Posts Tagged ‘Barack Obama’

Trumka Warms Lawmakers On Economic Agenda

January 13, 2010

                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Washington, DC –The AFL-CIO ‘s new President Richard Trumka urged government officials Jan. 11 to put far greater priority in coming weeks on improving the nation’s economy in such areas as jobs, worker rights and health care.

“This is a moment that cries out for political courage ─ but it is not much in evidence,” he said at a National Press Club luncheon that I covered for the club’s publications, with details at www.press.org.

Trumka led the United Mine Workers of America from 1982 to 1995 before becoming AFL-CIO’s secretary treasurer in 1995.  He succeeded longtime AFL-CIO President John Sweeney in September as the top executive of the country’s largest labor organization. 

Trumka summarized his travels since Jan. 1 to talk to “working Americans” about their concerns.

“Everywhere I went,” Trumka said, “people asked me, ‘Why do so many of the people we elect seem to care only about Wall Street?  Why is helping banks a matter of urgency, but unemployment is something we just have to live with?’”

“I came away shaken by the sense that the very things that make America great are in danger,” he continued.  “What makes us unique among nations is this:  In America, working people are the middle class.…But a generation of destructive, greed-driven economic policies has eroded that progress and now threatens our very identity as a nation.”

The union has announced a five-point program to create more than 4 million jobs with what he called “a crucial alliance of the middle class and the poor” to achieve legislative victories. 

But he singled out health care as an issue that “drives a wedge between the middle class and the poor” by Senate proposals to pay for expanded insurance by taxing employee health care plans.  “Most of the 31 million insured employees who would be hit by the excise tax are not union members,” he said. 

“The tax on benefits in the Senate bill pits working Americans who need health care for their families against working Americans struggling to keep health care for their families,” he said.  “This is a policy designed to benefit elites – in this case, insurers, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and irresponsible employers– at the expense of the broader public.”

In a veiled threat that he didn’t amplify, he said the labor movement is fighting “to win health care reform that is worthy of the support of working men and women.”

Aiming part of his remarks at Democratic lawmakers, Trumka warned against a repeat in 2010 of the disappointment his members felt in 1994 against Democratic incumbents when their party was routed at the polls.

“Politicians who think that working people have it too good – too much health care, too much Social Security and Medicare, too much power on the job – are inviting a repeat of 1994,” he said.

During Q&A, he declined to discuss specifics about his meeting with President Obama later in the afternoon except to say, “We’ll be talking about health care.”  He did say that the discussion would be “among friends.” 

In response to a related question, Trumka said, “We’re not going to accept a bad bill.” Obama and other Democratic leaders hope to eke out a slender victory on their health care insurance legislation in the face of almost united Republican opposition and increasing criticism from Democrats, including progressives and union members.

Trumka’s prepared speech was nearly seven-pages long single-spaced. Club President Donna Leinwand asked him to cut it short at about 1:35 p.m. to stay on the Club’s usual timetable enabling audience questions and a luncheon end by 2 p.m.

Trumka declined, saying, “Working people have been waiting 30 years for this.” 

The last sentences of his prepared speech were a warning to political leaders to choose between working for the general public or “the profits of insurance companies, speculators and outsourcers.”

“There is no middle ground,” Trumka concluded.  “Working America is waiting for an answer.  We are in a ‘show me’ kind of mood, and time is running out.”

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Dec. 17: DC Radio Hosts Authors Joan Biskupic On Scalia, Richard Wolffe On Obama

December 17, 2009
Authors of major new books on the Supreme Court and Obama Presidency are guests at noon Dec. 17 on DC Update. The My Technology Lawyer Radio network show hosted by Scott Draughon and Andrew Kreig can be heard here. The guests and their books are:
  • Joan Biskupic, USA Today Supreme Court reporter and author of American Original: The Life and Constitution of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. The book published Nov. 10 is the first full-scale biography combining the life-story and public impact of the court’s most provocative justice. Scalia provided exclusive interviews to the author.
  • Richard Wolffe, MSNBC analyst and author of Renegade: The Making of a President. The book is the first account of the campaign, based on the author’s work as a Newsweek correspondent covering Obama for 21 months. Wolffe obtained many exclusive interviews with Obama and top aides, providing unparalleled access. Wolffe this month announced a contract for a new book on the administration.

Constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe describes American Original as a “must-read” for anyone the seeking to understand “the most influential and interesting voice of the most powerful movement in contemporary American law.”

With exceptional clarity and research, the author weaves the story: Scalia, a brilliant Nixon administration official, went on to co-found a powerful conservative movement to reorient the judiciary, and was confirmed to the Supreme Court by a 98-0 vote in 1986. He thus became the first justice of Italian-American background and just the sixth Catholic justice in U.S. history. He is now one of six Catholics among the nine on the court. More generally, Scalia’s jurisprudence helped shape our time in such ways as the court’s 5-4 vote ending the 2000 Bush-Gore recount.

Former Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee describes Wolffe’s book Renegade as, “The first of the President Obama books – and a good one – insightful, thorough, and straight.” Wolff’s book, published June 2, was suggested by the candidate in March 2008. “The resulting volume,” the New York Times wrote in its review, “showcases the author’s access to the candidate, as well as friends, aides and campaign strategists.”

Wolffe’s title Renegade is partly derived from the candidate’s Secret Service nickname. This provides a near-parallel with John McCain’s theme of “Maverick” and Sarah Palin’s autobiography Going Rogue. The book ends with the start of the new Presidency. But the author is well-positioned to comment on current issues that will be included in the DC Update radio interview.

As a listener advisory: Mac computer users need the tool “Parallels” to hear Windows Media Player.

About Joan Biskupic and American Original

Joan Biskupic has covered the Supreme Court since 1989. Before joining USA Today in 2000, she was the Supreme Court reporter for the Washington Post (1992-2000) and legal affairs writer for Congressional Quarterly (1989-1992). She is the author of the 2005 biography Sandra Day O’Connor and co-author of Congressional Quarterly’s two-volume encyclopedia on the Supreme Court (3rd Ed., 1997). She holds a law degree from Georgetown University, a master’s in English from the University of Oklahoma and a bachelor’s in journalism from Marquette University. Her new book’s descriptive details via Amazon.com include a five-star rating from all four reviewers so far. Details

About Richard Wolffe and Renegade

Richard Wolffe is an award-winning journalist and political analyst. He is an MSNBC contributor, finishing an interlude as a senior strategist at Public Strategies before his next book. As a columnist for Daily Beast, he broke the story last month, “Obama’s Secret Climate Pact.”  He covered the length of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign for Newsweek magazine. Earlier, he was U.S. diplomatic correspondent and deputy bureau chief for the Financial Times. His book’s descriptive details and reader reviews via Amazon.com, include a 3 ½-star rating from 125 reviewers so far and a four-star rating from 36 Barnes & Noble reviewers.  Details.

About Scott Draughon 

Scott Draughton is an attorney and business radio pioneer who founded the My Technology Lawyer Radio network. Draughon, author of the 2007 book The Art of the Business Radio Show, has long experience also in guiding entrepreneurial success through close attention to the dynamics of the marketplace, law, government policy and effective marketing. Details: http://www.mytechnologylawyer.com.

About Andrew Kreig

Andrew Kreig is an investigative reporter, author and attorney who reports frequently about official corruption on such new media sites as Huffington Post, Connecticut Watchdog, Nieman Watchdog and OpEd News. Former president of the Wireless Communications Association International from 1996 to last summer, Kreig is a senior fellow with the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University and a research fellow with the Information Economy Project at George Mason University School of Law. His coverage of Supreme Court books includes a 1979 interview with The Brethren co-authors Bob Woodward and Scott Armstrong about controversies involving their research methods.

Karl Rove’s Deal To Provide House Testimony Slammed & Praised By His Alabama Opponents

March 5, 2009

The new agreement by former Bush Presidential advisor Karl Rove to testify before the House Judiciary Committee was attacked today by a whistleblower’s attorney as an inadequate way to ascertain the truth, even as the deal was praised as a good start by former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, a leading alleged victim of Rove. Siegelman’s comments are below.

