Posts Tagged ‘Politics and Policy’
Wikileaks is at it again, this time releasing more than 2 million “embarrassing” emails from Syrian government and business officials.
The emails, which date from August 2006 to March 2012, are coming to light as Syria remains embroiled in 16-month violent rebellion.
“The material is embarrassing to Syria, but it is also embarrassing to Syria’s opponents. It helps us not merely to criticize one group or another, but to understand their interests, actions and thoughts. It is only through understanding this conflict that we can hope to resolve it,” Wikileaks founder Julian Assange said in a statement on the group’s website.
Over the weekend the dust began to settle over President Barack Obama’s surprise move to change immigration policy to closely resemble the Dream Act (more…)
The conservative organization Judicial Watch announced Monday that it was suing the ATF for Fast and Furious records of communications between the agency and the White House.
Specifically, the group said that it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit, seeking Fast and Furious records showing conversations between ATF officials and Kevin O’Reilly, the former White House Director of North American Affairs at the U.S. National Security Council.
In previous congressional testimony, ATF special agent in charge of the Phoenix office Bill Newell – who played a leading role in the Fast and Furious gun-walking operation – said he had shared information about the operation with O’Reilly, but did not go into further detail about their interactions.
“The Obama administration has clammed up on Fast and Furious. We’re having trouble getting almost anything out of them. No wonder, as the Fast and Furious lies and killings makes it one of the worst scandals in recent American history. The American people deserve to know what White House officials knew and when they knew it,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton, in a press release Monday detailing the lawsuit, which was filed June 6
Until recently, North Carolina was the one speck of blue in a sea of red. (more…)
CAM RANH BAY, VIETNAM – From the flight deck of the USNS Richard E. Byrd, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta could look out across Vietnam’s Cam Ranh Bay towards the South China Sea.
A day after laying out details of the Pentagon’s new focus on the Asia-Pacific region, Panetta pn Sunday used a visit to Vietnam to restate the United States’ intent to help allies in the region develop and enforce maritime rights in the sea, a waterway largely claimed by China. And he reflected on the significance of the harbor, which represents both a painful past for the American military, and a challenging but hopeful future.
“The new defense strategy that we have put in place for the United States represents a number of key elements that will be tested in the Asia-Pacific region,” Panetta told reporters gathered Sunday under a blazing sun on the deck of the cargo vessel. He said the U.S. would “work with our partners like Vietnam to be able to use harbors like this as we move our ships from our ports on the West Coast towards our stations here in the Pacific.”
Panetta never mentioned China as he spoke to crew members on the Byrd and later to reporters. But with the South China Sea as a backdrop, he made it clear that the U.S. will maintain a strong presence in the region and wants to help allies protect themselves and their maritime rights.
His visit here, however, is likely to irritate Chinese leaders who are unhappy with any U.S. buildup in the region and view it as a possible threat. Panetta, in remarks Saturday to a defense conference in Singapore, rejected such claims. But U.S. officials are clearly wary of China’s increased military buildup and expanding trade relations with other countries in the region.
“Access for United States naval ships into this facility is a key component of this relationship [with Vietnam] and we see a tremendous potential here for the future,” he said.
This is Panetta’s first visit to Vietnam, and his stop at the harbor made him the most senior U.S. official to go to Cam Ranh Bay since the Vietnam War ended in the 1970s.
Right now U.S. warships do not go into the harbor, but other Navy ships, like the Byrd do. The Byrd is a cargo ship operated by the Navy’s Military Sealift Command and it has a largely civilian crew. It is used to move military supplies to U.S. forces around the world. Navy warships go to other Vietnam ports, such as Danang.
While Panetta suggested the United States may want to send more ships to Cam Ranh Bay in the future, he and other defense officials did not detail what requests he may make in meetings with Vietnamese leaders.
Winds sent old newsprint soaring like white kites caught in the updraft along the concrete corridors of Wall Street, in October 29, 1929. The world had just begun to feel the horrendous pain of the Great Depression. (more…)
Environmental Regulation & Political Controversy
Natural gas is considered clean energy, but further examination of the process in which it is obtained may suggest otherwise. (more…)
Political Marketing and the Politicians
Bob Kerrey took a lonely position against banning gay marriage in the 1990s. He opposed a ban on flag desecration, voted against welfare reform and ran up high Americans for Democratic Action scores while serving as the senator from one of the most conservative states in the nation.
But when he announced his plans to run for his old Senate seat earlier this week, it was greeted with boos, hisses and expletives from the left.
Welcome back to Washington, senator.
While the Democratic establishment in D.C. is thrilled by his prospective return — the former two-term senator, after all, gives the party a shot at winning a Nebraska seat that was considered all but lost to the party — progressives responded to the news by sharpening their knives.
In the liberal blogosphere, the most energetic quarter of the party, Kerrey’s comeback bid was lambasted as the return of yet another mushy moderate. The online left says it won’t lift a finger for him — and in some cases, it’s even rooting against Kerrey.
It’s a reaction that’s emblematic of the new normal in Washington, a place where there’s no room for committed centrists like Maine GOP Sen. Olympia Snowe, who announced Tuesday she’ll retire after three terms — and perhaps even for members with a record of orbiting the center, such as Kerrey.
“I hope he gets carpet bombed. The more Republicans spend in Nebraska, the less they’ll have to go after Democratic Senate candidates who actually act like Democrats,” said Markos Moulitsas, the founder of the influential blog Daily Kos. “And if it turns out he needs the help, then too bad. F—- him.”
The political world Kerrey is returning to after a decade out of politics looks nothing like the one he left in 2001, when he declined to run for a third term.
Just days after President Barack Obama announced he would buy a Chevrolet Volt once he left office, General Motors has announced it will temporarily lay off 1,300 employees as the company stops production of the electric car for five weeks.
Production at the Detroit-Hamtramck plant will be shut down from March 19-April 23 due to poor sales of the electric car, The Associated Press reported on Friday.
“We’re taking a temporary shutdown,” GM spokesman Chris Lee said. “We’re doing it to maintain our proper inventory levels as we align production with demand.”
Obama told a crowd of United Auto Workers activists on Feb. 28 that he would buy the electric car in “five years.”
“I got to get inside a brand-new Chevy Volt fresh off the line,” Obama said, referring to a recent visit to a Detroit Chevy factory. “Even though Secret Service wouldn’t let me drive it. But I liked sitting in it. It was nice. I’ll bet it drives real good. And five years from now when I’m not president anymore, I’ll buy one and drive it myself.”
GM had hoped to sell 10,000 Volts last year, but ended up selling just 7,671. It sold 1,023 in February and 603 in January, the AP reported. The company tweeted later on Friday that “the @ChevyVolt had a great Feb (1k+ sales). We stand behind the vehicle & tech. We’re adjusting for market demand and see great potential.”
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) slammed the suspension and layoffs in a statement, saying that the Obama administration’s promotion of electric vehicles “has failed.”
President Barack Obama has left unanswered a major question about his Buffett Rule tax on millionaires: Just how much money would it raise?
Administration officials are not releasing projected revenues from the much-hyped plan named after billionaire investor Warren Buffett. During the State of the Union address, Obama tied his proposal — which would tax those earning $1 million at a minimum of 30 percent — to cutting a deficit estimated to top $1.1 trillion for the fourth straight year.
But for the moment, the White House wants to keep the attention focused on Obama’s argument that it’s unfair to tax Buffett’s secretary at a higher rate than her boss.
“I’m not going to give you a schedule of how broad individual tax reform would break down and what impact it would have,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said at the Wednesday briefing. “The president simply believes that as a matter of principle that unfairness ought to be changed.”
Republican lawmakers — noting the absence of real numbers — attacked the plan as a political charade, an attempt to score points in the November election instead of a serious policy to reduce federal debt. One outside analysis by the non-partisan Tax Foundation indicates the rule would generate another $36.7 billion a year in revenue — far from enough to make a serious dent in a national debt of $15 trillion.
“It’s a smokescreen,” Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) told POLITICO. “Barack Obama just wants to pit one group against another so he can raise more money to spend on a bloated government.”
Most Americans want the government to step in and help stop housing foreclosures, according to a new poll Thursday.
A majority of Americans – 58 percent – said they want the federal government to take further actions this year to prevent Americans from losing their homes through bank foreclosures, the Gallup poll found. Just 34 percent said they want the housing market to resolve its problems on its own.
Along partisan lines, a whopping 76 percent of Democrats said they believed it would be better for the economy if the government takes action, while just 31 percent of Republicans agreed. For independents, 61 percent said they also favored the government playing a larger role.
Over half of Republicans – 64 percent – said they do not want the federal government to take additional steps this year to help stop foreclosures.
President Barack Obama said in his State of the Union address Tuesday night that he’s sending Congress a proposal that “gives every responsible homeowner the chance to save about $3,000 a year on their mortgage.”
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Polling shows Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich locked in a tight race for Florida on Tuesday as the Republicans prepared for the final pre-primary debate.
Bouncing off his South Carolina victory, Gingrich has surged to match Romney in polls in Florida, a state in which 50 delegates are at stake in the winner-take-all contest. Romney once led the former House speaker by double-digit margins in Florida, and his campaign and its allies have been blanketing the airwaves in recent days with ads that are highly critical of Gingrich.
A CNN/Opinion Research Center poll released Wednesday found Romney leading Gingrich by two points, 36 to 34 percent, among likely voters. That’s within the polls margin of error. Rick Santorum — who may not even be in Florida on primary night — finished with 11 percent to Ron Paul’s 9 percent, while 7 percent were undecided.
A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday also found likely voters favoring Romney over Gingrich, 36 percent to 34 percent. The survey, conducted Jan. 19 to 23, also showed Gingrich receiving the most support from evangelical Christians and those who identify themselves as part of the tea party.
