive: President Obama spent much of the week harvesting bits of good news from some of his short- and longer-term initiatives…. – WaPo, 8-6-10
    • Gay Marriage Ruling a Challenge for Both Parties: A federal judge’s decision on Wednesday overturning Proposition 8 — California’s ban on same-sex marriage — has tossed a largely unwanted issue into the middle of the November midterm elections…. – NYT, 8-6-10
    • Romer says her White House departure long planned: Christina Romer, the departing chief of President Barack Obama’s economic advisory council, cast disagreements among key players on the White House economic team as a healthy part of reaching tough policy decisions.
      “Everybody knows we’re all strong personalities,” Romer told The Associated Press on Friday. “We don’t hesitate to have a very aggressive back and forth. But I think one of the things that we have done is absolutely find our groove. We’re a wonderful team.” “I think we’ve served the president well,” Romer said. “He likes to hear different points of view. And we think it helps us get to the best policy.” AP, 8-6-10
    • President Obama’s beliefs meet his policy, Prop 8 ruled unconstitutional: A federal judge in California ruled Wednesday that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage violates the constitutional right to equal protection, the first step in a legal struggle that is widely expected to end at the Supreme Court. Judging by the White House statement after a federal judge struck down California’s Proposition 8 on Wednesday, you might think President Obama supports the rights of gays to marry. The president “has spoken out in opposition to Proposition 8 because it is divisive and discriminatory. He will continue to promote equality for LGBT Americans,” the White House said. But Obama does not endorse gay marriage. As a candidate for president, he consistently said marriage should be reserved for a man and a woman…. – WaPo, 8-5-10
    • Obama and gay marriage — a tricky balancing act: A federal judge’s decision to strike down California’s voter-approved gay marriage ban doesn’t make things any easier for President Obama. Obama opposed the ban when California voters approved Proposition 8 back in 2008, but he also opposes the concept of gay marriage — a tricky balancing act he will have to maintain as the issue works its way through the appeals courts.
      “The president does oppose same-sex marriage, but he supports equality for gay and lesbian couples, and benefits and other issues, and that has been effectuated in federal agencies under his control,” White House aide David Axelrod said today on MSNBC. “He supports civil unions, and that’s been his position throughout. So nothing has changed.”
      Obama opposed Proposition 8 because “he felt that it was divisive,” Axelrod said. “He felt that it was mean-spirited.”
      Social conservatives who oppose gay marriage probably won’t back Obama in any event because of such other issues as abortion…. – USA Today, 8-5-10
    • Fallout Begins After Senate’s Failure to Act on Energy, Oil Spill: After the worst oil leak in U.S. history and months of heated negotiations on energy and spill-response legislation, senators will head home for the August recess empty-handed. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he plans to bring back the spill bill or a broader measure in September, but even narrowed legislation may not pass with a cluttered legislative calendar and the November elections looming…. – NYT, 8-5-10
    • Jobs bill to stop teacher layoffs nears approval: Legislation to provide billions to save the jobs of teachers and other public workers is on track to pass the Senate, helped along by the votes of a couple of GOP moderates. Democrats cracked a GOP filibuster on Wednesday, and the House was being called back from its summer break for an expected final vote next week to help cash-strapped states and school districts…. – AP, 8-5-10
    • Judge overturns California gay marriage ban: A federal judge overturned California’s ban on same-sex marriage Wednesday, the latest twist in a legal saga which could have nationwide implications for the divisive social issue. In a written opinion, Judge Vaughn Walker ruled in favor of rights activists who argued that a November 2008 referendum which barred gays and lesbians from tying the knot was discriminatory and therefore violated the US Constitution. The referendum, known as Proposition 8, was passed by a 52 percent majority only six months after California’s Supreme Court overturned a previous ban on same-sex weddings triggering a flood of same-sex marriages…. – AFP, 8-4-10
    • Senate jobs bill clears key hurdle: Senate Democrats on Wednesday overcame Republican opposition and cleared the way for a $26 billion measure to help states ease their severe budget problems and save the jobs of tens of thousands of teachers and other public employees. The bill advanced by a 61-38 tally that ensures the measure will pass the Senate on Wednesday or Thursday. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Wednesday that she will call the House back into session next week for a final vote that would deliver the bill to President Barack Obama. His larger jobs agenda was curtailed by Republicans who argue against the spending it would entail…. – AP, 8-4-10
