Sushi and robots, not sanctions and trade agreements–On President Obama’s visit to Asia, we’ve seen him eat $300 sushi, view an archery demonstration and play soccer with a robot. What we haven’t seen is any movement on a key Pacific region trade agreement, any sort of development on new sanctions against Russia over its actions in Ukraine, or any pivot on the troubled U.S. effort to get chemical weapons out of Syria. On Thursday the president moves from Japan to South Korea.
“Teed up”: Obama warns (again) of Russia sanctions – Obama said again Thursday that Russia could face sanctions over its involvement in Ukraine. The sanctions, he said, are "teed up," but he wasn’t ready to announce them yet. He’s still building international support.
His statement came as a de-escalation agreement - reached last week in Geneva, Switzerland, by Russia, the United States, Europe and Ukraine - seemed to falter.
Going further was his former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, who said Russia’s President Vladimir Putin should “pay a price” for his involvement agitating against the Ukraine government.
Clinton’s “army of older women” – The latest subtle argument against a Hillary Clinton presidency is that she’d be too old. She’ll be just a smidge younger during the 2016 campaign than Ronald Reagan was when he ran for president in 1980. So it’s probably not a coincidence that during an appearance in Washington, she said it will be important to end age discrimination, in particular for women.
"You know, a lot of women who drop out of the workforce in their late 20s and their 30s, they raise their children, you know, their brains have not atrophied. They still have great abilities, great talents, great opportunities to participate."
"There’s an army, and frankly a very large group, of older women who could make a difference to America’s corporations, America’s business, academia, politics, you name it. So I think we have to be supporting these different life choices and breaking down, which often go handinhand with the stereotypes we’re talking about."
A Clinton mulligan for Jen Psaki – We noted Wednesday that when Secretary of State John Kerry’s spokeswoman Jen Psaki was asked Tuesday to name what a State Department review under Clinton accomplished, she couldn’t come up with anything.
So we’ll note that Psaki started Wednesday’s State Department briefing with a long list of the accomplishments from that Clinton-led State Department review.
Clinton also said interesting things Wednesday about Russia and the sorry state, according to her, of today’s entertainment-obsessed media.
Not the “Buffett wage” – Billionaire investor Warren Buffett told CNN’s Poppy Harlow he’s grappled with the issue of a minimum wage increase for 50 years and he just can’t decide if it makes sense or not.
“I’ve thought about it for 50 years and I don’t know the answer on it,” he said.
“Well, I just don’t. In economics you always have to say, “And then what?” And the real question is, are more people going to be better off if it is … raised? I don’t know the answer to that. I know that if you raise the earned income tax credit significantly that that would definitely help people who got the short sticks in life.”
Obama and Democrats have made raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour a main policy priority. But they won’t get the same kind of support from Buffett they got on tax hikes for the rich. He was a key supporter of their ultimately successful plan to raise taxes on top income earners. Back in 2012 and 2013, Democrats coined the name “The Buffett Rule” for the principle that the rich should pay a portion of income in taxes similar to what the middle class pays.
There’s a whole section about it at the White House website.
Quinnipiac Poll: Rand Paul would beat Hillary Clinton in Colorado
ABC News: Caroline Kennedy “absolutely” would back Hillary Clinton in 2016. Kennedy is the U.S. ambassador to China. In 2008 she and her uncle, Sen. Edward Kennedy, who died in 2009, famously jumped into the Obama camp during the hotly contested presidential primary.
NYT: Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher and government grazing fee scofflaw who has become a cause celebre in conservative media circles, says horrible things about what he calls “the Negro” in an interview with The New York Times. Here’s the quote:
“I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro,” he said. Mr. Bundy recalled driving past a public-housing project in North Las Vegas, “and in front of that government house the door was usually open and the older people and the kids — and there is always at least a half a dozen people sitting on the porch — they didn’t have nothing to do. They didn’t have nothing for their kids to do. They didn’t have nothing for their young girls to do.
“And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do?” he asked. “They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.”
Politics in the Time 100 – There are four names of political interest on the annual Time 100 list of most influential people.
Time put Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Secretary of State John Kerry on the list. More interesting, perhaps, is who wrote the item accompanying each name.
Paul’s blurb was written by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who said the key to what Paul does is "authenticity." This is notable because Paul’s political brand is his effort to reclaim the Republican party from moderates.
Walker's blurb was written by Chris Christie, a fellow Republican governor and a potential 2016 rival. Christie noted Walker’s successful effort to avoid a recall over his fight with public unions and said one of the key measures is how you "stand up when faced with relentless public attacks.”
Kerry’s blurb was written by Hillary Clinton, who preceded him as secretary of state. She wrote about all the challenges he's tackling, writing, "I know from experience just how hard this is."
Also on the list was Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, whose blurb was written by her old boss, Republican Sen. Alfonse D'Amato. "She'd make a great president," he writes.
Read the whole list HERE.
CNN – A Republican promising to work WITH Washington – CNN's Peter Hamby reports: "It's one of the 2014 election's most intriguing primary fights, a face-off in North Carolina that doesn't fit neatly into the tea party-versus-establishment narrative that's defined so much GOP infighting over the last four years.
"The incumbent, Rep. Walter Jones, 71, is an anti-war social conservative with a libertarian streak who regularly bucks his fellow House Republicans on big votes. His primary challenger, Taylor Griffin, is a first-time candidate, former Bush administration official and Washington political operative who has the backing of big-spending outside groups. It's a strongly Republican district; the primary winner will likely coast to victory in November."