Blog Posts by Holly Bailey, Yahoo News

  • Keith Richards disses Mike Huckabee’s guitar skills

    huck guitarMike Huckabee has made no secret of his status as a Keith Richards superfan. As one of his final acts as governor of Arkansas, Huckabee pardoned the Rolling Stones guitarist for a 1975 reckless driving conviction in the state. Last year, the bass-playing '08 presidential contender listed Richards at the top of his list of dream guests for his Fox News show, "Huckabee."

    That's why this might sting a little, Governor.

    In his new autobiography, "Life," Richards kicks off Chapter 1 with a retelling of his infamous run-in with Arkansas police officers, who'd pulled him over for driving while under the influence. The band's attorney, an Arkansas native, got Richards off with a slap on the wrist: a misdemeanor reckless driving charge, even though the car Richards was driving was also full of drugs. The charge, Richards writes, ended up being "nothing more than a parking ticket."

    That leads him to conclude that Huckabee's 2006 pardon was unnecessary. "There was nothing to pardon," Richards writes. "There was no crime on the slate in Fordyce, but that didn't matter, I got pardoned anyway." Rather, the guitarist writes, it was Huckabee's "political ambitions" that led to the pardon.

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  • Did Harry Reid consider leaving the Senate?

    reid retire

    Did Harry Reid spend most of this year fighting to keep a job that he had earlier been on the verge of giving up under his own steam? A spokesman for the Senate majority leader says no -- but an unnamed source, apparently sympathetic to Reid's son Rory, tells the Las Vegas Sun that back in 2008 the Nevada senator told his family that he didn't plan to run again.

    Because of the elder Reid's assertion, son Rory Reid launched his own 2010 bid for Nevada governor, the source tells the Sun's David McGrath Schwartz.

    Harry Reid defeated GOP rival Sharron Angle by nearly 6 percentage points, but his son lost by 11 points to Republican Brian Sandoval—a loss his supporters are blaming on his dad. "At the beginning of the race, [Rory Reid] was led to believe there would not be two Reids as an issue," a source tells the Sun, citing Harry Reid's massive unpopularity in the state.

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  • Obama says he blew it on bipartisanship

    obama tone

    Ahead of his first meeting with GOP lawmakers since Election Day, when Republicans won majority control of the House, President Obama said Sunday that he hadn't done enough to change the tone in Washington.

    Obama said his "obsessive focus" on implementing his policies caused him to ignore efforts to work more closely with Republicans.

    "I neglected some things that matter to a lot of people, and rightly so: maintaining a bipartisan tone in Washington," Obama told reporters on Air Force One as he traveled back to Washington after a 10-day trip to Asia. "I think, moving forward, I'm going to redouble my efforts to go back to some of those first principles. And the fact that we are out of crisis—although still, obviously, in a difficult time--I think will give me the capacity to do that."

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  • Introducing The Ticket

    Welcome to The Ticket, a blog obsessively devoted to the crazy world of American politics.

    Our goal is to cover anything and everything related to the national political debate, from the upcoming 2012 presidential campaign to what's happening in the halls of Congress. We'll be tracking the most important races all over the country, including pivotal House, Senate and gubernatorial elections--and the occasional oddball ballot initiative. (California, we're looking at you.) We'll also cover the continual fight for influence among political players. That means tracking key power struggles in Washington, monitoring the ways that party leaders use the media to shape and convey their central messages, and chronicling the perennial tug-of-war between the leaders of the national parties and the donors and activists who make up their base of support.

    You might be thinking, "Oh great, another political blog." But here at The Ticket, our goal isn't just to bring you a running conversation about what's happening in the political world. We want to cut through the spin and navel-gazing minutiae that often cloud the debate. We want to put things in their proper context, to focus on the bigger picture and explain why you should care about certain stories (or, in some cases, why you shouldn't).

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  • Voters are already gloomy about a GOP Congress

    boehner enIt was probably a smart idea for House Republicans to ban confetti at their election-night watch party.

    Two separate polls out this week — one from CBS News, and another from the Pew Research Center — find that voters aren't too excited about the new Republican majority that's about to take charge of the House of Representatives. Just 48 percent of voters say they are "happy" about the GOP majority, according to Pew. By comparison, 60 percent of those polled after Election Day four years ago said they were happy about having elected a new Democratic majority in Congress. Meanwhile, 57 percent in 1994 said they were happy about historic GOP gains that year.

    CBS's poll found similar discontent, with just 40 percent of those surveyed saying they are "pleased" about the outcome of the 2010 vote.

    These numbers confirm what we wrote on Election Day: A majority of voters didn't necessarily vote for Republicans because of their support for GOP policies, but more because they were upset and dissatisfied with Washington generally. Just as voters supported President Obama to bring change to Washington in 2008, that same pressure is now on the GOP Congress to improve the economy and rise above a deadlocked Washington.

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  • Mixed messages from the White House on tax cuts

    obama axIn an interview with "60 Minutes" on Sunday, President Obama acknowledged that the White House might have a messaging problem. No kidding.

    Speaking at a news conference Friday in the final stretch of his overseas trip to Asia, Obama insisted that he's not caving to Republican demands on the extension of the so-called Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. Rather, Obama insisted his "No. 1 priority" continues to be pressing for the middle-class tax cuts from the Bush 2001 package to be made permanent. He insisted that continuing current tax rates for wealthier Americans "would be a mistake and we cannot afford it."

