January 29th, 2010
10:57 AM ET

Can Bashing the Banks Help Obama?

Callie Shell
Aurora for Time

The no-drama law professor is going populist.

First President Obama proposed new taxes on big banks, blasting the "twisted logic" of Wall Street executives who keep awarding themselves giant bonuses while resisting government efforts to recoup the cost of their industry's bailouts. "Instead of sending a phalanx of lobbyists to fight this proposal or employing an army of lawyers and accountants to help evade the fee, I suggest you might want to consider simply meeting your responsibilities," the President warned.

A week later, Obama proposed new restrictions on big banks, aimed at limiting their size while prohibiting them from playing the markets with their own cash. "If these folks want a fight," he thundered, "it's a fight I'm ready to have." In case anyone missed the point, Obama used the word fight or fighting 22 times in a speech the next day in Ohio.


Filed under: 360° Radar
January 29th, 2010
10:29 AM ET

President right to seek end of 'don't ask, don't tell' in 2010

Alexander Nicholson
Special to CNN

In last night's State of the Union address, President Obama was unusually brief and abundantly clear about one thing: The repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" law, which effectively bars openly gay men and women from military service, is a priority for his administration in 2010.

Some have criticized the speech for not providing a roadmap for how he would lead the repeal effort, and others were unhappy that he did not announce an immediate halt to all gay discharges, but the president did exactly what he should have done last night in this venue.

The annual State of the Union address is typically devoted to the most pressing issues of the day. Presidents use the platform to address issues and institutions - from wars to jobs to health care to Wall Street - that affect nearly every American household, and often many other nations around the world. So it was no surprise that President Obama did not take this opportunity to detail his "don't ask, don't tell" game plan. But those of us who oppose this insidious policy did get something delivered last night, and that something should not taken lightly.

The president said it all in the first four words of his one-liner on "don't ask, don't tell." The words "This year" and "I will" laid out a firm time frame for tackling a repeal plan and signaled that the White House would not just sit idly by and wait for Congress to act. Additionally, the reference to working with the military implies an understanding of the crucial fact that senior military leadership must be on board with a realistic repeal plan for it to even have a chance of getting through this tough Congress, much less succeed at the implementation stage.

Keep reading...

January 29th, 2010
10:12 AM ET

Is Obama trying to please everyone?

Drew Westen
Special to CNN

If last year President Obama had trouble pleasing anyone - he frustrated Democrats and Independents by seeming to come down repeatedly on the side of big business over ordinary Americans, whether the issue was health care or lending, and he frustrated Republicans by, well, being a Democrat - he finally got to please everyone in his State of the Union address Wednesday night.

He was amiable, funny, and feisty - the Barack Obama we all want to know and love.

For Democrats, the president put the Republicans on the spot a few times with some populist proposals (e.g., stricter regulations on Wall Street) that Republicans could respond to either by applauding, or by sitting on their hands while average Americans watched in consternation.

He told the story of how Bill Clinton had left the country with an enormous surplus that the Republicans had spun into a trillion-dollar deficit, with two unfunded wars, two unfunded rounds of tax cuts, and a big Medicare expansion to be paid for by the Medicare class of 2070.

Keep reading...

Filed under: 360° Radar
January 29th, 2010
09:58 AM ET

Democrats need to learn to compromise

By Roland S. Martin | BIO
CNN Political Analyst

With Tea Party activists brewing their own strain of conservativism, Republicans are waging a fierce battle amongst themselves over what it means to be a member of the Grand Old Party.

We saw this play itself out in November in New York's 23rd congressional district when the Republican candidate chosen by party leaders was forced out of the race after a conservative candidate who didn't know a darn thing about the issues in the district captured the fancy of the Tea Party renegades, and almost won the seat.

Now we see the same thing playing out in Florida, where the state's once-popular Republican governor, Charlie Crist, is in a dogfight with his far more conservative challenger for the U.S. Senate nomination, former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio.

Even the Republican National Committee is fending off a concerted effort to keep the party's money from candidates that don't pass a "purity" test.

Keep reading...

Filed under: Democrats • Republicans
January 29th, 2010
09:52 AM ET

Morning Buzz: Honoring the Heroes of Haiti

Eliza Browning
AC360° Associate Producer

Anderson and our team on the ground in Haiti have seen and reported on so much over the past few weeks, ever since the earthquake rattled the already impoverished nation. Amid all of the devastation and destruction, they’ve met some resilient and inspiring Haitians. Tonight we’re honoring those people; the Heroes of Haiti. Don’t miss this special hour about courage, sacrifice and extraordinary personal commitment to help the people in Haiti.

