December, 2016

Obama Will Strategize with Democrats on Obamacare

“President Obama will head to Capitol Hill next week to meet with Democratic lawmakers to discuss a strategy to fight the ObamaCare repeal effort,” The Hill reports.

“Obama will hold a joint meeting with House and Senate Democrats at 9 a.m. Wednesday in the Capitol Visitor Center auditorium. The notice for the meeting says the session is expected to last ‘at least one hour.'”

Putin Says He Won’t Expel U.S. Diplomats

“In a rare break from the diplomatic tradition of reciprocal punishment, Russian President Vladi­mir Putin said Friday he would not deport U.S. diplomats in a tit-for-tat response to U.S. hacking sanctions, as Russia looks to cultivate relations with the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump,” the Washington Post reports.

Said Putin: “We won’t create problems for American diplomats.”

He added that he would “plan further steps for restoring the Russian-American relationship based on the policies enacted by the administration of President Donald Trump.”

America’s Democracy Has Become Illiberal

Fareed Zakaria: “Two decades ago, I wrote an essay in Foreign Affairs that described an unusual and worrying trend: the rise of illiberal democracy. Around the world, dictators were being deposed and elections were proliferating. But in many of the places where ballots were being counted, the rule of law, respect for minorities, freedom of the press and other such traditions were being ignored or abused.”

“Today, I worry that we might be watching the rise of illiberal democracy in the United States — something that should concern anyone, Republican or Democrat, Donald Trump supporter or critic.”

South Bend Mayor May Run for DNC Chief

Politico: “Pete Buttigieg, the mayor here who national Democrats often mention on the shortlist of rising stars in the party, said he is nearing a decision about whether to run for DNC chair and would step down as mayor if he were to win the job.”

“If Buttigieg does decide to jump into the race, he would be joining Rep. Keith Ellison, New Hampshire Democratic Party chairman Ray Buckley, South Carolina Democratic Party chairman Jaime Harrison, Labor Secretary Tom Perez and Idaho Democratic Party executive director Sally Boynton Brown in the field.”

Expectations Could Trip Up Trump

Charlie Cook: “In short, at least a size­able num­ber of Amer­ic­ans are quite hope­ful that things will get bet­ter over the next year, at least in part be­cause of Trump’s elec­tion. It also might be worth not­ing that the sur­veys showed that much of the op­tim­ism was among older Amer­ic­ans. With the stock mar­ket run­ning pretty much at re­cord highs since Novem­ber, and older Amer­ic­ans gen­er­ally more in­ves­ted in the stock mar­ket than young­er people, this op­tim­ism may be re­lated to or caused by the mar­ket’s per­form­ance.”

“But it’s not quite clear which is the cart and which is the horse. Are people feel­ing bet­ter be­cause the stock mar­ket is do­ing well, or is the stock mar­ket do­ing well be­cause people are feel­ing bet­ter, or maybe both?”

Obama Strikes Back at Russia Over Hacking

“The Obama administration struck back at Russia on Thursday for its efforts to influence the 2016 election, ejecting 35 Russian intelligence operatives from the United States and imposing sanctions on Russia’s two leading intelligence services,” the New York Times reports.

“The administration also sanctioned four top officers of one of those services, the military intelligence unit known as the G.R.U., which the White House believes ordered the attacks on the Democratic National Committee and other political organizations.”

“The expulsion of the 35 Russian spies, who were posing as diplomats, was in response to the harassment of American diplomats in Russia, officials said. None of those officials are believed to be connected to the hacking.”

Politico: Obama sanctions put Capitol Hill Republicans in a box

Obama Getting Under Trump’s Skin

Politico: “Donald Trump can’t decide whether he thinks the transition of power is going well or not. But he knows he doesn’t like how much attention Barack Obama is getting and is also bothered by what Trump and his closest advisers see as an active effort to poke the president-elect and undermine the incoming administration with last-minute policy changes on his way out of office, according to two people close to the transition.”