    Obama's comments came a day after his senior adviser David Axelrod was quoted by the Huffington Post suggesting the White House might compromise with Republicans and accept a temporary continuation of all the Bush tax cuts. "We have to deal with the world as we find it," Axelrod said.

    But Axelrod later backtracked, insisting the administration hadn't changed its position on tax cuts for the wealthy--he'd merely meant to suggest, he said, that the White House was open to discussion.

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  • With new book and TV show, the Sarah Palin charm offensive begins

    palin tour

    As she openly flirts with a 2012 GOP presidential run, Sarah Palin is launching a folksy charm offensive aimed at winning over voters in America's heartland. On Sunday, Alaska's former governor kicks off her new TLC reality show, "Sarah Palin's Alaska." The show--which one pundit described as possibly the "earliest, most expensive presidential campaign ad ever made" --aims to reshape the Mama Grizzly's image, dialing down the campaign-season impression of Palin as  a politically polarizing tea party leader. The reality-TV version is a folksy everyday mom who'd rather be hiking and fishing than sitting in "some stuffy old political office."

    [Photos: More moments with Sarah Palin]

    At the same time, though, Palin is preparing to hit the road for a book tour touting a title that plies heartland political virtues--and boasting an itinerary that bypasses media centers such as New York and Los Angeles in favor of middle-American destinations that also figure prominently on the 2012 primary map. The promotional tour for "America by Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith and Flag" kicks off Nov. 23 in Phoenix and will take her through 13 states in 11 days, including key 2012 primary states Iowa and South Carolina.

    [Related: Why Palin's being called 'Democrat's last hope']

    Palin has been coy in fielding questions about potential plans to challenge Obama in 2012--but there's little doubt that she's working to position herself as a candidate of "regular" people. On her TV show, Palin repeatedly describes herself as an average Alaskan mother and housewife. That image helped to propel her to the national scene as John McCain's running mate in 2008--even though some McCain-Palin staffers charged that the vice-presidential nominee  had a penchant for "diva-like" behavior.

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  • ‘Dancing With the Stars’–or ballot-stuffing with the tea party?

    360 bristolAre Sarah Palin's tea party supporters keeping her daughter Bristol from being eliminated on "Dancing With the Stars"?

    That's what the show's top producer thinks after the 20-year-old Palin, who has received some of the lowest scores of the season, survived another elimination round this week. She now enters the show's semifinals, as a member of one the final four couples in contention.

    "There's a strong popular movement behind Sarah Palin at the moment, and she's receiving a lot of support from the tea party," "DWTS" executive producer Conrad Greene tells Bloomberg's Ronald Grover. "It's entirely possible some of those people are behind Bristol for political reasons."

    While Sarah Palin herself has not urged her supporters to vote for her daughter, some of the ex-governor's backers have. The blog Conservatives4Palin, which is closely allied with Palin's  political operation, has posted voting info for the show, urging supporters to vote for Bristol. Meanwhile, Sarah Palin's fans on Twitter have also sent messages urging votes for Bristol—though that procedure is no different from how the show's other celebrity contestants and their supporters have lobbied for votes.

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  • Democrats plot outside ad spending in 2012

    obama tvsDuring the 2008 campaign, President Obama disavowed spending by outside political groups to boost his campaign. But with certain outside conservative groups -- dubbed by critics the shadow GOP -- already planning to spend millions on ads to undermine Obama's re-election bid, White House officials have signaled to Democratic donors  that Obama wouldn't be opposed to allies running their own outside ads in 2012.

    As Politico's Ken Vogel reports Thursday, liberal donors will gather in Washington next week to hash out a 2012 game plan. But there's some skepticism among Democrats about how much money donors will be willing to put up for ad assaults in 2012. Some big donors are still hurting over the millions they'd spent on similar campaigns to defeat Bush and the GOP in 2004, without much success.

    The question among some Democratic activists is whether 2012 money would be better invested in the ground game and other non-advertising efforts.

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  • McConnell argued for Iraq troop pullout (plus 4 more Bush memoir revelations)

    bush and mcconnellBy now, you've read about George W. Bush's displeasure with Kanye West and his thoughts of replacing Vice President Dick Cheney in 2004. You've probably also read about Bush's puzzlement over John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign and his fight with Cheney over his unwillingness to pardon former White House aide Scooter Libby. Another news-making admission in "Decision Points," Bush's memoir released Tuesday: That photo of him flying in Air Force One over flooded New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina was a big mistake.

    What else does the 43rd president reveal in his new memoir? Here are five other revealing disclosures from the Bush book:

    McConnell pushed for a troop drawdown from Iraq: In September 2006, the Senate's GOP leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, asked Bush in a private meeting to bring "some troops" home from Iraq in hopes of boosting Republicans ahead of a crucial midterm election. "Your unpopularity is going to cost us control of the Congress," McConnell said, according to Bush. Asked what he could do, the senator told Bush, "Mr. President, bring some troops home from Iraq."

    That contradicts what McConnell was saying publicly at the time. Indeed, he'd been attacking Democrats for trying to be "armchair generals" and seeking to dictate Iraq policy.

    McConnell's office has declined to comment on the Bush memoir, while the GOP leader himself deflected questions on the issue in an interview Wednesday with WHAS-TV of Louisville, Ky.

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