September 13, 2013

Americans not confident in government's ability to handle problems

Americans' trust in government's ability to deal with domestic issues is down to historic lows, according to a new Gallup survey.

Forty-two percent of those polled Sept. 5-8 said they had a great deal or fair amount of confidence, a percentage point less than a 2011 survey.

International marks were also down. About half said they had a fair or good amount of confidence in the government's ability to handle foreign matters, less than the 2007 low of 51 percent. The survey was conducted as the  United States was considering a military strike against Syria.

"Americans' trust and confidence in the federal government's ability to solve problems internationally as well as domestically has fallen to historic lows this year," according to a Gallup analysis.

"There are a number of possible explanations for this loss of confidence: controversy surrounding potential U.S. action in Syria, an enduring low assessment of the state of the economy, or low levels of confidence in Congress," the analysis said.

To read more:


September 06, 2013

Cummings' constitutents like Obama, but that doesn't mean they like Syria mission

Rep. Elijah Cummings represents a Baltimore district where President Barack Obama has strong support--but that doesn't automatically mean the Maryland Democrat will back the president on Syria."

"i think that that is a part of it, but I got to tell you it's not as much a part of it as you may think because I think what we are doing -- and I get the impression that a lot of people are looking at this -- I mean, I just think about my constituents," he explained after a briefing on Capitol Hill Friday.

"Just yesterday I walked through the district, and I asked those kind of questions.  I said, look, 80 percent of our district voted for the president.  We're very supportive.  And there were people who said, I love the president; I trust the president; he's like my son."


"As one lady said...I disagree with my husband, but I love him to life.  And so, you know, you're going to have those disagreements.  And so we all have to, I think, look at this not just in a vacuum of what's happening today, but what's going to happen with regard to future generations, and that's -- and I think that's how we have to look at it."

So, Cummings said, "It's very difficult."

August 30, 2013

Levin offers views on Syria

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman wants no military strike in Syria until United Nations inspectors are done.

“I again expressed my view that the United States should not undertake a kinetic strike before the U.N. inspectors complete their work, and that the impact of such a strike would be weakened if it does not have the participation and support of a large number of nations, including Arab nations," the Michigan Democrat said in a statement Friday.

"I also urged the Administration to send a powerful message to the Assad regime by immediately getting lethal aid to vetted elements of the Syrian opposition.  Doing so can change the balance militarily and also contribute to a political solution in Syria.”

Boehner wants more explanation, Feinstein hopes for "appropriate action" vs. Syria

Initial reaction among congressional leaders to Secretary of State John Kerry's explanation of administration Syria policy differed Friday, falling somewhat along partisan lines.

House Speaker John Boehner's spokesman said the president himself needs to explain to Congress and the American people more about the objectives, strategy and legal basis for military action. "We--and the American people--look forward to more answers from the White House," said Brendan Buck.

Among Democrats, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., backed Kerry.

“I listened carefully to what Secretary Kerry had to say and believe his remarks should stir the conscience of the world. He pointed out the high confidence our government has that this was a chemical weapons attack, that it was directed by the Assad regime and that it killed 1,429 people, including at least 426 children," she said.

“The unclassified intelligence assessment released today tracks closely with briefings I have received over the past week. I agree with Secretary Kerry that the world cannot let such a heinous attack pass without a meaningful response, and I hope the international community will take appropriate action.”

Poll shows widespread opposition to U.S. military action vs. Syrian regime

The American public is not eager to see the United States take military action against the Syrian regime, according to a new NBC News poll released Friday.

Twenty-six percent favor military action, while 40 percent prefer humanitarian aid. Even when told the Syrian government has used chemical weapons, half said the U.S. should not take military action. But half also said they would support the use of cruise missiles launched from Navy ships aimed at destroying infrastructure.

Most of the data, though, showed opposition to military action. One third said such action was not in the U.S. national interest, compared to 21 percent who did.

