Petraeus to CIA, Panetta to Defense
Obama will tap CIA chief Leon Panetta this week to replace Robert Gates as Defense Secretary, and Gen. David Petraeus to take over from Panetta and the intelligence agency, reports the New York Times. Both should be shoo-ins: Panetta is an "already confirmed cabinet official with strong ties to both the White House and Capitol Hill" says the Times, while Petraeus is "a high-profile military official who has extensive knowledge of intelligence gathering in both Afghanistan and Iraq in recent years." Probably doesn't hurt that it keeps Petraeus - who may have presidential ambitions - out of the way.
Read the full story: Panetta and Petraeus in Line for Top Security Posts, New York Times
The Donald Hearts Democrats
The megalomaniac fake presidential candidate Donald Trump made more than $1.3 million in political donations over the years, with more than half going to ... Democrats. Recipients make up "what looks like a Republican enemies list," notes the Washington Post. Among the names on Trump's checks: Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Charlie Rangel, Chuck Schumer, Harry Reid, and -- no way -- Rahm Emanuel (for his mayoral run in Chicago). Trump doled out a lot of his cash in New York, Florida and other states where his big real estate and casino interests are concentrated, which accounts for his "business is business" defense: "So what am I going to do — contribute to Republicans?" he recently whined on Fox News. "I’m not stupid. Am I going to contribute to Republicans for my whole life when ... the most they can get is 1 percent of the vote?" Think that's going to cut it with the party faithful? Not likely. As a Republican political consultant tells the Post, "He may be giving this money to Democrats because it helps his business, but it will be a big deal to Republican primary voters."
Read the full story: Trump’s donation history shows Democratic favoritism, Washington Post
Obama To Slap Syrian Regime
The Obama administration is fixing to slap sanctions on Syrian President Bashar Assad and his inner circle, after the Syrian regime cracked down brutally on pro-democracy demonstrators. Assad sent in army tanks and troops on Monday to crush protesters in the southern city of Dara, following a lethal weekend in which Syrian security forces killed more than 100 pro-democracy protesters. American officials are set to freeze U.S. assets of senior Syrian officials and ban them from traveling to the United States. The sanctions aren't such a big deal, practically speaking, since Syrian officials don't own many U.S. assets. But the move marks "a notable shift" by the Obama, who's lately been cultivating closer ties to Damascus.
Read the full story: U.S. prepares to impose sanctions on Syria, Los Angeles Times
Ron Paul To Explore a 2012 Bid
Rep. Ron Paul of Texas announced Tuesday he was setting up a presidential exploratory committee, saying he anticipated “a much, much more significant campaign” than he ran in 2008, if he enters the 2012 race. "The country is already quite different," Paul said. "There are literally millions of more people concerned about the very things I talked about four years ago. It is the excessive spending, the entitlement system, the foreign policy, as well as the monetary system.” Also going for him: A fired-up libertarian following that's better organized as part of the Tea Party movement. And yet: His poll numbers still hover around 5 percent, suggesting that while his issues might no longer be regarded as fringe, he still is.
Read the full article: As Ron Paul Weighs Presidential Run, His Issues Are Already Being Debated, New York Times
Government Deports Fewer Noncriminal Immigrants, But Still Too Many
Democratic lawmakers and immigrant have made some headway in pushing the Obama administration to ease up on deportations of illegal immigrants not convicted of crimes. Homeland Security officials have said their focus is increasingly on booting crime-committing immigrants, not, say, college students. Despite clear evidence of a policy shift, though, some Homeland Security officials evidently didn't get the memo: nationwide, the administration’s deportations policy "remains confused and erratically implemented," reports the New York Times, with many students and immigrants without criminal records still being deported.
Read the full story: Deportation Halted for Some Students as Lawmakers Seek New Policy, New York Times
Obama to Congress: Nix Big Oil Subsidies
President Obama sent lawmakers a letter demanding they act at once to end huge oil and gas subsidies and invest the savings in clean energy. The tax breaks - they add up to $4 billion a year, courtesy of the taxpayer - are designed mainly to encourage more exploration, and the oil and gas companies, aided by allies in congress, are mobilizing for a fight. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rejected any such idea out of hand, and House Speaker John Boehner, who on Monday seemed to open the door to subsidy cuts, said Obama's idea was a nonstarter because it would "only raise taxes and increase prices at the pump."
Full story: President Obama Urges Congress to Eliminate Oil Company Subsidies, ABC News