Obama revelling in U.S. power unseen in decades

via Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Barack Obama is revelling in presidential power and influence unseen in Washington for decades.obama-speech

Barely 100 days in office, the U.S. president and his Democratic Party have firm control over the White House and Congress and the ability to push through ambitious plans.

Now, with the coming retirement of a Supreme Court justice clearing the way for him to appoint a successor, Obama already is assured a legacy at the top of all three branches of government — executive, legislative and judicial.

On the corporate front, the federal government’s pumping of billions of dollars in bailout money into banks and auto companies has given Obama the power to force an overhaul in those industries, a remarkable intervention in capitalist industries by the state. Continue reading

“The Birthers” continue to Hound Obama for Birth Records

obama_swearin_congress

via AOL

(March 1) – Ever since Barack Obama became a prominent political fixture in the country, he has encountered a fair number of rumors and smears concerning him and his family.

There was the one rumor about him being a secret Muslim (he is a practicing Christian). And there was the one allegation his wife, Michelle, was caught on videotape using the word “whitey” (no such clip has ever surfaced).

Most of the charges were, for the most part, put to rest by vigorous responses from the Obama team during the campaign.
But one conspiracy theory lives on — despite overwhelming evidence debunking it.
Politico.com reports that the Birthers — a persistent group of conservatives who believe Obama is ineligible to be president because of alleged questions surrounding his birth status — continue to operate and thrive on the fringe.
“Some individuals and groups who are opposed to Obama’s presidency want an ‘acceptable’ reason to cite to convince other individuals and groups who might be on the fence to join in their way of thinking,” said Patricia Turner, who studies rumors at the University of California, Davis.
For the record, officials in Hawaii declared last October that there was no doubt Obama was born in the state. Officials verified that the health department holds the commander in chief’s original birth certificate.
But others are still undeterred.
A lawsuit filed in California by a group called the United States Justice Foundation seeks records from Occidental College, where Obama attended school for a period, in order to verify his nationality — and thus his presidential eligibility, WorldNetDaily reports.

Get the full story about the Birthers at Politico.com to find out about the group’s possible impact on the White House and weigh in, below, on the controversy

Legislators Move Quick to BAN Animals from Private Residence

via Politico

Forget the stimulus — this one moved really fast.

travis

U.S. House of Representatives Passes Captive Primate Safety Act

WASHINGTON (Feb. 24, 2009) — Eight days after a chimpanzee kept as a pet attacked and critically injured a Connecticut woman, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Captive Primate Safety Act, H.R. 80, introduced by U.S. Reps. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., and Mark Kirk, R-Ill., to stop interstate commerce in primates as pets. The bill passed by a vote of 323 to 95. The bill now moves for consideration to the U.S. Senate, where the effort to pass the legislation is being led by U.S. Sens. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and David Vitter, R-La.

The Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society Legislative Fund expressed thanks and appreciation to Reps. Blumenauer and Kirk for introducing the bill, and to Insular Affairs, Oceans and Wildlife Subcommittee Chairwoman Madeleine Bordallo, D-Guam, and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick Rahall, D-W.V., for their leadership in bringing the measure to the House floor so expeditiously.

“There is no reason for any private citizen to keep a primate as a pet, and this trade is driven by unscrupulous dealers who sell primates across state lines for thousands of dollars,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. “Congressional action on this animal welfare and public safety issue will complement our efforts at the state level to dry up the trade and the practice of private ownership of chimps and other primates.” Continue reading

What a Surprise: Rove Blows Off Congress Yet Again

karlrove

via AlterNet

Pursuant to a subpoena issued earlier this month, Karl Rove was due to appear for a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee today. But as CongressMatters reports, despite being “expected” to appear this time, Rove was a no show. Contacted by ThinkProgress, the House Judiciary Committee confirmed the report of Rove’s absence. Days before leaving office, “Bush’s White House counsel, Fred Fielding, sent letters to Rove, Miers, and Bolten, instructing them to continue to ignore congressional demands for information about anything they did while at the White House.”

YouTube Teams Up with Congress to Show Laymakers at Work

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Let’s see who we can catch with their hands in the cookie jar

via NY Times

SAN FRANCISCO — YouTube is aiming to raise its profile in American politics by helping deliver a glimpse of life on Capitol Hill to its large online audience.

On Monday, YouTube, in collaboration with Congress, will unveil two new Web pages, one for the House and one for the Senate, where every lawmaker will be able to create a video channel on the site. The pages will include a map of the United States that will allow users to easily navigate to the channel of their elected officials.

