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Saturday, March 06, 2010

Bart Stupak Abortion Claims Debunked: Health Bill Would NOT Force Federal Spending On Abortion

By Donna Barstow:


Friday, March 05, 2010

Nothing to sell be fear itself

Rachel Rocks!!!!!!!

"Don't ask Don't Tell" support has fake signatures. Avererage age 74, eldest signer 98
Terrorists in your midst, "be afraid be very afraid"

"vicious" and "unfounded"
The backlash is growing against Liz Cheney after she demonized Department of Justice attorneys as terrorist sympathizers for their past legal work defending Gitmo detainees -- and now it's coming from within deeply conservative legal circles.
On Friday, the conservative blog Power Line put up a post titled, "An Attack That Goes Too Far." Author Paul Mirengoff, called Cheney's effort to brand DoJ officials the "Al Qaeda 7," "vicious" and "unfounded" even if it was right to criticize defense lawyers for voluntarily doing work on behalf of Gitmo detainees.
Reached on the phone, Mirengoff offered an even sharper rebuke, contrasting what Cheney is doing to the anti-communist crusades launched by Sen. Joseph McCarthy and, in some respects, finding it worse.
"It could be worse than some of the assertions made by McCarthy, depending on some of the validity of those assertions," Mirengoff said, explaining that at least McCarthy was correct in pinpointing individuals as communist sympathizers. "It is just baseless to suggest that [these DoJ officials] share al Qaeda values... they didn't actually say it but I think it was a fair implication of what they were saying."
Mirengoff isn't alone among conservative legal theorists who think the ad campaign by Cheney's group, Keep America Safe, is distasteful. In a statement to the American Prospect, John Bellinger III, a former legal adviser to Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, called the effort "unfortunate."
"It reflects the politicization and the polarization of terrorism issues," Bellinger said. "Neither Republicans nor Democrats should be attacking officials in each other's administrations based solely on the clients they have represented in the past." LinkHere

Behind Stupak's 15 minutes

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Gops desperate time calls for Scooby Doo?

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Thursday, March 04, 2010

Real deficit hawks should support Democrats

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Republicans freak out in face of health reform passage

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Jon Stewart Exposes Fox News 'Balance,' Goes After Sarah Palin And Megyn Kelly (VIDEO)

Bachmann Peddles False Right-Wing Rumor Accusing Obama Of Selling Judgeship To Win Health Care Votes

Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT), was one of ten Blue Dog Democrats invited to the White House that evening…

Yesterday, the Weekly Standard’s John McCormack received a press release from the White House announcing that President Obama had nominated Scott Matheson, Jr — a former Utah Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate — to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. McCormack noticed that Matherson’s brother, Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT), was one of ten Blue Dog Democrats invited to the White House that evening and naturally assumed that Obama nominated Scott Matherson to pressure his brother to vote for health care reform. “So, Scott Matheson appears to have the credentials to be a judge, but was his nomination used to buy off his brother’s vote?,” McCormack asked in his late-evening blog post.
Less than an hour later, Politico picked up the story and by 9 pm, Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) was calling for an investigation of the White House on Larry King Live:
BACHMANN: Because today, the president offered a judgeship to the brother of a member of Congress. Tonight, the president has that same member of Congress at the White House, pressuring him to change his vote on health care. We need to have an — an independent investigation into this matter, because we’ve seen the Cornhusker Kickback, the Louisiana Purchase the union loophole. And now, the big question is, is the White House trading health care votes for judgeships? This is a pretty serious issue, Larry. …If you offer a judgeship to a brother of a member of Congress and the same night you have that member at the White House, where the president’s twisting his arm to ask that member of Congress to switch his vote on health care?

