What’s Up: October 17, 2012?

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· Coal miners ask Obama to stop ‘absolute lies’

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By CASEY JUNKINS – Special to the Herald-Star , The Herald-Star

BEALLSVILLE – Coal miners at the American Energy Corp. Century Mine said they want President Barack Obama to stop what they term the war on coal – and to stop spreading mistruths about them.

Miners gathered Friday afternoon to express their opposition to Obamas energy and environmental policies, which they believe threaten their jobs. Miner Mitch Miracle read aloud a letter the miners mailed to Obama that outlines some of their concerns.

The miners said Obamas campaign team is running ads filled with blatantly false statements about the miners regarding their participation in Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romneys August campaign stop at the Century Mine. These ads assert that the miners were forced to attend the event by the mines owner, Robert Murray. Story Continued:

· Moderator Role Under Scrutiny — Before the Debate – In a rare example of political unity, both the Romney and Obama campaigns have expressed concern to the Commission on Presidential Debates about how the moderator of this Tuesday’s town hall has publicly described her role, TIME has learned.

While an early-October memorandum of understanding between the Obama and Romney campaigns suggests that CNN’s Candy Crowley would play a limited role in the Tuesday-night session, Crowley, who is not a party to that agreement, has done a series of interviews on her network in which she has suggested that she will assume a broader set of responsibilities. As Crowley put it last week, “Once the table is kind of set by the town-hall questioner, there is then time for me to say, ‘Hey, wait a second, what about X, Y, Z?’”

In the view of the two campaigns and the commission, those and other recent comments by Crowley conflict with the language the campaigns agreed to, which delineates a more limited role for the debate moderator. The questioning of the two candidates is supposed to be driven by the audience members — likely voters selected by the Gallup Organization. Crowley’s assignment differs from those of the three other debate moderators, who in the more standard format are supposed to lead the questioning and follow up when appropriate. The town-hall debate is planned for Oct. 16 at 9 p.m. E.T. at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y.

According to the debate-format language in the agreement, after each audience question and two-minute responses from the candidates, Obama and Romney are expected to have an additional discussion facilitated by Crowley. Yet her participation is meant to be limited. As stated in the document, “In managing the two-minute comment periods, the moderator will not rephrase the question or open a new topic … The moderator will not ask follow-up questions or comment on either the questions asked by the audience or the answers of the candidates during the debate or otherwise intervene in the debate except to acknowledge the questioners from the audience or enforce the time limits, and invite candidate comments during the two-minute response period.” The memo, which has been obtained by TIME, was signed by lawyers for the two campaigns on Oct. 3, the day of the first presidential debate in Denver.

But if the Obama and Romney campaigns agreed to such terms, there is no evidence that Crowley did — or was ever asked to do so.

Instead, the agreement between the campaigns states merely that the commission “shall provide each moderator with a copy of this agreement and shall use its best efforts to ensure that the moderators implement the terms of this agreement.”

Which helps explain why the two campaigns are suddenly in league. After Crowley made her “X, Y, Z” remarks to Suzanne Malveaux on Oct. 5, the two campaign counsels, Bob Bauer for President Obama and Ben Ginsberg of the Romney campaign, jointly reached out to the commission to express concern that the moderator’s comments seemed to be in direct conflict with the terms of their agreement. The commission sent back word that it would discuss the matter with Crowley and reconfirm her function. It is not known if such a conversation has taken place.

The commission, both campaigns and CNN declined to comment for the record. Crowley referred all questions about the debate format to the commission.

The apparent confusion over the town-hall moderator’s role is the latest in a series of moments that point to the unusual and often fraught relationship among the commission, the campaigns and the moderators. Ever since the bipartisan panel took over the staging of the quadrennial debates in 1988, presidential campaigns of both parties have groused that the commission is frustrating to deal with and appears at times to represent bureaucratic and institutional concerns separate from the public interest. In 2004 President Bush’s re-election campaign even gave serious consideration to sidestepping the commission’s part in the process.

