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President Obama Signs Anti-Rape Law

December 21st, 2009 admin No comments

Despite objections from 30 Republican Senators, Al Franken’s amendment that prohibits government contracts with companies that enable rape has no been signed into law:

The White House Press Office sent out a statement today announcing that President Obama signed the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2010 into law on Saturday:

H.R. 3326, the “Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2010,” which provides FY 2010 appropriations for Department of Defense (DOD) military programs including funding for Overseas Contingency Operations, and extends various expiring authorities and other non-defense FY 2010 appropriations.

Within the Appropriations Act is Sen. Al Franken’s (D-MN) amendment prohibiting defense contractors from restricting their employees’ abilities to take workplace discrimination, battery, and sexual assault cases to court.

And while those 30 Republicans will probably take this as an opportunity to continue complaining that they didn’t anticipate that there would be political blowback for being corporate sponsors of rape, I’d like to use it to offer kudos to Jamie Leigh Jones for having the courage to come forward and fight.


Categories: Politics Tags: , , ,

President Obama Signs Anti-Rape Law

December 21st, 2009 admin No comments

Despite objections from 30 Republican Senators, Al Franken’s amendment that prohibits government contracts with companies that enable rape has no been signed into law:

The White House Press Office sent out a statement today announcing that President Obama signed the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2010 into law on Saturday:

H.R. 3326, the “Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2010,” which provides FY 2010 appropriations for Department of Defense (DOD) military programs including funding for Overseas Contingency Operations, and extends various expiring authorities and other non-defense FY 2010 appropriations.

Within the Appropriations Act is Sen. Al Franken’s (D-MN) amendment prohibiting defense contractors from restricting their employees’ abilities to take workplace discrimination, battery, and sexual assault cases to court.

And while those 30 Republicans will probably take this as an opportunity to continue complaining that they didn’t anticipate that there would be political blowback for being corporate sponsors of rape, I’d like to use it to offer kudos to Jamie Leigh Jones for having the courage to come forward and fight.


Categories: Politics Tags: , , ,

What Baucus and Nelson Got for the Folks Back Home

December 21st, 2009 admin No comments

What a victory for the American people! But particularly for the people of Libby, Montana (and they needed one) and Nebraska. Here’s the Montana angle:

WASHINGTON — Buried in the deal-clinching health care package that Senate Democrats unveiled over the weekend is an inconspicuous proposal expanding Medicare to cover certain victims of “environmental health hazards.”

The intended beneficiaries are identified in a cryptic, mysterious way: individuals exposed to environmental health hazards recognized as a public health emergency in a declaration issued by the federal government on June 17.

And who might those individuals be? It turns out they are people exposed to asbestos from a vermiculite mine in Libby, Mont.

For a decade, Senator Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana, has been trying to get the government to help them. He is in a position to deliver now because he is chairman of the Finance Committee and a principal author of the health care bill.

Which is not to argue that what happened in Libby wasn’t an environmental and human disaster, and that the people of Libby don’t desparately need the help. But it sure does help to be chairman, huh? It shows the degree to which these bills come as opportunities for folks who like to rail about “earmarks” and bemoan politics as usual in D.C. take advantage of bringing some legislative love to the folks back home.

But nothing compares to Ben Nelson’s deal:

Nebraska will receive $100 million in assistance for its state Medicaid program under provisions negotiated by Sen. Ben Nelson (D) in the Senate’s healthcare reform bill.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) informed lawmakers on Sunday night that the section of the manager’s amendment to the Senate’s health bill would cost $1.2 billion over 10 years….

“Well, you know, look, I didn’t ask for a special favor here. I didn’t ask for a carve-out,” Nelson said. “What I said is the governor of Nebraska has contacted me, he said publicly he’s having trouble with the budget. This will add to his budget woes. And I said, look, we have to have that fixed.”

Whoo-doggie, that’s an interesting contrast to his “I just can’t support his budget-busting bill” prior to getting his $100 million for the state. I guess that’s the going price for principle these days. But he could teach progressives a thing or two about how to negotiate. Hold your breath long enough and they give you everything you want.


