Tales from the Trail

Bipartisanship on the White House menu

At a White House dinner with Senate and House leaders from both parties and their spouses, President Barack Obama got a standing ovation when he mentioned the demise of Osama bin Laden in his welcome.

“Last night, as Americans learned that the United States had carried out an operation that resulted in the capture and death of  Osama bin Laden…” Obama said.

At that point, he was interrupted by the standing ovation.

“We were reminded again that there is a pride in what this nation stands for and what we can achieve that runs far deeper than party, far deeper than politics,” Obama continued after the applause subsided.

The Monday evening dinner had been on the books for a few weeks, but Obama said it could not have come at a more fitting time.

A day earlier, he had announced that bin Laden had been killed in a U.S. assault on a  compound in Pakistan — ending a nearly decade-long manhunt.

Then came social issues and ‘morality’…

RTR2CNMS_Comp-150x150The Tea Party’s November victories and the ensuing Republican drive for spending cuts are in large part the result of a political strategy that focuses tightly on fiscal and economic matters, while minimizing rhetoric on moral questions and social topics. But for how much longer can Republicans keep a lid on the culture war?

The 2012 presidential race, though lacking in declared GOP candidates, may be about to pry open a Pandora’s box bearing the name of social issues that have long divided Republican and independent ranks. And such an occurrence could work against the interests of fiscal conservatives, just as the GOP girds itself for a showdown with Democrats over spending cuts and the debt ceiling later this spring.RTXXP42_Comp-150x150

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, one of those Republicans who are running for president without actually running for president, tells NBC’s Today show that social conservatism is what built America and made it strong.

State Dept: church Koran burning plan”un-American”

There have been lots of angry words over plans by an obscure Florida pastor to burn copies of the Koran on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

But State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley pulled out the biggest gun of all on Tuesday in his effort to distance the government from the pastor’s incendiary proposal — he called it “un-American.”

“We are conscious that a number of voices have come out and rejected what this pastor and this community have proposed,” Crowley told a news briefing. “We would like to see more Americans stand up and say ‘this is inconsistent with our American values.’ In fact these actions themselves are un-American.”

Democrats try turning mosque debate against GOP

Democrats were stunned and somewhat speechless last August when Republicans accused them of proposing “death panels” as part of  their healthcare reform initiative.

This August,  it’s the proposed construction of a Muslim cultural center and mosque near lower Manhattan’s “Ground Zero” that is dominating the end-of-summer doldrums.  Once again,  Democrats are struggling to gain the upper hand in the debate. AFGHANISTAN/

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi weighed in on Wednesday, saying, “Where a place of worship is located is a local decision.” The Democrat may have been tweaking Republicans from across the U.S. who are railing about the New York City mosque all the while complaining about the long, intrusive arm of the federal government.

Democrats disagree on NY mosque, White House says no problem

Barack Obama and Harry Reid agree on most things.

They both favored stimulus measures to boost the economy. They both want climate change and comprehensive immigration reform to pass the Senate — at least someday.

OBAMABut the U.S. president and the top Democrat in the Senate disagree about an issue that could become a flashpoint in the November elections: whether or not a Muslim cultural center in New York should be built near the site of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Obama has come out forcefully in favor of the rights of the builders to put the center, which would include a prayer room and an auditorium, near the site known as “Ground Zero.”

Sarah Palin, the Bard of Wasilla

USA/PALINWashington’s Emma Ashburn had some thoughts today on Sarah Palin’s latest literary stylings:

Sarah Palin: former Alaska governor, ex-vice presidential candidate, bard.

The media-savvy Republican introduced a new term over the weekend, using the word “refudiate” on her Twitter feed at SarahPalinUSA when she opined on plans to build a mosque at the site of the 9/11 attacks in Manhattan. Later, she suggested she wasn’t doing anything William Shakespeare hadn’t done.

Her first tweet on Sunday read:

* Ground Zero Mosque supporters: doesn’t it stab you in the heart, as it does ours throughout the heartland? Peaceful Muslims, pls refudiate

Attorney General Holder escapes DC snow for Florida, defends decisions

After the federal government closed for four days following two major blizzards, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder escaped to the warmer climes of Tampa, Florida, where he defended decisions on terrorism-related cases that have come under fire.

FINANCIAL-COMMISSION/Republicans have harshly criticized Holder for deciding to prosecute the five men accused of plotting the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, including the self-professed mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, in traditional criminal courts rather than military tribunals.

He has also drawn bipartisan fire for planning to hold the trials blocks from the site where the World Trade Center twin towers stood amid new concerns about security and costs.

The First Draft: NYC awaits day in court 8 years after 9/11

Today seems a day of numbers: 8, 11, 5, 3000, 13. Put another way, more than 8 years after the Sept. 11 attacks, the brutally violated City of New York learns that 5 men accused in the deaths of the nearly 3,000 people will face an actual criminal trial — in New York. SECURITY COMMISSION

Oh, yeah, and the news comes on Friday the 13th.

The lead defendant, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, initially confessed to masterminding the 2001 attacks that set the United States on the road to wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. But he later told a Pentagon war crimes court that the interrogators “were putting many words in my mouth.” He also said he wants to be put to death and become a martyr.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder will formally announce later today that KSM and four other defendants will be sent to New York City to stand trial for the attacks.

What were they thinking? 9/11 scare on the Potomac

It boggles the mind.

Why would the Coast Guard decide to conduct a training exercise on the Potomac River, a stone’s throw away from the Pentagon, where the president of the United States and others attended a memorial event, on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks??? SEPT11/

The media, always on hyper-alert for anything terrorism related on the anniversary of Sept. 11, ran with reports of shots fired on the Potomac.

That unleashed never-far-from-the-surface fears of terrorism amid memories of that day 8 years ago when a hijacked plane crashed into the Pentagon, two planes crashed into the World Trade Center in New York and another into a field in Pennsylvania — shattering the country’s sense of security.