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  • The Curse of ‘Twin Peaks’

    Twenty years after the David Lynch series debuted, ABC unveils ‘Happy Town.’ It looks familiar—and that’s not good.
  • Embarrassingly True Admission of the Day

    USA Today is reporting that the state of Arizona will need the federal government's help in order to enforce its newly passed and very controversial immigration law.  According to the paper, "Lyle Mann, executive director of the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board, says federal assistance is 'critical' to what he describes as an unprecedented effort to prepare officers as soon as this summer to enforce the law, which gives local police authority to identify and arrest illegal immigrants."  ...
  • 'The Issue not the Bill'

    When I was a reporter in Kentucky years ago they had a standard saying in the legislature about a grandstanding member who'd be talking on the floor but not pushing for a vote: so and so "would rather have the issue than the bill."...
  • Why Insuring Young Adults Until They Turn 26 Is Good for the Rest of Us

    Good news from the White House. When the health-insurance overhaul passed Congress last month, it stipulated that instead of getting booted from their parents' health-care plans at the tender age of 19 or 22, qualifying young adults would now remain covered until 26. College students cheered; parents breathed a sigh of relief. The only problem? The new provision wasn't scheduled to kick in until September 23—meaning that millions of graduating millennials might have lost their insurance in the interim. Now, according White House health-reform chief Nancy-Ann DeParle, that's much less likely to happen. On April 19, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius called on leading ...
  • Will the California Gay-Marriage Trial Ever Wrap Up?

    Ted Olson and David Boies’s  landmark trial to overturn California’s ban on gay marriage began in January with much fanfare. Perry v. Schwarzenegger was expected to last a few weeks, but here we are closing in on May. Perhaps one person just as frustrated with the slow progress as anyone is the judge himself, U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker, who on Sunday issued a warning to Equality California and the ACLU to turn over documents requested by supporters of Proposition 8 (which banned gay marriage) or face a fine of $2,000 per day and be held in contempt of court. According to Lisa Keen of Keen News Service, who has loyally covered the trial long after national reporters left the scene: The order is a side issue in the landmark trial to challenge the constitutionality of California’s same-sex marriage ban. But that side issue has turned into a monumental struggle by pro-gay groups who opposed Proposition 8. The groups said they do not believe they should have to turn...
  • The Conservative Case Against Arizona's Immigration Law

    Conservative commentators, such as Bill Kristol and George Will, have generally rushed to the defense of Arizona's harsh new law to make local law-enforcement officers act as de facto border patrol. But Matt Lewis, a staunchly conservative but independent-minded and intellectually honest columnist at the Daily Caller, dares to dissent from the party line. Lewis supports stricter border control and does not worry about the illegal immigrants being subjected to requests for their documents since they are by definition breaking the law. But he does think that conservatives who claim to fear the expansion of government power ought not to cheer a law that allows, much less encourages, cops to harass law-abiding U.S. citizens who happen to be Hispanic. Illegals don’t advertise their immigration status publicly, and while...
  • Quote of the Day: Tim James

    "This is Alabama. We speak English. Learn it." —Tim James, a Republican candidate for governor of Alabama. James' campaign posted this ad on YouTube last week (with disabled comments, presumably to avoid any commentary in languages other than English), getting at the most important issues in his state, which has 11 percent unemployment and among the lowest educational attainment rates in the nation.
  • After Banking Reform, Energy Still Sits on Ice

    From sound policy to gimmicks. The prospect of an energy bill making its way to the floor of the Senate has gone from almost a sure thing to life support over the past two weeks as Democratic leaders have scrambled to fill in their calendar of legislative priorities. After health care, financial reform was the likely successor with energy presumed to follow, but the wild-card issue of immigration seemingly jumped the queue after party leaders did a calculus of what they needed to accomplish to fortify support before the November elections, and after Arizona's governor signed an immigration law last week that activists as well as some lawmakers think could unfairly lead to racial profiling....
  • Berlusconi's Coalition Faces Collapse

    Italy's government is again on the brink of collapse. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has survived sex scandals and corruption allegations for years, but now he faces an imminent threat from within his own ruling coalition. The leader's two strongest allies, Gianfranco Fini and Umberto Bossi, are in a power struggle and even they say the row will end the Berlusconi era.The internal feud became public drama last week during a live television program. Fini, who has always been loyal to Berlusconi and who cofounded the ruling House of Freedom political party with him, made a surprise announcement when he criticized the P.M.'s leadership and announced he would form a new political party, with an eye on the premiership. An irate Berlusconi responded by chiding Fini for exposing the party to "public mockery." The event devolved into a wild yelling match.The recent schism has left Italy's future up for grabs. The leftist opposition has no clear leader, so...
  • Zoonoses: When Animal Diseases Attack

    Animal-based diseases account for 75 percent of newly emerging infections, including H1N1. Can health agencies work together to stop their spread?
  • Financial Reform Doesn't Get Cloture: What That Means

