Wednesday Mashup (1/30/13)

January 30, 2013

  • I noted previously that I would give Mikey the Beloved, our wet noodle U.S. House rep from PA-08, the benefit of the doubt on the gun proposal he said he was working on because I didn’t know yet what he had in mind.

    Well, now we know (here)…

    Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick has introduced legislation that requires states to report people with mental health problems to a national database for background checks.

    Hmm, sounds promising…

    The bill, H.R. 329, the Strengthening Background Checks Act, gives incentives to states to add the names of their residents involuntarily committed to mental institutions to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

    The NICS checks available records on people who might be disqualified from purchasing firearms. However, it is optional for states to make their records available.

    States that comply will receive part of $125 million in grants for technology upgrades to coordinate with the NICS. States that don’t will have 10 percent withheld from their Byrne JAG grants, which go to support local law enforcement.

    Uh, wait a minute…

    Didn’t the lede paragraph tell us that Fitzpatrick’s bill would “require” states to comply? Well, somewhere between the first and second paragraph, “requires” became “gives incentives.”

    Oh, right, this is another Gary Weckselblatt special. I get it now.

    And Fitzpatrick is proposing about $125 million in grant money to upgrade the NCIS database. That sounds nice until you realize that Mayors Against Illegal Guns, as noted here, claim that about three times that amount of money is really needed.

    It should also be noted that our beloved commonwealth has an atrocious record of compliance when it comes to reporting individuals disqualified from owning firearms into the NCIS database (something like, out of about 51,000 names, only one was entered…sorry, lost the link on that one for now, but I know I read it).

    Mikey’s proposal here is quite literally better than nothing. However, because it is so utterly toothless and underfunded, it really is hard to treat It as anything more than a publicity stunt.

  • Next, we learn the following from Fix Noise (here, alleging that Number 44 abused the Appointments Clause of the Constitution)…

    Sometimes, Barack Obama acts like the Constitution does not apply to him and the Congress is an imaginary being. Friday, the United States Court of Appeals brought the president back to Earth and reminded him that that the Constitution’s Appointments Clause and the U.S. Senate are very much part of reality by voiding three of Obama’s recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board.

    The D.C. Circuit ruled that the president could not end-run the confirmation process merely because at the beginning of 2012 the U.S. Senate was meeting every three business days in, what lawyers call, pro forma session.

    In response, I give you the reality-based (for real) community from here

    Mr. Obama had declared that Congress was not really open for business during its one-minute, lights-on-lights-off sessions intended only to thwart him, and he made recess appointments. A three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said his N.L.R.B. appointments were unconstitutional, buying the argument of Republicans that the Senate was really in session.

    The court even broke with the presidential practice of 150 years by ruling that only vacancies arising during a narrow recess period qualify for recess appointments.

    White House officials said the administration would appeal the decision to the Supreme Court, but if it is upheld, it will invalidate scores of decisions made by the labor board over the last year.

    Oh, and this ruling would have also applied to about 141 recess appointments made by Obama’s predecessor also (interesting stuff on pro forma decisions from fdl can be accessed here).

    Also, this tells us about Teahadist Judge David Sentelle, the author of this judicial travesty along with Janice Rogers Brown, who once suggested that all labor, business or Wall Street regulation is unconstitutional (yep, we have a couple of “Tenthers” here, meaning folks who wrongly believe the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution means that state law takes precedence over the Feds). Also, this provides more background, and this tells us, among other things, that Sentelle was appointed to the bench by The Sainted Ronnie R (surprised?).

    Oh, and concerning Rogers Brown, this tells us that she tried to rewrite legal protection for employees against sexual harassment under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, explicitly contradicting the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and several previous court decisions (Lutkewitte v. Gonzales); she also has ruled that the EPA doesn’t have the right to regulate vehicle emissions.

    Perfect for a pair of judges trying to blow smoke, I suppose.

  • Further, I give you “Pastor” Gerson of the WaPo, doing his best to wax propagandistic on the issue of immigration reform here (according to him, the Repugs have been out in front on this issue all along – it’s the Democrats who have been the obstacle…yeah, that’s the ticket).

    See, in Gerson’s world, only Obama is guilty of polarizing words and actions on immigration, as we know (and Gerson actually writes that Obama has “the invincible assumption of his own rightness,” which is a hilarious sentence coming from the former head speechwriter for George W. Bush).

    This is all an exercise to try and puff up the supposed bona fides on immigration of Sen. Marco Rubio, who took a different tack on this as opposed to working with the opposition, shall we say, here (“polariz(ing) this most polarizing of issues,” as Gerson might put it). To be fair, though, I should note that Rubio looks like a statesman compared to that moron Raul Labrador, as noted here (“A speech is not a bill?” Really? There’s a reason why the House is part of the legislative branch, numbskull. It’s because you’re supposed to legislate.)

    To point out who the actual grownup is here, though, this tells us that Obama ordered a halt to the deportation of many young undocumented immigrants in June, but only 1 House rep (Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a nut on just about every other issue but sensible here) supported it and 147 of her Repug brethren opposed it. More to the point, though, this tells us that, as of last June, Rubio’s party had done virtually nothing on the issue of immigration, including fighting Obama and the Democrats tooth and nail on the DREAM Act.

    Of course, as noted here, Gerson is no stranger to propagandizing about Number 44 on “values” issues; not being an evangelical, I can’t imagine how Gerson rationalizes his deceit on faith issues concerning those he opposes in the political arena (and it’s probably just as well that I don’t know).

  • And speaking of faith, I came across the following nonsense from Dennis Prager that was too pungent to ignore (here, commenting on President Obama’s second inaugural address)…

    To understand leftism, the most dynamic religion of the last 100 years, you have to understand how the Left thinks. The 2013 inaugural address of President Barack Obama provides one such opportunity. To begin:

    “What makes us exceptional — what makes us American — is our allegiance to an idea articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

    What American does not resonate to a president’s reaffirming this magnificent statement from our Declaration of Independence?

    But here’s the intellectual sleight of hand: “What makes us exceptional — what makes us American” is indeed the belief that rights come from God.

    And this seminal idea is not mentioned again in the entire inaugural address.

    This was most unfortunate. An inaugural address that would concentrate on the decreasing significance of God in American life — one of the Left’s proudest accomplishments — would address what may well be the single most important development in the last half-century of American life.

    Oh, and by the way, on the subject of God’s decreasing significance – supposedly encouraged by Obama – I should note the following references to God in Obama’s speech after the passage Prager cited (from here)…

    Today we continue a never-ending journey, to bridge the meaning of those words with the realities of our time. For history tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they have never been self-executing; that while freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by His people here on Earth.

    ..

