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July 31st, 2011
09:00 AM ET

Letters to the President: #923 'Limiting the damage'

Reporter's Note: The struggle to deal with the debt crisis continues, like a standoff at a bank robbery. Let’s hope it ends better.

Dear Mr. President,

I’m sure that many in your circle are asking themselves this weekend, “What do you do with people who just won’t play the game; who, if they can’t win, will go into the middle of the court, sit down and refuse to let anyone else play?” After all, isn’t that effectively what some of the tea partiers did over in the House of Representatives? It seems as if they managed to hog-tie pretty much the entire DC crew.

It’s not my place to blame them. They were elected, as you were, by people who wanted Washington to change, and, by golly, they are trying to make it happen. The fact that the changes they have in mind run sharply counter to what others want, or to what some people feel are the best interests of the nation, does not seem to be their concern.

Still, as a matter of pure tactics, I’ve been trying to figure out what strategy might be used to keep them from hijacking the process.
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Filed under: Letters to the President • Opinion • President Barack Obama • T1
July 30th, 2011
05:14 PM ET

Letters to the President: #922 'Confidence busters'

Reporter's Note: Many in the DC political crowd are spending this weekend grinding away on some kind of debt deal, with no guarantee that it will come through. So I am grinding away on yet another letter to the White House.

Dear Mr. President,

Can’t speak for you, but I’m feeling a bit whipped this weekend. Between the debt ceiling wrangling, being in New York most of the week, and all the regular things that keep us busy in this business, I could use a vacation. Unlike some of my media pals, I really don’t become energized covering fights such as the one we’re watching in DC. I often find them needlessly destructive, and I worry about the country.

And right now what worries me most, beyond the nuts and bolts of this mess, is the confidence factor. I think we’ve taken a huge, damaging shot to our national psyche, no matter how we work things out. (Well, I guess if somehow we found a magical solution that ended the debt, restored the world’s confidence, generated 10 or 20 million jobs, and brought back McRibs, we might recover pretty fast, but otherwise…)

Many of our worst fears about the weakness and inabilities of our leaders have been confirmed. Our faith that things will come out okay in the end has been badly rattled. And all of this has happened at a time when many Americans were already awfully concerned.
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Filed under: Letters to the President • Opinion • President Barack Obama • T1
July 30th, 2011
12:51 AM ET

Crime & Punishment: Combative moments at Jeffs trial

Editor's note: Gary Tuchman reports on the criminal trial of Warren Jeffs, the leader of polygamist sect who is representing himself.

Editor's note: Sect leader warns of 'death' to 'those who prosecute the church'

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Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • Crime & Punishment
July 30th, 2011
12:48 AM ET

Video: Zakaria on tea party's influence

Editor's note: Fareed Zakaria explains why he thinks the tea party movement is wielding un-democratic influence in the debt debate.

Related: Senate Democrats block Boehner debt ceiling plan after House approval


Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • Raw Politics
July 30th, 2011
12:45 AM ET

Raw Politics: Republican voted 'no' on Boehner bill

Editor's note: Rep. Steve King, R-IA, explains why he did not support House Speaker Boehner's debt ceiling legislation.

Related: Senate Democrats block Boehner debt ceiling plan after House approval


Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • Raw Politics
July 29th, 2011
10:51 PM ET

Raw Politics: Republican explains switched vote

Editor's note: Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-GA, explains why he decided to support Speaker John Boehner debt ceiling bill.

Related: Senate Democrats block Boehner debt ceiling plan after House approval


Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • Raw Politics
July 29th, 2011
10:45 PM ET

Video: Will weekend yield a debt deal?

Editor's note: Anderson Cooper speaks with John King, Jessica Yellin, Gloria Borger, and Ali Velshi about the debt ceiling fight.

Related: Senate Democrats block Boehner debt ceiling plan after House approval


Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • Raw Politics
Senate Blocks Boehner's Debt Plan: Join the Live Chat
July 29th, 2011
09:45 PM ET

Senate Blocks Boehner's Debt Plan: Join the Live Chat

It's been a dramatic night on Capitol Hill. The House approved Speaker John Boehner's debt plan in a party line vote of 218-210. 22 Republicans voted against the plan. And there was no support from Democrats. The measure then went to the Senate where it was blocked. With four days to go until the debt ceiling deadline, we're no closer to a deal. We'll have the breaking news and look at what's next in negotiations. Plus, tonight's other headlines.

