Monday, July 19, 2010

McClatchy Washington report 7/19

  • Step by step, President Barack Obama is building a record of major legislation that's sure to make a mark on history. The most sweeping financial regulation since the Great Depression. A vast expansion of health care, which Democrats had wanted for more than six decades. An $862 billion stimulus package that locked in long-sought Democratic priorities.
    Yet his job-approval rating remains low. Why doesn't he get any credit?

  • President Barack Obama will escalate his attacks on Republicans today, planning to blast them for opposing an extension of benefits for the out-of-work while pushing tax cuts for the wealthy. Obama plans a mid-morning statement in the White House Rose Garden in which he'll again urge Congress to extend the jobless benefits and rip Republicans for refusing to go along.

  • Following a week of intense debate over alleged racist elements in the tea party, a national coalition of tea parties has expelled one of its groups for offensive comments. The National Tea Party Federation announced Sunday that it has expelled the Tea Party Express and its spokesman Mark Williams after a racially charged blog post. Williams posted a fictional letter to President Abraham Lincoln from "Precious Ben Jealous, Tom's Nephew, NAACP head colored person."

  • The U.S. will announce Monday hundreds of millions of dollars worth of civilian aid projects for Pakistan, American officials said, in an attempt to demonstrate that Washington has broadened its relationship with the country, away from just anti-terror cooperation to helping the people of Pakistan.

  • Scientists monitoring BP's unstable Deepwater Horizon oil well have detected oil or natural gas seeping from the seafloor nearby and "undetermined anomalies" near the wellhead — signs that the well may have suffered damages that will complicate technicians' abilities to shut off the flow permanently. Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen revealed the findings in a letter demanding that BP step up monitoring and prepare to reopen a containment cap that has sealed the well since Thursday.

  • Was Fidel Castro reminding everyone that he still has power? Was he silently endorsing his brother's promise to free 52 political prisoners? Or was it simply a narcissist's grab for the limelight? Whatever the reason, Castro's flurry of five highly public appearances in nine days, after months in the shadows, generated renewed speculation on his lingering influence over Cuban affairs.

  • A document filed in the corruption case of a former top aide to U.S. Rep. Don Young offers an inside glimpse into Young's fall from favor with fellow Republicans in 2003 over his push to nearly double the federal tax on gasoline. The e-mailed memo was an "Intel" report from a transportation lobbyist to his client in Missouri. The memo quoted staff from the Republican House leadership describing Young as a "rogue member" even as he chaired a major committee.

  • Up early Sunday for a 12-hour campaign marathon through South Florida, Democrat Senate candidate Kendrick Meek said he saw three commercials for his deep-pocketed rival before he could even get out the door. U.S. Rep. Meek of Miami, in the U.S. Senate race longer than any other major candidate, is in third place.

  • Two suicide bombers killed 46 members of a U.S. backed anti-Qaida Sunni militia in Iraq, the highest such death toll in two months, an Iraqi Interior ministry official said. Officials blamed al Qaida in Iraq, which has frequently targeted such militiamen, though no immediate claim of responsibility was made.

  • California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has incurred the wrath of rank-and-file state employees through efforts to reduce pay and benefits, particularly his latest push to impose minimum wage. In the past two years, Schwarzenegger has imposed furloughs, sought pay reductions and threatened layoffs for state employees. This month, he demanded that Controller John Chiang pay workers minimum wage until a budget is passed. For now, a court has blocked that effort, pending further legal action next month.

  • Yikes. It's getting hot in the heartland. In Kansas, the GOP primary for an open U.S. Senate seat has degenerated into a mud-wrestling spectacle as Congressmen Todd Tiahrt and Jerry Moran claw for the spot closest to the extremist fringe.
    In a sign of how low this race will go, the candidates have engaged in a demeaning though comical tug of war for the endorsement of Tom Tancredo, the former Congressman from Colorado who has suggested that President Obama should be "sent back" to Kenya, and favors the wholesale deportation of illegal immigrants.

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