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Dear Congress: America Still Hates You
A bit of news for members of Congress on their way home for the weekend: America hates you.
Nearly 8 in 10 Americans told Gallup pollsters this month that they disapprove of the way Congress is handling its job, the 45th consecutive month that more than two-thirds of Americans graded Congress poorly. The problem isn't as much what Congress is doing than what is not getting done. Fifty-nine percent of the disapproving Americans cited partisan gridlock and ineffectiveness for their thumbs down.
It gets worse.
Gallup's 40-year study of the public's faith in U.S. institutions found that confidence in Congress had dropped to 10 percent. For the fourth-straight year, the first branch of government ranks last on a list of 16 societal institutions. Congress's ranking is the worst Gallup has ever found for any institution it has measured since 1973.
People are losing faith in virtually every social institution that made America great, a dangerous decades-old decline explored by National Journal a year ago ("In Nothing We Trust").
Gallup puts Congress at the bottom of a decrepit barrel. Read more
U.S. MULLS NO-FLY ZONE FOR SYRIA. The Obama administration is considering instituting a no-fly zone for Syria, after the administration asserted Syria had used nerve gas. "Two senior Western diplomats said Washington is looking into a no-fly zone close to Syria's southern border with Jordan," Reuters reports. The no-fly zone would be limited "time-wise and area-wise," according to one diplomat, but would look similar to actions taken in Libya that helped topple the regime of General Muammar Gaddafi. A no-fly zone would almost certainly require U.N. authorization, and Russia, a Syrian ally, will likely block such efforts. The administration has also said it now intends to arm the rebels. Read more
- National Journal's Michael Hirsh writes that President Obama now owns Syria's war, though he might not yet realize it.
U.S. OFFICIALS WORRY NSA LEAKER COULD HAVE MORE SECRET DOCUMENTS TO SPILL. Investigators have concluded that former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden likely has obtained dozens of other sensitive files in addition to those already leaked, The Washington Post reports. U.S. counterintelligence teams "believe that he has more," said an official briefed on the investigation, that will "lead to a degradation over time of the effectiveness of the programs," which NSA Director Keith Alexander says have helped thwart "dozens" of terrorist attacks. After attending a Senate briefing with Alexander, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., suggested the NSA will declassify materials concerning a number of thwarted terrorist plots early next week. Read more
- Meet Obama's leak plumber, U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen. Read more
DID BLOOMBERG NEWS JUST UNCOVER PRISM 2.0? The U.S. intelligence community has been working with "thousands" of companies in key sectors of the economy to trade sensitive information on cybersecurity, including classified data, in ways that go beyond the revelations dropped by NSA leaker Edward Snowden earlier this month. At least one of these companies, Microsoft, alerts the government to bugs in its own software products before it issues a public patch, according to Bloomberg News, allowing Washington to exploit those vulnerabilities in unpatched foreign systems for intelligence purposes. Read more
OBAMA TO KEYSTONE FOES: SEPARATE CLIMATE MEASURES COMING. Under fire from environmentalists pushing him to reject the Keystone XL pipeline project, President Obama plans to release a package of separate actions next month intended to curb U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions, Bloomberg reports. Obama has been privately telling Democratic Party donors of his unspecified plans, which comes in response to pleas to block the proposed $5.3 billion pipeline that would carry tar-sands oil from Canada to U.S. refineries. Pipeline opponents expect Obama's measures to include plans from the Environmental Protection Agency to issue rules limiting greenhouse emissions from new power plants, but final decisions about the package are reportedly still being hashed out. Read more
- National Journal's Coral Davenport reports that environmental groups have been waging an unprecedented campaign of suing—and then settling with—the EPA to get the results they want.
HOUSE COMMITTEE TO BEGIN IMMIGRATION MARKUP NEXT WEEK. As opposed to the comprehensive strategy taken by the Senate, The House is taking a piecemeal approach to immigration legislation, and on Friday, House Judiciary Chair Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., announced that his committee would begin markup of several bills, The Hill reports. One bill will deal with bolstering immigration laws in the country, to be marked up Tuesday, another dealing with the guest-worker program for the agricultural industry, will follow. Read more
- Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush made some comments Friday about immigrants being "more fertile." Cue the Twitter anger.
COOK: WHY OBAMA'S POLL NUMBERS AREN'T HIGHER. Constant controversies could prevent the president from getting much credit for the improving economy, The Cook Political Report's Charlie Cook writes. Read more
ARIZONA, MICHIGAN ADVANCE ON MEDICAID-EXPANSION LEGISLATION. The Arizona state Legislature on Thursday passed Medicaid expansion, which has been pushed by Republican Gov. Jan Brewer, The Hill reports. The expansion will give an additional 300,000 residents health insurance. Brewer's decision to champion expansion often pitted her against Republican state legislators. Though Brewer spoke out against expansion in January, she said in a statement today that expansion will "extend cost-effective care to Arizona's working poor using the very tax dollars our citizens already pay to the federal government." Meanwhile, the Associated Press reports that the Michigan state House passed expansion legislation supported by GOP Gov. Rick Snyder, but the bill is headed toward the state Senate where its fate is less certain. Read more
SPECIAL REPORT: BACK IN BUSINESS. For the past six months, National Journal editors and correspondents, led by staff writer Naureen Khan, have sought to identify innovators making progress on 10 key challenges facing the country: digital innovation, expanding exports, workforce training, health care, financing infrastructure, disrupting government, regional economic strategies, education, and energy. After dozens of interviews with practitioners and experts, as well as through extensive documentary research, we have selected one winner and four finalists in each category, and offer the combined group as a list of 50 problem-solvers Washington can learn from. Be sure to check out all the articles in this special report. Read more
"The salad story's apocryphal.... First of all, I don't do salad. That's the other thing about the story. I don't do salads." —Anthony Weiner, commenting on a story that alleges he once threw a salad against a wall (New York magazine)
SNOWDEN: THE FACE OF INTERNET-AGE PHILOSOPHY. More than 1.4 million Americans involved with the military or intelligence community have top-secret security clearance, but Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor who leaked government secrets, represents a growing belief that information should be public, and that sets him squarely against the U.S. government, Time magazine's Michael Scherer reports. Before Snowden there was Bradley Manning, another product of the hacking culture that can be traced through well-known figures such as Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates. Snowden has sparked a debate on the level of access given to contract employees, and the government still has to determine how to deal with, and prevent, the evolving ideology behind this century's moles. But leaks will probably increase, Time notes, "as young people come of age in the defiant culture of the Internet and new, principled martyrs ... seize the popular imagination." Read more
THE WOMEN'S ROOM: WHERE POWER MEETINGS HAPPEN. Madeleine Albright has a framed photo of herself and then-first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton in a Prague bathroom ("It was the only time we could talk"). Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., told of her first power meeting with Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Deb Fischer, R-Neb., in the soon-to-be-expanded bathroom off the Senate floor. The Washington Post wonders: Maybe if Washington wants to get more done it needs to have more bathroom breaks. Read more
AT LEAST IT WASN'T GANGNAM STYLE. It's hard to watch. It's hard not to watch. See, if you dare, this video of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and others dancing and singing to "Stop! In the Name of Love" in honor of Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich. Watch it here
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified the party affiliation of Sen. Deb Fischer of Nebraska. She is a Republican.