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My intention here is in making intelligence, understanding and informed opinion cool again. I'm not giving in and bowing down to ignorance and fear.  I routinely post recent and relevant  stories from the some of the best journalism available.  At OneDurango.com our Classifieds Ads are FREE and easily searchable, so finding what you're looking for is a just a few clicks away. Something like a poor man's hybrid-mutation of Craig's List/Huffington Post/Local Bulletin Board.


Occupy Wall Street is leaderless resistance movement with people of many colors, genders and political persuasions. The one thing we all have in common is that We Are The 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%. We are using the revolutionary Arab Spring tactic to achieve our ends and encourage the use of nonviolence to maximize the safety of all participants.


The leaders of this movement are the everyday people participating in the occupation. We use a tool called the "General Assembly" to facilitate open, participatory and horizontal organizing between members of the public. We welcome people from all colors, genders and beliefs to participate in our daily assemblies. Visit the NYC General Assembly website to learn how you can become involved, read updates/minutes, or find out how you can adopt NYCGA processes to organize your own community.

visit wearethe99percent    Click here to help


The Big Story

FBI to investigate Trayvon Martin shooting

 Federal authorities announced Monday night that they are opening a full-scale criminal investigation into the slaying of an unarmed black Florida teenager whose death provoked an outcry from African American leaders and sparked calls for gun-control reforms in Florida.

A Justice Department spokeswoman said in a statement that its Civil Rights Division, in conjunction with the FBI, planned to conduct an investigation into the death last month of Trayvon Martin and to work with local groups in the Orlando area to soothe rising tensions over the matter.

 read more

 
 
 

 

Local News

Peyton Manning now a Bronco

Broncos owner Pat Bowlen introduced Peyton Manning to reporters today at the team's headquarters at a news conference, which was aired live locally and nationally on ESPN2.

The news conference was schedule for 1 p.m. and started about 20 minutes late.

Bowlen said "this is sort of a historic meeting today. We're glad to have two Hall of Fame quarterbacks.

"Our goal has always been to win Super Bowls. Peyton gives us another chance to win a world championship.

 
 

 

Latest Green News

NASCAR: Safe driving is Green driving

NASCAR, best known for pushing the speed envelope, has launched a new traffic safety campaign with a sustainable twist. Rather than focusing narrowly on strategies to help drivers to look out for their own lives, the campaign deploys a broad message of taking responsibility for the safety of others. According to a press release launch, the campaign's mission goes far beyond road safety to encourage "personal responsibility for our planet and its people, especially teens."

 
  
 

 

Political Moves

McConnell flip-flops on Highway bill

Just before the vote, McConnell took to the senate floor and praised the lead sponsors, Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Jim Inhofe (R-OK) for their bipartisan effort. “They have worked together in a collegial way to bring us to this point on the highway bill,” he raved.

Moments later, McConnell joined 21 other Republicans — and no Democrats — in voting against the bill. The House is expected to take up a similar version in April, rather than the far inferior House Republican version.

read more


 

Recent Op/Eds

Subsidies for Fossil Fuels prevent investment in Renewables

After an enormously successful campaign to stop the Keystone XL Pipeline from being built, 350.org and numerous allies are gearing up for a major new fight to end four billion dollars in subsidies the fossil fuel industry receives each year.

There’s no way to move to renewable energy sources like wind and solar without ending the subsidies to an industry that’s already earning record-breaking profits: Exxon-Mobil is currently the most profitable corporation in the history of capitalism.

 
 


 

Alien Update on KDUR

Are Cattle Mutilations the work of Extraterrestrials?

A hallmark of these incidents is the surgical nature of the mutilation, and unexplained phenomena such as the complete draining of the animal's blood, loss of internal organs with no obvious point of entry, and surgically precise removal of the reproductive organs and anal coring. Another reported event is that the animal is found dumped in an area where there are no marks or tracks leading to or from the carcass, even when it is found in soft ground or mud. The surgical-type wounds tend to be cauterized by an intense heat and made by very sharp/precise instruments, with no bleeding evident.