    For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it. We believe that America’s prosperity must rest upon the broad shoulders of a rising middle class. We know that America thrives when every person can find independence and pride in their work; when the wages of honest labor liberate families from the brink of hardship. We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else, because she is an American, she is free, and she is equal, not just in the eyes of God but also in our own.

    We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries – we must claim its promise. That’s how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure – our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.

    My fellow Americans, the oath I have sworn before you today, like the one recited by others who serve in this Capitol, was an oath to God and country, not party or faction – and we must faithfully execute that pledge during the duration of our service.

    As noted here, though, Prager is a serial offender on faith matters, particularly when they involve Democrats (and comparing the Qu’ran to Mein Kampf isn’t going to help the wingnuts win the day on this subject by any means).

  • Finally (and concluding the wingnuttery for the moment), I give you the following from here

    Individuals enlisting in the U.S. Armed Forces must swear an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” But what happens when the only crime perpetrated by the “enemy” is supporting and defending the Constitution?

    Such is the dilemma facing future military officers at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point — who are being taught to view freedom-loving Americans as violent, racist terrorists-in-waiting. As part of the federal government’s ongoing jihad against common-sense fiscal conservatism and constitutionally limited government, West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) has issued a new report making some dangerously irrational generalizations about the “far-right.”

    Boy, is this rich! To get an understanding of why Bill Wilson of Americans for Limited Government wants the report’s author, Dr. Arie Perliger, to be fired…well, read on (here)…

    Until the attack in Oklahoma, very few people noticed that the previous years (1994–5)had been characterized by a striking rise in the number of violent attacks by American far-right groups. After a relatively quiet 1993 in which the American far-right was almost non-active (only nine attacks), no less than 75 attacks were perpetrated in the following year, with another 30 attacks in the first three months of 1995. What occurred in Oklahoma was not a random, isolated attack but part of a wave of far-right violence which was fueled by specific political and social conditions.

    The consolidated dataset includes information on 4420 violent incidents that occurred between 1990 and 2012 within US borders, and which caused 670 fatalities and injured 3053 people.

    Fourteen of the 21 years covered in this analysis witnessed more attacks than the previous year. Although in the 1990s the average number of attacks per year was 70.1, the average number of attacks per year in the first 11 years of the twenty-first century was 307.5, a rise of more than 400%.

    There’s lots of stuff on ALG here, including the fact that, though it perhaps stops short of physical violence and a “terrorist” label, comes just about to the water’s edge, as you might say (and Mother Jones tells us here that it’s really a pretty straight line stretching from Bill Wilson and ALG right back to Charles and David Koch, which shouldn’t be surprising in the least).

    So, nah, many right-wingers aren’t racists or terrorists. And they don’t traffic in violent words and/or images and racist, misogynist or anti-immigrant threats. Never forget that, all you latte-drinking, Volvo-driving, NPR-listening liberals out there.

    Obama_Baby_Teabagger

    Obama_White_Slavery

    Taxpayer_Obama_Oven

    Not much they don’t.

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    The Bucks County “Quid Pro Quo” That Never Was

    January 30, 2013


    I thought the following item in yesterday’s Bucks County Courier Times was almost too funny for words…

    A digital imaging company once hired by Bucks County claims it is being overlooked for government contracts after a racially charged sales meeting in the local GOP chairwoman’s office.

    Foveonics Imaging Technologies of Toms River, N.J., sent a letter dated Jan. 22 to the Bucks County commissioners asking why it wasn’t chosen for a project to digitally scan and index documents in the recorder of deeds office.

    In the letter obtained by the newspaper, the company said Bucks Recorder of Deeds Joseph Szafran used “poor judgment based on personal and racial prejudices” and cited statements “witnessed by Bucks County Republican Party Chairperson Pat Poprik in her office.”

    Foveonics Vice President of Operations Robert Risberg said the meeting occurred Aug. 4, 2011, in Poprik’s office at the company’s suggestion. “She kind of liaisoned the meeting between the vice president of sales and the recorder of deeds,” said Risberg. “Our salesperson is the one that has the relationship with her.

    “We’ve developed different relationships at various levels,” Risberg continued. Such meetings are “not normal” but “the reason we reached out to her was to try to just get the face-to-face.”

    The company had no issue with the location of the meeting, but was upset by questions they said were asked by Szafran.

    Foevonics attorneys claim Szafran asked the salesperson “why Foveonics had Mexicans running around putting books back incorrectly and scanning microfilm” and whether “they were here legally.”

    Poprik and Szafran both insisted he never said that.

    But wait – there’s more!…

    State records show Foveonics Vice President of Sales Gregory DeTommaso made three campaign donations to the Bucks County Republican Committee between the 2009 and 2011. The total amount reported was $3,900.

    DeTommaso referenced those contributions at the meeting, Poprik said. “He was starting to talk about political contributions and, frankly, that annoyed me and then I asked him to leave,” she said.

    DeTommaso said he did bring up the campaign contributions during that meeting in 2011. And Poprik never blushed at the mention of those donations, he added.

    “Quite frankly, the political contributions are what got me the meeting,” he said. “They had no problem taking the contributions. So, it was no secret. This is public knowledge. There’s nothing illegal about it.”

    OK, so let’s take a step or two back here on this, OK?

    A sales person working for a firm where a Republican Party campaign contributor works met with Joseph Szafran, the Bucks County Recorder of Deeds, over a contract to scan and digitally record data. And Szafran may or may not have made a racial slur at the meeting, which was also attended by Pat Poprik, Bucks County Repug Chairwoman, and held in Poprik’s office. And the contributor donated about $3,900.

    Here is my first question: why the hell is a meeting taking place in the office of a Republican Party political operative when the meeting involves awarding public money for a government contract? And why was the donor’s company even eligible for the contract award to begin with?

    And how dumb is Poprik (pictured above) anyway to decide to take part in the meeting and not think (supposedly) that the subject of the campaign contributions wouldn’t be discussed?

    (By the way, the story tells us that, in addition to Foevonics – the company of Gregory DiTommaso, the Repug party contributor – another company called IMR Limited is being considered for the bid, one that has made contributions primarily to Democrats).

    Here’s an idea; why not consider awarding the contract to a qualified company that hasn’t made contributions to anybody? You know, to at least give the appearance of propriety, if nothing else?

    The last I heard of Poprik, by the way, she was carrying on about the supposed Democratic Party “scandal” of sending voter absentee ballots to something called the PA Voter Assistance Office in 2010. Horrors!

    Of course, when an actual scandal shows up in their backyard, the silence is deafening.


    Thursday Mashup (1/24/13)

    January 24, 2013

  • The Bucks County Courier Times decided to give column space to Mikey the Beloved recently; I’m sure you can guess what happened next (here).

    He leads off as follows…

    Each morning, like so many parents across Bucks and Montgomery counties, when I drive my children to school and drop them off, I expect them to spend their day in a safe environment where their biggest concern is a test they have that day.

