In an item which still has a breaking news tag, Josh Funk at the Associated Press (saved here for future reference, fair use, and discussion purposes) call retiring Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson a "centrist," and almost seemed to mourn over "an increasingly polarizing climate" which made it clear that Nelson's reelection would have been a steep uphill fight. Of course, there was no mention of the infamous Cornhusker kickback which was offered and then withdrawn in a firestorm of controversy in an Obama administration attempt to win Nelson's support for the passage of ObamaCare -- which they got anyway.
Here are several paragraphs from Funk's report and the immediately following breaking news item:
It seems that every time I see something possibly redeeming put forth by the Associated Press, they figure out a way to ruin it.
Take Larry Margasak's report this afternoon on John Boehner's attempts at persuading House Republican members to support his various attempts at debt-ceiling legislation during the few two weeks. (I've made my general unhappiness with the ultimate result pretty plain here, and that is not the topic of this post.)
Maragasak notes Boehner's refusal to engage in "carrot-and-stick" persuasion, observes that it's "a major transformation from the not too distant past," and spends the rest of the report comparing the Republicans under Boehner to the Denny Hastert-Tom Delay regime. It's as if the years from 2007 through 2010, featuring the Nancy Pelosi-Harry Reid regime's Louisiana Purchase of Mary Landrieu, the Cornhusker Kickback to Nebraska's Ben Nelson, the $3.5 billion "clean energy" boondoggle to Ohio Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, and so many, many others, never happened and don't exist. What a journalistic disgrace.
If you look at the description of yesterday afternoon's U.S. Senate Roll Call Vote Number 278 ("A bill to amend title 28, United States Code, to clarify and improve certain provisions relating to the removal of litigation against Federal officers or agencies to Federal courts, and for other purposes."), you'd never know it had anything to do with illegal immigration.
But it did. It was a cloture vote (60 needed to get the measure to the Senate floor) about about the so-called "DREAM Act," granting de facto amnesty to a vast number of illegal immigrants for entering college or joining the military. It has been a Democratic Party-"inspired" initiative with heavy Republican opposition from the get-go. It could easily have passed if the Democrats had been able to hold their membership together while picking off a couple of squishy Republicans.
They got their squishes: Republicans Murkowski (AK), Lugar (IN), and Bennett (UT) voted yes. That should have given the measure 61 votes. But Democrats Baucus (MT), Hagan (NC), Nelson (NE), Pryor AR), and Tester (MT) voted no, while Manchin (WV) did not vote. The measure's 55-41 support was not enough to move it to the next step.
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on Sunday accused Senate Democrats of illegally buying a vote to get healthcare reform passed.
Talking with NBC's David Gregory on "Meet the Press," Schwarzenegger blasted the California Congressional delegation for "representing Nebraska and not us" during December's healthcare deliberations.
Taking the matter further, the Governor said, "[T]he Senate just voted for a healthcare bill that is saying basically that California should pay for Nebraska so that Nebraska never has to pay any extra money."
He added, "[T]hat's the biggest rip-off. I mean, that is against the law to buy a vote...if you do that in Sacramento, you know, you will be sued" (video embedded below the fold with partial transcript):
Time's Amy Sullivan has little use for moderate Senate Democrats throwing up any semblance of a road block, nay, even a speed bump, to ObamaCare, especially if it entails pro-life measures which would keep abortion from being covered by the taxpayer-subsidized government option.
"What is it about those Nebraska governors-turned-senators?" Sullivan huffed in the beginning of her December 8 Swampland blog post. "Did they not get enough attention as children? Do they chafe at being told they hail from a 'flyover' state? Does that unicameral legislature leave too few adoring supporters?"
Sullivan's ire was directed at Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson (D), who along with Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) has offered a pro-life amendment to the Democratic health care reform bill that Sullivan insists is all but doomed to fail and which is not likely a deal-breaker for either Sens. Nelson nor Casey when it comes to final passage:
In the wake of Saturday's Senate vote to move forward with debate on controversial healthcare reform legislation, CNN's John King may have posed one of the best questions asked on any of Sunday's political talk shows:
To get Senator [Mary] Landrieu's vote, just to proceed, just to go across the starting line, language was inserted in the bill that gives her state up to $300 million. To get Senator [Ben] Nelson's vote, [Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid] agreed to drop a request that you take away the antitrust exemptions for insurance companies...[Is healthcare reform] important enough to buy votes?
This marvelous question was asked on Sunday's "State of the Union." In attendance were Democrat Senators Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Michael Bennet of Colorado, and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire.
Better still, King pointed a finger at President Obama who promised during the campaign "to change the way Washington works" (video embedded below the fold with partial transcript, h/t Breitbart TV):
Yesterday, CBS News.com's Political Hotsheet blog reported on "Ben Nelson, Mary Landrieu, Blanche Lincoln and the Politics of the Health Care Vote." It notes:
The focus is also on some Democrats with doubts, notably Louisiana's Mary Landrieu and Nebraska's Ben Nelson, who aren't up but do represent very red states, and Arkansas' Blanche Lincoln, who is, and could face a tough test in 2010.
The piece later states that Nelson:
has cast many a conservative vote in representing a state that, while historically willing to send Democrats to the Senate, is nonetheless firmly Republican overall.