 

click here for video or listen to KDUR Sunday 3-18-2012 at 4:20 pm


 

 

Despite Romney wins, both sides wary of Jeb Bush

Mitt Romney’s tortured triumph in Michigan put him back in the GOP driver’s seat — but that hasn’t quelled the desire among some Republicans to trade up.

Yes, Republicans are still pining for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush despite his repeated and vehement refusal to be sucked into the 2012 Republican vortex.

And Democrats continue to cast a wary eye on a guy they see as more dangerous — and capable of connecting with middle-class and Latino voters — than Romney.

The Bush murmurs persist, even as a resilient Romney marches toward Super Tuesday with a commanding lead in cash, delegates and momentum over a sagging Rick Santorum.

“I have the perfect candidate — Jeb Bush. But he’s not running,” former George W. Bush chief of staff Andy Card told Charlie Rose on CBS on Wednesday, echoing the sentiments of many in his party.

“What Democrat would not worry about a popular leader from a critical state who sounds pretty moderate and can rescue the GOP from its anti-Latino death grip?” asked former Bill Clinton press secretary Mike McCurry, who said he’s yet to find a Democratic elder who thinks the GOP is truly “unhinged” enough to consider ditching Romney for Bush.

Bush — who has refused to endorse Romney in 2012 as he did in 2008 and whose son endorsed Jon Huntsman — has fanned the flames himself, possibly to whet his party’s appetite for a 2016 run. After keeping a low profile during the hotly contested Florida primary in January, he popped up last week at the height of the Romney-Santorum duel in Michigan to declare his problems with the GOP presidential field.

“I used to be a conservative and I watch these debates and I’m wondering, I don’t think I’ve changed but it’s a little troubling sometimes when people are appealing to people’s fears and emotion rather than trying to get them to look over the horizon for a broader perspective,” Bush told a gathering in Dallas last Thursday, according to FOX News.

“I think that changes when we get to the general election — I hope,” added Bush, who has personally urged Romney to moderate his rhetoric on illegal immigration for fear of completely alienating Hispanic voters in states like Florida, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona.

That got the attention of conservatives including Ann Coulter, who slammed him of prepping for a campaign, and Obama campaign officials who found his timing curious.

Ana Navarro, a Republican strategist and a friend of Bush, said she saw the former governor last Sunday and he laughed off any idea that he’ll jump in the game.

click here for full story

Iranian underground nuclear site may be a viable target

Western spy agencies for years have kept watch on a craggy peak in northwest Iran that houses one of the world’s most unusual nuclear sites. Known as Fordow, the facility is built into mountain bunkers designed to withstand an aerial attack. Iran’s civil defense chief has declared the site “impregnable.”

But impregnable it is not, say U.S. military planners, who are increasingly confident about their ability to deliver a serious blow against Fordow should the president ever order an attack.

U.S. officials say they have no imminent plan to bombard the site, and they have cautioned that an American attack — or one by its closest Middle Eastern ally, Israel — risks devastating consequences such as soaring oil prices, Iranian retaliation and dramatically heightened tension in a fragile region.

Yet as a matter of physics, Fordow is far more vulnerable than generally portrayed, said current and former military and intelligence analysts. Massive new “bunker buster” munitions recently added to the U.S. arsenal would not necessarily have to penetrate the deepest bunkers to cause irreparable damage to infrastructure as well as highly sensitive nuclear equipment, probably setting back Iran’s program by years, officials said.

The weapons’ capabilities are likely to be a factor in discussions with a stream of Israeli leaders arriving in Washington over the next week. The Obama administration will seek to assure the visitors, including Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, of U.S. resolve to stop Iran if it decides to build a nuclear bomb.

Israel has signaled in recent weeks that it may launch a preemptive strike against Iranian nuclear facilities, with little or no warning to its U.S. allies. The White House has urged Israel not to move hastily; making clear that the United States has the capacity to disrupt the Iranian program may give the Israelis reason to pause.

