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Archive for June 16th, 2009

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  • Senate sources say the latest cost estimates for health care legislation are around $1.6 trillion over 10 years. Two Senate staffers, one Democratic and one Republican, said Congressional Budget Office estimates put the cost of the Finance Committee version of the bill at around $1.6 trillion.

    A third staffer, a Finance Committee Democratic aide, indicated committee members are working to lower the cost to less than $1 trillion over 10 years, a level preferred by the Obama administration.

    The staffers spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of negotiations over the legislation.

    Cost problems have slowed work on the sweeping legislation.

    (tags: Obamacare)
  • We see our name in the paper a lot, but we're kind of wondering when you're going to actually do something." -Bill Maher on Barack Obama

    Bill Maher has offered some scathing criticism of Obama of late, ranting against the president's televisional ubiquity and questioning Obama's political substance on his show, in an op-ed in the LA Times, and in an interview with MSNBC's Keith Olbermann.

    But so far, Obama's backers largely have yet to speak up and deliver what the chattering classes might refer to as a smackdown to Maher for so harshly criticizing the president.

    In fact, Maher's criticisms have found sympathetic ears at The Huffington Post and Daily Kos.

    So why haven't liberals blasted Maher, or even balked at his criticism?

  • The Obama administration this week will propose the most significant new regulation of the financial industry since the Great Depression, including a new watchdog agency to look out for consumers' interests.

    Under the plan, expected to be released Wednesday, the government would have new powers to seize key companies — such as insurance giant American International Group Inc. — whose failure jeopardizes the financial system. Currently, the government's authority to seize companies is mostly limited to banks.

  • The Obama administration has turned back pleas for emergency aid from one of the biggest remaining threats to the economy — the state of California.

    Top state officials have gone hat in hand to the administration, armed with dire warnings of a fast-approaching "fiscal meltdown" caused by a budget shortfall. Concern has grown inside the White House in recent weeks as California's fiscal condition has worsened, leading to high-level administration meetings. But federal officials are worried that a bailout of California would set off a cascade of demands from other states.

    With an economy larger than Canada's or Brazil's, the state is too big to fail, California officials urge.

  • I hope we can all agree that a robust debate of health care issues and potential policies is in order.

    To that end, ABC News announced plans to broadcast a primetime hour from the White House devoted to exploring and probing the President's position and giving voice to questions and criticisms of that position. We hope that any American concerned about health care will find our efforts to be informative, fair and civil.
    Second, ABC News prides itself on covering all sides of important issues and asking direct questions of all newsmakers — of all political persuasions — even when others have taken a more partisan approach and even in the face of criticism from extremes on both ends of the political spectrum. ABC News is looking for the most thoughtful and diverse voices on this issue. ABC News alone will select those who will be in the audience asking questions of the president. Like any programs we broadcast, ABC News will have complete editorial control. To suggest otherw

  • On the night of June 24, the media and government become one, when ABC turns its programming over to President Obama and White House officials to push government run health care — a move that has ignited an ethical firestorm!

    Highlights on the agenda:

    ABCNEWS anchor Charlie Gibson will deliver WORLD NEWS from the Blue Room of the White House.

    The network plans a primetime special — 'Prescription for America' — originating from the East Room, exclude opposing voices on the debate.

    MORE

    Late Monday night, Republican National Committee Chief of Staff Ken McKay fired off a complaint to the head of ABCNEWS:

  • The Obama administration is fighting to block access to names of visitors to the White House, taking up the Bush administration argument that a president doesn't have to reveal who comes calling to influence policy decisions.

    Despite President Barack Obama's pledge to introduce a new era of transparency to Washington, and despite two rulings by a federal judge that the records are public, the Secret Service has denied msnbc.com's request for the names of all White House visitors from Jan. 20 to the present. It also denied a narrower request by the nonpartisan watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which sought logs of visits by executives of coal companies.
    ++++++++
    Transparency?

    (tags: barack_obama)
  • Two prominent gay figures, activist David Mixner and widely read blogger Andy Towle, have pulled out of a Democratic National Committee fundraiser later this month amid growing calls to confront the administration at what was supposed to be its first large scale opportunity to bring in gay cash.

    "I will not attend a fundraiser for the National Democratic Party in Washington next week when the current administration is responsible for these kind of actions," Mixner wrote of a motion to dismiss a challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act that drew a parallel between same-sex marriage to incestuous marriage. "How will they ever take us seriously if we keep forking out money while they harm us. For now on, my money is going to battles within the community such as the fight in Maine or the March on Washington! I am so tired of being told by Democratic operatives to 'suck it up' because so many other profound issues are at stake," Mixner wrote.

    (tags: gay_politics)
  • Looks like Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is planning ahead — way ahead. While attending the U.S. Conference of Mayors conference last weekend, he was elected to a major post that puts him in line to be president of the national organization in 2011 and 2012.

    So is he hedging his bets about a 2010 run at the governor's seat?

  • President Barack Obama warned doctors on Monday the U.S. healthcare system was a ticking time bomb and urged them to support his overhaul, which includes a public insurance plan that many of them view with skepticism.