Already several members of Congress have channels on YouTube. But by creating a central hub for all senators and representatives, YouTube is hoping to encourage more members to create their own channels, not only as a place to promote their agendas but also as a forum for interacting with citizens.

“People out there don’t really know what senators and congressmen do on a daily basis,” said Steve Grove, head of news and politics at YouTube. “This will give them a sense of what they are doing.”

During the election season, political campaigns made heavy use of YouTube and other online tools, including social networks like MySpace and Facebook, as well as blogs and “microblogging” services like Twitter, to communicate with voters. But until last fall, so-called franking rules largely limited the use of online tools by members of Congress to official House and Senate Web sites. Continue reading

[Op-Ed] Charlie Rangel: EPIC FAIL

Rangel Tax Troubles

If anyone is clueless as to how politic works, you are getting an education via the fiasco out in Chicago. So why would it surprise anyone that this greasy politician better known as Mr. Rangel has engaged in dirty politics from day one. The sorry thing is that his cronies will bend over backwards to protect him and his skeletons from spilling into public view. 

via NY Times

Speaker Nancy Pelosi is heading into the new Congress without the quick resolution she dearly hoped for on Representative Charles Rangel’s mushrooming and deeply embarrassing ethics problems.

The normally mute and far-too-passive House ethics committee has done the right thing in announcing that it is broadening its inquiry to look into the recent report that Mr. Rangel — chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee — helped preserve a lucrative off-shore tax loophole for an oil drilling executive.

While Mr. Rangel and the executive deny any link, the businessman conveniently pledged $1 million for a planned Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at the City College of New York. (Now that’s what we call service from the public.) Continue reading

Washington Prepares to Take Stake in BIG 3 for Bailout

480-execs

via WSJ

WASHINGTON — Congress and the White House inched toward agreement on legislation that would throw a financial lifeline to the Big Three auto makers, giving the government a substantial ownership stake in the industry and a central role in its restructuring.

Under the terms of the draft legislation, which continued to evolve Monday evening, the government would receive warrants for stock equivalent to at least 20% of the loans any company receives. The company also would have to agree to limits on executive compensation and dividend payments, much like those contained in the government’s $700 billion rescue of the financial industry.

Assuming congressional Democrats and the White House come to agreement on the plan, the car industry would be the latest to submit to strict government scrutiny in return for a bailout, joining most prominently the banking sector.

The auto industry would undergo a restructuring process akin to bankruptcy reorganization, only with fewer rigors and with the government, not a judge, in control, and with many associated political complications.

The program would be overseen by an official, tapped by President George W. Bush, whom congressional aides and lawmakers describe as an “auto czar.” This person would act as a kind of trustee with authority to bring together labor, management, creditors and parts suppliers to negotiate a restructuring plan. He or she also would be able to review any transaction or contract valued at more than $25 million. Continue reading

OP ED: The Collapse and Attack of Fannie & Freddie Mac

via Web of Debt

Last week, Congress passed a housing bill that gave the Treasury Department a blank check to inject billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars into mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, snatching them from insolvency. To accommodate this blank check, Congress obligingly raised its debt ceiling by $800 billion. Ouch! That’s nearly a trillion dollars. Why was it necessary to incur this potentially crippling public debt to bail out two completely private, for-profit behemoths, which have run themselves into bankruptcy with their own risky investment schemes? Policymakers said it was essential to maintain the country’s creditworthiness with foreign lenders, which today hold about one-fifth of Fannie and Freddie securities. According to a July 21 report by Heather Timmons in The New York Times:

One out of 10 American mortgages is, in effect, in the hands of institutions and governments outside the United States.1 Continue reading

Congress Approval Rate Sinks to Singel Digits First Time Ever

Is The Con Running Out?

Is The Con Running Out?

via Rasmussen

The percentage of voters who give Congress good or excellent ratings has fallen to single digits for the first time in Rasmussen Reports tracking history. This month, just 9% say Congress is doing a good or excellent job. Most voters (52%) say Congress is doing a poor job, which ties the record high in that dubious category.

Last month, 11% of voters gave the legislature good or excellent ratings. Congress has not received higher than a 15% approval rating since the beginning of 2008.

The percentage of Democrats who give Congress positive ratings fell from 17% last month to 13% this month. The number of Democrats who give Congress a poor rating remained unchanged. Among Republicans, 8% give Congress good or excellent ratings, up just a point from last month. Sixty-five percent (65%) of GOP voters say Congress is doing a poor job, down a single point from last month.
Continue reading