As President Obama goes golfing with the boys in Florida, Michelle is hitting the slopes with her girls (and Biden!) in Aspen. Maybe the first lady lucked out, says Lauren Ashburn.
Oh, Michelle, I love you so much. Your silky bangs look gorgeous under the lights and your deep brown eyes make me swoon. I am the luckiest man alive.
President Barack Obama prepares to putt while playing golf at Farm Neck Golf Club, in Oak Bluffs, Mass., on the island of Martha's Vineyard, Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2011. (Steven Senne/AP)
And as quickly as he snapped his fingers to book the swanky, impossible-to-get-into José Andrés’s Minibar restaurant where they dined under dimmed lights for Valentine’s Day … see ya!
The most powerful man in the world is bolting for beautiful Palm Beach to golf with the boys. And he isn’t taking wifey.
Appointed by disgraced Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, he served less than two years in the Senate seat Obama vacated. Now, Roland Burris works as a lawyer and is shopping a book about his journey—and is still angry at a media he says was grossly unfair.
When Roland Burris is reached by phone at his Chicago law office earlier this week, he is proofreading copies of his memoir. He gives the working title—“What is your reaction to that? Does it grab you?”—but asks that it not be printed, since he hasn’t copywritten it. His agent is still shopping the book around, and Burris is hoping for some kind of advance.
Sen. Roland Burris, D-IL, walks off the floor of the Senate in August 2010. (Alex Brandon/AP)
The thrust of the memoir is his journey from Centralia, Illinois, to his controversial appointment by Gov. Rod Blagojevich to the Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama—the seat no one wanted after Blagojevich was caught by federal agents trying to sell it to the highest bidder.
Burris, an understated and often overlooked Illinois pol, had been lobbying for the seat hard after Obama was elected president and preparing to give it up, but when Burris accepted the governor’s appointment, he became a national laughingstock, mocked for everything from the mausoleum he had built for himself for after his death to the names of his children (Roland II and Rolanda), even his penchant for referring to himself in the third person. The Senate initially refused to seat him, and federal investigators looked into whether he had tried to buy off Blagojevich.
Imagining how President Romney would have handled the fiscal negotiations is a revealing thought experiment—because it shows just how unreasonable the current GOP position is, says Michael Tomasky.
One of the enduring mysteries of the contemporary Republican Party is whether they really believe all this gibberish that oozes out of their mouths. I suppose it will vary from issue to issue. On guns, I’d guess that many do genuinely believe that liberals basically want a gun-free America, so at least they’re more or less sincere on that one. On climate change, I think Jim Inhofe fervently believes it’s all bunk, and most of the rest of them don’t care but just figure they’ll follow his lead. But what about the broad economic questions? Here, I’ve come to conclude that somewhere way down there, they mostly know their theories haven’t worked, but they’re not anywhere near being able to acknowledge this to the rest of us. And tragically, this fact, combined with the fact of their unfortunate political power on Capitol Hill, means—in general, and with respect to this sequester battle in particular—that we’re going to have to live through more economic anguish waiting for these puerile people to join the real world.
Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks during a Super Tuesday event at the Westin Copley Place March 6, 2012, in Boston. (Win McNamee/Getty)
About 10 days ago, I wrote that it was starting to smell like the Republicans actually wanted the sequester cuts to kick in. Then the other day, John Boehner revealed the new House GOP position on the sequester. The Hill reported and Greg Sargent seized on this quote: “I’ll tell you the same thing I told my Republican colleagues at our retreat. The sequester will be in effect until there are cuts and reforms that put us on a path to balance the budget in the next 10 years.”
What he’s saying is that we must balance the budget within 10 years using cuts only. As Sargent points out, that would require cuts totaling one sixth to one third of government. Now this may be the Tea Party’s dream in theory, but nothing like this will ever happen in a million years. A government that starts closing regional airports in small towns, shuttering Department of Energy and Veterans Affairs facilities all over the country, and many kindred activities, well, believe me, that’s a government that will somehow find the funding for those facilities in a hurry and reopen them. Putting aside all questions of what’s right and wrong and considering only questions of political feasibility, the Boehner position is completely from another universe, and and his fellow Republicans surely know that such closings would have deeply harmful economic impacts across the country.
Says new legislation will help Kentucky’s economy.