Categories: Politics Tags: , , , ,

What Baucus and Nelson Got for the Folks Back Home

December 21st, 2009 admin No comments

What a victory for the American people! But particularly for the people of Libby, Montana (and they needed one) and Nebraska. Here’s the Montana angle:

WASHINGTON — Buried in the deal-clinching health care package that Senate Democrats unveiled over the weekend is an inconspicuous proposal expanding Medicare to cover certain victims of “environmental health hazards.”

The intended beneficiaries are identified in a cryptic, mysterious way: individuals exposed to environmental health hazards recognized as a public health emergency in a declaration issued by the federal government on June 17.

And who might those individuals be? It turns out they are people exposed to asbestos from a vermiculite mine in Libby, Mont.

For a decade, Senator Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana, has been trying to get the government to help them. He is in a position to deliver now because he is chairman of the Finance Committee and a principal author of the health care bill.

Which is not to argue that what happened in Libby wasn’t an environmental and human disaster, and that the people of Libby don’t desparately need the help. But it sure does help to be chairman, huh? It shows the degree to which these bills come as opportunities for folks who like to rail about “earmarks” and bemoan politics as usual in D.C. take advantage of bringing some legislative love to the folks back home.

But nothing compares to Ben Nelson’s deal:

Nebraska will receive $100 million in assistance for its state Medicaid program under provisions negotiated by Sen. Ben Nelson (D) in the Senate’s healthcare reform bill.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) informed lawmakers on Sunday night that the section of the manager’s amendment to the Senate’s health bill would cost $1.2 billion over 10 years….

“Well, you know, look, I didn’t ask for a special favor here. I didn’t ask for a carve-out,” Nelson said. “What I said is the governor of Nebraska has contacted me, he said publicly he’s having trouble with the budget. This will add to his budget woes. And I said, look, we have to have that fixed.”

Whoo-doggie, that’s an interesting contrast to his “I just can’t support his budget-busting bill” prior to getting his $100 million for the state. I guess that’s the going price for principle these days. But he could teach progressives a thing or two about how to negotiate. Hold your breath long enough and they give you everything you want.


Categories: Politics Tags: , , , ,

Midday Open Thread

December 21st, 2009 admin No comments
  • The Republican talking points police are going to kick Tom Coburn’s (R-OK) ass:

    On January 1st, 2009, the national debt was $10.6 trillion. It now stands at $12.1 trillion. That’s not President Obama’s fault, so don’t confuse this with a partisan attack. My attack is on the Senate, and on the Congress. [...]

    In January 2009, the unemployment rate was 7.6%, today it’s 10%. That’s not President Obama’s fault either. That’s our fault, it the members’ of Congress fault.

  • Don’t bring a gun to a snowball fight.
  • What a shock:

    A self-styled Nevada codebreaker convinced the CIA he could decode secret terrorist targeting information sent through Al Jazeera broadcasts, prompting the Bush White House to raise the terror alert level to Orange (high) in December 2003, with Tom Ridge warning of “near-term attacks that could either rival or exceed what we experience on September 11,” according to a new report in Playboy.  [...]

    The man who prompted the December 2003 Orange alert was Dennis Montgomery, who has since been embroiled in various lawsuits, including one for allegedly bouncing $1 million in checks during a Caesars Palace spree. His former lawyer calls him a “habitual liar engaged in fraud.”

  • Last week, were those bankers really fogged in, or did they just blow off their meeting with the President?
  • Mike Huckabee goes biblical on Ben Nelson:

    Huckabee says the vote on health care reform is a pivotal moment in American history, and he took Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson to task for deciding to support the measure.

    Huckabee went so far as to compare Nelson to Judas in the biblical story of Jesus’ betrayal. He said the last time a deal like the one Nelson negotiated with Democratic leaders was when “30 pieces of silver exchanged hands.”

  • Mary Matalin is her usual charming self, calling advocates for health care reform, “jihadists.”
  • How sad is it that the airlines needed to be forced into doing this:

    The rule, which will take effect next spring, would force carriers to let passengers off planes in most circumstances after a three-hour ground delay.

