Tales from the Trail

Is time off allowed during a mammoth oil spill crisis? Depends…

BP CEO Tony Hayward takes time off to watch his yacht race in British waters, President Barack Obama goes golfing over the Father’s Day weekend. OIL-SPILL/

Is that acceptable when the BP oil spill, the worst in U.S. history and a huge environmental disaster, is entering a third month in the Gulf of Mexico?

Well, depends on who you talk to.

The White House on Monday made a cutting remark about Hayward’s yacht trip: “Look, if Tony Hayward wants to put a skimmer on that yacht and bring it down to the Gulf, we’d be happy to have his help,” White House spokesman Bill Burton said at the daily media briefing. 

A BP spokeswoman had said Hayward was spending time with his son after being away from his family for much of the past two months.

Hayward made few friends on the Gulf coast after saying that he wanted his life back, and Burton couldn’t resist a small dig at that comment – ”It’s clear that he has. But what’s important to us is that the people in the Gulf get their lives back. It’s not so easy for them to just take a weekend away and forget about everything that’s happening down there.”

You won’t believe this – Dems cash in on Republican BP apology

Congressional Democrats are quickly trying to cash in on Joe Barton, the Republican lawmaker with ties to the oil industry who apologized to BP on national TV.

bartonJust hours after Barton’s remarks on Thursday, the House and Senate Democratic campaign committees issued fund-raising appeals featuring and ridiculing the white-haired Texan. 

“You won’t believe this,” begins the letter from the House Democratic campaign committee. “Yes, Texas Congressman Joe Barton actually apologized to BP CEO Tony Hayward.”

Rand Paul blames trash-talking Democrats who throw out red herrings

USA/“When does my honeymoon period start?” Rand Paul asked.

That was Paul’s opening line in an ABC “Good Morning America” interview Friday when asked about the controversy this week over comments that suggested he opposed part of the 1964 Civil Rights Act that outlawed racial segregation.

Paul blamed the controversy on political trash-talk by Democrats worried that he will win the Kentucky Senate seat in November’s election after his Tea Party supported victory in the Republican primary earlier this week.

“I’ve been trashed up and down one network that tends to side with the Democrats. For an entire 24 hours I’ve suffered from them saying ‘oh he wants to repeal the Civil Rights Act,’ but that’s never been my position,” he said.

Republican YouCut seeks to shear Mohair from budget

It’s worth about $1 million a year.

For most people that’s a lot of money. But in the context of a $3.7 trillion federal budget and a $1.5 trillion deficit, it’s small potatoes. Except in this case it’s a federal subsidy for mohair and it has more lives than an Angora cat.

Federal subsidies for mohair, which is produced from the hair of Angora goats, began in 1947 because the military was worried that there was not enough domestic wool production to supply its need for uniforms.

The development of synthetic fabrics has long made that concern irrelevant, yet apparently the government still writes checks to mohair producers despite repeated attempts by some lawmakers over the last two decades to get rid of it.

The Day After: everyone’s got an opinion

Everyone’s got an opinion about what happened Tuesday when Senator Arlen Specter — long-term Republican, newly turned Democrat — lost the Pennsylvania primary, Tea Party candidate Ron Paul won the Senate Republican primary in Kentucky, and neither Democrat in the Arkansas Senate primary could muster 50 percent of the vote so they have to do it all over again in June.

USA-POLITICS/In all of the contests, there was only one person who won an actual seat in Congress on Tuesday night — Democrat Mark Critz who took the special election for the Pennsylvania district seat left vacant by the death of Rep. John Murtha earlier this year.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs @PressSec tweeted “Sort of says it all…” with a link to a Politico story headlined “The GOP’s special failure.”

It’s all in the timing… Republican steals limelight from Democrat

For once Democrats can be thankful that a Republican stole the spotlight on primary day.

CONGRESS RAIDTuesday began with a focus on Richard Blumenthal, the Connecticut Democrat running for the Senate, amid questions about his military record during the Vietnam War. But it quickly shifted mid-morning on news that Republican Congressman Mark Souder was resigning over an affair with a female aide.

Souder, a self-proclaimed “evangelical Christian” and an advocate of abstinence in sexual education, issued a statement in which he said he was “renewing my walk with my Lord.”

Tea Party toughens up Republican Party – Gingrich

The Tea Party movement is a good thing for the Republican Party, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says. It toughens up the GOP.

USA/(Anyone else thinking biker jackets?)

Rather than fragment the Republican Party in the coming November elections, the conservative anti-tax, small-government Tea Party movement will rev it up,  says Gingrich, who helped orchestrate the 1994 Republican Revolution when the party won control of both houses of Congress in the midterm elections.

And wins by Tea Party-supported candidates in the primaries leading up to the November midterms will benefit the Republican Party, “if the Tea Party movement and the Republicans stay together to defeat Obamaism,” Gingrich said on NBC’s “Today” show.

Final round in Specter vs. Sestak coming up

The final bell is about to ring in the Pennsylvania Democratic primary for the Senate — and it’s a nail-biter. Who will win the chance to run against the Republican in November?

USA-POLITICS/In one corner is Senator Arlen Specter who has 30 years in the Senate, but for the first time faces voters as a Democrat after switching parties last year.

In the other corner is Representative Joe Sestak who won his first election to Congress four years ago by unseating 20-year Republican incumbent Curt Weldon.

Even Congress gets weary of Congress…

It’s not just voters who get tired of Congress – members of Congress get tired of Congress.

USA-POLITICS/OBEY“I am bone tired,” David Obey said in announcing his retirement after 21 terms (that would be 42 years) as a Democratic congressman from Wisconsin.

Public opinion polls show that anti-incumbent sentiment is high going into the November congressional elections in which every House seat and one-third of the Senate are up for grabs. There’s also history to contend with – in the mid-term election during a new presidency the party of the president usually loses seats — that would be Democrats this year.

Blago judge says Obama doesn’t have to testify

BLAGOJEVICH-ILLINOIS/The federal judge overseeing the corruption trial of  Rod Blagojevich said he sees no need for President Barack Obama to testify, denying a defense request, though he left open the possibility.

“The testimony of the president is not material to this case,” James Zagel of the U.S. District Court in Chicago said at a hearing on Friday.

The issue, as Zagel framed it, was whether Blagojevich thought that a union official coming to see him about who best to fill Obama’s old U.S. Senate seat was an emissary for the president.