    OK, we have a problem right away…

    As a member of the U.S. Congress, Mikey spends most of his time during business hours in Washington, D.C. Does he honestly expect us to believe that he is also dropping off his kids each morning also? What, does he have some kind of private air transportation that takes him from Bucks County to the Capitol each morning too?

    Mikey then fills us this column almost entirely with platitudes and self-referential nonsense, as well as stuff he could have easily lifted from other news accounts, before he gets to the following…

    I am focused on effective responses. I am currently working on legislation to strengthen the national background check system and close the loopholes to ensure that dangerous people will not be able to purchase any firearm in any state.

    In addition to the legislation I am currently working to introduce, I have expressed my willingness to examine the president’s proposals and work with him on achieving common-sense reforms that will truly make our communities safer.

    As usual, Mikey is desperately short on specifics, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt, for now.

    However, he also tells us the following…

    The president’s solution is to ban every citizen from being able to purchase some guns. I believe a more effective approach will be to ban some citizens from being able to purchase any guns. A study by our own University of Pennsylvania commissioned by the United States Department of Justice, the same type of study President Obama has vowed to fund, has concluded that the firearm controls of the 1990s were not effective.

    I can’t find the study Fitzpatrick is referring to – I’m not alleging that he’s lying, I’m just saying I can’t find it (would have been nice if it had been linked to the Courier Times column, but as I’ve pointed out, we’re talking about the fourth estate freak show here). I couldn’t find the study at Fitzpatrick’s U.S. House web site either.

    I will cede Mikey’s point a bit by saying that it has been hard to quantify the benefits of the 1994 ban (pointed out by David Corn here), but I will say that there is a body of evidence out there that at least can raise some questions one way or the other, as noted here (besides, as noted here, one reason why we don’t have the most reliable data on this is because the NRA fights our efforts to obtain it…nothing but the sound of crickets from Mikey on that one).

    And as far as I’m concerned, the “takeaway” from this is the graph of “Guns per 100 people” in various countries, with a lot of other give-and-take stuff, but to me, what matters is just how many guns there are in this country per citizen, which definitely doesn’t make me happy (“U-S-A! U-S-A!”).

    Yep, this is pretty much nothing but another piece of PR fluff from Mikey’s press service. No doubt he’ll be back with more in about a month or so, so stay tuned.

  • Next, I give you the following from what purports to be an actual news story (here)…

    Obama secured a $787 billion stimulus package, an auto-industry bailout, new Wall Street regulations and health-care legislation that, for the first time, promised insurance coverage for nearly all Americans.

    But the political cost of moving that agenda was steep. The partisanship he had pledged to end only deepened, and many of the independent voters decisive in his election abandoned him.

    In his news conference last week, Obama blamed his reputation for aloofness in Washington on the partisan divide he once pledged to mend.

    Republicans, he said, believe it is politically dangerous to be seen with him given the antipathy many in their deep-red districts feel toward him.

    Even his supporters say he should attempt to change that, using those Republicans who supported the final fiscal cliff deal as an initial call sheet that could also include GOP governors and business leaders and others who may offer help.

    …many supporters say Obama, preoccupied with reelection, has withdrawn from the world over the past year at a dangerous time and must step back in quickly.

    Are you starting to smell the same journalistic trick that I do here, people? Lots of anonymous attribution in support of utterly wankerific talking points?

    It’s Obama’s fault that he failed to “end…partisanship” (as if anyone could do that in Washington, D.C.).

    It’s Obama’s fault that he has a “reputation for aloofness” to the point where Republicans “believe it is politically dangerous to be seen with him,” which “even his supporters” say he should “change” (as if Obama is supposed to be concerned about how his governance affects the electability of Republicans).

    It’s Obama’s fault that “many supporters say” he has “withdrawn from the world” (which, to me, is a pretty serious insinuation that he lacks the capacity for governance, which is not just wrong, but calumnious).

    The author of this steaming pile of dookey, by the way, is Scott Wilson (and of course, since we’re talking about the WaPo as part of Corporate Media Central, the Repugs aren’t criticized at all for their antics… there’s a reminder later that Obama was a community organizer, which is true. He was also a U.S. Senator, which doesn’t get mentioned nearly as much as it should).

    And as it turns out, Wilson is a serial offender – here, he took a quote and turned it inside out to give the impression that Obama doesn’t like people (please), and here, he definitely sanitized the wingnuttery also.

    And as noted here

    Additionally, in a May 6 Washington Post article, staff writers Scott Wilson and Robert Barnes wrote that “[a]s White House press secretary Robert Gibbs put it, Obama is looking for ‘somebody who understands how being a judge affects Americans’ everyday lives.’ Congressional conservatives have reacted anxiously to that qualification, fearing that it means a nominee who is more interested in making the law than in interpreting it.” But the Post did not note Obama’s statements indicating that he supports a nominee who “honors our constitutional traditions” and “respects … the appropriate limits of the judicial role.”

    Looks like Wilson and his pals at the Post (and elsewhere) try to provide the openings in the “mainstream” reporting that the wingnuts can enlarge exponentially to propagate their right-wing BS (just thought I should point that out, that’s all).

  • Continuing, it looks like “Blow ‘Em Up” Bolton is at it again (here)…

    The US and Western response to date has been disjointed and with decidedly mixed results. If President Obama doesn’t soon jettison his ideological blinders about the threat of international terrorism, we could see a series of further attacks — not unlike the 1990s series that culminated in the 9/11 strikes.

    It’s typically disingenuous and cowardly (to say nothing of inaccurate) for Bolton to assume some linkage between the Clinton Administration and the ruinous one that followed on the 9/11 attacks…perhaps in terms of facing a threat from the same foe, but that’s all (and speaking of the Clintons, I’m sure there’s no apology in sight from Bolton for this).

    Oh, and while arguing that Obama is allegedly soft on al Qaeda, or something (pretty funny when you consider who got bin Laden in comparison with Bolton’s former boss), Bolton also downplayed the fact that Obama got Anwar al-Awlaki (yes, it’s a slippery slope since Awlaki was an American citizen, but it’s typically preposterous for Bolton to argue that Obama is supposedly soft on al Qaeda and omit this… also particularly disingenuous since Bolton gave Obama credit for it here – of course, Bolton contorted himself to try and find a way to give Dubya props too).

    Here is more on Bolton, including the targets he wanted to go after following Dubya’s pre-emptive war in Iraq (as I once said about Charles Krauthammer, Bolton is awfully generous with the blood of other people’s kids). Also, Bolton makes it sound like a question as to whether or not the Taliban is really in charge in Afghanistan, even though the headline here says it all about the potential for the Taliban to rule in at least parts of Afghanistan as part of a possibly brokered peace deal (regarding Bolton’s claim that Obama’s policies have led to a Taliban resurgence – I don’t think they’ve had to “resurge,” or something, since they’ve been players all along since Bolton’s boss outsourced the Afghan war to Pakistan in the prior decade).

