Monday, March 15, 2010

Edwards mistress: Still in love, living 'truth'

RALEIGH, N.C. — The mistress of former presidential candidate John Edwards says she is helping him live "a life of truth" and the two remain in love even after their affair helped trigger his downfall from the pinnacle of U.S. politics.

"Everyone talks about how Johnny has fallen from grace," Rielle Hunter told GQ magazine in an interview released Monday. "In reality, he's fallen to grace."

In her first public comments since she became known as Edwards' other woman in 2008, Hunter didn't provide any details of their status but said Edwards is a great father who wants to be there full-time for their daughter, now 2.

"I know he loves me. I have never had any doubt at all about that," Hunter said. "We love each other very much. And that hasn't changed, and I believe that will be till death do us part."

Hunter also posed for photos for GQ that show her on a bed, barelegged in a man's white dress shirt and a pearl necklace. In another shot, she's lying on her back holding her daughter in her arms.
Read More....

If Democrats Ignore Health-Care Polls, Midterms Will Be Costly

By Patrick H. Caddell and Douglas E. Schoen

Friday, March 12, 2010; A17

In "The March of Folly," Barbara Tuchman asked, "Why do holders of high office so often act contrary to the way reason points and enlightened self-interest suggests?" Her assessment of self-deception -- "acting according to wish while not allowing oneself to be deflected by the facts" -- captures the conditions that are gripping President Obama and the Democratic Party leadership as they renew their efforts to enact health-care reform.

Their blind persistence in the face of reality threatens to turn this political march of folly into an electoral rout in November. In the wake of the stinging loss in Massachusetts, there was a moment when the president and the Democratic leadership seemed to realize the reality of the health-care situation. Yet like some seductive siren of Greek mythology, the lure of health-care reform has arisen again.

As pollsters to the past two Democratic presidents, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, respectively, we feel compelled to challenge the myths that seem to be prevailing in the political discourse and to once again urge a change in course before it is too late. At stake is the kind of mainstream, common-sense Democratic Party that we believe is crucial to the success of the American enterprise.

Bluntly put, this is the political reality:

First, the battle for public opinion has been lost. Comprehensive health care has been lost. If it fails, as appears possible, Democrats will face the brunt of the electorate's reaction. If it passes, however, Democrats will face a far greater calamitous reaction at the polls. Wishing, praying or pretending will not change these outcomes.

Get full story here.

In Defense of the Filibuster

By Chris Slavens

Never mind that Democrats have controlled both the House and the Senate since 2007, following wins in the 2006 midterm election. Never mind that a Democratic president was elected in 2008. Never mind that congressional Democrats wasted the year that followed, during which they could have passed virtually any piece of legislation they desired, but chose instead to bicker over the details of a socialist health-care takeover. Why focus on these facts, when one can choose instead to dine from the ruling party’s ever-growing buffet of lies?

The newest lie is that Senate Republicans, by using the filibuster (which enables forty-one senators to stall the other fifty-nine), are exercising legislative tyranny and obstructing progress.

The GOP is portrayed as a bunch of right-wing meanies standing in the way of not only government, but the will of the people. This “Party of No” myth has been pushed aggressively since the election of Republican Scott Brown, “Mr. 41.” Prior to his victory, Republicans could have been outvoted on health-care reform, federal handouts, welfare increases, and all the rest, had only the bumbling Democrats been able to get their act together.

As members of both parties know, but tend to forget when they are in the majority, the filibuster exists for a reason.

Get full story here.

Capitol South

Passing ObamaCare is Worse

By Robert Romano

As Congress and the American people enter the final stage of the debate over ObamaCare, Congressional Democrats are attempting to delude themselves into believing that, as the Washington Post reports, “passing the legislation is key to limiting damage to the party during this year's perilous midterm elections.”

This is based in part on the premise that after it is enacted the American people will come to support the government takeover of the nation’s health care system.

Of course, that acknowledges the grim reality for Democrats that the American people do not support the takeover. According to Rasmussen Reports latest survey on the matter, 53 percent remain opposed to the Obama plan that will ration care away from seniors, increase the cost of premiums, and cost a full $2.5 trillion over ten years once fully implemented.

55 percent want Congress to kill the bill and start over again on a bipartisan measure.

In fact, in Rasmussen’s surveys of likely voters, the American people have consistently opposed the plan for nearly a year. This has come after two years wherein they saw government’s heavy hand in taking over everything from the auto industry, the banking system, and the mortgage industry.

Obama’s first year in office alone saw the expansion of the federal government’s responsibility to being the caretaker of economic “recovery” and balancing broken state budgets.

Fiscally, Congress has been a catastrophe, spending $3.7 trillion and running a projected record $1.56 trillion deficit for 2010.

This, as they watch it get even worse with a proposed $3.8 trillion 2011 budget, and as the debt ceiling has already been raised by the highest ever $1.9 trillion to $14.294 trillion. Under Obama’s ten-year budget plan, by 2020, Congress will add another $10.6 trillion to the ever-growing national debt.

In the meantime, Americans have watched their future purchasing power eroded by yet more easy money, artificially low interest rates, and the firing up of the printing presses by the Federal Reserve.

They understand that the fiscally unsustainable path the nation is currently on will become irreversible if the $2.5 trillion ObamaCare is enacted.

Get full story here.

Gibbs: ObamaCare the Law of the Land by Next Sunday

by SusanAnne Hiller

Doing his rounds on the Sunday talk shows, WH spokesman, Robert Gibbs, stated:

Gibbs added that those on next week’s Sunday talk shows “will be talking about healthcare not as a presidential proposal but I think as the law of the land.”

It’s interesting to note that Gibbs did not mention the reconciliation package. In fact, there has been a definite cooling of the rhetoric about the prospect of reconciliation in the Senate.

Note to those members of the House, you are being duped. The Senate will not take up the reconciliation package at all. After the House is stupid enough to fall for their bait and pass the ObamaCare bill, the Senate will deem reconciliation an impossibility due to the Byrd Rule.

In addition, Gibbs stated:

President Barack Obama will look to campaign on the new healthcare law in midterm elections, Gibbs said.

“We believe healthcare reform is going to pass, and once it passes we’re happy to have the 2010 elections be about the achievement of healthcare reform,” Gibbs said.

The GOP would love to run on the platform of the Democrats ramming ObamaCare down our throats, and the Slaughter Rule will make it the ultimate death blow.

Either way, the Democrats will lose the House in a mauling in the November elections, as will the Senate, though the hemorrhage may not be as bad as the House because they walked away from reconciliation. Or it could be worse because the Senate reneged on the deal.

A look at Democrats' health care overhaul

President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats are pulling together a final version of a health care overhaul bill and pushing for House votes as early as this coming week. Democrats are awaiting cost assessments from the Congressional Budget Office that will allow them to finish details. Some of the main features as the bill takes shape:

_HOW MANY COVERED: 31 million uninsured Americans.

_INSURANCE MANDATE: Like the bills approved last year by the House and Senate, the proposal would require almost everyone to be insured or pay a fine. There is an exemption for low-income people.

_INSURANCE MARKET REFORMS: Stops unpopular insurance industry practices such as denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions or charging women more. In response to recent insurance premium rate increases, including increases as high as 39 percent by Anthem Blue Cross in California, the legislation adopts an Obama proposal to give the federal government the authority to block rate hikes, roll back premium prices and force insurance companies to give rebates to consumers.

_MEDICAID: The legislation would expand the federal-state Medicaid insurance program for the poor to cover people with incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level, $29,327 a year for a family of four. The federal government would pick up more of the tab, paying 100 percent of the cost for newly eligible individuals through 2017. A special deal that would have given Nebraska 100 percent federal financing for newly eligible Medicaid recipients in perpetuity has been eliminated. A different, one-time deal negotiated by Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu for her state, Louisiana, worth as much as $300 million, remained.

_TAXES: The legislation would scale back a Senate-passed tax on high-cost insurance plans that was opposed by House Democrats and labor unions. The tax would be delayed from 2013 until 2018 and the thresholds at which it is imposed would be moved up from policies worth $8,500 for individuals and $23,000 for families, to $10,200 for individuals and $27,500 for families. Those changes mean $120 billion in lost revenue over 10 years that would be replaced mostly by applying an increased Medicare payroll tax to investment income as well as wages for individuals making more than $200,000, or married couples above $250,000. The Senate bill had applied the tax only to wage income.

Read More....

China PM defends assertive trade, foreign policy

BEIJING — China sought Sunday to deflate rising pressure from the U.S. and other powers over Chinese economic policies and growing assertiveness in world affairs, with its prime minister promising cooperation to bolster the global recovery.