‘How many turns do you get?’

In arguing their case, U.S. officials acknowledged some uncertainty over whether even the Pentagon’s newest bunker-buster weapon — called the Massive Ordnance Penetrator — could pierce in a single blow the subterranean chambers where Iran is making enriched uranium. But they said a sustained U.S. attack over multiple days would probably render the plant unusable by collapsing tunnels and irreparably damaging both its highly sensitive centrifuge equipment and the miles of pipes, tubes and wires required to operate it.

“Hardened facilities require multiple sorties,” said a former senior intelligence official who has studied the formerly secret Fordow site and who agreed to discuss sensitive details of U.S. strike capabilities on the condition of anonymity. “The question is, how many turns do you get at the apple?”

U.S. confidence has been reinforced by training exercises in which bombers assaulted similar targets in deeply buried bunkers and mountain tunnels, the officials and experts said.

U.S. officials have raised the necessity of multiple strikes as they warn Israel against a unilateral attack on Iran’s nuclear installations, the officials said. While Israel is capable of launching its own bunker-buster bombs against Fordow, it lacks the United States’ more advanced munitions and the ability to wage a bombing campaign over days and weeks, American officials and analysts said.

 

58% of GOP voters want a new candidate

The nominating process may officially be underway, but Republicans have yet to enthusiastically embrace a potential nominee for president - and despite the late date, most would like to see other candidates enter the race, according to a new CBS News poll.

The survey finds that 58 percent of Republican primary voters want more presidential choices, while just 37 percent say they are satisfied with the current field. The percentage of Republican primary voters that wants more choices has increased 12 percentage points since October.

Mitt Romney, the frontrunner for the nomination, has struggled to break 30 percent support in state and local polls in an election cycle that has seen multiple candidates move ahead of Romney in the polls before seeing their support erode. In this national survey, taken after Romney's narrow victory in the Iowa caucuses, the former Massachusetts governor leads the field - though he holds just 19 percent support. Only 28 percent of GOP primary voters say they've made up their mind, and just 20 percent who've made a choice strongly favor their candidate. 

It's mathematically possible for another candidate to enter the race as late as early February and still win enough delegates to take the nomination, though some deadlines for candidates to get on state ballots have already passed, including those in delegate-rich Virginia and Illinois. A late entry into the GOP race would come with potentially-overwhelming obstacles, including the need to instantly build a national campaign apparatus and do the hard work of getting on state ballots in an extremely compressed time period.

The list of prominent Republicans who have announced they would not seek the presidency this cycle include Chris Christie, Sarah Palin, Mitch Daniels, Paul Ryan and Haley Barbour.

There is no candidate in the GOP field who more than one third of Republican primary voters say they would enthusiastically support if he were the nominee. Rick Santorum does best in terms of enthusiasm, with 33 percent saying they would enthusiastically support him. (Roughly one in two say their support for Santorum would either come with reservations or simply result from the fact that he is the GOP nominee.) Santorum is followed by Newt Gingrich, whom 29 percent would enthusiastically support, and Romney, whom 27 percent would enthusiastically support. They're followed by Rick Perry at 17 percent, Ron Paul at 15 percent and Jon Huntsman at 12 percent.

Obama proposes lowering corporate tax rate, closing loopholes

The Obama administration will propose a major overhaul of the nation’s corporate tax code on Wednesday, an election-year gambit that aims to draw a contrast over a key policy issue with the Republicans vying to replace him.

The plan would lower the nation’s corporate tax rate to 28 percent. At the same time, he wants to boost overall revenues from corporate taxation by banning numerous deductions and loopholes that save companies tens of billions of dollars a year on their tax bills, according to a senior administration official.

The current U.S. corporate tax rate of 35 percent is one of the highest in the world, but the abundance of loopholes and deductions enable many businesses to pay far less than that — or nothing at all. Companies in the United States pay almost half the taxes that companies in other rich countries pay, compared with the size of the economy, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Obama is also targeting oil and gas companies for tax increases while promising special breaks for manufacturing companies, according to a senior administration official.

