Today’s Political News From The Editors of Bulletin News

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Subject: Today’s Political News From The Editors of Bulletin News
Date: Fri, 25 Feb 2011 07:27:37 -0500
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Bulletin News Political Bulletin



DATE: FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 2011 – 8:00 AM


Washington News
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US Seeks UN Probe Of Violence As Libyan Rebels Gain Ground   US media coverage last night and this morning focused US efforts to mobilize the international community as rebels gained ground in Libya where leader Muammar Gadhafi’s grip on power was seen as diminishing by the day. The story generated front-page headlines in major dailies, and just over 18 minutes of combined airtime on the network newscasts. President Obama, NBC Nightly News said, “talked to the leaders of France, Great Britain and Italy” on Thursday, “trying to organize a united front against Qadhafi.” Next week, “the UN will likely vote next week to suspend Libya from the Human Rights Council,” and nations, including the US, could impose “tougher sanctions and arms embargo,” but it is unclear whether “any of this…will prevent the regime from retrenching and responding more violently.”

       The CBS Evening News broadcast, “Among the options the US is considering: UN sanctions, freezing or seizing Kaddafi’s assets, banning Libyan officials and airliners from international travel, suspending exports to Libya, all of which take time, none of which go for the jugular.”

       The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter reports that the White House said Obama discussed with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron “ways of coordinating a broad international effort to compel Gadhafi to end the violence.” Spokesman Jay Carney stressed that “no options have been taken off the table, including the possibility of military action.”

        AFP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter, meanwhile, reports that “details of direct US contacts with parts of the apparently teetering Kadhafi regime did emerge, including an apparent attempt” by the Libyan leader “to contact Washington.” Undersecretary William Burns “spoke twice with Libyan Foreign Minister Musa Kusa to express gratitude for cooperation shown in helping with the evacuation” of American citizens, Crowley said. The spokesman “said there had been no attempt by Washington to contact Kadhafi directly,” but said Libyan officials have “passed messages to us from Mr. Kadhafi.”

       Crowley also said yesterday, AFP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter reports, that the US military “has been ‘fully involved’ in high-level talks on Washington’s response to the crisis in Libya and is assessing options to be presented to the White House.” Meanwhile, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said yesterday that the alliance “will not intervene” in the Libya, the AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter reports.

       And in Libya yesterday, ABC World News reported, Qadhafi appeared to be “increasingly wild and unhinged,” delivering another “rambling” and “bizarre rant…as his opponents were gaining ground.” ABC (Marquardt) added that forces opposed to Qadhafi “are growing in power and courage, taking the battle to Qadhafi’s special units and foreign mercenaries in city after city.” Qadhafi “took to the air waves…phoning into Libyan TV with another rambling diatribe, accusing the US and al Qaeda of fomenting the uprising against him.” He alleged that Osama bin Laden had “slipped” hallucinogenic drugs into the “Nescafe coffee” of the protestors.

       NBC Nightly News, in its lead story, said Qadhafi is “holding on to control of his stronghold of Tripoli, but he’s lost control of large parts of his country, mostly in the east” Also in its lead story, the CBS Evening News reported that Qadhafi “ordered another counter-attack” and there were “reports of heavy fighting in cities near Tripoli” as “forces loyal to Kaddafi, in an effort to hold on to territory, opened fire on a mosque occupied by anti-government protesters.”

       The New York Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter, on its front page, reports that the “rebels…repelled a concerted assault by” Qadhafi’s forces “on cities close to the capital, removing any doubt that Libya’s patchwork of protests had evolved into an increasingly well-armed revolutionary movement. The series of determined stands by rebel forces on…presented the gravest threat yet to the Libyan leader.”

       The Washington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter says that, “with foreign media and observers having only scattered access to the country, details about conditions — particularly in Tripoli — have been sparse.” Another front page Washington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter report says Gadhafi “is banking on the loyalty of a close circle of relatives and security officials whose personal fates depend on his survival, according to US officials and analysts.”

Obama Confident Markets Will “Ride Out” Oil Price Spikes   NBC Nightly News reported, “Crude oil hit a high above $103 a barrel, then wound up down at $97 and change, still a very high price. Every American is going to ultimately feel this.” NBC later added, “But if most Libyan oil goes to Europe and China, why is America feeling the pain?” John Kilduff, CNBC energy analyst, said, “If the Chinese and Europeans who get Libyan oil lose that oil, they’ll come to the world market and compete with us for the available supplies and that’s what’s bidding the price up.” NBC added, “Now eight million home heating oil customers could get hit hardest with those prices, forecast to hit $5 a gallon. With jet fuel up 58% since the summer, airline tickets are surging. … Experts say $4 a gallon now seems certain. If Libya’s oil production remains shut down, $4 could be a floor for even higher gas prices to come.”

