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Archive for February 22nd, 2010

Dutch to Leave Afghanistan

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 22nd, 2010 5:47 am by HL

Dutch to Leave Afghanistan
One day after the Dutch Cabinet collapsed, the country’s prime minister has announced that he expects the Netherlands to pull out all its troops from Afghanistan in August. The Dutch parliament had voted for the August pullout last October. One Afghan official told the BBC that a withdrawal would leave a “big vacuum” in training, construction and security operations that the Dutch are involved in. —JCL The BBC: A day after his cabinet collapsed, the Dutch prime minister says he expects Dutch troops to end their mission in Afghanistan in August as expected. “If nothing else will take its place, then it ends,” Jan Peter Balkenende told Dutch television. The cabinet fell after the two largest parties failed to agree on a Nato request to extend the tour of the almost 2,000-strong Dutch contingent. A Nato spokesman said it would provide support to Afghans whatever happened. Read more

Dutch F16

One day after the Dutch Cabinet collapsed, the country’s prime minister has announced that he expects the Netherlands to pull out all its troops from Afghanistan in August. The Dutch parliament had voted for the August pullout last October.

One Afghan official told the BBC that a withdrawal would leave a “big vacuum” in training, construction and security operations that the Dutch are involved in. —JCL

The BBC:

A day after his cabinet collapsed, the Dutch prime minister says he expects Dutch troops to end their mission in Afghanistan in August as expected.

“If nothing else will take its place, then it ends,” Jan Peter Balkenende told Dutch television.

The cabinet fell after the two largest parties failed to agree on a Nato request to extend the tour of the almost 2,000-strong Dutch contingent.

A Nato spokesman said it would provide support to Afghans whatever happened.

Read more

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Tiger’s Mistresses Fill Yankee Stadium to View Press Conference
Thousands of Tiger Woods’ mistresses converged on Yankee Stadium to watch the golfing legend’s press conference on the stadium’s giant Jumbotron. By Andy Borowitz

Thousands of Tiger Woods’ mistresses converged on Yankee Stadium to watch the golfing legend’s press conference on the stadium’s giant Jumbotron.


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Obama Health Care Bill: President To Propose Insurance Rate Limits

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 22nd, 2010 5:46 am by HL

Obama Health Care Bill: President To Propose Insurance Rate Limits
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama will propose giving federal authorities the power to limit rate hikes by health insurance companies – part of a new…

Dave Johnson: Create Real Jobs That Pay Off: Update Our 1970s Infrastructure
One legacy of Reagan’s tax cuts is that we stopped maintaining our infrastructure. As a result there’s a lot of work that needs doing. And there are a very, very large number of unemployed people. Hmmm…

Dan Agin: Reconciliation: The Wizards of Oz Are Alive And Well
When our esteemed Martian anthropologist visited America this month and filed her report at Central Station in Tharsis on Mars, she noted that the current…


Quick Fact: Wallace lets McConnell criticize reconciliation even though he previously supported it

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 22nd, 2010 5:45 am by HL

Quick Fact: Wallace lets McConnell criticize reconciliation even though he previously supported it

Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace allowed Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to criticize legislative reconciliation as arrogant without noting that McConnell has repeatedly supported the use of reconciliation in the past. McConnell voted in favor of the Bush tax cuts in 2003 and 2005 using reconciliation and supported reconciliation to pass legislation that would have allowed oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Wallace lets McConnell criticize reconciliation without noting his pro-reconciliation record

From the February 21 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.’s Fox News Sunday:

WALLACE: Let me ask you about another thing, because it certainly doesn’t seem to be headed that way because the White House and congressional Democrats are talking about using reconciliation. We should point out, it’s a parliamentary budget maneuver that has been used by other presidents, including George W. Bush, but it would be a way to get health care reform through the Senate with just 51 votes without using a filibuster. Your colleague, or your counterpart, Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, talked about it. Here it is.

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV) : Reconciliation can be used for different purposes. We can write a whole new bill, OK? Or we can use reconciliation to pass the bill we’ve already passed.

WALLACE: What if they try that?

