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    For Eric Cantor, the First Cut is the Shallowest

    We were alerted today to YouCut, an initiative from Eric Cantor that is "designed to defeat the permissive culture of runaway spending in Congress. It allows you to vote, both online and on your cell phone, on spending cuts that you want to see the House enact." The procedure: Every week you get to vote to cut one of five things, and the House Republicans will bring your choice to the floor in an up-or-down vote. Which, you know, sound really great! We are, of course, amused that the proposed cuts so closely fit the preoccupations of the GOP (two of the five options are cuts in 'taxpayer subsidized union activities' and '--that last one would save a whopping $200,000 a year). Except that, well, honestly, Cantor's ambition seems a little small. Even if you enacted EVERY ONE of those proposals, the savings would be around $6 billion over five years. 2010 fed budget: $3.55 trillion. Forgive us if we’re a little underwhelmed at ‘cuts’ that, per year, amount to less than one...
  • Intel Paper Says Al Qaeda's Yemeni Affiliate More Determined Than Ever to Attack Inside U.S.

    An intelligence analysis prepared by an interagency "fusion center" in California says that recent on-line postings by Al Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen and Saudi Arabia are "actively promoting" attacks against targets inside the U.S. The "official use only" bulletin, produced by the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center, a partnership of federal, state, and local agencies originally set up to deal with drug trafficking, is entitled "Al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula's Online Rhetoric Signals Shift in Intentions." A copy of the document, dated April 27, was made available to Declassified for review....
  • More Polling on Evangelicals and Immigration Reform

    Yesterday, I noted that a new push by the National Association of Evangelicals in support of comprehensive immigration reform faces a key obstacle: opposition from the grassroots. I cited a 2006 poll by the Pew Research Center that found deeper misgivings about immigration among white evangelicals than among other religious groups....
  • U.S. Weighs Official 'Terrorist Organization' Status for the Pakistani Taliban

    In light of evidence that the group known as the Pakistani Taliban was behind the attempted May 1 Times Square bombing, the Obama administration is "actively considering" designating it as a "foreign  terrorist organization" in the next few weeks—a move that would allow the U.S. government to freeze any assets belonging to the group and make it a federal crime to assist it, officials said Tuesday. But the disclosure, first made by State Department spokesman P. J. Crowley, immediately raised questions among some counterterrorism experts as to why Washington didn't act sooner. "I'm pretty surprised that it has taken the U.S. government such a long time to do this," says Hassan Abbas, a Columbia University professor and former Pakistani police officer who is considered the leading academic expert on the Pakistani Taliban. "This is certainly one of the most lethal [terrorist] groups in South Asia, and I would rank it in the top five of all...
  • Evangelical Campaign for Immigration Reform Faces Key Obstacle: Grassroots

    Today came the news that the National Association of Evangelicals is launching a new campaign in support of comprehensive immigration reform. It'll debut with a full-page ad in Roll Call on Thursday that will argue for including a path to citizenship for immigrants who are in the country illegally. Among the signatories are Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention and Mathew Staver of Liberty University School of Law, part of the institution founded by Jerry Falwell. According to CNN, the NAE will follow up by lobbying Republican leaders in Washington to negotiate with Democrats to pass a bill....
  • Oil Spill Raises Questions About Arctic Drilling

    It wasn’t that long ago that proponents of oil drilling, and even President Obama, were arguing that the threat of spills had been substantially reduced thanks to new advances in drilling technology. It’s a claim that sounds humbling in light of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. But rather than harp on the past, environmentalists are focusing their efforts on the future, specifically this summer, when another round of exploratory drilling is set to begin off the pristine coasts of Alaska.
  • gal-tease-conservative-reactionary-movements

    Tea Party Could Upset Kentucky's GOP Primary

    Next Tuesday’s Democratic Senate primary in Pennsylvania is grabbing most of the advance attention, if for no other reason than the state’s proximity to the New York–D.C. media corridor.
  • Times Square Suspect Originally Wanted to Fight Americans in South Asia

    When Faisal Shahzad set out from Connecticut for his Pakistani homeland late last year, he had no thought of planting a car bomb in Times Square. Instead, a top New York police intelligence analyst says, Shahzad’s plan was to join the insurgents fighting U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan. But according to Deputy Inspector John Nicholson of the NYPD Counterterrorism Bureau, the naturalized U.S. citizen apparently met with militants in the Waziristan tribal region who persuaded him to turn back and launch an attack inside America....
  • Will Splitting Offshore-Oil Regulator Prevent Future Accidents?

