TIME Government

Lynch Emerges as Lead Attorney General Candidate

Loretta Lynch
Loretta Lynch, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, speaks during a news conference in New York, Monday, April 28, 2014. Seth Wenig—AP

(WASHINGTON) — U.S. attorney Loretta Lynch has emerged as the leading choice to be the next attorney general, but President Barack Obama does not plan to make a nomination until after a trip to Asia next week.

People with knowledge of his plans say Obama has decided against pushing for confirmation in the lame duck and instead will leave it up to the Republican-controlled Senate next year.

The White House would not comment on whom Obama plans to name. But the people with knowledge of his thinking say Loretta Lynch, the U.S. attorney for Eastern New York, has risen to the top of his list in the past couple of weeks. If selected, she would be the first black female attorney general. Florida’s Janet Reno was the first woman attorney general.

TIME Congress

Democratic Senator Joe Manchin: People Just Don’t Believe Obama Cares

Senator Joe Manchin Portrait
Up and down Frustrated by gridlock and a lack of comity in Congress, Manchin says he just “wants the place to work” Thomas Prior for TIME

West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin told TIME Thursday that President Barack Obama has lost his emotional connection with the American people.

“There’s an old saying my grandmother would say, people don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care,” he said in a phone interview. “And the President is bright and very articulate and speaks very well. People just don’t believe he cares. That’s the disconnect that I’m seeing.”

Manchin, one of the most conservative Democrats in Congress, could fill a key role next year as the Senate Republican majority tries to implement its agenda, including authorizing the Keystone XL pipeline and raising the Affordable Care Act’s workweek from 30 hours to 40 hours—two proposals that Manchin supports and believes have enough bipartisan support to reach 60 votes for passage. He called a Keystone vote a “slam-dunk,” and he considers the Obamacare fix crucial despite a nonpartisan congressional report that found it would reduce the number of people receiving employment-based coverage by about 1 million people and increase the deficit by about $25 billion over the next five years.

“To say that now we’re going to verify the 30 hours—we’ll be worse than Europe,” he said. “I can’t go to West Virginia and try to sell that crap.”

He is also considering another run for governor in West Virginia in 2016, a race that could lead him to leave his Senate seat two years early. He previously served as governor from 2005 until 2010. “Whatever I do in the future I want to see the restructuring of the Senate—where we are [and] how we’re going to operate—before I make that [decision],” said Manchin. “So that happens what, the middle of January? So hopefully by the first quarter. There will be a trend pretty quick by February or March. We’ll be able to say, ‘Is it same-old, same-old or is it really moving in a different direction?'”

In a June TIME profile, Manchin said he’s “never been in a less productive time in my life than I am right now, in the United States Senate.” On Thursday, Manchin said he was “hopeful” that in the Republican majority—likely led by Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell—he could prove more useful.

“I liked everything I heard—that we’re going to have a process that’s going to work,” he said, citing McConnell’s post-election comments and conversations he’s had with some of his Republican colleagues on a commitment to breaking through congressional gridlock. “Now the Republicans are saying ‘listen, we’re going to have an open process, we’re going to have a committee system.'”

“If they don’t go to extremes and try to fight that then that’ll show that they were able to accomplish things that we didn’t accomplish,” he added.

But Manchin is obviously wary of placing too much faith in Senate Republicans if he’s considering leaving his Potomac River houseboat for his old Charleston mansion. On Friday, he stepped down from his honorary co-chair spot at No Labels, a nonpartisan third-party group, a week and a half after a report that it would lead a get out the vote effort for Colorado Republican Rep. Cory Gardner, who toppled Democratic Senator Mark Udall on Tuesday.

“I’m anxious for change,” he said. “There’s going to be some challenges but there’s some hellacious opportunities and I want to take advantage of them. And let’s see if they’re willing to do them. If they’re not and it’s all talk— smoke and mirrors—[it’s] not a place I want to be.”

TIME Congress

Boehner Lays Out Post-Election Agenda

Early clashes with White House ensue

In his first press conference since Republicans won the Senate and captured their largest House majority in decades, House Speaker John Boehner laid out an agenda that included authorizing the Keystone pipeline, addressing a “broken” tax code and repealing the president’s signature healthcare law.

