Oh, that platinum podium: Consider that Hillary Rodham Clinton gets $200,000 and up for many speeches. None other than The New York Times acknowledges that the nation's favorite Democrat has tapped into the "speechmaking gold mine" via the exclusive Manhattan-based Harry Walker Agency, a speaker's group that also manages the oration schedules of Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Dick Cheney and Karl Rove, among others.
"The $200,000 she commands appears to be comparable to what Bill Clinton receives for speeches delivered in this country, though Mr. Clinton — who earned $17 million from speeches last year — has collected much more outside the United States, including the $700,000 he was paid when he spoke to a company in Lagos, Nigeria," Times reporter Amy Chozick points out.
Together, the couple made $100 million — in speeches alone — in the past 12 years, plying the "buckraking circuit." But speechifying can be fraught with peril for political candidates, what with conflict of interest and all.
"We're starting immediately to monitor both Hillary and the other Democratic rising stars and collect, tag and characterize their speeches so we can hold them accountable when the campaign begins in earnest," Tim Miller, executive director of America Rising, told The Times. The conservative political action committee, incidentally, staged the "Inaugural Stop Hillary 2016 Luncheon" in Manhattan only last week.
ANCHORS AWEIGH AWAY
When he's not wrangling immigration reform, Sen. Marco Rubio still tends to the needs of the Sunshine State. The Florida Republican is vexed that the recent Pensacola Beach Air Show did not include the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels. The precision demonstration team has been grounded this year in the name of sequestration.
"It's infuriating when you take into account how the Blue Angels figure in the grand scheme of our $3.8 trillion federal budget," Mr. Rubio says. "Their operating budget for 2013 is around $40 million, and canceling their 2013 season saved around $28 million. That's less than 1 percent of the total cuts made to the Navy's operating budget for the 2013 fiscal year."
Mr. Rubio instead wonders why the U.S. maintains a $34 million, 64,000 square foot building in Helmand province, Afghanistan.
"The building sits empty while Pentagon officials are debating whether to turn the building over [to] the Afghan army, who may be unable to maintain the massive structure and will have to demolish it," the lawmaker says. Canceling an air show appearance is "symbolic," he says, of a government that can't prioritize budgeting decisions.
"For President Obama to continue the charade of making things like the Blue Angels the culprits of our debt and, therefore, the first thing on the chopping block is an insult to the American people," Mr. Rubio concludes.
WILD BLUE YONDER
There's better sequester news for the U.S. Air Force, meanwhile, due to the seemingly serendipitous nature of federal budget cuts. Fighters, bombers and other craft are aloft once again, including the sensational Thunderbirds team. Why is this? Voila: The Defense Department received authority from Congress to shift some funds around and free up enough money to get 'em flying. Well, at least until Oct. 1.
"At a time when the world is becoming more dangerous, President Obama's historic defense cuts have resulted in an underfunded missile defense strategy, a shortfall in vital overseas war-fighting funding, and dire warnings from our military leaders that they soon will be unable to respond to contingencies around the world," warns Sen. James M. Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican, who is, nonetheless, pleased that Air Force is once again air bound.
"Given the humility that's defined your life, I suspect it's harder for you to see something that's clear to everybody else around you, and that's how bright a light you shine — how your vision and example have illuminated the path for so many others, how your love of service has kindled a similar love in the hearts of millions here at home and around the world. And, frankly, just the fact that you're such a gentleman and such a good and kind person I think helps to reinforce that spirit of service. We are surely a kinder and gentler nation because of you."
— President Obama to former President George H.W. Bush who visited the White House on Monday.
Seventy lawmakers claim it's a first. On Thursday morning, a bustling gaggle of Republicans and Democrats will gather outside the U.S. Capitol to publicly present a legislative reform package of nine bills in "a first-of-its-kind format," meant to show off newfound bipartisanship.
"Lately, it has been pretty rare to see Democrats and Republicans even saying a nice word about one another, let alone coming together on the grounds of the Capitol," says Rep. Reid J. Ribble, Wisconsin Republican. "But that's what you'll see."
The coalition calls it the "Make America Work" package; the bills in question call for a more efficient, less wasteful government — certainly something the tea party has called for since 2009. The event, however, has been organized by No Labels, an interest group founded three years ago by former Republican presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman Jr. and Sen. Joe Manchin III, West Virginia Democrat.
"This event warrants the attention of everyone in Washington because of what it means for the progress of our country," says Rep. Ami Bera, California Democrat. "Our announcement will provide a template for how Democrats and Republicans can work together."
"It's common ground on some common-sense measures," insists Rep. Tim Griffin, Arkansas Republican.
POLL DU JOUR
• 70 percent of Americans "very closely" followed the verdict in the 1992 Rodney King beating case; the figure included 83 percent of blacks and 69 percent of whites.
• 48 percent of Americans overall followed the 1994 arrest of O.J. Simpson very closely; the numbers included 63 percent of blacks and 46 percent of whites.
• 35 percent overall followed the 2012 shooting of Trayvon Martin very closely; the figure included 70 percent of blacks and 30 percent of whites.
• 35 percent overall followed the charges made against George Zimmerman very closely; the figure included 63 percent of blacks and 30 percent of whites.
• 30 percent overall followed the 2009 arrest of Henry Gates very closely; the figure included 52 percent of blacks and 27 percent of whites.
• 26 percent overall followed the trial of George Zimmerman very closely; the figure includes 56 percent of black and 20 percent of whites.
Source: A Pew Research Center survey of 1,002 U.S. adults conducted July 11-14, plus historic Pew data from 1992-2012.
• Proclamations and mere prattle to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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