In an unusual departure from the normal hostility that exists between the Obama and Romney campaigns, both parties wholeheartedly agreed with the commission’s wish to avoid a repeat of what occurred four years ago. In 2008 NBC News’ Tom Brokaw moderated the town-hall session between Obama and Republican nominee John McCain, and the two campaigns and the organizers felt that Brokaw redirected the topics too severely from the audience queries and asked too many of his own questions, limiting the number of citizens who got a chance at the microphone. Appearing on Meet the Press on Sunday, Brokaw said, “[It’s] tricky for the moderator. I said that Candy Crowley ought to get combat gear after I went through that four years ago.” Brokaw told TIME, “I am satisfied citizens in the hall and online got a fair hearing.” Brokaw also said that while there was some media criticism of the job he did, he heard no complaints directly from the campaigns and that a commission official even praised the debate as “good television.” Story Continued:

· With little notice, inspectors generals across federal agencies are piecing together criminal and civil cases into stimulus money that was misspent, wasted or defrauded. – The government’s chief spending watchdogs have already secured nearly 600 convictions and judgments against people and companies accused of misusing stimulus funds and have a whopping 1,900 investigations currently open into possible wrongdoing, officials say.

The wave of scrutiny more than three years after the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was passed by Congress early in the Obama administration means the question of how money was managed early in the program is certain to extend well into the next year as many of the current investigations come to conclusion.

The Recovery Board charged with coordinating efforts among than inspectors generals at more than two dozen federal agencies that distributed stimulus money posted an item on its official blog last month claiming the total amount of money lost to fraud from the $840 billion stimulus program was a miniscule $11.1 million so far.

Vice President Joe Biden even made reference to the figure as he defended the stimulus program from attacks from Republican Rep. Paul Ryan during the vice presidential debate last Thursday. But that number only identifies money that is considered lost to fraud and does not include funds still under investigation or those recommended for reimbursement after audits identified misspending, officials said.

And a senior official familiar with the ongoing investigations by inspectors generals at federal agencies told the Washington Guardian the government expects the loss figure to balloon in coming months.

“These cases often take months or years, and we’ve got hundreds open right now across the government so that number is going to go up, probably by a large amount over the next 18 months,” the official said, speaking only on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak to the media.

Since the blog post a month ago that released the $11 million figure, several inspectors generals have announced new convictions, prosecutions or audits, a sign that some of the investigations are growing near decisions and actions.

For instance, the Energy Department inspector general reported last week it discovered the California energy commission collected two duplicate payments under a stimulus program that costs taxpayers $678,000 and it recommended the money be repaid.

The Health and Human Services inspector general reported recently that a Louisiana group that received stimulus funds for Head Start programs for children had inappropriately spent nearly $1.2 million in federal funds to construct a new building that wasn’t approved by federal officials. The group is contesting the finding.

The Energy Department inspector general also warns in its most recent semiannual report that the Western Area Power Administration, which received $3.25 billion in borrowing authority to help build transmission lines under the stimulus law, is at risk of losing significant money on a transmission project for wind power in Montana that it funded.

“WAPA has significant financial exposure on the project … encountering significant delays and cost overruns,” the IG warned. Story Continued:

· Obama to be more ‘aggressive’ in debate – President Barack Obama said his preparation for the second presidential debate on Tuesday was “going great” as his aides promised a more “energetic” and “aggressive” performance.

Mr Obama has seen his lead in opinion polls collapse since the first debate with Mitt Romney 10 days ago, when he was widely seen as having given a lackluster and listless performance. Although the race remains tight, some national polls have since given Mr Romney a slight edge.

The next debate will be on Tuesday at Hofstra University on Long Island, with the final debate – which will be exclusively about foreign policy – on the following Monday in Florida.

On Sunday afternoon, during a visit to a campaign office in Williamsburg, Virginia, Mr Obama replied to a question about his studying with: “It’s going great.” This contrasted sharply with the almost flippant public responses he gave when asked about his homework in the run-up to the first debate.