Many a conservative vote? According to interest group ratings compiled by Project Vote Smart, for 2008 the American Conservative Union assigned Nelson a rating of 16. The National Taxpayers Union gave him a rating of F. Nelson received a 100 from the liberal AFL-CIO for 2008 and an A for 2007-2008 from the liberal National Education Association. For 2007, Nelson racked up a 5 with Americans for Tax Reform.
After a pattern of attacking Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, on a nightly basis, one of the strategies is becoming apparent - MSNBC is in need of a boogeyman to give a face to the opposition of these radical steps being undertaken to fundamentally change health care in the United States.
So rather than attack where the opposition is wrong on a policy level, MSNBC "Countdown" fill-in host Lawrence O'Donnell is going to apply one of the tactics from Saul Alinsky's "Rules for Radicals" to promote a dramatic shift in the U.S. health care system - "Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it."
"In our number five story on the countdown tonight, the Congressional Budget Office finds that it would leave 18 million people uninsured and the government-run health insurance plan will probably charge consumers premiums that are quote, ‘Somewhat higher, higher than average premiums for the private plans,' end quote," O'Donnell said on the Oct. 30 broadcast of "Countdown." "This is a devastating conclusion for a plan being sold not just as a low-cost option for consumers, especially poor consumers, but as somehow driving private insurance premiums lower."
Do you want the public option that could make health insurance more competitive and cheaper, because it's looking like we may get it in some form at this point. Here's who else is going to be speaking in just a little bit, Senator Harry Reid is about to announce his position on this. I asked you this same question, by the way, a little while ago. How you felt about public option. You know, I've got to tell you, the numbers seem to show right now, it's about 61 percent in favor.
That 61 percent figure came from a recent CNN poll. He could have, but didn't, cite another poll, one mentioned recently in The Hill:
Polling experts, however, have documented that many people don’t know what a public option is, and that small changes in language can cause poll results to vary widely. An August poll by Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates showed that only 37 percent of those polled correctly identified the public option from a list of three choices.
George Will on Sunday accused the media of manufacturing the return of government mandated healthcare to the current reform debate.
Discussing the subject on the recent installment of ABC's "This Week," Will said it was highly unlikely Democrats actually have the votes for what they call a "public option," but the media are assisting them in "cleverly and skillfully manufacturing a sense of inevitability that they hope will be self-fulfilling."
In effect, although it is quite doubtful the votes are currently there for any form of government run healthcare, the press are doing their darnedest to change that (video embedded below the fold with partial transcript):
Six key moderate senators on Friday called for a slowdown in the White House's push for a healthcare reform bill.
Their decision was apparently precipitated by the Congressional Budget Office announcement Thursday that the legislation currently being discussed not only won't reduce healthcare costs, but also will have negative longterm ramifications to the economy given the increase in federal debt.
With this in mind, Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) sent Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kent.) the following:
On Wednesday’s Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann mocked Ronald Reagan as "dead," and called him a "lousy President." After reading a quote from Warren County, Ohio, commissioner Mike Kilburn proclaiming his intention not to use any of the federal stimulus money, citing Reagan’s famous line that "government is the problem," Olbermann shot back: "Uh, Commissioner Kilburn, Reagan's dead and he was a lousy President."
The MSNBC host also slammed moderate Democratic Senator Ben Nelson as the day’s "Worst Person in the World" because the Nebraska Democrat dared to lump Olbermann and fellow MSNBC liberal Rachel Maddow in with conservatives like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, as Nelson charged that both conservative and liberal hosts spread misinformation to their viewers.
Olbermann, who has a history of repeating incorrect or distorted information on his show, and who also once depicted an image of Rush Limbaugh as a target of gunfire, charged that Limbaugh "supports racism and encourages violence," and that FNC’s Glenn Beck "makes up stuff," as the MSNBC host indignantly answered Nelson: "Thanks for the opportunity to tell you you don't know what the hell you're talking about. I am fed up with this equating of what we do here to circus performers like Limbaugh and the Fox crowd. We don't make up stuff like Beck does, we don't stalk people like O'Reilly does, we don't support racism and encourage violence like Limbaugh does, we don't recite talking points like Hannity does."
Matt Lauer invited on two Senate supporters and no opponents of Barack Obama's stimulus bill, on Monday's "Today" show and asked pro-stimulus bill questions to his guests, even chiding those who opposed it, when he asked Republican Senator Susan Collins about two of her GOP colleagues who are against it: "So what do you get that those two are not getting?" Lauer, also depicted a gloomy picture for the states because of "draconian cuts," made in the bill as he ominously asked: "Senator [Ben] Nelson, to get the support from even these moderate Republicans, cuts had to be made...You lose $40 billion in aid to the states, that means states are gonna have to make draconian cuts in jobs, teachers, cops, firemen. You lose the $16 billion in school construction money. So is it still a real stimulus package? Will it have clout?"
The only voices of opposition came in a Chuck Todd set-up piece, where a soundbite from John McCain saying the negotiations were not "bipartisan," was aired. A soundbite of stimulus opponent Sen. John Ensign was also aired but it only highlighted him admitting the bill will pass.
Lauer, in the interview segment, did cite concerns from Senators Richard Shelby and McCain, as he noted: "Richard Shelby the ranking Republican on the Senate Banking committee said Sunday, 'This bill could put our country on the road to financial disaster.' And John McCain said, 'It was generational theft,'" but then added the, "So what do you get that those two are not getting?" line he asked Collins.
The following is a complete transcript of Lauer's interview segment with Republican Senator Susan Collins and Democratic Senator Ben Nelson as it occurred on the February 9, "Today" show: