Review Category : Poltics

Former Presidents to Announce Partnership, Launch Presidential Leadership Scholars Program

Photo Credits: ABC/ JON GARCIA (L) and ABC/Randy Holmes (R)(WASHINGTON) — Former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton will team up again, they announced on Friday, to launch an educational leadership program.

The Presidential Leadership Scholars program will offer “motivated leaders an opportunity to study presidential decisions, and learn from key administration officials, practitioners, and leading academics.” This program is the product of a partnership between the presidential centers of Bush, Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Lyndon B. Johnson.

The specific details of the program will be unveiled on Sept. 8 during a lunch event at Washington D.C.’s, Newseum. That event will be also be steamed live.

According to a press release, the program’s intent is to allow its participants to “foster the skills they’ll need to address both the challenges and opportunities presented in the 21st century.”

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Homeland Security Secretary Says No Threat Imminent Against US

US Department of Homeland Security(WASHINGTON) — The Department of Homeland Security issued a statement on Friday in regards to the decision made by the government of the United Kingdom to raise that country’s domestic terror threat level to “severe.”

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said in the statement that the U.S. government has not received any “specific, credible threat to the U.S. homeland.” Still, Johnson noted, militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria have shown the intent and capability to capture American citizens overseas, making them an “active and serious threat.”

Johnson points out the action that the DHS has taken in recent weeks, including enhanced security at overseas airports and increased tracking of foreign fighters traveling to and from Syria. “Additional security measures” are also under consideration, he said.

Johnson expressed deep concern about the ongoing situation in both Iraq and Syria, saying that the DHS will “continue to evaluate and adopt serious and prudent homeland security measures as the situation warrants.”

Earlier on Friday, the FBI noted that the United Kingdom’s decision was not based on a specific threat. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest echoed that sentiment, saying that he didn’t “anticipate at this point that there is a plan to change” the U.S. terror threat level.

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Nice Tan, Mr. President: Reactions to Obama’s Latest Fashion Choice

The White House(WASHINGTON) — President Obama wore a tan suit at his press conference Thursday and the Internet exploded.

Although the president was making important statements about the Islamic State and Russia, supporters and critics focused more on Obama’s attire, a departure from the usual dark suits or sports jackets he wears in public.

Some of the tweets included:

“Obama vows to defeat whoever made him wear this suit.”

“Who gave President Obama that old church suit from my dad’s closet?”

“I don’t care that Obama’s suit is tan. The problem with the suit is that it’s EMPTY.”

“Obama’s tan suit is a distraction from Benghazi.”

“If Obama is catching hell for wearing a tan suit now, then God help him when he wears white after Labor Day.”

“Message from senior White House official: ‘He loves that suit.'”

Michigan Congressman John Dingell tweeted, “I see no problem with the suit,” while also posting a photo of himself in a tan suit.

FYI: Obama was also photographed wearing what looks like the same suit after attending Easter Sunday services.
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Prosecution Rests in McDonnell Trial, Closing Arguments Friday

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — After the prosecution rested in the trial of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife, closing arguments will begin on Friday.

The jury was sent home on Thursday afternoon and will hear four closing arguments before they will be asked to come to a verdict. McDonnell and his wife are accused of taking gifts from a businessman in exchange for special treatment.

The defense rested on Wednesday. Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams said that he provided the McDonnells with gifts in exchange for help with his business. The McDonnells, however, claim that he was never given special treatment.

The final witness for the prosecution was an FBI special agent who testified that the couple spent most of their nights together, the Washington Post said, a claim that would undermine their defense that their marriage was sufficiently damaged by his political status that they could not have engaged in a conspiracy.

After the testimony ended, defense attorneys moved to have the couple acquitted, but the judge denied that request.

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President Obama Says ‘We Don’t Have a Strategy Yet’ to Fight ISIS

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) — President Obama admitted Thursday that his administration does not have a strategy to combat the militant Islamic group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria that has grabbed large chunks of Iraq and Syria.

