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Olbermann Apologizes To Viewers — And Slams NBC Over Political Donations Flap

“In an open letter to his viewers today, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann thanked them for the “ground-rattling” support he received following his suspension, and also apologized for “having precipitated such anxiety and unnecessary drama.”

Olbermann was suspended last week for making contributions to three Democratic candidates. Last night MSNBC President Phil Griffin announced that Olbermann would be reinstated Tuesday night.
According to the Times, he also criticized NBC for its “inconsistently applied” policy that he didn’t even know existed.”

Federal Judge Temporarily Blocks Oklahoma’s Sharia Ban

“A federal judge has granted a temporary restraining order against an amendment to the Oklahoma constitution that would prohibit courts from considering Sharia or international law.

The Sharia ban passed as a ballot measure in last week’s election, in a vote of 70 percent to 30 percent. Without the injunction, which bars the state board of elections from certifying the results, the amendment was expected to go into effect tomorrow.

The lawsuit was brought by Muneer Awad, the head of the Council on American-Islamic Relations Oklahoma chapter. In his lawsuit, Awad argues that the law violates his First Amendment rights by creating an “official disapproval of his faith” embedded in the state constitution. He also argues that the ban would make it impossible for his family to carry out his will, much of which is based on Islam.”

GA GOP Governor-Elect Nathan Deal’s Transition Team Is Comprised Of State’s Top Special Interests And Lobbyists

“Few states were impacted by last week’s Republican victories as much as Georgia. In addition to defeating Blue Dog Rep. Jim Marshall (D), Republicans seized control of every single state-wide office and expanded powerful majorities in the legislature, giving them a position of strength they have not had in modern political history.

Former Rep. Nathan Deal (R) won the governor’s race 53-43, handily defeating former Gov. Roy Barnes (D). During the campaign, Deal had to overcome numerous serious investigations and allegations of corrupt behavior, including his history of exerting political influence to win no-bid contracts for businesses he had a financial stake in. Many good government watchdogs worried that a Deal governorship would continue to use political means for the private profit of special interests tied to Deal.

This morning, the Deal campaign released a list of staffers who comprise his transition team. The list reads like a who’s who list of some of the state’s top special interests and lobbyists — people who have represented corporate giants ranging from Georgia Power to Goldman Sachs.”

Senator-Elect Rand Paul Breaks Tea Party Pledge, Now Vows To ‘Fight’ For Earmarks

“Congressional earmarks has been one of the key targets of the Tea Party’s anti-spending fervor. Angry over the House GOP’s failure to include an earmark moratorium in its “Pledge To America,” Tea Party supporters looked to their Washington outsider candidates to champion their current raison d’être.

One Tea Party hero, Senator-elect Rand Paul (R-KY), jumped on the anti-earmark bandwagon early, making “a ban on wasteful earmark spending in Washington D.C. one of the key points of his campaign” in March. Lambasting lawmakers who opt for “photo-ops with oversized fake cardboard checks,” Paul vowed to “dismantle the culture of professional politicians” even if he “ruffled a lot of establishment feathers” while doing it.

But after joining the GOP flock on Election Day, Paul is singing a different tune. In a Wall Street Journal profile this weekend, Paul signaled an about-face on his earmark position, committing to “fight for Kentucky’s share of earmarks and federal pork.””

GOP Rep. Bachus: ‘Sarah Palin Cost Us Control Of The Senate’

“After Republicans failed to take control of the Senate in last week’s election, losing key races in Colorado, Nevada, and elsewhere, “a bloc of prominent senators and operatives said party purists like Sarah Palin and Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) had foolishly pushed nominees too conservative to win in politically competitive states.” While most party insiders were reluctant to call out DeMint or Palin by name to reporters, Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL) did not mince words. Quoted in the Shelby County Reporter yesterday, Bachus — who will likely play a key role in the new Congress as chairman of the House Financial Services Committee — laid the blame for GOP’s Senate loss squarely at the feet of momma grizzly Palin and the tea party movement:

“The Senate would be Republican today except for states (in which Palin endorsed candidates) like Christine O’Donnell in Delaware,” Bachus said. “Sarah Palin cost us control of the Senate.””

Opposing Health Funding For A Million Arizonans, Pearce Compares Health Care To High-Priced Fashion Items

“As soon as Republicans swept into power in both Congress and state legislatures across the country, many of them began advocating for spending cuts they claim are intended to rein in state and federal deficits. Some of these more radical state Republicans have even pushed for their states to reject federal money for crucial programs, with Gov. Rick Perry (TX) advocating for letting states opt-out of Social Security and numerous Texas lawmakers considering pulling the state out of the Medicaid program, something the right-wing Heritage Foundation supports.

