Vice President’s Son Dies of Brain Cancer

TPM Editor’s Blog

News just broke that Vice President Biden’s son, Beau Biden, former Delaware Attorney General, has died of brain cancer.

Statement from the VP’s office …

It is with broken hearts that Hallie, Hunter, Ashley, Jill and I announce the passing of our husband, brother and son, Beau, after he battled brain cancer with the same integrity, courage and strength he demonstrated every day of his life.

The entire Biden family is saddened beyond words. We know that Beau’s spirit will live on in all of us—especially through his brave wife, Hallie, and two remarkable children, Natalie and Hunter.

Beau’s life was defined by service to others. As a young lawyer, he worked to establish the rule of law in war-torn Kosovo. A major in the Delaware National Guard, he was an Iraq War veteran and was awarded the Bronze Star. As Delaware’s Attorney General, he fought for the powerless and made it his mission to protect children from abuse.

More than his professional accomplishments, Beau measured himself as a husband, father, son and brother. His absolute honor made him a role model for our family. Beau embodied my father’s saying that a parent knows success when his child turns out better than he did.

In the words of the Biden family: Beau Biden was, quite simply, the finest man any of us have ever known.

From President Obama and Michelle Obama …

Josh Marshall

The Obama Opposition

No attribution

The New York Times ~ Charles M. Blow

The president came to Washington thinking he could change Washington, make it better, unite it and the nation. He was wrong. As he ascended, the tone of political discourse descended, as much because of who he was as what he did.

When Obama introduced Joe Biden as his vice-presidential running mate in Springfield, Ill., he expressed his confidence that Biden could “help me turn the page on the ugly partisanship in Washington, so we can bring Democrats and Republicans together to pass an agenda that works for the American people.”

In his first Inaugural Address, Obama said:

“On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord. On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics. We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things.”

He underestimated the degree to which his very presence for some would feel more like a thorn than a salve. The president seemed to think that winning was the thing. It wasn’t. Stamina was the thing. The ability to nurse a grievance was the thing.

The president’s first “I won” moment came shortly after his inauguration. It was in an hourlong, bipartisan meeting with congressional leaders about the stimulus package. ABC News reported an exchange the president had with Eric Cantor this way:

“Obama told Cantor this morning that ‘on some of these issues we’re just going to have ideological differences.’ The president added, ‘I won. So I think on that one, I trump you.’ ”

Then, in a 2010 meeting with members of Congress about the Affordable Care Act, a visibly agitated president quipped to John McCain (who was raising concerns about the bill): “We’re not campaigning anymore. The election is over.”

And in 2013, appearing even more agitated following the government shutdown, the president chastised his opponents across the aisle: “You don’t like a particular policy or a particular president? Then argue for your position. Go out there and win an election.”

This idea that Republicans would honor the fact that he was elected — twice — almost seems quaint. It angered; it didn’t assuage.

And in addition to some people being ideologically opposed to Democratic principles in general, others are endlessly irritated by a personal attitude and persona that seem impervious to chastisement or humbling.

Even the president himself has come around to giving voice to this in public. Last year he told The New York Times: “There’s not an action that I take that you don’t have some folks in Congress who say that I’m usurping my authority. Some of those folks think I usurp my authority by having the gall to win the presidency.”

Gall here is an interesting word, and a purposeful one I think. It is in line with all the other adjectives used to describe this president’s not kowtowing and supplicating himself before traditional power structures.

Arrogant is another word that gets regular usage by his opponents, like Rand Paul, Paul Ryan and Chris Christie. Some even connect Obama and supposed arrogance to anything and everything he does.

Must-see morning clip: Jon Stewart explains why Joe Biden will never be president

Must-see morning clip: Jon Stewart explains why Joe Biden will never be president


“It’s like Biden hasn’t been out of the house since 1962,” the “Daily Show” host observed

Despite vice president Joe Biden’s pop cultural appeal and feminist attitudes, Jon Stewart does not think Biden will be the Democratic candidate for the 2016 presidential election because “It’s like Biden hasn’t been out of the house since 1962.”

Biden, known for his affable, old man quirkiness, used racist terms and stereotypes in recent speeches, referring to Asia as “the Orient” and also used the term “shylock.” While Biden has apologized for the offensive language, Stewart opines that the damage is done.


Hillary Clinton is going to be the Democratic nominee. So why is anyone else running?

Television actor and Glee star, Chris Colfer, left, poses for a photo with former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, a book signing event at Barnes & Noble at The Grove in Los Angeles Thursday, June 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

One thing is certain, Hillary will be considered the presumptive nominee until she announces whether or not she will run…

The Washington Post – Chris Cillizza

This week’s evidence came in the form of two polls — conducted by NBC and Marist College — of Democratic voters in Iowa and New Hampshire.  In Iowa, Clinton led Vice President Joe Biden 70 percent to 20 percent. In New Hampshire, Clinton led Biden by an even wider 74 percent to 18 percent. (That’s not to pick on Biden; he was the strongest of Clinton’s possible challengers.) Clinton’s approval ratings in those polls are stratospheric; 89 percent of Iowa Democrats have a favorable opinion of her while 94(!) percent of New Hampshire Democrats say the same.

“Hillary Clinton — if she runs — is going to have a cakewalk to the Democratic nomination, no matter how many political observers might want to see a race,” wrote NBC’s Chuck Todd, Mark Murray and Carrie Dann. “She’s going to win the Democratic nomination, whether she faces actual primary opposition or not.”

Yup.  And yet, it’s a near certainty that Clinton will face some sort — or sorts — of primary opposition. Which begs the question: Why?

To answer that, it’s important to remember that not everyone runs for president to win. Some run to promote a cause or a set of beliefs. Others run because timing dictates they have to.  Still others run in hopes of improving their chances of either winding up on the ticket alongside Clinton or with a prominent spot in her Administration.

When it comes to 2016, the largest group of potential challengers to Clinton come from the “cause” category.  Socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders seems intent on running, largely to push his belief in the need for serious campaign finance reform. Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean is circling the race, hoping to provide a liberal alternative — and a more populist perspective — to the contest. Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley is term limited out as governor at the end of this year and undoubtedly thinks a credible run for president might bolster his chances of a spot in a Clinton Administration. Former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer just seems to want back into the political game and, like Dean and Sanders, thinks there is room for a populist messenger to make a little noise in the field. (He’s right.)

Below are my rankings of the 2016 field. Remember that if Clinton runs, she wins.

Tier 1 (The Clinton wing)

* Hillary Clinton: Still think she hasn’t made up her mind about running?  Check out what Clinton told Charlie Rose in an interview this week: “We have to make a campaign about what we would do. You have to run a very specific campaign that talks about the changes you want to make in order to tackle growth, which is the handmaiden of inequality.” Soooo….she is running.

Tier 2 (If she doesn’t run, these are the frontrunners)

* Joe Biden: The Vice President badly wants to run.  Just look at his travel schedule, which this week included a keynote address at Netroots Nation, an annual gathering of liberal online activists. And, his allies insist that his decision on the race has nothing to do with what Clinton decides. But Biden didn’t get this far in politics by being dumb; a race against Clinton is damn close to unwinnable for him — and he knows it. If Clinton for some reason decides not to run, Biden is in the next day.

* Martin O’Malley: The Maryland governor is getting some nice press in early primary states. And he is working those states like no one else on the Democratic field. Because O’Malley can’t really afford to wait four (or eight) years to run, I expect him to be in the race no matter what Clinton does. But, even his most optimistic supporters would have to see that bid as a chance for him to improve his potential as a vice presidential pick for Clinton.

Elizabeth Warren: The Massachusetts Senator is the only person who could credibly mount a challenge to Clinton. But, she’s not going to do it.  While Warren is on the record saying she will serve out her six year Senate term, which expires in 2018, I am hard-pressed to see how she would pass up a run if Clinton took a pass.

Tier 3 (Maybe running. But not winning)

Howard Dean: Dean has the presidential bug.  In 2004, he looked like he was going to be the Democratic presidential nominee — until people started voting. In 2013, Dean predicted Clinton would have a primary opponent and he may see himself as that person.

