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Archive for September, 2011

Hey isn’t that…? Michelle Obama at Target; Jose Andres and Ferran Adria

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 30th, 2011 4:35 am by HL

Hey isn’t that…? Michelle Obama at Target; Jose Andres and Ferran Adria

Michelle Obama shopping at Target Thursday. An AP photographer (small world!) happened upon the first lady at the Alexandria store, pushing a cart and carrying bags. (See images below..)

• Chefs Jose Andres and Ferran Adria at the White House Farmer’s Market Thursday afternoon. The two Spanish superstars — Andres has created a restaurant empire in Washington; Adria is world famous for the recently closed El Bulli — dropped by for the “Stuff the Bus” drive to collect 5,000 pounds of fresh food for D.C. Central Kitchen.

Read full article >>

With historic losses looming, Postal Service launches new ad campaign

On the verge of reporting historic losses, the U.S. Postal Service is launching a new TV advertising campaign designed to slow the migration away from snail mail.

Americans watching college football games and news broadcasts in the next week may notice new ads from the agency — long known for its campy messages promoting Priority Mail shipping services. Now, the “If it fits, it ships” campaign will share airtime with two 30-second spots designed to remind customers that paper mail, unlike e-mail, can’t be hacked, and that letter carriers are still providing reliable and safe deliveries to doorsteps.

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House passes budget extension to avert government shutdown — by doing nothing

On Capitol Hill, Thursday was a rare day in which the House could do something important by doing nothing at all.

The task: stave off a federal government shutdown by passing a budget extension that would get the government through the weekend. It wouldn’t require a vote. It wouldn’t even take the whole 435-member House.

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Romney‘s claim that ‘right to work’ states get more ‘good jobs’

“And the right course politically at this stage is to have states carry out their own right-to-work legislation. And as you know, right-to-work states, those 22, have created 3 million jobs over the last 10 years. The union states have lost about half a million jobs. So right to work is the way to go if you want good jobs.”

Read full article >>

Herman Cain: The GOP’s next big thing?

Almost lost amid the buzz this week over the possibility that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie may seek the Republican nomination for president was the potential rise of a candidate already in the race: Herman Cain.

After a series of impressive debate performances and a new poll showing him in third place, he is the latest GOP candidate to ride the boom and bust, we-love-you-we-love-you-not cycle of this year’s volatile race.

Read full article >>


Taking Herman Cain Seriously

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 30th, 2011 4:31 am by HL

Taking Herman Cain Seriously
Daniel Henninger, Wall Street Journal
You hear the same thing said about Herman Cain all the time: Herman Cain has some really interesting ideas, but . . .I love Herman Cain, but . . .

Health Reform Law Will Help Slow Rising Costs

Amazon’s New Tablet: On Fire

The War Against Gov’t Workers Continues
Bob Cesca, Huffington Post
The Republicans have been so desperate to find new and clever ways to attack the president that they've managed to paint themselves into rhetorical corners with wafer thin sloganeering and laughable attempts at snark. It's no wonder, then, why they're dogged by an ongoing series of contradictions. These incongruities whiz past our faces so quickly these days, they're almost imperceptible.For example, during the Florida CPAC event last weekend, Governor Rick Scott cracked a joke about the president's use of a Teleprompter. Not particularly shocking since it's a…

Why the GOP Should Embrace Mitt Romney
David Frum, The Week
Attention, Chris Christie fans. If you are looking for a Republican nominee who could actually do the job of president, who does not repel independent voters, who can survive a 90-minute debate without saying anything foolish, why the hell not Mitt Romney?For three years, Republican activists, strategists, and donors have tried to find a plausible alternative to Romney, and again and again they have failed. For about 15 minutes, that alternative seemed at last to have materialized in the form of Texas Gov. Rick Perry.


