POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 2/6

Trump Sues Maher Over Ape Remark

Donald Trump sued comedian Bill Maher after saying he proved that he was not “the spawn of his mother having sex with an orangutan,” Entertainment Weekly reports.

“During a guest appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno last month, Maher quipped that Trump must be ‘the spawn of his mother having sex with an orangutan’ (Exhibit A: his orange hair). In a riff off of Trump’s own offer to give $5 million to the charity of Barack Obama’s choice if the President released his college paperwork, Maher said he would do the same for Trump if the real estate mogul supplied proof that he is not descended from an ape.”

Massachusetts GOP Can’t Find a Candidate

The Cloakroom: All the big Republican names have declined to run in the special election to fill John Kerry’s vacated Senate seat.

British Lawmakers Back Gay Marriage

Britain’s House of Commons voted to legalize gay marriage by 400 to 175, the Guardianreports.

“Such a large majority probably increases the chances of the bill being able to get through the House of Lords this year, without the government having to rely on the Parliament Act to push it through in 2014.”

“More than half of the Tory MPs who voted chose to oppose gay marriage. Initial figures suggest that 139 Tories voted against, and only 132 voted for. Technically this is not a rebellion, because it was a free vote. But it is a severe embarrassment to David Cameron.”

How to Resign Your Seat in Britain

When Chris Huhne wanted to resign his seat in the British Parliament, he had to instead be appointed to “a paid office of the Crown” which automatically disqualified him from holding a seat in the House of Commons.

The reason: “A resolution passed by the House of Commons on 2 March 1624 prohibits MPs directly from resigning their seats. Death, disqualification and expulsion are the only means by which a Member’s seat may be vacated during the lifetime of a Parliament.”

The Chancellor of the Exchequer appointed Huhne to be Steward and Bailiff of the Three Hundreds of Chiltern.

Projected Deficit Falls Under $1 Trillion

The Congressional Budget Office is projecting an $845 billion budget deficit in fiscal year, the first time it has forecast a budget gap below $1 trillion under President Obama, The Hillreports.

Democrats Appear to Have Edge for Senate in Iowa

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Iowa shows what other polls have found: Rep. Steve King (R) is the overwhelming favorite of Iowa Republicans to be their U.S. Senate candidate next year.

But King also trails every Democratic candidate tested against him by at least 7 points. The leading Democrat, Rep. Bruce Braley (D), leads King by double-digits, 49% to 38%.

In fact, the Democratic candidate leads in 14 of the 16 possible match ups tested, with the only exceptions being small leads for Rep. Tom Latham (R) over Chet Culver (D) and Dave Loebsack (D).

Obama Proposes Short-Term Fix to Avert Sequester

President Obama called for a short-term fix to avert across-the-board spending cuts, Roll Call reports.

To give negotiators time to pass a broader deficit and budget package, the president is asking for “a smaller package of spending cuts and tax reforms to avoid the economically harmful consequences of the sequester for a few months. … While we need to deal with our deficits over the long term, we shouldn’t have workers being laid off, kids kicked off Head Start, and food safety inspections cut while Congress completes the process.”

Obama’s Top Speechwriter Moving On

Jon Favreau is ending a seven-year stint as Barack Obama’s chief speechwriter, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Favreau is considering “trying his hand at another form of drama — as a screenwriter, perhaps in Los Angeles. The departure subtracts a vivid personality from the president’s operation, defined since the beginning by Obama’s spoken words and the team that wrote them.”

Another Republican Declines Massachusetts Race

Former Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey (R) told the Boston Herald that she won’t run for Secretary of State John Kerry’s old seat in the special election scheduled for June 25.

Washington Post: “Healey joins a growing list of Republicans in turning down the race, including former senator Scott Brown, former congressional candidate Richard Tisei, former governor Bill Weld and Romney’s oldest son, Tagg Romney.”

King Leads GOP Field in Iowa

A new Wenzel Strategies poll finds Rep. Steve King (R-IA) is the early favorite in a Republican primary for U.S. Senate in Iowa.

King beats Rep. Tom Latham (R-IA) by 8 points in a hypothetical match up among likely primary voters, 43% to 35%.A new Wenzel Strategies poll finds Rep. Steve King (R-IA) is the early favorite in a Republican primary for U.S. Senate in Iowa.

Flooding the Zone

First Read: “Exactly one week away from President Obama’s State of the Union address, the White House has spent the early days of the second term flooding the zone with its legislative agenda… What’s going on here: The Obama White House wants to overload Washington’s political circuits in an effort to see what it can get through Congress — without letting Congress define what issues get addressed. After all, Republicans want to solely talk about the budget before the March budget showdown…. Yet by flooding the zone, Team Obama — with the bully pulpit and the State of the Union at its disposal — wants to widen the political dialogue beyond that one issue.”