The right-wing rumor spread to Drudge and other conservative websites.
Of course, other than the timing of the press release announcing Scott Matheson’s appointment and his brother’s meeting at the White House, there is absolutely no evidence that the administration set up a quid pro quo. Rep. Matheson’s spokeswoman denied the story to Politico, calling the allegations, “patently ridiculous.” “Can you spell NO?” she asked. A White House official called the charge “absurd.”
In fact, no less than two Utah Republicans have vouched for Scott Matheson’s judicial qualifications. “I approve of that nomination. Scott is a very fine fellow,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz also praised Matheson’s nomination, saying, “His distinguished scholarship as an attorney and law school dean, and his devoted public service to Utah and to the United States, make him an excellent nominee. Good choice, Mr. President. Good choice.”
This isn’t the first time the Weekly Standard manufactured false quid-pro-quo stories about health reform. In December, Michael Goldfarb floated a baseless rumor that the White House threatened to close an Air Force base in Nebraska if Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) didn’t vote for health care reform. Nelson derided the Weekly Standard as “yellow journalism at its worst.” Indeed, it still is. LinkHere

Twenty of Bachmann’s 47 missed votes coincide with media appearances

By Andy Birkey 3/3/10 12:15 PM

Late last week, Rep. Michele Bachmann’s Democratic challengers criticized her for her ambitious travel schedule and growing celebrity. The campaigns of Dr. Maureen Reed and state Sen. Tarryl Clark asserted that Bachmann’s busy media and speaking schedule has caused her to miss votes in Congress.
“Michele is not delivering for the people of the 6th Congressional District, but also not doing the job in D.C. — missing 11 percent of votes this session,” Reed’s campaign said Friday with the release of its “Where’s Michele?” map. Clark’s campaign released a map of its own and cited a Washington Post report from October 2009 that showed Bachmann has missed more votes than all but 10 members of the House. “It’s clear Congresswoman Bachmann’s priorities are chasing her national celebrity and pursuing her personal agenda – and those priorities come at the expense of her district,” the campaign said.
How accurate are these criticisms?
An analysis by the Minnesota Independent shows that Bachmann has missed more votes than any member of Minnesota’s congressional delegation in the 111th Congress — even after subtracting votes missed when Bachmann left to spend time with an ill family member. Twenty of the 47 remaining votes Bachmann missed occurred on days when the Sixth District Republican had media appearances scheduled. But while these media moments loosely coincide with her missed votes, it’s unclear whether her absences are directly linked to her ambitious travel schedule. Bachmann’s office hasn’t respond to the Minnesota Independent’s request to clarify this point.
Here’s a tally of votes not taken by Minnesota’s delegation: LinkHere


The Republican National Committee plans to hold an April fundraiser at a Moyock, N.C. compound owned by the military contracting firm formerly known as Blackwater, Politico reports.
According to an RNC fundraising document uncovered on Wednesday, RNC "Young Eagles" -- party major donors under 40 -- will meet at the facility in the spring.
Also on Thursday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) has written a letter to the Justice Department asking for an investigation of Raytheon's alleged use of the Blackwater subsidiary, Paravant, for a contract in Afghanistan.
Levin has also suggested that the Pentagon should no longer consider granting a $1 billion contract to Xe Services LLC (formely, Blackwater) due to "serious questions" about the contractor's conduct.
It was recently reported that Blackwater employees took hundreds of firearms from both the U.S. Mmilitary and Afghan police forces using the South Park alias "Eric Cartman."

The Republicans' big lie about reconciliation

By E.J. Dionne Jr.Thursday, March 4, 2010
For those who feared that Barack Obama did not have any Lyndon Johnson in him, the president's determination to press ahead and get health-care reform done in the face of Republican intransigence came as something of a relief
Obama's critics have regularly accused him of not being as tough or wily or forceful as LBJ was in pushing through civil rights and the social programs of his Great Society. Obama seemed willing to let Congress go its own way and was so anxious to look bipartisan that he wouldn't even take his own side in arguments with Republicans.
Those days are over. On Wednesday, the president made clear what he wants in a health-care bill, and he urged Congress to pass it by the most expeditious means available.
He was also clear on what bipartisanship should mean -- and what it can't mean. Democrats, who happen to be in the majority, have already added Republican ideas to their proposals. Obama said he was open to four more that came up during the health-care summit. What he's (rightly) unwilling to do is give the minority veto power over a bill that has deliberately and painfully worked its way through the regular legislative process.
Republicans, however, don't want to talk much about the substance of health care. They want to discuss process, turn "reconciliation" into a four-letter word and maintain that Democrats are "ramming through" a health bill.
It is all, I am sorry to say, one big lie -- or, if you're sensitive, an astonishing exercise in hypocrisy.
In an op-ed in Tuesday's Post, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) offered an excellent example of this hypocrisy. Right off, the piece was wrong on a core fact. Hatch accused the Democrats of trying to, yes, "ram through the Senate a multitrillion-dollar health-care bill."
No. The health-care bill passed the Senate in December with 60 votes under the normal process. The only thing that would pass under a simple majority vote would be a series of amendments that fit comfortably under the "reconciliation" rules established to deal with money issues. Near the end of his column, Hatch conceded that reconciliation would be used for "only parts" of the bill. But why didn't he say that in the first place? LinkHere