Robert Gibbs, former White House press secretary and now an adviser to the Obama campaign, told CNN’s State of the Union television programme on Sunday that the president “was disappointed in his own performance. He didn’t meet his expectations.”

He added: “He knew when he walked off that stage and he also knew as he’s watched the tape of that debate that he’s got to be more energetic. I think you’ll see somebody who is very passionate about the choice that our country faces – and putting that choice in front of voters.”

David Axelrod, another Obama campaign aide, said that in the upcoming debate: “He’s going to be aggressive in making the case for his view of where we should go as a country, a country that’s built around a growing, thriving middle class.”

Speaking on Fox News Sunday, Mr Axelrod, added that in the last debate: “We saw Governor Romney sort of serially walk away from his own proposals – certainly the president is going to be willing to challenge him on it.”

Romney campaign officials denied that the candidate had substantially changed tack.

“He is running on the same platform he has run on through the Republican party primary. The country is a center-right country. They want to have less federal spending. They want to get us on a path to a balanced budget,” Ed Gillespie, senior adviser to the Romney campaign, told CNN.

In depth

Republican candidate Mitt Romney takes on President Barack Obama in the race for the White House

Speaking on Fox, Mr Gillespie added: “The race is very close. I think the wind is at Governor Romney’s back, and there’s clearly momentum. You can see it on the trail, you can see it in the data.”

After a week when the polls have largely moved against him, Mr Obama received some good news on Sunday with a new Public Policy Polling survey showing him 5 percentage points ahead in Ohio, the state that many analysts believe will be crucial in the election. That was a slight increase from his lead in the same poll two weeks ago, and confirms other polls which have shown him performing well in Ohio.

According to the data, about 20 per cent of respondents in Ohio said they had voted already under early voting provisions and of that group, Mr Obama was leading by 76-24. Among those still to vote, Mr Romney leads 45-41. Story Continued:

· Obama At Intense ‘Debate Camp’ At Virginia Golf Resort – With the White House race barreling toward the finish, President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney were staying out of the spotlight Monday, underscoring the intense focus each campaign is placing on the second presidential debate.

Obama’s campaign, seeking to rebound from a dismal first debate, promised a more energetic president would take the stage Tuesday at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. Romney’s team aimed to build on a commanding opening debate that gave the Republican new life in a White House race that had once appeared to be slipping away from him.

When the two candidates step back into the public eye at the debate, there will be exactly three weeks left until Election Day. But early voting is already underway in dozens of states, including some battlegrounds, giving the candidates little time to recover from any slipups.

Pres. Obama and Gov. Romney on the issues: Weigh in on the Presidential Forum

Much of the pressure in the coming debate will be on Obama, who aides acknowledge showed up at the first face-off with less practice — and far less energy — than they had wanted. The president and a team of advisers are seeking to regain focus with an intense, three-day “debate camp” at a golf resort in Williamsburg, Va.

“It is going great,” Obama said of his preparations Sunday, while taking a brief break to greet volunteers at a nearby campaign office.

Romney, who has made no secret of the huge priority his campaign puts on the debates, was practicing Monday near his home in Massachusetts.

Romney’s advisers suggested the Republican nominee would continue to moderate his message — in tone, if not substance — as he did in the Oct. 3 meeting to help broaden his appeal to the narrow slice of undecided voters. In recent days, Romney has promised his tax plan would not benefit the wealthy, emphasized his work with Democrats as Massachusetts governor and downplayed plans to curtail women’s abortion rights.

Democrats were dismayed that Obama didn’t more aggressively call out Romney’s move to the center during the first debate. Since then, the president has been more forceful in doing so on the campaign trail and in television ads.

During debate preparations, aides are working on tailoring that message to a debate format. And they’re working on balancing aggressive tactics with the debate’s town-hall format, which often requires candidates to show a connection with questioners from the audience.

Romney aides suggested the former Massachusetts governor would be prepared regardless of Obama’s adjustments.

“The president can change his style,” Romney adviser Ed Gillespie said on “Fox News Sunday.” ”He can change his tactics. He can’t change his record.”

