Politics http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics The latest Politics news and blog posts from ABC News contributors and bloggers including Jake Tapper, George Stephanopoulos and more. Mon, 28 Jul 2014 01:04:46 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.2.1 David Duchovny Stars in Russian Nostalgic/Nationalist Beer Ad http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/07/david-duchovny-stars-in-russian-nostalgicnationalist-beer-ad/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/07/david-duchovny-stars-in-russian-nostalgicnationalist-beer-ad/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 01:04:46 +0000 Chris Good http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/?p=890910 Plugging Russian-made beer Siberian Crown, David Duchovny appears in a two-and-a-half-minute ad, titled “You Have Things to Be Proud Of,” with heavy themes of pro-Russian nostalgia and cultural nationalism.

“This is the country where I was born and raised. But there is another country, where I got my family name from. And sometimes I wonder: What if things turned out differently? What if I were Russian?” Duchovny muses in the video, posted to YouTube by the beer-maker.

In it, Duchovny contemplates how life would be different if he had been born Russian.

The ad shows Duchovny’s alternate lives as a Russian astronaut; hockey player; ballet choreographer; aspiring actor, who speaks Russian in an audition; disco-pop singer, complete with mustache and mullet; rustic dude jouncing through a river with companions, in a beat-up Russian jeep; and, finally, an urbane, upper-middle-class Russian with something important to say, as he toasts with some good-looking friends in Russian on a rooftop at sunset.

“Could I still be among the stars? How would I surround myself with beauty? What role could I have played? Would my smile be known the world over?” Duchovny wonders. “What path would I choose? Or would I make my own? Who would my friends be? What song would turn my life around?

“And I found out that being Russian, I’d have many things to be proud of,” he concludes.

ABC has reached out to Duchovny for comment on the ad.

Siberian Crown is a Russian-based subsidiary of the Belgian-based international beer conglomerate Anhueser-Busch Inbev. The company identifies Siberian Crown as one of its main local brands in the Russian market.

The ad was posted to YouTube on Friday. Posting it to the Russian social network VK, Siberian Crown explained the ad (as translated by Google): “David Duchovny decided to do a film about Russian pride and love of country. He recently spoke about his origins, and now presented as life would have turned out if his ancestors not left for America.”

In April, the actor identified himself on Twitter as having Ukrainian, not Russian, roots:

Most memorably, Duchovny starred in the sci-fi series “The X-Files.” He later starred in the Showtime series “Californication” and holds an undergraduate degree from Princeton. According to IMDB.com, Duchovny was born in New York City, to a father born to Jewish immigrants from Ukraine and Poland, and a Scottish mother.

The ad was released at a particularly tense time between the U.S. and Russia, intensified by fighting in eastern Ukraine and a public dispute over the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 in rebel-held territory.

On Thursday, one day before Duchovny’s ad was released, the U.S. State Dept. and Pentagon publicly charged that Russian military forces fired artillery from Russia at Ukrainian military positions across the border, and on Sunday, the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence released surveillance images it says prove that charge.

Russia has yet to respond to those images. American officials have repeatedly asserted that Russia has supplied the rebels with weaponry, including an SA-11 missile system that, American and Ukrainian officials say, rebels used to shoot down MH17.

Last Monday, President Obama publicly admonished Russian President Vladimir Putin to use his “direct influence” over pro-Russian Ukrainian separatists to ensure safe access to the crash site for international investigators. Putin responded by voicing support for an investigation and warning that no one should exploit the MH17 “tragedy” for “political goals.”

With U.S. support, the European Union last week widened its sanctions against Russian officials over the Ukrainian conflict. In a phone call with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry “did not accept Foreign Minister Lavrov’s denial that heavy weapons from Russia were contributing to the conflict,” according to a State Dept. readout.

Despite deep divisions over Ukraine, the U.S. and Russia ostensibly continue to work with each other and Europe in multilateral talks with Iran over its nuclear program. This month, those negotiations were extended for another six months.

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Texan Bipartisan Pair: American Public Wants an ‘Orderly Border’ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/07/texan-bipartisan-pair-american-public-wants-an-orderly-border/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/07/texan-bipartisan-pair-american-public-wants-an-orderly-border/#comments Sun, 27 Jul 2014 17:16:12 +0000 Alisa Wiersema http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/?p=890897
With just five days until Congress adjourns for summer recess, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, are attempting a bipartisan, last-ditch effort to address the border crisis in their home state – but there are few signs of support in Congress.

“The American public wants us to have an orderly border,” Cuellar told ABC News’ Jonathan Karl on “This Week” Sunday. “They’re seeing chaos at the border.”

The Cornyn-Cuellar bill aims to change the existing 2008 law that differentiates between the process undocumented children coming from Central America and those coming from Mexico go through if they are returned to their home countries after entering the U.S. The proposed legislation would allow the U.S. to expedite the deportation process for migrant children from Central America, which is how the U.S. currently handles Mexican immigrants.

