Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Weekly Strike-5/26-5/31

Good morning and welcome to the Weekly Strike! Thanks for bearing with us this weekend while we were gone on Memorial Day vacation. I hope you enjoyed your holiday weekend. We intend to return this week with a bang!

THE WHITE HOUSE: Congress is out of session this week, so any and all political happenings will come from the executive branch. The big news just in this morning is that President Obama will name his choice for Supreme Court Justice at 10:15am. We will be waiting with intense curiosity. I'll make sure to update you when the choice is made. That should dominate the news cycle for a couple of days. Following the appointment, the nominee will make courtesy visits to Capital Hill for the next month or so, and presumably complete hearings in July. President Obama wants the nominee to be confirmed by August so that the nominee doesn't get pummeled during the August recess.

The President has no other public events today. He flies out to Las Vegas this evening to hold a fundraiser for his friend and ally, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Reid is not winning many popularity contests in his home state these days. Republicans have sensed an opportunity to defeat Reid in next year's elections, but have so far been unable to find a good candidate.

Obama won't exactly be welcomed to the state with open arms. The governor of Nevada, the immensely unpopular Jim Gibbons, is refusing the President's invitation to meet him at the airport. Apparently, Gibbons was upset about comments the President made about CEO's "living it up in Vegas." I'm sure you've stroked political gold, Gibbons. Everyone loves an embattled governor who stands up a popular President of the United States.

Vice President Biden also will head west today for a meeting of the White House Middle Class Task Force, which he chairs. I'm sure Biden will want to lend a political hand while he's there. I'll be anxious to see if he does any campaigning for newly appointed Colorado Senator Michael Bennet, who is still pretty unknown statewide.

Tomorrow, Biden addresses the graduates of the Air Force Academy, while Obama holds a town-hall style event in Las Vegas, and a DNC fundraiser in Los Angeles. Thursday, the President meets at the White House with Palestinian President Abbas. Abbas will most likely ask the President to pressure the Israelis to give up settlements in the West Bank.

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS: All of this week's action will be against the backdrop of some scary stuff going on in North Korea. Over the weekend, the rogue state tested a nuclear weapon and fired a short-range missile. They tested two additional short-range missiles today. This presents a major test for U.N. ambassador Susan Rice. North Korea had agreed to abandon their nuclear weapons program in exchange for economic aid last year, but the plan fell through, and the program has continued to advanced. It will be interesting to see if the U.N. Security Council can pass additional sanctions against North Korea that actually might have some teeth.

CONGRESS: Congress is out of session for the week after a successful legislative period. One thing that happened while we were gone was that the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved the Waxman-Markey Cap and Trade bill. This ambitious environmental measure will presumably come to the full House for a vote in the next few weeks. The vote was strictly party line, with the exception of Republican Mary Bono Mack of California, who bucked her party's leadership to support the bill. Republicans say that cap and trade will decimate the economy because it will cause energy prices to go up. The best part of the mark-up, though, had little to do with the bill. Republicans threatened to delay the bill by forcing the reading clerk to read the 900 page piece of legislation. The GOP saw this as a procedural tool to stall the bill's passage while they made a more convincing case to the public. In response, Democrats hired a speed reader, who would be able to read 900 pages in about 3 hours. Republicans eventually agreed to dispense with the reading, but the speed reader was already there, and members, led by Republican ranking member Joe Barton, wanted to see what he was made of. This is highly entertaining.

That's it for this morning. We will fill you in on the Supreme Court choice as soon as it becomes available.

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