The president said he would be meeting later Thursday with the National Security Council.

“The options that I’m asking for from the Joint Chiefs focuses primarily on making sure that ISIL is not overrunning Iraq,” Obama said during a news conference in the White House briefing room, using another acronym for the militant Islamic group ISIS.

When the president was asked if he would seek congressional approval for U.S. attacks on ISIS targets in Syria, he responded, “I don’t want to put the cart before the horse. We don’t have a strategy yet…Some of the news reports suggests that folks are getting a little further ahead of where we’re at than we currently are.”

Earlier this week, the president approved military surveillance flights over Syria, but airstrikes in that country have not been authorized. U.S. military planes have carried out over 100 airstrikes in Iraq.

“As commander-in-chief, I will always do what is necessary to protect the American people,” he said. “Our military action in Iraq has to be part of a broader comprehensive strategy to protect our people and to support our partners who are taking the fight to [ISIS].”

Obama said he is dispatching Secretary of State John Kerry to the area to work with allies, and ordered Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to prepare “a range of options” as he considers future military action.

“It also means that states in the region stop being ambivalent about these extremist groups,” Obama said. “This should be a wake-up call to Sunni, to Shia, to everybody that a group like ISIS is beyond the pale; that they have no vision or ideology beyond violence and chaos and the slaughter of innocent people.”

“We’ve got to all join together — even if we have differences on a range of political issues — to make sure that they’re rooted out,” he added.

The president promised to continue to consult with Congress in the days and weeks ahead.

“I do think that it’ll be important for Congress to weigh in, or that our consultations with Congress continue to develop, so that the American people are part of the debate.” he said. “I will consult with Congress and made sure their voices are heard.”

Following Obama’s remarks, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell predicted the president would have “significant congressional support” if he engages legislators in the development of his plans.

“The President needs to develop a regional strategy, working with our allies, to defeat ISIL and to use the full extent of his authorities to attack this enemy force,” McConnell, R-Ky., wrote in a statement. “But don’t forget, the threat from ISIL is real and it’s growing — and it is time for President Obama to exercise some leadership in launching a response.”

Secretary of State John Kerry has also consistently advocated for a powerful response.

“The world must know that the United States of America will never back down in the face of such evil,” Kerry said in a statement released last week. “ISIL and the wickedness it represents must be destroyed.”

Following his remarks, Obama was scheduled to meet with his National Security Council in the Situation Room, with Vice President Joe Biden and Kerry.

Since video emerged Aug. 19 showing the beheading of American journalist James Foley, Obama has fought back against fresh criticism of his foreign policy, promising to be “relentless” in his fight against the emerging threat posed by ISIS.

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Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill to Lead Senate Hearing on Demilitarization of Local Police

US Senate(WASHINGTON) — Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, will chair a Senate hearing on the militarization of local police, she announced on Thursday.

The hearing will take place on Sept. 9 and McCaskill, the chairperson of the Subcommittee on Financial and Contracting Oversight — and also a senator from the state where police utilized military-style equipment in confrontations with protesters following the officer-involved shooting death of Michael Brown earlier this month — will lead. McCaskill was one of a number of political leaders who called on local authorities in Ferguson, Missouri, to “demilitarize” the tense situation.

The hearing will be held by the full Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee at 10:30 a.m. on Sept. 9.

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Hillary Clinton Breaks Her Silence on Ferguson

State Department(SAN FRANCISCO) — Just off a three-week vacation in the Hamptons, Hillary Clinton used her first day back on the speaking circuit Thursday to address the situation in Ferguson, Missouri, applauding President Obama for his response to the protests and calling for a nationwide effort to improve racial inequalities that she said still persist in the American justice system.

“Watching the recent funeral for Michael Brown, as a mother, as a human being, my heart just broke for his family,” Clinton said during her prepared remarks at a tech conference in San Francisco.

“Nobody wants to see our streets look like a war zone. Not in America. We are better than that,” she added, referencing “dramatic, terrible” pictures she watched on television.