Despite the lack of strong support in favor of the proposal from congressional Democrats, Cornyn said he remains optimistic about House legislators using the bill as a potential guide for a solution, while acknowledging difficulties in the Senate.

“Fortunately it sounds like the House of Representatives is going to move a piece of legislation this week, which would actually offer a solution, and it will include something along the lines Henry and I have proposed,” Cornyn said. “In the Senate, Senator Reid is – still opposes our proposed solution … My view is a solution beats no solution every day and nobody has offered an alternative, so I hope we will act.”

When pressed to further acknowledge the lack of support from high-ranking elected officials on the left, Cuellar echoed Cornyn’s optimism by noting the White House’s efforts to find a solution to the crisis while stressing the need to evaluate the current conditions on the border.

“President Obama requested [cooperation] at the beginning; Secretary Johnson has been good, but again I represent the district. I don’t just go down there once in a while and see what’s going on, I live there.” Cuellar said.

“Forty-two thousand of the unaccompanied kids out of the 58,000 have come through that small area, so we’re at the epicenter,” Cuellar continued, describing his district, which includes 200 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border. “The folks in the community have been dealing with this on a day-to-day basis. We need the resources and we also need a policy change.”

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New York Times Editorial Board Backs Legalizing Pot http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/07/nytimes-editorial-page-editor-yes-ive-smoked-marijuana/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/07/nytimes-editorial-page-editor-yes-ive-smoked-marijuana/#comments Sun, 27 Jul 2014 14:08:18 +0000 Benjamin Bell http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/?p=890876
After The New York Times editorial board came out in support of the U.S. legalizing marijuana, the paper’s editorial page editor told ABC News’ Jonathan Karl this morning on “This Week” that he has smoked pot.

“I’ve never asked the people that work for me whether they smoke pot, and I’m not going to ask. I have smoked pot in my life. I went to college in Colorado in the 1970′s, you figure it out,” Andrew Rosenthal told Karl Sunday on “This Week.”

The Times editorial board published its endorsement of the legalization of marijuana nationwide Saturday under the headline “Repeal Prohibition, Again,” writing that the “federal government should repeal the ban on marijuana.”

“We reached that conclusion after a great deal of discussion among the members of The Times’s Editorial Board, inspired by a rapidly growing movement among the states to reform marijuana laws,” the editorial stated.

This morning, Rosenthal said there’s been a clear shift in American public sentiment toward marijuana usage and legalization.

“The country has been moving in this direction. Public opinion is clearly there. We’ve been watching the states experiment in more and more states now… And they’re doing it in defiance of the federal ban,” he said.

Karl asked Rosenthal if the Times’ position might send a signal that there’s nothing wrong with smoking marijuana.

“We thought about that and we discussed it and we think that there should be a 21 year age limit on it, although that will be permeable,” Rosenthal said. “We’re not urging people to smoke pot anymore than we are for them to drink alcohol or to smoke cigarettes. It’s just that making it illegal was creating a social cost for the country that was absolutely unacceptable.”

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Book Excerpt: ‘The Harding Affair’ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/07/book-excerpt-the-harding-affair/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/07/book-excerpt-the-harding-affair/#comments Sat, 26 Jul 2014 19:36:11 +0000 ABC News http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/?p=890847 ht the harding affair kb 140725 16x9 608 Book Excerpt: The Harding Affair

Palgrave Macmillan

Excerpted from The Harding Affair: Love and Espionage During the Great War by James David Robenalt. Copyright (c) 2011 by the author and reprinted by permission of Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd.

Chapter 12: “Fate Timed That Marvelous Coincidence” 

The last moments of the year 1911 were ticking away. The bells began to ring, a few here, a scattering there, and then a grand crescendo, and the two lovers in Montreal found that the climax of their lovemaking, by pure happenstance, matched exactly the uproar all around them. Writing about the experience exactly one year later, Warren Harding could hardly find the superlatives to describe his astonishment.  ”You can guess where [my thoughts] centered,” he wrote Carrie, “—on the New Year’s beginning a year before, when the bells rang the chorus while our hearts sang the rapture without words and we greeted the New Year from the hallowed heights of heaven.” The timing was astonishing and dreamlike to both of them. “Fate timed that marvelous co- incidence,” he recalled, “it was impossible for us to have planned, and I count it to be one of the best remembered moments of my existence.”

Leading up to this sublime experience, Harding found little to be cheered about on a personal or political front. When he came back to the United States after his third European vacation, he could see the fight forming within his party. President Taft and Theodore Roosevelt were engaged in serious sparring. Taft fired Gifford Pinchot, a conservationist and the head of the U.S. Forest Service, for insubordination in the second year of his presidency and that act started the fissure with the Progressives and Roosevelt supporters. Pinchot, a close ally of Theodore Roosevelt’s, openly challenged

Taft by suggesting that the president’s secretary of the interior was in league with big-timber interests. After he was let go, Pinchot became a martyr around whom Rooseveltians rallied.

At home, not much other than work at the newspaper and some desultory speaking engagements awaited Harding. Jim Phillips, seemingly oblivious to Harding’s ongoing affair with his wife, sent Harding a belated but cheerful birthday greeting and a present on November 22.  Harding made plans to deliver a rather mundane speech in Cincinnati at a memorial service for a lodge of Elks on December 3. Nothing on the surface, at least, suggested that he was engaged in anything other than the routine of ordinary life. Yet behind the scenes, he and Carrie were making plans for her to come home, undertaking the treacherous and expensive voyage back across the Atlantic in the middle of December to rendezvous with him in New York. The logistics alone must have been daunting. Carrie had to find some accommodation for Isabelle and make up some excuse for leaving her at the holidays for several weeks. Harding also had to invent some ruse to allow him to travel, though nothing in the record hints at what he told Florence.

His letters to Carrie imply there was some heartbreak between them, a misunderstanding or drama playing out that needed to be addressed. She told him that her love began to change in 1911. After meeting up in New York, the two headed for Boston, and it was there, according to his letters, that they confronted the hurt between them and apparently resolved it (he referred to it as “a buried grief in Boston”). Whatever the cause of the pain, Boston was the cure. “If I could only have you,” he wrote to her later, “I’d kiss and caress to happiness. I’d turn the tables, reciprocating for that wondrous baptism of kisses in Boston that healed two hurting hearts.”

From Boston, they took a train to Montreal. By the time they reached there, the love spell was on, and he would write repeatedly that Montreal was “our best,” a “feast,” always associating the ethereal experience with New Year’s and new beginnings. “Wouldn’t you like to hear the New Year bells in Montreal greeting a really new and glad year for us, while we poured a libation like only Gods may pour for the goddesses of their universe?” he wrote to her. “I want to know. I want you to have the same wishes as I do. I want you to suffer the same hunger, the same wild desire.”

Despite his claim that he was through with politics after his electoral thrashing in 1910, and perhaps because of his loneliness for Carrie once she returned to Germany, Warren found himself again drawn to the game of politics. The Ohio Society in New York invited him to deliver a toast to “the Buckeye State” at their annual banquet in New York City at the end of January 1912, which he accepted. President Taft was slated to be the guest of honor. The organizer of the event wanted to avoid adding fuel to the growing division in the Republican party. “I have been particularly anxious this year to avoid political speeches and make the occasion a real home affair in honor of the President as an Honorary Member of the Ohio Society,” William Hawk wrote Harding. “I am going to try to limit the time of our speakers and avoid epoch-making speeches.” Hawk hoped Harding’s toast would be “in the lighter, optimistic vein rather than to take up the political question, which seems to be a terrible tangle.” A room for Harding was arranged at the Manhattan, one of his favorite hotels.

On Saturday, January 27, 1912, Harding checked into the Manhattan and attended a matinee showing of The Wedding Trip at the nearby Shubert Theater. Harding found the musical delightful. One of the songs—likely the duet “A Lesson in Love,” sung by the bridegroom and his widowed mother— was so memorable that Harding wrote his own doggerel verse to the tune the next day in a long love letter to Carrie.

Before composing his letter, though, he attended the Ohio Society banquet on Saturday night at the Waldorf-Astoria. Described as a “very formal evening,” the twenty-sixth annual meeting of the group saw its biggest attendance in recent years, some 800 Buckeyes and their guests, and although the reception was “noisy and cordial,” there was a real tension under the surface. Taft used the occasion to attack Theodore Roosevelt’s radical demands for the recall of unpopular judges by a vote of the people and for the reversal of judicial decisions by plebiscites if the electorate disagreed with a decision. Roosevelt’s proposal was anathema to a conservative like Taft, who had aspired his whole life to be a judge (he had been a state court judge and a judge on the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, and President Harding would appoint Taft as chief justice of the Supreme Court of the United States in 1922, making him the only person in American history to serve both as president and chief justice).

Taft felt Roosevelt’s proposal was nothing short of a reckless, political ploy that threatened the carefully structured separation of powers set forth in the Constitution. Speaking to an audience seated at tables filled with only men (women were relegated to boxes in the galleries surrounding the main floor), Taft was adamant in his opposition to the irresponsible Roosevelt experiment: “To take away from the courts that element of independence, that power to determine right and justice without regard to the vote of the majority of the people is utterly to destroy the administration of justice, and make it as dependent upon despotic rule as if we had one man power in this government rather than popular control.”