    On Tuesday, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar cut the Minerals Management Service in half, separating its duties of regulating the offshore oil and gas industry and of collecting billions in revenue from it. The move is a tacit acknowledgment that a conflict of interest is inherent to the agency’s dual mandate, and is an indictment of the decisions the MMS made that have arguably exacerbated the Deepwater Horizon disaster. With oil still leaking into the Gulf of Mexico (BP engineers are getting desperate), the MMS faces mounting criticism for its role in the mess, first for a 2003 decision not to require remote-control shutoff switches in the gulf as a last-resort safety mechanism in the event of a blowout, and second for granting BP an exemption from providing a detailed environmental report of the Deepwater Horizon site. ...
  • Moderate Republicans Continue Getting Fenced In

    It doesn't take long to arrive at the political metaphor so graciously provided by that "danged fence" John McCain suddenly wants to build: the Tea Party has erected an ideological barrier, and if you're a moderate Republican running for reelection, don't even think about crossing it. You wouldn't know it by watching his new campaign commercial, but McCain actually used to be pretty moderate on the immigration issue. In 2005, he cosponsored an immigration reform bill with Ted Kennedy that would have granted amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants (it failed in the Senate). And in 2007, he told Vanity Fair that building a fence on the Mexican border would be ineffective, but added, "I'll build the goddamned fence if they want it." But now that McCain is running against an ultraconservative talk-radio host in the Republican primary, he is exposing his insecurities with embarrassing "tough talk." Although in this case, it's...
  • Louisiana Considers Bill to Restrict Lawsuits

    Just as Louisiana politicians are about to get an up-close-and-personal look at the BP oil spill (it is approaching the shores an hour's drive from Baton Rouge, the state capital), they are considering a bill to "kneecap" all university environmental-law clinics in the state, which have led the way in challenging the historically cozy relationship between state politicians and the petrochemical industry....
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    FBI Asked Homeland Security to Refrain From Notifying All Airlines About Shahzad 'No Fly' Listing

    The FBI asked officials at the Homeland Security Department to limit the number of airlines which were given special emergency warning that the name of Times Square bombing suspect Faisal Shahzad had been added to the U.S.  government's "no fly" list in the early afternoon on May 3, 2010, Declassified has learned. The FBI asked Homeland officials to limit special notifications about Shahzad's fresh no-fly listing because it feared that telling too many airlines about it might lead to news leaks, which the bureau feared were already interfering with its investigation and threatening to spook the suspect, said two Obama administration officials familiar with the issue, who asked for anonymity when discussing sensitive information. An FBI spokesman declined to discuss the matter....
  • If Utah Elects Its First Democrat to the U.S. Senate in 40 Years, Thank the Tea Party

    Tea Partiers weren't the only ones happy to see Sen. Bob Bennett lose Utah's Republican nomination on Saturday: plenty of Democrats in the state were elated as well. Why? Because even though the 3,500 delegates in Utah's GOP convention didn't like Bennett, the majority of the electorate still did. Polling suggests that if the three-term incumbent had secured the nomination, voters almost certainly would have sent him back to Washington. ...
  • Gay Rights a Flashpoint in Kagan Confirmation

