Kara Brandeisky

“Perhaps Time meant it as an insult,” former Republican Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell told the crowd about the title of her new book, Troublemaker, which was inspired by a Time magazine article, “but I took it as a compliment. I think all of us should take it as a compliment.” O’Donnell was promoting her book last week at a Tea Party gathering at the Hendry House, a restored 20th century mansion at Fort F.C. Smith Park in Arlington, VA. But that wasn’t all.

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Since Rick Perry declared his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination last week, much ink has been spilled over the controversy surrounding his decision as governor to execute Cameron Todd Willingham—a man whose innocence was advocated by many investigative reports, including a popular investigation by David Grann in The New Yorker. But with 234 executions and counting under Perry’s belt, Willingham hardly represents the only figure whose case and subsequent execution has became the subject of controversy.

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[Guest post by Kara Brandeisky] In The New York Times, Binyamin Appelbaum and Helene Cooper report that the Obama camp is split on how to move forward on economic issues: Mr. Obama’s senior adviser, David Plouffe, and his chief of staff, William M. Daley, want him to maintain a pragmatic strategy of appealing to independent voters by advocating ideas that can pass Congress, even if they may not have much economic impact. These include free trade agreements and improved patent protections for inventors. But others, including Gene Sperling, Mr.

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“Nobody should assume we’re going to have a debt-limit extension,” John Boehner warned. “If the vote were held today, it would not pass.” Sound familiar? This was Boehner in November of 1995, when he was the House Republican Conference chairman and his party was refusing to raise the debt ceiling unless President Bill Clinton agreed to a package of sweeping spending cuts. The big difference is that back then, Republicans backed down, whereas today they’re on the verge of winning major policy concessions in exchange for a deal.

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The Atlantis space shuttle’s planned landing tomorrow marks the historic end of the Space Shuttle program. But it’s also another significant anniversary in space exploration: 42 years ago today, humans first walked on the Moon. Apollo 11 left earth on July 16, 1969, landing on the Moon’s surface on July 20 and returning to Earth four days after that. The final manned mission in the Apollo space program, Apollo 17, was completed in December 1972, making Eugene Cernan the last man to walk on the Moon to date.

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On Tuesday, Parliament’s hearing on News Corp was abruptly interrupted after a protester rushed toward Rupert Murdoch and tried to hit him in the face with shaving cream. The protester was identified as British comedian Jonnie Marbles, who tweeted about his intentions before the attack. “It is a far better thing that I do now than I have ever done before (at)splat,” he tweeted, riffing off Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities. The incident caused an uproar, but Murdoch was certainly not the first public figure to be “creamed,” so to speak.

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[Guest post by Kara Brandeisky] Today, Moody’s rating agency came out and said what Hill observers have been privately muttering for weeks: Just get rid of the debt limit! Moody’s analyst Steven Hess wrote in a recent report that, since the debt ceiling causes “periodic uncertainty,” Moody’s “would reduce [its] assessment of event risk if the government changed its framework for managing government debt to lessen or eliminate that uncertainty.” As Dylan Matthews pointed out this morning, only Denmark has a similar limit.

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[Guest post by Kara Brandeisky] The Mitch McConnell plan is pure politicking. The mechanism—a “resolution of disapproval”—sounds like a parody of Congressional proceedings. But Republicans get to run ads suggesting they voted against raising the debt ceiling. And President Obama gets to prevent default and economic catastrophe. Everybody wins.  But if the purpose is to score political points, will it work? A Gallup poll released today suggests it may be too late.

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Today, the last space flight of NASA's 30-year shuttle program takes off. The shuttle, Atlantis, is now expected to launch at 4:26 p.m eastern time, and with the program coming to the end, a “generational battle” is brewing over the future of the space program.

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Last night, Phoenix suffered a massive dust storm. Videos show a wall of dust moving across the city. The dust was a nearly a mile high and about 100 miles wide, and even more storms are forecast for tonight. While this individual storm clearly differed in magnitude, the images were not unlike those of the “Dust Bowl” storms that swept across the Midwest from 1930 to 1936.

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