Senator Susan Collins, Flu Pandemic, And The Economy

What does fighting a flu pandemic have to do with the national economy?  Maybe Republican Senator Susan Collins can see the answer now.

360 More American Families

As it should be.

As final numbers come in from county recorders, at least 360 same-sex couples have applied for marriage licenses in Iowa, with the heaviest concentrations in Linn, Polk, Scott and Johnson counties, according to information collected by The Des Moines Register. The tally so far includes 26 out-of-state couples, according to a survey of county recorders. The Register is still gathering its data, but afternoon figures show that the greatest number of applications so far is in Polk County, which has logged 83. Johnson County has seen 40 applications so far, Scott County has seen at least 18, and 40 couples have applied for marriage licenses in Linn County. Today was the first day same-sex couples could since the April 3 Iowa Supreme Court opinion that struck down a state law that said marriage was only between a man and a woman.

Pictures Of Two Space Shuttles On Launch Pads

Thanks to our friend Lucy at NASA for the pictures in our email today.

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Mid-Continent Railway Museum Train Rides Back On Track For Mother’s Day

I hear the train a comin’,

It’s rollin’ round the bend

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After dealing with the effects from the 2008 spring floods there is a new day dawning for the Mid-Continent Railway Museum in North Freedom, Wisconsin.  Starting on May 8th the historic trains will again carry passengers on a 50-minute excursion into the the countryside for the charm, and nostalgia that comes with the full-throttled sound of an engine’s “CHHHOOOOOO…….CCHHHHOOOOOOOO”.  In addition for just the weekend of May 8th-10th there is the chance to choose between coach, first class, or dinner car services.    You can make reservations at the link provided, or call 1-800-930-1385.

Being that it is Mother’s Day weekend, this may be the ideal time for a special outing on the train.  The train will be using authentic old-train recipes, and using china in the dinner car.  Choice of entrees are sure to suit all tastes. 

It has been a long hard climb back from the flood damage of 2008 to this point, and the numerous volunteers and contributors are to applauded for their work and effort. 

How do I get to North Freedom to hear  the fantastic sound of the train, and the chance to browse through the railroad museum?

Hey Norm Coleman, The People Want You To Pull Plug On Antics

Enough!

Nearly two-thirds of Minnesotans surveyed think Norm Coleman should concede the U.S. Senate race to Al Franken, but just as many believe the voting system that gave the state its longest running election contest needs improvement.

A new Star Tribune Minnesota Poll has found that 64 percent of those responding believe Coleman, the Republican, should accept the recount trial court’s April 13 verdict that Democrat Franken won the race by 312 votes.

Only 28 percent consider last week’s appeal by Coleman to the Minnesota Supreme Court “appropriate.”

I “Like To Hold It, Feel It, Rustle It, Tear Stuff Out “

You either will agree or not.

How Republicans Responded To Flu Pandemic Concerns

After I read a comment and link about the swine flu this morning on my blog  it seems worthy of posting in detail.  First off however, a hat tip to Mal.  The article is written my John Nichols.

The attack on pandemic preparation became so central to the GOP strategies that AP reported in February: “Republicans, meanwhile, plan to push for broader and deeper tax cuts, to trim major spending provisions that support Democrats’ longer-term policy goals, and to try to knock out what they consider questionable spending items, such as $870 million to combat the flu and $400 million to slow the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.”

Famously, Maine Senator Collins, the supposedly moderate Republican who demanded cuts in health care spending in exchange for her support of a watered-down version of the stimulus, fumed about the pandemic funding: “Does it belong in this bill? Should we have $870 million in this bill No, we should not.”

Even now, Collins continues to use her official website to highlight the fact that she led the fight to strip the pandemic preparedness money out of the Senate’s version of the stimulus measure.

The Republicans essentially succeeded. The Senate version of the stimulus plan included no money whatsoever for pandemic preparedness. In the conference committee that reconciled the House and Senate plans, Obey and his allies succeeded in securing $50 million for improving information systems at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

But state and local governments, and the emergency services that would necessarily be on the frontlines in any effort to contain a pandemic, got nothing.

Did Rove, Collins and their compatriots want a pandemic?

Of course not.

They were just playing politics, in the exceptionally narrow and irresponsible manner that characterized the Republican response to the stimulus debate – and that, because of Democratic compromises in the Senate, dumbed down the plan President Obama ultimately signed.

No serious player in Washington has been unaware of the fears with regard to a flu pandemic. They have been well-publicized and well-discussed. Even Collins admitted as she objected to the House allocation for preparedness: “I think that everybody in the room is concerned about a pandemic flu.”

And it is important to point out that no serious player in Washington could have been unaware of the threat that a pandemic — or even the fear of one — would pose to economic renewal. Every discussion about a pandemic begins with the public health component but moves quickly to an acknowledgement that an outbreak, and the ensuing quarantines, would bring economic activity to a virtual standstill.

So Rove, Collins and those who echoed their know-nothing appeals understood that they were wrong.

But they bet that they would be able to score their political points without any consequences.

Now that fears of a pandemic have been raised, however, it is appropriate to ask whether individuals who are so manifestly irresponsible and partisan should be taken seriously.

This is an especially important concern with regard to Collins, who portrays herself as a moderate who tries to make things work in Washington.

Senate Democratic leaders bowed to Collins in the process of crafting their chamber’s version of the stimulus. In doing so, they eliminated more than 80 percent of the modest amount of money that had been allocated for pandemic preparedness — and all of the money that would have helped emergency services.

Collins played politics with public health, and the economic recovery. That makes her about as bad a player as you will find in a town full of bad players.

But Senate Democrats bent to her demands. That makes them, at the very least, complicit in the weakening of what needed to be a muscular plan.

The bottom line is that there were no heroes in either party on the Senate side of the ugly process that ridiculed and then eliminated pandemic preparedness funding.