Tuesday, February 23, 2010

McClatchy Washington report

  • President Barack Obama on Monday launched a last-ditch effort to revive health care legislation that's unlikely to gain Republican support but may restore Democratic momentum for the bill by placing the president squarely at the center of the messy process of drafting legislation.
  • The Obama administration released a $950 billion health care proposal Monday as a "starting point" for a possible compromise with Republicans during this week's planned health care summit. Within hours, however, leading Republicans — Rep. John Boehner of Ohio and Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky — firmly rejected the administration's blueprint.
  • While Republican leaders in Washington are urging President Barack Obama to start from scratch on a health care bill, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Monday dismissed the idea as "bogus talk." It marked the second day in a row that Schwarzenegger strayed from his party's positions.
  • American-led efforts to avert civilian deaths in the war against the Taliban suffered a new blow over the weekend when a NATO airstrike in southern Afghanistan killed about two dozen civilians. NATO officials said that coalition forces targeted the vehicles because they thought they were filled with Taliban preparing to attack NATO and Afghan forces.
  • Texas law enforcement officials grappling with illegal immigration and the problems they say it brings — from drug trafficking to increased demand on health care providers — said Monday that they need help dealing with the issue in North Texas.
  • Alaska lawmakers are talking about rolling back one of the highest-profile pieces of ethics reform passed during the heat of the federal corruption investigation: the requirement lobbyists report when they buy legislators any meal or drink over $15.
  • Assailants burst into the home of an Iraqi campaign volunteer before dawn Monday, fatally shooting the man before they stabbed his pregnant wife and their five daughters to death, relatives and authorities said. A sixth child, the only son, was found hanging from a ceiling fan with key arteries severed, a cousin said. (Warning: graphic video)
  • It's not a mistake if your Whopper arrives without the usual two slices of tomatoes. Burger King restaurants across the country have been running out of tomatoes sporadically for the past week, and that's likely to continue in the aftermath of the freeze that devastated Florida's tomato crop last month. The freeze hit growers at a time when the state normally would be supplying tomatoes for the majority of the East Coast.
  • California officials warned struggling homeowners Monday about a new variation on loan-modification scams: "forensic loan audits." Under the dubious service, homeowners are enticed to pay upfront fees for an audit of their mortgage loan, purportedly to determine their lender's compliance with state and federal laws. It's pitched as a way homeowners gain leverage in the loan-modification process.
  • I can remember a time when facts settled arguments. This is back before everything became a partisan shouting match, back before it was permissible to ignore or deride as "biased" anything that didn't support your worldview. If you and I had an argument and I produced facts from an authoritative source to back me up, you couldn't just blow that off. You might try to undermine my facts, might counter with facts of your own, but you couldn't just pretend my facts had no weight or meaning.
    But that's the intellectual state of the union these days, as evidenced by all the people who still don't believe the president was born in Hawaii or that the planet is warming.
  • Last week a man flew an airplane into a government building killing and injuring more than a dozen people right here on American soil. So, was it an act of terrorism? One might think that murdering and maiming innocent people just to make a political point is enough to be considered a terrorist, but there is no rush by the left or the right to declare him that.
    The Obama administration is withholding judgment until the story exits the news cycle. The right has an even bigger problem. In their efforts to use the war on terror to fabricate fear, Dick Cheney and other politicians on the right have found it is easier to stir up emotions about someone of a different race, nationality and religion. They don't want to raise the alarm about a guy named Joe who played in local bands.

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