“The House, I’m sure at some point next year, will move to repeal Obamacare,” he said. “Now, whether that can pass in the Senate, I don’t know. But I know in the House it will pass.”

Boehner softened his tone somewhat, adding that there are some healthcare reforms that have bipartisan support, including repealing the medical device tax and altering the definition of a full-time worker from 30 to 40 hours a week.

But Democrats are skeptical that Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell will restore comity in Congress next year, as they have promised to do.

“Sen. McConnell is already letting [Texas Republican] Sen. [Ted] Cruz set the agenda,” tweeted Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid press secretary Adam Jentleson, on Thursday, linking to a Wall Street Journal op-ed by McConnell and Boehner in which the Republicans repeated their commitment to repealing Obamacare.

Republicans counter that it is the President who is eschewing a post-election detente by insisting on taking unilateral action on immigration reform. In the absence of a comprehensive reform bill, Obama has signaled that he will not wait for Congress to move on the issue, and the President is widely expected to defer deportations of potentially millions of undocumented workers.

“When you play with matches you take the risk of burning yourself,” said Boehner of the potential executive action. “And he is going to burn himself if he continues to go down this path.”

There are few options that House Republicans have to respond to such an executive order. Boehner warned Obama that if he acts on his own “there will be no chance for immigration reform moving in this Congress”—a very unlikely prospect already.

The larger danger for Obama, as he seeks even small accomplishments to bolster his legacy in his final years, is that Republican anger over a unilateral move on immigration could make it harder for Boehner and McConnell to compromise on other issues.

 

TIME

Former U.S. Rep Lane Evans, Veterans Advocate, Dies

(CHICAGO) — Former Illinois Rep. Lane Evans, a Vietnam War-era Marine who fought for veterans’ rights during his 24 years in the U.S. House, has died after a long fight with Parkinson’s disease.

The Democrat died Wednesday at a nursing home in East Moline, Illinois, said his legal guardian and former congressional staffer Michael Malmstrom. He was 63.

Evans was first elected from his western Illinois district in 1982, when he was a 31-year-old attorney, and went on to serve 12 terms.

He worked for more than a decade after his Parkinson’s diagnosis, but announced in 2006 that he wouldn’t seek re-election because of his deteriorating health. He left office in January 2007.

Evans joined the Marines at age 17, and had orders for Vietnam. But he did his overseas service in Okinawa, Japan, because his older brother was already deployed in the war.

As a congressman, he fought for the rights of veterans and was the senior Democrat on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. He pushed legislation to help those exposed to Agent Orange and to give former service members rights to judicial review.

“He was an advocate of veterans across this country no matter what branch of service,” said Malmstrom, a fellow Marine.

He is survived by his three brothers.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: November 6

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. How do you frighten political strongmen? Teach journalism.

By Thomas Fiedler in the Conversation

2. Far from policing free will, taxes on sugary drinks make sense in the context of subsidies for corn syrup and the Medicaid and Medicare expense of 29 million Americans with diabetes.

By Kenneth Davis and Ronald Tamler in the Huffington Post

3. Palm oil production has a devastating impact on the environment, but smart science and better farming could reduce the harm.

By Michael Kodas in Ensia

4. We shouldn’t let Ebola panic squelch civil liberties.

By Erwin Chemerinsky in the Orange County Register

5. What we learn from video games: Giving military robots controls like “Call of Duty” could save lives on the (real) battlefield.

By Patrick Tucker in Defense One

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Immigration

Over 11 Million Played the U.S. Green Card Lottery This Year

Program may be nixed if Senate overhauls federal immigration policy

More than 11 million people applied for the annual U.S. visa lottery this year, up 11 percent from a year earlier even as the program appears to be on the verge of ending.

Less than than .5 percent of applicants will receive the opportunity to become permanent residents through the popular program, which has provided green cards to lottery winners since 1990.

