White House crime scene, super-problems and getting comfy in N.H.



Today’s thoughts start with a still breaking and disturbing story from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

A 21-year-old from Idaho has been caught and arrested after Secret Service agents say he fired off at least two shots at the White House with a high-powered rifle last Friday night. I was at the White House today and it was an alarming sight (see picture below).

Agents and investigators scoured the grounds, and canvassed the rooftop. They even set up a blue tent just beyond the fountain for evidence collection. As it turns out, one bullet actually struck a window in the residence (2nd floor Portico we think) and another hit the exterior. The round that hit the window broke through the historic old glass pane, but fortunately was blocked by another, bullet-proof pane just inside of the 1st.

The White House (Photo: Scott Thuman)

The suspect, Oscar Ortega-Hernandez, was caught this afternoon in Pennsylvania at a hotel after an employee reportedly recognized him from photos circulated by law enforcement and called police. Ortega-Hernandez had been described as mentally unstable. No word yet on if police believe he was intentionally aiming for the White House and as of 5 p.m. Wednesday, Secret Service tells me they’re still testing the ballistics to see if it matches up to the weapon left in a car they say Ortega-Hernandez abandoned while fleeing the city.

No one was hurt and President Obama was in Hawaii at the time.


The super committee has a super problem on its hands: the calendar. There’s just one week left for the bi-partisan group to come up with a plan to cut $1.2 trillion - yes, that’s trillion with a ‘T’ from the federal budget. If they can’t, a trigger option goes into effect. In other words, mandatory cuts that both sides desperately want to avoid. The targets would include Defense (a no-no for Republicans) and social services like Medicare (Democrats’ sacred cow).

That means a furious push right now to trim the fat, and fast but is there a chance they’ll actually get it done in time? It doesn’t look good.

I was talking about this last night with one long-time member of congress who when I asked if he was optimistic they’d get it done, stopped me before I could even finish the question: “No. No. No, it doesn’t look good. They’re nowhere near agreeing and they really needed to have this thing done last week.”

He was referring to the need for an agreement not only to be posted for a fair amount of time and circulated to members of the hill but also, the numbers have to be crunched by the CBO. Anyone who’s watched the bean counters on Capitol Hill knows that doesn’t happen quickly.

Apparently, the public is well aware and super-skeptical of the super committee. A new survey I saw this morning showed roughly 80 percent of the American public lacks confidence that a deal can get done.

So the big question now: IF they can’t reach an agreement on where to cut, will they find a way around the mandatory cuts they told us would have to take place as a motivator? Remember, Congress balked at the idea of about $800 billion in cuts this summer to benefit programs and overhaul the tax code that would have effectively carried much of the weight. That’s a deal President Obama and John Boehner seemed to agree on but were in the minority.

They may now rue passing up that offer. Tick tock. Tick tock. Tick tock…


It seems people may be more at ease in the live-free-or-die state of New Hampshire when it comes to Mitt Romney.
He now holds a commanding lead in the GOP primary based on a Bloomberg News poll.

Romney 40%
Paul 17%
Gingrich 11%
(all others at 10% or below)

“I’ve watched his career for years,” one woman told Bloomberg News. “You kind of have to gravitate towards who you can be comfortable with.”

While that sounds like a nice spot to bask in the sun a bit for the former Massachusetts governor…he himself, can’t get to comfy.