Jesse Jackson Jr. has a famous name and fabulous contacts, and had what looked like boundless prospects when he was first on the national stage at the Democratic National Convention in 1988.
John F. Kennedy Jr. and Caroline Kennedy had appeared to talk about the legacy of their late father, the president. But a few nights later, Jackson took the podium to present his father, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, and said, "My name is Jesse Louis Jackson Jr., and I also proudly carry a great American name."
After spending millions of dollars in the presidential and Senate campaigns with little to show for it, many superPACs and other outside groups are still tending their wounds. But it's too soon to write off superPACs as a waste of wealthy donors' money.
Consider, for instance, this upset in a congressional race outside Los Angeles.
Just 15 days after voters re-elected him, Jesse Jackson Jr. said health problems were keeping him from doing his job. He also acknowledged he is under federal investigation. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has to set a date for a special election by Monday, and the vote must be held within 115 days.
New Year's Day typically inspires hope and new beginnings. But this next one may be cause for trepidation. Tax cuts for all income levels expire on Jan. 1, 2013, and most federal programs will face a 10 percent haircut — because Congress failed to agree on a deficit-reduction plan.
Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 5:20 pm
Talk about your snake-bitten congressional districts.
The Thanksgiving-eve news that Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. was resigning from Congress after reports that he has bipolar disorder and is the subject of a criminal probe of his spending of campaign funds, is just the latest in a series of bad endings for those who have represented Illinois' 2nd Congressional District in Washington.
Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. resigned his seat in Illinois' 2nd District on Wednesday. He resigned in a letter to House Speaker John Boehner. Jackson had been on medical leave since June, being treated for bipolar disorder. David Schaper talks to Audie Cornish.
Originally published on Fri November 30, 2012 10:50 am
The election may be over, but the bickering continues, and not just between NPR's Ron Elving and Ken Rudin. As President Obama defends his United Nations ambassador, Republicans on Capitol Hill continue to lambast her for "misleading" reports about what happened in the aftermath of the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Plus: Mitt Romney's "gifts" that keep on giving. And Rep. Allen West concedes in Florida.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. The electoral sun sets for West, the former presidential candidate blames his loss on the president's gifts, but the Tea Party senator-elect from Texas blames that Romney cozied up in that third debate. It's Wednesday and time for a...
Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 5:21 pm
The last time Kathy Neal's family had a big gathering, they got into a fight about politics.
At her niece's high school graduation in May, the conversation turned to gas prices, which led Neal to argue that oil companies were not just profiteering at the expense of consumers, but getting billions in government subsidies to boot.
Originally published on Tue November 20, 2012 4:19 pm
The 2012 general election may be slipping into the past, but elements of President Obama's successful campaign aren't likely to go away anytime soon.
Just as it did after the president's 2008 election, the Obama campaign appears very likely to keep alive parts of the grass-roots effort that contributed to victory. And, just like four years ago, the idea would be to use the corps of Obama organizers and volunteers to push for the president's second-term agenda.
Presidential pardons usually take the world by surprise. There's no advance notice — the White House just sends out an announcement with the names of those receiving clemency. Thanksgiving is one lighthearted exception.
On Wednesday, President Obama will once again take part in the traditional turkey pardoning at the White House. But while the business of pardoning humans is more serious, it's also increasingly rare.
Originally published on Tue November 20, 2012 8:23 am
Former New Hampshire Sen. Warren Rudman has died. His name will always be linked to a 1980s-era effort to tame the federal budget deficit and to a pre-Sept. 11 warning about the nation's security. And he will be remembered as a "moderate" Republican who could work across party lines.
The Justice Department has a big decision to make.
Parts of new laws in Colorado and Washington that legalize small amounts of recreational marijuana will take effect early next month. The Obama administration needs to choose whether it will sue to stop the legislation or let those states go their own way — even though the drug remains illegal under federal law.
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, says the message he got from voters is unambiguous.
Indeed, a Gallup poll this year reported that 46 percent of Americans (58 percent of Republicans, 41 percent of Democrats and 39 percent of independents) held a nonscientific belief in creationism, the religious-based view that humans were divinely created within the past 10,000 years.
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Celeste Headlee. Michel Martin is away. Coming up, the fiscal cliff is seen as a serious threat to the nation's financial health but for federal workers the impact could be even more immediate and devastating. We'll take a closer look at that in a moment.
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Celeste Headlee. Michel Martin is away. Coming up, the reelection of President Obama triggered a huge amount of racism on social media, particularly on Twitter. We'll talk about the psychology behind those tweets.
Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 5:23 pm
The election was over. As President Obama faced the press in the East Room of the White House on Wednesday, the anger and bitterness of his long battle with Mitt Romney seemed to have faded. Unlike President George W. Bush after his 2004 re-election — and his comments about having political capital and intending to spend it — Obama seemed a bit more humble victor, talking more about compromise and saying he was willing to hear other points of view to solve the nation's problems.
The White House and Congress continue to work on a deal that avoids the fiscal cliff and cuts deficits in the long run. One of the biggest hurdles is President Obama's proposal to raise tax rates for the wealthy.
Republicans think a better course would be to raise revenue by closing loopholes and limiting deductions for high-income people. The question is, could that method raise enough money.
Early in life, Myat Thu knew that his destiny as a cook lay in salads. Not the light, leafy green salads that are so common in American restaurants, but heavy, hearty Burmese salads.
Myat Thu grew up in Burma, also known as Myanmar. He was just 14 when his mother placed him in charge of making dinner. Unsure of what to prepare, he studied the salad vendors on the streets of Rangoon.
President Obama is now about to enter into a series of difficult talks on the so-called debt ceiling and the impending fiscal cliff. Lawmakers have until Dec. 31 to come up with a deal to prevent $700 billion from being cut from the federal budget.
Host Rachel Martin speaks with NPR's Shankar Vedantam about the psychology behind the fiscal cliff negotiations. Vedantam says humans evolved as short-term thinkers, which makes dealing with the long-term problem of the national debt particularly difficult.
The election has also triggered some soul searching among evangelical Christian voters. Now, one of the movement's top leaders says it's time to stop the war rhetoric and start reaching out for compromise. Host Rachel Martin talks with Jim Daly, the president and CEO of Focus on the Family, about the post-election direction of the conservative evangelical movement.
Sen. Barbara Boxer says we can finally stop using the term "Year of the Woman" once the Senate reaches a 50-50 split of men and women. "That's the goal," she says.
We're not quite there yet. But in 2013, more women will be serving in Congress than ever before. There will be 20 women in the Senate. When Boxer took her seat in 1993, there were six — and that was after tripling from two the term before.
So what does the California Democrat have to say about the fact that there's still a gender gap? Let's put this in perspective.
Originally published on Sat November 17, 2012 1:53 pm
For the sake of argument, let's agree that when we use the word "inauguration" in this particular post, we are talking about the multiday, ball-bestrewn, soiree-soaked, tuxedo-dappled extravaganza that costs tens of millions of dollars and often leaves many Americans out in the cold — figuratively and literally.