Bernie Sanders: Of everyone not named Clinton (or O’Malley) on this list, the Vermont Socialist Senator is doing the most to get ready for a presidential bid. No one — including Sanders — thinks he will win but his fiery style and liberal positions could make things uncomfortable for Clinton.

* Brian Schweitzer: Don’t say I didn’t warn you about Schweitzer’s tendency to stray off message. The former Montana governor proved he isn’t yet ready for primetime in a recent interview with National Journal’s Marin Cogan, making impolitic comments about California Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Virginia Rep. Eric Cantor.  Schweitzer apologized but the damage was done. Schweitzer effectively doused any momentum he had built for a presidential bid.

Tier 4 (The four or eight more years crowd)

Andrew Cuomo: The New York Governor has a presidential bid in him but it’s not going to be in 2016. If anything, he has moved further away from a bid rather than closer to one as 2016 has drawn closer.  In 2020, Cuomo will be 62 — right in the sweet spot when it comes to presidential bids.  In 2024, he would be 68, the same age Hillary Clinton will be if she is elected in 2016.

* Kirsten Gillibrand: Like Cuomo, Gillibrand is an ambitious New Yorker who almost certainly will run for president at some point in the future. At age 47, she has plenty of time to wait and, as she has done over the past few years, use her perch in the Senate to build her liberal resume for an eventual national bid.

Deval Patrick: Patrick raised some eyebrows a few months back whenhe had this to say about Clinton’s coronation as the Democratic nominee: “She’s an enormously capable candidate and leader. But I do worry about the inevitability thing, because I think it’s off-putting to the average…voter.”  It seems very unlikely that the Massachusetts governor will take the plunge against Clinton but his resume in the Bay State could make for an intriguing profile in four or even eight years.

10 things you need to know today: April 21, 2014

Runners get set. 
Runners get set. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

The Week

A huge field gathers to run the Boston Marathon, Biden heads to Ukraine, and more

1. Huge field lines up to run the Boston Marathon
About 36,000 athletes converged to run in the 118th Boston Marathon under tight security on Monday, part of the storied race’s emotional return a year after a deadly bombing at the finish line. The field is the event’s second largest ever — race organizers expanded it so roughly 5,000 runners prevented from finishing after last year’s blast could run again. “We’re taking back our finish line,” a runner from California said. [The Boston GlobeReuters]


2. Biden heads to Ukraine as diplomatic deal falters
Vice President Joe Biden began a two-day trip to meet with Ukrainian leaders on Monday as violence frayed a diplomatic deal calling for separatists to give back occupied government buildings in eastern Ukraine. At least three people died Sunday in a gunfight reportedly between Ukrainian nationalists and pro-Russia separatists. New photographic evidence appears to confirm some of the “green men” occupying government facilities are Russian special forces. [USA Today,The New York Times]


3. Al Qaeda suspects targeted in unprecedented Yemen operation
A “massive and unprecedented” combination of drone strikes and raids by Yemeni commandos is underway against suspected al Qaeda fighters in Yemen, a Yemeni official told CNN early Monday. At least 30 militants reportedly have been killed. Strikes a day earlier killed at least a dozen. The attacks targeted a mountain ridge where Nasir al-Wuhayshi, leader of the terrorist group’s Yemeni branch, met with followers in a video released recently. [CNN]


4. South Korean president harshly criticizes ferry captain
South Korean President Park Geun-hye said Monday that the actions of the captain and some crew of the sunken ferry Sewol were “akin to murder.” Capt. Lee Joon-seok is facing several charges in connection with the sinking and botched evacuation last week. A crew member said in a radio transcript released Sunday that the ship rolled over so fast passengers couldn’t reach lifeboats. Sixty-four people are confirmed dead; 238 remain missing. [CNN]


5. Teen survives flight to Hawaii in jet’s wheel well
A 16-year-old stowaway survived a flight from San Jose, Calif., to Maui in the wheel well of a Hawaiian Airlines jet. FBI investigators said the teen was “lucky to be alive” after facing severe cold and a lack of oxygen at 38,000 feet for several hours. “Doesn’t even remember the flight,” said Tom Simon, FBI spokesman in Honolulu. “It’s amazing he survived that.” A 16-year-old died after stowing away on a 2010 Charlotte, N.C., flight to Boston. [The Associated Press]