The Obama campaign released a new TV ad on Monday featuring factory workers lauding the president’s record on job creation. Story Continued:

· Swing States poll: Women push Romney into lead – 5:15PM EDT October 15. 2012 – WASHINGTON — Mitt Romney leads President Obama by four percentage points among likely voters in the nation’s top battlegrounds, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds, and he has growing enthusiasm among women to thank.

As the presidential campaign heads into its final weeks, the survey of voters in 12 crucial swing states finds female voters much more engaged in the election and increasingly concerned about the deficit and debt issues that favor Romney. The Republican nominee now ties the president among women who are likely voters, 48%-48%, while he leads by 12 points among men.

The battle for women, which was apparent in the speakers spotlighted at both political conventions this summer, is likely to help define messages the candidates deliver at the presidential debate Tuesday night and in the TV ads they air during the final 21 days of the campaign. As a group, women tend to start paying attention to election contests later and remain more open to persuasion by the candidates and their ads.

That makes women, especially blue-collar “waitress moms” whose families have been hard-hit by the nation’s economic woes, the quintessential swing voters in 2012’s close race.

“In every poll, we’ve seen a major surge among women in favorability for Romney” since his strong performance in the first debate, veteran Democratic pollster Celinda Lake says. “Women went into the debate actively disliking Romney, and they came out thinking he might understand their lives and might be able to get something done for them.”

While Lake believes Obama retains an edge among women voters, the changed views of Romney could be “a precursor to movement” to the Republican candidate, she says. “It opens them up to take a second look, and that’s the danger for Obama.”

Female voters are a critical part of the president’s coalition. Four years ago, he led Republican rival John McCain by a single point among men, according to surveys of voters as they left polling places. The decisive Democratic margin of victory came from women, who supported Obama by 13 points.

Now, the USA TODAY/Gallup Poll shows Romney leading Obama 50%-46% among likely voters in the swing states. Men who are likely voters back him 54%-42%. The states are Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Romney pollster Neil Newhouse says the poll shows “encouraging movement” in the wake of the first debate in Denver. Obama pollster Joel Benenson calls the method used to identify likely voters flawed.

“In the last election, Gallup’s registered voter model — not its likely voter model — was a much more accurate predictor, with their likely model missing the mark in 2010 by 9 points right before the election,” Benenson says. “That explains why Gallup’s results are way out of line with a dozen recent swing state polls that show the president with a double-digit lead among women.”

Among all registered voters in the survey, Obama leads by nine points among women and by two points overall, 49%-47%. Story Continued:

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· NAMED: AL-QAIDA MEN WHO KILLED AMBASSADOR – ‘Obama administration failed miserably to protect Stevens.’ WND is in receipt of a 270-page intelligence report in Arabic originating from Libya that names specific al-Qaida operatives in Libya as being responsible for the murder of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

The report originated from Muftah Faraj, a member of the Warfalla tribe of Bani Walid in Libya, who is currently in exile from Libya, subsequent to a Skype teleconference Faraj conducted with WND from the Middle East.

The intelligence report blames President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and NATO for engaging in a war against Libyan dictator Muammar Gadhafi that ended up destabilizing Libya to the advantage of radical Muslim elements including al-Qaida.

After Arab researcher Walid Shoebat translated and analyzed the intelligence report for WND, the document held such specific intelligence about the circumstances and people involved in the attack on Stevens that WND decided to share the intelligence report with the CIA.

To the surprise of WND, the CIA replied the agency had independently obtained the document and the information contained was known to the Obama administration, even though the Obama administration has not chosen to share with the American public the key findings contained in the report.

“The point everyone misses is that Gadhafi was not a radical Islamist,” Muftah told WND. “Gadhafi kept al-Qaida out of Libya. If it had not been for NATO, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, al-Qaida would not be in Libya and Chris Stevens would still be alive.”

The document names Mohammad Abdullah Aqil, a wealthy and corrupt individual who owns and operates a Mercedes car dealership in Tripoli, as the principal funder of al-Qaida in Libya.

