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In the race for the Democratic Presidential nominee, recent forerunner Senator Barack Obama pulled ahead and reportedly took the overall victory Tuesday. He marked the day as a defining moment for our nation regarding his presumptive win with securing 2,156 delegate votes as compared to Senator Hillary Clinton’s 1,923 votes. However, Clinton maintains that she received the popular vote through the primaries, but did not comment on her future plans for the race. In fact, she asked sponsors to go onto HillaryClinton**** to voice their opinions.
Some Democratic supporters are urging Obama to unite the party by putting Clinton on the VP ticket. While there has been no discussion between the two campaigns on this matter, Clinton’s group has publicly said the New York senator is open to becoming Vice President. On Wednesday, both candidates went to Washington for a Senate budget vote and to address a public affairs committee. The two also spoke on the phone for a few minutes and reportedly planned to meet together in the near future.
That’s the latest in the bid for the Democratic Presidential race. I’m Dana Ward.
The Vice Presidential candidate often linked to Senator Barack Obama’s ticket removed himself from the possible running. Ohio Governor Ted Strickland said Tuesday he would absolutely not join the Democratic’s presidential ticket in the fall, if asked. Strickland previously backed Senator Hillary Clinton during her campaign for the party’s nomination, and after her bow-down, has since endorsed Obama for president. The governor said to NPR that while he is not interested in being the VP for Obama, it does not mean he is any less committed to helping him reach the presidency.
And on Tuesday, Senator John McCain continued to push for presidential debates with voters versus the traditional media-led t-v productions. McCain stated that his campaign challenges Obama’s side to 10 debates over the summer. The presumed Republican presidential nominee also suggested that in order to keep the face-offs on a friendly level, that the two travel to the town hall meetings together in the same plane. McCain said QUOTE, “The American people want a respectful and civilized discussion.”
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Defense Secretary Robert Gates is urging Congress to repeal the military’s ban on gays serving openly. He spoke to reporters while travelling to Australia.
NPR quotes him as saying, "I would like to see the repeal of ‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell’ but I'm not sure what the prospects for that are.”
Mr. Gates suggests Congress use its lame duck session to pass repeal -- before Republicans take control of the House in January. But as Jim Miklaszewski reports on MSNBC -- fat chance of that happening.
JIM MIKLASZEWSKI: “‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell’ right now does not appear to be a high priority for Democrats on the hill or particularly the White House. And the chances that it would be enacted immediately in the -- when the Republicans take control of the House in January is even less likely.”
And high-profile dissent from Marine Corps Commandant General James Amos – who on Saturday said the 17-year-old policy was –quote— “not a social issue” but rather about “combat effectiveness.
And for The Wall Street Journal - Laura Meckler suggests hope for repeal is - quote - “all but lost.”
“Sens. Carl Levin of Michigan and John McCain of Arizona ... are in talks on stripping the proposed repeal and other controversial provisions from a broader defense bill, leaving the repeal with no legislative vehicle to carry it.”
In September, when repeal was attached to the defense bill -- it failed to win the 60 votes it needed to pass in the Senate. And C-SPAN reports even White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs is signalling there isn’t much of an appetite for repeal during the lame duck session. So what WILL be on the agenda?
“One, of course, tax cuts, the Bush tax cuts. The other a START treaty with Russia, a child nutrition bill, and the president wants his budget director confirmed -- that is Jack Lew.”
And firedoglake’s David Dayden says even Secretary Gates’ widely-quoted appeal isn’t as airtight as it’s being reported.
“I could see some Pentagon flak coming back to everyone to clarify that Gates merely meant he would like to see repeal in the abstract... Also, he was talking to reporters in Australia, where gays and lesbians can serve in the military, so that may have colored his remarks.”
The Pentagon is completing a study to determine the effect of repeal on military readiness and cohesion. Those results are due December 1st -- but leaked details reported by The Huffington Post suggest most military servicemembers and their families are not opposed to repeal.
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Ballsy advice for President Obama from longtime Democratic strategist James Carville -- who, in a breakfast discussion hosted by the Christian Science Monitor -- suggested the president doesn’t have ALL the right stuff.
CARVILLE: "If Hillary gave [Obama] one of her balls, they'd both have two." (Video courtesy Real Clear Politics)
The reporter had asked Carville whether President Obama was - quote - “misunderstood or just being a wimp.” But the not-so-friendly fire sparked debate over whether Carville had a point - coming off a midterm election the president himself deemed a “shellacking.”
On Fox News - contributor Juan Williams says it isn’t the first time critics from the left have suggested the commander-in-chief’s gotta man up after what he himself called a “shellacking.”
“It is about lack of direction. Why don't you get out there and sell it? ... A lot of Democrats are saying, do you have the fight in you? Are you going to fight right get up off the mat and punch back or simply allow the political narrative to be carried by Republicans who are trying to unseat you for 2012?”
TIME’s Joe Klein shares a laugh over the off-color remarks with MSNBC’s Chris Jansing.
JOE KLEIN: “So, I don’t understand -- Hillary has three? Isn't it weird?”
JANSING: “I think he means she is a whole lot tougher.”
KLEIN: “There should be a statute of limitations on James Carville.” (LAUGHTER)
But all jokes aside - the debate got heated on CNN’s “John King USA” -- where conservative contributor Erik Erikson and syndicated columnist Roland Martin sparred over whether questioning the president’s manhood was appropriate.
ERIKSON: “Big deal.”
MARTIN: “But actually, Erik, that speaks to exactly what the problem is. And that is, I do believe you have to have respect for the office.”
ERIKSON: “He may be president of the United States but he is also a politician. If he can't handle James Carville saying something like this, trust me I have plenty of friends that have said a lot worse than him.”