Public Policy Polling found Gingrich further ahead among likely primary voters – with 38 percent support – and Romney in second place with 33 percent. That poll, released Monday, represented a 12-point gain for Gingrich, and an 8-point drop for Romney in just one week.
That survey also showed Gingrich and Romney running even when respondents were asked about electability, something that is central to Romney’s argument. Respondents were equally divided at 37 percent each when asked who had the best chance of beating President Barack Obama in a general election.
Only one survey — done by the American Research Group from Jan. 23 to 24 — found Romney leading Gingrich by a wider margin of seven points. The survey of likely Republican primary voters showed Romney with 41 percent and Gingrich with 34 percent.
The candidates have also been trying to win the Hispanic vote, which could make the difference in a tight race. The one million Cuban-Americans concentrated in South Florida tend to vote Republican.
There exist today countries that are connected by fear of the future. Yet they are hopeful that past transgressions and poor decisions will not destroy the struggles of generations. (more…)
House Republicans have called Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to testify as early as next week on the Obama administration’s decision to reject the Keystone XL pipeline.
Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton formally sent a request to Clinton to come and testify at a hearing as early as next Wednesday, the day after President Barack Obama gives his State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress.
Upton is required to give members of his panel a week’s notice before a hearing occurs. “So as much as I’d like to do it tomorrow, or Friday or Monday, we can’t ask her before Wednesday,” he told reporters Wednesday.
Upton added he had not heard back from the State Department but “we expect to hear back very shortly.” He said Clinton is the only witnesses he has asked for so far.
In the meantime, Republicans continue to weigh their legislative options.
“All options are on the table,” House Speaker John Boehner told reporters. “This fight is not going to go away, you can count on it.”
That includes Republicans trying to include language in the next extension of the payroll tax holiday that will need to occur by the end of February.
If you open a famous search engine and look for those keywords: plans for environment 2012, (more…)
TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s government on Saturday welcomed the U.S. Navy’s rescue of 13 Iranian fishermen held by pirates, calling it a positive humanitarian gesture.
U.S. officials announced Friday that the fishermen had been rescued by a U.S. Navy destroyer on Thursday, more than 40 days after their boat was commandeered by suspected Somali pirates in the northern Arabian Sea. The rescue came just days after Tehran warned the U.S. to keep the same group of warships out of the Persian Gulf in a reflection of Iran’s fear that American warships could try to enforce an embargo against Iranian oil exports.
“The rescue of Iranian sailors by American forces is considered a humanitarian gesture, and we welcome this behavior,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast, according to state TV’s Al-Alam Arabic channel.
Iran’s hard-line Fars News Agency had a different take, calling the rescue operation a Hollywood dramatization of a routine event.
The Fars report noted that attacks by Somali pirates in the region are common and said Iran’s navy has itself freed many mariners held by pirates in recent years without seeking to highly publicize it.
Amid escalating tension with Iran over its nuclear program, the Obama administration reveled in delivering Friday’s announcement and highlighted the fact that the rescuing ships were the same ones Iran’s army chief had just said were no longer welcome in the Persian Gulf.
For all the differences between the New Hampshire primary and the Iowa caucuses, one stands out: Two of New Hampshire’s Capitol Hill Republicans didn’t hesitate to endorse Mitt Romney.
No one in Iowa’s Hill delegation endorsed anyone.
The New Hampshire lawmakers’ willingness to weigh in reflects a simple reality: Mitt Romney is a virtual lock to win there, presenting Republicans looking to protect their own political interests with a safe, easy choice.
But it goes further than that. Win or lose, backing Romney won’t come back to haunt them. There were no such safe choices in Iowa, and plenty of strong incentives not to endorse.
Two of the three Republicans in New Hampshire’s delegation, Sen. Kelly Ayotte and Rep. Charlie Bass, are backing Romney. A third, freshman Rep. Frank Guinta, has said he is still weighing his options and could endorse in the final days before the primary.
It’s a stark contrast from Iowa, where, after months of pleading and lobbying from White House hopefuls, ultimately not one of the state’s three delegation members endorsed for fear of alienating the voters who were deeply split among those in the field. In the final caucus tally, none of the top three finishers won more than 25 percent.
President Barack Obama hailed improving job-creation numbers Saturday in a weekly address devoid of the usual caveats that the latest statistics might be just a blip and that a distressing number of Americans are still hurting economically.
“We just learned that our economy added 212,000 private sector jobs in December. After losing more than 8 million jobs in the recession, we’ve added more than 3 million private sector jobs over the past 22 months. And we’re starting 2012 with manufacturing on the rise and the American auto industry on the mend,” Obama said in the pre-recorded statement broadcast on radio and TV stations and via the Internet. “We’re heading in the right direction. And we’re not going to let up.”
In a speech Friday afternoon, just hours after the release of a Bureau of Labor Statistics report showing unemployment dipped to 8.5 percent in December, Obama tempered his remarks with a series of statements showing his sensitivity to the ongoing economic pain.
“There are a lot of people that are still hurting out there,” the president said in remarks at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The bureau’s director, Richard Cordray, got a recess appointment from Obama earlier in the week.
“The American people I think rightly understand that there are still a lot of struggles that people are going through out there. A lot of families are still having a tough time. A lot of small businesses are still having a tough time. But we’re starting to rebound,” Obama said at the CFPB.
Stem cell research remains to be an antagonistic topic inciting debate over its morality and ethics. (more…)
Go Daddy got a well deserved Christmas present this year. Between Monday December 19th and Friday, two days before Christmas 2011, Go Daddy lost 72,354 Hosting Accounts. People are leaving in troves! The reason every one is jumping ship is even better! Ever heard of SOPA?
On December 29th the GoDaddy boycott begins in earnest, and if your hosting with Godaddy read on to see if you’ve had similar experiences.
Go Daddy’s unparalleled losses equals payback for notorious cyber-bully.
Here’s the scoop GoDaddy, kissing up to Capital Hill, appeared on a list of corporations that supportSOPA, along with the likes of Time Warner, MasterCard and Viacom.
SOPA, is actually an acronym for ‘Stop Online Piracy. However, as you’ll discover a more suitable alternative would be “Stop Online Private Association”
What SOPA really is, is an insidious attempt by Multi-National Corporations and their political pundits to control the internet in the same way that they control the main stream global media.
“Imagine a world in which any intellectual property holder can, without ever appearing before a judge or setting foot in a courtroom, shut down any website’s online advertising programs and block access to credit card payments.” Nate Anderson
SOPA is dressed up in the righteous speak of America Nazi styled nationalism, the same kind of hyperbola that pours out of Washington daily, and then goes on to fill the corroded sewers of main stream media with the waste that they would like us to believe is news.
Here’s an example straight from the horses mouth. Many people can now see through this kind of blatant manipulation. As you’ll see, it’s little more than a rallying words, psychologically loaded sound bites. The same terms in the following quote are endlessly reppeaed by the corporate media and politicians so that they can be drilled into our subconscious minds and influence our beliefs and actions.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.): “As a co-chair of the Congressional Anti Piracy Caucus, I know how hard it is to safeguard our Intellectual Property from foreign rogue websites, and as a Representative from Los Angeles, I know what it costs us in terms of well-paying jobs.”Committee on the Judiciary
The problem is that we’re just not buying it anymore. The exodus of customers from GoDaddy is a sign that people, the 99% of us are waking up. The multi-national robber barons are getting desperate, they’re shaking in their boots, because we have the power to hit them where it counts, in the bank and in the streets.
In fact, we should be grateful that GoDaddy was spotted on the list the corporate elite who back the bill, because it has brought to our collective attention, something that was never meant to happen.
You know, general protocal goes something like this; corporations see a threat or opportunity. Then theymobalize the monkeys in Congress, who are told what to bury, what to hide in cryptically worded sections of Legislative bills that make Oxford Dictionary look like an afternoon read.
The cats out of the bag and we all need to join together to occupy the airways and get this bogus piece of legislation defeated, because if we don’t who knows what could:
“Sites like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Reddit, Wikipedia, or any sites that allow user generated content CANNOT exist under these laws. Immediately after this bill is passed, you will see the media mafia (MPIAA, RIAA, etc) replacing websites like Wikipedia with commercialized encyclopedia software. Mainstream media outlets will not cover this bill because they are the ones lobbying for it…
This bill isn’t designed to eliminate piracy, it is designed to give them control of the internet, the pesky free speech tool that has crippled their obsolete business model.” SOPA for Dummies
Go Daddy got what it deserves, and showed it’s true colors that’s why they’re going to see many more of their clients move to better hosting companies. After Go Daddy realized how much this was going to hurt their one and only, their precious profit, they withdrew their support and initiated a PR campaign to neutralize the fall out.
GoDaddy’s Bag of Crooked Tricks
I have to admit that I have a particular grudge against hosting corporations like GoDaddy. They have their own built in system to take advantage of the unwary, and that includes all but the techno savy.
Who want’s to have to learn Mysql or deal with phpmyadmin just to have their website function properly? Well I certainly didn’t and that’s what happened to me.
What generally occurs is that Hosting providers like GoDaddy, reel in you in with cheap prices on your first hosting package. Then you get hit by the control panel, which often isn’t designed to help you, no is designed to up-sell you on slew of things you don’t don’t really need.
Now that they got your money they don’t care what happens to your website. This isn’t conjecture. I’ve had more than my fair share of bad hosting companies like ipage, StartLogik, Nine Dot Systems to deal with.They actually torment their users with outsourced, undertrained and scripted customer support, whose real job it seems to waste your time, and frustrate you to the point of giving up.
The reason chose not to ever, excuse the pun, go with GoDaddy, is because I heard about how bad their support is. Actually GoDaddy is renowned for it’s horrific customer service. If you want to find out for your self, just do a Google search on “bad web hosting +go Daddy”. You’ll end up with more than 1,940,000 results.
