HERNDON, Virginia (CNN) – Bill Clinton jokingly laughed off a question Wednesday about former Vice President Dick Cheney and his recent claims that the country is less safe under the Obama administration.
"I wish him well," Clinton told CNN while greeting voters after a campaign stop with Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe. "It's over," he added, apparently a reference to the Bush administration.
"But I do hope he gets some more target practice before he goes out again," Clinton said with a grin before moving along the ropeline.
The former president was alluding, of course, to Cheney's infamous 2006 hunting accident in which he mistakenly fired birdshot into the face of a campaign contributor during a South Texas quail hunt.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - The Obama administration, issuing its first progress report on the $787 billion stimulus program, said Wednesday that $88 billion has been made available and that it's ahead of schedule in implementing most initiatives.
Of the $88 billion, some $28.5 billion has been actually spent with nearly $16 billion going for Medicaid payments to the states, according to the report. The administration has also enacted tax cuts under the Making Work Pay program and begun mailing $250 payments to 54 million senior citizens.
Critics, however, say the money is not being spent fast enough to help arrest the economy's slide. States are now waging yet another round of battles with their budgets after April tax revenues came in under estimates.
House Republicans, meanwhile, latched onto a report that stimulus funds will be used to repave an alternate runway at a little-used airport in an influential Democratic congressman's district.
"The Democrats' trillion-dollar stimulus spending bill was intended to create more jobs immediately, but it has quickly become the latest example of Washington's arrogance," said John Boehner, R-Ohio, in a statement.
The Obama administration's report, which will be followed by similar quarterly updates, touted the stimulus money flowing to the states to bolster education. Thirteen states have been approved to receive money under the state fiscal stabilization initiative that's designed to maintain education spending levels and prevent the loss of teachers' jobs.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Two months after Attorney General Eric Holder was widely criticized for his assertion that Americans are a "nation of cowards" for not openly discussing race, Holder said Wednesday he now sees some movement.
"I think there is a dialogue going on. But I'm still worried the comfort level isn't there," Holder told the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
Holder told the organization's luncheon at the National Press Club in Washington the discomfort is particularly evident on the subject of affirmative action. He said citizens are reluctant to speak out, fearing that they'll be "seen as a racist."
Holder said he supports affirmative action and sees it as a way "to encourage diversity where everyone wins."
The attorney general said he believes career civil rights lawyers were "cut out of the process" in important decision-making by political appointees in the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division during the Bush Administration, and wants that process reversed.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Obama spoke Wednesday about his administration's decision to have government lawyers fight the release of photos of alleged abuse of detainees in U.S. military custody.
Related: Obama reverses course on alleged prison abuse photos
(CNN) – White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs unexpectedly seized a reporter's cell phone Wednesday after it wouldn't stop ringing.
NEW YORK (Fortune) – Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner set plans Wednesday to rein in the wild and wooly derivatives markets.
Geithner proposed requiring that over-the-counter derivatives such as credit default swaps be traded on exchanges, and that all major dealers in derivatives markets be subject to federal oversight.
Geithner said the rules would bolster the stability of financial markets, promote efficient and transparent pricing and help regulators stamp out fraud and abuse.
Appearing at a press conference in Washington, Geithner said he expects to propose the new framework to Congress in coming weeks as the administration and legislators hash out new laws governing derivatives markets.
"The financial crisis was caused by - and exposed – significant gaps in oversight," he said. "We are committed to working with Congress to create more comprehensive system."
(CNN) – Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, the new ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, announced Wednesday the committee's senior leadership team.
Full statement after the jump
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Defense Secretary Robert Gates insisted Wednesday that the recent ousting of Gen. David McKiernan as the top allied commander in Afghanistan was not made because of his general's requests for more troops or the rise in casualties.
Gates was asked about the decision to replace McKiernan with Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal as the head of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan at a House Armed Service Committee hearing. It was the first time a general of that ranking had been replaced during a war since President Harry Truman fired Gen. Douglas MacArthur during the Korean War.
The question, by Rep. Joseph Sestak, D-Pennsylvania, was whether it was fair to fire McKiernan since he wasn't given the resources he wanted, as the Iraq war was considered the top priority until just recently.
"This was an individual who by policy was given second choice on resources and never enough despite repeated requests," Sestak said.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez and Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz have teamed up to introduce a bill that would educate young students about the consequences of "sexting."
At a press conference Wednesday on Capitol Hill, they introduced The Safety Internet Act, which would give money to internet safety non-profit organizations to work with schools in hopes of "integrating internet safety curricula" into classrooms.
The bill proposal comes after 18 year-old Jessica Logan of Cincinnati, OH committed suicide after she "sexted" a nude photo of herself to her boyfriend and it leaked to several fellow classmates and students at nearby schools. "Sexting" implies sharing a risqué photo or suggestive words via text message. As a result of the picture, Logan's mom said she was bullied, tormented, and left to deal with the problem on her own.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The search for a Supreme Court nominee has been trimmed to about half a dozen candidates by top White House officials, and a decision by President Obama will likely be announced by month's end, two sources close to the selection process tell CNN.
Among the finalists are federal appeals court judges Sonia Sotomayor and Diane Wood, and Solicitor General Elena Kagan. The sources, who asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to speak by the White House, say women make up all but one of the top candidates currently being given serious scrutiny.
Also on the list, a source said, was California Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno. The 60-year-old Los Angeles native was not among the early favorites mentioned by legal analysts and the media. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs had hinted some of the names being considered would fly under the he political radar. He had been a federal trial judge before his 2001 appointment to California's top court.
A new round of vetting their records is underway by a small group of top staff led by the White House Counsel's office. Vice President Joe Biden, Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and Senior Adviser David Axelrod are also extensively involved.
Sources say some administration officials are pushing for an announcement before the Memorial Day weekend, when Congress goes on recess for a week. A bipartisan group of senators met in private with Obama Wednesday about the upcoming vacancy.
"My impression was he [Obama] doesn't want to let it take too long," Sen. Jeff Sessions, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee told reporters after the meeting.