Harding gave his toast to Ohio before Taft spoke (the newspapers did not record its content) and then the night ended with the president leaving to attend three other functions, including a ball given by the Daughters of Jacob at the Seventy-first Regiment Armory. Harding attended a party of some sort, likely in the Waldorf, where he spoke with some women who flattered and bored him, and then he retreated to his hotel where, the next day, he wrote a love letter to Carrie. The first five pages, which do not survive, were likely a “public” letter. Carrie kept the remaining pages, including Harding’s spoof on the song from The Wedding Trip, which he could not get out of his head. “It’s a darling love song,” he wrote to her back in Berlin, “love, love, love, is the inspiration of all, the spirit and soul of life.”

A national campaign was underway.

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Former Clinton Labor Secretary ‘Impressed’ by Paul Ryan’s Poverty Plan http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/07/former-clinton-labor-secretary-impressed-by-paul-ryans-poverty-plan/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/07/former-clinton-labor-secretary-impressed-by-paul-ryans-poverty-plan/#comments Sat, 26 Jul 2014 18:20:03 +0000 Benjamin Bell http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/?p=890825
The Former Secretary of Labor to President Bill Clinton told “This Week” he’s impressed by Paul Ryan’s poverty plan ahead of his appearance on the show’s roundtable Sunday.

We asked UC Berkley professor Robert Reich about Ryan’s plan, and he also discussed Hillary Clinton’s “dead broke” comment and how she and Sen. Elizabeth Warren may differ on some issues – if both decide to run for president in 2016.

1) What was your reaction when you first heard former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton’s “dead broke” comment that she made during an interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer? Did it surprise you?

RR: I knew they had huge legal bills and were deep in debt when they left the White House, so I didn’t doubt her veracity. But I did cringe a bit when she said it. The questions she’s been getting about her finances don’t really require her to justify how or how much she and her husband have been earning since leaving the White House. The underlying question is whether, if she runs for and becomes president, she’ll have become too close to the Wall Street banks and other corporate interests.

2) Hillary Clinton has said she has not made up her mind up whether she is going to make a run for the White House. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has repeatedly said she isn’t running but of course that could change. But it’s possible they both decide to run. Do you think Warren is more in touch with the average American than Hillary Clinton?

RR: I’ve known Hillary for almost fifty years, and have complete confidence that she knows exactly what the average American is going through, as does Elizabeth Warren. The question is who will fight hard for working Americans and the poor, and be willing to confront the vested monied interests that have been fighting against what must be done: raising the minimum wage, raising taxes on the rich, providing a minimum guaranteed income to all Americans, moving toward a single-payer healthcare plan, ensuring that every American child gets a first-class education, overturning “Citizens United,” capping the size of Wall Street banks, and resurrecting the Glass-Steagall Act.

How might their approaches as presidential candidates to issues you care about – inequality and Wall Street regulation — differ?

RR: At this point, it’s too early to tell. Elizabeth Warren has been more outspoken on many of these issues than has Hillary Clinton, especially when it comes to Wall Street. But the jury is out on whether HRC will take them on, should she become a candidate.

3) Rep. Paul Ryan outlined a proposal this week to fight poverty. What do you make of it?

RR: Frankly, I’m impressed. It doesn’t cut spending on the poor, as his previous plans have done. It focuses on giving the poor real opportunities for improving their lives. And it expands the Earned Income Tax Credit, which I think is a very important policy.

4) You recently posted a blog, writing “we’re on the cusp of the largest inter-generational wealth transfer in history.” Explain why you think that is problematic and what specifically should be done to address it.

RR: It undermines our ideals about meritocracy — that anyone with enough guts and gumption can make it in America; it sets us on the way toward a dynastic form of aristocracy — something Europe had for over three centuries but America avoided; it threatens our democracy, because ever-larger amounts of wealth in fewer and fewer hands inevitably distort our politics; and it’s harmful to our economy, because a large and growing generation of people who never worked for their money will have a large say over how assets are allocated.

There are several ways to address it. My preference would be to hike the inheritance tax significantly, and to eliminate the “stepped-up-basis-at-death” rule that allows heirs to avoid paying capital gains taxes on the increased value of assets they inherit.


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Sunday on ‘This Week’: Crisis in the Middle East http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/07/sunday-on-this-week-crisis-in-the-middle-east/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/07/sunday-on-this-week-crisis-in-the-middle-east/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 21:05:26 +0000 ABC News http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/?p=890807 ap gaza turmoil jc 140725 16x9 608 Sunday on This Week: Crisis in the Middle East

Nasser Ishtayeh/AP Photo

This Sunday, “This Week” reports the latest on the crisis in the Middle East.

Plus, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas – two key players in the last-ditch efforts to address the border crisis – come to “This Week” Sunday.

And the powerhouse roundtable debates all the week’s politics, with ABC News contributor and Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, Rep. Tom Cole, R-Oklahoma, CNN “Crossfire” co-host S.E. Cupp, and UC Berkley professor and former Clinton Labor secretary Robert Reich.

See the whole political picture, Sunday on “This Week.”

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More Undocumented Kids, Especially Girls, Crossing the Border: Report http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/07/more-undocumented-kids-especially-girls-crossing-the-border-report/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/07/more-undocumented-kids-especially-girls-crossing-the-border-report/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 20:37:50 +0000 Serena Marshall http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/?p=890790 Unaccompanied girls fleeing Central America and caught at the Southwest border has increased 77% since last year, and far more rapidly than the number of boys, according to a new report by the Pew Research Center.

The analysis, which looks at data provided by the Department of Homeland Security via a Freedom of Information Act, shows that while the number of girls under 18 detained at the U.S.-Mexico border has jumped significantly, the number of boys went up only 8 percent in the same period.

While boys have historically made up the majority of those apprehended at the border, the stark rise in girls represents a “change in who is coming across the border,” Mark Hugo Lopez, director of Hispanic research at the Pew Research Center told ABC News.

Presidents of Honduras, Guatemala: US Partly to Blame for Border Flood

Pre-Teens Account for Sharpest Spike in Unaccompanied Child Migrants

Texas Governor Sends National Guard to Deal With Border Crisis

In fiscal year 2013, teenagers, particularly teenage boys, made up the bulk of those crossing the border,” Lopez said. “And while they still do make up the bulk of those crossing the border, we’ve seen a spike in the number of children and the number of girls and that’s different from 2013. … The growth in unaccompanied kids this year has been driven in large part by more children and more girls crossing the border illegally. That is a change from last year.”

This data is a follow-up on Pew’s report earlier this week showing that pre-teens account for the sharpest spike in unaccompanied child migrants.

When looking at the gender breakdown for those under 12, Pew found a 140% increase in girls apprehended and 100% increase among boys.

But probably most shocking in their analysis is the difference between boy and girl unaccompanied teenagers apprehended.

Teenage girls saw an increase of 62% this year, but teenage boys have seen almost no change — only 2%.

“Teenage boys have been a big point of this unaccompanied minors story, but many of those teenage boys 15,16,17 years of age, to the higher end — these are young people who in many respects may be of working age,” Lopez said. “More interesting question is why have we seen the surge or spike in children and teenage girls.”

Lopez said that spike is being driven largely by those fleeing violence in Honduras and El Salvador, and according to the Department of Homeland Security, poverty in Guatemala.

Honduras had the highest 2012 murder rate in the world with 90.4 homicides per 100,000 people, and El Salvador had 41.2, according to a report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

Honduras is first and El Salvador is second when looking at all unaccompanied girls apprehended this year by country, according to Pew’s analysis.

President Obama is meeting today with the leaders of the three countries — Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador — at the White House to discuss the flow of children.


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Rand Paul Thinks Crack Sentencing Is Whack http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/07/rand-paul-thinks-crack-sentencing-is-whack/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/07/rand-paul-thinks-crack-sentencing-is-whack/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 18:15:24 +0000 Arlette Saenz http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/?p=890788 AP rand paul jt 130921 16x9 608 Rand Paul Thinks Crack Sentencing Is Whack

(Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo)

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., announced new legislation today that would eliminate the disparity in sentencing for offenses involving crack cocaine and powder cocaine.

Current law carries much harsher penalties for the possession of crack cocaine compared to powder cocaine. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, first time offenders possessing 28 grams of crack cocaine would receive a five year mandatory minimum sentence.  People with powder cocaine would have to possess 500 grams to receive that same sentence.

Christie, Haley Challenge White House Handling of Migrant Children

Who Thinks President Obama Will Be Impeached? The White House

Former Olympic Star Michelle Kwan Stars In Political Ad For Hubby

Paul introduced the legislation, titled the RESET Act (short for “Reclassification to Ensure Smarter and Equal Treatment Act”), on Thursday, but he made the proposal public  in a speech to the Urban League in Cincinnati today.  The bill would also reclassify some low level drug possession felonies and make sure that food products that contain drugs are weighed fairly.

In 2010, President Obama signed the Fair Sentencing Act, which narrowed the sentencing disparity for crack vs. powder cocaine offense from 100:1 to 18:1. Paul’s bill would go much further, completely eliminating the disparity between the two.

The Kentucky Republican, who is not shy about interest in a 2016 presidential run, has made criminal justice reform a cornerstone of his recent legislative pushes.  Earlier this month, Paul teamed up with Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., to unveil bipartisan legislation to reform the criminal justice system – from  offering adults ways to seal non-violent criminal records to permitting the sealing and expungement of juvenile records for kids who commit non-violent crimes.

In recent months, Paul has argued for broadening the Republican Party and has made a concerted effort to reach out to urban communities and young people.

