Tales from the Trail

From Will.i.am to B.o.B. – Obama looks to get his groove back


President Barack Obama had major cool points with young music fans when he was running for president in 2008 and just after he was inaugurated — whether it was hip-hop star Will.i.am’s  song ”Yes We Can,” the viral “Obama Girl” YouTube Video ”I’ve Got a Crush on Obama” or lyrics like the rapper Maino’s “When I think that I can’t/I envision Obama” in the song “All the Above.”

That message has faded during his 20 months running the country, lost in the welter of bitter policy debates and fights to pass legislation.

With just six weeks to go before mid-term elections in which his fellow Democrats are struggling to keep their majorities in the House of Representatives and Senate against a resurgent Republican party, Obama and party leaders are looking to get some of that magic back. They are rebranding the party’s youth wing as “Gen44,” or “Generation 44″ (Obama is the 44th president of the United States), and put together low-cost events across the country intended to motivate young Democratic voters — and in particular to get them out to vote on Nov. 2.

Obama will attempt to reel in some hip-hop magic in person next Thursday, when he attends a concert  with the 21-year-old rapper “B.o.B.” kicking off a Gen44 summit in Washington.  B.o.B.’s website features a video “I am Gen44,” in which he talks about the Sept. 30 concert and encourages his fans “to come out and support this movement for change that we started in 2008.”

B.o.B.’s ”Nothin’ on You” and “Airplanes” both reached number one, but one of his other songs in particular might appeal to Obama as he faces intense attacks from Republicans – ”Haterz Everywhere.”

A new wind blowing through Senate on climate change?

For anyone mulling the chances the U.S. Congress will pass a climate change bill next year, it might be worth having a look at Republican candidates who could end up serving in the Senate starting in 2011.

That’s exactly what the liberal Center for American Progress Action Fund has done and if you’re an environmentalist, it’s notWEATHER ERNESTO a pretty landscape. 

“Nearly all (Senate Republican candidates) dispute the scientific consensus that the United States must act to fight global warming pollution,” the group writes in a posting.  

Obama finds reality of change is no quick fix on economy

President Barack Obama has come face-to-face with the reality of change (his campaign slogan) and found it is slow moving when the economy is involved.

OBAMA/“My analysis is that we came in with great excitement and people hoping that we could turn the corner really quickly. And we couldn’t,” Obama said in an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

“This is a hard set of problems that we’re facing. And so, folks have now seen a year and a half of unemployment above 9 percent. And long-term unemployment at record levels. And so, people are hurtin’ out there. And they’re anxious and they’re fearful,” he said.

Union chief takes on a ‘Mama Grizzly’ — Sarah Palin

The head of the largest U.S. labor federation went to Alaska, “The Last Frontier,” to address local members Thursday and take on a self-proclaimed “Mama Grizzly” — Sarah Palin.

RACING/AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka mocked the former Alaska governor, a 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee who is seen as a conservative power broker and potential 2012 White House hopeful.

“Sometimes — about Sarah Palin — you just have to laugh. But it’s not really funny,” Trumka said.

Washington Extra – Stormy weather on economic front

A new round of extremely violent thunderstorms rolled through Washington this morning and brought with it more stormy economic news. The latest hiccup to what President Barack Obama had hoped would be a “recovery summer” was the news that filings for unemployment benefits rose by 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 484,000 in the week ended Aug. 7.

USA/WEATHERExperts had expected a drop in claims and the unwelcome surprise indicated that hiring is still weak and employers may return to cutting staff.

The grim data came two days after the Fed warned that the pace of the recovery had slowed and the trade deficit widened, sending economists back to their drawing boards to revise growth forecasts. China’s economy also showed signs of going off the boil.

McConnell sees 2012 presidential race wide open, no Republican heir apparent

Who will lead the Republican Party in the 2012 presidential race?

USA/Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell says plenty of Republicans will throw their hat into that ring, especially if Democratic President Barack Obama’s popularity stays on the low side.

What about Sarah Palin? The Tea Party favorite appears to be positioning herself for a possible run — she’s endorsing candidates in this year’s midterm elections and taking on Democrats when there’s an opening.

“I think she’s going to be one of a number of Republican leaders who are going to be looking at the presidential contest after the election,” McConnell said in a Reuters interview. “They’re all viable.”

Rrrrrrring, it’s the President calling…

They talked. 

President Barack Obama called Shirley Sherrod at about 12:35 p.m. and they spoke for 7 minutes. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs says the White House operator unsuccessfully tried to reach her twice last night but was unable to leave a voicemail.

POTUS offered his regrets, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack had been sincere in his apology yesterday, and hoped that she would see “this misfortune” as an opportunity to continue her hard work on behalf of those in need. 

In just days, a charge of racism by a conservative  led to Sherrod losing her Agriculture Department job and ended in a phone call from the president. USA/

Washington Extra

It was two years in the making, runs to 2,300 pages, took three Republicans to pass it, and 11 pens to sign it into law. President Barack Obama put the seal on a drastic overhaul of the rules governing Wall Street and the banking industry today, using a separate pen for each letter of his name. FINANCIAL-REGULATION/OBAMA

Behind him, Joe Biden chatted throughout the signing ceremony, often with his back to the camera, so we just have to assume the vice president thinks this particular legislative victory is also a “big … deal”.

Influential business groups lined up with Republicans to criticize the new law for the 533 new regulations they say it imposes, while Obama’s one-time friend, JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon, was not even invited to the signing ceremony. No sign of a rapprochement in the relationship between the presidency and Big Finance, as Obama used the occasion to take another swipe at “unscrupulous” lenders and the “abuse and excess” that lay behind the financial crisis.

from Fan Fare:

Tom Cruise tipped to play film version of John Edwards

The tale of John Edwards'  personal and political downfall will be coming to a movie theater near you.johnedwards

But who will play the disgraced politician?

Aaron Sorkin, best known for penning the hit White House drama series "The West Wing" has bought the rights to the book penned by Andrew Young -- the former aide to the Democratic presidential hopeful throughout his affair with Rielle Hunter.

Sorkin described  Young's  book "The Politician: An Insider's Account of John Edwards' Pursuit of the Presidency and the Scandal That Brought Him Down" as a "first-hand account of an extraordinary story filled with motivations, decisions and consequences that would have lit Shakespeare up."

“Everything but the kitchen sink” poll

The oil spill, immigration, racial profiling, President Obama’s policies, the Tea Party — you name it, Americans were asked about it in the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal public opinion poll.

The pollsters surveyed 1,000 people from Thursday through Monday (when there was a lot of news happening) and came away with what NBC says were “striking results.”

Despite the huge oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico threatening environmental doilspillisaster, 60 percent of Americans said they support more offshore drilling, according to the poll.