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Archive for March, 2011

The Republicans shouldn’t be taken seriously anymore.

It seems obvious, but in order to be taken seriously, politicians have to be, you know, serious. Not just in terms of personality or behavior, but primarily in terms of policy and lawmaking. If a politician refuses to propose serious ideas and only pumps out nonsensical bumper-sticker sloganeering, fear-based histrionics or symbolic legislative measures that pander to kneejerk interest groups, then he or she ought to be summarily refused the privilege of our deference, respect and, especially, our vote.

Very few modern Republicans and conservatives qualify. They fail the seriousness test at almost every level — from the Republican leadership on down the line.

Take Eric Cantor, for example. The House Majority Leader. The second most powerful Republican in Washington. Whenever I write about Eric Cantor, I’m generally met with the reaction of crickets chirping. He’s not as well-known or as incendiary as Sarah Palin or Glenn Beck. But he’s exponentially more important, and so we have to pay attention to what he’s doing.

You might recall how Cantor, along with 228 House Republicans, permanently attached their names to proven scam-artist James O’Keefe by voting to de-fund NPR in reaction to O’Keefe’s latest sting video. Like all of O’Keefe’s work, the NPR video was selectively and deceptively edited to make it seem as though an NPR executive was expressing personal views about tea party Republicans. Within days of the release of the video, Eric Cantor publicly embraced O’Keefe and expressed outrage at the dubiously-attained videotape. In his public remarks, Cantor announced the effort to de-fund NPR. Later, the House successfully voted to codify the work of a known fraud.

Should Eric Cantor really be taken seriously? No way. And it gets worse.

Yesterday, Cantor announced a piece of legislation that might as well legalize hobbit marriage and cut the budget for time-traveling DeLoreans. It’s just that fantastical.

(more…)

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Wisconsin Judge Declares Union Law Not In Effect

TODD RICHMOND and SCOTT BAUER   03/31/11 11:33 AM ET   AP via: HuffPost

MADISON, Wis. — A Wisconsin judge ruled Thursday the state’s divisive new collective bargaining law had not taken effect, and officials in Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s administration say he plans to comply with the ruling and to halt preparations to begin deducting money from public workers’ paychecks.

Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi issued her declaration a day after Walker’s aides said they believed the law was processed correctly and that they would continue efforts to enact it, despite the judge’s warning to halt such efforts.

Two Walker administration officials who spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because the governor hadn’t publicly announced his plans said he would announce later Thursday that he would comply with Sumi’s ruling.

The law would require most public sector workers to contribute more to their health care and pensions, changes that amount to an average 8 percent pay cut. The measure also strips them of their right to collectively bargain any work conditions except wages.

Walker signed the proposal into law earlier this month after weeks of large pro-union protests in and around the state Capitol, prompting Democrats to file several lawsuits challenging its legitimacy.

MORE HERE

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TIME

Posted by Amy Sullivan Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What was Newt Gingrich doing at John Hagee’s Cornerstone Church on Sunday? Besides delivering another speech from his book of Demagogue Mad Libs, that is. The most obvious answer is that Gingrich is courting evangelical voters. But ever since the LA Times wrote about Gingrich’s outreach to evangelicals earlier this month, I’ve been skeptical about whether that’s actually the case.

Sure, in the past few years, Gingrich has met with groups of pastors in key electoral states like Iowa, New Hampshire, and Florida. He helped support an effort in Iowa that year that ousted three state supreme court justices who were involved in a 2009 ruling that sanctioned gay marriage. And he’s gone on Christian media outlets like James Dobson’s Focus on the Family radio show and the Christian Broadcasting Network to reintroduce himself to social conservatives.

These are the actions of a man who is either engaged in a futile quest to win over evangelical GOP primary voters or looking to build a distribution network or his growing enterprise of books and movies on religious themes.

Why futile? First of all, if Gingrich is looking to earn the endorsements of influential evangelical leaders, Hagee isn’t near the top tier of people he needs to court. But more than that, Hagee is considered toxic by many evangelicals for his controversial comments about the Holocaust and description of the Catholic Church as “the great whore.” John McCain learned this the hard way in 2008 when his campaign initially welcomed an endorsement from Hagee, only to reject it days later when Hagee’s more hateful remarks attracted media attention.

Then there’s the matter of Gingrich’s divorces. Plural. Not to mention the affairs that led to each of his divorces. While evangelicals have long ignored divorce as a social concern in favor of focusing on issues like abortion and gay marriage, it still carries a significant taboo. And having an affair can get a person booted from a congregation. During the 2000 primaries, Dobson issued a personal press release highlighting McCain’s history of infidelity: “The senator is being touted by the media as a man of principle, yet he was involved with other women while married to his first wife.”

A personal history that includes multiple affairs and divorces doesn’t have to spell electoral doom for a GOP candidate if he presents it as part of a narrative of sin, repentance, and redemption. Along these lines, George W. Bush spent much of the 2000 campaign talking about his alcoholic past and referring to himself as a “sinner” as a way of communicating his new spiritual sobriety. He once was blind, but now he sees.

The rest of the story

Hat tip to Youtube user DBRielly

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Fukushima Forecast: Radioactive particles to be concentrated over Midwestern US on April 1, 2 (VIDEO)

Energy News
March 29th, 2011 at 03:55 PM

Fukushima Potential Releases, Xe-133 Total Column for March 29-April 2, 2011, Norwegian Institute for Air Research (NILU), March 29, 2011:

* Although xenon is not toxic, its compounds are highly toxic — CRC handbook of chemistry

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How much is ‘too much’?

CNN

Radiation is invisible. You cannot taste it, smell it or feel it. It’s not possible to directly measure the amount of radiation exposure a person has had. When you see people with Geiger counters checking a site like Fukushima Daiichi, they’re measuring contamination, which generally refers to actual radioactive particles.

