Archive for the ‘National politics’ Category

Bystanders rescue motorcyclist trapped under burning car

Especially in politics, you need the occasional reminder that the human race is worth saving:

For charity’s sake, we’ll assume the fellow in the business suit was the driver of the car — so stunned that he didn’t know what to do. The Salt Lake City Tribune has the details:

A motorcyclist who was dragged beneath a car Monday in Logan was rescued by bystanders who helped police lift the burning car and pull the man out from under the wreckage. He was reported to be in critical condition Monday night.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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Warren Buffet on billionaires protected ‘as if we were spotted owls’

Several of you have pointed out today’s op-ed piece by billionaire Warren Buffet in the New York Times, which begins thusly:


Billionaire Warren Buffet/AP

Our leaders have asked for “shared sacrifice.” But when they did the asking, they spared me. I checked with my mega-rich friends to learn what pain they were expecting. They, too, were left untouched.

While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks. Some of us are investment managers who earn billions from our daily labors but are allowed to classify our income as “carried interest,” thereby getting a bargain 15 percent tax rate. Others own stock index futures for 10 minutes and have 60 percent of their gain taxed at 15 percent, as if they’d been long-term investors.

These and other blessings are showered upon us by legislators in Washington who feel compelled to protect us, much as if we were spotted …

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A Republican caucus fleeing its House speaker?

U.S. Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ranger, announced this afternoon that he couldn’t support House Speaker John Boehner’s deficit-reduction/debt-ceiling plan.

From the press release:

“While I’m supportive of the Speaker’s fierce resistance to job-destroying tax increases, the debt reduction elements within this proposal have already been tried in the past and failed to stop our government from amassing the $14 trillion debt we have today. Most concerning is the failure to demand the passage of a Balanced Budget Amendment.

“Merely promising another vote will not get the job done. Any spending cuts or caps enacted today will eventually disappear without a constitutional requirement for a balanced budget.”

Graves is hardly alone. From the Wall Street Journal:

The leader of a large group of House conservatives said Tuesday he was “confident” there weren’t enough GOP lawmakers to pass a plan by Republican House Speaker John Boehner to increase the debt ceiling and reduce the deficit.

Rep. …

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The debt ceiling fight and Republican credibility

Over at the New York Times, columnist David Brooks argues that the debt ceiling debate calls into question the Republican ability to govern. Agree or not, you can assume that this is the best-read piece in Washington today:

The [GOP] is not being asked to raise marginal tax rates in a way that might pervert incentives. On the contrary, Republicans are merely being asked to close loopholes and eliminate tax expenditures that are themselves distortionary.

This, as I say, is the mother of all no-brainers.

But we can have no confidence that the Republicans will seize this opportunity. That’s because the Republican Party may no longer be a normal party. Over the past few years, it has been infected by a faction that is more of a psychological protest than a practical, governing alternative.

The members of this movement do not accept the logic of compromise, no matter how sweet the terms. If you ask them to raise taxes by an inch in order to cut government by a foot, they will say …

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Pentagon: Computer hacking can constitute an act of war

The more serious side of computer hacking. From today’s Wall Street Journal:

The Pentagon has concluded that computer sabotage coming from another country can constitute an act of war, a finding that for the first time opens the door for the U.S. to respond using traditional military force.

The Pentagon’s first formal cyber strategy, unclassified portions of which are expected to become public next month, represents an early attempt to grapple with a changing world in which a hacker could pose as significant a threat to U.S. nuclear reactors, subways or pipelines as a hostile country’s military.

In part, the Pentagon intends its plan as a warning to potential adversaries of the consequences of attacking the U.S. in this way. “If you shut down our power grid, maybe we will put a missile down one of your smokestacks,” said a military official.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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The first GOP casualty: Haley Barbour says no to ‘12 presidential race

Here’s the statement posted on the web site of Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour:

“I will not be a candidate for president next year. This has been a difficult, personal decision, and I am very grateful to my family for their total support of my going forward, had that been what I decided.

