Inside Politics: Songs of protest still continue at Wisconsin Capitol

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MADISON, Wis. — Most of the demonstrations against Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker ended a long time ago. But every weekday at noon, a few dozen people still gather inside the state Capitol and sing protest songs for an hour.

The 50 or so singers don’t have a clear goal. They say they’re upset about Mr. Walker’s efforts to strip public workers of union rights. And even though the governor survived a recall election, they still keep coming.

Singer Brandon Barwick of Madison says his colleagues are fighting for better political leadership.

Democratic state Sen. Fred Risser supports their cause but says the singing won’t prompt lawmakers to change their minds. Republican state Rep. Stephen Nass says it’s long past time for the singers to stop disrupting activity in the Capitol.

GOP

Republicans taking hard look at Jeb Bush for 2016

After a year in which Republicans had precious little for which to be thankful, perhaps it’s not surprising that party leaders and the faithful spent a good chunk of the long Thanksgiving weekend obsessing instead over 2016 — specifically the possibility of a presidential run by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

After The New York Times reported Thursday that a Bush bid was a possibility, Republicans and conservatives have been buzzing over the news on Internet news sites and talking up the pros and cons of such a run.

Mr. Bush, the son and brother of the past two Republican presidents, is “weighing financial and family considerations,” according to people close to the former governor, the Times reported.

CALIFORNIA

Gay marriage case possible for SCOTUS

SAN FRANCISCO — A San Francisco couple are waiting to find out if the U.S. Supreme Court will take their case challenging the 1996 law that prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages.

Karen Golinski and Amy Cunninghis got married during the brief window in 2008 when gay couples could tie the knot in California.

Ms. Golinski immediately tried to add her wife to her employer-sponsored health care plan. But because she is married to another woman and works for the U.S. government, her otherwise routine request was denied.

A federal judge earlier this year ordered the government to process Ms. Golinski’s application for benefits, ruling that the federal Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court has a closed-door conference scheduled this week to review an appeal filed by Republican lawmakers in the case.

STATE

No conference planned for nuke-free Mideast

The U.S. says a proposed conference on banning nuclear weapons in the Middle East cannot be convened at this point because of current conditions in the region.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a statement released Friday that the U.S. will continue to work to create conditions that could result in a successful conference. But she cited political turmoil in the region and Iran’s defiant stance on nonproliferation.

She says the U.S. supports the goal of a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction. But she said such a conference should discuss a broad agenda of regional security and have some sort of consensus among the nations in the region on how to approach the conference.

The Associated Press reported earlier this month that the meeting, planned for Helsinki before the end of the year had been called off. A diplomat, who demanded anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter ahead of a public announcement of the cancellation, said Israel had decided not to attend. Key sponsors had said that the meeting was possible only if all countries, especially Israel, would participate.

Israel declined to participate because of positions taken by Arab countries, the diplomat said.

GOP

Bipartisan cooperation puts Huntsman back in spotlight

Onetime Republican presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman Jr., who announced his candidacy in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty, will resurface for some political posturing Tuesday. Mr. Huntsman joins former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle for a conference call with the press, organized by No Labels, an activist group seeking bipartisan cooperation, among other things.

“In order to solve our country’s big problems, we need real leadership in Washington to forge across-the-aisle solutions,” said Mark McKinnon, the group’s president, who adds that the pair will expound on “leadership.”

And oddly enough, Mr. Huntsman is now getting kudos from an unlikely source, 11 months after he suspended his White House bid.

WHITE HOUSE

Obama, daughters shop together at small business

President Obama and his daughters went shopping at an independent bookstore in Arlington on Small Business Saturday, the annual marketing event aimed at promoting mom-and-pop shops across the country.

According to press reports, the president picked up 15 children’s books in about 20 minutes — he reportedly had his shopping list on a Blackberry — at One More Page Books, owned by Eileen McGervey.

The president later tweeted the following: “My family & I started our holiday shopping at a local bookstore on #SmallBizSat. I hope you’ll join & shop small this holiday season. -bo.”

The president signs his Twitter messages “-bo.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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