The prognosis for the overhaul plan in Congress is unclear. Many Republicans, including the leading presidential candidates, have favored reducing taxes on businesses well below what the president is proposing.

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who has called for a 25 percent tax rate for corporations, is planning to speak on tax reform later this week, while his rivals for the GOP nomination have called for far lower tax rates.

Despite those disagreements, Republicans and Democrats have been supportive of a tax strategy that reduces rates across the board while eliminating special-interest loopholes.

Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner is to lay out the full details of the plan shortly before noon Wednesday.

“We are going to propose a broad reform that will lower rates, broaden the base and eliminate and wipe out a very substantial fraction, dozens and dozens and dozens of special tax preferences for businesses,” Geithner said in congressional testimony last week. “We’re doing that because we think there’s a compelling economic case for doing that.”

Obama’s plan to raise additional tax revenue through corporate tax reform is notable because officials had earlier hoped that corporate tax reform would neither add to, nor subtract from, annual budget deficits.

Now officials are counting on corporate tax reform to make a modest but still significant contribution to deficit reduction. And Obama has become more assertive in his push to raise taxes to help keep spending and revenues in check.

Obama has not offered a detailed blueprint for overhauling the personal income tax code — also full of loopholes and deductions -- other than calling for higher taxes on the wealthiest Americans. Such a blueprint is not expected to come before the November presidential election.

Under the corporate tax plan, American multinational corporations will have to pay a minimum tax on their foreign earnings — to prevent firms from sheltering profits oversees. Obama also wants to end tax breaks for companies that outsource and give new tax incentives to firms that move jobs back home.

Corporate tax reform has been a pet project of Geithner’s for more than a year and a half. Last year, the Treasury Department finished a detailed white paper on the issue, but it was put on the back burner during the acrimonious debate in Washington over the federal debt.

Crossing the line as civilization implodes

Elizabeth Kolbert: It may seem impossible to imagine that a technologically advanced society could choose, in essence, to destroy itself, but that is what we are now in the process of doing.

Humanity is putting its foot on the accelerator even though the world’s top scientists and governments have repeatedly explained we are headed over a cliff. The people who will suffer the most are people who have not contributed to this  impending catastrophe —  future generations and the poorest among us.

This is such a colossally immoral and unethical act —  collectively and in many cases individually — that most people, including the overwhelming majority of the so-called intelligentsia, simply choose to ignore it on a daily basis. That won’t save a livable climate, however, nor it will stop future generations from cursing our names.

And so it is not surprising that many immoral and unethical acts that regularly occur on a far less grand scale are condoned or winked at or simply ignored.

Every day, countless organizations spread misinformation aimed at delaying the action needed to avoid destroying a livable climate, which will cause billions to suffer — and needlessly, since every major independent study makes clear that the cost of action is incredibly low. Many of the disinformers routinely attack and smear climate scientists. Some routinely publish their e-mails, encouraging their readers to cyber-bully scientists who are doing nothing more than trying to inform the world of the consequences of its untenable choices.  But we have become inured to it — heck, there’s a whole TV network devoted to spreading lies — yawn, let’s change the channel to something we like.

The media continues to reduce coverage of the story of the century — “Silence of the Lambs 2: Media Herd’s Coverage of Climate Change Drops Sharply — Again. The three network news stations broadcast 14 climate change stories with a total air time of 32.5 minutes in 2011,  down from 32 stories and 90.5 minutes last year and well below the 2007 peak of 147 segments totaling 386 minutes. This is a stunning collective lapse in judgment by editors and producers. But the media — in a classic act of circular benchmarking — sees everyone else in the media doing it, so the inconceivable becomes an accepted norm.

Rick Santorum: The GOP's Nightmare

Republicans haven’t quite thrown away what they see as a winnable presidential election, at least not yet. But they’re trying their best.