Priscilla Black Duncan of Montgomery, Alabama, who represents the former Republican political volunteer Dana Jill Simpson, attacked the deal today in an interview on My Technology Lawyer Radio. Duncan said that Rove will probably receive only light scrutiny if he answers questions in private with unsworn responses to committee staff, as opposed to questions under oath by a full committee with adequate staff able to discuss nationwide patterns.

A witness in 2007 before Judiciary Committee staff herself, Simpson filed an affidavit nearly two years ago suggesting that Rove was improperly involved in the federal prosecution of former Democratic Alabama Gov. Siegelman, who is now free on appeal following conviction of federal charges involving a ballot referendum. Rove has denied in interviews any improper conduct, but has also claimed “executive privilege” to refuse testimony despite an adverse federal court ruling on his status. The deal was announced Wednesday by the Judiciary Committee after input from the White House.

Duncan was a guest today on a special edition of the radio show co-hosted by legal commentators Scott Draughon and Andrew Kreig focusing on Congressional oversight of the U.S. legal system and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Kreig published an opinion column Wednesday on the Huffington Post entitled, “Probe the Past To Protect the Future.” It argued that Congress needs to be far more vigorous in overseeing federal spending and the justice system, particularly in ensuring that oversight hearings are thorough enough to restore battered public confidence in the economy, justice system and communications industry regulation.

Another guest today was George Mason University School of Law Professor Thomas W. Hazlett, director of the law school’s Information Economy Project and previously the FCC’s first chief economist. Asked about the federal stimulus spending for broadband, he said he doubted results would meet expectations, especially in funds allocated to what he described as “gold-plated” rural telecom incumbents.

The show began with a news round-up of major developments this week. These included President Obama’s nomination of former FCC chief legal advisor and high-ranking Obama campaign volunteer Julius Genachowski to become the next FCC chairman, plus speculation about other high-level technology and commerce appointments.

Kreig discussed his column, which documented why much more vigorous oversight is needed in such areas as politically-motivated federal prosecutions and flawed oversight last year of such institutions as the FCC. Hazlett provided his view on what kinds of federal initiatives would best work economically in the telecom and wireless industries.

In the final segment, Duncan described her client’s concern that the White House had a conflict of interest in helping broker a testimony deal between the Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-MI), Rove and former White House Counsel Harriet Miers, who has also been accused of involvement in a nationwide plan to politicize the Justice Department. Duncan said that she wrote White House Counsel Gregory Craig calling for his recusal or resignation because he previously worked for the prominent Washington law firm Williams and Connolly that has important relationships with Rove and his then-White House colleagues that allegedly weren’t disclosed to Simpson when she sought legal advice from Craig in 2007. Her letter was reported this week by Locust-Fork News-Journal editor Glynn Wilson, who has closely followed the Siegelman case. A White House press aide did not respond to a request for comment.

A Listen Live! link connects to the March 5 radio stream, plus archived past shows.

Later, Rove said in a Fox News interview that he expected to be devoured by Democrats when he testifies. “I’m the main course. Some Democrats would love to have me barbecued.”

Meanwhile, Siegelman sent a statement to Kreig this afternoon saying in part, “I am all for it. John Conyers is to be commended for his strength and determination in getting at the truth. I spent nine months in prison because Karl Rove and his Alabama friends wanted me ‘taken care of’ according to the sworn testimony of a Republican whistleblower. This process will not be easy, it will not be pretty and the American people will not be proud of what they see when the truth comes out. But just like an infected wound, our country cannot be healed until the wound caused by Karl Rove has been cleaned out.”

“Just as in my case, there are a dozen potential witnesses who need to be put under oath and asked about their relationship with Rove and the conspiracy to selectively prosecute me for partisan reasons.”

About Andrew Kreig
Andrew Kreig draws on work in business, law, government and journalism. Former president of the Wireless Communications Association International from 1996 to last summer, he is Senior Fellow with Brandeis University’s Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism and an affiliated Research Fellow with George Mason University’s Information Economy Project.

About My Technology Lawyer Radio Show
Richard Scott Draughon is host and producer of the My Technology Lawyer Radio Show, which is affiliated with MyTechnologyLawyer.com — an on-demand legal service. For details, visit: http://www.mytechnologylawyer.com. Among other projects, he will be organizing cutting-edge sessions at the Technosium on March 26 in San Francisco.