    We all know what a “true believer” Bolton is, people. I just think we need to remind ourselves of that fact from time to time (and let us not forget that, as noted from the article in The Nation, Bolton would have been in a position to actually create further chaos in the world once more instead of mere propaganda had we – gulp! – sworn in Willard Mitt Romney recently instead of President Obama for a second term).

  • Finally, in a thoroughly logical career progression, this tells us that former Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, allegedly a Democrat, will now become a lobbyist for the insurance industry…

    Nelson is joining a public affairs firm and becoming the chief of an insurance commissioners’ group.

    The former senator has been named CEO of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). He will be the group’s chief spokesman and primary advocate in Washington. NAIC is made up of state insurance regulators and helps coordinate their oversight across the country.

    And for the occasion, I thought I’d bring you a sample of what you might call Ben Nelson’s Greatest Hits…

  • This tell us that Nelson was the only Dem senator to vote against confirming Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court.
  • Along with Max Baucus, Jon Tester and Mark Warner, he voted to block tax legislation that would have punished U.S. firms that export jobs here.
  • Here, Nelson engaged in typically pointless obstruction that delayed jobless benefits.
  • Nelson also blocked financial reform legislation here.
  • Here, he was offered a job within the Dubya White House in order to step aside so it would be easier for Mike Johanns to get elected instead, which ultimately happened anyway (can’t remember too many Democrats so “graced” by Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History; the story is a response to the alleged job offer from the Obama Administration to “Admiral Joe” Sestak…I honestly don’t remember what that supposed scandal was all about).
  • It should also be pointed out that Nelson actually has a background in insurance, particularly with NAIC, who are guilty of the following as noted here

    The NAIC’s resolution urged Congress and the White House to gut the only real consumer pricer (sp) protection in the Affordable Care Act. That protection, the “medical loss ratio” rule, requires insurers to spend 80% to 85% of their premium income on health care, and limit overhead, commissions and profit to 15% to 20%. The idea is to get insurers to operate more efficiently and cut bloat to keep premiums down. It’s already working–for instance in Connecticut, where regulators report major insurers filing for premium reductions, not increases.

    Such relief will be over if Congress or the White House do what the NAIC asked–to remove broker sales commissions of a few percent up to 20% of the premium from the overhead percentage. Premiums would shoot up, profits would grow and consumers would pay.

    Consumer advocates are counting on the White House and Congress (at least the Senate) to reject the fake arguments and arm-twisting of the industry, and listen to actual consumers.

    Yep, it sounds like the would-be beneficiary of the “cornhusker kickback,” had it ever come to pass in final legislation for the Affordable Care Act, will be right at home.

    Lather, rinse, repeat (sigh).


  • Monday Mashup (1/21/13)

    January 21, 2013

    murrow_0

  • I give you some recent lessons in journalistic priorities from the Bucks County Courier Times:
  • On today’s front page, the banner headline has to do with the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision by the Supreme Court, which isn’t even today (the decision was handed down on January 22, 1973). That takes up the most real estate on the page.
  • Slightly below the middle fold is a reference to the fact that today is the observation of the holiday and day of service for The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Way, waaay down in the lower left corner is a wire service article reminded us that, oh yeah, President Obama is being sworn in for a second term today.
  • The banner headline and story on the front page yesterday had to do with a home invasion and killing in Hilltown Township, which of course is tragic and merits front-page treatment. Immediately beneath the story, though, is an article about all the pro-gun rallies on Saturday January 19th, with a picture of a woman taking aim at a target presumably on a firing range (the image and words communicate the impression that what you might call the gun culture is something to be admired…um, if they wanted to communicate that, couldn’t they do it some other way that juxtaposing it with a story about a murder on the front page?).
  • The fourth estate freak show drags on…

    Update 1/22/13: To be fair, I should note that the inauguration got the “full spread” front page treatment today, including a nice pic of the Obamas walking down Pennsylvania Avenue.

  • And I suppose it’s logical, then, to turn to this item from Mikey the Beloved (the story is dated from last April, but this definitely is a familiar refrain)…

    Members of Congress average annual salaries of $174,000 per year, according to the government.

    Taxpayers spend an estimated $111,000 per year on each lawmaker’s fringe benefits, medical coverage and pension.
    But all of that could be put on hold indefinitely, under a bill whose 40-plus co-sponsors were joined last week by Bucks County Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick.

    Fitzpatrick on Wednesday scheduled a media teleconference to urge passage of the proposed No Budget, No Pay Act.

    And the author of this gimmick, IMHO, is House “Democrat” Jim Cooper of Tennessee.

    However, since this Courier Times story comes from someone who is apparently an actual reporter as opposed to Mikey’s stenographer Gary Weckselblatt, we also learn the following…

    The federal government has several proposed budgets. The problem is no one can agree on them.

    In February, President Barack Obama released a proposed budget for fiscal year 2013. Republicans balked at the size of government programs and proposed deficit spending.

    In March, Republicans in Congress released their plan. The White House sharply criticized proposed changes to Medicare, Medicaid and food stamp programs.

    Last (April), U.S. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad signaled that no action was likely on any budgets until after the November election.

    So what could be wrong with Mikey’s “No Budget, No Pay” advocacy? Well, for starters, it could potentially violate the 27th amendment of the U.S. Constitution, as noted here.

    As Constitutional law professor Adam Winkler tells us…

    “The answer is unclear because the 27th Amendment has never been authoritatively interpreted by the Supreme Court,” Winkler said in an email. “Yet it seems almost certainly unconstitutional. Withholding pay effectively ‘var[ies] the compensation’ of lawmakers. The amendment doesn’t say only raises in pay are invalid. It refers to ‘varying the compensation.’ Just as a ‘bonus’ would vary lawmakers’ compensation, so does withholding money. This logic applies even if the pay is ultimately delivered to lawmakers. By outlawing ‘varying the compensation,’ the 27th Amendment prohibits laws that change when lawmakers receive pay, not just the amount they receive.”

    I see this whole thing ending up on the docket of Hangin’ Judge JR one of these days, and it’s anybody’s guess what will happen after that; wonder if he’d be in the mood for payback by letting the Repugs be dumb enough to cut their own pay, as well as that of everyone else in Congress, when you consider that Roberts has sparred with Congress (and the White House) over judicial funding, as noted here?.

  • Further, I give you the following absurdity from The Weakly Standard (here)…

    Since becoming the president of the United States of America, Barack Obama has delivered 699 speeches using a Teleprompter, according to statistics compiled by CBS reporter Mark Knoller. That number includes campaign speeches, State of the Union addresses, and everything in between.

    All told, according to Knoller, President Obama has made 1,852 speeches, remarks and comments.