“Hundreds of people have encouraged me to run and offered both to give and raise money for a presidential campaign. Many volunteers have organized events in support of my pursuing the race. Some have dedicated virtually full time to setting up preliminary organizations in critical, early states and to helping plan what has been several months of intensive activity.

“I greatly appreciate each and every one of them and all their outstanding efforts. If I have disappointed any of them in this decision, I sincerely regret it.

“A candidate for president today is embracing a ten-year commitment to an all-consuming effort, to the virtual exclusion of all else. His (or her) supporters expect and …

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Signs of a Democratic backlash over unions in Wisconsin

This was just moved by the Associated Press, and might be worth thinking about as we move toward a federal shutdown:

Madison, Wis. — A Wisconsin Supreme Court election that turned into a referendum on Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s polarizing proposal restricting union rights remained too close to call Wednesday as a little known prosecutor tapped into voter unrest to mount a serious challenge to the incumbent tied to Walker.

Unofficial results showed challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg ahead by a scant 311 votes over incumbent Justice David Prosser, a former Republican speaker of the Assembly who served with Walker. The results were based on 99 percent of precincts reporting, with just five precincts outstanding.

A recount was nearly certain. Kloppenburg’s lead was 0.02 percent of the total votes cast.

Turnout shattered predictions. State officials had expected 20 percent in line with past elections, but Democrats’ efforts to make the election more about Walker and the union fight …

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Your morning jolt: Post-election intrigue and an attack on the RNC’s Nick Ayers

Two weeks ago, a Democratic operative sent news of a curious online ad – with a link to this new web site – that he had run across at

It was an attack on Nick Ayers, the former aide to Gov. Sonny Perdue who made good in D.C. as the executive director of the Republican Governors Association.


The anonymous web site takes a look at a DUI charge that Ayers, at age 24, was hit with in 2006 while he was campaign manager of Perdue’s multi-million dollar re-election bid. The charge was later reduced, as these things often are in Georgia.

Without knowing the source of the attack, we let the tip pass. But the Ben Smith team at, knowing a little more about the Internet, did not:

”We’ve tracked an anonymous site set up to attack Ayers to the IP address of a Georgia Democratic consulting firm with informal ties to former governor and losing 2010 gubernatorial candidate Roy Barnes….

An email to the site was not answered — but an IP tracking tool in a separate email …

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Former GOP senator Chuck Hagel endorses Democrat Joe Sestak in Pennsylvania

What makes the following even more interesting is that Chuck Hagel’s name has already surfaced as a possible replacement for Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who wants to leave next year.

Then-U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Nebraska) at 2007 hearing. Associated Press

Then-U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Nebraska) at 2007 hearing. Associated Press

From the Associated Press:

Former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel — a Republican — threw his support behind Democrat Joe Sestak in Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate race on Monday.

Hagel told The Associated Press on Monday that Sestak has demonstrated during his two terms in Congress that he puts the interests of the nation and his constituents ahead of his party.

“I think he’s exactly what our country needs more of. I think he’s what the Senate needs more of — courageous, independent thinking,” Hagel said.

“That’s what the job is about. You are supposed to use your judgment.”
Hagel refused to comment on the candidacy of Sestak’s opponent, Republican Pat Toomey, a former congressman.

The men are seeking the seat long held by …

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Bob Etheridge and the proper response to an ambush video

Below is the video that forced U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge (D-N.C.) to issue a public apology today. It clearly shows the congressman putting a hold on the young man:

Ethridge posted the following statement on his official website:

“I have seen the video posted on several blogs. I deeply and profoundly regret my reaction and I apologize to all involved.

“Throughout my many years of service to the people of North Carolina, I have always tried to treat people from all viewpoints with respect. No matter how intrusive and partisan our politics can become, this does not justify a poor response. I have and I will always work to promote a civil public discourse.”

Helen Thomas, the longtime White House journalist, was done in by sidewalk video last month. And now Etheridge.

Throughout Washington, chiefs of staff are handing out laminated wallet cards to their bosses, with words that go something like this:

“Good afternoon, young man. I thank you for your interest in your country’s …

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