    Obama took his healthcare campaign to the annual meeting of the influential American Medical Association, which represents 250,000 doctors and has historically been opposed to a bigger government role in healthcare.

    "If we do not fix our healthcare system, America may go the way of GM; paying more, getting less, and going broke," Obama said, likening the healthcare system to struggling carmaker General Motors, which has filed for bankruptcy protection.

    "It is a ticking time bomb for the federal budget. And it is unsustainable for the United States of America," said Obama, who wants a reform bill on his desk by October.

    (tags: Obamacare)
  • California's average price for a gallon of regular gasoline topped $3 Monday for the first time since last fall, driven higher by a rally in the market for crude oil. Just one month ago, Californians paid $2.52 per gallon, according to the AAA auto club.
    (tags: California)
  • Iranian authorities are restricting all journalists working for foreign media from firsthand reporting on the streets.

    The rules cover all journalists, including Iranians working for foreign media. It blocks images and eyewitness descriptions of the protests and violence that has followed last week's disputed elections.

    The order issued Tuesday limits journalists for foreign media to work only from their offices, conducting telephone interviews and monitoring official sources such as state television.

    It comes as foreign reporters in Iran to cover the elections began leaving the country. Iranian officials say they will not extend their visas.

  • Iran's top legislative body on Tuesday ruled out annulling a disputed presidential poll that has prompted the biggest street protests since the 1979 Islamic revolution but said it was prepared for a partial recount.

    In what appeared to be a first concession by authorities to the protest movement, the 12-man Guardian Council said it was ready to re-tally votes in the poll in which hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared the runaway winner.

    But the powerful Council rejected reformist calls to annul Friday's election that set off swift-moving political turmoil, riveting attention on the world's fifth biggest oil exporter which is locked in a nuclear dispute with the West.
    ++++++
    Now, the Mullahs crack down on the people begins.

  • From the service's blog:

    A critical network upgrade must be performed to ensure continued operation of Twitter. In coordination with Twitter, our network host had planned this upgrade for tonight. However, our network partners at NTT America recognize the role Twitter is currently playing as an important communication tool in Iran. Tonight's planned maintenance has been rescheduled to tomorrow between 2-3p PST (1:30a in Iran).

    (tags: Twitter)
  • During his opening monologue on ‘Real Time’ Friday night, Bill Maher, couldn’t resist piling on to the David Letterman controversy and the sex jokes made by him earlier in the week regarding Sarah Palin’s daughter.
    In defending his friend, Maher thought Republicans had over reacted and this was just a case of ‘fake’ outrage. Much ado about nothing. He then went on talking about how Letterman had invited Sarah Palin and her young daughter, Willow, to appear as guests on his show but the Governor declined because she thought it would be wise to keep her daughter away from him. Said Maher, “…that’s right, he’s 62 years old, he’s gonna fuck her right there on stage…it would be very wise to keep her, very wise, yes. You know, I’d worry a little more about the 18-year old hockey players who knock up your daughters.” To which his audience of trained seals laughed and clapped and had a good old time.
  • The British Government responded with ill-disguised fury tonight to the news that four Chinese Uighurs freed from Guantanamo Bay had been flown for resettlement on the Atlantic tourist paradise of Bermuda.

    The four arrived on Bermuda in the early hours, celebrating the end of seven years of detention after learning that they were to be accepted as guest workers.

    But it appears that the Government of Bermuda failed to consult with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on the decision to take in the Uighurs – whose return is demanded by Beijing – and it could now be forced to send them back to Cuba or risk a grave diplomatic crisis.

    Bermuda, Britain's oldest remaining dependency, is one of 14 overseas territories that come under the sovereignty of the United Kingdom, which retains direct responsibility for such matters as foreign policy and security.

  • A high-level transatlantic row has broken out over the Obama administration's failure to consult Britain over the transfer of four Guantánamo Bay inmates to Bermuda.
    David Miliband has telephoned Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State, to express the government's disappointment at the deal.

    British officials were informed the four Chinese Uighurs were heading to the United Kingdom's oldest dependency only as they boarded their plane for Bermuda on Wednesday night

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share save 120 16 Nevada United States Senator John Ensign Admits Extra Marital Affair
captfc2e156dcd154fda85d Nevada United States Senator John Ensign Admits Extra Marital Affair

Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev. speaks at a news conference at the Lloyd D. George Federal building, Tuesday, June 16, 2009 in Las Vegas. Ensign apologized for having an affair with a member of his campaign staff more than a year ago and says he remains ‘deeply committed’ to his service in the U.S. Senate. In Las Vegas on Tuesday, Ensign called the affair ‘absolutely the worst thing that I have ever done in my life,’ and said he and his wife sought counseling and reconciled

Another GOP 2012 Presidential hopeful bites the dust.
Nevada Republican Sen. John Ensign said Tuesday evening he is “truly sorry” about an affair he had last year with a campaign staffer, going public with an embarrassing admission about his marital infidelity.

The news certainly damages any hope Ensign has of running for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012 – he had fueled speculation about a presidential run with a recent visit to Iowa — and it may also hinder what has been a steady rise in Senate GOP leadership.