    Obama’s given 35 “speeches in which he referred to Slurpees.” He’s held 58 town halls.

    The president’s gone golfing 113 times, playing 52 times close to the White House at Andrews Air Force Base.

    And Obama’s taken 13 vacations, which all told have spanned 83 days.

    These are the priorities for our corporate media as well as movement conservatism these days, my fellow prisoners: counting the number of times President Obama has gone golfing, how many slurpee references he has made in speeches, and how many times he has used a Teleprompter (And yes, I know “fluff” pieces like this are not unexpected for the inauguration, but let’s hope it doesn’t get any lower than this, OK?).

    And vacation days? Really?

    As noted here

    President Bush spent 32% of his presidency on vacation.

    Bush passed Reagan in total vacation days in 2005 with three and a half years left in his presidency. Reagan spent all or part of 335 days in Santa Barbara over his 8 year presidency. Bush spent 487 days at Camp David during his presidency and 490 days at his Crawford, Texas ranch, a total of 977 days.

    When you add the days President Bush spent at Kennebunkport, Maine, he spent a total of 1,020 days away from the White House — close to 3 years. At 1,020 days, Bush was close to being on vacation more days than President John F. Kennedy’s total days in office (1,036). Representatives at the Nixon and Johnson Libraries indicate those two Presidents were on vacation less than 1,000 days during their terms.

    President Obama has been on vacation (now 83) days from 2009 to (2013). At the three year mark into their first terms, George W. Bush spent 180 days at his ranch in Crawford, Texas and Ronald Reagan spent 112 vacation days at his ranch in California. Of course, staff was around all three Presidents on vacations and all White House aides argue that the commander-in-chief is never “out of touch” with work.

    Sure, Dubya and The Sainted Ronnie R were never “out of touch” with work. Of course not.

    Yes, I know I’ve pointed this out before. Yes, I have no doubt that it will be brought up once more and I’ll have to repeat it again since the shame impulse is nowhere to be found within right-wing media (and when it comes to golf, who can forget this infamous Dubya moment?).

  • Finally (and speaking of the prior Bushco regime and our corporate media), this tells us the following…

    Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has joined CBS News as a contributor — just in time for inauguration coverage.

    Rice, who served as secretary of state during President George W. Bush’s second term, made her debut on the network’s “Face the Nation” program Sunday and will be included in inauguration coverage on Monday.

    CBS News Chairman Jeff Fager and president David Rhodes made the announcement Sunday, saying Rice “will use her insight and vast experience to explore issues facing America at home and abroad.”

    Steve Benen does a good job of reminding us about what kind of a job Rice did on behalf of Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History, but I think it’s important to recall the following also:

  • Here, she was accused by Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman, defendants in an espionage trial, of being complicit while AIPAC allegedly dictated US foreign policy from 1999 until the middle of the last decade at least (the post also links to a Think Progress post where Rice admits that Iraq is “a stain on her legacy” – ya’ think?).
  • Here, she “dressed down” a jewelry store clerk because Madame Rice thought he received less than stellar service (typical for the “pay no price, bear no burden” bunch).
  • As noted here, she was in the process of buying designer shoes while Katrina hit (terrible optics, if nothing else).
  • Condi and Defense Secretary Robert Gates met (in March ’08) with some of the Kremlin’s political opposition, but did not meet with its most vocal opponents, notably chess legend Garry Kasparov, as noted here.
  • Here, she gave, at the very least, a willing ear to Henry Kissinger, one of history’s most notorious liars, on the question of allowing troop withdrawals (or even the discussion of that topic) while Dubya’s Not-So-Excellent Adventure in Mesopotamia continued to disintegrate.
  • Rice said here that she had no interest in Mideast diplomacy to maintain “the status quo ante” while she was in the process of doing just that (here).
  • And yes, as alluded to earlier, Rice had a lot of company in her “hoocoodanode” mea culpa about 9/11, possibly her worst foreign policy failure of all (here).
  • It’s probably thoroughly naïve of me to feel compelled to point out that it’s not just any media organization that has agreed to give a pay check and air time to another Bushco accomplice, but the Columbia Broadcasting System (which was once called “the Tiffany Network”). CBS, which once employed the man who spoke the following words:

    If we confuse dissent with disloyalty — if we deny the right of the individual to be wrong, unpopular, eccentric or unorthodox…then hundreds of millions…who are shopping about for a new allegiance will conclude that we are concerned to defend a myth and our present privileged status. Every act that denies or limits the freedom of the individual in this country costs us the … confidence of men and women who aspire to that freedom and independence of which we speak and for which our ancestors fought.

    No one can terrorize a whole nation, unless we are all his accomplices.

    American traditions and the American ethic require us to be truthful, but the most important reason is that truth is the best propaganda and lies are the worst. To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; to be credible we must be truthful. It is as simple as that.

    We cannot make good news out of bad practice.

    We hardly need to be reminded that we are living in an age of confusion — a lot of us have traded in our beliefs for bitterness and cynicism or for a heavy package of despair, or even a quivering portion of hysteria. Opinions can be picked up cheap in the market place while such commodities as courage and fortitude and faith are in alarmingly short supply.

    Our history will be what we make it. And if there are any historians about fifty or a hundred years from now, and there should be preserved the kinescopes for one week of all three networks, they will there find recorded in black and white, or color, evidence of decadence, escapism and insulation from the realities of the world in which we live.

    murrow_0
    Even though I’m curious to find out what he would have said, I’m still glad that Edward R. Murrow didn’t live to see any of this.


  • Friday Mashup (1/18/13)

    January 18, 2013
  • Remember all of the wingnut outrage from the 2012 presidential election over those 59 voting divisions in Philadelphia in which Mitt Romney didn’t get a single vote?

    Remember (from here)…

    Obama_Romney_Fishy

    Well, as it turns out (from here, in a post refuting a lot of other baseless garbage)…

    It’s not mathematically impossible. The 59 districts are in areas of the city that are mainly African American, as the Inquirer reported. And Obama received 93 percent of the black vote nationwide.

    In 2008, Obama received 100 percent of the vote in 57 districts in Philadelphia. So it was not that unusual that something similar happened this time around. In fact, Inquirer reporters had a tough time tracking down any registered Republicans in these areas.

    To be clear, these districts make up a small subset of all of Philadelphia. The 59 that went 100 percent for Obama in 2012 constitute 19,605 votes, just 3 percent of the total votes cast in the city.

    This also concludes that supposed political maven Larry Sabato should shut his pie hole (more stuff on him is here).

    (It should also be noted that this story was buried at philly.com in response to a baseless allegation published at hundreds of wingnut web sites. Which further proves the adage that a lie is halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its pants.)