Walid Shoebat further confirmed that during Gadhafi’s rule, Aqil worked with Abdullah Sanusi of Gadhafi’s secret service, where Aqil provided the financing to implement logistics that were aimed to carry out assassinations of anti-Gadhafi Libyan expatriates living in France, Lebanon, Egypt and mostly in Greece.

After falling out of favor with Gadhafi, Aqil was put in prison for six months, turning him against Gadhafi and the regime.

The document further specifies Aqil works closely in Libya with Abdul Hakem Belhaj, the chief al-Qaida operative who organized and directed the terrorist attack that killed Stevens.

In 1992, after the Mujahadeen took Kabul, Belhaj traveled across the Middle East and Eastern Europe, before returning to Libya to form the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), a group that failed to overthrow Gadhafi in two decades of fighting.

After President Obama and Secretary Clinton expressed support for the Libyan revolution and engaged in military action against Libyan military forces loyal to Gadhafi, Belhaj then became the leader of the Misrata revolutionaries who ultimately captured the capital Tripoli and finally succeeding in ousting Gadhafi.

After Gadhafi was deposed and murdered, the report documents Aqil applied his wealth to assisting Belhaj in supplying vehicles and military equipment for Libyan revolutionaries and al-Qaida terrorists opposed to the regime imposed on Libya by Obama, Hillary Clinton and NATO.

“It is also common knowledge that the death of Stevens was a plot by al-Qaida, which vowed to revenge for a U.S. military drone attack that killed in Pakistan al-Qaida second-in-command Abu Yahya al-Libi,” Shoebat summarized. “Indeed by killing Stevens, al-Qaida got its revenge. The tragedy is the Obama administration failed miserably to protect Stevens and the other three brave Americans killed in the terrorist attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi.”

“Abdul Hakim Belhaj, whose real name is Abdul Wahab Ghaid, also wanted revenge for the killing of his brother, Abu Yahya al-Libi the second man in Al-Qaida, who was killed in Pakistan,” Shoebat stressed.

Belhaj had a second personal motive for wanting to see Stevens dead.

In an interview last year, Belhaj, then identified as a senior rebel commander, told the Guardian how he was tortured in Bangkok by two CIA agents, before being returned to Libya, where he was tortured again.

After Obama, Clinton and NATO sided in Libya with the rebels against Gadhafi, al-Qaida operatives suddenly became legitimate in Libya and Belhaj became a hero carrying out the Obama-Clinton-NATO plan for the anti-government rebellion to oust Gadhafi.

Today, after masterminding the al-Qaida plan to kill Stevens, Belhaj claims he has a clean slate and is no longer an al-Qaida member.

Remarkably, Belhaj is currently suing the U.K. commission in charge of Diego Garcia over his 2004 extradition to Gadhafi’s Libya, asserting his personal civil rights were violated. Story Continued:

· Lobbyists ready for a comeback under Romney – President Barack Obama’s gone further than any president to keep lobbyists out of the White House — even signing executive orders to do it.

clip_image004 But the mood on K Street is brightening.

Industry insiders believe that Mitt Romney will unshackle the revolving door and give lobbyists a shot at the government jobs their Democratic counterparts have been denied for the past four years, a dozen Republican lobbyists said in conversations with POLITICO.

“I’ve heard they are likely not to black ball anybody from any particular sector,” said Republican lobbyist Sam Geduldig at Clark, Lytle & Geduldig. “I assume, everyone is welcome to apply. I’m sure they are interested in getting the best people possible.”

Allowing lobbyists back into the White House could be a PR nightmare early on in a new administration, some Republicans fear. Romney would have to toss out Obama’s orders, which shook up how President George W. Bush did business and let Obama claim his agenda wouldn’t be hijacked by special interests.

Sources close to Romney’s campaign say there has been no official word from the campaign on what the rules about lobbyists in the administration will be. And Romney himself has said nothing definitive on the trail about the issue.

But there are clear signs that lobbyists could be back in the executive branch.

