Run On This, Boehner And The Repugs

September 30, 2010

Yep, I think this about covers it.


Deconstructing “Diaper Dave”

September 30, 2010

Wow, I thought only Repugs ran campaign ads like this (more here and here).


RIP Arthur Penn

September 30, 2010

In tribute to a legendary film director (here), I give you the end of “Bonnie and Clyde” from 1967, with Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, Dub Taylor and Michael J. Pollard, among others (about 20 seconds of hell begins at about 4:35 or so – consider yourself warned).


Wednesday Mashup (9/29/10)

September 29, 2010

Some of these are a few days old, but this is my first chance to say anything in response…

  • 1) John Harwood of the New York Times told us the following recently (here)…

    Mr. Obama aims to use President George W. Bush’s record in the same way Mr. Reagan used Mr. Carter’s. It was Mr. Bush and his Republican allies in Congress, he tells campaign audiences, who drove the economy “into a ditch.”

    The velocity of contemporary media, not to mention its ferocity, may render that argument more difficult to make. In the ever-advancing news cycle, on cable television and the Internet, news tends to get old faster.

    Soo…Harwood is arguing that the Internet will make people forget who created the mess that Obama inherited?

    Not according to this.

  • 2) Also, Marc Thiessen, in the midst of some shockingly sensible commentary, provided what I thought was a hilarious observation here…

    The arrival of conservative insurgents will fundamentally transform the Senate in other ways. Some of the worst bills in the Senate get approved by unanimous consent, which means all it takes is one senator to object. Today, for example, Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma wages a lonely campaign for fiscal discipline by objecting to authorization bills where spending increases are not offset by spending cuts elsewhere. But it gets tiring being the skunk at the garden party every week. Soon there will be a raft of newly elected senators willing to join him in saying “no” to bad legislation.

    This tells us that Coburn is holding up a food safety bill costing $1.4 billion because he claims that the bill isn’t paid for. Of course, no immediate calculation is available telling us how much it would cost to hospitalize victims of something similar to the recent egg contamination outbreak were that to occur again – my guess is that it would cost more than $1.4 billion (And as far as I’m concerned, Coburn’s supposed fiscal prudence is more Beltway media mythology – how about cutting $95 million in useless “abstinence only” funding, as noted here?).

    What I object to most in Thiessen’s column, though, is the notion that, in the god awful event that people such as Ken Buck, Sharron Angle, etc. were actually elected to the Senate, they would restore some kind of fiscal rectitude.

    In response, I think we should look at a hero of the teabaggers from a few months ago, and that would be Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts. As noted here (hat tip to lynnrockets.wordpress.com)…

    WASHINGTON — Senator Scott Brown says he will fight to fund a multibillion-dollar weapons program that could generate jobs in Massachusetts but that the Pentagon insists it does not need, sparking criticism that Brown is breaking his campaign vow to rein in wasteful spending.

    The Bay State Republican’s support for General Electric’s bid to build a backup engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter puts the new senator in the middle of a confrontation over congressional earmarks with the Obama administration, which has threatened a presidential veto if Congress inserts funding for the engine for the fifth year in a row.

    “This is yet another example of how ‘fiscally responsible’ lawmakers have a giant blind spot when it comes to defense spending in their districts,’’ said Laura Peterson, a senior national security analyst at Taxpayers for Common Sense, a nonpartisan budget watchdog group that monitors earmarks. “His support was clearly driven by parochial concerns rather than financial ones.’’

    “If Scott Brown helps out GE he will be doing exactly the opposite of what he said he would do when he ran,’’ said Loren Thompson, a defense budget specialist at the Lexington Institute in Arlington, Va., which is supported by multiple defense firms, including Pratt & Whitney.

    And in another related “pot, meet kettle” development, I give you this.

  • 3) Finally, Joe Pitts was given more online real estate at Tucker Carlson’s Crayon Scribble Page recently to concoct the following (here)…

    The first objective of the Pledge to America is to create jobs, end economic uncertainty, and make America more competitive. This means standing against job-killing tax hikes that are due to take effect on January 1, 2011. Our plan calls for growing new and existing small businesses through a tax deduction equal to 20 percent of their business income. We also need to repeal the burdensome new tax-reporting requirement created by the health care reform bill.

