House passes student loan adjustments bill….

….from Politico….

President Barack Obama has said he will sign the bill, which links student loan interest rates to the 10-year Treasury note.

Because interest rates are low right now, the measure means all borrowers will get an interest rate break on student loans for the upcoming academic year. It sets rates at 3.86 percent for undergraduate Stafford loans, 5.4 percent for graduate Stafford loans and 6.4 percent for PLUS loans. Rates vary from year to year for new loans, but are fixed over the life of the loan.

If interest rates rise, the rates are capped at 8.25 percent for undergraduate loans, 9.5 percent for graduate loans and 10.5 percent for PLUS loans.

When the Senate passed the bill last week, liberal Democrats objected, saying the measure doesn’t do enough to protect students from rising costs in the long term. The measure still passed, 81-18.

The bill had an even easier time in the House, where the brief debate before the vote focused on whether the bill was functionally the same as a House-passed interest rate bill earlier this year (the Republicans’ position), or a vast improvement on that measure (the Democrats’).


Virginia governor race update…Election*Projection 7/31/13

Virginia governor race update
I’ve been hoping to post some new polling news from this year’s gubernatorial election in Virginia.  Alas, polls have been non-existent since my last post on the race.  The biggest news has been the scandals dragging down the candidates.  Both Republican Ken Cuccinelli and Democrat Terry McAuliffe have some significant baggage to overcome as they try to capture the Old Dominion’s statehouse, though Cuccinelli’s issues seem to be garnering more attention (imagine that) and could potentially be more harmful to him.

Here are the latest polls released over the last few weeks.

  • Quinnipiac, 7/11-15, McAuliffe 43, Cuccinelli 39 – McAuliffe +4
  • Public Policy (D), 7/11-14, McAuliffe 41, Cuccinelli 37 – McAuliffe +4
  • Roanoke College, 7/8-14, McAuliffe 33, Cuccinelli 39 – Cuccinelli +6
  • Rasmussen Reports, 6/5-6, McAuliffe 44, Cuccinelli 41 – McAuliffe +3

Clearly, the survey from Roanoke College looks like an outlier.  If that is the case, then it’s also pretty clear McAuliffe holds a slight advantage.  And these numbers don’t reflect any additional downward trending since the last polls were conducted that Cuccinelli may be experiencing from his association with Governor Bob McConnell’s current woes…..

FOX News – where embarrasment is foreign, and a star is born…Whatever Works…

by  @ Whatever Works

As this story says (video at the link) this is the single most cringe-worthy interview ever.

The author here, Reza Aslan, has been interviewed extensively on C-Span’s Booknotes, PBS’ News Hour, the BBC and dozens of other outlets. So why not FOX? This is why – and lesson learned. Don’t bother next time Reza, unless you’re game for providing the rest of us with something to fill in the time while Jon Stewart is away.

 Fox News anchor Lauren Green* had religious scholar Reza Aslan on her show Friday to talk about Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, his book that has been stirring up some online controversy recently. And right off the bat, Green gets to what is important: “You’re a Muslim, so why did you write a book about the founder of Christianity?” Aslan seemed a little flabbergasted: “Well, to be clear, I am a scholar of religions with four degrees, including one in the New Testament, and fluency in biblical Greek, who has been studying the origins of Christianity for two decades, who also just happens to be a Muslim.”*

But Green just wouldn’t let it go: “It still begs the question though, why would you be interested in the founder of Christianity?” Aslan then starts talking to Green slowly, as if she were a child: “Because it’s my job as an academic. I am a professor of religion, including the New Testament. That’s what I do for a living, actually.” But Green insisted, accusing him of failing to “disclose” that he’s a Muslim and at one point asking him about a stupefying claim on whether a Muslim writing a book on Jesus isn’t sort of like a Democrat writing a book on former president Ronald Reagan.

Dear god (by which I mean the one of the Hebrews, Christians and Muslims. That one.)

*And she’s not even blonde!

The Pentagon signs off on 71 More F-35 Fighters for the US, GB, Italy and Australia starting next year.

BF-02 performing STO's and VL's on USS Wasp LHD-1; Test Pilot was LtCol Matthew KellyFlight #:122The Pentagon and Lockheed Martin have reached an agreement for the next two F-35 Lightning II aircraft production contracts, called Low-Rate Initial Production, or LRIP lots 6 and 7, according to an F-35 Joint Program Office statement.

The deal is is expected to include 71 JSF stealth fighter aircraft and continue a reduction in F-35 aircraft pricing. The contracting effort spanned six months from proposal to settlement, the statement indicated. ….


A-Rod may be finished with his Baseball Career…

Uh, Oh…..