6. Crowd gathers for Colorado marijuana celebration
Tens of thousands of people turned out on Sunday to celebrate the once-underground 4/20 marijuana holiday in Colorado, the first state to legalize recreational pot use. The celebration, long observed by diehard pot smokers, culminated this year with a massive smoke-out in a Denver park. “It feels good not to be persecuted anymore,” said Joe Garramone, puffing on a joint while his 3-year-old daughter played in the park. [The Associated Press]


7. Malaysia Airlines flight makes an emergency landing after tire bursts
A Malaysia Airlines flight was forced to turn back during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Bangalore, India on Sunday after a tire in its landing gear burst on take-off. The plane made an emergency landing back in Kuala Lumpur after about four hours in the air. None of the 159 passengers and seven crew members were injured. Search crews are still looking for another Malaysia Airlines flight that vanished on March 8. [CBS News]


8. Economy set to bounce back from chill of winter storms
A harsh winter hurt the U.S. economy’s growth in the first three months of 2014, but warm spring weather should trigger a rebound, according to a quarterly survey released Monday by the National Association for Business Economics. A series of brutal snow and ice storms probably dragged first-quarter growth below the 2.6 percent rate of the last quarter of 2013, but forecasters expect a rate as high as 3.6 percent in the second quarter. [CNBC]


9. Afghan presidential frontrunner appears unlikely to avoid a run-off
Figures released Sunday suggested that Afghanistan’s presidential election is headed for a run-off. With half the votes cast on April 5 counted, frontrunner Abdullah Abdullah widened his lead, but still appeared unlikely to take the 50 percent of the vote needed to win without a second round. Abdullah, who finished second behind Hamid Karzai in 2009, had 44.4 percent of the vote, ahead of Karzai adviser Ashraf Ghani, who had 33.2 percent. [The New York Times]


10. Wrongfully convicted former boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter dies
One-time middleweight boxing contender Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, who spent 19 years in prison after being wrongfully convicted for a triple murder at a Paterson, N.J. bar, died in Toronto Sunday of complications from prostate cancer. He was 76. Carter, who was black, was convicted twice by all-white juries. He became a cause celebre, with his case inspiring a song by Bob Dylan before a judge set aside his conviction in 1985. [Los Angeles Times]

Fox News analyst suggests extra-constitutional measures to protect Constitution from Obama

Major Gen. Paul E. Vallely (Ret)

The hatred for this president is unprecedented.   Barack Obama taught Constitutional Law, he’s an attorney for heaven’s sake.

The wing-nut hysteria over the President is rather hilarious.  They refuse to recognize his bona fides and instead make him out to be the most ignorant foreign-born usurper ever to occupy the White House.

I’ve said it before:  history will not look kindly on those fools who accuse the President of the most outrageous and false offenses…

The Raw Story

A retired general and Fox News analyst has prescribed a regimen of extra-constitutional measures to protect the Constitution from President Barack Obama.

“We need to get off our derrieres, march at the state capitol, march in Washington (and) make citizens arrests,” said conservative activist and retired Major Gen. Paul E. Vallely.

He said the president and his allies in Congress were “conducting treason,” “violating our Constitution and violating our laws,” and he’s demanded that Obama resign or face a vote of no confidence.

“Clearly America has lost confidence and no longer trusts those in power at a most critical time in our history,” Vallely said last week in an online radio interview. “It is true that not all who ply the halls of power fit under that broad brush, but most of them are guilty of many egregious acts and we say it is time to hold a vote of no confidence. It’s time for a ‘recall.’”

Perhaps realizing that the constitution doesn’t outline such a process, which is a common feature in parliamentary democracies, Vallely suggested that Congress pass legislation that would allow conservative activists to undo the results of the last presidential election.

“When you have a president and his team who don’t care about the Constitution, they will do anything they can to win,” he said.

Vallely ruled out impeachment, which is outlined in the Constitution, as a possible remedy.

