Politics » The Note 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. Fri, 11 Jul 2014 21:55:24 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.2.1 How Do You Say ‘Awkward’ In German? Kerry, German FM To Talk Spying http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/07/how-do-you-sy-awkward-in-german-kerry-german-fm-to-talk-spying/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/07/how-do-you-sy-awkward-in-german-kerry-german-fm-to-talk-spying/#comments Fri, 11 Jul 2014 18:20:10 +0000 Ali Weinberg http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/?p=889582 AP john kerry tk 140528 16x9 608 How Do You Say Awkward In German? Kerry, German FM To Talk Spying

(Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo)

What’s the German word for that feeling when you have to meet with someone from the country who kicked out your CIA chief?

Secretary of State John Kerry will probably know after he meets in Vienna over the weekend with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, where the two will likely discuss Germany’s expulsion of the CIA’s top official in Berlin over  allegations of U.S. spying.

They’ll both be in town for high-level talks over Iran’s nuclear program, but Steinmeier already made it clear in a series of tweets that spying will be high on his priorities list when the two meet.

His Twitter account @GermanyDiplo said the request for the U.S. representative to leave Germany was a “necessary + appropriate reaction to breach of trust.”

In a second tweet, Steinmeier is quoted as saying, “We want to reinvigorate our partnership+friendship w/ the #USA on an honest basis. This will be my message to @JohnKerry.”

READ: Ex CIA Head: ‘Shame on Us for Being Caught’ in Germany

READ: US Intel Chief in Berlin Gets Das Boot Over Spy Row

A statement from the State Department was less explicit that spying will be on the agenda when the two meet one-on-one: “The stop in Vienna will allow the Secretary and Foreign Minister Steinmeier to discuss the P5+1 talks and issues such as the situations in the Middle East and in Ukraine, as well as bilateral issues.”

But in this case “bilateral issues” likely means “talking about spies.”

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How Rick Perry Won the Week http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/07/how-rick-perry-won-the-week/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/07/how-rick-perry-won-the-week/#comments Fri, 11 Jul 2014 17:42:23 +0000 Arlette Saenz http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/?p=889560 GTY obama mar 140709 16x9 608 How Rick Perry Won the Week

(Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo)

From the television airwaves to the U.S.-Mexico border, Texas Governor Rick Perry was everywhere this week, raising the question: Could Rick Perry make a comeback?

Perry, whose unforgettable “oops” moment derailed his presidential campaign in 2012, was front and center in the week’s most closely watched issue — how President Obama is handling the influx of unaccompanied minors streaming across the U.S.-Mexico border.

Donning his new hipster glasses, the Texas governor was everywhere, from flying aboard Marine One with the president to riding a patrol boat on the Rio Grande, managing to insert himself in a controversial debate that could lend him some credibility should he decide to make another run for the White House in 2016.

Here’s a recap of Perry’s week in the spotlight:

Sunday – Perry Criticizes Obama on ‘This Week’
Appearing on ABC News’ “This Week,” Perry blasted President Obama’s response to the thousands of unaccompanied minors and adults crossing the border.

“I don’t believe he particularly cares whether or not the border of the United States is secure,” Perry said in an exclusive interview with ABC News’ Martha Raddatz. “And that’s the reason there’s been this lack of effort, this lack of focus, this lack of resources.”

Monday – Perry Turns Down Obama’s Invitation
Perry said thanks, but no thanks, to the president’s invitation to greet him at the Austin airport when he traveled to Texas later in the week. President Obama drew criticism from Republicans for not making the time to go to the border while on a two-day fundraising trip in the Lone Star State. Instead of meeting him at the airport, Perry proposed a one-on-one in-depth meeting between the two to discuss border security.

“A quick handshake on the tarmac will not allow for a thoughtful discussion regarding the humanitarian and national security crises enveloping the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas,” Perry wrote.

Perry Declines POTUS Invite

Late Monday evening, President Obama’s team countered Perry’s proposal, inviting him to attend a roundtable with faith leaders and local elected officials.

Valerie Jarrett's Letter to Perry

Tuesday – Perry Agrees to Meet Obama
Perry accepted President Obama’s invitation to meet.

“Governor Perry is pleased that President Obama has accepted his invitation to discuss the humanitarian and national security crises along our southern border, and he looks forward to meeting with the president tomorrow,” Felix Browne, communications director for Perry, told ABC News.

Meanwhile, this happened in Colorado.

AP OBAMA3 140708 dg 16x9 608 How Rick Perry Won the Week

(Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo)

Wednesday – Perry and Obama Chat About Border Crisis
The meeting of the minds finally occurred. Perry greeted Obama at DFW airport before the two boarded Marine One, where they had a private meeting about the issue at the border.

GTY obama mar 140709 16x9 608 How Rick Perry Won the Week

(Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo)

Perry and Obama then met with faith leaders and local elected officials to discuss how to deal with the border crisis.

GTY rick perry obama jef 140711 16x9 608 How Rick Perry Won the Week

(Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo)

After the meeting, President Obama, who declined calls to visit the border while in Texas, said the recommendations Perry offered “made sense.”

“There’s nothing the governor indicated that he’d like to see that I have a philosophical objection to,” the president said. “The problem here is not a major disagreement around the actions that could be helpful in dealing with the problem. The challenge is, is Congress prepared to act to put the resources in place to get this done?”

In his meeting with the president, Perry reiterated his request that Obama visit the border himself as well as asked him to send additional resources, including 1,000 more National Guard troops, to the border. The Texas governor also asked the president to direct the Department of Defense to allow the National Guard to use predator drones along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Thursday – Perry Tours U.S.-Mexico Border

On Thursday, Perry made his way down to the border to tour the scene firsthand. Wearing a bulletproof vest and backwards baseball cap, Perry hopped on board a patrol boat on the Rio Grande with the Texas Department of Public Safety.

