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  • Michele Bachmann Finally Votes as Trade Deals Reveal Lone Congressman Still Doing His Job

    Yesterday, the House of Representatives took a break from its longstanding policy of not debating any jobs-related legislation and approved a series of trade pacts that had been under consideration since the Bush administration…

    Congress resoundingly approved long-stalled trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama late Wednesday, authorizing the most significant expansion of trade relations in nearly two decades…

    The South Korea deal has the potential to create as many as 280,000 American jobs, according to a recent assessment by the staff of the U.S. International Trade Commission, and to boost exports by more than $12 billion. Several major labor unions have warned that any gains will come at the cost of layoffs among American workers because of heightened competition from South Korean imports. The South Korea deal is widely hailed as the most consequential trade pact since the North American Free Trade Agreement was ratified in 1994.

    But those controversial jobs figures, which are disputed by the AFL-CIO and various groups that are skeptical of free trade, belie the true importance of this legislation. How vital were these measures? Well, there were several dozen roll call votes in the past week. Michele Bachmann  participated in precisely zero. Which brought the number of votes the "Congresswoman" has cast since August 1st to…zero.  But on Wednesday, Christmas came early to the south side of the Capitol, and miracle of miracles, Bachmann's Bizarro Iron Horse streak of 88 consecutive missed votes came to an end with her votes in favor of the trade deals.

    To be fair, showing up to vote is a huge drag. Between campaigning for re-election or seeking higher office, raising money or attending lobbyist-funded junkets, writing to irate constituents or sending creepy texts to strangers while using their niece's chat avatar, few Members of Congress have the time to actually do their jobs. And by few, I mean one

    On the other hand, Rep. Jason Altmire, D-Pa., has not missed a vote during his tenure in the House dating back to Jan. 4, 2007. Altmire’s impressive streak is now beyond 4,300 straight votes.

    Of course, racing back to Washington to cast vote after vote is totally rewarded by constituents and the judgement of history. After all, every schoolchild knows the story of  William Natcher, a Kentucky Democrat who cast 18,401 consecutive roll call votes from his election to the House in 1954 to his death in 1994. He's more famous than Cal Ripken, Jr. and Lou Gehrig, right? Right?

    Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images News/Getty Images

    Tags: Colombia, House of Representatives, Jason Altmire, Michele Bachmann, Panama, South Korea
  • Jack Murtha Apologizes for Calling His Constituents Racist by Still Implying They are Racist

    If you paused your Director's Cut of Remember the Titans to read this piece, I've got some bad news for you: There are racists in our midst.

    Specifically they're in Western Pennsylvania, at least according to that region's Congressman, Jack Murtha. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports

    "There's no question Western Pennsylvania is a racist area," said Mr. Murtha, whose district stretches from Johnstown to Washington County. "The older population is more hesitant."…

    It hasn't been easy for Mr. Obama to build a base across the state, Mr. Murtha said, despite the Illinois senator being "one of the most brilliant organizers I've ever seen." Part of the reason is that Mr. Obama is a minority candidate, he said, but recently voters seem to be putting that issue aside.

    This comes on the heels of Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell telling the paper earlier this year, "I think there are some whites who are probably not ready to vote for an African-American candidate."

    Well the racists have fought back hard against both Murtha (for calling them out) and Rendell (for being Jewish.) This has resulted in a Murtha apology, wherein he still implies his constituents are racist

    Pennsylvania Rep. John Murtha, a supporter of Barack Obama's presidential bid, apologized Thursday for calling western Pennsylvania "a racist area."

    "While we cannot deny that race is a factor in this election, I believe we've been able to look beyond race these past few months, and that voters today are concerned with the policy differences of our two candidates and their vision for the future of our great country," he said in a statement issued by his office.

    A nice gesture, but Murtha's constituents are probably already decided about the presidential election and the fate of Murtha himself. At the end of the day, he will have to let the racists be racists.

    And really, is it so bad that they want to elect John McCain simply for being Panamanian?

    Tags: Ed Rendell, House of Representatives, John Murtha, Panama, Pennsylvania
  • Barack Obama Travels Abroad to the American State of Hawaii

    The working life can wear a man down pretty quick. 18-hour days, jet lag from constant travel, nerve-wracking public speaking, never-ending media appearances, constant harassment from paparazzi. Know what I mean?

    Actually, you probably don't. Not unless you're either Lindsay Lohan or Barack Obama.

    It's no wonder Obama decided to take some time off, cancel his appointments, and head off to the tropical paradise of Hawaii for a week, just like any Joe-Sixpack American does to unwind…

    It was the first time the Democratic presidential contender had returned to his childhood home since he declared himself a candidate for the White House… It sounds the perfect place to cure the affliction that is becoming known as "Obama fatigue." It's not just that the 47-year-old Illinois senator is weary after a year of campaigning; it's more that Americans seem to be wearying of too much news about him.

    The Republicans, because they're Republicans, are taking the opportunity to lash out at Obama for his ties to Hawaiia ties, exposing scandalous details like the fact that Obama went to high school in Hawaii, and that the price of gas is high there!

    Serves that gecko-eating hippie right!

    Why couldn't he have been born in Panama, like a real American?

    Tags: Barack Obama, Hawaii, John McCain, Panama