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Will a leaking economy sink Obama?

President Barack Obama faces a long re-election campaign having all but given up on the economy rebounding in any meaningful way before November 2012. His own budget office predicts unemployment will stay at about 9 percent, a frightening number for any president seeking a second term. Obama’s prospects aren’t entirely grim, however. The GOP, heavily influenced by the tea party, may nominate someone so deeply flawed or right-leaning that, Democrats hope, Obama can persuade Americans to give him a second chance rather than risk the alternative. Democrats say the man who ran on hope and change in 2008 will have
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Labor faces new reality with little help from Obama

In the early days of the Obama administration, organized labor had grand visions of pushing through a sweeping agenda that would help boost sagging membership and help revive union strength. Now labor faces this reality: Public employee unions are in a drawn-out fight for their very survival in Wisconsin, Ohio and other states where GOP lawmakers have curbed collective bargaining rights. Also, many union leaders are grousing that the president they worked so hard to elect has not focused enough on job creation and other bold plans to get their members back to work. “Obama campaigned big, but he’s governing
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Like it or not, tea party is an influencing factor

Bulling its way into 2012, the tea party is shaping the race for the GOP presidential nomination as candidates parrot the movement’s language and promote its agenda while jostling to win its favor. That’s much to the delight of Democrats who are working to paint the tea party and the eventual Republican nominee as extreme. “The tea party isn’t a diversion from mainstream Republican thought. It is within mainstream Republican thought,” Mitt Romney told a New Hampshire newspaper recently, defending the activists he’s done little to woo, until now. The former Massachusetts governor is starting to court them more aggressively
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Dick Cheney tries to rewrite history

Dick Cheney‘s autobiography presents a robust defense of his push for the U.S. invasion of Iraq without critically examining two issues central to America’s near-failure in the war: the Bush administration’s decision to disband the country’s army and banish all members of Saddam Hussein‘s Baath Party. Cheney has said that “In My Time” would cause “heads to explode” in Washington, and it is juicy reading for its harsh criticism of two secretaries of state, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, and one defense secretary, Robert Gates. Not surprising was Cheney’s adulation of Gates’ Pentagon predecessor, Donald H. Rumsfeld, the vice president’s
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Safe, but not safe enough

We are safer, but not safe enough. In the decade since the Sept. 11 attacks, the government has taken giant steps to protect the nation from terrorists, spending eye-popping sums to smarten up the federal bureaucracy, hunt down enemies, strengthen airline security, secure U.S. borders, reshape America’s image and more. Still, the effort remains a work in progress, and in some cases a work stalled. Whole alphabets of acronyms have been born and died in pursuit of homeland security, a phrase that wasn’t even used much before 9/11. Hello, TSA, DNI, DHS, NCTC, CVE, NSI and ICE. Goodbye, TTIC, INS
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Palin sure sounds like she’s running for President

Cheers of “Run Sarah, Run” greeted Sarah Palin at a tea party rally in Iowa, but the former Alaska governor still isn’t saying whether she’s going to jump into the 2012 presidential race. Palin did have harsh words Saturday for President Barack Obama and the direction that she says the country has taken in his first term. She says “America is hurting” and at “a tipping point” due to “failed policies and incompetent leadership.” The 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee says the crisis runs deeper than the fear of double-dip recession or “the shame of a credit downgrade.” She says
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Feds issue warnings on small plane terrorism threat

The FBI and Homeland Security have issued a nationwide warning about al-Qaida threats to small airplanes, just days before the anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks. Authorities say there is no specific or credible terrorist threat for the 10-year anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. But they have stepped up security nationwide as a precaution. According to a five-page law enforcement bulletin issued Friday, as recently as early this year, al-Qaida was considering ways to attack airplanes. The alert, issued ahead of the summer’s last busy travel weekend, said terrorists have considered renting private planes
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Illinois Congressman says ‘nada’ to Obama’s job speech

An outspoken Republican congressman from Illinois is defending his decision to boycott President Barack Obama’s jobs speech next week. U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh said Saturday that Obama is abusing his power as president by calling a joint session of Congress for the address. Walsh said at a meeting of Republicans in his northeastern Illinois district that such a move should be reserved for “momentous” topics like war, not what he called a political speech. Walsh had said earlier in the week that he would not attend. He said he will still read Obama’s speech and comment afterward, and he plans
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Battle-weary lawmakers avoid town hall meetings

Too much yelling, not enough listening. Facing organized, often raucous confrontations at political events, some members of Congress this summer abandoned the long-time tradition of open meetings with the folks back home. It was goodbye to one of the few remaining opportunities for voters and lawmakers to talk face to face. Some cited security in the aftermath of the shooting that severely wounded Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords at a meet-and-greet event in January. Others blamed grass-roots groups for commandeering the town halls. Still others opted for smaller, sometimes private or paid events. Whatever the explanation, the dearth of meetings sparked
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Religion and politics: Always a volatile mix

Rick Perry dived right in. The Texas governor, now a Republican presidential candidate, held a prayer rally for tens of thousands, read from the Bible, invoked Christ and broadcast the whole event on the Web. There was no symbolic nod to other American faiths, no rabbi or Roman Catholic priest among the evangelical speakers. It was a rare, full-on embrace of one religious tradition in the glare of a presidential contest. Looks like another raucous season for religion and politics. And yet, there was a time when all of this was simpler. Protestants were the majority, and candidates could show
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