 

 

 

Perry even invited FOX News’ Sean Hannity along for the ride, who aired the Texas governor’s trip on FOX News on Thursday night.

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All Lawyered Up And Ready To Go http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/07/all-lawyered-up-and-ready-to-go-the-note/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/07/all-lawyered-up-and-ready-to-go-the-note/#comments Fri, 11 Jul 2014 12:30:25 +0000 Michael Falcone http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/?p=889551 By MICHAEL FALCONE (@michaelpfalcone)

NOTABLES

  • COMING SOON: The House Republican lawsuit against President Obama will focus solely on Obamacare – not immigration, ABC’s JEFF ZELENY and JOHN PARKINSON note. The focus of the litigation will be the employer mandate in the Affordable Care Act. House Republicans decided against including immigration and other executive actions in the lawsuit, officials tell ABC News, to strengthen the legal case and improve the chances of a federal judge allowing the legal action to move forward. “There are many examples of executive overreach by the president, but his actions on the health care law are the ones that give the House the best chance of success in the courts,” according to a draft resolution authorizing the lawsuit. The legislation to authorize the lawsuit will be debated as early as next week in the House, with a vote coming before the end of July.
  • FROM THE SPEAKER’S DESK: In a statement released last night, House Speaker John Boehner said: “Today we’re releasing a draft resolution that will authorize the House to file suit over the way President Obama unilaterally changed the employer mandate. In 2013, the president changed the health care law without a vote of Congress, effectively creating his own law by literally waiving the employer mandate and the penalties for failing to comply with it. That’s not the way our system of government was designed to work.  No president should have the power to make laws on his or her own.”
  • WORD FROM THE WHITE HOUSE: In a counter-statement, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said: “It is disappointing that Speaker Boehner and Congressional Republicans have decided to waste time and taxpayer dollars on a political stunt. At a time when Washington should be working to expand economic opportunities for the middle class, Republican leaders in Congress are playing Washington politics rather than working with the President on behalf of hardworking Americans. As the President said today, he is doing his job – lawsuit or not – and it’s time Republicans in Congress did theirs.”

 

THIS WEEK ON ‘THIS WEEK’: Attorney General Eric Holder comes to “This Week” Sunday. And the powerhouse roundtable debates all the week’s politics, with ABC News’ Cokie Roberts, ABC News contributor and Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, ABC News contributor and Republican strategist Ana Navarro, and ABC News contributor and former Obama White House senior adviser David Plouffe. 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

 

ANALYSIS

ABC’s JEFF ZELENY: Remember all those changes the White House kept making on Obamacare, the waivers and new rules that kept coming from the West Wing? They are now the sole subject of the lawsuit that House Republicans are preparing to file against President Obama. Speaker John Boehner avoided the temptation of including immigration and a raft of other potential executive actions in the suit. It’s an attempt to strengthen the legal case and decrease the chances a judge will dismiss the suit. A vote by the full House is likely to come in the last week of July. But until then, expect to hear more talk of impeachment. Sarah Palin sparked the latest round of calls this week, which Boehner quickly swatted down. The lawsuit was actually intended to be a political alternative to impeachment — a shiny object for Republicans to take back to their conservative districts and show they are trying to reign in Obama. But to Palin and other back seat GOP drivers, it’s suddenly become a weak measure. The challenge for Boehner is to keep that criticism from spreading through his caucus.

 

BUZZ

with ABC’s SCOTT WILSON

OBAMA QUOTES ‘THE DEPARTED’ TO EXPLAIN WASHINGTON DYSFUNCTION. President Obama has been slamming Republicans for months for obstructing his efforts to boost the economy. But yesterday, he found a new, creative way to explain the problem, according to ABC’s MARY BRUCE. Speaking in Austin, Texas yesterday Obama invoked the violent Martin Scorsese thriller “The Departed” to explain Washington dysfunction “There’s a scene in the movie where Mark Wahlberg — you know, they’re on a stakeout — and somehow the guy loses the guy that they’re tracking. And Wahlberg’s all upset and, you know, yelling at the guy. And the guy looks up and he says, ‘Well, who are you?’ And Wahlberg says, ‘I’m the guy doing my job. You must be the other guy,’” Obama said. “Sometimes I feel like saying to these guys, ‘I’m the guy doing my job. You must be the other guy,’” he said to laughter and applause from the crowd at the Paramount Theatre in Austin. http://abcn.ws/1q2dUS3

HERE’S WHAT OBAMA WOULD SEE IF HE VISITED THE BORDER. Republicans — and even a few Democrats — have pounced on President Obama for his refusal to visit the U.S.-Mexico border where hoards of unaccompanied minors from Central America who have crossed into the country illegally are being held in overburdened, overcrowded border patrol facilities. There’s no telling for sure whether a presidential visit to the border would be instructive or just “theater,” as Obama said Wednesday, and it would depend on where the president visited. Obama, who visited Texas this week, says he was “not interested in photo ops” and insisted a border visit wouldn’t enhance his understanding of what he, himself, has called a “humanitarian crisis.” ABC’s ERIN DOOLEY describes what the President would see if he went down to the border himself. http://abcn.ws/1tsaJ7w

