WASHINGTON (CNN) – Rep. Hank Johnson is standing by his comments that Rep. Joe Wilson's "You lie!" outburst at President Obama "instigated more racist sentiment" and could lead to a resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan.
Johnson, a Georgia Democrat, wrote in the Atlanta Journal Constitution on Monday that he doesn't think that most of Obama's opponents are motivated by racism, but that he believes Wilson's comments "winked at a racist element" and that there is a small but "racially motivated fringe" among those who disapprove of the president and his policies.
"Wilson is a canny politician," Johnson said. "His outburst was a carefully calculated appeal to a particular constituency who question the legitimacy of Barack Obama's presidency. The symbolism of his act, which violated the rules of the House and attacked the dignity of the president's office, emboldened and validated those who believe that President Obama, despite having been lawfully elected, is an illegitimate occupant of the White House."
Johnson said that some feel "resentment that the president of the United States is a black man" and that the "risk of violence is real." He said he believes some of the angry protests during town hall meetings over the summer were also motivated by racism and warned that if that element of some opposition is ignored, it will "fester, grow and come back to haunt us in ways we haven't seen in decades."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. John McCain questioned the Obama administration's approach in Afghanistan Tuesday, saying he has never seen such a "disconnect" between the White House and leaders of the U.S. military.
"Apparently the administration does not want Gen. McCrystal's recommendations on troop strengths," McCain said at a Foreign Policy Initiative event in Washington. "If you don't have a recommendation on the troop levels that will be necessary to implement a strategy, then how do you decide on the strategy? "
"...Every day that goes by if you are not pursuing a strategy for success and implementing it as quickly as possible it puts young Americans lives in more danger," said McCain, the ranking Republican member on the Senate Armed Services Committee.
In a sign that President Obama may be facing growing skepticism within his own party on Afghanistan, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer Tuesday joined the call made by several top Republicans on Capitol Hill, including McCain, for McChrystal to brief Congress on his recommendations for revising U.S military strategy.
Asked about speculation Gen. McCrystal is considering resignation, McCain said Tuesday the general doesn't have many options.
"(Generals) really have two choices," McCain said. "Carry out orders, or resign."
"...(but) I don't think that right now Gen. McCrystal is contemplating resignation or non-resignation…he's got his hands full," McCain said, repeating his calls for the general to return to Washington to testify before Congress.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The number of unauthorized immigrants who might illegally access health care subsidies under currently debated health care bills is too uncertain to calculate, the Congressional Budget Office said Tuesday.
The independent, nonpartisan legislative office estimated earlier this month that the bill proposed by Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus, D-Montana, would cost $774 billion.
In a letter Tuesday to Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the budget office said its cost calculation included those who may try to cheat the system by misreporting income or family circumstance as well as access by unauthorized immigrants.
However, "we have no basis for quantifying those factors separately for this or other proposals," the letter said.
Grassley had asked the agency for details about health care coverage for illegal immigrants under both Baucus' proposal and the House's health care proposal.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - First of all, let me stipulate that, as a purelypolitical matter, I take no issue with President Obama's concern that Democrats could take a shellacking in 2010.
I have no problem with his political aides recruiting candidates and nudging (er, pushing) others aside, such as New York Gov. David Paterson. And it's a good idea that they're paying attention to redistricting fights in
Boss Obama isn't a bad thing. In fact, it's a good thing. Of course, there is that small matter of post-partisan Obama. Remember that guy? He's the candidate who wanted to take us beyond red states and blue states. He wanted to work with Republicans, not simply defeat them.
It was always a leap of faith, this notion that somehow partisanship could be swept aside in a Congress populated by members elected in increasingly partisan districts. Or that, because of Obama's considerable powers of persuasion and popularity, Republicans would decide to join hands with their Democratic brethren to find solutions to our toughest problems.
(CNN) - Jenny Sanford, the estranged wife of South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, is writing a book.
Sanford has sold the rights to her "inspirational memoir" to Ballantine Books, a division of Random House, the publisher told CNN Tuesday. The memoir is slated for release in May 2010.
Ballantine did not disclose the financial terms of the deal. Aside from a flattering interview with Vogue magazine, Sanford has remained mostly silent since June, when her husband publicly revealed an affair with an Argentine woman. In July, she and the couple's four boys moved out of the governor's mansion.
Gov. Sanford also had a deal to write a book about fiscal conservatism before the scandal short-circuited his political career. Sentinel Publishing was planning to publish "Within Our Means" in March 2010, but the company released Sanford from the deal in July, calling it "a mutual decision."
(CNN) - Rielle Hunter, the woman at the center of the John Edwards sex scandal, has been known variously as a spiritual seeker, an aspiring actress, a party girl and a political operative, according to media reports.
Last year, after months of denials, Edwards admitted having an affair with Hunter while he was campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2006.
Edwards' campaign paid Hunter $114,000 to make a series of short webisode videos about his presidential campaign, and she traveled extensively with the candidate's entourage.
Edwards denies that he is the father of a baby Hunter bore in February 2008, saying the affair was over before she became pregnant.
Former Edwards aide Andrew Young claimed the baby was his. But Young later said that the former senator is the father and that his paternity claim had been made at Edwards' request. Hunter has not said who the father is.