Brown, 18, was killed when a police officer in Ferguson evidently shot him six times after a confrontation in the street on Aug. 9, setting off two weeks of protests and clashes with police.

Until now, Clinton was silent on the situation.

“Imagine what we would feel and do if white drivers were three times more likely to be searched than black drivers…if white offenders received prison sentences longer than black…if a third of all white men went to prison during their lifetime. Imagine that,” Clinton told an audience of Silicon Valley tech employees. “That is the reality of the lives of so many of our fellow Americans and the communities in which they live.”

The former secretary of state and likely 2016 presidential candidate praised Obama for sending Attorney General Eric Holder to Ferguson, saying it was “necessary” to find out what happened during the shooting and “see that justice is done.”

Clinton, on vacation most of this month, has faced criticism for her silence during the unrest, particularly last week, when she ignored questions on the subject from two reporters at a book signing on Long Island, NY.

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VA Scandal Taking Center Role in 2014 Political Ads

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — Judging by candidates’ ads, the hottest issue in House and Senate midterm elections this year is easily care for America’s veterans.

This month alone, 23 House races and 10 Senate races have seen over 13,000 airings of television ads on the topic of veterans’ healthcare or veterans’ benefits, according to Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group (CMAG).

The number of ads focusing on veterans’ care and benefits has been steadily climbing in both House and Senate races. In May of this year there were 3,405 airings of TV ads, in June 6,366 airings, in July just over 8,000.

Elizabeth Wilner, senior vice president at Kantar Media Intelligence, said the number of political ads on the issue of veterans swamps every other issue.

“I’m struck by how many veterans-themed ads are popping up and really cannot think of any other issue this year… that started resonating in such a widespread way across so many races,” Wilner said.

Serving in the military has always been something candidates tout, especially in what is known as a “bio ad,” or the ad that introduces the candidate to the viewer. This year voters saw GOP nominee Dan Sullivan’s first general election ad telling Alaskans, “The Marine Corps shaped who I am.” Rep. Tom Cotton, running for Senate in Arkansas, touts his service, saying in an ad that the values he learned in the Army is what he’ll bring to Washington. “Serious times deserve serious leaders,” Cotton says.

The VA scandal, though, has given a reason for candidates running that perhaps don’t have a military background to mention their care for veterans. Some are using service members in their ads explaining why the candidate will help fellow veterans.

Republicans have especially taken advantage of the scandal, using it to criticize the Obama administration and their Democratic opponents. The first ad to mention the scandal was the Karl Rove-backed group Crossroads GPS; the ad aired in Alaska in May. “A national disgrace,” the narrator says. “Veterans died waiting for care that never came,” with the spot reminding viewers their “Senator Mark Begich sits on the Veterans Affairs Committee.” Begich then aired two ads of his own featuring veterans, calling the attack ads false, and stressing his efforts to help Alaska veterans get the healthcare they need.

An audit by the VA’s Office of Inspector General released this week, however, found that no veterans died because of delayed care at VA facilities.

Democrats have been more cautious in using the issue in ads. The Democratic Senate Campaign Committee is running an ad in Louisiana accusing Republican nominee Bill Cassidy of putting “millionaires before veterans.”

In Iowa, where Democrat Rep. Bruce Braley is in one of the tightest Senate races this cycle against National Guardsman Joni Ernst, a Braley ad features another National Guardsman saying, “We were the longest serving unit in the history of the Iraq conflict,” and because of the extended stay is entitled to extra pay which he says Braley “fought for us” to get. A Crossroads ad then aired hitting Braley on the veterans’ care issue directly, saying he missed meetings of the Veterans’ Affairs committee.

In House races, some candidates are lumping the VA scandal in with other administration crises or other issues. In the fight for New Hampshire’s second congressional district, state Rep. Marilinda Garcia says in an ad the “IRS and Benghazi scandals, the VA disaster, and Obamacare’s broken promises” are all reasons “we need a new generation of conservative leaders” in Washington. In Florida’s 18th district, Democratic incumbent Rep. Patrick Murphy is in a tight toss-up race in the Palm Beach County area. His first general election ad features him talking to elderly veterans and stressing his work on their behalf, as well as “hold(ing) the VA accountable for excessive wait times.”

