Congress can’t peek At President’s Blackberry
Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), Chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL), Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. (Getty Images and Brian Yaklyvich/CNN)
October 14th, 2011
07:55 PM ET

Congress can’t peek At President’s Blackberry

Congress isn’t getting a glimpse of what’s on President Obama’s Blackberry – or any more internal White House communications related to the controversial federal loan guarantee to the solar panel manufacturer Solyndra.

The House Republicans investigating the loan controversy had requested all internal White House documents about the issue, and the chairman of the relevant oversight and investigations subcommittee, Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL), had said that their request included e-mails on the President’s Blackberry. Today the White House counsel sent a letter to the House Energy and Commerce Committee explaining that they won’t comply with the request because it “implicates longstanding and significant institutional Executive Branch confidentiality interests.”

Given past administrations’ refusal to comply with similar congressional requests, the response is hardly a surprise. What’s the difference this time? FULL POST


Topics: Oversight • President Obama
Friday reflections: Should religion matter?
October 14th, 2011
04:13 PM ET

Friday reflections: Should religion matter?

As the election engine picks up steam, the GOP presidential candidates are prepping to have every detail of their lives publicized and scrutinized. Most recently, Mitt Romney’s faith has become a key issue among debaters: Supporters say to give the topic a rest, while some critics accuse him of not being a Christian and others have gone as far as to call Mormonism a cult.

However, Dr. Dewey Wallace, a professor who specializes in “Christianity and religion in America” at the George Washington University in Washington D.C., says the term “cult” is subjective.

“They even use the term ‘Cult’ for the Mormons, which is a tricky word to use,” says Wallace. “In my classes, I define a cult as ‘Someone else’s religion.’ No one ever invites you to ‘Join me in my cult on Sunday morning,’” Wallace adds with a laugh.

It’s important to note that Romney isn’t the first candidate to be criticized for his religious beliefs, nor will he be the last. But one might assume that because of separation of church and state, presidential religious belief shouldn’t be a political issue. As history tells us though, that’s just not the case.

Thomas Jefferson, credited by most Americans as the founder of the church vs. state ideology in American politics, was “accused of being an anti-Christian Deist,” says Wallace, which hindered his election campaign.
FULL POST


Topics: Campaign • Faith • President Obama
White House solar panels taking "longer than expected"
Solar panels at Pocono International Raceway. (Jeremy Harlan/CNN)
October 14th, 2011
03:38 PM ET

White House solar panels taking "longer than expected"

On October 5, 2010 Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Council of Environmental Quality Chairwoman Nancy Sutley announced a plan to install solar panels and a solar water heater on the roof of the White House. In a statement, the two called the installation a "demonstration project showing that American solar technologies are available, reliable, and ready for installation in homes throughout the country. "

"This project reflects President Obama’s strong commitment to U.S. leadership in solar energy and the jobs it will create here at home," Secretary Chu said in the statement.

Sutley said, "By installing solar panels on arguably the most famous house in the country, his residence, the President is underscoring that commitment to lead and the promise and importance of renewable energy in the United States."

But over a year later, the projects are still in the works. According to a Department of Energy spokesperson, the department is "still working through the procurement process, which has taken longer than expected given the nature of the project.  We hope to have the project completed as soon as possible."

It's unclear what exactly is slowing the procurement process down, but the length of the installation process surely doesn't inspire confidence that "solar technologies are available, reliable, and ready for installation in homes throughout the country."


Topics: Energy • White House
October 14th, 2011
02:02 PM ET

Obama sending combat troops to central Africa

President Obama has deployed combat troops to central Africa to aid in the fight against the Lord's Resistance Army. In a letter to Speaker of the House John Boehner, Obama says 12 troops with "appropriate combat equipment" were deployed on October 12 and approximately 100 in total will be deployed including a second combat team and headquarters, communications and logistics personnel. The forces will provide information and advise and assist "select partner nation forces," Obama explains. The troops will not fight except in self-defense.

Read the full letter on CNN's Security Clearance blog


Topics: Africa • Military • President Obama
Anita Perry blames Obama for son's job loss
October 14th, 2011
01:58 PM ET

Anita Perry blames Obama for son's job loss

Pendleton, South Carolina (CNN) – Rick Perry's wife Anita said Friday that she could sympathize with the plight of the unemployed because her son was forced to resign his job to take a more active role on his father's presidential campaign.

Anita Perry blamed the Obama administration for her son having to resign his position.

"My son had to resign his job because of federal regulations that Washington has put on us," Mrs. Perry said while campaigning for her husband in South Carolina, after a voter shared the story of losing his job.

Read more on CNN's Belief Blog


Topics: President Obama • Rick Perry • The Buzz
Obama to take in hoops on deck
October 14th, 2011
01:57 PM ET

Obama to take in hoops on deck

WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Obama, who loves to play and watch basketball, will be taking in a college game in a most unusual venue…the deck of the USS Carl Vinson.

A White House official confirms that Mr. Obama plans to travel to San Diego, California on Veterans Day to attend the "Carrier Classic."

“He looks forward to a great game between Michigan State and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.” The official said in a statement.

Organizers are touting the event as a chance to “both honor the fallen and celebrate the over 25 million active, reservists and veterans living and serving among us and abroad.”

Before departing for the game on November 11th, the president will honor the nation’s veterans by laying a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery.

The supercarrier, which has supported airstrikes in both Iraq wars, was also the platform for Osama bin Laden’s burial at sea following the successful mission in Pakistan by U.S. Navy SEALs in May.


Topics: Basketball • The Buzz
Obama's position on Pentagon cuts remains unclear
October 14th, 2011
11:15 AM ET

Obama's position on Pentagon cuts remains unclear

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s claim Thursday that President Obama objects to further defense cuts has Republicans demanding to know if the president is really taking the Pentagon’s budget “off the table” when it comes to negotiating further cuts in federal spending.

If so, it could put the president at odds with members of his own party that believe further cuts in the Pentagon budget are warranted.

After promising to increase budgetary transparency at the Pentagon, Panetta fielded a question from Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, on whether he favored additional cuts to defense spending beyond the $450-billion in cuts that are already in the works.
FULL POST


Topics: President Obama • The News
Morning Briefing: Obama's Detroit agenda
October 14th, 2011
08:12 AM ET

Morning Briefing: Obama's Detroit agenda

The 1600 Report's daily roundup of what the White House is reading this morning online and in the papers:

Obama’s got a political agenda in Detroit [NYTimes]

Inside Obama's War Room [Rolling Stone]

Romney authors Op-Ed on how he’d deal with China [WashPo]

Obama keeping MLK generation at a distance? [POLITICO]

Just how alike are President Obama and Jimmy Carter [POLITICO]

Bill Clinton has a solution for partisan gridlock [POLITICO]

Obama defends Iranian terror accusations [NYTimes]

Does Perry actually want to be president? [WashPo]

POTUS' Day Ahead: Detroit bound
October 14th, 2011
07:42 AM ET

POTUS' Day Ahead: Detroit bound

Good morning from the White House. President Obama heads to Detroit this Friday with traveling partner and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, who continues his official state visit to the Unite States. The two leaders will tour a GM facility that uses South Korean parts and push the recently approved trade agreements between the two nations in a joint speech at 1:50 p.m.

POTUS' full schedule after the jump
FULL POST


Topics: Daily Schedule