Here’s a couple of fairly recent reviews that I picked out to give you an idea of what I’m talking about:
“This host is terrible. Just search in Google for Godaddy Complaints and see for yourself how many others have complaints about them. We wanted to leave them after we heard that they outsource their support to low salary countries, which is one of the many Godaddycomplaints.” Godaddy Complaints
“This post is about another bad customer service experience I had with GoDaddy support. Every time I asked for the support expert (ha) to check to see if something had gone wrong on their end he said, “nothing has gone wrong, your site is scripted wrong.”
Even after explaining that I had not touched my site in ages and the other was install by GoDaddy… he continued to disregard any my suggestion/queries has to what might have gone wrong. In the end all I wanted was the sites up and not to point a finger…After writing this I will still keep the sites mention with them because moving the sites will be such a hassle and their prices are one of the lowest for Windows hosting.” Thuan V. Ngugen
“GoDaddy sucks… their dashboard is completely un-navigable, their shared hosting has repeated errors, their VPS hosts are so poorly configured that they can’t even run updates on themselves, their CEO murders elephants for his own amusement, and they think that a few Superbowl ads featuring Danica Patrick will somehow make us forget how bad they suck.” Evert Tipfor.us
Granted GoDaddy does have a large number of positive reviews, and they also have a huge PR budget. Actually it wouldn’t even cost that much to hire a virtual army of Amazon Turks to spam the net with phony reviews. The best place to look for real reviews is on professional forums like WordPress of Warrior, because the online pro’s see through the smoke and mirrors.
Once these Hosts’ from hell have you in their clutches, they realize that most people are stuck with them. They know it’s not easy for non-technical perople to migrate their website to another hosting company. It can be a royal pain the preverbal arse to move your website. Don’t you think it’s odd in a funny kind of way, that their terrible customer support works in their favor, making it nearly impossible for most people to move their website?
After suffering through nearly a dozen horrific Hosting companies I learned the ropes and found one company that is absolutely awesome. I actually found two, one Tiger Technologies is apparently whoGoogle’s Matt Cuts uses to host his personal blog. They are fantastic. However, because they’re geared towards more advanced users, I’d only recommend them to you know what your doing and what you want.
The Hosting Company that I recommend for everyone, is a perfect alternative to GoDaddy. You may have guessed it, I’m talking about Hostgator. From my experience they offer the best customer support I’ve ever had. I’ve even had their technicians call me on two occasions to help solve a couple sticky problems. The reson that I like them so much is that, their customer support won’t quite, or cop out until helped solve your problem. I believe that this is what a corporation should be like, for the people.
Hostgator not only helps migrate a site, they do it for you, and for free. So if you’ve been stuck withGoDaddy or any other hosting company, Hostgator makes it easy to move. The’ll do all the work for you. Now, keeping with the spirit of transparency if you use this Hostgator link to set up you account, I make a commission.
However, that’s not why I’m recommending them, it does help me continue writing, but if for some reason you find find this troubling then just use this Hostgator link instead, and I won’t make a dime. Either way you’ll be glad you did.
No matter what you decide, if you enter this coupon code gowiththebest when you sign up with Hostgator you’ll get 25% off the package that you choose. All you have to do is look for the coupon field when your setting up your account, and type in gowiththebest Its valid until January 31st 2012
I could write a book about the do’s and don’ts of Hosting but I won’t bore you any longer with my war stories. But to really help defeat SOPA and take your power back from corporations like GoDadddy, then keep keep up with the latest and join in Twitters Protest.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, facing a recall election, ducked the question Thursday of which Republican presidential candidate he supports.
Walker refused to get pinned down on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” but told the hosts there are three candidates he thinks could beat President Barack Obama in November. The Republican governor pointed to Mitt Romney, Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich as the three candidates who have best articulated plans to boost jobs.
“My hope is that there are candidates who stand up and say, ‘I’ve got a plan to get people off of the government payrolls and more on the private sector payrolls,’” Walker said.
“Certainly, Gov. Romney has private sector experience and has done that, Gov. Perry has done that in Texas,” Walker added. “Certainly, Speaker Gingrich has talked about that in the past. Which of them can break through, not only in this caucus but in the upcoming primary season, I think will be largely dependent on which makes the best case for the issue.”
When pressed to narrow down his choice to one candidate who best fit his criteria, Walker balked.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, hot off a seven-year run as California governor, went underground in May after it was revealed he had fathered a child with a household employee.
The White House, which worked with him on events like Solyndra’s factory groundbreaking in 2009, cut off contact. A “world tour” to promote green policies was derailed. Polls showed that most of the support he had left among his former constituents was gone.
But in recent weeks, Schwarzenegger has begun to return to the spotlight, making public appearances at renewable energy and climate change events, advocating for green technology and touting his energy achievements in the Golden State.
“I promise you I will be your cheerleader and carry our message around the world. I will do everything in my power to make this happen,” Schwarzenegger told the American Council On Renewable Energy on Dec. 5 in Washington, D.C. “I feel as passionate about this as I did about bodybuilding, about fitness and weight training, all those things.”
Having spent six months out of the spotlight, Schwarzenegger is easing back into public life.
Besides his energy-related activities, Schwarzenegger is penning a memoir and starring in a sequel to the 2010 action flick “The Expendables,” as well as a Western.
Whether his shift back into the world of policy will ingratiate him again with the public is unclear.
Schwarzenegger — the star of Hollywood hits such as “The Terminator” and “Total Recall” — is both enigmatic and appealing, strategists say.
“The normal rules that you would apply to a politician just really have never applied to him because he’s an iconic figure beginning with sports and then entertainment and then politics,” said Chris Lehane, a Democratic strategist who worked in the White House counsel’s office during President Bill Clinton’s Monica Lewinsky scandal.
“He’s just never been perceived — even as governor — as a politician. He was his own separate brand that transcended politics, that transcended entertainment, that was a very unique brand,” Lehane added.
Schwarzenegger was well-known in politics, inside and outside of California, for his energy and environmental efforts, including: passing a cap on greenhouse gas emissions, fostering the solar industry and mandating that utilities have energy storage capacity for when the wind doesn’t blow.
He even converted two of his Hummers to run on biofuel and hydrogen.
But any post-gubernatorial plans were postponed when news broke in May that he had fathered a child with an employee and kept it secret for more than a decade. Schwarzenegger’s wife, Maria Shriver, left him and has filed for divorce.
A June poll found that three-quarters of California voters said they viewed their former governor unfavorably, while 20 percent expressed support.
Newt Gingrich, scrambling to regain ground in Iowa, has worked to keep his crusade against federal judges alive — talking up the issue for the fourth straight day in an appearance on “The O’Reilly Factor” on Tuesday night.
In a field of judicial-branch haters, Newt Gingrich has become the courts’ loudest and fiercest critic — a distinction that has angered some establishment Republicans but is playing well in socially conservative Iowa, a state with a well-known disdain for activist judges.
Gingrich received a robust response to a lengthy tirade against courts in last week’s debate in Sioux City, Iowa, and since then has gone full-speed ahead with his anti-judge rhetoric. He doubled down on his critiques on a Saturday conference call, and in a Sunday appearance on “Face the Nation,” in which he suggested sending U.S. marshals to arrest certain judges and haul them before Congress to explain their positions. He kept going when he hit the trail on Monday, telling Iowa voters why he thinks judges are overstepping their bounds. He fended off critiques on his stance in a Tuesday interview from Iowa with Bill O’Reilly.
Gingrich’s suggestions for reining in the judiciary have drawn fire from his fellow candidates, including Rick Perry, who has urged imposing term limits on judges but said Gingrich’s ideas were a bridge too far.
“Just because Congress doesn’t agree with a ruling, I don’t agree that you snatch them up and bring ’em up in front of Congress,” Perry told The Wall Street Journal this week.
Mitt Romney also expressed uneasiness with Gingrich’s proposals to the Journal. They would, Romney said, “change the very constitutional rule-of-law basis of our nation, and, by the way, encourage enterprises of all kinds to see America without the rule of law and not worthy of investment.”
In provoking his rivals, Gingrich might have established himself as the most conservative candidate when it comes to the courts, a title that can help him in Iowa, where a PPP poll released earlier this week found support for his candidacy slipping. Iowa ousted three of its own state Supreme Court judges in 2010 after they ruled in favor of gay marriage — an effort Gingrich helped secure financial backing for — and many conservatives there are cheering on his latest anti-court offensive.
Five battleground states are among the nation’s fastest growing, according to newly released Census data.
Colorado, Florida, Arizona, Georgia and North Carolina all expanded their populations by more than 1 percent from July 2010 to July 2011, the Census bureau estimated.
All are states that will play large roles in determining the winner of the 2012 presidential election. All but Georgia are included in five possible electoral paths outlined earlier this month by President Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign manager, Jim Messina.
Though Republican John McCain won his home state of Arizona in 2008, Democrats contend it will be in play this time around.
“There are a variety of pathways to 270 electoral votes and Arizona is definitely in the mix,” Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said at a fundraiser earlier this month.
Republicans, meanwhile, believe Obama’s sliding poll numbers in Florida, Colorado and North Carolina will be key to their candidate’s march to the White House.
The numbers provide a glimpse at where new voters will most shape 2012, and where campaigns’ efforts to reach first-timers can have maximum impact in next year’s election.
Population growth drives both voter registration and ballots cast. Since 2000, states with surging populations — including Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Florida — have seen double-digit growth in the number of ballots cast in successive presidential cycles.
Continuing the push to gain support from tea party members, four of the Republican presidential candidates participated in a tele-forum Sunday night.
Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum were each featured separately for an equal amount of time — about 10 minutes — and were asked the same set of questions on debt reduction and undoing the health care bill.
