Saturday Mashup (10/27/12)

  • As we all await “Frankenstorm,” I think it’s important to recall the fact that, as Atrios sez here, our weather satellite capabilities are in a bit of disrepair.

    One root cause? Well, as noted here

    The Obama Administration included a sizeable increase for NOAA to get started on JPSS in the FY2011 budget. Unfortunately, that request was swept up in congressional turmoil as Republicans regained control of the House. Decisions on the FY2011 budget were delayed until half way through that fiscal year and many programs — including JPSS — were held to their previous year’s level. Since the FY2010 level reflected the NPOESS program where NOAA and DOD were sharing the costs, it was less than half of what NOAA needed for JPSS.

    The program fared better in FY2012, receiving $924 million of the $1.07 billion requested, but the damage was done. NOAA is concerned that there is very likely to be a “data gap” when existing satellites expire before the first JPSS is launched. Kathy Sullivan, Deputy Administrator of NOAA, said yesterday that there may still be a data gap even if Congress agrees to the funding level for JPSS included in the FY2013 request.

    Take a bow, Teahadists.

  • Also, it looks like the long Italian arm of the law has finally caught up with former Prime Minister “Uh-Oh” Silvio Berlusconi, as noted here

    (Berlusconi) has been handed a jail sentence and barred from office after being found guilty of tax fraud.

    The Milan court sentenced him to four years but later cut it to one year because of an amnesty law.

    Mr Berlusconi condemned the sentence as “intolerable judicial harassment”. He will remain free pending appeals.

    There was a time when I kept a close watch on Berlusconi because I thought, to use a trite phrase from our “dead tree” media, he made “good copy.”

    Here, Berlusconi sought immunity from prosecution while in office (Italy’s constitutional court repealed it). Here, he once compared himself to Jesus, made headlines with a “fishy” entrepreneur (keeping in mind that, in Europe generally, male politicians are looked upon favorably if they engage in multiple romantic liaisons – don’t know if that’s changing or not), and pledged not to have sex until after an election (and Berlusconi took a “page,” more or less, out of former Bushco Attorney General John Ashcroft here).

    Berlusconi also claimed here that those who lost their homes in the tragic Abruzzo earthquake should consider their time in aid camps “a weekend of camping.”

    And as I always say, you can always tell something about someone by their choice of friends (here).

  • Continuing, this tells us the following…

    In an unusual cascade of events Thursday, three state legislators who sponsored a bill that would limit welfare benefits to women who became pregnant from rape but failed to alert authorities and name their attacker removed their names from the bill.

    The primary sponsor of the bill, State Rep. RoseMarie Swanger (R., Lebanon), defended the bill early in the day, only to repudiate portions of it within three hours.

    The bill attempted to put a “family cap” and, as a result, “withhold extra money to welfare recipients who gave birth while receiving cash assistance known as Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, or TANF” (such caps were passed in 23 states in the ‘90s, including New Jersey, as the Inquirer tells us).

    Continuing with the story…

    One part of Swanger’s proposal would exclude from the cap any woman who gave birth to a child as the result of rape or incest.

    But to qualify for that exclusion, the woman must prove she reported the crime and identified her attacker, if he was known to her.

    That provision is a deviation from most cap bills.

    “A rape victim won’t get a benefit if she doesn’t report the rape,” Swanger said early Thursday afternoon, defending the bill. “Isn’t that reasonable? Why wouldn’t you report rape?

    But about three hours later, after The Inquirer had interviewed several people about the legislation, Swanger called the newspaper to say the bill would not go forward as written.

    “The rape part is not what I requested,” Swanger said.

    She went on to say that she had asked the House research staff to help draft the proposal, and to base her bill on existing New Jersey legislation.

    Um…it sound to me like an actual grownup in her party (which one, I wonder?) got to Swanger and told her that the attempt at excluding welfare recipients from the cap this way was an incredibly, horribly, bad idea (the Inquirer story by Alfred Lubrano also tells us the following)…

    Experts on rape said that the bill’s authors don’t understand the nature of sexual assault. Most women don’t report being attacked, and are often victimized by partners or husbands, making them loath to tell authorities.

