Tales from the Trail

No magic solution for oil spill, elbowing BP won’t do any good

The message from the White House podium today was loud and clear – there is no magic fix for the oil spill that looks like curdled chocolate milk flowing on top of the Gulf of Mexico. And there isn’t much that anyone can do that BP isn’t doing.

OIL-RIG/LEAKCan government push BP out of the way if it believes the company is not doing the job?

“Well, to push BP out of the way would raise a question — to replace them with what?” Admiral Thad Allen of the Coast Guard, the administration’s response chief for the disaster, asked back.

Was there any thought given to bringing in another oil company to fix the mess?

“When I have the CEO of a large petroleum company and oil drilling company tell me they would be following the same sequence of events, that tells me there wouldn’t be anything to be gained by doing that,” Allen said at the White House press briefing. (He wouldn’t identify the company).

Tea Party Express names its election-year ‘heroes,’ ‘targets’

U.S. Representative Joe Wilson — the South Carolina Republican who last year screamed at President Barack Obama, “You lie!” — is on its list of “heroes.”

So is Republican Senator Jim DeMint, also of South Carolina, who’s leading a charge to repeal Obama’s landmark overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system.

USA-TAX/The Tea Party Express, one of the most prominent groups in the conservative Tea Party movement, on Thursday wrapped up a 20-day nationwide tour with an event in Washington, D.C., where it formally announced its 14 “heroes” as well as 13 “targets.”

What’s next on healthcare reform? — Enroll America

Democrats are still celebrating their historic achievement on healthcare reform, but the looming question is what’s next?

For Republicans and other opponents, it’s a campaign to repeal the law and replace it with something more to their liking.

For healthcare reform advocates and industry groups, including some who opposed the legislation, it’s implementation of the new law and getting people to sign up for coverage. cr_lrg_515_Pollack

Reid to Republicans: healthcare reform is now law of the land

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid proudly proclaimed on Wednesday that the “historic healthcare reform is now no longer a bill it is the law.”

Someone please tell Republicans.

They are planning a flurry of amendments to try to stall a package of changes being considered by the Senate that Democrats want to make to the legislation signed into law by President Barack Obama.

House Democrats demanded the changes, which among other things would close the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap for the elderly.

Obama outs mother-in-law as big fan of Las Vegas

USA-POLITICS/OBAMABy trying to soothe Las Vegas’ hurt feelings about some remarks he made recently, President Barack Obama outed his mother-in-law, Marian Robinson, as a big fan of the gambling city.

“Now, before I go any further, let me set the record straight: I love Vegas,” Obama told a town hall meeting.

He had angered the mayor of Las Vegas, Oscar Goodman, by saying in New Hamsphire recently that, “You don’t blow a bunch of cash on Vegas when you’re trying to save for college.”

Mindboggling in Massachusetts

The Republicans are coming, the Republicans are coming… to Massachusetts. USA-POLITICS/MASSACHUSETTS

The Senate seat comfortably held by Edward Kennedy for nearly half a century has gone to Republican Scott Brown. 

We can only imagine what the late “Liberal Lion” of the Senate would have thought if he were still alive.

Democrats politely congratulated Brown, who defeated Democrat Martha Coakley, knowing full well that the dynamics have changed. Democrats no longer have a 60-vote filibuster-proof Senate — and that can affect their plans for healthcare reform.

Blago says he’s “blacker than Barack Obama”

Believe it or not, Rod Blagojevich is African-American — and more so than President Barack Obama. At least, that’s what the former Illinois governor tells Esquire magazine in a new interview.
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“It’s such a cynical business, and most of the people in the business are full of (expletive deleted) and phonies, but I was real, man — and am real. This guy, he was catapulted in on hope and change, what we hope the guy is. What the (expletive deleted)? Everything he’s saying’s on the teleprompter,” Esquire quotes Blago as saying about the president, without the expletives deleted.

“I’m blacker than Barack Obama. I shined shoes. I grew up in a five-room apartment. My father had a little laundromat in a black community not far from where we lived. I saw it all growing up,” he explains.

Blago is, in fact, a white Democrat who gained prominence for introducing big male hair to the national political arena during a corruption probe that led to his indictment on charges of trying to sell Obama’s former U.S. Senate seat. He denies the accusations.

Book? What book? GOP asks Steele

steeleRepublican Party Chairman Michael Steele is once again at odds with his party. This time it’s for calling for active opposition of the Obama agenda. What’s wrong with that, you ask. Well, he did it in a book. A book GOP leaders knew nothing about until it hit the shelves.

According to Amazon.com, Steele’s book, “Right Now: A 12-Step Program for Defeating the Obama Agenda,” “throws down the gauntlet,” and makes an argument for “abandoning ‘conservatism-lite,’ returning to core conservative principles, and launching an uncompromising campaign for limited government.”

The book is said to be highly critical of the party and has angered Republican congressional leaders who feel such a blueprint for the party should have included their input. Some GOP leaders only learned of the book when Steele began promoting it in television appearances this week. 

Republicans savoring election prospects after Democrats drop out

Let the countdown begin.

USA/The 2010 election year has officially started and Republicans can barely contain their glee after two senior Senate Democrats announced they would not run again and a House Democrat switched to the Republican Party.

Right out of the New Year’s gate, Senate Democrats Chris Dodd of Connecticut and Byron Dorgan of North Dakota said they would not seek re-election in November.

Democrats control the Senate 60-40 which is just enough to overcome procedural hurdles and pass legislation without a single Republican vote. Republicans are expected to pick up seats, but not enough to win back control.

Will Obama get a Senate Christmas gift?

Senate Democrats are confident they will pass a sweeping healthcare overhaul and give President Barack Obama a significant victory on one of his top domestic priorities. But will they do it by Christmas? OBAMA/

It will be hard. Right now the bill is hung up over a Democratic amendment that would allow patients and pharmacies to import cheaper prescription drugs from other countries, including Canada. Democrats are also waiting for an official cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office on a proposed compromise that would drop the government-run public option from the bill.

The compromise would call on the U.S. Office of Personnel Management to contract with insurance companies to provide non-profit health plans that would be offered on proposed new insurance exchanges. The compromise would also allow people 55 to 64 to buy into the Medicare health program for the elderly.