  • Next, I give you more literary fertilizer from Tucker Carlson’s crayon scribble page (here, trying to undermine Number 44’s recent gun proposals by making him look like he’s “soft on crime” from his prior career in politics)…

    In 1999, State Senator Barack Obama voted “present” on a bill that would require adult prosecution for discharging a gun in or near a school.

    That legislation came as a response to the tragic Columbine High School shooting that year.

    That vote followed a trend for the young lawmaker, whose controversial votes on crime legislation often raised eyebrows.

    A Chicago Tribune editorial even accused Obama of being a “gutless sheep” for missing a vote on crime legislation in late 1999.

    In response to the “present” vote, I’d like to note the following (from here)…

    The vote on the juvenile-justice bill appears to be a case when Mr. Obama, who represented a racially mixed district on the South Side of Chicago, faced pressure. It also occurred about six months before he announced an ultimately unsuccessful campaign against a popular black congressman, Bobby L. Rush.

    State Senator Christine Radogno, a Republican, was a co-sponsor of the bill to let children as young as 15 be prosecuted as adults if charged with committing a crime with a firearm on or near school grounds.

    The measure passed both houses overwhelmingly. In explaining his present vote on the floor of the Senate, Mr. Obama said there was no proof that increasing penalties for young offenders reduced crime, though he acknowledged that the bill had fairly unanimous support.

    “Voting present was a way to satisfy those two competing interests,” Ms. Radogno said in a telephone interview.

    Thom Mannard, director of the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence, said political calculation could have figured in that vote.

    “If he voted a flat-out no,” Mr. Mannard said, “somebody down the road could say Obama took this vote and was soft on crime.”

    Mr. Obama’s aides said he was more concerned about whether the bill would be effective rather than with its political consequences. They did not explain why he did not just vote no.

    And as noted here, the Illinois bill for which then-State Senator Obama missed the vote was called the Safe Neighborhoods Act, and it did indeed contain a gun control measure. And he was indeed called one of a bunch of “gutless sheep” by the Chicago Tribune.

    The reason why he missed the vote is because, while he was vacationing in Hawaii with his family, his daughter Malia came down with a fever and he waited an extra day to come home to make sure she was OK, thus missing the vote (something any self-respecting father would likely do).

    Of course, if we were talking about a reputable publication that followed the most elementary guidelines of Journalism 101, then Carlson would have decided to note that (or even leave the mention of the missed vote out of the story altogether).

  • Continuing, I give you more fun with Daniel Henninger of the Murdoch Street Journal (here, in which Henninger parrots Frank Luntz in saying that the Repugs merely have a “messaging” problem, that’s all – yeah, that’s the ticket)…

    The current Republican class in both houses may be the best in a generation.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!

    In response, this tells us that the current Repug strategy, as opposed to holding the 3,254,738 debates they staged during their riotously funny presidential primary, seems to be to be quiet and let everyone guess what they’re up to (gosh, if this “Republican class” is supposedly “the best in a generation”…well then, wouldn’t they want to be baselessly bragging about that every chance they get?).

    Oh, and this calls to mind this other recent item from Henninger…

    The point of Reaganesque tax-and-spending reform was to cleanse the system. Purge the inevitable, destructive sludge that slows down an economy. The message of Bowles-Simpson and Domenici-Rivlin was that the time to do that again had arrived.

    We’re sticking with the sludge. The progressives are more comfortable there.

    Love and kisses to you too, Danny (and this Media Matters post from 2006 comments on Henninger’s complaint about the use of the filibuster by the U.S. Senate Democrats, who, at that time, were the minority party, a particularly humorous observation given what the Repugs would subsequently do in that regard when they were relegated to the same status).

  • Finally, it looks like the wingnuts are going on a publicity offensive in response to all of the heat the NRA is quite rightly receiving these days with a stunt called “Guns Across America” (yep, I’m serious) as noted here.

    So what do I find when I go to the site’s home page to learn more about them…

    Guns_Across_US_Lorem_Ipsum

    Boy, that Lorem Ipsum sure gets around, huh? : -).

    Update 1/19/13: All idiocy notwithstanding, I hope everyone is OK (here).

    Update 1/21/13: Truly, words fail.


  • Wednesday Mashup (1/16/13)

    January 16, 2013
  • This post at The Hill tells us the following…

    In his op-ed of January 9 (“NLRB Targets secret ballot and private employee information”) Fred Wszolek of the right-wing Workplace Fairness Institute claims that, for the past year, the labor board has “focused almost exclusively on rewarding union bosses with decisions that hurt workers and small businesses.” Nothing could be further from the truth.

    In reality, far-right obstructionism from the GOP Congress and anti-union organizations such as the Workplace Fairness Institute has undermined the board’s efforts to protect workers’ rights and restore a modicum of balance to our labor policy.

    Let’s examine the real record of the past two years:

    As Wszolek states, the board has introduced a new rule, supported by a clear majority of its members, to eliminate unnecessary litigation and deliberate delay before employees get to vote in union certification elections. Academic research demonstrates that employers often use delay as a strategy to undermine employees’ free choice. One large “union avoidance” law firm advises employers that “time is on your side” when it comes to (National Labor Relations Board) NLRB elections – the longer employers delay an election, the longer that employees are subjected to an aggressive anti-union campaign and the less likely that they will vote for unionization.

    Instead of permitting this fair and commonsense change to take effect, however, the GOP Congress and anti-union organizations have adopted every conceivable political and legal maneuver to scuttle the new rule. As a result, American workers are still being denied the opportunity for a timely vote.

    And for other “lowlights” on the right-wing “war on workers” in this country, I give you the following:

  • This tells us how Michigan and Repug Governor Rick Snyder snuck “right to work” legislation through the state house without any hearings or debate (a six-day legislative process undid 70 years of worker protections).
  • U.S. House Repugs blocked the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) from implementing new limits on coal dust — a pollutant contributing to a steep rise in cases of black lung among U.S. coal miners (here).
  • This tells us that, without the Repugs’ attack on public sector workers (to say nothing of actually passing the American Jobs Act), unemployment would probably be around 6 percent by now.
  • This tells us how Boehner, Cantor and their pals oppose a jobs bill for veterans (some legislation in this country actually used to pass without all of this nonsense; this is an example).
  • All of these developments by the U.S. House in particular make this totally predictable, by the way.

  • Next, the right wing wouldn’t be doing what they do best unless they were demonizing those less fortunate than they are, as noted here in another attack on Head Start

    Head Start is an $8 billion per year federal preschool program, designed to improve the kindergarten readiness of low-income children. Since its inception in1965, taxpayers have spent more than $180 billion on the program.

    But HHS’ latest Head Start Impact Study found taxpayers aren’t getting a good return on this “investment.” According to the congressionally-mandated report, Head Start has little to no impact on cognitive, social-emotional, health, or parenting practices of its participants. In fact, on a few measures, access to the program actually produced negative effects.

