Archives for News

Hagel battered by fellow Republicans but supported by Democrats

Bruised and battered, Chuck Hagel emerged from his grueling confirmation hearing with solid Democratic support for his nomination to be President Barack Obama’s next defense secretary and relentless opposition from Republicans who repeatedly challenged their former GOP colleague. Mathematically, Hagel has the edge as he looks to succeed Defense Secretary Leon Panetta as the nation’s 24th Pentagon chief. Democrats hold a 14-12 advantage on the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., said the panel could vote as early as next Thursday, contingent on Hagel’s prompt response on some lingering questions. Levin expressed optimism about Hagel’s prospects and
Read More

Hillary Clinton exits State Department with a jab at critics

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is leaving office with a slap at critics of the Obama administration‘s handling of the September attack on a U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya. She told The Associated Press that critics of the administration’s handling of the attack don’t live in an “evidence-based world” and their refusal to “accept the facts” is unfortunate and regrettable for the political system. In her last one-on-one interview before she steps down on Friday, Clinton told the AP that the attack in Benghazi was the low point of her time as America’s top diplomat. But she suggested that
Read More

Ed Koch, New York’s colorful former mayor, dead at 88

Ed Koch‘s favorite moment as mayor of New York City, fittingly, involved yelling. Suddenly inspired to do something brash about the rare transit strike that crippled the city in 1980, he strode down to the Brooklyn Bridge to encourage commuters who were forced to walk to work instead of jumping aboard subway trains and buses. “I began to yell, ‘Walk over the bridge! Walk over the bridge! We’re not going to let these bastards bring us to our knees!’ And people began to applaud,” the famously combative, acid-tongued politician recalled at a 2012 forum. His success in rallying New Yorkers
Read More

Jim Carville, Mary Matalin return to the scene of their marital crime

When Mary Matalin heard a baby cry during a Super Bowl news conference this week, she paused midsentence, peered in the direction of the fussing child and asked: “Is that my husband?” Matalin, the noted Republican political pundit, isn’t shy about making jokes at the expense of Democratic strategist James Carville, who went from being her professional counterpart to her partner in life when they were married — in New Orleans — two decades ago. This week, though, and for much of the past few years, the famous political odd couple have been working in lockstep for a bipartisan cause
Read More

House members close to deal on immigration reform

A group of a half-dozen House members, equally divided between Democrats and Republicans, is nearing completion of wide-ranging immigration legislation similar to proposals by Senate negotiators and President Barack Obama, including a pathway to legal immigration status for 11 million illegal immigrants already in the U.S. The group intends to unveil the legislation soon, perhaps around the time of Obama’s State of the Union address Feb. 12, according to lawmakers and aides involved. It is likely to face strong resistance from many of the conservative Republicans who dominate the House. Yet its mere existence is a sign of more interest
Read More

Economic doom and gloom complicates Obama’s politial agenda

Just as President Barack Obama is pushing new initiatives on gun control and immigration, the gloomy old problem of a sluggish economy is elbowing its way back into prominence. Consumer confidence is falling, the economy is contracting and large automatic spending cuts are threatening to hit the Pentagon and other programs, with uncertain consequences. These troubles arise as Obama’s public approval is improving and as he begins to use his sway to promote the key features of his second-term agenda. The White House, the Federal Reserve and independent economists attributed the shrinkage in gross domestic product and the drop in
Read More

Senator claims he reimbursed fatcat donor for 2010 junket

Sen. Robert Menendez‘s office says he reimbursed a prominent Florida political donor $58,500 for the full cost of two of three trips Menendez took on the donor’s plane to the Dominican Republic in 2010. There was no public disclosure. “The senator paid for the two trips out of his personal account and no reporting requirements apply,” said Menendez spokeswoman Tricia Enright. Details of Menendez’s trips emerged as his office said unsubstantiated allegations that the senator engaged in sex with prostitutes in the Dominican Republic are false. The FBI searched the West Palm Beach, Fla., office of the donor — eye
Read More

CIA director nominee knew about agency’s torture techniques

John Brennan, President Barack Obama’s nominee to head the CIA, had detailed, contemporaneous knowledge of the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” on captured terrorism suspects during an earlier stint as a top spy agency official, according to multiple sources familiar with official records. Those records, the sources said, show that Brennan was a regular recipient of CIA message traffic about controversial aspects of the agency’s counter-terrorism program after September 2001, including the use of “waterboarding.” How deeply involved Brennan was in the program, and whether he vigorously objected to it at the time, as he has said he did, are
Read More

NRA, gun control advocates face off before Senate

The National Rifle Association and gun-control advocates, including the husband of wounded former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, are facing off at the year’s first Senate hearing on what lawmakers should do to curb gun violence. The two sides were squaring off Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, whose own members are divided in a microcosm of the debate that gun limits will face on their way through Congress. The hearing is a direct response to the Dec. 14 shooting rampage that killed 20 first-graders and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., and transformed gun control into a
Read More

Republicans willing to use spending cuts as leverage

Driven by frustration over deficits and debt, Republican conservatives are pushing a politically risky move to permit painfully large automatic spending cuts to strike the Pentagon and domestic programs alike in an effort to force Democrats into making concessions on the budget. It’s a remarkable turnabout from last year, when GOP leaders were among the loudest voices warning of dire consequences for the military and the economy if more than $100 billion worth of across-the-board cuts were allowed to take effect. Now, even as defense hawks fume, Republicans see the strategy as their best chance of wringing cuts from costly
Read More