Some of the highest-level positions in a potential Romney administration are expected be filled by former lobbyists and Washington insiders. Health care consultant Mike Leavitt, who served as the head of the Environmental Protection Agency for Bush, is leading Romney’s transition effort. He’s considered a shoo-in for either White House chief of staff or Treasury Secretary. Campaign spokesman Kevin Madden, of JDAFrontline, is expected to get the job of White House spokesman.

Other senior campaign advisers are former lobbyists, as well, including Ron Kaufman, a former lobbyist at Dutko Worldwide, and Drew Maloney, who left Ogilvy Government Relations to lead Romney’s congressional outreach. Romney’s campaign has also relied heavily on K Streeters to organize high-dollar fundraisers, including David Tamasi of Rasky Baerlein Strategic Communications, Jack Gerard of the American Petroleum Institute, Wayne Berman and Mark Isakowitz of Fierce, Isakowitz & Blalock.

A Romney spokeswoman did not respond to requests for comment.

Romney’s transition team is beginning to draw up the qualifications for senior-level jobs in a potential Romney administration, putting an emphasis on corporate and industry experience — no surprise considering Romney’s own background as the former CEO of Bain Capital.

“There’s no question this will be a CEO president who will greatly valuate the contribution of people in business versus academia,” said Ivan Adler, a headhunter with McCormick Group. “There will be a 180 degree switch with a Romney administration. The welcome mat will be put out.”

Some Republicans say that hiring former political hands that understand Capitol Hill and the inner workings of the appropriations and budget process at the White House is important for Romney to be able to implement the major changes he has planned. Many senior level executives and K Streeters first worked in government service before heading to the private sector. Story Continued:

· Todd Akin: Lazarus Rises in Missouri – He was left for dead. He could win—and change the Senate. Of those lonely souls deemed untouchable in polite political circles, the persona non grata of the year has to be Rep. Todd Akin, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Missouri. So swift and thorough was Akin’s shunning by his fellow Republicans after his infamous midsummer gaffe—“legitimate rape,” he told a TV interviewer, rarely results in pregnancy because a woman’s body can shut down and prevent conception—that the smart money had Akin out of the race by Labor Day.

Akin refused to drop out but says “the amount of pressure on me was incredible.”

Akin was publicly urged to go away by his party’s presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, and by the elder statesmen of the Missouri GOP. Akin’s colleague in the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan, newly named as Romney’s running mate, personally telephoned Akin, asking him to quit the race for the good of the party—which desperately needs a win in Missouri to have any hope of retaking the Senate. Worse, for a politician, the big money from Washington was cut off when the Republican National Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee (along with Karl Rove’s American Crossroads PAC) decided that Akin couldn’t win. And Akin found no solace in the rightward commentariat. Ann Coulter, whose lacerating barbs are usually directed at liberals, called Akin a “selfish swine” for not surrendering.

Two months later, Akin bears the aspect of a wounded animal, cautious and still plainly spooked by the experience. “The amount of pressure on me,” he says, “was incredible.”

Yet less than a month before Election Day, Akin not only remains the Republican candidate to unseat Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill, but is actually within striking distance of what could be the election season’s most stunning victory. Though badly outspent by McCaskill, Akin is close enough in the polls that Real Clear Politics counts the race a tossup. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.)—who’d been among those urging Akin to quit—now judges that “he very well may win.”

Once the late-September deadline for replacing Akin on the ballot passed, the Republican establishment seemed to realize that, like it or not (and mostly, it did not), Akin suddenly represented the party’s best chance for winning the Senate. There have been hints that big money may start flowing from the national party to Missouri—though Akin is not counting on it (“My guess is, some will, and some won’t”).