    As noted here…

    Republicans forecast disaster when the Democratic Congress and President Bill Clinton raised taxes in 1993, and forecast rising prosperity when taxes were cut in 2001. Both forecasts were wrong.

    From the end of 1993 through the end of 2000, the American economy grew at a compound annual rate of 3.9 percent. Since then, the average rate has been 1.6 percent. The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index rose at a compound rate of 13.1 percent a year during the first period, assuming reinvestment of dividends. Since then investors have not even broken even. Of course, there is no way to know what would have happened had tax laws not changed in those years.

    Pancake Joe also tells us…

    The Pledge calls for an immediate stop to stimulus spending. Over $200 billion remains unspent and we must act quickly to prevent more waste. This also means permanently cancelling the TARP bailout program and returning the money to the Treasury.

    As the New York Times noted recently here in a fine editorial about the “pledge,” the recent Dodd-Frank amendment in financial reform legislation prohibited more TARP funding.

    The editorial also tells us the following…

    While it promises to create jobs, control deficit spending and restore Americans’ trust in government, (the “pledge”) is devoid of tough policy choices. This new “governing agenda” does not say how the Republicans would replace revenue that would be lost from permanently extending all of the Bush tax cuts, or how they would manage Medicare and Social Security, or even which discretionary programs would go when they slash $100 billion in spending. Their record at all of these things is dismal.

    The best way to understand the pledge is as a bid to co-opt the Tea Party by a Republican leadership that wants to sound insurrectionist but is the same old Washington elite. These are the folks who slashed taxes on the rich, turned a surplus into a crushing deficit, and helped unleash the financial crisis that has thrown millions of Americans out of their jobs and their homes.

    Not only are the players the same, the policies are the same. Just more tax cuts for the rich and more deficit spending. We find it hard to believe that even the most disaffected voters will be taken in. But again, these are strange and worrying times.

    Returning to Pitts…

    One way to get back to balanced budgets is to repeal the healthcare law. Contrary to White House claims, the Congressional Budget Office and Medicare’s own actuaries have shown that Obamacare will not pay for itself. This new law will be an extraordinary weight on government, businesses, and, most importantly, doctors and patients. We are committed to repealing the law and replacing it with free-market solutions.

    No word on whether or not Pitts wants to “repeal” the defense budget, for example, and replace it with “free market solutions” (many expenditures in the budget will not pay for themselves and are “an extraordinary weight”…of course, Pitts con-vee-niently singles out one of his favorite targets).

    Meanwhile, in the matter of the financing of health care reform, the following should be noted (here)…

    (The Congressional Budget Office) has finished its work and will release the official preliminary score…But here are the basic numbers: The bill will cost $940 billion over the first 10 years and reduce the deficit by $130 billion during that period. In the second 10 years — so, 2020 to 2029 — it will reduce the deficit by $1.2 trillion. The legislation will cover 32 million Americans, or 95 percent of the legal population.

    And if Pitts had read the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) report that was released in April of this year, he would know that increases in national health expenditures are largest in 2016 and “gradually decline thereafter” (here).

    Update 10/1/10: As noted here, HCR is “paid for” anyway, so Pitts’ entire talking point looks particularly ridiculous.

    When I think of the GOP’s “pledge,” I think of a household product of the same name that applies a shine to furniture, but does nothing to structurally reinforce the product to which it is applied. And in terms of making something look attractive without implementing economically sound fundamental fixes, I think of the GOP’s “pledge” in about the same way.

    Once more, to help Lois Herr, Joe Pitts’ Dem opponent for his PA-16 U.S. House seat, click here.


  • Tuesday Mashup (9/28/10)

    September 29, 2010

  • 1) The Bucks County Courier Time informed us of the following yesterday (here)…

    Pennsylvania should be considering right to work legislation to make the state more competitive in the current economic climate, said Bucks County Commissioner Jim Cawley.

    The Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, Cawley has expressed that point of view while campaigning in parts of Pennsylvania. He can be seen in an online video at the Altoona First Festival in Blair County with a tea party member who asks his position on the Right to Work Act.