    • GOP Senators Push to End Birthright Citizenship: The 14th Amendment is fast becoming the latest front in America’s bitter immigration debate. Key GOP senators, led by South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham, have suggested repealing a clause that gives automatic citizenship to anyone born on U.S. soil. Instead, they propose denying citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants (sometimes called “anchor babies”), thereby ending one of the perceived incentives for people to cross the border. Conservative TV host Lou Dobbs believes it’s a step too far, but on Wednesday, Sen. John McCain signaled a willingness to consider the idea…. – Newsweek, 8-4-10
    • Missouri vote puts health care back in crosshairs: Missouri voters’ overwhelming opposition to requiring nearly all Americans to buy health insurance puts one of the least popular parts of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul law back in the political crosshairs. Even if the vote sets no legally binding precedent, it will help mobilize foes of Obama’s agenda in the fall midterm elections, and that could make a difference in some states with close congressional races that could decide the balance of power in Washington. On Tuesday, Missouri voters cast 71 percent of their ballots in favor of a state measure to bar the government from requiring people to carry health insurance, and penalizing those who don’t…. – AP, 8-4-10
    • Real Reason Bristol Palin, Levi Johnston Split?: Bristol To People Magazine: Levi May Have Gotten Another Woman Pregnant – CBS News, 8-4-10
    • Majority of senators back Kagan on eve of vote: Elena Kagan has won the support of a majority of senators on the eve of a vote to confirm her as the Supreme Court’s fourth woman. At least 51 senators have announced they will back Kagan in the vote expected Thursday. President Barack Obama named the 50-year-old solicitor general to succeed retired Justice John Paul Stevens. She’s drawn the support so far of all but one Democrat — Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska — plus one independent and five Republicans…. – AP, 8-4-10
    • Senate Opens Debate on Kagan: The Senate on Tuesday opened floor debate of on the nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court. Democrats praised her as a sagacious legal mind and a refreshing choice from outside the usual ranks of federal judges, while Republicans denounced her as a liberal partisan who would use her perch on the high court to bend the law to her political views.
      Ms. Kagan, the solicitor general and former dean of Harvard Law School, was chosen by President Obama to replace the retiring Justice John Paul Stevens. She is all but certain to be confirmed, with the Senate Democratic majority virtually unanimous in support and Republicans pledging not to filibuster. A vote is planned by the end of this week, and may happen as soon as Thursday…. – NYT, 8-3-10
    • Jobs, Kagan Are Top Priority for Senate Democrats With the August recess closing in, Harry Reid is pushing his agenda: It’s August and that means Senate Democrats have only a few days left on their legislative agenda before they head home for a month-long recess. With the bulk of Republicans against them on key matters, it could be another fruitless week in the upper chamber, at least as far as voters are concerned…. – US News & World Report, 8-2-10
    • Obama Says GOP Has Same Ideas As Ex-Pres George W Bush: President Barack Obama, speaking at a fundraising event for the Democratic party in Atlanta, said the Republican party hasn’t differentiated itself from former President George W. Bush. “They don’t have a single idea that’s different from George Bush’s ideas–not one,” Obama said to applause. Obama rarely refers to his predecessor by name during speeches, preferring instead to say “the previous administration.”… – WSJ, 8-2-10
    • McCain is Clapper stopper: Sen. John McCain is blocking James Clapper’s nomination for U.S. intelligence chief until he gets a requested report, an aide to the Arizona Republican says…. – UPI, 8-2-10
    • National intelligence director nomination blocked: A spokeswoman for Sen. John McCain says the senator is blocking President Barack Obama’s nominee to be the director of national intelligence. Spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan says the Arizona Republican has requested a specific report from retired Air Force Gen. James R. Clapper. Buchanan declined the provide any details about the report but said it was not related to Clapper or his views. Buchanan said McCain will continue to put a hold on Clapper’s nomination until he provides the report. AP, 8-2-10
    • MIT students helped WikiLeaks suspect, hacker says: Adrian Lamo, the former computer hacker who tipped off federal authorities to WikiLeaks suspect Bradley Manning, says two men in the Boston area have told Lamo in phone conversations that they assisted Manning. Lamo said both men attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but he refused to identify them because, he said, at least one of them has threatened him. One of these men allegedly told Lamo they gave encryption software to Manning and taught the Army private how to use it, Lamo said….. – CNN, 8-2-10

    ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

    • RNC adopts new 2012 presidential primary schedule: The Republican National Committee adopted a new schedule for the 2012 presidential primaries Friday, agreeing to a plan worked out in concert with Democrats and designed to delay the start of the campaign season. The proposal, drafted by a special RNC panel, gained approval from more than the necessary two-thirds of the committee’s 168 members…. – WaPo, 8-6-10
    • GOP to Launch “Fire Pelosi” Bus Tour: Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele tried to energize his party today with the announcement that the RNC is sponsoring a “Fire Pelosi” bus tour this fall. Steele appeared at the RNC convention in Kansas City, Missouri with a red “Fire Pelosi” cap on, the Associated Press reports. “Get on the bus!” he yelled on stage, next to a cardboard bus that read, “Need a job? Fire Pelosi.”… – CBS News, 8-6-10
    • Mo., Mich., Kan., choose candidates in primaries: Voters had no shortage of options in choosing party nominees in Tuesday’s primaries as they focused on successors to Republican senators in Kansas and Missouri and term-limited Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm.
      Five Republicans and two Democrats were vying to succeed Granholm in Michigan, a state reeling from the economic downturn. Three Democrats and nine Republicans were running in Missouri’s Senate race, and four Republicans and five Democrats were competing for their party’s Senate nominations in Kansas.
      Ballots were even more crowded — with up to as many as nine candidates in some cases — in House races in all three states…. – AP, 8-3-10
    • Term limits will hobble more Republicans than Democrats: State’s term limits law will hobble more Republicans than Democrats in the upcoming November elections, according to the Montana Secretary of State…. – Belgrade News, 8-3-10

    POLITICAL QUOTES

    • Weekly Address: President Obama Highlights Benefits to Seniors Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
      Remarks of President Barack Obama As Prepared for Delivery Saturday, August 7, 2010 Washington, DC:

      Forty-five years ago, we made a solemn compact as a nation that senior citizens would not go without the health care they need. This is the promise we made when Medicare was born. And it’s the responsibility of each generation to keep that promise.
      That’s why a report issued this week by the Trustees who oversee Medicare was such good news. According to this report, the steps we took this year to reform the health care system have put Medicare on a sounder financial footing. Reform has actually added at least a dozen years to the solvency of Medicare – the single longest extension in history – while helping to preserve Medicare for generations to come….
      We’ve made Medicare more solvent by going after waste, fraud, and abuse – not by changing seniors’ guaranteed benefits. In fact, seniors are starting to see that because of health reform, their benefits are getting better all the time.
      And as reform ramps up in the coming years, we expect seniors to save an average of $200 per year in premiums and more than $200 each year in out of pocket costs, too…. So we are no longer accepting business as usual. We’re making tough decisions to meet the challenges of our time. And as a result, Medicare is stronger and more secure. That’s important. Because Medicare isn’t just a program. It’s a commitment to America’s seniors – that after working your whole life, you’ve earned the security of quality health care you can afford. As long as I am President, that’s a commitment this country is going to keep…. – WH, 8-7-10
    • Palin: Obama ‘in over his head’: Sarah Palin’s critiques of President Obama continue to draw buzz. Just a few days after saying Obama lacked the “cojones” to tackle illegal immigration, Palin told Fox conservative talk show host Sean Hannity that Obama simply isn’t up to the job:
      I think he’s quite complacent. And I think he’s in over his head. And I think he has poor advisers around him. And I think he’s really in flux kind of when it comes to what his governing philosophy actually is. Some of this, though, is a result of he not having much experience and then a complicit media and maybe some voters who chose to not to allow him to be vetted very closely. – USA Today, 8-6-10
    • Mitch McConnell: After November, Legislation Is ‘Going To Have To Be Center Right’: “What I hope we are going to have after November is more balance, more balance, which would give us the opportunity to do things together that simply were missing when you have this kind of disparity,” McConnell said. “But, I’m not going to be very interested in doing things left of center. It is going to have to be center right. I think the president is a flexible man. I’m hoping he will become a born-again moderate.” – Huff Post, 8-5-10
    • Obama salutes promised end of US combat in Iraq: Nearing a milestone in the long and divisive Iraq war, President Barack Obama on Monday hailed this month’s planned withdrawal of all U.S. combat troops — “as promised and on schedule” — as a major success despite deep doubts about the Iraqis’ ability to police and govern their country.
      Portraying the end of America’s combat role in the 7-year war as a personal promise kept, Obama said Iraq will have 90,000 fewer U.S. troops by September than when he took office — a steady homeward flow he called “a season of homecomings.” But there could still be more fighting involving U.S. forces.
      “The hard truth is we have not seen the end of American sacrifice in Iraq,” the president said in a speech to the national convention of the Disabled American Veterans. “But make no mistake, our commitment in Iraq is changing — from a military effort led by our troops to a civilian effort led by our diplomats.”… – AP, 8-2-10

    HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

    • At the White House, Losing a Game of Phone Tag: The White House switchboard — able to conjure up Santa Claus at a moment’s notice for a young Caroline Kennedy — is famous for its ability to track down anyone, anywhere, anytime. But last week, both the White House and the secretary of agriculture, Tom Vilsack, were unable to muster that switchboard magic to reach Shirley Sherrod….
      “I was astonished,” said Richard Reeves, a professor at the University of Southern California and the author of several books about the presidency. “It seems impossible to me that the president can’t get to people anytime he wants to.”…
      Douglas Brinkley, a history professor at Rice University, had his own take: “It may be a metaphor for a kind of societal incompetence, where a 20-year-old intern for CNN or Fox or MSNBC can track down the main players, when the federal government can’t.”… – NYT (7-25-10)
    • Julian Zelizer: Don’t give Obama blank check on war: Despite all the questions surrounding the war in Afghanistan, congressional Democrats have not challenged the administration’s policies since President Obama announced a surge of troops in 2009….
      Democrats don’t want Afghanistan to become a political problem for Obama. Their party is having enough trouble as a result of the recession and the deficit that they don’t want to give their opponents one more issue to run on. Democrats, who have suffered for decades when being attacked as “weak on defense,” also fear that any questions about the war will open them up to those attacks again….
      Democrats can’t continue to write a blank check for this president. They must use the power of oversight and investigation to start addressing the problems with the war strategy and to create pressure on the administration to strengthen its military plans for the coming year. They can’t simply trust the president do just to the right thing. Too often, when Congress has remained silent, presidents have made huge mistakes — and it has taken decades for the nation to recover…. – CNN, 8-3-10

    Kagan Confirmed and Sworn-in as the 112th Supreme Court Justice

    KAGAN CONFIRMED AND SWORN IN AS THE 112TH JUSTICE

    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.

    https://bonniekaryn.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/kaganceremony.jpg

    AP Elena Kagan is sworn in Saturday as the Supreme Court’s newest member as Chief Justice John Roberts, right, administers the judicial oath. More photos

