Good Sunday morning. Our staff is coming in morning to prepare a great program for you. Prepare along with us – check out what we're reading this morning.
On our radar: Wisconsin's recall election, the ceaseless unrest in Syria and the Middle East, and a pretty dismal May jobs report.
Check out what we're reading, and be sure to watch our exclusive interviews with Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Barrett and the chairman of the Republican Governors Association, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell. We'll also talk with Sens. Mark Warner and Dick Lugar about the state of bipartisanship in Congress and the unraveling of Syria. And we'll wrap up with our economic roundtable: Dan Balz of the Washington Post, Stephen Moore of the Wall Street Journal and Mark Zandi of Moody's Analytics.
State of the Union airs today at its regular time of 9 a.m. ET. Due to the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, the program will not re-air at noon ET.
Check out our morning news note, after the jump:
NEW THIS MORNING...
TEHRAN, June 3, 2012 (AFP) – Any attack by Israel on Iran will blow back on the Jewish state "like thunder," Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said on Sunday.
Khamenei also said that the international community's suspicion that Iran was seeking nuclear weapons is based on a "lie".
Wisconsin has seen anemic, pedestrian economic growth under this governor. We lag behind the regional pace of job creation and recovery. While Walker campaigned on creating jobs, he instead spent the past year-and-a-half on an entirely different agenda that raises his national political profile. ...
I'm running for governor to put Wisconsin first, not my own political career. I'm running to fight for jobs, not ideology. And I'm running to restore trust and integrity to state government. I'll never need a criminal defense fund paid for by billionaire donors, and I certainly won't dodge questions on my record or hide information from the public.
With the nation’s latest recall contest set for Tuesday in Wisconsin, politicians who have endured recalls say it’s such a disruptive, divisive and unsettling ordeal that there should be a much higher bar for forcing elected officials to face voters before their terms are up. ...
Recalled or not, all agreed on one thing: The process has become far too commonplace and should be reserved for only the most egregious cases involving accusations of corruption, malfeasance or criminal charges. Today, simply collecting enough petition signatures can trigger a recall, regardless of the reason.
Last year, there were at least 150 recall elections in the United States, from school board members to mayors to state lawmakers, according to a recent op-ed in the Los Angeles Times by Joshua Spivak, a senior fellow at the Hugh L. Carey Institute for Government Reform at Wagner College in Staten Island, N.Y. Two governors have been successfully recalled in U.S. history — North Dakota’s Lynn Frazier in 1921 and California’s Gray Davis in 2003 — and recall elections at the state level have been triggered 36 times, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
POLITICS / 2012
The president who started off with such dazzle now seems incapable of stimulating either the economy or the voters. ...
The legendary speaker who drew campaign crowds in the tens of thousands and inspired a dispirited nation ended up nonchalantly delegating to a pork-happy Congress, disdaining the bully pulpit, neglecting to do any L.B.J.-style grunt work with Congress and the American public, and ceding control of his narrative.
As president, Obama has never felt the need to explain or sell his signature pieces of legislation — the stimulus and health care bills — or stanch the flow of false information from the other side.
The bleak jobs report on Friday predictably had heads snapping toward the White House, looking to President Obama to do something. Yet his proposed remedies only underscore how much the president, just five months before he faces voters, is at the mercy of actors in Europe, China and Congress whose political interests often conflict with his own.
...even in 2008, with the financial system near collapse, most Congressional Republicans rejected the rescue plan of a Republican president, George W. Bush. And now, despite their own record-low numbers in the polls, they have next to no incentive to help an embattled Democratic president lift the economy.
Gene Sperling, the chief White House economic adviser, said, “There is no question that had Congress acted on the president’s proposals nine months ago to prevent teacher layoffs, put construction workers back to work and cut small-business taxes, our job situation today would be notably stronger and unemployment would be lower.” Analyses by macroeconomic firms and nonpartisan financial analysts agreed.
This year, there is at least a small chance that Republican Mitt Romney might break with tradition and name his vice presidential choice earlier in the summer, according to people advising the campaign.
