Nail. Hammer. Head. Take That, Deadeye Dick!

December 30, 2009

In response to this, here is the official statement from the Obama Administration.

Update 12/30/09: And why does this not surprise me?


Revisiting The “Minnesota Mistake”

December 30, 2009

This “Countdown” clip from last February featuring Moon Unit Bachmann is a tour-de-force of nonsense that I wanted to highlight once more before the year ends (and “demiglase of wingnuttia” by Chris Hayes may be the most apt turn of a phrase by anyone in ’09).


Monday Mashup (12/28/09)

December 28, 2009

  • 1) I know most everyone is in year-end wrap-up mode at this point, including yours truly, and some in supposedly decade-end wrap-up mode (even though the decade really doesn’t end until about a year from now, as Paul Krugman points out here today). And that entails revisiting issues believed to be of some importance.

    However, if you’re former Laura Bush employee Andrew Malcolm of the L.A. Times, what that really means is a second chance at spewing some pretty vapid right-wing nonsense.

    As noted here, Malcolm recently revisited a July post about the misspelling of President Obama’s first name on an official document and used that as an excuse to inflict his alleged attempt at humor upon us (a copy of a new agreement between the United States and Russia on how to re-start the START arms reduction treaty); Obama’s first name was spelled “Barak.”

    Ha, ha and ha – as noted here, Malcolm also made light of a proposal by Sen. Al Franken to provide service dogs for wounded military veterans, claiming it first cost $15 billion, then $7.4 billion, then admitting that he really didn’t know how much it cost.


    As you can see, providing service dogs for our wounded veterans is pretty hilarious stuff (I mean, if you’re Malcolm, of course).

    Am I trying to excuse the boneheaded typo in the document about trying to revive START? No. I’m merely trying to point out that Malcolm doesn’t know the difference between making light of idiocy and someone else’s misfortune (with that misfortune caused through their heroic service to our country).

    In the spirit of the season, though, I’ve provided what I believe is an appropriate gift for Malcolm, and that is a word scrabble that communicates a message he should take to heart (assuming he actually has one, of course).

    RAWNED LOCMLAM SI A HELSWTSOR TIRGH-NGIW AKHC!

    Happy Holidays, you nitwit.

  • 2) Also in keeping with the holidays somewhat, Adam Nagourney of the New York Times delivered some Christmas wankery here in his paper’s ongoing campaign to reinforce the notion once and for all that only liberals cared about the public option in health care reform (its support embodied by those nutty lefties at The Daily Kos, MoveOn.org and Howard Dean, who “demanded,” as Nagourney put it, that the Senate bill be killed – a picture of the “Dean Scream” is of course included for good measure).

    Nagourney also tells us the following…

    And Mr. Obama never exhibited the left’s passion for establishing a public insurance option as part of an overhaul of health care. He rarely talked about it during scores of debates, speeches and interviews during the campaign; instead he focused on expanding coverage, lowering costs and ending health insurance abuses.

    This Think Progress post enumerates the many, many times that Candidate Obama discussed the public option, or words to that effect, as part of health care reform. Also, here is one constituency that strongly favored the public option (Heaven forbid that I read about that in the Times, though).

    Yes, there is more good than not in the legislation that is now being worked on by a Senate-House committee prior to submitting to Obama for his signature. But the chance to make it so much better by providing a feature so clearly supported by a majority in this country may not come again in our lifetimes.

  • 3) Also, over the weekend, Newtown, PA manager Rob (Self) Ciervo opined as follows here in the Bucks County Courier Times, which no doubt rushed to publish his drivel…

    Once again I find it extremely troubling and unfortunate that state Rep. Steve Santarsiero puts the wishes of the House Democrat leadership above those of his own constituents. Again, when given the opportunity to vote for families and college students in his district he turned a blind eye to them and refused to vote to approve funding budgeted long ago for the state-related universities of Penn State, Temple, the University of Pittsburgh and Lincoln.

    “Democrat” leadership, huh Ciervo? Funny, but I’m not aware of the existence of a “Republic” Party, you creep.

    In response, Steve Santarsiero communicated the following recently (here)…

    Santarsiero said he is pleased that the House voted yesterday for several bills that will provide funding for Pennsylvania’s state-related universities, including Pitt, Lincoln, Penn State and Temple, and other so-called nonpreferreds, including museums around the state.