In GOP circles, there is more than a whiff of panic in the air. Unemployment is still painfully high, Americans remain dissatisfied with the country’s direction, even the most favorable polls show President Obama’s approval at barely 50 percent — and yet there is a sense that the Republicans’ odds of winning back the White House grow longer day by day.

Mitt Romney, whose main selling point is his supposed ability to beat Obama in November, has shown himself incapable of putting away a couple of — let’s face it — political has-beens whose glory days were in the previous century.

Romney was crushed by Newt Gingrich in South Carolina, which has a history of picking the Republican nominee — perhaps because the party’s most loyal voters, as well as its heart and soul, reside in the South. Romney was beaten by Rick Santorum, of all people, in the heartland states of Iowa, Minnesota and Missouri, as well as in Colorado, a key swing state.

And, according to the polls, Romney is in grave danger of losing to Santorum next week in Michigan, the state where Romney was born and raised. If this were to occur, Santorum’s tentative status as the new front-runner for the nomination would be confirmed. Hence the wave of fear that is washing over the GOP establishment.

The prospect of a Romney flame-out has given rise to crazy talk about a brokered convention at which an attempt is made to dragoon somebody else, into accepting the nomination — Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Florida governor Jeb Bush, just about anybody.

This remote scenario would probably lead to a debacle. The last contested GOP convention was in 1976, when incumbent Gerald Ford narrowly defeated insurgent Ronald Reagan — and then lost to Jimmy Carter in the fall. Back then, the establishment still had the clout to impose its will on the party. Today, restive constituencies such as the Tea Party refuse to get pushed around by — to use a Gingrich term — political “elites.” The convention hall in Tampa would be a battle zone.

But what’s the alternative? At the moment, Gingrich seems to be fading. This could change in March if he does well on Super Tuesday, but for now it looks like a race between Romney, who has trouble communicating with voters, and Santorum, whose message is alarmingly clear.

At times, it seems as if Santorum is running to become theologian in chief. He made the bizarre allegation Saturday that Obama’s actions are motivated by “some phony theology, not a theology based on the Bible.” On Sunday, he said by way of clarification that he understands Obama is a Christian, but that the president was somehow misinterpreting God’s truth — as revealed to Rick Santorum — about our duty to be stewards of the Earth.

This is not customary fodder for a presidential campaign. Nor is Santorum’s obvious obsession with women’s reproductive issues — not just his absolute opposition to abortion but his criticism of contraception and prenatal testing as well.

Santorum’s social conservatism is a huge iceberg, and his views on women and childbearing are just the tip. He not only opposes gay marriage but has criticized the Supreme Court decision that struck down anti-sodomy laws and declared that “I have no problem with homosexuality. I have a problem with homosexual acts.” That alone would be enough to put him well outside the mainstream. But his Ozzie-and-Harriet ideas about family life place him in a different solar system.

In his 2005 book, “It Takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Good,” he lectured women who choose to work outside the home, writing that “the purported need to provide things for their children simply provides a convenient rationalization for pursuing a gratifying career outside the home.”

Convenient rationalization? Given all the money Santorum has made as a Washington insider since leaving office, perhaps he forgets that most American families need two incomes just to put food on the table.

The issue, for Republicans, is not just that Santorum would lose in November. It’s that he could be a drag on House and Senate candidates as well. Imagine, say, Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) trying to explain to his constituents why someone who doesn’t fully understand women’s participation in the workforce should be president.

Listen closely and you can hear the anguished cries: “Mitch! Chris! Jeb! Help!”

Is Canada turning into an Anti-Green police state?

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police and The Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS) have long been in the anti-terrorist racket, but now it appears that terrorists include people like you and me who might support Greenpeace and PETA. According to documents released under the Access Information legislation and reported in the Globe and Mail,

Federal security services have identified Greenpeace and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals as the kind of “multi-issue extremist” groups that pose a threat to Canadians.

Greenpeace director Bruce Cox says it is ridiculous.

This is part of the government’s attitude that ‘you’re either with us or against us,’” Mr. Cox said. “We do not pose a threat to public safety and we are not a violent threat.

