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Steve King: Black Farmers’ Settlement Is ‘Slavery Reparations’ (VIDEO)

“The Senate last week finally approved the multi-billion-dollar funding for the Pigford II and Cobell settlements, which will allow the government to pay out claims to African-American farmers and American Indians who were discriminated against in recent decades by government agencies. Now, the House — which has passed the funding several times over — will have to approve it, probably this week. The House, in fact, was voting on procedural motions surrounding the bill as this post was written.

That means the opponents are coming out of the woodwork.

Rep. Steve King (R-IA), who’s been one of the most vocal opponents of the Pigford settlement for black farmers, has taken to cable news and the floor of the House to speak against the settlement. King’s argument is that the bulk of the Pigford II claims are fraudulent because there are fewer black farmers than claimants — a flimsy argument when you consider that many African-Americans lost their farms over the past few decades due, in part, to USDA discrimination that denied them loans — which is the point of the settlement program.

On Monday night, he suggested that President Obama, as a senator, may have been prejudiced to help the black farmers.

“Figure this out, Madame Speaker: We have a very, very urban Senator, Barack Obama, who has decided he’s going to run for president, and what does he do?” King said. “He introduces legislation to create a whole new Pigford claim.””

Does McCain Owe Gates An Apology?

From Josh Marshall: “John McCain is trying to find his way toward a rationale for continuing to oppose the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell even though he’d previously suggested he’s open to repeal in principle and would vote for it if the Pentagon found that it could be done without damaging military readiness. McCain is now arguing that all he cares about are the views of the four service chiefs, especially those of the Commandant of the Marine Corps, rather the President, the Secretary of Defense or even the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Adm. Mullen — arguing in a rather strained fashion that even the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs is “not directly in charge of the troops.”…

But to make his point McCain says this …

“I’m paying attention to the commandant of the Marine Corps. I’m paying attention to the other three service chiefs who have serious concerns. They are the four guys who are directly in charge. In all due respect, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs is not directly in charge of the troops. The Secretary of Defense is a political appointee who’s never been in the military. And the president, obviously, has had no background or experience in the military whatsoever. It was a campaign pledge to the gay and lesbian community.””

Huckabee Buys GOP Rep’s Claim That Hezbollah Is Infiltrating The U.S. Through Mexican Border

“Republican Rep. Sue Myrick (R-NC) often appears on Fox News to discuss her theory that agents of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah are infiltrating the U.S. through the Mexican border by posing as illegal immigrants.

On Sunday, former (and possibly future) presidential candidate Mike Huckabee was shocked that the Obama Administration is ignoring the threat: “This porous border, where we see people running across at will, if Hezbollah, a very, very deadly terrorist organization, can use that network to get into the U.S., all of these pat-downs at the airport are meaningless.””

Dems Torn Over Schumer Plan To Raise Taxes On Millionaires Only

“At an undisclosed White House meeting yesterday with Senate Democratic leaders, President Obama pushed back on a controversial, but politically potent tax cut plan that has knocked Republicans off message in recent days.

Pushing hardest for the new approach was Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the third ranking Democrat in the Senate and the Dems’ new point man for combining message and policy. He proposes to create a new tax bracket above the $1 million income threshold, and let Republicans decide whether to fight to the death to give those people a tax cut. It’s the one compromise that polls well and wrongfoots the GOP at the same time.”

Anderson Cooper Shellacks Texas Birther With Torrent Of Facts (VIDEO)

“CNN’s Anderson Cooper took Texas birther and state Rep. Leo Berman (R) down a whole bunch of pegs last night over Berman’s birther bill. “You’re basing legislation on stuff that’s just rumors and stuff that’s been proven to be false,” Cooper told him.

Earlier this month, Berman introduced a bill in the Texas House that would “require any candidate for president or vice president of the United States to show his or her birth certificate to the Texas secretary of state,” because, as Berman put it, “we have a president whom the American people don’t know whether he was born in Kenya or some other place.”

Berman, who has also called President Obama “God’s punishment on us today,” went on AC360 to talk about his bill, but ended up fumbling through his notes when Cooper hit him with, you know, facts.”

Tax Cut Negotiation Team Set By Congressional Leaders

“Congressional leaders from both parties have announced who they will be dispatching to participate in the tax cut negotiations President Obama announced earlier today.

