Tennessee

The political media remains obsessed with the propriety of using budget reconciliation to pass health care reform. Unfortunately, many of them continue to not understand what they're talking about. Let me explain again. Last year, some Democrats considered using the reconciliation process – an expedited procedure that can't be filibustered -- to pass health care reform. They decided against it, in part because reconciliation only lets you make changes that mainly affect the budget.

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Nowhere Man

"Southern voters are interested in solutions,” said Harold Ford Jr. in 2003. “They can spot a fake.” Perhaps this explains Ford’s subsequent decision to decamp from the South in search of a more gullible electorate. Having lost a 2006 Senate race in Tennessee, Ford is now all but officially running in New York. His efforts to date offer a fascinating character study. All politicians, to varying degrees, have pliable beliefs that must bend and twist to mesh with political surroundings that change over time.

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Nowhere Man

"Southern voters are interested in solutions,” said Harold Ford Jr. in 2003. “They can spot a fake.” Perhaps this explains Ford’s subsequent decision to decamp from the South in search of a more gullible electorate. Having lost a 2006 Senate race in Tennessee, Ford is now all but officially running in New York. His efforts to date offer a fascinating character study. All politicians, to varying degrees, have pliable beliefs that must bend and twist to mesh with political surroundings that change over time.

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Nashville Nation

Sunday, February 7, 3:28 p.m. Among the convention’s several last-minute saves—opening the conference to media, replacing one speaker who fell ill and another who dropped last minute—was bringing on Andrew Breitbart. Convention spokesman Mark Skoda knew the conservative media mogul through their mutual friend Mike Flynn, who manages the Breitbart site BigGovernment.com, and when Marsha Blackburn and Michele Bachmann backed out, Breitbart swooped in to help. At first, Breitbart himself was just supposed to introduce Sarah Palin. But to no one’s surprise, really, his portfolio grew.

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A few weeks ago, in my article touting the Senate health care bill, I compared the public mood to the 2000 election. The right was inflamed, seeing a moderate liberal as a radical threat. Liberals were filled with ennui, alternating between lesser of two evils-ism and outright agnosticism. And the left had descended into destructive alliances with the GOP in the name of progressive purity. Emotionally, the mood now feels like the Florida recount. It's different, of course, in that the Florida recount involved a massive procedural injustice, and the current situation does not.

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Some 40-odd years ago, Chuck Schumer was my student. A few years after that, I became his student. No, not in a formal classroom sense, but in the political dimension. If you watch him, you learn a lot. He's a stand-up liberal, a New York liberal at that. But he is also an effective liberal, which means he sometimes compromises--a sin on the Upper West Side, where politics often means that you shouldn't compromise ... ever. At 23, Chuck ran for the New York State Assembly and won. Then he went to the House of Representatives and, in 1998, to the U.S.

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COIN Toss

On the night of December 1, shortly after Barack Obama announced plans to send 30,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan, retired Lt. Colonel John Nagl appeared on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show.” Maddow was dismayed by Obama’s new plan, which she called “massive escalation,” but, when she introduced Nagl, a counterinsurgency expert who has long called for a greater U.S. commitment to Afghanistan--even if it means raising taxes and expanding the military--she was surprisingly friendly.

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So are those leaked East Anglia e-mails having much effect on the Senate climate debate? It doesn't seem so. Here's The Hill's Ben Geman: Centrist Republican Sen.

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Against Common Sense

Conservatives would have us believe that they hold a monopoly on common sense. Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, and many other right-wing rabble-rousers regularly portray themselves as defenders of the good, old-fashioned common sense of average Americans against an out-of-touch liberal elite.

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Matters of Fact

Chris & Don: A Love Story (Zeitgeist) My Winnipeg (IFC) 19th Annual Human Rights Watch Film Festival   In 1964 Christopher Isherwood published A Single Man, a novel about a homosexual man and his state of spirit after his lover dies. Now comes Chris & Don, a documentary film about Isherwood's lover and his state of spirit since Chris's death. The subtitle of the film is "A Love Story." The picture makes the worn term fresh, moving. The principal place is the couple's home in Santa Monica, where Don Bachardy still lives.

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