- Power Players1 day ago
Democratic strategist Al From says the problems with the government’s new online health insurance market threaten to undermine the Democratic Party’s case for government.
“It sure makes it a lot harder for people to support new government initiatives,” said From, who is largely credited with shaping Bill Clinton’s successful presidential campaign in 1992. “And if it doesn't work, then good intentions are not enough.”
With the Obama administration now touting improvements to HealthCare.gov after a fumbled rollout two months ago, From told “Top Line” that getting the program back on track should be a top priority.
“It is critically important that President Obama get this program working and working well,” From said. “It is incumbent on liberals, on Democrats, on progressives, to make sure government works, because government is our agent for helping people help themselves and each other.”
As of Sunday, the Obama administration said that HealthCare.gov is working more than 90 percent of the time – up from just over 40 percent in October.
- Power Players7 days ago
What happens when four senators live together under one roof on Capitol Hill?
That’s the concept behind Amazon’s new show, “Alpha House.” While the streaming series is more like “Veep” than “The West Wing,” writer and creator Garry Trudeau says the new political satire goes to the heart of the GOP’s struggle to reconcile the Establishment and Tea Party wings of the party.
“We’re interested in telling the story of mainstream conservative Republicans who are now caught in this crisis of identity,” Trudeau told “Top Line” on the red carpet for the show’s D.C. premiere. “But there aren’t any direct parallels with any particular [members].”
“Alpha House” is loosely based on the real-life story of a Capitol Hill row house that Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and a slew of other members of Congress have shared over the years.
Former Rep. Bill Delahunt, D-Mass., who lived with Schumer and Durbin for a time, said the house depicted on “Alpha House” simply “can’t be” as gross as the actual Hill abode.
- Power Players8 days ago
On the Radar
Five years ago today, the Pakistani-based Islamist organization Lashkar e-Taiba launched a series of coordinated attacks across Mumbai, India – killing more than 160 people and injuring hundreds more.
The attack amounted to a harrowing three-day-long ordeal for those who were trapped inside the world renowned luxury Taj Hotel – one of the primary targets. And a new investigative book, “The Siege: 68 Hours Inside the Taj Hotel,” tells many of their stories in meticulous detail.
“The heroes of this piece, and there were plenty of heroes, were the ordinary, poorly paid Taj staffers, who miraculously decided to fight back, and a couple of other guests who behaved in an incredibly heroic fashion,” said co-author Adrian Levy.
Levy, and his co-author Cathy Scott-Clark, told “On the Radar” of an active duty U.S. Marine captain, Ravi Dharnidharka, who was dining on the top floor of the hotel when the attack began, and sprang into action.
“He realized very quickly from his training that, as an American soldier, he would be a prime target for any sort of hostage taking so he ripped up all of his identification papers,” Scott-Clark said.
- Power Players9 days ago
Chef John Moeller has built his career on cooking food fit for presidents.
Moeller worked as a White House chef for three presidents – George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush – and has now published a book, “Dining at the White House,” that weaves together his stories of working for the first families with the recipes of some of his standout White House dishes.
Cooking chocolate tortes during an interview with “Politics Confidential,” Moeller recalled arriving at the White House for his first day on the job under President George H.W. Bush.
“I had a big tool box loaded up there, and when I came in the guys opened it up -- I didn't have my chef uniform on -- and they go 'wow, lots of knives here,’ the Secret Service guys,” Moeller said. “And they go, ‘Oh, we knew you were coming.’”
Moeller worked in the first Bush White House for only a matter of months, but during that time, he said he developed a strong rapport with the president and that it was hard to say goodbye as they prepared to welcome the Clintons as the next first family.
- Power Players10 days ago
If you thought you knew everything there was to know about Maya Angelou, the writer, think again.
In her most recent autobiography, “Mom & Me & Mom,” Angelou reveals how she learned to forgive her mother after having been abandoned by her for 10 years as a child, and also describes the time when she was nearly beaten to death.
Of her mother, Angelou describes how she grew over time to let go of her resentment – progressing from calling her “lady” to instead calling her “mother” – and ultimately forgiving her.
“She loved me and she respected me,” Angelou told “Power Players,” going on to explain how her mother reacted when she became impregnated at age 16 by a boy whom she did not love.
“She asked me: ‘do you love him?’ I said ‘No.’ ‘Does he love you?’ I said ‘no,’” Angelou recalled of her conversation with her mother. “She said, ‘Well, we’re not going to ruin three lives because of convention. We are going to have a wonderful baby and a wonderful life.’”
“I so respected that,” Angelou said. “I was thinking she would kill me or put me out of the house. Love heals you see?”