    “The last thing we need to do is put more impediments and demands on the expenses we face,” Cawley says in the video, which can be viewed on YouTube.com. “Right to work legislation is something that its time has come.”

    Water wet, sky blue, teabaggers are really Republicans in search of a political convention and/or an angry mob (assuming they don’t constitute one themselves) – this is a recording, I know.

    This Wikipedia article gives us at least two reasons why the “right to work” movement is yet another triumph of right-wing propaganda: 1) In 2003 the rate of workplace fatalities per 100,000 workers was highest in right-to-work states, and 2) Opponents argue right-to-work laws create a “free-rider” problem, in which non-union employees (who are bound by the terms of the union contract even though they are not members of the union) benefit from collective bargaining without paying union dues – to say nothing of the fact that the “right to work” movement is sponsored by right-wing groups anyway, of course.

    Meanwhile, Cawley’s fellow supervisor Diane Marseglia does the right thing again (here)…

    As Bucks County officials prepare to solicit bids to build a new courthouse, Commissioner Diane Ellis-Marseglia is making another push for an agreement that would require contractors on the project to follow union rules and policies.

    The project labor agreement Marseglia wants has been a source of controversy since the early discussion about the Justice Center project took place in 2004.

    The board of commissioners’ Republican majority say they have explored and rejected the possibility of using a PLA or similar requirements, and Commissioners Charley Martin and Jim Cawley said they won’t support one now.

    Even if the political support existed for a PLA on the Justice Center, putting it in place now would delay the project by months, Bucks County Purchasing Director Maureen McIlvaine said.

    “When other people have done this, it has taken months and months and months to hammer out the details of the labor agreement,” McIlvaine said.

    As Blue Mass Group tells us here, however…

    A Project Labor Agreement is a trade-off between the project owner…and the people building the project. Basically, the (county) agrees to hire all workers on the project through specified union halls, and non-union workers have to pay union dues while on the project. In exchange, the (county) gets a guarantee of labor peace – no strikes, slowdowns, etc. – and also sets wages for the life of the project so that it won’t be hit with unanticipated wage increases.

    What this does not mean is that non-union contractors are prohibited from bidding on these projects. It may mean that, in practice, they are unlikely to win them. But they can still bid. Even the PLA-hating Beacon Hill Institute describes the situation this way (PDF, p. 7):

    …open-shop contractors contend that their competitive advantages are nullified by the PLA. The result is that in practice, if not in principle, they are unable to bid competitively on jobs that have a PLA requirement.

    Furthermore, the Supreme Judicial Court held a decade ago that PLAs are acceptable only in certain kinds of construction projects.

    We do not articulate a bright-line, litmus-test standard for determining when the use of a PLA is appropriate. Nor do we conclude that a PLA will be justified in all, or even most, circumstances. A project must be of substantial size, duration, timing, and complexity, and the interplay between all four of these factors must be considered. It may be that, in certain cases, the sheer size of a project warrants the adoption of a PLA.

    I know I’m just a filthy, unkempt liberal blogger, but if I were in charge of the construction of the Justice Center, I would implement a PLA to control costs and make sure everyone working on the project had comparable skill sets to ensure the quality of the work.

    (Again, as much as I don’t want to see Tom Corbett win in November, part of me wouldn’t mind in the least seeing Jim Cawley leave this county for a minimum of four years.)

  • 2) Next, I give you the following from The Weakly Standard (here – on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the first televised debate between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon…more wingnut harrumphing over the recollections of Kennedy confidant Ted Sorensen – typical of conservatives; too much trouble to just leave the man alone at this point I guess)…

    While maintaining his standard posture that John F. Kennedy was a man of uncommon intelligence, charm, grace, wisdom, and magnetism, he is more contemptuous of Richard Nixon this time than abusive. Indeed, all goes relatively well until the last two sentences:

    Though it seemed at the time to be a battle between two opposing worldviews, the truth is that the two candidates did not vastly differ in that first debate. And while Kennedy would probably find a home in today’s Democratic Party, it is unlikely that Nixon would receive a warm welcome among the Tea Party.