BOEHNER PINS BORDER CRISIS ON OBAMA’S ‘FALSE HOPE’. House Speaker John Boehner pinned ownership of the escalating humanitarian crisis at the southern border squarely on President Obama, complaining yesterday that the president’s immigration policies have encouraged migrants to stream across our border, ABC’s JOHN PARKINSON reports. Boehner contended that throughout his presidency, Obama has given migrants “false hope” that if they enter the country illegally, they would be allowed to stay. “This is a problem of the president’s own making!” Boehner, R-Ohio, exclaimed to reporters at a news conference at the Capitol yesterday. “He has been president for five and half years. When is he going to take responsibility for something?” While Congress considers the White House’s $4.3 billion supplemental request, of which $3.7 billion is earmarked for the southern border, lawmakers are also debating whether to revise a 2008 law that says the unaccompanied children cannot be sent back to their native countries.  http://abcn.ws/1oHa1fY

YOU DON’T SEE THIS EVERY DAY: “House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) will be joined by bipartisan Members of Congress [today] at 11:30 a.m. ET to formally sign the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (H.R. 803) and send it to President Obama. The bipartisan legislation would improve and streamline job training programs so that those who are out of work can get the skills they need to earn a steady paycheck and get back on their feet. Participants: House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA); Chairman of the House Education & Workforce Committee John Kline (R-MN); Ranking Member of the House Education & Workforce Committee George Miller (D-CA); Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC); Rep. Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX).”

KOCH-BACKED GROUP PREVIEWS OBAMACARE PROTEST WITH ‘CREEPY’ VIDEO. Creepy Uncle Sam is back, and he’s coming to the National Mall with a few friends, ABC’s BENJAMIN SIEGEL notes. The conservative group Generation Opportunity, which has financial ties to conservative billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, is planning to bring a circus to the nation’s capital in its latest attempt to convince young American to opt out of the Affordable Care Act. “The ‘Creepy Care-nival,’ like Obamacare itself, comes with a veneer of excitement, but as soon as you begin to experience it, you realize you are being taken for a ride,” the site states. The video features clowns, fire-eaters and strong-men, along with a “dropped coverage” dunk tank and an “exploding premiums” strength test. Creepy Uncle Sam, who appeared in the group’s first ad surprising a woman at her gynecologist’s office, is introduced in the video as the master of ceremonies. The Virginia-based Generation Opportunity hosted tailgate parties on 20 college campuses in 2013 to encourage young people not to enroll in Obamacare. http://abcn.ws/1rXREsg

VETERAN SUICIDES DRAW TEARFUL FAMILIES TO CAPITOL HILL. In an emotional House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs hearing Thursday, a panel of parents decried failures in the VA and the Department of Defense as contributing to the mental pressures that led their sons to kill themselves, note ABC’s ALEXANDER MALLIN and JAKE LEFFERMAN. “Perhaps none of these hearings have presented the all-too-human face of VA’s failures so much as today’s hearing will,” committee chairman Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., said. Jean and Dr. Howard Somers, the parents of Army Sgt. Daniel Somers, spoke of their son’s experience navigating the VA system in Phoenix. “He was told by their mental health department that they had no beds, and he was told there were no beds in the emergency department. Daniel, 30, had largely condemned his experience with the system in his suicide letter published by Gawker 12 days after his death. The panel cited a 2012 Suicide Data report that estimated 22 veterans commit suicide every day in the United States. http://abcn.ws/U5JnEd

MEET THE IMPEACHMENT CROWD: 6 REPUBLICANS WHO WANT OBAMA OUT. Has President Obama’s use of the “pen and phone” to circumvent Congress gotten out of hand? Some members of the GOP seem to think so. Even as the embattled president fights criticism over the escalating humanitarian crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border, the release of Arm. Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in return for five prisoners from Guantanamo Bay, and the botched rollout of the Affordable Care Act, a mounting chorus of Republicans are calling for impeachment. With a cast of characters ranging from Sarah Palin to the South Dakota Republican Party, ABC’s ERIN DOOLEY and SCOTT WILSON have compiled a list of the high-profile Republicans who want to kick the president out of office: http://abcn.ws/1mPudiV

SEN. DICK DURBIN ACCUSES SUPREME COURT JUSTICES OF MISLEADING THE SENATE. A recent controversial ruling by the Supreme Court reveals that Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito Jr. were less than transparent during their Supreme Court confirmation hearings, a Democratic lawmaker charged Thursday. And the lawmaker, Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., is none too happy about it, ABC’s JAKE LEFFERMAN reports. The Supreme Court ruling last week in the the Hobby Lobby contraception case, Durbin said, goes against the landmark 1965 privacy case, Griswold v. Connecticut, which both justices vowed to uphold during their confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee nearly a decade ago. Durbin said he always makes sure to ask conservative judicial nominees whether they support the Griswold ruling, which is at the heart of women’s rights issues. “I asked that question repeatedly of Justice Roberts and Justice Alito to make sure that they would honor that same tradition of privacy. The Hobby lobby decision violates that fundamental premise,” said Durbin, who serves on the Judiciary Committee. http://abcn.ws/1kJzYcf

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

BEN & JERRY’S FOUNDER BRINGS POLITICAL FLAVORS TO CAPITOL LOBBYING. Lobbying usually doesn’t come with a side of ice cream. But Ben & Jerry’s co-founder Jerry Greenfield brought some with him to Capitol Hill Thursday, where he joined Rep. Peter DeFazio to advocate for mandatory labeling of genetically modified food, ABC’s BENJAMIN SEIGEL notes. “One spoonful at a time will change the law,” DeFazio, D-Ore., proclaimed. DeFazio and Greenfield appeared with pro-labeling advocates to protest a bill proposed by House Republicans that would make labeling genetically modified food voluntary. “Companies should be proud to talk about the ingredients they put in their food,” said Greenfield, whose ice cream company is known for their inventive flavors and ingredients. “This is as mainstream of an idea as you can get.” The bill, authored by Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kansas, would nullify efforts in several states to require GMO labeling; initiatives he called “misleading” in a Kansas newspaper op-ed. http://abcn.ws/TWbrtp

 

WHO’S TWEETING?

@jdistaso: Sen @KellyAyotte to officiate at wedding of @SenScottBrown daughter, Arianna, Sunday #nhsen #nhpolitics http://nhjournal.com/ayotte-to-officiate-wedding-of-browns-daughter-arianna/ …

@Messina2012: POTUS uses a line from 1 of my fav movies to slam GOP “I’m the guy going my job, you must be the other guy.”

@jaketapper: @Messina2012 sisterhood of the traveling pants?

@jasoninthehouse: Is the State Department Prioritizing ‘Pretty Buildings’ Over Preventing the Next Benghazi? http://www.nationaljournal.com/defense/is-the-state-department-prioritizing-pretty-buildings-over-preventing-the-next-benghazi-20140710 … via @nationaljournal

@gatesfoundation: 5 reasons to remain optimistic about the world’s future: http://gates.ly/1w2gtkg  via @UNFoundation

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Lawmaker Accuses Supreme Court Justices Roberts and Alito of Misleading the Senate http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/07/lawmaker-accuses-supreme-court-justices-roberts-and-alito-of-misleading-the-senate/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/07/lawmaker-accuses-supreme-court-justices-roberts-and-alito-of-misleading-the-senate/#comments Thu, 10 Jul 2014 23:00:22 +0000 Jake Lefferman http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/?p=889521 ap gty roberts alito kb 1407010 16x9 608 Lawmaker Accuses Supreme Court Justices Roberts and Alito of Misleading the Senate

Supreme Court Justices John Roberts, left, and Samuel Alito. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Photo | Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

A recent controversial ruling by the Supreme Court reveals that Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito Jr. were less than transparent during their Supreme Court confirmation hearings, a Democratic lawmaker charged today.

And the lawmaker, Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., is none too happy about it.

The Supreme Court ruling last week in the Hobby Lobby contraception case, Durbin said, goes against the landmark 1965 privacy case, Griswold v. Connecticut, which both justices vowed to uphold during their confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee nearly a decade ago.

Durbin said he always makes sure to ask conservative judicial nominees whether they support the Griswold ruling, which is at the heart of women’s rights issues.

“I asked that question repeatedly of Justice Roberts and Justice Alito to make sure that they would honor that same tradition of privacy. The Hobby lobby decision violates that fundamental premise,” said Durbin, who serves on the Judiciary Committee.

While he noted the justices were careful in their answers, “they both said they stood by the Griswold decision.”

Durbin’s comments came today as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and other Democratic leaders announced new women’s healthcare legislation and sharply criticized the Hobby Lobby ruling.

Reid agreed the Senate was misled.

“Alito told us who he was. We let it go,” Reid said. “Roberts didn’t. He misdirected us. He’s certainly been a disappointment to us.”

Griswold was a landmark case that overturned a Connecticut statute that prohibited the use of contraceptive devices. In a 7-2 decision, the Supreme Court ruled the law violated marital privacy, which is protected under the Bill of Rights.

“It was a breakthrough,” Durbin said, that placed the rights of individuals and families over a state’s right to ban contraceptives.

But nearly 50 years later, contraception is once again at the center of a divisive ruling.

In the Hobby Lobby case, the Supreme Court ruled that for-profit companies could deny contraceptive coverage under their company health plans if it violated a religious belief. Alito, writing for the majority, acknowledges a constitutional right to obtain contraceptives, established under Griswold, but steers the rationale of the court’s ruling to religious freedoms.

Democratic members of Congress responded to the decision with new proposed legislation intended to restore the contraceptive coverage requirement under the Affordable Care Act. The bill, which could be introduced as early as next week, would prevent employers from interfering with coverage for conception or other health services guaranteed under federal law.

At today’s news conference, Reid called the Hobby Lobby decision the worst Supreme Court ruling in the last 25 years.

“It’s wrong for five men to decide what happens to women in America,” he said.

As Democrats fight to keep a majority in the Senate in the fall elections, they are trying to draw attention to the court’s decision in hopes of rallying women voters to their side. Even if the Senate approves the legislation, Republican leaders in the House have no intention of following suit. Yet Reid defended the decision to press the issue, saying it was about far more than an election-year tactic.

“It would be political malpractice,” Reid said, “if we did not react the way we have dealing with this horrible decision made by the Supreme Court.”

 

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Ben & Jerry’s Founder Brings Political Flavors to Capitol Lobbying http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/07/ben-jerrys-founder-lobbies-for-political-flavors-on-capitol-hill/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/07/ben-jerrys-founder-lobbies-for-political-flavors-on-capitol-hill/#comments Thu, 10 Jul 2014 22:23:04 +0000 Benjamin Siegel http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/?p=889506  Ben & Jerrys Founder Brings Political Flavors to Capitol Lobbying

                     (Photo Credit: Susan Walsh/AP Photo

Lobbying usually doesn’t come with a side of ice cream.

But Ben & Jerry’s co-founder Jerry Greenfield brought some with him to Capitol Hill today, where he joined Rep. Peter DeFazio to advocate for mandatory labeling of genetically modified food.

“One spoonful at a time will change the law,” DeFazio, D-Ore., proclaimed.

DeFazio and Greenfield appeared with pro-labeling advocates to protest a bill proposed by House Republicans that would make labeling genetically modified food voluntary.

“Companies should be proud to talk about the ingredients they put in their food,” said Greenfield, whose ice cream company is known for their inventive flavors and ingredients. “This is as mainstream of an idea as you can get.”

