Political Highlights March 14, 2011: President & Michelle Obama Launch Anti-Bullying Initiative — Reactions to Japan’s Earthquake — Budget Battles — Wisconsin Passes Anti-Union Bill

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS

By Bonnie K. Goodman

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

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama's News Conference
White House Photo, Pete Souza, 3/11/11

STATS & POLLS

  • StopBullying.gov
  • Obama weekly approval rating lowest of the year: Gallup reported that Obama’s latest weekly approval rating — Feb. 28-March 6 — clocked in at 46%, it’s lowest level since mid-December.
    “Obama’s weekly approval rating had steadily improved from mid-December to late January, peaking at 50% during the final two weeks in January, before dropping below that mark in February,” Gallup said. It also reported that “Obama is now essentially back to where he was in the immediate post-election phase of 2010,” when Republicans won control of the U.S. House and picked up six Senate seats… – USA Today, 3-8-11
  • Sarah Palin’s Popularity Slips to 60 Percent Disapproval Rate in Poll:
    Sarah Palin, perhaps the most closely watched of all potential 2012 Republican presidential candidates, is viewed in an unfavorable light by 60 percent of those questioned in a new Bloomberg News poll. Palin’s numbers suggest she would face a challenge in attracting voters beyond her conservative base if she decides to run for president next year. Bloomberg’s survey of 1,001 adults was taken between March 4-7 by the Iowa firm, Selzer & Co. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
    Within the 60 percent who disapproved of Palin, 38 percent said they had “very unfavorable” feelings about her. She was viewed favorably by 28 percent, with only 4 percent not sure how they felt. A December Bloomberg poll had Palin’s unfavorable rating at 57 percent…. – Politics Daily, 3-11-11
  • Poll: Evangelicals Like Huckabee, Palin; Not Obama: Among evangelicals, Huckabee’s ratings (88 percent favorable, 11 percent unfavorable) led those of Palin (79 percent favorable, 21 percent unfavorable), Gingrich (57 percent/37 percent), Romney (56 percent/29 percent and Ron Paul (51 percent/26 percent). Obama, though, is viewed favorably by only 6 percent of evangelicals. Ninety-four percent view him unfavorably…. – Baptist Press, 3-7-11
  • Poll: New Jerseyans’ opinion of Gov. Christie has dropped 10 points: New Jerseyans’ opinion of Gov. Chris Christie has dropped 10 points since December, according to a Rutgers- Eagleton poll made public Monday. At the same time, a strong majority of residents, 57 percent, hold a favorable view of President Obama, while only 36 percent view him unfavorably. The president’s favorable rating remains largely unchanged since December…. – New Jersey Newsroom, 3-7-11

REVOLUTIONS IN THE MIDDLE EAST: LIBYA IN TURMOIL

  • Arab League’s backing of no-fly zone over Libya increases pressure on West: The Arab League endorsed the imposition of a no-fly zone over Libya on Saturday and recognized the fledgling rebel movement seeking to topple Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi… – WaPo, 3-12-11
  • Bahrain protesters clash with police: Sunday’s clashes between police and anti-government protesters are among the most violent since a Feb. 17 protest. At Bahrain University, Shiite Muslims clash with Sunnis amid rising sectarian tension…. – LAT, 3-14-11
  • In Libya, an underground jail a daunting reminder of Moammar Gaddafi’s grip: Fadlallah Haroun spent seven years in Libyan prisons without being charged. Here he is seen through a hole in the roof of an underground prison found in the rebel-held city of Benghazi…. – WaPo, 3-12-11
  • Clinton urges reform in post-revolt Egypt, Tunisia: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s trip to the turbulent Middle East highlights the Obama administration’s deep concern over developments in Libya and fear that the unrest roiling the Arab world may not produce the changes demanded by increasingly vocal and emboldened anti-government protesters.
    Failure to meet those demands for greater economic, political and social freedoms could spark more chaos and complicate the U.S. position in one of the world’s most critical regions… – AP, 3-13-11
  • Gadhafi drives rebels from one of last strongholds: Moammar Gadhafi’s forces swept rebels from one of their final strongholds with hours of searing waves of strikes from warships, tanks and warplanes on Sunday but the insurgents claimed that they moved back in after nightfall. One rebel said that after their initial defeat, opposition forces destroyed armored vehicles and captured dozens of fighters from Gadhafi’s elite Khamis Brigade in the oil town of Brega, driving others back into the town’s airport…. – AP, 3-13-11
  • White House hails Arab League no-fly zone request: The White House says the Arab League has taken an “important step” by asking the U.N. Security Council to impose a no-fly zone over Libya and increasing international pressure on Moammar Gadhafi.
    A statement from the White House says there’s a clear international message that the violence in Libya must stop…. – AP, 3-12-11
  • Bahrain protesters march on palace as Gates visits: Tens of thousands of Bahraini protesters encircled one of the royal family’s palaces Saturday, shouting calls for political freedom and the king’s ouster a day after a similar march triggered a violent response from security forces. There was no repeat of the violent scenes from a day earlier when police backed by pro-government mobs drove crowds back from a different palace by firing rubber bullets and tear gas in a melee that injured dozens, according to witness accounts. In contrast, Saturday’s demonstration — which coincided with a visit by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates — was allowed to ring the palace with police deployed only inside its premisses… – AP, 3-12-11
  • Gates: Arab nations must enact democratic reforms: U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Saturday he believes leaders in Persian Gulf ally Bahrain are serious about addressing grievances that have spawned a growing protest movement, but swift action is needed to deny rival Iran the chance to exploit the current instability.
    “I told them that in this instance, time is not our friend” in light of Iran’s interest in capitalizing on the unrest, the Pentagon chief said in an interview after meetings in Manama, the capital. “We have no evidence that suggested that Iran started any of these popular revolutions or demonstrations across the region, but there is clear evidence that as the process is protracted — particularly in Bahrain — that the Iranians are looking for ways to exploit it and create problems,” Gates said…. – AP, 3-12-11
  • Gadhafi pushes ahead as Arab League calls for help: The world moved a step closer to a decision on imposing a no-fly zone over Libya but Moammar Gadhafi was swiftly advancing Saturday on the poorly equipped and loosely organized rebels who have seized much of the country…. – AP, 3-12-11
  • AP Interview: Libyan rebels plead for no-fly zone: A rebel leader pleaded Saturday with the international community to approve a no-fly zone over Libya as Moammar Gadhafi’s forces gained strength in the east, securing a key port city and oil refinery.
    Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, the head of the opposition’s interim governing council, also expressed disappointment over the failure to act by the United States and other Western countries, which have expressed solidarity with the rebels in their fight to oust Gadhafi but stopped short of approving any military action.
    “If there is no no-fly zone imposed on Gadhafi’s regime, and if his ships are not checked then we will have a catastrophe in Libya,” Abdul-Jalil told The Associated Press in an interview in a professors’ lounge at the Omar Mukhtar University in Bayda, where he is also head of the city council…. – AP, 3-12-11
  • US extends sanctions on Gadhafi clan, advisers: The Obama administration extended its Libya sanctions to more Gadhafi family members and close advisers on Thursday, blacklisting business with the Libyan leader’s wife, four of his children and his chief of military intelligence.
    The Treasury Department froze the assets of nine Libyans in all as part of the strategy to peel off Moammar Gadhafi’s closest advisers while punishing those who remain loyal to the regime even as it commits human rights violations…. – AP, 3-11-11
  • US officials are at odds over Libya outcome: Director of National Intelligence James Clapper expects Moammar Kadafi to ultimately defeat rebels, but the White House has a different view… – LAT, 3-10-11
  • Source: Gadhafi willing to discuss his exitMSNBC, 3-10-11
  • NATO to Discuss Libya Options: NATO members begin two days of talks on Libya Thursday to discuss the possibility of imposing a no-fly zone to stop air attacks by forces supporting Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi…. – Voice of America, 3-10-11
  • US, Europe increase diplomatic pressure on Libya: The Obama administration cut ties Thursday with Libya’s embassy in the United States and announced high-level meetings with opposition leaders, as France became the first nation to recognize the governing council fighting against Moammar Gadhafi’s regime.
    As Western powers examined their military options, the U.S. warned that a go-it-alone approach in Libya could have unforeseeable and devastating consequences.
    “We’re looking to see whether there is any willingness in the international community to provide any authorization for further steps,” she said. “Absent international authorization, the United States acting alone would be stepping into a situation whose consequences are unforeseeable.,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said amid NATO discussions about a possible no-fly zone over Libya… – AP, 3-10-11
  • Qaddafi bombs oil facility in blow to Libya’s oil infrastructure: A rebel position at Libya’s Ras Lanuf came under withering fire today as Muammar Qaddafi’s forces set an oil tank ablaze at a key export terminal…. – CS Monitor, 3-9-11
  • WH: No imminent decision on further steps on Libya: The White House says a top level meeting by President Barack Obama’s top security advisers to discuss Libya will not result in an immediate decision on whether the U.S. should further intervene in the uprising against Moammar Gadhafi’s regime…. – AP, 3-9-11
  • Egypt’s security forces are weakened after decades as Mubarak’s enforcer: Motivated by recent shows of political strength by neighbors in Egypt, demonstrators in the Middle East and North Africa are taking to the streets of many cities to rally for change… – WaPo, 3-9-11
  • Cameron and Obama in Libya talks: The international community cannot “stand aside” and allow brutal repression to continue in Libya, David Cameron has said after discussing plans for the “full spectrum of possible responses” including a no-fly zone with US President… – The Press Association, 3-9-11
  • Yemeni security forces open fire on protesters: As Yemen’s growing protest movement sought to expand its presence in the capital, at least 10 were injured by gunfire from security forces, eyewitnesses said…. – CS Monitor, 3-8-11
  • Gadhafi: Libyans will fight against no-fly zone: Moammar Gadhafi says Libyans will fight if a no-fly zone is imposed by Western nations, saying that would show their real intention is to seize the country’s oil.
    Gadhafi made his remarks during an interview aired Wednesday by Turkey’s state-run TRT Turk television. The interview was conducted on Tuesday night… – AP, 3-8-11
  • Obama and his team mull responses on Libya: Preparing for the prospect of deeper international intervention, President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron conferred Tuesday on the spectrum of military and humanitarian responses to Libya’s worsening civil strife. The British leader bluntly said after the talk that the world cannot stand aside and let Moammar Gadhafi brutalize his people.
    In weighing the options, the Obama administration underscored that any authorization of a no-fly zone over Libya must come from the United Nations Security Council.
    “We think it’s important that the United Nations make this decision — not the United States,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told Britain’s Sky News. The comment reflected Obama’s thinking that any action intended to halt Libya’s violence must carry the legitimacy and strength of an international coalition…. – AP, 3-8-11
  • A million Libyans need aid as UK, France seek no-fly zoneReuters, 3-7-11
  • US, allies edge toward military options for Libya: The U.S. and its NATO allies edged closer Monday to formulating a military response to the escalating violence in Libya as the alliance boosted surveillance flights over the country and the Obama administration signaled it might be willing to help arm Moammar Gadhafi’s opponents. Europe, meanwhile, kick-started international efforts to impose a no-fly zone.
    The violence “perpetrated by the government in Libya is unacceptable,” President Barack Obama declared as he authorized $15 million in new humanitarian aid to assist and evacuate people fleeing the fighting. “I want to send a very clear message to those who are around Col. Gadhafi,” Obama told reporters in the Oval Office alongside Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who is in Washington for meetings. “It is their choice to make how they operate moving forward. And they will be held accountable for whatever violence continues to take place.”… – AP, 3-7-11

INTERNATIONAL POLITICS

  • Dalai Lama resigns: ELIZABETH JACKSON: The Dalai Lama has announced that he will step down from his role as the political leader of the Tibetan exile government. ABC Online, 3-11-11

THE HEADLINES….

President and First Lady Obama at Bullying Prevention Conference

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama meet with a group of students and parents from the Conference on Bullying Prevention in the Oval Office, March 10, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

  • White House urges Cuba to release US contractor: An outraged White House said Saturday it wants the Cuban government to immediately release an American international development worker sentenced to 15 years in prison for crimes against the state.
    National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said the prison term “adds another injustice” to Alan Gross’s ordeal…. – AP, 3-12-11
  • Born in the USA: Barack Obama joke enjoyed by journalists at annual dinner: Barack Obama was in lighthearted mood at the annual Gridiron Club dinner for the president and Washington’s political journalists…. – The Guardian, 3-13-11
  • Obama cracks jokes at Gridiron: Obama delivered remarks at the dinner Saturday. They were his first at the event as president…. – Politico, 3-12-11
  • Obama, journalists ham it up at dressy dinner: Searching for laughs — and finding them — president Barack Obama spared few targets Saturday night, from Democratic allies to Republican antagonists to the journalists who cover him. At his first presidential appearance before the Gridiron Club, Obama picked up on the spirit of the evening, leveling jokes in every direction including his own.
    He jabbed at potential Republican presidential rivals. He saluted Mississippi’s portly Gov. Haley Barbour, saying he appreciated his support of First Lady Michelle Obama’s anti-obesity campaign. “Haley, when Michelle said you should run, she didn’t mean for president.”
    He didn’t spare himself, either. He noted that last time he was at the Gridiron, in 2006, he was a first-term senator from Illinois. “Back then I was a newcomer who couldn’t get anything done in the Senate. Now I’m a president who can’t get anything done in the Senate.”
    Obama also poked fun at a potential 2012 Republican presidential candidate, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. “Tim Pawlenty’s not here, but he’s hit the campaign trail hard,” Obama said. “And to be honest, I think the American people are going to have some tough questions for Tim. Specifically, ‘Who are you and where do you come from?’ Which is OK. Two years into my presidency and I’m still getting those questions.”
    Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, the main Republican speaker, needled the president by recalling one of Obama’s private musings to fundraisers during the 2008 campaign that conservatives found refuge in religion and guns. Daniels, his right arm in a sling due to rotator cuff surgery, quipped: “Mr. President, until I get this thing off, I can cling to my gun or my Bible, but not both.” Later he turned to Obama and mockingly took a shot at the president’s penchant for assistance during his speeches. “Mr. President you’re not laughing, who forgot to put ha-ha-ha on the teleprompter?”… – AP, 3-12-11
  • Former President George HW Bush Honors Reagan With Public Service Award: Former President George HW Bush posthumously honored his friend and mentor, President Ronald Reagan, with the 2011 George Bush Award For Excellence In Public Service…. – Fox News, 3-11-11
  • Sebelius: GOP health care move would cut benefits: The Obama administration says a Montana Republican’s long-shot legislation to deny funding for the new federal health care law would prevent Medicare from paying the bills for millions of seniors — displaying the GOP’s difficulty trying to unwind a law that recrafted much of the nation’s health care rules.
    Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says if Congress passes the defunding bill, Medicare would not be able to issue payments to popular private insurance plans that cover about one-fourth of all the seniors in the program. The health care law scaled back payments to Medicare Advantage plans, as the private insurance option is known…. – AP, 3-9-11
  • Obama keeps focus on fight for women’s equality: Father of two girls, President Barack Obama says he wants to improve the status of women in the United States. Women are more likely than men to graduate from college today, yet earn less on average, face a greater chance of living in poverty and are outnumbered in critical subjects such as math and science, he said in his weekly radio and online address Saturday.
    “Achieving equality and opportunity for women isn’t just important to me as president. It’s something I care about deeply as the father of two daughters who wants to see his girls grow up in a world where there are no limits to what they can achieve,” he said…. – AP, 3-12-11
  • Obama tells GOP: Nice try on health care records: President Barack Obama once promised that negotiations over his health care overhaul would be carried out openly, in front of TV cameras and microphones. Tell that to the White House now. Republican congressional investigators got the brush-off this past week after pressing for details of meetings between White House officials and interest groups, including drug companies and hospitals that provided critical backing for Obama’s health insurance expansion… – AP, 3-12-11
  • Appeals court speeds up health overhaul appeal: A federal appeals court has agreed to act swiftly in considering a Florida judge’s ruling that President Obama’s health care overhaul is unconstitutional.
    The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta said Friday that it had agreed to expedite the appeal, setting a faster timetable than even the federal government had requested.
    The decision means the federal government must file its first set of court papers on the issues in the case by April 4, and the state of Florida has until May 4 to file its papers. The federal government would file additional papers by May 18.
    The appeals court said it had not made a decision on a request that the initial review be held before all 10 federal judges…. – AP, 3-12-11
  • GOP budget targets agency that warned of tsunami: A spending plan being pushed by Republicans would slash funding for the agency that warned Hawaii and the West Coast about the devastating tsunami in Japan.
    The plan, approved by the GOP-controlled House last month, would trigger an estimated $126 million in cuts for the National Weather Service, the agency that houses the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii. The center issued widespread warnings minutes after Friday’s earthquake and issued guidance and updates throughout the day…. – AP, 3-11-11
  • Obama: Treatment of WikiLeaks suspect appropriate: President Barack Obama said Friday that the Pentagon has assured him that the Army private believed responsible for the largest leak of classified American documents ever is being held under appropriate conditions. He commented after the State Department’s top spokesman made waves by describing the military’s treatment of the suspect as “ridiculous” and “stupid.” Pfc. Bradley Manning is being held in solitary confinement for all but an hour every day at a Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Va., and is stripped naked each night, given a suicide-proof smock to wear to bed…
    Obama said he asked the Pentagon whether the suspected WikiLeaks leaker’s confinement conditions were appropriate and whether they met basic standards. “They assure me that they are,” he told a White House news conference…. – AP, 3-11-11
  • Obama, McConnell, agree _ and disagree _ on budget: President Barack Obama and the Senate’s top Republican both declared on Friday they want to take on the huge entitlement programs driving America’s long-term deficits — but their lines of attack differed sharply and that could lead to a showdown over government borrowing.
    Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell warned that GOP senators would not vote to increase the federal debt limit unless Obama agreed to significant long-term budget savings that could include cost curbs for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, laying down a high-stakes marker just weeks before the limit is reached.
    Obama said he also wants to tackle military spending and tax loopholes — issues on which he can expect Republican opposition…. – AP, 3-11-11
  • Obama: Japan earthquake potentially ‘catastrophic’: President Barack Obama said he was “heartbroken” by images of devastation in Japan following Friday’s deadly earthquake and tsunami, and pledged U.S. assistance to help the country recover.
    “Our hearts go out to our friends in Japan and across the region, and we’re going to stand with them as they recover and rebuild from this tragedy,” Obama said during a White House news conference…. – AP, 3-11-11
  • Gates to allies: Don’t rush to Afghan war exits: In a blunt warning to U.S. allies eager to pull out of Afghanistan, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Friday that while the U.S. intends to begin withdrawing troops in July, a rush to the exits by European forces would risk squandering battlefield gains achieved at great American expense.
    In a closed-door meeting of NATO defense ministers, Gates urged the allies to resist domestic political pressure to depart prematurely, while asserting that the U.S. troop reductions promised by President Barack Obama will be made this summer “based on conditions on the ground,” not politics…. – AP, 3-11-11
  • Obama: Address long-term debt after spending deal: President Barack Obama says he and Congress should address the nation’s long-term fiscal condition after lawmakers complete a deal on spending for the current fiscal year…. – AP, 3-11-11
  • Last WWI vet to be buried in Arlington service: The body of the West Virginia soldier who outlived every other American who served in World War I will be buried Tuesday at Arlington National Cemetery, a family spokesman said Thursday.
    Biographer and filmmaker David DeJonge said the service for Frank Buckles is set for 4 p.m., but it’s unclear who can attend.
    “The family is trying to get answers,” he said in an e-mail. “The family desires every American and foreign organization an ability to pay respects and recognize the passing of the generation.”… – AP, 3-10-11
  • Obama to hold White House news conference Friday: The White House says President Barack Obama will address rising oil and gasoline prices at a news conference on Friday… – AP, 3-10-11
  • Obamas Focus on Antibullying Efforts: President Obama poked fun at his own big ears and funny name on Thursday, but all in the service of a serious subject as he and Michelle Obama opened a White House conference to spur antibullying efforts in schools and communities nationwide…. – NYT, 3-10-11
  • Obama to bullying victims: I know what it’s like: President Barack Obama smiled when he said his large ears and funny name once made him a target of school-yard harassment. But he was all seriousness Thursday when he told a White House conference on bullying that torment and intimidation must not be tolerated.
    “If there’s one goal of this conference,” Obama said, “it’s to dispel the myth that bullying is just a harmless rite of passage or an inevitable part of growing up. It’s not.” He spoke to more than 100 parents, students, teachers and others gathered to discuss the problem and share ideas for solutions. “Bullying can have destructive consequences for our young people. And it’s not something we have to accept,” he said…. – AP, 3-10-11
  • Obama Administration Seeks Fast Appeal of Health-Care Ruling: The US Justice Department is seeking an expedited appeal of a federal judge’s ruling striking down President Barack Obama’s health-care reform legislation… – Bloomberg, 3-9-11
  • Obama nominates Locke to be ambassador to China: Hoping to make China more friendly to American business, President Barack Obama on Wednesday nominated as his top envoy to Beijing Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, the first Chinese-American to serve in that diplomatically and commercially important assignment.
    Locke is well-versed in the Chinese trade policies that have frustrated American businesses trying to sell their products in the huge and growing Asian power. He’s led delegations of U.S. companies on dozens of trade missions abroad, including to China, where U.S. exports were up 34 percent last year. “When he’s in Beijing, I know that American companies will be able to count on him to represent their interests in front of China’s top leaders,” Obama said as he announced Locke’s nomination…. – AP, 3-9-11
  • Australian PM pledges cooperation with US: Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Wednesday endorsed the U.S. strategy in the ongoing war in Afghanistan and promised her country’s cooperation on the increasingly critical Asia-Pacific region, trade and job promotion.
    “You have a true friend down under,” Gillard told a joint meeting of the House and Senate. The Washington visit, which also included an Oval Office meeting with President Barack Obama, was Gillard’s first since winning election last summer as Australia’s first female prime minister… – AP, 3-9-11
  • Obamas take anti-bullying message to Facebook: President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama have posted a video on Facebook to promote a bullying prevention conference they’ll host at the White House…. – AP, 3-9-11
  • Obama to meet with Clinton, host basketball party: President Barack Obama is meeting Wednesday with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton before hosting a White House party to watch basketball.
    In between, Obama will meet with the national commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Richard Eubank…. – AP, 3-9-11
  • AP Interview: Petraeus says tough summer ahead: Fighting in Afghanistan may be considerably worse this summer than last, but some reduction in American forces is still possible in July, the top U.S. and NATO commander in the country said Wednesday.
    Gen. David Petraeus told The Associated Press that he will present President Barack Obama with multiple plans, including different levels of troop reductions that accommodate Obama’s July target for starting a force drawdown…. – AP, 3-9-11
  • Biden in Moscow for 2 days of talks: Two years after he introduced the phrase “push the reset button” for America’s relations with Russia, Vice President Joe Biden is in Moscow to see what sort of fine-tuning is needed.
    Biden plans two days of meetings Wednesday and Thursday, including with President Dmitry Medvedev, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and representatives of Russia’s beleaguered opposition groups. He is to cap the trip with an address at Moscow State University that is expected to lay out the White House’s vision for U.S.-Russian relations in the last half of President Barack Obama’s term.
    “This trip for the vice president is an opportunity to take stock of the reset and what we’ve achieved and where we hope to go next,” said Biden’s national security adviser Tony Blinken. AP, 3-9-11
  • Expounding on a Theme, Obama Visits Boston School: President Obama visited a high-tech public school in Boston on Tuesday to pound away at his themes of innovation and education, sticking to a schedule that has taken him out of Washington nearly every week, despite budget battles and upheaval in the Arab world.
    Declaring that “there is no better economic policy than one that produces more graduates with the skills necessary to succeed,” Mr. Obama said that revitalizing education was one of his administration’s top priorities and a “responsibility of every American — every parent, every teacher, every business leader, every public official, and yes, every student.”
    The president has been elaborating on a theme of American competitiveness since he first articulated it in his State of the Union address in January. The school Mr. Obama visited here, known as the TechBoston Academy, was ideally suited to illustrate his points, its gritty classrooms stuffed with laptops and students mixing fluids to analyze their density and purity…. – NYT, 3-8-11
  • First lady celebrates women in US and around world: Michelle Obama says that while women are breaking barriers and excelling in careers their mothers and grandmothers believed were off-limits, more progress is needed to achieve true equality.
    American women still earn less than men and lag in math and science fields, she said Tuesday, while many foreign countries exclude female voices from government decision-making.
    Still, the first lady said: “We’ve come a long way, ladies.”… – AP, 3-8-11
  • White House veto threat on home refinance bill: The White House on Tuesday threatened to veto a Republican bill that would abolish an Obama administration program aimed at helping people refinance homes that are worth less than they paid for them.
    The veto threat could be the first of several as House Republicans begin working on bills terminating four administration-backed programs aimed at preventing foreclosures.
    The House Financial Services Committee voted last week to terminate The Federal Housing Administration Refinance Program on a 33-22 party line vote, with majority Republicans saying the program has not worked. AP, 3-8-11
  • Obama to GOP: Don’t cut education spending: Placing a limit on his own willingness to slice spending, President Barack Obama issued a not-too-veiled warning at Republican budget cutters Tuesday and characterized any reductions in money for education as irresponsible and harmful to the long-term health of the nation’s economy.
    In his most vigorous defense yet of his education spending proposals, Obama conceded that after years of deficits, the government needed to embrace fiscal discipline. And in a restrained speech to Democratic donors, he cautioned the partisan crowd not to equate compromise with failure…. – AP, 3-8-11
  • Gates sees war gains _ but can Afghans hold them?: Gates visited some of the most hotly contested parts of the country, where the effects of President Barack Obama’s 30,000-troop surge have been most keenly felt, as the Obama administration considers where to begin withdrawing and thinning out U.S. forces. The defense secretary’s very presence in some far-flung combat bases was meant to show the progress the U.S.-led international military force claims.
    “The closer you are to the fight, the better it looks,” he told reporters Tuesday at a U.S. combat outpost to the west of here, in Kandahar province… – AP, 3-8-11
  • Obama Reopens Debate on Military Trials of Guantanamo Detainees: President Barack Obama’s decision to order the resumption of military trials for detainees at the US prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has reopened the debate about how to handle suspected terrorists … – Bllomberg, 3-8-11
  • White House Says Tribunals Can Resume at Guantánamo: President Obama reversed his order halting new military charges against detainees, implicitly admitting failure for now of his pledge to close the camp…. – NYT, 3-7-11
  • John Ensign Will Retire From Senate: Senator John Ensign, the two-term Nevada Republican caught up in a sex scandal, is to announce that he will not seek re-election, according to Republicans familiar with the decision. NYT, 3-7-11
  • Gates: US should stay involved in Afghanistan: US, Afghan leaders say US military should stay involved in Afghanistan beyond 2014… Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said the U.S. will likely begin pulling troops from Afghanistan this summer, but that the reduction would be small…. – WaPo, 3-7-11
  • Congressional leaders push Obama for more aggressive response to Libya violence: Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, for the first time raised the possibility of bombing military airfields in Libya to deny the use of runways to Moammar Gaddafi’s air force… – WaPo, 3-7-11
  • Obama takes Australian prime minister to school: Obama and Gillard began with a more traditional approach on Monday. They held a private meeting and then a relatively news-free appearance before reporters in the Oval Office, proclaiming cooperation on the war in Afghanistan, trade and security. But then the president took the prime minister back to school.
    The two took a quick road trip to Wakefield High School in Arlington, Va., to mix it up with an 11th grade history class. Obama had used the school as the site of a national address on education, and Gillard is Australia’s former education minister and was interested in taking a look at U.S. education methods…. – AP, 3-7-11
  • Joe Biden in Finland, en route to Moscow, Moldova: Finland, Russia and Moldova — U.S. Vice President Joe Biden arrived Monday in Helsinki on the first leg of an unusual European tour aimed at building warmer ties between Washington and Moscow… – AP, 3-7-11
  • Obama officials push for S. Korea trade pact: The Obama administration said Monday it’s ready to send a highly coveted South Korea trade agreement to Congress for final approval but warned that delaying the deal would cause U.S. companies to miss out on jobs and export opportunities…. – AP, 3-7-11

