THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION
THE WASHINGTON POST – Senate opens confirmation hearing on John Kerry as secretary of state
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee opened a confirmation hearing Thursday on the nomination of Sen. John F. Kerry to succeed Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of state.
Kerry was introduced to the committee he has chaired by Clinton, by committee member Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, his fellow Massachusetts Democrat.
NBC NEWS – Kerry begins Senate confirmation hearing
President Barack Obama’s choice to be secretary of state, Sen. John Kerry, D- Mass, began his confirmation hearing Thursday morning before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, one day after the same committee conducted a sometimes fractious hearing with current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over last September’s attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya.
CBS NEWS – Hillary Clinton on Benghazi: "I do feel responsible"
Testifying before Congress for the first time since the September 11 attacks in Benghazi that left four Americans dead, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today took responsibility for the failures that led to those deaths, citing a "personal" commitment to improving diplomatic security abroad. But even while conceding ongoing "deficiencies and inadequacies" within the State Department, Clinton defended her own actions and those of her staff with regard to their response to the violence, and outlined the numerous steps she says have already been implemented to prevent future similar occurrences.
NBC NEWS – Female vets cheer new era for women in combat: ‘It’s about time!’
Women who rode into Iraq during the 2003 Coalition invasion or who withstood on-base mortar attacks that killed other U.S. troops raucously cheered news of the impending lift of the female-combat ban, shouting the same three spirited words.
“It’s about time!” said Laura Cannon, a 2001 West Point graduate who rolled into Iraq with the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division, spending seven months there. “Women have been on the ‘front lines,’ per se, for years. Now they’re getting credit and authorization that is long overdue. The landscape of combat has changed so much that front lines are ambiguous, and frankly, what I believe to be an obsolete concept.”
THE McCRORY ADMINISTRATION
NBC 17 – NC budget chief: Problems with tax overhaul idea
Gov. Pat McCrory’s top budget officer pointed out potential problems Wednesday with an idea floated at the Legislature to potentially eliminate North Carolina personal and corporate income taxes and apply the sales tax to many more services.
Deputy Budget Director Art Pope told reporters he’s worried a preliminary tax pitch from Senate Republicans could be regressive and essentially double-tax older adults who paid income taxes and saved for retirement.
"Speaking personally, I have great concerns about that" idea, Pope said at a journalists’ round-table at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, making clear he wasn’t necessarily talking for the governor. But he also pointed out McCrory ran in 2012 on a tax reform platform with an initial goal of reducing income tax rates to those of neighboring states like Virginia and South Carolina.
WINSTON-SALEM JOURNAL – Art Pope says ending state income tax creates more concerns
Gov. Pat McCrory’s budget director distanced the Republican chief executive from a proposal to eliminate income taxes in North Carolina and expressed his own “great concerns” with the concept being floated by leading GOP lawmakers.
Art Pope said the state’s current tax system is plagued by “holes and problems” – but the idea of abolishing personal and corporate income taxes by increasing the sales tax and levying the tax on dozens of duty-free services creates more concerns.
THE DAILY REFLECTOR – More aides added to NC governor’s press office
New North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory’s administration is adding to its staff but refused Wednesday to say immediately how much money the new employees make.
McCrory announced this week that Crystal Feldman is his press secretary. Feldman most recently worked for a House committee on Capitol Hill. McCrory 2012 campaign press secretary Ricky Diaz is now deputy communications director, and Blannie Cheng is deputy adviser on jobs and the economy.
NORTH CAROLINA DEMOCRATIC PARTY
WRAL – Mansfield Drops Bid for NC Dem Chair
Citing a family health concern, former state senator and 2012 lieutenant governor candidate Eric Mansfield has decided not to seek the chairmanship of the NC Democratic Party next month.
Mansfield was rumored to be considering ending his campaign for chair Wednesday. This morning, he sent out a release announcing his decision to bow out.
FAYETTEVILLE OBSERVER – Former state Sen. Eric Mansfield drops out of NC Democratic Party Chairman race
Fayetteville physician Eric Mansfield has dropped out of the race to become the state Democratic Party’s next chairman.
In a statement dated this morning, Mansfield said his mother has become ill and he needs to take care of her.
Mansfield served as a state senator in 2011 and 2012, and ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor.
The Democrats have had a tough time the past several years, with deep losses in state legislative races and in Congress, the loss of the governor’s office and a sex scandal in its executive suite.
Mansfield was running for party chairman against Pittsboro Mayor Randy Voller. The two promised to bring new energy to the foundering party.
THE WASHINGTON POST – In Benghazi hearings, Hillary Clinton storms Capitol Hill
They blamed her mismanagement for the death of Americans in Benghazi, Libya. They accused her of a cover-up. Some even suggested that she faked an illness to avoid testifying about the attack.
On Wednesday, Hillary Rodham Clinton finally had her chance to respond to critics, and the outgoing secretary of state served up a potent brew of righteous outrage.
THE LOS ANGELES TIMES – The NRA’s loose cannon
It would be wrong to base one’s judgments about politicians too heavily on their gaffes. Public speakers are exposed to microphones so often that it would be shocking if the occasional boneheaded remark didn’t slip out. But in the case of National Rifle Assn. Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, the achingly incongruous statements tend not to come from off-the-cuff remarks but carefully vetted prepared statements.
Which leaves us to wonder: How can anybody possibly attract such a large and financially powerful following by uttering statements that defy third-grade logic?
North Carolina Democratic Party