Gary Tuchman talks to Jean Robert Cadet about his Restavek Organization, which helps keep Haitian children out of slavery and trafficking. Ever since the earthquake struck, he’s spent his time working to protect orphans. Dr. Sanjay Gupta takes a look at two Haitian doctors. They’re surgeons and they’re also twins. They’re working hard to treat people in their community – going from patient to patient and caring for people around the clock. Anderson reports on the search and rescue teams that have been working tirelessly to search, save and recover the victims of the quake. These are only a few of the Heroes we will profile tonight. It's a special you won’t want to miss – 11 p.m. ET.

We also continue our coverage of the stimulus project this week. The stimulus bill is unpopular, according to a recent CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll, but most of its basic provisions are favored by large majorities. Eight in ten favor government spending on roads and bridges and aid to unemployed workers is even more popular. So where’s the rub? Why is the it so unpopular if so many parts of the plan are generally favorable? People seem to be worried about wasteful spending.


Filed under: Eliza Browning • The Buzz
January 29th, 2010
09:42 AM ET

Painful plight of Haiti's 'restavek' children

Sende eventually left with the man and another man she said was her father.

Sende eventually left with the man and another man she said was her father.


For more than a week, Sende Sencil had gone without bathing, until two young American doctors at the hospital where she was being treated took the 9-year-old girl for a short walk outside to a shower to wash off the filth and grime.

Beaming, and in clean clothes for the first time since the earthquake, Sende, who was thought to be an orphan, returned to the hospital's tents with the doctors.

As they walked, a man approached them on the street and reached out to grab Sende.

"I'm looking for her. She's my family," the doctors remember the man saying in broken English. "I'm taking her home."

Keep reading...

Filed under: Haiti • Haiti Earthquake
January 29th, 2010
09:31 AM ET

White House considers moving site of 9-11 trial

Alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is among those suspects set to face a trial in a civilian criminal court.

Alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is among those suspects set to face a trial in a civilian criminal court.

Suzanne Malveaux | BIO
CNN White House Correspondent

The White House is considering moving the site of the 9-11 trial from Manhattan to elsewhere, if the Justice Department sees fit, senior administration officials confirm.

According to one senior administration official, "conversations have occurred within the administration to discuss contingency options should the possibility of a trial in Lower Manhattan be foreclosed upon by Congress or locally."

The turnabout comes after New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other politicians expressed great concern over the costs and disruption of holding the September 11th trial in Lower Manhattan.

White House officials say the President still agrees with Attorney General Eric Holder's decision to try Khalid Shaikh Mohammed in a civilian criminal court, not a military tribunal.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Suzanne Malveaux
January 29th, 2010
01:49 AM ET

Dear President Obama #375: Keeping the change ... and a lot more ... in Taliban-istan

Reporter's Note: President Obama is storming around trying to capitalize on any boost from his State of the Union. And I’m just sitting here, thinking about a conflict far, far away and an idea that this worth writing about in my daily letter to the president.

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

Here is one of Tom’s big rules of life: The only thing worse than bribing someone, is bribing him insufficiently. In this country, we generally see bribery as de facto “bad;” unless we’re talking about really wealthy people giving money to really powerful people, in which case we call it “participation in the political process.” But in seamier corners of the world, under-the-table payments are just a fact of life. Like gravity. Or hip problems in old age.

It is a way that people make a living, and a way that things get done. It works like this: “We, the government of Chaosylvania, can’t really afford a police force. We don’t pay our officers enough. But we still need them. So we look the other way as those officers solicit donations for things like, oh say, not getting a speeding ticket while your car was parked.” It is an imperfect system, rife with unfairness, and sometimes it’s all they have.


January 28th, 2010
09:49 PM ET

Video: Napa Wine Train in middle of stimulus fight

Randi Kaye | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

It is the quintessential Napa Valley experience.

Passengers aboard sleek antique rail cars pay more than $100 for a four-course meal, not including the wine. A recent lunch aboard the train included steak, lobster cakes and local greens.

During their three-hour journey winding through Napa Valley, passengers can choose from more than 100 wines to complement their meal.


Filed under: John McCain • Randi Kaye • Stimulus
January 28th, 2010
09:43 PM ET

Live Blog from the Anchor Desk 01/28/10

The Haitian government attempts to hand out food in Port-au-Prince and it doesn't go well. We'll show you the video. Plus, we're tracking your tax dollars used for the stimulus. $54 million for the Napa Valley's Wine Train. A senator calls it a "misplaced priority." But is it? We're keeping them honest.

Want to know what else we're covering? Read EVENING BUZZ

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 • T1
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