January, 2013

Obama Eyes Colorado Lt. Governor as Labor Secretary

Colorado Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia (D) is a leading candidate to become secretary of labor in President Obama’s second-term cabinet, Reuters reports.

“Garcia, a Hispanic former president of Colorado State University-Pueblo, would bring racial diversity and a Western flair to Obama’s team. The president has faced criticism for failing
to choose women and minority candidates for cabinet vacancies at the
departments of state, defense, and treasury.”

Lawmaker Retools “Don’t Say Gay” Bill

Tennessee state Sen. Stacey Campfield’s (R) new version of his “Classroom Protection Act” allows counseling of students on homosexuality, but calls for notification of a youth’s parents when counseling occurs, the Knoxville News-Sentinel reports.

The bill also prohibits in grades kindergarten through eight “classroom instruction, course materials or other informational resources that are inconsistent with natural human reproduction.”

A Bad Day for Hagel

National Journal says Chuck Hagel “fumbled badly” at his Senate confirmation hearing today.

“The strong, silent-type approach worked for the Nebraska Republican when
he was on the other side of the firing line, just one of a gauntlet of
senators asking questions, but it wasn’t working on Thursday, with him
in the hot seat before the Senate’s Armed Services Committee and getting
it from all sides–from some Democrats and a battery of hostile
Republicans–who began by praising his service to the nation and then
proceeded to eviscerate him. During the daylong hearings, Hagel appeared
to lose Republican after Republican, and even a couple of Democrats,
including New York’s Kirsten Gillibrand, looked a little doubtful.
Hagel’s manner and responses did little to reassure anyone, it seemed,
about his toughness on Iran and firmness on Israel.”

Jonathan Bernstein: “Fortunately for Hagel, it almost certainly doesn’t matter. Spending a
few hours on the defensive isn’t likely to sink his nomination — unless
it was already doomed.”

Politico reports that Hagel’s answers prompted Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) to announce he would oppose Hagel’s
nomination.

Lawmaker Compares Health Exchange to Holocaust

As the debate over Idaho’s proposed state health insurance exchange heats up, state Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll (R) compared the role of insurance companies to “the Jews boarding the trains to concentration camps,” saying the federal government is using private insurers and in the future will “pull the trigger” on them, the Idaho Spokesman-Review reports.

Nuxoll defended the analogy: “I felt badly for the Jews – it wasn’t just Jews, but Jews, and Christians, and Catholics, and priests. My thing was they didn’t know what was going on. The insurance companies are not realizing what’s going to end up in their demise.”

Geraldo Rivera May Run for Senate

Television personality and radio host Geraldo Rivera told his listeners that he’s “truly contemplating” a run for U.S. Senate in New Jersey, The Hill reports.

Said Rivera: “I mention this only briefly, fasten your seat belt. I mentioned this only briefly to my wife…but I am and I’ve
been in touch with some people in the Republican Party in New Jersey. I
am truly contemplating running for Senate against Frank Lautenberg or
Cory Booker in New Jersey.”

McCain Clashes with Hagel

Sen. McCain (R-Ariz.) “grew irate” when former Sen. Chuck Hagel at his confirmation hearing to be defense secretary “wouldn’t say whether he believed the 2007 troop surge in Iraq helped stabilize that country,” Politico reports.

McCain: “Are you going to answer the question? Let the record show that you refused to answer the question.”

Hagel: “I’m not going to give you a yes or no. I’ll defer that judgment to history.”

McCain: “History has already made a judgment on the surge, and you’re on the wrong side of it.”

McCain said later he might oppose Hagel’s nomination because of his refusal to give him a direct response.

NRA Takes Congress

Dana Milbank:
“When he and his colleagues stepped off the elevator in the Dirksen
Senate Office Building on Wednesday morning and found TV cameras waiting
in the hallway, LaPierre’s bodyguards swung into action. One of them,
in blatant violation of congressional rules, bumped and body-checked
journalists out of the way so they couldn’t film LaPierre or question
him as he walked. ‘You don’t have jurisdiction here!’ a cameraman
protested as an NRA goon pushed him against a wall. After the melee,
congressional officials informed the NRA officials that, in the halls of
Congress, they had to follow congressional procedures — which prohibit
manhandling. This must have come as a surprise to the gun lobbyists,
whose swagger seems to suggest that they are, in fact, in control of
Congress.”

Majority Say Government Threatens Personal Freedoms

A new Pew Research survey finds “trust in the federal government remains mired near a historic low, while
frustration with government remains high. And for the first time, a
majority of the public says that the federal government threatens their
personal rights and freedoms.”

The poll found shows “that 53% think that the federal government threatens their own personal rights and freedoms while 43% disagree.”

Why the White House Takes Petitions Seriously

Michael Scherer: “Once upon a time, Presidents could talk to the whole nation at will. Thirty years ago, 50 million people watched the nightly news on TV. Now not even half that many do. And whole segments of the public have walled themselves off. How can Obama reach Rush Limbaugh’s audience, except through Rush Limbaugh? How does he talk to his friends and opponents who care passionately about public policy but would never tune in to the State of the Union or even his Inaugural Address?”

“This was the thought that helped launch the petition system, We the People, back in September of 2011. It started as little more than a whiteboard jot in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, a simple idea to get millions of Americans to contribute to the White House website…  It still doesn’t matter how silly or challenging the request. All that matters is that it is on a subject federal government can do something about. All that matters is that it motivates multitudes.”

Not the Way to Handle a Political Crisis

A good observation from First Read:

“Menendez violated a cardinal rule of Crisis Management 101: In this denial, he repeated the charge against him. It may seem like a small thing, but the fact is no major news organization — including ours — has been able to confirm any of the allegations on the prostitution stuff. And the evidence right now is so tenuous on the prostitution allegation that we decided it was irresponsible to even allude to it by saying ‘there are reports,’ etc. However, the senator’s statement about the prostitution allegations has resulted in a lot of bad press on this front — more than he would have gotten simply for his connection to the donor/friend under investigation.”