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Alan Grayson, Michelle Bachmann To Debate Health Care On Larry King Live

Progressive icon Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) will debate conservative Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-Minn.) Wednesday night on CNN's "Larry King Live." The topic: health care.
Grayson may be best known as the congressman who took to the House floor last fall to deliver an eccentric speech conveying that the Republican health care plan is "don't get sick," but if you do get sick, "die quickly."
Bachmann has gained notoriety by launching an all-out war against health care reform. Last month, she said the health care reform process will lead to "gangster government."
Grayson himself acknowledged the possibility tonight's debate will be compelling television viewing. Earlier today he tweeted, "Are you ready for some great TV?I will be facing off with Rep. Michele Bachmann about health care reform on Larry King Live tonight at 9." LinkHere

Health Insurance Industry Looks Forward to $300 Billion Victory Over the Public Option

By: Jon Walker Wednesday March 3, 2010 3:25 pm
When Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), Ben Nelson (D-NE), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Joe Lieberman (I-CT), and the entire Republican Senate caucus stepped up to kill the public option in the Senate, it is important to remember that the health insurance industry won a victory—a victory worth $300 billion. As Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Tom Harkin (D-IA) now try to crush attempts to revive the public option inside a reconciliation measure, they are battling to protect that extra $300 billion that will flow to AHIP as a result. The public option was never just a “sliver” as Obama tried to claim. It was about a fundamental moral right and the role of government. But what it was also about was a huge amount of money.
The CBO projects that the relatively weak public option–the one limited just to the exchange in the House health care bill–would secure roughly one-fifth of that market, equal to around 6 million people (PDF). The CBO concluded that, as a result of those 6 million customers, the public option will take in $298 billion (PDF) in direct premiums, exchange subsidies, and risk adjustment payments from 2013-2019. However, with the public option removed, but the individual mandate remaining, that $300 billion will instead go straight to the private insurance corporations’ books. If, like I personally suspect, the CBO slightly underestimated the popularity of the public option, and it manages to secure instead roughly a third of the customers on the exchange, that would be roughly $500 billion that the public option would take from the private insurance companies.
I often hear the argument that the public option was not important because only 2% of Americans would be using it. That’s true, but it is important to remember that roughly a third are currently insured by public programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Tricare. Of course, of the roughly half of Americans with private insurance, the bulk of them get there coverage through employer-provided, self-funded plans. Plans in which the employer bares the risk and holds the premiums. The insurance companies are only subcontracted to provide administrative functions. That 6 million people the public option was projected to cover would be a significant share of the potential market for private insurance companies to actually cover and noticeably expand the amount of money they would have earning float revenue.
It is important to remember the shear scope of the private insurance companies victory if they stop health care reform from having even a relatively weak public option. It will be a victory that will provide them with an extra $300 billion of our money. No doubt some of that same money will be used in the future to fight efforts to enact real health care reform. LinkHere

Republicans frequently gun for Pete Stark because he’s fearless and he doesn’t back down from a fight.

