Hillary Clinton’s doing somewhat better than I would have expected in this New Hampshire poll but the real shocker is Chris Dodd’s absolutely miserable 22-20 favorable-unfavorable split. Several people in the poll have higher unfavorable ratings, but they’re all much more famous than Dodd who’s unknown to most respondents. How is that everyone’s gotten such a negative view of Connecticut’s other Senator? I think the idea of him running for president is pretty bizarre, but I can’t imagine working myself into a frenzy of Dodd-hatred.
Senate Democrats “may use the pending bill on the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission as a vehicle” to restart the debate over funding for troops that was derailed by conservatives this week. “Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) said yesterday that the 9/11 Commission bill…is a ‘good opportunity’ to bring up his proposal for a binding funding cutoff for future deployments to Iraq.”
In testimony before the Senate today, Defense Secretary Robert Gates argued that the so-called surge is “not the last chance” for Iraq. Previously, pro-escalation Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) had said this is the “last chance.”
Last month, the House voted to require the government to negotiate lower prescription drug prices for Medicare beneficiaries, overturning a 2003 law that left drug-price negotiations “to the private insurers that offer government-subsidized drug plans for seniors in each state.”
In a written statement, the White House threatened to veto the bill:
Government interference impedes competition, limits access to life-saving drugs, reduces convenience for beneficiaries, and ultimately increases costs to taxpayers, beneficiaries, and all American citizens alike.
The argument that the White House advanced for refusing to allow the negotiation of Medicare drug prices has been undercut by the White House itself. On page 59 of the Department of Health and Human Services’ “Budget in Brief,” under section “FY 2008 Proposed Legislation” and subsection “Medicaid Pharmacy Reforms,” President Bush’s budget requests the following:
“Allow Optional Managed Formulary: Allows States to use private sector management techniques to leverage greater discounts through negotiations with drug manufacturers.”
Commenting on the administration’s inconsistent approach, Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA), chairman of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee, said, “What’s good enough for states should be good enough for the federal government — and for the millions of seniors and people with disabilities currently being overcharged for necessary drugs. … I applaud the President’s change of heart and look forward to joining him in the Rose Garden for the signing of the Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act.”
Allright, now I’m puzzled. Some kind of advisory committee of right-wing preachers has pronounced Ted Haggard “completely heterosexual.” Fair enough, he’s straight. He just sometimes likes to visit with gay prostitutes. Happens to the straightest of us. And, sure, meth was involved. But what heterosexual dude hasn’t toked up on crystal and fucked a male hooker? Don’t lie.
But here’s the question. These are the same people who think gayness is curable, right? So what does the heterosexual/homosexual distinction amount to in that worldview? I thought the point was that there’s no such thing as a gay person.
The New York Times takes a look at the Jews of Cuba. I myself am both Jewish and Cuban, but that’s a mixed-ancestry thing, not a Jewish Cuban thing as seen in the article.
“U.S. Marine Gen. Peter Pace admitted to the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday equipment will be a problem when U.S. forces in Iraq are increased. … Pace said the military has about 41,000 armored vehicles in Iraq — fewer than will be needed ‘to cover all of the troops that are deploying.’ Pace said it will be July before enough equipment is in place.”
Tonight, the CW network will air an episode of Veronica Mars that is based on misleading right-wing claims about contraception. The show is about a young woman named Veronica Mars, who is both a college student and a part-time private investigator. This week, Veronica is hired by Bonnie, “a promiscuous classmate, to find out who secretly slipped her the morning after pill, causing her to have a miscarriage“:
The basis for tonight’s Veronica Mars episode is more than just an innocent factual error. It dangerously confuses the facts on women’s health and furthers incorrect right-wing claims.
The morning-after pill — also known as Plan B — is not an abortion drug. It is a form of emergency contraception that when “taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex, the two-pill series can lower the risk of pregnancy by up to 89 percent.” It cannot cause a miscarriage. Plan B works only when taken before a woman becomes pregnant.
While Plan B is now available over the counter to women ages 18 and older, it comes after three years of political stonewalling by the Bush administration. In 2003, a panel of independent advisers told the FDA that it “overwhelmingly backed nonprescription sales [of Plan B] for all ages.” But the Bush administration interfered and blocked Plan B sales in a pander to the right wing, which argues that the drug increases promiscuity. (See the real facts here.)
Veronica Mars is extremely popular among young women, the very women who need accurate health information. E-mail Paul Hewitt, CW’s Director of Publicity, and tell him that CW needs to correct its information on emergency contraception.
UPDATE: In tonight’s episode, Bonnie makes clear that a friend slipped her RU-486, the abortion pill. But as of the show’s airing, CW’s website still lists the morning after pill as the cause of the character’s miscarriage.
Members of the “EPA’s science advisory panel on air pollution voiced strong concerns today about the Bush administration’s recent directive to expand the power of political appointees over the panel’s work. … The new policy essentially strips the panel of its fundamental advisory role with EPA staff scientists as they compile and disseminate the latest findings on pollutants — like ozone, particulate matter or lead — and human health.” (via Greenwire, subscription required)
The Department of Homeland Security refuses to cooperate on oversight activities, according to testimony offered today by GAO Comptroller General David Walker and Homeland Security Inspector General Richard Skinner. The investigators highlighted the role of Philip Perry — Chief Counsel of the Department of Homeland Security and Vice President Cheney’s son-in-law — as the major stumbling block in their investigations.
Walker said the DHS strategy in dealing with investigations is to “delay, delay, delay.” CongressDaily reports:
“[Homeland Security] has been one of our persistent access challenges,” GAO Comptroller General David Walker told the House Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee. Walker said the problem is “systemic” and not the fault of any single individual. But he complained that GAO has had to go through the office of Chief Counsel Philip Perry. Perry is married to Elizabeth Cheney, a former State Department official who is one of the vice president’s two daughters. Walker said it is his understanding that Perry’s office has to review documents GAO seeks before they are released and that Perry selectively sits in on interviews with department employees.
The GAO’s Skinner “said his investigations have also been hindered”:
“We’re experiencing the same problem,” said Skinner, who added his office is “oftentimes” told who they can interview and that it sometimes takes weeks to get documents. Skinner said he prepared a document last summer to inform all department employees of the IG’s responsibilities and authorities and encouraging them to cooperate with investigations. “That letter has been sitting up in counsel’s office at DHS since I believe June or July of ’06,” Skinner said.
The news is another in a series of black eyes for the agency. In a recent federal survey, DHS employees “scored last or almost last in job satisfaction, leadership and workplace performance.” The latest semiannual report from Inspector General Skinner highlighted “a litany of staff misconduct: immigration officials demanding sex in exchange for visas, airport screeners stealing money from tourists’ luggage, federal air marshals smuggling drugs, and employees from various DHS agencies committing sex crimes.”