“And the relationship is likely to get worse in the three weeks until the inauguration: Obama is scheduled to give a farewell address Jan. 10 that is expected to be a recounting of his successes and an inherent contrast with Trump and the administration is rushing to make public a report on Russian hacking during the election that intelligence officials say was done to help Trump, though the president-elect has disputed that entirely.”

Trump Was a Boon to Cable News

“Presidential politics was stranger than fiction in 2016 and that made it a good year to be in the cable news business. All three major cable news networks had their largest audiences ever, thanks to the drawing power of the nonstop surprises of the 2016 White House campaign that culminated with the election of Donald Trump,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

“Year-end numbers from Nielsen showed that the 21st Century Fox-owned Fox News Channel was the most-watched network in all of cable with an average of 2.43 million viewers in prime time, up 36% over last year. Only the four major broadcast networks had a larger audience.”

Jesse Jackson Jr. Divorcing

Former Chicago Ald. Sandi Jackson, who is seeking a divorce from ex-Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., “said in court filings this week that he has income of at least $10,250 a month while she is out of work and has been borrowing from friends and selling her belongings to stay afloat,” the Chicago Tribune reports.

“Sandi Jackson filed for divorce in Washington, while her husband filed in Cook County. The former Democratic lawmakers pleaded guilty to felonies in 2013 and later completed staggered terms in federal prison.”

Trump Minimizes Claims of Russian Hacking

President-elect Donald Trump distanced himself “from the Obama administration’s plans to punish Russia for its alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election,” the Washington Post reports.

Said Trump: “I think we ought to get on with our lives. I think that computers have complicated lives very greatly. The whole age of the computer has made it where nobody knows exactly what’s going on. We have speed, we have a lot of other things, but I’m not sure we have the kind of security we need.”

Kerry Slams Israel Over Settlements

Secretary of State John Kerry accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel “of thwarting peace in the Middle East, speaking with a clarity and harshness almost never heard from American diplomats when discussing one of their closest and strongest allies,” the New York Times reports.

“With only 23 days left in his four-year turn as secretary of state, during which he made the search for peace in the Middle East one of his driving missions, Mr. Kerry said the Israeli government was undermining any hope of a two-state solution to its decades-long conflict with the Palestinians.”

Wall Street Journal: “Mr. Kerry’s decision to deliver a broad, hard-hitting speech on the Middle East just three weeks before leaving office reflected the frustration many in the administration say they feel about the failure of peace efforts and the accusation by Israel and some of its Washington allies that President Barack Obama hasn’t been a loyal friend.”

Pelosi Accuses Republicans of ‘Power Grab’

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi accused Republicans of attempting a “power grab” to snuff out free speech on the House floor with their controversial new rules package, Politico reports.

“Democrats say the proposed fines, a response to their gun control sit-in over the summer, is an unprecedented breach of decorum. And some experts have questioned the constitutionality of such a move, which House members are expected to approve as part of a broader rules package in early January.”

Blagojevich Seeks Commutation of His Sentence

Imprisoned former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) is seeking a presidential commutation of his 14-year sentence on a corruption conviction, the Chicago Tribune reports.

“The Chicago Democrat was sentenced in 2011 following his conviction for trying to exchange an appointment to President Barack Obama’s former U.S. Senate seat for campaign cash. An appeals court last year struck down five of his 18 convictions and ordered a new sentencing, but a judge this year upheld the 14-year term.”

Lawmaker Who Said Colleagues Lacked Morals Arrested

South Carolina Rep. Chris Corley (R), who rebuked his colleagues in a Christmas card for lacking morals when they took down the Confederate flag, is accused of beating his wife and pointing a gun at her, the AP reports.

Officers charged Corley “with a pair of felonies that could send him to prison for up to 15 years after he attacked his wife during an argument over infidelity… The couple’s young children were in the home, and the wife took the family to her mother’s house across the street after Corley threatened to kill her, pointed a gun at her, then said he would kill himself.”