And nearly one in five said the president should seek approval from Congress. Obama has consulted with congressional leaders, but lawmakers are not due to return to Washington until Sept. 9.

Read more here

August 29, 2013

Reactions to Syria briefing from Corker, Pelosi

Here are reactions from two key voices, following Thursday night's briefing on the Syria situation by Obama administration officials.

Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee:

"While I’m opposed to American boots on the ground in Syria, I would support surgical, proportional military strikes given the strong evidence of the Assad regime’s continued use of chemical warfare.  Whatever limited action is taken should not further commit the U.S. in Syria beyond the current strategy to strengthen the vetted, moderate opposition,” said Corker.

“While the administration has engaged in congressional consultation, they should continue to be forthcoming with information and would be far better off if they seek authorization based upon our national interests, which would provide the kind of public debate and legitimacy that can only come from Congress.”

Here's House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi:

This evening's briefing was informative and beneficial.  For some of us, this was the third consultation with the Administration this week on the use of chemical weapons in Syria. 

"On the call, I agreed with Speaker Boehner and other Members who stated that there needs to be more consultation with all Members of Congress and additional transparency into the decision making process and timing, and that the case needs to be made to the American people.

Continue reading "Reactions to Syria briefing from Corker, Pelosi" »

Levin: "Increase the military pressure" with "lethal aid"

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin said after talking with Obama administration officials on Syria that the U.S. and its allies should "increase the military pressure on the Assad regime by providing lethal aid to vetted elements of the Syrian opposition."

Here's some of the Michigan Democrat's statement:

"Tonight, I suggested that we should do so while UN inspectors complete their work and while we seek international support for limited, targeted strikes in response to the Assad regime’s large-scale use of chemical weapons against the Syrian people.

" I appreciate the administration’s continuing efforts tonight to consult with Congress about the situation in Syria, and its commitment to further consultations with Congress."

August 01, 2013

Boehner talks about Snowden

House Speaker John Boehner says it's up to President Barack Obama how to engage Russian President Vladmir Putin over the Edward Snowden matter.

Snowden, who leaked documents about secret American data gathering programs, was granted temporary asylum Thursday in Russia.

Here's the exchange with Boehner, R-Ohio, at his weekly news conference:

Q. Edward Snowden has left the Moscow airport.  Senator McCain put out a statement saying that it's a slap in the face of America (and) fundamentally changes our relationship with Russia.  What do you think? 

SPEAKER BOEHNER:  Mr. Snowden's actions have hurt the ability of our country to protect our citizens.  And I would hope that President Obama would engage President Putin on this issue and resolve it in a way that's satisfactory to the American people. 

Q:  Could you be more specific?  Engage in what way?  I mean, how?   

SPEAKER BOEHNER:  I'll let him decide -- I'll let him decide the best way to engage the president.

July 29, 2013

Obama hails start of Israeli-Palestine talks

President Barack Obama is hailing the resumption of talks between Israelis and Palestians, calling it a "promising step forward, though hard work and hard choices remain ahead."

His remarks come as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas accepted Secretary of State John Kerry's invite to formally resume negotiations and have sent senior negotiating teams to Washington for the first round of meetings.

Obama noted that during his March visit to the Middle East he "experienced first-hand the profound desire for peace among both Israelis and Palestinians, which reinforced my belief that peace is both possible and necessary."

Continue reading "Obama hails start of Israeli-Palestine talks " »

July 11, 2013

Americans want U.S. to stay out of Syria, poll finds

By an overwhelming margin, Americans think it's not in this country's interest to get involved in Syria, according to a Quinnipiac poll released Thursday.

By 61-27 percent, people think it's not in the national interest to get involved in the war-torn nation. And by a 59-27 percent margin, they oppose giving arms and supplies to anti-government rebels.

But they do back using drones or cruise missiles against Syrian government targets, by a 49-38 percent edge.

Opposition to aiding the rebels crossed American political party lines, while Republicans and Democrats generally backed the use of drones.

To read more click here.


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

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