PETA loves every minute of it, every time they are in the paper, as long as they spell their name right.

If it is extreme to oppose bashing in the heads of baby seals, anally electrocuting chinchillas for a coat collar, scalding chickens to death in defeathering tanks, and poisoning cats in cruel lab experiments, then so be it,” said Jane Dollinger, the group’s Washington-based spokeswoman.

More in the Globe and Mail.

Now you or I might say that's fine, it doesn't affect me, I am not a member of these groups, I just donate a bit of money to them. But when you combine this with the changes that the government proposes on warrantless internet surveillance, you have a real problem in this country. Vic Toews, the Minister of Public Safety, has just introduced legislation that allows warrantless access to all kinds of private information from our internet service provider, all under the guise of dealing with child pornography. It is even called the Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act. The National Post summarizes the powers given under the act:

In addition to a name, address, phone number and email address, companies would also be required to hand over the Internet protocol address and a series of device identification numbers, allowing police to build a detailed profile on a person using their digital footprint and to facilitate the tracking of a person’s movement through the location of their cellphone.

Toews says that if you are against the act, "you are with us, or you are with the child pornographers." People of all political stripes are outraged; even the conservative writer Margaret Wente says On Internet privacy, I’m with the child pornographers.

click here for full story

Deal reached on second Greece bailout

ATHENS — After months in which Greece teetered on the verge of bankruptcy, European officials agreed Tuesday to give the country a second massive bailout in exchange for harsh austerity measures, as grim new estimates about the country’s economy pushed off a resolution until what some officials called the last possible day to reach one.

The decision buys time for the Mediterranean country to try to fix its staggering problems, and gives assurances to the world that a Greek default — and its possibly disastrous ripple effects — will be forestalled, at least for now. If Greece had been cut loose, it would have defaulted in late March, and doubts about the viability of larger countries such as Spain and Italy might have grown.

Under the terms of the deal, private bondholders will take a larger loss than had previously been planned in an attempt to get Greece’s debt to what European officials consider a sustainable level by 2020. The officials also agreed to reduce the interest they charge Greece for the long-term loans.

“We have reached a far-reaching agreement on Greece’s new program and private-sector involvement that will lead to a very significant debt reduction for Greece,” Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, who heads the bloc of 17 countries that use the euro, told reporters in Brussels after a 14-hour negotiation. He called the amount of aid “unprecedented.”

But a recent European assessment about Greece’s finances left questions about whether the country would truly be able to live up to the stringent demands to which it has agreed, or whether it would default eventually even with a second bailout. Reflecting that uncertainty, as well as concerns over the hurdles Greece must clear before it secures the aid, European markets were uniformly down in midday trading on Tuesday. Germany’s DAX was 0.82 percent lower; Britain’s FTSE 100 fell 0.42 percent, and the euro was flat against the dollar.

Greek officials said Tuesday that the deal would help put their country back on a sustainable track.

“We now have the ability to progress with stability, to limit uncertainty and to increase trust in the Greek economy in order to create better conditions,” Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos was quoted as saying in the Kathimerini newspaper.

Under the plans negotiated between the Greek government and European leaders, officials said Tuesday, Greece will receive a $172 billion bailout in exchange for taking harsh austerity measures that officials believe will make it more competitive. Greece will also write down 53.5 percent of the nominal face value of its privately held debt as a way of getting back on track by 2020.

The aid would come atop a previous bailout of $145 billion in May 2010, making Greece, a country of 11 million people that is just 2 percent of the euro zone’s economy, the recipient of by far the largest bailout in European Union history.

Last week, Juncker vowed to spend his weekend doing everything he could to find ways to further cut Greece’s debt. But by Monday, it became clear just how short it would fall of its targets.

click here for full story

Who can save the GOP from it's base?