Shocked by the knowledge that marijuana is currently included in the same illegal drug category as LSD, heroin, and ecstasy? Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is too. The Republican from Kentucky has formed an unlikely alliance with Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley—two Dems from Oregon—in the crusade to let American farmers grow hemp legally. “During these tough economic times, this legislation has the potential to create jobs and provide a boost to Kentucky’s economy and to our farmers and their families,” said McConnell in a statement explaining the push, which is also supported by Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.
The general nominated to head NATO command—who was briefly ensnared in the Petraeus scandal—has not yet confirmed he will withdraw, but names of four possible replacements have surfaced, including the Marines commandant and the chief of U.S. Fleet Forces Command.
With President Obama’s first choice to be the next supreme allied commander of NATO expected to take his name out of consideration, a shortlist of generals and admirals to take his place is already circulating at the Pentagon.
Marine Gen. John Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, in Washington in March 2012. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
NBC News and other outlets Thursday reported that Gen. John Allen is likely to withdraw his nomination to be supreme allied commander in Europe out of concern that emails he sent to Tampa socialite Jill Kelley would be made public in a confirmation process.
Pentagon spokesman Lt. Colonel Steven Warren said Thursday, “It’s my understanding that General Allen has not made a decision yet on this.” Other administration officials said Allen, who just finished his tour as commander of the allied mission in Afghanistan, will be speaking to President Obama on Friday to convey his final decision.
The New York mayor is a living rebuke to the reactionary cliché that government is counter–productive. He’s a perfect gun-control partner for the president.
Two events this past week, one the object of saturation coverage, the other modestly noted in muted terms, signal the emergence of a new political landscape. Barack Obama is changing America—and so will Michael Bloomberg. And in impact and effect they will do it together.
Nearly 100 confiscated illegal firearms rests on a table before a press conference with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, NYPD Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, and New York City District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Friday, Oct. 12, 2012 in New York. (John Minchillo/AP)
In the State of the Union message, the president called for bold measures ranging from job creation to immigration reform to gun regulation, while offering this reassurance: "It is not a bigger government we need, but a smarter government that ... invests in broad-based growth." The formulation was less an echo of the triangulating, Dick Morris—heeding Bill Clinton of 1996—"The era of big government is over"—than a paraphrase of John F. Kennedy as he pushed for Medicare and a vast expansion in federal aid to education. "I don't believe in big government, but in effective governmental action."
Obama is proving to be both shrewd and resolute as he realigns American politics – first in the 2012 campaign, then in his inaugural address, and now in his State of the Union vision of a "government that works for the many, not the few." This was anything but triangulation—and even before he mounted the rostrum to deliver it, the speech drew a rebuke from my friend and the conservative Republican strategist Alex Castellanos. Obama, he wrote, is leading Democrats to "the end of an ideological limb." They'll lose because he's a "liberal" and his party is following him into the wilderness of "liberalism"—as if that word still constituted the lethal epithet brandished by the GOP across a generation.
GOP senators’ obstruction of a straight vote on the defense-secretary nominee and Rand Paul’s placement of the CIA director nomination on hold amount to a cowardly and cynical political strategy that could compromise national security, says John Avlon.
Since the election, Republican talking points have reflected the fact that they need to reach out beyond their base: to be positive rather than negative; appear more reasonable, less obstructionist.
Senate Armed Services Committee members John McCain (left) and Lindsey Graham confer at the start of the committee’s hearing on the appointments of military leaders Thursday. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
But how you act speaks more loudly than what you say, and Senate Republicans have doubled down on obstructionism with their shameful filibuster of secretary-of-defense nominee Chuck Hagel. Add to this fresh insult the hold Sen. Rand Paul put on Obama’s nominee to be CIA director, John Brennan, and it looks like Republicans are backing a cynical political strategy that could compromise national security while proliferating hyperpartisanship even further in the future.
Let’s put this in perspective—Republicans decided to filibuster a Republican secretary-of-defense nominee, someone Mitch McConnell once called one of the most respected foreign-policy voices in the Senate, someone John McCain said would make an excellent secretary of state.
The McConnell campaign has already launched attacks against the actress as too liberal, an Obama disciple, and anti-coal. But Judd could prevail using her great asset—a spiritual connection with Kentucky basketball, says former state treasurer Jonathan Miller.
All politics isn’t local. It’s far more intimate. Politics is rip-off-the-bandage emotion. It’s high school melodrama on HGH.
Jae C. Hong/AP
Especially here in the South, all politics is personal.
