Originally published on Fri August 30, 2013 6:07 pm
As President Obama attempts to make good on his threats to punish Syrian officials for crossing a "red line" by allegedly using deadly chemical weapons, he's being buffeted by political crosscurrents.
Some arise from the structure of U.S. democracy itself, and the balance of powers between the branches. Others emerge from the nation's particular state of mind after more than a decade of war in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Here are six points to keep in mind as Obama considers how best to demonstrate American resolve to Syrian President Bashar Assad.
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. Coming up, you tell us more - editor Ammad Omar and I are going to dig in to the listener inbox to hear what you had to say about stories we've covered this week.
President Obama is trying to convince Congress to get on board with his plans for Syria. Thursday night, some key members of Congress heard from top White House officials during a 90 minute phone call.
On Friday, the embattled mayor of San Diego officially steps down. Allegations of sexual harassment against Bob Filner have rocked the eighth-largest American city, which now has to pick up the pieces and elect a new mayor.
The announcement last week that Filner would leave office was greeted with cheers, boos and a flurry of activity from the press — but it all went quiet when the soon-to-be ex-mayor emerged from a swell of bodyguards to speak at the podium.
A federal appeals court has reversed an injunction that kept California's law banning conversion therapy from taking effect. This composite image shows sate Sen. Ted Lieu, left, who introduced the original bill, and David Pickup, a marriage and family therapist who is a plaintiff in the suit against it.
California's pioneering law that prohibits treating young gay people with psychotherapy in an attempt to change their sexual orientation has cleared a constitutional challenge in federal appeals court. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled that the ban does not violate essential rights.
Originally published on Thu August 29, 2013 11:12 am
The White House says President Obama will issue two new executive orders on guns — one to curb the import of military surplus weapons and another that closes a loophole allowing some felons to get around background checks.
The two actions — to be announced by Vice President Joe Biden at the swearing-in of Todd Jones, the new director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives — will join 23 others that the president has issued in an effort to reduce gun violence.
They are part of a set of recommendations from the vice president unveiled in January.
Originally published on Thu August 29, 2013 11:15 am
Colorado's politics have become positively Californian lately. There are new restrictions on guns. Pot is legal. The legislative agenda featured an expansion of alternative-energy use requirements for rural consumers. Gay couples can now enter into civil unions.
There's a reason for all this.
Lots of Californians have moved to Denver and its environs, bringing a progressive strain of politics with them and angering more conservative parts of the state — so much so that 10 northeastern counties are planning symbolic but serious votes on secession this fall.
Originally published on Thu August 29, 2013 3:06 am
Freedom bells rang out in Washington and across the country on Wednesday, as Americans marked the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech. President Obama, who's often noted his own debt to the civil rights leader, praised the tens of thousands of Americans who marched with Dr. King in 1963. He also challenged a new generation to continue to press for racial and economic justice.
The Obama administration appears poised to attack Syria after concluding Bashar Assad's government used chemical weapons, but many members of Congress say they haven't been briefed enough about why military action is warranted.
Opinions about Syria are all over the map, with many lawmakers saying the president cannot proceed without first getting authorization from Congress.
President Obama will stand in the symbolic shadows of Martin Luther King and Abraham Lincoln Wednesday, as he marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.
Aides say Obama will use the opportunity to celebrate the progress that's been made, thanks to the civil rights movement. He'll also discuss the work that he says still has to be done to realize King's dream of racial justice in America.
That includes fighting to protect voting rights and building what the president calls "ladders of opportunity" for poor people of all races.
Originally published on Tue August 27, 2013 3:35 pm
Based on what we know now, President Obama is as likely to be impeached as he is to be a lottery pick in next year's NBA draft.
Yet it's equally unlikely that calls for his impeachment will end anytime soon. Adding fuel to the fire recently was Obama's old friend from his Senate days, Tom Coburn, R-Okla., who suggested Obama had come "perilously close" to meeting the impeachment threshold.
The real-life garage in Arlington, Va., where Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward met with his secret source "Deep Throat" as the Watergate scandal unfolded is likely to be demolished sometime in the next few years.
Originally published on Mon September 23, 2013 10:12 am
A one-time aide in the Washington office of Minnesota Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann "will have a theft charge against him dropped if he completes 32 hours of community service over several months," The Associated Press writes.
Originally published on Mon August 26, 2013 4:25 pm
The present Syrian crisis ranks among the most vexing moments of President Obama's presidency.
The recent heart-rending images of Syrian civilians, many of them young children apparently killed by chemical weapons used by the government of Bashar Assad, have raised the volume on calls for the president to act.
But while there's a clarity to the outrage itself, for Obama things quickly get murky.
Fifty years ago this week, when hundreds of thousands of demonstrators came from across the country to take part in the 1963 March on Washington, the city was not yet the cosmopolitan capital that it arguably is today.
But it was a mecca for African-Americans, says historian Marya McQuirter.
"Washington was definitely a different city 50 years ago," she says, "for a number of reasons. By 1957, it had become the largest majority black city in the country."
"I didn't do this to do any hating on anyone. I did this to be funny. I did it to be a joke," says Tuffy Gessling, the rodeo clown behind a skit at the Missouri State Fair earlier this month that sparked outrage when a masked "President Obama" was chased by a bull that Gessling said was "gonna getcha, getcha, getcha, getcha!"
The nation is marking the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington this week. Tens of thousands traced the path of civil rights leaders and foot soldiers in the nation's capital this weekend. On Wednesday, President Obama will speak from the Lincoln Memorial, just as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other speakers did back in 1963. Tell Me More reflects on the role political activism played and is continuing to play in the civil rights movement.