Tales from the Trail

And on the second day, they read…

Day Two of Republican control of the U.S. House of Representatives was highlighted with a reading of the 223-year-old Constitution — the document that formed the American government and guides it to this day.

USA-CONGRESS/It’s often a raucous scene on the House floor. Today, it was raucous in the visitors’ gallery, when a woman calling herself “Theresa” disrupted the recitation of the Constitution at the exact point in which a lawmaker read that the president must be a “natural born citizen.”

“Except Obama,” Theresa inserted as her own 28th Amendment to the Constitution and invoking Jesus. It may have been the most prominent performance so far by “birthers,” who claim Barack Obama has no right to be in office because they believe he was born in Africa and not Hawaii.

Republicans staged the reading of the 4,400-word Constitution — not counting the 27 amendments — in part as a gesture to Tea Party activists who helped them win big in the November elections, and in part to cue up Friday’s debate to repeal “Obamacare,” the healthcare reforms Democrats enacted last year.

UPDATE: Elizabeth Wydra, chief counsel at Constitutional Accountability Center, wrote at The Huffington Post that the Republican gesture was actually not the “Tea Party moment” they hoped for because all the original words weren’t read, but rather it involved what she considers an “edited” version with portions such as on slavery omitted.

A Senate Christmas tale

(UPDATES with new Reid comments).

Christmas bells are ringing. But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid doesn’t seem to be listening. Much to the chagrin of staffers and more than a few senators, Reid is threatening to keep the Senate in session until Christmas Eve and beyond to finish all the legislative work that Congress failed to complete before the November elections.USA/

That amounts to just about a whole year’s worth of lawmaking. Congress never got around to passing any of the 12 spending bills that fund the government. So the Senate is expected to take up a $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill after senators voted to extend Bush-era tax cuts by two years and extend jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed for a year.

Reid earlier this week said “…we are going to complete our work, no matter how long it takes, in this Congress.”

Rising above politics … in Washington

RTXVGWL_Comp1-150x150President Barack Obama seems to want to rise above politics in the tax debate. Good luck with that.

When Obama announced the White House’s tentative tax deal with congressional Republicans, he said he had agreed to compromise rather than “play politics” at a time when Americans want problems solved.

The president gave every impression of bowing to the verdict that voters delivered on Nov. 2, when they evicted so many Democrats from their lodgings in the House of Representatives and handed the time-share keys to the Republicans.

Pelosi or not Pelosi? That is the question for House Democrats

Nancy Pelosi — the first woman Speaker of the House — is soon to become the first woman ex-Speaker of the House.

But the trouncing of  House Democrats in Tuesday’s elections, which flipped control of that chamber to Republicans, has not deterred Pelosi from wanting to hang onto the leadership reins.

She announced on Twitter and in a letter to her colleagues that she will run for House Minority Leader in the new Congress. It’s a position she held before becoming House Speaker — third in line to the presidency – in 2007. USA-ELECTIONS/HOUSE-DEMOCRATS

What wilderness? Republicans emerge from elections ready to charge

Republicans have emerged from the political wilderness and they’re wasting no time laying down markers.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell particularly sounds like he’s looking for bear, not mincing words in his speech at the Heritage Foundation today.  SAFRICA/

Never mind that his party is still  in the minority in the Senate and would need support from Democrats and the president to get anything enacted, McConnell appears ready to lay down the law.

Election is over, now can they get along?

It’s the day after the election and the big question now is will they play nice?

The Tea Party’s coming to town, Republicans seized control of the House, and Democrats are still in charge of the White House and Senate. 

Soon-to-be House Speaker John Boehner today said he saw no problem with incorporating members of the Tea Party into the Republican Party. And Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said the goal was “how do we meet in the middle?”

Reuters/Ipsos poll: 52 pct don’t think Obama will be re-elected

President Barack Obama is not up for re-election this week, but the outcome of congressional elections will be seen as a referendum on his policies.

A Reuters/Ipsos  poll predicts that Republicans will take control of the House of Representatives by winning 231 seats, compared with 204 seats for Democrats, in the midterm elections Tuesday.

Among likely voters, 50 percent said they would vote for the Republican candidate, while 44 percent said they would vote for the Democrat, the poll showed. USA/

When politics feels like a bad flight

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He sounded like someone bombarded by too many election ads.

“I call it the perfect storm of bad manners,” Steven Slater told CNN’s Larry King. “I was angry at all of it.”

The former JetBlue flight attendant, who famously quit his job by jumping down an emergency chute, beer in hand, was talking about his life in the U.S. airline industry — not politics.

But his words could just as easily have described what some people think about the tone of the 2010 midterm election campaign – like audience members who booed Republican California gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman for refusing to stop TV ads attacking her Democratic opponent Jerry Brown. 
    
USA/This election year, negative ads can be mild compared with campaign events on the ground.
    
Last week, Alaska Republican Senate nominee Joe Miller’s private security guard handcuffed a journalist for asking questions the candidate didn’t want to answer. This week, video footage from Kentucky shows a woman protester from MoveOn.org being dragged to the ground and stepped on by supporters of Republican Senate nominee Rand Paul. 
    
Among voters, the anger appears aimed mainly at Democrats, who the Cook Political Report’s pre-election House outlook now predicts will lose 48 to 60 seats, with higher losses possible.
    
Republican officials are already preparing for an invasion of fresh new GOP House members, some of them Tea Party candidates who say they want nothing to do with business as usual in Washington. USA-POLITICS

No more Mr. Nice Guy, Republican sets sights on Obama’s energy czar

Michigan Republican Fred Upton is known as a moderate who disappointed many conservatives by voting with the Democratic majority on some major issues including the taxpayer bailout of U.S. automobile manufacturers.USA/

But expect no more Mr. Nice Guy if Republicans win big on November 2 and he becomes chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Upton has a hit list of White House policy czars he plans to investigate starting with White House energy adviser Carol Browner. 

Reuters-Ipsos Poll: Obama approval drops to 43 pct driven by Democrats

President Barack Obama’s poll numbers keep going down, and it’s not the Republicans who are to blame.

USA/Obama’s approval rating fell to a new low of 43 percent since he took office, down from 47 percent last month, according to a Reuters-Ipsos national poll.

Ipsos pollsters say it appears that much of that drop comes from Democrats whose approval of Obama fell to 70 percent from 78 percent last month.