September 22, 2013

Pelosi: Hillary Clinton "certainly more prepared" than other recent presidents

Hillary Clinton would assume the presidency better qualified than her husband, Barack Obama or George W. Bush, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi told CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday.

Pelosi emphasized that she has great respect for Obama, but noted Clinton has been Secretary of State, a U.S. Senator and held other positions. Obama was in his first U. S. Senate term when he was elected president in 2008.

Pelosi doesn't know if Clinton will run. But, the California Democrat said, "when she does she will win.  And when she becomes president, she'll be one of the best- equipped, best-prepared people to enter the White House in a very long time.

"She has, by dent of her experience as a senator, as a secretary of state, as a first lady herself, participating in the way she did -- certainly, with all due respect to our president, and I think he's magnificent and wonderful and a blessing to us, but certainly more prepared than President Obama, certainly more prepared than President Bush, certainly more prepared than President Clinton"

Would she be more prepared than Vice President Joe Biden?

"Well," said Pelosi, "I'm saying the presidents that we have had. Joe Biden is very prepared, and I think President Bush Sr. was prepared.  He had been a vice president.  But I'm talking about recent memory of presidents that we have had.

"You know, Joe Biden would be very prepared as well.  But you asked me about Hillary Clinton."

Pelosi was asked if she would prefer Clinton over Biden as president.

"I always have a little habit of saying, when you're serious about running, I'll be serious about it.  But I think it would be magnificent for America to have a woman president.  And by the way, incidental, more importantly, very qualified," she said.

May 29, 2013

Business groups call on White House, Congress to boost quality preschool

About 300 business people, companies and organizations sent a letter to the White House and Congress today to make a case for more high-quality early education.

"Many of us compete in a global marketplace. We see other countries investing in their young children both for the long-term benefits of a stronger workforce and the current benefits that come from enhancing the productivity of parents. To compete, we have to do the same," they wrote. Full letter here.

The letter calls for some of the same things that President Barack Obama has proposed and that now await action by Congress. They include high-quality early education and home visiting and health care from birth to age 5. The letter says a good policy should "focus first on children from low- to moderate-income families and other children at risk for school failure."

The letter was organized by ReadyNation, the early childhood project of America's Promise Alliance, a coalition founded by former Secretary of State Colin Powell and his wife, Alma Powell, to advocate for children and youth.


January 29, 2013

Guantanamo commissions: Whatever the CIA wants you to see

Over the past few years, after Obama failed to close Guantanamo, there's been a push to present the military commissions process there as reformed -- nothing like the extra-legal prosecution efforts of the Bush era, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the effort unconstitutional because Congress had not set it up. So the Obama administration and Congress came up with an improved regime, one more in keeping with what Americans would recognize as a court.

Today, we learned another way in which military commissions are different from any court the United States has seen before: Turns out the CIA has the ability to cut off the public's view of the proceedings without consulting with the judge, or anyone else.

That's apparently what happened Monday, to the shock of the judge, who apparently was unaware that anyone other than the court's security officer had the authority to censor courtroom exchanges. You can read The Miami Herald's Carol Rosenberg's account on what took place here.

Today, we learn who that someone is: the OCA or the Original Classification Authority -- in this case, the CIA. (You can see Rosenberg's account of today's commission testimony at her Twitter account here.)

Certainly, the Obama administration and Congress never publicly explained that this was how the commissions would work when they mandated in the Military Commission Act that the proceedings must be held in public. Obviously, it had not been explained to Judge Pohl or the defense attorneys, though the prosecution seemed to know.

What to do now? Rosenberg, after consulting with counsel, challenged the refusal to explain who had the authority to cut off the public's access to the courtroom. Here's what she filed with the commissions clerk:

To the Clerk of Military Commissions:

I am writing to you pursuant to Regulation 19-3 governing public access to commission proceedings, to object to the closure yesterday, January 28, 2013, of proceedings in United States v. Mohammad, et al.