By: David Dayen Wednesday March 3, 2010 1:01 pm
This is very good news, if true. Republicans frequently gun for Pete Stark because he’s fearless and he doesn’t back down from a fight. I was concerned that House Democrats would shy away from elevating Stark to such a powerful position, but Pelosi did indeed select him to replace Charlie Rangel as the head of the panel. And since John Boehner is objecting to the temporary nature of Rangel stepping down, Stark may get the seat permanently. LinkHere

Army awards lucrative Iraq support contract to KBR

Company under fire for faulty electrical work in Iraq awarded deal worth up to $2.8 billion

AP News
Defense giant KBR Inc. was awarded a contract potentially worth $2.8 billion for support work in Iraq as U.S. forces continue to leave the country, military authorities said Tuesday
KBR was notified of the award Friday, a day after the company told shareholders it lost about $25 million in award fees because of flawed electrical work in Iraq.
The Houston-based company was charged with maintaining the barracks where Staff Sgt. Ryan Maseth of Pittsburgh, a 24-year-old Green Beret, was electrocuted in 2008 while showering. The company has denied wrongdoing, and investigators said in August there was "insufficient evidence to prove or disprove" that anyone was criminally culpable in Maseth's death.
The uproar over his death triggered a review of 17 other electrocution deaths in Iraq and widespread inspections and repairs of electrical work in Iraq, much of it performed by KBR.
Dan Carlson, a spokesman for the Army Sustainment Command in Rock Island, Ill., said the new contract is for one year, with an option for four more. KBR will handle logistics support, transportation mission, and postal operations.
KBR has long been the military's largest support contractor in Iraq, providing troops with everything from mail and laundry to housing and meals. The new award was made through a revamped contract structure intended to foster competition among companies.
"The award demonstrates that the government recognizes KBR's ability and expertise in delivering high quality service in challenging contingency environments," KBR said in a statement.
Charles Tiefer, a professor of government contracting at the University of Baltimore Law School and a vocal critic of KBR, called the award an "outrage" because of the company's record in Iraq.
"Giving KBR this contract while denying them award fees for their enormous problem of accidentally electrocuting soldiers amounts to rapping them on the knuckles on one hand while handing them a multibillion dollar deal in the other," said Tiefer, who is also a member of the independent Commission on Wartime Contracting.
Last October, the Defense Contract Audit Agency criticized KBR for having more employees in Iraq than were necessary. The excess, the agency said, was unnecessarily costing U.S. taxpayers.

Time for 'Up or Down' Vote

Who are the real people affected by Bunning

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Tuesday, March 02, 2010


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Pay-Go principle missing in Bunning's record

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SURPRISED? GOP hypocracy

Following the election of Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) in the Massachusetts special election, Democrats have been discussing ways to pass a comprehensive health care bill that will not be killed by a GOP-led filibuster. One idea that has been floated is for the House to pass the Senate’s health care bill and also immediately amend the bill to make it more progressive and acceptable to members in the House via a reconciliation bill, which requires only a simple majority vote in the Senate to pass.
Today, in the Washington Post, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) has written an op-ed condemning the use of reconciliation for health care, saying that it would be “inappropriate” to use the process, claiming that it was “designed to balance the federal budget.” While admitting that “both parties have used the process” in the past to pass legislation such as the Welfare and Medicaid Reform Act of 1996, he claims that using reconciliation would amount to an “abuse that stifles dissent and badly undermines our constitutional checks and balances.” Yet what Hatch fails to mention is that he has voted for bills passed through reconciliation every single time a bill was offered through the process during the Bush years, including to pass massive tax cuts for the wealthy that served to do anything but “balance the federal budget”:
– Hatch voted to use reconciliation to pass Bush’s 2001 tax cuts for the wealthy. The senator voted for the $1.3 trillion in tax cuts contained in the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001, which included billions of dollars of budget-busting tax cuts for the super-wealthy. [5/26/2001]
– Hatch voted to use reconciliation to pass Bush’s follow-up tax cuts for the wealthy in 2003. The senator voted for the The Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003, which contained an additional $330 billion in budget-busting tax cuts. [5/23/2003]
- Hatch voted to use reconciliation to pass the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005. The senator voted to pass the bill along a 52-47 vote, which would not have been able to pass without the use of reconciliation. [11/3/2005]
– Hatch voted to use reconciliation to pass an extension of the reduced tax rates on capital gains. The senator voted to shield wealthy investors from an increase in their capital gains tax with a vote in the affirmative for the Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005 . [5/11/2001]
– Hatch voted to use reconciliation to pass a bill helping students afford college tuition. The senator joined a large Senate majority to vote for the College Cost Reduction Act of 2007, which was not directly related to the budget. [9/7/2007]
He Lies

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New report finds that right-wing extremist groups have grown 244 percent in the past year.

