The One O’Clock Review Of The News

political-newsKey news articles, opinion pieces, and reports to improve our understanding of the political landscape:

Battle Over Governor’s Powers Underscores Importance of Upcoming Supreme Court Fight

With a partisan Senate fight looming over Gov. Chris Christie’s two latest Supreme Court nominees, the administration yesterday argued that it has the right to unilaterally abolish the Council on Affordable Housing — and thus has the power to seize more than $140 million originally earmarked for low-cost housing to balance the state budget.

While oral arguments before the Supreme Court yesterday focused on narrow constitutional and legal issues pertaining to gubernatorial powers under the 40-year-old Reorganization Act, the case underscored the importance of the ongoing struggle between Christie and Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) over the partisan makeup of the state’s highest court.

“If the administration wins this case, the governor would have the ability to abolish any independent agency from the Board of Public Utilities and the Election Law Enforcement Commission to the Public Defender’s Office, the Highlands Commission, and the Pinelands Commission,” said Adam Gordon, staff attorney for the Fair Housing Coalition.  Click here to continue reading this story.

After Christie Veto, Democrats Vow to Put Minimum Wage on Ballot

Monday’s conditional veto of a proposed minimum wage increase makes it clear that the fate of the state’s low-wage workers will play a central role in the 2013 general election — at least as a Democratic rallying point.

Along with sending the bill back to the Legislature, Gov. Chris Christie is offering a three-year phased increase to $8.25 — 25 cents this year, 50 cents in 2014, and 25 cents in 2015 – along with an increase in the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit to 25 percent of the federal credit in tax year 2014.

The EITC increase would restore cuts made in the program during the governor’s first budget in 2010 and has been a central demand of Democrats over the past three years.  Click here to continue reading this story.

Office Working to Close Guantánamo Is Shuttered

FORT MEADE, Md. — The State Department on Monday reassigned Daniel Fried, the special envoy for closing the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and will not replace him, according to an internal personnel announcement. Mr. Fried’s office is being closed, and his former responsibilities will be “assumed” by the office of the department’s legal adviser, the notice said.

The announcement that no senior official in President Obama’s second term will succeed Mr. Fried in working primarily on diplomatic issues pertaining to repatriating or resettling detainees appeared to signal that the administration does not currently see the closing of the prison as a realistic priority, despite repeated statements that it still intends to do so. Click here to continue reading this story.

In a Quick Shift, Scouts Rethink a Ban on Gays

The Boy Scouts of America, with its traditions of youth in uniform and the character-building virtues of honor, has always looked back to an older, more structured image of America, when gay and lesbian people were invisible and silent. It was a view reaffirmed in Scout policy as recently as seven months ago. Openly gay scouts and scout leaders need not apply.

The announcement on Monday by Scouts officials that the ban on gays was in line for elimination was thus a thunderclap on two fronts, scouts and people close to the organization said. First, it removed from discussion the idea, voiced in July by senior national scout leaders, that the ban was in the best interests of scouts themselves.  Click here to continue reading this story.

In Some GOP Circles, Reform Is Already Underway

The Republican National Committee chose to hold its recent winter meeting in Charlotte because North Carolina was a rare bright spot in last year’s presidential election. Although it was the high-profile site of the Democratic National Convention, North Carolina became one of just two states won by Barack Obama in 2008 that went for Mitt Romney in 2012. (The other was Indiana.) So being in North Carolina made Republicans feel a little better.But not much. The 168 members of the RNC grappled with the consequences of losing the presidential race, losing the Senate and losing seats in the House. Everybody knew something was wrong with the party. To fix things, some emphasized outreach to Hispanics. Some emphasized modernized voter turnout efforts. Some emphasized the search for better candidates. No one pushed just one solution; most saw the answer as a mix of those and other ideas.  Click here to continue reading this story.

Shouting Louder

An old-time trial lawyer once said, “When your case is weak, shout louder!”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton shouted louder when asked about the Obama administration’s story last fall that the September 11th attack on the U.S. ambassador’s quarters in Benghazi was due to an anti-Islamic video that someone in the United States had put on the Internet, and thereby provoked a protest that escalated into violence.

She shouted: “We had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they’d go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make?”  Click here to continue reading this story.

Retirements Highlight GOP’s Primary Challenges

Two key Senate retirements in the span of 24 hours last week could have a dramatic effect on the outlook for the majority in the next Congress, a fight that won’t come into focus for well more than a year.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., made his retirement announcement Jan. 25, followed the morning of Jan. 26 by the news that Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, is also declining to seek re-election next year. In both states, the opposing party believes its chances are now starkly improved.

Republicans believe their odds of retaking the majority in the Senate for the first time since 2006 are on the rise. Yet hanging over the GOP’s prospects remains a troubling cloud that thwarted its efforts in the past two cycles — competitive Republican primaries that proved costly in the general election.  Click here to continue reading this story.

25 Great Quotes from Black Conservatives

25) “A woman who demands further gun control legislation is like a chicken who roots for Colonel Sanders.” — Larry Elder24) “I’ve been to dozens of Tea Party rallies. I’ve given at least a half a dozen or more speeches. I have not yet to find the first racist comment or the first person who approaches me from a racist perspective. I will speak very clearly here. Racism is a part of a lot of things in our country. Good people are the predominant fact of our country. I simply don’t get it. There are good people and bad people in all organizations fundamentally; however, when you look at the basis of the Tea Party it has nothing to do with race. It has to do with an economic recovery. It has to do with limiting the role of our government in our lives. It has to do with free markets. How do you fight that? The only way you fight that is to create an emotional distraction called racism. It doesn’t have to be real. It can be rhetoric but it gets the media focusing on something other than the truth of why the Tea Party is resonating so well with the average person.” – Tim Scott

23) “Good manners will open doors that the best education cannot.” – Clarence Thomas Click here to continue reading this story.

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