Barbara Mikulski

All day Friday, there were two big, conflicting narratives floating around Capitol Hill about why there wasn’t yet a budget deal to keep the government open for the rest of the fiscal year. The Republican story: We’re still bickering over how much spending to cut. And the Democratic version: False! Both sides have basically agreed on an amount to cut—somewhere in the vicinity of $38 billion. The only holdup is that Republicans still want to slash federal funds for Planned Parenthood, and that’s an absolute no-go for us Dems. Someone had to be lying, right? But who?

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The Sunday NYT carried an unusually useless op-ed yesterday, asking for a "Palin of Our Own" for the Democrats. Anna Holmes and Rebecca Traister note that Sarah Palin generates a lot of publicity, and conclude: The left should be outraged and exasperated by all this — but at their own failings as much as Ms. Palin’s ascension. Since the 2008 election, progressive leaders have done little to address the obvious national appetite for female leadership. And despite (or because of) their continuing obsession with Ms.

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Steve Lombardo at pollster.com surveys the good political news for Republicans. There's a lot of it: We are in one of the longest sustained periods of voter dissatisfaction in modern history. Except for a few weeks in the spring of 2009, perceptions of the direction of the country have been strongly "wrong track" since the invasion of Iraq in 2003. That is seven years. The only comparable period is 1973-1983. This helps explain why we are in the middle of a third successive "change" election. Moreover, trust in government to do what is right is at an all-time low.

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Pink Elephants

“Someone had better tell Washington that the pink elephant is on the move!” So crowed Sarah Palin earlier this month at a high-voltage campaign rally for Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann at the Minneapolis Convention Center. While chock-full of the liberal-bashing you’d expect from the dynamic duo, the event also had a weird strain of girl power running through it. The two women entered to country cutie Martina McBride’s “This One’s for the Girls,” and, in introducing Palin, Bachmann gushed about how “drop-dead gorgeous” her sister-in-arms is, both inside and out.

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Politico’s Patrick O’Connor reports that the biotech lobby is threatening to back Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown’s bid for Senate in a last-ditch effort to strengthen in its hand in the health-care negotiations: The state chapter went as far as drafting a press release to endorse Brown, according to multiple people on a Friday conference call that included industry lobbyists. The Bay State has a thriving biotechnology industry, giving the group sway this close to the election. But so far, the group hasn't sent the release or offered an official endorsement.

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In the first amendment offered on the opening day of the Senate health-care debate, Senator Barbara Mikulski proposed to restore a provision for women’s preventative services that had originally been in the Senate HELP bill.

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It’s certainly been a big news week for lady parts, as some of my lady colleagues at TNR have pointed out today.

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Conservatives have already begun stoking fears that the new mammography recommendations that screenings should begin at 50 years instead of 40 will inevitably lead to “rationing,” particularly if Obama’s health-care reform bill passes. “I absolutely believe this could be a form of rationing," Representative Phil Gingrey told Fox News yesterday.

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In the Tank

The Clinton Tapes: Wrestling History with the President By Taylor Branch (Simon & Schuster, 707 pp., $35) In her infamous first sentence of The Journalist and the Murderer, Janet Malcolm swings for the fences and proclaims that "every journalist who is not too stupid or too full of himself to notice what is going on knows that what he does is morally indefensible." She means that journalists use their human subjects and then dispose of them; that we con them in person by "preying on people's vanity, ignorance, or loneliness"--it occurs to me to note that however bleak print's future seems

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Conservatives keep insisting that Obama and his allies want to force end-of-life planning on the elderly, so that it'll be easier to pull the plug on grandma when she gets sick. And the charge keeps sticking, even though the measure that conservatives are citing--section 1233 of the House health reform bill--does nothing of the sort. Well, it turns out there's one element of truth to the conservative charge after all. Somebody in Congress really did propose mandatory end-of-life counseling for Medicare beneficiaries. But it wasn't Obama or one of his allies.

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