A new report by the Southern Poverty Law Center has unearthed shocking data about the rise of militias, antigovernment groups, and other right-wing extremist groups. The report, titled “Rage on the Right,” has found that there has been an increase of 244 percent in the number of these extremist groups in 2009:
The number of extremist groups in the United States exploded in 2009 as militias and other groups steeped in wild, antigovernment conspiracy theories exploited populist anger across the country and infiltrated the mainstream, according to a report issued today by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).
Antigovernment “Patriot” groups – militias and other extremist organizations that see the federal government as their enemy – came roaring back to life over the past year after more than a decade out of the limelight.
The SPLC documented a 244 percent increase in the number of active Patriot groups in 2009. Their numbers grew from 149 groups in 2008 to 512 groups in 2009, an astonishing addition of 363 new groups in a single year. Militias – the paramilitary arm of the Patriot movement – were a major part of the increase, growing from 42 militias in 2008 to 127 in 2009.
Early last year, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) warned about the rise of “rightwing extremism in the United States,” sparking an uproar among many on the right who derided DHS’s warning as merely “paranoid accusations of liberal bloggers.”

A hazardous materials team has been dispatched to an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) building in Ogden, UT, and the FBI is at the scene to investigate white powder that has been found in the building. Additionally, local news station KSL-TV says that two people have been taken out of the building on stretchers. The station has a live stream of emergency crews outside the building here. Today’s incident is the second high-profile incident involving IRS buildings in recent weeks. Last month, disgruntled Austin pilot Joseph Stack rammed his airplane into the IRS building in Austin, Texas, killing both himself and an IRS worker. When questioned by ThinkProgress, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) said that he sympathized with Stack’s grievances.
Update The FBI has released a statement: "The FBI continues to investigate the incident along with its federal and local partners. The area where the threat was received was isolated by removing employees from that area. Some individuals did suffer medical emergencies which, at this time, do not appear to be related to this incident."

Iraqi Election Watch: Chalabi, Once Darling of Bush Administration Neocons, Is 'Doing the Bidding of Iran,' Says Former Top CIA Officer

Michael Isikoff Feb 28, 2010 09:41 PM
U.S. General Ray Odierno, the senior U.S. commander in Iraq, recently unleashed an extraordinary attack on Iraqi politician Ahmed Chalabi, accusing the one time darling of U.S. neo-conservatives of attempting to "hijack" the country's March 7 parliamentary elections in an effort to promote the interests of Iran.
Odierno's charge that Chalabi is "clearly influenced" by Iran caused a stir in Baghdad, but was no surprise to the U.S. intelligence community. Odierno's comments echo more than a decade of private warnings by CIA officials that, even while he was being embraced by Paul Wolfowitz and others in the Bush administration, Chalabi was secretly aligned with the regime in Tehran. Chalabi "is doing the bidding of Iran," said John Maguire, formerly one of the CIA's top Iraqi operations officer who served as a deputy station chief in Baghdad following the U.S. invasion in 2003. "He's getting specific instructions [from the Iranians] and he's responding to them. This has been going on since 1996, but there's no hiding it anymore."