       However, the AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter reports, President Obama said Thursday during a discussion with a new council of business and labor leaders he’s appointed to work on economic competitiveness that “he’s confident that markets will be able to ride out the situation in Libya and the price of oil will stabilize.” While acknowledging “that energy costs are generally a source of uncertainty for businesses,” he assured, “We think we’ll be able to ride out the situation in Libya and it will stabilize.” Regarding some lawmakers calls for tapping into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, White House spokesman Jay Carney said the administration was examining its options.

       According to the New York Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter, “If the recent rise in oil prices sticks, it will most likely slow a growth rate that is already too sluggish to produce many jobs in this country. … Even if energy costs don’t rise higher, lingering uncertainty over the stability of the Middle East could drag down growth, not just in the United States but around the world.”

       The Washington Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter reports that while President Obama tried to downplay the impact of rising oil prices on the economy, “many private economists worried that it might stifle this year’s much-anticipated revival of growth and jobs.” Bernard Baumohl, chief global economist at the Economic Outlook Group, said, “Business managers are starting to get orders to put things on hold until there is greater clarity on where oil and gasoline prices will settle. After all, no one wants to be in a position to fill stockrooms and back lots with inventory if economic activity is about to slow.”

Senate Democrats Begin Identifying Budget Cuts   The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter reports Senate Democrats are signaling that they “will call for spending cuts as part of legislation to keep the government in operation through the end of the fiscal year, accepting a bedrock Republican demand for immediate reductions and easing the threat of a March 4 shutdown of federal programs and services.” But “no decisions have been made on what size cuts to include in legislation expected on the Senate floor next week.”

       The Washington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter says Democratic leaders are “drafting a plan…to slice billions of dollars from domestic agency budgets over the next seven months. … The plan will involve accelerating some of the $33 billion in program terminations and reductions included in President Obama’s proposed budget for next year, a senior Senate Democratic aide said,” and may also include the elimination of $8.5 billion in scheduled earmarks.

       The Hill Share to FacebookShare to Twitter says those cuts would put the Senate “more than halfway toward meeting GOP demands of $61 billion in additional cuts this year.” But some of President Obama’s proposed cuts, “such as one to low-income heating assistance, face steep opposition among Democrats.” And Sam Stein of the Huffington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter writes that “multiple leadership aides…said that the cuts will be made to a long-term budget resolution, rather than a short-term spending bill, as Republicans insist.”

Boeing Wins Tanker Competition   Coverage of the day’s contract award focused on what was called a surprise win for Boeing over EADS and the contrast in reaction between Washington state and Alabama lawmakers. The articles also highlighted the current uncertainty on whether EADS will protest the contract that has been fought over for years.

       NBC Nightly News reported, “The Pentagon today awarded a $35 billion contract to build a new generation of Air Force midair refueling tankers to Boeing of Washington State,” the third time the contract has been awarded. Boeing beat out a bid by EADS to win the contract.

       The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter notes the contract award is “capping a decade of delays and embarrassing missteps” with the program. The Pentagon said cost was the deciding factor for the award. Because the award “will mean tens of thousands of jobs” for states with ties to Boeing, legislators from Alabama, a state connected to EADS, “were bitter in defeat and suggested politics played a role” in the award. Now that Boeing has to deliver 18 tankers by 2017, “Boeing will have to move fast to get the plane ready, at a time when its commercial aircraft division is still trying to deliver the new 787 and a new version of the 747.”

       According to USA Today Share to FacebookShare to Twitter, Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn said Bowing’s bid was the “clear winner.” EADS North America officials “did not say they will challenge the decision, but they plan to meet with Air Force officials for a briefing about the selection process.” Any protest would “further prolonging a battle that already has spanned a decade of disputes and reversals.”

FBI Says “Lone Wolf” Arrested In Texas Targeted Bush, Others In Bomb Plot   The FBI’s arrest of a Saudi student living in Texas on charges that he plotted to build and deploy explosive devices in the US generated significant print and wire service coverage today, with all three networks devoting a total of nearly eight minutes to the story. ABC World News led its broadcast with the story, describing the suspect, Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari, as “A lone wolf, no known ties to any group, vowing jihad. … He is charged with plotting to destroy US dams, nuclear power plants and targeting former President George W. Bush. President Obama was briefed on the FBI’s plans before they moved in to arrest him.” ABC adds that investigators called the case “scary,” “exactly what they are worried about” and “a bona fide threat.”

