Tales from the Trail

McCain says Trump having fun, Republicans have serious candidates for 2012

Republican Senator John McCain, who lost to Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election, made clear that he doesn’t see Donald Trump as a serious candidate for 2012.

“I think Mr. Trump is having a lot of fun and it’s pretty clear he enjoys the limelight.  We have very serious candidates.  And I think that, if Mr. Trump wants to run, he’s welcome to run,” McCain said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

(Ouch!) 

That came a day after Trump attended the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, where Obama and comedian Seth Meyers told cutting jokes about the New York real estate magnate.

“Anybody can run.  He has a right to run.  He is a New York icon, bigger than life in a lot of things, and he can put himself into the mix,” New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Is he worth taking seri0usly?

“That’s up to the voters,” Bloomberg said. “The nice thing about America is you get a chance to go out there and make your case. ”

How bad was Intelligence Czar’s Libya “gaffe”?

USA-INTELLIGENCE/The columnist Michael Kinsley once quipped that in Washington a “gaffe” is when a political notable accidentally tells the truth. Intelligence and national security officials are describing the latest controversial statements about Libya by National Intelligence Director James Clapper as that kind of “gaffe.”

At a Congressional hearing on Thursday, Clapper said that rebels trying to oust Muammar Gaddafi from power had lost momentum and that the Libyan leader could well survive for some time to come. “We believe that Gaddafi is in this for the long haul…He appears to be hunkering down for the duration.”

“This is kind of a stalemate back and forth,” Clapper said, but added that, “I think over the long term that the (Gaddafi) regime will prevail.”

This lame duck sure can fly

Congress seems to work better under deadline pressure (like journalists).

Democrats are racing to cram as much through the post-election lame duck session as possible, before their majority turns into a pumpkin when Republicans take control of the House of Representatives in January.

HUNGARYRepublicans are grumbling about all the rush, but President Barack Obama went to their pond with some bread — tax cut extensions for the wealthy — so they aren’t quacking too loudly.

The lame duck session of Congress has produced — tax cut extensions have been signed into law, the repeal of “Don’t Ask , Don’t Tell” to allow gays to serve openly in the military will be signed into law tomorrow, and the START treaty is moving toward ratification.

Republicans target birthright citizenship for illegal immigrants’ children

Fresh from a bitter row over Arizona’s tough crackdown on illegal immigrants, top Republican lawmakers in the U.S. Congress are pushing to review a constitutional amendment that grants automatic birthright citizenship to anyone born in the United States.

USA-IMMIGRATION/ARIZONAIn the past week several Republicans have called for or supported hearings on Capitol Hill reviewing the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which was enacted in 1868 following the Civil War and granted citizenship to “all persons born or naturalized in the United States.” 

Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican and erstwhile supporter of comprehensive immigration reform granting a path to legal status for the nearly 11 million illegal immigrants living stateside, kicked off the row with an interview on the Fox network a week ago in which he said automatic citizenship attracted illegal immigrants, and that a review was needed.

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.

1,200 law professors sign up as Sotomayor fans

Nearly 1,200 law professors from across the country signed up to support U.S. Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, and one early Republican critic says he may even vote for her.

With the stage set for her nationally broadcast Senate confirmation hearing next week, President Barack Obama’s first pick for the highest U.S. court seems headed toward confirmation as the first Hispanic U.S. justice. USA/

Backers and opponents of Sotomayor have called her a liberal. Yet a group of law professors squarely in her corner say she is a moderate who goes by the book — the law book.