Top of the Ticket

Political commentary from Andrew Malcolm

Category: Unions

961 days in, Obama becomes sick and tired of someone dawdling about jobs

Obama Jobs address to Congress 9-8-11

Speaking on behalf of millions of Americans who've grown angry and frustrated over the president's 32-month ineffective inactivity on the job creation front, President Obama on Thursday told members of Congress they really have to do something about the crummy employment situation -- and do it quickly.

Citing the plight of millions of struggling Americans whose wishes for jobs Obama ignored for most of the 961 days he's been in office while chasing shinier healthcare and financial reforms, Obama said it was time that Congress stop blaming others. He said it was time members take responsibility for their inaction and halt their phony partisan games and political circus acts that pervade Washington culture.

Because the Americans Obama hasn't been listening to are really hurting now. And -- who's....

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Somehow, many media miss James Hoffa's S.O.B. quote, but not Jake Tapper

jay Carney at white house media briefing 9-6-11

Quite a few national media outlets must have missed Teamsters President James Hoffa's Labor Day speech introducing President Obama in Detroit. (Not the L.A. Times, of course.)

Because they neglected to mention the union boss' canine quote about the tea party:

Let's take these sons of bitches out and give America back to an America where we belong.

Let's assume for the moment, that the son of the still-missing Teamster President Jimmy Hoffa, who was taken out somewhere once never to reappear, was not suggesting the enthusiastic union crowd start dating tea party members.

The living Hoffa's statement doesn't seem to quite fit Democrat Obama's past pleas for and promises of a new civility in the nation's political discourse.

You won't be surprised to learn that the media rep who tenaciously pursued this....

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Late-night jokes: Obama's job approval now lower than his uncle's blood-alcohol level

Obama's Uncle Onyango arrested in Massachusetts for DUI 8-11As The Ticket's 72,000-plus Twitter followers and 7,100 Facebook friends/fans know, we regularly share our daily picks of the late-night jokes of interest, usually before broadcast each night. Feel free to pass them on to friends using the "Share" buttons above.

Letterman: Big Labor Day Weekend. The day each year we celebrate our work force. Do we even have a work force anymore?

Leno: So the U.S. economy created zero jobs in August. Zero. President Obama says don't read too much into that. How can we? There's nothing there. It's zero!

Fallon: Denny's is now selling The Mac ‘n Cheese Big Daddy Patty, a burger-melt with macaroni and cheese. I know what you’re thinking – no bacon???

Leno: President Obama's Uncle Omar is in trouble. Imagine getting picked up for drunk driving, jailed and the only person you can call for bail money is $14 trillion in debt.

Fallon: Hurricane Irene caused $7 billion in damages. Mainly to the bodies of people who ate a week's worth of food supplies in one night.

Leno: Did you see Hurricane Irene over the weekend? Got downgraded to a tropical storm. Now, even our hurricanes get downgraded.

Leno: Well, at least Hurricane Irene did something the economy couldn't do. It got President Obama back into the White House.

Letterman: Labor Day Weekend. Big annual family picnic. Geez, where are the hurricanes when you need them? Dennys Logo

Letterman: President Obama’s uncle was arrested for DUI. Here’s the odd part: His blood-alcohol level was actually higher than the president’s job approval.

Leno: As Hurricane Irene approached, 6 million people were evacuated from New Jersey. Today, three of them went back.

Letterman: The CIA is hoping Kadafi's weapons don't fall into the wrong hands. And I said, Wait! Aren’t they already in the wrong hands?

Letterman: Such a lovely day today in New York City. Warm, sunny, blue skies. So because of that, Mayor Bloomberg only held three emergency briefings.

Fallon: A new survey finds that half of all American employees have faked a sick day. While the other half have just lied on a survey.

Letterman: President Obama unveils his next big jobs bill this week. I'm sure that will sail right through.

Fallon: A new study found that women gain more weight after marriage, but men gain more weight after a divorce. Yeah, the divorce usually takes place after the man points out that the woman gained more weight after marriage.

Fallon: Big movie news: Box office revenues were up this summer, although ticket sales were down. I was so confused, I almost spilled my $30 bucket of popcorn.

Fallon: A cute story here. Beyonce reveals that she and Jay-Z are expecting a baby. That kid is gonna have everything! Except a last name.


East Coast quake cracks Pelosi's hair

Pres. Obama's bus tour takes a detour

Conan uncovers secret clause in debt deal

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photos: Framingham Police Dept. (Onyango Obama); Denny's.

As big jobs speech looms, 77% say Obama has nation on wrong track

Obama Labor Day crowd in Detroit shows president how many years he will have in office 9-5-11

It could be worse.

But not much.