McCONNELL: Well, look, you know we’ve witnessed the Cornhusker kickback, the Louisiana purchase, the Gator aid — the special deal for Florida. Now they’re suggesting they might use a device which has never been used for this kind of major, systemic reform. We know it would be — the only thing bipartisan about would be the opposition to it, because a number of Democrats have said don’t do this, this is not the way to go. I think they’re having a hard time getting the message here. The American people do not want this bill to pass, and it strikes me as rather arrogant to say, “Well, we’re going to give it to you anyway. And we’ll use whatever device is available to achieve that end.”

FACT: McConnell supported Republican use of reconciliation to pass Bush tax cuts, oil drilling in ANWR

McConnell supported passage of 2003 tax cuts through reconciliation. While Wallace noted that reconciliation “has been used by other presidents, including George W. Bush,” in 2003, McConnell himself voted for the Senate version of the fiscal 2004 budget resolution that called for additional tax cuts to be considered under reconciliation and for the final version of the 2004 budget resolution. He also voted against an amendment to the Senate version of the budget resolution, proposed by Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV), that would have stripped reconciliation instructions from the resolution. He subsequently voted for the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003 itself. CBO estimated that the bill, as cleared by Congress, “would increase budget deficits … by $349.7 billion over the 2003-2013 period.”

McConnell supported passage of 2005 tax cuts through reconciliation. In 2005, McConnell voted for the final version of the fiscal 2005 budget resolution, which also called for tax cuts through reconciliation. He subsequently voted for the Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005 itself. CBO estimated that the bill, as cleared by Congress and signed by the president, would “reduce federal revenues … by $69.1 billion over the 2006-2015 period.”

McConnell supported use of reconciliation to pass measure that would have allowed oil drilling in ANWR. McConnell was one of 51 senators who voted against striking language allowing the reconciliation process to be used to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from the 2006 budget resolution and voted for a reconciliation bill that, as originally introduced in and passed by the Senate, included a provision to open up the refuge to drilling. (The bill as enacted did not contain such a provision.)


Conyers Slams Authors Of Torture Memos, Announces Hearings

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 22nd, 2010 5:44 am by HL

Conyers Slams Authors Of Torture Memos, Announces Hearings
In a statement this afternoon, House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) says that the Justice Department torture memo report released today makes “plain that those memos were legally flawed and fundamentally unsound, and may have been improperly influenced by a desire to tell the Bush White House and the CIA what it wanted to hear.”

DOJ Investigators Were Told Yoo’s Emails Had Been Deleted
Justice Department investigators looking into the Torture Memos were told that emails sent by John Yoo had been deleted and couldn’t be recovered.


GOP Populism: Hey! It’s Fake!

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 22nd, 2010 5:40 am by HL

GOP Populism: Hey! It’s Fake!


Time for Another Party?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 22nd, 2010 5:39 am by HL

Time for Another Party?
Former Sen. Lincoln Chaffee (R-RI), now running for governor in Rhode Island as an independent, writes in the New York Times that the country is ready for a third political party of centrists.

“It has happened before. In 1856, my former party ran a credible presidential campaign just two years after its founding. Four years later, Abraham Lincoln won the White House under that new Republican banner. If my friend Evan Bayh can walk away from the United States Senate and not look back, more power to him. But my guess is, he has a modern-day reprise of the Lincoln victory in mind.”


Wake Up, Progressives: The Right Is Ready to Rumble (Our Side, Not So Much)

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 22nd, 2010 5:38 am by HL

Wake Up, Progressives: The Right Is Ready to Rumble (Our Side, Not So Much)
It’s easy to miss the threat of someone who’s misinformed, paranoid and more than a little crazy. But when that someone has oodles and oodles of dollars, organizing prowess, and private ownership of a significant book-publishing company and a television network, you’d better watch out. The fodder for ridicule provided by the weekend’s Conservative Political Action […]


A Thought On Evan Bayh And Partisan America

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 22nd, 2010 5:37 am by HL

A Thought On Evan Bayh And Partisan America
digg_url = ‘http://digg.com/political_opinion/Robert_Reich_A_Thought_On_Evan_Bayh_And_Partisan_America_2’; Not long ago I was debating someone on television. I thought the discussion was going well until the commercial break when a producer said into my earpiece “be angrier.” “Why should I be angrier?” I asked…