The bill, authored by Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kansas, would nullify efforts in several states to require GMO labeling; initiatives he called “misleading” in a Kansas newspaper op-ed.

“Not a single credible scientific study has shown [genetically modified food] to be anything but 100 percent safe. We should follow the science and make policy accordingly, rather than follow political agendas,” Pompeo wrote.

Citing the early medical consensus on the health benefits of cigarettes, DeFazio said that the lack of evidence doesn’t disprove any undiscovered health risks genetic modification might have.

“When’s the last time a tomato plant mated with an arctic char? This hasn’t happened in nature before,” he said.

Greenfield, who put Ben & Jerry’s on the map with iconic flavors and creative ingredients, has supported state-level efforts to mandate labeling. The company renamed its chocolate brownie flavor to “Food Fight Fudge Brownie” in support of a legal fund to defend Vermont’s first-in-the-nation GMO labeling law that is being challenged in court. (Event organizers passed out ice cream cups of the flavor after the news conference.)

Ben & Jerry’s, which Greenfield and his partner Ben Cohen sold to Unilever in 2000, supports a number of progressive political causes, including climate change and same-sex marriage.  In 2012, Cohen founded Stamp Stampede, an organization geared toward limiting the influence of money in politics.

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Veteran Suicides Draw Tearful Families to Capitol Hill http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/07/veteran-suicides-draw-tearful-families-to-capitol-hill/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/07/veteran-suicides-draw-tearful-families-to-capitol-hill/#comments Thu, 10 Jul 2014 21:10:13 +0000 Alexander Mallin http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/?p=889492 GTY military suicides mar 140710 16x9 608 Veteran Suicides Draw Tearful Families to Capitol Hill

(Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

ABC News’ Alexander Mallin and Jake Lefferman report:

In an emotional House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs hearing today, a panel of parents decried failures in the VA and the Department of Defense as contributing to the mental pressures that led their sons to kill themselves.

“Perhaps none of these hearings have presented the all-too-human face of VA’s failures so much as today’s hearing will,” committee chairman Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., said.

Jean and Dr. Howard Somers, the parents of Army Sgt. Daniel Somers, spoke of their son’s experience navigating the VA system in Phoenix.

“He presented there in crisis, he said he needed to be admitted to the hospital,” Somers said, having to finish for his wife who had started the story but broke into tears. “He was told by their mental health department that they had no beds, and he was told there were no beds in the emergency department.

“The fact is that he went in to the corner. He lay down on the floor. He was crying. But he was told you can stay here and when you feel better you can drive yourself home.”

Daniel, 30, had largely condemned his experience with the system in his suicide letter published by Gawker 12 days after his death.

“Thus, I am left with basically nothing,” Somers wrote. “Abandoned by those who would take the easy route, and a liability to those who stick it out – and thus deserve better.”

The panel cited a 2012 Suicide Data report that estimated 22 veterans commit suicide every day in the United States.

Military Suicides in 2012 Tops Military Deaths in Afghanistan

Commemorating Suicides, Vets Plant 1,892 Flags on National Mall

Rising Suicides Stump Military Leaders

The Somers were also joined by Peggy Portwine, the mother of deceased Army veteran Brian Portwine. She blamed the VA and DOD for clearing her son for redeployment after multiple traumatic combat experiences.

“Upon returning from the second deployment in 2010, Brian was diagnosed with PTSD, TBI, depression and anxiety,” Portwine said. “I never knew of his conditions. He deteriorated quickly from December 2010 to May 2010 when he took his life. If the DOD and VA assessed Brian for high suicide risk, it was their duty to treat him, but he received nothing.”

The hearing is the latest in a series of full hearings held by congressional committees that have charged the VA with individual and systemic issues that have been alleged to have caused hundreds of deaths of former servicemen and women.

“Not one more parent should have to testify before a congressional committee to compel the VA to fulfill its responsibilities to those who served and sacrificed,” said Susan Selke, whose son Clay Hunt, 28, committed suicide in March 2011 after serving in the Marine Corps. “Despite his proactive and open approach to seeking care to address his injuries, the VA system did not adequately address his needs.”

Among the problems acknowledged by the panel were issues with multiple prescription trials the veterans were put through, increasing complications observed in gaining access to VA systems, and direct negligence in addressing immediate care.

Sgt. Josh Renschler described his personal experience navigating the VA system as one that spiraled downward after the elimination of a program deemed too costly despite its positive effect on his mental health.

“Now, I get better customer service at Best Buy, quite frankly,” Renschler said. “We need a system that serves the veteran, not one that requires the veteran to accommodate to that system.”

The parents and Sgt. Renschler all held back tears as they took questions for nearly three hours and made several broad recommendations for comprehensive changes in mental health treatment in the VA.

At the end of the testimony, the members of the committee, several of whom also choked back tears during their inquiries, gave a long-standing ovation.

In an effort to address the prevalence of suicides among veterans, Miller, along with Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn., and Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., introduced the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act in a news conference on Capitol Hill after the hearing.

Miller also said he would be looking for ways  to hold VA officials accountable for any evidence of negligence in fixing the problem.

“I’ve asked my staff to get me the hearings from the last three years where VA has told us that they have been handling mental health care cases in a timely fashion,” Miller said. “And we, in fact, know that that is not true.”

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Obama Quotes Gangster Movie to Explain Washington Dysfunction http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/07/obama-compares-himself-to-marky-mark-to-explain-washington-dysfunction/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/07/obama-compares-himself-to-marky-mark-to-explain-washington-dysfunction/#comments Thu, 10 Jul 2014 20:22:51 +0000 Mary Bruce http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/?p=889497 President Obama has been slamming Republicans for months for obstructing his efforts to boost the economy. But today, he found a new, creative way to explain the problem.