“This ‘flooding the zone’ concept is how the Obama White House operated in the first six months of the first term, and it’s where he got most of his legislative achievements. When the White House got bogged down on ONE issue (health care, debt ceiling, etc), officials determined they lost some of their political capital.”

What Pronouns Say About Politicians

David Brooks looks at James Pennebaker’s new book, The Secret Life of Pronouns — which studies how people use words like “I,” “me,” and “mine” — and concludes that “when people are feeling confident, they are focused on the task at hand, not on themselves. High status, confident people use fewer ‘I’ words, not more.”

“Pennebaker analyzed the Nixon tapes. Nixon used few ‘I’ words early in his presidency, but used many more after the Watergate scandal ravaged his self-confidence. Rudy Giuliani used few ‘I’ words through his mayoralty, but used many more later, during the two weeks when his cancer was diagnosed and his marriage dissolved. Barack Obama, a self-confident person, uses fewer ‘I’ words than any other modern president.”

Christie Talks Fat Jokes

David Letterman asked New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) if he minds fat jokes.

Atlantic Wire: “Not that this was really in doubt, but Chris Christie is a fantastic sport.”

See more…

GOP Not Likely to Filibuster Hagel

The New York Times reports that several Republican senators — notably John McCain — said “they would oppose a filibuster of former Senator Chuck Hagel’s confirmation as secretary of defense, moving the nominee much closer toward approval.”

Trump Sues Maher Over Ape Remark

Donald Trump sued comedian Bill Maher after saying he proved that he was not “the spawn of his mother having sex with an orangutan,” Entertainment Weekly reports.

“During a guest appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno last month, Maher quipped that Trump must be ‘the spawn of his mother having sex with an orangutan’ (Exhibit A: his orange hair). In a riff off of Trump’s own offer to give $5 million to the charity of Barack Obama’s choice if the President released his college paperwork, Maher said he would do the same for Trump if the real estate mogul supplied proof that he is not descended from an ape.”

Feds Investigating Jackson’s Wife

“A federal financial probe of the once-politically powerful Jesse and Sandi Jackson has evolved into two separate investigations, with federal authorities taking an independent look at former Ald. Sandi Jackson,” the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

“Included in the scrutiny of Sandi Jackson, who resigned from her 7th Ward aldermanic position last month, is her access and use of her husband’s congressional campaign money, including credit card charges, as well as the movement of money from one account to another, sources say.”

When the Government Can Kill You

NBC News obtained a confidential Justice Department memo which concludes that “the U.S. government can order the killing of American citizens if they are believed to be ‘senior operational leaders’ of al-Qaida or ‘an associated force’ — even if there is no intelligence indicating they are engaged in an active plot to attack the U.S.”

Marc Ambinder: “So here’s what that means: Even if the person is not actively planning terrorist attacks against the U.S., because of the nature of terrorist attacks in general, merely his membership in an organization that is planning those attacks meets the requisite definition of imminence.”

Ryan’s New Path to Power

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) tells friends that his “most obvious route to power — a run for the White House in 2016 — holds less appeal to him with each passing day,” Politico reports.

“Instead, Ryan seems increasingly intrigued with the prospect of amassing more power within Congress, using his juice in the House leadership to promote his trademark Medicare plan and engineer spending cuts. The friends say this path could ultimately lead him to an eventual run for House GOP leader, or even speaker, an option they surmise he has warmed to since the election.”

“At the same time, Ryan continues to cultivate a national political and financial network that would serve him in any role.”

Menendez Says Allegations are False

“And after ducking reporters for a week,” Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) “for the first time in a brief interview on Capitol Hill directly addressed the allegations that he consorted with prostitutes in the Caribbean, angrily labeling it all a smear campaign,” the Newark Star Ledger reports.

Said Menendez: “It’s amazing to me that anonymous, nameless, faceless individuals on a website can drive that type of story into the mainstream, but that’s what they just did. The bottom line is (that) all those smears are absolutely false.”

Democrats Ready Voting Reforms

“With studies suggesting that long lines at the polls cost Democrats hundreds of thousands of votes in November, party leaders are beginning a push to make voting and voter registration easier, setting up a likely new conflict with Republicans over a deeply polarizing issue,” the New York Times reports.

“White House officials have told Congressional leaders that the president plans to press for action on Capitol Hill, and Democrats say they expect him to highlight the issue in his State of the Union address next week. Democrats in the House and Senate have already introduced bills that would require states to provide online voter registration and allow at least 15 days of early voting, among other things.”

Hillary’s New Website

Hillary Clinton has put up a new website for her post-State Department career.

Brennan Faces Senate Grilling

John Brennan, President Obama’s choice to be the next CIA director, “will face tough questions at his Senate confirmation hearing Thursday, but it appears unlikely that lawmakers’ concerns will derail his nomination,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

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