“Harry Reid still controls the Senate, so like in Clinton’s day, forget about a finding of guilty,” he wrote. “Incidentally, if Obama was found guilty and removed from office, Joe Biden would step in, Valerie Jarrett still wields all the power, and likely we get more of the same.”

Vallely suggested that Obama’s misdeeds – which he identified as a handful of broken campaign promises, Benghazi and the Affordable Care Act passed by Congress and upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court – were so egregious that conservatives wouldn’t be breaking any laws by violating the Constitution to remove him from office.

“What else is our nation to do now that the ‘rule-of-law’ has effectively been thrown out the window by the Obama administration?” Vallely said. “How are we to trust our government anymore, now that lying and fraud are acceptable practices?”

But he stopped just short of endorsing violence to overthrow the Obama administration.

“That brings us to the other word no one wants to utter, revolution. In our opinion, this is the least palatable option,” Vallely said. “Others talk about the military taking over as we saw in Egypt; again, we do not support this route.”

But he did suggest that a new George Washington could be drawn from the ranks of retired military personnel, which, of course, include Vallely.

“It’s fallen upon senior, retired military to take stands against the overreach and tyranny of a corrupt government,” Vallely said. “I think for people, they respect what the military has gone through. Senior military guys are very well educated, they’ve gone to the right schools, gone to combat for the most part, have had to manage enormous budgets, were involved in major financial decisions and are heavily steeped in foreign policy and national security. No other group, no CEO that has that kind of background. Obviously our politicians don’t have that background. They have legislation experience, not leadership experience.”

Vallely said action was necessary, because even next year’s midterm congressional elections can’t solve the problem posed by the continued presence of Obama in the White House.

“Obama will just continue to subvert the Constitution he took an oath to faithfully protect,” Vallely warned. “His track record shows us that no matter what the make-up of Congress is, he will twist his way around it with a pen and secure even more power reminiscent of a dictator.”

“When that does not work, he will manipulate the courts and law enforcement will be run by fiat, choosing winners and losers,” he said.

Video at the bottom of the article.

7 telling passages from Double Down

News coverage of a new political tell-all book has been non-stop for the last 72 hours.  

Most of us have heard about the book by Game Changer authors Mark Halperin and John Heilemann called Double Down which has tongues wagging and keyboards tapping all over the Beltway.  

The book details the 2012 election season and according to early reports, it’s bound to be as much of a success as Game Changer

The Week

Don’t wait until November 15 to read all 473 pages of Double Down, the 2012 installment of Mark Halperin and John Heilemann’s campaign biography. Copies of the book are popping up in bookstores, and there’s been lot of TV coverage of the behind-the-scenes relationship between the Clintons and the Obamas. (Not really news, but plenty of color: they’re not each other’s best friends, but they’ve grown on each other.) Here are 8 other points of color, each of which illustrates a deeper political dynamic.

1. Far from being annoyed with Vice President Joe Biden, Obama developed a deep affection for him, prizing his intelligence, his loyalty and his truth-telling. When Biden returned to the White House after visiting his son Beau, who had been hospitalized for a neurological condition, Obama “came sprinting down the hall to the White House.” Biden would not tolerate any digs at Obama in his presence. He “uppraided” then Rep. Anthony Weiner for making such a comment, and did something similar with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. At a lunch in 2011, Obama told Biden: “You know, I’m surprised. We became friends!” Biden’s reply: “You’re fucking surprised?”

2. The Obama White House was floored at the way Jon Huntsman Jr., then the ambassador to China, openly flirted with running for President. Chief of staff Richard Daley told him point blank: “This is a pretty shitty way to treat someone who gave you the opportunity of a lifetime. When he did decide to make a go of it, Huntsman was a surprisingly passive candidate, and, shocking his aides, said he would refuse to accept his father’s money to make it to the nomination.

3. Mitt Romney’s favorite substitute for the F-bomb: “blooming.” As in, “that blooming idiot.” And, where others would say “shit,” Romney would say “grunt.” He did not seem to mind when others cussed in his presence, especially Chris Christie, who had become a pretty regular confidante. When Newt Gingrich was on the ascendance, it was Christie who urged Romney to “kick the shit out of him.

4. Behind the scenes, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels watched the unfolding disaster of the Romney campaign, tried to get Jeb Bush and Paul Ryan to run for President at the last minute.

