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Schumer & Rockefeller: We Will Get a Public Option

Saturday, September 26, 2009

By Heather
Crooks and Liars

Keith Olbermann talks to Sen. Jay Rockefeller about the foot dragging by the Republicans during the amendment process on the health care bill. Rockfeller still intends to try to have a public option included in the final bill. When Keith said it didn't appear that they have the votes to get it passed, Rockeller said "nothing is impossible, and that particularly includes the public option".

From TPM: Schumer And Rockefeller: We Will Get Public Option:
I just got off a conference call with Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Jay Rockefeller (D-WV). They are confident -- very confident -- that health care reform will include a public option.

"The health care bill that is signed into law by the President will have a good, strong, robust public option," Schumer said.

How that will happen remains an open question. But the Senators assured reporters on the call that we're all going to get a taste of their passion and persuasiveness on this issue at the ongoing Senate Finance Committee hearings on Friday.

"I think it's a great idea," Rockefeller said of the public option. "Chuck Schumer thinks it's a great idea. And we're going to be all over it tomorrow."

Schumer said there will be a "full-blown debate" and that "even though the public option might be the underdog in the Senate Finance Committee, don't count it out."

"Tomorrow is the opening day in our big fight," he said....



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Mt. Vernon, WA Mayor Awarded Key of City to Beck...City Council Votes to Change Locks

By Matt Corley
Think Progress

On September 26, Bud Norris, the mayor of Mt. Vernon, WA, will award the ceremonial key to the city to Glenn Beck, who grew up there. Norris’ decision to declare “Glenn Beck Day” has led to demonstrations “on the streets and in city council meetings over the conservative commentator’s visit.” Last night, the city council voted unanimously to distance itself from honoring Beck:
On Wednesday night, the City Council of this town of 32,000 distanced itself from Mayor Bud Norris, who plans to give the keys to the city to talk-show personality Glenn Beck on Saturday.

The seven-member council unanimously passed a resolution proposed by member Dale Ragan that stated, “Mount Vernon City Council is in no way sponsoring the Mayor’s event on September 26, 2009 and is not connected to the Glenn Beck event in any manner.”

The resolution came after two dozen people who had signed up for the public-comment part of the session spoke in often emotional language to oppose honoring the controversial talk-show host.


It's Easy Being Green

By Paul Krugman
The New York Times

So, have you enjoyed the debate over health care reform? Have you been impressed by the civility of the discussion and the intellectual honesty of reform opponents?

If so, you’ll love the next big debate: the fight over climate change.

The House has already passed a fairly strong cap-and-trade climate bill, the Waxman-Markey act, which if it becomes law would eventually lead to sharp reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. But on climate change, as on health care, the sticking point will be the Senate. And the usual suspects are doing their best to prevent action.

Some of them still claim that there’s no such thing as global warming, or at least that the evidence isn’t yet conclusive. But that argument is wearing thin — as thin as the Arctic pack ice, which has now diminished to the point that shipping companies are opening up new routes through the formerly impassable seas north of Siberia.

Even corporations are losing patience with the deniers: earlier this week Pacific Gas and Electric canceled its membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in protest over the chamber’s “disingenuous attempts to diminish or distort the reality” of climate change....(Remainder.)


Fixing the Patriot Act, Restoring the Constitution

By Sen. Russ Feingold

At the end of this year, three provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act will sunset unless Congress acts to reauthorize them. In my view, Congress should take this opportunity to revisit not just those three provisions, but rather a broad range of surveillance laws enacted in recent years to assess what additional safeguards are needed.

That is why I have introduced the JUSTICE Act, S. 1686, along with Senator Durbin and eight other Senators. It takes a comprehensive approach to fixing the USA PATRIOT Act and the FISA Amendments Act, once and for all. It permits the government to conduct necessary surveillance, but within a framework of accountability and oversight. It ensures both that our government has the tools to keep us safe, and that the privacy and civil liberties of innocent Americans will be protected. Because as the title of this hearing suggests, we can and must do both. These are not mutually exclusive goals.

Indeed, the Department of Justice just last week acknowledged as much in a letter setting forth its views on Patriot Act reauthorization. The Department said: “We also are aware that Members of Congress may propose modifications to provide additional protection for the privacy of law abiding Americans. As President Obama said in his speech at the National Archives on May 21, 2009, ‘We are indeed at war with al Qaeda and its affiliates. We do need to update our institutions to deal with this threat. But we must do so with an abiding confidence in the rule of law and due process; in checks and balances and accountability.’ Therefore, the Administration is willing to consider such ideas, provided that they do not undermine the effectiveness of these important authorities.”...(Remainder.)


Liberals and Civility: Why Democrats Should Welcome a Rough Debate

By Thomas Frank
Wall Street Journal

Now that their summer of bluster is over, conservatives may congratulate themselves on a job well done. The stout-hearted defenders of freedom declared that government could never work, sometimes citing examples of misgovernment drawn from periods of conservative rule to make their case.