Scroll down to join the live chat during the program. It's your chance to share your thoughts on tonight's headlines. Keep in mind, you have a better chance of having your comment get past our moderators if you follow our rules.

Here are some of them:

1) Keep it short (we don't have time to read a "book")
2) Don't write in ALL CAPS (there's no need to yell)
3) Use your real name (first name only is fine)
4) No links
5) Watch your language (keep it G-rated; PG at worst - and that includes $#&*)


Filed under: Live Blog
July 29th, 2011
09:02 PM ET

Senate Democrats block Boehner debt ceiling plan after House approval

Washington (CNN) - Speaker John Boehner's plan to raise the nation's the debt ceiling and slash government spending narrowly passed the House on Friday and then was blocked by Senate Democrats, setting up a weekend of negotiations to seek a deal that would avoid a potential federal default next week.

The Senate vote was 59-41 to table the measure, which effectively kills it unless Democrats decide to bring it up again.

Earlier, Boehner's proposal was approved by the House in a sharply polarized 218-210 vote that was delayed by a day while the speaker rounded up support from wary tea party conservatives. No Democrats supported the measure, and 22 of the 240 members of the Republican majority also opposed it.

Even though it was blocked in the Senate, the Boehner plan now is the Republican negotiating position for hammering out a deal with congressional Democrats and President Barack Obama to avert a possible government default next week.

Friday's House vote was a critical test of Boehner's control over his tea party-infused GOP caucus. The speaker was forced to quell a right-wing revolt over the measure after a number of members complained that it doesn't do enough to shrink the size of government and stem the tide of Washington's red ink.

Boehner, R-Ohio, managed to sway several of those members by including a provision requiring congressional passage of a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution before the debt ceiling can be extended through the end of 2012.

In his floor speech before the vote, Boehner called the proposal imperfect but necessary, and he criticized Obama and congressional Democrats for rejecting all deficit reduction measures passed by the House so far.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow
July 29th, 2011
08:49 PM ET

The threat of Islamic extremists in the U.S. military

The arrest of Army infantryman Nasser Jason Abdo for his alleged plot to attack Fort Hood personnel instantly brought back the pain, shock and grief of the massacre on that base in November 2009 that left 13 people dead. In an eerie echo of that past attack, Abdo even reportedly purchased weapons and bomb-making material at the same gun store used by accused Fort Hood shooter Major Malik Nadal Hasan. News of this latest plot has reinvigorated a shock wave that continues to reverberate throughout the ranks of the U.S. military.

Why would an American Muslim soldier choose to plan a deadly attack against his fellow soldiers? Was there anything in his background or behavior that would have provided indications of his deadly intentions? And what does this latest arrest mean for the military in addressing issues of violent extremists in its ranks? For the government and its military leadership, a precarious balancing act of addressing security concerns while avoiding witch-hunts and combating discrimination continues to play out.

For the Pentagon, general concerns exist over the so-called “insider threat”, or double agents who may infiltrate the military for nefarious purposes. Screening procedures exist designed to preclude enlistment by individuals with terrorist ties of some kind, but once someone is in the military what happens then?

U.S. authorities had previously investigated Hasan in December 2008 due to his e-mail exchanges with al-Qaeda ideologue Anwar al-Awlaki. In those communications Hasan appeared to be seeking spiritual guidance for a possible attack, asking about killing U.S. soldiers and if that would be justified. Tragically, this exchange didn’t lead to authorities taking action against Hasan until it was too late. In my opinion, a combination of an over-sensitivity to Hasan’s background and a failure on the part of authorities to share vital information allowed him to slip through the cracks.

While the number of cases of violent Islamists among active or former military remains extremely small at around a dozen serious cases, they’ve left a legacy of suspicion and fear of American Muslims in the military.
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Filed under: Islam • Opinion
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