In a poll of audience participants, Bachmann generated the most enthusiasm as a potential nominee, with 36 percent saying they would be “very enthusiastic” if she were the nominee. Gingrich won the second-highest level of enthusiasm. The poll was conducted after the candidates spoke and was conducted using an automatic touch process.
Faring the worst were two candidates who didn’t participate in the forum — Ron Paul, whom 64 percent of participants said they wouldn’t be enthusiastic about at all, and Jon Huntsman, who received that reaction from 65 percent of participants.
The group that hosted the forum, the Tea Party Patriots, will release straw poll preference numbers Monday morning.
There was little disagreement among the candidates, who all railed against “ObamaCare,” and promised to balance the federal budget and axe federal regulations.
On reversing health care legislation, Bachmann and Santorum attempted to distinguish themselves from Romney, contending that it wouldn’t be enough to issue an executive order to stop its implementation.
“The only way we can get rid of it is repealing it,” Bachmann said. “Don’t count on the Supreme Court taking care of it, we need to do it in Congress.”
The candidates and tea party members who questioned them all focused on the theme of “consistency.”
Tea Party Patriots co-founder Jenny Beth Martin described the forum as an opportunity for tea party members to learn more about the candidates and decide for themselves who to support.
Republican congressional leaders are squaring off for one last battle of the year against President Barack Obama and the Democrats, with both House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell urging House-Senate negotiations on the payroll tax cut.
But the White House and top Senate Democrats show no inclination for compromising on the two-month extension of the payroll tax cut and federal unemployment benefits passed by the Senate on Saturday. Democrats have, for now, taken on the GOP’s my-way-or-the-highway approach used during much of this first session of the 112th Congress.
The Senate passed the bipartisan measure in an 89-10 vote on Saturday with McConnell and the rest of Senate GOP leadership backing the agreement. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), now says House Republicans should accept the bill and further negotiations can come only after the House adopts it.
All of which means in Washington, the week before Christmas will go as the rest of year has — with each party angrily blaming the other for Congress’s failure to act and Obama blaming everybody else.
The House will return to session on Monday, following a rebellion over the weekend by rank-and-file House Republicans against the Senate proposal.
During a GOP conference call on Saturday, Boehner initially praised the Senate’s inclusion of language calling on Obama to make a decision on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline within 60 days. Boehner said the Senate package “isn’t perfect, but Keystone is a victory.” The House should pass it, the Ohio congressman said, adding that Republicans will live to fight another day, GOP sources said.
But his members angrily shot that down. They raged against the Senate for failing to take up a yearlong extension and vowed to vote against the measure on the House floor. By Sunday morning, Boehner had changed his position, and he now rejects the Senate bill.
“I believe that two months is just kicking the can down the road,” he said during an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“What I’m suggesting is this: The House has passed its bill; the Senate has passed its bill,” Boehner added. “Under the Constitution, when we have these disagreements, there could be a formal conference between the House and Senate.” The House package, which includes a provision on Keystone and other high-profile policy riders, calls for a full-year extension of the payroll cut.
At the White House, Boehner’s remarks drew a harsh response.
“It’s time House Republicans stop playing politics and get the job done for the American people,” White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer said in a statement.
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SAN FRANCISCO — Newt Gingrich’s story is well-known — the “Contract with America” and the rise to power, then the adultery, the ethics rap and the fall from grace before the recent comeback.
But how about the “Newt Skywalker” chapter?
Some of his futuristic predictions were — and still are — far out. On Saturday, Mitt Romney pointed to one of Gingrich’s Jetsonian ideas to underscore their differences: “We can start with his idea to have a lunar colony that would mine minerals from the moon.”
Gingrich earned the Star Wars-era nickname in the 1980s and ’90s — back when his high-tech, futuristic proselytizing landed his face, bathed in electric lime, on the cover of Wired. He was often compared to Al Gore as an Internet evangelist; he enlisted Alvin Toffler, author of “Future Shock,” as his tech adviser; and he held conferences through a think tank with the likes of John Perry Barlow and Esther Dyson.
Gingrich is still seen by some as a visionary on tech issues. Those geek credentials may help in his assault on Romney, who so far has cornered the market on key Republican names in Silicon Valley — such as HP CEO Meg Whitman and Sun Microsystems co-founder Scott McNealy.
“Newt is brilliant,” said Tim Draper, a venture capitalist in Silicon Valley who helped to raise money this week for Romney. “He has a deep understanding of many technologies, but more importantly, he studied Silicon Valley and I believe he has a good understanding of why it works.”
Gingrich defended his lunar notions Saturday. “I grew up in a generation when the space program was real, when it was important.”
Twenty years ago, Gingrich’s appreciation of technology was more novel among Republicans, showing that there was a conservative libertarian interest in preserving the burgeoning Internet from efforts to regulate it. The 1995 Wired magazine cover interview was headlined “Friend and Foe.” At the time, Gingrich talked up the transformative power of the Internet and a world where schools and hospitals would be wired.
Media in his home state dubbed him “Newt Skywalker.”
As House speaker, Gingrich marshaled forces on issues such as data scrambling technologies, freedom of speech on the Internet and securities litigation reform. He helped launch Thomas, the Library of Congress website that provides information about bills. He started the High Technology Working Group, now the Technology Working Group, composed of Republican leaders involved in a wide swath of tech issues.
A war among the five commissioners of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission broke into the open Friday night when Republican Rep. Darrell Issa released a letter in which four of the commissioners said they have “grave concerns” about NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko.
In the letter — which was sent to the White House in October but not made public until Friday night — the four NRC members say Jaczko, a former aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, is a bully who is “causing serious damage” to the commission with “increasingly problematic and erratic” behavior.
The letter from Democratic Commissioners William Magwood and George Apostolakis and Republicans Kristine Svinicki and William Ostendorff says Jaczko “intimidated and bullied” staff, told staff to withhold information and ignored the views of the other members of the five-person commission.
In turn, Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) released a report late Friday — originally set for a rollout Monday — charging that those four commissioners had “conspired to delay and weaken nuclear reactor safety” after Japan’s Fukushima disaster in March, including by resisting Jaczko’s efforts to implement new safeguards.
“The actions of these four Commissioners since the Fukushima nuclear disaster has caused a regulatory meltdown that has left America’s nuclear fleet and the general public at risk,” Markey said in a statement. “Instead of doing what they have been sworn to do, these four Commissioners have attempted a coup on the Chairman and have abdicated their responsibility to the American public to assure the safety of America’s nuclear industry.”
Markey’s report cites thousands of pages of emails, meeting minutes, voting records and other documents in charging that Magwood, Svinicki, Ostendorff and Apostolakis attempted to delay or undermine creation of the commission’s Near-Term Task Force on the Fukushima disaster.
But a statement from Issa’s office laid the problems clearly at Jaczko’s feet.
“Congressman Markey’s report is an obvious retaliatory move against commissioners — three of whom were appointed by President Obama — for their efforts to raise concerns about abuse and mismanagement to White House officials,” an Issa committee spokesman said.
Europe’s newly reinforced $1 trillion firewall might not be strong enough to stem a sovereign debt crisis that could yet plunge the United States back into recession, a senior administration official said Friday.
It’s an open question if the financial markets will find the scale and capacity of the financial commitment credible, the official said, adding that European leaders had made some progress at a summit ending Friday.
As part of the summit, European Union members agreed to raise as much as 200 billion euros, or $267 billion, for loans the International Monetary Fund could offer to debt-wracked nations on the continent. But European officials failed to increase the 500 billion euro, or $689 billion, cap on their own bailout lending funds.
Initial signs from the U.S. stock market were positive, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing up 187 points, or 1.55 percent.
All of this came as conservative groups ramped up pressure to limit U.S. involvement in settling the crisis. Rooted in the debt loads of Greece, Italy and elsewhere, the problems have intensified despite austerity budgets, and bulwarks such as Germany and France are now also showing signs of distress.
Americans for Prosperity and Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform on Thursday called on Congress in a joint letter with 18 other organizations to rescind a special borrowing arrangement worth more than $100 billion that the federal government provided to the IMF in 2009.
The United States joined 37 other countries in providing a total of $500 billion in supplemental backing for the IMF.
Using the special arrangement would require approval of the IMF board, which counts the United States — with a 17 percent stake — as its largest shareholder, the administration official said.
Eliminating the $100 billion would hurt the ability of the IMF to fix economic crises and stop them from spreading globally, the administration has said.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The family of retired FBI agent Robert Levinson, who vanished years ago in Iran, issued a plea to his kidnappers Friday and, for the first time, released a hostage video they received from his unidentified captors.
The video message released on the Levinson family’s website publicly transformed the mysterious disappearance into an international hostage standoff. Despite a lengthy investigation, however, the U.S. government has no evidence of who is holding the 63-year-old father of seven.
“Please tell us your demands so we can work together to bring my father home safely,” says Levinson’s son David, seated beside his mother, Christine.
The video plea represents a sharp change in strategy in a case that, for years, the United States treated as a diplomatic issue rather than a hostage situation. Christine Levinson, who lives in Coral Springs, Fla., has issued many public statements over the years, but she typically directed them to her missing husband or to the government of Iran.
In the hostage video, which the family received in November 2010, Levinson pleaded with the U.S. government to meet the demands of the people holding him, whom he did not identify.
The 54-second hostage video showed Levinson looking haggard but unharmed, sitting in front of what appeared to be a concrete wall. He had lost considerable weight, particularly in his face, and his white shirt hung off him. There were no signs of recent mistreatment. But Levinson, who has a history of diabetes and high blood pressure, implored the U.S. to help him quickly.
“I have been treated well. But I need the help of the United States government to answer the requests of the group that has held me for three and a half years,” Levinson says. “And please help me get home.”
His voice weakens and breaks as he speaks of “my beautiful, my loving, my loyal wife, Christine,” as well as his children and his grandson.
“I am not in very good health,” he says. “I am running very quickly out of diabetes medicine.”
The Associated Press saw the video soon after it arrived last year but did not immediately report it because the U.S. government said doing so would complicate diplomatic efforts to bring Levinson home.
Now, those efforts appear to have stalled, U.S. relations with Iran have worsened and Levinson’s family has stepped out of diplomatic channels to appeal directly to the kidnappers.
“We are not part of any government and we are not experts on the region,” David Levinson says. “No one can help us but you. Please help us.”
In the nearly five years that Levinson has been missing, the U.S. government has never had solid intelligence about what happened to him. Levinson had been retired from the FBI for years and was working as a private investigator when he traveled to the Iran in March 2007. His family has said an investigation into cigarette smuggling brought him to Kish, a resort island where Americans need no visa to visit.
A legislative aide to Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) will keep his job after charges were dropped following his arrest this summer for allegedly running an illegal strip club, Wicker’s spokesman said Friday.
Saleem Baird, who’s worked in Wicker’s Washington office since February 2009, was placed on leave after he and three women were taken into custody Sept. 3 at Level 3 nightclub in downtown Jackson, Miss., when vice and narcotics police officers discovered the females stripping on stage without proper licenses.
A Jackson police report stated: “A male who identified himself as Saleem Baird advised that he was the manager and in charge. He was also placed under arrest for Violation of City Ordinance.”
Baird’s arrest was first reported by the Mississippi politics blog, Jackson Jambalaya. LegiStorm’s Caught Our Eye blog reported Thursday that the charges against Baird had been dropped.
“The charges against Mr. Baird were dismissed, and he remains an employee of this office,” Wicker spokesman Rick Curtsinger told POLITICO.
Curtsinger declined to say whether the arrest had reflected poorly on the senator, a former House member who was appointed in December 2007 to fill the seat of Sen. Trent Lott after his resignation. In an email, Baird referred questions to his attorney, who was traveling and not immediately available.
Baird, 30, earns about $50,000 a year as a legislative correspondent for Wicker, according to LegiStorm.
Newt Gingrich has only been president for two hours, but he’s already roiling the Middle East: He will — in those first two hours, he promised Wednesday — order the U.S. Embassy in Israel moved to Jerusalem.
Secretary of State John Bolton will handle the details.
If you thought the U.S. had a roller coaster ride through the Middle East in the wild days of the Arab Spring, just wait until the Republicans retake the White House. In a series of addresses to the Republican Jewish Coalition in Washington on Tuesday, Republican presidential candidates laid out a series of specific and deliberately provocative moves aimed at reasserting American strength and the American alliance with Israel in a region whose stunning changes the Obama administration has handled with extreme care and caution.
The candidates’ promises were real and symbolic, and often quite specific. On the hardest-line end, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum virtually promised military strikes on Iran.
Iran’s nuclear push “increasingly leaves only two options: a military strike or a nuclear Iran,” Perry said, indicating his preference for the former.
Gingrich took only a slightly softer line, promising to switch to a policy of “regime replacement” toward Tehran, and, specifically, that he would covertly (if, apparently, not secretly) sabotage the country’s main oil refinery.
“It’s better to stop them early than to stop them late,” he said.
But the other candidates offered an array of symbolic moves that also would set an entirely new tone toward a region in which Obama has sought to welcome new, fledgling democratic regimes and to hope that flashes of Islamist leanings represent mere growing pains.
It’s a storyline their party hates but here it is again at the end of a long year: John Boehner and Eric Cantor are on opposite sides of key issues.
They’re not at war, but as Congress heads into its final stretch of the year, the No. 1 and No. 2 House Republicans are in different places on a whole host of things, further complicating a tenuous year-end plan.
The latest drama: the year-end extender’s package.
Aides to both men try to downplay the distance, but interviews with about a dozen close aides and confidants in leadership paint a picture of leaders traveling on disparate tracks.
Cantor sees himself — and others see him — as playing a role as the rank and file’s lobbyist at the leadership table. He has been meeting with GOP lawmakers in an attempt to uncover what will get them to support an extension of a payroll tax holiday their party doesn’t like and a jobless benefits program they see as broken.
Boehner is trying to balance Republican desires with the eventuality of creating a package that could pass the Senate by next Friday.
In the next few days, they need to come together to decide what they can tack onto the bill to ensure its passage — and maintain some unity within the ranks.
They’ve also been on opposite sides on the issue of repatriation — corporations bringing foreign profits back to the U.S. at lower tax rates. Cantor has been vocal in his support for the process, it’s a favorite of K Street and roughly a quarter of the Republican Conference has signed a letter supporting the idea.
But Boehner is staunchly opposed to tacking it onto the year-end agreement — the optics would be terrible, he thinks, since the Congressional Budget Offices says it adds tens of billions of dollars to the budget. Suddenly, a bill that cuts money would become one that adds to the deficit.
Senate Republicans are trying to find a way to fight back against White House attacks that they’re out to raise taxes on the middle class, with some weighing whether to float an income tax credit.
Senators have been discussing replacing the payroll tax cut extension favored by Democrats with the tax credit, several senators told POLITICO on Wednesday.
It’s highly unlikely Republicans would offer the tax credit proposal as an alternative this week to Majority Leader Harry Reid’s revised payroll tax-cut extension plan. But the idea has been batted around in hallway discussions and closed-door meetings this week as they try to fend off a barrage of attacks from President Barack Obama and shore up divisions in their conference over the payroll tax cut.
Rival Democratic and Republican payroll tax holiday plans failed in the Senate last week over GOP objections that it raids money from the Social Security Trust Fund. Republicans also opposed the Democratic plan because it was paid for with a permanent surtax on millionaires.
The income tax credit would provide an extra $120 billion to $150 billion next year for families making under $200,000 — roughly the same dollar amount as the payroll tax cut, which amounts to about $1,000 for the average family, said senators familiar with the plan. The credit would come out of the general fund as opposed to the Social Security fund.
“I think that is a smart idea. It’s a way to provide tax relief without raiding the Social Security trust fund. That appeals to me too because I’ve been trying for years to fix Social Security,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told POLITICO. “The problem with the payroll tax holiday is it’s coming out of Social Security, so you shouldn’t be robbing seniors to pay for tax cuts that can be done with a tax credit.”
Graham has joined several colleagues who have been pushing for the tax credit, including Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Richard Burr of North Carolina, senators said. Portman and Toomey’s participation is significant since both served on the deficit-cutting supercommittee, and the tax credit was part of the panel’s negotiations to reform the Tax Code.
“Of the two, [the income tax credit] would be the better things to do. It’s cleaner,” Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) told POLITICO. “I don’t know that I’d vote for it, but I think it’s the better of the two solutions.”
Added fellow freshman Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.): “I’m open minded to it. I want to look at it and see what the proposal is.”
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In a 354-word, front-page editorial Sunday, the New Hampshire Union Leader finally did what no Republican presidential candidate has yet been able to accomplish: make the case against Mitt Romney.
The former Massachusetts governor’s name did not appear in the editorial, which urged New Hampshire voters to cast their GOP primary ballots for Newt Gingrich.
But the argument that the Union Leader made for Gingrich cut at the heart of the message Romney has been delivering all year: that the 2012 campaign will hinge on the economy, and Republican primary voters should swing behind the candidate best prepared to win a debate with President Barack Obama over jobs.
The Union Leader editorial didn’t even use the words “jobs,” “economy,” “employment” or “growth.” Instead, it focused on the more subjective qualities of leadership and character, recommending Gingrich as an “innovative” thinker to address the nation’s woes.
“We look for conservatives of courage and conviction who are independent-minded, grounded in their core beliefs about this nation and its people and best equipped for the job,” publisher Joseph McQuaid wrote. “In this incredibly important election, that candidate is Newt Gingrich. He has the experience, the leadership qualities and the vision to lead this country in these trying times.”
In an apparent allusion to Romney, the publisher acknowledged that Gingrich is not “perfect” but explained: “We would rather back someone with whom we may sometimes disagree than one who tells us what he thinks we want to hear.”
In a Sunday CNN appearance, Union Leader editorial page editor Drew Cline put a sharper point on that criticism of Romney, calling the on-and-off Republican front-runner a “play-it-safe” candidate more suited for the presidency in the “late 19th century.”
What the country needs now, Cline said, is a “candidate that is bold in his leadership — that has a vision for where he wants to take us as a country and knows how to get there.”
That argument will test Romney’s basic assumption that in a time of economic misfortune, primary and general-election voters will ultimately embrace him as the candidate with the most compelling message on jobs.
MOSCOW – Prime Minister Vladimir Putin sternly warned the West not to interfere in Russia’s elections, as he formally launched his campaign to reclaim the presidency in a speech Sunday before thousands of flag-waving supporters.
Putin stepped down in 2008 after two presidential terms, but kept his hold on power. He announced in September that he intended to return to the top job next year and on Sunday was formally nominated by his United Russia party.
“All our foreign partners need to understand this: Russia is a democratic country, it’s a reliable and predictable partner with which they can and must reach agreement but on which they cannot impose anything from the outside,” Putin told his audience.
The boisterous party congress, which was televised live, was aimed at boosting support for Putin and his party ahead of parliamentary elections one week away.
Increasingly seen as representing the interests of a corrupt bureaucracy, United Russia has watched its public approval ratings plummet in recent months. The party is still certain to win the Dec. 4 election, but is expected to lose the current two-thirds majority that has allowed it to change the constitution at will.
Putin’s decision to swap jobs with President Dmitry Medvedev after the presidential vote in March, presented as a done deal at the party congress in September, also has soured the public mood. Many Russians are afraid that Putin will strengthen his authoritarian tendencies and remain in power for 12 more years to become the longest-serving leader since Communist times.