Lesbian Deplaned for Kissing Girlfriend

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 29th, 2011 4:47 am by HL

Lesbian Deplaned for Kissing Girlfriend
An actress on the The L Word TV series said she was kicked off a Southwest Airlines flight for kissing her girlfriend. In a Twitter post Monday, Leisha Hailey said a flight attendant told her Southwest “was a ‘family’ airline and kissing was not OK.” Hailey said she was escorted off the flight “for getting upset about the issue.”



Late Late Night FDL: Slowly I Turned

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 29th, 2011 4:46 am by HL

Late Late Night FDL: Slowly I Turned
Lucille Ball and Frank J. ScannellSlowly I Turned, from The Ballet episode of I Love Lucy. This episode originally aired on February 18, 1952.

Lucille Ball and Frank J. ScannellSlowly I Turned, from The Ballet episode of I Love Lucy.  This episode originally aired on February 18, 1952.

What’s on your mind?

Oh, how the Irrelevant have fallen
Once Newt Gingrich traveled first-class all the way thanks to the money he was able to attract as a possible non-running Republican contender, especially in his own mind.

Once Newt Gingrich traveled first-class all the way thanks to the money he was able to attract as a possible non-running Republican contender, especially in his own mind.

First Class flights weren’t good enough…no they must be chartered.

Campaigning via occasional Sunday morning news program appearances was exhausting, let’s go on a nice cruise for a few weeks.

And you certainly cannot poll in the single-digits without a little bling.

All these wise political decisions surely showed Newt was qualified a Republican. How’d that all work out?

A floundering presidential bid has fractured what was once a rock star Republican image. Not long ago, Newt Gingrich sat atop a lucrative political empire, the sought-after intellectual guru of the GOP.

Now, all but broke, he’s traveling coach.

The real tragedy of this is Newt is now depriving non-wealthy people of seat-belt-extenders and complimentary bags of four small pretzels.



Supreme Court to Review Health Care Law

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 29th, 2011 4:45 am by HL

Supreme Court to Review Health Care Law
The Justice Department asked the Supreme Court on Wednesday to review whether Congress overreached its constitutional power by passing the 2010 health care law, which would require almost every American to have health insurance. The justices would review the decision of the only U.S. Court of Appeals to find the law unconstitutional, the 11th Circuit court in Atlanta, and likely come to a decision by next summer during the height of the presidential campaign. So the Supreme Court’s decision could have an important political effect, especially because the law is one of the most contentious points between President Obama and his Republican presidential rivals. —BF The Washington Post: “Throughout history, there have been similar challenges to other landmark legislation such as the Social Security Act, the Civil Rights Act, and the Voting Rights Act, and all of those challenges failed,” the Justice Department said in a statement. “We believe the challenges to Affordable Care Act — like the one in the 11th Circuit — will also ultimately fail and that the Supreme Court will uphold the law.” The suit is brought by 26 states and the National Federation of Independent Businesses. Those two groups have also asked the justices to accept the case, because while the appeals court panel struck down the individual mandate for health insurance, it upheld other parts of the law. Read more

The Justice Department asked the Supreme Court on Wednesday to review whether Congress overreached its constitutional power by passing the 2010 health care law, which would require almost every American to have health insurance.

The justices would review the decision of the only U.S. Court of Appeals to find the law unconstitutional, the 11th Circuit court in Atlanta, and likely come to a decision by next summer during the height of the presidential campaign.

So the Supreme Court’s decision could have an important political effect, especially because the law is one of the most contentious points between President Obama and his Republican presidential rivals. —BF

The Washington Post:

“Throughout history, there have been similar challenges to other landmark legislation such as the Social Security Act, the Civil Rights Act, and the Voting Rights Act, and all of those challenges failed,” the Justice Department said in a statement. “We believe the challenges to Affordable Care Act — like the one in the 11th Circuit — will also ultimately fail and that the Supreme Court will uphold the law.”

The suit is brought by 26 states and the National Federation of Independent Businesses. Those two groups have also asked the justices to accept the case, because while the appeals court panel struck down the individual mandate for health insurance, it upheld other parts of the law.