    • Kagan sworn in as fourth woman on Supreme Court: Elena Kagan was sworn in Saturday as the 112th justice and fourth woman ever to serve on the Supreme Court. Chief Justice John Roberts administered the oath to Kagan in a brief private ceremony at the court. Kagan, joined by family and friends, pledged to faithfully and impartially uphold the law. Afterward, she smiled broadly as a crowd of onlookers stood and applauded. “We look forward to serving with you,” Roberts said…. – AP, 8-7-10
    • Elena Kagan sworn in as Supreme Court justice: Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. administers the oath two days after her confirmation by the Senate. She is not expected to dramatically alter the ideological makeup of the court…. – LAT, 8-7-10
    • Brewing legal disputes could define Kagan’s early tenure: Reporting from Washington– This summer, as Elena Kagan quietly moved toward confirmation to the Supreme Court, three major legal disputes took shape that could define her early years. The justices soon will be called upon to decide whether states like Arizona can enforce immigration laws, whether same-sex couples have a right to marry and whether Americans can be required to buy health insurance. Kagan’s record strongly suggests she will vote in favor of federal regulation of immigration and health insurance and vote to oppose discrimination against gays and lesbians. What is less clear is whether she will be voting with a center-left majority that includes Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, or as liberal dissenter on a court whose five Republican appointees outvote the four Democratic appointees…. – LAT, 8-8-10
    • Kagan celebrates with Obama, to be sworn Saturday: A beaming Elena Kagan and President Barack Obama on Friday celebrated her imminent ascension to the Supreme Court with jokes and references to the irreverent sense of humor she put on display during her Senate confirmation hearing.
      An audience in the East Room of the White House, filled with Kagan’s friends and extended family, along with Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Anthony Kennedy, screamed with joy and applauded as Obama introduced “Justice Elena Kagan.” Kagan, 50, holds the title of U.S. solicitor general for one more day.
      “While she may be feeling a twinge of sadness about giving up the title of general — a cool title — I think we can agree that Justice Elena Kagan has a pretty nice ring to it,” Obama said of his second successful appointment to the court…. – AP, 8-6-10
    • Obama on Kagan: ‘This is a good day’: After receiving some so-so news on unemployment this morning, President Obama got to kick back today and celebrate the elevation of his second Supreme Court justice. “This is a good day,” Obama said in a ceremony for Elena Kagan, who on Saturday will be sworn in as the high court’s 112th justice. Noting that he appointed Kagan as U.S. solicitor general two years ago, Obama said: “While she may be feeling a twinge of sadness about giving up the title of general — a cool title — I think we can all agree that Justice Elena Kagan has a pretty nice ring to it.”… – USA Today, 8-6-10
    • Senate confirms Kagan as 112th justice: The Senate confirmed Elena Kagan Thursday as the Supreme Court’s 112th justice and the fourth woman in its history, granting a lifetime term to a lawyer and academic with a reputation for brilliance, a dry sense of humor and a liberal bent.
      The vote was 63-37 for President Barack Obama’s nominee to succeed retired Justice John Paul Stevens.
      Five Republicans joined all but one Democrat and the Senate’s two independents to support Kagan. In a rarely practiced ritual reserved for the most historic votes, senators sat at their desks and stood to cast their votes with “ayes” and “nays.”
      Kagan watched the vote with her Justice Department colleagues in the solicitor general’s conference room, the White House said. Obama, traveling in Chicago, said her confirmation was an affirmation of her character and judicial temperament, and called the addition of another woman to the court a sign of progress for the country…. – AP, 8-5-10
    The President honors Elena Kagan
    White House Photo, Chuck Kennedy, 8/6/10
    • Honoring Elena Kagan: Remarks by the President and Elena Kagan at Reception Honoring Her Confirmation: These folks may not agree on much, but they’ve all been impressed, as I have, by Elena’s formidable intellect and path-breaking career — as an acclaimed scholar and presidential advisor, as the first woman to serve as Dean of the Harvard Law School, and most recently as Solicitor General. They admire how, while she could easily have settled into a comfortable practice in corporate law, she chose instead to devote her life to public service. They appreciate her even-handedness and open-mindedness, and her excellent — and often irreverent — sense of humor.
      These are traits that she happens to share with the last Solicitor General who went on to become a Supreme Court Justice — one for whom Elena clerked, and whom she considers one of her heroes — Justice Thurgood Marshall. And we are very proud to have Justice Marshall’s widow here today joining us. (Applause.)
      In a tribute she wrote after Justice Marshall’s death, Elena recalled how she and her fellow clerks took turns standing guard when his casket lay in state at the Supreme Court — and how 20,000 people stood in a line that stretched around the block to pay their respects. They were people from every background and every walk of life: black, white, rich and poor, young and old. Many brought their children, hoping to impress upon them the lessons of Justice Marshall’s extraordinary life. Some left notes, some left flowers. One mourner left a worn slip opinion of Brown v. Board of Education.
      It is, to this day, a moving reminder that the work of our highest Court shapes not just the character of our democracy, but the most fundamental aspects of our daily lives — how we work, how we worship, whether we can speak freely and live fully, whether those words put to paper more than two centuries ago will truly mean something for each of us in our time. – WH, 8-6-10
    • Honoring Elena Kagan: Remarks by Elena Kagan at Reception Honoring Her Confirmation: Finally, I want to thank my family and friends. I have a lot of family here today — my brothers and sister-in- law, a nephew, a niece, aunts, uncles, cousins — and I have a great many friends here as well. You came from all over the country as soon as you heard the Senate had approved my nomination. And I’m moved and deeply grateful for your support.
      And all around me in this room, I feel the presence of my parents. I wouldn’t be standing here today if not for their love and sacrifice and devotion. And although my parents didn’t live to see this day, what I can almost hear them saying — and I think I can hear Justice Marshall saying this to me right now as well — is that this appointment is not just an honor. Much more importantly, it is an obligation — an obligation to protect and preserve the rule of law in this country; an obligation to uphold the rights and liberties afforded by our remarkable Constitution; and an obligation to provide what the inscription on the Supreme Court building promises: equal justice under law.
      Tomorrow, I will take two oaths to uphold this solemn obligation: one, to support and defend the Constitution; and the other, to administer justice without respect to persons, to the rich and poor alike.
      Today, Mr. President, I will simply say to you and to everyone here and across the nation that I will work my hardest and try my best to fulfill these commitments and to serve this country I love as well as I am able. – WH, 8-6-10