Romney and a small circle of confidants are working quietly on a list of high-profile Republicans being considered for the No. 2 position. The confidants include his wife, Ann, long-time adviser Beth Myers and campaign manager Matt Rhoades.
The Harvard professor’s popularity has also risen one percentage point, to 48 percent, since the Globe polled in March, but the percentage of detractors has climbed more precipitously, by nine points to 32 percent.
The poll shows Brown in a strong position. The incumbent’s job approval rating is at a comfortable 60 percent, with just 31 percent of voters saying they disapprove of the work he is doing in Washington.
Still, the bottom line is that the race remains a toss-up, with Brown leading Warren 39 percent to 37 percent, largely unchanged from the Globe’s March poll that also showed Brown leading by two percentage points.
An array of congressional races here is critical to the Democratic Party's effort to regain control of the House. Party leaders hope the state will give them six of the 25 additional seats they need to wrest away the majority won by Republicans in 2010.
Feeding the Democrats' optimism is the party's 13 percentage point advantage in state voter registration and the absence of a top-ticket race to energize conservatives in November — when both President Obama and Sen. Dianne Feinstein are expected to win handily here.
EGYPT / SYRIA / MIDEAST
An Egyptian court on Saturday sentenced former President Hosni Mubarak to life in prison as an accomplice in the killing of unarmed demonstrators during the protests that ended his nearly 30-year rule.
But a conviction that once promised to deliver a triumph for the rule of law in Egypt and the Arab world — the first Arab strongman jailed by his own citizens — instead brought tens of thousands of Egyptians back into the streets. They denounced the verdict as a sham because the court also acquitted many officials more directly responsible for the police who killed the demonstrators, and a broad range of lawyers and political leaders said Mr. Mubarak’s conviction was doomed to reversal on appeal.
...demonstrators filled Tahrir Square in a protest that matched the size and ideological diversity of the early days of the revolt, with Islamists and liberals once again protesting side by side. Protesters poured into the streets of Alexandria, Suez and other cities to rail against what they saw as a miscarriage of justice.
Mr. Mubarak’s conviction and court appearance — on a hospital gurney in the metal cage that holds criminal defendants in Egypt — offered the kind of vivid example of the humiliation of their once-invincible ruler that thrilled Egyptians with a feeling of liberation.
The quickening pace of the U.S. drone campaign in Yemen this year has raised new questions about who is being targeted and why. A review of strikes there so far suggests that the Obama administration has embraced a broader definition of what constitutes a terrorism threat that warrants a lethal response.
In more than 20 U.S. airstrikes over a span of five months, three “high-value” terrorism targets have been killed, U.S. officials said. A growing number of attacks have been aimed at lower-level figures who are suspected of having links to terrorism operatives but are seen mainly as leaders of factions focused on gaining territory in Yemen’s internal struggle. ...
Current and former U.S. officials familiar with the campaign said restrictions on targeting have been eased amid concern over al-Qaeda’s expansion over the past year. Targets still have to pose a “direct threat” to U.S. interests, said a former high-ranking U.S. counterterrorism official. “But the elasticity of that has grown over time.”
IN OTHER NEWS...
Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell’s current position is clear: The state will not contribute to Metro’s planned extension to Dulles International Airport unless a union-friendly deal for contractors is dropped.
But McDonnell (R) hasn’t always taken such a hard line with the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, the quasi-public agency overseeing the $6 billion construction of Metro’s new Silver Line to Dulles Airport and further into Loudoun County.
Just months ago, the McDonnell administration was negotiating with the MWAA over the terms of a mandatory project labor agreement for the second phase of construction, according to interviews with legislators and a review of correspondence to and from the governor’s transportation chief.
But facing pressure from conservative Republicans, McDonnell and his staff pulled back the administration’s support for a project labor agreement, or PLA, legislators from both parties say.
Now, the governor says that unless the MWAA abandons a PLA for the second phase of the rail line, the state will withhold a promised $150 million contribution.