But the lottery, which accounts for roughly 5 percent of legal immigration according to the Wall Street Journal, may be eliminated if the Senate passes an overhaul of immigration policy this year, with critics arguing that the lottery can be a security risk, provides residency to low-skilled immigrants, and is unfair to foreigners with family connections to the U.S.

Its backers say the system is particularly beneficial for communities with fewer connections to the United States.

“We must continue our tradition of welcoming people from around the world to the United States,” Rep. Yvette D. Clarke, a Democrat from Brooklyn, told the Journal. “I will work to expand the program, which has been critical for many people from Africa, the Caribbean, and Eastern Europe who would not otherwise have the opportunity to come here.”

TIME 2014 Election

Sen. Mitch McConnell Holds Press Briefing

New Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is hosting a press conference at 2pm ET. Watch coverage live here

Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky was able to stave off a tough challenge to maintain his seat in the Senate. Thanks to a wave of Republican victories across the country, McConnell is also now the the Senate’s new Majority Leader. McConnell will hold a press briefing Wednesday afternoon, about an hour before President Obama does the same. In an interview with TIME, McConnell said as leader he hopes to work with President Obama and Democrats in the Senate.

TIME 2014 Election

Why Did Pollsters Get So Many Races Wrong?

More GOP voters turned out than expected, and more GOP candidates won

Election Night wasn’t just bad for Democrats. It was also bad for pollsters.

Consider the following: Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor lost in an unexpected blowout. Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, who was widely expected to cruise to victory, is currently ahead by just 12,000 votes. Iowa Senator-elect Joni Ernst, predicted to win narrowly, won by over eight points. Georgia Senator-elect David Perdue, expected to go to a runoff, won outright. Aggregate polling data predicted North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan and Kansas Independent Greg Orman would win by the skin of their teeth, but both lost.

And, in perhaps the worst missed call, Maryland Governor-elect won by nine points when one recent poll had shown him losing by 13.

How did so many predictions go wrong? For one thing, more Republicans turned out than people expected.

Dr. Sam Wang of the Princeton Election Consortium, and Mark Blumenthal, senior polling editor at the Huffington Post, agreed that Republicans outperformed polls both in Senate races and gubernatorial races. Overall, Republicans outperformed their reelection polls by five points in Senate races and about two percent in gubernatorial ones, according to Wang.

“I think a lot of the election polls had the likely electorate models wrong, one way or another,” says Blumenthal. “I would guess that there was probably too many Democrats—that they had people who turned out not to vote in the sample who were disproportionately Democratic leaning.”

There were a few states in particular that shocked Wang and Blumenthal.

“Virginia was obviously a huge surprise last night,” said Wang. “I was watching data come in and at first I thought it was some kind data error because it just didn’t look right—it looked like it was 10 points off.”

“Whether it’s older voters or white voters, but whatever the case, I think the demographic of people who voted was evidently pretty different from the demographic of people who were surveyed,” he added. “I would say that Republican relative over performances were so large that there has to have been something like a collective misjudgment of who likely voters would be.”

“In Virginia and Maryland—we weren’t watching closely enough,” agreed Blumenthal.

The pollsters tempered their critiques of election models, noting that many of the races polled accurately predicted who would win, if not by how much. Some polls, like those tracking the New Hampshire Senate race were “right on the button,” says Wang, and there were only two Senate races that pollsters might have gotten “wrong”—North Carolina and Kansas—but that’s “par for the course” in midterm elections.

The modern problems with polling data—including the cultural and technological shift from landline phones to cell phones making it increasingly difficult to target younger, urban voters—may not have had that much of an impact this time around, says Wang.

“People talk about those deficiencies but those probably were not the cause of this because most of those problems are problems that tend to miss Democratic voters,” says Wang. “If anything these polls obviously underestimated Republican turnout.”

But Blumenthal cautions declaring certain polls with higher GOP turnout as kingmakers, saying that the best polling evaluations still come from voter lists that match respondents with their voting record.

“The cheap, flawed methodologies that are out there—the robopolls that make no effort to compensate for the cell-only population—those are going to get more Republicans and some of those were more ‘accurate’ in the last week, in the last month or two than other methods,” says Blumenthal. “If we all want to figure this out and if we want to do better in polling in the future, those voter lists methods offer us far more tools to diagnose what happened and to chart a better course.”