"Rielle is the black sheep of the family. We were all raised the same way. She chose a different path," Hunter's sister, Roxanne Marshall, told People magazine in August 2008.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - In a sign that President Obama is facing growing skepticism within his own party on Afghanistan, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Tuesday that the U.S. commander in Afghanistan should brief Congress on his recommendations for revising U.S military strategy.
"I think it is useful at some point in time for Gen. [Stanley] McChrystal to share with the Congress, both the Senate and the House, his views and his proposals and his sense of the success that change in strategy would have," Hoyer said Tuesday.
Leading Republicans recently called for McChrystal and Gen. David Petraeus - the U.S. commander in the Middle East and Central Asia - to testify publicly about their recommendations.
Recently, McChrystal warned that more troops are needed there within the next year or the nearly 8-year-old war "will likely result in failure," according to a copy of a 66-page document obtained by The Washington Post.
"Failure to gain the initiative and reverse insurgent momentum in the near-term (next 12 months) - while Afghan security capacity matures - risks an outcome where defeating the insurgency is no longer possible," McChrystal said in the document.
The document was "leaked" to the newspaper, but parts were omitted after consultations between the newspaper and the Department of Defense, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said.
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Michigan, echoed that thought late Tuesday afternoon.
NEW YORK (CNN) - U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday prodded Israel and the Palestinian Authority to get moving on talks aimed at a permanent resolution of their decades-old conflict.
"Simply put, it is past time to talk about starting negotiations. It is time to move forward," Obama told reporters before a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. "It is time to show the flexibility and common sense and sense of compromise that is necessary to achieve our goals."
Obama first met separately with Netanyahu and Abbas on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in what he called "frank and productive" talks. The session was the first among the three leaders since Obama took office in January.
George Mitchell, the U.S. envoy for the Middle East, attended Tuesday's talks and said "intensive yet brief" discussions aimed at restarting the
negotiations will follow the meeting. He said the talks were "at all times cordial," but "direct" and sometimes "blunt."
Obama told Abbas and Netanyahu that, "The only reason to hold public office is to get things done," and that everyone "must take risks for peace," Mitchell said.
Obama's is the latest in a long line of U.S. administrations to press for a settlement of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian population in territories it has occupied since the 1967 Mideast war. Recent hopes for renewed Israeli-Palestinian talks have dimmed despite Mitchell's diplomatic efforts .
But Obama told reporters that talks on a permanent resolution of the conflict, including the establishment of an independent Palestinian state,
"must begin and begin soon."
"My message to these two leaders is clear: Despite all the obstacles, despite all the history, despite all the mistrust, we have to find a way
forward," he said. "We have to summon the will to break the deadlock that has trapped generations of Israelis and Palestinians in an endless cycle of conflict and suffering. We cannot continue the same pattern of taking tentative steps forward, and then stepping back."
The United States and Israel have publicly disagreed on Israeli plans to build more housing on land the Palestinians regard as theirs. Obama
administration demands for a complete freeze have been ignored by the Netanyahu government.
Abbas has so far rejected resuming talks with Israel until the Jewish state halts all settlement building in the occupied West Bank and in
predominantly Palestinian East Jerusalem.
Obama said Palestinians have boosted their security efforts, "but they need to do more to stop incitement and to move forward with negotiations."
Israel has eased restrictions on Palestinian travel and talked about limiting settlements, "but they need to translate these discussions into real
action on this and other issues," he said.
(CNN) - On the same day she officially announced her candidacy for California governor, former eBay CEO Meg Whitman launched the first statewide ad of the 2010 campaign - a 60-second radio spot highlighting the Republican's corporate credentials and experience creating jobs.
"California needs new leadership," the ad's narrator says. "We need someone with a proven ability at creating jobs. Who understands what growing businesses need. Who still believes government should be small, efficient and affordable. We need Meg Whitman."
The ad points to Whitman's stints with companies like Hasbro, Disney and Procter & Gamble, but focuses on her leadership at eBay, a core element of her candidacy. Listeners are told that she turned the Internet stat-up into a Fortune 500 company and created hundreds of jobs in California.
With heaps of money and backing from national Republicans like Mitt Romney and John McCain, Whitman is thought by many to be the frontrunner for the GOP nomination. Her main opponent in the Republican primary is California insurance commissioner Steve Poizner. If Whitman captures the GOP nomination, she may face California Attorney General Jerry Brown or San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom in the general election.
(CNN) - The Massachusetts Senate approved a bill Tuesday that would allow the state's governor to appoint an interim replacement to hold the late Sen. Ted Kennedy's seat until a special election is held in January.
The measure, which won the approval of the Massachusetts House last week, is heavily backed by White House officials, who want to ensure Democrats have 60 votes in the Senate - the necessary number to stave off a Republican-led filibuster - when the chamber takes up a health care reform bill later this fall.
The bill, which passed on a 24-16 vote, must now be voted on again by both chambers as a procedural matter before reaching Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick's desk. Patrick, a longtime Obama ally, has said he will sign the measure and will move quickly to fill the vacancy.
In an editorial Tuesday, the Boston Globe urged Patrick tap former Massachusetts governor and Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis for the post.