Tags: Al Franken | Tiger Woods | Global Cooling | same-sex benefits

Sharp-Tongued Franken Clashes With Republicans

By    |   Monday, 28 December 2009 01:27 PM

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Sharp-Tongued Franken Clashes With Republicans
2. Rep. Steve King: ACORN ‘Bigger Than Watergate’
3. Same-Sex Benefits Would Cost Taxpayers $900 Million
4. Scientist Predicts 50 Years of Cooling
5. Golf Digest Suspends Tiger Woods’ Column
6. Poll: Congressional Bills Deliberately Confusing


1. Sharp-Tongued Franken Clashes With Republicans

After a quiet first few months in the Senate, Al Franken has begun to show the sharp-tongued confrontational style he displayed as a comic and author, clashing with Republicans behind the scenes and on the Senate floor.

Franken was sworn in on July 7 after a vote recount and lengthy court battle gave him a victory over Republican rival Norm Coleman, and Franken initially avoided the limelight to the extent that rumors circulated that the Democratic leadership had told him to keep a low profile.

But on Dec. 14, the Minnesota Democrat battled Sen. John Thune in the Senate after the South Dakota Republican claimed that healthcare reform legislation would levy new taxes immediately but not provide benefits for several years.

Franken implied that Thune had fabricated some of his facts, “a more personal confrontation than usual in the clubby Senate,” The Hill newspaper reported.

Franken disclosed a private conversation he had with Thune on the topic, and the angry Republican stormed off the Senate floor.

“We are entitled to our own opinions; we’re not entitled to our own facts,” Franken loudly declared.

He later apologized to Thune.

Then during a later debate on healthcare legislation, Franken cut off Sen. Joe Lieberman during his speech on the Senate floor. Lieberman, an independent Democrat who opposed the Democrats’ healthcare reform bill, asked for an additional moment to finish his remarks.

But Franken, who was presiding over the Senate, refused the routine request.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., later complained that Lieberman’s request was “objected to by the newest member of the United States Senate in a most brusque way . . . We’ve got to stop this kind of behavior. I have never seen anything like that.”

Behind the scenes, Franken had a clash with an aide to Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn. Franken went to Corker’s office to discuss an amendment Franken offered to a defense bill, which would bar the government from doing business with contractors who required workers to settle rape and sexual assault charges through arbitration instead of the courts.

“The meeting quickly deteriorated when Franken began berating one of Corker’s aides,” according to The Hill. “Franken’s sally was so harsh that Corker told Franken to lay off his aide and direct the comments at him instead.”

Franken, a former Air America radio host, also tongue-lashed an aide to a Republican leader at a recent Senate reception, grilling the aide over what Franken viewed as the failings of the GOP.

“The Al Franken head tells him to steer away from the limelight and build his reputation,” Lawrence Jacobs, a professor of political science at the University of Minnesota, told The Hill. “Then there is his heart, which is quite fiery.”

Jacob warned that engaging in political brawls could reinforce the unfavorable view that Franken is “a hot-headed partisan.”

Editor's Note:

2. Rep. King: ACORN ‘Bigger Than Watergate’

Rep. Steve King says the ACORN saga is “the largest corruption crisis in the history of America” — yet he predicts Congress and the Obama administration won’t take action against the scandal-plagued community organizing group.

"It's thousands of times bigger than Watergate because Watergate was only a little break-in by a couple of guys," the Iowa Republican said in an interview with The American Spectator.

"By the time we pull ACORN out by its roots, America's going to understand just how big this is."

Hidden camera videos emerged in September showing ACORN (Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now) employees advising a couple posing as a pimp and prostitute how to establish a brothel and finance it with government grants.

But it also is accused of political corruption, election fraud, racketeering, money laundering, and countless other violations of the law, according to the American Spectator article written by Matthew Vadum, senior editor at Capital Research Center, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.

Rep. King, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, said Committee Chairman John Conyers will not investigate ACORN and a probe of the group is “not going to come out of” Chairman Charles Rangel’s Ways and Means Committee or Chairman Barney Frank’s House Financial Services Committee “or from anybody in the Senate. They're going to protect ACORN.

“Congress is deliberately dragging its heels on ACORN,” and Democrats in Congress are “using everything to protect ACORN because that's the machine that keeps them in office,” said King.

The congressman is especially angry over U.S. District Judge Nina Gershon's ruling in favor of ACORN on Dec. 11.

Gershon issued a temporary injunction prohibiting Congress from cutting off funding for ACORN, ruling that the funding ban ordered by Congress was unconstitutional in that it singled out ACORN for punishment without trial. The Department of Justice has reluctantly filed an appeal.

Gershon's ruling is "sweeping and far-reaching, and she even opined that ACORN has some kind of an implicit right to future contracts because they've succeeded in bidding on contracts that were similarly competitive," King said in the interview.

He added that he doesn't hold out much hope that the Obama administration or Congress will decide to investigate ACORN, saying: "This is one-party gangster government and they know what they're doing.”

Editor's Note:

3. Same-Sex Benefits Would Cost Taxpayers $900 Million

Taxpayers would have to foot an $898 million bill over the next decade to extend health insurance and other benefits to the same-sex partners of federal employees, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Committees in both the Senate and House have approved “domestic partners” legislation, and President Obama has voiced support for the bill.

Benefits for same-sex partners would include health insurance, survivor annuities, compensation for work-related injuries, disability, family leave, life insurance and dental benefits, according to CNSNews.

“CBO estimated that enacting [the House version] would increase direct spending by $596 million through 2019,” a CBO report issued on Dec. 17 disclosed. “Over the same period, CBO estimates that discretionary spending would also increase by $302 million, assuming appropriation of the necessary funds.”