5. Romney’s vice presidential vetting team initially considered New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, Gov. Chris Christie, Gov. Tom Pawlenty, Sen. Rob Portman, VA Gov Bob McDonald, IN Gov. Mitch Daniels, Rep. Paul Ryan and Sen. John Cornyn. The final short list: Ryan, Christie, Pawlenty and Rubio. Ryan overcame his early hesitation that Romney was not a movement conservative and his wife’s fear about the arduous of the campaign. Ryan was particularly wary of top Romney aide Stuart Stevens, whom he saw as “indifferent” to the conservative moment.

6. The biggest worry for Romney’s veep vetters about Christie was not his health: it was about various financial dealings involving his family and friends. A 2010 DOJ investigation into Christie’s spending habits as a US Attorney. His time as a lobbyist for the securities industry. His brother’s dealings with the SEC, and more. Christie had contempt for Romney’s operation, which returned the feelings: Christie was a very hard surrogate to manage, insisting on very expensive charters and emoluments. Romney’s team did not think Christie’s operation was sufficiently cooperative with their vetting requests. Romney picked Ryan ten days before the choice was announced. “The Garden State governor’s record was littered with potential landmine.”

7. After the first presidential debate, President Obama confessed that “he was struggling.”

“You keep telling me I can’t spend too much time defending my record, and that I should talk about my plans, he said. But my plans aren’t anything like the plans I ran on in 2008. I had a universal health care plan then. Now I’ve got.. what? A manufacturing plan? What am I gonna do on education? And what am I gonna do on energy? There’s not much there. .. I can’t tell you that. Okay, I woke up today. I knew I needed to do better, and I’ll do better. I am wired in a different way than this event requires.”

Obama paused.

“I just don’t know if I can do this.”


10 things you need to know today: November 1, 2013

A Hillary nod wouldn’t have provided enough of a poll boost to warrant ditching Joe, campaign advisors concluded. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

The Week

Only six people were reportedly able to enroll on during its first 24 hours, a new book says Obama considered replacing Biden, and more

1. Just six people reportedly enrolled on on first day
Documents released by the GOP-controlled House Oversight Committee say that just six people managed to enroll for insurance on in its first 24 hours online, and just 248 people had managed to by the second day. The revelation, included in notes prepared for the “war room” of an agency managing the botched rollout of the ObamaCare website, came a day after Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told Congress she could not provide reliable data on enrollment yet. [USA Today]

2. Obama advisers said to have considered replacing Biden with Clinton
President Obama’s top aides secretly conducted polls and focus groups to determine whether it would be a good idea to replace Vice President Joe Biden with Hillary Clinton on the 2012 ticket, journalists Mark Halperin and John Heilemann say in their new book, Double Down, which is a sequel to Game Change. Then–chief of staff William Daley pushed the radical option, they say, but it was dropped because it didn’t offer Obama a big-enough boost. [The New York Times]

3. Court revives Texas abortion restriction, for now
A federal appeals court on Thursday lifted an injunction blocking a key part of Texas’s new abortion restrictions requiring doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. The decision means that the rule can take effect immediately, leaving at least 12 of the state’s 32 clinics unable to perform abortions as soon as Friday. A lower court had blocked the restriction on Monday, calling it unconstitutional. [Associated Press]

4. FAA eases electronics restrictions in flight
The Federal Aviation Administration announced Thursday that it will lift restrictions on the use of electronic devices to listen to music, read, and play games, because it has determined that they are safe during all phases of flight. An advisory committee recommended the change a month ago. It probably will take effect by the end of the year, but the ban on making cellphone calls and sending texts will remain in effect. [The New York Times]

5. Food stamp cuts take effect
On Friday, $5 billion in cuts to food stamp benefits are taking effect as a federal economic stimulus program expires. The average household benefit of about $275 will drop by $36, which amounts to 21 fewer meals a month for a family of four. A near-record 47.6 million Americans are receiving benefits, and budget hawks are trying to impose further cuts. “Our members are panicking,” says Margaret Purvis, president of Food Bank for New York City. [Time]