    Airlines have been fighting congressional efforts to craft similar legislation.

  • Scumbags.
  • Speaking of scumbags, or in this case, a scumbag singing the praises of a scumbag, Human Events calls Dick Cheney the “conservative of the year” and has John Bolton giving the acceptance speech:

    Cheney knows that the personal attacks on him, as offensive as they are, in reality constitute stark evidence that Obama and his supporters are simply unable to match him in the substantive policy debate … Outside-the-Beltway Americans see him for exactly what he is: a very experienced, very dedicated patriot, giving his fellow citizens his best analysis on how to keep them and their country safe.

  • Happy Winter Solstice! – DS


Categories: Politics Tags: , , , , ,

Midday Open Thread

December 21st, 2009 admin No comments
  • The Republican talking points police are going to kick Tom Coburn’s (R-OK) ass:

    On January 1st, 2009, the national debt was $10.6 trillion. It now stands at $12.1 trillion. That’s not President Obama’s fault, so don’t confuse this with a partisan attack. My attack is on the Senate, and on the Congress. [...]

    In January 2009, the unemployment rate was 7.6%, today it’s 10%. That’s not President Obama’s fault either. That’s our fault, it the members’ of Congress fault.

  • Don’t bring a gun to a snowball fight.
  • What a shock:

    A self-styled Nevada codebreaker convinced the CIA he could decode secret terrorist targeting information sent through Al Jazeera broadcasts, prompting the Bush White House to raise the terror alert level to Orange (high) in December 2003, with Tom Ridge warning of “near-term attacks that could either rival or exceed what we experience on September 11,” according to a new report in Playboy.  [...]

    The man who prompted the December 2003 Orange alert was Dennis Montgomery, who has since been embroiled in various lawsuits, including one for allegedly bouncing $1 million in checks during a Caesars Palace spree. His former lawyer calls him a “habitual liar engaged in fraud.”

  • Last week, were those bankers really fogged in, or did they just blow off their meeting with the President?
  • Mike Huckabee goes biblical on Ben Nelson:

    Huckabee says the vote on health care reform is a pivotal moment in American history, and he took Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson to task for deciding to support the measure.

    Huckabee went so far as to compare Nelson to Judas in the biblical story of Jesus’ betrayal. He said the last time a deal like the one Nelson negotiated with Democratic leaders was when “30 pieces of silver exchanged hands.”

  • Mary Matalin is her usual charming self, calling advocates for health care reform, “jihadists.”
  • How sad is it that the airlines needed to be forced into doing this:

    The rule, which will take effect next spring, would force carriers to let passengers off planes in most circumstances after a three-hour ground delay.

    Airlines have been fighting congressional efforts to craft similar legislation.

  • Scumbags.
  • Speaking of scumbags, or in this case, a scumbag singing the praises of a scumbag, Human Events calls Dick Cheney the “conservative of the year” and has John Bolton giving the acceptance speech:

    Cheney knows that the personal attacks on him, as offensive as they are, in reality constitute stark evidence that Obama and his supporters are simply unable to match him in the substantive policy debate … Outside-the-Beltway Americans see him for exactly what he is: a very experienced, very dedicated patriot, giving his fellow citizens his best analysis on how to keep them and their country safe.

  • Happy Winter Solstice! – DS


Categories: Politics Tags: , , , , ,

Congressional Burden Shifting to Obama on HCR

December 21st, 2009 admin No comments

While two Senators are lamenting the lack of presidential intervention in shaping the Senate bill, a House member is demanding he take a direct role in the House/Senate conference.

In a statement posted to his Web site yesterday, Russ Feingold points the finger at the White House for the loss of a public option in the bill, but nonetheless pledges his support in the final vote.

“I’ve been fighting all year for a strong public option to compete with the insurance industry and bring health care spending down.  I continued that fight during recent negotiations, and I refused to sign onto a deal to drop the public option from the Senate bill.  Unfortunately, the lack of support from the administration made keeping the public option in the bill an uphill struggle.  Removing the public option from the Senate bill is the wrong move, and eliminates $25 billion in savings.  I will be urging members of the House and Senate who draft the final bill to make sure this essential provision is included.