Democrats have selected Rep. Chris Van Hollen (MD) and Sen. Max Baucus (MT) for the negotiations. Republicans have chosen Rep. Dave Camp (MI) and Sen. John Kyl (AZ). The White House delegation will consist of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and White House Budget Director Jack Lew.[…]
“I would hope that this will allow the American people to say that we’re trying to work in good faith to come up with a bipartisan proposal,” [Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid] told reporters. “If we can’t do that, then we will come forward with what we believe is the best solution for the American people.””

Tea Party Nation President Says It ‘Makes A Lot Of Sense’ To Restrict Voting Only To Property Owners

“Every week, the Tea Party Nation hosts a weekly radio program, calling itself a “home for conservatives.” Two weeks ago, Tea Party Nation President Judson Phillips hosted the program and discussed changes that he felt should be made to voting rights in the United States. He explained that the founders of the country originally put “certain restrictions on who gets the right to vote.” He continued, “One of those was you had to be a property owner. And that makes a lot of sense, because if you’re a property owner you actually have a vested stake in the community. If you’re not a property owner, you know, I’m sorry but property owners have a little bit more of a vested interest in the community than non-property owners”. “

A Second Federal Judge Holds That The Affordable Care Act Is Constitutional

“Last month, the first judge ever to consider the issue reached the obviously correct conclusion that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional. Today, a second federal judge reached the same conclusion. The lengthy opinion by Judge Norman Moon of the Western District of Virginia gives several reasons why the Act’s provision requiring all Americans to either carry insurance or pay slightly higher income taxes easily fits within Congress’ broad authority to regulate the national economy, including the fact that striking down this provision would make it impossible to prevent insurance companies from denying coverage to persons with preexisting conditions.”

Editor’s Note: This is not the judge who was mentioned in news accounts as most likely to kill the ACA. That is Judge Henry E. Hudson of the Eastern District of Virginia where the case is still pending.

Three More Republicans Declare Opposition To Raising The Debt Ceiling

“Three more Republican congressmen are adding their names to the Shutdown Caucus, which is vowing to shut down the federal government rather than raise the debt ceiling and prevent the country from going into default. The new members include Reps. Jerry Lewis (R-CA), Jack Kingston (R-GA), and Ron Paul (R-TX). “

Jeb Bush Calls GOP Plans For Government Shutdown ‘Naive’: ‘You Can’t Shut Down The Government’

“Making full use of their arsenal for gridlock, many GOP members are itching for the opportunity to force a government shutdown next year. Forming a veritable “shutdown caucus,” a new cohort of Republicans like Rep.-elect Alan Nunnelee (MS), Rep.-elect Tim Walberg (MI), and Sen.-elect Mike Lee (UT) joined veteran Reps. Lynn Westmoreland (GA), Steve King (R-IA) and Louie Gohmert (R-TX) to push the radical tactic, popular among their conservative base. Indeed, Tea Party leaders and their conservative cohort are keen to pull the shutdown trigger, firing warning shots at Republicans who “may be growing squeamish” at the thought.

But “one of the most popular Republicans in the nation” is brushing off such clamoring as political noise. Asked by Newsmax’s Kathleen Walter whether he viewed the “grassroots conservatives” push for shutdown as a “mistake,” Bush dismissed the notion as “a little naive,” because, quite simply, “you can’t shut down the government”.”

Senate Passes Overhaul Of Food Safety System

“The Senate has approved new food safety rules that consumer advocates are calling historic. Among other things, the bill would allow the Food and Drug Administration to order the recall of contaminated food, something it doesn’t have the power to do now.”

BP Spill Psychological Scars Similar To Exxon Valdez

“Experts say they’re finding similarities between the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska, on March 24, 1989, and the Gulf of Mexico BP oil spill earlier this year — including mental health problems among the communities’ residents.”

Banks Seeking to Foreclose Face More Questions About Legal Standing

“[B]anks seeking to enforce foreclosures must demonstrate that they have proper documentation proving their right to enforce a foreclosure—meaning they have the legal standing to enforce the foreclosure either as the holder of the note or as an agent acting on behalf of the holder.

In bankruptcy court, this hasn’t always been easy for the banks. Over the weekend, a piece by Gretchen Morgenson of the New York Times noted that the United States Trustee Program—a Justice Department unit tasked with overseeing bankruptcy courts—has ramped up its scrutiny of banks’ foreclosure processes and is forcing banks to prove that they have the right to enforce foreclosures.”

U.S. and South Korea Balk at Talks With North

“Officials said a return to the negotiating table would be rewarding Pyongyang for provocative behavior.”

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