Read more

Related Entries



Immigration Questions Dominate Obama Forum with Latino Community

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 29th, 2011 4:44 am by HL

Immigration Questions Dominate Obama Forum with Latino Community
WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama said today that the Hispanic community can continue to count on him as the strongest of advocates for comprehensive immigration…

Bill O’Reilly: Herman Cain Has ‘No Clue About Foreign Affairs’
Bill O’Reilly had some harsh words for GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain on Wednesday night’s episode of “The O’Reilly Factor.” During a discussion with comedian…

Judith Browne Dianis: Democracy Under Attack
Today, we are witnessing the greatest assault on democracy in over a century. Not since the days of poll taxes and literacy tests has our country seen such blatant attempts to suppress the vote.

Herman Cain Makes Shocking Allegation About Black Voters
During an interview that aired on CNN’s “The Situation Room” on Wednesday night, Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain suggested that members of the African American…


Conservative Media Join Inhofe’s Anti-EPA Fishing Expedition

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 29th, 2011 4:43 am by HL

Conservative Media Join Inhofe’s Anti-EPA Fishing Expedition

Following the lead of Sen. James Inhofe, conservative media are distorting an Inspector General’s report in an attempt to discredit EPA’s finding that greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare. But the IG report addresses obscure procedural issues, not the merits of EPA’s finding or the science on which it was based, which even the Bush administration said was robust enough to require an endangerment finding.

Echoing Inhofe, Conservative Media Misrepresent IG Report

IG Report Was Ordered By Sen. Inhofe. A recent Inspector General report evaluated the procedures leading to EPA’s December 2009 endangerment finding, which declared that greenhouse gases are a threat to public health and welfare and paved the way for regulations of emissions. The IG report states, “This evaluation was initiated based on a request from Senator James M. Inhofe, Ranking Member, Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.” It also says “The estimated direct labor and travel costs for this report are $297,385.” [EPA Office of Inspector General report, 9/26/11]

Inhofe Now Misrepresenting IG Report. In a press release, Inhofe falsely asserted that the IG report “confirms that the endangerment finding, the very foundation of President Obama’s job-destroying regulatory agenda, was rushed, biased and flawed. It calls the scientific integrity of EPA’s decision-making process into question and undermines the credibility of the endangerment finding.” [Press release, 9/28/11]

Inhofe Believes Manmade Climate Change Is A “Hoax.” Inhofe, who reportedly has a book coming out called The Hoax, has called manmade global warming the “greatest hoax perpetrated on the American people.” [NPR, 12/7/06]

Daily Caller Falsely Reported That Inspector General “Calls Greenhouse Gas Science Flawed.” In an article titled “Weird science: EPA’s own Inspector General calls greenhouse gas science flawed,” The Daily Caller covered an Inspector General report regarding the procedures surrounding EPA’s December 2009 endangerment finding, which declared greenhouse gases a threat to public health and welfare and paved the way for regulations of emissions. The Daily Caller falsely reported that the “scientific basis” of the endangerment finding for greenhouse gases “violated the EPA’s own peer review procedure.” The article went on to uncritically quote Inhofe at length. [Daily Caller, 9/28/11]

Lou Dobbs Claimed EPA Finding “Didn’t Live Up To Its Own Scientific Standards.” In a Facebook post, Fox’s Lou Dobbs wrote, “well, looks like the EPA has some explaining to do… turns out its findings that greenhouse gases present a danger to “pubic [sic] health and welfare” didn’t live up to its own scientific standards.” [Facebook, 9/28/11]

National Review Online Repeated Inhofe’s False Claims. An NRO post uncritically quotes Inhofe’s press release, including the baseless claim that the IG report shows the endangerment finding was “rushed, biased and flawed.” [National Review Online, 9/28/11]

IG Report Did Not Question Scientific Soundness Of EPA’s Finding

Inspector General Evaluation Did Not Address The Merit Of EPA’s Endangerment Finding. From the IG report:

Our evaluation focused only on EPA’s process for developing the endangerment finding and ensuring information quality. We did not evaluate the effectiveness of IPCC’s or other organizations’ information quality procedures. We did not test the validity of the scientific or technical information used by EPA to support its endangerment finding, nor did we evaluate the merit of the conclusions or analyses presented in EPA’s endangerment finding. We did not make conclusions regarding the impact that EPA’s information quality control systems may have had on the scientific information used to support the endangerment finding. [EPA Office of Inspector General report, 9/26/11]

EPA Relied On Peer-Reviewed Assessments Of Peer-Reviewed Science. EPA’s finding was based on peer-reviewed reports on climate change science, which in turn were based on peer-reviewed studies. The finding then “underwent a technical review by 12 federal climate change experts, internal EPA review, interagency review, and a public comment period.” The recent IG report says guidelines put in place during the Bush administration require additional peer-review measures. From EPA’s endangerment finding:

This document relies most heavily on existing, and in most cases very recent, synthesis reports of climate change science and potential impacts, which have undergone their own peer-review processes, including review by the U.S. government. Box 1.1 describes this process11. The information in this document has been developed and prepared in a manner that is consistent with EPA’s Guidelines for Ensuring and Maximizing the Quality, Objectivity, Utility and Integrity of Information Disseminated by the Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA 2002). In addition to its reliance on existing and recent synthesis reports, which have each gone through extensive peer-review procedures, this document also underwent a technical review by 12 federal climate change experts, internal EPA review, interagency review, and a public comment period.

[…]

This version of the TSD, as well as previous versions of the TSD dating back to 2007, have taken the approach of relying primarily on these assessment reports because they 1) are very recent and represent the current state of knowledge on GHG emissions, climate change science, vulnerabilities, and potential impacts; 2) have assessed numerous individual, peer-reviewed studies in order to draw general conclusions about the state of science; 3) have been reviewed and formally accepted, commissioned, or in some cases authored by U.S. government agencies and individual government scientists; and 4) they reflect and convey the consensus conclusions of expert authors. [Environmental Protection Agency, 12/7/09]

Even Bush Admin. Acknowledged That An Endangerment Finding Was Required By The Science

April 2007: Supreme Court Said EPA Has The Authority To Regulate Greenhouse Gases. The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 opinion authored by then-Justice John Paul Stevens, stated on April 2, 2007: “Because greenhouse gases fit well within the Clean Air Act’s capacious definition of ‘air pollutant,’ we hold that EPA has the statutory authority to regulate the emission of such gases from new motor vehicles.” The ruling further stated that “EPA can avoid taking further action only if it determines that greenhouse gases do not contribute to climate change or if it provides some reasonable explanation as to why it cannot or will not exercise its discretion to determine whether they do.” [Massachusetts v. EPA4/2/07]

December 2007: Bush White House Refused To Accept EPA’s Draft Endangerment Finding On GHGs. On December 5, 2007, then-EPA official Jason Burnett sent the White House a draft endangerment finding, which stated: “The Administrator proposes to find that the air pollution of elevated levels of greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public welfare.” The White House reportedly refused to open the email and the document was not made public until October 2009. [Greenwire, 10/13/09]

January 2008: EPA Administrator Told Bush That The Administration Must Issue Endangerment Finding. In a January 31, 2008, letter to the president, EPA administrator Stephen Johnson said that the Massachusetts v. EPA decision and “the latest science of climate change” require the EPA “to propose a positive endangerment finding, as was agreed to at the Cabinet-level meeting in November.” Johnson further stated that regardless of energy legislation passed in 2007, “a finding is still required by the Supreme Court case, and the state of the latest climate change science does not permit a negative finding, nor does it permit a credible finding that we need to wait for more research.” The letter was made public in February 2011. [Wall Street Journal2/8/11]

July 2008: Bush EPA Decided To Delay GHG Regulations Until Next Administration. The Los Angeles Times reported that the Bush administration “rejected its own experts’ conclusion that global warming poses a threat to the public welfare, launching a comment period that will delay action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at least until the next president takes office.” Along with this “Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking,” the EPA administrator released “several critical comments from senior officials undercutting his staff’s work.” [Los Angeles Times7/12/08]