Sunday’s congress began with a steel worker, a businessman, a farmer, a decorated special services officer and a noted film director standing up one after another to praise Putin as the only man capable of leading the country. The 11,000 delegates filling the Moscow sports arena chanted “Putin, Putin” and “The people trust Putin!”
Putin promised Russians stability, a word he repeated often throughout his speech. In countering criticism that he has tightened his control at the expense of democracy, Putin insisted that Russia needs a “stable political system” to guarantee “stable development” for decades to come.
“This is an extremely important task for Russia with its history of upheavals and revolutions,” he said.
He used the occasion to lash out at opposition leaders, saying they had brought the country to ruin when they served in the government in the 1990s.
Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber is banning the death penalty in his state for the rest of his term.
A Democrat, Kitzhaber announced on Tuesday he would not allow the execution of death row inmate Gary Haugen as planned on Dec. 6, The Oregonian reported. The governor said in a statement he believes the death penalty is “morally wrong” and will impose a moratorium on all executions as long as he’s in office.
“It is time for Oregon to consider a different approach. I refuse to be a part of this compromised and inequitable system any longer, and I will not allow further executions while I am governor,” he wrote.
Oregon is now the fifth state to halt executions since 2007, The Associated Press reported. The other four are Illinois, New York, New Jersey and New Mexico.
With his decision, Kitzhaber granted Haugen, a twice-convicted murderer who had voluntarily waived his right to appeal, a temporary reprieve.
“The death penalty as practiced in Oregon is neither fair nor just, and it is not swift or certain,” Kitzhaber wrote.
“It is not applied equally to all. It is a perversion of justice that the single best indicator of who will and will not be executed has nothing to do with the circumstances of a crime or the findings of a jury. The only factor that determines whether someone sentenced to death in Oregon is actually executed is that they volunteer,” the governor said. “The hard truth is that in the 27 years since Oregonians reinstated the death penalty, it has only been carried out on two volunteers who waived their rights to appeal.”
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After a grueling 230-mile march, a group of Occupy protesters arrived in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, finishing a journey that for some in the group began in New York City two weeks ago.
The marchers arrived at McPherson Square at approximately 3 p.m., finishing the last leg of their march that began in College Park, M.D., earlier on Tuesday.
Last week, when POLITICO visited the marchers in Wilmington, Del., the group consisted of about two dozens protesters – some were from the original group that began their journey in Zuccotti Park, while others had joined the team somewhere along the way. On Tuesday, about 50 marchers walked into the nation’s capital.
“Everyone’s doing pretty good and it’s pretty surreal to think that it’s finally over and that we are here, and the welcome that we got was incredible,” Michael Glazer, one of the co-organizers of the march, told POLITICO. “I’m just really proud to be with this group of people. The group really took care of each other.”
Glazer said the cold rain falling in Washington is “taking a toll” on some of their plans, but that they will definitely head over to Capitol Hill to demonstrate.
The official purpose of the group was to arrive in Washington D.C., by Nov. 23 – the official deadline of the congressional supercommittee on deficit reduction to reach an agreement – to “protest retaining the Bush tax cuts for the rich.” By Monday, the panel had already announced that its dozen members were unable to come to an agreement.
In a “General Assembly” meeting held Tuesday following the marchers’ arrival at McPherson Square — the park in downtown DC that a group of protesters has been using as their home base since October – some of the Occupiers, joined by members of the press, held a discussion of upcoming events.
Mitt Romney says America is at war with China — a “trade war” over its undervalued currency. “They’re stealing our jobs. And we’re gonna stand up to China,” the former Massachusetts governor declared in a recent Republican presidential debate, arguing that the United States should threaten to impose tariffs on Chinese imports.
When Romney steps on stage tonight for another debate, this one devoted to foreign policy, that kind of China-bashing is likely to be a favorite theme. With a moribund economy, and relatively little traction for other international issues, the threat posed by cheap Chinese imports and Chinese purchases of U.S. debt is an irresistible target.
The problem, China experts are quick to point out, is that those attacks often fly in the face of the business interests Republicans have traditionally represented, not to mention the record many of the candidates have either supporting trade with China – or actively soliciting it.
Just two years ago, for example, Romney slammed President Barack Obama for putting a 35 percent tariff on Chinese tires because of a surge of cheap imports as growth-killing protectionism. And, he wrote in his book, “No Apology: The Case for American Greatness,” “Protectionism stifles productivity.”
And though Texas Gov. Rick Perry predicted at a debate this month that “the Chinese government will end up on the ash heap of history if they do not change their virtues,” a picture posted on the Internet shows a smiling Perry on a trade mission to Shanghai and Beijing posing with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi after presenting him with a pair of cowboy boots.
Nor has Perry been shy about encouraging Chinese investments in Texas: In October 2010, he appeared at the announcement of a new U.S. headquarters for Huawei Technologies to be located in Plano, Tex., despite lingering concerns of U.S. security officials that Huawei-made telecommunications equipment is designed to allow unauthorized access by the Chinese government.
“There’s a certain pandering going on,” said Nicholas Lardy of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, who adds that and the GOP rhetoric is squarely at odds with the views of the U.S. establishment, which believes a showdown with China over the trade issue “will make things worse, not better.”
Not all of the 2012 GOP presidential hopefuls have taken to publicly pummeling Beijing. The only bona fide China expert in the group, former U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, has criticized Romney for being cavalier and simplistic in his talk of tariffs. “You can give applause lines and you can kind of pander here and there. You start a trade war if you start slapping tariffs randomly on Chinese products based on currency manipulation,” Huntsman said at a recent debate. “That doesn’t work.”
Former Sen. Rick Santorum also rejected the idea of slapping tariffs on Beijing if it won’t buckle on the currency issue. “That just taxes you. I don’t want to tax you,” Santorum said.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Tuesday there is only one option for President Barack Obama in the wake of the supercommitte’s failure: Announce he will veto any extension of the Bush-era tax cuts.
“All the president has to do — and I’m not trying to hold him more responsible, but he is the chief executive, he was elected to lead this country — all he’s got to do is stand up and say, ‘I will veto any extension of any of the Bush-era tax cuts’,” Bloomberg told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell. “Everybody. Not just the rich, but everybody.”
If Obama promises to use his veto pen, Bloomberg said, that takes the issue of taxes off the table and would spur both parties in Congress to start working together to negotiate “intelligent” spending cuts.
“If you’re going to close the deficit, you have to increase revenues and reduce expenses,” Bloomberg said. “Anybody who says you can do with one or the other is either just stupid or not telling the truth.”
Bloomberg said if Obama follows his advice, it would not only solve the country’s problem — it would also be the president’s “ticket to re-election.”
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Top lawmakers expressed increased skepticism Thursday morning about the prospects of any bipartisan deficit compromise, as time rapidly is running off the clock before a statutory deadline of Nov. 23 to cut $1.3 trillion from federal spending.
From leadership to members on the so-called deficit-cutting supercommittee, there’s a game of rhetorical jousting going on in the Capitol, just six days before the panel must vote on a proposal to avoid across-the-board cuts to the Pentagon and federal spending.
And there’s an even earlier deadline looming Monday: In order to have any proposal properly vetted by the Congressional Budget Office, the supercommittee has to submit bill language by Nov. 21 in order to even have a vote by Nov. 23.
Right now, the focus is on two plans. The Republican plan, put forth by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), which has $250 billion in new revenue while also extending the Bush tax rates that expire at the end of 2012. This plan has support from Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and the supercommittee co-chair Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas).
Democrats don’t much like that plan, saying it’s revenue measures are paltry. Sen. Patty Murray, the Democratic co-chair from Washington State, said they would accept Toomey’s plan — with alterations to Republican plans on entitlements and the demand that they allow the Bush tax cuts to expire.
“We have made it clear that we are willing to meet their offer but it has to be in a way that is fair to working families and puts our country back to work,” Murray said before a meeting of supercommittee Democrats Thursday. “That’s the task that we have at hand. I would hope that that is a way for them to understand that they need to compromise, too, and come back to us and reach a deal, which is critically important today. But I think the challenge is that they have to resolve the differences on their side, on revenue. And that’s what we’re waiting for.”
Not so, say Republicans. Boehner told reporters Thursday morning that Democrats have never been united on the panel.
SPARTANBURG, S.C. – South Carolina is notorious for its hard-edged politics, but the GOP presidential primary here has barely started in earnest, let alone gotten ugly.
Just over two months before this state’s primary, the Republican contest is mostly defined by what’s not happening. Old Palmetto State pros shrug and shake their heads when asked about the slow start – they’ve never seen anything like it since the advent of the modern primary here in 1980.
Ron Paul is the only candidate airing TV ads. Mitt Romney, who invested considerable time and money here four years ago, has made only a handful of trips here this year. Rick Perry, after nabbing a host of endorsements that suggested he could be a regional favorite, has faded in South Carolina as he has elsewhere. Jon Huntsman has largely retrenched to New Hampshire. And Herman Cain is being buzzed about, but is doing little to capitalize on the attention.
“I have never seen such a wide open presidential primary,” said veteran consultant Richard Quinn, who worked for Ronald Reagan in ’80 and is advising Huntsman now.
“It’s amazing that it is the way it is – wide open,” echoed former state House Speaker David Wilkins, who was one of then-Gov. George W. Bush’s key supporters here in 2000 and is now backing Perry. “Compared to 12 years ago, it’s just been a much slower process.”
There’s no obvious frontrunner like Bush in 2000 or his father 12 years earlier.
Part of the uncertainty can be chalked up to the nature of this particular race – the state has gotten less attention from candidates than in past primaries and Republicans here, as elsewhere, have been fickle in their preferences.
“We’ve had this succession of surges and then the candidates, as soon as they’ve surged, their flaws become immediately obvious and they’ve fallen back to earth again,” observed Quinn.