“But while the loss of the public option is a bitter pill to swallow, on balance, the bill still delivers meaningful reform, and the cost of inaction is simply too high….”

Likewise, though for potentially different policy reasons, Jim Webb expressed his dissatisfaction with Obama [sub. req.], and he holds out the possibility of voting against the conference report:

Over the past year, the process of debating this issue often overwhelmed the substance of fixing the problem. The Obama Administration declared health care reform to be a major domestic objective, but they did not offer the Congress a bill. Nor did they propose a specific set of objectives from which legislation could be derived. Consequently, legislation was developed independently through five different Congressional committees, three in the House and two in the Senate. This resulted in a large amount of contradictory information and a great deal of confusion among our public. As the debate moved forward in the Senate, I and my staff worked through thousands of pages of legislation, and did our best to shape the bill as well as to bring proper focus to key areas. I repeatedly took a number of difficult votes, often breaking with my party, in order to strengthen the bill….

Assuming the bill is passed by the Senate, I will examine closely the conference report produced at the next stage of the legislative process. Significant deviations from the core principles I insisted on this compromise must remain, or I will withhold my support.

And on the House side, Elijah Cummings is demanding greater involvement by Obama himself:

The president must participate directly in negotiations next month to merge the House and Senate’s healthcare bills  on “a day to day, hour by hour” basis, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) stressed Monday.

Lawmakers in both chambers will have to reconcile a number of differences in their healthcare legislation once the Senate passes its bill, but the process of resolving those debates would be daunting without the White House’s input, the congressman added.

“I have absolutely no doubt that there will be some changes, and we’re going to have to call on the president to get very much involved in this and to get this through,” Cummings said.

Neither Feingold nor Webb will have much direct involvement in the conference, so the ultimate impact of their drawing lines in the sand now, given that they’ve both overcome objections to vote for cloture, threats like this one from Webb are a little empty. But it’s more likely they’re trying to distance themselves from what they see as a potentially unpopular effort, and put it on Obama’s shoulders. Ownership of this bill is ultimately going to be Obama’s, but there can be little question that the mess the Senate has made of it is why the bill as a whole is polling poorly now, and Congressional approval ratings are in the tank.

Cummings admonition to the president is probably also intended as a bit of burden-sharing for the responsibility of this bill. Of course, the House bill is significantly better, so there’s actually some credit that could be shared if Obama helps get these stronger elements into conference.


Categories: Politics Tags: , , , , ,

Congressional Burden Shifting to Obama on HCR

December 21st, 2009 admin No comments

While two Senators are lamenting the lack of presidential intervention in shaping the Senate bill, a House member is demanding he take a direct role in the House/Senate conference.

In a statement posted to his Web site yesterday, Russ Feingold points the finger at the White House for the loss of a public option in the bill, but nonetheless pledges his support in the final vote.

“I’ve been fighting all year for a strong public option to compete with the insurance industry and bring health care spending down.  I continued that fight during recent negotiations, and I refused to sign onto a deal to drop the public option from the Senate bill.  Unfortunately, the lack of support from the administration made keeping the public option in the bill an uphill struggle.  Removing the public option from the Senate bill is the wrong move, and eliminates $25 billion in savings.  I will be urging members of the House and Senate who draft the final bill to make sure this essential provision is included.

“But while the loss of the public option is a bitter pill to swallow, on balance, the bill still delivers meaningful reform, and the cost of inaction is simply too high….”

Likewise, though for potentially different policy reasons, Jim Webb expressed his dissatisfaction with Obama [sub. req.], and he holds out the possibility of voting against the conference report:

Over the past year, the process of debating this issue often overwhelmed the substance of fixing the problem. The Obama Administration declared health care reform to be a major domestic objective, but they did not offer the Congress a bill. Nor did they propose a specific set of objectives from which legislation could be derived. Consequently, legislation was developed independently through five different Congressional committees, three in the House and two in the Senate. This resulted in a large amount of contradictory information and a great deal of confusion among our public. As the debate moved forward in the Senate, I and my staff worked through thousands of pages of legislation, and did our best to shape the bill as well as to bring proper focus to key areas. I repeatedly took a number of difficult votes, often breaking with my party, in order to strengthen the bill….

