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Political commentary from Andrew Malcolm

Category: Immigration Debate

Obama's State of the Union: 'We do big things'

President Obama gives his second SOTU 1-5-11

Prepared text of President Obama's State of the Union, as provided by the White House

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow Americans:

Tonight I want to begin by congratulating the men and women of the 112th Congress, as well as your new Speaker, John Boehner. And as we mark this occasion, we are also mindful of the empty chair in this Chamber, and pray for the health of our colleague – and our friend – Gabby Giffords.

It’s no secret that those of us here tonight have had our differences over the last two years. The debates have been contentious; we have fought fiercely for our beliefs. And that’s a good thing. That’s what a robust democracy demands. That’s what helps set us apart as a nation.

But there’s a reason the tragedy in Tucson gave us pause. Amid all the noise and passions and rancor of our public debate, Tucson reminded us that no matter who we are or where we come from, each of us is a part of something greater – something more consequential than party or political preference.

We are part of the American family. We believe that in a country where every race and faith and point of view can be found, we are still bound together as one people; that we share common hopes and a common creed; that the dreams of a little girl in Tucson are not so different than those of our own children, and that they all deserve the chance to be fulfilled.

That, too, is what sets us apart as a nation.

Now, by itself, this simple recognition won’t usher in a new era of cooperation. What comes of this moment is up to us. What comes of this moment will be determined not by whether we can sit together tonight, but whether we can work together tomorrow.

I believe we can. I believe we must. That’s what the people who sent us here expect of us. With....

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Have gun, Will talk: Arizona Sheriff Clarence Dupnik not speechless over Tucson shootings or much else

Arizona Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik 1-9-11

For a chief law enforcement officer who's supposed to be assembling the complex criminal investigations of six sudden homicides against a local 22-year-old suspect, Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik sure has found ample time the last couple of days to appear all over national news media, spouting prickly opinions on pretty much anything asked.

The sheriff, who celebrates his 75th birthday today, is understandably defensive. He had no officers at Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' Saturday open-air get-together in a shopping parking lot. Just the sight of a parked patrol car near a federal officeholder might have discouraged a troublemaker.

Indeed, Dupnik's deputies didn't arrive at the carnage scene until summoned by frantic 911 callers. By then, officers didn't even have to capture the suspected....

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Sunday shows: Coburn, Jarrett, Gibbs, Hayden

Michael Hayden

ABC "This Week with Christiane Amanpour": Gen. Peter Chiarelli, Army vice chief of staff, and David Rohde and Kristen Mulvihill, authors.

Bloomberg Politcal Capital with Al Hunt: Census Director Robert Groves.

CBS "Face the Nation" with Bob Schieffer: CBS correspondents Chip Reid, Lara Logan, David Martin, Nancy Cordes and Sharyl Attkisson.

CNN: "GPS" with Fareed Zakaria: Muhtar Kent, Eric Schmidt and Klaus Kleinfeld.

CNN: "State of the Union" with Candy Crowley: Obama Press Secy. Robert Gibbs, Homeland Security Secy. Janet Napolitano, former Director of National Intelligence J. Michael McConnell and Michael Hayden, ex-CIA chief

"Fox News Sunday" with Chris Wallace: Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Cardinal Donald Wuerl on religion in politics, with Dana Perino, Juan Williams, Nina Easton and Bill Kristol.

NBC "Meet the Press" with David Gregory: Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett, with Doris Kearns Goodwin, Tom Brokaw, Peggy Noonan and Bob Woodward.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Hayden. Credit: Associated Press

Meg Whitman tidies up after her former maid

Turns out former EBay CEO Meg Whitman spent about $144.2 million of her own money to not get elected governor of California.

That's no doubt the most expensive personally-financed political campaign in U.S. history, larger even than the hair-care budget for Flo, the annoying Progressive insurance lady.

Now we need to up that Whitman out-of-pocket expense total by another $5,500.

The unsuccessful Republican candidate has agreed to pay off leftover financial claims from her former household maid, an illegal immigrant named Nikki Diaz Santillan.

Back in September, she just happened to come forward with a Democratic celebrity lawyer when Whitman's race was close with the old-former and now old-new governor, Jerry Brown, who also happens to be a Democrat.