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Containing The Crisis http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/07/containing-the-crisis-the-note/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/07/containing-the-crisis-the-note/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 12:59:16 +0000 Michael Falcone http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/?p=890776 By MICHAEL FALCONE (@michaelpfalcone)


  • MEETING OF THE MINDS: President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will meet today with President Molina of Guatemala, President Hernandez of Honduras, and President Ceren of El Salvador to discuss the influx of migrant children from their countries to the U.S.  This is the first such meeting since 1998, ABC’s ARLETTE SAENZ notes. The meeting comes as the administration considers launching a small pilot program that would offer refugee status to some children from Honduras. Under this program, children would be screened in Honduras to determine whether they would be eligible for refugee status in the U.S.
  • PRESIDENTS OF HONDURAS, GUATEMALA — U.S. PARTLY TO BLAME FOR BORDER FLOOD: Before meeting with President Obama on the border crisis today, the presidents of Honduras and Guatemala spoke at an event in Washington, DC hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, ABC’s SERENA MARSHALL reports. Honduras President Juan Orlando Hernandez said via a translator that while drug trafficking and lack of opportunity were the first cause of immigration, “ambiguity that has been the hallmark of the debate” over U.S. immigration reform has also been a factor. “Here we have to say the coyotes, the smugglers, who are very much a part or organized crime networks perversely have sought to exploit those ambiguities,” he said. “And peddle a mistake…a totally wrong interpretation to the parents of these children and saying “You can get your kids into the U.S., we can do it for you.” http://abcn.ws/1pfIaFu
  • THIS WEEK ON ‘THIS WEEK’: This Sunday, “This Week” reports the latest on the crisis in the Middle East. And the powerhouse roundtable debates all the week’s politics, with ABC News contributor and Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, Rep. Tom Cole, R-Oklahoma, CNN “Crossfire” co-host S.E. Cupp, and UC Berkley professor and former Clinton Labor secretary Robert Reich. See the “This Week” homepage for full guest listings. Be sure to use #ThisWeek when you tweet about the program. Tune in Sunday: http://abcnews.go.com/thisweek



MEET THE NEW WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: JOSH EARNEST’S GUIDE TO SOFTENING “HARD-BITTEN” REPORTERS. Josh Earnest stepped up to the podium as the new White House press secretary just weeks ago, but already he’s figured out a few ways to butter up “hard-bitten” White House reporters. Principle among his methods, the father-to-be revealed to ABC’s JIM AVILA, is to discuss parenthood. “It’s something that so many people can relate to and hearing the experience of even some hard-bitten White House reporters … talking to them about the birth of their first child, they routinely describe it as the best day of their life,” said Earnest, whose wife is due later this summer. “I think, like all parents who are about to have their first child, we are feeling a lot of trepidation about this experience that we’re preparing for, but also incredibly excited,” he said. WATCH: http://yhoo.it/1nB0SHP



ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: What is most stunning about the Chris Christie-Rob Astorino flap is the lack of subtlety on all sides. It started with Christie publicly calling Astorino’s uphill climb against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo a “lost cause,” then Astorino holding a press conference calling on Christie to resign his RGA chairmanship if he didn’t support him. (How was that ever going to go well?) The situation then got worst when Astorino went to Aspen to confront Christie and while he didn’t get his support, four other governors boldly defied Christie to back him. Rick Perry went the opposite of subtle tweeting a photo of the two together. It’s hard to understand how anyone involved thinks this kind of public feuding (or in Perry’s case at the very least teasing) could ever end up well. None of this would have happened if at the beginning of the week Christie just said he supported Astorino, whether that was followed up with stumping and money or not. Of course it didn’t and we’ve had a week of headlines–and possibly more to come–because of it. Not always, but sometimes subtlety on all sides of an argument is key.




CHRISTIE, HALEY CHALLENGE WHITE HOUSE HANDLING OF MIGRANT CHILDREN. Govs. Nikki Haley of South Carolina and Chris Christie of New Jersey had harsh words for the White House’s handling of the border crisis during a Republican governors’ panel at the Aspen Ideas Festival Thursday night, according to ABC’s BENJAMIN SIEGEL. Haley worried about the potential costs of temporarily sheltering migrant children in states across the country, despite assurances that the federal government would foot the bill. “We do care about these children … but we also have our own children to take care of,” Haley said. Christie questioned the system in place that allows children to be released into the custody of ”possibly illegal” relatives ahead of their court dates.  “It’s completely illogical and it’s why folks get so frustrated with the government,” he said. Of the panel’s participants, Haley, Govs. Sam Brownback of Kansas, Scott Walker of Wisconsin, and Rick Scott of Florida all face reelection in November. http://abcn.ws/1kesB1X