6. Booker takes his seat in the Senate
Former Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker was sworn into the Senate on Thursday, continuing his rise to stardom in the Democratic Party. Booker is the first black senator from his state, and the first elected anywhere in the country since Barack Obama’s 2004 election in Illinois. Booker immediately cast his first vote — for a procedural move allowing a vote on Obama’s Federal Housing Finance Agency nominee Mel Watt. [USA Today]

7. Israeli airstrikes target missiles on Syrian bases
Israel this week launched airstrikes on Syrian military bases — one near Damascus and another near the port city of Latakia — Obama administration officials told CNN and CBS News on Thursday. The presumed targets were missiles Israel believed could be sent to the Lebanon-based Islamist group Hezbollah, which is helping Syrian President Bashar al-Assad battle rebels. Israel hit missile shipments twice earlier this year. [CNNCBS News]

8. Appeals court blocks reforms for New York’s stop-and-frisk policy
In a surprise twist to a long battle over police tactics in New York City, a federal appeals court on Thursday halted changes to the New York Police Department’s practice of stopping and frisking people on the street. Trial Judge Shira A. Scheindlin said stop and frisk violated the rights of minorities, but the appeals court said she had failed to maintain the appearance of impartiality and removed her from the case. [The New York Times]

9. Six tech giants call for restraints on the NSA
Facebook, Google, Apple, Yahoo, Microsoft, and AOL sent a letter to Senate leaders Thursday supporting a proposal to end the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of the phone records of millions of Americans. The bill also would create a privacy advocate within the secretive surveillance court that oversees the NSA. Long wary of Washington politics, the tech industry is getting more active as revelations on NSA snooping pile up. [The Washington Post]

10. Toronto police dig up video of mayor allegedly smoking crack
Toronto police say they have found a video, taken in a surveillance operation targeting an alleged drug dealer, showing the city’s mayor, Rob Ford, appearing to smoke from a crack pipe. The tape’s existence was first reported in May, but police say it was deleted from a hard drive and they only recently recovered it. The news intensified calls on Ford, who has denied the tape existed, to resign, but he said Thursday he has no reason to quit. [Associated Press]


Obama Team Insists It Never Considered Dropping Biden For Clinton

AP Photo / Evan Vucci

TPM LiveWire

Members of President Barack Obama’s team worked to push back against a juicy story that surfaced Thursday, insisting that Vice President Joe Biden was never seriously at risk of being shoved off the 2012 ticket and replaced by Hillary Clinton.

The detail, which will appear in the forthcoming book “Double Down” by Mark Halperin and John Heileman, was reported by the New York Times. Former White House chief of staff William Daley acknowledged that he signed off on research into the switch in late 2011, but said it was simply a case of Obama’s re-election team performing its “due dilligence.”

“I was vocal about looking into a whole bunch of things, and this was one of them,” Daley told the Times. “You have to remember, at that point the president was in awful shape, so we were like, ‘Holy Christ, what do we do?’”

Daley went even further on Friday, telling “CBS This Morning” that they never considered replacing Biden with the former secretary of state.

“Not for a moment,” Daley said, noting that there was research done on a number of different individuals and issues.

Former Obama adviser David Plouffe said on Twitter Thursday that the idea was never “entertained” by Obama or “most of us.”


Here Comes Corey: Corey Booker To Be Sworn In Today

cory booker swearing in
Newark Mayor Cory Booker talks to supporters during an election night victory party after winning a special election for the U.S. Senate, Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) | AP

I watched Rachel Maddow’s interview with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid last night and one of the take-aways from that interview was Senator Reid’s enthusiasm over the prospect of having Senator-Elect Cory Booker on his team.

The Huffington Post

WASHINGTON (AP) — Cory Booker has come to Washington.

The former Newark mayor will be sworn in as a U.S. senator at noon Thursday. Vice President Joe Biden will swear in the 44-year-old former Newark mayor in the Old Senate Chamber.

Booker will be joined by a number of family members, including his mother and his brother, Cary. His father died earlier this month.

It’s unclear what Booker’s committee assignments will be.

Booker submitted his resignation as mayor on Wednesday. It was effective at midnight.

He served as Newark mayor for seven years.