    Supreme Court Nominee Elena Kagan: Senate Confirmation Hearing Roundup

    OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 111TH CONGRESS:


    Luke Sharrett/The New York Times
    Solicitor General Elena Kagan faced questions from senators including, clockwise from top left, Jeff Sessions, Patrick J. Leahy, Ted Kaufman, Arlen Specter, Al Franken, Jon Kyl, Charles E. Grassley and Orrin G. Hatch.

    IN FOCUS: STATS

    • Kagan will be Confirmed: Elena Kagan is speeding toward confirmation as the 112th Supreme Court justice, with Republicans showing little appetite for a long-shot filibuster attempt after sparring with her over abortion, gays in the military and other divisive issues. “Solicitor General Kagan will be confirmed,” Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., confidently predicted as the Senate Judiciary Committee wrapped up its examination of President Barack Obama’s high court pick…. – AP, 7-1-10
    • The Kagan Hearings and Politics of Life Tenure on Supreme Court Should Congress Impose Term Limits for Supreme Court Justices?: If Elena Kagan is confirmed to the Supreme Court and she serves until she’s 90 — the age of her predecessor Justice John Paul Stevens — she would become the longest serving justice in U.S. history. It’s a weighty and not unreasonable prospect that has hovered over her Senate confirmation hearings on Capitol Hill this week, fueling tough questioning of the 50 year-old nominee who faces appointment for life.
      In a new CSPAN poll, 53 percent of Americans say they “disagree” with the policy that says justices should remain on the bench as long as they display “good behavior.”… – ABC News, 7-1-10
    • Elena Kagan Confirmation Hearings Liveblog, Day 3 – Talk Radio News, 6-30-10
    • SCOTUS Hearings Live Blog: Elena Kagan Day 2CBS News, 6-29-10
    • SCOTUS Hearings Live Blog: Elena Kagan Day 1CBS News, 6-28-10

    THE HEADLINES….

    • SPIN METER: What happened to the Kagan standard?: Elena Kagan declined to discuss her passions, demurred when asked anything that might tip her hand on the Supreme Court and invoked her right to remain inscrutable even on cases buried in the past. In short, Kagan did her best to ensure her high court nomination hearing was just the kind of benign event she criticized years ago for lacking “seriousness and substance.”…. – AP, 7-1-10
    • Kagan Ends Hearings, Confirmation In Sight: After Third Day of Senate Testimony, Dems and Republicans Agree Supreme Court Nominee Elena Kagan Will Likely be Confirmed… – CBS News, 6-30-10
    • Republicans Press Kagan on Social Issues: They grilled her on her handling of military recruitment at Harvard Law School. They highlighted how, as an aide to President Bill Clinton, she helped edit a medical group’s statement to strengthen support for the procedure critics call partial-birth abortion. They painted her as a partisan and suggested she would be too deferential to Congress when reviewing the constitutionality of sweeping legislation, like President Obama’s landmark health care law.
      But try as they might, Republicans could not knock Solicitor General Elena Kagan off her stride. And as her second day of questioning by the Senate Judiciary Committee wound down on Wednesday, some conceded that her confirmation to the Supreme Court was all but assured… – NYT, 7-1-10
    • Court Jester? Kagan Draws Laughs at Confirmation Hearings: There isn’t a two drink minimum at the Senate Judiciary Committee, but maybe there should be. At times Elena Kagan’s hearings have felt more like Kagan’s comedy club than a Supreme Court confirmation hearing…. – CBS News, 6-30-10
    • Elena Kagan, if Supreme Court doesn’t work out, try the Borscht Belt: She won’t bite on THE Twilight question. She cracks a fortune cookie comeback to an odd question on Christmas. If Elena Kagan should somehow not be confirmed for the U.S. Supreme Court, she could try the Borscht Belt. That was the old route for Jewish comics through the Catskills resorts popular as retreats for urban Jews like those from her home turf on the Upper West Side… – USA Today, 6-30-10
    • Kagan Follows Precedent by Offering Few Opinions: Elena Kagan deflected questions about her own views on gun rights and abortion during her Supreme Court confirmation hearings on Tuesday, instead describing Supreme Court precedents. She declined to say whether terrorism suspects must be warned of the right to remain silent, saying the issue was “quite likely to get to the courts.”
      Ms. Kagan’s responses, during a long and sometimes tense day of parrying with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, were similar to those of Supreme Court nominees past. But unlike her predecessors, Ms. Kagan wrote a 1995 article calling for judicial nominees to be more forthcoming. On Tuesday, minutes into her testimony, she backpedaled, saying she now believed it would be inappropriate even to answer questions that might “provide some kind of hints” about her views on matters of legal controversy.
      “I think that that was wrong,” she said. “I think that — in particular, that it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to talk about what I think about past cases — you know, to grade cases — because those cases themselves might again come before the court.”… – NYT, 6-30-10

