And so it begins: Sarah Palin suggested she would run for the U.S. Senate seat in Alaska, and 72 hours later has fired the first volley against her potential opponent, one Sen. Mark Begich — a Democrat, former Anchorage mayor and spirited Palin-basher. He's already questioned whether the former governor was even a resident of Alaska, then dismissed her as a viable candidate. Naturally, Mrs. Palin was charmed by the challenge, immediately deeming Mr. Begich the "Alaska chameleon" for his political track record.
"You have voted for Obamacare, for massive tax increases, for carbon taxes which could cost Alaskans 21,000 jobs, against pro-life legislation, and there's so much more. You even flip-flopped to oppose the nation's balanced budget amendment. You agree with, and vote with, ultra-liberal Senators Chuck Schumer and Harry Reid approximately 90 percent of the time," Mrs. Palin said in an open letter to Mr. Begich.
"In the meantime, we suppose we'll see much more playing of the ol' Washington political game using those inside D.C. reporters each time you have to distract from yet another bad vote for Alaska in the U.S. Senate. It cheers us up and gives us good opportunity to remind Alaskans just how loyal to the Obama agenda you have been," she concluded.
Q & A
"On the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman trial that's happening now. The president Obama once said that if he had a son, he would look like Trayvon Martin. Is the President watching this trial, and does he have any concerns as to what the response might be once it's come to its conclusion?"
"Mr. Carney: Look, I think that — well, the president, as you know, does not spend a lot of time watching television during the day, but his comments on that are what they were. But we're not going to say anything from here in the midst of a trial of that nature."
— From the White House transcript of the daily press briefing Thursday with press secretary Jay Carney.
Headline of note: "Despite Youth Support, Democrats Having A Senior Moment." This comes from National Public Radio.
"Democrats aren't getting any younger. At least, their top leaders aren't. Voters under the age of 30 were key to President Obama's electoral success. But Obama's going gray and his most prominent potential successors aren't paragons of youth," points out political writer Alan Greenblatt.
And the current ages in question: Vice President Joseph R. Biden is 70, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California are both 73. Hillary Rodham Clinton, incidentally, will be 69 by the year 2016.
"Overall, the average age of Democrats in Congress tops 60, with the party's caucuses in both the House and Senate skewing older than the Republicans," Mr. Greenblatt reports.
THE SNOWDEN FACTOR
"Feds, we need some time apart," notes an message from the organizers of DEF CON 21, an upcoming convention of computer hackers and IT gurus in Las Vegas (Defcon.org).
"For over two decades DEF CON has been an open nexus of hacker culture, a place where seasoned pros, hackers, academics, and feds can meet, share ideas and party on neutral territory. Our community operates in the spirit of openness, verified trust, and mutual respect," the organizers say.
"When it comes to sharing and socializing with feds, recent revelations have made many in the community uncomfortable about this relationship. Therefore, I think it would be best for everyone involved if the feds call a 'time-out' and not attend DEF CON this year. This will give everybody time to think about how we got here, and what comes next."
The missive was signed by "Dark Tangent," and presumably, "recent revelations" refer to the ongoing sagas of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and Army Pfc. Bradley Manning.
THE 20-WEEK FACTOR
"Most Americans would favor sweeping new national restrictions on abortion after the 20th week of pregnancy," says a HuffPost/YouGov poll of 1,000 adults released Thursday. "By a margin of 59 percent to 30 percent, respondents say they would favor a federal law banning abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy."
There are political implications, of course.
"Americans overall agree 2 to 1 that federal law should at least protect babies past the 20-week or five-month mark, when they are fully formed and capable of feeling pain. This is a point of great consensus for Americans across the country that has now been reflected in numerous state and national polls," observes Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, an interest organization supporting pro-life candidates.
"The U.S. House has already voted in favor of protecting children past the 20-week mark and we now call on the U.S. Senate to do the same," she adds.
BURN THIS CARD
It harkens back to the edgy 1960s, when the young and restless burned draft cards in the name of protest. "Burn Your ObamaCare draft card," urges FreedomWorks.
The small government grass-roots group is leery of "compulsory recruitment of Americans to participate in government-run health care," and is particularly critical of "forced" premium payments from young adults under 40. Organizers now call upon the group's 6 million members to "peacefully opt-out of ObamaCare."
The group's president Matt Kibbe advises, "Individual resistance to the ObamaCare mandate is a natural next step, following news that the Obama administration was forced by industry pressure to delay the health care law's employer mandate."
A BITTER PILL
More wary speculation about Obamacare: an analysis of early insurance rate filings from consumers who chose the lower cost Bronze Plans and Silver Plans under the Affordable Care Act indicates they can expect to pay an average of 34 percent more out of pocket for prescriptions.
The "good news" is that health care reform eliminates any exclusion of drug coverage by requiring it as an "Essential Health Benefit" in all health plans, says the analysis from Health Pocket, a research group. The "bad news" is that what they pay for personally is likely to increase "substantially," the analysis says.
"About 70 percent of Americans use prescription drugs, and they are going to need to pay very, very close attention to what plans offer to minimize out-of-pocket increases," advises study author Kev Coleman.
POLL DU JOUR
• 78 percent of Americans say the military contributes "a lot to society's well-being"; 72 percent say the same about teachers.
• 66 percent say medical doctors contribute a lot to society; 65 percent say the same about scientists.
• 63 percent say engineers contribute a lot; 37 percent say the same about clergy.
• 30 percent say artists contribute a lot; 28 percent say the same about journalists.
• 24 percent say business executives contribute a lot; 18 percent say the same about lawyers.
Source: A Pew Research Center survey of 4,006 U.S. adults conducted March 21 to April 8 and released Thursday.
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