December 2009: EPA Announced GHG Endangerment Finding. After reviewing over 380,000 public comments, the EPA issued findings “that the current and projected concentrations of the mix of six key greenhouse gases-carbon dioxide … in the atmosphere threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations” and that emissions greenhouse gases “from new motor vehicles and motor vehicle engines contribute to the atmospheric concentrations of these key greenhouse gases and hence to the threat of climate change.” [EPA, 12/7/09]

IG Report Found EPA “Met Statutory Requirements”

Inspector General: “EPA Met Statutory Requirements For Rulemaking.” The Inspector General opened the report with the conclusion that “EPA met statutory requirements for rulemaking and generally followed requirements and guidance related to ensuring the quality of the supporting technical information.” [EPA Office of Inspector General report, 9/26/11]

Inspector General Gave “Opinion” That EPA’s Finding Should Have Been Categorized Differently Under OMB Guidelines. From the IG report:

Whether EPA’s review of its endangerment finding TSD [technical support document] met Office of Management and Budget (OMB) requirements for peer review depends on whether the TSD is considered a highly influential scientific assessment. In our opinion, the TSD was a highly influential scientific assessment because EPA weighed the strength of the available science by its choices of information, data, studies, and conclusions included in and excluded from the TSD. EPA officials told us they did not consider the TSD a highly influential scientific assessment. EPA noted that the TSD consisted only of science that was previously peer reviewed, and that these reviews were deemed adequate under the Agency’s policy. EPA had the TSD reviewed by a panel of 12 federal climate change scientists. This review did not meet all OMB requirements for peer review of a highly influential scientific assessment primarily because the review results and EPA’s response were not publicly reported, and because 1 of the 12 reviewers was an EPA employee. [EPA Office of Inspector General report, 9/26/11]

OMB Itself Said EPA Followed OMB Peer Review Requirements. From the IG report:

OMB stated that it believes that EPA reasonably interpreted the OMB peer review bulletin in concluding that the TSD did not meet the bulletin’s definition of a highly influential scientific assessment. OMB commented that EPA concluded that it was the separate, underlying assessments of the IPCC, USGCRP, and NRC that met OMB’s definition of a scientific assessment. EPA’s TSD, according to OMB, provided a condensed form of the three underlying assessments. [EPA Office of Inspector General report, 9/26/11]

Inspector General Recommended Procedural Changes For The Future. The Inspector General did not recommend that the EPA revise its endangerment finding. The recommendations from the Inspector General were simply technical procedural changes:

We recommend that EPA (1) revise its Peer Review Handbook to accurately reflect OMB requirements for peer review of highly influential scientific assessments, (2) instruct program offices to state in proposed and final rules whether the action is supported by influential scientific information or a highly influential scientific assessment, and (3) revise its assessment factors guidance to establish minimum review and documentation requirements for assessing and accepting data from other organizations. EPA stated that its response to the final report will address our recommendations. [EPA Office of Inspector General report, 9/26/11]

OMB Peer Review Requirements Were Controversial When Created In 2005. The Boston Globe reported in August 2005:

The controversial head of the OMB Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (and former head of the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis), [John] Graham is responsible for the review of government regulations in the Bush White House.

Not long after coming into office, Graham seized upon the Data Quality Act and instructed federal agencies to draw up their own guidelines for implementing it by October 2002, when the law would go into effect. Then, in September 2003, claiming the Data Quality Act gave his office a newfound role in improving the quality of government science, Graham proposed using the act’s thin language to justify an unprecedented government-wide “peer review” system for agency science.