112TH CONGRESS

  • Peter King hearings: Are American Muslims the problem or the solution?: A hearing chaired by Rep. Peter King to investigate radicalization within the American Muslim community touches on an important topic, terrorism experts say. But they question the tone… – CS Monitor, 3-10-11
  • McConnell: No debt increase without benefit cuts: Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell warned on Friday that GOP senators will not vote to increase the government’s borrowing limit unless President Barack Obama agrees to rein in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, laying down a high-stakes marker just weeks before the debt ceiling is reached.
    In an interview with The Associated Press, McConnell complained that Obama has refused his offers — both public and private — to work on a bipartisan plan to tackle the nation’s massive benefit programs, which threaten to overwhelm the budget in coming years.
    “There will be no entitlement reform without President Obama,” McConnell said. “It cannot be done without him, will not be done without him.” AP, 3-10-11
  • Senators push tough law on Guantanamo detainees: Senate Republicans said Thursday a tougher, more comprehensive military detention policy for terror suspects is necessary to fill the void created by two years of what they call the Obama administration’s inconsistent approach.
    Just days after President Barack Obama’s decision to resume military trials for detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, five GOP lawmakers and Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., proposed legislation that would keep open the military prison by barring money for any alternative, impose restrictions on transferring detainees to foreign countries and push for military commissions, not civilian courts, to decide the fate of detainees… – AP, 3-10-11
  • Spending fight: Back to the bargaining table: Their opening budget gambits history, lawmakers are returning to the bargaining table in search of a fiscal plan that cuts spending, as voters demanded in the last election, and could carry political value in the next one.
    The balance is particularly delicate for senators up for re-election next year. Some, mostly Democrats, bucked their parties in a pair of votes Wednesday that sank a slashing budget proposal passed by the House and killed a less onerous Senate alternative.
    The two versions were nearly $50 billion apart on how much spending should be cut over the next seven months. Neither stood a chance of passing. Senate Democrats brought them up to cancel each other out and move forward with negotiations on a compromise. The votes could be faint memories by Election Day 2012, suggested senators who will face voters then…. – AP, 3-10-11
  • A fresh focus on Social Security in budget debate: In the midst of the budget crisis, an old debate has broken out with new force: Should Social Security be seen as part of the deficit that Washington needs to rein in?
    The White House is balking at calls to tackle Social Security’s financial problems now, before baby boomers swamp the system. But the massive retirement program, like the rest of the government, is running a deficit and has become part of the argument on Capitol Hill…. – AP, 3-9-11
  • GOP challenges proposed gov’t deal on foreclosures: Leading House Republicans challenged a deal Wednesday that federal and state officials have offered to five big U.S. banks that would change the handling of foreclosures and force lenders to modify more mortgages.
    In a letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, the five GOP lawmakers said the draft offer would reshape the rules long governing the mortgage industry. They posed more than dozen questions to Geithner about the proposal, including what the legal justification is for the federal and state governments to try imposing such sweeping changes.
    The lawmakers wrote that the proposal raised “significant concerns about its effect on the financial system, as well as concerns that the administration and state agencies are attempting to legislate through litigation.”… – AP, 3-9-11
  • House Republicans say federal workers are overpaid: While conservative GOP governors are demanding concessions from state workers, House Republicans are making federal employees the next target.
    Republicans at a House hearing on Wednesday complained that the 2.1 million-strong federal work force is overpaid compared with workers holding similar jobs in the private sector…. – AP, 3-9-11
  • Senate rejects rival GOP, Democratic budgets: The Democratic-led Senate on Wednesday emphatically rejected a budget-slashing House spending bill as too draconian. It then immediately killed a rival Democratic plan that was derided by moderate Democrats as too timid in its drive to cut day-to-day agency budgets.
    The votes to scuttle the competing measures were designed, ironically, to prompt progress. The idea was to show tea party-backed GOP conservatives in the House that they need to pare back their budget-cutting ambitions while at the same time demonstrating to Democratic liberals that they need to budge, too…. – AP, 3-9-11
  • In Senate’s debt debate, talk isn’t cheap: In the United States Senate, failure is not an option. It is a requirement. Lawmakers, unable to agree on action to deal with the looming debt crisis, set up camp on a new plateau of pointlessness Wednesday: They scheduled votes on two rival plans to cut spending – but only after guaranteeing in advance that both plans would be defeated.
    Senate Republicans needed to prove to their colleagues in the House, and conservative activists everywhere, that they don’t have the votes to pass major cuts to the current year’s budget. Senate Democrats needed to prove to the White House, and to their liberal base, that they don’t have the votes to maintain the status quo.
    And so, after days of haggling, both sides agreed that they would effectively doom both proposals – severe Republican cuts and cosmetic Democratic cuts – by subjecting them to 60-vote supermajorities. As it happens, such precautions were unnecessary, because, after a three-hour debate, both proposals fell well short of even a simple 50-vote majority…. – WaPo, 3-9-11
  • Domestic Terrorism Hearing Set to Begin: A much-anticipated Congressional hearing on homegrown Islamic terrorism — lambasted by critics as a throwback to McCarthyism — gets under way Thursday on Capitol Hill, featuring testimony from a Muslim member of Congress, the Los Angeles County sheriff and the relatives of two young men who embraced extremist violence.
    The hearing, convened by Representative Peter T. King, the Republican who is chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee and represents parts of Long Island, is the first in a series that Mr. King says will explore the threat of Islamic fundamentalism inside the United States. The session, titled “The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and That Community’s Response” will also examine what the congressman asserts is the failure of some Muslims to cooperate with law enforcement…. – NYT, 3-9-11
  • Senate passes bill to overhaul patent system: The nation’s outmoded patent system, which has forced innovators and inventors to wait years and outlast challenges and lawsuits before getting recognition for their products, would be overhauled under a measure passed Tuesday by the Senate.
    The legislation, which was approved 95-5, transforms a patent system now operating under a law passed in 1952, at a time when the high-tech revolution was still in the future and international competition was still negligible. It now moves to the House.
    President Barack Obama said he looked forward to signing into law “the most significant patent reform in over half a century” to help grow the economy and create jobs…. – AP, 3-8-11
  • Republicans push for tougher Guantanamo limits: House Republicans on Tuesday demanded tougher restrictions for terror suspects at Guantanamo even after President Barack Obama reversed course and ordered the resumption of military trials for detainees. Annoyed that Obama acted by executive authority — and without congressional input, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon, R-Calif., and six other GOP lawmakers said Tuesday they would introduce legislation to limit legal representation for detainees and permanently block money to build or renovate a facility in the United States to house suspects now held at the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
    The bill also would give the defense secretary rather than the attorney general the final say on keeping a detainee in military custody and restrict the transfer of a detainee to other countries unless the defense secretary certifies a host country meets certain standards…. – AP, 3-8-11
  • Hornet’s nest ahead? Congress examines Islam in US: Now comes New York Rep. Peter King, forcing the issue with congressional hearings about radical Islam in the U.S. The first is Thursday, and the protests have already started. Among his fiercest critics, comparisons to McCarthyism, the era of hunting communist sympathizers, are being heard.
    “We see no productive outcome in singling out a particular community for examination in what appears to be little more than a political show trial,” a coalition of 50 liberal groups said in a letter to King on Tuesday…. – AP, 3-8-11
  • Freshman Democrat upbraids Obama on spending: A freshman Democratic senator accused President Barack Obama on Tuesday of failing to provide leadership on a worsening national deficit as top Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill spent more time pointing fingers than seeking common ground on a must-do measure to fund the government for the next six months… – AP, 3-8-11

STATE & LOCAL POLITICS

  • ‘Wisconsin 14’ group of Democratic senators returns, greeted by thousands at CapitalWaPo, 3-12-11
  • PROMISES, PROMISES: Obama Shies Away From ProtestsABC News
  • Democratic senators return to Wisconsin Capitol, get boisterous welcomeMilwaukee Journal Sentinel, 3-13-11
  • Union Bill Is Law, but Debate Is Far From Over: Protesters packed the hallways of the Capitol in Madison, with many chanting “shame, shame” as the bill was signed. Democrats and union leaders, emboldened by the huge outpouring of protesters who have rallied for weeks at the Capitol to oppose what they called a politically motivated effort to weaken unions, pledged to redouble their political, legal and legislative efforts to block measures that the governor had described as necessary to balance the budget…. – NYT, 3-11-11
  • Walker not interested in vice-presidential run: Gov. Scott Walker, considered by many in the national Republican Party to be a politician on the rise, dismissed any talk of a vice-presidential nomination in 2012. “Honestly, that’s not an issue that crosses my mind. I made a firm commitment to help the people of Wisconsin and the private sector create 250,000 jobs by 2015. I’m firmly committed to seeing that through,” Walker told Journal Sentinel reporters on Friday, just hours after he signed a bill that ends most collective bargaining for public employee unions… – Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, 3-11-11
  • 2011-’13 Budget in Brief (pdf, 77 pages)
  • Budget Repair Bill summary (pdf)
  • Current state budget
  • Republican lawmakers receive e-mail threats: Republican senators and representatives likely are looking over their shoulders a bit more after receiving e-mail death threats related to the measure that eliminates most collective bargaining … – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 3-11-11
  • Unions: Losing friends all around: As Barack Obama stood on that frigid inaugural stage in 2009, labor leaders could envisage the glorious future awaiting them…. – Fortune, 3-10-11
  • Wis. GOP bypasses Dems, cuts collective bargaining: The Wisconsin Senate voted Wednesday night to strip nearly all collective bargaining rights from public workers, approving an explosive proposal that had rocked the state and unions nationwide after Republicans discovered a way to bypass the chamber’s missing Democrats.
    All 14 Senate Democrats fled to Illinois nearly three weeks ago, preventing the chamber from having enough members present to consider Gov. Scott Walker’s “budget-repair bill” — a proposal introduced to plug a $137 million budget shortfall…. – AP, 3-9-11
  • Hard Stance Seems Softer In E-Mail Of Governor: For weeks, Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin has publicly held firm to his plan to sharply curtail collective bargaining rights for most public workers, despite the protests of union supporters. But e-mail messages released Tuesday between representatives of Mr. Walker and some Senate Democrats who oppose the measure suggest that Mr. Walker has privately considered tempering at least some limited elements of those bargaining changes.
    Mr. Walker’s initial proposal, which set off a firestorm of debate in Wisconsin and beyond, would allow collective bargaining on matters of wages only, limit raises to the Consumer Price Index, keep contracts to one year and require unions to vote annually to determine whether most workers still wish to be members.
    The e-mails show that as recently as Sunday evening Mr. Walker’s representatives appeared willing to agree to some changes…. – NYT, 3-9-11
  • Walker blames unions for standoff Governor thinks national labor leaders barring deal: Gov. Scott Walker blamed national labor organizers Monday evening for scuttling attempts at compromise with 14 Democratic senators who fled to Illinois to avoid a vote on a budget-repair bill that would take away most collective bargaining rights of public workers. Citing a Wall Street Journal report, Walker said Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller (D-Monona) indicated Sunday that the Democrats would return to Wisconsin. But he said that changed Monday.
    The governor said he doesn’t know what happened, but he suspects it was union leaders who are influencing the 14 Democrats. “I don’t have this on firsthand knowledge. My guess is he got a phone call from one of the union bosses in D.C. who said, ‘You cannot go back there and let them have a vote,’ ” Walker said… – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 3-7-11
  • Why ‘Wisconsin 14’ are ready to return: They think they’re winning: Wisconsin’s 14 Democratic absentee state senators indicate they’re ready to return – because they think they’ve already won the war, if not this battle…. – CS Monitor, 3-7-11
  • Lawmaker: Wisconsin Democrats returning soon: The Democratic senators who fled are convinced that Republicans will be severely hurt if Walker’s plan is passed…. The State Senate Democrats who left Wisconsin to block a vote on a bill that would severely curb collective bargaining for most public employees are planning to return soon, one of the lawmakers said…. – WaPo, 3-7-11
  • Wisconsin’s Walker dismisses Democratic overture: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker dismissed as “ridiculous” a request on Monday from the leader of absent Senate Democrats to meet and negotiate a compromise in their standoff over Republican plans to limit public sector union powers…. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker blasted the leader of the state’s Senate Democrats as an obstacle in getting some of the Democrats to return and vote on his budget proposal…. – Reuters, 3-7-11
  • Walker blames unions for standoff: Gov. Scott Walker blamed national labor organizers Monday evening for scuttling attempts at compromise with 14 Democratic senators who fled to Illinois to avoid a vote on a budget-repair bill… – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 3-7-11

ELECTIONS — PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN 2012….

  • Tea party favourite US Rep. Bachmann flubs Revolutionary War geography: A potential Republican presidential candidate who is a favourite of the conservative tea party movement which extolls America’s Founding Fathers got her geography mixed up when it came to where the first shots of the Revolutionary War were … The Canadian Press, 3-13-11
  • Dems hope to taint Romney with health law praise: President Barack Obama and other top Democrats have been quick to lavish praise on former Massachusetts Republican Gov…. – AP, 3-13-11
  • Barbour contrasts himself with Obama on economy: Previewing a presidential campaign pitch, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour is blaming President Barack Obama for the sluggish recovery and accusing him of enacting a series of policies that “created economic uncertainty or directly hurt the economy.”
    The two-term Republican governor also is holding up his record as proof that he could do better on two pillars: economic growth and job creation.
    “We still have more to do in Mississippi. But we have made great progress and are laying a foundation for the future,” Barbour says in remarks prepared for delivery later Monday to the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce…. – AP, 3-13-11
  • Campaigning as All Things to All Republicans: CONCORD, NH – Many aspiring Republican presidential candidates are going to great lengths to avoid the spotlight, but not Tim Pawlenty…. – NYT, 3-13-11
  • Pawlenty takes on “problem-solver” mantle in NH: In Arizona recently, Tim Pawlenty courted a convention of Tea Party supporters with a passionate defense of constitutional freedoms…. – Boston Globe, 3-11-11
  • Mitt supporter loves Romneycare: Health care may be Mitt Romney’s biggest political liability, but the controversial program he enacted as Massachusetts governor actually helped earn him a key endorsement Thursday … – Politico, 3-11-11
  • Julianne Moore to star in Sarah Palin movie: Actress Julianne Moore is to star as Sarah Palin in the movie Game Change about the former Alaska governor’s rise to prominence in the 2008 presidential election campaign, it was announced Wednesday. Monsters and Critics.com, 3-11-11
  • Plastic Mitt: Nyhan argues that Romney is being caricatured as inauthentic. Waldman half-agrees; he thinks that Romney’s pandering is self-evident but “that doesn’t mean that everything [Romney] does should be presented as evidence of his phoniness…. – The Atlantic, 3-10-11
  • Florida Senate sets ‘Obamacare’ showdown for 2012: The Florida Senate approved a showdown Wednesday over “Obamacare” on next year’s presidential ballot with a constitutional amendment that would block mandates to buy health insurance. Florida Today, 3-10-11
  • Republicans push for restrictions on voting rights: New Hampshire Republicans are pushing for new laws that would stop many college students from voting in the state… – AP, 3-9-11
  • Out of spotlight, GOP hopefuls prepping for 2012: Newt Gingrich is the Republican taking some of the most public first steps for a presidential bid, but he’s hardly the only one in motion. Far from the media spotlight, White House hopefuls are furiously hiring staff, testing messages for the powerful conservative base of the GOP and mapping out a rough political calendar, all part of a hard-charging effort that precedes the official kickoff…. – AP, 3-8-11
  • Mitt Romney, the most transparent candidate: We’re all for transparency these days, and if anything is transparently clear about American politics, it is that Mitt Romney will do or say anything to become president. The best guess is that at heart he is an old-fashioned, business-oriented Republican. But there’s no knowing for sure. He may have no sincere beliefs at all. There was a piece about Romney on Page 1 of The New York Times on Sunday, and what amazes me is the deadpan frankness with which the article and the Romney aides and allies quoted in it accept the premise that, of course, he is a phony, that this reputation as a phony could be a bit of a problem if he runs in 2012. And then they go on to discuss what Romney might do to solve this problem. He was criticized last time for being a stiff, so this time he is not wearing a tie. Ever. Problem solved, as Romney sees it.
    “I like President Obama,” Romney says patronizingly, “but he doesn’t have a clue how jobs are created.” The last time he ran, Romney played down his experience as a businessman and played up his recently acquired views as a social conservative, because that’s what commentators and consultants were telling him to do back then… – Politico, 3-8-11
  • GOP contenders make early pitch to Iowa evangelicals: While the national political debate continues to swirl around the state of the economic recovery, five Republicans with their eyes on the White House spent the evening in a Des Moines suburb pitching themselves to Iowa evangelicals… CNN, 3-8-11
  • Romney, Weighing Run for President, Focuses on Jobs: Focusing on jobs offers Romney a chance to sidestep the concerns of social conservatives and avoid the Mass. health care… Mitt Romney made the case in a speech that the halting economic recovery provides the most compelling rationale that he should take on President Obama…. – NYT, 3-7-11
  • Palin Says “No” to Cutting Israel Aid: Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin came out strongly in favor of continued U.S. foreign aid to Israel. Think of what this state Israel has gone through, and what they have suffered through and what they have triumphed over…. – virtualjerusalem.com, 3-7-11
  • Mitt Romney tries to explain ‘RomneyCare.’ Will it work?: Speaking to Republican activists in New Hampshire, likely presidential candidate Mitt Romney addressed a major challenge: The health care program he took credit for as governor of Massachusetts. Critics say it’s a lot like “ObamaCare.”… – CS Monitor, 3-7-11

QUOTES

President Obama Takes Questions at a Press Conference

President Barack Obama answers questions from the media during a news conference in the South Court Auditorium of the White House, March 11, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

  • Weekly Address: Women’s History Month & Fair Pay: Remarks of President Barack Obama Weekly Address Saturday, March 12, 2011 Washington, DC: March is Women’s History Month, a time not only to celebrate the progress that women have made, but also the women throughout our history who have made that progress possible.
    One inspiring American who comes to mind is Eleanor Roosevelt. In 1961, the former First Lady was unhappy about the lack of women in government, so she marched up to President Kennedy and handed him a three-page list of women who were qualified for top posts in his administration. This led the President to select Mrs. Roosevelt as the head of a new commission to look at the status of women in America, and the unfairness they routinely faced in their lives.
    Though she passed away before the commission could finish its work, the report they released spurred action across the country. It helped galvanize a movement led by women that would help make our society a more equal place.
    It’s been almost fifty years since the Roosevelt commission published its findings – and there have been few similar efforts by the government in the decades that followed. That’s why, last week, here at the White House, we released a new comprehensive report on the status of women in the spirit on the one that was released half a century ago.
    There was a lot of positive news about the strides we’ve made, even in recent years. For example, women have caught up with men in seeking higher education. In fact, women today are more likely than men to attend and graduate from college.
    Yet, there are also reminders of how much work remains to be done. Women are still more likely to live in poverty in this country. In education, there are areas like math and engineering where women are vastly outnumbered by their male counterparts. This is especially troubling, for we know that to compete with nations around the world, these are the fields in which we need to harness the talents of all our people. That’s how we’ll win the future.
    And, today, women still earn on average only about 75 cents for every dollar a man earns. That’s a huge discrepancy. And at a time when folks across this country are struggling to make ends meet – and many families are just trying to get by on one paycheck after a job loss – it’s a reminder that achieving equal pay for equal work isn’t just a women’s issue. It’s a family issue.
    In one of my first acts as President, I signed a law so that women who’ve been discriminated against in their salaries could have their day in court to make it right. But there are steps we should take to prevent that from happening in the first place. That’s why I was so disappointed when an important bill to give women more power to stop pay disparities – the Paycheck Fairness Act – was blocked by just two votes in the Senate. And that’s why I’m going to keep up the fight to pass the reforms in that bill.
    Achieving equality and opportunity for women isn’t just important to me as President. It’s something I care about deeply as the father of two daughters who wants to see his girls grow up in a world where there are no limits to what they can achieve.
    As I’ve traveled across the country, visiting schools and meeting young people, I’ve seen so many girls passionate about science and other subjects that were traditionally not as open to them. We even held a science fair at the White House, where I met a young woman named Amy Chyao. She was only 16 years old, but she was actually working on a treatment for cancer. She never thought, “Science isn’t for me.” She never thought, “Girls can’t do that.” She was just interested in solving a problem. And because someone was interested in giving her a chance, she has the potential to improve lives.
    That tells me how far we’ve come. But it also tells me we have to work even harder to close the gaps that still exist, and to uphold that simple American ideal: we are all equal and deserving of the chance to pursue our own version of happiness. That’s what Eleanor Roosevelt was striving toward half a century ago. That’s why this report matters today. And that’s why, on behalf of all our daughters and our sons, we’ve got to keep making progress in the years ahead. – WH, 3-12-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
  • The Earthquake in Japan and Tsunami Preparedness: Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to the people of Japan, particularly those who have lost loved ones in the earthquake and tsunamis. The United States stands ready to help the Japanese people in this time of great trial. The friendship and alliance between our two nations is unshakeable, and only strengthens our resolve to stand with the people of Japan as they overcome this tragedy. We will continue to closely monitor tsunamis around Japan and the Pacific going forward and we are asking all our citizens in the affected region to listen to their state and local officials as I have instructed FEMA to be ready to assist Hawaii and the rest of the US states and territories that could be affected. WH, 3-11-11
  • The Ongoing Response to the Earthquakes and Tsunami in Japan: White House Press Secretary Jay Carney has released an overview of the United States’ reponse in support of our friends in Japan.
  • Our thoughts and our prayers remain with the people of Japan. The President has been kept fully briefed on developments and the response throughout the weekend. As directed by the President, we have offered our Japanese friends whatever assistance is needed as America will stand with Japan as they recover and rebuild. – WH, 3-13-11
  • Joseph Lieberman: “My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Japan and all those affected by this devastating natural disaster, including the thousands of American citizens in Japan. America has no better friend and ally in Asia than Japan, and we in the United States must stand ready to mobilize any assistance we can to help as quickly as possible. The people of the United States stand in solidarity with the people of Japan through the difficult days ahead.
    “As chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, I am also monitoring closely the tsunami warnings that have been issued for parts of the United States, including Hawaii, Alaska, and parts of the West Coast. I urge all Americans in areas potentially affected to heed these advisories, follow the warnings that have been issued, and listen carefully for updates from authorities.” — Senator Joseph Lieberman (CT) – LIEBERMAN STATEMENT ON JAPANESE DISASTER
  • The President’s Press Conference: The Causes, Government Response, and Long-Term Solutions to Rising Gas Prices: But the bottom line is this. We’ve been having this conversation for nearly four decades now. Every few years, gas prices go up; politicians pull out the same old political playbook, and then nothing changes. And when prices go back down, we slip back into a trance. And then when prices go up, suddenly we’re shocked. I think the American people are tired of that. I think they’re tired of talk. We’ve got to work together – Democrats, Republicans, and everybody in between –- to finally secure America’s energy future. I don’t want to leave this for the next President, and none of us should want to leave it for our kids…. – WH, 3-11-11
  • News Conference by the President, South Court Auditorium: THE PRESIDENT: Good morning, everybody. Before I begin, I want to say a few words about the terrible earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan earlier today.
    First and foremost, our thoughts and our prayers are with the people of Japan. This is a potentially catastrophic disaster and the images of destruction and flooding coming out of Japan are simply heartbreaking. Japan is, of course, one of our strongest and closest allies, and this morning I spoke with Prime Minister Kan. On behalf of the American people, I conveyed our deepest condolences, especially to the victims and their families, and I offered our Japanese friends whatever assistance is needed.
    We currently have an aircraft carrier in Japan, and another is on its way. We also have a ship en route to the Marianas Islands to assist as needed. The Defense Department is working to account for all our military personnel in Japan. U.S. Embassy personnel in Tokyo have moved to an offsite location. And the State Department is working to account for and assist any and all American citizens who are in the country.
    Tsunami warnings have been issued across the Pacific, and we’ve already seen initial waves from the tsunami come ashore on Guam and other U.S. territories, in Alaska and Hawaii, as well as on — along the West Coast. Here in the United States, there hasn’t been any major damage so far. But we’re taking this very seriously, and we are monitoring the situation very closely. FEMA is fully activated and is coordinating with state and local officials to support these regions as necessary. And let me just stress that if people are told to evacuate, do as you are told.
    Today’s events remind us of just how fragile life can be. Our hearts go out to our friends in Japan and across the region and we’re going to stand with them as they recover and rebuild from this tragedy…. – WH, 3-11-11
  • The First Lady at the White House Conference on Bullying Prevention: So as parents, we know we need to make a real effort to be engaged in our children’s lives, to listen to them and be there for them when they need us. We need to get involved in their schools and in their activities so that we know what they’re up to, both in and out of the classroom. And when something is wrong, we need to speak up, and we need to take action.
    That’s just what Jacqui Knight did. She’s a mom from Moore, Oklahoma, who’s here with us today. We got a chance to spend some time with her before. But when her child was bullied, she got together with other parents and planned community meetings where parents and students could share their stories. They also held meetings for the public to raise awareness about bullying. And they’ve been meeting with the school board and superintendent to discuss steps that they can take to keep their kids safe.
    But parents aren’t the only ones who have a responsibility. We all need to play a role — as teachers, coaches, as faith leaders, elected officials, and anyone who’s involved in our children’s lives. And that doesn’t just mean working to change our kids’ behavior and recognize and reward kids who are already doing the right thing. It means thinking about our own behavior as adults as well. – WH, 3-10-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
  • President Obama at the White House Conference on Bullying Prevention: As adults, we all remember what it was like to see kids picked on in the hallways or in the schoolyard. And I have to say, with big ears and the name that I have, I wasn’t immune. (Laughter.) I didn’t emerge unscathed. But because it’s something that happens a lot, and it’s something that’s always been around, sometimes we’ve turned a blind eye to the problem. We’ve said, “Kids will be kids.” And so sometimes we overlook the real damage that bullying can do, especially when young people face harassment day after day, week after week.
    So consider these statistics. A third of middle school and high school students have reported being bullied during the school year. Almost 3 million students have said they were pushed, shoved, tripped, even spit on. It’s also more likely to affect kids that are seen as different, whether it’s because of the color of their skin, the clothes they wear, the disability they may have, or sexual orientation.
    And bullying has been shown to lead to absences and poor performance in the classroom. And that alone should give us pause, since no child should be afraid to go to school in this country.
    Today, bullying doesn’t even end at the school bell — it can follow our children from the hallways to their cell phones to their computer screens. And in recent months, a series of tragedies has drawn attention to just how devastating bullying can be. We have just been heartbroken by the stories of young people who endured harassment and ridicule day after day at school, and who ultimately took their own lives. These were kids brimming with promise — kids like Ty Field, kids like Carl Walker-Hoover — who should have felt nothing but excitement for the future. Instead, they felt like they had nowhere to turn, as if they had no escape from taunting and bullying that made school something they feared. I want to recognize Ty’s mom and dad who are here today; Carl’s mother and sister who are here today. They’ve shown incredible courage as advocates against bullying in memory of the sons and the brother that they’ve lost. And so we’re so proud of them and we’re grateful to them for being here today. (Applause.)
    No family should have to go through what these families have gone through. No child should feel that alone. We’ve got to make sure our young people know that if they’re in trouble, there are caring adults who can help and young adults that can help; that even if they’re having a tough time, they’re going to get through it, and there’s a whole world full of possibility waiting for them. We also have to make sure we’re doing everything we can so that no child is in that position in the first place. And this is a responsibility we all share — a responsibility we have to teach all children the Golden Rule: We should treat others the way we want to be treated…. – WH, 3-10-11TranscriptMp4Mp3

President Obama & the First Lady Address Bullying

West Wing Week: 3/11/11 or “Law School in 15 Seconds”

  • Women and Girls Around the World Celebrating International Women’s Day: On Tuesday, I joined First Lady Michelle Obama and people around the world in celebrating the 100th Anniversary of International Women’s Day. One hundred years ago, millions of people rallied in cities across the globe to demand equal rights for women: calling for the right to vote, to hold office, to work for fair pay and good conditions, and to be educated and trained. Since 1911, people have gathered every year in March to celebrate advancements in gender equality and to peacefully call attention to issues affecting women around the world. Our celebration in the White House demonstrated just how far we have come since 1911 and how, in 2011, we are committed to going even further.
    First Lady at International Women’s Day Celebration
    First Lady Michelle Obama greets guests during the International Women’s Day reception in the East Room of the White House.
    The international theme of this year’s celebration is “Equal access to education, training and science and technology: Pathway to decent work for women.” Not only are women and girls essential to winning the future in the United States, they are important for global prosperity. Just in time for International Women’s Day, the United Nations released a report that giving women the same agricultural tools, resources, and access to work as men could feed 150 million people. And last week, our White House Council on Women and Girls released our report on “Women in America,” that documented “ the ways in which American women and girls have made substantial progress in educational attainment and achievement in the last few decades.” The full report can be found here.
    The President has emphasized the importance of education, and especially in math, science and technology. As he recently said at the TechBoston Academy, “There’s no better economic policy than one that produces more graduates with the skills they need to succeed — to start their own businesses, to create their own Microsoft, to create new industries.” And to win the future we will need women and girls to fully participate in those fields and careers of the future. You can read more about the President’s commitment to women in education here. That’s why we are committed to investing in the efforts of the Department of Education and the National Science Foundation to encourage girls to pursue science, math, engineering, and technology. Preparing young women for careers in these important fields is key to our commitment to innovation and growth. That’s why Startup America, a new public/private collaboration launched by the President, will help female entrepreneurs connect with corporations, startup funders, foundations and mentors to help their businesses start and grow.
    At the White House’s celebration in the East Room, we had the opportunity to hear from two young women who are helping forge that pathway to work for women in their countries and abroad. We met Aissatou Hamidou Diall, an inspiring young activist and 6th grade student from the West African country Burkina Faso. Last year, Aissatou represented her school at an event in the city of Dori with over 500 important guests, including the Minister of Education, the Governor, and a Vice President of the Millennium Challenge Corporation. Aissatou is an advocate for educating girls like herself – someone who is the first in her family to go to college. Aissatou is just the type of young woman that the President wants to empower. We want more young women acting as ambassadors for women’s issues in their communities and around the world. – WH, 3-10-11
  • Statement by the President on International Women’s Day: History shows that when women and girls have access to opportunity, societies are more just, economies are more likely to prosper, and governments are more likely to serve the needs of all their people. That is why my administration has stood up for gender equality and women’s empowerment around the world…. – WH, 3-8-11
  • The First Lady on International Women’s Day: “We as a nation benefit from every girl whose potential is fulfilled, from every woman whose talent is tapped. We benefit from their intelligence, from their hard work, from their creativity, from their leadership.”… – WH, 3-8-11
  • Remarks by the First Lady at International Women’s Day Reception: MRS. OBAMA: Oh, my goodness. I love you all. This is an exciting, exciting day — exciting. We had a fabulous morning at the State Department. And I hope you all are having just a lot of fun here this evening.
    We are just honored and delighted to have you here to celebrate International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month here at the White House. Yes. (Applause….
    And tonight, I just want to say to all of you that your journeys, that your achievements and your very presence in this room are a perfect illustration of the progress that we’ve made since this day was first celebrated 100 years ago. We’ve come a long way, ladies! (Applause.)
    And we are celebrating those accomplishments here in America. Women are now the majority of graduates of colleges and universities. We make up nearly half of America’s workforce. We got to get paid more for it. (Applause.) But we do. Women are thriving in every sector of our society. We are leading businesses. We’re serving at the highest levels of government and the armed forces. We’re breaking barriers and succeeding in careers that our mothers and grandmothers never could have imagined.
    And as more opportunities have become open to women, that hasn’t just enriched our own lives. As we all know, it’s enriched the life of this nation. And that’s one of the reasons why we have to do this, because we need to remind ourselves and our country that we’re here because of us. Because we as a nation benefit from every girl whose potential is fulfilled; from every woman whose talent is tapped. We benefit as a nation. We as a nation benefit from their intelligence, from their hard work, from their creativity, from their leadership.
    And that’s not just true here in America. Time and again, we have seen that countries across the globe are more prosperous, they’re more peaceful when women are more equal and have the rights and opportunities they deserve. (Applause.)
    And that is why women and girls are a core focus of America’s engagement with the world, including our diplomatic and development work, and our work to prevent and respond to conflict. And that’s why here at home we continue our work to close the pay gap once and for all, to get that done. That’s why we continue our work here at home to bring women into fields like math and science. Keep studying your math. (Laughter.) We’re still under-represented. So we still have work to do.
    We continue our work to promote entrepreneurship and workplace flexibility so that women can contribute as fully as possible to our economy. And while we’ve made some important strides, all of you in this room know better than anyone else that this work is far from finished. We have so, so much more to do. You all know better than just about anyone that change is hard, and change is slow. Many of you might not win the battles you’re fighting or see the progress you’re fighting for in your lifetimes. You know that. But I’m thinking tonight of a quote from the author Alice Walker, who once wrote, “So our mothers and grandmothers have more often than not anonymously handed on the creative spark, the seed of the flower they themselves never hoped to see.”
    And that is why all of you keep on fighting. That’s why all of you keep on leading and working toward a better day for all of us. You do it so that our daughters and granddaughters and, just as importantly, our sons and grandsons can have the opportunities that many of us only dreamed of. You do it because you know that your work could be the spark or that seed for the dreams and aspirations of girls like Aissatou and Shannon generations from now. This is why we do this work. We do it for you. We do it for you.
    So I want to close tonight by simply saying thank you. This is a small — very small way for me, for my husband, for this administration to let you know just how proud we are of all that you do for women and girls. Our work is so far from done. But 100 years ago, we would have never imagined that we’d be standing here in the East Room of the White House — (laughter) — celebrating this day with this administration. So we have reason to celebrate. (Applause.) – WH, 3-8-11
  • President Obama Announces “100 Youth Roundtables”: The Office of Public Engagement has put together a great initiative to assure that young Americans of all walks of life can participate in a roundtable discussions about important issues…. – WH, 3-9-11
  • President Obama on Education at TechBostonTranscriptMp4Mp3
  • President Obama to Those Conducting Violence in Libya: “It is Their Choice… and They Will Be Held”: During his joint appearance with Prime Minister Julia Gillard of Australia, the President addresses those involved in the violence and discusses the international response….
    “I want to send a very clear message to those who are around Colonel Qaddafi: It is their choice to make how they operate moving forward, and they will be held accountable for whatever violence continues to take place there.”… – WH, 3-7-11
  • President Obama Makes a Long-Distance Call to Space: On Thursday, President Obama called the crews of the Space Shuttle Discovery and International Space Station to congratulate them on their achievements and courage as they work and live in orbit around the Earth….
    “You are setting such a great example with your dedication, courage, and commitment to exploration. These are traits that built America.”… – WH, 3-6-11

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

The President records the Weekly Address

White House Photo, Chuck Kennedy, 3/11/11

  • Julian Zelizer: Dems hope to taint Romney with health law praise: “Democrats need to be careful of that strategy of praising him too much,” said Julian Zelizer, professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. “Once he has the nomination he’ll be playing to moderates and independent voters and he could use that in his favor.”… – AP, 3-13-11
  • Gaddafi, the author: Libyan protesters furious at strongman Moammar Gaddafi have vented their rage on his writings, burning his political manifesto in the streets. The dictator’s odd social, political and economic thoughts are contained in “The Green Book,” which he wrote in the 1970s.
    To try to understand the man and his current ravings, it is useful to look back at the three slim volumes that make up “The Green Book.”
    But as Prof. Dirk Vandewalle, a professor at Dartmouth College and author of “A History of Modern Libya,” told NPR, the work is “very difficult to understand in part because it really is not a coherent thought if you compare it, for example, to ‘The Little Red Book’ of Mao . . . where you get at least a consistent argument. ‘The Green Book’ contains really a set of aphorisms more than a completely thought-out integrated philosophical statement.”… – WaPo, 3-4-11
  • Julian E. Zelizer: Why Obama will be tough to beat: Republicans are looking ahead — some with glee and others with fear — to the presidential election in 2012…. Most of them, even the optimists, realize that there is a rough road ahead. With all the challenges that President Obama confronts, he won’t be easy to beat….
    Republicans don’t have a similar candidate lined up for 2012. The current crop of Republicans includes state officials relatively untested in national political waters, candidates with more experience but lacking charisma, and national veterans like former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin with substantial political liabilities. The next Ronald Reagan has yet to arrive.
    History should give Republicans some pause as they start to think about their choice. None of this means Obama is a lock for re-election. After all, conditions can change and new voices can rapidly emerge in today’s media. But it’s going to take a special candidate and a change in the political environment for a Republican to win…. – CNN, 3-7-11



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History Buzz August 24 & 30, 2009: Historians Involved in the Health Care Reform Debate

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS:

BIGGEST NEWS STORIES:

  • It was Huckabee vs. Douglas Brinkley on O’Reilly Show about Health Care Reform: Well, it’s never a mistake for a Democratic president to raise the specter of FDR and Kennedy for his base. I think the Lyndon Johnson comments gets more to the crux of the difficulty the president’s having.
    As you know, the Great Society is what Ronald Reagan warned against. In fact, I edited “Reagan’s Diaries,” and he wrote one passage that said I voted four times for FDR and the New Deal, but I’m trying to roll back the Great Society. Medicaid and Medicare came through Lyndon Johnson, but so did a lot of other government programs that people, particularly conservatives, have been trying to role back some of the wealthier state programs. So there’s a suspicion on the American people that’s been really part of entire history, but we’ve — since 1980 in the Reagan revolution, of too much government.
    And so I think the problem this summer for President Obama is that he’s pushing health care after all that economic stimulus money, and there’s kind of a woe factor going on, saying this might be too much, too fast, too expensive…. – Fox News rush transcript (8-24-09)
  • Historian Betsy McCaughey battles with Jon Stewart over the Obama Health Care bill – Jon Stewart The Daily Show (8-17-09)
  • Betsy McCaughey: The historian behind the claim that Obama’s in favor of death panels – Historian Joshua Brown, illustrator, at his website, Life During Wartime (8-15-09)

THIS WEEK IN HISTORY:

IN THE NEWS:

OP-EDs & BLOGS:

REVIEWS & FIRST CHAPTERS:

    • Edward M. Kennedy: Books of The Times Kennedy’s Rough Waters and Still Harbors TRUE COMPASS A Memoir NYT, 9-4-09
    • Kennedy Memoir Doesn’t Ignore Lows – NYT, 9-3-09
    • Richard Slotkin: Treacherous Ground NO QUARTER The Battle of the Crater, 1864 NYT, 8-30-09
    • Richard Slotkin: NO QUARTER The Battle of the Crater, 1864, Excerpt – NYT, 8-30-09
    • J. Randy Taraborrelli: Such a Sad, Sad Story THE SECRET LIFE OF MARILYN MONROE WaPo, 8-30-09
    • Arthur Goldwag: POPULAR CULTURE Hearsay, You Say? CULTS, CONSPIRACIES AND SECRET SOCIETIES The Straight Scoop on Freemasons, The Illuminati, Skull and Bones, Black Helicopters, The New World Order, and many, many more – WaPo, 8-30-09
    • Erin Arvedlund, Andrew Kirtzman, Jerry Oppenheimer: Was Bernie Madoff an Evil Genius? That’s Just Half Right. TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE The Rise and Fall of Bernie Madoff, BETRAYAL The Life and Lies of Bernie Madoff, MADOFF WITH THE MONEY WaPo, 8-30-09
    • Rich Cohen: An Imagined Nation ISRAEL IS REAL WaPo, 8-30-09
    • Janet Soskice: RELIGION A Sister Act of Perseverance THE SISTERS OF SINAI How Two Lady Adventurers Discovered the Hidden Gospels WaPo, 8-30-09
    • Josh Neufeld: Graphic Memories of Katrina’s Ordeal A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge NYT, 8-23-09
    • Josh Neufeld: A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge NYT, 8-23-09
    • Tristram Hunt: Fox Hunter, Party Animal, Leftist Warrior MARX’S GENERAL The Revolutionary Life of Friedrich Engels NYT, 8-19-09
    • Tristram Hunt: MARX’S GENERAL The Revolutionary Life of Friedrich Engels, Excerpt – NYT, 8-19-09
    • Adrian Goldsworthy: HISTORY Rome Wasn’t Destroyed in a Day Either HOW ROME FELL Death of a Superpower WaPo, 8-23-09
    • Adrian Goldsworthy: HOW ROME FELL Death of a Superpower, Excerpt – WaPo, 8-23-09
    • Ilaria Dagnini Brey: WORLD WAR II Guardians of History THE VENUS FIXERS The Remarkable Story of the Allied Soldiers Who Saved Italy’s Art During World War II – WaPo, 8-23-09
    • Peter C. Mancall: EXPLORATION Mutiny on the Hudson FATAL JOURNEY The Final Expedition of Henry Hudson — A Tale of Mutiny and Murder in the Arctic – WaPo, 8-23-09
    • Marc Wortman: CIVIL WAR The Work of Sherman THE BONFIRE The Siege and Burning of Atlanta WaPo, 8-23-09
    • Historian Bonnie J. Morris celebrates women’s studies in her latest book Revenge of the Women’s Studies Professor Michelle Finn writing at the website of H-Women (8-1-09)

    PROFILED & FEATURED:

    QUOTED:

    • CBS Historian Douglas Brinkley calls Ted Kennedy A ‘Martyr’ for ObamaCare: During the 2:00AM ET hour of CBS’s Up to the Minute on Wednesday, shortly after news broke of Senator Ted Kenney’s death, historian Douglas Brinkley exclaimed the Massachusetts Democrat was: “…going to be a – a martyr because of all that he’s done and he very well might help, in death, Obama get his health care plan.” MRC Newsbusters (Conservative Media Watchdog) (8-26-09)

    INTERVIEWED:

    HONORED, AWARDED &APPOINTED:

    SPOTTED:

    EVENTS CALENDAR:

    • Inaugural Semester-long seminar on Constitutional History offered at N-Y Historical Society this fall: Lincoln’s Constitution will be taught at the New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, on Thursday afternoons from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. The seminar will be held on September 17 and 24 and on October 1, 15, 22, and 29, 2009. NYHS Press Release (7-20-09)

    ON TV:

    • BBC to launch new series on history of Christianity – Religious Intelligence, 6-19-09
    • C-SPAN2: BOOK TV Weekend Schedule
    • PBS History Detectives: Mondays at 9pm
    • History Channel: Weekly Schedule
    • History Channel: “Titanic’s Final Moments: Missing Pieces” – Friday, September 4, 2009 at 2pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Cities Of The Underworld: Underground Apocalypse” – Saturday, September 5, 2009 at 2pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Nostradamus: 500 Years Later” – Saturday, September 5, 2009 at 5pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Decoding The Past: Doomsday 2012: The End of Days” – Saturday, September 5, 2009 at 8pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Next Nostradamus” – Saturday, September 5, 2009 at 10pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Nostradamus: 2012” – Sunday, September 6, 2009 at 8pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Manson” – Monday, September 7, 2009 at 8pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Last Stand of The 300” – Tuesday, September 8, 2009 at 2pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Nostradamus: 2012” – Wednesday, September 9, 2009 at 2pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Next Nostradamus” – Wednesday, September 9, 2009 at 4pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Decoding The Past: Mayan Doomsday Prophecy” – Wednesday, September 9, 2009 at 8pm ET/PT

    BEST SELLERS (NYT):

      NYT Non-Fiction Best Sellers List – September 6, 2009

    • #1 – Michelle Malkin: CULTURE OF CORRUPTION
    • #2 – Ronald Kessler: IN THE PRESIDENT’S SECRET SERVICE
    • #9 – Douglas Brinkley: THE WILDERNESS WARRIOR
    • #18 – C. David Heymann: BOBBY AND JACKIE
    • #22 – Dan Balz and Haynes Johnson: THE BATTLE FOR AMERICA, 2008
    • #33 – Doug Stanton: HORSE SOLDIERS

    COMING SOON BOOKS:

    • Richard C. Hoagland: Dark Mission: The Secret History of NASA (Revised), September 1, 2009
    • Douglas Hunter: Half Moon: Henry Hudson and the Voyage That Redrew the Map of the New World, September 1, 2009
    • Noah Andre Trudeau: Robert E. Lee: Lessons in Leadership, September 1, 2009
    • Annette Gordon-Reed: The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family (Paperback), September 8, 2009
    • Jon Krakauer: Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman, September 15, 2009
    • Dean C. Jessee (Editor): The Joseph Smith Papers: Revelations and Translations, Volume 1: Manuscript Revelation Books, September 2009
    • James Patterson: The Murder of King Tut: The Plot to Kill the Child King – A Nonfiction Thriller, September 28, 2009
    • Timothy Egan: The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire That Saved America, October 19, 2009
    • Gil Troy, Vincent J. Cannato, eds.: Living in the Eighties, October 23, 2009
    • L. Fletcher Prouty: JFK: The CIA, Vietnam, and the Plot to Assassinate John F. Kennedy, (Paperback), November 1, 2009
    • Edward Kritzler: Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean: How a Generation of Swashbuckling Jews Carved Out an Empire in the New World in Their Quest for Treasure, Religious Freedom–and Revenge, (Paperback), November 3, 2009
    • Anthony Haden-guest: Last Party: Studio 54, Disco, and the Culture of the Night (Paperback), December 8, 2009

    DEPARTED:

    April 2, 2009: Obama in Europe, Online Town Hall and Budget passed by House

    THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

    Pool photo by John Stillwell President and Mrs. Obama with Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh during an audience at Buckingham Palace

    IN FOCUS: STATS

    In Focus: Stats

    • Poll: Dodd’s approval numbers drop to new lows: Slipping below a 50 percent approval rating is often considered a red flag for incumbents. Quinnipiac Poll Director Douglas Schwartz said Dodd’s 33 percent approval rating, a dip from 44 percent in a March 10 poll, is “especially devastating.” “A 33 percent job approval is unheard of for a 30-year incumbent, especially a Democrat in a blue state,” Schwartz said. – AP, 4-2-09
    • CNN POLL: Some 51 percent of Americans now oppose the Afghanistan war, and 64 percent of Democrats do. – CNN, 3-28-09
    • BRENT BOZELL III: Washington Polling Games: It has become almost amusing, watching how the so-called “news” media are manipulating their own polls to keep the political weather sunny for their hero. The Washington Post kicked off President Barack Obama’s European trip with the headline “Blame For Downturn Not Fixed on Obama.” Of course, what was “fixed” was the poll itself …. This is one important reason why newspapers are on shaky financial ground. Washington Post readers who are not completely on the Obama bandwagon should see the discrepancies described here and feel completely manipulated. The Post is loading on the bias, coming and going, manipulating the polls after it paints pretty presidential pictures on the front page. – Wall Street Journal, 4-1-09
    • Media: Obama’s London Sojourn Nothing Like Bush’s: President Obama’s European trip receives mostly positive coverage in this morning’s newspapers, with many articles contrasting his reception with that given to former President Bush in previous years….ABC World News, meanwhile, reported that “according to our ABC News/Washington Post poll, 43% of Americans say the country’s image abroad is improving under…Obama. That number was just 10% under President Bush.” The President “continues to get high marks at home, as well, 64% say they are confident the President’s programs will improve the economy.” – US News & World Report, 4-1-09
    • U.S. voters don’t blame Obama for economy: U.S. President Barack Obama benefits from a broadly held perception that others bear the bulk of responsibility for state of the U.S. economy, according to a Washington Post/ABC News poll published on Tuesday…. – Reuters, 3-30-09
    • Experts: Bias didn’t skew NH polls against Clinton: olling that ended too early and other technical shortcomings — rather than undetected racial bias — are the likeliest reasons so many surveys incorrectly suggested Barack Obama would defeat Hillary Rodham Clinton in the 2008 New Hampshire presidential primary, a report concluded Monday. Clinton defeated Obama 39 percent to 36 percent in the Jan. 8, 2008, contest, even though many pre-primary polls showed Obama with solid leads. Clinton’s victory gave her a badly needed burst of momentum just five days after Obama won a surprising victory in the Iowa caucuses, the year’s first presidential contest. – AP, 3-30-09

    THE HEADLINES….

    President Obama and Prime Minister Gordon Brown

    White House Photo, 4/2/09, Chuck Kennedy

    London G20

    Read the President’s remarks on progress at the G-20 Summit, or watch his press conference with Prime Minister Brown beforehand.

    Read the Remarks
    Watch the Video

    Vice President Biden in Latin America

    White House Photo, 3/28/09, David Lienemann

    Biden in Latin America

    The Vice President returns from Latin America, where he urged a new era of cooperation.
    Read his remarks and see the photos.

    Learn more
    Learn more

    President Barack Obama delivers remarks about the American automotive industry in the Grand Foyer.

    The Headlines…

    • House, in Party-Line Vote, Passes Obama’s Budget Democrats Make Some Changes to $3.6 Trillion Plan but Maintain President’s Priorities on Health Care, Energy: The House Thursday approved a 2010 budget that includes President Barack Obama’s biggest priorities, giving the president a significant victory as he tries to shift the government’s direction from the Bush era. Democrats made some changes in Mr. Obama’s $3.6 trillion budget, but like the Senate, which also moved to approve the budget Thursday night, the House kept intact Mr. Obama’s plans for major spending on health care, energy and education.
      The House vote Thursday was 233-196, with 20 Democrats dissenting. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) made a point of announcing the vote total herself. As with the economic stimulus package, no House Republican voted for the Democratic plan. – WSJ, 4-2-09
    • Obama’s star shines bright in London: Maybe it should have been called the O-20. Just over two months into his presidency, Barack Obama commanded center stage at this high-wattage gathering of the world’s industrialized nations, vacuuming up attention both inside the summit and throughout a sophisticated city not easily star-struck. Obama proclaimed at the end of the conference that his country would be more humble in the world, but there was nothing modest about the attention he received. His profile was so immense that it threatened to diminish both the global summit itself and the protests taking place on the streets of London. – Politico, 4-2-09
    • Obama turns to survey researcher for census post: President Barack Obama on Thursday selected Robert M. Groves to be the next census director, turning to a survey researcher who has clashed with Republicans over the use of statistical sampling to lead the high-stakes head count. The White House announced Obama’s intention to nominate Groves, a former Census Bureau associate director of statistical design from 1990-92. If confirmed by the Senate, Groves will take the helm less than a year before the census, which has been beset by partisan bickering and will be used to apportion House seats and allocate billions in federal dollars. – AP, 4-2-09
    • HHS nominee on track for confirmation by Senate: Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius stepped around potential land mines on abortion and her own tax errors Thursday as she testified at a hearing en route to her expected confirmation as health and human services secretary. – AP, 4-2-09
    • Obama issues warning as North Korea readies rocket: As North Korea fueled a multistage rocket Thursday for its threatened satellite launch, President Barack Obama promised a “stern” response and Japan vowed to press for an emergency session of the U.N. Security Council. Senior U.S. defense officials said that trailers and vehicles carrying rocket propellant were in place at North Korea’s coastal launch site and that fueling had begun…. – AP, 4-2-09
    • Key players in the indictment against Blagojevich: The federal indictment of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and five co-defendants charges they conspired to trade official government action for Blagojevich’s political or personal gain involve a variety of characters…. – AP, 4-2-09
    • Obama seems everywhere as he takes global stage: He talked nuclear threats with Russia’s president and gave an iPod to the queen. And that was only the beginning. It was an eventful first day on the world stage for President Barack Obama, launching new arms control talks, placing China ties on fresh footing and calming fears about the ailing U.S. economy — seemingly everywhere, relaxed and smiling all the while. While wife Michelle attracted breathless attention with every stop, fashionable outfit and sip of tea. AP, 4-1-09
    • On the White House Eyes of the World Are on Obama: The rapid political rise of Barack Obama can be gauged in many ways, but one of the best measures can perhaps be found in London, on the front stoop of No. 10 Downing Street…. That scene was magnified yet again on Wednesday. This time, after meeting for two hours inside No. 10 with Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Mr. Obama held forth at a press conference that was televised live on both sides of the Atlantic…. – NYT, 4-1-09
    • Obama presents Queen Elizabeth II with an iPod: Queen Elizabeth II wasn’t the only one on President Barack Obama’s gift list Wednesday. He gave presents to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s wife, Sarah, and their two sons, too…. – AP, 4-1-09
    • Govt. seeks to reverse Ted Stevens’ conviction: Faced with embarrassing revelations about withheld evidence, the Justice Department on Wednesday moved to reverse the conviction of former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, who lost his bid for re-election just days after a jury found that he had lied about gifts and home renovations. – “I have determined that it is in the interest of justice to dismiss the indictment and not proceed with a new trial,” Attorney General Eric Holder said. He said the department must ensure that all cases are “handled fairly and consistent with its commitment to justice.” – AP, 4-1-09
    • Absentees could decide House race in New York: A special election to fill a U.S. Congressional seat vacated after Hillary Clinton became Secretary of State was too close to call on Wednesday and will likely be determined by absentee ballots in the next few weeks. Seen by some as an early gauge of support for the policies of President Barack Obama, Tuesday’s contest pitted Democrat Scott Murphy, a venture capitalist, against Republican Jim Tedisco in a district in northeastern New York state that has traditionally been strongly Republican. The winner will fill the Congressional seat vacated by Kirsten Gillibrand, a conservative Democrat who was named U.S. Senator to succeed Clinton. Of the votes cast on Tuesday, Murphy, a political novice, led by between 59 and 65 votes, a figure being rechecked on Wednesday, a state Board of Elections spokesman said. Some 154,000 votes were cast. The board said 10,162 outstanding absentee ballots can be returned as late as April 13. – Reuters, 4-1-09
    • House passes new, weaker bill in AIG bonus flap: The House is taking another, albeit weaker, stab at trying to keep bailed-out financial institutions from paying their employees hefty bonuses after lawmakers had second thoughts about their vote two weeks ago to tax the bonuses away. A new bill, which passed 247-171 on Wednesday, would allow the bonuses if the Treasury Department and financial regulators determine they are not “unreasonable or excessive.” – AP, 4-1-09
    • Bidens: Stimulus aid is going out to small towns: About $1.8 billion in federal stimulus money was released Wednesday to help strengthen rural communities by supporting loan guarantees and loosening credit for small-town home buyers, Vice President Joe Biden said. Biden joined Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in a daylong tour of eastern North Carolina in the White House’s latest effort to highlight the $787 billion federal stimulus package President Barack Obama signed earlier this year. – AP, 4-1-09
    • Obama, in Europe, Faces Big Challenges to His Agenda: For nearly 30 years, American presidents have arrived at economic summit meetings with nearly identical talking points: the solution to most ailments lies in more economic integration, unleashing free markets and using a light touch to tame capitalism. As President Obama landed here Tuesday night to attend the Group of 20 summit meeting, almost every one of those principles appeared up for debate. – NYT, 3-31-09
    • Desperate world leaders meet on economic woes: The President of the United States, Barack Obama, and first lady Michelle Obama, wave as they walk down the steps from Air Force One at London’s Stansted Airport, ahead of the G20 summit in London. President Obama has arrived in Europe, with a hefty economic and political agenda for his first journey across the Atlantic since taking office two months ago. Obama’s focus is a G-20 meeting of the world’s major economic powers and a NATO summit marking the 60 years since the alliance was founded to blunt Soviet aggression in Europe.
      Desperate but divided on ways to lift their nations from economic misery, world leaders converged for an emergency summit Tuesday holding scant hopes of finding a magic-bullet solution for the crisis that brought them hurrying to London. – AP, 3-31-09
    • Pakistani Taliban threatens attack on White House: Pakistan’s Taliban chief claimed responsibility Tuesday for a deadly assault on a police academy, saying he wanted to retaliate for U.S. missile attacks on the militant bases on the border with Afghanistan. Baitullah Mehsud, who has a $5 million bounty on his head from the United States, also vowed to “amaze everyone in the world” with an attack on Washington or even the White House…. – AP, 3-31-09
    • Today’s election could inspire high turnout: While special elections typically garner below-average turnout, today’s contest between candidates in the 20th Congressional District may buck the trend. After a 45-day campaign for the congressional seat vacated when Kirsten Gillibrand was appointed to the Senate, Republican James Tedisco and Democrat Scott Murphy could see higher voter numbers because of a conflagration of state and national events. – Saratogian, 3-31-09
    • NYT, 3-31-09
    • In reversal, U.S. to join U.N. rights council: The United States will seek to join the U.N. Human Rights Council, reversing the U.S. policy of shunning the group. On Tuesday, the Obama administration announced it would participate in May elections for a seat on the 47-member council, prompting concern among some Jewish groups. The Bush administration had withheld U.S. membership from the Geneva-based council for its failure to confront human rights abusers and its singling out of Israel for condemnation. –
    • Sebelius admits errors, pays $7,000 in back taxes: Health and Human Services nominee Kathleen Sebelius recently corrected three years of tax returns and paid more than $7,000 in back taxes after finding “unintentional errors” — the latest tax troubles for an Obama administration nominee. The Kansas governor explained the changes to senators in a letter dated Tuesday that the administration released. She said they involved charitable contributions, the sale of a home and business expenses…. – AP, 3-31-09
    • US, Iranian diplomats break the ice at conference: In a cautious first step toward unlocking 30 years of tense relations, senior U.S. diplomat Richard Holbrooke had a brief but cordial meeting with Iran’s deputy foreign minister Tuesday at an international conference on Afghanistan… U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton cautioned that the talks between Holbrooke and Iranian diplomat Mehdi Akhundzadeh were promising but not “substantive.”… – AP, 3-31-09
    • Obama asserts gov’t control over the auto industry: President Barack Obama asserted unprecedented government control over the auto industry Monday, bluntly rejecting turnaround plans by General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC, demanding fresh concessions for long-term federal aid and raising the possibility of quick bankruptcy for either ailing auto giant…
      “I am absolutely committed to working with Congress and the auto companies to meet one goal: The United States of America will lead the world in building the next generation of clean cars,” Obama said in his first extended remarks on the industry since taking office nearly 10 weeks ago. And yet, he added, “our auto industry is not moving in the right direction fast enough to succeed.” – AP, 3-31-09
    • Obama takes step over the line that separates government from private industry: His automaker bailout plan wades into ‘industrial policy,’ in which government officials, not business executives or the free market, decide what products a firm makes and how it charts its future…. – LAT, 3-30-09
    • Critics call Senate’s proposed cuts ‘devastating’: Education and health-care advocates decried the first budget out of the Legislature Monday, calling the Senate’s cuts to public schools, higher education and state health-care plans devastating…. – Seattle PI, 3-30-09
    • Congressional election in NY seen as economic test: The first U.S. Congressional election since President Barack Obama took office on January 20 will be held on Tuesday and may indicate what voters think of his handling of the financial crisis, political experts say…. – Reuters, 3-30-09
    • GOP gleeful at prospects for 2010: Republican strategists eager to rebuild the party and regain voter confidence see the comeback road running over a number of unpopular Democratic governorships on a playing field that favors making statehouse gains in traditionally Republican red states. – Washington Times, 3-30-09
    • Romney’s work puts him in 2012 political spotlight: Mitt Romney doesn’t have a job for the first time in his adult life. That hardly means he’s not working. In ways both subtle and overt, the 2008 Republican presidential contender, former Massachusetts governor, one-time Olympics chief and high-flying businessman is building toward a 2012 White House campaign by judiciously engaging and disengaging with the national debate. – AP, 3-30-09
    • Obama heads overseas to tackle world economy: After 10 weeks in office trying to save the U.S. economy, President Obama is ready to take on the world economy. Whether the world is ready for his remedy remains in doubt. Obama flies to London on Tuesday, then on to four other nations, for his first overseas trip since assuming office and with the global economy in shambles. It’s one of the most anticipated presidential trips since John Kennedy went to Berlin in 1963. – USA Today, 3-29-09
    • Merkel Is Ready to Greet, and Then Resist, Obama: Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, an avowed friend of the United States and the leader of the European Union’s biggest economy, is diplomatic about the coming visit by President Obama. But she is clear that she is not about to give ground on new stimulus spending, stressing the need to maintain fiscal discipline even as she professes to want to work closely with the new American president. – NYT, 3-29-09
    • Administration Delays Change to Military’s ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ Policy: Defense Secretary Robert Gates says the military has too much on its plate right now to alter the policy of relieving openly gay service members from duty. – Fox News, 3-29-09
    • McCain: Let’s see who runs in 2012: Sen. John McCain isn’t committing to supporting his vice presidential pick, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, if she runs for president in 2012. McCain — the GOP’s presidential nominee last year — says he wants to see who the other candidates are and what the situation might be. – AP, 3-29-09
    • GM CEO Wagoner to step down at White House request: General Motors Corp. Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner will step down immediately at the request of the White House, administration officials said Sunday. The news comes as President Obama prepares to unveil additional restructuring efforts designed to save the domestic auto industry…. – AP, 3-29-09
    • Obama seeks to rein in Wall Street, broaden agenda: President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats are stepping through an economic minefield and sowing the ground with unprecedented initiatives that capitalize on the recession to rein in Wall Street and broaden government’s reach….
      “This budget is inseparable from this recovery, because it is what lays the foundation for a secure and lasting prosperity,” he said during his prime-time press conference Tuesday.
      Sen. Judd Gregg, the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, used his party’s weekly radio address Saturday to slam Obama’s grand spending plans. “We believe you create prosperity by having an affordable government that pursues its responsibilities without excessive costs, taxes or debt.” said Gregg, R-N.H.- AP, 3-29-09
    • Seeking the inside track in bellwether race: Murphy, Tedisco stump amid signs of national interest in 20th contest… Democrat Scott Murphy and Republican Jim Tedisco attempted to energize their political bases Sunday in the sprint before Tuesday’s special election to fill Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand’s 20th Congressional District seat…. – Times Union, 3-29-09
    • Obama Will Face a Defiant World on Foreign Visit: President Obama is facing challenges to American power on multiple fronts as he prepares for his first trip overseas since taking office, with the nation’s economic woes emboldening allies and adversaries alike. Despite his immense popularity around the world, Mr. Obama will confront resentment over American-style capitalism and resistance to his economic prescriptions when he lands in London on Tuesday for the Group of 20 summit meeting of industrial and emerging market nations plus the European Union. – NYT, 3-28-09
    • Sen. Gregg no longer in Obama’s corner: Last month, New Hampshire Republican Sen. Judd Gregg agreed to join President Barack Obama’s cabinet as Commerce Secretary, but then he abruptly withdrew his name, saying he and the president were “functioning from a different set of views on many different items of policy.” Saturday, Gregg drove the point home when he warned that Obama is engineering an “extraordinary move of our government to the left.” – Kansas City Star, 3-28-09
    • Bank execs vow to work with Obama on recovery plan: Top executives of the nation’s biggest banks said Friday after meeting with President Barack Obama that they will work with the administration on its economic recovery plans, but want more specifics from the White House.
      In an interview with CBS News, Obama said his overarching message was this: “Show some restraint. Show that you get that this is a crisis and everybody has to make sacrifices. They agreed and they recognized it. Now, the proof in the pudding is in the eating.” – AP, 3-28-09
    • Classic Clinton Phrase Inspires New GOP Strategy to Regain Power: Republicans appear to be crafting their own version of Bill Clinton’s legendary campaign phrase in an effort to recapture both chambers in Congress next year: Sixteen years ago, Bill Clinton surged to an improbable presidential victory over incumbent George H.W. Bush, primarily on the strength of a snarky campaign phrase: “It’s the economy, stupid.” Now, Republicans appear to be crafting their own version in an effort to recapture both chambers in Congress next year. Their message: President Obama’s fiscal policy “spends too much, taxes too much and borrows too much.” – – Fox News, 3-28-09
    • Obama calls major economies climate change meeting: President Barack Obama is launching a “Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate” to help facilitate a U.N. agreement on global warming, the White House said on Saturday. Leaders from 16 major economies have been invited to a preparatory session on April 27 and 28 in Washington to “help generate the political leadership necessary” to achieve an international pact to cut greenhouse gas emissions later this year, it said in a statement. – Reuters, 3-28-09
    • Obama moves to fill 3 more slots at Treasury: President Barack Obama on Saturday moved to fill three top Treasury Department positions, seeking to give Secretary Tim Geithner added manpower at an agency that has been slow to fill vacancies. Helen Elizabeth Garrett, a University of Southern California vice president for academic planning, is being nominated to be assistant secretary for tax policy. Also selected for slots were Michael S. Barr to be assistant secretary for financial institutions, and George W. Madison for general counsel. – AP, 3-28-09
    • Ire at Wall St. Bonuses Is Now Factor in House Race: The race for the 20th Congressional District seat has never been solely about the concerns of the residents of the 10 mostly rural counties in the district. Nationally, Republicans have sent in money and campaign workers, hoping to recapture the seat and post their first victory since November’s blowout election…. – NYT, 3-28-09
    • US health insurance mandate gains support: Support grew on Friday for insurance industry demands that all Americans be required to obtain coverage as part of a planned healthcare system overhaul, with a senior Senate Democrat and a coalition of business and … Reuters, 3-28-09
    • U.S. Expected to Give More Financing to Automakers: The Obama administration will probably extend more short-term aid to General Motors and Chrysler on Monday, but will impose a strict deadline for bondholders and union workers to make concessions that would help the ailing automakers become viable businesses and avert bankruptcy. – NYT, 3-27-09
    • Sources: More US troops for Afghan war: Confronting an inherited and faltering war, President Barack Obama plans to dispatch thousands more military and civilian trainers to Afghanistan by the fall on top of the 17,000 combat troops he has already ordered, senior administration officials said Thursday. Obama’s war strategy, which he plans to announce Friday, includes no timeline for withdrawal of troops. The war began more than seven years ago. – AP, 3-27-09
    • Financial overhaul plan draws GOP opposition: The Obama administration’s aggressive plan for strict scrutiny of hedge funds and other freewheeling investors, part of the biggest expansion of financial restraints since the Great Depression, is drawing instant opposition from Republican lawmakers and the rules’ targets. And skeptics are questioning whether the new rulebook would work anyway…. – AP, 3-27-09
    • Obama nominates ex-Miss. gov for Navy post: President Barack Obama has nominated former Mississippi Governor Ray Mabus (MAY’-bus) to be the secretary of the Navy. The White House made the announcement in a statement Friday. – AP, 3-27-09
    • Key Senate panel backs Obama’s budget blueprint: A key Senate panel stacked with allies of President Barack Obama approved his ambitious budget blueprint Thursday, giving the president a symbolic endorsement of efforts to boost clean energy, fight global warming and improve access to health care. Senate Budget Committee approval by a party-line vote sets the stage for floor debate next week, where moderate Democrats unhappy with deficits wield more influence. The Senate measure is a nonbinding road map for major legislation later this year on health care, energy and education. – AP, 3-26-09
    • Senate Democrats move ahead with budget plan: Senate Budget Democrats approve $3.41 trillion plan
      Republicans offer budget alternative with few details
      Senate budget panel rejects attempt to cut some spending
      Democrats in the U.S. Congress on Thursday pushed forward President Barack Obama’s $3.55 trillion budget proposal with minor changes, brushing aside Republican attempts to slash spending and taxes…. – Reuters, 3-26-09
    • Obama to meet bank CEOs to discuss economic crisis: President Barack Obama will quiz top U.S. bankers on Friday about developments in the economy and their businesses as his administration seeks broader authority to regulate the financial system…. – Reuters, 3-26-09
    • Obama seizes bully pulpit online to pitch budget: President Barack Obama seized the bully pulpit Thursday and reprised the best of his acclaimed campaign skills in an unprecedented Internet town hall from the White House — a direct sales pitch for Americans to get behind his $3.6 trillion budget and be patient as he tries to right the tottering economy. After an opening statement and declaring, “This isn’t about me, it’s about you,” Obama took up a microphone and strolled the ornate East Room, playing to an audience of 100 invited guests and what the White House said were an estimated 67,000 people watching him in cyberspace. – AP, 3-26-09
    • Obama Makes History in Live Internet Video Chat: The White House said more than 64,000 people watched President Obama answer questions on Thursday in the first live Internet video chat by an American president. But in declaring itself “Open for Questions,” on the economy, the White House learned it must be careful what it wishes for. “I don’t know what this says about the online audience,” Mr. Obama said, drawing a laugh from an audience gathered in the East Room, which included teachers, nurses and small-business people. “The answer is no, I don’t think that is a good strategy to grow the economy.” NYT, 3-26-09
    • Tough financial rules proposed — will they work?: The Obama administration’s aggressive plan for strict scrutiny of hedge funds and other freewheeling investors, part of the biggest expansion of financial restraints since the Great Depression, is drawing instant opposition from Republican lawmakers and the rules’ targets. And skeptics are questioning whether the new rulebook would work anyway…. – AP, 3-26-09
    • Congress OKs lands bill: After a long and twisted path through Congress, the House on Wednesday finally passed and sent to President Barack Obama a massive package of 170 public lands bills — including several affecting Utah — that would create 2 million acres of wilderness nationwide…. – Deseret News, 3-25-09
    • Obama Turns to Web to Bypass News Media: Call it Round Two of the news conference, with a big Internet twist. President Barack Obama took questions from the White House press corps on Tuesday in a prime-time, East Room session that represented the most formal and time-honored of president-and-reporter interactions. On Thursday, he is taking to that same room for another public grilling — this time by regular folks armed with questions submitted via the Internet and in person, as part of a political strategy to engage Americans directly. – AP, 3-26-09

    POLITICAL QUOTES

    President Obama and Prime Minister Brown at a Press Conference

    (President Barack Obama is joined by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown at a joint news conference Wednesday, April 1, 2009, at the Foreign Commonwealth Office in London.
    White House Photo/Chuck Kennedy)

    Political Quotes

    • The House Passes the Budget: “Tonight, the House of Representatives took another step toward rebuilding our struggling economy. This budget resolution embraces our most fundamental priorities: an energy plan that will end our dependence on foreign oil and spur a new clean energy economy; an education system that will ensure our children will be able to compete in the economy of the 21st century; and health care reform that finally confronts the back-breaking costs plaguing families, businesses and government alike. And by making hard choices and challenging the old ways of doing business, we will cut in half the budget deficit we inherited within four years. With this vote comes an obligation to pursue our efforts to go through the budget line-by-line, searching for additional savings. Like the families we serve, we must cut the things we don’t need to invest in those we do.” – WH Blog, 4-2-09
    • House, in Party-Line Vote, Passes Obama’s Budget Democrats Make Some Changes to $3.6 Trillion Plan but Maintain President’s Priorities on Health Care, Energy: “Have we inherited a mess? Yes,” said Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.), the top Republican on the House Budget Committee. “The question is, are we making it better or are we making it worse? I would suggest that the budget before us makes it so much worse.” Like other Republicans, Mr. Ryan decried the Democrats’ budget for its spending and deficits. “This is reckless spending,” Mr. Ryan said. “We are spending like drunken sailors. Wait, I apologize to the drunken sailors of America for that comment.” – WSJ, 4-2-09
    • Huckabee says his remark made McAuliffe ‘break down and cry’: “As someone who served as a Governor for 10 years, I can say if these are the type of things Terry McAuliffe worries about and make him break down and cry, then he won’t last 10 days as Governor much less four years and he doesn’t deserve the people of Virginia’s vote,” Huckabee said in a statement to CNN. – CNN, 4-2-09
    • First lady greeted by shrieks, tears at school: “All of you are jewels, you are precious and you touch my heart,” she said, as she appeared to be trying to hold back tears. “And it is important for the world to know that there are wonderful girls like you all over the world.” Mrs. Obama stressed the importance of getting a good education and called the students the “women that will build the world as it should be.” “By getting a good education, you too can create your own destiny,” Mrs. Obama said. “I never cut class. I like being smart. I thought being smart was the coolest thing in the world.”… – CNN, 4-2-09
    • Barack Obama “A Turning Point”: Today, we’ve learned the lessons of history. I know that in the days leading up to the summit, some of you in the press, some commentators, confused honest and open debate with irreconcilable differences. But after weeks of preparation, and two days of careful negotiation, we have agreed on a series of unprecedented steps to restore growth and prevent a crisis like this from happening again.
      To prevent future crises, we agreed to increased transparency and capital protections for financial institutions. We’re extending supervision to all systemically important institutions, markets and products, including hedge funds. We’ll identify jurisdictions that fail to cooperate, including tax havens, and take action to defend our financial system. We will reestablish the Financial Stability Forum with a stronger mandate. And we will reform and expand the IMF and World Bank so they are more efficient, effective and representative. WH Blog, 4-2-09
    • Huckabee to Va. GOP backers: Flatten Dem voters’ tires: At the GOP event, Huckabee, grinning, told supporters they had two Election Day duties: “One, get all those people who are going to vote for Bob out to the polls and vote. If they’re not going to vote for Bob, you have another job. Let the air out of their tires and do not let them out of their driveway on Election Day,” Huckabee, an ordained Baptist minister, said with a wide grin as rising laughter is heard on the video. “Keep ’em home. Do the Lord’s work, my friend.” – AP, 4-2-09
    • How the G-20 Succeeded — And Why It Matters: “This is the day that the world came together to fight back against the global recession, not with words but with a plan for global recovery and for reform and with a clear timetable for its delivery,” declared the summit host, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. – AP, 4-2-09
    • How the G-20 Succeeded — And Why It Matters: Speaking of the agreements reached on tighter regulation of financial markets and institutions, French President Nicolas Sarkozy bigged up his own role in agitating for the measures: “That our Anglo-Saxon friends accepted all of this represents immense progress,” he said, adding that “while there were moments of tension, we never thought we’d obtain such a big deal.” – AP, 4-2-09
    • Morning in London: President Obama and Prime Minister Gordon Brown held a joint press conference following a working meeting: Well, I think if you pulled quotes from 10 years ago, 20 years ago, 30 years ago, from previous news reports, you might find similar contentions that America was on decline. And somehow it hasn’t worked out that way, because I think that there is a vibrancy to our economic model, a durability to our political model, and a set of ideals that has sustained us through even the most difficult times.
      Now, with respect to the current crisis, I think that there is no doubt that at a time when the world is fearful, that there is a strong tendency to look for somebody to blame. And I think that given our prominence in the world financial system, it’s natural that questions are asked — some of them very legitimate — about how we have participated in global financial markets.
      Having said that, I am absolutely confident that this meeting will reflect enormous consensus about the need to work in concert to deal with these problems. I think that the separation between the various parties involved has been vastly overstated. If you look at where there has been the biggest debate, and I think that the press has fastened on this as a ongoing narrative — this whole issue of fiscal stimulus. And the fact of the matter is, is that almost every country that’s participating in this summit has engaged in fiscal stimulus. The ones that are perceived as being resistant to fiscal stimulus have done significant fiscal stimulus. There has not been a dispute about the need for government to act in the face of a rapidly contracting set of markets and very high unemployment. – WH Blog, 4-1-09 Transcript
    • Obama administration takes lead in reshaping automakers: “I am absolutely committed to working with Congress and the auto companies to meet one goal,” Obama said: “The United States of America will lead the world in building the next generation of clean cars.” – Chicago Tribune, 3-31-09
    • Obama administration takes lead in reshaping automakers: “When did the president become an expert in strategic corporate management?” said Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.). “The federal government is famous for its mismanagement, yet this administration continues to demonstrate its certainty that Washington always knows best.” – Chicago Tribune, 3-31-09
    • Obama administration takes lead in reshaping automakers: Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) called it a “power grab” that “should send a chill through those who believe in free enterprise.” – Chicago Tribune, 3-31-09
    • RJC Executive Director Matthew Brooks: “In an in-depth article in the April 6, 2009 issue of The New Yorker, investigative reporter Seymour M. Hersh states that Carter has met with President Obama to discuss foreign policy, and that the administration was aware of Carter’s trip to Syria in December 2008. Carter is calling for broader U.S.-Syrian relations….
      “Former President Carter has never been perceived as a friend of Israel,” Brooks continued. “In the years since his presidency, Carter has been openly hostile to Israel and has shown a naïve grasp of the realities in the Middle East…. – 3-31-09
    • Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., quickly issued a statement supporting Sebelius: “Congress is going to need a strong partner at the Department of Health and Human Services to achieve comprehensive health reform this year, and we have that partner in Gov. Sebelius,” Baucus said. “There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Gov. Sebelius has the political experience, determination, and bipartisan work ethic to get the job done with Congress this year. She’s the right person for the job.” – AP, 3-31-09
    • Meghan McCain: Is Schock the GOP’s Mr. Right?: “The first time I ever heard of Congressman Aaron Schock, I was hanging out with some friends during a girls’ night in, and one of my friends yelled to me from the other room: ‘Meghan, there’s a congressman on TMZ,'” Meghan McCain writes Tuesday in her latest blog post for the Daily Beast. “To which I answered: ‘Twenty bucks he’s a Democrat.’ Well, I was wrong.” “….At the end of the day, Congressman Schock is only three years older than me. Which means he can relay a message in ways my father never could,” she says. “As someone who has been personally attacked when I invited political discourse, I firmly believe that talking about our differences — instead of mudslinging — can only bring people closer to the Republican Party and force them to take a second look at their candidates,” she writes. McCain says the “congressman-turned-TMZ-hottie” may be the cure for what ails the GOP: “If nothing else, in an Obama-crazed land, he is getting people’s attention and putting another fresh face at the center of what it is too often perceived as an old-news, boring party.” – CNN, 3-31-09
    • GOP gleeful at prospects for 2010: “We strongly believe the way to revive the Republican Party is to pick up governorships, because the governors are the party leaders in the state and once voters learn they can trust Republicans to govern effectively, they will start voting for Republicans in federal elections as well,” said Mike Schrimpf, the Republican Governors Association’s communications director. – Washington Times, 3-30-09
    • Critics call Senate’s proposed cuts ‘devastating’: “It’s a budget that gets balanced on the backs of the most vulnerable people: Elderly people, low-income people, people who’ve lost their jobs,” said Rebecca Kavoussi, assistant vice-president of government affairs for the Community Health Network of Washington. – Seattle PI, 3-30-09
    • President Barack Obama announcing his new policy for Afganistan, 3-27-09: “So let me be clear. Al-Qaida and its allies — the terrorists who planned and supported the 9/11 attacks — are in Pakistan and Afghanistan. And if the Afghan government falls to the Taliban, or allows al-Qaida to go unchallenged — that country will again be a base for terrorists who want to kill as many of our people as they possibly can.” – Salon.com, 3-30-09
    • Timothy Geithner on ABC’s “This Week” and NBC’s “Meet the Press”: “Treasury secretary says market won’t solve problem”: “We came through a period where people borrowed too much and we let our financial system take on much too much risk,” Geithner said. “And the consequences of those choices, made over years, were a huge boom. And that boom, the air is now coming out of that and that’s causing enormous damage.”…
      “It’s very important for people to understand that, you know, it took us a long time to get into this mess. It’s going to take us a while to get out of this,” he said. “Progress is not going to be even. It’s not going to be steady.”
      “The market will not solve this. And the great risk for us is we do too little, not that we do too much,” he said….
      “Will never happen. Because we have a strong, independent Fed, with a clear authority from the Congress to keep inflation low at — stable at low levels going forward,” he said.
      “And I knew we were going to face really tough choices,” he said. “We were going to have to do things that are going to be deeply unpopular, hard to understand. We’re not going to get it perfect everywhere. … This job, it comes with a lot of heat by definition and there’s nothing surprising in that.”…
      “I would not spend a penny on helping a bank for the purpose of helping a bank,” said Geithner, taking care with words that can move the markets. “Everything we’re doing is for the people that depend on this financial system. Every time we provide assistance to the financial institutions, it’s only because we need them to do a better job of getting credit to help reduce the risk of a deeper recession.” – AP, 3-29-09
    • President Obama Weekly Address: Crisis and Service: “In the Fargodome, thousands of people gathered not to watch a football game or a rodeo, but to fill sandbags. Volunteers filled 2.5 million of them in just five days, working against the clock, day and night, with tired arms and aching backs. Others braved freezing temperatures, gusting winds, and falling snow to build levees along the river’s banks to help protect against waters that have exceeded record levels.” – WH Blog, 3-28-09 Transcript
    • A New Strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan: “Today, I am announcing a comprehensive, new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan. And this marks the conclusion of a careful policy review, led by Bruce [Reidel], that I ordered as soon as I took office….” – WH Blog, 3-27-09
    • President Obama’s Face The Nation Interview: President Obama told Bob Schieffer Friday that he has no illusions about how difficult the task of securing Afghanistan and Pakistan from Al Qaeda influence will be for the United States.
      “This is going to be hard, Bob… I am under no illusions,” he said. “If it was easy it would already have been completed. We’re going to have to go with a strategy that is focused, that is narrowly targeted on defeating al- Qaeda,” the president said. Added Mr. Obama: “We think that if you combine military, civilian, diplomatic, development approaches, if we are doing a much better job coordination with our allies, that we can be successful.” – 3-27-09
    • President Obama’s online town hall: That’s a great question. You know, I had just an extraordinary honor — yesterday was Medal of Honor Day. And I went to Arlington National Cemetery, and we had a ceremony in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with a collection of Medal of Honor winners from all our various wars.
      And a special place of honor was a guy named John Finn, who had been present the day Pearl Harbor was bombed. He was on one of the ships, was shot by — was strafed by the fire from the planes coming in, and yet still had the presence of mind to shoot down a plane, and won the Medal of Honor — or was awarded the Medal of Honor for that. And it just reminds you that we wouldn’t be here if it hadn’t been for the sacrifices of earlier veterans. We would not — (applause) — we would not enjoy the same safety and security and liberty that we do.
      So when our veterans come home from Iraq and Afghanistan — and they have performed brilliantly, they have done everything that’s been asked of them, regardless of what your views are on these wars — they have earned these benefits that all too often we fail to give them.
      And that’s why in my budget we are increasing veterans funding by more than any time in the last 30 years. We’re going to make sure that we deal with the — (applause) — we’re going to make sure that deal with the backlog that too many veterans experience in terms of getting benefits. We’re going to make sure that homeless veterans are receiving housing and services.
      The homeless rate for veterans is multiple times higher than it is for non-veterans. That’s inexcusable. It means that we’re going to provide services for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, that we’re going to provide services for Traumatic Brain Injury that are the signature injuries of these recent wars. So we are going to significantly increase veterans spending…. – WH Blog, 3-26-09 Transcript
    • Clinton calls Mexico’s drug violence ‘intolerable’: “Today, (our) ties are being put to new tests. This situation is intolerable for honest, law-abiding citizens of Mexico, my country or of anywhere people of conscience live,” she said. “The United States recognizes that drug trafficking is not only Mexico’s problem. It is also America’s problem.”
      “The United States will be stepping up to help address the serious security challenges that Mexico is facing and Mexico, of course, must do its part as well,” she said.
      “We (in the U.S.) can worry about what’s coming north, but Mexican people are worried about what’s coming south: assault weapons, bazookas, grenades,” she said. “I mean, we’ve got to get together on this.” – AP, 3-26-09
    • Biden predicts Congress will back Obama on budget: “I’m confident that with the leadership of the speaker and Harry Reid we are going to get our budget with all the major elements intact,” Biden, flanked by Pelosi, told reporters. – Reuters, 3-25-09

    HISTORIANS’ COMMENTS

    Todd Heisler/The New York Times President Obama and the first lady arrived in London for the Group of 20 economic summit.

    Historians’ Comments

    • Scholars Discuss Black Power in the Age of Obama: The Black Power movement is not a vestige of the past, but a living didactical legacy that is as relevant now in the Obama era as it has ever been, said a group of scholars and activists during a two-day symposium dedicated to the impact of the Black Power movement on America.
      Panelists Dr. Gregory Carr, a professor of African-American studies at Howard University; Rhonda Williams, an associate professor of history at Case Western Reserve University; and Brazile painted a picture of a multifaceted movement orchestrated by various constituencies of Black America demanding to be heard after the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968. – Diverse Eucation. 4-1-09
    • Ian Reifowitz “Today’s election could inspire high turnout”: Ian Reifowitz, a professor of history and politics at Empire State College, said several factors will drive turnout. “There was so much attention surrounding the appointment of Rep. Gillibrand and Paterson’s handling of that, that there could be more interest in this race,” Reifowtiz said. He added that some voters will be drawn out by national events and the way the race’s narrative followed them. “People were following the stimulus package, and there were people wanting to know if Tedisco would support it. Then you had the same thing with the AIG bonuses,” Reifowitz said.
      The state’s budget, although seemingly not related to the congressional race, also might factor in voter’s minds, especially because it was constructed by Democrats, Reifowitz said. “That may help by not hurting,” he said. “If Democrats weren’t able to get it together, people would look at that as a reason to not vote for Murphy.” – Saratogian, 3-31-09
    • Robert Turner “Today’s election could inspire high turnout”: Robert Turner, an assistant professor of government at Skidmore College, said average voter turnout in special elections since 2007 has been 91,000 voters. “Voters are not as representative as they are in a general election. They’re more informed, more motivated and more educated,” he said, adding what many pundits have discussed in regard to this race, “This has become a bit of a referendum on the Obama presidency. A lot of pundits want to say ‘the honeymoon’s over.'” That message could drive higher turnout by bringing out people who feel strongly for or against Obama’s presidency, Turner said. “If the issue was just ‘business man’ or ‘career politician,’ that probably wouldn’t be enough,” he said. – Saratogian, 3-31-09
    • Menahem Blondheim “New Analysis: Netanyahu not likely to see more U.S. pressure”: “The change from Bush administration to the Obama administration is not a usual transition,” Menahem Blondheim, professor of American Studies at Hebrew University told Xinhua. “The economic problem is so dominant. Clearly everything will take shape according to the success and the momentum of the administration in terms of taking care of the economic problem,” he said. He noted that the Obama administration still had to establish a clear perspective and program concerning international affairs in general and the Middle East in particular. “Between economic and international policy, the proportion in terms of looking at economic matters is skewed and things are very much on hold,” Blondheim said.
      “There is a lot to the political circumstances built on the deep-seated affinities between America and Israel,” Blondheim said. “The support for Israel as a democracy and its national experience, which resonates ideologically and politically with Americans, is pretty fundamental.” He noted that the Obama administration did not represent a sweeping ideological transformation on the basis of which issues are addressed. “The systemic approach is different but the fundamental values that energize American politics cannot be revolutionized or dramatically transformed,” he said. – www.chinaview.cn, 4-1-09
    • Juan Cole: Obama’s domino theory The president sounds like he’s channeling Cheney or McCain — or a Cold War hawk afraid of international communism — when he talks about the war in Afghanistan.: President Barack Obama may or may not be doing the right thing in Afghanistan, but the rationale he gave for it on Friday is almost certainly wrong. Obama has presented us with a 21st century version of the domino theory. The U.S. is not, contrary to what the president said, mainly fighting “al-Qaida” in Afghanistan. In blaming everything on al-Qaida, Obama broke with his pledge of straight talk to the public and fell back on Bush-style boogeymen and implausible conspiracy theories….
      The Kabul government is not on the verge of falling to the Taliban. The Afghan government has 80,000 troops, who benefit from close U.S. air support, and the total number of Taliban fighters in the Pashtun provinces is estimated at 10,000 to 15,000. Kabul is in danger of losing control of some villages in the provinces to dissident Pashtun warlords styled “Taliban,” though it is not clear why the new Afghan army could not expel them if they did so. A smaller, poorly equipped Northern Alliance army defeated 60,000 Taliban with U.S. air support in 2001. And there is no prospect of “al-Qaida” reestablishing bases in Afghanistan from which it could attack the United States. If al-Qaida did come back to Afghanistan, it could simply be bombed and would be attacked by the new Afghan army. – Salon.com, 3-30-09
    • Allan Lichtman “Obama administration takes lead in reshaping automakers”: Obama’s actions are “consistent with the pattern of presidents acting during economic crises,” said Allan Lichtman, a history professor at American University and an expert on the presidency. “And it’s absolutely consistent with patterns of presidents intervening to make sure major components of the economy don’t fail.” – Chicago Tribune, 3-31-09
    • Julian Zelizer “Commentary: Big risks if Obama acts boldly on budget”: Americans are usually uninterested in legislative procedure. The technical rules that govern the House and Senate are of little concern to average citizens except for those rare moments when procedures become tied up with major policy battles….
      Congressional procedure is in the news once again. President Obama is thinking about using the budget reconciliation process, which prohibits a filibuster, to push through the Senate the many proposals that he introduced to Congress in last month’s address. Reconciliation would only require a majority vote in the Senate rather than the 60 votes needed to end a filibuster (the Democrats control at least 58 seats). Not only would the administration include tax and spending proposals in the legislation, but health care and possibly environmental measures as well. This would be a bold political move….
      Orszag added that history was on the president’s side: “Pretty much every major piece of budget legislation going back to April 1981, April ’82, April 1990, April 1993, the 1990 Act, the 2001 tax legislation, they were all done through reconciliation. Yet somehow this is being presented as an unusual thing.”
      But what are the risks for the administration? The first risk is that Republicans will become so furious with Obama’s use of this tactic that any chance of bipartisanship will disappear and in future Republicans will be even more willing to use dilatory tactics to block the administration’s priorities. Sen. Tom Carper, D-Delaware, warned that including health care in reconciliation would do “serious damage to our bipartisan effort.” Minority Whip John Kyl of Arizona warned that it would turn the bills into a “purely partisan exercise.”….
      The bigger risk has to do with Democrats themselves. Like Republicans, Democrats have remained relatively united since 2006. But by using reconciliation, the administration would be packaging together several bills, each of which has the potential to cause serious fissures within the party….
      The benefits of reconciliation are clear, and the risk of partisan anger should not be overstated. He might need to make this move if he wants to get such sweeping legislation given the partisan environment of Washington. Yet the president must move very carefully if he chooses this route and make certain that in the process of obtaining speed and efficiency, he does not cause excessive damage to the party he will lead in the next three years. – CNN, 3-30-09
    • R. Scott Appleby “Obama Visit to Notre Dame Provokes Debate”: “At Notre Dame there’s the audacity of hope that the president will make good on his promises to take these issues seriously and dialogue with his critics,” said R. Scott Appleby, a history professor at the university, who supports the invitation. “This visit is one occasion, among others, for Notre Dame and the entire Catholic community to find ways to deepen and extend the dialogue on life issues.”…
      Mr. Appleby, the history professor, said the long-range goal of such a discussion with Mr. Obama would be “to change hearts and minds” and move the country “toward a culture of life” that opposes abortion and embryonic stem-cell research and allows medical workers who oppose abortion rights to opt out of participating in certain procedures. “The question is, how can one who is so good and so insightful and so poised on issues of human dignity and human rights — how can that same person not engage fully and seriously in a debate on unborn life?” Mr. Appleby said. – NYT, 3-30-09
    • Julian Zelizer “Dodd’s Troubles Open Debate on Congress’ Ties With Special Interests”: Julian Zelizer, a professor of history at Princeton University and an expert on congressional matters, said most politicians are entangled with conflicts of interest — and they look bad when they’re revealed. “In terms of the financial bailout, this can bite,” he said. But Zelizer said Dodd should not have to sideline himself unless there is clear evidence of wrongdoing. “You have to penalize all of Congress if you started doing this,” he said, adding that long-term reform is needed for a more efficient system. – Fox News, 3-27-09
    • Mark Cauble “Gov. Palin focus of lecture for women’s history”: While Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has fallen out of the national spotlight, a lecture at Barstow Community College recognized the one-time vice presidential nominee as a woman of note during a lecture on women’s history month Wednesday. Palin was the subject of Professor Mark Cauble’s presentation, where the history and humanities professor talked about the governor’s rise in local politics and showed a portion of Palin’s nomination acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention in Sept. 2008. – Desert Dispatch, 3-25-09
    President Barack Obama engages the audience

    (President Barack Obama engages the audience at an “Open for Questions” online townhall.
    White House Photo, Chuck Kennedy, 3/26/09)

    Republican National Convention Day 3: September 3, 2008

    PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN 2008 WATCH: REPUBLICAN CONVENTION COVERAGE

    Stephen Crowley/The New York Times)

    The Palin family and Senator John McCain on stage at the Republican National Convention. (Photo: Stephen Crowley/The New York Times)

    Day 3 Schedule

    John McCain greeted by Sarah Palin as he arrived for the GOP Convention. (WaPo)

    John McCain greeted by Sarah Palin as he arrived for the GOP Convention. (WaPo)

      WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 2008

      The 2008 Republican National Convention today announced the full program of events for Wednesday, Sept. 3. The evening’s program will feature remarks by Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican Party’s nominee for vice president. Among the other speakers participating in this evening’s program are former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. The speakers remarks will reflect the convention’s overall theme, “Country First,” and the theme for Wednesday’s events, which is “reform.”

      TONIGHT’S SPEAKERS INCLUDE:

      U.S. Sen. Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), Speaker: U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman (Minn.), Meg Whitman, former President and CEO of EBay, Carly Fiorina, former Chairman and CEO of Hewlett-Packard, GOPAC Chairman Michael Steel, Speaker: Former Gov. Mitt Romney (Mass.), Speaker: Former Gov. Mike Huckabee (Ark.), Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani (N.Y.), Vice Presidential Nominee Sarah Palin – GOP Convention 2008

    Sarah Palin accepting the Republican Partys nomination for Vice President (CNN)

    Sarah Palin accepting the Republican Party's nomination for Vice President (CNN)

    Highlights:

    • September 3, 2008: Palin takes slap at Obama, casts herself as Washington outsider in convention speech … McCain shares hugs with Palin family upon his arrival in Twin Cities … GOP also-rans speak at national convention …. Obama claims McCain trying to run from Republican Party’s bad economic record … Democratic ‘war room’ finds its stride after tentative start. AP, 9-3-08 …Palin prepares to speak to delegates, other Americans amid political and personal revelations … Giuliani says Sarah Palin is ready to handle Sept. 11 crisis … Late-night TV hosts tread lightly with Palin pregnancy; use it to go after John Edwards. – AP, 9-3-08

    Stats & In the News…

    • Poll gives Obama edge in two of three key states – CNN 9-3-08
    • September 3, 2008: Gallop Poll: Democrat Barack Obama has a 6-percentage-point lead over Republican John McCain — he has 49 percent to McCain’s 43 percent — among registered voters in the presidential race. – AP, 9-3-08
    • UPDATE 2-FACTBOX-Quotes from the U.S. Republican convention – Reuters, 9-3-08
    • Palin Defies Critics and Electrifies Party – NYT, 9-4-08
    • Palin touts small-town roots, rips Obama – Reuters, 9-4-08
    • Palin Introduces Herself and Takes On Obama in Convention Speech With her address to the GOP faithful she has become the unexpected star of the Republican Party – US News, 9-3-08
    • Sarah Palin Owns the Hall, But What About the Country? – The Nation, 9-3-08
    • Palin mocks Obama; McCain claims nomination – AP, 9-3-08
    • Palin casts herself as Washington outsider – AP, 9-3-08
    • McCain takes spotlight – with Palin family – AP, 9-3-08
    The Republican Ticket, John McCain and Sarah Palin (CNN)

    The Republican Ticket, John McCain and Sarah Palin (CNN)

    Historians’ Comments

    • RICHARD NORTON SMITH, George Mason University on “Historians Mull Strengths of Sarah Palin’s Speech”: Well, this was a beat-up-on-Barack night, which is exactly what you expect from a keynoter. I thought Mayor Giuliani performed his role to the delight of everyone in the crowd. And it turned out he only warmed them up. There’s no doubt movements conservatives have themselves a new heroine, as of this evening. This will be a huge hit among Rush Limbaugh Republicans. It will be fascinating — I’d be interested to hear from Andy — it’d be fascinating to know if this plays as well among particularly independent voters out there who are watching this convention to find out not only what this party is against — and we heard a lot about that tonight — but what they’re for, particularly in the realm of the economy. And one final thing, I do wonder whether “drill, baby, drill” will take its place in the lexicon alongside “I like Ike.” – PBS Newhour, 9-3-08 Download
    • MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, Presidential Historian on “Historians Mull Strengths of Sarah Palin’s Speech”: Well, I think it happened, Richard. One note on political theater. You’ll note that, when John McCain came on stage — this is a first in history — a presidential candidate and a vice presidential candidate hugged in public. 1984, when Walter Mondale chose Geraldine Ferraro, they and their handlers decided that the American people couldn’t take the sight of these candidates hugging. So all through the campaign, they very carefully sort of held hands, held hands in the air, nothing more than that until after they lost. And Geraldine Ferraro said, “Can I finally hug you?” She did, indeed. I think the one thing as far as the speech — speech was fine, well-delivered, loved in the hall. But this is a woman that Americans know extremely little about, especially for a national nominee. And this speech didn’t tell us really very much beyond what we knew already, and that’s going to make it even more important in the future when she gives speeches that are more impromptu and when she submits to interrogations by reporters and average American citizens. – PBS Newhour, 9-3-08 Download
    • PENIEL JOSEPH, Brandeis University on “Historians Mull Strengths of Sarah Palin’s Speech”: Well, a really strong speech designed to appeal to white women voters. When we control for race and we think about the gender gap, in 2000, Al Gore received 48 percent of white female votes. In 2004, it was down to 44 percent. So, really, the overwhelming number of African-American women voters and Hispanic voters that provides Democrats with that edge. And this speech was designed to really appeal to those voters. She called herself a hockey mom. And that really translates to the Midwest when we think about suburban soccer moms….Well, she exceeded expectations. People really — building on what Michael said — didn’t know what to expect, a lot of rumors, a lot of controversy about the surprise pick. She exceeded expectations. She’s poised. She’s calm. She’s cool and collected. She looked ready for primetime tonight. – PBS Newhour, 9-3-08 Download
    • Gil Troy “Palin: The Kindest, Gentlest Cultural Warrior Since Reagan”: …Palin drew a line between those who serve in the army – and those who don’t, between those who live in the bicoastal bubble – and those who live in what she made clear was the real America. To appreciate her performance at its best, remember the angry harsh attacks Marilyn Quayle and Pat Buchanan launched in 1992. Palin was equally sharp but far less shrill. Lines about a candidate who has authored two memoirs about his life but authored no major law, about a small town mayor being like a community organizer – but with responsibility were zingers aimed directly at Barack Obama, delivered with a smile. In her ability to plunge the stiletto so deftly, and so delightfully, Sarah Palin channeled the great hero of depressed Republicans, Ronald Reagan…. – HNN, 9-3-08
    • Alan Brinkley: “Does McCain Need Independent and Moderate Voters?”: I guess the Democrats can’t count on Sarah Palin to torpedo McCain’s candidacy. If there is a danger, it is that her speech will overshadow his. After the really dreary and depressing session of yesterday, tonight was very successful, with two good speeches–the other by Giuliani. And I think they made the case that the Republican faithful wanted to hear, and they beat up on Obama in ways that will resonate with the GOP.
      But what I think this convention is really trying to do is to change the subject. Most Americans, it’s clear, think this election is about the economy. In all the many speeches of this week in St. Paul, virtually none of them have had much to say about the really serious economic problems that are affecting the very Americans that the GOP has tried to enlist–middle class and lower middle class families. Instead, they are falling back on old favorites–the mess in Washington (and who has made that over the last eight years?), the political establishment (likewise), and of course the reliable whipping boy–the liberal media. This convention did not, I think, set up McCain to reach out to the independents and moderates he will need to get elected. Instead, he seems on course to try to turn out the right-wing evangelical vote in the way Bush did in 2004. But he will have a much harder time bringing out the vast number of evangelicals that Bush attracted. It will be very interesting tomorrow night to see whether McCain’s speech veers away at all from the reliably conservative message of the first few days of the convention and returns to the more centrist image he was trying to project over the summer. – The New Republic, 9-3-08
    • Richard Norton Smith, Michael Beschloss: For McCain, 6 keys to victory in November – USA Today, 9-4-08
    • John Baick on “‘Small-town’ Palin stands tall”: “Far more attention is being paid to the vice presidential nominee than to McCain,” said John Baick, associate professor of history at Western New England College in Springfield, Mass. To appeal to independent voters, but still keep conservatives happy, McCain likely will use “key words” that resonate with both groups in different ways, Baick said. “Like ‘character,’ ” Baick said. “When they hear ‘character’ from her, that means someone who will support pro-life causes and creationism. When he says ‘character,’ that means he will take the fight to the enemy and never stop. They’ll use some of the same talking points.” – Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 9-3-08
    • Stephen Haycox on “The Unusual Challenges of Governing Alaska”: “Alaska really is a colonial place,” said Stephen Haycox, a professor of history at the University of Alaska, Anchorage. “One third of the economic base is oil; another third is federal spending. The economy is extremely narrow and highly dependent. It’s not to say that Alaska is a beggar state, but it certainly is true that Alaska is dependent on decisions made outside it, and over which Alaskans don’t have great control.” – NYT, 9-4-08
    • Peniel Joseph, Richard Norton Smith: Forty Years Later, Nixon Convention Speech Remains Watershed Event – PBS Newshour, 9-3-08
    • Richard Norton Smith on “Forty Years Later, Nixon Convention Speech Remains Watershed Event”: For Norton Smith, the speech outlines a bold new foreign policy of engagement and a noticeably conservative domestic agenda.
      “He wanted to bring about a political realignment, a post-New Deal, broadly conservative party,” Norton Smith told the Online NewsHour. “Nixon appeals to old blue-collar workers, social conservatives who had been part of the New Deal coalition and people who are open to changing their votes, if not necessarily their party registration because they’re not necessary happy with the social upheavals going on around them.” – PBS Newshour, 9-3-08
    • Peniel Joseph on “Forty Years Later, Nixon Convention Speech Remains Watershed Event”: Joseph, on the other hand, sees the Nixon speech as a successful effort to rally the “silent majority” around conservative values through carefully chosen, but still loaded, “code words.”
      “What Nixon’s doing, he’s really providing language, and eloquent articulation of the way in which suburban whites are feeling as early as the early 1960s… Nixon is trying to appeal to suburban warriors who feel that blacks are encroaching in on their dream.” – PBS Newshour, 9-3-08
    • Beverly Gage on “Sarah Palin” Interview with NPR’s On the Point with Tom Ashbrook – NPR, 9-3-08
    • Julian Zelizer: Palin McCain’s Dan Quayle?: …In the past few days, Democrats have been focusing on one aspect of the 1988 campaign—Quayle’s many problems — while forgetting the overall story: Bush and Quayle won.
      Democrats could certainly point to the weaknesses and dangers in the Palin selection, but they should be cautious. If they allow Palin to distract them from their main target — McCain and his support for the unpopular economic and military policies of President George W. Bush — they might just find themselves like Dukakis and Bensten in 1988, on the losing end. – Washington Independent, 9-3-08
    • Steve Russell on “Republican convention off to slow start”: For Northern Essex Community College assistant professor of history Steve Russell, the choice was a risk at best. “I think McCain is doing pretty well considering Bush is not popular. He conveys he knows what he is doing and can take the reins,” Russell said. “But I think Palin is an incredibe risk. I don’t see how it could possibly help him.” – Newbury Port News, 9-3-08
    • Historians Offer Insight on RNC’s Day Two: historians Michael Beschloss and Richard Norton Smith and Peniel Joseph examine the strengths of the night’s speeches and the rally for the GOP party in St. Paul. – PBS Newshour, 9-2-08
    • RICHARD NORTON SMITH, George Mason University: Well, it’s interesting. I think Judy’s right. This crowd goes out tonight feeling probably a lot better than they did even coming in this evening. I was struck by the extent to which this night was about John McCain’s personal story. And as we all know, it is a very powerful story. But it’s interesting. Here we are, two months before the campaign, and you have — before the election, and you have the feeling this is still a candidacy driven very much by biography. And I suspect what a lot of people are eager to hear over the next two nights is a lot more about what a McCain presidency would actually mean, whether it’s the economy, or health care, or a host of other issues. One other thing I would just add as an asterisk, knowing some Republicans and having been around Republicans, I don’t think you can overestimate the emotional surge in this hall that arises from the sense as a result of the Sarah Palin feeding frenzy that the “media,” quote, unquote, is out to get them. – PBS Newshour, 9-2-08
    • PENIEL JOSEPH, Brandeis University: Certainly. I think that tonight, it was an extraordinary night. I think Joe Lieberman’s speech quoting George Washington, who was against parties, at least partisanship, and calling for a bipartisan participation in this next election, Democrats, independents to vote for McCain, really building on what Richard said, based on biography rather than specific public policy proposals. And I think the controversy over the Palin choice is energizing their base. And they really feel they’re trying to rally around Palin in a way that — when we think of 1972, George McGovern didn’t, and when we think of 1988, George Bush, in fact, did. – PBS Newshour, 9-2-08
    • MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, Presidential Historian: Maybe not a lot. And as a matter of fact, you know, you were talking a moment ago, Jim, about going after the media, which never hurts to do for a speaker at any convention, maybe particularly a Republican one. And, in 1964, probably the most powerful applause line at that convention, the Republicans in San Francisco, aside from the one given by — the speech given by Barry Goldwater, Dwight Eisenhower, of all people, who people thought of as rather mild-mannered, said, “Let us particularly scorn the sensation-seeking columnists because, my friends, I can assure you these are people who couldn’t care less about the good of our party.” And there was almost an animal roar. One lady started screaming, “Down with Walter Lippman!” It really brought down the house. The other thing you were saying, Jim, about, you know, reaching across the aisle. You know, Joe Lieberman’s speech tonight, I think it probably can be fairly said, if he had been nominated for vice president this week, we probably would have heard maybe three-quarters of the words that we heard tonight. That was probably large chunks of an acceptance speech that he never got to give. The reason he never got to give it, we are told, is that John McCain wanted to choose him, but his party said you can’t reach across the aisle, you can’t nominate a Democrat who has very differing views from many of us and from John McCain. And so there was a great irony that here he is saying, “Let’s all reach across the aisle,” to a group that essentially prevented John McCain from choosing a Democrat, Lieberman, as vice president. – PBS Newshour, 9-2-08
    • Kenya Davis-Hayes on “Black political observers look to November”: “I thought the speech was charismatic and well-crafted,” said Kenya Davis-Hayes, a 28-year-old assistant professor of history at California Baptist University who is also executive treasurer of the state’s Young Republican Federation. She watched the speech on tape the weekend after it was delivered, and acknowledged that Obama’s message appeals to a large portion of the electorate that is “stressed out and clinging to the hope that things are going to get better” in these troubled times of war and recession. “His speech covered huge ground,” she added. “If he does win the next election, people will be expecting a radical shift in energy policy and job opportunities. Even with two terms, which isn’t such a long time, that would be a huge expectation to fulfill.” – LA Wave, 9-4-08

      Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska spoke at the convention in St. Paul on Wednesday.  (NYT)

      Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska spoke at the convention in St. Paul on Wednesday. (NYT)

    The Speeches….

    Todd Heisler/The New York Times)

    Gov. Sarah Palin gave her first prime-time national speech Wednesday. (Photo: Todd Heisler/The New York Times)

    Mr. Chairman, delegates, and fellow citizens, I will be honored to accept your nomination for vice president of the United States.

    I accept the call to help our nominee for president to serve and defend America. And I accept the challenge of a tough fight in this election against confident opponents at a crucial hour for our country.

    And I accept the privilege of serving with a man who has come through much harder missions, and met far graver challenges, and knows how tough fights are won, the next president of the United States, John S. McCain.

    It was just a year ago when all the experts in Washington counted out our nominee because he refused to hedge his commitment to the security of the country he loves.

    With their usual certitude, they told us that all was lost, there was no hope for this candidate, who said that he would rather lose an election than see his country lose a war. But the pollsters…

    The pollsters and the pundits, they overlooked just one thing when they wrote him off. They overlooked the caliber of the man himself, the determination, and resolve, and the sheer guts of Senator John McCain.

    The voters knew better, and maybe that’s because they realized there’s a time for politics and a time for leadership, a time to campaign and a time to put our country first.

    Our nominee for president is a true profile in courage, and people like that are hard to come by. He’s a man who wore the uniform of his country for 22 years and refused to break faith with those troops in Iraq who now have brought victory within sight.

    And as the mother of one of those troops, that is exactly the kind of man I want as commander-in-chief….

    You know, from the inside, no family ever seems typical, and that’s how it is with us. Our family has the same ups and downs as any other, the same challenges and the same joys.

    Sometimes even the greatest joys bring challenge. And children with special needs inspire a very, very special love. To the families of special-needs…

    To the families of special-needs children all across this country, I have a message for you: For years, you’ve sought to make America a more welcoming place for your sons and daughters. And I pledge to you that, if we’re elected, you will have a friend and advocate in the White House….

    My mom and dad both worked at the elementary school in our small town. And among the many things I owe them is a simple lesson that I’ve learned, that this is America, and every woman can walk through every door of opportunity.

    And my parents are here tonight….

    Long ago, a young farmer and a haberdasher from Missouri, he followed an unlikely path — he followed an unlikely path to the vice presidency. And a writer observed, “We grow good people in our small towns, with honesty and sincerity and dignity,” and I know just the kind of people that writer had in mind when he praised Harry Truman.

    I grew up with those people. They’re the ones who do some of the hardest work in America, who grow our food, and run our factories, and fight our wars. They love their country in good times and bad, and they’re always proud of America.

    I had the privilege of living most of my life in a small town. I was just your average hockey mom and signed up for the PTA.

    I love those hockey moms. You know, they say the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? Lipstick….

    Before I became governor of the great state of Alaska…

    … I was mayor of my hometown. And since our opponents in this presidential election seem to look down on that experience, let me explain to them what the job involved.

    I guess — I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a community organizer, except that you have actual responsibilities.

    I might add that, in small towns, we don’t quite know what to make of a candidate who lavishes praise on working people when they’re listening and then talks about how bitterly they cling to their religion and guns when those people aren’t listening.

    No, we tend to prefer candidates who don’t talk about us one way in Scranton and another way in San Francisco.

    Republican vice presidential candidate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, speaks during the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn. (Jae C. Hong/AP)

    Republican vice presidential candidate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, speaks during the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn. (Jae C. Hong/AP)

    As for my running mate, you can be certain that wherever he goes and whoever is listening John McCain is the same man.

    Well, I’m not a member of the permanent political establishment. And…

    … I’ve learned quickly these last few days that, if you’re not a member in good standing of the Washington elite, then some in the media consider a candidate unqualified for that reason alone.

    But — now, here’s a little newsflash. Here’s a little newsflash for those reporters and commentators: I’m not going to Washington to seek their good opinion. I’m going to Washington to serve the people of this great country….

    No one expects us all to agree on everything, but we are expected to govern with integrity, and goodwill, and clear convictions, and a servant’s heart.

    And I pledge to all Americans that I will carry myself in this spirit as vice president of the United States.

    This was the spirit that brought me to the governor’s office when I took on the old politics as usual in Juneau, when I stood up to the special interests, and the lobbyists, and the Big Oil companies, and the good-old boys….

    I came to office promising major ethics reform to end the culture of self-dealing. And today, that ethics reform is a law.

    While I was at it, I got rid of a few things in the governor’s office that I didn’t believe our citizens should have to pay for. That luxury jet was over-the-top.

    I put it on eBay.

    I love to drive myself to work. And I thought we could muddle through without the governor’s personal chef, although I got to admit that sometimes my kids sure miss her.

    I came to office promising to control spending, by request if possible, but by veto, if necessary.

    Senator McCain also — he promises to use the power of veto in defense of the public interest. And as a chief executive, I can assure you it works.

    Our state budget is under control. We have a surplus. And I have protected the taxpayers by vetoing wasteful spending, nearly $500 million in vetoes.

    We suspended the state fuel tax and championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress. I told the Congress, “Thanks, but no thanks,” on that Bridge to Nowhere.

    If our state wanted to build a bridge, we were going to build it ourselves.

    When oil and gas prices went up dramatically and filled up the state treasury, I sent a large share of that revenue back where it belonged: directly to the people of Alaska.

    And despite fierce opposition from oil company lobbyists, who kind of liked things the way that they were, we broke their monopoly on power and resources. As governor, I insisted on competition and basic fairness to end their control of our state and return it to the people.

    I fought to bring about the largest private-sector infrastructure project in North American history. And when that deal was struck, we began a nearly $40 billion natural gas pipeline to help lead America to energy independence.

    That pipeline, when the last section is laid and its valves are open, will lead America one step farther away from dependence on dangerous foreign powers that do not have our interests at heart….

    To confront the threat that Iran might seek to cut off nearly a fifth of the world’s energy supplies, or that terrorists might strike again at the Abqaiq facility in Saudi Arabia, or that Venezuela might shut off its oil discoveries and its deliveries of that source, Americans, we need to produce more of our own oil and gas. And…

    And take it from a gal who knows the North Slope of Alaska: We’ve got lots of both.

    Our opponents say again and again that drilling will not solve all of America’s energy problems, as if we didn’t know that already.

    But the fact that drilling, though, won’t solve every problem is no excuse to do nothing at all.

    Starting in January, in a McCain-Palin administration, we’re going to lay more pipelines, and build more nuclear plants, and create jobs with clean coal, and move forward on solar, wind, geothermal, and other alternative sources. We need…

    We need American sources of resources. We need American energy brought to you by American ingenuity and produced by American workers.

    And now, I’ve noticed a pattern with our opponent, and maybe you have, too. We’ve all heard his dramatic speeches before devoted followers, and there is much to like and admire about our opponent.

    But listening to him speak, it’s easy to forget that this is a man who has authored two memoirs but not a single major law or even a reform, not even in the State Senate.

    This is a man who can give an entire speech about the wars America is fighting and never use the word “victory,” except when he’s talking about his own campaign.

    But when the cloud of rhetoric has passed, when the roar of the crowd fades away, when the stadium lights go out, and those Styrofoam Greek columns are hauled back to some studio lot…

    … when that happens, what exactly is our opponent’s plan? What does he actually seek to accomplish after he’s done turning back the waters and healing the planet?

    The answer — the answer is to make government bigger, and take more of your money, and give you more orders from Washington, and to reduce the strength of America in a dangerous world.

    America needs more energy; our opponent is against producing it. Victory in Iraq is finally in sight, and he wants to forfeit. Terrorist states are seeking nuclear weapons without delay; he wants to meet them without preconditions.

    Al Qaida terrorists still plot to inflict catastrophic harm on America, and he’s worried that someone won’t read them their rights.

    Government is too big; he wants to grow it. Congress spends too much money; he promises more. Taxes are too high, and he wants to raise them. His tax increases are the fine print in his economic plan.

    And let me be specific: The Democratic nominee for president supports plans to raise income taxes, and raise payroll taxes, and raise investment income taxes, and raise the death tax, and raise business taxes, and increase the tax burden on the American people by hundreds of billions of dollars.

    My sister, Heather, and her husband, they just built a service station that’s now open for business, like millions of others who run small businesses. How are they…

    How are they going to be better off if taxes go up? Or maybe you are trying to keep your job at a plant in Michigan or in Ohio…

    … or you’re trying — you’re trying to create jobs from clean coal, from Pennsylvania or West Virginia.

    You’re trying to keep a small farm in the family right here in Minnesota.

    How are you — how are you going to be better off if our opponent adds a massive tax burden to the American economy?

    Here’s how I look at the choice Americans face in this election: In politics, there are some candidates who use change to promote their careers, and then there are those, like John McCain, who use their careers to promote change.

    They are the ones whose names appear on laws and landmark reforms, not just on buttons and banners or on self-designed presidential seals.

    Among politicians, there is the idealism of high-flown speech- making, in which crowds are stirringly summoned to support great things, and then there is the idealism of those leaders, like John McCain, who actually do great things.

    They’re the ones who are good for more than talk, the ones that we’ve always been able to count on to serve and to defend America….

    Our nominee doesn’t run with the Washington herd. He’s a man who’s there to serve his country and not just his party, a leader who’s not looking for a fight, but sure isn’t afraid of one, either.

    Harry Reid, the majority of the current do-nothing Senate…

    … he not long ago summed up his feelings about our nominee. He said, quote, “I can’t stand John McCain.”

    Ladies and gentlemen, perhaps no accolade we hear this week is better proof that we’ve chosen the right man.

    Clearly, what the majority leader was driving at is that he can’t stand up to John McCain and that is only…

    … that’s only one more reason to take the maverick out of the Senate, put him in the White House.

    My fellow citizens, the American presidency is not supposed to be a journey of personal discovery.

    This world of threats and dangers, it’s not just a community and it doesn’t just need an organizer. And though both Senator Obama and Senator Biden have been going on lately about how they’re always, quote, “fighting for you,” let us face the matter squarely: There is only one man in this election who has ever really fought for you.

    There is only one man in this election who has ever really fought for you in places where winning means survival and defeat means death. And that man is John McCain.

    You know, in our day, politicians have readily shared much lesser tales of adversity than the nightmare world, the nightmare world in which this man and others equally brave served and suffered for their country.

    And it’s a long way from the fear, and pain, and squalor of a six-by-four cell in Hanoi to the Oval Office.

    But if Senator McCain is elected president, that is the journey he will have made. It’s the journey of an upright and honorable man, the kind of fellow whose name you will find on war memorials in small towns across this great country, only he was among those who came home.

    To the most powerful office on Earth, he would bring the compassion that comes from having once been powerless, the wisdom that comes even to the captives by the grace of God, the special confidence of those who have seen evil and have seen how evil is overcome. A fellow…

    A fellow prisoner of war, a man named Tom Moe of Lancaster, Ohio…

    … Tom Moe recalls looking through a pinhole in his cell door as Lieutenant Commander John McCain was led down the hallway by the guards, day after day.

    And the story is told, when McCain shuffled back from torturous interrogations, he would turn towards Moe’s door, and he’d flash a grin and a thumbs up, as if to say, “We’re going to pull through this.”

    My fellow Americans, that is the kind of man America needs to see us through the next four years.

    For a season, a gifted speaker can inspire with his words. But for a lifetime, John McCain has inspired with his deeds.

    If character is the measure in this election, and hope the theme, and change the goal we share, then I ask you to join our cause. Join our cause and help America elect a great man as the next president of the United States.

    Thank you, and God bless America. Thank you.

    Brendan Smialowski for The New York Times)

    Rudy Giuliani Stirs Up the Crowd in St. Paul. (Photo: Brendan Smialowski for The New York Times)

    Almost exactly one year ago today, during a presidential debate in Durham, New Hampshire, I said that, if I weren’t running for president, I’d be supporting John McCain.

    Well, I’m not running for president, and I do support John McCain.

    Every — every four years, we’re told that this presidential election is the most important in our lifetime. This year, with what’s at stake, 2008 is the most important election in our lifetime. And we’d better get it right.

    This already has been the longest presidential campaign in history, and sometimes to me it felt even longer.

    The American people realize this election represents a turning point. It’s the decision to follow one path or the other. We, the people, the citizens of the United States, get to decide our next president, not the left-wing media, not Hollywood celebrities, not anyone else but the people of America.

    To those Americans who still feel torn in this election, I’d like to suggest one way to think about this to help make a choice in 2008.

    Think about it this way. You’re hiring someone to do a job, an important job, a job that relates to the safety of yourself and your family. Imagine that you have two job applications in your hand with the name and the party affiliations blocked out.

    They’re both good and patriotic men with very different life experiences that have led them to this moment of shared history. You’ve got to make this decision, and you’ve got to make it right. And you have to desire — you’ve got to decide, who am I going to hire?

    On the one hand, you’ve got a man who’s dedicated his life to the service of the United States. He’s been tested time and again by crisis. He has passed every test.

    Even his adversaries acknowledge — Democrats, Republicans, everyone acknowledges that John McCain is a true American hero.

    GIULIANI: He — he loves America, as we all do, but he has sacrificed for it as few do….

    He has proved his commitment with his blood. He came home a national hero. He had earned a life of peace and quiet, but he was called to public service again, running for Congress, and then the United States Senate, as a proud foot soldier in the Reagan revolution.

    His principled independence never wavered. He stood up to special interests. He fought for fiscal discipline and ethics reform and a strong national defense.

    That’s the one choice. That’s the one man.

    On the other hand, you have a resume from a gifted man with an Ivy League education. He worked as a community organizer. What? He worked — I said — I said, OK, OK, maybe this is the first problem on the resume.

    He worked as a community organizer. He immersed himself in Chicago machine politics.

    Then he ran for — then he ran for the state legislature and he got elected. And nearly 130 times, he couldn’t make a decision. He couldn’t figure out whether to vote “yes” or “no.” It was too tough.

    He voted — he voted “present.”

    I didn’t know about this vote “present” when I was mayor of New York City. Sarah Palin didn’t have this vote “present” when she was mayor or governor. You don’t get “present.” It doesn’t work in an executive job. For president of the United States, it’s not good enough to be present.

    You have to make a decision.

    A few years later — a few years later, he ran for the U.S. Senate. He spent most of his time as a celebrity senator: no leadership, no legislation to really speak of.

    His rise is remarkable in its own right. It’s the kind of thing that can happen only in America.

    But he’s never — he’s never run a city. He’s never run a state. He’s never run a business. He’s never run a military unit. He’s never had to lead people in crisis.

    He is the least experienced candidate for president of the United States in at least the last 100 years.

    Not a personal attack, a statement of fact. Barack Obama has never led anything, nothing, nada.

    Nada, nothing.

    The choice — the choice in this election comes down to substance over style. John McCain has been tested; Barack Obama has not.

    Tough times require strong leadership, and this is no time for on-the-job training.

    We agree. We agree with Joe Biden…

    … one time, one time, when he said that, until he flip-flopped and changed his position. And, yes, being president means being able to answer that call at 3:00 in the morning. And that’s the one time we agree with Hillary.

    But I bet you never thought Hillary would get applause at this convention. She can be right. Well, no one can look at John McCain and say that he’s not ready to be commander-in-chief. He is. He’s ready.

    And we can trust him to deal with anything, anything that nature throws our way, anything that terrorists do to us. This man has been tested over and over again, and we will be safe in his hands, and our children will be safe in his hands, and our country will be safe in the hands of John McCain. No doubt.

    I learned as a trial lawyer a long time ago, if you don’t have the facts, you’ve got to change them. So our opponents want to re- frame the debate.

    They would have you believe that this election is about change versus more of the same, but that’s really a false choice, because there’s good change and bad change.

    Because change is not a destination, just as hope is not a strategy.

    John McCain — John McCain will bring about the change that will create jobs and prosperity. Let’s talk briefly about specifics….

    And — and he’ll do it with an all-of-the-above approach, including nuclear power, and, yes, off-shore oil drilling.

    Drill, baby, drill?

    Drill, baby, drill.

    GIULIANI: This — this — this is the kind of change — now, you guys are ready to break out. Whoa.

    This — this — this and a lot more is the kind of change that will create growth, jobs, and prosperity, not what they want to do, tax us more, increase the size of government, increase tariffs, hurt jobs, send jobs elsewhere.

    We need John McCain to save our economy and make sure it grows, but we need it for a more important purpose. There’s one purpose that John McCain understands, Republicans understand, that overrides everything else: John McCain will keep us on offense against terrorism at home and abroad.

    For — for four days in Denver, the Democrats were afraid to use the words “Islamic terrorism.”

    I imagine they believe it is politically incorrect to say it. I think they believe it will insult someone. Please tell me, who are they insulting if they say “Islamic terrorism”? They are insulting terrorists.

    Of great concern to me, during those same four days in Denver, they rarely mentioned the attacks of September 11, 2001. They are in a state of denial about the biggest threat that faces this country. And if you deny it and you don’t deal with it, you can’t face it.

    John McCain can face the enemy. He can win, and he can bring victory for this country….

    The Democratic leader — the Democratic leader of the Senate said, and I quote, “This war is lost.”

    Well, well, if America lost, who won, Al Qaida, bin Laden?

    In the single biggest policy decision of this election, John McCain got it right, and Barack Obama got it wrong.

    Senator McCain — Senator — Senator McCain was the candidate most associated with the surge, and it was unpopular. What do you think most other politicians would have done in a situation like this?

    They would have acted in their self-interest, and they would have changed their position in order to win an election. How many times have we seen Barack Obama do this?

    Obama — Obama promised to take public financing for his campaign, until he broke his promise.

    Obama — Obama was against wiretapping before he voted for it.

    When speaking to a pro-Israeli group, Obama favored an undivided Jerusalem, like I favor and like John McCain favored. Well, he favored an undivided Jerusalem — don’t get too excited — for one day, until he changed his mind.

    Well, I’ll tell you, if I were Joe Biden, I’d want to get that V.P. thing in writing.

    Our hero, our candidate, John McCain said, “I’d rather lose an election than a war.” Why? Because that’s John McCain.

    When Russia rolled over Georgia, John McCain immediately established a very strong, informed position that let the world know how he’ll respond as president at exactly the right time. Remember his words? Remember what John McCain said? “We are all Georgians.”

    Obama’s — talk about judgment. Let’s look at what Obama did. Obama’s first instinct was to create a moral equivalency, suggesting that both sides were equally responsible, the same moral equivalency that he’s displayed in discussing the Palestinian Authority and the state of Israel.

    Later — later, after discussing this with his 300 foreign policy advisers, he changed his position, and he suggested the United Nations Security Council could find a solution.

    Apparently, none of his 300 foreign policy security advisers told him that Russia has a veto power in the United Nations Security Council.

    By the way, this was about three days later. So — so he changed his position again, and he put out a statement exactly like the statement of John McCain’s three days earlier.

    I have some advice for Senator Obama: Next time, call John McCain.

    He — he knows something about foreign — he knows something about foreign policy. Like Ronald Reagan, John McCain will enlarge our party, open it up to lots of new people.

    In choosing Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate, John McCain has chosen for the future.

    The other guy looked back. John looked forward.

    Governor Palin represents a new generation. She’s already one of the most successful governors in America and the most popular.

    And she’s already had more executive experience than the entire Democratic ticket combined.

    She’s been a mayor. I love that (ph).

    I’m sorry — I’m sorry that Barack Obama feels that her hometown isn’t cosmopolitan enough.

    I’m sorry, Barack, that it’s not flashy enough. Maybe they cling to religion there.

    Well — well, the first day — as far as I’m concerned, the first day she was mayor, she had more experience as an executive than — than Obama and Biden combined….

    She’s been one of the most active governors — she’s been one of the most active governors in the country, and Alaska can be proud of having one of the best governors in the country.

    She’s got an 80 percent approval rating. You never get that in New York City, wow.

    As U.S. attorney, a former U.S. attorney, I’m very impressed the way she took on corruption in Alaska, including corruption in the Republican Party. This is a woman who has no fear. This is a woman who stands up for what’s right.

    She — she — she is shaking up Alaska in a way that hasn’t happened in maybe ever. And with John McCain, with his independent spirit, with his being a maverick, with him and Sarah Palin, can you imagine how they’re going to shake up Washington?

    Whew, look out. Look out.

    One final point. And how — how dare they question whether Sarah Palin has enough time to spend with her children and be vice president. How dare they do that.

    When do they ever ask a man that question? When?

    Well, we’re at our best when we are expanding freedom. We’re the party that has expanded freedom from the very beginning, from ending slavery to making certain that people have freedom here and abroad.

    We’re the party that believes in giving workers the right to work. We’re the party that believes that parents — parents should choose where their children go to school.

    And we’re the party — and we’re the party that unapologetically believes in America’s success, a shining city on a hill, a beacon of freedom that inspires the world. That’s what our party is dedicated to.

    So, my fellow Americans, we get a chance to elect one of our great heroes and a great American. He will be an exceptional president. He will have with him an exceptional woman who has already proven that she can reform and that she can govern.

    And now the job is up to us. Let’s get John McCain and Sarah Palin elected, and let’s shake up Washington and move this country forward.

    God bless America. Thank you.

    …You know, for decades now, the Washington sun has been rising in the east. You see, Washington has been looking to the eastern elites, to the editorial pages of the Times and the Post, and to the broadcasters from the — from the coast. Yes.

    If America really wants to change, it’s time to look for the sun in the west, because it’s about to rise and shine from Arizona and Alaska.

    Last week, the Democratic convention talked about change. But what do you think? Is Washington now, liberal or conservative? Let me ask you some questions.

    Is a Supreme Court decision liberal or conservative that awards Guantanamo terrorists with constitutional rights? It’s liberal.

    Is a government liberal or conservative that puts the interests of the teachers union ahead of the needs of our children? It’s liberal.

    Is a Congress liberal or conservative that stops nuclear power plants and off-shore drilling, making us more and more dependent on Middle Eastern tyrants? It’s liberal.

    Is government spending, putting aside inflation, liberal or conservative if it doubles since 1980? It’s liberal.

    We need change all right: change from a liberal Washington to a conservative Washington.

    We have a prescription for every American who wants change in Washington: Throw out the big-government liberals and elect John McCain and Sarah Palin.

    Former Gov. Mitt Romney says Sen. John McCain will rein in government spending. (CNN)

    Former Gov. Mitt Romney says Sen. John McCain will rein in government spending. (CNN)

    It’s the same prescription for a stronger economy. I spent 25 years in the private sector. I’ve done business in many foreign countries. I know why jobs come and why they go away. And I know that liberals don’t have a clue.

    They think that we have the biggest and strongest economy in the world because of our government. They’re wrong. America is strong because of the ingenuity, and entrepreneurship, and hard work of the American people….

    America — America cannot long lead the family of nations if we fail the family here at home….

    Dependency is death to initiative, to risk-taking and opportunity. It’s time to stop the spread of government dependency and fight it like the poison it is.

    You know, it’s time for the party of big ideas, not the party of Big Brother.

    Our economy is under attack. China is acting like Adam Smith on steroids, buying oil from the world’s worst and selling nuclear technology. Russia and the oil states are siphoning more than $500 billion a year from us in what could become the greatest transfer of economic wealth in the history of the world.

    This is no time for timid, liberal, empty gestures.

    Our economy has slowed down this year, and a lot of people are hurting. What happened? Mortgage money was handed out like candy, and speculators bought homes for free. And when this mortgage mania finally broke, it slammed the economy. And stratospheric gas prices made things even worse.

    Democrats want to use the slowdown as an excuse to do what their special interests are always begging for: higher taxes, bigger government, and less trade with other nations….

    The right course is the one championed by Ronald Reagan 30 years ago and by John McCain and Sarah Palin today.

    The right course is to rein in government spending, lower taxes, take a Weedwacker to excessive regulation and mandates, put a stop to tort windfalls, and to stand up to the Tyrannosaurus appetite of government unions.

    The right course — the right course is to pursue every source of energy security, from new efficiencies to renewables, from coal to non-CO2 producing nuclear, and for the immediate drilling for more oil off our shores.

    And I have — I have one more recommendation for energy conservation: Let’s keep Al Gore’s private jet on the ground.

    Last week, last week, did you hear any Democrats talk about the threat from radical, violent jihad? No. You see, Republicans believe that there is good and evil in the world. Ronald Reagan called out the evil empire. George Bush labeled the terror-sponsor states exactly what they are: The axis of evil.

    And at Saddleback, after Barack Obama dodged and ducked every direct question, John McCain hit the nail on the head: Radical, violent Islam is evil, and he will defeat it.

    This party…

    You’re hearing it here. You’re hearing it here, and they’re hearing it across the country. You see, in this party, in this room tonight, and all over America, people in our party prefer straight talk to politically correct talk.

    Republicans, led by John McCain and Sarah Palin, will fight to preserve the values that have preserved the nation. We’ll strengthen our economy and keep us from being held hostage by Putin, Chavez, and Ahmadinejad.

    And we will never allow America to retreat in the face of evil extremism.

    Just like you, just like you, there’s never been a day when I was not proud to be an American.

    We — we Americans inherited the greatest nation in the history of the Earth. It’s our burden and our privilege to preserve it, to renew its spirit so that its noble past is prologue to its glorious future.

    To this we’re all dedicated. And I firmly believe, by the providence of the almighty, that we will succeed.

    President McCain and Vice President Palin will keep America as it has always been: The hope of the Earth.

    Thank you, and God bless America.

    • Gov. Mike Huckabe’s Speech at the 2008 Republican National Convention As much as I appreciate the opportunity to speak tonight, I really was originally hoping for the slot on Thursday called the acceptance speech. But I am delighted to speak on behalf of my 2nd choice for the Republican nomination for president, John McCain. John McCain is a man with the character and stubborn kind of integrity that I want in a president.But I want to begin by doing something a little unusual. I’d like to thank the elite media for doing something that, quite frankly, I wasn’t sure could be done, and that’s unifying the Republican Party and all of America in support of Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin.

      The reporting of the past few days have proven tackier than a costume change at a Madonna concert.

      I grew up at a time and in a place where the civil rights movement was fought. I witnessed first-hand the shameful evil of racism. I saw how ignorance and prejudice caused people to do the unthinkable to people of color not so many years ago.

      So, I say with sincerity that I have great respect for Sen. Obama’s historic achievement to become his party’s nominee — not because of his color, but with indifference to it. Party or politics aside, we celebrate this milestone because it elevates our country.

      But the presidency is not a symbolic job, and I don’t believe his preparation or his plans will lift America up.

      Obama was right when he said this election is not about him, it’s about you.

      When gasoline costs $4 a gallon, it makes it tough if you’re a single mom to get to work each day in the used car you drive. You want something to change.

      If you’re a flight attendant or baggage handler and you’re asked to take a pay cut to keep your job, you want something to change.

      If you’re a young couple losing your house, your credit rating, and your American dream, you want something to change.

      John McCain offers specific ideas to respond to this need for change. But let me say there are some things we never want to change — freedom, security, and the opportunity to prosper.

      Barack Obama’s excellent adventure to Europe took his campaign for change to hundreds of thousands of people who don’t even vote or pay taxes here.

      Let me hasten to say it’s not what he took there that concerns me. It’s what he brought back. Lots of ideas from Europe he’d like to see imported here.

      Centralized governments may care for you from cradle to grave, but they also control you. Most Americans don’t want more government, they want a lot less government.

      It was in fact the founder of our party Abraham Lincoln reminded us that a government that can do everything for us can also take everything from us.

      Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee talks to reporters at the Republican National Convention on Tuesday.

      Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee talks to reporters at the Republican National Convention on Tuesday.

      I get a little tired of hearing how the Democrats care about the working guy as if all Republicans grew up with silk stockings and silver spoons. In my little hometown of Hope, Arkansas, the three sacred heroes were Jesus, Elvis, and FDR, not necessarily in that order.

      My own father held down two jobs, barely affording the little rented house I grew up in. My dad worked hard, lifted heavy things, and got his hands dirty. In fact, the only soap we had at my house was Lava.

      Heck, I was in college before I found out it wasn’t supposed to hurt to take a shower.

      Let me make something clear tonight: I’m not a Republican because I grew up rich, but because I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life poor, waiting for the government to rescue me.

      John McCain doesn’t want the kind of change that allows the government to reach deeper into your paycheck and pick your doctor, your child’s school, or even the kind of car you drive or how much you inflate the tires.

      And he doesn’t want to change the definition of marriage. And unlike the Democratic ticket, Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin believe that every human life has intrinsic worth and value from the moment of conception.

      And speaking of Gov. Palin, I am so tired of hearing about her lack of experience. I want to tell you folks something. She got more votes running for mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, than Joe Biden got running for president of the United States.

      John McCain is by far the most prepared, experienced, and tested Presidential candidate. Thoroughly tested.

      When John McCain received his country’s call to service, he didn’t hesitate, and he didn’t choose the easy path….

      Most of us can lift our arms high in the air to signify that we want something. His arms can’t even lift to shoulder level, a constant reminder that his life is marked not by what he wants to receive, but by what he’s already given….

      Allow me to tell you about someone who understands this type of sacrifice better than anyone.

      On the first day of school in 2005, Martha Cothren, a teacher at Joe T. Robinson High School in Little Rock, was determined that her students would not take their education or their privilege as Americans for granted. With the principal’s permission, she removed all the desks from her classroom on that first day of school in 2005. The students entered the empty room and asked, “Mrs. Cothren, where are our desks?” “You get a desk when you tell me how you earn it,” she replied….

      By lunch, the buzz was all over campus — Mrs. Cothren had flipped out; wouldn’t let her students have a desk. Kids had used their cell phones and called their parents.

      By early afternoon, all four of the local network TV affiliates had camera crews at the school to report on the teacher who wouldn’t let her students have a desk unless they could tell her how they earned it. By the final period, no one had guessed correctly.

      As the students filed in, Martha Cothren said, “Well, I didn’t think you would figure it out, so I’ll have to tell you.”

      Martha opened the door of her classroom. In walked over 20 veterans, some wearing uniforms from years gone by, but each one carrying a school desk.

      As they carefully and quietly arranged the desks in neat rows, Martha said, “You don’t have to earn your desks ’cause these guys — they already did.”

      These brave veterans went halfway around the world, giving up their education and interrupting their careers and families so you could have the freedom you have.

      No one charged you for your desk. But it wasn’t really free. These guys bought it for you. And I hope you never forget it.”

      I wish we all would remember that being American is not just about the freedom we have. It’s about those who gave it to us.

      Ladies and Gentlemen, John McCain is one of those people who helped buy the freedom that we enjoy and the school desks we had.

      It’s my honor to do what I can to help him have a desk that he has earned one in the Oval Office.

    The audience at the Republican National Convention. (CNN)

    The audience at the Republican National Convention. (CNN)

    On the Campaign Trail….

    • John McCain cites Palin’s energy, mayoral experience:“This is what Americans want. They don’t want somebody who has, who is, frankly, necessarily gone to Harvard or an Ivy League school. She probably hasn’t been to a Georgetown cocktail party. But you know what, she represents everything we want to see in government and America _ change and reform and ethics and taking on the special interests.”

      Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin together at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

      Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin together at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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