    Oh? The Richard Nixon of 1960 may or may not get a friendly reception from the Tea Party of 2010—however that is defined—but is Sorensen serious when he suggests that the John Kennedy of 1960 “would probably find a home” in the party of Eric Holder, DailyKos, Keith Olbermann, MoveOn.org, Barbara Boxer, and Alan Grayson?

    What Ted Sorensen’s boss would have thought of gay marriage, cap-and-trade, racial quotas, Bill Ayers, and nationalizing General Motors, we can only speculate.

    Oh, I think we can do a little bit more than that on at least one issue (there’s enough red meat in what Philip Terzian says for a few more blog posts I guess, but this will have to do for now).

    I’ll let those in charge of the Nixon legacy defend Tricky Dick (my guess is that, since Nixon invented the “Southern strategy” that gave political clout to the life forms who largely comprise the teabaggers, I think he would be better received than anybody thinks), but as far as JFK is concerned, I have a feeling that he would have indeed defended legislation to reduce carbon emissions in pursuit of both saving the planet and ultimately ending our addiction to oil.

    And I say that because of quotes such as this (from here)…

    All this is not unrelated to world peace. “When a man’s ways please the Lord,” the Scriptures tell us, “he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.” And is not peace, in the last analysis, basically a matter human rights – – the right to live out our lives without fear of devastation – – the right to breathe air as nature provided it – – the right of future generations to a healthy existence?

    And the .pdf from here contains the following words from our 35th president (at the Institute for Conservation Studies in Milford, PA on September 24, 1963, in a tribute to conservationist Gifford Pinchot)…

    I begin today a journey to save America’s natural heritage – a journey to protect the past and preserve the future.

    Today’s conservation movement must therefore embrace disciplines scarcely known to its prophets of the past. It must marshal our vast technological capacity on behalf of our vast resource supplies.

    The American people are not by nature selfish and wasteful. They are not unappreciative of the heritage of the past and their obligation to the future. But without guidance and information, without leadership and inspiration, without the qualities provided by Pinchot in his day which this Institute can provide in our time, mistakes will be made – mistakes which can never be undone.

    Fortunately there is evidence that this nation, once alerted, can take constructive actions – actions for which our grandchildren and their grandchildren will be ever more grateful than we.

    The dispute is no longer one of principles or goals – it is now merely a question of pace and means. And no one maintains that the obligation to use our resources efficiently and thoughtfully depends solely on the Federal Government. Nor is conservation merely the job of the park ranger or the forest ranger, the soil conservationist or the game warden. Conservation is the job of us all.

    …the role played by the Federal Government is a key one. Its attitude, effort, legislation and example all influence the national pattern.

    But in the field of resources, opportunities delayed are frequently opportunities lost – and those that are not lost are clearly more costly to achieve.

    This Nation is now rising to the challenge of exploring the vast universe of space. That is as it should be – for we cannot afford to ignore that challenge. But neither can we afford to neglect the universe here below.

    …”a Nation whose national resources are destroyed must inevitably pay the penalty of poverty, degradation and decay…Conservation…is the key to the future.”

    Yeah, speaking only for myself, I think Kennedy would have been “all over” cap and trade legislation; more than that, I can just imagine how rightly stinging his rhetoric would be over our inaction to date.

  • Update 10/31/10: And I’m sure this makes Terzian’s day.

  • 3) Finally, we found out from that Franklin and Marshall poll last week that Mike Fitzpatrick was supposedly leading Patrick Murphy by 10 points in the PA-08 contest (here).

    Well, this tells us that Murphy has a slight lead over Mikey in this recently-commissioned poll (which is pretty much what we figured anyway…that this contest would go down to the wire, I mean).

    And to help our incumbent congressman, click here.

    (And speaking of Mikey…)


  • “Business” As Usual For The “Party of No”

    September 27, 2010

    I guess, to the GOP’s way of thinking, actors Kelsey Grammer and Adam Sandler would be “small business” people (can’t think of any other rationale for a vote like this…the bill was signed into law today).

    (Maybe more posting tomorrow…)


    Calling Out “Taliban Dan” in FL-08

    September 26, 2010

    Once more, a “Congressman With Guts” leads the way (more here).


  • Top Posts & Pages