What about ALL the money the Yankkess still owe him TO PLAY?


…from the Huffington Post….

Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig may be preparing to knock A-Rod out of the park. Selig may also just be using the threat of a lifetime ban to force the New York Yankees’ third baseman to the bargaining table.

Citing two unnamed sources with knowledge of the negotiations, Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports reported on Wednesday that Selig was prepared to hit Alex Rodriguez with a lifetime suspension as well as suspend eight other players on either Thursday or Friday.

The 38-year-old could avoid a lifetime ban if he were willing to accept a lengthy suspension without appeal, The Associated Press subsequently reported. Citing someone with knowledge of the discussions, Ronald Blum of The AP indicated that MLB arbitrator Fredric Horowitz could also potentially shorten any lifetime ban levied against Rodriguez and that it even remained unclear if Selig would actually issue such a historic punishment.

Any suspension for Rodriguez would cap weeks of media reports indicating that the three-time AL MVP was among the players who would be suspended by MLB for connections to anti-aging clinic Biogenesis. The shuttered clinic in Miami and its founder, Anthony Bosch, are at the center of MLB’s latest scandal involving performance-enhancing drugs. In January 2013, the Miami New Times published documents purportedly chronicling the use of performance-enhancing drugs — including human growth hormone and anabolic steroids — by several prominent MLB players, including Rodriguez, Melky Cabrera and Bartolo Colon. Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun was the first player disciplined by MLB following its investigation into the clinic and Bosch.

Although Rodriguez’s camp initially denied any connection to Biogenesis or Bosch, his name appeared 16 times in the records obtained by the Miami New Times. Shortly after Braun’s suspension on July 22, Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York reported that “sources familiar with the investigation” said the evidence connecting A-Rod to Biogenesis is “far beyond” what the league had against the Brewers’ slugger. Milwaukee had 65 games remaining on its regular-season schedule when Braun was sidelined for the remainder of the 2013 season.

“We’re still involved in the process of preparing for an eventual appeal in this matter,” Cornwell said Monday on ESPN New York Radio, via The Associated Press….


Making Something out of Nothing …The President and the Congressman Q & A

When have we heard this before?

The President isn’t doing much for us over in the House Democratic Caucus….

Barack Obama isn’t going to coddle House Democrats….

He hasn’t done it for the last Five Years….

He isn’t gonna do much of it now….

The piece below trys to make a exchange between the President and NY Rep Sean Patrick Maloney (D) something it wasn’t…..

The query came from Maloney, a New York Democrat, whose office says the freshman lawmaker asked the president about a company in his district that applied for a loan guarantee through the Department of Energy in 2009, but whose application has been stuck in the final approval stages.

Maloney’s office said Wednesday the loan would help create 300 jobs at the firm, Taylor Biomass.

One Democratic source in the room said Maloney began his question by recognizing it was an issue that may be better discussed on the staff level, rather than with the president.

Obama answered, saying “You’re right. You should have talked to staff about this,” the source said.

Another Democratic source in the room – a veteran lawmaker – said Obama then said in a testy way to Maloney that at least now he can go back and tell his constituents he stood up to the president for them.

This Democratic lawmaker said he felt for Maloney, who is new and clearly was sincere and respectful in his questioning.

Both these Democratic sources have attended previous meetings between presidents and lawmakers on Capitol Hill, independently said Obama was unnecessarily unkind when responding to Maloney’s question. Another Democrat in the room, however disputed the suggestion the exchange was testy.

Maloney himself described the exchange this way: “I asked the President for a commitment to prioritize a local jobs project, and I got it. I appreciate the President’s responsiveness.”

A Democratic source close to Maloney said the Democratic lawmaker “was not personally offended when he was talking with the president.”

“He just really wanted to raise awareness of this project,” the source added. “He is not one who would express dissatisfaction with the answer he got.”

Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, said at Wednesday’s briefing that it was not his “understanding” that the president was testy in his exchange with Maloney.

“The president was very appreciative of the question,” Carney said in response to a question from CNN chief White House Correspondent Jessica Yellin. “The question got into specifics about a program and I think the president not only said that his staff would follow up on it, he guaranteed that the president’s staff would follow up on it. And he was very glad to see the interest in these kinds of programs that was expressed by the congressman.”


Senate ok’s B. Todd Jones to lead ATF

A formal head for the agency is a LONG Time coming……

The Republicans have been holding it up since the ‘Fast and Furious’ ATF ‘buy and bust’ operation went bad….

Harry Reid seems to have lit a political fire in the Senate Confirmation Wars…..

(This vote had some additional drama….)