Speaking in Austin, Texas, Obama invoked the violent Martin Scorsese thriller “The Departed” to explain Washington dysfunction. Obama compared himself to the no-nonsense character played by Mark Wahlberg (a.k.a. Marky Mark) as he ripped Republicans planning to sue him for his use of executive actions.

“There’s a scene in the movie where Mark Wahlberg — you know, they’re on a stakeout — and somehow the guy loses the guy that they’re tracking. And Wahlberg’s all upset and, you know, yelling at the guy. And the guy looks up and he says, ‘Well, who are you?’ And Wahlberg says, ‘I’m the guy doing my job. You must be the other guy,’” Obama said.

Obama Calls Boehner Lawsuit Threat a ‘Stunt’

Boehner Insists Obama Lawsuit ‘Not About Impeachment’

“Sometimes I feel like saying to these guys, ‘I’m the guy doing my job. You must be the other guy,’” he said to laughter and applause from the crowd at the Paramount Theatre in Austin.

Instead of waging “another political stunt that wastes time, wastes taxpayers’ money,” Obama urged Republicans to work with him to grow the economy.

 

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Boehner Pins Border Crisis on Obama’s ‘False Hope’ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/07/boehner-pins-border-crisis-on-obamas-false-hope/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/07/boehner-pins-border-crisis-on-obamas-false-hope/#comments Thu, 10 Jul 2014 18:04:09 +0000 John Parkinson http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/?p=889481

House Speaker John Boehner pinned ownership of the escalating humanitarian crisis at the southern border squarely on President Obama, complaining today that the president’s immigration policies have encouraged migrants to stream across our border.

Boehner contended that throughout his presidency, Obama has given migrants “false hope” that if they enter the country illegally, they would be allowed to stay.

“This is a problem of the president’s own making!” Boehner, R-Ohio, exclaimed to reporters at a news conference at the Capitol today. “He has been president for five and half years. When is he going to take responsibility for something?”

While Congress considers the White House’s $4.3 billion supplemental request, of which $3.7 billion is earmarked for the southern border, lawmakers are also debating whether to revise a 2008 law that says the unaccompanied children cannot be sent back to their native countries.  Unaccompanied children must instead be held humanely by the Department of Health and Human Services until the courts release them to a “suitable family member” in the United States.

Boehner said Republicans “would probably want the language similar to what we have with Mexico,” which would quickly return children migrating from other Central American countries to their native countries.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, however, said she would prefer to see the language regarding Mexico’s migrants altered to the language pertaining to migrants from non-contiguous countries.

“If they wanted to make it uniform, I would have rather they treated the Mexican kids the way they treated the…non-contiguous country kids,” Pelosi said. “Really, what’s important is to get the supplemental. What price we have to pay to do that, we’ll see in the course of the debate.”

“When it comes to children, from my standpoint, I’m like a lioness,” Pelosi proclaimed. “Don’t mess with the children, OK? You want to talk about contiguous or non-contiguous, talk about it all day, but give us the money to deal with it.”

As for the supplemental request, Boehner said he believes the House should act before the August recess, but said lawmakers are still working to determine what action the lower chamber could take.

“I can tell you this, though. We’re not giving the president a blank check,” Boehner said. “Beyond that, we’ll await further discussions with our members before we make any final decisions.”

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Koch-Backed Group Previews Obamacare Protest With ‘Creepy’ Video http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/07/koch-backed-group-previews-obamacare-protest-with-creepy-video/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/07/koch-backed-group-previews-obamacare-protest-with-creepy-video/#comments Thu, 10 Jul 2014 14:37:46 +0000 Benjamin Siegel http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/?p=889460 HT unlce sam obamacare jef 140709 16x9 608 Koch Backed Group Previews Obamacare Protest With Creepy Video

The conservative group behind "Creepy Uncle Sam" is bringing the anti-Obamacare mascot to Washington--with a circus.

Creepy Uncle Sam is back, and he’s coming to the National Mall with a few friends.

The conservative group Generation Opportunity, which has financial ties to conservative billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, is planning to bring a circus to the nation’s capital in its latest attempt to convince young American to opt out of the Affordable Care Act.

READ: Tom Steyer vs. The Koch Brothers: 2014-s Battle of the Billionaires

The “Creepy Care-nival,” announced in a YouTube video released this week, will be “an interactive event that puts the failures of the ‘Affordable Care Act’ (also known as Obamacare) on full display,” according to its website.

“The ‘Creepy Care-nival,’ like Obamacare itself, comes with a veneer of excitement, but as soon as you begin to experience it, you realize you are being taken for a ride,” the site states.

The video features clowns, fire-eaters and strong-men, along with a “dropped coverage” dunk tank and an “exploding premiums” strength test. Creepy Uncle Sam, who appeared in the group’s first ad surprising a woman at her gynecologist’s office, is introduced in the video as the master of ceremonies.

The Virginia-based Generation Opportunity hosted tailgate parties on 20 college campuses in 2013 to encourage young people not to enroll in Obamacare. The group also has television and Internet ads running against Democrats in states with tight Senate races.

READ: Obamacare Ads Win Millennials’ Applause, But Did They Enroll?

Obamacare opponents and the administration have fought to attract the attention of young, healthy Americans whose participation in exchanges helps offset the costs of sicker participants; one notable effort was President Barack Obama’s deadpan interview with comedian Zach Galifianakis on the comedian’s “Between Two Ferns” web series–which was just nominated for an Emmy.