With only 427 days left before Americans pass judgment on Barack Obama's presidency, nearly eight out of 10 of them say in a poll that they believe the country is seriously off on the wrong track.

That 77% is up 17 points just this year. And it's the highest since George W. Bush went back to Texas.

Here's how bad the new ABC News/Washington Post Poll is for Obama: The good news for now is that by only a 2-to-1 margin (34%-17%), respondents say the Democrat's efforts on the economy have done more harm than good.

After all, with recorded unemployment at 9.1%, no new jobs created last month and no outlook for improvement, the number could be 3-to-1. And it may well become that. No wonder Rick Perry entered the Republican race.

It's so bad that Vice President Joe Biden may want to look around for a new top of the ticket in 2012, lest he lose his job and that lucrative rent on the guest house from the Secret Service agents protecting him.

Even less-than-conservative websites like are publishing anguished articles nowadays such as "What Democrats Can Do About Obama."

The former state senator appeared Monday at a Detroit Labor Council rally.

Introducing the nation's chief executive, Teamsters President James Hoffa Jr. appealed for union members to follow Obama's campaign promise to shun harsh partisanship and to reason and work together with political opponents such as thjames Hoffa exhorts union members in detroit 9-5-11e "tea party" to build a better America for everyone.

Well, no, actually Hoffa didn't do that. He said many things about the tea party. But here's the Hoffa action sentence:

"Let's take these sons of bitches out and give America back to an America where we belong."

Tea Party Express chairwoman Amy Kremer said Hoffa's "inexcusable" and "inappropriate and uncivil rhetoric" amount to "a call for violence on peaceful tea party members, which include many Teamster members."

ABC News' Jake Tapper and Mary Bruce asked for White House comment. You will be shocked to learn that presidential spokesmen declined to comment on the union president's call to take out tea party people, presumably not in a social dating sense.

This comes about two weeks after Joe Biden called tea party people "terrorists" and the same day he called them "barbarians" in a Cincinnati labor speech.

The new ABC News poll also revealed that a record 62% of respondents say they disapprove of Obama's work on the economy. In a measure of intensity that analysts called "striking," nearly half the respondents (47%) said they "strongly" disapprove of Obama's performance, while barely 15% strongly approve.

Usually when Obama gets in trouble like this, the Real Good Talker does two things: He schedules a round of fundraisers to hear the paying crowds cheer ("Thank you. Thank you. Be seated.") and he announces a "major speech" to fix things up. Oh, look! He's scheduled a major speech for Thursday night to talk about a jobs plan after 961 days in office.

Since all his other jobs speeches in recent months haven't worked, maybe one more will.

You know, how Obama inherited a huge economic hole and how he knows the recovery is insufficient (or nonexistent, depending on your employment status) and how he really wants Congress to finally get off its collective duff and do something about the problem that he and Joe said was fixed two years ago. Especially those pesky Republicans who didn't control either house back then.

In Detroit Monday, a tieless Obama warned Republicans, who were not numerous in the crowd, that if the GOP didn't accept the new job and spending ideas that he hasn't detailed yet, he is going to take his case to the American people.

Judging by the steady decline in Obama's job approval all summer and his pathetic numbers in this latest poll, Republicans can only hope that the Democrat carries through on that threat.


National debt grows now at $3 million per minute

Obama White House downgrades its own economic forecast

Obama bus tour themes: Things are screwed up and we need to spend more money

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Upper photo: President Obama at a Labor Day rally in Detroit. Credit: Bill Pugliano / Getty Images

Lower photo: Teamsters President James Hoffa Jr. at the Labor Day rally. Credit: Bill Pugliano / Getty Images

Obama's bus tour themes: Washington (not him) really screwed up and we should spend a lot more

Obama rides his new Bus A8-11

President Obama did some real good talking the last few days out there in Iowa and Minnesota and Illinois. Well, he did a lot of talking anyway.

He made it sound as if he's been living in Peosta or Atkinson himself, the way he went on about all the misbehavior going on back there in Washington, D.C., where he has lived since January of 2005 and, since January of 2009, at taxpayer expense in the White House.

The way he described those D.C. political shenanigans, who would want to spend $745 million of someone else's money to get there? Or $1 billion more to stay there? Or pay $37.1 million of others' money to 464 aides to help him work there.

Here are a few things said by the Democrat who just spent weeks negotiating spending cuts. See if this sounds like a chastened spender whose credit rating just got downgraded:

When folks tell you that we’ve got a choice between jobs now or dealing with our debt crisis, they’re wrong. They’re wrong. We can’t afford to just do one or the other. We’ve got to do both....

