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Ear to the Ground

Obama Heckled During Speech, Warren Lands a Book Deal, and More

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Posted on May 23, 2013

At a Crossroad: In a major speech on America’s counterterrorism strategy, President Obama on Thursday unveiled new restrictions on the administration’s controversial use of unmanned aerial drones to kill terrorists, while also renewing his pledge to shut down the Guantanamo Bay detention center. “America is at a crossroads. We must define our effort not as a boundless ‘global war on terror’ but rather as a series of persistent, targeted efforts to dismantle specific networks of violent extremists that threaten America,” Obama said. As he was discussing what to do with Guantanamo detainees toward the end of his address, Obama was heckled by Medea Benjamin, founder of the anti-war group Code Pink, who yelled at the president that he should release the prisoners and “abide by the rule of law.” (Read more)

Aid Weighed: Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., has been under fire for comments he made in the wake of a deadly and destructive tornado that tore through his home state. The fiscal hawk had demanded that any aid package for victims include matching spending cuts. During an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Thursday, Coburn shot back at his critics, calling their response “typical Washington BS.” The Republican senator added that the government already has “$11.6 billion sitting in a bank account waiting to help people in Oklahoma.” On that account, he’s right, but that’s no thanks to Coburn. He voted against the disaster relief package that Congress passed in the wake of October’s Hurricane Sandy. Coburn then went on to claim the latest disaster would cost the federal government $200 to $300 million “out of the FEMA fund,” and accused politicians of “creating a crisis when none exists so they can advantage themselves.” (Read more)

Beyond the Palin: Don’t get too excited for former Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin’s possible return to politics in her home state. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, is casting doubt on Palin’s prospects for a possible political comeback in the state despite a recent poll that showed she would be favored to win the Republican Senate primary and face off against incumbent Democratic Mark Begich next year. Said Murkowski: “I think there are a lot of outside interests that would like to see Sarah Palin in some form of elected office. Most in Alaska recognize our former governor is really not involved in or engaged in the state anymore, that she’s moved to other interests. In order for you to represent the state of Alaska, you’ve got to be in the state.” Regardless of what Murkowski thinks, tea party activists enthused by the idea of a Sen. Sarah Palin are running a campaign to “draft” her into the race. (Read more)

On the Write Track: Good news for fans of Elizabeth Warren! The freshman senator from Massachusetts and influential consumer advocate has struck a deal with publishers to release a book next spring. According to her publisher, Henry Holt and Company, the book will touch on Warren’s upbringing and early professional life, and will also give an insider’s perspective of Congress. But it will mostly be a “rousing call” for the middle class. “For decades, America’s middle class has been chipped at, squeezed and hammered,” Warren said in a statement issued by the publisher. “I am eager to tell the story about my experiences on the front lines of policymaking and to talk about what has happened to working families in this country and how we work together to rebuild the middle class.” And we’re eager to hear it. (Read more)

Video of the Day: Arizona Sen. John McCain, never one to shy away from criticizing anyone regardless of party affiliation, has a strong message for fellow Republican Mike Lee: Learn now Congress works! McCain tore into Lee during a speech on the Senate floor Thursday, chiding the Utah senator over his objections to beginning a bicameral conference on the budget until the debt limit raise is taken off the table. “Perhaps the senator from Utah doesn’t know about that—the fact that even if they did raise the debt limit, it could not become law because it doesn’t go to the president of the United States,” he said. “So again, maybe the senator from Utah ought to learn a little bit more about how business has been done in the Congress of the United States.”


—Posted by Tracy Bloom.

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