Noontime News is a snapshot of our RSS feeds from the noon (Eastern time) hour.

McConnell Makes His Choice

“There was a very important development this afternoon which Sam Stein of the Huffington Post managed to get the jump on: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has come out in support of congressional hearings into the matter of whether the US Constitution grants citizenship to every person born in the United States — so-called ‘birthright’ citizenship. (The Hill followed up with a more detailed story.) “

BP’s expected oil disaster fine: $17.6 billion.

“BP’s blownout Deepwater Horizon well gushed up to 2.6 million gallons a day, the federal government now says, a total equivalent of 19 Exxon Valdezes. For months, BP insisted the figure of 5,000 barrels a day (less than one tenth the actual amount) was the “best estimate” — even as outside experts got it right. According to this new estimate, the oil giant liable for the Gulf of Mexico disaster will be responsible for a $17.6 billion fine — $4,300 for each barrel of oil, less the 800,000 barrels directly siphoned from the wellhead. The subscription-only Energy Guardian notes that this figure for the oil disaster “reveals how far off initial estimates turned out to be”.

Graham Moves To The Right Of Dobbs, Who Defends The 14th Amendment And ‘Birthright Citizenship’

“Yesterday, the Hill reported that the political momentum is growing for the revocation of the portion of the 14th amendment which automatically grants citizenship upon birth in the country. Until recently, the movement to repeal “birthright citizenship” was once limited to the extreme right-wing fringe of the Republican Party. However, that all changed last week when Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) indicated that he was considering introducing a constitutional amendment that would deny citizenship to the children of undocumented immigrants. Today, former CNN anchor and immigration hawk Lou Dobbs went on Fox News to advocate for the “vigorous enforcement” of immigration laws — which he thinks should include upholding the 14th amendment in its entirety.”

Bilbray dodges when asked about Cantor’s admission that extending Bush tax cuts will expand the deficit.

“Today on MSNBC’s Hardball, host Chris Matthews aired the clip of House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) admitting that extending the Bush tax cuts for the rich would “dig the hole deeper” in terms of the national deficit. With his admission, Cantor has put Republican supply-siders in the awkward position of confronting the fact that their faith-based tax cut ideology would blow an $830 billion hole in the budget. Matthews pressed [Brian] Bilbray [CA-50] on this point, only to witness his guest stammer and sputter to avoid answering the question directly.”

Paul claims mine safety regulations are unnecessary because ‘no one will apply’ for jobs at dangerous mines.

“In April, two miners were killed at the Dotiki Mine in Western Kentucky after the mine’s roof collapsed. The non-union mine had been cited for 840 safety violations by federal inspectors since 2009, and the Kentucky Office of Mine Safety and Licensing issued 31 orders to close sections of the mine or to shut down equipment during the same period. But when asked about the incident, Kentucky’s Republican Senate candidate, Rand Paul, said “maybe sometimes accidents happen.” And as it turns out, Paul doesn’t believe that the federal government has any responsibility at all to set safety standards to protect mine workers:

“The bottom line is: I’m not an expert, so don’t give me the power in Washington to be making rules,” Paul said at a recent campaign stop in response to questions about April’s deadly mining explosion in West Virginia…“You live here, and you have to work in the mines. You’d try to make good rules to protect your people here. If you don’t, I’m thinking that no one will apply for those jobs.””

Right-Wing Activist Claims Outlawing Same-Sex Marriage Will Boost The Economy

“Last April, the Iowa Supreme Court “legalized gay marriage…in a unanimous and emphatic decision” that made it the first “state in the nation’s heartland” to expand marriage rights to gays and lesbians. Since the court’s decision, conservatives have mobilized to place a constitutional amendment on the Iowa ballot for 2010 that would define marriage as between a man and a woman, effectively banning same-sex marriage in the state. The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) is leading these efforts with its Reclaim Iowa Project.

Yesterday, NOM held a rally at the state house in Des Moines, Iowa. Reporting from the event, the Iowa Independent caught a bizarre new justification being promulgated for opposing gay marriage. Tamara Scott, the state director for the conservative Concerned Women of America, told the NOM rally crowd that “part of the country’s current economic downturn was to blame on the social costs of the threatened traditional family unit through the legalization of gay marriage”:

“It costs you, the taxpayer, as high as $280 billion a year for fragmented families, according to the Family Research Council,” Scott told the crowd, citing a study from the D.C.-based Christian political association from May 2009.”

Echoing Extremists, Liz Cheney Says Freedom Of Religion Shouldn’t Apply To Muslims Building NYC Mosque

“For months, conservatives — led by Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, and right-wing media — have engaged in paranoia-induced hysterics over a proposal to build a mosque and Muslim community center near the former World Trade Center in New York City. Many claim that having a mosque near Ground Zero somehow disrespects the victims of 9/11 (despite the fact that there has been a mosque in the area since the 1980s). Others on the right think that the project’s leader, American Society for Muslim Advancement founder Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, has ties to terrorists and/or terrorist financing.

The Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol and Keep America Safe’s Liz Cheney picked up on this meme yesterday on Fox News Sunday’s online “Panel Plus” edition. Cheney went so far as to say that a founding principle of the United States should not apply to Abdul Rauf.”

Meg Whitman’s governor campaign spending nears $100 million

“Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman spent a record-shattering $99.7 million in campaign funds through June 30, according to campaign finance records filed Monday. Whitman, who faced a June 8 primary election challenge from Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, has spent far more than Democratic rival Jerry Brown, who was unopposed for the Democratic nomination.”

Menendez’s Bottom Line on Oil Spill Liability

“Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) is negotiating behind the scenes to come to a compromise on oil spill liability language that on-the-fence Democrats like Sens. Mary Landrieu (La.) and Mark Begich (Alaska), and maybe even a Republican or two, can endorse.

A Senate aide privy to the negotiations says Menendez is “willing to listen,” as long as the final liability language includes three must-have provisions. According to the aide, the final language must:

1. Get rid of the liability cap.

2. Guarantee that coastal families are compensated for all damages.

3. Guarantee that taxpayers don’t have to spend a dime.”

To Get Medicaid and Education Aid to States, An Unprecedented Cut to Food Stamps

“This week, the Senate is preparing to rob Peter to pay Paul. They will take from one program helping the neediest of Americans in order to give to another. The lucky recipient is a whittled-down state-aid bill with $16 billion to help sustain Medicaid and $10 billion to keep teachers on the job. That is less money than the states were originally promised, but not nothing: This bill, a compromise of a compromise, could save an estimated 138,800 jobs and ease states’ budget woes by $26.1 billion.

But to gain the votes of the Republicans necessary for passage, the bill includes “pay fors” to make it deficit-neutral. There is language to close a foreign tax credit loophole, raising $9 billion. Billions more come from tinkering with Medicaid drug prices and rescinding unspent funds from a variety of programs. But controversially, the bill will also likely slash $6.7 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, the benefits formerly known as food stamps. This might result in a cut in benefit checks from one month to the next — an unprecedented event in the history of the benefit.”

Pakistan Vies With Islamists to Aid Flood Victims

“Islamic charities with ties to extremists are competing with Pakistan’s government to provide aid to flood victims, while the Taliban call the natural disaster a form of divine retribution on opponents of Shariah law.”

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