MARTIN: “I understand that. But it’s still the office.”
KING: “Alright I’m gonna call a timeout right here. I’m gonna call a timeout.”
And on the same program - Carville phoned in to elaborate -- but struck a defiant tone.
“If I offended anybody, I'm not sorry and I don't apologize.” (LAUGHTER)
This actually isn’t the first time Carville has served up the joke -- in 2008 when he last said it, though, it was a bit less colorful -- opting instead for the word “cajones.”
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Read his lips: Raise Warren Buffett’s taxes. In an interview with ABC, the Oracle of Omaha says the rich have never had it so good.
BUFFETT: “I think the people higher like myself should be paying more in taxes. The rich are always going to say that, you know, just give us more money and we'll go out and spend more and then it will all trickle down to the rest of you. But that has not worked the last ten years, and I hope the American public is catching on.”
And as the debate rages in Congress over whether to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans - a call to raise taxes FROM one of America’s wealthiest is a powerful show of support for opponents of the current tax structure.
Then again - with an estimated wealth of $47 billion - Buffett might just be speaking for himself.
On MSNBC - conservative commentator Pat Buchanan says - bad idea, Buffett.
PAT BUCHANAN: “He's got $42 billion and he makes his money by capital gains, buying and selling, only a 15% tax. Maybe he should pay more. If you're talking about a guy with a family making $250,000 should his taxes go up? I don't think it's good economics. I don't think it's good politics, and I don't know that it's a good deal for the country.”
Still - ABC points out Congress overwhelmingly turned down a value-added tax last year - and it isn’t likely to raise taxes in this political climate. Economist Robert Reich blames that on what he calls Republican hypocrisy.
ROBERT REICH: “You know, even in this town that seems inured to hypocrisy, for the Republicans in Congress to say, we must have a tax break, we must extend the Bush tax breaks for the top earners, but at the same time we don't have enough money, we cannot because the deficit extend the unemployment insurance for working Americans who have been out of work in record numbers, long-term unemployed gets some sort of an award for hypocrisy.”
Buffett hasn’t been shy about his views on economic policy - and this isn’t the first time he’s said he’d like his own taxes raised.
In a highly publicized op-ed last week - he even thanked Uncle Sam for bailouts he says helped the country through the worst of the financial crisis.
And for that - The Wall Street Journal’s Matt Phillips questions Buffett’s motives.
“Buffett, who has long been identified with Democratic causes, seems to be stepping up his chatter on government issues lately... Interestingly, the opinion piece appeared on the same day that Buffett received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the U.S.”
Finally - back to MSNBC’s Morning Joe - where host Mika (MEE-kuh) Brzezinski (bruh-JIN-skee) raises the question of compromise. Rather than categorize “wealthiest Americans” in the $250,000-and-up bracket -- why not raise the ceiling? TIME’s Mark Halperin says that’s a start.
MARK HALPERIN: “This is going to come to a head if not this month with the deficit commission report in December, but when the Republicans in the House have to write their budget.” (FLASH)
MIKE BARNACLE: “There is something flammable within this culture when we continue to have a tax policy that results in Warren Buffett's secretary paying more in a percentage of taxes than Warren Buffett does. There's something wrong with the tax code in this country.”
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The Pentagon has just released a major review of the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy which bans openly gay members from serving in the military.
According to CNN, the study found repealing the 17-year-old ban would have a limited effect on unit cohesion outside of a few isolated disruptions. It also believes those events would not last long nor be widespread. It suggests the ban could be repealed, even during war.
Despite those findings, critics are convinced the ban is working and support keeping it in place. Listen to what Senator John McCain told Candy Crowley on CNN’s State of the Union.
“The military is at its highest point in recruitment, in retention, in professionalism, in capability. So to somehow allege that this policy has been damaging the military is simply false."
Senator Claire McCaskill shot back at McCain on Fox News - saying it’s time to end the ban now.
"I think that we should move forward to make sure that any person who stands up and says, 'I'm willing to die for our country' can do so with honor."
The strongest resistance to overturning Don’t Ask Don’t Tell comes from the Marine Corps. But when you take into account all branches of the military -- around 70 percent of military respondents said they have no strong objections to lifting the ban or serving with openly gay members. Just 40 percent of Marines felt the same way. Marine Corps Commandant James Amos has been vocal about his concerns-- saying he thinks dropping DADT would hurt unit cohesion.
“There is nothing more intimate than combat and I want to make that point crystal clear...we’re talking our young men laying out, sleeping alongside of one another, and sharing death and fear and the loss of their brothers.”
But Cynthia Tucker says in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution it’s time for the Marines -- and Amos -- to fall in line. She says the same argument was made about integration during the Korean War.
“When President Truman ordered that the military be integrated...there were dire predictions about military readiness. Now, black soldiers, sailors and airmen are among the most respected officers in the service."
But an analyst on MSNBC explains why he thinks Marines are more resistant about a repeal.
“You have a unit that’s traditionally much closer and listen much more to its commanders. So when you have commanders publicly raising concerns and being a little more skeptical about doing this it’s understandable you would have more Marines expressing concern.”
Despite the study findings, some are attacking the results. In the Wall Street Journal, California Representative Buck McKeon says, he’d like to know who the 70 percent of respondents were.
“The release of the Pentagon's report are the first steps in what should be a comprehensive process to study whether implementing these recommendations would undermine military readiness or negatively impact the war efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq."
But, a writer for Washington Monthly says, with this study, the time for excuses are over.
“We now know a majority of U.S. troops, a majority of U.S. civilians, a majority of the House, a majority of the Senate, the Commander in Chief, the Secretary of Defense, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs are all ready to see DADT repeal move forward. If John McCain and other anti-gay senators hoped to gain some leverage, those hopes were in vain.”
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