    “We committed $657 million in subsidies to our state-related universities when we passed the state budget in October, and we needed to live up to that commitment,” Santarsiero said. “Without this subsidy, many students would have been facing mid-semester tuition increases, increases that may have forced them to leave school and delay their college education.”

    Nonpreferred appropriations are research, education and other institutions not under the control of the Commonwealth but which the state provides funding for.

    Of course, you can be sure that Ciervo will return to spew more fictions as the campaign proceeds (and to contact Steve, click here).

  • Update 1/10/10: Good stuff by Diane Marseglia on Ciervo here…

  • 4) Finally, leave it to the minority political party to try and score cheap points over the near-catastrophe that was averted on the recent flight from the Netherlands to Detroit, for which al Qaeda has recently assumed responsibility (here).

    This story at The Hill tells us the following…

    “The president has asked the Department of Homeland Security to, quite frankly, answer the very real question about how somebody with something as dangerous as PETN [the explosive used] could have gotten on a plane in Amsterdam,” (White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs) said.

    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), along with King and Hoekstra, said Sunday on ABC that he doesn’t understand why the suspect was not on the no-fly list in the first place.

    “It’s amazing to me that an individual like this who was sending out so many signals could end up getting on a plane going to the U.S.,” he said on “This Week.”

    Responding to that criticism, Gibbs said the suspect was on a watch list, which has about 550,000 names, as a result of the suspect’s father alerting U.S. Embassy officials in Nigeria about his son’s radical Islamic views.

    But that information was not enough to put the suspect on the narrower selected and no-fly lists, which contain about 14,000 and 4,000 names, respectively.

    Yes, this incident needs to be thoroughly investigated, but the Repugs really have no ground to complain about individuals on no-fly lists; as noted here from April 2007…

    A top Constitutional scholar from Princeton who gave a televised speech that slammed President George W. Bush’s executive overreach was recently told that he had been added to the Transportation Security Administration’s terrorist watch list. He shared his experience this weekend at the law blog Balkinization.

    Walter F. Murphy, the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, Emeritus, at Princeton University, attempted to check his luggage at the curbside in Albuquerque before boarding a plane to Newark, New Jersey. Murphy was told he could not use the service.

    “I was denied a boarding pass because I was on the Terrorist Watch list,” he said.

    When inquiring with a clerk why he was on the list, Murphy was asked if he had participated in any peace marches.

    “We ban a lot of people from flying because of that,” a clerk said.

    Murphy then explained that he had not marched, but had “in September, 2006, given a lecture at Princeton, televised and put on the Web, highly critical of George Bush for his many violations of the Constitution.”

    The clerk responded, “That’ll do it.”

    Here’s a crazy thought – maybe if our prior ruling cabal hadn’t actually provided a reason for unhinged individuals like alleged “pants bomber” (?) Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab to hate us by virtue of our ridiculous Now And Forever You Godless Commie Li-bu-ruul An’ We’re Gonna Water The Tree O’Liberty In 2010 Global War On Terra! Terra! Terra! and instead fought our enemies with common sense and by obeying the rule of law (instead of scoring cheap ideological points as noted above with Professor Murphy), then maybe we would be just a little bit safer than we actually are now.

  • Update 12/29/09: Good stuff on this from BarbinMD at The Daily Kos here…


    Merry Christmas ’09!

    December 25, 2009

    Wednesday Mashup (12/23/09)

    December 23, 2009

  • 1) The following letter appeared in the Bucks County Courier Times yesterday…

    It hasn’t taken the local Republican smear campaign long to get into high gear. State Rep. Steve Santarsiero has not been in office a full year, but already they’re trying to tear him down. As usual, they have shown themselves to be unconstrained by the facts.

    The latest attack comes from Andy Raffle, the campaign manager of a Republican candidate running against Santarsiero. Raffle claimed, incorrectly, that Santarsiero only takes positions supported by the teachers and trade unions. Raffle is wrong.

    Steve Santarsiero supports an approach to teacher-school district contract impasses that would require each side to submit last best offers to a judge who would then choose one of them at the end of a short cooling off period. The judge’s decision would be binding. But the likelihood is that the judge would never need to decide, since the threat of an adverse decision would be a strong incentive for both sides to reach a fair agreement that would avoid any work stoppage and end the impasse.