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North Of The Border http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/07/north-of-the-border-the-note/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/07/north-of-the-border-the-note/#comments Thu, 10 Jul 2014 13:09:17 +0000 Michael Falcone http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/?p=889466 By MICHAEL FALCONE (@michaelpfalcone)

NOTABLES

  • OBAMA URGES CONGRESS TO PASS IMMIGRATION BILLS: Emerging from a meeting on the border crisis with one of his harshest critics, President Obama said he and Gov. Rick Perry, R-Texas, don’t have a major disagreement about how to handle the problem, the challenge is Congress, ABC’s MARY BRUCE and DEVIN DWYER report. “There’s nothing the governor indicated that he’d like to see that I have a philosophical objection to,” the president told reporters yesterday. “The problem here is not a major disagreement around the actions that could be helpful in dealing with the problem. The challenge is: is Congress prepared to act to put the resources in place to get this done.” “The question is are we more interested in politics or are we more interested in solving the problem,” he said. The president urged Republicans to put politics aside and act on his request for $3.7 in emergency funding to cope with the influx of unaccompanied minors flooding across the border. http://abcn.ws/1mhaibj
  • NEW LEGISLATION: ABC News has learned that Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, will announce joint legislation as soon as today that would seek to reverse the 2008 law at the heart of this humanitarian crisis. “Our offices are exploring a bipartisan solution to address the humanitarian crisis on the border,” Megan Mitchell, a Cornyn spokeswoman told ABC News. The thrust of the measure would be to treat Central American minors the same as Mexicans when they cross the US border illegally. This will be highly controversial among some Democrats — because of the human trafficking aspect of the original bill. But it’s also expected to gain broad support.

 

THE ROUNDTABLE

ABC’s RICK KLEIN: I’m not interested in photo ops,” President Obama told the assembled cameras in Dallas Wednesday night, in explaining why he’s not heading to the border. The previous night, the White House had announced that “the bear” would be “on the loose” – and the president loosened up enough to drink a beer and play some pool with the governor of Colorado. (He instructed the reporters traveling – and photographing – that encounter to record that he beat Gov. John Hickenlooper, and badly.) Surely this president, and this White House, understands the impact of images on political perceptions; that may be why officials wouldn’t want the president in pictures that showcase makeshift refugee camps housing minors on American soil. The president’s strategy in meeting with Gov. Rick Perry appears to have been to get Perry on board for his package of legal changes and increased funding to deal with the crisis. But if Perry – not to mention some of the president’s allies – are talking instead about the lack of a presidential visit, good luck with that.

ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: The Republican Governors Association is reporting another record breaking fundraising period. According to the group they have $70.3 million cash on hand and that’s the most cash on hand they have “ever had in the group’s history.” In 2010, the last similar cycle they only had $40 million cash on hand at the same point in the cycle. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie–the RGA Chairman–may still be dealing with Bridgegate fall out, but he can definitely still raise cash.  Since he was elected chairman in November 2013, the RGA has hauled in $60 million, $10 million more than last month, which was also a record breaker. In the second quarter, the group raised $26.6 million, compared to only $19 million in 2010. They are spending their money in 2014 states, raising money in 13 states and running television ads in eight of them. The Republicans have to defend 22 governorships this cycle, eight more than Democrats (they also hold 8 more governorships than Democrats). Christie will fundraise in two all important early states this month, making a stop in Iowa to fundraise for Gov. Terry Branstad and then fundraising for the New Hampshire GOP at the end of the month.

ABC’s JEFF ZELENY: The ball is now in Congress’ court. A flurry of legislative action on immigration is poised to start today, with a group of Republicans pushing to reverse the 2008 human trafficking law at the center of the latest border crisis. But the more pressing question is whether the emergency funding request — at $3.7 billion or whatever level — is swiftly approved or caught up in the political morass surrounding the immigration fight. Will this be a rare example of bipartisan cooperation? It’s hard to imagine, given the lack of trust and the love for playing the blame game on Capitol Hill. But if Republicans don’t sign off on border security measures put forward by President Obama, Sen. Lindsey Graham had this warning: “We’re going to get blamed for perpetuating the problem.”

 

BUZZ

with ABC’s SCOTT WILSON

WHY POLITICAL E-MAILS ARE GETTING EVEN WEIRDER. Last month came to an end, and right on time, the crazy emails came flooding in with subject lines like these: “Can we chat real quick?” “We’re so sorry!” “THIS CAN’T WAIT” “Democrats NEED you to open this” “Wow just wow” Like car salesmen itchy to make their quotas, political campaigns ooze with desperation as each month draws to a close. In an election year like this one, the Federal Election Commission counts donations monthly for parties and quarterly for campaigns, and candidates get eager to post impressive numbers before the deadline as an indication of momentum and strength. So, as ABC’s CHRIS GOOD notes, they flood their backers with pleadings, proddings, urgings, come-ons and sometimes even veiled threats, all via email — a source of campaign fundraising that’s exploded over the last decade. The authors of these breathless entreaties often go unnamed. But they are political e-mail gurus such as Anne Lewis, who runs an eponymous Democratic firm, Anne Lewis Strategies. And also former Obama consultants Andrew Bleeker and Lauren Miller, of Bully Pulpit Strategies, who contracted with the president’s reelection campaign in 2012. Then there’s Republican Kurt Luidhardt of The Prosper Group. For them, this is a science and an art.

–”I EAT, SLEEP, AND BREATHE E-MAIL SUBJECT LINES,” Lewis said. Lewis writes emails for Democratic campaigns, and lately that has meant sending some weird, occasionally creepy stuff. Hyperpersonal subject lines were in vogue during the 2012 election, when President Obama’s campaign infamously subjected its backers to a parade of phrased tested and perfected by a team of analysts, including “hey,” “Something I’d like to ask you” and “Do you still live in Illinois?” “People’s inboxes are very much like their Facebook feeds right now,” Lewis explained. “What makes someone want to open an email is if you’ve invoked their curiosity, or induced anger, or … an argument.” Emails are a campaign’s prime mode of online fundraising, and House and Senate campaigns want the newest and best, consultants said. “A lot of people look at Obama and say, ‘I want what he’s having,’ so it’s become the thing to mimic,” Lewis said. Which is why, since 2012, the emails have seemingly become stranger and stranger. READ MORE: http://abcn.ws/1xTfhTg

TEXAS DEMOCRAT SAYS OBAMA LOOKS ‘DETACHED’ BY FAILING TO VISIT BORDER. Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas says he’s a loyal Democrat, but he believes President Obama is starting to “look detached” by not visiting the border during his trip to Texas this week according to ABC’s JEFF ZELENY. Cuellar said he was dumbfounded when he saw pictures of the president making a casual evening stop in Colorado as he made his way to Texas. ”Look, he’s going to be in Austin, 242 miles away from the border. He’s going to be in Dallas, 500 miles away from the border,” Cuellar told ABC News. “We saw some of the photographs where he was in Colorado, drinking a beer, playing pool. I mean the optics are just horrible.” As the crisis at the border escalates, with no quick solution in sight to stem the tide of unaccompanied minors arriving illegally from Central America, several Texas Democrats are voicing rare criticism of a president in their own party. http://abcn.ws/1nfiut0

BOEHNER WANTS NATIONAL GUARD DEPLOYED TO BORDER. House Speaker John Boehner appealed once again to President Obama yesterday to deploy the National Guard to relieve the border patrol and send additional personnel to process and remove the children who entered the country illegally, ABC’s JOHN PARKINSON reports. The speaker was also non-committal on the president’s request this week for $3.7 billion to deal with the surge in undocumented immigrants. Boehner, R-Ohio, told reporters at a news conference in the Capitol, “It’s time for us to take a serious look at what needs to happen. If we don’t secure the border, nothing’s going to change.” He urged Obama to send the National Guard to the border. http://abcn.ws/1qMfntA

DEMS STRIKE BACK ON HOBBY LOBBY CASE WITH ‘NOT MY BOSS’S BUSINESS ACT’. Democratic Sens. Patty Murray and Mark Udall fought back Wednesday against the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling with plans for legislation intended to restore the contraceptive coverage requirement under the Affordable Care Act, notes ABC’s JAKE LEFFERMAN. Joined by fellow Democrats from both chambers of Congress and women’s rights groups, the senators urged Republicans to support the bill they have nicknamed “Not My Boss’s Business Act.” ”We are here to ensure that no CEO or corporation can come between people and their guaranteed access to healthcare,” Murray, of Washington state, said, speaking at the Capitol. “I hope Republicans will join us to revoke this court-issued license to discriminate and return the right of Americans to make their own decision about their own health care and their own bodies.” It’s an issue that Democrats hope will sway voters in the midterm elections. With their control of the Senate in jeopardy, Democrats are trying to energize and awaken liberal voters who tend to sit out congressional elections. http://abcn.ws/1jqkDCt

THE MOST ALARMING STATS FROM CONGRESSIONAL CAMPUS SEX ASSAULT REPORT. Many institutions of higher education are failing at addressing sexual assaults on their campuses, Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said yesterday as she released a new report on how colleges and universities are responding to sexual assault cases. ”This survey shows that there are way too many schools that are failing and just about every institution in the country has room for improvement,” McCaskill said at a news conference Wednesday. ABC’s ARLETTE SAENZ has some of the most alarming figures from the report: 41% of institutions did not conduct a single investigation of campus sexual assault in the past five years–43% of the nation’s largest public schools allow students to help adjudicate sexual assault cases–22% of institutions permit athletic departments to have oversight of sexual assault cases involving athletes–21% of institutions do not provide sexual assault response training to their faculty and staff. http://abcn.ws/1n7YVOx

HILLARY SAYS SHE DONATES HER SPEAKING FEES, BUT NO PROOF YET. Hillary Clinton insists that she donates fees for giving speeches at colleges and universities but still has not released documents to back up her claims, according to ABC’s LIZ KREUTZ. In an interview with ABC News’ Ann Compton Friday, Clinton defended the high-dollar fees she charges for speaking at universities by saying the money goes to charity through the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation she controls with her husband, former president Bill Clinton. But Clinton, in response to specific follow-up questions, has offered nothing but silence. ”I have been very excited to speak to many universities during the last year and a half, and all of the fees have been donated to the Clinton Foundation for it to continue its life-changing and lifesaving work,” Clinton said. “So it goes from a Foundation at a university to another foundation.” After the interview, ABC News reached out repeatedly to representatives from both the Clinton Foundation and Hillary Clinton’s office requesting documents to support Clinton’s claim, but none were provided. http://abcn.ws/1qVtU81

 

WHO’S TWEETING?

@tedhesson: “You have the right to an attorney” — these words don’t apply to kids in immigration court http://fus.in/TUF525 

@Schultz44: In border crisis, Obama accused of ‘lawlessness’ for following the law http://wapo.st/1jrADEp  via @washingtonpost

@DavidChalian: On @CNN, @JohnBerman pressed @SenRandPaul twice on Palin’s impeachment call: “That’s not my position,” said Paul.

@MikeCzin: vast majority of Americans that have enrolled in Obamacare like their coverage http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/11/upshot/newest-health-insurance-customers-are-generally-happy.html?_r=1 …

@ajdukakis: #PowerPlayers: FBI Art Crime Team founder @RobertWittman tells @PierreTABC how to catch an art thief http://yhoo.it/1q1s9qn  @abc @YahooNews

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