Simple human nature may best explain why the prospect of actress Ashley Judd disrupting the otherwise inevitable reelection of U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has provoked the ire of so much of Kentucky’s political chattering class. Consultants whom Judd hasn’t consulted call her potential bid a “catastrophe” and a “fantasy.” Political wags who haven’t been granted an audience term her record exploitable as “too liberal for Kentucky.” Big donors whom she hasn’t called complain about not being wooed.
FDR called it the second-most-important part of the New Deal, and now it’s back at the center of public debate. From what it takes to live on a minimum wage to who’s standing in the way of raising it, here are five key facts.
In Tuesday night’s State of the Union address, President Obama revived one of the most contentious battles in economic policy: the minimum wage. “Tonight, let’s declare that, in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty, and raise the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour,” Obama said to rousing applause from Democrats and stern frowns from Republicans.
Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty
“Minimum-wage laws have never worked in terms of helping the middle class attain more prosperity,” Sen. Marco Rubio shot back Wedensday, speaking for half of the political class that views a higher minimum wage as a threat to business growth.
There’s a reason the minimum wage is a contentious topic: it’s both highly symbolic, and research about its benefits is notoriously inconclusive. Since the beginning, liberals have seen it as a crown jewel in the fight to protect workers, while conservatives frequently cite studies that say a higher minimum wage doesn’t do much to the country’s poverty levels. So as the policy once again comes to the center of the political debate, here are five key facts about the history of and conflict over the minimum wage.
Obama’s former chief of staff Rahm Emanuel might make a go for 2016, two well-connected Democrats tell Lloyd Grove—as long as Hillary doesn’t. And the potty-mouthed Chicago mayor could win.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is said by well-connected Democrats to be considering the idea of running for president if Hillary Clinton opts out of the 2016 race.
President Barack Obama, left, and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel walk on the tarmac upon the president's arrival in the Second City in October on Air Force One. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)
The 53-year-old Emanuel, who is busy raising money for his 2015 reelection campaign in the Windy City, has had discussions both over the phone and face to face in the past month with Democratic Party donors and fundraisers about a possible White House run, according to sources.
It’s unclear who raised the subject—Emanuel or the donors—and the mayor’s press secretary initially didn’t offer clarity on who said what to whom. Hours after this story was published, however, Tarah Cooper emailed denying that the mayor "raised or entertained" the subject of a White House run. She also sent a photo of Emanuel's scrawl on yellow legal paper vowing "not ever" to run "for another office" and reiterated his longstanding pledge that, in his words, he's "not interested. Not going to do it. No. I'll do it in Hebrew: lo." (Emanuel, the son of an Israeli doctor, had dual citizenship until he was 18.) Others expressed skepticism that any such discussions between Emanuel and donors could have been serious.
Simulated a panda performing oral sex on Hillary Clinton.
FreedomWorks is undergoing an internal investigation, and as a result, some of the Tea Party advocacy group and super PAC’s dirty little secrets are bound to be exposed. For example, a promotional video featuring a FreedomWorks intern dressed in a panda suit simulating oral sex on another intern wearing a Hillary Clinton mask. For some reason, this tasteful homage to The Shining was never shown at the conservative conference featuring Glenn Beck for which it was taped, but now it has come back to haunt those in charge, including Adam Brandon, the group’s executive vice president, under whose supervision the video was produced.
Obama’s agenda isn’t necessarily about the next four years. By Michael Tomasky.
There’s an old joke in the politics world about mayors and governors who’d never approve a highway project that might take more than three years out of mortal fear that they might not be around to don the sash and cut the ribbon. Whatever problems Barack Obama has, he doesn’t have that one. A lot of commentators are amusing themselves by pointing out that very few of Obama’s long list of State of the Union goals are likely to make it into law while he’s in office. I say that seeing as how he’s a pretty smart man, he knows this. But he’s doing it anyway. Because he’s thinking more about history than his story, and because he understands that if he wants to be a transformational president, the change he initiates is going to have to continue well past his time—and yes, the great presidents have all thought this way.
US President Barack Obama returns to Andrews Air Force Base Airport February 13, 2012 in Maryland. Obama traveled to Asheville to visit the Linamar factory to speak about his economic growth plan he spoke about in last night's State of the Union. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty)
The conventional wisdom is that the speech was a wish list, a Christmas list. I think that metaphor says more about the metaphorer than it does about Obama. If anyone understands the brutal reality of Capitol Hill, after what he went through those first four years, I’d reckon it’s Obama. My dear mother, a normally refined woman who nevertheless enjoyed a little earthy West Virginia humor, used to love the saying “wish in one hand and shit in the other and see which one gets filled faster.” Obama has seen enough of the latter from the Republicans to know that the former is a waste of time.
What is not a waste of time, however, is using your pulpit as president of the United States to lay out a vision for the sort of society you would like to see America become. Barack Obama is going to retire in January 2017, but history isn’t likely to end then. Obama knows that fighting climate change and getting universal pre-school and doing something to help the working poor are big jobs, long jobs. They’re certainly not going to happen under the current legislative configuration, and they’re probably not going to happen while he’s in office.
We asked Marc Rotenberg of the Electronic Privacy Information Center to analyze the executive order on cybersecurity President Obama issued on Tuesday. Read along with his annotations to see how the order affects our cyber-infrastructure and online privacy.
On Tuesday, President Obama signed an executive order outlining policies to combat cyberattacks and cyber-espionnage on government agencies and U.S. companies. The order comes a year after the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) passed the House and stalled in the Senate after massive protests from the online community, which saw the bill as a threat to Internet privacy. The executive order broadly describes how the government can build a "framework" with the private sector to share information on cyberattacks and threats, but leaves open many privacy-related questions.
To help us decipher the order, we asked Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), a non-private research center in Washington, to highlight the important sections and provide his own analysis.
In addition to his role at EPIC, Rotenberg teaches privacy and open government at Georgetown University Law Center. He frequently testifies before Congress on emerging privacy and civil liberties issues. He helped draft the Computer Security Act of 1987 and organized the campaign against the "Clipper" chip in 1994. EPIC is currently litigating against the National Security Agency for release of presidential directives concerning cybersecurity authority.
I challenged the Fox News host on his turf over his comments on drones and the media’s allegedly soft Obama coverage—and I emerged in one piece, says Howard Kurtz.
Well, I seem to have survived my visit to the fox’s lair.
(L-R) Newsweek Daily Beast's Howard Kurtz and talk show host Bill O'Reilly. (AP;Getty)
Got a couple of scratches, but I don’t think Bill O’Reilly drew any blood.
It was a contentious appearance on The Factor on Wednesday, as I knew it would be. When you criticize O’Reilly, as I did on my CNN program Reliable Sources, he doesn’t take kindly to that.
Conspicuously absent from Obama’s State of the Union was any mention of Guantanamo Bay or the 166 detainees still stuck there. Eli Lake reports on the president’s broken promise.
In his State of the Union address Tuesday night, Obama proposed bringing greater transparency to the war on al Qaeda and creating a new group to research alternatives to fossil fuels. One thing he didn’t mention was a pledge he made four years ago: the closing of Guantánamo Bay. Today, there are still 166 detainees languishing in America's most notorious prison—and most of them won’t be leaving any time soon.
In this file photo made June 27, 2006, reviewed by a U.S. Department of Defense official, U.S. military guards walk within Camp Delta military-run prison, at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base, Cuba. (Brennan Linsley/AP)
Last month, Obama quietly transferred Dan Fried, whose job was to relocate detainees off the island, to a new job overseeing U.S. sanctions. The fact that he won’t be replaced suggests relocations aren’t a big priority these days. Already, Congress has blocked detainees from being moved to U.S. prisons while imposing tough conditions on those who have been cleared to go to other countries. Dozens of prisoners are deemed too dangerous to be released altogether.
The Obama administration insists it’s doing everything possible to fulfill the president’s pledge. “We are absolutely still committed to closing Gitmo,” National Security Council spokesman, Tommy Vietor, said in an interview. He put the blame elsewhere, saying, “The unfortunate reality is that Congress has gone out of its way to prevent us from doing so, but we still believe closing the facility is in our national security interest."
Eric Nordstrom, who worked at the Benghazi consulate on the day it was attacked, choked up during Wednesday's hearings. 'It matters,' he said, that the committee investigate what happened before, during, and after the siege.
Corry Booker’s the hero mayor of Newark, and, yes, he’s running for Senate. By Lloyd Grove
The president’s push for $9 an hour has the GOP on the defensive. Eleanor Clift on the strategy behind the move. But this push could take the politics out of the perennial argument.
Meet the new Treasury secretary, same as the old Treasury secretary. Lloyd Green on nominee Jack Lew.
For John Kael Weston and other men on the frontlines of Iraq and Afghanistan drone strikes raise many uncomfortable questions. He writes on why we need clearer policy and guidelines for these silent killers.