    Raffle claims the teachers union supports this idea. It does not, nor do most school boards, which suggest to me that it just might be the fairest approach. Raffle also claims the idea is unconstitutional and would require a constitutional amendment. In my view, he’s wrong again.

    There’s nothing in the constitution that prevents the Legislature from giving the courts this power. To the contrary, the constitution explicitly grants the Legislature the power to determine the court’s jurisdiction. As far as other unions are concerned, Raffle ignores the fact that Santarsiero’s opposition to the proposed Frankford Hospital project does not please area trade unions. Those unions understandably want jobs, especially in these tough times. Santarsiero is sympathetic to those concerns but does not believe that the short term benefits of that work outweigh the long-term impact of a bad idea for our community.

    I believe that most people acknowledge what a good job Santarsiero is doing on behalf of the people of the Yardley-Newtown area. Whether it’s bringing reform to Harrisburg or helping people back home, in less than a year in office, Steve has already made a significant difference.
    No wonder Raffle and his cohorts feel that their only chance is to sling mud. So be it. In the end, the truth will win out.

    Joe Sundeen
    Lower Makefield, PA

    I’m not going to get into all of the wingnuttia in the comment thread to Sundeen’s letter (“in the pocket of the unions” this, “bought into the global warming myth” that, and as always…”ACORN!!”). If anyone chooses to read any of that mess themselves, feel free to do so (and to contact Steve, click here).

  • 2) And speaking of teachers (Steve’s former occupation), I happened to come across the following AEI nonsense here (and I have no clue who the author or Nick Schulz is, by the way)…

    Last week, Nick Schulz asked an interesting question about school districts’ responses to the recession—specifically whether any have decided to cut pay (due to deteriorating budgets) instead of furloughing or laying off staff.

    From what I’ve seen, the answer is not so much. A big part of the explanation is collective bargaining agreements. In order to cut pay, most districts would need to go back to the bargaining table and get their local unions to agree to pay concessions. That hasn’t happened to the extent I expected. One quite stark example comes from Connecticut. The Republican-American newspaper (of Waterbury), quoted the head of the state’s teacher union saying that teachers aren’t responsible for budget troubles, so they shouldn’t be expected to fix them.

    And of course, reading this, you would think that teachers as a whole have emerged pretty much unscathed during the recession due to those baaad collective bargaining agreements.

    The reality, however, is something wholly other; as noted here…

    Bankers, lawyers and journalists have taken pay cuts and gone without raises to stay employed in a tough economy. Now similar givebacks are spreading to education, an industry once deemed to be recession-proof.
    All 95 teachers and five administrators in the Tuckahoe school district in Westchester County agreed to give $1,000 each to next year’s school budget to keep the area’s tax increase below 3 percent. In the Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow district, 80 percent of the 500 school employees — including teachers, clerks, custodians and bus drivers — have pledged more than $150,000 from their own pockets to help close a $300,000 budget gap.

    And on Long Island, the 733 teachers in the William Floyd district in Mastic Beach decided to collectively give up $1 million in salary increases next year to help restore 19 teaching positions that were to be eliminated.

    New York State’s powerful teachers’ unions have rarely agreed to reopen contract negotiations in bad economic times, let alone make concessions. But as many school districts presented flat budgets to voters in recent weeks, teachers in at least a dozen suburban areas have opened the door to compromise to save jobs, preserve programs and smaller class sizes, and show support for the towns and villages where many of them have taught generations of families.

    And lest anyone think these troubles are confined to the Empire State, this tells us of teacher positions slashed in the South, this tells us that fewer Florida teachers are seeking board certification due to the economy, and this tells us of a dimming job outlook for teachers in Bozeman, Montana.

    There is good news here, though, in that there appears to be no collective bargaining agreement for right-wing pundits, so these generic AEI wingnuts will have to fend for themselves if either their funding and/or site hit count experiences a significant decline.

