Tales from the Trail

Why are these politicians smiling?

IMMIGRATION-USA/SECURITYSocial Security reform is coming. You can tell by the smiling nice guy personas being adopted around Washington in uncommon bipartisan fashion.

There’s Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, the senior Republican on the Senate Budget Committee. “If we’re smart, we can adjust those programs in ways that minimize the impact,” he reassures the viewers of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

After all, Sessions says there’s no reason seniors should have to worry about losing their Social Security (who says they would?) or see it “savaged in any significant way.”

Never mind the bizarre implication that it might somehow be savaged in an insignificant way.

These are not fighting words like the ones that adorned political speech before the Giffords shooting in Arizona.

Budget and bipartisanship don’t mix on Valentine’s Day

Where’s the love?

Despite all the (whining?) and dining at the White House in the hopes of  bipartisanship and civility, Republicans got out the trash-talk for  President Barack Obama’s 2012 budget proposal.

USA-BUDGET /Since Republicans control the House, and Democrats the Senate and White House, bipartisan action will be needed if any progress is to be made. Congressional Correspondent Richard Cowan takes a look at how the budget process works here.

Obama released a $3.7 trillion proposal as the first salvo in the annual budget wars. Republicans immediately marched out their disapproval.

All smiles at the White House, for a moment anyway

Earlier today President Barack Obama signed a law about prison sentences for possession of crack cocaine and powder cocaine and the photograph of the smiling group of people who supported the legislation gave us a brief pause.

The Democrats and Republicans gathered around the president in the Oval Office rarely agree on anything.  Let’s take a minute to dissect this photograph.

OBAMA

There’s Attorney General Eric Holder (pictured second from the left), a close confidante of Obama’s. But he has drawn intense criticism for his plan to prosecute the five alleged plotters of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in a criminal court in the heart of Manhattan (now highly unlikely). He also has been lambasted by Republicans for affording full legal rights to terrorism suspects who have been arrested on U.S. soil.

Sotomayor hearings begin, lines drawn

The political lines are drawn.

The top Democrat and Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee wasted no time in setting the battle plans for the debate over the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to become the first Hispanic justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.

After all is said and done,  she is expected to be confirmed to the highest court in the United States — a lifetime appointment.

But to get there, she must listen to senator after senator talk about whether she is qualified for the job, with her family sitting behind her in the hearing room, and in full public view on televised proceedings. USA-COURT/SOTOMAYOR