    Even before President Obama officially announced Elena Kagan as his Supreme Court pick, gay-rights advocates were celebrating and conservatives were grumbling. President of the Human Rights Campaign Joe Solomonese applauded the leaked decision, saying, “We are confident that Elena Kagan has a demonstrated understanding and commitment to protecting the liberty and equality of all Americans, including [lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender] Americans.” There is one place where Kagan has demonstrated that LGBT commitment most, and that is at Harvard, where she was the first female dean of its esteemed law school. The war in Iraq, which started shortly before her 2003 appointment, would soon lead to massive recruiting efforts by the U.S. military, but Kagan was opposed to military recruitment on campus because of the armed forces’ policy against allowing gays and lesbians to serve their country openly, calling it “a profound wrong—a moral injustice of the first order.” Gay advocates...
  • Quote of the Day: John McCain

    "Complete the danged fence." —Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), in a new ad about illegal immigration. It's the latest area where McCain, facing a Tea Party-aligned primary challenger, has tacked right from earlier positions. See the ad below:
  • Kagan Might Not Be Prepared to Sway Anthony Kennedy

    Elena Kagan is being attacked for her lack of judicial experience by some of the same folks (e.g., Sen. John Cornyn) who said Harriet Miers was especially qualified for the Supreme Court because President Bush had gone outside the usual suspects and nominated someone who wasn't a judge. That's Washington, where hypocrisy is just another day at the office....
  • Kagan Has Appropriate Experience for a Seat on the Supreme Court

    Many commentators are questioning the extent of Solicitor General Elena Kagan's experience, noting that, unlike her eight potential future colleagues, she has never served as a judge. They shouldn't. President Obama wanted to nominate somebody outside of the judicial monastery, and Elena Kagan fits the bill. In fact, she's the first non-judge nominated since the 1970s—unless you count Harriet Miers, whose appointment was withdrawn under fire from the right and the left because of her parochial credentials. Unlike Miers, who was a vanity choice by George W. Bush, Kagan brings top-notch academic and practical credentials. And her lack of judicial experience is trumped by the six cases she has argued before the court as Solicitor General. ...
  • Orrin Hatch's VAT Straw Man

    Sen. Orrin Hatch (R.-Utah) takes on the tax system in a Politico op-ed published Friday. A lot of what Hatch says is likely to resonate on both sides of the aisle: he's concerned that large tax increases could trip up the fragile but improving economy, and he argues that federal tax code is simply far too complicated. The latter is a point about which there's been an even greater consensus for even longer than the former, and it's accepted by both liberals and conservatives. So far, so good. And then this:...
  • BP Oil Spill, by the Numbers

    As of today, BP has spent about $350 million—or $16 million a day—on cleanup and related problems due to the ongoing oil spill in the Gulf. Sure, it’s a lot of money, but cleanup and related costs are only the beginning. While it’s difficult to predict the long-term impact of the spill, here’s a closer look at the short term.400The minimum number of species threatened by the oil spill2,000Number of estimated square miles of oil slick7,000Square miles of federal fishing area in the Gulf that has closed because of the slick10 Minimum number of days the federal government is restricting fishing in federal waters most affected by the BP oil spill25 millionNumber of birds that crisscross the Gulf Coast each day, and could be at risk from the oil spill $365 millionCost to build the now-bleeding Deepwater Horizon oil rig$1.6 billionEconomic activity at risk because of the oil spill$14 billion+Current estimated total cost of the spill$163 billionBP profits from 2001 to 200910-15The...
  • Feds Claim Corroborating Evidence of Times Square Bomber's Dealings with Pakistani Taliban

    Federal investigators are not just taking Faisal Shahzad's word for it that Pakistani Taliban elements were involved in his failed Times Square car-bombing attempt. The naturalized U.S. citizen has confirmed under interrogation that the Pakistani Taliban helped prep him for the plot, according to three U.S. counterterrorism officials who asked not to be named discussing sensitive information—and the three officials add that U.S. agencies have evidence to corroborate his contacts with the group, which is aligned with Al Qaeda. U.S. officials have also said there is reason to believe that the Pakistani group, known formally as the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), may also have helped to finance Shahzad's mission....