  • 3) And finally, concerning a wholly other matter, fellow blogger Antemedius tells us the following here (some appropriate commentary concerning recent “corpocrat” capitulation in Congress, particularly in the matter of health care reform)…

    My concern is with those who can’t keep beating their heads against a brick wall are dropping away in disgust, a disgust I share, by the way, and who would indeed be abandoning the field. My wife and I have filled out our passport applications. What’s needed is a plan for the decent activists who’ve plugged away for years, who’ve haven’t shared the joys of being a party insider.. We can’t just call for nose to the grindstone, stiff upper lip, take (another) one for the team. We need to give them something that they can do that is not contingent on the higher-ups leading it, funding it, legitimizing it.

    We need to give them a stick.

    Thus the Full Court Press.

    The plan:

    The basic concept is simple and flexible. The Committee for a Full Court Press (FCP) (I just made up the name) would agree on the following principles [slightly modified from an 8-principle list]:

  • WPA-style jobs program
  • Medicare for all the uninsured
  • Repeal Hyde Amendment and its ilk
  • U.S. out of Afghanistan
  • The 4 points are offered as a suggestion, and would be decided upon by those initially forming the FCP based upon activist feedback. But once approved, they would ultimately not be negotiable at the local level.

    The bottom line is to have at least one FCP candidate on the primary ballot in every district.

    The FCP activist would pay the required filing fee or gather required signatures or combination thereof to get on the primary ballot. While any FCP candidate could run a full-fledged campaign with the intent to win the seat, a minimal candidate could:

  • Ask the other candidates if they will actively support the FCP points and say so in writing.
  • If they sign, the FCP candidate could simply endorse that candidate, or the best of those candidates (if such is the case) and campaign actively for their endorsee or not as the FCP candidate sees fit.
  • If that candidate betrays the points, the FCP candidate would have the option of campaigning more aggressively.
  • If no other candidate supports the FCP points, the FCP candidate could, at a minimum, talk to the local press and/or appear at candidate nights if any group sponsors them.
  • Nothing in the plan precludes running a full-blast campaign to win. It’s just not contingent on that.

    Tactically, that’s it. That’s the plan. This requires some money and some effort, and ballot requirements vary from state to state, but is within practical range. The main requirement after getting on the primary ballot is a willingness to make some phone calls and show up. If the FCP candidate wanted to do more and could do more, that would be excellent. But not required.

    Such is the stuff of change for real – let’s all do what we can to make it happen.


  • Mad Max’s Health Care Hullabaloo

    December 23, 2009

    (Note: The post title does not pertain to that great blog in which Digby appears in any way…also, posting is questionable overall from now through the end of the year.)

    Yes, I know Baucus is thoroughly compromised by virtue of his ridiculous campaign finance donations from Big Insurance and the fact that legislation without the public option passed out of his committee, but you know what? Good for him for calling out the Repug BS here, including Roger Wicker (and the RNC)’s ever-more ridiculous talking point about “European style” insurance (which, when comparing how well it covers the majority of the people of its countries, actually looks pretty good by comparison).

    (And of course, Baucus, despite this moment of clarity, is still far too polite to call out Grassley for the stunts noted here.)

    Also, as big of a fiasco as this was, just watch and see what happens when legislation on the climate crisis starts picking up steam – ugh.


    Another Bad Scene, Maan, From More Harwood Hackery

    December 22, 2009

    Thus sayeth John Harwood of the New York Times (here)…

    …if you’re a liberal and you want universal coverage in this country, and think that you can do better, that Harry Reid can do better than he’s done that the White House can do better, they ought to lay off the hallucinogenic drugs because we’ve had a vivid demonstration of the limits of political possibilities on this issue.

    This post tells us that Harwood copped a plea to the dreaded “liberal bias” even when that wasn’t even posed as a question, thought it was “remarkable” that Obama was elected president when he’d led for the entire campaign last year, and accused Obama of “a course of tax increases and ambitious social engineering” (memo to all employees of the New York Times: it does you no good to try and concoct “Drudge bait” – the wingnuts will still hate you). Also, Harwood had fun with the supposed “issue” of Hillary Clinton’s cleavage here (journamalism scraping the bottom of the barrel, people).

    Oh, and this tells us how Harwood equated CNN and MSNBC with Fix Noise without even bothering to compare them.

    And Harwood tells us to get off the hallucinogenic drugs?

    Well, I just have one thing to say in response:

    You first, John :-).


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