The first broadcast network presidential debate this year, which ended its national telecast and switched to a choppy livestream feed two-thirds of the way through the event, produced a storm of complaints from viewers across the country and two of the candidates on the no-frills debate stage in Spartanburg, S.C.
CBS’s foreign policy debate, co-sponsored by National Journal, offered unusually detailed discussion of policy and a format that was free of many of the literal bells and whistles of more slickly-produced face-offs. But the confusing format — the televised portion for most of the nation ended after an hour and viewers were expected to go to the Internet to see the final 30 minutes — led to widespread frustration among those following the debate.
A network spokeswoman, Sonya McNair, said its livestream had been overwhelmed by an unexpectedly large audience, and brushed off complaints. The final half-hour had been added, she said, for the benefit of South Carolina viewers.
“We weren’t programming it for reporters in Washington D.C.,” she said, even as it emerged that — in an unusual breakdown between network and affiliates — none of the four CBS stations in the state actually carried the last half hour.
CBS took an equally sharp line toward the candidates who complained about a lack of attention during the debate. Ron Paul’s campaign chairman, Jesse Benton, said the network “should be ashamed” of the little time it gave Paul, given his solid poll numbers and military service. And Rep. Michele Bachmann produced a pre-debate email from newly minted CBS political director John Dickerson, mistakenly sent to a Bachmann staffer indicating that Bachmann is “nearly off the charts,” “not going to be getting many questions,” and probably wouldn’t be even be worth inviting to a post-debate webcast.
When the Republicans gathered for their first debate focused on foreign policy Saturday, the candidate with the most foreign policy experience got left in Siberia.
That’s how Jon Huntsman, a former ambassador to China and Singapore, described the feeling of waiting 40 minutes into the National Journal/CBS debate for what was his second question of the night.
Huntsman’s been stuck at the back of the polls and struggling to get attention for his campaign. Saturday’s debate came with less than two months to go until the New Hampshire primary — which Huntsman has made into the make-or-break moment for his campaign — and the other candidates competing for the non-Mitt Romney vote imploding. But Huntsman was once again unable to stand out, even in a forum focused on a topic where he’s got the deepest background of any of his rivals and which he’s spent more time addressing on the trail than most.
And while his campaign spokesman, Tim Miller, predicted just before the event that the former Utah governor would make clear his foreign policy differences with his rivals, Huntsman was reluctant to take the kind of swings on stage that his campaign’s been making for him in the hopes of gaining some traction.
Rather than attack Romney his suggestion that the United States formally accuse China of currency manipulation at the World Trade Organization, Huntsman used a question about China as a quiet, teachable moment.
“First of all, I don’t think, Mitt, you can take China to the WTO on currency-related issues,” Huntsman said. “Second, I don’t know that this country needs a trade war with China. … So what should we be doing? We should be reaching out to our allies and constituencies within China. They’re called the young people, they’re called the internet generation.”
President Barack Obama has long loved lambasting lobbyists — but he’s not above asking for their help.
Key White House officials solicited at least 10 notable lobbyists for their support of the Obama administration’s jobs initiatives during a two-hour briefing Thursday that included a total of between 70 and 80 people, four individuals present at the gathering confirmed to POLITICO.
White House officials urged participants to help in the effort to promote the president’s jobs agenda, but they didn’t lay out specific requests, according to sources at the meeting. They did, however, complain about GOP efforts to hold up Obama’s jobs legislation.
“They talked about the frustrations for them with the Republicans in Congress and them trying to stop the process from happening, or the Jobs Act from happening,” said Jamie Baxter, advocacy manager at the Association for Career and Technical Education, who attended the briefing.
Said another lobbyist who attended the meeting: “The White House wanted to enlist [our] help to get their message out. It was the White House looking for help. The help of progressive lobbyists.”
But some participants had a request of their own: stop demonizing lobbyists.
Months before Solyndra’s collapse, a former high-ranking official in President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign called for Steven Chu’s ouster, saying the Energy secretary lacked the chops for turning green technology into green jobs.
“Secretary Chu is a wonderful and brilliant man, but he is not perfect for the other critical DOE mission: deploying existing technologies at scale and creating jobs,” Dan Carol, the research director of the 2008 Obama campaign who now works as director of Multi-State Initiatives for Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, wrote in a February email to White House counselor Peter Rouse that was released Friday by a government source. At the time, Carol was a clean technology fellow for the New Democratic Network.
In a subsequent email, Carol referred to the need to fix the “loan guarantee mess” while suggesting new Energy Department leadership.
Carol conceded Chu could stay with an altered mission, but he was adamant in calling for the dismissal of Deputy Secretary Dan Poneman, Chu’s second-in-command, and of Henry Kelly, who oversees the department’s renewable energy office.
White House and Solyndra officials spent weeks this spring discussing a forthcoming Washington Post investigation of President Barack Obama’s visits to clean-energy companies, according to internal administration emails released Friday afternoon.
The officials also repeatedly stressed that politics and campaign donations have nothing to do with decisions to send the president to companies like Solyndra, whose California factory Obama toured in May 2010.
Still, they expressed concern about where the Post was going with its story, which it eventually published June 25. The story mentioned his trips to Solyndra and clean-technology companies in Wisconsin, North Carolina and Nevada while writing that “the president has prompted questions on Capitol Hill and from industry about the wisdom of his singular strategy and his political ties to some of the companies chosen for federal attention.”
Dave Miller, director of corporate communications for Solyndra, gave the White House a heads-up about the story in an email May 9, warning that reporter Joe Stephens “has been poking at us for several months.”
A woman who received a settlement from the National Restaurant Association after making charges of sexual harassment against Herman Cain lodged a complaint with a different employer three years later, this one about unfair treatment by supervisors, it was reported Wednesday.
Karen Kraushaar filed a complaint about unfair treatment in late 2002 or early 2003 while she was working as a spokeswoman at the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, reports the Associated Press.
According to the latest United Nations statistics more than two billion people live on less than two dollars each day. (more…)
CANNES, France — President Barack Obama — his pro-growth economic message drowned in the din of the eurozone crisis — found himself playing spectator as unfolding events in Athens overshadowed the G-20 summit.
Senior U.S. officials, like the reporters who tracked the president in this wind-lashed Riviera resort town, were hunting for reliable information after reports surfaced that Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou would resign following his hugely controversial call to hold a popular referendum on the latest European Union bailout and austerity package .
Early Thursday Obama met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and he was briefed on their emergency meeting with Papandreou late Wednesday. Obama continued to pressure both leaders to accelerate a $1.4 trillion euro firewall and bank recapitalization plan, in part to deal with any of the fallout from events unfolding in Athens.
Later, Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes spoke to reporters after the BBC reported Papandreou planned to offer his resignation, allowing the formation of a coalition government to approve the bailout package. Rhodes said that “obviously the implementation” of a larger eurozone rescue plan was “affected” by the referendum.
“The implications remain the same on the need to take action on a number of fronts — we know what the road map is,” Rhodes said.
“We’ll have to see what the specific announcement is from the Greek government,” he said, adding that European leaders will be “working through those issues in the hours and days to come.”
Hours later, the Los Angeles Times reported that Papandreou said he would drop his referendum plan. His announcement to the Times inside the Greek Parliament came after an emergency Cabinet meeting.
A senior U.S. Army officer in Afghanistan called key elements of the government “isolated from reality,” said they don’t appreciate America’s sacrifice for their nation and offered up some choice words for President Hamid Karzai.
Maj. Gen. Peter Fuller, deputy commander of the American-led NATO effort to train and equip Afghan security forces, told POLITICO in an interview that top leaders in the Afghan government had not fully recognized the sacrifices in “treasure and blood” that the U.S. was making for their security and recalled that a senior Afghan official even demanded the transfer of tanks just so they could be used for parades.
The two-star general flashed irritation when he brought up Karzai’s recent remarks that Afghanistan would side with Pakistan in a war against the U.S., blasting the president’s comments as “erratic,” and adding, “Why don’t you just poke me in the eye with a needle! You’ve got to be kidding me … I’m sorry, we just gave you $11.6 billion and now you’re telling me, ‘I don’t really care’?”
Condoleezza Rice, airing out some of the details of her clashes with Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney during her tenure as George W. Bush’s secretary of state, admitted Tuesday that had their team been more “smoothly functioning,” the country may have paid a smaller price in Iraq.
“Didn’t all this dysfunction add to the price we paid in Iraq?” Rice was asked on ABC News in an interview.
“We could have done better. And you’re right. As I look back on this, I think well, if it had been a more smoothly functioning team might we have gotten some of these issues out on the table and resolved?” Rice said, adding, “But you also have to remember that this was a big proposition, Iraq.”
The former secretary of state, who discusses the distrust and infighting in the White House in her newly published book, “No Higher Honor: A Memoir of My Years in Washington,” said the defense department “didn’t execute at critical times” and elaborated on her tensions with Rumsfeld.
“I said to him, ‘I don’t know what’s gone wrong between us,’ and he said he didn’t either. And he said something about my being ‘bright’. And it just bugged me. It’s just one of those words that you don’t use about a colleague,” she said.
The head of the Department of Homeland Security admitted Thursday that there have been some instances in which hackers have “come close” to shutting down parts of the nation’s critical infrastructure.
DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano said these types of network intrusions on financial systems, transportation networks and other assets key to America’s day-to-day functioning are one of her top concerns in an age when cyberattacks are growing exponentially.
“It could theoretically cause a loss of life, but also a huge economic loss,” Napolitano said at a Washington Post Live conference Thursday morning. “We’ve seen attempts on Wall Street, transportation systems, things of those sorts.”
Dealing with cyberattacks is an uncharted territory for the government and poses a whole new set of defense questions that still lack answers. Napolitano called for the creation of a national and international framework to address cyberattacks.
“One of the problems we have is that the current international regime, international law, international rules of conflict … really have not been developed with cyber,” Napolitano said.
