July 17th, 2008
07:08 AM ET
6 years ago

POLITICAL HOT TOPICS: Thursday, July 17, 2008

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Compiled by Mary Grace Lucas

CNN Washington Bureau

CNN: Obama, indeed, is making a red state play
Critics sneered when Barack Obama vowed to challenge John McCain in states that traditionally have been Republican strongholds. But a review of early television advertising spending shows that the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee is making robust buys in a handful of “red states.”

NY Times: In Iraq, Affection for Obama ... but His Proposal?
A tough Iraqi general, a former special operations officer with a baritone voice and a barrel chest, melted into smiles when asked about Senator Barack Obama.“Everyone in Iraq likes him,” said the general, Nassir al-Hiti. “I like him. He’s young. Very active. We would be very happy if he was elected president.”But mention Mr. Obama’s plan for withdrawing American soldiers, and the general stiffens. “Very difficult,” he said, shaking his head. “Any army would love to work without any help, but let me be honest: for now, we don’t have that ability.”

WSJ: McCain Spells Out His Overhaul of Public Education
Sen. John McCain, in his most-detailed discussion on national education policy, proposed to use federal funds to finance vouchers for students in failing schools and merit pay for teachers.

International Herald Tribune: Media stars will accompany Obama overseas
Senator John McCain's trip to Iraq last spring was a low-key affair: With his ordinary retinue of reporters following him abroad, the NBC News anchor Brian Williams reported on his arrival in Baghdad from New York, with just two sentences tacked onto the "in other political news" portion of his newscast.

Washington Post: Administration Wanted Loyalist As Justice Dept. Legal Adviser
Then-Attorney General John D. Ashcroft offered the White House a list of five candidates to lead the Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel in early 2003, but top administration officials summarily rejected them in favor of installing a loyalist who would provide the legal footing needed to continue coercive interrogation techniques and broadly interpret executive power, according to two former administration officials.

Washington Post: The Bad News Donkeys?
Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) has the toughest job in Washington: manager of the lowly Democratic congressional baseball team. Losers of seven straight to the dreaded Republicans since their come-from-behind win in 2000, the Democrats will march out onto the field tonight at Nationals Park in search of their first win of the Bush presidency.

Washington Post: Rangel Says He Welcomes Ethics Inquiry on Fundraising
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.) said yesterday that he would welcome an ethics committee investigation into his fundraising efforts for an academic center that bears his name.

NY Times: Rangel’s Neighbors See a Rent Double Standard
At Lenox Terrace, the luxury development in Harlem, management uses two sets of standards when it comes to rent-stabilized tenants, many residents say.

Washington Post: Figures in Both Campaigns Have Deep Ties to Mortgage Giants
When Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's stock prices plunged and rumors of their insolvency swirled, the presidential campaigns of Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama released terse statements about the mortgage giants, then went nearly silent. Their responses made sense in political and economic terms. The risks of intervening in the firms' rescue are high, the rewards are scant, and the tentacles of the government-sponsored enterprises reach into both campaigns.

Politico: Jackson used racial epithet
It turns out Jesse Jackson whispered something even worse than his desire to cut off Barack Obama’s manhood.On an unaired portion of the tape, Jackson uses a vile racial epithet. It turns out that what he actually said was: “See, Barack been, um, talking down to black people on this faith-based – I wanna cut his nuts out. … Barack – he’s talking down to black people - telling n--s how to behave.”

CNN: 9/11 billboard draws flak from Florida Democrats, GOP
A Florida man is using billboards with an image of the burning World Trade Center to encourage votes for a Republican presidential candidate, drawing criticism for politicizing the 9/11 attacks.

CNN: U.S. reverses course, will send envoy to talks with Iran
The Bush administration has decided to break with previous policy by sending one of its most senior diplomats to engage Iran's top nuclear official, the White House announced Wednesday.

WSJ: U.S. Fears Threat of Cyberspying at Olympics
A debate is brewing in the U.S. government over whether to publicly warn businesspeople and other travelers heading to the Beijing Olympics about the dangers posed by Chinese computer hackers.

WSJ Op-Ed: Bob Barr: Judges Are No Reason to Vote for McCain
The judiciary is becoming an important election issue. John McCain is warning conservatives that control of today's finely balanced Supreme Court depends on his election. Unfortunately, his jurisprudence is likely to be anything but conservative.

LA Times: Obama not quite his father's son
During an emotion-packed visit to his father's homeland in 2006, Sen. Barack Obama took time from family reunions and official visits to chastise Kenya's government for failing to stem corruption and tribalism, irking his hosts in the process.

WSJ: Editorial cartoonists: a dying breed
I had already been talking to some of America's best editorial cartoonists about the enduring power of a single well-drawn image when the New Yorker delivered the proof with megaton force - this week's cover depicting that closet jihadist, Barack Obama. Put a turban on the senator from Illinois, dress his wife up in camo and an assault rifle, and you get the whole country talking.