But even if Akin does ultimately get last-minute assistance from the national GOP, he will still, should he win, owe very little to his party’s establishment. That would be a rather unusual situation for a freshman senator. And it could allow him to become a uniquely powerful proponent for the Tea Party’s agenda on Capitol Hill—not to mention a serious headache for the Senate’s GOP leadership. “What I’ve found in politics is a simple thing: pretty soon there’s gonna be a bill, and they’re gonna want someone to vote for their bill, or against some other bill,” says Akin. “And they’ll be thinking, ‘Man, we’re a vote short, what are we gonna do? You mean we’re gonna have to go talk to him?’ Well, it depends on whether or not they want to win.”

Todd Akin is the sort of politician whose so-called gaffes are not very distant from his firmly held convictions. An engineer by training, and the scion of a family that owned steel mills for three generations, Akin entered politics after he and his wife, Lulli (whom he met when both were in IBM’s training program), were born again in a Bible Study Fellowship program. Newly saved, Akin left his family’s mill and entered seminary but decided that God’s calling for him was politics.

“God’s the boss,” he says, and that attitude has defined his political career, both in state politics and in Washington. He is fiercely pro-life (in which circles he encountered the medical literature, widely discredited, about rape and pregnancy), and a staunch small-government conservative. Among the areas he’d like to see the feds butt out of are Medicare (unconstitutional), federal student loans (socialism), and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (“will make the Titanic wreck look small”). Story Continued:

· Catholic bishops: Biden’s debate remark on contraception mandate not true – America’s Catholic bishops have a problem with Vice President Joe Biden’s claim that religious institutions won’t be required to pay for insurance coverage that includes contraception, sterilization and drugs that may cause abortion.

They say it isn’t true.

“With regard to the assault on the Catholic Church, let me make it absolutely clear,” Biden said during his debate with Republican vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan on Thursday. “No religious institution — Catholic or otherwise, including Catholic social services, Georgetown Hospital, Mercy Hospital, any hospital — none has to either refer contraception, none has to pay for contraception, none has to be a vehicle to get contraception in any insurance policy they provide. That is a fact. That is a fact.”

The U.S. Conference of Bishops disagreed, and issued a letter on Friday taking issue with Biden’s position.

“This is not a fact,” the letter states. “The HHS mandate contains a narrow, four-part exemption for certain ‘religious employers.’ ”

The bishops argue the White House offered a proposal in February that essentially would have put the responsibility of providing such drugs and services on the institution’s insurance companies. The offer was essentially rejected, and the issue is being played out in roughly 40 lawsuits, including one filed by the University of Notre Dame, in 12 federal courts across the country.

“That exemption was made final in February and does not extend to ‘Catholic social services, Georgetown Hospital, Mercy Hospital, any hospital,’ or any other religious charity that offers its services to all, regardless of the faith of those served,” the bishops’ letter continued.

They also said the proposal does not even “potentially” relieve organizations from the obligation to pay for contraception and to be a “vehicle” to get contraception.

The White House did not respond to a request Monday for comment.

The group also said the organizations will have to serve as a “vehicle” because they will still be forced to provide their employees with health coverage, and that coverage will still have to include sterilization, contraception and abortifacients. They will have to pay for these things because the premiums that the organizations (and their employees) are required to pay will still be applied, along with other funds, to cover the cost of these drugs and surgeries, the group said. Story Continued and to watch the video:

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· Former Aide on Obama: ‘Stunning that He’s in Politics, Because He Really Doesn’t Like People’ – Neera Tanden, a former aide to both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, had this to say about the relationship of the two presidents:

Clinton, being Clinton, had plenty of advice in mind and was desperate to impart it. But for the first two years of Obama’s term, the phone calls Clinton kept expecting rarely came. “People say the reason Obama wouldn’t call Clinton is because he doesn’t like him,” observes Tanden. “The truth is, Obama doesn’t call anyone, and he’s not close to almost anyone. It’s stunning that he’s in politics, because he really doesn’t like people. My analogy is that it’s like becoming Bill Gates without liking computers.”

It’s a revealing statement from Tanden, who “served as senior advisor for health reform at the Department of Health and Human Services, advising Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and working on President Barack Obama’s health reform team in the White House to pass the bill,” according to her bio at the Center for American Progress. She is currently president and CEO of the liberal organization. Story Continued:

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