Two Suspects Entered U.S. After Killing In Dubai

By ROBERT F. WORTMarch 01, 2010 "New York Times" -- DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — At least two suspects in the killing of a Hamas official in a hotel here in January traveled to the United States afterward, according to a person familiar with the investigation.That disclosure broadened the scope of an international investigation that has fostered diplomatic tensions and cast a harsh light on the methods of Israel’s intelligence service, the Mossad, which police officials here accuse of ordering the killing.One suspect traveling on a British passport arrived in the United States on Feb. 14; the other used an Irish passport and arrived on Jan. 21, said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the case. He did not say where the men entered the country, and added that there was no known record of their leaving.Many of the 26 suspects identified in the case used stolen identities — most of them taken from people with dual citizenship living in Israel — and that appeared to be true of the two men who traveled to the United States, who used the names Roy Allan Cannon and Evan Dennings. On Friday, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz identified the real Mr. Cannon as “a 62-year-old, ultra-Orthodox father of six” who moved to Israel in 1983. Irish officials said last week that they believed that Mr. Dennings was also a victim of identity theft.As foreign citizens, the two suspects would have been photographed and fingerprinted on arrival in the United States, and could therefore presumably be tracked. But in light of the identity theft practiced in the case, it seems possible that the men could have left the United States under false travel documents.Although Interpol is assisting in the investigation and has put out alert notices about the suspects, United States officials have been silent about it. On Monday, the State Department again refused to comment on the case.
Newsweek Mar 2, 2010 07:34 AM
By Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball The international mystery over the murder of a senior Hamas leader deepened Monday when U.S. law-enforcement officials said they were unable to find any records to corroborate assertions by Dubai police that two suspected hit-squad members fled to the U.S. following the slaying.The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that "records shared between international investigators" showed that one of the suspects, carrying an Irish passport, had entered the U.S. on Jan. 21—just one day after Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh’s body was found in a Dubai hotel room. Another of the Dubai police's suspects in the case, carrying a British passport, allegedly entered the U.S. on Feb. 14.
The Journal further reported that there were no records of either man leaving the U.S., thereby raising the possibility that the two individuals—identified in the story as "Evan Dennings" and "Roy Allen Cannon"—were still in the country.

Monday, March 01, 2010

GOP senator’s hold puts 2,000 federal employees out of work

Dick Cheney argues “deficits don't matter”.

I thought deficits "didn't matter"? When did that change?
Two thousand federal transportation workers will be furloughed without pay on Monday, and the Obama administration said they have a Kentucky senator to blame for it.
Federal reimbursements to states for highway programs will also be halted, the Transportation Department said in a statement late Sunday. The reimbursements amount to about $190 million a day, according to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
The furloughs and freeze on payments were the result of a decision last week by Republican Sen. Jim Bunning to block passage of legislation that would have extended federal highway and transit programs, the department said. Those programs expired at midnight Sunday.
The extension of transportation programs was part of a larger package of government programs that also expired Sunday, including unemployment benefits for about 400,000 Americans.
Bunning objected to the $10 billion measure, saying it would add to the budget deficit. He didn't immediately respond to a request Sunday for comment.
The impasse has provided the administration with an opening to excoriate Republicans for allowing popular programs to run out, even if only for a short time.
"As American families are struggling in tough economic times, I am keenly disappointed that political games are putting a stop to important construction projects around the country," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement. LinkHere

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Bunning's homestate paper slams his 'callous grandstanding.' The Lexington Herald-Leader published a scathing editorial today taking on both Bunning and the two Republicans aiming to replace him this November (who both have supported his efforts):
As long as Republicans were in charge, Sen. Jim Bunning was OK with trading a surplus for a deficit. He voted to put two wars, tax cuts and a Medicare drug benefit on the nation's credit card.
Now that Republicans are no longer in charge, Bunning is drawing the line on deficit spending. He's doing it in a way that shows callous contempt for the more than one in 10 working Kentuckians whose jobs disappeared in the economic meltdown.
We've become accustomed to bizarre, egocentric behavior from Bunning. So it wasn't all that surprising when he single-handedly blocked an unemployment benefits extension for a million people, including 119,230 in Kentucky, whose benefits run out this year. About 14,000 Kentuckians will exhaust their benefits in two weeks without the extension.
Bunning's filibuster also denies newly laid-off workers help paying for health insurance. It halts road and bridge projects around the country by furloughing 2,000 federal transportation employees, stops reimbursements to state highway programs and cuts Medicare payments to doctors.
To those who know him, it's not surprising that Bunning answered a Democratic colleague's complaint with a crude profanity. Or that he joked about missing a basketball game while pushing some unemployed Kentuckians into homelessness or bankruptcy.
What is surprising is that Trey Grayson and Rand Paul, the leading Republicans to succeed Bunning, jumped on his one-man band wagon. LinkHere
In recent days, Sen. Jim Bunning has been obstructing the passage of a bill that would extend unemployment benefits for nearly a million Americans, claiming that they aren’t “paid for.”
But in 2003, Bunning not only voted for an unemployment extension but also put out a glowing press release lauding the extension of unemployment benefits as “hopeful news for our most needy families in Kentucky“:
U.S. Senator Jim Bunning today announced that legislation to extend temporary unemployment benefits for an additional five months has passed the United States Congress. The legislation, which was unanimously approved yesterday by the Senate and by a vote of 416-4 today in the House, would also provide a temporary 13-week extension of unemployment benefits for all individuals who exhaust their traditional benefits before June 1, 2003. “The 108th Congress is off to a solid start,” said Bunning. “This is hopeful news for our most needy families in Kentucky. By approving this legislation we will help those folks who are currently without work continue to make ends meet until they can find new employment.” Passage of this legislation means that there will be no lapse in assistance for the nearly 10,000 Kentuckians who have filed claims so far for extended benefits. The last extension expired on December 28, 2002. President Bush is expected to sign the bill tomorrow, which means the next payment to states can still be made on Friday, January 10, as originally scheduled.
The CBO estimates that at the time, the budgetary cost of the unemployment benefit increase was $6.6 billion between 2003 and 2007. The Labor Department estimates that 4,300 Kentuckians will lose their unemployment benefits during the week of March 13 without an extension. If Bunning’s stance today is truly principled, then why didn’t he stand up to fight the unpaid-for benefits in 2003, under the Republican President Bush?
Update Bunning missed nearly half of all floor votes in the Senate during the crucial month of December, including the vote on the health care bill and the defense appropriations bill.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