Sen. Joe Lieberman said after the bill cleared the Senate committee: “Will this measure add to the total cost of providing federal employee benefits? Yes, but only by a tiny fraction — less than five-hundredths of a percent — of the total pay and benefits for federal employees. And we will offset the cost with cuts elsewhere in the federal budget so the bill will be fiscally responsible.”

Lieberman did not specify where the cost offsets would come from.

The CBO assumes that about 0.33 percent of federal employees would register a same-sex domestic partner if given the opportunity.

The CBO also estimates “that approximately 80 percent of individuals eligible under the proposal would move from single to family health coverage and that 85 percent would elect a survivor benefit for a domestic partner.”

Critics have charged that the proposal is an indirect attack on the Defense of Marriage Act, which bars the federal government from recognizing "same-sex marriages" and gives states the option to refuse to recognize such unions from another state.

They also assert that it would promote discrimination against unmarried heterosexual couples. The legislation would cover only homosexual partners, not unmarried heterosexual ones.

The bill awaits a vote on the floor of the Senate and House. But according to Federal Times, passage in the Senate is uncertain and perhaps unlikely due to opposition from conservative Republicans.

Editor's Note:

4. Scientist Predicts 50 Years of Cooling

A university professor challenges the widely held notion that carbon dioxide is responsible for climate change — and says the Earth will continue to cool for the next half-century.

Rather than carbon dioxide, cosmic rays and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) — already implicated in depleting the Earth’s ozone layer — are to blame for changes in the global climate, according to a paper by Qing-Bin Lu, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Waterloo in Canada.

CFCs are compounds once widely used as refrigerants, and cosmic rays are energy particles originating in outer space.

Lu’s peer-reviewed paper, published in the prestigious journal Physics Reports, states: "My findings do not agree with the climate models that conventionally thought that greenhouse gases, mainly CO2, are the major culprits for the global warming seen in the late 20th century.

"Instead, the observed data show that CFCs conspiring with cosmic rays most likely caused both the Antarctic ozone hole and global warming. These findings are totally unexpected and striking, as I was focused on studying the mechanism for the formation of the ozone hole, rather than global warming."

The total amount of CFCs decreased around 2000, Lu said, and “correspondingly, the global surface temperature has also dropped. In striking contrast, the CO2 level has kept rising since 1850 and now is at its largest growth rate."

Lu found that while there was global warming from 1950 to 2000, there has been global cooling since 2002, and his research indicates that the cooling trend will continue for the next 50 years.

Lu based his research on data from laboratory and satellite observations, according to the Insciences Web site.

He previously published work on the ozone layer along with researchers from Rutgers University in New Jersey.

Editor's Note:

5. Golf Digest Suspends Tiger Woods’ Column

Golf Digest has announced that it is suspending Tiger Woods’ column while he is on leave from professional golf.

Last week the Insider Report disclosed that Golf Digest said it was standing by Woods in spite of his sex scandal and would not drop him as its “playing editor.”

However, the magazine now has announced a course change: "We respect Tiger's decision to take a break from professional golf and focus on his family,” Golf Digest said in a statement. “Tiger's bylined instruction articles will not be published in Golf Digest during his time away from the game."

Golf Digest has an exclusive contract with Woods valued at $3 million per year, according to the New York Post. The magazine has not disclosed if Woods’ compensation would be suspended.

The magazine had earlier announced: “Golf Digest has had a long-standing relationship with Tiger Woods to provide instruction articles for the magazine, and we do not have any plans to change that.”

Woods announced his indefinite leave from golf on Dec. 11, two weeks after an auto accident outside his Florida home led to revelations about his adulterous affairs.

By the time Woods’ troubles came to light, Golf Digest had already shipped its January issue to the printer. Its embarrassing cover photo is a composite that appears to show Woods and President Obama on a green together, with the cover line: “10 Tips Obama Can Take from Tiger.”

Editor's Note:

6. Poll: Congressional Bills Deliberately Confusing

More than 80 percent of Americans believe that Congress drafts long, complex bills to hide spending on special interests and to prevent constituents from understanding the legislation, according to a new Zogby poll.

Zogby asked this question: “Some contend that the reason federal legislation is often thousands of pages long is because provisions to benefit special interests can be more easily buried in long bills, and so citizens cannot decipher the legislative language quickly enough to be able to communicate support or opposition to their Senators or Members of Congress before a vote is taken. Do you strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, or strongly disagree with this opinion?”

A resounding 83.5 percent of likely voters surveyed agreed at least “somewhat,” and 61.2 percent agreed “strongly.”

Among conservatives, 96.9 percent at least somewhat agreed, compared to 66.1 percent of liberals and 82.2 percent of moderates.

Colin Hanna, president of Let Freedom Ring, Inc. — a public policy organization that commissioned the poll — said the economic stimulus package and the healthcare reform bill likely influenced respondents’ opinions.

The final version of the economic stimulus package — the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act — was more than 400 pages long. The healthcare bill passed by the Senate surpassed 2,000 pages.

Hanna told CNSNews, “Americans are realizing that members of Congress routinely do not read these bills.”

Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., said earlier that he would not read the full text of the healthcare bill “because reading the legislative language is among the more confusing things I’ve ever read in my life.”

Editor's Note:

Editor's Notes:

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Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):1. Sharp-Tongued Franken Clashes With Republicans 2. Rep. Steve King: ACORN Bigger Than Watergate 3. Same-Sex Benefits Would Cost Taxpayers $900 Million 4. Scientist Predicts 50 Years of Cooling 5. Golf Digest Suspends...
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Monday, 28 December 2009 01:27 PM
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