NYC DEPUTY MAYOR ON ‘CHOKEHOLD’ CASE: THIS TIME IS DIFFERENT. It’s New York City’s ugliest roll call: Abner Louima, Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell, Anthony Baez — the litany of men of color injured and killed at the hands of New York City cops. A week ago, yet another name — Eric Garner — was added to that list, ABC’s JOSH MARGOLIN notes. But with Bill de Blasio, a police critic and unabashed liberal, now sitting in the mayor’s office, it was supposed to be different. New York was supposed to be different. In an exclusive interview with ABC News, the man in charge of managing the current NYPD crisis insisted that this time around it is different. “Things are very different,” said Anthony Shorris, the first deputy mayor. “Over the last six months, this administration has entirely changed the entire nature of police-community relations.” Sitting in the ornate Blue Room at City Hall, Shorris acknowledged that there is still a lot to do in eliminating the gulf that separates New York City’s minority communities from the NYPD. But in the first seven months of de Blasio’s term, Shorris said, the administration has started putting the city back together. More than anything, he said, that’s why there has been no unrest or violence in the wake of Garner’s death in NYPD custody last Thursday. “It’s about building bridges between police and communities across New York,” Shorris said. http://abcn.ws/1sZKGDF

THE ONE ISSUE 91-YEAR-OLD BOB DOLE IS STILL FIGHTING FOR. Former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole is making the rounds — everywhere from the plains of Kansas to the marbled halls of Capitol Hill, notes ABC’s ARLETTE SAENZ. Dole, who celebrated his 91st birthday this week, returned to Capitol Hill for what could be his final legislative push — ratifying an international treaty for people with disabilities. “This is not a Republican or Democrat treaty. It’s not liberal or conservative,” Dole said at a news conference Wednesday. “As a Republican, I don’t want to see a headline saying ‘Republicans vote against disabled Americans and disabled veterans.’” In 2012, Dole sat on the Senate floor as he watched a vote to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities fail by just five votes. Dole recounted that moment in an interview with ABC’s JEFF ZELENY. “We knew we had an uphill battle, and when my Kansas senators voted against it I knew we were in trouble because one had been a co-sponsor and the other had been for it,” Dole explained. http://abcn.ws/1AcfiUs

HOW CONGRESS SAVED THE BASEBALL HALL OF FAME. A two-time MVP outfielder and a United States senator say the congressional hearings on steroids in baseball nearly a decade ago had a direct impact on preventing players tainted by the baseball’s steroids era from being considered for the Hall of Fame, ABC’s RICK KLEIN and ESPN’s ANDY KATZ report. Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., told the ESPN’s Perspectives podcast “Capital Games” that while he thought at the time the hearings shouldn’t have been a congressional priority, they doomed the candidacies of high-profile players like Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, and Sammy Sosa. That, in part, paved the way for this weekend’s crop of three clean players from the same era gaining induction in the Hall. “What I think the hearing helped do was, that the American people looked up and said, ‘You know, it’s maybe the first time that it really hit us between the eyes that we have a real problem here.’ And I think it helped to change things,” said Donnelly. http://abcn.ws/1rONfpa

FORMER OLYMPIC SKATER MICHELLE KWAN STARS IN POLITICAL AD FOR HUBBY. Former Olympic figure skater Michelle Kwan is pirouetting into the Rhode Island gubernatorial race, ABC’s SCOTT WILSON notes.  Kwan is featured in a new ad supporting her husband, Clay Pell, in the state’s Democratic primary. The 30-second ad titled “Equality” is Kwan’s attempt to appeal to the state’s female voters. “One of the reasons I’m so excited about my husband, Clay Pell’s candidacy is because Clay is committed to a women’s-equality agenda that strengthens protection for women in areas like pay equity, sexual harassment and domestic violence,” Kwan says in the ad. “Clay knows Rhode Island can be ready for tomorrow by making it one of the best places for women to live and work. Clay believes what I believe: We need equality for all women.” In a May WPRI 12/Providence Journal poll Pell placed third among the four Democrats vying for the nomination. http://abcn.ws/1oj2WVE

REPUBLICAN GOVS SPLIT WITH CHRIS CHRISTIE OVER NEW YORK CANDIDATE. Once upon a time, the Republican governors in the country were unified behind New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Not anymore. The unity was fractured this week over Christie’s decision to withhold Republican Governors Association support from New York gubernatorial contender Rob Astorino, according to ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE. Instead of backing Christie’s decision on the basis that Astorino is lagging in the polls behind incumbent Democrat Andrew Cuomo, four high-profile GOP governors are breaking with Christie to promote the New Yorker. News of the remarkable split came this morning after Astorino, the county executive in suburban Westchester County, confronted Christie at the RGA summer meeting in Aspen, Colo. An Astorino aide confirmed that Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence — all possible Christie rivals for the GOP presidential nomination in  2016 — have decided to help Astorino by either campaigning or fundraising or both. http://abcn.ws/1rdsrqa