At the time the maid said she had been fired when Whitman decided to run for governor.

Diaz Santillan thought she'd like to have more like an additional $8,000-$10,000 in undocumented expenses from Whitman. But after several hours of negotiation Wednesday with state labor officials in San Jose,  both sides agreed to the smaller settlement and proclaimed themselves victorious.

"We do our best for our employers," Diaz Santillan read from a statement, "and in return all we ask is to be treated with respect and to be paid for all the work we do."

Tucker Bounds, a Whitman spokesman, said the maid's claim of exploitation was political exploitation from the start. "This is the last dying gasp of a political act," he said.

After 20 years in the U.S and having two children, now American citizens, Diaz Santillan remains an illegal immigrant. She has hired an attorney to make her case for legal residency.

Whitman is packing up campaign paraphernalia to auction on EBay.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Last-minute Rocky Mountain Hi: Sarah Palin endorses third party Tom Tancredo for Colorado governor

Republican Sarah Palin greets a supporter while campaigning for GOP Senate candidate John Raese in West Virginia 10-30-10

For all its clean air and blue skies, Colorado has been a weirdly messy place politically this year.

There was former President Bill Clinton allegedly offering yet another Democratic Senate candidate a job working for the Obama administration if he left the competition. He didn't and lost anyway.

Then Republican ex-Rep. Tom Tancredo, he of the spectacularly unsuccessful bid for the GOP presidential nomination, jumps into the governor's race as a third-party American Constitution candidate.

And now on the last day ex-Gov. Sarah Palin endorses Tancredo against the hopelessly trailing....

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Federal appeals court signals skepticism over some objections to Arizona's illegal immigration law

Mexico border Fence at Nogales

There are persistent rumors floating around of elections allegedly occurring all across the country Tuesday. So we interrupt Susan Sarandon's robo-calls on behalf of legalizing marijuana in California, to bring you this court update on the controversial Arizona illegal-immigration law's legal status.

A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals heard the case today in San Francisco. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer was on hand as the most staunch defender of the state law, SB 1070, and one whose chances of reelection tomorrow have soared as a result.

The court's actual ruling on Arizona's appeal of a partial lower court injunction might not come for weeks. And, whatever it is, the losers will no doubt appeal the decision, likely all the way up to the Supreme Court, which could take years. So there's no Sig Alert on illegal desert border crossings quite yet.

The case is being watched extremely closely across the country. That's because 37 governor's chairs are....

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Taking a break from suing states, Obama's Justice Department wins hundreds of awards from itself

Democrats Eric Holder attorney general and his boss president barack obama

Reassuring news today for those who worried that the Obama administration's Department of Justice and Attorney General Eric Holder had been overwhelmed by their workload:

Dropping the Black Panther voter intimidation case.

Not closingDemocrat attorney general eric Holder the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.

Suing Arizona for trying to do the federal job of securing the porous Mexican border against drug and human smugglers.

Fighting in federal court to uphold the Don't Ask, Don't Tell law on gays in the military that Obama often says he really, really opposes and will certainly change someday on his watch.

Ditto for the department's ongoing legal defense of the Defense of Marriage Act.

Even though top Obama aide Valerie Jarrett got caught on an interview video recently kinda letting the cat out of the bag about the White House view of gay being a lifestyle choice.

But she apologized for the revelation.

The nation's top law enforcement officer has never seen a podium he couldn't use.

Somehow in his otherwise crippling schedule that took him to China last month, Holder managed to squeeze in time to preside today over another of his department's awards ceremonies.HolderpodiumlkleftLiuJinAFPGtty10-10

There was even one unconfirmed report that Holder got caught smiling. But only for a moment.

The awards list is impressive, including some exceptional heroism awards for brave anti-drug folks dangerously deployed in Afghanistan where the gunfire is worse even than in Washington, D.C..

There were more than 300 awards.

They involved included employees honored for distinguished service, lifetime service, exceptional service, cooperative service, excellence in legal advice, information technology, management, handling of legislation, appeals services, asset forfeiture, fraud fighting, legal services, dispute resolution and for being a good new employee.

