Archive for February, 2010

Don’t ask, don’t tell: The end is near

Joe Lieberman is finally about to do something worthwhile. He’s going to sponsor a bill to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell.” The U.S. Armed Forces will join other militaries around the world, including Israel, which have found that military readiness is unharmed by having gays serve openly. From CBS:

Connecticut Independent Senator Joe Lieberman will be the chief sponsor of Senate legislation to repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that bars openly gay men and women from serving in the military.

“I will be proud to be a sponsor of the important effort to enable patriotic gay Americans to defend our national security and our founding values of freedom and opportunity,” he said in a statement Monday in which he noted his longtime opposition to the policy.

“To exclude one group of Americans from serving in the armed forces is contrary to our fundamental principles as outlined in the Declaration of Independence and weakens our defenses by denying our military the service of a …

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Obama: Give feds more power over health care premiums

Given the blowback against his health care reform proposals, Obama has made an audacious move: He’s proposing to insert the federal government more deeply into health care. With the planned WellPoint health insurance rate hikes as the backdrop, Obama proposes giving the feds the authority to deny insurance rate hikes.
(Again, has John Oxendine, the leading GOP candidate for GA governor, ever done that?) Will the GOP oppose that? Obama is clearly gambling that consumers hate price hikes in their insurance even more than they hate federal government regulation:

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.

The proposal — part of a package that a top official said will serve as a “starting point” for the bipartisan health summit Thursday — comes as Obama has pointed to recent rate increases as evidence …

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Childhood obesity bad for kids and the country

WASHINGTON — Earlier this month, First Lady Michelle Obama launched her campaign against childhood obesity with a round of TV appearances in which she discussed her struggles to help her young daughters maintain a healthy weight. She had hardly finished speaking when the roar of her critics erupted: Did she say “chubby”? How dare she embarrass her daughters! She shouldn’t say “diet!”!

There was also a broadside from University of Colorado law professor Paul Campos, author of “The Obesity Myth.” Writing in The New Republic, Campos claimed that Obama’s crusade is “dangerous nonsense.”

Happily, the first lady has has soldiered on in her efforts to draw attention to what is, in fact, an epidemic. An estimated 32 percent of children and adolescents are obese or overweight, according to public health experts. Some of them have already been stricken by chronic ailments that used to be reserved for adulthood, including high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes.

And many of those …

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Feet on the desk in the Oval Office! Who cares?

Some folks are offended

Some folks are offended

The caption at the top was added by some folks on a conservative Web site, who were deeply offended that Obama had his feet on the desk.

bush-feet-deskOffended by either of these photos?

They weren’t nearly as offended when W did the same thing. As for me, I couldn’t care less about either president’s sartorial habits: Take your jacket off. Take your socks off, if you like. Just get the job done.(h/t wonkette)

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No need for law on school test cheaters

Gov. Sonny Perdue has backed legislation that would make it a crime alter results on school standardized test — a response to a cheating scandal that has engulfed several Georgia schools, many of them in Atlanta.

No law in Georgia makes it a crime to cheat. But in an effort endorsed by Gov. Sonny Perdue, state Rep. Matt Ramsey (R-Peachtree City) filed two bills earlier this month that would make it unlawful to tamper with state tests or help others cheat on them.
Together, Ramsey’s bills would find violators guilty of a misdemeanor, subject to up to 30 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. Violators would also face the loss of their pensions.
The issue has flared as state officials are expected to testify about their report today at a House Education Committee meeting. The report, which followed analyses by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution of improbable gains at some schools, centered on a statewide review of erasure marks on student answer sheets.Rep. Brooks Coleman …

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Republicans really love their pork

Sometimes, the facts have a liberal bias. (This underscores my contention that the GOP is better at its message, even if they have to distort the facts.) Just take a look at this leading list of porkers, from Politico:

The top earmarkers in both the House and Senate are Republicans, even after the GOP has spent much of the past year making fiscal restraint and runaway government spending the centerpiece of its political message.

