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Lame ducks return to Washington

House takeover, hobbled Democrats and invigorated Republicans return Monday to a testy tax dispute and a lengthy to-do list for a post-election session of Congress unlikely to achieve any landmark legislation. With change clearly in the air, more than 100 mainly Republican freshmen arrive on Capitol Hill to be schooled on the jobs they’ll assume when the next Congress convenes in January. For Democrats, it’s another sad note as one of their most venerable members goes on trial on ethics charges. Lame-duck sessions are usually unpopular and unproductive. Nothing suggests otherwise this year. Republicans are looking ahead to January, when
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John McCain: My Wife Agrees With Me On DADT Despite Her Video

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) insisted on Sunday that there was no rift of opinion between him and his wife over the issue of repealing the military’s ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ policy. Cindy McCain doesn’t endorse immediate repeal despite recording an ad accusing political leaders of forcing gay servicemen to live a lie, her husband stressed. “I respect the First Amendment rights of every member of my family,” Senator McCain joked in what was his 59th appearance on Meet The Press. The Senator was confirming a clarification of position that his wife had made two days prior. Earlier in the week,
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Rahm Emanuel Releases First Ad Of Chicago Mayoral Bid (VIDEO)

WASHINGTON — In a formal launching of his candidacy for mayor of Chicago, former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel released his first television ad of the cycle on Sunday. The spot — announced via the twitter account of top aide, Ben LaBolt — emphasizes Emanuel’s candidacy as an opportunity for the city to rescue itself from crisis. “We have to make city government more accessible to everybody, and I think we are at a crossroads,” Emanuel says, in the self-narrated spot. “We have got to decide whether we are going to continue to be a great city or
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Social Security Judges Face Violent Threats

WASHINGTON — Judges who hear Social Security disability cases are facing a growing number of violent threats from claimants angry over being denied benefits or frustrated at lengthy delays in processing claims. There were at least 80 threats to kill or harm administrative law judges or staff over the past year – an 18 percent increase over the previous reporting period, according to data collected by the agency. The data was released to the Association of Administrative Law Judges and made available to The Associated Press. One claimant in Albuquerque, N.M., called his congressman’s office to say he was going
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Newbies get a crash course in being a Congressman

Where to live? Whom to hire? What’s a voting card — and where are the bathrooms? More than 100 members of Congress arrive in Washington this coming week for the first time since winning election, trading the loftiness of campaign speeches for mundane lessons in how to do their new jobs. It’s freshman orientation on Capitol Hill, and the larger-than-usual class of 2010 is getting a crash course on how to navigate the next two years. Talk of changing the nation’s direction? That’s on the back burner for now. The newly elected House members — 85 Republicans, a meager nine
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Richard Klass: Taming the Lame Duck

The lame duck session of the 110th Congress starts tomorrow. Three issues will frame the lame duck session of Congress and determine the second half of President Obama’s first term. Handled well and the first two years will also look brighter. Handled poorly, and they will look worse. The first is the extension of the Bush tax cuts. The White House should stop giving mixed signals, draw a line in the sand not far from the $250,000 point and dig in. If a bill reaches the Obama desk outside that line, he should veto it. The Republicans can then offer
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Joe Miller: I’ll Only Keep Fighting If I Can Win

JUNEAU, Alaska — Republican Senate nominee Joe Miller is watching absentee ballots from military voters as he takes his next steps in Alaska’s still-undecided Senate race. Miller, who visited the vote counting center in Juneau Saturday, said he doesn’t intend to spend a lot of time and energy fighting over ballots if the math doesn’t add up in his favor. But he indicated that the military vote could go heavily for him. The deadline to receive absentee ballots from overseas and military addresses is Wednesday. “I think to call the race, to say that their vote doesn’t matter, to forget
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Blue Dog Democrat Vows To Challenge Pelosi — And Lose

WASHINGTON — Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) continued on Sunday to threaten a challenge against Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) should she, as announced, make a play for the post of Minority Leader in the next Congress. But even the North Carolina Democrat acknowledged that his hypothetical bid would be fully quixotic and ultimately fruitless. “Obviously if she doesn’t step aside then I’m fully aware, I’m going to press forward,” the former college football star told CNN’s State of the Union. “You know, I can add and subtract pretty well. I don’t have the numbers to be able to win but I
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Election showcases Obama’s eroding base

Near the midpoint of his presidency, Barack Obama‘s diverse voter coalition reveals giant cracks and he faces major work repairing his standing among independents in states crucial to his re-election chances. Catholics. Older people. Women. Young adults. They shifted toward Republicans in this month’s elections and failed to support Obama’s Democratic Party as they did in 2008. Two years before voters render judgment on his tenure, Obama’s most critical task may be winning back those who aren’t affiliated with a party but who hold enormous sway in close contests. National exit polls from the midterm elections show these voters broke
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David Axelrod Announces He Will Leave White House

WASHINGTON — Top Obama administration adviser David Axelrod says he will leave the White House in the first half of next year to begin the president’s re-election campaign. Axelrod told “Fox News Sunday” that he would return to Chicago in “late winter, early spring” to start work. The 55-year-old Axelrod is a longtime friend of President Barack Obama, and served as his chief strategist for the 2008 campaign. From The Huffington Post
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