Now, Arizona state senator Russell Pearce (R), who has just been elected the president of the state senate, has launched a push to reject federal funding for the state’s Medicaid program, known as the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS). Pearce wants the state to turn down $7 billion in federal funding that would help keep AHCCCS afloat. When asked what the more than one million Arizonans who rely on AHCCCS for care would do, Pearce told a reporter that “church, community, families got to provide.”

Yesterday, Pearce appeared on a local news show to field questions about the agenda he plans to enact as Senate President. At one point, host Brahm Resnik probed Pearce’s proposal to reject the federal health care funding and asked him if the more than one million people who rely on the program will just have to “fend for themselves” if AHCCCS doesn’t get the federal money it needs to survive. Pearce responded that the issue needs to be “put in context,” and compared funding health care to an unwise, broke shopper going to the fashion merchandise chain Dillard’s and buying clothes. Resnik later asked Pearce what the “future” will be of the million people on the program if it no longer has the funds to operate, and Pearce dryly responded, “They’ll probably be okay,” and suggested that they may move the program towards privatization, adding co-pays and premiums.”

Billionaire Astroturf Group Claims Tea Partiers Voted To Give Billionaires Tax Cuts

“Americans for Prosperity, the Astroturf group run by pollution billionaire David Koch, claims that voters rejected “tax-the-rich ideas” in the midterm elections. On — a website launched the day after the election — AFP rallies its supporters to oppose any action by Congress during the lame-duck session that begins November 15, while Democrats still control the House of Representatives. Not only does AFP falsely claim that Democrats intend to pass “enormous Social Security tax hikes,” it also makes the absurd claim that the midterm elections were driven by popular support for the Bush tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.”

Obama takes India’s side with U.N. endorsement

“President Barack Obama ended his three-day trip to India Monday with a call for raising the world's biggest democracy to global power status by granting it a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. While India's U.N. aspirations still face an uphill battle, Obama's direct endorsement offered powerful backing for the fight ahead.”

Lack of trust may derail DISCLOSE Act in lame duck

“Despite widespread public opposition to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision and multiple exhortations by the president for Congress to act, Senate Democrats were unable to overcome a Republican filibuster to pass the DISCLOSE Act, a bill requiring interest groups to name the donors behind their campaign ads, in the months leading up the midterm elections. Next year, when the GOP claims a majority in the House, the odds of passage are slim. “Um, no,” said presumptive House Speaker John Boehner’s spokesman when asked if Republicans might introduce a version of the DISCLOSE Act next year. The last chance, then, for Congress to put some form of disclosure legislation on the books before the shadowy spending process repeats itself, in grander fashion, in 2012 might be now, the lame-duck session in advance of the swearing-in of the much more Republican 112th Congress in January.

But if the numerical chances of the bill’s passage in the Senate — it will only need the votes of two Republican senators to overcome a filibuster when Congress returns from its campaigning break next week — will never look better, the level of trust and communication between key Democratic and Republican Senate offices typically engaged on the issue of campaign finance stands at a seeming all-time low.”

GOP creates new leadership position to satisfy Tea Party demands

“Greg Sargent reports that the GOP may yet come up with a way to satisfy the Tea Party’s demands for representation among the Republican leadership. How? By creating a new position called “representative of the incoming freshman class”:

A GOP aide tells me that the decision has been made to create the post, and newly elected Tea Party favorite Kristi Noem, who unseated Dem Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin in South Dakota and is known to her fans as the “next Sarah Palin,” has “indicated a strong interest.”

In another nod to the incoming freshmen Republicans, the position will be elected by only those freshmen, not the leadership.”

Change Will Not Come Easily to the Security Council

“The idea of overhauling the council, even by the slow standards of the United Nations, has been under negotiation for about 18 years with no end in sight.”

A Novel Tactic in Climate Fight Gains Some Traction

“Some policy experts are trying to use a highly successful international treaty that was ratified more than 20 years ago as a tool to curb climate change. The treaty, the Montreal Protocol, was adopted in 1987 for a completely different purpose, to eliminate aerosols and other chemicals that were blowing a hole in the Earth’s protective ozone layer.

But as the signers of the protocol convened the 22nd annual meeting in Bangkok on Monday, negotiators are considering a proposed expansion in the ozone treaty to phase out the production and use of the industrial chemicals known as hydrofluorocarbons or HFCs The chemicals have thousands of times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide, the most prevalent greenhouse gas.”

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