Labor Day weekend is considered the unofficial kick-off to the midterm season, and it’s only after the summer finally dwindles away that Americans really start paying attention to the campaigns. If that’s true, it’s possible we may see even more ads stressing the VA scandal and mentioning veterans as we get closer to November.

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Immigration Sit-In Outside White House Results in About 100 Arrests

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — For the second time in a month, progressive activists disillusioned with the Obama administration’s immigration policies intentionally had themselves arrested outside the White House in what they called an act of “civil disobedience.”

The highly choreographed sit-in, organized by a coalition of labor, immigration reform and religious groups, featured roughly 100 demonstrators who sat down on the sidewalk outside the president’s residence in an area already cordoned off by law enforcement. After several warnings from law enforcement officers on standby, the scores of protesters were peacefully detained for obstructing sidewalk traffic.

The demonstrators are demanding the federal government cease an estimated 1,000 deportations a day of undocumented immigrants, a number likely to rise as the administration grapples with a surge of thousands who have overwhelmed Southwest states in the last several months, creating a humanitarian crisis. The migrants come mostly from Central America, fleeing violence and epidemic poverty.

Hundreds of their supporters looked on, waving picket signs that read “Don’t deport my dad,” and, “Immigration reform is obstructed by racism.”

A mile away at a pre-rally outside the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency headquarters, organizers said the undocumented “would have justice.”

“Seventeen American citizen children, today, will be losing their moms or dads for a senseless deportation system that ICE does on daily basis,” said AFL-CIO executive vice president Tefere Gebre. “The president can and will stop this. Yes, we can!”

Other groups present included CASA de Maryland, the National Organization for Women and the Sisters of Mercy.

Arrests were made by the National Park Service Police, which has jurisdiction over the park land adjacent to the White House compound. Officers were prepared with tents and foldout tables to quickly process those who were arrested.

Staged arrests inside the nation’s capital are not an uncommon occurrence, and several of the groups present Thursday were veterans of the tactic, used to draw attention to their cause. Typically, detained demonstrators are handed over to the city’s metropolitan police force for processing and released after a few hours, with no fine or further punitive action. Even members of the U.S. Congress have been known to participate.

In June, President Obama announced he would exercise his executive authority to circumvent congressional intransigence on long-term immigration reform. Senior officials told ABC News a decision would come by mid-September, but the end result will likely not be as sweeping as many progressive activists have hoped.

Early summer reports suggested the administration was considering measures that would allow millions of the undocumented to remain in the U.S. without deportation. Now, with the fall midterm elections rapidly approaching, red state Democrats fear comprehensive reform could tip a precariously balanced battle for majority control against them, particularly in the Senate.

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Gillibrand Recalls ‘Porky’ Crack by Male Colleague

Office of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand(WASHINGTON) — In her upcoming book Off the Sidelines, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., reveals she was the subject of insensitive comments about her weight from male colleagues in the House and Senate.

According to an excerpt posted by People, Gillibrand details an incident in her book where a male colleague saw her in the gym said, “Good thing you’re working out, because you wouldn’t want to get porky!” According to the Huffington Post, Gillibrand responded, “”Thanks, a–hole.”

Gillibrand also discussed an episode where a senator commented on her weight after she lost 50 pounds. The senator grabbed her stomach and said, “Don’t lose too much weight now. I like my girls chubby!”

The New York senator has talked about struggling with her weight after giving birth to her sons, saying she’s fluctuated between a size 6 and size 16.

In her book, Gillibrand brushes off the comments from her male colleagues.

“It was all statements that were being made by men who were well into their 60s, 70s or 80s,” she writes. “They had no clue that those are inappropriate things to say to a pregnant woman or a woman who just had a baby or to women in general.”

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