For the GOP, if the tinfoil hat fits

Is the Missile Defense Agency's logo Obama-meets-Islam?

By Al KamenFriday, February 26, 2010
The blogosphere is abuzz over conservatives' charges that a logo being used by the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency looks very much like a fusion of the Muslim crescent moon and star and the Obama campaign logo. Some folks even detected a similarity to the Iranian Space Agency logo.
"New Missile Defense Agency Logo Causes Online Commotion," said the headline on Drudge. Indeed it did. Our pal Frank Gaffney, writing on his blog, expressed alarm. "The Obama administration's determined effort to reduce America's missile defense capabilities initially seemed to be just standard Leftist fare," wrote Gaffney, a senior Pentagon official in the Reagan administration. But "a just-unveiled symbolic action suggests, however, that something even more nefarious is afoot."
Lefty bloggers insisted that the logo meant nothing of the sort, suggesting the right-wingers must have found some particularly high-grade hallucinogens. Well, we thought the conservatives had the better of the argument.
Turns out, however, the "new" logo is not so new. "This was a logo that was developed three years ago for our recruiting materials and our public Web site," MDA spokesman Rick Lehner told our colleague Ed O'Keefe. "It did not replace our official MDA logo, and of course it has no ties to any political campaign. It was done one year before the 2008 elections. So the whole thing is pretty ridiculous." Lehner said the insignia was chosen because it was "cheaper, because it's three colors as opposed to the five colors on the official logo."
What a minute. Did he say one year before the election? During the George W. Bush administration? Can we get some subpoenas out on this? LinkHere

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They're not embarrassed

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Report: Parts Of U.S. Have Higher HIV Rates Than Africa

By Jaime Cunningham
In December, NEWSWEEK argued that new signs of life were showing in the AIDS activism movement. Let's hope so. Recent research published in The New England Journal of Medicine shows that within certain populations in America, the prevalence of HIV-infected people is higher than in certain parts of Africa:
More than 1 in 30 adults in Washington, D.C., are HIV-infected—a prevalence higher than that reported in Ethiopia, Nigeria, or Rwanda. Certain U.S. subpopulations are particularly hard hit. In New York City, 1 in 40 blacks, 1 in 10 men who have sex with men, and 1 in 8 injection-drug users are HIV-infected, as are 1 in 16 black men in Washington, D.C. In several U.S. urban areas, the HIV prevalence among men who have sex with men is as high as 30%—as compared with a general-population prevalence of 7.8% in Kenya and 16.9% in South Africa.
What’s interesting is that the research shows that a person’s sexual network, more than just his or her lifestyle choices, defines the risk of getting HIV in America. So, black and Hispanic women are at increased risk due to the instability of their sexual relationships —which is attributed to the high rate of incarceration of men in their networks—and their vulnerable or dependent economic situation, which may cause them to be fearful of suggesting safer-sex options to their companions. And black men who have sex with men are at high risk because of the likelihood of their choosing to engage in sexual activity with someone who is racially similar, and because of the prevalence of HIV within their sexual networks.