Political insiders in the Senate and in Nevada told POLITICO that Ensign began an affair with a staffer several months after he separated from his wife. When Ensign reconciled with his wife, the sources said, he gave the aide a severance package and parted ways.

I am glad he has reconciled with his wife but depending upon the details it is an open question whether Ensign will be able to reconcile this “affair” with the voters of Nevada.

Ad far as GOP leadership in the U.S. Senate or the Presidency – well, that is over.


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share save 120 16 Shocker: Pentagon Admits North Korean Nuclear Missiles Could Threaten United States
3585744808 5d1a23b749 o Shocker: Pentagon Admits North Korean Nuclear Missiles Could Threaten United States

Political cartoon by Michael Ramirez

Shocking?

Not Really.

The Pentagon’s second-in-command says North Korea’s missiles could threaten the continental United States if the reclusive rogue nation continues to develop its weapons.

Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn agreed with an assessment by Sen. John McCain that the U.S. should be prepared for a “worst-case scenario” with North Korea.

Pentagon officials also told the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday that North Korea is working with other nations, including Iran and potentially Syria, to develop ballistic missiles.

In the meantime, President Obama is spending money without regard on dubious economic stimulus projects, while cutting national missile defense.

Repairs for rural bridges, an under-highway safe crossing for turtles and efforts to protect the sage grouse population are among 100 projects a Republican senator pointed to Monday as questionable federal stimulus spending.

The list by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., includes projects others would identify as ideal for creating jobs and benefiting generations of Americans: skateboard parks, streetscapes, upgrades of park facilities, bike trails and parking garages.

I don’t think the Congress will allow the cuts and the President will be held accountable for his folly.

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Shocker: North Korea Uses “NUCLEAR BLACKMAIL” – Will Use Nuclear Weapons in Merciless Offensive


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share save 120 16 CIA Downplaying Director Leon Panettas Comments on Dick Cheney Rooting for Terrorist Attack on America
captba9f5026e76a4981841 CIA Downplaying Director Leon Panettas Comments on Dick Cheney Rooting for Terrorist Attack on America

CIA Director Leon Panetta laughs while attending a National Italian-American Foundation luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 11, 2009

Well, you cannot play it both ways, Panetta.
A CIA spokesman is sharply downplaying Director Leon Panetta ‘s recent comments that appear to question whether former Vice President Dick Cheney is hoping for another terrorist attack against the United States.

“The Director does not believe the former Vice President wants an attack,” CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano said in a statement to CNN. “He did not say that. He was simply expressing his profound disagreement with the assertion that President Obama’s security policies have made our country less safe. Nor did he question anyone’s motives.”

The statement comes days after the New Yorker published an interview with Panetta during which he said Cheney’s recent criticism of Obama – including the decision to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba – show the ex-vice president “smells some blood in the water on the national security issue.”

“It’s almost, a little bit, gallows politics,” said Panetta. “When you read behind it, it’s almost as if he’s wishing that this country would be attacked again, in order to make his point.”

Cheney’s office released a terse statement from the vice president Monday responding to the comments, saying “I hope my old friend Leon was misquoted.”

Exit question: Was CIA Director Panetta misquoted or did he commit a gaffe?


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share save 120 16 Sarah Palin Accepts David Lettermans Apology
021lettermanpalin Sarah Palin Accepts David Lettermans Apology

I guess the Flap is over.
In a statement to FOXNews.com early Tuesday, the Alaska governor said, “Of course it’s accepted on behalf of young women, like my daughters, who hope men who ‘joke’ about public displays of sexual exploitation of girls will soon evolve.”

“Letterman certainly has the right to ‘joke’ about whatever he wants to, and thankfully we have the right to express our reaction,” Palin said. “This is all thanks to our U.S. Military women and men putting their lives on the line for us to secure America’s Right to Free Speech – in this case, may that right be used to promote equality and respect.”

The apology came after David Letterman took his biggest step to put the furor surrounding his jokes about Gov. Sarah Palin’s daughters behind him.

“I would like to apologize, especially to the two daughters involved, Bristol and Willow, and also to the governor and her family and everybody else who was outraged by the joke. I’m sorry about it and I’ll try to do better in the future,” Letterman told the studio audience.

Who benefitted?

Exit answer: BOTH

Previous:

David Letterman Apologizes AGAIN to Sarah Palin and Her Daughters?

Does the David Letterman – Sarah Palin Flap Help Letterman in the Television Ratings?

Day By Day by Chris Muir June 12, 2009 – Contemporaries

Senator John McCain Defends Sarah Palin Against David Letterman’s Jokes

Video: David Letterman Defends Jokes About Sarah Palin and Her Daughters

Sarah and Todd Palin Respond to David Letterman’s Crude Joke About Their Daughter

Audio: Rudy Giuliani on Sarah Palin

NBC’s Early Today Bags on Sarah Palin for Calling David Letterman Pathetic As Letterman Calls Palin’s Daughter a Prostitute

Video:
Letterman Stays Classy – Mocks Sarah Palin’s Daughter as “Knocked Up”

Sarah Palin’s Trip to New York – Updating That “SLUTTY” Flight Attendant Look


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