Mark Kirk

Obama needs to make a new GOP buddy.

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Here's how Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) explains his big about-face on climate change over the past year: "The consensus behind the climate change bill collapsed and then further deteriorated with the personal and political collapse of Vice President [Al] Gore," Kirk said in a brief interview last week. It was Gore's fault! Once upon a time, Kirk was one of the handful of Republicans who believed in climate change.

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Conservative Crosshairs

Republicans are poised to take over the U.S. Senate in 2012. This isn't contingent on a GOP presidential win, or even a particularly good campaign year, but rather on the extremely tilted Senate playing field created by the 2006 Democratic landslide. Yet, oddly, that is no comfort for many sitting Republican senators, who may face savage primary challenges if they are even perceived to slight the conservative base.

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There was a grim, understated hilarity to the Senate debate over extending unemployment benefits yesterday. Republicans piously insisted that any extension of unemployment benefits, whose cost to the government is both small and temporary, must be offset with spending cuts: The lift just got heavier for Senate Democrats with the swearing in this week of Illinois Republican Mark Kirk. Asked whether he would support extending the jobless benefits, Kirk took a stance most Republicans take: "If it's paid for by cutting other items in the budget, I will be a yes vote.

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I'm surprised that initial reaction to the Bowles-Simpson proposal seems to be taking for granted one of the Commission's major conceptual surprises: treating Pentagon spending, which comprises 51 percent of discretionary spending, on par with non-defense discretionary spending. A strange bedfellows coalition of Barney Frank, Ron Paul, Tom Coburn and others (full disclosure, including me in a minor supporting role) has advocated this for six months.

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One of the biggest stories in Illinois right now (bigger than Rahm Emanuel's every move and thought) is how Congressman Mark Kirk, running for President Obama's former senate seat, was unknowingly caught on tape telling state Republican leaders that he is funding "the largest voter integrity program in fifteen years for the state of Illinois." The plan, he explained, is to place election monitors in certain precincts that are, according to Kirk, especially susceptible to voter fraud.

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Christine O’Donnell is not someone you’d expect to be a Republican nominee for a competitive U.S. Senate contest, particularly in the staid state of Delaware, and particularly as the choice of primary voters over Congressman Mike Castle, who up until yesterday had won twelve consecutive statewide races. O’Donnell is a recent newcomer to Delaware and, since arriving, has managed to get into trouble with her student loans, her taxes, her mortgage, and her job. She also unsuccessfully sued a conservative organization for gender discrimination.

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UPDATE: Rush Limbaugh cited this post in calling Jonathan Chait "a hate merchant." The conservative movement has spent the last 20 months sowing hysteria about President Obama's agenda. The most respectable Republicans call the president a socialist, a radical, a threat to freedom. The less respectable Republicans, many of them highly influential, call him an alien, a sympathizer of radical Islam, a conscious enemy of the United States who is trying to wreck the economy.

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It's been a good year for climate skeptics. Not, mind you, because they've been vindicated at all on the merits. Quite the opposite: 2010 is shaping up to be the hottest year on record, Arctic sea ice continues to thin out, heat waves have been torching Russia, and nearly one-fifth of Pakistan has been submerged underwater. The science on global warming is still overwhelming. But politically, skepticism is at its zenith. Consider: During the sweatiest U.S.

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Health care reform repeal activist Michael Tanner complains that none of the Democrats who voted against the Affordable Care Act have signed on to repeal. Meanwhile, Republicans are decidedly lukewarm: Among the six Republicans who have not signed either discharge petition are senatorial candidates Mark Kirk in Illinois and Mike Castle in Delaware.

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