FIVE WAYS PAUL RYAN THINKS HE CAN END POVERTY. Rep. Paul Ryan thinks the federal government should stop its habit of treating poverty as a series of isolated problems and start listening to the “boots on the ground,” local community leaders fighting for different results. Yesterday, Ryan, R-Wisconsin, released an anti-poverty proposal he coined an “Opportunity Grant,” which concentrates 11 safety-net programs – food stamps, housing assistance, child care and cash welfare, among them – into a single stream of funding offered to states that agree to the program. The proposal is budget neutral, meaning states would receive the exact same amount of money for safety-net expenditures as they currently do under law, he told those gathered at the American Enterprise Institute. He believes the grant addresses poverty in a more holistic, “collaborative” way. “This isn’t your garden variety block grant,” he said. The speech and a short panel discussion that followed were pitched as a call for economic solidarity. Arthur Brooks, AEI’s president, told the crowd, “Patriots fight for America, no matter how they vote.” ABC’s NOAH WEILAND took a look at five ways Ryan believes he can help end poverty. http://abcn.ws/1sZ3keW



THE KOCH BROTHERS WANT TO SCARE THE OBAMACARE OUT OF YOU. Some people have an unnatural fear of clowns, particularly creepy clowns. Some Republicans feel the same way about Obamacare. A “Creepy Care-nival” held on the National Mall in Washington, DC this week was intended to combine the two and make young people terrified of Obamacare. The Creepy Care-nival featured knife throwing jugglers, a house call from Dr. Grim Reaper, and a  virtual death panel. The ghoulish displays were created by Generation Opportunity, the Koch brothers affiliated group that also produced the controversial “Creepy Uncle Sam” ads. Tightrope walkers, acrobats, and clowns mingled with elected officials like Republican Reps. Paul Gosar of Arizona and Louie Gohmert of Texas. ABC’s BENJAMIN SIEGEL was on the scene—chronicling the creepiest of the creepiest at the Koch’s “Creepy Care-nival.” http://abcn.ws/1pNwzw1



@JHoganGidley: Enjoying #BeverlyHills getting ready for @RealTimeHBO. @HBO @RealTimers @billmaher #LosAngeles

@gregmcrc: As Obama vacations, #GOP leaders should go to border, call on Prez to end the children trafficking crisis he created and secure the border.

@AaronBlakeWP: 2014: The election about nothing? http://wapo.st/1keZw6K 

@nationaljournal: What would the National Guard actually do at the border? http://bit.ly/1rRfNOO 

‏@Timodc: Most trafficked post on http://AmericaRisingPAC.org  this week… “O’Malley Falls Asleep” https://www.americarisingpac.org/omalley-falls-asleep-job/ … cc @Lis_Smith

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World War II Veteran Waited 70 Years for His Medals http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/07/world-war-ii-veteran-waited-70-years-for-his-medals/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/07/world-war-ii-veteran-waited-70-years-for-his-medals/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 08:00:23 +0000 ABC News http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/?p=890738 HT delayed awards mar 140724 16x9 608 World War II Veteran Waited 70 Years for His Medals

(Senator Sheldon Whitehouse's Office)

ABC News’ Jennifer Hansler reports: 

Tony D’Abrosca enlisted in the U.S. Army just months before graduating from high school at the height of World War II. He went on to serve almost three years in Japan and the Philippines in the Army’s 38th Infantry Division.

After returning to the states, the military told him he would be awarded seven military honors for his courage under fire in the Pacific Theater.

D’Abrosca slowly settled back into life at home and waited for his medals to arrive.

They never did.

Seventy years later, at an event held earlier this week in Rhode Island, D’Abrosca was finally presented with the awards he earned for his service decades ago.

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Now 87, D’Abrosca said he had been trying off and on for years obtain them, but to no avail. In a twist of fate, the warehouse where the records of recognition were held was severely damaged in a fire about 25 years ago.

In February, Rhode Island State Rep. Lisa Tomasso learned of D’Abrosca’s case and the medals that had never arrived.

“He said, ‘You’re my state representative, this is what you can do for me,” Tomasso said in an interview with ABC News. She worked with the House Veterans Affairs Office and Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse to secure the medals and coordinate a ceremony.

In an interview, D’Abrosca said was “kind of shocked” to learn that he would finally receive the symbol of recognition.

“It was out of my mind,” he said. “I thought it was a lost cause.”

D’Abrosca’s siblings, children, grandchildren, and his partner Sonia attended the decades-belated ceremony. Tomasso noted that D’Abrosca was visibly choked up when presented with the medals. D’Abrosca, who volunteers weekly with Meals on Wheels, said he was “humbled and surprised.”

“He thought we were making too much of a fuss about him,” Tomasso said.

D’Abrasca emphasized that those who died in the war were the ones who deserved more credit. He dedicated his awards to them.

As it turns out, D’Abrasca’s 70-year wait is not unusual.

“I found out that there is another member of their family who never received their award and has passed,” Tomasso said. She said as her next project she will work to get that medal delivered to the family.

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