They deplored the prospect of government intrusion into the economy, ignoring the fact that our current troubles are the consequence of government's withdrawal from the economy. They insisted that every government action, due to some mysterious law of freedom physics, produces an equal and opposite diminution of personal liberty.

Although these accusations were often crudely posed, conservatives deserve credit for showing up to the debate. The same cannot be said of the Democrats.

In truth, there has been no better time for a vindication of activist, Rooseveltian government since the 1930s. The laissez-faire faith lies in pieces around us. Conservative dogmatism lay behind many of the Bush administration's worst blunders, including some of the monumental screw-ups to which conservative pundits point when denouncing government generally.

But that is not how the Democrats have chosen to respond. Instead, they pine for civility, pretending that the argument comes down to the scary rhetoric issuing from the right. "I have concerns about some of the language that is being used, because I saw this myself in the late '70s in San Francisco," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last week. "This kind of rhetoric was very frightening, and it created a climate in which violence took place."...(Remainder.)


Where's the Defund Blackwater Act?

Democrats joined Republicans in voting to “Defund ACORN,” yet have done nothing to stop Blackwater’s ongoing taxpayer funded crusade in Iraq and Afghanistan.

by Jeremy Scahill

Republican Congressional leaders are continuing their witch-hunt against ACORN, the grassroots community group dedicated to helping poor and working class people. This campaign now unfortunately has gained bi-partisan legislative support in the form of the Defund ACORN Act of 2009 which has now passed the House and Senate. As Ryan Grim at Huffington Post has pointed out, the legislation "could plausibly defund the entire military-industrial complex:"
The congressional legislation intended to defund ACORN, passed with broad bipartisan support, is written so broadly that it applies to "any organization" that has been charged with breaking federal or state election laws, lobbying disclosure laws, campaign finance laws or filing fraudulent paperwork with any federal or state agency. It also applies to any of the employees, contractors or other folks affiliated with a group charged with any of those things.
According to the Project on Oversight and Government Reform, this legislation could potentially eliminate a virtual Who's Who of war contractors including Lockheed Martin, Boeing and KBR to other corporations such as AT&T, FedEx and Dell.

Perhaps one of the most jarring comparisons here is the fact that ACORN is now being attacked while the Obama administration continues to contract with Blackwater, the favorite mercenary company of the Bush administration, which is headed by Erik Prince, who was a major donor to Republican causes and campaigns, including those of some of the Defund ACORN bill's sponsors, including Indiana Republican Mike Pence, one of the key figures in hunting down Van Jones. Prince, of course, was recently described by a former employee as a man who "views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe," and that Prince's companies "encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life."...(Remainder.)


It's Time for Obama to Take Off the Kid Gloves

By Michael Hiltzik
Los Angeles Times

Here's my advice for President Obama as the crunchtime arrives for such major initiatives as healthcare reform and climate change: Get mean already.

The president's coolness in the face of the right wing's relentlessly anti-intellectual assault on his policies has been impressive as a display of character. But it also has enabled his opponents to subvert his program and erode his popularity.

He hasn't been helped by the feckless performance of the Democratic leaders in the House and Senate, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. They've behaved like they think the public buys into such Republican talking points on healthcare as the "death panel" and "socialized medicine" claims -- all discredited fantasies.

By failing to take a strong line, the Democrats allowed the GOP to dominate the healthcare debate all summer. Senate Majority Leader Reid wasted weeks trying to enlist the GOP in a compromise, despite clear signs that Republican leaders were only interested in sabotaging reform. Obama didn't really take the reins of the debate until his address to Congress on Sept. 9....(Remainder.)


Glenn Beck Faces Backlash—From the Right

By Steve Benen
Washington Monthly

As right-wing media personality Glenn Beck has grown in influence, conservative criticism has been, at best, muted.

In early August, Rep. Bob Inglis (R) of South Carolina, who isn't exactly a moderate, encouraged his constituents to "turn the TV off" and stop listening to Glenn Beck. The audience booed the conservative congressman relentlessly. A week later, David Frum, a conservative pundit and former Bush speechwriter, suggested Beck's rhetoric may be, quite literally, dangerous.

But these remarks were largely overlooked, and were not echoed by other conservatives. It seems, however, that we're starting to see a change.

On Tuesday, MSNBC's Joe Scarborough blasted Beck, and argued that the Fox News personality may be fomenting violence. "You cannot preach hatred," Scarborough said. "You cannot say the president is racist. You cannot say things that have very deadly consequences." He added, in an apparent reference to the Oklahoma City bombing, "I was in Congress in 1995. I know where this can end." Scarborough also called on Republican leaders to "call out" Becks' "hatred."...(Remainder.)



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