Premier Wen Jiabao took on critics in the West who say Chinese policies lift China while keeping global growth anemic. He defended China's currency against charges that it is undervalued to boost Chinese exports. He promised that Beijing would import more and urged countries to resist protectionism, saying one country should not seek to disadvantage others during the fragile economic recovery.

"We are opposed to the position of engaging in mutual finger-pointing or taking strong measures to force other countries to adjust exchange rates," Wen said in a more than two-hour news conference.

Wen also criticized Washington for souring relations with the recent White House reception for the Dalai Lama, the exiled leader of Chinese-controlled Tibet, and for approving arms sales to Taiwan, which China claims as its own. "The responsibility does not lie with the Chinese side, but the United States," he said.

His arguments, while breaking little new ground, were offered in Wen's characteristically mild, carefully rational manner. No. 3 in the Communist Party hierarchy and chiefly in charge of the economy, Wen is also the generally stiff leadership's most popular figure; grand-fatherly and solicitous, he is known as the "people's premier."

His news conference is the only one Wen holds all year and is thus often used by the government to send a message to the public and world. Questions from the foreign and domestic media were prescreened.

Common treatments fail to lower diabetic heart risk: study

By Jean-Louis Santini (AFP) – 10 hours ago

ATLANTA, Georgia — Diabetics who seek to aggressively lower their blood pressure and cholesterol are not reducing their risk of a heart attack and could suffer negative side effects, a study released Sunday said.

The results of the landmark Action to Control Cardiovascular Risk in Diabetes (ACCORD) clinical trial appear to repudiate years of medical advice for type-2 diabetics who face a high risk of heart attacks, stroke or death from cardiovascular disease.

"This information provides guidance to avoid unnecesarily increasing treatment that provides limited benefit and potentially increases the risk of adverse effects," said Susan Shurin, acting director of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute at the National Institutes of Health, ACCORD's primary sponsor.

The study, presented here at the 59th annual conference of the American College of Cardiology, followed 10,251 type-2 diabetics between the ages of 40 and 79 for an average of 10 years.

All participants joined the study with an especially high risk of cardiovascular disease.

The study sought to evaluate the effects on heart disease in diabetics of aggressively lowering blood sugar or blood pressure and lowering bad cholesterol while increasing good cholesterol.

All participants were enrolled in the blood sugar control trial, with some also assigned to the blood pressure trial and others assigned to the cholesterol treatment.


Haim’s Family Call On Fans For Funeral Finance Help

Tragic actor COREY HAIM’s family members have started an online fund so the dead star can have a proper funeral in his native Toronto, Canada.

The Lost Boys star, who died of a suspected drug overdose in Los Angeles on Wednesday (10Mar10), will be flown home and buried in Toronto next week (beg15Mar10) - if his family can afford the costs of shipping and the funeral itself.

And they’re asking fans to help.

In a post on Haim’s website, a family representative writes, “Due to the unexpected expenses of transporting his body to Canada for final resting, a fund has been set up to help.”

Details of where to send the cash or how to pay online have been listed.

Haim’s mother Judy, who came across the troubled star’s body and called the emergency services, is listed as the recipient of the cash.

Meanwhile, longtime pal and fellow former child star Scott Schwartz has been given the task of selling off Haim’s personal belongings on auction website to help pay for the funeral costs.

He says, “There’s shirts and jackets, hoodies, his favourite pair of Nikes… and the jacket he wore in (his last film) American Sunset.”

In a TV interview earlier this week (ends12Mar10), Haim’s best friend Corey Feldman explained the actor was so broke at the time of his death he “didn’t even have a car.”

U.S. Consulate Employee Shot in Juarez (Updated)

A Mexican citizen and two Americans — identified as U.S. Consular employee Lesley A. Enriquez and her husband, Arthur H. Redelfs, of El Paso — were killed in two shooting incidents in Juarez:

“Witnesses told police a group of armed men in a vehicle began pursuing and then shot at the U.S. couple who were in a Toyota vehicle.

The couple in the Toyota drove from 5 de Mayo and Malecon, where the pursuit began, to near the Juárez city hall building, probably in an attempt to reach the U.S. side of the border. The city hall building is between the Paso del Norte and Stanton Street international bridges.

