From The Houston Chronicle:
There was U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston, in her coveted State of the Union perch along the aisle. Wearing an eye-catching lime-green jacket, she got her brief moment of TV exposure and a handshake from President Barack Obama, as usual, as the president made his way into the august chamber of the House.
This time, though, instead of sitting in a bloc with her fellow Democrats, Lee sat beside a real live Republican, U.S. Rep. Pete Olson of Sugar Land.
The two Houston lawmakers were enthusiastic participants in the State of the Union “date night,” a bipartisan gesture prompted by the shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., earlier this month.
The pre-speech curiosity was almost Oscar-night giddy — or maybe prom-night giddy — as lawmakers over the past several days paired off.
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From POLITICAL CORRECTION:
The tragic shootings in Tucson prompted calls for civility from politicians on both sides of the aisle, including Sen. Mark Udall’s (D-CO) proposal for Democrats and Republicans to sit together at the State of the Union. But yesterday on Scott Hennen’s radio show, Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) — who is best known for his frequent bouts of incivility — vehemently rejected the idea of mixed seating at the presidential address. Responding to a caller who described Udall’s suggestion as a “slap in the face” to conservative voters, Broun [said:]
Our leadership said you do whatever you want to do. If you wanna sit with the Democrats, you can. If you wanna sit with Republicans, that you can. We’re going to have a conference next week and I’m gonna bring that up there. I already believe very firmly that it is a trap and a ruse that Democrats are proposing. They don’t want civility. They want silence from the Republicans. And the sitting together being kissy-kissy is just another way to try to silence Republicans, and also to show — to keep the American people from seeing how few of them there are in the U.S. House now. Then when people stand up to — what the Democrats are going to be doing when Barack Obama spews out all his venom, then, um, if they’re scattered throughout all the Republicans, then it won’t be as noticeable as if we’re sitting apart. So it is a ruse and I’m not in favor of it and I’m talking about it and I hope other members of the Republican conference in the House will not take the bait.
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From TALKING POINTS MEMO:
Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), who helped shepherd through today’s Senate repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, told reporters after the final vote this afternoon that ending the military’s ban on openly gay servicemembers is a big step for LGBT rights.
“To me, it is a step forward to a larger societal acceptance [of gay rights,]” Lieberman said. “This is a civil rights piece of legislation in my opinion.”
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From The Washington Post:
Three major oil industry executives agreed on one thing in a pair of Senate hearings Tuesday: Someone else was to blame for the drilling rig accident that triggered the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The senior executives from the oil behemoth BP, the offshore oil drilling company Transocean and the oilfield services contractor Halliburton pointed fingers at each other in seeking to explain what caused the accident that set afire and sank the Deepwater Horizon rig, killing 11 people.
BP blamed the failure of Transocean’s blowout preventer and raised a new question about whether Transocean disregarded “anomalous pressure test readings” just hours before the explosion. Transocean blamed decisions made by BP and cited possible flaws in the cementing job done by Halliburton. And Halliburton said that it had faithfully followed BP’s instructions and that Transocean had started replacing a heavy drilling mud with seawater before the well was sealed with a cement plug.
To the tune of If I Only Had a Brain, written by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg, as performed by the fabulous Ray Bolger:
I sit here, oh so coyly, don’t know why the gulf’s so oily,
But I’m here to proclaim,
That I couldn’t say for certain,
But I think that Halliburton,
Is the company to blame.
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From The Fix at The Washington Post:
Evan Bayh’s announcement […] that he and 14 other Democratic senators had begun to meet weekly to discuss ways in which the moderate/centrist wing of the party could ensure its voice is better heard by the White House and Senate leadership is the latest example of the Indiana Democrat’s increased willingness to critique — and tweak — the Obama administration.
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[left to right, bottom: Mary Landrieu (LA), Herb Kohl (WI), Claire McCaskill (MO), Mark Begich (AK), Mark Warner (VA), Evan Bayh (IN); top: Ben Nelson (N), Joe Lieberman (CT), Mark Udall (CO), Jeanne Shaheen (NH)]
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From the International Herald-Tribune:
Democrats scored some convincing victories in both houses of the U.S. Congress, picking up at least five Senate seats, ousting Republican incumbents in New Hampshire and North Carolina and capturing seats in Virginia, Colorado and New Mexico left vacant by Republican retirements.
In North Carolina, the senatorial career of Elizabeth Dole, one of the most famous names in Republican politics, came to an end at the hands of Kay Hagan, a state lawmaker whose portrayal of Dole as a Washington insider suggested that she was out of touch with the people of her state.
John Sununu, a first-term Republican from New Hampshire, lost his Senate seat in a rematch with former Governor Jeanne Shaheen, who had relentlessly tied him to President George W. Bush.
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