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Where the Power Elite Gets Its Power
I’ve seen columnists obsessed; I’ve seen them rage or swoon over the objects of their obsessions. But nothing compares with New York Times columnist David Brooks’ love-hate fixation on Washington’s Ivy Leaguers. This morning, he wrings his hands over the…



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Future Shock: Did Rahm Emanuel Create the Tea Partiers?
Given current trends in the country, I can easily imagine “conspiracy theorists” (not me) in the future looking back in history at the Tea Party movement as having been a Rahm Emanuel creation. That would have been, in retrospect, sheer…


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McConnell Tries To Insist The GOP Isn?t Obstructionist: ?It Is Simply Not True?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 22nd, 2010 5:36 am by HL

McConnell Tries To Insist The GOP Isn?t Obstructionist: ?It Is Simply Not True?
Today on Fox News Sunday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) tried to insist that his party has not been obstructionist. To prove his point, he quoted recent remarks by President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV): McCONNELL: Look, in terms of whether or not we’re at a gridlock, I would like to […]

Today on Fox News Sunday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) tried to insist that his party has not been obstructionist. To prove his point, he quoted recent remarks by President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV):

McCONNELL: Look, in terms of whether or not we’re at a gridlock, I would like to quote the President of the United States himself, who said just a couple of months ago, “If we stop today” — this is the President — “If we stop today, this legislative session would have been one of the most productive in a generation.”

My counterpart, the Democratic leader, just last month in the first half of the 111th Congress: “We made significant progress. It is a long list of accomplishments.” […]

MCCONNELL: [T]hey’re trying to spin the notion that we are stymieing everything they’re doing. It is simply not true based on the president’s own words.

He then insisted that all Republicans oppose are Democrats’ “partisan agenda to take over” health care and energy. However, when host Chris Wallace asked McConnell whether he personally believes that this Congress has truly been productive, McConnell dodged the question and bashed his Democratic counterparts:

WALLACE: [C]an you really say on the issues facing the country — the economy, health care, energy problems — that this Congress has been productive?

MCCONNELL: The president believes it has been.

WALLACE: I’m asking you, sir.

MCCONNELL: Well, look. I think they — on the — on some of the big issues they’ve tried to go in the wrong direction. And we’re not going to sign on to efforts to turn America into a western European country, which I think is the net result of something like the energy tax cap and trade bill and the health care bill.

Any progress Congress has made has been in spite of most Republican lawmakers, not because of them. Republicans in the Senate, led by McConnell, have “threatened to filibuster at least 100 pieces of legislation this session, far more than any other since the procedural tactic was invented,” aggressively trying to block more than just major legislation on health care and energy. They have tried to hold up Obama’s well-qualified nominees for political reasons, voted against pay-as-you-go rules (despite Republican support for the measure in the past and the GOP’s supposed interest in fiscal responsibility), flip-flopped on support for a deficit commission, and whined when Reid scrapped a jobs bill that the GOP said would “not create one job.”

Of course, one of the most significant pieces of legislation was the Recovery Act. As Norm Ornstein of the conservative American Enterprise has written, “Any Congress that passed all these items separately would be considered enormously productive. Instead, this Congress did it in one bill.” But this legislation passed without any Republican support in the House and with just three Republicans in the Senate.

Transcript:

McCONNELL: Look, in terms of whether or not we’re at a gridlock, I would like to quote the President of the United States himself, who said just a couple of months ago, “If we stop today” — this is the President — “If we stop today, this legislative session would have been one of the most productive in a generation.”

My counterpart, the Democratic leader, just last month in the first half of the 111th Congress: “We made significant progress. It is a long list of accomplishments.”

They are trying to –

WALLACE: But you’re not suggesting –

MCCONNELL: No, look. Look, Chris –

WALLACE: — that people should be satisfied –

MCCONNELL: — they’re trying to spin the notion that we are stymieing everything they’re doing. It is simply not true based on the president’s own words.

Let me tell you what we do oppose. We oppose the government taking over one — the health care system, one-sixth of our economy. And we oppose a national energy tax commonly referred to around here as cap and trade. We think those are terrible ideas.

But my members were not sent here to do nothing, and the president knows that, and he has said it. We have accomplished much for the American people. It’s just that we are unwilling to approve their partisan agenda to take over health care and raise energy. […]

MCCONNELL: That’s just not true. I read the comment from the president about how productive this Congress has been. Senator Reid believes the Congress has been productive.