Public access was denied to a portion of the proceedings by the termination of the video and audio feed, and this closure of the courtroom was imposed without any findings by the military judge authorizing it, as required by M.C.A. 949d(c) and R.M.C. 806.  As a reporter covering these proceedings, I object to this unauthorized denial of access and request a public explanation of the basis for the closure, a statement of the legal authority for the denial of public access, and an identification of the individual or organization that
closed the proceedings to the public.

I hereby request that you forward this objection to all counsel of record in the proceeding.    


  Will it make a difference? That remains to be seen. The Obama administration likes to say it's made the military commissions process transparent. But hiding the fact that all proceedings are overseen by an unnamed entity that can move outside the authority of the judge to censor the public's view of what's taking place is hardly transparent. It's difficult even to imagine that any entity has that authority in what passes for a quasi-judicial  proceeding, where the judge runs the courtroom.

September 06, 2012

Ex-Secretaries of State make the case for Romney

Mitt Romney is staying off the campaign trail this week, taking it easy in New Hampshire and Vermont and preparing for the fall's debates.

But his surrogates are active, and Thursday, four former Republican Secretaries of State urged people to consider Romney as a potential commander-in-chief.

The nation "cannot be strong militarily, politically or diplomatically unless we are strong economically. These past few years, we have experienced an anemic economic recovery, one that has weakened our influence in the world and shaken the confidence of our friends and allies," wrote George Shultz, James Baker, Henry Kissinger and Condoleezza Rice.

"We need pro-growth strategies that will renew our ailing economy, just as they did when Ronald Reagan took over in 1980. If the U.S. economy continues to stagnate, then predictions of an American retreat from greatness could come true."

 The former officials' piece was run in the Washington Times. They continued:

"That is why we have endorsed Mitt Romney for president. He has the experience, strategy and temperament to lead a robust economic recovery and rein in the mounting federal debt that threatens our future. And he fully understands that our prosperity at home is inextricably linked to our influence abroad.

"Mr. Romney has laid out a strong and mature vision of American leadership during his campaign. It is based on a consistent theme that peace abroad depends on American vitality.

"Mr. Romney understands that the world remains a dangerous place. He is a staunch supporter of our alliances around the world. He believes in maintaining our military strength. He is committed to expanding free trade and investment. He will oppose the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. And he knows that no American president should ever be ashamed of espousing the democratic principles upon which our nation was founded.

"Most of all, he recognizes that America is at its best when it assumes a leadership role on the world stage. Mr. Romney will devote himself to building an America that remains the hope of the world — a world of peace, justice and democracy."


September 03, 2012

Gallup: GOP convention had "minimal impact" on voter attitudes

No discernable convention bounce for the Republicans.

That's the analysis from Gallup."Last week's Republican National Convention had a minimal impact on Americans' self-reported voting intentions, with just about as many saying the convention made them less likely to vote for Mitt Romney as say it made them more likely to vote for him," the pollster reported Monday.

Gallup tracks sentiment towards Republican nominee Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama daily. The Republican convention met last Monday through Thursday, with Romney delivering his acceptance speech Thursday night.

Gallup found its polling "showed predictable partisan differences. Republicans overwhelmingly said the convention made them more likely to vote for Romney, although most would likely be voting for their nominee anyway.

"Democrats as predictably said the convention made them less likely to vote for Romney. Independents, a key group in any presidential election, were essentially split, with 36 percent saying the convention made them more likely to vote for Romney and 33 percent less likely -- although 30 percent said they don't know or that the convention made no difference."

Romney and Obama remain in a virtual tie in Gallup's latest polling, with Obama ahead by 1 percentage point. Democrats begin their convention Tuesday.

The poll also found Romney's acceptance speech did not win over many Democrats or independents.

Gallup reported it "scored low by comparison to previous convention speeches going back to 1996. Thirty-eight percent of Americans rated the speech as excellent or good, while 16 percent rated it as poor or terrible. The 38 percent who rated the speech as excellent or good is the lowest rating of any of the eight speeches Gallup has tested since Bob Dole's GOP acceptance speech in 1996."