We’ve got over $2 trillion worth of repairs that need to be made around the country, and I know there are some right here in this county and right here in this state. And we’ve got a lot of construction workers that are out of work when the housing bubble went bust, and interest rates are low, and contractors are ready to come in on time, under budget -- this is a great time for us to rebuild our roads and our bridges, and locks in the Mississippi, and our seaports and our airports....

I think to myself, you know what, if folks in Washington were carrying out their responsibilities the way you’re carrying out your responsibilities, we’d be just fine. We would be just fine. (Applause.)...

Of course, those folks in Washington including him are not in Washington. Congress is on recess, the same time-off Obama will begin today on another island vacation.Obama Eating Ice Cream in Iowa 8-16-11

Now, briefly a few words about the president's fancy new armored bus. Some media folks thought they had a gotcha moment because here Obama is out touting the need for more American jobs, which everybody knows, but Obama is still saying anyway.

And it turns out the fancy $1.1 million bus was ordered through a Tennessee company but built in Canada, America's hat.

This can happen because of the North American Free Trade Agreement, the kind of agreement Obama is now touting with Colombia and South Korea as a U.S.-job maker.

Obama probably forgot about that huge labor forum in Soldier Field four years ago last week.

He'd been coming under attack by Hillary Clinton and other primary opponents as full of talk but too inexperienced, too young, too naive to become president. To make his bones before the union members, Obama said that in the White House:

"I would immediately call the president of Mexico, the president of Canada, to try to amend NAFTA, because I think that we can get labor agreements in that agreement right now."

As with closing Guantanamo, Obama hasn't really gotten around to that yet. And as any Yale graduate would know, Canada doesn't have a president. It has a prime minister.


Americans downgrade Congress to historic low 13% job approval

Obama's penchant for speeches now sounding hollower by the word

On Day 938 of his presidency, Obama says he'll have a jobs plan in a month or so

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Tannen Maury / EPA (Obama rides in his new bus); Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press (Obama downs an Iowa ice cream cone).

Wisconsin news: Unions' recall drive falls short; GOP holds state Senate

Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker

Labor unions and Democrats counted on gaining three state Senate seats in Tuesday's recall votes across Wisconsin to demonstrate a repudiation of Republicans' reform drive there.

However, they got only two. And now two Democrats face recalls in elections next week.

So, no voter repudiation of Republican senators who marched with new Republican Gov. Scott Walker in a major reform drive last winter that drew round-the-clock union protests in Madison.

John Hogan, director of the Committee to Elect a Republican Senate. called the election results "a huge victory."

"Voters gave us a mandate last fall," he added. "They backed us up again. Voters told us loud and clear, 'Stay the course. Things are working.'"

More than $35 million has been spent by parties and outside interest groups on a handful of state races, compared with less than $20 million in all of last year's 115 legislative contests. The GOP now still holds control of state government -- the governor's office, the House and the state Senate, 17-16.

Such control allowed Walker, a former Milwaukee county government executive, to drive through a package of legislation that included curtailing collective bargaining rights for most public unions and having members contribute more to their own pensions, as a means to grow the economy and attract new jobs. 

The outside groups, however, were not filling the coffers of Wisconsin TV stations just to ensure fine representation for the citizens of La Crosse and Racine. Walker's successful push, mirrored by Republican governors in Ohio, Florida, New Jersey and elsewhere, became a proxy for the ongoing national debate over big government vs smaller government, more spending vs less.

Unions hoped to stop the movement in cheese land. And opponents vowed to try to recall Walker next year.

It's a political theme being fought in Washington and sure to become familiar as the national campaigns gain momentum for 2012.


Obama administration job approval hits a new low

He's done so well with economy, Geithner will stay

Obama's penchant for speeches sounding hollower by the word

-- Andrew Malcolm

Don't forget to follow The Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or click this: @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here. We're also available on Kindle.Use the ReTweet buttons above to share any item with family and friends.

Photo: Andy Manis / Associated Press (Walker).


Obama gives fretting unions some facetime today

Debt Vote House tally 8-1-11 CSPAN

Some serious feigned fence-mending scheduled for this morning behind closed doors at the White House.

President Obama, according to his public schedule, will meet with the AFL-CIO Executive Council to "discuss issues important to working families, including how to continue growing our economy and putting Americans back to work."

Translation from the unions' POV: WTH were you thinking when you did this debt ceiling deal? The Senate will vote on the deal today. And the president is expected to sign it soon after.

It's one major measure of the political sea change in Washington this summer that President Obama's State of the Union message last winter hardly mentioned the word debt. And yet the D.C. debate ever since has been nothing but debt and spending cuts.

After increasing the national debt by $4 trillion on his watch, for a variety of reasons, Obama lost....