However, after sustaining several gunshots, they drove onto oncoming traffic on Francisco Villa, and crashed into other vehicles. The man and wife were pronounced dead at the scene.

Police who rushed to the scene said they discovered a baby in the backseat of the Toyota; the baby was uninjured.

In the second attack, at almost the same time Saturday, police reported the shooting death of a man who is married to woman who works at the U.S. consulate in Juárez. He was shot at while driving on Avenida Insurgentes in the Segunda Burocrata neighborhood.”

The White House extended “condolences to the families and condemns these attacks on consular and diplomatic personnel serving at our foreign missions.”

Northern Mexico is lawless and, almost every day, the side effects are spilling across the border into Texas and other border states.

MORE: The Houston Chronicle reports Redelfs was a detention officer with the El Paso County Jail and their child was about 1 year old. It adds that over 50 people were killed in Mexico this weekend alone, including 2 beheadings in Acapulco.


UPDATE — This is depressing. Politico’s post on this story shows the Politico editors don’t even know where Juarez is and don’t understand the content at the AP article they linked:

“National Security Council Spokeman Mike Hammer issued a statement Saturday morning saying “the president is deeply saddened and outraged” by the murder of two American citizens and the husband of a Mexican citizen associated with the U.S. consular office in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico.

A senior administration official says that the incident occurred on Friday afternoon, when the victims were killed in drive-by shootings.

The consular office in Ciudad Juárez, just across the border from McAllen, Tx., was temporarily closed last month after a series of battles between different drug gangs, and between drug gangs and Mexican police and soldiers.”

The linked AP article is datelined Ciudad Juarez but concerns Reynosa:

“CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico — The United States has temporarily closed its consular office in the Mexican border city of Reynosa, across from McAllen, Texas, after gunbattles with drug gangs rocked the area this week.”

The announcement was probably issued from the Juarez Consulate because the Reynosa Consulate was closed. Juarez is across from El Paso in far West Texas. Reynosa is approximately 790 miles south of Juarez across from McAllen in South Texas.

Is Beckham's career over?

LONDON — David Beckham's loan moves from the Los Angeles Galaxy to AC Milan were to ensure he played in his fourth World Cup for England.

An Achilles' tendon injury Sunday while playing for the Italian club is almost certain to end his international career, there will be no sign of Beckham bending free kicks in South Africa and those in charge of the millions he makes from commercial activities will have to rethink their plans.

An injury that happened with not a single opponent near him is a major blow for brand Beckham, which relies heavily on his ability to stay in the spotlight for soccer's biggest events.

Beckham, who has played 115 times for England, earned $16.5 million from personal sponsorship deals during his first season with the Galaxy. The former Manchester United and Real Madrid star was expected to be in Fabio Capello's England squad as a substitute capable of making an impact with his trademark free kicks and accurate passes.

While most of the world's greatest players prepare to go to South Africa, Beckham and his commercial advisers will be looking on, wondering what they can do to make an impact while he recovers. He receives a $5.5 million base salary from the Galaxy, but his absence from the World Cup could affect his image rights.

Beckham's World Cup record has been is a mixture of highs and lows, and his expected absence is another twist.


NJ Gov. Chris Christie will propose an amendment

Governor Chris Christie will propose an amendment to the New Jersey constitution to limit annual property-tax hikes to 2.5 percent, and a budget that will cut spending by 9 percent and seek fundamental changes in how governments in New Jersey spend their money.

Currently, property-tax increases are supposed to be limited to 4 percent, but communities routinely waive that limit on the rationale of meeting rising health-insurance costs or debt payments. The proposed amendment would limit increases to 2.5 percent and would have no exceptions, without the direct consent of the voters in a public question.

This comes in the wake of a number of budgetary and political problems plaguing states. On Friday, Illinois Governor Patrick Quinn called for the state to borrow $4.7 billion. Arizona in its quest to cut billions of dollars in order to balance the budget, has cut all day kindergarten, services for the handicapped and programs for the developmentally disabled. Now State lawmakers are proposing tax breaks for many out of state corporations such as Target.

Yet, Christie’s approach seems to mirror approaches seen in Washington state and California where state initiatives have tied the hands of legislators. In each respective states voters, in certain instances, must be consulted before tax increases are approved. This has led Washington state to reconsider and California remains politically-gridlocked, New Jersey may want to think twice before and consult other states before acting,