“I think we’re going to end up drawing the wrong lesson if we just look at who came closest to getting the result right this time,” he added.

TIME Environment

4 Ways the New Top Environment Senator Disagrees With Science

Jim Inhofe
Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla. gives a victory speech at the Republican watch party in Oklahoma City on Nov. 4, 2014. Sue Ogrocki—AP

Meet Jim Inhofe

Sen. Jim Inhofe is widely expected to take over the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee now that Republicans have won control of the Senate, putting one of Washington’s most strident climate change deniers in charge of environmental policy.

In his 2012 book, The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future, the Oklahoma Republican argued that climate change science has been manufactured by liberals to scare the American public, push through anti-business regulations and sell newspapers, and that humans should do nothing to regulate greenhouse gases.

Problem is, Inhofe’s opinions are deeply at odds with the overwhelming consensus of the scientific community, both in the U.S. and abroad. Here’s just a few ways how.

Human activity

Inhofe: The Senator says hundreds of scientists dispute the idea that global warming is the result of human activity.

Science: 97% of international scientists working in fields related to the environmental sciences agree that current global warming trends are the result of human activity. No U.S. or international scientific institutions of any caliber dispute the theory of anthropogenic climate change.

Consequences

Inhofe: He says global warming, if it’s happening at all, could be beneficial for humanity. “Thus far, no one has seriously demonstrated any scientific proof that increased global temperatures would lead to the catastrophes predicted by alarmists,” he said in a 2003 speech. “In fact, it appears that just the opposite is true: that increases in global temperatures may have a beneficial effect on how we live our lives.”

Science: The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has found unequivocally that climate change will have a catastrophically negative effect on humans. In its fifth report, released Sunday, the panel compiled and analyzed hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific studies on climate change from all over the world and found that the consequences of inaction will lead, and already are leading, to flooding, diminished crop yields, destructive weather, and mass extinction.

Cycles

Inhofe: If global temperatures appear to be warming, that’s just because “[w]e go through these 30-year cycles,” he said on Mike Huckabee’s radio show in 2013.

Science: Dozens of peer-reviewed international studies, including the 2012 State of the Climate peer-reviewed report by the American Meteorological Society (AMS)—which was compiled by 384 scientists from 52 countries—underscored that current warming trends are happening much more rapidly than any natural warming process, and that it is unquestionably the result of anthropogenic greenhouse gases, released by humans burning fossil fuels.

History

Inhofe: Scientists can’t explain why, eight years ago, “we went into a leveling-out period” in which the earth did not continue to warm.

Science: No such “leveling out” occurred. While individual temperatures spike and plummet every year, climate change science asks a longer-term question: Is the earth warmer than it was fifty years ago? The answer is, again, unequivocally yes. Sea ice has reached a record low, the Arctic has continued to warm, sea temperatures have continued to increase, ocean heat has reached near record-levels and sea levels have reached an all-time high.

TIME Congress

Rand Paul Says These Candidates Lost Because of Hillary Clinton

After GOP won Senate control on Tuesday night

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky took to the airwaves Tuesday night as the GOP celebrated its regaining of Senate control, linking Republican victories to putative dissatisfaction with possible 2016 contender Hillary Clinton.

Paul, also a presumptive candidate for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, pointed to Clinton’s campaigning for failed Democratic candidates including Georgia’s Michelle Nunn, Iowa’s Bruce Braley, North Carolina’s Kay Hagan and Kentucky’s Alison Lundergan Grimes. Paul even initiated the hashtag #HillaryLosers on his Facebook page and Twitter feed.

“Somebody should ask Hillary Democrats why they got wiped out tonight. Clearly, Hillary is yesterday’s news,” Paul said in an email to Breitbart News. He added that the midterm elections on Tuesday should be viewed as a rejection of the former Secretary of State’s track record.

Clinton has not held office since she left the Obama administration as Secretary of State in 2013 but is widely considered to be mulling a run in 2016.

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