As legal scholar Wendy Wagner of the University of Texas argued in a recent article entitled “The ‘Bad Science’ Fiction,” there’s little real evidence to support the notion that government agencies churn out “junk science”-a frequent industry accusation-or that their existing peer review protocols are inadequate. So it’s no surprise that scientific heavyweights like the American Public Health Association and American Association for the Advancement of Science announced their concerns over Graham’s initial proposal, which would have required review of all “significant regulatory information,” and an additionally laborious review process for data with “a possible impact of more than $100 million in any year.”

Most significantly, perhaps, the proposal would have blocked academic scientists from serving as reviewers if they had obtained or were seeking “substantial” research funding from the government agency in question-a condition likely to exclude leading academic experts in a field-yet showed little concern about the participation of industry scientists. Graham’s office subsequently softened the proposal, and removed this most objectionable of requirements.

But the administration has still failed to adequately explain why such a “peer review” system was needed in the first place. After all, no government-wide standard for peer review existed in the past-and that may have been a good thing. Different agencies have different needs, just as different scientific disciplines employ different methodologies and standards of proof.

Furthermore, concern about onerous and unnecessary intrusions into the regulatory process remain warranted. The process for vetting “highly influential scientific assessments” under the new peer review plan remains quite burdensome, requiring the preparation of a peer review report that must be made public and a written response from the agency.

Such procedures will only further ossify an already sluggish regulatory process. And as “peer review” critic Sidney A. Shapiro, of the Wake Forest University School of Law, has observed, these procedures are required even for “routine information” that is not “complex, controversial, or novel.”

Such objections notwithstanding, in December of last year Graham’s office finalized the peer review plan. Its provisions for “highly influential scientific assessments” took effect on June 16. The media hardly noticed. Below the radar, as always, expansion of the Data Quality Act continues apace. [Boston Globe, 8/28/05, via Nexis]


Help ‘Muffin Man’ Chuck Grassley Save Taxpayers Some Cash

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 29th, 2011 4:42 am by HL

Help ‘Muffin Man’ Chuck Grassley Save Taxpayers Some Cash
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) was very, very upset — and even called for someone to lose their job — when he learned last week that the Justice Department was accused of paying $16 per muffin at a 2009 legal conference in D.C. (though that number is disputed).


Watchdogs Ask IRS To Probe Non-Profits Affiliated With Karl Rove And Obama Aides
Two good government groups have formally asked the IRS to investigate the actions of Crossroads GPS, Priorities USA, American Action Network and Americans Elect, who they say should be inelligible for tax exempt status.

Nikki Haley’s South Carolina To Give Rides To 22 Voters To Get Photo IDs
Arguing last month that the voter ID law she signed into law in May wasn’t discriminatory, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley offered to give voters free rides to obtain their photo ID from the DMV. 22 people took her up on it.



Hispanic Vote May Swing Key States

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 29th, 2011 4:39 am by HL

Hispanic Vote May Swing Key States
“The surging Hispanic population in several states that figure to be crucial to the outcome of next year’s election” — particularly Florida, Nevada and New Mexico — “is prompting an early scramble by both parties to influence Hispanic voters,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The trend is particularly important to President Obama, who has seen his support among white voters sag, putting his hold on several swing states in danger. He is ramping up an urgent effort to win support from Latinos, while Republicans are trying to build on doubts among them about his stewardship of the economy.”

Lawmaker Asked Police to Ignore Husband’s Call
After locking her husband out of their home, Illinois state Sen. Suzi Schmidt (R) “called 911, identified herself as an elected official, asked police to ‘ignore’ her husband if he called and said he feared her because she had ‘connections,’ according to newly released police reports and recordings of the call,” the Chicago Tribune reports.

“Amid a host of allegations — that the Republican senator rammed her car into her husband’s during a subsequent row in August and then, just this week, bit him and struck him with a cellphone — the recordings raise the question of whether Schmidt was seeking to use her political clout to influence Lake County authorities.”


Air Force Fears New ‘Drug Craze’

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 29th, 2011 4:38 am by HL

Air Force Fears New ‘Drug Craze’
The Air Force fears epidemic use of the synthetic drugs known as “bath salts," but fails to even track cases.