There are four main types of ionizing radiation:

–Alpha particles: relatively heavy, cannot penetrate human skin or clothing, but can be harmful if they get into the body in another manner.

–Beta radiation: can cause skin injury and is harmful to the body internally.

–Gamma rays: high-energy invisible light that can damage tissue and is most dangerous to humans.

SOURCE

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Bill Sammon, left, Jan. 2, 2009.

Fox News managing editor: I lied on-air to smear Obama

by Jed Lewison for Daily Kos

Tue Mar 29, 2011 at 12:15 PM EDT

Fox Washington managing editor Bill Sammon, admitting in a newly uncovered 2009 speech that he publicly smeared Barack Obama during the 2008 campaign with speculation that he did not privately believe:

Speaking in 2009 onboard a pricey Mediterranean cruise sponsored by a right-wing college, Fox Washington managing editor Bill Sammon described his attempts the previous year to link Obama to “socialism” as “mischievous speculation.” Sammon, who is also a Fox News vice president, acknowledged that “privately” he had believed that the socialism allegation was “rather far-fetched.””Last year, candidate Barack Obama stood on a sidewalk in Toledo, Ohio, and first let it slip to Joe the Plumber that he wanted to quote, ‘spread the wealth around,’ ” said Sammon. “At that time, I have to admit, that I went on TV on Fox News and publicly engaged in what I guess was some rather mischievous speculation about whether Barack Obama really advocated socialism, a premise that privately I found rather far-fetched.”

Sammon isn’t part of the Fox News “opinion” team. He’s part of the “news” team, and here he is admitting that he used his position to engage in political warfare against a candidate that he didn’t want to win. He lied, and lied repeatedly.

But as blunt as Sammon’s words were, let me be clear about one thing: there’s nothing at all surprising here. We know Fox is a Republican news channel, there’s no question about that.

The only question is why others in the media pretend that this isn’t the case.

Update: Greg Sargent assesses Sammon’s attempt at damage control: “Sammon is conceding that the idea did indeed strike him as far fetched in 2008, even though he and his network aggressively promoted it day in and day out throughout the campaign. And he’s defending this by pointing out that the idea ended up gaining traction, as if this somehow justifies the original act of dishonesty!”

SOURCE

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With copyright permission from my friend, Stephen Pitt.

Now The Republicans Are Going After AARP. Do We See A Pattern Here?

Crooks and Liars- By Susie Madrak
March 29, 2011 07:00 AM

My, they really are hypocrites of the highest degree, aren’t they? After all the water they carried for the insurance industry for Medicare Part B, and during the health care debate, they’re going to try to pin AARP with making money on insurance? What happened to their much-loved free market? Guess it only works when the businesses support the Republicans!

I’m not always a fan of AARP (they do provide affordable insurance to people who otherwise couldn’t get it). They did a lot of work to push the Affordable Care Act, and they stand up for consumers on a wide variety of issues.

Bottom line? Even if I didn’t like them at all, the fact that the Republicans have targeted them would make me want to defend them. After all, sometimes the enemy of my enemy is my friend!

Newly empowered House Republicans are getting ready to renew their attacks against AARP over its support for the healthcare reform law, The Hill has learned.

The Ways and Means health and oversight subcommittees are hauling in the seniors lobby’s executives before the panel for an April 1 hearing on how the group stands to benefit from the law, among other topics. Republicans say AARP supported the law’s $200 billion in cuts to the Medicare Advantage program because it stands to gain financially as seniors replace their MA plans with Medicare supplemental insurance — or Medigap — policies endorsed by the association.

The hearing will cover not only Medigap but “AARP’s organizational structure, management, and financial growth over the last decade.”

An embarrassing hearing would not only hit AARP back for its support of the law, but fits in with the GOP’s mantra that the law was written behind closed doors to favor Democratic allies. And policy-wise, it could empower Republicans to tackle Medigap policies, which many conservatives want to reform because they believe they contribute to over-utilization of the medical system by reducing out-of-pocket contributions.

Imagine the nerve of old people actually going to the doctor’s, taking care of their health and extending their lifespan. Shame on them!

MORE HERE

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Obama Libya Case Speech Coming

TOM RAUM   03/28/11 06:46 AM ET   AP via: HuffPost

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is offering Congress and an anxious public his first detailed accounting of his rationale for U.S. military involvement in Libya and perhaps an answer to the burning question: What’s next?

His speech, set for 7:30 p.m. EDT Monday, comes after the administration scored an important diplomatic victory. NATO ambassadors on Sunday approved a plan for the alliance to assume from the U.S. command all aerial operations, including ground attacks.

That will help Obama assure the nation he can deliver on his promise that the United States will be a partner in the military action against Libya, but not from the driver’s seat. Bickering among NATO members delayed the process.

Ahead of Monday’s speech, Obama and his top national security officials worked to set the stage for the address – Obama in his weekly radio and Internet address, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates with appearances on Sunday television news shows.

But as they made the rounds, neither Clinton nor Gates could say how long the U.S. mission would last or lay out an exit strategy.

“I don’t think anybody knows the answer to that,” Gates told ABC News’ “This Week” when asked pointedly about reports that some officials within the Pentagon believed the mission could last many months.

Clinton was asked on NBC’s “Meet the Press” what would be an acceptable outcome given that Obama has both said that Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi must go and that he is not a military target. Would a partitioning of Libya be a possible solution? “I think it’s too soon to predict,” she said.

The interviews were conducted Saturday and aired Sunday.

Obama’s speech from the National Defense University in Washington comes as leading GOP lawmakers and some from within Obama’s own party are pressing him for more clarity about his goals.

MORE HERE

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