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Rep. Thaddeus McCotter joins the GOP race on July 4th weekend -- patriotic, yes, media-savvy, maybe not


Michigan Rep. Thaddeus McCotter announced his candidacy for the GOP presidential nomination today.

Who knew?

It may have been carried on local media, but CSPAN was running coverage of the progressive Netroots Nation conference, which took place in mid-June; CSPAN2 was in the middle of a tribute to historian Manning Marable; Fox News Channel had "Huckabee"; CNN had "Nepal's Stolen Children," with Demi Moore; and MSNBC had its prison documentary series "Lockup."

However, you can now scroll down for a video of McCotter's understated announcement.

Perhaps announcing a presidential candidacy at a music festival in a park in Whitmore Lake, Mich., on a holiday weekend was not the best timing to garner national media coverage for the 45-year-old father of three..

The event was neither live-streamed on McCotter's Facebook page nor his official campaign website, and fans were casting about unsuccessfully Saturday evening on Twitter for.... 

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A first: Majority of Americans now supports same-sex marriage, Gallup finds

Same Sex Marriage a California couple Jade and Amber Fox wait for marriage license in Beverly Hills 2010

Thanks to a radical shift in thinking among independents and Democrats during the past year, for the first time in Gallup Poll tracking a clear majority of Americans now approves of gay marriage.

A new Gallup Poll released this morning finds that this month 53% of Americans say same-sex marriage should be recognized in law as equally valid with traditional male-female marriages.

The spurt in support of 9% in the past 12 months was the largest registered since Gallup first tracked the topic in 1996. Back then, only 27% supported same-sex marriage and two-thirds opposed.

Support for same-sex marriages had hovered in the low 40's since about 2004, until the latest figures, showing 59% of independents and 69% of Democrats now support the idea, while 28% of Republicans do. The GOP figure was unchanged from 2010.

The new statistics also show a predictable generational cleavage, with support for gay marriage highest among the youngest (70% among those 18 to 34), declining to 53% among those 35 to 54 years old and weakest among those over 55 (39%) -- although even that segment's support increased six points in the past 12 months. 

Support for gay marriage is higher among Catholics than Protestants, among the unmarried and among those who attend church less frequently.

Gallup was unable to determine what role, if any, last year's repeal of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy had on the substantial shift in marriage opinion. A majority of Americans (now two-thirds) has supported that change since 2005.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times (Jade and Amber Fox wait to apply for a marriage license in Beverly Hills, 2010).

Joe Biden update: He draws Italy duty in June

Joe Biden off somewhere on Air Force Two

The peripatetic President Obama is off to El Paso, Texas, today for another speech calling on someone to do something about the nation's broken immigration system. He'll also squeeze in a pair of Democratic Party fundraisers in Austin.

Joe Biden will stay behind to put in another day of useless bipartisan negotiations on comprehensive deficit reduction, which polls indicate will be a hot debate topic in next year's campaigns.

Speaking of growing the nation's deficits, the Obama team has plans to spend $53 billion on high-speed rail infrastructure in the next 72 months, assuming they're around that long -- and they can railroad the Republican House to go along on that fiscal ride.

Biden was in on the big announcement Monday about spending  $2 billion of that fortune on high-speed trains that a few people want in parts of the country.another delayed Amtrak train

You'll remember newly-installed Florida Gov. Rick Scott turned down that $2 billion federal train money, citing likely cost overruns and long-term operating expenses on a proposed 84-mile rail link between Tampa and Orlando.

But the Obama administration's Department of Transportation was determined to spend that money on union jobs one way or another.

So it found 22 projects in 15 other states to throw the money at. A large bundle went to the Northeast, of course, where JB used to commute by train from Delaware to the U.S. Capitol, while he was waiting for Obama to grow up.

California's Gov. Jerry Brown, who was just getting into politics when the first trains reached California, intends to use his money to speed up rail service between San Francisco and Los Angeles because his state's citizens are famous for their love of trains over cars.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder will invest his state's money on part of the rail line to Chicago. That way, someday people in Dearborn and Kalamzaoo will  be able to escape those cities at speeds up to 110 miles an hour.

This will be several more busy weeks of travel for both Obama and Biden, although they leave trains for other people to ride. Obama is flying off to Poland, France and Great Britain later this month and also Ireland to track down some very distant relatives for the cameras.

The Bidens, it was announced Monday, have been assigned to visit Italy in early June to join the important 150th anniversary celebration of that country's unification. That should make up for his trip to Finland and Moldova last winter.

The weather should be gorgeous in Italy by then.

 -- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Getty Images (Biden doesn't take the train somewhere); Roberto Gonzalez / Associated Press (another delayed Amtrak train).


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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
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