    The HHS’ scientifically-rigorous study tracked 5,000 children who were randomly assigned to either a group receiving Head Start services or a group that did not participate in Head Start. It followed their progression from ages three or four through the end of third grade. The third-grade evaluation is a continuation to HHS’ first-grade study, which followed children through the end of first grade.

    The first-grade evaluation found that any benefits the children may have accrued while in the Head Start program had dissipated by the time they reached first grade.

    Now I am definitely not an expert in education or statistics, but I thought it best to try and make sense of the report that Lindsey Burke of The Heritage Foundation is referencing (from here) to try and verify her claims. And it is true that the study indicated that the effects of math instruction dissipated somewhat once the 3 and 4-year-olds left Head Start and enrolled in public school. However, as far as I’m concerned, that begs the following question: how would the kids have fared if they had received no Head Start instruction at all?

    Besides, the report also tells us the following:

    At the end of the Head Start year, there was strong evidence that the Head Start group demonstrated better skills on the following six child outcomes related to children’s language and literacy development: (1) Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT) (vocabulary); (2) Woodcock-Johnson III (WJIII) Letter-Word Identification; (3) WJIII Spelling; (4) WJIII Pre-Academic Skills; (5) Color Identification; and (6) Letter Naming.

    Parents of children in the Head Start group reported that their children had greater emerging literacy skills at the end of Head Start than did parents of children in the control group.

    And as far as “cognitive” impacts go (also from the report)…

    At the end of 3rd grade, the most striking sustained subgroup finding was related to children from high risk households. For this subgroup, children in the 3-year old cohort demonstrated sustained cognitive impacts across all the years from pre-K through 3rd grade. At the end of 3rd grade, the Head Start children from high risk households showed favorable impacts on the ECLS-K Reading Assessment, the WJIII Letter-Word Identification, and the teacher-reported reading/language arts skills. This was in contrast to the impacts for children in lower and moderate risk households, for whom there were no impacts.

    Oh, and for the record, someone from the American Enterprise Institute also lambasted Head Start in similar terms over a 1998 study here. And as noted here (third bullet), Joe Klein engaged in some typical sock puppetry over Head Start as well, citing an unnamed Obama Administration official who called Head Start a “jobs program” (if this person truly believes that, then he/she should have had the intestinal fortitude to go on the record). And as noted here from about two years ago…

    [T]he Frederick County, Maryland, Board of County Commissioners voted to end the county’s contribution to its Head Start program, cutting overall funding for the program by more than 50 percent. Two of the Republican officials justified their decision to cut Head Start — which provides early childhood education to the children of low-income parents — by saying that women should really be married and home with their kids, thus rendering the program unnecessary…

    Typical for a bunch of troglodytes, I guess (the point of Head Start isn’t to turn poor kids into geniuses, but to give them help so they can compete with children who have better means than they do…and if they somehow do become geniuses, all the better).

  • Further, in case anyone was wondering what former Iraq war cheerleader Michael O’Hanlon was up to, wonder no more (here, in a column in which he basically praises outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton)…

    It is the president, and not Clinton, who bears considerable responsibility for at least two mistakes in the region. Obama raised hopes that his presidency could lead to a better rapport with Iran — hopes dashed by the stolen 2009 Iranian elections. He also sought to get Israel to freeze settlement activity as a precondition for peace talks. That idea was reasonably motivated, but ineffective.

    I must, however, acknowledge Clinton’s shortcomings in at least two policy debates. On Syria, we remain at a loss for what to do. The administration’s caution, while understandable, has become counterproductive in light of the tragedy there. A more forward-leaning U.S. support for the opposition looks warranted.

    Sooo…it’s Obama’s fault that Iran’s 2009 elections were a joke and “Bibi” isn’t going to stop building those damn settlements anytime soon. I guess Number 44 wasn’t “transformative” enough.

    O’Hanlon also tells us the following…

    This is not to say that Clinton was an historic secretary of state. Even an admirer, such as myself, must acknowledge that few big problems were solved on her watch, few big victories achieved. There was no equivalent of success in the Cold War, or Henry A. Kissinger’s work on President Richard M. Nixon’s opening to China. There is not likely to be a Clinton Doctrine to rival George Kennan’s containment policy, or the various doctrines associated with Nixon, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.

    As noted here, George Kennan (who had more foreign policy knowledge in his fingernail than O’Hanlon has in his whole body) spent some of the last years of his life railing against Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History’s war of choice in Mesopotamia, which O’Hanlon supported at a time when he should have followed Kennan’s example instead (here).

  • Continuing, U.S. House Rep of Kansas Mike Pompeo (R-Koch) propagandizes as follows (here, courtesy of “Tiger Beat On The Potomac” as Esquire’s Charles Pierce calls Politico– funny)…

    …energy prices, most particularly natural gas prices, will not be materially affected by exports at levels that are likely to occur. Natural gas prices are projected to go up regardless of exports. They are already rising from less than $2.00 per million cubic feet earlier this year to $3.50 currently.

    As noted here, though…

    The glut of recent gas production was initially driven not by new technologies or discoveries, but by high prices. In the years from 2005 through 2008, as conventional gas supplies dried up due to depletion, prices for natural gas soared to $13 per million BTU (prices had been in $2 range during the 1990s). It was these high prices that provided an incentive for using expensive technology to drill problematic reservoirs. Companies flocked to the Haynesville shale formation in Texas, bought up mineral rights, and drilled thousands of wells in short order. High per-well decline rates and high production costs were hidden behind a torrent of production—and hype. With new supplies coming on line quickly, gas prices fell below $3 MBTU, less than the actual cost of production in most cases.

    So it sounds basically like the natural gas “bubble” has deflated somewhat and Pompeo is trying to re-inflate it (Gosh, you mean we’re set up for another “bubble to bust” cycle? Color me shocked!).

    This about par for the course with Pompeo…

  • As noted here, he called global warming graduate school-level internships “radical,” even though they were developed under Number 43, not President Hopey Changey.
  • He also opposed tax breaks/subsidies for wind energy companies, even though he has never had a problem with same for Big Oil (here – by the way, as noted here, this country is on a path to energy self-sufficiency partly as a result of production of biofuels).
  • In a non-energy development, he compared Obama Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to former British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain here (see, Clapper had what I guess Pompeo would call the temerity to say that Iran hadn’t decided whether or not they want to build a nuke, an assessment shared by our “friends” in Israel).
  • And as noted here, Pompeo is one of the Repugs leading the loudest charge against the EPA and its supposed “job killing” agenda (when someone discovers an actual job that was actually killed by an actual EPA regulation enacted by this administration, let me know, OK?).
  • Pompeo also opposed the creation of a CPSC database that “would allow people to make informed decisions on product safety, having access to injury reports on things like toys, cribs, and strollers” here.
  • Lather, rinse, repeat (too easy I know, but I gotta say it)…

  • Finally, as noted here, the Obama Administration commendably faced up to the issue of guns today, with 23 executive orders and pending legislation that, unfortunately, faces a very real prospect of defeat (but for now, let’s think positive).