       The CBS Evening News reported that the case was “a pretty close call. Sources say the suspect was only one chemical away from having the materials he needed for a real bomb.” The FBI was unaware of him until a North Carolina chemical supply firm alerted them that “Aldawsari was trying to buy phenol, a key chemical in homemade explosives.”

       NBC Nightly News reported, “The FBI secretly searched Aldawsari’s apartment and e-mails. Agents say in a handwritten diary, he claimed he had been planning to commit a terrorist attack in the United States since he was in high school in Saudi Arabia.”

       The Washington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter reports that Aldawsari “had researched possible targets, including the Dallas home of former President George W. Bush and the residences of three Americans who served at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.”

       The Houston Chronicle Share to FacebookShare to Twitter added that in addition to Bush’s home, Aldawsari’s list of potential targets “included 12 reservoir dams in Colorado and California, hydroelectric dams and nuclear power plants, according to a Justice Department statement.”

Campaign News

2012 GOP Hopefuls Wade Into Wisconsin Fight   Politico Share to FacebookShare to Twitter reports Mitt Romney “is sending cash to Wisconsin Republicans in a show of solidarity with Gov. Scott Walker’s push to end collective bargaining for state employees.” In a statement yesterday, Romney said, “Liberal big government interests are fighting efforts to rein in out-of-control public employee pay and benefits in Wisconsin. It is critical that we stand with the Wisconsin GOP as it stands up for the rights of the taxpayer.” Romney’s “Free and Strong America PAC is sending the maximum $5,000 contribution to the” Wisconsin GOP.

       The Hill Share to FacebookShare to Twitter adds that earlier this week, “another potential 2012 hopeful weighed in as former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee encouraged Walker to ‘stand tough’ in the budget fight, saying fleeing state Democratic lawmakers should be held accountable for ‘a dereliction of duty.'”

       Politico Share to FacebookShare to Twitter also reports Tim Pawlenty “is throwing more support behind embattled Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s budget battle.” On Thursday, Pawlenty’s “Freedom First PAC launched which features a video and petition supporting the ‘tough choices needed to avoid financial ruin.’ ‘It’s really important that America stand with Walker, stand with Wisconsin,’ Pawlenty says in the video.”

New Jersey’s Menendez Could Face Tough Reelection Race In 2012   The New York Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter, in a report on New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez’s (D) 2012 reelection race, reports, “Polls and interviews suggest that” the Senator “is facing problems in a state where the” GOP “is energized under a new governor, Chris Christie.” Democratic and GOP strategists alike “say Mr. Menendez’s situation is potentially perilous, noting that the nation’s hobbled economy makes him and other incumbents targets for challengers.” Even so, Menendez “enjoys the advantages of incumbency and the benefit of running in a state that has not elected a Republican senator since the 1970s.”

Poll Shows Casey Comfortably Leads Trio Of Potential 2012 GOP Foes   A Municipoll Share to FacebookShare to Twitter of 670 Pennsylvania likely voters taken February 21-23 shows Sen. Bob Casey (D) leading a trio of potential 2012 GOP challengers. According to the survey, Casey leads ex-Sen. Rick Santorum 50%-38%, PA6 Rep. Jim Gerlach 48%-34%, and PA15 Rep. Charlie Dent 51%-32%.

Poll: Undeclared Dewhurst Leads Field Of Texas GOP Senate Hopefuls   The Washington Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter reports, “A new poll finds there are two tiers among the list of Texas Republicans scrambling to replace retiring Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison: There’s Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. Then there’s everybody else.” According to the University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll, Dewhurst leads with 27%, followed by ex-Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams with 5%, US Rep. Michael McCaul with 4%, Railroad Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones and ex-Solicitor General Ted Cruz each with 3%, and ex-Texas Secretary of State Roger Williams with 2%; a whopping 52% were undecided.

Political Humor

The Latest From Late Night Comedians  

Jay Leno:   “Well, congratulations to Rahm Emanuel,” who has “been elected mayor of Chicago. .. Well, in his acceptance speech yesterday, Rahm said his first order of business when he takes office, actually moving to Chicago.”

Conan O’Brien:   “It was reported today that Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi described President Obama as an African of Muslim decent. Immediately after the speech,” Gaddafi “was given his own show on Fox News.”

Jay Leno:   “You can tell Gadhafi is getting more and more desperate. First, he says the protesters are all on drugs. Remember that yesterday? He said they were all on drugs. Then he blamed the uprising on al Qaeda. And today, he said it’s all the fault of the teachers union.”

Conan O’Brien:   “Big story out of Washington. The White House is considering supporting same-sex marriage. … Experts attribute the change to shifts in popular opinion, recent court changes, and President Obama accidentally catching this week’s episode of ‘Glee.'”

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