- Power Players12 days ago
Much like rap music in the 90’s served to glorify the gangster life, a similar phenomenon has occurred with an increasingly popular genre of Latin music, known as narcocorridos, that celebrates drug traffickers.
A new documentary “Narco Cultura” captures the narcocorridos music scene and juxtaposes it with the grim realities of the raging drug war along the U.S.-Mexican border.
“What has happened in narcocorridos, particularly north of the border, is a huge increase in popularity as well as a trend of the songs getting way more violent and more graphic and usually choosing sides, meaning taking on a cartel,” filmmaker Shaul Schwarz told “Power Players.”
The film follows some of the most popular narcocorridos artists as they tour clubs in the U.S. and pack in audiences who sing along with the ballads that brag about killing and kidnapping.
“There are literally hundreds if not thousands of clubs throughout the country that celebrate this kind of scene during the weekend,” Schwarz said.
- Power Players13 days ago
The assassination of President John F. Kennedy still haunts the U.S. Secret Service 50 years on.
“Quite obviously, we failed,” Secret Service deputy director A.T. Smith told “Power Players” during an exclusive interview this week inside the agency’s headquarters, located a few blocks from the White House.
“At the time, it seemed like we had done all that we could do. But in the end, we didn't do enough because we did lose a president, and that is not what coincides with our protective mission,” Smith said.
While the agency has had a near-perfect record of presidential protection since 1963, Smith said the Kennedy anniversary remains a “significant,” if uncomfortable, moment for reflection every year.
Since Kennedy’s time, the Secret Service has undergone dramatic changes, some prompted by the Warren Commission Report, others by Congress. The agency has added countersniper units, intelligence analysts, assault teams and a technical security division to address threats from explosive devices.
Its budget has grown from a few million dollars in 1963 to more than a billion last year. Its ranks have swelled to more than 7,000 agents and staff.
- Power Players14 days ago
The Fine Print
What if President John F. Kennedy had lived?
Historian Jeff Greenfield imagines how history would have changed if Lee Harvey Oswald hadn’t been successful in firing a fatal shot to Kennedy 50 years ago. It’s the latest alternative history from Greenfield in his new book, “If Kennedy Lived: The First and Second Terms of President John F. Kennedy.”
Greenfield, who re-examined the political realities that were present prior to the assassination, told “The Fine Print” he believes that Kennedy’s survival would have likely meant the demise of then-Vice President Lyndon Johnson’s political career.
“The moment John Kennedy was shot, quite literally, LIFE Magazine -- a very important medium back then -- was launching a huge investigation into how this public servant had accumulated a $14 million net worth, and the answer wasn't pretty,” Greenfield said of Johnson. “It had to do with radio and TV licenses, and something close to extortion.”
- Jeff Zeleny, Richard Coolidge and Jordyn Phelps at Power Players15 days ago
The Fine Print
If Ted Cruz were Batman, Mike Lee would be his Robin.
That’s the description some have used to characterize the political partnership between Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah. Asked about the comparison during a recent visit to Iowa, Lee told “The Fine Print” that Cruz is a political “kindred spirit.”
“I told him, ‘If you do decide to run, I'll of course have to endorse you, because I think you and I are, politically speaking, kindred spirits, and I'd love to have you as a colleague,’” Lee recalled from his first meeting with Cruz in 2010, when the Texan was considering a run for the Senate.
The Tea Party duo stood side-by-side this fall in pushing a hard-line stance against the president’s health care law that resulted in the government shutdown, and infuriated many of their Republican colleagues along the way.
Lee confirmed that he and Cruz have come under attack from the Republican establishment in recent months but said there were “legitimate differences of opinion” within the party that “need to be expressed.”
“The differences themselves are needed,” Lee said. “You don't get to be $17 trillion in debt without a lot of people agreeing.”
- Power Players16 days ago
Gov. Scott Walker has a simple idea for how to create the GOP's “perfect ticket” in the 2016 presidential election -- and Republican stars like Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, and Ted Cruz don’t make the list.
The Wisconsin Republican, who first gained national attention in 2011 for passing a controversial budget bill that stripped Wisconsin public employees of collective bargaining rights, told “Politics Confidential” that only governors and former governors should be in the running for the party’s presidential nomination -- and not members of Congress.
“I think both the presidential and the vice presidential nominee should either be a former or current governor,” he said. “Somebody has got to come in who's got a proven record of success of turning things around and bring that record to Washington and take on everything, not just one party or the other, but take on the entire establishment.”
Though Walker says he’d be the president of Paul Ryan’s fan club, if one existed, and calls Rubio, Paul, and Cruz good guys, they don’t meet his criteria of being “exceptionally removed from Washington.”