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By Josh Gerstein
President Barack Obama’s much-touted pivot to Asia — a foreign policy drive which has languished recently amidst a lack of high-level direction — could be reinvigorated by Vice President Joe Biden, analysts said.
Biden is on a swing through Asia this week amid heightened tensions following China’s announcement last week of a new air defense zone over long-disputed waters between that country and Japan.
The pivot to Asia was a central foreign policy theme of Obama’s first term, underscoring a need many policymakers saw for the United States to shift its diplomatic, security and economic attentions from the traditional focus on Europe and the Middle East to the rising powers in the Pacific — most notably, China. [EXCERPT]
(Also on POLITICO: Biden arrives in Tokyo)
Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/12/joe-biden-asia-pivot-100620.html#ixzz2mUxhEHEp
Got a question for President Obama? Now is your chance to ask him.
Hardball host Chris Matthews will sit down for a Q&A with the commander-in-chief on Thursday at American University in Washington, D.C. During the town hall-style interview, Obama will also answer students’ questions, in addition to some of yours, via the official “Let’s Play Hardball” group on msnbc.com.
Obama’s interview with Matthews comes following the rocky rollout of HealthCare.gov, an interim nucleardeal with Iran, renewed calls for immigration reform, and with new budget negotiations on the horizon.
Matthews will discuss a number of topics with Obama, including voter suppression, healthcare, political gridlock in D.C., growing dissatisfaction with the government and more. The interview will air on Thursday evening’s Hardball at 7 p.m. ET.
By Jennifer Epstein
President Obama will sign up for health insurance through an Affordable Care Act exchange, press secretary Jay Carney said Monday
“I don’t have an update for you on that. I know that he will and has said that he will,” Carney told reporters.
Asked when the registration will happen and whether the White House will make it open to the press, Carney responded: ”I’ll get back to you.”
Soon after the ACA passed, the White House had told USA Today that Obama would sign up for insurance through an exchange, and when POLITICO followed up earlier this year, a reporter was directed back to those comments.
Carney’s comments Monday were the first recent confirmation of the president’s plans. He has the option of choosing to work through the District of Columbia or his home state of Illinois.
How the president’s Irish “cousin” is making shrewd use of the First Family.
By Ben Schreckinger
There was little surprise when, shortly after President Obama’s chopper touched down in a patch of emerald grass in Moneygall, Ireland, in 2011, he was whisked inside the local watering hole and soon seen hoisting a pint and mugging for snapshots. It was a photo op, to be sure—one that played well with any of the 40 million Irish-Americans who saw pictures of the president’s visit to their ancestral homeland—but few people would have figured that it was the young Irishman at Obama’s side, Henry Healy, a then-26-year-old former accountant, who would go on to make deft political use of the moment. Fewer still who saw the pictures would have guessed they were looking at two old relatives catching up over a Guinness.
Healy, whose bright smile and ginger hair gives him a rather stereotypically Irish appearance, is a distant relative of Obama’s—who is more often described as America’s first African-American president, not its 12th one with Irish heritage. But both are accurate: Four years before that Obama visit to Ireland, Healy’s paternal uncle used parish records to trace then-Sen. Obama’s great-great-great grandfather to their village of Moneygall, population 310. Healy is one of several distant Obama relations still living in the hamlet, halfway between Dublin and Limerick, and when Obama upset Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Iowa caucuses, television cameras showed up, and the family put Healy forward as spokesman to explain how happy they were for their long lost cousin. “Speaking in public wouldn’t be something I’d be afraid of,” says Healy, who—as seems to be the village habit—often makes statements by speaking in the conditional. On an island where American politics looms large, Healy was an overnight celebrity.
Read more: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2013/11/letter-from-moneygall-obama-cousin-ireland-100418.html#ixzz2lymTjJ7M
By Benjy Sarlin
Arguing “there’s no reason we shouldn’t get immigration reform done right now,” President Obama demanded on Monday for the umpteenth time that Congress pass his top legislative priority already.
So you can understand if he was a bit annoyed when, towards the end of his speech in San Francisco’s Chinatown, pro-immigration activists started heckling.
“Mr. President, please use your executive order to halt deportations for all 11.5 million undocumented immigrants in this country right now!” one protester yelled. As Obama tried to respond, the shouting continued: “You have a power to stop deportation for all undocumented immigrants in this country!”
“Actually I don’t,” Obama replied. “And that’s why we’re here.”
By Daniel Arkin, Staff Writer, NBC NEWS
The announcement this weekend that the United States and five other world powers had struck a deal with Iran that curtails its contentious nuclear program in exchange for limited relief from painful economic sanctions marks the most significant accord between Washington and Tehran in more than a quarter-century.
It also caps off nearly three months of whirlwind diplomacy — as swift as it was unprecedented — following a decade-long global nuclear standoff with Iran and an extended history of failed negotiations.
“Diplomacy opened up a new path toward a world that is more secure,” President Barack Obama said late Saturday night from the State Dining Room in the White House just after the historic agreement was signed at the Palace of Nations in Geneva.
By Zachary Roth
Working ballot by ballot, county-by-county, the Republican Party is attempting to alter voting laws in the biggest and most important swing states in the country in hopes of carving out a sweeping electoral advantage for years to come.
Changes already on the books or in bills before state legislatures would make voting harder, create longer lines, and threaten to disenfranchise millions of voters from Ohio to Florida, Pennsylvania to Wisconsin, Georgia to Arizona and Texas.
Efforts underway include moving election days, ending early voting and forcing strict new voter ID laws. The results could significantly cut voter turnout in states where, historically, low participation has benefited Republicans.
In the 10 months since President Obama created a bipartisan panel to address voting difficulties, 90 restrictive voting bills have been introduced in 33 states. So far, nine have become law, according to a recent comprehensive roundup by the Brennan Center for Justice – but others are moving quickly through statehouses.
“We are continuing to see laws that appear to be aimed at making it more difficult to vote—for no good reason,” Daniel Tokaji, an election law expert at Ohio State University, said in an interview.