The president himself could not make the ceremony. He was doing what this president chooses to do five days before midterm elections -- go on Comedy Central, since all the nation's other problems are so well under control.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Associated Press; Department of Justice; Liu Jin / AFP / Getty Images.

Report: Harry Reid aide Diana Tejada lied to FBI, ICE agents over sham marriage to Lebanese. No charges

Wow, here's one that flew in under the radar on Monday:

"An aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid repeatedly lied to federal immigration and FBI agents and submitted false federal documents to the Department of Homeland Security to cover up her illegal seven-year marriage to a Lebanese national who was the subject of an Oklahoma City Joint Terror Task Force investigation."FBI Logo

The story was broken by Fox News and involves Diana Tejada, the Latina press secretary for the embattled Nevada senator who is seeking a fifth term in a tight reelection battle with Republican Sharron Angle.

According to details, seven years ago Tejada fraudulently married a Lebanese national, Bassam Mahmoud Tarhini, to enable him to stay in the United States and avoid military service back home. She admitted to receiving money for doing so.

Court documents show that Tejada, who has worked for Reid for the past two years, knowingly filed false documents with Homeland Security, lied on multiple occasions to FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and submitted false marriage and immigration documents.

Earlier this year the Lebanese, who was being investigated by a joint terrorism task force, was deported. But for her part, Tejada was not charged with anything. A Justice Department official declined to explain how the aide to the top senator in Congress went uncharged for perjury, among other crimes.

A spokesman for the 70-year-old Reid told Fox News' Jana Winter on Monday evening that the senator's office was unaware of the investigation and referred to the aide as a junior staffer, although she was paid $52,451 by Reid last year.

The aide said Tejada, 28, no longer worked for the powerful senator but declined to specify when her employment was terminated. Fox found her appearing on a Spanish-language program on Reid's behalf as recently as Sept. 21, ironically discussing the do's and don't's of immigration rules.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Transcript of President Barack Obama with Univision

President Barack Obama was interviewed by Eddie "Piolin" Sotelo last week in Los Angeles for a Univision radio program that aired Monday.

Sotelo asked the president to focus on immigration. When the Spanish-language radio giant suggested that the Obama administration was more dedicated to fixing issues like healthcare than immigration, the president disagreed.

“My cabinet has been working very hard on trying to get it done, but ultimately, I think somebody said the other day, I am president, I am not king. I can't do these things just by myself. We have a system of government that requires the Congress to work with the executive branch to make it happen. I'm committed to making it happen, but I've gotta have some partners to do it,” Obama said.

For our colleague Michael Muskal's news article on the interview, click here. Scroll down for the full transcript of the interview, as provided by Univision, in English and Spanish.

Transcript of President Obama interview, as provided by Univision

Program:        “Piolin por la Mañana”
Network:        Univision Radio
Content:        Interview with the President of the United States Barack Obama
Date:              October 25, 2010
EPS:               Eddie “Piolin” Sotelo
POTUS:         President of the United States Barack Obama: 
EPS:               Thank you for coming, Mr. President.                 
                        [Audio of Pres. Obama’s various remarks rolls]
POTUS:         It is great to be here, Piolín. Piolín, that was an unbelievable introduction. Thank you so much.
EPS:               Thank you for making the time to be with us.
POTUS:         Well, you remember the last time I was in the studio, I promised that....

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Weekly remarks: Obama on more American jobs; Mike Pence says U.S. debt now $44,000 per person

Happy Democrat president Barack Obama relaxes in the Oval Office

Weekly remarks by President Obama, as provided by the White House  

After a decade of hardship for middle class families, and a recession that wiped away millions of jobs, we are in the middle of a tough fight to rebuild this economy and put folks back to work.

Winning this fight will not depend on government alone. It will depend on the innovation of American entrepreneurs; on the drive of American small business owners; on the skills and talents of American workers. These are the people who will help us grow our economy and create jobs.

But government still has an important responsibility. And that’s to create an environment in which someone can raise capital to start a new company; where a business can get a loan to expand; where ingenuity is prized and folks are rewarded for their hard work.

That’s why I fought so hard to pass a jobs bill to cut taxes and make more loans available for entrepreneurs.  It eliminated the capital gains taxes for key investments in small ...

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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
President Obama
Republican Politics
Democratic Politics



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