Rep. Bill Young (R-Fla.) and Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) — both atop defense spending panels — led their respective bodies in securing earmarks, according to an analysis by the nonprofit Taxpayers for Common Sense.

Young, the ranking member on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, helped secure 63 earmarks worth $128 million. Cochran, his counterpart in the Senate, had his hand in 242 earmarks worth nearly $498 million. In the House, Young was followed by Reps. Earl Pomeroy (D-N.D.) with $121 million, Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) with $116 million …

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Dems could be in for a whuppin’ in Nov.

E.J. Dionne’s excellent column in this morning’s WaPo sums up the Democrats’ dilemma quite well. Dems have the right ideas, but they are losing the message war:

If you want to be honest, face these facts: At this moment, President Obama is losing, Democrats are losing and liberals are losing.

Who’s winning? Republicans, conservatives, the practitioners of obstruction and the Tea Party.

The two immediate causes for this state of affairs are a single election result in Massachusetts and the way the United States Senate operates. What’s not responsible is the supposed failure of Obama and the Democrats to govern as “moderates.” Pause to consider where we would be if a Democrat had won the Massachusetts Senate race last month. In all likelihood, health reform would be law, Democrats could have moved on to economic matters, and Obama would be seen as shrewd and successful.

But that’s not what happened, and Republican Scott Brown’s victory revealed real weaknesses on the progressive …

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SCLC, Black History Month relics of the past

WASHINGTON — The Southern Christian Leadership Conference —  founded in the late 1950s by black preacher-activists, including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. — is in crisis, its chairman and former treasurer suspected of funneling hundreds of thousands of the organization’s funds to their personal use. The scandal is a wrenching blow to a venerable organization already in disarray — frail, outdated and largely useless.

The Atlanta-based SCLC is another black institution that simply no longer serves a vital purpose. Like Black History Month, all-black public colleges and the Miss Black America pageant, the SCLC has been rendered obsolete by black assimilation into the American mainstream. Rather than making yet another futile effort to save a dying patient, its board and supporters should come together to hold a lively funeral for the organization.

The ceremony ought to be like those “home-going” funerals for the long-lived. After all, the SCLC did its job so well that it is …

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Indiana’s Bayh is right about Washington

It doesn’t work. Commonsense measures are not passed by Congress.

Bayh’s stunning announcement that he will not seek re-election is a harsh blow to the Democrats, who already fear the mid-term elections in November. Bayh’s departure has to cheer Republicans, who now have at least a long-shot chance of recapturing the Senate.

But Bayh isn’t leaving because he fears he would not be re-elected. A recent poll showed him 20 points ahead of announced GOP challenger Dan Coats.

Bayh said he’s leaving because he’s sick of a dysfunctional Congress:

“Two weeks ago, the Senate voted down a bipartisan commission to deal with one of the greatest threats facing our nation: our exploding deficits and debt. The measure would have passed, but seven members who had endorsed the idea instead voted no for short-term political reasons,” Bayh said Monday.

“All of this and much more has led me to believe that there are better ways to serve my fellow citizens, my beloved state and our nation …

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Health insurance costs break through earth orbit

California isn’t the only state where consumers may be subjected to outrageous health insurance hikes. But, according to many of my readers, no insurance reform is needed.
From Associated Press:

Consumers in at least four states who buy their own health insurance are getting hit with premium increases of 15 percent or more — and people in other states could see the same thing.

Anthem Blue Cross, a subsidiary of WellPoint Inc., has been under fire for a week from regulators and politicians for notifying some of its 800,000 individual policyholders in California that it plans to raise rates by up to 39 percent March 1.

The Anthem Blue Cross plan in Maine is asking for increases of about 23 percent this year for some individual policyholders. Last year, they raised rates up to 32 percent.

And in Oregon, multiple insurers were granted rate hikes of 15 percent or more this year after increases of around 25 percent last year for customers who purchase individual health insurance, …

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