    By trying to create a cap, Pennsylvania is actually bucking trends, according to Rochelle Finzel, program director at the National Conference of State Legislatures, a bipartisan group that assists legislators.

    By the way, it should be noted that this is hardly the first moment of nuttiness from Swanger. Here, she tried to ban Sharia law from being enacted in Pa, which, last I checked, has no chance of being enacted anywhere in this country. Swanger also sponsored English-only legislation here, and here, she was one of 37 (!) state representatives who introduced legislation to make 2012 the “Year of the Bible” (and I suppose they planned to make 2013 the “Year of the Koran” as well?).

    Also, the Inquirer notes that Teahadist “Janet” Stefano (I think they’re referring to Jennifer) has latched onto this issue in much the same way a leech attaches itself to a human host and creates scar tissue (and you can thank Stefano for helping “Mikey the Beloved” Fitzpatrick to lurch ever further into wingnuttia also, as noted here – fourth bullet).

  • Next, I give you something truly shocking (or at least they think so) from The Daily Tucker here (still in need of a copy editor, apparently)…

    In a 1999 legislative vote, then-Illinois State Senator Barack Obama was the sole state senator to not vote for for (sic) a bill that would protect sexual assault victims from having the details of their cases revealed publicly.

    On May 11 of that year, Obama voted “present” on a bill, ultimately made law, that allows victims of sex crimes to request that their cases be sealed from public view following a criminal conviction. Illinois Senate voting records show that Obama was the only senator who did not vote in favor of the bill.

    Obama’s unique objection to voting for a bill meant to protect victims of sex crimes is a substantial departure from the picture he has attempted to paint for women voters.

    (And once again, The Daily Tucker completely obliterates the line between “hard news” and “opinion.”)

    Actually, it isn’t a “unique objection” and “a substantial departure” at all; as noted here from four years ago…

    In a January 22 “Analysis” article about the previous night’s Democratic presidential debate, the Associated Press purported to provide Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-IL) response to criticism over the number of “present” votes he took in the Illinois legislature, but left out a part of his answer in which he responded to a specific point in the AP article. The AP quoted Obama saying: “[O]n issue after issue that is important to the American people, I haven’t simply followed, I have led.” But the AP did not note that Obama also responded specifically to the issue of his “present” vote on a particular bill that the AP mentioned having to do with sexual abuse. The AP omitted the part of the exchange in which Obama said, “I actually sponsored the bill” on sexual abuse, but that “after I had sponsored it and helped to get it passed, it turned out that there was a legal provision in it that was problematic and needed to be fixed so that it wouldn’t be struck down.”

    So Obama voted “present” to keep the bill alive so it could be fixed later (as opposed to throwing a hissy fit over something he found objectionable like most politicians do and killing the bill outright).

    Lather, rinse, repeat (sigh)…

  • Finally (and speaking of Number 44), Kathleen Parker of the WaPo performs some rather typical corporate media jujitsu here, blaming President Obama for responding to crap initiated by his opposition political party…

    It is no accident that the war of competing economic theories has devolved into the same old culture war, beginning with the debate about the contraception mandate under the Affordable Care Act.

    Oh yes, the “debate” over the so-called contraception mandate, begun in part by PA U.S. House Rep Mike Kelly, who compared it to 9/11 and Pearl Harbor here (not President Obama, but Republican U.S. House Rep Mike Kelly).

    Continuing…

    Ever since, the Obama campaign has strategically tried to push the Republican Party and Mitt Romney into a corner by advancing the war-on-women narrative.

    That Obama has had ample help from certain outspoken players (Missouri and Indiana Senate candidates Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock, respectively, to name the most notorious) has only made Romney’s challenges greater. But the war against women has always been a red herring.

    Random comments by a couple of outliers provided wind for Obama’s sails.

    “A couple of outliers”? Seriously (including RoseMarie Swanger, as noted earlier)?

    This from Think Progress tells us that at least 9 Republican politicians have banned abortions for victims of rape or incest, in true Mourdock-ian fashion. Even more than that, this tells us that the ban is part of the Republican 2012 campaign platform!

    What exactly was that Pulitzer for again?

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