    The final vote tally this afternoon was 57 to 41, repudiation not of the Democrats' financial-reform package but of the period of debate that would precede an actual vote. This means that debate can extend endlessly, or until a collection of 60 members agree to cut it off. In reality, however, it just means that party leaders will return to negotiations to iron out several components of the legislation to craft it as bipartisan....
  • Quote of the Day: Tom Tancredo

    "I do not want people here, there in Arizona, pulled over because you look like [you] should be pulled over." —Tom Tancredo, former Colorado congressman and staunch immigration hawk, on how a new Arizona immigration law goes too far
  • Beijing Moves to Cool Housing Bubble

    If dramatic new measures to cool China's property markets are any indication, it seems that the top Communist Party brass in Beijing watch Charlie Rose, too. A little more than two weeks ago, well-known hedge-fund manager James Chanos went on the popular TV show and said that China was on a "treadmill to hell" thanks to the bubble brewing in its property markets. "They can't afford to get off this heroin of property development; it's the only thing that keeps the economic growth numbers going," said Chanos. While it's not the only thing, it's a pretty important thing. At least a tenth of China's GDP comes from real-estate investment, and by some more-liberal estimates, real-estate and construction-related activities represent 60 percent of GDP.Chanos, one of the first investors to see Enron coming, isn't the only one who's worried that Chinese property prices have been rising at their fastest rate in two years despite...
  • Financial Reform’s Day of Reckoning Might Not Be

    The politics of health care were easy. You were either for it or against it, and no one questioned the lines of disagreement. Financial reform is harder, and as the vote is called later today, no one knows exactly how things will shake out. This morning on Good Morning America, Sen. Richard Shelby, the ranking member on the Senate Banking Committee, said a deal is unlikely. If that happens, it could lead to an actual filibuster (although the Republicans would actually have to do it, and not just make threats). But despite Republican Leader Mitch McConnell’s feverish efforts to hold his bloc of 41 together, Shelby also said that within several hours, leaders would “have the votes,” signaling the package would move ahead.The good folks at Talking Points Memo have devised five distinct scenarios we could see before the day is out. Perhaps the Republicans will blink first and give the green light for a vote (which will almost certainly pass). Or maybe the Dems will blink and stall...
  • Murdoch May Have Bet Wrong on British Elections

    Has Rupert Murdoch called Britain's May 6 elections wrong? The News Corp. tycoon is used to picking winners. After his purchase of The Times in 1981, he backed Conservatives Margaret Thatcher and John Major, and he had no qualms changing ideological horses in 1997 shortly before Tony Blair's Labour Party retook Parliament. Last year Murdoch's tabloid The Sun threw its weight behind David Cameron's -Tories. At the time, they enjoyed a double-digit lead over Labour, headed by Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and the third-party Liberal Democrats were no more than a blip on the horizon.But now a surge in popularity has given the Lib Dems a boost, making a Tory victory less certain. Murdoch's detractors are overjoyed. "Rupert Murdoch won't decide this election. You will," crowed Britain's Independent newspaper in an ad campaign last week. Infuriated, his son James stormed into the Independent's newsroom. "What are you f--king playing at...
  • McCain Descending

    First John McCain tells NEWSWEEK he's not a maverick (after his major campaign ad in 2008 was entitled "Maverick") and will refuse to cooperate with President Obama for the rest of the year. Now McCain is supporting the odious immigration bill that Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer is signing into law. This bill is a repudiation of everything McCain has stood for for 25 years. It actually legislates ethnic profiling against the 30 percent of Arizonans who are Hispanic. It allows the police to demand citizenship papers of any brown-skinned person they see and waives the need for a search warrant if police think illegals are inside a house. Of course the bill is actually terrible for police. It turns them into immigration agents who will have much less time to actually catch crooks, not to mention not leaving them any place to put the tens of thousands of illegals they round up. In the past McCain has tamped down anti-immigrant fever. He showed great leadership in pushing for comprehensive im...
  • White House Fires at ‘Unconscionable’ Insurers

    The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act made the practice of denying coverage for preexisting conditions illegal as soon as the Department of Health and Human Services begins to phase in the law. But until that happens, there’s public opinion to be won and lost.Having caught wind from a Reuters article that one Indiana-based insurer is not just denying but revoking coverage from women with breast cancer, the Obama administration decided to make an example out of someone and hit back at the company, called WellPoint, with a strongly worded letter from HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Here’s an excerpt:"As you know, the practice described in this article will soon be illegal. The Affordable Care Act specifically prohibits insurance companies from rescinding policies, except in cases of fraud or intentional misrepresentation of material fact."WellPoint should not wait to end the unconscionable practice of deliberately working to deny health insurance coverage to women...
  • Embarrassingly True Admission of the Day

    Is it possible that Michael Steele has been suffering from Stockholm syndrome and is now coming out of it? How else to explain what he told students at DePaul University earlier this week?"The Republican Party had a hand in forming the NAACP, and yet we have mistreated that relationship. People don't walk away from parties, their parties walk away from them. For the last 40-plus years we had a 'Southern Strategy' that alienated many minority voters by focusing on the white male vote in the South."There is really only one response to this kind of admission from the head of the RNC: duh.