Curious Reactions To The Suicide Attack On IRS

Whether consciously or coincidentally, Stout was echoing Palin’s memorable final declaration during her appearance at the National Tea Party Convention earlier this month: “I will live, I will die for the people of America, whatever I can do to help.” It’s enough to make you wonder who is palling around with terrorists now.
The Axis of the Obsessed and Deranged
Published: February 27, 2010
No one knows what history will make of the present — least of all journalists, who can at best write history’s sloppy first draft. But if I were to place an incautious bet on which political event will prove the most significant of February 2010, I wouldn’t choose the kabuki health care summit that generated all the ink and 24/7 cable chatter in Washington. I’d put my money instead on the murder-suicide of Andrew Joseph Stack III, the tax protester who flew a plane into an office building housing Internal Revenue Service employees in Austin, Tex., on Feb. 18. It was a flare with the dark afterlife of an omen.
What made that kamikaze mission eventful was less the deranged act itself than the curious reaction of politicians on the right who gave it a pass — or, worse, flirted with condoning it. Stack was a lone madman, and it would be both glib and inaccurate to call him a card-carrying Tea Partier or a “Tea Party terrorist.” But he did leave behind a manifesto whose frothing anti-government, anti-tax rage overlaps with some of those marching under the Tea Party banner. That rant inspired like-minded Americans to create instant Facebook shrines to his martyrdom. Soon enough, some cowed politicians, including the newly minted Tea Party hero Scott Brown, were publicly empathizing with Stack’s credo — rather than risk crossing the most unforgiving brigade in their base.
Representative Steve King, Republican of Iowa, even rationalized Stack’s crime. “It’s sad the incident in Texas happened,” he said, “but by the same token, it’s an agency that is unnecessary. And when the day comes when that is over and we abolish the I.R.S., it’s going to be a happy day for America.” No one in King’s caucus condemned these remarks. Then again, what King euphemized as “the incident” took out just 1 of the 200 workers in the Austin building: Vernon Hunter, a 68-year-old Vietnam veteran nearing his I.R.S. retirement. Had Stack the devastating weaponry and timing to match the death toll of 168 inflicted by Timothy McVeigh on a federal building in Oklahoma in 1995, maybe a few of the congressman’s peers would have cried foul.
It is not glib or inaccurate to invoke Oklahoma City in this context, because the acrid stench of 1995 is back in the air. Two days before Stack’s suicide mission, The Times published David Barstow’s chilling, months-long investigation of the Tea Party movement. Anyone who was cognizant during the McVeigh firestorm would recognize the old warning signs re-emerging from the mists of history. The Patriot movement. “The New World Order,” with its shadowy conspiracies hatched by the Council on Foreign Relations and the Trilateral Commission. Sandpoint, Idaho. White supremacists. Militias.
Barstow confirmed what the Southern Poverty Law Center had found in its report last year: the unhinged and sometimes armed anti-government right that was thought to have vaporized after its Oklahoma apotheosis is making a comeback. And now it is finding common cause with some elements of the diverse, far-flung and still inchoate Tea Party movement. All it takes is a few self-styled “patriots” to sow havoc.
Equally significant is Barstow’s finding that most Tea Party groups have no affiliation with the G.O.P. despite the party’s ham-handed efforts to co-opt them. The more we learn about the Tea Partiers, the more we can see why. They loathe John McCain and the free-spending, TARP-tainted presidency of George W. Bush. They really do hate all of Washington, and if they hate Obama more than the Republican establishment, it’s only by a hair or two. (Were Obama not earning extra demerits in some circles for his race, it might be a dead heat.) The Tea Partiers want to eliminate most government agencies, starting with the Fed and the I.R.S., and end spending on entitlement programs. They are not to be confused with the Party of No holding forth in Washington — a party that, after all, is now positioning itself as a defender of Medicare spending. What we are talking about here is the Party of No Government at All.
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