When the Education Department’s direct loans website fell pray to a technical “glitch” earlier this month, the financial details of thousands of students were made public, an education official said in a congressional hearing on Tuesday.
James Runice, the chief operating officer of the Education Department’s office of federal student aid, revealed on Tuesday that the financial data had been made public for a 67-minute window, and that as many as 5,000 college students’ personal financial data had been laid to bare, according to the Associated Press.
More than two years after former infantry officer Daniel Choi came out on a talk show as a gay service member – an event that led to his discharge – the Iraq war veteran says he will re-enlist in the U.S. Army following Tuesday’s repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
“Going back to the military will be a vindication,” Choi told POLITICO. [I’m] going back because I fought to go back. The seriousness of our claims was not just political theatre – it was really drawn from our lives. I sacrificed so much so I could go back.”
In October 2010, he attempted to rejoin the U.S. Army, but has gone back and forth since then. Choi has scheduled appointment with a military recruiter to talk about joining the Army Reserves later this week.
President Barack Obama heralded the repeal of the controversial “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on Tuesday, telling gay and lesbian service members who were discharged under the directive that “your country deeply values your service.”
Obama, who made the repeal of DADT a cornerstone of his 2008 campaign and was a key figure in the policy change, said that service members will finally be able to publicly acknowledge their sexual orientation.
“As of today, patriotic Americans in uniform will no longer have to lie about who they are in order to serve the country they love,” said Obama in a press release issued Tuesday.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) wrote a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday to request an investigation into the bankruptcy of Solyndra, a politically connected solar panel manufacturer.
The Obama administration approved a loan of over $500 million for the California-based green jobs firm, which went bankrupt in August and has become the subject of an FBI criminal probe apparently related to the loan guarantee.
Republicans have accused the Obama administration of approving the loan to Solyndra for political reasons, citing one Obama fundraiser’s close investment ties to the solar energy firm. In the letter, Smith said that he wants the Department of Justice to appoint an investigator to “uncover the truth about whether politics played a role in influencing the Obama administration to favor Solyndra over more financially stable loan applicants.”
Smith also said that he wants the probe to examine why the Department of Energy restructured the Solyndra loan agreement in February 2011 to put the right of the United States for repayment behind that of Solyndra’s private investors, when the original loan agreement had said the opposite.
“An independent examiner is needed to shed light on the circumstances that led to DOE’s decision to extend, and later restructure, the Solyndra loan,” Smith writes.
Republicans have claimed that Solyndra is an example of “stimulus failure.” Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus emphasized last week that a major Obama fundraiser was involved in Solyndra’s activity.
“Solyndra’s downfall puts a spotlight on the kind of taxpayer-funded cronyism this White House said it would eliminate. After bundling tens of thousands of dollars for President Obama and his campaign, company officials were granted at least 20 visits to the White House and had Energy Department officials sitting in on company board meetings,” said Priebus last week.
The White House has said that the loan process was done in a fully appropriate manner, and pointed out that the loan guarantee was also pursued by the Bush administration.
“This loan guarantee was pursued by both the Bush and Obama administrations,” said White House spokesman Eric Schultz last week.
A request for comment from the Department of Justice has not been returned.
WASHINGTON — U.S. intelligence agencies have found no evidence that Al Qaeda has sneaked any terrorists into the country for a strike coinciding with the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, senior officials said Saturday.
But authorities kept a high alert as investigators looked for proof of a plot possibly timed to disrupt events planned Sunday in Washington or New York.
Since late Wednesday, counterterrorism officials have chased a tip that Al Qaeda may have sent three men to the U.S. on a mission to detonate a car bomb in either city. At least two of those men could be U.S. citizens, according to the tip.
No intelligence supported that tip as of Saturday, and officials continued to question the validity of the initial information.
CONCORD, N.H. – If Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney came in search of elusive Tea Party mojo, he didn’t find it here at a small Tea Party Express rally, where a few dozen conservatives sat in lawn chairs and argued about Romney’s conservative bona fides.
Romney made no attempt to out-Tea Party his conservative rival Rick Perry, and in fact the words “Tea Party” didn’t cross his lips in a stump speech that ran less than 15 minutes.
“I thought he’d pander a bit more,” remarked Jerry DeLemus, a local Tea Party leader who’d appeared before the event at an anti-Romney event organized by the Washington group FreedomWorks—a group that split with the Tea Party Express over Romney’s appearance.
Romney instead reminded the attendees at the Concord party that he’s “a business guy” and a “turnaround” specialist. He drew applause for a jab at “Obamacare” and told the crowd, “I believe in free enterprise.”
The event’s attendees were evenly divided between Romney’s supporters in blue shirts, Tea Party loyalists, and reporters, and Romney’s supporters clustered together by the entrance, sparring only occasionally with the anti-Romney contingent who brought their own signs and slogans.
NEW YORK — A deputy mayor arrested on a domestic violence charge in July would have been fired if he hadn’t offered to resign days later, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Sunday, but he said he didn’t divulge the reason for the official’s departure in order to spare his family.
“It became obvious that he couldn’t work for the city and I immediately made sure that he no longer did,” Bloomberg said in his first comments about Stephen Goldsmith. It was revealed Thursday that Goldsmith had left his position a few days after he was arrested July 30 in Washington, D.C.
Confidence in the economy is poor, with eight in 10 Americans believing the nation is currently in a recession, according to a new poll on Friday.
Indeed, one-third of those surveyed in a new CNN/ORC poll think that the recession is serious.
As Jon Huntsman prepared to wrap up his latest campaign event in New Hampshire, he struck a confident note, despite his struggle to gain traction so far.
“We are going to win in New Hampshire,” he told a packed house at a must-do “Politics and Eggs” breakfast on Thursday.
Muammar Qadhafi vowed on Thursday he would never surrender and that his country could “be engulfed in flames,” according to a report on Syrian television.
The Syrian-owned Al-Rai channel said Qadhafi swore to keep fighting and told his supporters: “Let there be a long fight and let Libya be engulfed in flames.”
Qadhafi’s whereabouts are not known. His wife and three of his children fled to Algeria earlier this week, but the government there has said Qadhafi is not with them.
The Associated Press reported Al-Rai issued a statement, quoting Qadhafi as saying, “We won’t surrender again; we are not women; we will keep fighting.”
KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine — Former President George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara are planning to ride out Hurricane Irene at their summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine.
But Jim Appleby, spokesman for the Bushes, says plans are made to move them to inland if the surf and wind become too rough at their Walker’s Point home.
MOREHEAD CITY, N.C. — Hurricane Irene opened its assault on the Eastern Seaboard on Saturday by lashing the North Carolina coast with wind as strong as 115 mph and pounding shoreline homes with waves. Farther north, authorities readied a massive shutdown of trains and airports, with 2 million people ordered out of the way.
The center of the storm, which was estimated to be some 500 miles wide, passed over North Carolina’s Outer Banks for its official landfall just after 7:30 a.m. The hurricane’s vast reach traced the East Coast from Myrtle Beach, S.C., to just below Cape Cod. Tropical storm conditions battered Virginia, Maryland and Delaware, with the worst to come.
Angry Los Angeles officials canceled the city’s contract with Standard & Poor’s after the rating agency downgraded the city’s investment portfolio from AAA to AA, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The city’s interim treasurer, Steve Ongele, told the paper that L.A. has “lost faith” in S&P after it lowered the credit of the federal government and its role in the Wall Street financial crisis several years ago.
It sure can be discouraging to be a Nevadan.
We rank #1 in unemployment, foreclosures and high school dropouts… and now Nevada’s Democrat-controlled legislature may soon encourage big businesses like Amazon and Zappos to leave the Silver State. Yes, you read that right. We may end up ranking #1 with the dumbest legislature in the nation. (more…)
Standard & Poor’s delivered an unambiguous message to investors Friday that has serious implications not only for the nation’s economy but also for President Barack Obama, the tea party and anyone else with skin in the 2012 elections:
America’s political system is subprime.
Friday’s downgrade seems likely to spur a public backlash against S&P, which now assesses U.S. government debt at less than the top-shelf rating it once gave mortgage-backed securities ahead of the 2008 financial world implosion. But the ratings agency won’t be on the ballot in November 2012.
For everyone who will be, the political stakes of the debt-limit deal – and the deficit-reduction committee it spawned – have been raised exponentially. Rather than forcing conciliation, the analysis spurred many in the political class to dig deeper into the very trenches identified in the report — and to begin trading blame.
Five people, places, and things everyone’s wagging their fists at as the markets crash.
BY CAMERON ABADI | AUGUST 5, 2011
There will be plenty of blame to go around if the global economy tips into a double-dip recession. U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday, Aug. 5, spread the responsibility widely, citing a “tumultuous year” that has included the Arab revolts, the earthquake in Japan, the crisis in Europe, and partisan battles over spending in Washington.
But many of the leading global players in the ongoing financial drama have already begun casting stones at more specific targets. Here’s a look at the world’s favorite scapegoats.
TAMPA, Fla.— Two senior advisers to Mitt Romney gave an hour-long campaign briefing at the Republican National Committee meeting here Friday, but most of the 50 GOP leaders who showed up remain uncommitted.
Deputy campaign manager Katie Gage and political director Rich Beeson delivered a PowerPoint presentation outlining campaign activity and highlighting the former Massachusetts governor’s strengths as a candidate, then answered questions including how they’ll deal with their candidate being a Mormon and about the depth of his organization, according to a source in the room.
The lawsuit argues that it is the federal government’s responsibility to set immigration policy.
The Russian prime minister criticizes the dollar’s dominance in the world financial markets.
He can’t say if the U.S. will keep its AAA rating.
Some already jockeying for seats on panel.
The debt deal imposes immediate cuts and creates a panel that will have broad authority.