Washington Post: The Running-Mate Question: Hill Veteran or Change Agent?
Sen. Barack Obama campaigned in Indiana yesterday with a pair of potential vice presidential picks and will travel abroad with a third, the latest round of high-profile appearances coinciding with a search process that could be critical to his chances of winning the White House in November.

Washington Post: Obama Adds 20 Va. Offices In a Big Push To Win State
Sen. Barack Obama's campaign announced Wednesday that it is adding 20 offices across Virginia, an unprecedented effort by a presidential candidate and another sign that he plans to compete vigorously in a state that has been on the sidelines during past presidential contests.

Washington Post: Republicans Push Back As Paulson Urges Aid For Mortgage Giants
Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. returned to Capitol Hill yesterday to quell a potential rebellion among House Republicans worried that the Bush administration's plan to prop up mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac could lead to a taxpayer bailout.

Financial Times: Sovereign funds cut exposure to weak dollar
Some of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds are seeking to scale back their exposure to the US dollar in a sign of global concern about the currency.

NY Times: Problems Persist With Red Cross Blood Services
For 15 years, the American Red Cross has been under a federal court order to improve the way it collects and processes blood. Yet, despite $21 million in fines since 2003 and repeated promises to follow procedures intended to ensure the safety of the nation’s blood supply, it continues to fall short.

NY Times: For Pelosi, a Fight Against Offshore Drilling
Upon entering Congress in 1987, Representative Nancy Pelosi quickly became part of the solid California front against oil drilling along much of the nation’s coast. The Santa Barbara oil spill in 1969 and the steady push to tap the potential reserves off the state’s rugged coast had galvanized Californians and made opposition to offshore drilling part of the political DNA of up-and-coming figures like Ms. Pelosi.

Washington Post: Lawmakers Probe Web Tracking
An Internet provider based in Kansas used a monitoring technology earlier this year to track sites visited by its users, apparently without directly notifying them, according to a congressional panel investigating the action.

Washington Post: Census Won't Count Gay Marriages
Diane Curtis and Ellen Leuchs tied the knot in May 2004, less than a week after Massachusetts legalized same-sex marriage and a decade after beginning their life as a couple.

NY Times: Donation to Same-Sex Marriage Foes Brings Boycott Calls
A hotel owner’s $125,000 donation to support a ballot initiative banning same-sex marriage in the state has become a flashpoint, with opponents calling for a boycott of two of his hotels and supporters highlighting the donation in a fund-raising letter.

Washington Post Op-Ed: Leonard Boyle: Who's On the Watch List
The federal government's consolidated terrorist watch list has become a central issue in the debate about how we can best secure our homeland. Unfortunately, myths about the watch list continue to grow in just about every report and retelling.

NY Times: While the U.S. Spends Heavily on Health Care, a Study Faults the Quality
American medical care may be the most expensive in the world, but that does not mean it is worth every penny. A study to be released Thursday highlights the stark contrast between what the United States spends on its health system and the quality of care it delivers, especially when compared with many other industrialized nations.

Washington Post: House Passes Intelligence Authorization Bill; Provision Expanding Briefing of Lawmakers May Prompt White House Veto
The House yesterday passed by voice vote the fiscal 2009 intelligence authorization bill, which limits the funds available for covert actions next year until all members of the House intelligence panel are briefed on the most sensitive ones already underway.

WSJ: Clinton Foundation Sets Up Malaria-Drug Price Plan
Former President Bill Clinton's foundation is set to unveil a pricing agreement Thursday that it hopes will make malaria drugs available to millions of poor people. The agreement points to the sophistication needed to harness market forces and get lifesaving medicines to countries where treatable diseases still take a staggering toll.

Washington Post: Guard's Status Rising With Leader's Rank
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates yesterday made the first nomination for a four-star general to lead the National Guard, a move that should give the reserve force a significant boost in influence inside the Pentagon during an era when the Guard has played a critical role in the nation's wars abroad.

Washington Post: Radio System Upgrade Taking Too Long, Senators Tell Chief
U.S. Capitol Police Chief Phillip D. Morse faced sharp questioning yesterday from senators who urged him to quickly step up plans to retool the force's problem-plagued radio system. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) criticized the agency for not acting sooner to upgrade a communications system that breaks down frequently, saying officials have been talking for years about the need for improvements.

Washington Post: Senate Agrees to $50 Billion AIDS Plan
The Senate approved legislation yesterday that would triple funding to fight AIDS and other diseases around the globe, rejecting efforts to pare down the bill's $50 billion price tag. On an 80 to 16 vote, the Senate dramatically increased the U.S. contribution to a global fund to combat AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

NY Times: For State Senator, Pension Is Better Than Salary
Senator Joseph L. Bruno, who led the State Senate for 14 years, has offered many reasons why he is leaving the Senate by the end of the week after a public career of four decades.


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