If Mitt Romney fails to win Michigan next Tuesday, a few high-powered Republicans have started saying, the party needs to go back to square one and recruit a new candidate. Yes, maybe it does. But what will that fix? Not much. What the party needs is not simply a new candidate. It needs someone with the courage to stand up and say that the GOP has gone completely off the deep end—and that the party could run an amalgam of Ronald Reagan and Mahatma Gandhi and he wouldn’t win as long as the party’s inflamed base keeps with its current attitudes. But it lacks such a person utterly. It’s a party made up of on the one hand unprincipled cowards, and on the other of people devoted to principles so extreme that they’d have serious trouble attracting more than about 42 percent of the vote.

Allen summarized a chat between an unnamed Republican senator and ABC’s Jonathan Karl this way: “The senator believes Romney will ultimately win in Michigan but says he will publicly call for the party to find a new candidate if he does not. ‘We’d get killed,’ the senator said if Romney manages to win the nomination after he failed to win the state in which he grew up. ‘He’d be too damaged’ … Santorum? ‘He’d lose 35 states,’ the senator said, predicting the same fate for Newt Gingrich. It would have to be somebody else, the senator said. Who? ‘Jeb Bush.’”

In the plus column for the Republicans, I’d make two points. First, whoever they get sure can’t be worse than Romney, who (as some of us were noting a few weeks ago, back when he was theoretically riding high) really is living down to my expectations. And he or she—well, he; it’s going to be a he if it happens—obviously can’t be worse than Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich. Our senator might be exaggerating about 15 states, but not by much. It’s long been my conviction, for example, that if Gingrich were the nominee, he’d manage to lose Georgia because for every Georgian who likes him there are surely at least 1.5 who are repulsed by him.

Second, it’s still only February. There’s time for people to wrap their heads around someone new. If a Jeb Bush or Chris Christie or Mitch Daniels were to declare an intention to run, they’d have time to solidify support. True, they will have missed the filing deadlines to get on most primary ballots (although not to participate in caucuses). But it’s still not too late to file, for example, for California’s June 5 primary—the filing deadline is March 23. If a late-entry candidate dominated the contests he did manage to enter, he could make a reasonable case that the voters really wanted him. This can’t wait until the convention, which isn’t until late August. That would be awfully late to be getting started with a presidential race in this day and age.

OK, so those are the grounds on which such a move is plausible. But here’s the problem. First, let’s consider the three men named above. What’s so savior-y about them? The Bush name? Please. It’s better than Nixon, but that’s about all that can be said for it. Christie’s tough-talking personality? That appeals to people on the right. But it could wear thin. And yes, the avoirdupois factor is an issue. Most Americans don’t want a president who looks like that. And Daniels has the charisma of an econ-department chair.

click here for full story

GOP: Contraception fight is not over

Buoyed by the support of the Catholic bishops, congressional Republicans say they’re going all out against President Barack Obama’s modified contraceptives policy, ensuring that the compromise hasn’t ended the controversy over the health care reform rule after all.

Senate Republicans say they want to force a vote on conscience legislation as soon as possible, and the House has already been drafting legislation in the Energy and Commerce Committee.

“We to need to work out a strategy and that probably involves the House,” Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), one of the Republicans’ leaders on the issue, said Monday. “But the next step is to really get this thing done. This is a critical constitutional issue and I would like to see this get on a piece of legislation the president is obligated to sign.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” this weekend that he would attempt to force a vote “as soon as possible.”

And House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa is holding a hearing on the regulation on Thursday. The tone of the hearing is clear from the question posed in the title: “Has the Obama Administration Trampled on Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Conscience?”

But the strategy could backfire. While the original policy, which would have required religious-affiliated institutions to cover contraceptives, was rejected by Republicans and many Democrats on Capitol Hill, the modified policy could have more support and is getting at least a closer look from potential critics.

It’s also not clear that the public is as offended by the contraception rule as congressional Republicans are. Even before Obama announced the compromise Friday, a Fox News poll of 1,110 registered voters conducted Feb. 6-9 found that the public approved of the original policy, 61 percent to 34 percent. Democrats and independents favored the policy, while Republicans opposed it.

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