What we are not willing to cooperate in doing is passing this massive overhaul of health care and passing this massive energy tax.

Beyond that, there’s been a high level of cooperation, by the president’s own words and by Senator Reid’s own words, and we’ll continue to cooperate on those things that we think are in the best interests of the American people.

WALLACE: But, Senator — and I understand the point of quoting their words. I mean, can you really say — and I’m not saying you should take or sign up for the Democratic ideas, but can you really say on the issues facing the country — the economy, health care, energy problems — that this Congress has been productive?

MCCONNELL: The president believes it has been.

WALLACE: I’m asking you, sir.

MCCONNELL: Well, look. I think they — on the — on some of the big issues they’ve tried to go in the wrong direction. And we’re not going to sign on to efforts to turn America into a western European country, which I think is the net result of something like the energy tax cap and trade bill and the health care bill.

Pawlenty completes global warming flip-flop, calls cap and trade a ?disaster.?
Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN), a potential candidate for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012, completed the reversal of his stance on global warming today on Meet the Press. When asked by NBC’s David Gregory if climate change is real, the former champion of strong climate action questioned “how much of it is man-made,” charging climate […]

Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN), a potential candidate for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012, completed the reversal of his stance on global warming today on Meet the Press. When asked by NBC’s David Gregory if climate change is real, the former champion of strong climate action questioned “how much of it is man-made,” charging climate scientists with “data manipulation and controversy.” He then said a cap-and-trade system of market-based limits on global warming pollution would be a “disaster“:

The climate is obviously changing, David. The more interesting question is how much of it is man-made and how much is as a result of natural causes and patterns. Of course, we have seen data manipulation and controversy, or at least debate within the scientific community. . . . And the way you address it is we should all be in favor of reducing pollution. We need to do it in ways that don’t burden the economy. Cap and trade, I think, would be a disaster in that regard.

Watch it:

Pawlenty’s charge of “data manipulation” is based on the libelous claims of fossil-fueled conspiracy theorists. Like Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Pawlenty was one of the nation’s chief Republican champions of cap and trade until recently, but now is mimicking Sarah Palin instead. In 2007, Pawlenty supported a cap-and-trade system to reduce Minnesota’s global warming pollution by 80 percent by the year 2050. “Maybe we can lead them,” Pawlenty then said about Congress passing cap and trade, “or even shame them into action. It’ll become de facto national policy.”

Transcript:

GREGORY: Is climate change real?

PAWLENTY: The climate is obviously changing, David. The more interesting question is how much of it is man-made and how much is as a result of natural causes and patterns. Of course, we have seen data manipulation and controversy, or at least debate within the scientific community.

GREGORY: Three years ago you said anyone who questions it is not right.

PAWLENTY: There is no question the climate is changing. The more interesting question is how much of that is man-made versus natural causes. And the way you address it is we should all be in favor of reducing pollution. We need to do it in ways that don’t burden the economy. Cap and trade, I think, would be a disaster in that regard. The real breakthrough here is transformative technologies, moving forward with nuclear, moving forward with the technologies that will give us batteries to move forward with fuel cell technology or hybrid technology for battery-powered cars. We also need to have an appreciation for clean coal.


Democratic senatorial candidates vie to be seen as outsiders

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 22nd, 2010 5:35 am by HL

Democratic senatorial candidates vie to be seen as outsiders
Chris Coons wants to be a Democratic Senate incumbent. But don’t mistake him for one just yet.

In the Senate, a test for Democrats’ scaled-down jobs bill
Democrats’ renewed focus on bolstering the economy faces a key test Monday, with the Senate expected to hold a procedural vote on what Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) hopes will be the first of several job-creation bills.

Obama proposal targets insurance-rate increases
President Obama will call for new government power to regulate insurance-rate increases as part of comprehensive changes to the health-care system that the White House will unveil on its Web site Monday, senior officials said.

Republican presidential candidates line up for 2012 race
If you’re a political junkie craving the start of the 2012 presidential race, your time has come! A series of developments over the past week signaled the kickoff of the long road to the nomination, with a number of Republican aspirants taking their ambitions (semi-) public.

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