The near party-line confirmation followed a dramatic afternoon of vote-switching and awaiting Heitkamp’s arrival to be the critical 60th vote to end debate on the nomination of B. Todd Jones to serve as director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Obama blamed Republicans for delaying the confirmation vote on Jones and past ATF nominees while describing Jones as but a small part of his effort to combat gun violence.

“While Todd’s confirmation will help ATF apply the tools it needs to protect our communities from dangerous criminals and reduce gun violence, we can’t stop there,” Obama said. “I will continue to stand with the majority of Americans who support common-sense reforms to keep dangerous weapons out of the hands of criminals.”

The 53-42 confirmation vote served as an anticlimactic end to a drama-filled cloture vote on the Senate floor. With only 58 votes for cloture, Democrats converged on Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), imploring her to switch her vote from no to yes as GOP leadership urged the opposite.

After some 40 minutes of lobbying from the likes of Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Murkowski changed her vote. That left a four-hour wait before Heitkamp, who had been home sick in North Dakota, to arrive in Washington after catching a connecting flight from Minneapolis.

“This position hasn’t had a director for seven years and it’s way past time that the job is finally filled,” Heitkamp said in a statement released by her office.

As the Senate waited for Heitkamp to return, activists on both sides of the gun debate urged supporters to call her office on Jones’s nomination. Gun Owners of America Executive Director Larry Pratt tweeted out the phone number to the senator’s office urging a no vote. Moms Demand Action, a pro-gun control group, asked its followers to call to urge a yes vote.

The drama surrounding Heitkamp was sparked when Murkowski provided the 59th vote for cloture following an intense lobbying effort on the Senate floor from Schumer, Boxer, Feinstein and others. Murkowski, who was a key cog in the Senate deal to allow votes on Obama’s nominees to lead the Labor Department and Environmental Protection Agency also heard on the floor from Republicans including Minority Whip John Cornyn of Texas, who urged the Alaskan to stand by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the GOP’s ranking member on the Judiciary Committee who protested the vote.


Americans don’t care much about the impact of the Sequester…

If it doesn’t effect them…..

Why would they?

THAT doesn’t make them good for the country…..

It’s been almost five months since across-the-board federal spending cuts known as sequestration began kicking in. And since that time, Americans remain largely unsure about the impact of the cuts.

More than half of Americans (54 percent) don’t know enough to say whether sequestration was a good thing or a bad thing for the country, according to a newGallup poll. Americans are even more uncertain about the impact on their own lives. Fifty-nine percent say they don’t know whether it was a good or bad thing for them personally. Those numbers are in line with where they were in March.



This much is clear, though: Among those who do have an opinion of sequestration, the perspective is decidedly more negative than it is positive. Twice as many Americans view the impact on the country negatively as view it positively. Nearly three times as many view the impact on themselves negatively as view it positively.

A May Washington Post-ABC News poll showed that a majority of Americans disapproved of the cuts, and nearly four in 10 said they felt a negative impact from them. Six in 10 said they felt no negative impact.

In the lead up to March 1, the Obama administration raised many alarm bells about the consequences of not averting the sequester. But as a Washington Post analysis found last month many of the administration’s dire predictions had not come true.

Taken together, the polls show two things. One, when people have opinions about the cuts or the decision to let them happen in the first place, those opinions are negative. Secondly, there is a lot of ambiguity about the impact of the cuts — and that means it is less likely Congress will quickly do anything about them.

In short, people are, by and large, still taking a wait-and-see approach to sequestration….


Congressman Tom Cotton (R) to challenge Arkanas Sen. Mark Pryor (D)…Daniel


The NRSC has just catched a massive break this Morning.

Various Media Outlets in Arkansas are reporting that Freshman Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR) will challenge Incumbent Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR).

Cotton is set to announce his Senate Run at a Campaign Dinner Event in his Home Town of Dardanelle.

The Question now is: Will Pryor turn out to be a second Blanche Lincoln or not?

Daniel G.

Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest 7/31/13 – Palin’s deeply unpopular, but Begich slips in new PPP poll

Reposted from Daily Kos Elections by David Nir

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Leading Off:

• AK-Sen: PPP’s new Alaska poll shows some real slippage for Democratic Sen. Mark Begich, though two of his potential opponents are so unpopular he’d wallop them anyway. Here’s how Begich performs against the GOP field, with February trendlines in parentheses:

• 55-32 vs. 2010 nominee Joe Miller (58-30)• 52-40 vs. ex-Gov. Sarah Palin (54-38)

• 46-39 vs. Natural Resources Commissioner Dan Sullivan

• 44-40 vs. Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell (47-39)

The problem for Begich, whose approval rating has fallen from 49-39 to just 42-41, is that neither Miller nor Palin is likely to be the Republican nominee. Palin is almost certainly screwing around and isn’t serious about anything, while Miller is deeply disliked by the GOP primary electorate. Tom Jensen tested several different scenarios, none of which look good for Miller:

Matchup 1 Matchup 2 Matchup 3
Palin: 36
Treadwell: 26
Treadwell: 33
Sullivan: 25
Miller: 24
Treadwell: 53

Right now, Treadwell and Miller are the only declared candidates, though various reports make it sound like Sullivan is pretty interested. Given how much of a tossup a Palin-less primary appears to be, he may well be quite tempted. As for Begich, his slip in approvals is troubling, though perhaps PPP’s earlier survey was overly optimistic. Begich is one of those preternaturally skilled politicians you never want to count out, but if he’s really down at 44 percent versus an anodyne establishment figure like Treadwell, that’s a tough place to be in when you’re seeking re-election in a red state….

Continue Reading

Political Roundup for July 31, 2013…The Grimes Rollout in Kentucky continues…Red Racing Horses

by: BostonPatriot
Happy trade deadline! Reports that San Diego has traded Bob Filner to New York for Anthony Weiner and a state senator to be indicted later are unconfirmed at this time.


KY-Sen: As Alison Lundergan Grimes went for Take 2 on her rollout, Mitch McConnell continued being Mitch McConnell, releasing another funny ad entirely dismissive of Alison Lundergan Grimes.

MI-Sen: Rep. Dave Camp (R), rather unexpectedly, confirmed he’s looking at running. Camp has 24 years of seniority in the House, but is only 60 and has to give up his Ways and Means gavel after this term. He would bring a $3M war chest to the race, and his geographic disadvantage could be countered by his moderate reputation and background as a cancer survivor.

MS-Sen: Thad Cochran is now sounding like a very likely retirement. This should open up a free-for-all, as it could well be the only time a seat comes open in this state between 1988 and the 2030’s. None of the state officeholders are up in 2014, so folks like SoS Delbert Hosemann, LG Tate Reeves, and Auditor Stacey Pickering would have a free shot.

MT-Sen: EMILY’s List president Stephanie Schriock won’t run, depriving Democrats of a well-funded, albeit polarizing, option. The deep Democratic bench in the state is starting to look shorter now, with B-lister (and State Superintendent) Cindy Juneau next up.

NC-Sen: Rep. Renee Ellmers (R) is out, and, given her history of weak fundraising, that’s probably a good thing for both her career and the GOP’s prospects here. Keep a close eye on Jim Cain, who’s expected to announce his decision in the near future.

PA-Sen: Joe Sestak has been “exploring” a 2016 rematch with Pat Toomey for a while…in fact, too long for the FEC, which wants him to either formally declare or stop raising money. This complicates Sestak’s plans to spend the next couple years doing what all politicians do between campaigns: taking a non-tenured academic fellowship.

WV-Sen: SoS Natalie Tennant, the Democrats’ last, best hope here, visited with the DSCC in Washington last week….


Democrats in the Senate will try to Obama Judical picks confirmed next….

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has leveaged the President’s Cabinet choices for confirmation…..

He will now go after getting Judical picks …..

His action will be cut off Republican fillbuster efforts against sending the votes to the Senate florr….

Senate Democrats are poised to kick off the next big nuclear test on Thursday with a committee vote on one of President Obama’s nominees to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, putting themselves on a collision course with Republicans over the filibuster.

The Judiciary Committee is poised to vote on the confirmation of Patricia Millett, who faced a hearing earlier this month. Given the Democratic majority on the panel, she’s expected to be approved. Republicans didn’t challenge her qualifications but held to their position that none of the three vacancies on the influential court ought to be filled.

Another Obama nominee to the court, Cornelia Pillard, also faced a hearing this month. Conservatives have labeled her extreme over her efforts to advance women’s equality. A hearing for the third nominee, Robert Wilkins, isn’t expected before the August recess. Senior Republicans are foreshadowing a mass filibuster of all three nominees.

“They’re the most qualified men and women who’ve come up, and I cannot think of any reason why such qualified men and women should be turned down,” Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) told TPM on Tuesday. “So if they’re blocked you should be asking the Republicans because they’re the most qualified people in years — and far more qualified than the ones that the Republicans supported.”

That puts the two parties on a path to yet another confrontation over filibuster rules and the appropriate use of minority power. Since last fall, Democrats have repeatedly threatened to weaken the filibuster by a simple majority vote using the so-called constitutional option and bypassing standing rules of the Senate that require a two-thirds majority to change the rules.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) made clear after the last filibuster showdown — over executive branch nominees, which ended with Republicans folding — that he retains his right to go nuclear in the future if the GOP abuses the blocking tool….