Of the eight speeches Gallup has polled, Obama's 2008 speech was the best received.

But Gallup warned views of conventions and speeches "do not necessarily presage victory in November. Obama's speech was more highly evaluated in 2008 than (Republican nominee John) McCain's, and Obama went on to win. Kerry's and Bush's 2004 speeches were equally highly evaluated, but Bush won the election." Democrat John Kerry opposed President George W. Bush

August 16, 2012

Obama economic approval below that of George W. Bush, Clinton, Reagan

President Barack Obama's handling of the economy gets lower marks than those recorded by three of his predecessors at a similar time of their first terms, a new Gallup poll said Thursday.

36 percent approved of Obama's economic performance, while 60 percent disapproved.

In 2004, George W. Bush's rating in August was 46 percent. Eight years earlier, Bill Clinton won 54 percent approval for his economic policies, while Ronald Reagan in July 1984 scored 50 percent.

Obama, though, did better than George H. W. Bush,who had an 18 percent economic job performance approval rating in July 1992--and lost the November election.

Obama did much better on terrorism policy, and his overall approval rating was 45 percent.

But, the Gallup analysis noted, "It appears that the economy approval rating is consistently the closest to overall job approval, and therefore arguably the most relevant."


October 28, 2011

Romney getting advice from former Bush administration justice officials

Mitt Romney continued Friday to tap previous Bush administrations for advice.

The former Massachusetts governor and top-tier Republican presidential candidate Friday announced the backing of two former attorneys general and three others who served in top positions.

Supporters and advisers include Michael Mukasey, attorney general under President George W. Bush from 2007 to 2009, and William Barr, attorney general under President George H.W. Bush from 1991 to 1993.

Also on the Romney team are George Terwilliger, deputy attorney general from 1992 to 1993; Mark Filip, deputy attorney general from 2008 to 2009, and Alice Fisher, assistant attorney general in charge of the criminal division from 2005 to 2008.


October 13, 2011

Romney trade team looks like Bush's

Mitt Romney will get the same kind of advice on trade policy as President George W. Bush got--because Romney's top advisers are Bush administration veterans.

Romney, the former Massachusetts governor seeking the Republican presidential nomination, Thursday announced an advisory team that features Carlos Gutierrez, secretary of commerce in the second Bush administration. Gutierrez will chair Romney's Trade Policy Advisory Group.

Also advising Romney are Rod Hunter, former National Security Council senior director of international trade, energy and environment, and John Herrmann, NSC director for international trade and investment.


October 11, 2011

Environmentalists sue EPA over ozone

Health and environmental groups today announced they're suing the Obama administration for not setting stronger smog standards. The Environmental Protection Agency's science advisory board unanimously recommended stronger standards than what the Bush administration set in 2008. The EPA had been working on a tougher requirement, but President Obama directed the agency to drop it last month (story here).

The suit was brought by the American Lung Association, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Appalachian Mountain Club. (See a press release from Earthjustice, the law firm representing them, here.)

September 06, 2011

Romney's economic team has a Bush hue

Mitt Romney's economic team has a very George W. Bush-like hue.

Romney, who plans to unveil his economic program later Tuesday, announced a team of four top economic advisers, including two who served Bush as top economic aides. Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, is seeking the Republican presidential nomination.

R. Glenn Hubbard served as Bush's Chairman of the Councl of Economic Advisors from 2001 to 2003, and N. Gregory Mankiw served in that job from 2003 to 2005.

Mankiw is now a professor of economics at Harvard University, while Hubbard is a professor of finance and economics at the Columbia University Business School.

Also on the Romney team are former Minnesota Rep. Vin Weber, a longtime adviser to GOP politicians, and former MIssouri Sen. Jim Talent.



















"Planet Washington" covers politics and government. It is written by journalists in McClatchy's Washington Bureau.

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