Assuming the bill is passed by the Senate, I will examine closely the conference report produced at the next stage of the legislative process. Significant deviations from the core principles I insisted on this compromise must remain, or I will withhold my support.

And on the House side, Elijah Cummings is demanding greater involvement by Obama himself:

The president must participate directly in negotiations next month to merge the House and Senate’s healthcare bills  on “a day to day, hour by hour” basis, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) stressed Monday.

Lawmakers in both chambers will have to reconcile a number of differences in their healthcare legislation once the Senate passes its bill, but the process of resolving those debates would be daunting without the White House’s input, the congressman added.

“I have absolutely no doubt that there will be some changes, and we’re going to have to call on the president to get very much involved in this and to get this through,” Cummings said.

Neither Feingold nor Webb will have much direct involvement in the conference, so the ultimate impact of their drawing lines in the sand now, given that they’ve both overcome objections to vote for cloture, threats like this one from Webb are a little empty. But it’s more likely they’re trying to distance themselves from what they see as a potentially unpopular effort, and put it on Obama’s shoulders. Ownership of this bill is ultimately going to be Obama’s, but there can be little question that the mess the Senate has made of it is why the bill as a whole is polling poorly now, and Congressional approval ratings are in the tank.

Cummings admonition to the president is probably also intended as a bit of burden-sharing for the responsibility of this bill. Of course, the House bill is significantly better, so there’s actually some credit that could be shared if Obama helps get these stronger elements into conference.


Categories: Politics Tags: , , , , ,

Axelrod needs some help with history

December 21st, 2009 admin No comments

David Axelrod was all over the teevee on the Sunday morning circuit, walking back his “insane” comments about Howard Dean and his criticism of the health care bill, talking up the legislation and trying to tamp down progressive base frustration with the watered-down measure.

Little noticed in the flurry of appearances was his misleading commentary about the hallowed sanctity of the filibuster. James Fallows caught it though, and was disturbed:

Good for David Gregory. Just now, on Meet the Press, he asked David Axelrod whether the Senate’s ” ‘majority’ equals 60 votes” current operating rules made sense.

Not so good for David Axelrod. He immediately says, “These are time-honored rules.”

Unt-uh. They are “time-honored” only in the sense of having been adopted awaaaaayyy-back at the dawn of time in 1975; and they have been of practical importance only really since the time of Bill Clinton — and with a sharp increase in the last three or four years.

Can the chief political advisor at the White House really not know this about the filibuster? And if he knows the real story, why would he stick with this “time-honored” line? Either explanation is unsettling.

Either explanation is unsettling. Indeed.


Categories: Politics Tags: , , ,

Axelrod needs some help with history

December 21st, 2009 admin No comments

David Axelrod was all over the teevee on the Sunday morning circuit, walking back his “insane” comments about Howard Dean and his criticism of the health care bill, talking up the legislation and trying to tamp down progressive base frustration with the watered-down measure.

Little noticed in the flurry of appearances was his misleading commentary about the hallowed sanctity of the filibuster. James Fallows caught it though, and was disturbed:

Good for David Gregory. Just now, on Meet the Press, he asked David Axelrod whether the Senate’s ” ‘majority’ equals 60 votes” current operating rules made sense.

Not so good for David Axelrod. He immediately says, “These are time-honored rules.”

Unt-uh. They are “time-honored” only in the sense of having been adopted awaaaaayyy-back at the dawn of time in 1975; and they have been of practical importance only really since the time of Bill Clinton — and with a sharp increase in the last three or four years.

Can the chief political advisor at the White House really not know this about the filibuster? And if he knows the real story, why would he stick with this “time-honored” line? Either explanation is unsettling.

Either explanation is unsettling. Indeed.


Categories: Politics Tags: , , ,