    POLITICAL QUOTES

    • Elena Kagan’s Opening Statement: Excerpts: “Mr. Chairman, the law school I had the good fortune to lead has a kind of motto, spoken each year at graduation. We tell the new graduates that they are ready to enter a profession devoted to “those wise restraints that make us free.” That phrase has always captured for me the way law, and the rule of law, matters. What the rule of law does is nothing less than to secure for each of us what our Constitution calls “the blessings of liberty” – those rights and freedoms, that promise of equality, that have defined this nation since its founding. And what the Supreme Court does is to safeguard the rule of law, through a commitment to even-handedness, principle, and restraint.
      “The idea is engraved on the very face of the Supreme Court building: Equal Justice Under Law. It means that everyone who comes before the Court – regardless of wealth or power or station – receives the same process and the same protections. What this commands of judges is even-handedness and impartiality. What it promises is nothing less than a fair shake for every American.
      “[T]he Supreme Court is a wondrous institution. But the time I spent in the other branches of government remind me that it must also be a modest one – properly deferential to the decisions of the American people and their elected representatives. What I most took away from those experiences was simple admiration for the democratic process. That process is often messy and frustrating, but the people of this country have great wisdom, and their representatives work hard to protect their interests. The Supreme Court, of course, has the responsibility of ensuring that our government never oversteps its proper bounds or violates the rights of individuals. But the Court must also recognize the limits on itself and respect the choices made by the American people.”
      “I’ve led a school whose faculty and students examine and discuss and debate every aspect of our law and legal system. And what I’ve learned most is that no one has a monopoly on truth or wisdom. I’ve learned that we make progress by listening to each other, across every apparent political or ideological divide. I’ve learned that we come closest to getting things right when we approach every person and every issue with an open mind. And I’ve learned the value of a habit that Justice Stevens wrote about more than fifty years ago – of ‘understanding before disagreeing.’
      I will make no pledges this week other than this one – that if confirmed, I will remember and abide by all these lessons. I will listen hard, to every party before the Court and to each of my colleagues. I will work hard. And I will do my best to consider every case impartially, modestly, with commitment to principle, and in accordance with law.” – CBS News, 6-28-10

    HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

    • Jonathan Sarna: Is Kagan’s Jewishness Being Used Against Her?: Jewish groups may be even more silent than usual because Kagan, if confirmed, would be the third Jew at one time on the Supreme Court — an historic first. Brandeis historian Jonathan Sarna said Jewish groups tend to be quieter when the nominee is Jewish. “Privately, there’s a residual concern that maybe if we’re noisy, we could hurt the nominee and that it might raise anti-Semitic comments about the candidate.” — NY Jewish Week, 6-30-10
    • E.J. Dionne Jr: The New Republic: Liberals And The Judiciary:
      This week’s hearings over Elena Kagan’s nomination to the Supreme Court will mark a sea change in the way liberals argue about the judiciary.
      Democratic senators are planning to put the right of citizens to challenge corporate power at the center of their critique of activist conservative judging, offering a case that has not been fully aired since the days of the great Progressive Era Justice Louis Brandeis.
      It was Brandeis who warned against the “concentration of economic power” and observed that “so-called private corporations are sometimes able to dominate the state.”
      None of this means that Kagan’s nomination is in jeopardy. On the contrary, she’ll be approved easily, and should be. She will be calm and reassuring during her hearings that start Monday. And unless we live in an age of partisan double standards, she can’t be asked to be anymore forthcoming about her views than were Chief Justice John Roberts or Justice Samuel Alito…. – NPR, 6-28-10
    %d bloggers like this: