Political Buzz June 10, 2011: Sarah Palin’s Emails as Alaska Governor Released

POLITICAL BUZZ

By Bonnie K. Goodman

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

IN FOCUS: SARAH PALIN’S EMAILS AS ALASKA GOVERNOR RELEASED

 

Reporters load boxes containing thousands of pages of Sarah Palin's emails from her time as Alaska's governor Friday, June 10, 2011 in Juneau, Alaska.

Brian Wallace/Associated PressReporters loaded boxes containing thousands of pages of Sarah Palin’s e-mails from her time as Alaska’s governor on Friday in Juneau.

HEADLINES…

  • Read the Palin emails: Here are all of the state government emails of former Gov. Sarah Palin that were released on Friday by the state of Alaska. The state released them as mor than 24,000 pages of paper; we’ve scanned them into a series of searchable PDFs in roughly chronological order. They are big files – up to 30MB – so may take some time to download…. – Anchorage Daily News, 6-10-11
  • Full coverage: Sarah Palin’s e-mails releasedWaPo
  • Read Sarah Palin’s emailsLAT
  • The Palin E-Mails: A collection of e-mails between Sarah and Todd Palin and Alaska public officials during Ms. Palin’s first 22 months as governor. The messages were originally requested under state public records laws in 2008. The documents were released on Friday, June 10, at 9 a.m. Alaska time. E-mails are organized by the date of each conversation. The New York Times has redacted some e-mails to remove offensive language…. – NYT
  • Sarah Palin emails: The Alaska archive – who’s who: Nearly 25,000 pages worth of Sarah Palin’s emails from her tenure as governor are being released by the state of Alaska, spanning the start of her term in December 2006 to shortly after she was named Arizona Sen. John McCain’s vice presidential running mate in September 2008. Below is a guide to Palin confidants, critics and family members likely to appear in the correspondence…. – KTUU, 6-10-11
  • Glossary of Abbreviations: Following are abbreviations and acronyms found in the trove of Governor Palin’s e-mails released on Friday. – NYT
  • The Top Ten Revelations from the Sarah Palin Emails: At 8:37 a.m. Saturday morning, the New York Times tweeted “After scanning marathon, all 24,000 #palinemail documents are in our searchable, interactive viewer.” Regardless of whether you thought the Palin email trove was a waste of time like many, or were obsessively live-blogging the events like us, you can’t deny that the massive scanning and crowdsourcing of document review by major news outlets was a tremendous accomplishment. While revelations from the cache may continue to trickle in over the weekend, at this point the bulk of the emails have been combed through, and this is what we now know about Palin that we didn’t (necessarily) know before…. – The Atlantic Wire, 6-10-11
  • Five Discoveries from the Sarah Palin E-Mail DumpTime 6-10-11
  • In E-Mails, a Glimpse From Inside Palin’s Rise: Few could have been more surprised than Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska when Senator John McCain picked her as his running mate in 2008.
    Reporters in Juneau, Alaska, picking up boxes of hard copies of Sarah Palin’s e-mails on Friday.
    “Can you believe it!” she wrote in response to a staff member’s “Wow governor” message that Friday in late August when the choice was announced. “He told me yesterday — it moved fast! Pray! I love you.”
    Not two days earlier, Ms. Palin had been dealing with the sometimes mundane matters of one of the nation’s least populous states: a ballot initiative on mining, thorny personnel issues involving her ex-brother-in-law, and her personal request for “Alaska pins and governor pencils (or pens) to drop off at gladys wood elem school today after my afl cio speech.”
    A scan of Ms. Palin’s e-mails in the weeks just before and after she was chosen as Mr. McCain’s running mate on the Republican ticket — among some 24,000 pages of them released by the State of Alaska on Friday — show in minute detail how she went overnight from being a small-state governor who was midway through her first term to a dominant figure in Republican politics.
    One moment she was immersed in board appointments and the Miss Alaska beauty pageant, the next she was receiving advice from the likes of Newt Gingrich and fielding questions from the national news media, including whether she believed that dinosaurs and humans had walked the earth together…. – NYT, 6-10-11
  • Sarah Palin e-mails released on Friday: A cache of e-mails released Friday add vivid new color and fresh details to the complicated public portrait of Sarah Palin, who displayed many of the same strengths, and shortcomings, as Alaska governor that she would later bring to the national political stage.
    Often blunt and frequently impatient, Palin derided “old school” politicians and bureaucrats and acted as a champion of populist interests on issues ranging from energy policy to women’s rights, the e-mails show. Her relations with fellow politicians, including many Republicans, were often strained, and she relied heavily on her husband, Todd, and a close-knit group of aides to help cope with crises and shape policies.
    Palin felt passionately about issues of importance to her state, the documents show, and she waged battle with foes large and small. That included detractors on obscure government commissions as well as multinational conglomerates seeking access to Alaska’s vast oil and gas reserves. She twice refers to one major oil executive with a derogatory nickname and complains that phone calls with him did not go well.
    Palin also devoted significant attention to the portrayal of her and her administration in the press, regularly decrying “untruths” in media reports and working feverishly to push back on negative assertions. Targets of her ire ranged from mainstream newspapers to commenters on local blogs….
    The e-mails — some 24,000 pages total — were released in response to public-information requests from media organizations, who first began asking for the records during Palin’s run as the Republican vice presidential candidate in 2008. More than two years later, Palin has become a fixture in the conservative political firmament, a reality-TV celebrity and a barbed critic of President Obama who may, or may not, be pondering a run for the White House…. – WaPo, 6-10-11
  • News Outlets Pounce on Palin E-Mails: Reporters load boxes containing thousands of pages of Sarah Palin’s emails from her time as Alaska’s governor Friday, June 10, 2011 in Juneau, Alaska. Brian Wallace/Associated PressReporters loaded boxes containing thousands of pages of Sarah Palin’s e-mails from her time as Alaska’s governor on Friday in Juneau.
    News organizations that pored over nearly 25,000 pages of e-mail correspondence relating to Sarah Palin on Friday focused on her selection as Senator John McCain’s running mate in 2008, her relationship with the media and her style of governing.
    Many news outlets — what Ms. Palin, the former governor of Alaska, calls the “lamestream media” — sent reporters to Juneau for the release of the e-mails by the state government in response to Freedom of Information Act requests.
    The result? After a day of frantically poring over the correspondence, with the help of millions of online readers, there were no major revelations but plenty of attempts to dissect the background of a woman who might yet run for president…. – NYT, 6-11-11
  • Palin emails show engaged leader who sought VP nod: There are no bombshells, no “gotcha” moments. The emails of Sarah Palin — more than 24,000 pages of them released Friday by the state of Alaska from her first two years as governor — paint a picture of an image-conscious, driven leader, closely involved with the day-to-day duties of running the state and riding herd on the signature issues of her administration.
    She angled for the vice presidential nomination months before John McCain picked her — and hinted at presidential aspirations.
    The messages give a behind-the-scenes look at a politician who burst onto the national stage after serving as Wasilla mayor and less than two years as Alaska governor. They show a woman striving to balance work and home, fiercely protective of her family and highly sensitive to media coverage. She expressed a sometimes mothering side with aides but also was quick to demand answers or accountability…. – AP, 6-10-11
  • Palin E-Mails Show Her Combative and Engaged: In the three years since Sarah Palin stormed the national political stage, her brief tenure as governor of Alaska has often been reduced to caricature. Critics cast her as petty, preoccupied and disengaged. Supporters say she was a maverick reformer, a salt-of-the-earth true believer who bucked the establishment elite.
    Yet what is clear in the 24,000 pages of her e-mails released Friday — completing Ms. Palin’s transformation from one of the most obscure politicians in America to one of the most scrutinized — is that her governing style was not necessarily an either-or proposition. Sometimes she seemed to be everything all at once.
    She sought to be an encouraging leader one moment, lauding her team for a breakthrough on oil production: “You guys are doing awesome.” She could be distrustful and accusatory the next: “I can’t handle staffer leaks.” She would focus on the progress of substantive legislation, including supporting a major increase in oil taxes, but then become distracted by “un-flippin believable” criticism directed at her by a popular radio host…. – NYT, 6-11-11
  • Sarah Palin emails released from time as governor – but many withheld or redacted: After a years-long delay, the state of Alaska released more than 24,000 pages of emails from about 21 months of Sarah Palin’s time as Alaska governor on Friday.
    The emails were released as paper printouts to the media outlets that requested them, among them CBS News, which had a reporter in Juneau collecting the heavy boxes of emails. Media outlets paid $725 each for photocopies of the records.
    Journalists are now busy reviewing the emails for nuggets of information from Palin’s roughly half-term as Alaska governor, though the emails stop in September 2008, leaving almost of a year of her time in office uncovered. The state has said it has not finished reviewing the emails from late 2008 through the summer of 2009, when she abruptly resigned. It remains unclear when those emails will be released…. – CBS News, 6-10-11Check out the full collection of emails and documents here.
  • Sarah Palin emails: ‘The false assumptions are mind boggling’: Email conversations reveal pressure the former Alaska governor was under after she entered the vice-presidential race in 2008…. – Guardian UK, 6-10-11
  • Palin closely guarded her public image, emails show: Even before she became prominent in national politics, Sarah Palin defended herself against even the slightest criticism during her tenure as Alaska governor, newly released correspondence shows…. – LAT, 6-11-11
  • Media frenzy over Palin e-mail release was unusual even for her: The 13,000 Sarah Palin e-mails released Friday provided little new insight about her time as Alaska’s governor. But the frantic effort to obtain the messages, dissect them and post them online served as a watershed moment for the news media, whose zealous approach will no doubt be replicated on future stories.
    The spectacle on Friday was unusual even for Palin, who is known for her ability to inspire a media frenzy. Eager to be the first to post the messages online, news outlets — including The Post — dispatched reporters armed with scanners to Juneau for the 9 a.m. release of the e-mails, which were not distributed electronically but in stacks of printed paper.
    Back in their newsrooms, the outlets competed to get the documents online for the public first and to capture the coveted top spot on Google. Reporters tweeted every new revelation, from 7-year-old Piper Palin’s anxiety that her mother was leaving for another trip, to the governor’s outraged notes over the scandal known as “Troopergate.” And they “crowdsourced” the documents by inviting readers to assist in scouring the e-mails.
    The enormous effort drew criticism from some quarters, particularly Palin’s backers. Though Palin remains a very public figure, she is not in elective office and has said she has not decided if she will seek the Republican nomination for president next year…. – WaPo, 6-11-11
  • Sarah Palin e-mails show husband Todd’s key role: Sarah Palin’s reliance on her husband for counsel while governing the state is well-known; Todd Palin played a key role in helping to organize the controversial ouster of Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan in September 2008, for example.
    In a March 2008 e-mail, Sarah Palin makes clear that Todd also weighed in on how to deal with Alaska’s burgeoning wolf population, a topic of debate at the time among officials and environmental experts. The governor told her fish and game commissioner in blunt terms that she opposed using state helicopters to hunt wolves and preferred paying private hunters. WaPo, 6-10-11
  • Sarah Palin emails hint at her governing style: In her time as governor, Sarah Palin was lavish with praise at times, quick to criticize her aides and also unapologetically impulsive.
    In one exchange, Palin aide Bruce Anders said he worried that her very gushing praise for an op-ed writer’s piece in support of her oil and gas policies would eventually become public. Palin said she was happy to provide an “attaboy” to writer Jomo Stewart, and said she wouldn’t apologize for going with her gut…. – WaPO, 6-10-11
  • Does Sarah Palin have a way with words? You bet – we ain’t misinformed Raft of previously unreleased emails reveal a unique style of communication and use of language: Sarah Palin may have numerous faults, but if the 24,000 pages of her emails released to the media in Alaska are anything to go by, adopting an artificial manner in public is not one of them.
    Her unique style of communication – a key component of her appeal to her fans, and source of endless fascination and amusement to her detractors – is as evident in her behind-the-scenes interactions as in her on-stage ones…. – The Guardian UK, 6-11-11
  • Sarah Palin emails: Treasure trove or waste of paper?: So far, there are no bombshells in the thousands of Sarah Palin emails released this week. But they reveal a fuller, more nuanced picture of one of the most powerful and controversial women in US politics today…. – CS Monitor, 6-10-11
  • Sarah Palin emails: An outpouring of support after Trig’s birth: In the days after her son Trig was born, Sarah Palin received an outpouring of support and well wishes, many from other parents of children with Down syndrome…. – LAT, 6-11-11
  • Email shows George W. Bush joked with Sarah Palin: Among the people talking up a vice presidential run to Sarah Palin before she was picked: George W. Bush.
    Palin wrote her chief of staff Mike Nizich about an encounter she had with the then-president in early August — about a month before John McCain selected her as the running mate.
    “The [president] and I spoke about military, [including] Track’s deployment and how Iraq is a different place than it was a year ago,” Palin wrote Nizich. “He also spoke about (and we joked about) VP buzz.”… – Politico, 6-11-11
  • Emails Show Palin Surprised by Nomination: Sarah Palin’s rapid transformation from a little-known governor to the vice presidential nominee on the 2008 Republican ticket was as much of a surprise to her as it was to the rest of the U.S., her email messages from the time show.
    “Can you flippinbelieveit?!” she replied to a note of congratulations from an official in her administration. “Thanks for your kind words – and for keeping the homes fire burning. Thank you! We love you guys!”
    The state of Alaska released more than 24,000 pages of email messages Friday sent to and from Ms. Palin during most of her tenure as governor. The messages show few signs of contact between her and national Republicans before she was announced as Sen. John McCain’s running mate on Aug. 29, 2008, or that she saw herself as a likely candidate…. – WSJ, 6-11-11
  • Sarah Palin emails: Aides giddy at prospect of VP pick: As Sarah Palin pushed for a one-year repeal of the state’s fuel tax in June of 2008, her jubilant aides crowed that the move would boost her standing as a possible vice presidential pick for Sen. John McCain…. – LAT, 6-11-11

SARAH PALIN EMAIL QUOTES

  • On Troopergate and the ethics investigations against her:
    “I do applogize if I sound frustrated w this one. I guess I am. Its killing me to realise how misinformed leggies [legislators], reporters and others are on this issue. The accusations and false assumptions are mind boggling.
    Referring to her former brother-in-law, Mike Wooten, who was in a messy divorce with her sister:
    “He’s still a trooper, and he still carries a gun, and he still tells anyone who will listen that he will ‘never work for that b*itch’ (me) because he has such anger and distain towards family. So consistency is needed here. No one’s above the law. If the law needs to be changed to not allow access to guns for people threatening to kill someone, it must apply to everyone.”
  • On God’s guidance: “I have been praying for wisdom on this … God will have to show me what to do on the people’s budget because I don’t yet know the right path … He will show me though.”
  • On her battles with Alaskan lawmakers over the budget:
    “I’m back here in DC speaking with Cheney [the vice-president] (sat with him the entire State dinner last night), will try to speak w/Bush [the then president] today … speaking with national reporters and all these governors all about AK’s [Alaska] proof that we can provide sound oversight of resource development, and here while I’m away I find out the legislature may undermine those efforts? It’s unacceptable if the nation is to believe we’re capable of responsible, ethical ramped up development that’s need in our state, for our nation. Referring to speaker of the Alaskan house, John Harris:
    “I think that’s the most stupid comment I’ve heard all year … his statement says it all re: his beliefs: ‘What the hell can we do …?’ Nice talk Mr Speaker, Reflects well on your commitment to ethical leadership”
  • On her possible selection to be vice-presidential candidate: “The Pres [George Bush] and I spoke about military. He also spoke about (and we joked about) VP buzz.”
  • On Barack Obama: “… a guy named Barack Obama.” email from February 2007:
    “He gave a great speech this morn in Michigan – mentioned Alaska. Stole ou[r] Energy Rebate $1,000 check idea, stole our TC-Alaska gasline talking points, etc. So … we need to take advantage of this a[nd] write a statement saying he’s right on.”
  • On false rumour that Trig, Palin’s fifth child, was in fact born by her daughter Bristol:“Hate to pick this one up again, but have heard three different times today the rumor again the Bristol is pregnant or had this baby. Even at Trig’s doc appt this morning his doc said that’s out there (hopefully NOT in their medical community-world, but it’s out there). Bristol called again this afternoon asking if there’s anything we can do to stop this as she receive two girlfriend-type calls today asking if it were true.”
  • On bear hunting: “I am a hunter. I grew up hunting – some of my best memories growing up are of hunting with my dad to help feel our freezer… I want Alaskans to have access to wildlife… BUT – he’s asking if I support hunting the bears in the sanctuary? No, I don’t… I don’t know any Alaskans who do support hunting the McNeil bears that frequent the viewing area.”
  • Palin-speak: “Keep hunting, keep being a true Alaskan… keep calling it as you see it – we love the mobster in ya.”
    – to her chief of staff, Michael Nizich: “Tibs [chief of staff Michael Tibbles] is going to be p#*(ed.”
    “Holy flipping A.”
    ‘Unflippinbelievable.”
  • On the pressures for her family: “Guys, I may be pretty wimpy about this family stuff, but I feel like I’m at the breaking point with the hurtful gossip … I hate this part of the job and many days I feel like it’s not worth it.”

SARAH PALIN EMAILS: FULL TEXT

Political Buzz: Sarah Palin’s “One Nation” Tour or Launching 2012 Presidential Campaign Tour

POLITICAL BUZZ

By Bonnie K. Goodman

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

ELECTIONS — PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN 2012….

Damon Winter/The New York Times

Sarah and Todd Palin after a family visit on Monday to the National Archives in Washington.

This past week Sarah Palin has embarked on a tour of the Northeastern US with her family starting in Washington and ending in New Hampshire. Dubbed the “One Nation” Bus Tour, the modern whistle stop trip included stops at historical locations, meeting with the people and the press. The media has been closely monitoring Palin’s tour, speculating the true intention; a trip or a Presidential campaign exploration. Either way, the tour has captured the attention of the press and country, especially with Palin stopping in New Hampshire, the early primary state on the same day at fellow Republican Mitt Romney launched his Presidential campaign also in New Hampshire.

  • Palin Watch – Sarah Palin News Blog Alaska Dispath
  • Photos: Sarah Palin’s “One Nation” Bus Tour: Sarah Palin has been willing to offer but a scrap of information of upcoming destinations, Palin set off from Washington for an East Coast bus tour, telling reporters that her tour might “at some point” go to Iowa, where the 2012 voting begins….. – Denver Post
  • Sarah Palin to collide with Mitt Romney rollout in New Hampshire: Sarah Palin will be casting a long shadow over Mitt Romney’s day in the sun in New Hampshire on Thursday.
    She’s bringing her I-haven’t-made-up-my-mind-yet bus tour across America to the Granite State even as Romney formally declares he’s in the 2012 race.
    Palin will attend a coastal clambake Thursday evening with some key New Hampshire Republicans. According to Politico, she called the timing “coincidental.”
    Palin is spending much of the day in Boston. She visited the Old North Church early Thursday.
    The ex-Alaska governor, who is winding up her weeklong tour, told the assembled media throng that has doggedly followed her every move from the Pentagon parking lot to the Freedom Trail that she still doesn’t know if she’s running for president in 2012.
    “Still looking at the field, knowing there’s going to be a lot of shakeup in that lineup,” Palin said
    Romney will be delivering a speech in Stratham, N.H. Palin said, “Maybe we’ll run into him.”
    Palin hasn’t been going out of her way to make friends in the early primary state. Earlier this week in an interview with CNN, she said that New Hampshire voters aren’t particularly special.
    “I guess that’s that nonpolitician in me not looking at a New Hampshire voter any differently just because they have, you know, an earlier primary than somebody else,” she said…. – LAT, 6-2-11
  • Palin tours Boston, says Romney timing coincidence: Sarah Palin took her tour of the United States, seen by some as a possible warm-up to a run at the Republican presidential nomination, to the Democratic stronghold of Massachusetts on Thursday.
    On a tour through the city’s Revolutionary War-era historic sites, Palin said her trip was not timed to distract attention from Massachusetts ex-governor Mitt Romney’s formal announcement in neighboring New Hampshire of the start of his presidential campaign .
    Palin, a former governor of Alaska, told reporters in the morning that the timing of the trip was “coincidental.”
    She herself was expected to travel next to New Hampshire, traditionally the state with the nation’s first nominating primary, making it a key destination for all potential candidates.
    After visiting sites including the Old North Church and the house of Revolutionary War hero Paul Revere, Palin stopped to talk with onlookers on the cobblestoned streets of the city’s North End…. – Reuters, 6-2-11
  • Sarah Palin Remembers Ronald Reagan At Liberty State Park: Sarah Palin, a potential candidate for the Republican presidential nomination and former Governor of Alaska, visited the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island today on her “One Nation” bus tour. Last night, Palin went to dinner in Manhattan with real estate mogul and reality TV star Donald Trump.
    Palin’s “One Nation” tour continues to be defined by themes of freedom, liberty and patriotism. The Statue of Liberty was a gift from the French and is an internationally recognized symbol of both freedom and democracy. Ellis Island served as the inspection station for the millions of immigrants who came to the United States between 1892 and 1954.
    “What a wonderful day to visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island!” said Palin. In what seemed like a veiled reference to her own presidential aspirations, Palin talked about former President Ronald Reagan’s visit to Liberty State Park in 1980. “He spoke of the Americans who passed through Ellis Island and whose first glimpse of their adopted country was the grand statue in New York’s harbor. He talked about our shared values and the common thread of the American dream across an endless mix of backgrounds,” said Palin…. – The State Column, 6-2-11
  • On the Media: News flash — Sarah Palin rides a bus What it means, though, nobody outside of Team Palin knows for sure. But reporters still give chase, just in case: It’s not exactly blockbuster news when Sarah Palin calls the U.S. Constitution an important document, tries to one-up President Obama in praise of the U.S. military or heaps another load of condescension on the media.
    But it is news when Palin does all these things within a few days of one another as part of a tour that has her dancing around a possible run for president of the United States. It’s news, less because Palin might actually run than because this is what politicians do. And the media cover what they do, good bad and indifferent, especially when they are as fascinating and polarizing as Sarah Palin.
    Ever since Palin announced her “One Nation” tour, multiple media outlets have scrambled to follow her bus, with no itinerary or real help from the principal and her team. And plenty of other people have taken to the Internet to denounce the whole spectacle as a publicity stunt and brand-booster for a brand badly in need of a lift.
    Far from the daily schedules and constant updates they are accustomed to on campaign tours, reporters have had to beg sources close to Palin for hints about what will happen next. A reporter for the Times of London incorrectly guessed at a Memorial Day trip to Gettysburg (it came a day later) and only happened on her as he later staked out the road to Mount Vernon.
    Team Palin threw the trailing scribes off the scent again Tuesday, leaving her bus idling outside her Gettysburg hotel while she slipped out to take a tour of the Civil War battlefield in an SUV. Palin is believed to be arriving in New Hampshire, which holds the first presidential primary, by week’s end. But no one outside the Palin bubble knows for sure…. – LAT, 6-1-11
  • The Influence Industry: The fine lines between a Palin vacation and Palin tour: When most families go on a summer vacation, they don’t have a political-action committee to pay the bills.
    Not so for Sarah Palin, the former vice presidential candidate and Alaska governor, who has joined her husband, children and parents in a widely publicized bus tour of East Coast historic sites this week.
    The trip appears to be part vacation, part political rally and part reality show. Fuel, lodging and other expenses are being paid for by SarahPAC, Palin’s political committee, which is also soliciting donations online in connection with the journey.
    “You can show your support for the Fundamental Restoration of America and the ‘One Nation Tour’ by making a generous donation to SarahPAC today,” reads a message on the SarahPAC Web site.
    The arrangement is perfectly legal, campaign-finance experts say. SarahPAC is set up as an unconnected PAC, meaning that the usual restrictions on candidate committees don’t apply. Regular candidate committees, for example, are barred from converting campaign money to personal use.
    As a result, unless Palin decides to formally explore a possible presidential run, she is free to spend the money raised by SarahPAC for “any lawful purpose” under federal law, experts said. That means it doesn’t matter whether the trip is a holiday, a political event or something in between…. – WaPo, 6-1-11
  • Palin tour: campaign prelude or publicity stunt?: Sarah Palin is going rogue again, confounding the press and delighting fans on a family bus tour that could be a prelude to an unconventional White House campaign — or a branding exercise for Palin Inc.
    The 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee has kept reporters scrambling across three states for three days, refusing to publish her schedule while traveling the countryside in a flashy, painted campaign-style bus.
    After announcing the tour of East Coast historic sites last week, Team Palin went silent on the itinerary and refused to accommodate press coverage. It was an unusual strategy for any politician, particularly one considering a White House run in 2012.
    It was hardly surprising for Palin, however, who denounces the “lamestream media” and built her political image around her unconventional style. And it paid immediate dividends with coverage from reporters who chased her like paparazzi after Angelina Jolie…. – Reuters, 5-31-11
  • Palin confirms she’s in LLC that bought Ariz. home: Sarah Palin has confirmed that she is part of a company that purchased a home north of Phoenix, but she said she hasn’t moved from Alaska.
    Safari Investments LLC paid nearly $1.7 million cash for the five-bedroom, 7,900-square-foot home in rural north Scottsdale in May.
    In an interview aired Tuesday night, the former Alaska governor told Fox News Channel’s Greta Van Susteren that she is part of Safari Investments and it “has some property in Arizona now.”
    “You know, many, many Alaskans purchase property in Arizona, Nevada and Texas,” Palin said from her bus that has been touring the East Coast. “I think we do that because not only are we good investors, and it’s a buyer’s market, but we like to thaw out once in a while.”… – AP, 5-31-11
  • Sarah Palin’s bus tour stops at National Archives, Mount Vernon and Baltimore: The former Alaska governor is believed to be headed to Philadelphia next. She continues to insist her patriotic-themed bus is not a campaign bus.
    It’s still unclear whether Sarah Palin’s road trip is an educational family tour of historical America or a dry run for her potential Republican presidential bid.
    But Monday, two things became clear: She will not shy away from unscripted encounters, and she isn’t going let anyone know in advance where she’s going as she wends her way across the country this summer.
    In an impromptu news conference Monday evening in the parking lot of her Gettysburg hotel shortly after taking a four-mile run in steaming heat, Palin said she thought the current crop of Republican presidential contenders is “strong” and that any campaign she might wage “would definitely be unconventional and nontraditional, yes, knowing us, yeah, it would have to be.”
    And that was as far as she would go, leaving the former Alaska governor’s intentions, like much of her bus tour, a mystery. Although she announced her “One Nation” tour with great fanfare on her website, Palin has refused to post information about her schedule, leaving reporters scrambling across the Eastern Seaboard to figure out her stops.
    Her bus tour began for real on Monday after she spent Sunday, the ostensible start day, riding in a motorcycle procession for veterans and surreptitiously visiting Washington monuments. Her patriotic-themed bus, decorated with a blown-up image of the U.S. Constitution, pulled up to the National Archives in Washington at 9:30 a.m. on Memorial Day, half an hour before opening.
    Her party — which included her husband, three daughters and her parents, as well as Greta Van Susteren, a host on Fox News, with whom Palin has an exclusive contract — was ushered into the building for a private look at the U.S. Constitution, Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights, cloistered in a darkened rotunda under glass.
    By the time she exited the archives half an hour later, a small crowd of reporters and well-wishers had gathered outside.
    “I wish every student in America could get here,” she afterward. “It is heartwarming, and it means so much to so many of us to be able to physically be here and see the foundation of America.”… – LAT, 5-31-11
  • SARAH PALIN: Memorial Day brings out presidential hopefuls: Politicians were in plentiful supply this Memorial Day as the ramp-up to the 2012 presidential election began in earnest.
    Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who began a nationwide bus tour Sunday, generated plenty of buzz, visiting Fort McHenry in Baltimore and Mount Vernon in Virginia on Monday.
    She told CNN on Monday that she plans to take her “One Nation” bus tour to Iowa, the state that votes first in the race for the Republican presidential nomination…. – CNN, 5-31-11
  • Palin Family Hits Road, if Not 2012 Trail: Sarah Palin dropped a fresh hint Monday about her presidential ambitions, telling reporters that her “One Nation” bus tour might “at some point” go to Iowa, where the 2012 voting begins.
    But that scrap of information was about all Ms. Palin was willing to offer to reporters as she spent Memorial Day bouncing among historic locations in Washington, Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania.
    Day 2 of the tour started Monday morning with a visit to the National Archives in Washington, where she and her family took a private moment to look at the Constitution. The family went from there to Mount Vernon, home of George Washington, and to Fort McHenry in Baltimore. A stop at the Gettysburg battlefield in Pennsylvania was also on the itinerary.
    Throughout the day, Ms. Palin continued to play coy with reporters eager to know her itinerary. After the National Archives stop, a reporter yelled out, “Sarah, where are you going next?” She quickly answered, “Mount Vernon,” then added, “Oh — you are a reporter, darn you!”
    Ms. Palin announced her bus tour with great fanfare last week and is using it on her Web site to raise money for her political action committee. Despite that, she is acting as though her family is just like any other on vacation…. – NYT, 5-30-11
  • In Gettysburg, post-jog Palin greets supporters: It’s too hot in central Pennsylvania, according to Sarah Palin, but while it wore out those on her bus tour, she snuck in a jog as reporters and supporters searched for her whereabouts.
    The Palin-crazed media and faithful fans found her late Monday afternoon, as she and her family paused their northbound road trip to rest up at a hotel on the outskirts of Gettysburg.
    National reporters trailed the Palins throughout the day, during their stops at the National Archives, Mount Vernon and Fort McHenry. When her bus was spotted at a hotel minutes from the historic battlefield that she was expected to visit today, reporters flocked and fans posed for pictures next to the Constitution-emblazoned motorcoach.
    Rumors swirled that she would be heading back out later that evening, and with a group gathered watching one hotel exit, she drew stunned looks as she and her daughter Piper walked up from behind the crowd and said hello…. – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 5-30-11
  • Palin Appearance at ‘Rolling Thunder’ Feeds Election Speculation Fury: Sarah Palin arrives at the beginning of Rolling Thunder at the Pentagon during the Memorial Day weekend in Washington.
    Sarah Palin could win the Republican nomination and defeat President Obama, Sen. John McCain said Sunday as his former vice presidential running mate fueled 2012 speculation by appearing at the annual Memorial Day rally on the National Mall.
    “Of course she can, she can. Whether she will or not, whether she’ll even run, I don’t know,” McCain, R-Ariz., told “Fox News Sunday.” “She certainly is a major factor. And I believe that she can be very competitive.”
    Palin’s participation in the annual Memorial Day parade in Washington, D.C., has fueled as much noise about a potential presidential candidacy as the thousands of motorcycle-riding veterans participating in the Rolling Thunder ride-along Sunday.
    At the Pentagon parking lot where the mob of veterans and their families pre-positioned for the thunderous two-wheeler march down Constitution Ave, Palin, who did not address the Memorial Day crowd, said she was thrilled to participate.
    “I love that smell of the emissions,” she said, donning sunglasses and a Harley Davidson skullcap-style, black helmet…. – Fox News, 5-29-11
  • Palin swarmed at first bus tour stop: Amid the chaos, there was Sarah Palin. Only one advance staffer was on hand to wrangle the fans and reporters hoping to get close to the former vice presidential nominee, who arrived at Sunday’s Rolling Thunder rally driving her own motorcycle.
    At the first stop on Palin’s bus tour – which so far has a vague itinerary but no other formally announced stops – security and press relations were left to a small group of disgruntled bikers.
    When asked about the tour, Palin offered only, “This is our first stop, we’re very thankful to be here.” A map of the tour’s stops on her PAC’s website remains blank.
    Palin arrived with her daughter Willow on the front of the motorcycle she was driving and her husband Todd and oldest daughter Bristol each on separate bikes. Still, their presence was very small in comparison to the rest of the rally, drawing about 200 people in a swarm around her at an event that drew thousands of veterans. Her husband, wearing a navy blue T-shirt with “Washington, D.C.” printed on the front, worked the crowd with ease – offering fast and short responses to a few reporters and glad-handing the many fans of his wife. They talked happily with those within shouting distance, and they joined the former vice presidential nominee in signing leather vests, posing for the cameras and answering questions to the few reporters who got close enough. She even held a brief availability with reporters in the corner of the parking lot away from the main group.
    Organizers of the annual veterans motorcycle ride were clearly frustrated by the media attention and fuss brought by Palin, and the bikers weren’t as encouraging as the Palins. Yelling, and in a few instances, shoving, they tried to keep away press trying to snap photographs or capture a rare quote…. – Politico, 5-29-11
  • Sarah Palin’s ‘One Nation’ bus tour shrouded in secrecy: 2012 run for President or publicity stunt?: Sarah Palin is hopping aboard a national bus tour this weekend and now the big mystery is whether she’s also switching gears for a White House run.
    The former Alaska governor’s One Nation road trip is shrouded in secrecy, with her political action committee only revealing that she’ll start in Washington and go up through New England to “educate and energize Americans about our nation’s founding principles.”
    Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty shrugged off Palin’s bus tour Friday when asked on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” if the trip indicated a run for the Oval Office…. – NY Daily News, 5-27-11
  • Palin to Begin Public Tour This Weekend: Sarah Palin will begin a bus tour of the East Coast on Memorial Day weekend, the latest and most significant evidence that the former governor of Alaska is still seriously considering a run for the Republican presidential nomination this year.
    Ms. Palin will begin the series of high-profile public events in the Washington area, starting with the annual Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally and continuing on through the Northeast, according to a statement on her Web site.
    Her purchase of a house in Arizona and recent additions to her staff have prompted renewed speculation about her political intentions even as the field of Republicans who are vying to challenge President Obama has dwindled in recent weeks.
    The bus tour, which will extend beyond the weekend, will take Ms. Palin and her family through the Northeast in a decorated, red-white-and-blue charter bus, heightening comparisons to a campaign whistle-stop tour…. – NYT, 5-26-11
  • Sarah Palin and her ‘One Nation’ bus tour, coming to a town near voters soon: Sarah Palin, who admitted recently that she had the fire in the belly to run for president, now has a bus tour to go with it.
    The Republican former governor, who wandered all over Alaska in a motorhome last year for her Discovery Channel reality series, will do the same starting Sunday at a biker rally in Washington.
    According to Scott Conroy at RealClearPolitics.com, an essential daily read for politics fans, the tour will, of course, involve members of the Palin family and first focus on the Northeast. That’s a seemingly unlikely place for RepSarah palin one nation Busublican political kickoffs, unless you can say ‘the first primary state of New Hampshire is a whole lot nicer in June than January.’
    The trips could last for weeks and are guaranteed to attract many media trailing along in the bus exhaust fumes. Like the NASCAR race she attended last year, Sunday’s annual … … Memorial Day Rolling Thunder biker rally at the Pentagon and down the National Mall offers an ideal opportunity for the kind of handshaking, picture-posing, you-betcha retail politicking that Palin loves and is so good at. Among folks who like her…. – LAT, 5-26-11

Sunday: Sarah Palin arrives at the beginning of Rolling Thunder at the Pentagon during the Memorial Day weekend in Washington.

AP2011

Sunday: Sarah Palin arrives at the beginning of Rolling Thunder at the Pentagon during the Memorial Day weekend in Washington.

Sarah Palin: ‘I’m Not the Conventional, Status Quo Politician … the Last Thing I Worry About Is the Mainstream Media’: GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Here’s Governor Palin on her “One Nation” bus tour.
VAN SUSTEREN: So Governor, we’re on the bus. Whose idea was this bus?
SARAH PALIN, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR/FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: You know, Todd had this idea. He was reading on an airplane some months ago an article by Thomas Sowell, and in this article, Thomas Sowell was talking about our economy and how to get it back on the right track and how much of the solution has to do with the foundation of America.
And Todd — he texted me when he landed at the airport and said, You know, we need to remind America about our charters of liberty, about our Constitution, about our Declaration of Independence and how America was built on this idea of individual power within us, and then collectively, how we all work together to create this great union. We need to remind America how important it is to protect all that’s good about America as written out in our Constitution and our Declaration of Independence. Go around the country and start talking about it.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, you…
PALIN: Right on!
VAN SUSTEREN: You’ve obviously driven the media nuts. I don’t know if you’ve noticed that. But I mean, everybody’s talking about it. Everyone’s trying to find out where you’re going, what are you doing. What do you say about that because it’s — it — everybody’s been talking about it.
PALIN: Well, you know, I know that many in the mainstream media are looking for kind of a conventional — a campaign-type tour. And I’ve said from the beginning this isn’t a campaign tour, except to campaign on our Constitution, our charters of liberty. And they want kind of a conventional idea of, We want a schedule. We want to follow you. We want you to bring us along with you.
I’m, like, (A) I don’t think I owe anything to the mainstream media. I think that it would be a mistake for me to become some kind of conventional politician and doing things the way that it’s always been done with the media in terms of relationship with them. Tell them to come on along and then we’ll orchestrate this, we’ll script this, and we’ll basically write a story for you, media, about what we’re doing every day.
No, I want them to have to do a bit of work on a tour like this, and that would include not necessarily telling them beforehand where every stop is going to be. You know, if they — we’ll do a stop. We’ll do a lot of OTRs, off the records. We’ll meet a lot of great Americans. And then I’ll write about that at the end of the day.
And it’s not about me. It’s not a publicity-seeking tour. It’s about highlighting the great things about America. And the media can figure out where we’re going if they do their investigative or they are going to keep kind of , as you put it, going crazy trying to figure out what we’re doing…. – Fox News, 5-31-11

Political Highlights May 22, 2011: Obama Addresses AIPAC — Reaffirms His Position on Israel’s 1967 Borders — Canada Objects, Palin, & Gingrich Criticize

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.

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

THE HEADLINES….

  • Obama to AIPAC: Israelis, Palestinians should negotiate a new border: President Obama said his call for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations based on the pre-1967 lines did not mean the future state of Palestine would have those exact borders.
    “By definition, it means that the parties themselves – Israelis and Palestinians – will negotiate a border that is different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967,” Obama said on Sunday morning to the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. “It is a well-known formula to all who have worked on this issue for a generation. It allows the parties themselves to account for the changes that have taken place over the last 44 years, including the new demographic realities on the ground and the needs of both sides.”
    Last week, Obama said Israeli-Palestinian peace talks should be based on the pre-’67 lines, with mutually agreed swaps. He also said the difficult issues of Jerusalem and the right of return for Palestinian refugees should be deferred for later. In response, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called such borders “indefensible.”
    “If there is a controversy, it’s not based on substance,” Obama said Sunday. “What I did on Thursday was to say publicly what has long been acknowledged privately.”… – JTA, 5-22-11
  • Obama Challenges Israel to Make Hard Choices: President Obama struck back at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel in a speech to a pro-Israel lobbying group on Sunday, defending his stance that talks over a Palestinian state should be focused on Israel’s pre-1967 borders, along with negotiated land swaps, and challenging Israel to “make the hard choices” necessary to bring about a stable peace.
    Mr. Obama, speaking before a conference of the influential American Israel Public Affairs Committee, offered familiar assurances that the United States’ commitment to Israel’s long-term security was “ironclad.” But citing the rising political upheaval near Israel’s borders, he presented his peace plan as the best chance Israel has to avoid growing isolation.
    “We cannot afford to wait another decade, or another two decades, or another three decades, to achieve peace,” Mr. Obama said. The world, he said, “is moving too fast.”
    Administration officials said it would be up to Mr. Obama, during an economic summit in Paris next weekend, to try to talk his European counterparts out of endorsing Palestinian statehood in a coming United Nations vote, a prospect that would deeply embarrass Israel. Some French officials have already indicated that they are leaning toward such an endorsement.
    “He basically said, ‘I can continue defending you to the hilt, but if you give me nothing to work with, even America can’t save you,’ ” said Daniel Levy, a former Israeli peace negotiator and a fellow at the New America Foundation, a nonpartisan research group.
    The appearance by Mr. Obama on Sunday punctuated a tense week in which he and Mr. Netanyahu made their separate cases about Palestinian statehood to American audiences. Mr. Netanyahu will address the same group on Monday and will speak before Congress on Tuesday at the invitation of Republican lawmakers…. – NYT, 5-22-11
  • Obama seeks to reassure Israel on Mideast policy in speech at AIPAC conference: President Obama sought to reassure Israel and its supporters of “ironclad” U.S. support Sunday in a speech to a Jewish lobbying group that also warned that time could be running out for a peace accord with Palestinians.
    Obama, wading afresh into a topic that evoked anger from Israeli leaders last week, insisted again that 1967 boundary lines should be the starting point for talks on a new Palestinian state. But he allowed that the dividing line would be negotiated to accommodate Israeli settlements and security needs.
    “Israelis and Palestinians will negotiate a border that is different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967,” Obama told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) at its annual conference in Washington.
    While sticking to the views he outlined in a Middle East policy speech Thursday, Obama more clearly aligned his position on borders to one espoused by the George W. Bush administration in 2004. The Bush White House had concluded that a return to the precise boundaries that existed before the 1967 Arab-Israeli War was “not realistic,” because of the presence of large Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
    Acknowledging that Israel faced “hard choices” and security risks, Obama argued that stalling on peace negotiations posed even greater dangers for the country’s survival. The Arab Spring movement and changing demographic forces — including growing numbers of Palestinians west of the Jordan River — present long-term challenges to Israel that will be resolved only by the creation of separate homelands for Jews and Palestinians, he said.
    “No matter how hard it may be to start meaningful negotiations under current circumstances, we must acknowledge that a failure to try is not an option,” he said. “The status quo is unsustainable.”
    “No country can be expected to negotiate with a terrorist organization sworn to its destruction,” he said.
    Obama said he was not surprised by the uproar over his Thursday speech but added that “if there is controversy, it is not based on substance.”
    “What I did on Thursday was to say publicly what has long been acknowledged privately,” he said. “I’ve done so because we can’t afford to wait another decade, or another two decades, or another three decades to achieve peace. The world is moving too fast. The extraordinary challenges facing Israel will only grow. Delay will undermine Israel’s security and the peace that the Israeli people deserve.:”… – WaPo, 5-22-11
  • Obama to AIPAC: I won’t back down on Israel-Palestine border issue: Speaking to AIPAC Sunday, President Obama repeated his position that Israel-Palestine peace negotiations must acknowledge the 1967 borders as a starting point. But he also emphasized that US commitment to Israel’s security is ‘ironclad.’
    President Obama is not backing down on how to solve the Israel-Palestine border issue in achieving peace in the Middle East.
    Speaking Sunday to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee – which identifies itself as America’s leading pro-Israel lobby – Obama reiterated his stance: Any negotiation has to begin by acknowledging the 1967 borders before the Six-Day War in which Israel occupied land in Jordan, Syria, and Egypt.
    Speaking to AIPAC Sunday, Obama sought to clarify what he had meant on Thursday regarding the 1967 borders.
    “By definition, it means that the parties themselves – Israelis and Palestinians – will negotiate a border that is different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967,” Obama said. “It allows the parties themselves to account for the changes that have taken place over the last 44 years. It allows the parties themselves to take account of those changes, including the new demographic realities on the ground, and the needs of both sides.”
    “The ultimate goal is two states for two people,” he said, “Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland for the Jewish people – and the State of Palestine as the homeland for the Palestinian people – each state in joined self-determination, mutual recognition, and peace.”… – CS Monitor, 5-22-11
  • Mideast Obama restates call for ‘1967 lines’ in Israeli-Palestinian talks: Unwilling to retreat from Benjamin Netanyahu’s angry outbursts, Barack Obama warned thousands of ardent pro-Israelis that finding a lasting peace with Palestinians begins with Israel’s pre-1967 frontiers.
    The U.S. President’s tone was soothing and his speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee placatory, but he didn’t budge from his statement last week that has sparked a furor and the remarkable spectacle of an Israeli prime minister publicly disputing an American president in the Oval Office.
    As Mr. Obama reiterated Sunday, it remains the obvious – if not explicitly stated position by any previous president – that negotiating boundaries for a Palestinian state begins with Israel’s frontiers before the lightning war of June 1967, when Israel defeated Egypt, Syria and Jordan, seizing and occupying the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, the Golan Heights and the revered walled city of old Jerusalem.
    “If there is a controversy, then, it’s not based in substance,” Mr. Obama said, added that he has said nothing new or startling, although his reference to “1967 lines” drew scattered boos from the audience that has been explicitly told to respectively receive speakers, even if they disagree.
    “It was my reference to the 1967 lines – with mutually agreed swaps – that received the lion’s share of the attention, including just now,” Mr. Obama said. He said his position has been “misrepresented” although he didn’t call out Mr. Netanyahu – who will deliver his own version of the way forward Monday to the 10,000-plus AIPAC at the most powerful pro-Israeli group’s annual convention. (The blunt-speaking Israeli leader – whose relationship with Mr. Obama has ranged from distant to frosty – will give a speech Tuesday to a joint session of Congress.)
    “What I did on Thursday was to say publicly what has long been acknowledged privately,” Mr. Obama said. “I’ve done so because we can’t afford to wait another decade, or another two decades, or another three decades to achieve peace.” “Delay will undermine security,” he added…. – The Globe & Mail, 5-22-11
  • Obama Quotes Talmud at AIPAC, Tells Hamas “Release Shalit”: In an address aimed at placating his disgruntled Jewish supporters, President Barack Obama told his audience of over 10,000 at the annual AIPAC policy conference in Washington, D.C. on Sunday that “a strong and secure Israel is in the interest of the United States and the bond between our two vibrant democracies must be nurtured.”
    He maintained that he did not say anything fundamentally new in his Thursday speech, when he mentioned the “1967 borders” as a basis for future peace
    Taking intense criticism from pro-Israel supporters since then, when he called for Israel to negotiate a future Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders, he sought to heal wounds by enumerating actions taken by the US to foster Israel’s security…. – Virtual Jerusalem Post, 5-22-11
  • Obama, at AIPAC, takes on the 1967 borders issue: An interesting morning at the AIPAC policy conference. Then again, how could it not be with President Barack Obama addressing more than 10,000 participants only days after giving a major policy address on the Middle East?
    I half expected a purely political speech, reaffirming his strong support for Israel, using key slogans like Israel’s qualitative military edge and banging away at Iran, and avoiding his call the other day for peace negotiations kith the Palestinians based on the 1967, with negotiated land swaps.
    In an almost stern tone, he referred to how his comments have been “misrepresented” – presumably by those pro-Israel activists who say he called for a return to the exact borders of 1967, which polite critics call “indefensible” and less polite ones call “Auschwitz borders.”
    He said that “1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps” means that “the parties themselves – Israelis and Palestinians – will negotiate a border that is different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967. It is a well known formula to all who have worked on this issue for a generation. It allows the parties themselves to account for the changes that have taken place over the last forty-four years, including the new demographic realities on the ground and the needs of both sides. The ultimate goal is two states for two peoples. Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland for the Jewish people, and the state of Palestine as the homeland for the Palestinian people; each state enjoying self-determination, mutual recognition, and peace.”
    Then, an almost chiding tone: “If there’s a controversy, then, it’s not based in substance. What I did on Thursday was to say publicly what has long been acknowledged privately. I have done so because we cannot afford to wait another decade, or another two decades, or another three decades, to achieve peace. The world is moving too fast. The extraordinary challenges facing Israel would only grow. Delay will undermine Israel’s security and the peace that the Israeli people deserve.”
    His core argument: with the winds of change sweeping across the Arab world, with growing attempts to delegitimize Israel – which he promised his administration would “steadfastly” oppose – and with the Palestinian effort to bypass direct negotiations with its UN General Assembly gambit, the “status quo is unsustainable” and time is running out…. – The NY Jewish Week, 5-22-11
  • Protests Break Out at AIPAC During Obama’s Speech: KnightNews.com has a crew in Washington D.C. where protests against Israeli and US foreign policy are breaking out outside the AIPAC convention.
    KnightNews.com ilive streamed video of the protests, and we have concluded the live stream to go inside the conference and get video interviews with the other side. An updated video story with both sides will be posted as soon as possible. The protests came before, during and after US President Barack Obama spoke at the conference…. – Knight News, 5-22-11
  • ’67 lines not top Mideast peace hurdle: US lawmaker: Palestinian refusal to accept Israel’s right to exist remains the primary impasse for Mideast peace, and not the recently revised dispute over territorial lines, the Republican US House majority leader said Sunday.
    Representative Eric Cantor, the most senior Jewish member in House history, also told the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s annual policy conference that it was time for the Arab world and Palestinians in particular to stop “scapegoating” Israel and to earn their statehood by renouncing violence.
    A Palestinian “culture infused with resentment and hatred” over the Jewish state is stymieing the peace process, which has all but frozen in recent months, and whose future is in turmoil with the Palestinian Authority recently signing a unity pact with Hamas, which Washington considers a terrorist group.
    “It is this culture that underlies the Palestinians’ and the broader Arab world’s refusal to accept Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state,” Cantor said told some 10,000 delegates at AIPAC’s annual policy conference.
    “This is the root of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. It is not about the ’67 lines,” he said to a rousing standing ovation.
    “And until Israel’s enemies come to terms with this reality, a true peace will be impossible.”… – AFP, 5-22-11
  • Several GOP presidential hopefuls to attend AIPAC Conference: As President Barack Obama’s Mideast speech this week came under fire from many in the Republican Party for not being supportive enough of Israel, several GOP prospective presidential candidates will be appearing this week at a major event sponsored by a key American Israeli lobbying organization.
    Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Rep. Michele Bachmann, businessman Herman Cain and former U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman will attend a policy conference of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, Ari Goldberg, a spokesman for the group, confirmed to CNN.
    Obama will be making his first appearance as president before an AIPAC event when he addresses the conference Sunday morning. Several leading members of Congress are also scheduled to speak at the event…. – CNN, 5-21-11
  • Palin slams Obama, supports Israel: Former Alaska governor says US should defend Israel against enemies, adds her primary goal is to make sure Obama not reelected
    Former Alaska Governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin slammed Barack Obama’s Mideast policy speech, saying that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “does not need to be lectured by President Obama on the importance of peace. He understands it.”
    In an interview for Fox News on Saturday, Palin went on to speak in support of the Jewish state: “Anyone who studies history, studies the Old Testament, studies geography understands that Israel now is surrounded by enemies at all times,” she said. “It should be now that America takes a stand in defending our enemies in Israel.
    “More than ever we should be standing strong with Israel and saying ‘No, you don’t have to divide Jerusalem, you don’t have to divide your capital city,’” she added.
    She continued to attack Obama, saying his foreign policy “really makes no sense.”
    “I’m going to call him our temporary leader because my goal is to make sure that President Obama is not reelected in 2012,” she said.
    Palin, who has yet to decide whether to run for president in the coming elections, wasn’t the only Republican to express disapproval of Obama following his tense weekend meeting with Netanyahu.
    Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts and a prominent contender for the Republican presidential nomination, said that Obama “threw Israel under the bus.”
    “He has disrespected Israel and undermined its ability to negotiate peace,” Romney said.
    Tim Pawlenty, another Republican presidential hopeful, called Obama’s demand for Israel to return to 1967 borders a “disaster waiting to happen.”… – YNet News, 5-22-11
  • Ottawa won’t back Obama’s Mideast peace proposal: The Harper government is refusing to join the United States in calling for a return to 1967 borders as a starting point for Mideast peace, a position that has drawn sharp criticism from Canada’s staunch ally Israel.
    At a briefing ahead of the upcoming G8 summit in France, federal officials said the basis for the negotiations must be mutually agreed upon.
    Israel quickly rejected U.S. President Barack Obama’s proposal for the talks to be guided by the 1967 borders, with mutually agreed land swaps.
    “What the government of Canada supports is basically a two-state solution that is negotiated,” a senior federal official said. “If it’s border, if it’s others issues, it has to be negotiated, it cannot be unilateral action.”
    Pressed by reporters, federal officials said both the Israelis and the Palestinians have to decide on their bottom lines, which the Israelis have said will not include a return to the 1967 border.
    “If the two parties are of the view that this is a starting point, that is fine for them,” said the federal official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
    The Prime Minister’s director of communications, Dimitri Soudas, added that Canada’s position continues to be the search for a two-state solution.
    “No solution, ultimately, is possible without both parties sitting down, negotiating and agreeing on what that final outcome will look like,” he said…. – The Globe & Mail, 5-22-11
  • Israel ‘approves new West Bank settler homes’: Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak has approved the construction of 294 new homes in Beitar Ilit settlement on the occupied West Bank, anti-settlement NGO Peace Now reported on Sunday.
    It also said that work had started on more than 2,000 settler homes since the end in September of Israel’s 10-month freeze on Jewish construction on Palestinian land.
    Peace Now made its announcement as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in Washington preparing to address the US Congress and a powerful pro-Israel lobby, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).
    It said Barak has also approved building of homes for the elderly and a shopping centre in the settlement of Efrat…. – AFP, 5-22-11

QUOTES

  • Remarks by the President at the AIPAC Policy Conference 2011 Walter E. Washington Convention Center Washington, D.C.: THE PRESIDENT: ….Now, I’m not here to subject you to a long policy speech. I gave one on Thursday in which I said that the United States sees the historic changes sweeping the Middle East and North Africa as a moment of great challenge, but also a moment of opportunity for greater peace and security for the entire region, including the State of Israel.
    On Friday, I was joined at the White House by Prime Minister Netanyahu, and we reaffirmed — (applause) — we reaffirmed that fundamental truth that has guided our presidents and prime ministers for more than 60 years — that even while we may at times disagree, as friends sometimes will, the bonds between the United States and Israel are unbreakable — (applause) — and the commitment of the United States to the security of Israel is ironclad. (Applause.)
    A strong and secure Israel is in the national security interest of the United States not simply because we share strategic interests, although we do both seek a region where families and children can live free from the threat of violence. It’s not simply because we face common dangers, although there can be no denying that terrorism and the spread of nuclear weapons are grave threats to both our nations.
    America’s commitment to Israel’s security flows from a deeper place — and that’s the values we share. As two people who struggled to win our freedom against overwhelming odds, we understand that preserving the security for which our forefathers — and foremothers — fought must be the work of every generation. As two vibrant democracies, we recognize that the liberties and freedoms we cherish must be constantly nurtured. And as the nation that recognized the State of Israel moments after its independence, we have a profound commitment to its survival as a strong, secure homeland for the Jewish people. (Applause.)
    We also know how difficult that search for security can be, especially for a small nation like Israel living in a very tough neighborhood. I’ve seen it firsthand. When I touched my hand against the Western Wall and placed my prayer between its ancient stones, I thought of all the centuries that the children of Israel had longed to return to their ancient homeland. When I went to Sderot and saw the daily struggle to survive in the eyes of an eight-year-old boy who lost his leg to a Hamas rocket, and when I walked among the Hall of Names at Yad Vashem, I was reminded of the existential fear of Israelis when a modern dictator seeks nuclear weapons and threatens to wipe Israel off the face of the map — face of the Earth.
    Because we understand the challenges Israel faces, I and my administration have made the security of Israel a priority. It’s why we’ve increased cooperation between our militaries to unprecedented levels. It’s why we’re making our most advanced technologies available to our Israeli allies. (Applause.) It’s why, despite tough fiscal times, we’ve increased foreign military financing to record levels. (Applause.) And that includes additional support –- beyond regular military aid -– for the Iron Dome anti-rocket system. (Applause.) A powerful example of American-Israeli cooperation — a powerful example of American-Israeli cooperation which has already intercepted rockets from Gaza and helped saved Israeli lives. So make no mistake, we will maintain Israel’s qualitative military edge. (Applause.)
    You also see our commitment to our shared security in our determination to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. (Applause.) Here in the United States, we’ve imposed the toughest sanctions ever on the Iranian regime. (Applause.) At the United Nations, under our leadership, we’ve secured the most comprehensive international sanctions on the regime, which have been joined by allies and partners around the world. Today, Iran is virtually cut off from large parts of the international financial system, and we’re going to keep up the pressure. So let me be absolutely clear –- we remain committed to preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. (Applause.)
    Its illicit nuclear program is just one challenge that Iran poses. As I said on Thursday, the Iranian government has shown its hypocrisy by claiming to support the rights of protesters while treating its own people with brutality. Moreover, Iran continues to support terrorism across the region, including providing weapons and funds to terrorist organizations. So we will continue to work to prevent these actions, and we will stand up to groups like Hezbollah, who exercise political assassination and seek to impose their will through rockets and car bombs.
    You also see our commitment to Israel’s security in our steadfast opposition to any attempt to de-legitimize the State of Israel. (Applause.) As I said at the United Nations last year, “Israel’s existence must not be a subject for debate,” and “efforts to chip away at Israel’s legitimacy will only be met by the unshakeable opposition of the United States.” (Applause.)
    So when the Durban Review Conference advanced anti-Israel sentiment, we withdrew. In the wake of the Goldstone Report, we stood up strongly for Israel’s right to defend itself. (Applause.) When an effort was made to insert the United Nations into matters that should be resolved through direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, we vetoed it. (Applause.)
    And so, in both word and deed, we have been unwavering in our support of Israel’s security. (Applause.) And it is precisely because of our commitment to Israel’s long-term security that we have worked to advance peace between Israelis and Palestinians. (Applause.)
    Now, I have said repeatedly that core issues can only be negotiated in direct talks between the parties. (Applause.) And I indicated on Thursday that the recent agreement between Fatah and Hamas poses an enormous obstacle to peace. (Applause.) No country can be expected to negotiate with a terrorist organization sworn to its destruction. (Applause.) And we will continue to demand that Hamas accept the basic responsibilities of peace, including recognizing Israel’s right to exist and rejecting violence and adhering to all existing agreements. (Applause.) And we once again call on Hamas to release Gilad Shalit, who has been kept from his family for five long years. (Applause.)
    And yet, no matter how hard it may be to start meaningful negotiations under current circumstances, we must acknowledge that a failure to try is not an option. The status quo is unsustainable. And that is why on Thursday I stated publicly the principles that the United States believes can provide a foundation for negotiations toward an agreement to end the conflict and all claims — the broad outlines of which have been known for many years, and have been the template for discussions between the United States, Israel, and the Palestinians since at least the Clinton administration.
    I know that stating these principles — on the issues of territory and security — generated some controversy over the past few days. (Laughter.) I wasn’t surprised. I know very well that the easy thing to do, particularly for a President preparing for reelection, is to avoid any controversy. I don’t need Rahm to tell me that. Don’t need Axelrod to tell me that. But I said to Prime Minister Netanyahu, I believe that the current situation in the Middle East does not allow for procrastination. I also believe that real friends talk openly and honestly with one another. (Applause.) So I want to share with you some of what I said to the Prime Minister.
    Here are the facts we all must confront. First, the number of Palestinians living west of the Jordan River is growing rapidly and fundamentally reshaping the demographic realities of both Israel and the Palestinian Territories. This will make it harder and harder — without a peace deal — to maintain Israel as both a Jewish state and a democratic state.
    Second, technology will make it harder for Israel to defend itself in the absence of a genuine peace.
    Third, a new generation of Arabs is reshaping the region. A just and lasting peace can no longer be forged with one or two Arab leaders. Going forward, millions of Arab citizens have to see that peace is possible for that peace to be sustained.
    And just as the context has changed in the Middle East, so too has it been changing in the international community over the last several years. There’s a reason why the Palestinians are pursuing their interests at the United Nations. They recognize that there is an impatience with the peace process, or the absence of one, not just in the Arab World — in Latin America, in Asia, and in Europe. And that impatience is growing, and it’s already manifesting itself in capitals around the world.
    And those are the facts. I firmly believe, and I repeated on Thursday, that peace cannot be imposed on the parties to the conflict. No vote at the United Nations will ever create an independent Palestinian state. And the United States will stand up against efforts to single Israel out at the United Nations or in any international forum. (Applause.) Israel’s legitimacy is not a matter for debate. That is my commitment; that is my pledge to all of you. (Applause.)
    Moreover, we know that peace demands a partner –- which is why I said that Israel cannot be expected to negotiate with Palestinians who do not recognize its right to exist. (Applause.) And we will hold the Palestinians accountable for their actions and for their rhetoric. (Applause.)
    But the march to isolate Israel internationally — and the impulse of the Palestinians to abandon negotiations –- will continue to gain momentum in the absence of a credible peace process and alternative. And for us to have leverage with the Palestinians, to have leverage with the Arab States and with the international community, the basis for negotiations has to hold out the prospect of success. And so, in advance of a five-day trip to Europe in which the Middle East will be a topic of acute interest, I chose to speak about what peace will require.
    There was nothing particularly original in my proposal; this basic framework for negotiations has long been the basis for discussions among the parties, including previous U.S. administrations. Since questions have been raised, let me repeat what I actually said on Thursday — not what I was reported to have said.
    I said that the United States believes that negotiations should result in two states, with permanent Palestinian borders with Israel, Jordan, and Egypt, and permanent Israeli borders with Palestine. The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps — (applause) — so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states. The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state.
    As for security, every state has the right to self-defense, and Israel must be able to defend itself –- by itself -– against any threat. (Applause.) Provisions must also be robust enough to prevent a resurgence of terrorism, to stop the infiltration of weapons, and to provide effective border security. (Applause.) And a full and phased withdrawal of Israeli military forces should be coordinated with the assumption of Palestinian security responsibility in a sovereign and non-militarized state. (Applause.) And the duration of this transition period must be agreed, and the effectiveness of security arrangements must be demonstrated. (Applause.)
    Now, that is what I said. And it was my reference to the 1967 lines — with mutually agreed swaps — that received the lion’s share of the attention, including just now. And since my position has been misrepresented several times, let me reaffirm what “1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps” means.
    By definition, it means that the parties themselves -– Israelis and Palestinians -– will negotiate a border that is different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967. (Applause.) That’s what mutually agreed-upon swaps means. It is a well-known formula to all who have worked on this issue for a generation. It allows the parties themselves to account for the changes that have taken place over the last 44 years. (Applause.) It allows the parties themselves to take account of those changes, including the new demographic realities on the ground, and the needs of both sides. The ultimate goal is two states for two people: Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland for the Jewish people — (applause) — and the State of Palestine as the homeland for the Palestinian people — each state in joined self-determination, mutual recognition, and peace. (Applause.)
    If there is a controversy, then, it’s not based in substance. What I did on Thursday was to say publicly what has long been acknowledged privately. I’ve done so because we can’t afford to wait another decade, or another two decades, or another three decades to achieve peace. (Applause.) The world is moving too fast. The world is moving too fast. The extraordinary challenges facing Israel will only grow. Delay will undermine Israel’s security and the peace that the Israeli people deserve.
    Now, I know that some of you will disagree with this assessment. I respect that. And as fellow Americans and friends of Israel, I know we can have this discussion.
    Ultimately, it is the right and the responsibility of the Israeli government to make the hard choices that are necessary to protect a Jewish and democratic state for which so many generations have sacrificed. (Applause.) And as a friend of Israel, I’m committed to doing our part to see that this goal is realized. And I will call not just on Israel, but on the Palestinians, on the Arab States, and the international community to join us in this effort, because the burden of making hard choices must not be Israel’s alone. (Applause.)
    But even as we do all that’s necessary to ensure Israel’s security, even as we are clear-eyed about the difficult challenges before us, and even as we pledge to stand by Israel through whatever tough days lie ahead, I hope we do not give up on that vision of peace. For if history teaches us anything, if the story of Israel teaches us anything, it is that with courage and resolve, progress is possible. Peace is possible.
    The Talmud teaches us that, “So long as a person still has life, they should never abandon faith.” And that lesson seems especially fitting today.
    For so long as there are those across the Middle East and beyond who are standing up for the legitimate rights and freedoms which have been denied by their governments, the United States will never abandon our support for those rights that are universal.
    And so long as there are those who long for a better future, we will never abandon our pursuit of a just and lasting peace that ends this conflict with two states living side by side in peace and security. This is not idealism; it is not naïveté. It is a hard-headed recognition that a genuine peace is the only path that will ultimately provide for a peaceful Palestine as the homeland of the Palestinian people and a Jewish state of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people. (Applause.) That is my goal, and I look forward to continuing to work with AIPAC to achieve that goal.
    Thank you. God bless you. God bless Israel, and God bless the United States of America. (Applause.) Thank you. – Transcript
  • Gene Simmons Slams President Obama’s Israel Policy: ‘He Has No F-Ing Idea What The World Is Like’Breitbart, 5-22-11
  • Sarah Palin Criticizes Obama on Israel; Calls Him ‘Temporary Leader’: In an interview with Fox News’ Judge Jeanine on Saturday, Palin spoke in support of the Jewish state, saying, “Anyone who studies history, studies the Old Testament, studies geography understands that Israel now is surrounded by enemies at all times.
    “It should be now that America takes a stand in defending our friends in Israel.”
    Obama has been drawing fire from Republicans after delivering a major speech on Thursday. In it, he stated, “The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states.”
    Also rejecting Obama’s stance, Palin stated on Fox, “To tell Israel that now they have to pull back from their homeland, that they have to concede even more, and that they have to negotiate with terrorists, with Hamas, having been a part now joining in the unity government under Palestinian authority, we’re flirting with disaster under President Obama’s very clouded, very murky foreign policy as it applies to Israel.”
    What the U.S. should be doing more than ever is “standing strong with Israel and saying, ‘No, you don’t have to divide Jerusalem, you don’t have to divide your capital city,’” she continued.
    Palin commented, “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does not need to be lectured by President Obama on the importance of peace. He understands it.”
    “I’m going to call him a temporary leader, because my goal is to make sure that President Obama is not reelected in 2012,” she said on Fox.
    “We the people need to rise up, saying we’ll take a stand for Israel. We’ll be on their side, no matter if our ‘temporary leader’ sides with terrorists and demands Israel negotiate with terrorists.
    “Until President Obama is replaced by a president who understands the importance of treating our friends right and being strong against our enemies – until that happens – it’s ‘We the People’ who have to rise up and make sure that Israel knows they have friends here.”… – Christian Post, 5-21-11
  • Newt Gingrich Leads Criticism on Obama’s Israel-Palestine Remarks: Republican presidential hopeful and Catholic convert Newt Gingrich has labeled President Obama’s Israeli-Palestinian policy a “disaster” during Sunday’s CBS program “Face the Nation.”
    Outspoken Gingrich said Obama’s remarks were “extraordinarily dangerous,” and further stated that “a president who can’t control his own border probably shouldn’t lecture Israel about their border.”
    Gingrich was referring to Obama’s comments this week that Israeli-Palestinian negotiations be based on border demarcations from before the six-day war in 1967, in which Israel seized the West Bank, Gaza Strip among other territories. Furthermore, he stated that potential agreements should include land swap deals to reflect changes over recent decades.
    Gingrich said on “Face the Nation:” “I think that defining the 1967 border would be an act of suicide for Israel. They are totally non-defensible.
    “You have Hamas, which is a terrorist organization whose stated goal is the destruction of Israel. The idea that somehow we’re supposed to be neutral between Hamas and Israel is fundamentally flawed and I do not believe that we should have any pressure on Israel as long as Hamas’ policy is the destruction of Israel and as long as missiles are being fired into Israel and terrorists are preparing to try to kill Israelis.”
    Gingrich is not the only one condemning Obama’s stance towards Israel; Congressman Ron Paul has also issued a blistering critique of Obama’s recent proposals.
    “Unlike this President, I do not believe it is our place to dictate how Israel runs her affairs,” the Texas Republican said in a press statement.
    “There can only be peace in the region if those sides work out their differences among one another. We should respect Israel’s sovereignty and not try to dictate her policy from Washington,” he added…. – Christian Post, 5-22-11
  • MK Katz Warns AIPAC, ‘Obama Put a Gun to Israel’s Head’: “Don’t fall for U.S. President Barack Obama’s magical oratory. He put a gun to Israel’s head and asked it to commit suicide,” National Union chairman and Knesset Member Yaakov (Ketzaleh) Katz MK wrote the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Sunday.
    The legislator continued, “I urge you not to be captured by his magic tongue because he actually is asking you for your votes and your money.”
    MK Katz wrote to AIPAC committee members, “The People of Israel, in the Diaspora for 2,000 years, developed a sense of who loves us and who hates us. President Obama knows very well that former Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban described the 1967 borders as ‘Auschwitz borders.'”
    “The People of Israel will not fall for the false charm of posters, slogans, cellophane wrappers of sweetened drugs of death”, he concluded. – Israel National News, 5-22-11
  • Livni on Obama speech: US and Israel have shared interests: Opposition leader Tzipi Livni on Sunday commented on US President Barack Obama’s speech to AIPAC earlier, saying “The principle of Israel’s security and the need to arrive at a two-state solution, one of which is the State of Israel, is first of all an Israeli interest. Therefore, we need to be going in this direction in our partnership with the US.”
    “It’s important to understand that the entire world looks at the relationship between Israel and the United States, especially those who still do not accept our existence here. And part of Israel’s deterrence capability comes from the understanding that we are working together [with the US]. Therefore, there is a very important message coming from Washington these days,” Livni said.
    She stressed, “The things that Obama mentioned represent a long-standing American policy. We have shared interests. This is very important to Israel, so that it can once and for all advance the process to prevent unilateral moves at the United Nations.” – JPost, 5-22-11
  • Eric Cantor: Israel is America’s Most Loyal Ally: Republican Eric Cantor, the GOP majority leader in the House of Representatives, addressed the attendees of the annual AIPAC policy conference in Washington, D.C. on Sunday.
    Speaking of his immigrant roots and of his pride of being Jewish, Cantor told the audience that “America needs Israel as it is our most stable and loyal ally,” adding that “America must do everything in its power to protect Israel. It is okay to vilify Israel but it is not okay to scapegoat Israel.”
    He addressed the conflict between Israelis and Arabs and said that the root of the conflict is not the so-called 1967 lines (the 1949 armistice lines which defense experts have said would be indefensible), but rather the refusal of the Palestinian Authority to recognize Israel. Israel wants to live in peace, said Cantor, but PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has to stop promoting hate and should come to the negotiating table. Until that happens, noted Cantor, there can be no peace, particularly with Hamas being part of the PA government…. Israel National News, 5-22-11

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Gil Troy: Despite the talk about “Obama’s Mideast speech” Thursday, I actually heard two separate addresses. In the first, President Barack Obama offered vague nostrums about the “Arab spring,” best summarized in three words: Democracy is good. Obama transitioned awkwardly to the second speech, about Israelis and Palestinians, saying: “Let me conclude by talking about another cornerstone of our approach to the region, and that relates to the pursuit of peace.” In this section, the professorial president turned from airy abstractions to problematic particulars. Although it was impossible to predict America’s next move in the Arab world from the speech’s first part, we now know exactly how an Israel-Palestine peace treaty would look if Obama could dictate it and those annoying people who live there would just follow….
    Even more problematic was his call for “the borders of Israel and Palestine” to “be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps.” These words not only seem to contradict George W. Bush’s vow to Ariel Sharon based on decades of American policy, but the deification of 1967 boundaries lacks historical nuance in a region obsessed with nuance and history.
    The logical starting point in advocating a two-state solution comes by acknowledging that in the region particular borders shifted and populations moved. Anyone who talks about people frozen in place for centuries or borders as if they were permamarked on a map is either a fool or a fanatic. Bible-based Israelis must admit that the boundaries of Biblical land of Israel, varied, just as passionate Palestinians must admit that the boundaries of Palestine-Israel in the twentieth-century alone shifted repeatedly.
    We cannot undo history and we must move forward, from 2011, trying to minimize disruptions to populations while maximizing satisfaction on both sides. Rather than trying to freeze one random moment in historical time, demography and the current status quo should be our guides, tempered by sensitivity, creativity, and a touch but not too much historicity. Obama’s overlooked line about the “growing number of Palestinians [who] live west of the Jordan River,” explains why each of the two clashing people should have a state. Peace will work if it passes the test of what Obama called populism, working logically for many people today, not at some random point from the past.
    Obama did speak beautifully about “a choice between hate and hope; between the shackles of the past and the promise of the future.” Alas, this speech did not do enough to buttress the forces of hope over hate, and by feeding the 1967 obsession, Obama himself was too shackled to one unhelpful perspective on the past.

Political Highlights May 9, 2011: Week in Review Osama bin Laden Captured & Killed — Republicans Debate

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 tapes the Weekly Address at Allison Transmission in Indiana, White House Photo, Pete Souza, 5/6/11

STATS & POLLS

  • NBC poll: Nearly two-thirds back decision not to release bin Laden photos: The latest NBC News poll finds that nearly two-thirds of Americans back President Obama’s decision not to release the photos taken after Osama bin Laden’s death.
    Fifty-two percent said they strongly believe the Obama administration should not release the photos, and an additional 12 percent agreed, although not as strongly. By comparison, 24 percent said they strongly believe the photos should be released, and 5 percent more agreed not so strongly…. – MSNBC, 5-8-11
  • Polls: worry about attacks, confidence in Obama up: Americans are concerned about retaliatory terrorist attacks following Osama bin Laden’s death but also have more confidence in President Barack Obama’s leadership as commander in chief, according to three polls taken after American forces killed the terror leader. Still, the surveys show that people divide sharply along partisan lines when choosing whether to credit Obama, a Democrat, or former President George W. Bush, a Republican, for bin Laden’s death.
    There is near universal acclaim for the military action that killed bin Laden — 93 percent approve according to a USA Today/Gallup poll — and a Washington Post-Pew Research Center survey finds most feel relieved, proud or happy about the death of the al-Qaida leader.
    A CNN/Opinion Research Center poll also finds Obama’s ratings as a “strong and decisive leader” rose after an April dip following a standoff with Congress over the federal budget. In the new poll, 58 percent said he is a strong leader, up 5 percentage points overall and 14 percentage points among independents. The USA Today/Gallup survey finds a narrow majority feel more confident in Obama’s abilities as commander in chief.
    But voters divide along partisan lines over the roles of Obama and Bush in bringing an end to the decade-long manhunt. Though 76 percent in the Post-Pew poll give Obama at least some credit for bin Laden’s death, that dips to 61 percent among Republicans. Likewise, while 51 percent overall give Bush some of the credit, just 35 percent of Democrats do…. – AP, 5-3-11
  • Nielsen: 56 million watch Obama’s bin Laden speech: Despite the late hour in the East, President Obama’s speech announcing the death of Osama bin Laden had an audience of 56.5 million viewers. The Nielsen Co. says Sunday’s audience was larger than Obama’s recent prime-time addresses, including his March 28 speech on Libya. The Wall Street Journal reports that Nielsen says it was Obama’s biggest audience since election night in 2008. On that night, about 70 million people were watching election coverage during the period that included Obama’s speech…. – AP, 5-3-11

IN FOCUS: OSAMA BIN LADEN CAPTURED & KILLED

President Obama places a wreath at the site of the 9/11 Memorial at Ground Zero, White House Photo, Pete Souza, 5/5/11
  • President Obama on the mission to kill bin Laden: Whether we like it or not, Osama bin Laden changed America. With that September morning in 2001, he introduced fear and ingrained the threat of terrorism into the daily lives of anyone who lives in a big city, travels by air or enters a federal building. For more than a decade, bin Laden managed to elude the U.S. military and intelligence establishments, and he taunted three U.S. presidents. That finally ended last Sunday, and the last thing bin Laden saw was a Navy SEAL in the third floor bedroom of his compound in Pakistan.
    Now, for the first time, we hear the story from President Barack Obama, who spoke with us on Wednesday at the White House. He explains how the plan was prepared and carried out, what was going through his mind as he watched it unfold, and the secrecy leading up to his historic announcement last Sunday night. “Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaida,” the president announced in a televised address to the nation late Sunday night…. – CBS News, 5-8-11
  • Obama: ‘Getting our man’ outweighed risks of raid: President Barack Obama ordered the commando raid that killed terrorist leader Osama bin Laden after deciding the risks were outweighed by the possibility “of us finally getting our man” following a decade of frustration, he said in a Sunday broadcast interview. The helicopter raid “was the longest 40 minutes of my life,” Obama told CBS’ “60 Minutes,” with the possible exception of when his daughter Sasha became sick with meningitis as an infant.
    Monitoring the commando raid operation in the White House Situation Room a week ago, Obama said he and top aides “had a sense of when gunfire and explosions took place” halfway around the world, and knew when one of the helicopters carrying Navy SEALs made an unplanned hard landing. “But we could not get information clearly about what was happening inside the compound,” he said…. – AP, 5-8-11
  • Obama: bin Laden had support network: Osama bin Laden benefited from “some sort of support network” inside Pakistan, President Barack Obama said in a Sunday broadcast interview, but he added it is not clear whether government officials knew the terrorist leader was living inside their country when U.S. commandos killed him in a raid last weekend.
    “We don’t know whether there might have been some people inside of government, people outside of government, and that’s something that we have to investigate and, more importantly, the Pakistani government has to investigate,” Obama said in an interview for CBS’ “60 Minutes.”…. – AP, 5-8-11
  • Obama on bin Laden: The full “60 Minutes” interview: On Wednesday, May 4, 2011 – three days after he announced that American troops had killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan – President Barack Obama talked with “60 Minutes” correspondent Steve Kroft in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. Below is a transcript of that interview. The video of this i NYT, 5-8-11
  • AP Interview: Petraeus on bin Laden-Taliban link: The killing of Osama bin Laden may weaken al-Qaida’s influence on the Afghan Taliban, the U.S. military commander in Afghanistan said Sunday. Even so, Gen. David Petraeus warned that Afghanistan is still a potential refuge for international terror groups, and al-Qaida is just one of those. He also warned that the April 29 U.S. raid that killed the al-Qaida leader in his Pakistani compound did not spell the end of the NATO battle in Afghanistan, which began just one month after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington with the aim of wiping out al-Qaida and bin Laden.
    NATO officials have said that they do not intend to speed up their withdrawal just because al-Qaida’s leader is gone, but the military feels it may bring the Taliban closer to negotiations with the Afghan government.
    Interviewed aboard his helicopter by The Associated Press, Petraeus said the strong link between al-Qaida and the Taliban was personal, not organizational.
    “The deal between the Afghan Taliban and al-Qaida was between Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden, not the organizations,” Petraeus said as he visited U.S. troops in eastern Afghanistan…. – AP, 5-8-11
  • Michelle Obama lauds US forces in bin Laden raid: “Just imagine, a small group of brave men, dropped by helicopter, half a world away in the dead of night into unknown danger inside the lair of the most wanted man in the world,” Mrs. Obama told the graduating class at the UNI Dome in Cedar Falls. “They did not hesitate, risking everything for us, for our freedom and security. And they did it not just as Navy SEALs. They did it as husbands, as fathers, as sons. Their families were back here, with no idea of their mission or whether their loved one would ever come home.”… “Now, that’s the very essence of the word ‘service,'” she said of the military action. “And the least we can do is give something back to these troops and their families who have given us so much.”… – AP, 5-7-11
  • After Bin Laden: What might come next: After an extraordinary week of events in the United States and abroad, one thing is clear: Osama bin Laden’s death at the hands of American forces has the potential to ripple out into global affairs in many ways — political and military, diplomatic and cultural, and of course U.S. national security…. – AP, 5-7-11
  • Bin Laden death reignites debate over CIA tactics: The government’s hunt for Osama bin Laden has left the country questioning whether the tactics used to interrogate suspected terrorists were successful and lawful. With his death, both sides of the debate have regrouped along familiar lines, claiming they were right all along. But America’s greatest counterterrorism success does not represent a victory for either camp. Rather, it paints a clearer picture of the CIA’s interrogation and detention program, revealing where it was successful and where its successes have been overstated…. – AP, 5-7-11
  • Candid videos show rare view of unkempt bin Laden: From a shabby, makeshift office, he ran a global terrorist empire. The world’s most wanted man watched newscasts of himself from a tiny television perched atop a rickety old desk cluttered with wires. For years, the world only saw the 54-year-old Osama bin Laden in the rare propaganda videos that trickled out, the ones portraying him as a charismatic religious figure unfazed by being the target of a worldwide manhunt. On Saturday, the U.S. released a handful of videos, selected to show bin Laden in a much more candid, unflattering light. In the short clips, bin Laden appears hunched and tired, seated on the floor, watching television wrapped in a wool blanket and wearing a knit cap. Outtakes of his propaganda tapes show that they were heavily scripted affairs. He dyed and trimmed his beard for the cameras, then shot and reshot his remarks until the timing and lighting were just right…. – AP, 5-7-11
  • Key role in bin Laden raid for secret choppers: Secret until now, stealth helicopters may have been key to the success of the Osama bin Laden raid. But the so-far- unexplained crash of one of the modified Black Hawks at the scene apparently compromised at least some of the aircraft’s secrets.
    The two choppers evidently used radar-evading technologies, plus noise and heat suppression devices, to slip across the Afghan-Pakistan border, avoid detection by Pakistani air defenses and deliver two dozen Navy SEALs into the al-Qaida leader’s lair. Photos of the lost chopper’s wrecked tail are circulating online — proving it exists and also exposing sensitive details.
    President Barack Obama traveled Friday to Fort Campbell, Ky., and met privately with the elite Army pilots who flew the daring mission. They are members of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, nicknamed the Night Stalkers, and he saluted them in public remarks afterward…. – AP, 5-6-11
  • Pentagon chief: Bin Laden death a game-changer: U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says the killing of Osama bin Laden could be game-changer for the U.S. military in Afghanistan by splitting the native Taliban from the al-Qaeda terror network. Gates took questions for about 35 minutes Friday from about 300 airmen at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina…. – AP, 5-6-11
  • Analysis: Reimagining Obama after gutsy raid: It was just a firehouse chat with the guys of Engine 54 in lower Manhattan. But President Barack Obama delivered a message he hopes will also hit home with every American in this week of national catharsis: “You’re always going to have a president and an administration who’s got your back.” In the denouement to the daring raid that brought down Osama bin Laden, the president has in effect been reintroduced to the nation. While taking care to strike the right tone — trying to savor the success of the dramatic covert operation without appearing to gloat — Obama has offered himself as a decisive leader willing to take bold risks…. – AP, 5-6-11
  • Source: Bin Laden directing al-Qaida figures: The wealth of information pulled from Osama bin Laden’s compound has reinforced the belief that he played a strong role in planning and directing attacks by al-Qaida and its affiliates in Yemen and Somalia, senior U.S. officials said Friday. And the data further demonstrates to the U.S. that top al-Qaida commanders and other key insurgents are scattered throughout Pakistan, not just in the rugged border areas, and are being supported and given sanctuary by Pakistanis, a senior defense official said. U.S. counterterrorism officials have debated how big a role bin Laden and core al-Qaida leaders were playing in the attacks launched by affiliated terror groups, particularly al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, which is based in Yemen, and al-Shabab in Somalia…. – AP, 5-6-11
  • Obama to bin Laden assault team: ‘Job well done’: Brimming with pride, President Barack Obama on Friday met and honored the U.S. commandos he sent after terror mastermind Osama bin Laden, saluting them on behalf of America and the world and capping an extraordinary week for the country. “Job well done,” the president declared. Obama addressed roughly 2,000 troops after meeting privately with the full assault team — Army helicopter pilots and Navy SEAL commandos — who executed the dangerous raid on bin Laden’s compound and killed the al-Qaida leader in Pakistan early Monday. Their identities are kept secret.
    Speaking to a sweltering hangar full of cheering soldiers, Obama said: “The terrorist leader that struck our nation on 9/11 will never threaten America again.”… – AP, 5-5-11
  • Bin Laden eyed US rails from his secret compound: Holed up in a compound in Pakistan, Osama bin Laden was scheming how to hit the United States hard again, according to newly uncovered documents that show al-Qaida plans for derailing an American train on the upcoming 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Details of the plan emerged Thursday as some of the first intelligence was gleaned from the trove of information found in bin Laden’s residence when Navy SEALs killed the al-Qaida leader and four of his associates. They took his body and scooped up computers, DVDs and documents from the compound where U.S. officials think he had been living for as long as six years…. – AP, 5-6-11
  • Ground zero crowd voices hope, apprehensionAP, 5-6-11
  • Indian Country network calls for Geronimo support: A media network aimed at Native Americans is urging social network users to change their profile pictures to an image of Geronimo in honor of the legendary Apache warrior. Indian Country Today put out the call to its Facebook and Twitter followers Thursday in response to the U.S. military’s use of Geronimo as a code name for Osama bin Laden. It asks followers and others to use the photo for the next two days to “honor the true spirit” of the 19th century warrior…. – AP, 5-6-11
  • Obama to meet some from bin Laden raid: A White House official says President Barack Obama will meet with some of those involved in the military assault that killed Osama bin Laden when he visits Fort Campbell, Kentucky, on Friday…. – AP, 5-5-11
  • Families mourn US troops amid swirl of emotions: As mourners filed out of the church, two by two, the organist struck up an unusual tune for a funeral: “America the Beautiful.” Outside, military pallbearers in ceremonial dress carried the flag-draped casket of 1st Lt. Omar Vazquez to the waiting hearse, while a dozen retired servicemen saluted, flags in hand. About 60 miles away, President Barack Obama was laying a wreath at ground zero — another dramatic moment in a week of celebration and somber reflection that began with news of the death of Osama bin Laden. Families and friends of U.S. troops recently killed in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan face a swirl of emotions as they bury their dead while the nation marks the killing of the terrorist mastermind of 9/11…. – AP, 5-5-11
  • Bush skips 9/11 event, keeps low public profile: In the days following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, President George W. Bush famously grabbed a bullhorn while speaking to those gathered at ground zero, telling them: “I can hear you. The rest of the world hears you. And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.”
    Almost 10 years later, the now former president declined an invitation from President Barack Obama to attend a somber remembrance Thursday at New York’s ground zero to mark the killing by U.S. forces of Osama bin Laden. Bush’s decision is consistent with his desire to keep a low profile.
    “He’s made the real decision not to enter into politics or the public eye,” former first lady Laura Bush told The Associated Press on Thursday after appearing at a Dallas elementary school to announce grants from her foundation to school libraries…. – AP, 5-5-11
  • Pentagon: No firm evidence of Pakistani complicity: The U.S. has no “definitive evidence” that Pakistan knew Osama bin Laden had been living in the compound where Navy SEALs killed him, but the Pakistanis must now show convincingly their commitment to defeating the al-Qaida terrorist network, a senior Pentagon official said Thursday…. – AP, 5-5-11
  • 1st responders see Obama visits as sign of hope: As President Barack Obama visited with firefighters and police officers in New York City on Thursday, some saw a glimmer of hope that Osama bin Laden’s death may help bring an end to the decade of war and grief that began on Sept. 11, 2001.
    “Every day is a memory of that day,” said detective Steven Stefanakos, who was among the officers Obama met on his way to a wreath-laying ceremony at ground zero. “The difference now is we have an end, which means we can have a new beginning, a chance to move forward past this.”
    The president’s visit to New York — part somber, part celebratory — began with a stop at a Manhattan firehouse that suffered grave losses on 9/11…. – AP, 5-5-11
  • Congressmen differ on releasing bin Laden photo: A New York Democrat is backing President Barack Obama’s refusal to release photos of the slain Osama bin Laden, while a California Republican says making the pictures public would bring closure for the relatives of 9/11 victims…. – AP, 5-5-11
  • Islamic world quiet as bin Laden age closes: In life, Osama bin Laden was ingrained in the Muslim consciousness in countless ways: the lion of holy warriors, the untouchable nemesis of the West, the evil zealot who soiled their faith with blood and intolerance. In death, however, the voices across the Islamic world are now relatively muted in sharp counterpoint to the rage and shame — or hero-worship — that he long inspired…. – AP, 5-5-11
  • Clinton: ‘No idea’ about timing of iconic photo: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Thursday she has “no idea” what she and the rest of President Barack Obama’s national security team were watching at the precise moment that a photographer snapped what has become an iconic image of the operation that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.
    “Those were 38 of the most intense minutes,” Clinton said of the raid on bin Laden’s compound by U.S. Navy SEALs. “I have no idea what any of us were looking at at that particular millisecond when the picture was taken.”
    “I am somewhat sheepishly concerned that it was my preventing one of my early spring allergic coughs,” she said. “So, it may have no great meaning whatsoever.”… – AP, 5-5-11
  • When a terrorist dies, is it OK to gloat?: It’s one thing to be satisfied that the world’s most wanted terrorist has been killed by a U.S. Navy SEAL unit in Pakistan. But where does satisfaction end and gloating begin? It’s a question being posed online by ordinary Americans, religious figures, various commentators and several 9/11 widows. And it’s bound to be on President Barack Obama’s mind as he treads that fine line in a visit Thursday to ground zero.
    Could Obama’s visit in itself be interpreted as gloating? The president, who decided Wednesday not to release gruesome death photos of bin Laden so as not to “spike the football,” seems well aware of the dangers. He planned a somber and quiet New York visit — no speech, the White House said, just laying a wreath at the World Trade Center site and meeting privately with families and first responders.
    “The president thinks it’s entirely fitting and appropriate to visit the site … in the wake of this significant and cathartic moment for the American people,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • Obama to visit Fort Campbell, Ky., on Friday: The White House says President Barack Obama will travel to Fort Campbell, Ky., on Friday to speak with service members who recently came home from Afghanistan. Fort Campbell is home to several units, including the 101st Airborne Division. The division has several Brigade Combat Teams that recently returned from Afghanistan…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • Inside bin Laden’s lair with SEAL Team Six: So much could have gone wrong as SEAL Team Six swept over Pakistan’s dark landscape, dropped down ropes into a compound lined by wall after wall, exchanged gunfire and confronted “Geronimo” face to face. The vital things went right. Just about every contingency the 25 commandos trained for came at them, rapidly, chaotically and dangerously, in their lunge for Osama bin Laden…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • Spy chief, not Pentagon, led raid on bin Laden: Has anyone noticed that CIA Director Leon Panetta has said a lot more about the Navy commandos’ killing of Osama bin Laden than has the Pentagon chief, who, after all, is second in the military chain of command behind President Barack Obama? The reason Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said exactly nothing about the raid is that the CIA, not the Pentagon, ran the operation. That fact speaks volumes about the government’s rarely noticed post-9/11 melding of military might with intelligence craft…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • Indians say bin Laden code name another insult: The U.S. military’s use of Geronimo as a code name for Osama bin Laden tarnished the achievement of the raid by insulting an American ethnic group, Native American tribal leaders and advocates told Congress on Thursday. Comparing the legendary Apache leader to a terrorist and enemy of the United States was deeply insulting and did real damage to Native Americans of all ages, said Suzan Shown Harjo, president of the Morning Star Institute, a Washington-based Native rights organization.
    “It is shocking, really shocking, that this happened,” said Harjo, a member of the Cheyenne & Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • Why the US had it wrong about bin Laden’s hideout: The dramatic raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in a Pakistani suburb this week capped a decade-long manhunt, but it also revealed just how wrong the U.S. had been about where the world’s most wanted terrorist was hiding. Time and again, the nation’s top national security officials told each other and the world that their best intelligence suggested that bin Laden was living along the mountainous, ungoverned border of Pakistan and Afghanistan…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • Bin Laden death prompts questions about legality: The legality of U.S. forces shooting an unarmed Osama bin Laden hinges on a highly contentious and long-debated question: Is anti-terrorism part of a military campaign or a law-enforcement effort? In war, enemy combatants who don’t explicitly surrender are considered legitimate targets, international experts said. Bin Laden’s killing in a military context would be legal under the scenario officially put out by the White House Wednesday — that bin Laden was unarmed but tried to resist being taken in. In contrast, international human rights law dictates that police must use the greatest possible effort to capture suspects alive, barring direct threats to the lives of officers or civilians.
    “There is a higher obligation not to use lethal force,” said Andrea Prasow, senior counsel in Human Rights Watch’s Terrorism and Counterterrorism Program. “We don’t have enough facts to know whether the killing was justified under international law,” Prasow told AP. “We look forward to the U.S. government disclosing further information so we can understand exactly what happened. It may well have been a lawful killing in an armed conflict situation or it may have been a lawful killing in a law enforcement context.”… – AP, 5-4-11
  • Americans yearn to talk to SEALs in bin Laden raid: Patrons in bars across the country are raising toasts in the air, hoping the gesture of gratitude would somehow reach the clandestine Navy SEAL team that took down Osama bin Laden. Millions of others are turning to social networks with their thoughts. For many of them, it feels frustratingly incomplete to be deprived the chance to see the faces of those they consider heroes for killing the world’s most-wanted terrorist…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • US lawmaker says risk of photo release too high: A top Republican who has seen the death photo of Osama bin Laden says releasing the picture publicly could endanger U.S. forces in Afghanistan or elsewhere.
    Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, says the picture could inflame anti-U.S. sentiments around the world and hamper intelligence cooperation with the United States. He says conspiracy theorists won’t be persuaded no matter what the U.S. does…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • Obama will not release photo of bin Laden: President Barack Obama says the White House will not release a photo of Osama bin Laden’s body. Obama made the remarks during an interview Wednesday with CBS’ “60 Minutes.”… – AP, 5-4-11
  • Obama to lay wreath at Ground Zero: President Barack Obama will participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at Ground Zero and meet with 9/11 families and first responders when he visits Thursday…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • Bin Laden mission was risky business for Obama: No guts, no glory. The nail-biting, 40-minute clandestine operation that resulted in Osama bin Laden’s death could have been a calamitous political and military failure; a bloodbath in Pakistan that left U.S. forces and scores of civilians dead or captured by America’s most ferocious enemy.
    Or, as it happened, it could unfold largely in textbook fashion — delivering a stunning success for the often maligned intelligence community, a political and national security coup for a struggling president and revenge for Americans still carrying vivid memories of Sept. 11. By secretly sending a team of special operations forces into an enemy fortress in a suburban neighborhood of a sovereign country, President Barack Obama chose the path of greatest risk, but also greatest reward…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • Raid poses narrative challenge for White House: For President Barack Obama, the test now is in the telling. The White House has struggled to craft its account of the audacious raid that killed Osama bin Laden for both a jubilant American public and a skeptical Muslim world, correcting parts of its narrative, withholding others and, after internal debate, deciding not to release photos that could be considered too provocative. “We review this information and make these decisions with the same calculation as we do with so many things — what we’re trying to accomplish and does it serve or in any way harm our interests, not just domestically but globally,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • Officials: SEALs thought bin Laden threatening: President Barack Obama ordered grisly photographs of Osama bin Laden in death sealed from public view on Wednesday, declaring, “We don’t need to spike the football” in triumph after this week’s daring middle-of- the-night raid. The terrorist leader was killed by American commandos who burst into his room and feared he was reaching for a nearby weapon, U.S. officials said…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • Mayor: Obama will be in NYC for 9/11 anniversary: President Barack Obama will mark the tenth anniversary of 9/11 in New York City at the formal opening of the national memorial to the nearly 3,000 people who died in the terrorist attacks, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Tuesday.
    “I certainly think it’s terribly important for him to come on 9/11/11. And he will be there. At least the staff has told me that he will come,” Bloomberg said at an unrelated City Hall news conference. “It’s a very emotional moment in the country now. And I think it’s perfectly appropriate for him to come.”… – AP, 5-3-11
  • Bin Laden was unarmed when SEALs stormed room: Osama bin Laden was unarmed when Navy SEALs burst into his room and shot him to death, the White House said Tuesday, a change in the official account that raised questions about whether the U.S. ever planned to capture the terrorist leader alive. The Obama administration was still debating whether to release gruesome images of bin Laden’s corpse, balancing efforts to demonstrate to the world that he was dead against the risk that the images could provoke further anti- U.S. sentiment. But CIA Director Leon Panetta said a photograph would be released.
    “I don’t think there was any question that ultimately a photograph would be presented to the public,” Panetta said in an interview with “NBC Nightly News.” Asked again later by The Associated Press, he said, “I think it will.” Asked about the final confrontation with bin Laden, Panetta said: “I don’t think he had a lot of time to say anything.” The CIA chief told PBS NewsHour, “It was a firefight going up that compound. … I think it – this was all split-second action on the part of the SEALs.”
    Panetta said that bin Laden made “some threatening moves that were made that clearly represented a clear threat to our guys. And that’s the reason they fired.”…. – AP, 5-3-11
  • White House struggles to get story right on raid: Killing Osama bin Laden was a big victory for the U.S., but how exactly the raid went down is another story — and another, and another. Over two days, the White House has offered contradictory versions of events, including misidentifying which of bin Laden’s sons was killed and wrongly saying bin Laden’s wife died in gunfire, as it tries to sort through what the president’s press secretary called the “fog of combat” and produce an accurate account. Press Secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday that officials were trying to get information out as quickly as possible about the complex event witnessed by just a handful of people, and the story line was being corrected.
    “We provided a great deal of information with great haste in order to inform you. … And obviously some of the information was, came in piece by piece and is being reviewed and updated and elaborated on,” Carney said…. – AP, 5-3-11
  • With bin Laden gone, will US stick to war plan?: The demise of Osama bin Laden complicates what was already a tough call for President Barack Obama: how to wind down the nearly decade-old war in Afghanistan. Now the symbolic reason for staying in the fight — to get al-Qaida’s leader and avenge 9/11 — has been undercut. Momentum had been building in Congress and elsewhere for a shift to a narrower, less costly military mission in Afghanistan even before the U.S. raid that killed bin Laden.
    This could suit Obama’s desire to put Afghanistan behind him by beginning a phased troop pullout this summer along with NATO partners. But it also could put him at sharper odds with his military commanders, who argue for a slower drawdown and a longer-term military commitment that they believe would lessen the chances of Afghanistan again falling apart…. – AP, 5-3-11
  • White House: bin Laden photo ‘gruesome’: The White House says the photograph of a dead Osama bin Laden is “gruesome” and that “it could be inflammatory” if released…. – AP, 5-3-11
  • White House: Bin Laden death won’t affect drawdown: The White House says Osama bin Laden’s death won’t affect plans to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan this summer. Spokesman Jay Carney says the plan is on track to begin pulling out troops in July and turning responsibility for security in certain areas over to the Afghans…. – AP, 5-3-11
  • Newspapers see big demand from bin Laden news: When big news breaks, newspapers are in demand despite the immediacy of online news. Newspaper across the country including The New York Times, The Washington Post and The News & Advance in Lynchburg, Va., printed extra copies in anticipation of higher demand Monday, when headlines heralded the death of Osama bin Laden.
    Some newspapers stopped their presses to update their front pages with late Sunday’s developments. The Washington Examiner, a free daily newspaper, ran a special edition Monday afternoon under the headline, “We Got Him!”
    The website for the Newseum, a museum in Washington devoted to journalism, was inaccessible for many visitors Monday as thousands of people flocked to it to see how newspapers around the world handled coverage of the terrorist leader’s death. The website posts digital replicas of front pages of hundreds of newspapers every day…. – AP, 5-3-11
  • White House: US determined to destroy al-Qaida: White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan says U.S officials hope to build on the killing of Osama bin Laden to destroy the al-Qaida terrorist organization. Brennan tells NBC’s “Today” show the Obama administration is determined “to pummel the rest of al-Qaida.” He said the organization already has suffered “severe body blows.”… – AP, 5-3-11
  • Analysis: Bin Laden-fed unity may be short-lived: Republicans and Democrats heaped praise on the Obama administration’s role in killing Osama bin Laden. But few expect the goodwill to ease the path for tough domestic issues, such as taming the federal debt. “No way,” said Mike McKenna, a veteran Republican strategist and lobbyist. Everyone is pleased by the terrorist leader’s death, he said, “but it provides zero additional credibility on debt and deficit issues” for President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats…. – AP, 5-3-11
  • Fabled SEAL Team 6 ends hunt for bin Laden: The raid that killed Osama bin Laden will go down in history as the most important covert operation since 9/11, earning the elite Navy SEAL team that carried it out permanent bragging rights for finishing off the most-wanted terrorist on Earth. It was a near-textbook operation, despite the near-failure of one of the helicopters carrying the raiders. They all made it into Osama bin Laden’s high-walled compound in Pakistan, sliding down ropes in darkness, as they’ve done on so many raids hunting militants since al-Qaida declared war on the United States…. – AP, 5-3-11
  • Phone call by Kuwaiti courier led to bin Laden: When one of Osama bin Laden’s most trusted aides picked up the phone last year, he unknowingly led U.S. pursuers to the doorstep of his boss, the world’s most wanted terrorist. That monitored phone call, recounted Monday by a U.S. official, ended a years-long search for bin Laden’s personal courier, the key break in a worldwide manhunt. The courier, in turn, led U.S. intelligence to a walled compound in northeast Pakistan, where a team of Navy SEALs shot bin Laden to death…. – AP, 5-3-11
  • Obama golf shoes could have been clue to bin Laden: Golf shoes in the Oval Office could have been a clue. President Barack Obama usually goes to the residence quarters of the White House after putting in a few weekend hours on the links. But he made an unusual beeline for his West Wing office last Sunday that raised eyebrows only in retrospect. He was headed for a top-secret meeting to review final preparations for a military operation he’d approved two days earlier, the one involving a raid by Navy SEALs that would end with the death of Osama bin Laden, one of the world’s most hunted men. But only a few insiders knew the real deal.
    In a remarkable 72 hours of his presidency, Obama carried around a momentous secret and gave no hint of it as he went about his duties consoling tornado victims, delivering a college commencement address and cracking jokes at a black-tie dinner…. – AP, 5-3-11
  • Lawmakers: Did bin Laden hide in plain sight?: Incredulous lawmakers are pressing Pakistan for answers to two simple questions: What did its army and intelligence agents know of Osama bin Laden’s whereabouts and when did they know it? The al-Qaida terrorist leader behind the Sept. 11 attacks lived and died in a massive, fortified compound built in 2005 and located on the outskirts of Abbottabad, some 60 miles from the capital of Islamabad. It stood just a half- mile from the Kakul Military Academy, Pakistan’s equivalent of West Point, and close to various army regiments. Amid the high praise Monday for the successful U.S. military operation, congressional Republicans and Democrats questioned whether bin Laden was hiding in plain sight, with Pakistani military and intelligence operatives either totally unaware of his location or willfully ignoring his presence to protect him…. – AP, 5-3-11
  • Obama urges continuation of national unity: President Barack Obama urged lawmakers Monday to “harness some of that unity” washing over the nation after Osama bin Laden’s death and carry it into the contentious debates awaiting them over federal spending, the debt and other issues. At a White House dinner for members of Congress, Obama acknowledged past disagreements and predicted future ones. But he said bin Laden’s demise was a reminder that what the country can achieve transcends party labels.
    “Last night, as Americans learned that the United States had carried out an operation that resulted in the capture and death of Osama bin Laden, I think we experienced the same sense of unity that prevailed on 9/11,” he said, urging that that spirit continue.
    Upon hearing bin Laden’s name, lawmakers of both parties interrupted the president with a standing ovation and whistles. Among the Republicans who rose to their feet were House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. Obama has been sharply critical of Ryan’s 2012 budget plan.
    “We were reminded again that there is a pride in what this nation stands for and what we can achieve that runs far deeper than party, far deeper than politics,” Obama said.
    Obama said he knows the unity that permeated the country after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks orchestrated by bin Laden has “frayed a little bit over the years” and said he has “no illusions” about the difficulties of the debates awaiting them. He noted other moments this year that brought the country together, including the January assassination attempt on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz.
    He added bin Laden’s death to that list. “So tonight, it is my fervent hope that we can harness some of that unity and some of that pride to confront the many challenges that we still face,” he said…. – AP, 5-2-11
  • Obama keeps poker face after bin Laden order: In a remarkable 72 hours of his presidency, Barack Obama carried a momentous secret and gave no hint of it as he consoled tornado victims, delivered a college commencement address and cracked jokes at a black-tie dinner. What few insiders knew was that Obama gave the go-ahead Friday for the military operation that would end with the death of terrorist leader Osama bin Laden, target of the world’s most intense manhunt…. – AP, 5-2-11
  • Tension as White House Situation Room watched raid: From halfway around the world, President Barack Obama and his national security team monitored the strike on Osama bin Laden’s compound in real time, watching and listening to the firefight that killed the terrorist leader. Gathered in the White House Situation Room, members of the group held their breath and barely spoke as they waited to see whether a carefully crafted yet extremely risky plan would succeed, said White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan. Obama had been playing golf but returned to the White House for the suspenseful watch Sunday.
    Brennan said he would not reveal details “about what types of visuals we had or what type of feeds that were there but it was — it gave us the ability to actually track it on an ongoing basis.” Typically, members of the Navy SEAL team that conducted the operation wear helmet cameras that transmit sound and video to their operation centers and that data can be fed live to the White House and Pentagon. As the SEALs lowered themselves from helicopters into bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, the president and his advisers could only wait.
    “It was probably one of the most anxiety-filled periods of time, I think, in the lives of the people who were assembled here yesterday,” Brennan told reporters. “The minutes passed like days, and the president was very concerned about the security of our personnel.”…. – AP, 5-2-11
  • Delivering on vow to kill bin Laden boosts Obama: As a candidate, Barack Obama pledged “we will kill bin Laden” by striking in Pakistan, if necessary, without that country’s consent. He drew intense criticism from all corners, even from Joe Biden, the Delaware senator who became his vice president, and Hillary Rodham Clinton, his chief rival for the Democratic nomination who is serving as his secretary of state. But Obama didn’t waver. And as president, he delivered.
    Now, in the early days of his re-election campaign, Obama is in a clear position of political strength as Americans finally are able to savor the death of the man responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks. Republicans who have long and successfully painted Democrats as weak on national security face a far tougher task in making that case against a triumphant Democratic incumbent.
    “The world is safer. It is a better place because of the death of Osama bin Laden,” Obama said Monday in a statement certain to become a staple of his speeches in the presidential race…. – AP, 5-2-11
  • Phone call by Kuwaiti courier led to bin Laden: When one of Osama bin Laden’s most trusted aides picked up the phone last year, he unknowingly led U.S. pursuers to the doorstep of his boss, the world’s most wanted terrorist. That monitored phone call, recounted Monday by a U.S. official, ended a years-long search for bin Laden’s personal courier, the key break in a worldwide manhunt. The courier, in turn, led U.S. intelligence to a walled compound in northeast Pakistan, where a team of Navy SEALs shot bin Laden to death. The violent final minutes were the culmination of years of intelligence work. Inside the CIA team hunting bin Laden, it always was clear that bin Laden’s vulnerability was his couriers. He was too smart to let al-Qaida foot soldiers, or even his senior commanders, know his hideout. But if he wanted to get his messages out, somebody had to carry them, someone bin Laden trusted with his life…. – AP, 5-2-11
  • Bin Laden’s demise: US rejoices after a decade: After nearly a decade of anger and fear, America rejoiced Monday at the demise of Osama bin Laden, the terror mastermind behind the horrific 9/11 attacks. Navy SEALs who killed the world’s most-wanted terrorist seized a trove of al-Qaida documents to pore over, and President Barack Obama laid plans to visit New York’s ground zero. Bin Laden, killed in an intense firefight in a daring raid at his fortified hideout in Pakistan, was hunted down based on information first gleaned years ago from detainees at secret CIA prison sites in Eastern Europe, officials disclosed…. – AP, 5-2-11
  • NY imam: Bin Laden death paves way for healing: The Muslim leader behind plans for a controversial mosque near the World Trade Center site is praising President Barack Obama after the death of Osama bin Laden. Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf (rah-OOF’) said Monday that Obama’s actions help support “people in the Arab world who are also fighting against terrorism by their own rulers.” Rauf said bin Laden’s death can bring “closure and healing around 9/11.”… – AP, 5-2-11
  • Govt borrowing goes on under GOP, Obama plans: It’s all but impossible to glean from the political rhetoric, but government borrowing will grow by trillions of dollars over the next decade if the budget backed by House Republicans translates into law. And by a few trillion more if President Barack Obama gets his way. Call it the unpleasant truth behind a political struggle over raising the debt limit that is expected to intensify as lawmakers return Monday from a two-week break…. – AP, 5-2-11
  • US: bin Laden must have had some Pakistani support: President Barack Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser says it is inconceivable that Osama bin Laden did not have some support in Pakistan, the country where he was hiding when he was killed in a firefight with U.S. forces…. – AP, 5-2-11
  • Not everyone believes bin Laden really is dead: Knowing there would be disbelievers, the U.S. says it used convincing means to confirm Osama bin Laden’s identity during and after the firefight that killed him. But the mystique that surrounded the terrorist chieftain in life is persisting in death. Was it really him? How do we know? Where are the pictures? Already, those questions are spreading in Pakistan and surely beyond. In the absence of photos and with his body given up to the sea, many people don’t believe bin Laden — the Great Emir to some, the fabled escape artist of the Tora Bora mountains to foe and friend alike — is really dead. U.S. officials are balancing that skepticism with the sensitivities that might be inflamed by showing images they say they have of the dead al-Qaida leader and video of his burial at sea. Still, it appeared likely that photographic evidence would be produced…. – AP, 5-2-11
  • Islamic scholars criticize bin Laden’s sea burial: Muslim clerics said Monday that Osama bin Laden’s burial at sea was a violation of Islamic tradition that may further provoke militant calls for revenge attacks against American targets. Although there appears to be some room for debate over the burial — as with many issues within the faith — a wide range of senior Islamic scholars interpreted it as a humiliating disregard for the standard Muslim practice of placing the body in a grave with the head pointed toward the holy city of Mecca. Sea burials can be allowed, they said, but only in special cases where the death occurred aboard a ship.
    Bin Laden’s burial at sea “runs contrary to the principles of Islamic laws, religious values and humanitarian customs,” said Sheik Ahmed al-Tayeb, the grand Imam of Cairo’s al-Azhar mosque, Sunni Islam’s highest seat of learning…. – AP, 5-2-11
  • McChrystal praises courage of bin Laden mission: The raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan took extraordinary courage not only from the service members who carried it out, but from the “decision makers” behind the operation, the former top U.S. commander in Afghanistan said Monday.
    “Think of what would have happened if the mission had not been successful, and all of the second-guessing that would have happened,” Ret. Gen. Stanley McChrystal told a meeting of the American Iron and Steel Institute in Colorado Springs. “This mission sends a message about our will to stand up for what is right.”…. AP, 5-2-11
  • Clinton: bin Laden death doesn’t end war on terror: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday the killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden is not the end of the war on terrorism and warned the network’s members that the United States would be relentless in its pursuit of them. Clinton said bin Laden’s death at the hands of U.S. forces in Pakistan nearly a decade after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks proved the United States was committed to tracking down the perpetrators of extremist violence and bringing them to justice.
    “Even as we mark this milestone, we should not forget that the battle to stop al-Qaida and its syndicate of terror will not end with the death of bin Laden,” she said…. – AP, 5-2-11
  • Man unknowingly liveblogs Bin Laden operation: A computer programmer, startled by a helicopter clattering above his quiet Pakistani town in the early hours of the morning Monday, did what any social-media addict would do: he began sending messages to the social networking site Twitter. With his tweets, 33-year-old Sohaib Athar, who moved to the sleepy town of Abbottabad to escape the big city, became in his own words “the guy who liveblogged the Osama raid without knowing it.”
    Soon the sole helicopter multiplied into several and gunfire and explosions rocked the air above the town, and Athar’s tweets quickly garnered tens of thousands of followers as he apparently became the first in the world to describe the U.S. operation to kill one of the world’s most wanted militants. Athar did not respond to an Associated Press request for comment — he explained in another tweet that a filter he set up to stop his email box from flooding could be culling out requests for interviews. He was up to more 70,000 followers by Monday evening.
    “I apologize for reporting the operation ‘unwittingly/unknowingly’ — had I known about it, I would have tweeted about it ‘wittingly’ I swear,” he tweeted after realizing what he had witnessed….
    Soon, however, the rumbling of international events far beyond the confines of this quiet upscale suburb began to dawn on Athar, and he realized what he might be witnessing.
    “I think the helicopter crash in Abbottabad, Pakistan and the President Obama breaking news address are connected,” he tweeted.
    Eight hours and about 35 tweets later, the confirmation came: “Osama Bin Laden killed in Abbottabad, Pakistan,” Athar reported. “There goes the neighborhood.”… – AP, 5-2-11
  • Egypt’s al-Zawahri likely to succeed bin Laden: For years, Osama bin Laden’s charisma kept al-Qaida’s ranks filled with zealous recruits. But it was the strategic thinking and the organizational skills of his Egyptian right hand man that kept the terror network together after the United States invaded Afghanistan in 2001 and pushed al-Qaida out. With Bin Laden killed, Ayman al-Zawahri becomes the top candidate for the world’s top terror job…. – AP, 5-2-11
  • Analysis: Bin Laden death gives US reason to cheer: At last, something big to celebrate and lift America’s mood. A nation surly over rising gas prices, stubbornly high unemployment and nasty partisan politics poured into the streets to wildly cheer President Barack Obama’s announcement that Osama bin Laden, the world’s most wanted man, had been killed by U.S. forces after a decade-long manhunt.
    The outcome could not have come at a better time for Obama, sagging in the polls as he embarks on his re-election campaign. For now, at least, he is assured of a big political boost, something that could strengthen his hand as he heads into a big battle over federal spending with Republicans who control the House…. – AP, 5-2-11
  • Inside the raid that killed bin Laden: Helicopters descended out of darkness on the most important counterterrorism mission in U.S. history. It was an operation so secret, only a select few U.S. officials knew what was about to happen. The location was a fortified compound in an affluent Pakistani town two hours outside Islamabad. The target was Osama bin Laden. Intelligence officials discovered the compound in August while monitoring an al-Qaida courier. The CIA had been hunting that courier for years, ever since detainees told interrogators that the courier was so trusted by bin Laden that he might very well be living with the al-Qaida leader…. – AP, 5-2-11
  • Palin asks whether Pakistan helped bin Laden: Did Pakistani leaders help harbor Osama bin Laden? Sarah Palin wants to know. Speaking at a fundraiser the day after bin Laden was killed in Pakistan, the former Republican vice presidential nominee praised the Navy SEALs who killed the man believed to have been the architect of 9/11. But she said Monday’s military operation raises “many serious questions” about Pakistan.
    “He was killed in an affluent city outside Islamabad. It wasn’t in a dark cave in some remote mountains,” Palin said. Palin said “many retired Pakistani military officers live in the area” near where bin Laden was living in “relative luxury.” She went on, “How was the most wanted man in the world able to live in relative comfort out in the open?” Palin concluded, “Perhaps some of the Pakistani leaders were helping him.”… – AP, 5-2-11
  • Americans feel both joy and fear over bin Laden: Americans awoke on Monday to a world without Osama bin Laden, and many felt jubilation, a surge of patriotism and a sense that their prayers had been answered and that the U.S. had finally avenged the nearly 3,000 people killed nearly a decade ago on Sept. 11, 2001. But to many — including some of the same Americans glad to see bin Laden dead — the news didn’t make them feel safer. It led to uncertainty and fear…. – AP, 5-1-11
  • Obama’s remarks on killing of Osama bin Laden: Text of remarks by President Barack Obama Sunday night announcing the killing of 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden, as transcribed by the White House…. – AP, 5-1-11
  • Bush hails bin Laden death as victory for America: Officials in George W. Bush’s administration joined the former president Monday in expressing gratitude that with the death of Osama bin Laden, justice had finally been served. Bush said in a statement issued late Sunday night that President Barack Obama had called to tell him of bin Laden’s death. “I congratulated him and the men and women of our military and intelligence communities who devoted their lives to this mission,” he said. “They have our everlasting gratitude.”… – AP, 5-1-11
  • Obama: Bin Laden’s death a ‘good day’ for America: Declaring the killing of Osama bin Laden “a good day for America,” President Barack Obama said Monday the world was safer without the al-Qaida terrorist and mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. His administration used DNA testing to help confirm that American forces in Pakistan had in fact killed bin Laden, as U.S. officials sought to erase all doubt about the stunning news. A U.S. official says Osama bin Laden went down firing at the Navy SEALs who stormed his compound. “Today we are reminded that as a nation there is nothing we can’t do,” Obama said of the news bound to lift his political standing and help define his presidency. He hailed the pride of those who broke out in overnight celebrations as word spread around the globe…. – AP, 5-1-11

REVOLUTIONS IN THE MIDDLE EAST

  • US welcomes EU decision on Syria sanctions: The White House is welcoming the European Union’s decision to sanction Syrian officials for cracking down on anti-government protesters. An EU official said the organization next week will freeze the assets of 13 Syrian government officials and ban them from traveling anywhere in the European Union. Syrian President Bashar Assad will not be affected.
    Last week, President Barack Obama imposed financial penalties against three top Syrian officials, Syria’s intelligence agency and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard over the violent crackdown on demonstrators in Syria. On Friday, the White House warned that the U.S. and its allies will take additional steps to register its disapproval with Syria’s behavior…. – AP, 5-6-11
  • US to use frozen Gadhafi assets for Libyan people: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says the Obama administration is moving to free up some of the more than $30 billion it has frozen in Libyan assets to support opponents of Moammar Gadhafi…. – AP, 5-5-11
  • Accord Brings New Sense of Urgency to Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: A day after Palestinian leaders signed what many called a landmark reconciliation accord, the antagonists in the protracted Israeli-Palestinian conflict and their international mediators in Europe staked out positions in a rapidly shifting political and diplomatic landscape on Thursday. Khaled Meshal of Hamas speaking in Cairo on Wednesday. His group’s agreement with Fatah has changed the dynamics of the situation with Israel.
    Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, travelling to Rome for a meeting focused on Libya, refused to slam the door on negotiations that could include Hamas as part of a larger Palestinian authority, even as Hamas’s leader, Khaled Meshal, said he was fully committed to working for a two-state solution.
    But Mr. Meshal was in no mood for concessions. In an interview in his Cairo hotel suite, he declined to swear off violence or to agree that a Palestinian state would produce an end to the conflict — key demands of Israel, the United States and Europe. He defined his goal as “a Palestinian state in the 1967 lines with Jerusalem as its capital, without any settlements or settlers, not an inch of land swaps and respecting the right of return” of Palestinian refugees to Israel itself.
    Asked if a deal honoring those principles would produce an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, however, Mr. Meshal declined to elaborate. “I don’t want to talk about that,” he said. He added: “When Israel made agreements with Egypt and Jordan, no one conditioned it on how Israel should think. The Arabs and the West didn’t ask Israel what it was thinking deep inside. All Palestinians know that 60 years ago they were living on historic Palestine from the river to the sea. It is no secret.”… – NYT, 5-5-11

INTERNATIONAL POLITICS

  • Insurgents’ fight halted on 2nd day in Kandahar: Afghan security forces on Sunday killed a few insurgents who had barricaded themselves inside a hotel in the southern city of Kandahar, ending a two-day battle that left more than two dozen militants dead, officials said. The battle raised new questions about the effectiveness of a yearlong campaign to secure Afghanistan’s south and Kandahar in particular. The city was the birthplace of the Taliban and is the economic hub of southern Afghanistan…. – AP, 5-8-11
  • Obama’s pledged trip to Pakistan less certain: President Barack Obama’s promised trip to Pakistan this year, once seen as a reward for a key ally in the fight against terrorism, is now a looming headache for the White House as it tries to determine whether the government in Islamabad was complicit in allowing Osama bin Laden to live for years within the country’s borders. Obama told Pakistani officials in the fall that he planned to travel there in 2011, in part to soothe concerns that the president was favoring Pakistan’s neighbor and archrival, India, by visiting there first. White House spokesmen questioned this week by The Associated Press refused to say whether Obama still planned to go.
    In the hours after bin Laden’s killing by a U.S. special forces team in Pakistan, John Brennan, Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser, left the topic open. “I’m not going to address the president’s schedule,” he said. “I think there’s a commitment that the president has made that he is intending to visit Pakistan. A lot depends on availability, scheduling.”… – AP, 5-7-11
  • US Ambassador to Mexico sets date to depart: U.S. Ambassador Carlos Pascual will leave Mexico by May 18 as a result of his resignation two months ago amid furor over leaked diplomatic cables that angered the Mexican government. Pascual will take a job on that date as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s special envoy and coordinator for international energy affairs, U.S. Embassy spokesman Alex Featherstone said Thursday night. “One of his first tasks will be designing a new Bureau for Energy Resources that will integrate energy security with the conduct of U.S. foreign policy,” Featherstone wrote in a message announcing the plans…. – AP, 5-6-11
  • Top US diplomat for Latin America resigning: The Obama administration’s senior diplomat for Latin America is stepping down, and the top Republican on the House foreign affairs committee is happy to see him go. The State Department said Friday that Arturo Valenzuela will leave this summer to return to a teaching post at Georgetown University after serving since 2009 as the assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs. Spokesman Mark Toner said the administration will start looking for a successor and that it was deeply appreciative of Valenzuela’s service…. – AP, 5-6-11
  • Analysis: US-Pakistan relations troubled: Osama bin Laden’s death has Congress pointing fingers at Pakistan and many in the Obama administration expressing thinly veiled exasperation. But it probably won’t mean the breakup of a marriage of convenience that is maddening to both the U.S and nuclear-armed Pakistan. The alternative would be worse. “It is not always an easy relationship,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton acknowledged Thursday, but it is useful for both countries. “We are going to continue to cooperate between our governments, our militaries, our law enforcement agencies,” she said…. – AP, 5-5-11
  • White House advances US-Colombia trade agreement: The White House said Wednesday that it was ready to start talks with Congress on a free trade deal with Colombia, setting the stage for lawmakers to move ahead on similar agreements with South Korea and Panama, as Republicans had demanded. Administration officials said they expected technical discussions to begin Thursday with congressional aides, the first step in the approval process. President Barack Obama has made boosting U.S. trade an integral part of his economic agenda. The White House had hoped for quick approval of the largest deal, the Korean pact signed in December, but GOP lawmakers threatened to block it unless the White House also finalized agreements with Panama and Colombia…. – AP, 5-4-11

THE HEADLINES….

President Barack Obama delivers remarks to troops at Fort Campbell, Ky., May 6, 2011. Vice President Joe Biden stands at left. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

  • Health care costs a hefty price tag for Pentagon: A military built for fighting wars is looking more and more like a health care entitlement program. Costs of the program that provides health coverage to some 10 million active duty personnel, retirees, reservists and their families have jumped from $19 billion in 2001 to $53 billion in the Pentagon’s latest budget request. Desperate to cut spending in Washington’s time of fiscal austerity, President Barack Obama has proposed increasing the fees for working-age retirees in the decades-old health program, known as TRICARE. After years of resisting proposed increases for the military men and women who sacrificed for a nation, budget-conscious lawmakers suddenly are poised to make them pay a bit more for their health care, though not on the president’s terms…. – AP, 5-8-11
  • Automatic budget cuts have spotty record: Congress and President Barack Obama are proposing ways to automatically trigger budget savings if they can’t rein in deficits the old-fashioned way, by enacting laws to cut spending or raise taxes. Similar efforts in the past have a spotty record.
    The last quarter-century has seen plenty of missed deficit and spending targets and inventive evasions of budget curbs. This is because the same legislators who put in place those budget constraints can pass laws to ignore them.
    This year’s expected record deficit of $1.5 trillion and a cumulative national debt topping $14 trillion have snowballed into a major political issue that probably will color presidential and congressional elections in 2012. As a result, Washington is awash with proposals from Obama, lawmakers and anti-deficit groups such as the Bipartisan Policy Center to automatically trigger budget savings if ceilings on spending, the national debt or other benchmarks are pierced…. – AP, 5-7-11
  • Obama tries to reassure public on economy, jobs: President Barack Obama is reassuring the public that jobs and the economy are his top priority. At the end of a historic and emotionally charged week that began with his nationally televised announcement that Osama bin Laden had been killed in Pakistan during a raid by U.S. special forces, Obama on Saturday returned to promoting his energy agenda…. The news of bin Laden’s demise dominated the week’s headlines.
    “So although our economy hasn’t been the focus of the news this week, not a day goes by that I’m not focused on your jobs, your hopes and your dreams,” Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address…. – AP, 5-7-11
  • Feds drop Bush era endangered species policy: The Obama administration has discarded a Bush administration policy that considered state boundaries when determining endangered species protections. Under the policy, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service could require special protection for a species in one state but not in another, even though the species’ habitat exists in both states…. – AP, 5-6-11
  • Obama to participate in town hall meeting on CBS: CBS News says it will be holding a town hall meeting on the economy with President Barack Obama on Wednesday. “Face the Nation” anchor Bob Schieffer and “Early Show” anchor Erica Hill will join Obama before a live audience at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., the network announced Friday. Questions also will come from a nationwide online audience. The one-hour event will be broadcast on Thursday during the 8-to-9 a.m. Eastern hour of “The Early Show.”… – AP, 5-6-11
  • Obama to speak on immigration policy in Texas: The White House says President Barack Obama will deliver a speech on immigration when he visits El Paso, Texas, next Tuesday. It will be the latest in a string of events the White House has devoted to immigration policy despite an unfavorable climate on Capitol Hill for passing the kind of comprehensive legislation Obama favors. The president wants to see a path to legalization for the millions of illegal immigrants in this country, something opposed by Republicans who control the House…. – AP, 5-6-11
  • Colin Powell: Obama blew away the birthers: Colin Powell told graduates of South Carolina’s premier historically black university that they were graduating during a tumultuous time that saw a royal wedding, a pope’s beatification and a U.S. military assault that killed Osama bin Laden, “the worst person on earth.” But the former secretary of state and Joint Chiefs chairman told South Carolina State University’s 400 graduates on Friday that he particularly enjoyed another recent event: “That was when President Obama took out his birth certificate and blew away Donald Trump and all the birthers!”… – A, 5-6-11
  • Obama visit highlights Ind. as tough state to hold: President Barack Obama, the first Democrat to win Indiana in a presidential election in four decades, could find it tough to hold on to in 2012 even if Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels decides not to enter the presidential race. And a White House run by Daniels from a state that’s recently become a showcase for conservatives could make a repeat victory by Obama impossible, one political expert said.
    The president made a stop in Indiana on Friday to tout his energy policy, his fifth visit since taking office. Daniels met him on the tarmac at the Indianapolis airport, a meeting his Republican supporters hoped would foreshadow a matchup to come…. – AP, 5-7-11
  • Businesses now hiring at fastest pace since 2006: American companies are on a hiring spree. Businesses delivered a jolt of strength to the economy by creating 268,000 jobs in April, the biggest monthly total in more than five years. The gains were solid across an array of industries, even beleaguered construction. It was the third month in a row of at least 200,000 new jobs. The private sector has added jobs for 14 consecutive months. Even a slight rise in the unemployment rate to 9 percent appears to be a quirk….. – AP, 5-6-11
  • School in rural Wash. town vies for Obama speech: This rural farm town tucked amid Washington’s apple and cherry orchards seems an unlikely stop for a U.S. president. Yet Bridgeport High School is one of three national finalists for a commencement address by President Barack Obama, thanks to an on-time graduation rate that exceeds the national average and a college push that beats some of the ritziest public schools. All 37 seniors will graduate next month. All are headed to college or to a technical school. And the possibility of a presidential visit has them and their whole town buzzing…. – AP, 5-6-11
  • Obama talks immigration at Cinco de Mayo event: President Barack Obama says it will take changing minds, hearts and votes to fix a broken immigration system. He also told celebrants at a Cinco de Mayo reception at the White House that their help will be needed to make it happen…. – AP, 5-6-11
  • Poetry night at the White House next Wednesday: President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, will celebrate American poetry and prose with a gathering of poets, musicians and artists at the White House next Wednesday night. Professionals Elizabeth Alexander, Billy Collins, Common, Rita Dove, Kenneth Goldsmith, Alison Knowles, Aimee Mann and Jill Scott will read, sing and highlight poetry’s influence on American culture…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • Obama helps kick off Wounded Warriors’ bike ride: With a 1-2-3 and the sound of a horn, President Barack Obama has kicked off a regional bicycle tour to help raise money for wounded service members. Many of the riders had lost one or both legs and rode hand-cranked bicycles. Obama told the riders they are an inspiration…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • Obama to meet with Prince Charles: President Barack Obama will meet with Britain’s Prince Charles on Wednesday. It’s the prince’s first trip to the U.S. visit since 2007…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • Some White House records may not be preserved: The nation’s archivist said Tuesday he’s uncomfortable with allowing White House staff members to decide whether their tweets, emails and Facebook messages from personal accounts are work-related and must be saved. David Ferriero, archivist of the United States, told a House hearing that official communications sent from a presidential employee’s personal device, using personal accounts, must be preserved under the law. However, a staff member gets to determine what is official.
    Brook Colangelo, the Obama administration’s chief information officer, said there’s no way to automatically capture communications from personal accounts unless they are accessed through a government-issued computer or personal device, such as an iPad or BlackBerry. He said the administration relies on periodic training to help employees make the right decision…. – AP, 5-3-11
  • Obama honors national teacher of the year: President Barack Obama is honoring Michelle Shearer of Maryland as the 2011 National Teacher of the Year. Shearer teaches chemistry at Urbana High School in Frederick, Md. In a Rose Garden ceremony, Obama says Shearer represents all teachers who are committed to improving their own skills in order to better educate their students…. – AP, 5-3-11
  • Obama honors 2 Army privates killed in Korean War: When President Barack Obama expressed his pride in America’s men and women in uniform, he was speaking about those who hours earlier had killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and those who six decades earlier had given their lives in the Korean War. During a somber ceremony Monday in the White House East Room, Obama bestowed the Medal of Honor posthumously on two Army privates — Anthony T. Kaho’ohanohano of Pukalani, Hawaii, and Henry Svehla of Belleville, N.J.
    “Today we remember them with the highest military decoration that our nation can bestow,” Obama said, describing the pair as “hometown kids who stood tall in America’s uniform.” The commander in chief also reflected on the news of bin Laden’s death at the hands of U.S. forces during a raid in Pakistan, saying “I think we can all agree this is a good day for America.”… – AP, 5-2-11

112TH CONGRESS

  • Boehner Is Boxed In by Republican Party’s Anti-Tax Pledge: Jonathan Alter: Can the Republicans find sweet harmony? On the deficit debate, party frontman John Boehner is boxed in. “Why would you cut a deal before 2012?” asks one tax hard-liner. “It’s Paul’s idea,” House Speaker Boehner, an Ohio Republican, told ABC News in an April 25 interview. “Other people have other ideas.” If you get the sense that John is distancing himself from Paul, don’t blame Yoko. Boehner is worried that Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan’s plan to privatize Medicare — which passed the House with all but four Republican votes on April 15 — isn’t playing so well at town hall meetings. The speaker is in a box…. – Bloomberg, 5-5-11
  • Senate GOP won’t vote for consumer protection head: Almost every Senate Republican said Thursday they will vote against any Obama administration choice to head a new agency designed to protect consumers from harmful financial activities unless changes are made in the agency that Republicans say has been given too much power.
    “No person should have the unfettered authority presently granted to the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau,” 44 GOP senators wrote in a letter to President Barack Obama. “Therefore we believe that the Senate should not consider any nominee to be CFPB director until the CFPB is properly reformed.”… – AP, 5-5-11
  • House passes bill making it easier to drill: The Republican-controlled House passed the first of three bills Thursday aimed at speeding up offshore oil and gas drilling a year after the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history. In a 266-149 vote that included 33 Democrats in its majority, the House approved a bill that would force the federal government to conduct three lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and one off the Virginia coast within a year, or by June 2012. Lease sales are the first step in a multi-year process that can culminate in drilling. The Obama administration had postponed the sales after the massive Gulf oil spill, saying it needed time to conduct more thorough environmental reviews, to account for the blowout’s effects on the Gulf ecosystem and to incorporate lessons learned from the disaster…. – AP, 5-5-11
  • GOP seeks common ground with Obama on Medicare: The top House Republican responsible for Medicare says he’s open to other approaches besides privatization to curb the program’s costs. Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp of Michigan told reporters Thursday he still supports the GOP plan to replace Medicare with a voucher-like payment for future retirees. But Camp said he’s not interested in laying down more political markers and wants solutions President Barack Obama can sign into law…. – AP, 5-5-11
  • House panel moves to revive alternate jet engine: A House panel on Wednesday took a step toward reviving the alternate engine for the next-generation F-35 fighter plane over the objections of President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who consider it wasteful spending. By voice vote, the Armed Services subcommittee overseeing land and air forces approved legislation that would force the Pentagon to re-open competition if it has to ask Congress for more money so Pratt & Whitney can build the chosen engine. Inevitably in military contracting, the Defense Department has to seek more funds for a highly sophisticated warplane. The provision would apply to Pentagon spending in the next budget year…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • House OKs limits on tax breaks for abortions: The House voted Wednesday to limit tax breaks for insurance policies that cover abortions. The bill, which passed 251-175, was the latest Republican effort to chip away at President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul and follow through on the GOP’s campaign promise to keep taxpayers from underwriting abortions. “Abortion is not health care,” said Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • House panel OKs more money for Special Forces: A House panel on Wednesday approved $10.5 billion for Special Operations Command and its Navy SEALs unit widely praised for the bold mission to take out terrorist leader Osama bin Laden. By voice vote, the House Armed Services subcommittee on emerging threats and capabilities agreed to the amount, an increase of about 7 percent from the current level, with lawmakers marveling at the success of the Navy SEALs. The elite unit infiltrated bin Laden’s Pakistan compound on Monday and killed the mastermind of the Sept. 11 terror attacks…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • House leaders seek political points in Yucca fight: Yucca Mountain is a wild expanse of desert brush, red mountains and extracted rock 100 miles outside of Las Vegas where deer, coyote and antelope roam isolated fields and human visitors must pass background checks before they are allowed past heavily guarded fences. Republicans claim this stark landscape is the nation’s best hope for a national nuclear waste dump.
    But with Democrats running the White House and Senate, the Yucca Mountain nuclear site has been shuttered with no chance of reopening. Critics claim the project is dangerous. The half-built nuclear junkyard would require nuclear plants to ship their waste to rural Nevada along the nation’s vulnerable roadways and railways…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • Boehner says small US force should remain in Iraq: House Speaker John Boehner said Tuesday a small, residual U.S. force should remain in Iraq beyond the end of this year, the final drawdown date for the Americans. Boehner said it was imperative for the Obama administration to talk to the Iraqi government about extending the U.S. presence beyond Dec. 31.
    “It’s pretty clear to me there are gaps in the security arrangement of the Iraqi people beginning the first of next year,” said Boehner, who traveled to Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan last month. He said Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki “made clear to me there are gaps, that there is assistance that they’re going to need. And I would hope that our military and diplomatic officials begin serious conversations with Iraqis about identifying those gaps in security and try to come to an agreement as soon as possible.”… – AP, 5-4-11
  • Hispanic lawmakers press Obama on immigration: Hispanic lawmakers say they have given President Barack Obama several ways his administration can help certain immigrants stay in the U.S. while they await immigration reform in Congress. Several members of the all-Democratic Congressional Hispanic Caucus met with Obama on Tuesday hoping for administrative remedies for young immigrants brought to the country illegally by parents or for other immigrants in danger of being deported…. – AP, 5-3-11
  • Senate Democrats eye $4T budget savings plan: The top Democrat in the Senate on budget matters said Tuesday that he’s preparing a fiscal blueprint to slash the deficit by $4 trillion over the upcoming decade — a plan built on the bipartisan findings of President Barack Obama’s deficit commission. Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., said the plan calls for a complete overhaul of the tax code — stripping out numerous tax write-offs while lowering income tax rates — but would leave Social Security untouched. The tax reform idea would generate an overall revenue increase in the range of perhaps $1 trillion over the coming decade…. – AP, 5-3-11

COURT AND LEGAL NEWS:

  • Battle Over Health Care Law Shifts to Federal Appellate Courts: A five-week flurry of federal appellate hearings on the constitutionality of the Obama health care law kicks off Tuesday in Richmond, Va., beginning the second round of a race to the Supreme Court among a multitude of litigants eager to strike down the president’s signature domestic achievement. At Tuesday’s hearing, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit will consider a pair of contradictory rulings sent up from the lower courts. In one case, filed by Virginia’s attorney general, a federal district judge in Richmond ruled late last year that Congress had exceeded its authority by requiring most Americans to obtain health insurance. In the other, filed by Liberty University, a conservative Christian institution, a district judge sitting 100 miles away in Lynchburg, Va., upheld the insurance mandate…. – NYT, 5-8-11
  • Holder intervenes in gay man’s deportation case: Attorney General Eric Holder took the rare step Thursday of asking an immigration judicial panel to reconsider the case of a gay man they’ve cleared for deportation. Holder set aside the Board of Immigration Appeals ruling allowing the deportation of Paul Wilson Dorman, a gay man illegally in the U.S. Dorman wants to stay in the country with his male partner, with whom he celebrated a civil union in New Jersey… – AP, 5-6-11
  • RI lawyer confirmed as US judge; GOP block fails: A trial lawyer nominated by President Barack Obama to be a federal judge in Rhode Island was confirmed on a party-line vote Wednesday just hours after a Senate GOP filibuster attempt failed. The Senate voted 50-44 to confirm lawyer John McConnell to the bench after a more significant 63-33 tally to advance the nomination past a filibuster orchestrated by GOP leaders…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • States ask US court to overturn health overhaul: More than two dozen states challenging the health care overhaul urged a U.S. appeals court on Wednesday to strike down the Obama administration’s landmark law, arguing it far exceeds the federal government’s powers. The motion, filed on behalf of 26 states, urges the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta to uphold a Florida federal judge’s ruling that the overhaul’s core requirement is unconstitutional. The judge, U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson, said Congress cannot require nearly all Americans to carry health insurance. Allowing the law to go forward, the states argued in the 69-page filing, would set a troubling precedent that “would imperil individual liberty, render Congress’s other enumerated powers superfluous, and allow Congress to usurp the general police power reserved to the states.”… – AP, 5-4-11
  • Appeals court hears arguments in Obama birth suit: Leaders in the so-called “birther” movement argued their case over President Barack Obama’s U.S. citizenship before a federal appeals court Monday in Southern California, claiming the full birth certificate he released last week had been doctored. But it was unclear how far their arguments would go, given the previous failed lawsuits on the issue and concern from the court about whether the latest claim was filed too late to be considered…. – AP, 5-2-11

STATE & LOCAL POLITICS

  • Disasters challenge GOP governors of Ala., Miss.: Alabama’s new governor thought his toughest job was going to be making double-digit spending cuts and deciding which state services to eliminate.
    “Then on day 100 of our administration — exactly day 100 — we had this massive outbreak of tornadoes,” Gov. Robert Bentley said.
    The deadly storms that pounded the South on April 27 were a quick initiation for Bentley into the massive task of disaster recovery. They were just another chapter for his colleague next door, fellow Republican and second- term Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour. Barbour has overseen his state’s recovery from Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and is now bracing for Mississippi River floodwaters. The responses of the two Deep South governors represent the different backgrounds of Bentley, a soft-spoken physician, and Barbour, a savvy, former Washington lobbyist and GOP insider…. – AP, 5-6-11
  • Offensive email sender censured by OC GOP: An Orange County GOP official who sent email depicting President Barack Obama as a chimpanzee was censured Wednesday by the local party’s executive committee. The 12-2 vote to censure 74-year-old Marilyn Davenport, an elected member of the governing Central Committee, is the highest form of disapproval the county GOP could take under its bylaws, Orange County GOP Chairman Scott Baugh said…. – AP, 5-5-11
  • Obama declares emergency in 3 states over flooding: The president has declared an emergency for parts of Tennessee, Mississippi and Kentucky because of flooding. The White House says the order signed on Wednesday means the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other departments can help the states coordinate all disaster relief efforts in parts of all three states…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • Anxiety rises along the flood-swollen Mississippi: People along the lower Mississippi River and its tributaries packed their belongings and emergency workers feverishly filled sandbags as high water pushed its way downstream Wednesday in a slow-motion disaster that could break flood records dating to the 1920s. From Illinois to Mississippi, thousands of people have already been forced from their homes, and anxiety is rising along with the mighty river, even though it could be a week or two before some of the most severe flooding hits…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • Daley presides over last council meeting: Richard M. Daley, the longest serving mayor in Chicago history and one of the most powerful mayors in recent American history, presided over his last City Council meeting on Wednesday. With family members in attendance, Daley listened as one alderman after another paid tribute to the man who helped lead the transformation of Chicago from a gritty industrial hub to a sparking metropolis in his 22 years in office. Daley, said longtime Alderman Ed Burke, “made Chicago the most livable city in the nation,” moments before the council gave the mayor a standing ovation…. – AP, 5-4-11

PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN 2012…. — FIRST REPUBLICAN DEBATE

  • Campaign 2012: Who’s in and who’s out?: Republicans are beginning to announce whether they will pursue a bid for the presidency…. – WaPo, 5-3-11
  • LIVE-BLOG: The first Republican presidential debatePolitico, 5-5-11
  • Republican Presidential debate in South Carolina: Romney, Huckabee, Palin, Gingrich won’t be there: Republicans are starting their engines for the first presidential debate in South Carolina Thursday — well, some Republicans, anyway. Many of the biggest names in the field won’t be there: Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. Oh, and Donald Trump.
    So who’s in? The most mainstream candidate attending the debate in Greenville, South Carolina – a key early primary state – will be former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. He will be joined by Rep Ron Paul (R-Tex.), former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, and former Godfather Pizza CEO and talk radio host Herman Cain.
    Romney, widely seen as the candidate to beat, will skip the debate “because it’s still early, the field is too unsettled and he’s not yet an announced candidate,” according to one of his advisers…. – NY Daily News, 5-5-11
  • GOP Contenders Look to Seize the Moment in First Presidential Debate: The five participants in the first Republican debate of the 2012 presidential race Thursday night are looking to prove themselves to be more than the party’s B-team, as they try to catapult their White House bids into the national spotlight. Fox News and the South Carolina Republican Party are sponsoring the debate, which will feature former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, former New Mexico Gov. Gary John and businessman Herman Cain. They are the only candidates who met the sponsors’ criteria to participate: forming a presidential exploratory committee, filing state GOP paperwork and paying $25,000 to get on the state primary ballot. The GOP field is still taking shape, with about a dozen Republicans considering a White House bid or taking initial steps toward full-fledged campaigns. Among the notable absences are Sarah Palin, Donald Trump, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee and Newt Gingrich…. – Fox News, 5-5-11
  • First GOP debate likely to be a low-key affair: The one to beat in the GOP presidential field, Mitt Romney, won’t attend the first debate of the party’s 2012 nomination race. Neither will any other big-name Republicans weighing bids, like Sarah Palin, or celebrity hopefuls, like Donald Trump. And, with Osama bin Laden’s death commanding the public’s attention, the political spotlight will be turned hundreds of miles to the north as President Barack Obama visits New York’s ground zero days after American forces killed the terrorist behind the Sept. 11 attacks.
    Even so, the lead-off debate of the Republican presidential race is set to go on as planned Thursday night in Greenville, S.C. With only five candidates participating, it’s poised to be a low-key affair much like the sluggish early days of the Republican contest itself.
    “Without any of the front-runners, you really can’t call it a debate,” said Rick Beltram, a former Spartanburg County GOP chairman…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • Herman Cain makes splash at first 2012 GOP debate: To get an idea of the strangeness of the first debate of the 2012 presidential cycle – the unofficial kickoff to the 2012 GOP race – consider this: Based on the Fox News focus group conducted immediately following the event, Herman Cain is about to run away with the GOP nomination. If you’re wondering who that is, you’re not alone: The former Godfather’s Pizza CEO, who barely registers in national polls, has never held elected office. And he is seen as having virtually no chance to win the GOP nomination.
    \ But the vast majority of the people sitting in with Republican pollster Frank Luntz said Cain had won the debate with his directness and straightforward delivery. (This despite the fact that when asked about what he would do in Afghanistan, he replied that he would rely on “the experts and their advice and their input.” The Fox News debate moderators seemed incredulous that he did not offer a position.) Luntz appeared blown away by the response to Cain, which he cast as unprecedented. “Something very special happened this evening,” he said.
    Perhaps. But the debate was seen as such a non-event inside the beltway that House Speaker John Boehner spent his evening not watching it, opting instead to have a few drinks at a Washington steakhouse. “I’ll read about it tomorrow,” he told Hotsheet…. – CBS News, 5-5-11
  • What You Missed in the Primary Season’s First Republican Debate: The first debate of the Republican presidential primary campaign took place earlier tonight in South Carolina. Because many of the big names sat it out or were ineligible to participate, and the only candidates who showed up were Tim Pawlenty, Ron Paul, Herman Cain, Rick Santorum, and Gary Johnson, you would be excused if, instead of watching, you were out downing as many margaritas as your body can physically allow. For you social, fun people, we’ve put together this easily digestible summary of what transpired.
    Nicest Thing Anyone Said About President Obama: “I do congratulate President Obama for the fine job he did …. He did a good job and I tip my cap to him in that moment.” — Tim Pawlenty on President Obama’s role in killing Osama bin Laden….
    Most Crowd-Pleasing One-Liner: Herman Cain, in defending his lack of any political experience, notes that Washington is full of people with political experience, and “how’s that working for you?”… – NY Mag, 5-5-11
  • Bin Laden’s death upends agenda for first Republican presidential debate: Polls show that Americans’ top concern is the economy, but the killing of Osama bin Laden put foreign policy at the top of the agenda in the first Republican candidates debate of the 2012 presidential campaign. In the forum, broadcast by Fox News from Greenville, S.C., a quintet of lesser-known candidates offered their views on the operation that killed the Al Qaeda leader and how it might affect America’s mission in Afghanistan.
    Tim Pawlenty, the former Minnesota governor, praised President Obama for “being decisive” in launching the raid on Bin Laden’s compound, but attacked his broader foreign policy outlook. “He’s made a number of other decisions relating to our security here and around the world that I don’t agree with,” he said. “If it turns out that many of the techniques that he criticized during the campaign led to Osama bin Laden’s being identified and killed, he should be asked to explain whether he does or does not support those techniques.”
    Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who just announced the formation of an exploratory committee a day earlier, downplayed what he said was simply a “tactical decision” by Obama. “If you look at what President Obama has done right in foreign policy, it has always been a continuation of the Bush policies,” he said. “The issues that have come up while he is president, he’s gotten it wrong strategically every single time.”… – LAT, 5-5-11
  • GOP debate proves an awkward start in the fight against Obama: The opening act in the contest to pick a challenger for President Obama in 2012 proved to be an awkward moment for the Republican Party. Thursday night’s candidate debate did as much to highlight divisions within the party as it did to offer a brief for why the president should be denied a second term. With many of the party’s potentially strongest candidates either choosing not to participate — or still making up their minds about whether to run — the 90-minute debate offered a platform for second-tier candidates to make their case. They took full advantage of the spotlight, but in the process they offered dissonance in the GOP message along with moments of comedic relief to the audience.
    That made for a sometimes-entertaining evening for the audience in the hall and those watching on television. But it probably did little to help Republican voters figure out who has the stature and the strength to take on the president in 2012. The debate, sponsored by Fox News, came at a moment when Obama’s approval ratings are spiking because of the successful mission that killed Osama bin Laden, though there has been no movement in the public’s view of his handling of the economy. The bin Laden death changed the equation for Thursday’s debate, forcing the candidates onto foreign policy turf, rather than being able to focus on the economy and government spending…. – WaPo, 5-5-11
  • 5 G.O.P. Hopefuls (Who?) Flock to First Debate of ’12 Race: A quorum may be needed to follow parliamentary procedure, but not to put on a presidential debate. Five Republican contenders presented themselves here Thursday evening at the first debate of the 2012 presidential campaign, a televised session that may have only amplified the fretting among some Republican leaders that the party needs to recruit more candidates to find a credible challenger to President Obama.
    While candidates in presidential debates often need no introduction, the participants who filed onto the stage at the Peace Center for the Performing Arts offered an exception to that rule. There were two former governors, a member of Congress, a former senator and the former chief executive of a chain of pizza restaurants — all of whom round out the lower rung of an unsettled Republican field.
    The chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus, sought to allay the worries of party activists who believe Republicans are missing an opportunity to start defining Mr. Obama in their quest to win back the White House. “As we all know, there are numerous other candidates that are looking at it — and thank God,” Mr. Priebus said before the proceedings began. “Quite frankly, I think Americans are sick and tired of two-year, knock-out drag-out contests with a zillion debates and forums.”… – NYT, 5-5-11
  • First GOP presidential debate: Was Pawlenty too ‘Minnesota nice’?: Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, considered a top-tier GOP candidate for president, didn’t go after the absent Mitt Romney over health care during a GOP debate Thursday night in South Carolina, but he did condemn the Obama reform…. – CS Monitor, 5-6-11
  • Herman Cain Turns Heads at First Republican Presidential Debate | Hannity: HERMAN CAIN, FORMER RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: The immigration issue in America is not one problem. It’s four problems. It’s securing the border, enforcing the laws that are there, promoting the path to citizenship that we already have. We don’t need a new path. We’ve got to clean up the bureaucracy in the process. And then number four, this is where I believe you empower the states to do what the federal government cannot and is not doing. So, no, Arizona did not go too far. They were simply trying to protect themselves. (END OF VIDEO CLIP)
    SEAN HANNITY, HOST: And that was radio talk show host Herman Cain speaking at tonight’s GOP primary debate. Welcome back to the special post-debate edition of “Hannity.” And joining me now is Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain…. – Fox News, 5-5-11
  • Eyes were on Pawlenty at GOP presidential debate: The reviews are coming in about the first GOP presidential debate of the 2012 election season, and there’s a school of thought that Tim Pawlenty did just fine — all things considered. The debate on Thursday night in South Carolina was just as notable for who was missing as for who did appear in Greenville and got precious face time on Fox News, which sponsored the event. Pawlenty, a former Minnesota governor, was among the better-known of the five candidates on the stage, and said going in that he was hoping to introduce himself to a wider audience…. – USA Today, 5-6-11
  • Herman Cain answers Rick Santorum’s slight: Herman Cain’s camp is firing back at Rick Santorum after the former Pennsylvania senator challenged Cain’s electoral viability while on the stump in South Carolina. Slate reported that Santorum, chatting ahead of the question-and-answer portion of an Aiken, S.C. luncheon, challenged the notion that Cain was a viable candidate.
    “He’s never won an election,” Santorum said. “And it’s not that he hasn’t tried. He’s run twice and lost.” Cain spokeswoman Ellen Carmichael, responding to Santorum’s comments, said Republicans shouldn’t attack each other in the run-up to the 2012 primaries.
    “We are disappointed to see Senator Santorum violating President Ronald Reagan’s ‘Eleventh Commandment:’ ‘Thou shalt not speak ill of fellow Republicans,’ Carmichael said in a statement emailed to POLITICO Friday night. “As conservatives, our mission should be to beat President Obama in 2012, not beat each other up in the process.”
    “We are certain that President Ronald Reagan would be proud of the man that Herman Cain is and the class act he remains,” she said…. – Politico, 5-6-11
  • Pawlenty Hopes ‘I’m Sorry’ Is Enough: It’s a question every candidate faces: how to deal with political liabilities. Do you face them head-on and try to get them out of the way, or try to work around them in the hope that voters will lose interest? Thursday night, at the first Republican presidential debate, broadcast live on Fox News, Tim Pawlenty, the former governor of Minnesota, decided on the former. The moderator turned the room’s attention to a old radio ad for an environmental group in which Mr. Pawlenty heartily endorses a cap-and-trade policy — practically apostasy in his party.
    “Do we have to?” Mr. Pawlenty said awkwardly. His voice soon echoed through the auditorium, saying, “Cap greenhouse gas pollution now!”
    “I’ve said I was wrong. It was a mistake, and I’m sorry,” Mr. Pawlenty told the Fox television audience, presumably filled with potential Republican primary voters. “You’re going to have a few clunkers in your record, and we all do, and that’s one of mine. I just admit it. I don’t try to duck it, bob it, weave it, try to explain it away. I’m just telling you, I made a mistake.”… – NYT, 5-6-11
  • Cain: ‘American People Are Anxious for Solutions’ | Your World Cavuto With: Neil Cavuto Special Guests | Herman Cain: This is a rush transcript from “Your World,” May 4, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
    NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF “YOUR WORLD”: Remember, you can watch all five candidates face off in the first presidential primary debate here on Fox News Channel at 9:00 p.m. Eastern time tomorrow night. My next guest is one of those participating in the debate and what’s at stake in that debate. Herman Cain will be joining us shortly. But think of what Carl just said about who is there, but, more importantly, who is not there, and whether people in that state, Republicans particularly in that state, will feel slighted by those who don’t attend. Well, they needn’t worry with the former Godfather’s Pizza CEO, Herman Cain, because he will be there.
    Herman, are you going to make hay of the fact that some of your better-known Republican colleagues are not going to be there?
    HERMAN CAIN, CEO, THE NEW VOICE: Well, Neil, as you know, HermanCain.com is here, as I tell people.
    (LAUGHTER) CAIN: I think that — I think that they’re making a mistake, but, hey, they have to make their own decisions. I wanted to be here primarily because I wanted to take advantage of this opportunity, which is what it is, to share my common sense solutions with a very large audience. And I appreciate Fox doing this. And we are happy to be here. And we’re delighted….. – Fox News, 5-4-11

ELECTIONS — PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN 2012….

  • Rudy Giuliani: ‘I can probably be talked into’ 2012 run: Rudy Giuliani called for a return to American exceptionalism Friday, telling a group of GOP lawyers gathered in the nation’s capital that Ronald Reagan fundamentally changed how Americans felt about themselves. Before Reagan was elected, Giuliani said, much had been written about America’s decline and how it was a country of “limited possibilities” that had run its course.
    “Sounds familiar, right? There are people who believe that today in America. In fact, some of them are running America,” Giuliani said in a speech to the Republican National Lawyers Association, where he appeared to received the group’s highest honor, the Ed Meese Award. “The idea that we’re either no better than anyone else, we’re just another country with our set of problems or our set of assets, or maybe we’re not even as good as others. Ronald Reagan found that to be totally wrong, not a correct view of this country and he changed in a very short period of times how we felt about ourselves.” “That’s the most important thing a leader does,” he added.
    Ticking off a list of his accomplishments while serving as New York’s mayor, Giuliani said he was most proud of making the city a place where people wanted to live, a factor that later helped New York rebuild following the Sept. 11 terror attacks. “I often think that a New York City with the depressed attitude that we had in the early ’90s would have had a much harder time overcoming as quickly the tremendous damage that was done to us by the attacks of September 11,” he said. “It helped New York City that when we were attacked we were a strong city, a confident city, and optimistic city, a city that believed our best days were ahead of us. So the attack was a temporary interruption of that feeling and the city was able to get back on track very, very quickly.”…. – Politico, 5-8-11
  • 3rd Conn. Democrat announces run for US Senate: A third Democrat has announced his intention to run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by the retiring Joe Lieberman of Connecticut. State Rep. William Tong of Stamford said Sunday he wants to prove that Americans have better opportunities than previous generations despite a prevailing belief that the American dream is in jeopardy…. – AP, 5-8-11
  • Iowa GOP donors court NJ’s Christie: Some of Iowa’s top Republican campaign contributors, unhappy with their choices in the developing presidential field, are venturing to New Jersey in hopes they can persuade first-term Gov. Chris Christie to run. The entreaty is the latest sign of dissatisfaction within the GOP over the crop of candidates competing for the chance to run against President Barack Obama in 2012. Bruce Rastetter, an Iowa energy company executive, and a half-dozen other prominent Iowa GOP donors sought the meeting with Christie, the governor’s chief political adviser, Mike DuHaime, told The Associated Press. The get-together is set for the governor’s mansion in Princeton, N.J., on May 31…. – AP, 5-8-11
  • Huntsman addresses his Obama role in SC speech: Republican Jon Huntsman, weighing a White House bid, used his first formal event after stepping down as President Barack Obama’s ambassador to China to confront the line on his resume that conservatives were most likely to declare a deal-breaker. In a high-profile speech to the University of South Carolina, the former Utah governor said patriotism should trump partisanship and defended his two years in Beijing as the Democratic administration’s top diplomat.
    “Work to keep America great. Serve her if asked. I was — by a president of a different political party,” Huntsman said, directly addressing the job that his rivals and critics hope to make disqualifier among the conservatives who hold great sway in the nominating process.
    “But in the end, while we might not all be of one party, we are all part of one nation — a nation that needs your generational gift, energy and confidence,” he told graduates, pitching himself as an above-politics figure and appealing to voters who have grown weary of political bickering…. – AP, 5-7-11
  • Largest US labor union poised to back Obama 2012: The nation’s largest labor union is poised to back President Barack Obama in his bid for a second term. The National Education Association represents 3.2 million schoolteachers, administrators and educators. President Dennis Van Roekel (ROH’-kul) says Obama has proven his commitment to funding public education and keeping Social Security and Medicare intact…. – AP, 5-6-11
  • GOP candidates want to see photo of bin Laden body: Several Republican presidential hopefuls want President Barack Obama to release photos that prove U.S. forces killed Osama bin Laden during a covert raid in Pakistan, criticizing the Democrat’s decision-making just days after many praised him for getting the world’s most-wanted terrorist.
    Texas Rep. Ron Paul said Thursday that he sides with transparency when there is public doubt. Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty said “it would have been OK to release the photos.” And former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin accused Obama of “pussy-footing” on making the photos public. It was a contrast to the initial words of commendation that came from many of Obama’s potential GOP rivals just hours after he announced that American forces had tracked down and shot to death the al-Qaida leader behind the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks…. – AP, 5-5-11
  • A foreign policy void in GOP 2012 field: The daring nighttime raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan draws a sharp contrast between President Barack Obama and a field of potential Republican challengers who have comparatively scant foreign policy experience. That field includes at least six current or former governors, and three current or former House members. The Senate, an incubator for international affairs expertise, doesn’t have a single member running for president, although one former senator has taken steps toward a run.
    The stunning news of bin Laden’s death has temporarily focused attention on foreign policy over domestic issues, and highlighted the lack of international experience in the prospective GOP field compared with the president, a Democrat who has spent more than two years overseeing two wars and, more recently, military action in Libya…. – AP, 5-5-11
  • A Potential Candidate in No Rush for a Race: Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana called the leisurely pace of the 2012 presidential campaign “a blessing” for voters. Whether he plans to take advantage of it is another question, which he did not answer as he paid a visit here Wednesday. For weeks, the clamor about Mr. Daniels has swelled among Republicans. And for weeks, he has dropped only cursory clues about his intentions, sending mixed signals about whether he was looking for a way out of — or into — the party’s presidential nominating contest…. – NYT, 5-5-11
  • Wasserman Schultz elected chairwoman of the DNC: Democrats have elected Florida congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz as the new chair of the Democratic National Committee. President Barack Obama picked the four-term lawmaker from South Florida last month to succeed former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, who is seeking a Senate seat in his home state…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • Daniels wants piece of 2012 policy debate: Make no mistake: Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels wants a role in the 2012 presidential campaign. Less clear: Whether that means as a candidate or a commentator.
    Daniels, in a brief interview with The Associated Press, said Wednesday he hadn’t envisioned running for president. “It’s certainly not the way I planned to spend the rest of my working life. … On the other hand, there’s my sincere concern about the condition and direction of the country. I promise you this, if I thought the country was in good shape or even reasonable shape, I wouldn’t give this a thought.”
    Daniels said he was “alarmed about where we are. I hope I’m wrong, but I do want to see the nation make decisions that can guarantee a great future as opposed to risk of a serious setback to the American way of life.” Asked whether he considered President Barack Obama beatable in 2012, Daniels said he sometimes tells people “he’s either unbeatable or unelectable. I just don’t know which it is.” “I think there are things that ought to be said and ideas that ought to be presented to the American people. I think there are answers that can assure us a great future but there are dangers that will have a blighted future if we don’t act. I can’t see what would be at the end of a campaign.”
    “If I decide to do it, I’ll just try to be as straight as I can be and persuasive as I can be and hope that at least if it doesn’t work out, public understanding was improved,” Daniels said…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • Santorum, Huntsman take next steps toward run: Republican presidential contenders Rick Santorum and Jon Huntsman on Tuesday took steps toward formally joining a still-forming GOP field. Santorum, a former senator from Pennsylvania, established a presidential exploratory committee and announced he would participate in Thursday’s debate in South Carolina. Huntsman, a former governor of Utah who last week stepped down as the U.S. ambassador to China, filed paperwork that lets him start building a national profile as he weighs a presidential campaign. Meanwhile, two of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s advisers left her side. Foreign policy hands Randy Scheunemann and Michael Goldfarb — who both worked with Palin when she was Sen. John McCain’s vice presidential pick — stepped aside over the weekend. Peter Schweizer, a fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, is set to advise Palin on foreign policy.
    The early moves from potential candidates come as the Republican field is coming together. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is preparing to formally join the race in the coming weeks, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty is planning an announcement tour and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has scheduled fundraisers in the coming weeks. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is more seriously considering a bid as polls show him competitive despite laying none of the traditional groundwork for a campaign. And Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels is weighing a bid now that his Legislature has completed its session…. – AP, 5-3-11
  • Bin Laden death not changing GOP hopefuls’ plans: Republicans hoping to unseat President Barack Obama say they see al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden’s death as a welcome development but no reason to change political strategy. While Obama almost surely will get a boost in his poll numbers, advisers for the still-forming field of GOP candidates expect that it will be temporary and that voters will select a president based on how the economy recovers — or doesn’t — over the next 18 months.
    “This is a major event. I know I woke up the next morning feeling my children are safer, and that’s a key issue,” said Republican pollster Ed Goeas, who no longer is aligned with a presidential candidate now that Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour has opted out. “The question is whether voters feel safer economically. The focus will return to that fairly quickly. I don’t know that this affects the bottom line except in the short term.”… – AP, 5-3-11
  • Huntsman sets up federal PAC to raise money: Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, seen as a potential presidential candidate, is taking the first steps toward building a national political profile by setting up a committee that will let him raise money, hire staff and travel around the country…. – AP, 5-3-11

QUOTES

President Obama praises those Americans who carried out the  operation to kill Os
White House Photo, Chuck Kennedy, 5/1/11
  • “We and the Entire Nation Are So Proud Of All Of You”: Mother’s Day with the First Lady and Dr. Biden:
    Dr. Jill Biden: Last summer, I traveled to Iraq with my husband, Joe, to visit our troops during the Fourth of July. I had lunch with several female soldiers, many of whom were mothers. These women were managing all the challenges of parenting — arranging health care, childcare, and education — thousands and thousands of miles away from their homes and loved ones.
    One woman across the table fought back tears as she told me that she was missing out on taking her youngest daughter to college. I was at a loss for words. All I could do at that moment was just reach across that table and grab her hand.
    Michelle and I have both been struck by these women fiercely proud to serve their country and never complaining, but still struggling with some of the everyday challenges we all face in managing a home and a family.
    You here today, and all the women we have met in our travels, are doing your part. The government is working hard to do its part. And each American also has the ability to make a difference in the life of a military family. That’s what our Joining Forces initiative is all about.
    Michelle Obama: We’re joining forces across this country, and we’re calling on all Americans to ask themselves just one simple question: How can I give back to these families who have given me so much?
    We’re joining forces across the federal government, building on over 50 commitments that departments and agencies have made for how they can better serve military families. We’re going to be joining forces with cities and states, encouraging them to adopt policies that will help you all.
    We’re joining forces with organizations like the national PTA and the Military Child Education Coalition, to improve school outreach to military kids. We’re joining forces with businesses and nonprofits, getting commitments from companies like Walmart and Sears to help military spouses find and keep jobs.
    And we’re joining forces with families and communities. We’re urging people to do whatever they can as neighbors, colleagues, and classmates to lend a hand to military families.
    We believe that this is what you deserve from us, because showing our gratitude to those who serve our nation whether it’s on the battlefield or at home, is something that every single American can do. And it’s something that every single American should do. – WH, 5-8-11Transcript
  • Tina Fey as Sarah Palin: “It’s just so great to be back on Fox News, a network that both pays me and shows me the questions ahead of time. And I just hope that tonight, the lamestream media won’t twist my words by repeating them verbatim…. This week we finally vanquished one of the world’s great villains, and I for one am thrilled to say good riddance to Katie Couric.”
  • Former Vice President Dick Cheney: “Well, I think you’ve got to give him a lot of credit for making the decision to have Seal Team Six conduct the raid that got Bin Laden. There is no question that was his responsibility. And I think he handled it well. I give him high marks for it, for making that decision. I still am concerned about the fact that I think a lot of the techniques that we had used to keep the country safe for more than seven years are no longer available. That they’ve been sort of taken off the table, if you will.”
  • Jon M. Huntsman Jr., the former governor of Utah: “Work to keep America great. Serve her, if asked. I was — by a president of a different political party. But in the end, while we might not all be of one party, we are all part of one nation, a nation that needs your generational gift of energy and confidence.”
  • President Obama: There were big chunks of time in which all we were doing was just waiting. And it was the longest 40 minutes of my life with the possible exception of when Sasha got meningitis when she was three months old and I was waiting for the doctor to tell me that she was all right. You think about Black Hawk Down. You think about what happened with the Iranian rescue. And I am very sympathetic to the situation for other presidents where you make a decision, you’re making your best call, your best shot, and something goes wrong.”
  • Thomas Donilon, the national security adviser to Mr. Obama: Divided counsel, people recommending different options…. And I’ve served three presidents, as you know. And you watch the president take this in. He chaired five National Security Council meetings in six weeks. Take all that in, say, I’m not going to make my decision now, I’ll tell you my decision tomorrow, stand up, walk out of the Situation Room, go down that colonnade that you know so well by the Rose Garden to his residence, and make that decision. And this is what we ask of our president. And I think in this case the president was well served by the process, and we’re well served by his decision.”
  • Weekly Address: Clean Energy to Out-Innovate the Rest of the World
    Weekly Address: Clean Energy Will Help Us Out-Compete and Out-Innovate the Rest of the World:

    I’m speaking with you today from the Allison Transmissions plant in Indianapolis, Indiana. I came here because this is a place where American workers are doing some big and impressive things.
    The hybrid technology they manufacture here already powers nearly 4,000 buses all over the world – buses that have already saved 15 million gallons of fuel. Soon, they’ll expand this new technology to trucks as well. That means more vehicles using less oil, and that means jobs – more than 200 new workers at this plant alone.
    That’s important because even as the economy is growing after one of the worst recessions in our history; even as we’ve added more than 2 million new private sector jobs over the past 14 months; I still meet and hear from Americans struggling to get out of their own personal recessions.
    A lot of folks are still looking for work. And many folks who do have jobs are finding that their paychecks aren’t keeping up with the rising costs for everything from tuition to groceries to gas. In fact, in a lot of places across the country, like Indiana, gas is reaching all-time highs.
    So although our economy hasn’t been the focus of the news this week, not a day that goes by that I’m not focused on your jobs, your hopes and your dreams. And that’s why I came here to Allison Transmissions.
    The clean energy jobs at this plant are the jobs of the future – jobs that pay well right here in America. And in the years ahead, it’s clean energy companies like this one that will keep our economy growing, create new jobs, and make sure America remains the most prosperous nation in the world.
    Allison Transmissions is also part of the ultimate solution to high gas prices. We know there are no quick fixes to this problem. In the short term, we’re doing everything we can to boost safe and responsible oil production here at home – in fact, last year, American oil production reached its highest level since 2003.
    But over the long term, the only way we can avoid being held hostage to the ups and downs of oil prices is if we reduce our dependence on oil. That means investing in clean, alternative sources of energy, like advanced biofuels and natural gas. And that means making cars and trucks and buses that use less oil. Other countries know this, and they’re going all in to invest in clean energy technologies and clean energy jobs. But I don’t want other countries to win the competition for these technologies and these jobs. I want America to win that competition. I want America to win the future.
    Now, I know that in a difficult fiscal climate like the one we’re in, it’s tempting for some to try and cut back our investments in clean energy. And I absolutely agree that the only way we’ll be able to afford the things we need is by cutting the things we don’t and living within our means. But I refuse to cut investments like clean energy that will help us out-innovate and out-compete the rest of the world. I refuse to cut investments that are making it possible for plants like this one to grow and add jobs across America.
    We can do this. I don’t just believe that because I see it happening in plants like this. I believe that because I believe in the Americans making it happen in places like this. I’m optimistic about our economic future, because for all the challenges we face, America is still home to the most entrepreneurial, most industrious, most determined people on Earth. There’s nothing we can’t accomplish when we set our minds to it. And that’s what we’ll keep doing as long as I have the privilege of being your President. – WH, 5-7-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
  • The President & Vice President at Fort Campbell: “Gratitude”: They’re America’s “quiet professionals” — because success demands secrecy. But I will say this. Like all of you, they could have chosen a life of ease. But like you, they volunteered. They chose to serve in a time of war, knowing they could be sent into harm’s way. They trained for years. They’re battle-hardened. They practiced tirelessly for this mission. And when I gave the order, they were ready.
    Now, in recent days, the whole world has learned just how ready they were. These Americans deserve credit for one of the greatest intelligence military operations in our nation’s history. But so does every person who wears America’s uniform, the finest military the world has ever known. (Applause.) And that includes all of you men and women of 101st. (Applause.)
    You have been on the frontlines of this fight for nearly 10 years. You were there in those early days, driving the Taliban from power, pushing al Qaeda out of its safe havens. Over time, as the insurgency grew, you went back for, in some cases, a second time, a third time, a fourth time.
    When the decision was made to go into Iraq, you were there, too, making the longest air assault in history, defeating a vicious insurgency, ultimately giving Iraqis the chance to secure their democracy. And you’ve been at the forefront of our new strategy in Afghanistan.
    Sending you — more of you — into harm’s way is the toughest decision that I’ve made as Commander-in-Chief. I don’t make it lightly. Every time I visit Walter Reed, every time I visit Bethesda, I’m reminded of the wages of war. But I made that decision because I know that this mission was vital to the security of the nation that we all love. – WH, 5-6-11
  • President Obama Welcomes Outstanding Teachers to the White House: But even after all this time, I still remember the special teachers that touched my life. And we all do. We remember the way they challenged us, the way they made us feel, how they pushed us, the encouragement that they gave us, the values that they taught us, the way they helped us to understand the world and analyze it and ask questions. They helped us become the people that we are today.
    For me, one of those people was my fifth-grade teacher, Ms. Mabel Hefty. When I walked into Ms. Hefty’s classroom for the first time, I was a new kid who had been living overseas for a few years, had a funny name nobody could pronounce. But she didn’t let me withdraw into myself. She helped me believe that I had something special to say. She made me feel special. She reinforced the sense of empathy and thoughtfulness that my mother and my grandparents had tried hard to instill in me — and that’s a lesson that I still carry with me as President.
    Ms. Hefty is no longer with us, but I often think about her and how much of a difference she made in my life. And everybody has got a story like that, about that teacher who made the extra effort to shape our lives in important ways…. – WH, 5-3-11Transcript
  • “Together As An American Family”: A Bipartisan Congressional Dinner at the White House: Obviously we’ve all had disagreements and differences in the past. I suspect we’ll have them again in the future. But last night, as Americans learned that the United States had carried out an operation that resulted in the capture and death of Osama bin Laden, we — (applause) — you know, I think we experienced the same sense of unity that prevailed on 9/11. We were reminded again that there is a pride in what this nation stands for, and what we can achieve, that runs far deeper than party, far deeper than politics.
    I want to again recognize the heroes who carried out this incredibly dangerous mission, as well as all the military and counter-terrorism professionals who made the mission possible. I also want to thank the members of Congress from both parties who have given extraordinary support to our military and our intelligence officials. Without your support, they could not do what they do…. – WH, 5-3-11
  • President Obama Presents Medal of Honor: “We’re Reminded That We Are Fortunate to Have Americans Who Dedicate Their Lives to Protecting Ours”: I think we can all agree this is a good day for America. Our country has kept its commitment to see that justice is done. The world is safer; it is a better place because of the death of Osama bin Laden.
    Today, we are reminded that, as a nation, there’s nothing we can’t do —- when we put our shoulders to the wheel, when we work together, when we remember the sense of unity that defines us as Americans. And we’ve seen that spirit -— that patriotism -— in the crowds that have gathered, here outside the White House, at Ground Zero in New York, and across the country — people holding candles, waving the flag, singing the National Anthem — people proud to live in the United States of America.
    And we’re reminded that we are fortunate to have Americans who dedicate their lives to protecting ours. They volunteer. They train. They endure separation from their families. They take extraordinary risks so that we can be safe. They get the job done. We may not always know their names. We may not always know their stories. But they are there, every day, on the front lines of freedom, and we are truly blessed. – WH, 5-2-11Transcript

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Michael Bowen: Questions linger after death of Osama bin Laden: For the Obama administration, bin Laden’s death represents a significant foreign policy trophy, if not the only one, said Michael Bowen, a visiting professor in the history department at UF. Other instances, such as the Nuclear Arms Reduction Pact signed by the United States and Russia in April 2010 and promises to lessen troop presence in Iraq, have been muddled in controversy. This episode, he said, represents a unequivocal win. Bowen agrees that jobs, not a dead body, will dominate election discussion.
    “We can kill 100 al-Qaida members, but if our employment is still above 9 percent, then it’s still going to be about the economy,” he said…. – The Independent Florida Alligator, 5-10-11
  • Julian Zelizer: GOP finding it hard to make progress: Republicans struggle to appease the right and appeal to the center, resulting in fits and starts in the party’s agenda. Their retreat on Medicare is a prime example.
    “It is true that they are struggling to unite a big tent. That said, it is a common problem for any majority,” said Princeton University historian Julian Zelizer. While noting the House majority had put Obama on the defensive on spending issues, Zelizer said Medicare had backfired on Republicans…. – LAT, 5-8-11
  • Obama’s ‘Gangster Politics’: The president is about to order companies that do business with the federal government to disclose their political donations…. – WSJ, 5-6-11
  • Tevi Troy Senior Fellow, the Hudson Institute; Former Deputy HHS secretary Should Bush have gone to ground zero?: Even though President Bush’s efforts in pursuing Bin Laden and the War on Terror earned him the invitation to the ground zero ceremony, Bush is right to stick to his admirable policy of staying out of the limelight. – Arena, Politico, 5-5-11
  • Using History to Mold Ideas on the Right: In an unmarked office building in this ranching town, among thousands of Revolution-era documents and two muskets with bayonets, David Barton might seem like a quirky history buff. But the true ambition of this slender man in cowboy boots is to use America’s past to remake its future, and he has the ear of several would-be presidents. Mr. Barton is a self-taught historian who is described by several conservative presidential aspirants as a valued adviser and a source of historical and biblical justification for their policies. He is so popular that evangelical pastors travel across states to hear his rapid-fire presentations on how the United States was founded as a Christian nation and is on the road to ruin, thanks to secularists and the Supreme Court, or on the lost political power of the clergy…. – NYT, 5-5-11

    First Lady Michelle Obama dances during a Flash Mob Dance at Alice Deal Middle School in Washington, D.C., May 3, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson

Political Highlights April 4, 2011: Obama Addresses Libya & Energy Policy; Republican and Democratic Budget Showdown

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:

The President speaks at Georgetown University

The President speaks at Georgetown University, Pete Souza, 3/30/11

STATS & POLLS

  • Hillary Clinton now most popular figure in Obama administration: A recent Gallup poll has indicated that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is enjoying a high favorable rating of 66%. That is 7 points higher than President Obama, 9 points higher than Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and 15 points beyond that of Vice President Joe Biden. Are you pleased with her performance so far?
    As war rages on several fronts and much of the Middle East and northern Africa is in turmoil, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton enjoys a favorable rating higher than President Obama, Vice President Biden, or Secretary of Defense Gates…. – CS Monitor, 4-4-11
  • Obama plays long game as crises rage: Obama’s approval ratings in most polls remain in the high 40 percent range — down from the heady days of his early presidency, but still viable, especially with what looks like a weak Republican 2012 field in prospect.
    But there are some warning signs. About half of Americans viewed Obama as a strong and decisive leader in a new Gallup poll this week, down from 60 percent a year ago and 73 percent in April 2009…. – AFP, 4-3-11
  • AP-GfK Poll: Americans souring more on economy: Obama’s approval ratings have held steady at around 50 percent over the past month. But the disconnect between negative perceptions of the economy and signs that a rebound are under way could provide an opening for Republicans at the outset of the 2012 campaign…. – AP, 3-30-11
  • Few Americans see Obama as strong military leader: Only 17 percent of Americans see President Barack Obama as a strong and decisive military leader, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll taken after the United States and its allies began bombing Libya. Nearly half of those polled view Obama as a cautious and consultative commander-in-chief and more than a third see him as indecisive in military matters…. – Reuters, 3-24-11

IN FOCUS

  • Wisconsin: Judge Again Halts Law Stripping Union Rights: A judge on Thursday halted Gov. Scott Walker’s plans — at least temporarily — to cut most public workers’ pay and strip them of most of their union rights. Judge Maryann Sumi of Dane County Circuit Court issued a declaration stating in no uncertain terms that the collective bargaining law that led to weeks of protests had not taken effect, contradicting Republican arguments that it had because a state office published it online. Governor Walker, a Republican, said his administration would comply, despite misgivings…. – AP, 3-31-11

REVOLUTIONS IN THE MIDDLE EAST: LIBYA IN TURMOIL

The President on Libya
President Obama at the National Defense University, White House Photo, Pete Souza, 3/28/11
  • US planes attack as US cuts back Libya mission: U.S. Air Force and Marine attack planes struck targets in Libya on a stretch of Mediterranean coastline near the cities of Sirte and Brega on Monday, the final day of planned U.S. combat missions in the North African nation, U.S. officials said…. – AP, 4-4-11
  • US lifts sanctions on ex-Libyan foreign minister: The Treasury Department said Monday that it had dropped the former minister, Moussa Koussa, from a blacklist of Libyan officials who had been banned from traveling to the United States and whose assets in U.S. jurisdictions had been frozen. The department said it took the step to reward Koussa for his decision last week to defect and encourage other members of Gadhafi’s inner circle to follow suit…. – AP, 4-4-11
  • Former president suggests aiding Libyan rebels: Former President Bill Clinton says the Obama administration should consider arming rebels fighting to oust strongman Moammar Gadhafi in Libya. Clinton tells ABC News in an interview that he “sure wouldn’t shut the door” to assistance for the rebels, reflecting a position that some in Congress have urged President Barack Obama to pursue…. – AP, 4-4-11
  • UN uses attack helicopters in Ivory Coast: The United Nations and French forces opened fire with attack helicopters Monday on the arsenal of this country’s entrenched ruler, as columns of Ivorian fighters allied with his challenger finally pierced the city limit. The fighters aiming to topple strongman Laurent Gbagbo after a decade in power had succeeded in taking nearly the entire countryside in just three days last week, but they faltered once they reached the country’s largest city, where the presidential palace and residence are located…. – AP, 4-4-11
  • US ending its air combat role in Libya: The Pentagon is about to pull its attack planes out of the international air campaign in Libya, hoping NATO partners can take up the slack. The announcement Thursday drew incredulous reactions from some in Congress who wondered aloud why the Obama administration would bow out of a key element of the strategy for protecting Libyan civilians and crippling Moammar Gadhafi’s army.
    “Odd,” “troubling” and “unnerving” were among critical comments by senators pressing for an explanation of the announcement by Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs chairman Adm. Mike Mullen that American combat missions will end Saturday.
    “Your timing is exquisite,” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said sarcastically, alluding to Gadhafi’s military advances this week and the planned halt to U.S. airstrikes. “I believe this would be a profound mistake with potentially disastrous consequences.”… – AP, 4-1-11
  • Gates Calls for Limited Role Aiding Libyan Rebels: Gates, Mullen get tough questioning from House members on US involvement in Gadhafi’s Libya The U.S. should avoid developing a closer relationship with Libyan opposition forces, defense leaders said Thursday, telling an often hostile Congress that foreign nations must now take over airstrike responsibilities and any effort to train and equip the rebels. With the U.S. role in Libya at a turning point, the next critical decision is how, if at all, the U.S. chooses to support the opposition forces, particularly in the face of the ongoing budget crisis at home. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he is opposed to arming the rebels, a step his boss President Barack Obama has not ruled out…. – ABC News, 3-31-11
  • CIA sends teams to Libya; US considers rebel aid: Political and economic pressures will eventually drive Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi from power, but the military operation will help force him to make those choices by degrading his defense capabilities, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday.
    As the U.S. turned over control of the military operation to NATO, Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen told Congress that the U.S. participation will be limited and will not involve an active role in airstrikes as time goes on…. – AP, 3-31-11
  • US rips Assad’s speech but can’t do much about it: The Obama administration sharply criticized Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for failing Wednesday to address any of the reforms demanded by anti-government protesters, saying his widely anticipated address to the Syrian parliament lacked substance and would not satisfy calls for change or ease unrest. However, the administration’s displeasure is unlikely to progress beyond verbal reprimands as the U.S. doesn’t see the Syrian government’s two-week crackdown on dissent as requiring the same response as the large-scale violence launched against protesters by Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi… – AP, 3-30-11
  • Rebels retreat from Libya oil port under attack: Moammar Gadhafi’s ground forces recaptured a strategic oil town Wednesday as they made new inroads in beating back a rebel advance toward the capital Tripoli. Western powers kept up the pressure to force Gadhafi out with new airstrikes to weaken his military, hints that they may arm the opposition and intense negotiations behind the scenes to persuade Libya’s leader of nearly 42 years to step down.
    Airstrikes have neutralized Gadhafi’s air force and pounded his army, but those ground forces remain far better armed, trained and organized than the opposition. Rebels have few weapons more powerful than rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns, and are no match for Gadhafi’s tanks and longer- range heavy weapons…. – AP, 3-30-11
  • Lawmakers seek answers on Libya: A top NATO commander says the U.S. Military role in Libya will be reduced “measurably” with other partners handling responsibilities…. – AP, 3-30-11
  • Obama: Too early to negotiate exit with Gadhafi: President Barack Obama pledged Tuesday to increase diplomatic and political pressure on Moammar Gadhafi to compel the Libyan strongman to step down.
    “Hopefully, he’s going to be getting the message soon,” the president said.
    “One of the questions that we want to answer is: Do we start getting to a stage where Gadhafi’s forces are sufficiently degraded, where it may not be necessary to arm opposition groups,” Obama said on NBC Nightly News.
    He told CBS Evening News that Gadhafi’s inner circle is beginning to recognize that “their days are numbered.” He said some may be negotiating to leave the regime. “But that information may not have filtered to Gadhafi yet,” he said, AP, 3-29-11
  • Renewed US missile barrage amid Libya talks: Stepping up attacks far from the front-line fighting, a U.S. Navy ship fired 22 Tomahawk cruise missiles at weapon storage sites around Tripoli on Tuesday, while President Barack Obama said the effectiveness of the allies’ fight is a factor in deciding whether to arm the rebels.
    Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, meanwhile, held talks in London with an envoy from the Libyan political opposition group trying to overthrow Moammar Gadhafi…. – AP, 3-29-11
  • Levin, McCain back Obama on Libya military action: The top Democrat and Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee say President Barack Obama was right to use military force in Libya.
    Democratic Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan and Republican John McCain of Arizona made the comments Tuesday at the start of a congressional hearing and the day after Obama’s speech on Libya… – AP, 3-29-11
  • Obama adviser: Nonmilitary means can oust Gadhafi: The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations says there are plenty of “non-military means at our disposal” to oust Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi.
    Appearing on the same show, Sen. John McCain said he doesn’t believe it’s possible “in the short term” to get rid of Gadhafi through non-military means such as economic and diplomatic pressure. McCain says “Gadhafi in power is unacceptable. We should use any means to bring him down.”… – AP, 3-29-11
  • FACT CHECK: How Obama’s Libya claims fit the facts: There may be less than meets the eye to President Barack Obama’s statements Monday night that NATO is taking over from the U.S. in Libya and that U.S. action is limited to defending people under attack there by Moammar Gadhafi’s forces.
    In transferring command and control to NATO, the U.S. is turning the reins over to an organization dominated by the U.S., both militarily and politically. In essence, the U.S. runs the show that is taking over running the show.
    And the rapid advance of rebels in recent days strongly suggests they are not merely benefiting from military aid in a defensive crouch, but rather using the multinational force in some fashion — coordinated or not — to advance an offensive.
    Here is a look at some of Obama’s assertions in his address to the nation Monday, and how they compare with the facts…. – AP, 3-28-11
  • Obama on Libya: ‘We have a responsibility to act’: Vigorously defending American attacks in Libya, President Barack Obama declared Monday night that the United States intervened to prevent a slaughter of civilians that would have stained the world’s conscience and “been a betrayal of who we are” as Americans. Yet he ruled out targeting Moammar Gadhafi, warning that trying to oust him militarily would be a mistake as costly as the war in Iraq….
    “To brush aside America’s responsibility as a leader and — more profoundly — our responsibilities to our fellow human beings under such circumstances would have been a betrayal of who we are,” Obama said. He spoke in a televised address to the nation, delivered in front of a respectful audience of military members and diplomats.
    “Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different,” Obama said. “And as president, I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action.”…. – AP, 3-28-11

INTERNATIONAL POLITICS

  • Israel panel approving new east Jerusalem building: Jerusalem officials on Monday gave preliminary approval for the building of 942 new apartments in a Jewish development in the city’s contested eastern sector, threatening to create new friction ahead of the Israeli president’s White House visit.
    Although it would take years before construction starts, the project in the neighborhood of Gilo will likely infuriate the Palestinians at an especially delicate diplomatic moment. Israeli President Shimon Peres is scheduled to meet Tuesday with President Barack Obama to explore ways to jump-start stalled Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking…. – AP, 4-4-11
  • Quran protests spread to turbulent Afghan east: In Jalalabad, the largest city in the east, hundreds of people blocked the main highway for three hours, shouting for U.S. troops to leave, burning an effigy of President Barack Obama and stomping on a drawing of a U.S. flag. More than 1,000 people set tires ablaze to block another highway in eastern Parwan province for about an hour, said provincial police chief Sher Ahmad Maladani…. – AP, 4-3-11
  • US to seek new term on UN human rights panel: The Obama administration announced on Wednesday that it will seek a new term on the United Nations Human Rights Council despite concerns that the panel remains a hotbed of anti-Israel sentiment and a forum for repressive nations to deflect attention from abuses they may have committed. The State Department said the U.S. intends to run in 2012 for another three-year term on the oft-criticized council. Officials said the U.S. believes its presence on the panel for the past two years has helped steer it in the right direction and that it can continue to do so…. – AP, 3-30-11
  • US hits Belarus firm with Iran-related sanctions: The Obama administration on Tuesday slapped sanctions on a state-owned energy company in Belarus over a $500 million investment with an Iranian firm accused of contributing to Iran’s suspect nuclear program…. – AP, 3-29-11
  • Papers: Guatemalans welcomed US syphilis doctor: As U.S. doctors in Guatemala were wrapping up one of the most unethical medical experiments they had ever conducted, a Guatemalan medical official praised the lead researcher as noble and thanked him profusely. The Guatemalan official’s praising letter from more than 60 years ago is among thousands of documents released Tuesday concerning the doctor who led the study that infected Guatemalan prison inmates and mental patients with syphilis in the 1940s…. – AP, 3-29-11
  • US sending robots to Japan to help nuclear plant: The U.S. government is sending some robotic help to Japan to help regain control of the tsunami-damaged nuclear plant. A top Energy Department official told a Senate panel Tuesday that a shipment of “radiation hardened robotics” will be sent to Japan to assist in the crisis. A department spokeswoman said a robotic device from the Energy Department’s Idaho National Laboratory is being shipped to Japan along with several radiation-hardened cameras…. – AP, 3-29-11

THE HEADLINES….

  • New Hurdles in Race to Avert Federal Shutdown: House Republicans demanded on Monday that President Obama and Senate Democrats agree to federal spending cuts beyond $33 billion for this year as budget talks hit serious new obstacles just four days before financing for federal agencies runs out. Trying to head off a crisis, President Obama invited Congressional leaders to the White House for a meeting Tuesday to try to resolve the impasse that is threatening to shutter a large part of the federal government as of Saturday. But the administration also accelerated preparations for a potential shutdown.
    “We are aware of the calendar, and to be prudent and prepare for the chance that Congress may not pass a funding bill in time, O.M.B. today encouraged agency heads to begin sharing their contingency plans with senior managers throughout their organizations to ensure that they will have their feedback and input,” Kenneth Baer, a spokesman for the Office of Management and Budget, said Monday…. – NYT, 4-4-11
  • In abrupt reversal, 9/11 suspects to get Guantánamo military tribunals: The Obama administration had wanted to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other 9/11 suspects in a civilian court in New York. It abandoned that plan Monday in favor of military tribunals…. – CS Monitor, 4-4-11
  • Holder: 9/11 suspects to face military tribunals: Yielding to political opposition, Attorney General Eric Holder announced Monday that 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four alleged henchmen will be referred to military commissions for trial rather than to a civilian federal court in New York.
    The families of those killed in the Sept. 11 attacks have waited almost a decade for justice, and “it must not be delayed any longer,” Holder told a news conference.
    Holder had announced the earlier plan for trial in New York City in November 2009, but that foundered amid widespread opposition to a civilian court trial, particularly in New York. Congress passed legislation that prohibits bringing any detainees from the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the United States…. – AP, 4-4-11
  • Government shutdown Friday? Why Tuesday could be crucial: Rep. Paul Ryan will release a ‘dramatic’ budget for 2012 Tuesday that looks to cut $4 trillion over 10 years. That plan makes the $30 billion at issue in a potential government shutdown over 2011 spending look like small potatoes…. – CS Monitor, 4-4-11
  • Obama invites lawmakers to budget session: President Barack Obama on Monday summoned key lawmakers from both parties to the White House for budget talks in hopes of avoiding a government shutdown this weekend. The White House said the president has invited House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and top negotiators on the appropriations committees to a session Tuesday. Obama spokesman Jay Carney said time was running short and the president would urge the lawmakers to reach an agreement.
    “Despite attempts by Democrats to lock in a number among themselves, I’ve made clear that their $33 billion is not enough and many of the cuts that the White House and Senate Democrats are talking about are full of smoke and mirrors,” Boehner said in a statement. “That’s unacceptable.”… – AP, 4-4-11
  • Obama begins 2012 run with challenges, advantages: He was a long shot when he launched his race for the White House in 2008. This time, he’s the front-runner. Surprising no one, President Obama is poised to file papers with the Federal Election Commission as early as today, officially launching his bid for a second term.
    He starts his re-election campaign in one of the stronger positions of sitting presidents over the past four decades. His job-approval rating at this point in his tenure is higher than that of Bill Clinton or Ronald Reagan, presidents who won second terms, and the nation’s jobless rate, now 8.8%, has been slowly declining.
    But as he turns 50 this year, Obama must traverse some perilous landscape. The economic recovery is fragile, and the U.S. military now is involved in three controversial military campaigns — in Afghanistan, Iraq and now Libya — that draw significant opposition from war-weary Americans. What’s more, the big legislative achievement of his presidency, an overhaul of the health care system, fails to win majority support in national public opinion polls more than a year after he signed it…. – USA Today, 4-3-11
  • Obama: Shift from imported oil, new jobs will come: Obama used his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday to promote his ideas for bringing down gasoline prices by decreasing U.S. dependence on foreign oil. A blueprint he outlined in a recent speech calls for increasing domestic oil exploration and production, making cars and trucks more energy efficient and building vehicles that run on alternative fuels or electricity….
    “By doing so, we’re going to make our economy less vulnerable to wild swings in oil prices,” Obama said. “We’re going to use cleaner sources of energy that don’t imperil our climate. And we’re going to spark new products and businesses all over the country by tapping America’s greatest renewable resource: our ingenuity.”… – AP, 4-2-11
  • Obama: Lawmakers close to agreement on budget: President Barack Obama says Democrats and Republicans are close to an agreement on the amount of spending cuts needed in order to keep the government operating and avoid a government shutdown. Obama says there are details and differences to work out, but he says a compromise is within reach…. – AP, 4-1-11
  • Obama: Jobs numbers are sign of economy’s strength: President Barack Obama says unemployment numbers released Friday indicate the economy is showing signs of strength. The unemployment rate fell to a two-year low of 8.8 percent in March, capping the strongest two months of hiring since the recession began. The rate has fallen a full percentage point over the past four months, the sharpest drop since 1983…. – AP, 4-1-11
  • Pentagon defends lifting ban on gays in military: The Pentagon said Friday the military should be trained in working with openly gay members by summer’s end, prompting House Republicans to complain that repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” was moving too quickly in wartime. In a status report to Congress, Clifford Stanley, the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, and Vice Adm. William Gortney of the Joint Staff said the Pentagon was moving forward on educating members of the military on the new policy, what’s expected of them and the responsibilities for commanders and other leaders…. – AP, 4-1-11
  • Obama showcases fuel-saving vehicles: With one eye on the gas pump and the other on his energy agenda, President Barack Obama is showcasing fuel- efficient vehicles as part of his goal to reduce U.S. dependency on foreign oil. The president was to make a short trip Friday to Landover, Md., to visit a UPS shipping facility that features fuel-saving vehicles. Obama was to launch a public-private partnership designed to help large commercial fleets cut back on their diesel and gasoline use. Besides UPS vehicles, Obama also was to view examples of fuel efficiency in the fleets of AT&T, PepsiCo and Verizon…. – AP, 4-1-11
  • For federal workers, anxiety over a possible shutdown: The government could shut down in a week if Congress can’t reach a budget deal. And the Obama administration hasn’t told workers what a shutdown would look like — who will be asked to come to work and who will be told to stay home…. – WaPo, 3-31-11
  • Families urge Obama to end deportations: Hispanic families and immigrant advocates criticized President Barack Obama Thursday for failing to keep campaign promises to change the U.S. immigration system. The critics questioned Obama’s recent comment that he could not use his executive order powers to suspend deportations because doing so “would not conform with my appropriate role as president.” Obama made the comment at a town hall organized by Univision TV network.
    The statement has received a lot of attention in immigrant and some Latino communities. Hispanics voted heavily for Obama in 2008 and some have felt he has let Latino supporters down by failing to move an immigration bill providing legal status to some illegal immigrants, while deporting record numbers of immigrants, many of them Hispanics…. – AP, 3-31-11
  • Obama woos Hispanic vote on education: President Barack Obama, aware of news that the U.S. Hispanic population has hit 50 million, is turning his attention on issues key to Hispanics, including education. Early this week, Obama held a town hall meeting at a D.C. high school, roughly three miles from the White House, where two-thirds of the students are Hispanic. The town hall, broadcast by the Spanish-language TV network Univision, overlapped with the president’s live address to the nation on Libya, but reportedly drew 2.7 million viewers.
    “This is an issue that is critical for the success of America generally,” Obama said. “We already have a situation where one out of five students are Latino in our schools, and when you look at those who are 10 years old or younger, it’s actually one in four.
    “So what this means is, is that our workforce is going to be more diverse; it is going to be, to a large percentage, Latino. And if our young people are not getting the kind of education they need, we won’t succeed as a nation,” the president said….- AP, 3-31-11
  • Obama health idea could mean better care, savings: The Obama administration on Thursday outlined a new approach to medical care that it said could mean higher quality and less risk for patients, while also saving millions of dollars for taxpayers. The plan involves accountable care organizations, which are networks of hospitals, doctors, rehabilitation centers and other providers. They would work together to cut out duplicative tests and procedures, prevent medical errors, and focus on keeping patients healthier and out of the emergency room.
    “We need to bring the days of fragmented care to an end,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said as she announced a proposal regulation that defines how the networks would operate within Medicare…. – AP, 3-31-11
  • Clinton deputy steps down from State Department: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s top deputy, James Steinberg, is resigning his position to take an academic post at Syracuse University. Clinton told State Department personnel on Wednesday that Steinberg will be replaced as the agency’s second-in-command by Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns, who is currently the highest-ranking career diplomat in the foreign service. She said President Barack Obama would nominate Burns for the job, which requires Senate confirmation.
    Clinton said in a notice to employees he had been “indispensable” in helping to formulate and execute policy “on every foreign policy challenge, big and small.”… – AP, 3-30-11
  • Obama to unveil energy security plan: President Barack Obama is outlining a plan for America’s energy security. He’ll give the speech Wednesday morning at Georgetown University in Washington…. – AP, 3-30-11
  • US back to denying same sex couple visas: After a brief reprieve, immigration authorities are once again denying applications for immigration benefits for same sex couples following a legal review. Chris Bentley, a spokesman for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency, said Wednesday that after a review by lawyers from the Homeland Security Department, it was concluded that a law prohibiting the government from recognizing same sex marriages must be followed, despite the Obama administration’s decision to stop defending the constitutionality of the law in court. The law, the Defense of Marriage Act, defines marriage as being between a man and a woman…. – AP, 3-30-11
  • Analysis: US still lacks border strategy: The federal government hasn’t come up with a comprehensive strategy to secure the U.S.-Mexico border, even as an all- out war between Mexico and its violent drug gangs has claimed 35,000 lives and pushed hundreds of thousands of immigrants into the United States…. – AP, 3-30-11
  • Two-thirds of oil and gas leases in Gulf inactive: More than two-thirds of offshore leases in the Gulf of Mexico are sitting idle, neither producing oil and gas, nor being actively explored by the companies who hold the leases, according to an Interior Department report released Tuesday…. – AP, 3-29-11
  • Cost shift seen in raising Medicare age to 67: Employers and even some younger people would pay more for health insurance if lawmakers raise the eligibility age for Medicare, a study to be released Tuesday concludes. The findings suggest that the emerging debate over Medicare’s future matters not only to seniors and those nearing retirement, but to a broad cross-section of Americans. The report from the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation shows that federal taxpayers would save billions if the Medicare eligibility age, currently 65, is increased by two years. But people ages 65 and 66, employers — along with states, Medicare recipients and even some younger families — would see ripple effects that add to their costs…. – AP, 3-29-11
  • Obama says too much testing makes education boring: President Barack Obama said Monday that students should take fewer standardized tests and school performance should be measured in other ways than just exam results. Too much testing makes education boring for kids, he said. “Too often what we have been doing is using these tests to punish students or to, in some cases, punish schools,” the president told students and parents at a town hall hosted by the Univision Spanish-language television network at Bell Multicultural High School in Washington, D.C.
    “One thing I never want to see happen is schools that are just teaching the test because then you’re not learning about the world, you’re not learning about different cultures, you’re not learning about science, you’re not learning about math,” the president said. “All you’re learning about is how to fill out a little bubble on an exam and little tricks that you need to do in order to take a test and that’s not going to make education interesting.”
    “And young people do well in stuff that they’re interested in,” Obama said. “They’re not going to do as well if it’s boring.”… – AP, 3-28-11

112TH CONGRESS

  • House Republicans Propose $4 Trillion in Cuts Over Decade: House Republicans plan this week to propose more than $4 trillion in federal spending reductions over the next decade by reshaping popular programs like Medicare, the Budget Committee chairman said Sunday in opening a new front in the intensifying budget wars.
    Appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” the chairman, Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, also said Republicans would call for strict caps on all government spending that would require cuts to take effect whenever Congress exceeded those limits.
    “We are going to put out a plan that gets our debt on a downward trajectory and gets us to a point of giving our next generation a debt-free nation,” Mr. Ryan said, even as he predicted that the politically charged initiatives he intended to lay out in the 2012 budget beginning Tuesday would give Democrats a “political weapon to go against us.” “But they will have to lie and demagogue to make that a political weapon,” he said…. – NYT, 4-4-11
  • GOP 2012 budget to make $4 trillion-plus in cuts: A Republican plan for the 2012 budget would cut more than $4 trillion over the next decade, more than even the president’s debt commission proposed, with spending caps as well as changes in the Medicare and Medicaid health programs, its principal author said Sunday. The spending blueprint from Rep. Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, is to be released Tuesday. It deals with the budget year that begins Oct. 1, not the current one that is the subject of negotiations aimed at preventing a partial government shutdown on Friday…. – AP, 4-4-11
  • Boehner wants to pass spending cuts with GOP alone: Sometimes in politics and legislation, whether you win is less important than how you win. That’s the dilemma facing House Speaker John Boehner as he tries to round up the votes to pass a fast-approaching spending compromise and avert a partial government shutdown by week’s end.
    Boehner, R-Ohio, wants the overwhelming majority of those votes to come from his fellow Republicans, even if dozens of easily attainable Democratic votes could help carry the budget bill to victory…. – AP, 4-3-11
  • Rubio speaks out after low profile early in Senate: Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a breakout star of the 2010 election and a tea party favorite, kept a low profile early on in the Senate. That’s begun to change. In a matter of days, Rubio made his opposition clear in a Wall Street Journal article to raising the federal debt ceiling and he has called on lawmakers to authorize force to capture Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi…. – AP, 4-2-11
  • House GOP votes to go it alone on budget cuts: The House has passed a Republican bill that declares their $61 billion in budget cuts the law of the land if the Senate and Obama don’t act on the spending measure before April 9. They acknowledge the bill has no practical effect. But House Republicans say it reminds voters that they have passed a budget bill while the Democratic-controlled Senate has not. They say they want to ensure that Democrats are held accountable if there’s a government shutdown next week…. – AP, 4-1-11
  • As Budget Talks Continue, Hard-Liners Get Support From Tea Party: As House Republican leaders worked to cobble together a spending plan for this year that can win bipartisan support, their more conservative members made increasingly clear on Thursday that they consider a proposed $33 billion budget cut to be insufficient. Even as Speaker John A. Boehner urged Republicans to keep in mind that they would have additional opportunities in the coming weeks to cut long-term spending, some members of his caucus said they would be willing to accept a government shutdown if necessary to back up their demand for $61 billion in cuts for the current fiscal year…. – NYT, 3-31-11
  • House amendments undermine safety regulations: The House has approved an amendment that would effectively block a safety regulation proposed by the Obama administration to prevent fires involving air shipments of lithium batteries. The amendment was added Thursday, by a vote of 251-168, to a sweeping aviation bill in the House. The battery regulation has been the focus of intense lobbying by U.S. industry and foreign governments who say it would increase the cost of countless products…. – AP, 3-31-11
  • Democrats lack a heavy hitter against Sen. Brown: Democrats haven’t found a solid challenger to GOP Sen. Scott Brown in liberal Massachusetts next year, stoking concerns the party could blow its best shot to take back the seat held for nearly a half-century by the late Sen. Edward Kennedy. It’s a seat close to Democrats’ hearts, still raw from their humiliating loss to the upstart Brown in 2010.
    The senator’s widow, Vicki Kennedy, has flatly ruled out running. So did former Rep. Joe Kennedy, who joked he was “feeling ill all of a sudden” when reporters recently asked him about challenging Brown.
    The state’s leading Democrat, Gov. Deval Patrick, insists he’s not interested. Former Rep. Martin Meehan, flush with $4.8 million in campaign cash, has rejected pleas from party officials to jump in.
    Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, who rarely minces words, described Brown’s prospects bluntly. “There’s nobody that can beat him,” he told the Boston Herald recently…. – AP, 3-31-11
  • Plane revelations dog McCaskill’s re-election bid: Sen. Claire McCaskill once turned a political opponent’s use of a plane to her advantage. Now she’s seeing the issue from a different vantage point. With a tough re-election race in 2012, the Missouri Democrat has come under heavy criticism for her use of a plane she owns with her husband. First it was revealed that McCaskill, among the wealthiest members of the Senate, had received approximately $79,000 in federal reimbursements for her flights, including at least one to a political event. A few days later, McCaskill revealed that she and her husband had also failed to pay about $320,000 in state taxes on the plane…. – AP, 3-30-11
  • Republicans grill DHS officials on FOIA delays: Republicans in Congress objected Thursday to the Homeland Security Department’s now-rescinded practice of requiring secretive reviews by political advisers of hundreds of requests for government files under the Freedom of Information Act. The chairman of a House oversight committee said the process “reeks of a Nixonian enemies list” and was unacceptable.
    The senior official in charge of submitting files for the reviews, Mary Ellen Callahan, acknowledged there had been “management challenges” in the program and said the political scrutiny “at times took longer than anticipated.” But Callahan deflected suggestions by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., that the process injected political considerations into decisions about federal records the government was turning over to journalists, watchdog groups or even members of Congress…. – AP, 3-30-11
  • House votes to end mortgage reduction program: House Republicans pushed through legislation Tuesday to terminate an underachieving Obama administration program designed to reduce mortgage payments for homeowners in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure. Most Democrats, while acknowledging that the Home Affordable Modification Program has fallen short of original goals, protested the vote to kill it. The White House, in a statement, said that if the bill ever reaches President Barack Obama’s desk, his senior advisers would recommend he veto it. The vote was 252-170…. – AP, 3-29-11
  • House GOP: No stopgap spending bill beyond April 8: The No. 2 Republican in the House said Tuesday that the chamber won’t pass another short-term federal funding bill to avert a government shutdown if talks between the GOP and the White House fail to produce a 2011 spending agreement by an April 8 deadline.
    Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia said “time is up” and that it’s up to Democrats controlling the White House and the Senate to offer significant spending cuts as part of legislation to fund the government for the rest of the budget year.
    “We’re going to need to see a deal struck where our members can go home and tell their constituents that we’re doing what we said we would do,” Cantor said…. – AP, 3-29-11
  • Time short, tempers flare in budget showdown: With the clock ticking toward a possible government shutdown, spending-cut talks between Senate Democrats and the Republicans controlling the House have broken off in a whom-do-you-trust battle over legislation to keep operations running for another six months.
    “Republicans refuse to negotiate,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid declared on Monday. “The infighting between the tea party and the rest of the Republican Party — including the Republican leadership in Congress — is keeping our negotiating partner from the negotiating table. And it’s pretty hard to negotiate without someone else on the other side of the table,” the Nevada Democrat said…. – AP, 3-28-11

COURT AND LEGAL NEWS:

  • Court leaves in place Ariz. school tax break: The Supreme Court rejected a challenge Monday to an Arizona tax break that directs millions of dollars to private religious schools. The justices, in a 5-4 ruling, said that Arizona taxpayers who filed a lawsuit to block the tax break have no legal claim because they are not forced to contribute to the state program that sends money to the religious schools.
    Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the court’s majority opinion, joined by the four conservative justices. Justice Elena Kagan dissented, along with three other liberal justices…. – AP, 4-4-11
  • Government appeals judge’s health care ruling: The Obama administration has appealed a judge’s ruling that found the federal overhaul of the health care system unconstitutional. The Justice Department filed a 62-page motion Friday to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta that said there’s clear and well-established precedent that Congress acted within its authority in adopting the overhaul. It said Congress made “detailed findings establishing a foundation” for exercising the authority.
    Florida and 25 other states filed the lawsuit that said Congress exceeded its authority by requiring all citizens to purchase health insurance or face tax penalties. U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson agreed in a Jan. 31 ruling that said Obama’s entire health care overhaul is unconstitutional. It is considered the most sweeping ruling against the health care law.
    Some states, including Alaska, have cited the decision in refusing to cooperate with the health care law. But Vinson issued another ruling in March ordering states to continue implementing the law while the case makes its way through the courts…. – AP, 4-3-11
  • DOJ probe says Panthers case handled appropriately: In a case that has drawn strong criticism from Republican conservatives, the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility has found no evidence that politics played a role when department attorneys dismissed three defendants from a voting rights lawsuit against the New Black Panther Party.
    “We found no evidence of improper political interference or influence from within or outside the department” and the government attorneys acted appropriately in the exercise of their supervisory duties, OPR said in a letter Tuesday to the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas…. – AP, 3-29-11

STATE & LOCAL POLITICS

  • La Follette says union law not in effect, Walker official disagrees: Special Section: Ongoing coverage of Gov. Scott Walker’s controversial budget-repair bill and the battle over the 2011-’13 state budget Secretary of State Doug La Follette said Saturday that the budget-repair bill has not taken effect because it has not been published by his office.
    “It’s still an act of the Legislature that has not yet become law because I have not yet designated a publication date,” La Follette said. He added the law cannot take effect until he directs publication in the official state newspaper, the Wisconsin State Journal. Normally, a bill takes effect the day after publication…. – Journal Sentinel

ELECTIONS — PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN 2012….

  • A Tea Party Star Stirs Iowans, and She Isn’t Palin Michele Bachmann is weighing a run for president in 2012: Sarah Palin, the reigning heroine of many social conservatives, has given few signals that she will make a presidential bid. Mike Huckabee, who won the Iowa caucuses in 2008 on the strength of his appeal to evangelicals and other constituencies, has mostly offered reasons for not joining the race.
    “It isn’t that I was born thinking I had to be president,” she said, leaning in and talking softer than she does on television or at Tea Party rallies. “I’m getting a lot of encouragement to run from people across the country. I don’t believe this is a rash decision.”… – NYT, 4-3-11
  • For Romney, 2012 strategy runs through NH, Nevada: In his first presidential run in 2008, Mitt Romney sought back-to-back victories in Iowa and New Hampshire to propel him to the GOP nomination. He won neither, the two-state sprint failed and so did his candidacy.
    This time his strategy is more of a multi-state marathon, with economically suffering Nevada an important round in what advisers predict could be a protracted fight to be the party’s 2012 nominee.
    “Seeing somebody learn on the job in the presidency has not been a pretty sight,” Romney said Saturday to the Republican Jewish Coalition in a speech casting himself as a seasoned business executive. “I think the president’s inexperience in negotiations contributed to less than positive developments on the Israeli-Palestinian negotiating front,” Romney said…. – AP, 4-2-11
  • AP sources: Obama set to launch re-election bid: President Barack Obama is about to make one of Washington’s worst kept secrets official: He wants a second term. Democratic officials familiar with the president’s plans said Saturday that Obama intends to file papers as early as this coming week with the Federal Election Commission to launch his 2012 re-election campaign. He also will announce his candidacy to supporters by email and text messages. The officials asked not to be identified in order to speak before the papers are filed…. – AP, 4-2-11
  • Bachmann says she wouldn’t have gone into Libya: A tea party-backed conservative congresswoman says President Barack Obama has failed to demonstrate a vital U.S. national security interest for going into Libya. Rep. Michele Bachmann also says “I would not have gone in” to the strife-torn North African country where strongman Moammar Gadhafi is fighting to cling to power against a resistance force. She says the “Obama doctrine” would provide a rationale for the United States “to enter into one country after another.” Bachmann says she’s against giving military assistance to the rebels fighting Gadhafi, saying she fears there are al Qaida elements among their numbers…. – AP, 3-30-11

QUOTES

The President records the Weekly Address

White House Photo, Pete Souza, 4/1/11

  • Weekly Address: Gas Prices & Energy Security: Remarks of President Barack Obama As Prepared for Delivery Landover, Maryland April 2, 2011: This week, I released a Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future. It’s a strategy to reduce the oil we import from around the world, and to make our economy stronger at home. Part of this strategy involves increasing our oil exploration right here in America. In fact, our oil production last year reached its highest level since 2003, and we want to encourage more safe, responsible drilling where we can.
    But the truth is, drilling alone is not a real strategy to replace our dependence on foreign oil. And that’s because even though America uses 25 percent of the world’s oil, we currently have only about 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves. Even if we used every last drop of all the oil we have, it wouldn’t be enough to meet our long-term energy needs. So, real energy security can only come if we find ways to use less oil – if we invest in cleaner fuels and greater efficiency.
    That’s what we’ve been doing since I took office. For example, we secured an agreement from all the major auto companies to raise the fuel efficiency of their cars and trucks. So if you buy a new car, the better gas mileage is going to save you about $3,000. Altogether, this will save us about 1.8 billion barrels of oil as a country.
    We need to build on this progress. As we make our cars and trucks more efficient, we’ve got to harness new technologies to fuel our vehicles with everything from biofuels to natural gas to advanced batteries. And the good news is, these technologies aren’t science fiction anymore. They exist today. Already, American car companies are producing electric vehicles that use little or no gas. And innovators across America are testing new products that hold incredible promise not just for new vehicles, but for countless new jobs.
    To help jumpstart this market, the federal government has doubled the number of clean energy vehicles that we have in our fleet. In the next few years, we’re going to switch the entire fleet over. And I’m here at UPS because it’s not just the government getting in on the action. Companies like UPS, FedEx, AT&T, Verizon, and PepsiCo – firms with some of the largest fleets in the country – are switching to more efficient vehicles. And through our Clean Fleets Partnership, driven not by government, but by business, more companies are going to be switching to electric and alternative vehicles, too – not out of the goodness of their hearts, but because it’s good for their bottom lines.
    The goal is simple. When I was elected to this office, America imported 11 million barrels of oil a day. Through these and other steps, by a little more than a decade from now, we will have cut that by one third. And by doing so, we’re going to make our economy less vulnerable to wild swings in oil prices. We’re going to use cleaner sources of energy that don’t imperil our climate. And we’re going to spark new products and businesses all over the country by tapping America’s greatest renewable resource: our ingenuity.
    We know how important that is. This week, we learned that the economy added 230,000 private sector jobs last month. That makes 1.8 million private sector jobs created in the last thirteen months. That’s a good sign. But we have to keep up the momentum, and transitioning to a clean energy economy will help us do that. It will ensure that the United States of America is home to the jobs and industries of tomorrow. That’s how we’ll win the future. And that’s how we’ll leave our children an America that is more secure and prosperous than before. – WH, 4-2-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
  • John Boehner: I and my GOP colleagues continue to fight for the largest possible spending cuts. Washington Democrats have claimed there is an “agreement” on cuts – there isn’t. Nothing will be agreed to until everything is agreed to. It’s been 41 days since the House passed H.R. 1 to cut spending & keep the government running. Instead of “rooting for a shutdown,” the Democrat-run Senate should do its job and pass a bill. – Facebook, 4-1-11
  • The Obama Administration’s Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future: Remarks by the President on America’s Energy Security Georgetown University Washington, D.C.: The United States of America cannot afford to bet our long-term prosperity, our long-term security on a resource that will eventually run out, and even before it runs out will get more and more expensive to extract from the ground. We can’t afford it when the costs to our economy, our country, and our planet are so high. Not when your generation needs us to get this right. It’s time to do what we can to secure our energy future.
    And today, I want to announce a new goal, one that is reasonable, one that is achievable, and one that is necessary. When I was elected to this office, America imported 11 million barrels of oil a day. By a little more than a decade from now, we will have cut that by one-third. That is something that we can achieve. (Applause.) We can cut our oil dependence — we can cut our oil dependence by a third.
    I set this goal knowing that we’re still going to have to import some oil. It will remain an important part of our energy portfolio for quite some time, until we’ve gotten alternative energy strategies fully in force. And when it comes to the oil we import from other nations, obviously we’ve got to look at neighbors like Canada and Mexico that are stable and steady and reliable sources. We also have to look at other countries like Brazil. Part of the reason I went down there is to talk about energy with the Brazilians. They recently discovered significant new oil reserves, and we can share American technology and know-how with them as they develop these resources.
    But our best opportunities to enhance our energy security can be found in our own backyard — because we boast one critical, renewable resource that the rest of the world can’t match: American ingenuity. American ingenuity, American know-how.
    To make ourselves more secure, to control our energy future, we’re going to have to harness all of that ingenuity. It’s a task we won’t be finished with by the end of my presidency, or even by the end of the next presidency. But if we continue the work that we’ve already begun over the last two years, we won’t just spark new jobs, industries and innovations — we will leave your generation and future generations with a country that is safer, that is healthier, and that’s more prosperous.
    So today, my administration is releasing a Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future that outlines a comprehensive national energy policy, one that we’ve been pursuing since the day I took office. And cutting our oil dependence by a third is part of that plan.
    Here at Georgetown, I’d like to talk in broad strokes about how we can achieve these goals.
    Now, meeting the goal of cutting our oil dependence depends largely on two things: first, finding and producing more oil at home; second, reducing our overall dependence on oil with cleaner alternative fuels and greater efficiency…. – Read the full Blueprint (pdf) WH, 3-30-11Transcript
  • Mitt Romney: On Jobs, Where is Obama?: Sometimes truth arrives from the most unexpected sources. Christina Romer, President Obama’s former chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisors, said last week that she was dismayed at Washington’s lack of focus on jobs.
    “I frankly don’t understand why policymakers aren’t more worried about the suffering of real families,” Romer said. “We need to realize that there is still a lot of devastation out there.” She called the 8.9% unemployment rate “an absolute crisis.”
    How bad is it? Last week, in the blue-collar community ofTaunton, Mass., the annual jobs fair was canceled because not enough companies came forward to offer jobs.
    Defining Deviancy Down was the title of Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s seminal account of how American society came to condone previously stigmatized conditions and behavior. Moynihan focused on the growing acceptance of the deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill, the expansion of single-parent families and the violence in inner cities. To his examples, we can now add joblessness…. – Mitt Romney, 3-30-11
  • Sarah Palin: FLASHBACK: What We Were Saying One Year Ago About Obama’s Failed Energy Policy: It’s unbelievable (literally) the rhetoric coming from President Obama today. This is coming from he who is manipulating the U.S. energy supply. President Obama is once again giving lip service to a “new energy proposal”; but let’s remember the last time he trotted out a “new energy proposal” – nearly a year ago to the day. The main difference is today we have $4 a gallon gas in some places in the country. This is no accident. This administration is not a passive observer to the trends that have inflated oil prices to dangerous levels. His war on domestic oil and gas exploration and production has caused us pain at the pump, endangered our already sluggish economic recovery, and threatened our national security. Through a process of what candidate Obama once called “gradual adjustment,” American consumers have seen prices at the pump rise 67 percent since he took office. Meanwhile, the vast undeveloped reserves that could help to keep prices at the pump affordable remain locked up because of President Obama’s deliberate unwillingness to drill here and drill now. We’re subsidizing offshore drilling in Brazil and purchasing energy from them, instead of drilling ourselves and keeping those dollars circulating in our own economy to generate jobs here. The President said today, “There are no quick fixes.” He’s been in office for nearly three years now, and he’s about to launch his $1 billion re-election campaign. When can we expect any “fixes” from him? How high does the price of energy have to go?… – Sarah Palin on Facebook, 3-30-11
  • President Obama’s Speech on Libya: Remarks by the President in Address to the Nation on Libya National Defense University Washington, D.C.: Ten days ago, having tried to end the violence without using force, the international community offered Qaddafi a final chance to stop his campaign of killing, or face the consequences. Rather than stand down, his forces continued their advance, bearing down on the city of Benghazi, home to nearly 700,000 men, women and children who sought their freedom from fear.
    At this point, the United States and the world faced a choice. Qaddafi declared he would show “no mercy” to his own people. He compared them to rats, and threatened to go door to door to inflict punishment. In the past, we have seen him hang civilians in the streets, and kill over a thousand people in a single day. Now we saw regime forces on the outskirts of the city. We knew that if we wanted — if we waited one more day, Benghazi, a city nearly the size of Charlotte, could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world.
    It was not in our national interest to let that happen. I refused to let that happen. And so nine days ago, after consulting the bipartisan leadership of Congress, I authorized military action to stop the killing and enforce U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973.
    We struck regime forces approaching Benghazi to save that city and the people within it. We hit Qaddafi’s troops in neighboring Ajdabiya, allowing the opposition to drive them out. We hit Qaddafi’s air defenses, which paved the way for a no-fly zone. We targeted tanks and military assets that had been choking off towns and cities, and we cut off much of their source of supply. And tonight, I can report that we have stopped Qaddafi’s deadly advance.
    In this effort, the United States has not acted alone. Instead, we have been joined by a strong and growing coalition. This includes our closest allies -– nations like the United Kingdom, France, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Italy, Spain, Greece, and Turkey –- all of whom have fought by our sides for decades. And it includes Arab partners like Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, who have chosen to meet their responsibilities to defend the Libyan people.
    To summarize, then: In just one month, the United States has worked with our international partners to mobilize a broad coalition, secure an international mandate to protect civilians, stop an advancing army, prevent a massacre, and establish a no-fly zone with our allies and partners. To lend some perspective on how rapidly this military and diplomatic response came together, when people were being brutalized in Bosnia in the 1990s, it took the international community more than a year to intervene with air power to protect civilians. It took us 31 days. – WH, 3-28-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
  • Weekly Address: The Military Mission in Libya: Remarks of President Barack Obama Washington D.C. March 26, 2011: Last week, when I ordered our armed forces to help protect the Libyan people from the brutality of Moammar Qaddafi, I pledged to keep the American people fully informed. Since then, I’ve spoken about the limited scope and specific purpose of this mission. Today, I can report that thanks to our brave men and women in uniform, we’ve made important progress.
    As Commander in Chief, I face no greater decision than sending our military men and women into harm’s way. And the United States should not—and cannot—intervene every time there’s a crisis somewhere in the world.
    But I firmly believe that when innocent people are being brutalized; when someone like Qaddafi threatens a bloodbath that could destabilize an entire region; and when the international community is prepared to come together to save many thousands of lives—then it’s in our national interest to act. And it’s our responsibility. This is one of those times.
    Our military mission in Libya is clear and focused. Along with our allies and partners, we’re enforcing the mandate of the United Nations Security Council. We’re protecting the Libyan people from Qaddafi’s forces. And we’ve put in place a no fly zone and other measures to prevent further atrocities.
    We’re succeeding in our mission. We’ve taken out Libya’s air defenses. Qaddafi’s forces are no longer advancing across Libya. In places like Benghazi, a city of some 700,000 that Qaddafi threatened to show “no mercy,” his forces have been pushed back. So make no mistake, because we acted quickly, a humanitarian catastrophe has been avoided and the lives of countless civilians—innocent men, women and children—have been saved.
    As I pledged at the outset, the role of American forces has been limited. We are not putting any ground forces into Libya. Our military has provided unique capabilities at the beginning, but this is now a broad, international effort. Our allies and partners are enforcing the no fly zone over Libya and the arms embargo at sea. Key Arab partners like Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have committed aircraft. And as agreed this week, responsibility for this operation is being transferred from the United States to our NATO allies and partners.
    This is how the international community should work—more nations, not just the United States, bearing the responsibility and cost of upholding peace and security.
    This military effort is part of our larger strategy to support the Libyan people and hold the Qaddafi regime accountable. Together with the international community, we’re delivering urgent humanitarian assistance. We’re offering support to the Libyan opposition. We’ve frozen tens of billions of dollars of Qaddafi’s assets that can help meet the needs and aspirations of the Libyan people. And every day, the pressure on Qaddafi and his regime is increasing.
    Our message is clear and unwavering. Qaddafi’s attacks against civilians must stop. His forces must pull back. Humanitarian assistance must be allowed to reach those in need. Those responsible for violence must be held accountable. Moammar Qaddafi has lost the confidence of his people and the legitimacy to rule, and the aspirations of the Libyan people must be realized.
    In recent days, we’ve heard the voices of Libyans expressing their gratitude for this mission. “You saved our lives,” said one Libyan. Said another, “Today, there is hope.”
    Every American can be proud of the lives we’ve saved in Libya and of the service of our men and women in uniform who once again have stood up for our interests and our ideals. And people in Libya and around the world are seeing that the United States of America stands with those who hope for a future where they can determine their own destiny. – WH, 3-26-11TranscriptMp4Mp3

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Government shutdown Friday? Why Tuesday could be crucial: The 2012 budget “is a dramatic proposal, and it gives the freshmen some cover,” says Julian Zelizer, a congressional historian at Princeton University in New Jersey. Congressman “Ryan is talking about going after all the big entitlements and making the kind of cuts in the future that will fundamentally restructure government.”
    “They’ve made this [2012] budget symbolically so charged that it gives Republicans an excuse to compromise [on FY 2011 spending] based on the compromise that they’re going to go big in the budget,” he adds. “That’s quite useful.” – CS Monitor, 4-4-11
  • Obama plays long game as crises rage: “He is a pragmatist, he is also a leader who is elusive, I think on purpose, he doesn’t like to be boxed in ideologically… he purposely makes that difficult for his opponents,” said presidential scholar Julian Zelizer. Zelizer, of Princeton University, said Obama’s approach allows him the elasticity to shift positions if needed — as witnessed in his apparently swift reversal of tack on a no-fly zone in Libya.
    “It’s a strength in that it gives him wiggle room,” said Bruce Buchanan, a University of Texas professor of government.
    “It’s a weakness in that it makes him too chameleon-like, a little bit too easily changed, a little bit too fuzzy for some audiences — especially Republican audiences.”… – AFP, 4-3-11
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