    Prior to that, though (as noted here),

    A Texas congressman vowed to try to impeach President Obama if he moves ahead with plans to control guns by executive order and onetime U.S. Attorney General Ed Meese says it is not far-fetched.

    Rep. Steve Stockman, a Republican from the Houston area, called Obama’s plans to skirt Congress and implement some controls administratively “an unconstitutional and unconscionable attack on the very founding principles of this republic.” He also threatened to defund the White House.

    “I will seek to thwart this action by any means necessary, including but not limited to eliminating funding for implementation, defunding the White House, and even filing articles of impeachment,” Stockman said.

    Meese, who was the nation’s top law enforcement officer in the Reagan administration, told Newsmax Stockman would have support for such a move – and a good case.

    “It would not be legal. It would not be constitutional,” Meese said. “And, indeed, if he tried to override the Second Amendment in any way, I believe it would be an impeachable offense.

    I think it’s hilarious for Fix Noise or anyone else in the wingnutosphere to obtain the supposed legal counsel of former Reaganite Ed Meese, of all people (I guess Alberto Gonzales was busy).

    As far as Stockman is concerned, Think Progress tells us the following here

    In his first House tenure, Stockman received criticism for his office’s handling of a letter that appeared to be evidence in the Oklahoma City bombings — a note his office was slow to deliver to the FBI and also sent to the National Rifle Association. He also wrote a controversial letter to the Department of Justice objecting to raids of anti-government “citizen militia” groups.

    Last week, Stockman proposed a repeal of all gun-free school zones, claiming that such laws have “placed our children in even greater danger.”

    Yep, don’t have to worry about Stockman’s wingnut bona fides, all right.

    As for Meese, it should be noted that his former boss, The Sainted Ronnie R (who, more and more, wouldn’t stand an electoral chance in his own party were he to run today), understood the need for common-sense gun laws, as noted here (along with the two who followed him in office, as noted here).

    And it’s really funny for a white-collar crook like Meese to give anyone a lecture in the law; as noted here

    Meese’s personal ethical problems stemmed from his involvement in the Wedtech scandal, when he was accused of various financial improprieties (i.e., not reporting lobbying income on his tax returns that, in all probability, would have come from Wedtech, a company that lobbied the Reagan Administration for a $32 million contract to make engines for the Army, despite the Army’s conclusion that Wedtech didn’t have the infrastructure or the capability to do the work). In his public capacity, Meese came under fire in November 1987 for his alleged role in the Iran-Contra affair; he failed to give President Reagan sound legal advice, did not investigate the scandal fully, and may have participated in a cover-up. Several days after this story broke in the press, 3,000 Federal prisoners who had arrived in the U.S. on the Mariel boatlifts from Cuba took 130 other inmates hostages in 2 prisons in protest of a diplomatic accord that would have deported them. (The contention is made) that the same character flaws which were apparent in Meese through the Wedtech and Iran-Contra investigations led to serious mismanagement of the prison riots. Progress toward a resolution of the riots occurred only when Meese began to lose authority as a negotiator.

    Yep, ol’ Eddie sure made a bee line to NSA headquarters when the Iran-Contra scandal broke to make sure the most incriminating documents were shredded the letter of the law was followed.

    In closing, I just want to point out another item from Think Progress; as noted here, the NRA ran an ad in opposition to Obama that mentioned the president and Michelle’s two daughters.

    Wow.

    Sopranos_5556530_Sm1
    In the words of Bill Maher referencing the Valerie Plame scandal, even the mob doesn’t go after your family.


  • Thursday Mashup (1/10/13)

    January 10, 2013
  • This post at The Hill tells us the following…

    The 112th Congress adjourned last week without reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The failure of Congress to pass either the Senate- or House-approved (S. 1925 or H.R. 4970) versions was the by-product both of partisan wrangling, as well as acerbic personal attacks that were later derided by the Huffington Post as “incendiary and extreme.”

    But the last-ditch negotiations between Vice President Joe Biden and House Leader Eric Cantor side-stepped the most important question of all: Are VAWA-funded programs working?

    Most VAWA funds are directed to beefing up the criminal justice system’s response to domestic violence. But according to Angela Moore Parmley, PhD of the Department of Justice, “We have no evidence to date that VAWA has led to a decrease in the overall levels of violence against women.”

    Really? Then how come we learn from here that “VAWA has dramatically reduced intimate partner violence: the Department of Justice estimates the reduction at 64% from 1993 to 2010. “

    And as noted here

    Since 1994, this landmark legislation has been funding clinics, shelters, and hotlines for victims in crisis across the country, and provided tremendously important tools for law enforcement to crack down on abusers and rapists. Over the past year, VAWA has trained 500,000 law enforcement officers and judicial officials, and provided a national crisis hotline that served 264,000 victims.

    The first Hill column with the anti-VAWA point of view was written by E. Everett Bartlett, president, Stop Abusive and Violent Environments.

    And yes, SAVE is indeed a right-wing “astroturf” group, as noted here. As Laura Basset of HuffPo reported, SAVE’s treasurer “has a major financial interest in reducing immigrant protections,” with SAVE Services having strong ties to a group called Encounter International, which, in one case, matched an American with a Russian bride who claimed that she was beaten regularly by him (not going to pretend that I know the whole story, but I only want to point out what is at least a potential for conflict of interest).

    As far as I’m concerned, SAVE can participate in whatever legal business it chooses. However, it shouldn’t pass itself off as an advocacy group as well.

  • Next, Mikey the Beloved is back for the new Congressional session, this time with a gimmicky bill to freeze the pay of federal workers (here).

    Want to know why this is a bad idea? From here

    Federal employees already have sacrificed $103 billion over 10 years to deficit reduction $60 billion of which has come directly from freezing salaries in 2011 and 2012. President Obama has delayed until April the already-paltry 0.5% adjustment proposed for 2013, so the actual raise would amount to just 0.25% for the fiscal year. Yet even that tiny increase isn’t harsh enough for Congressman Fitzpatrick.

    Rep. Fitzpatrick has decided to add insult to injury, literally, by maligning the federal employees in his district and proposing to punish all federal workers with an entirely unwarranted extension of the pay freeze for all of 2013.

    Reducing the salaries of federal workers through an extended pay freeze is a cheap political ploy, AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. said. Not only does it inflict tremendous damage on the families of these modestly paid workers, more than half of whom are veterans, but it also hits the communities where these employees live, since they will continue to be unable to afford any kind of economic activity beyond paying for the bare necessities of living.

    Gosh, what a shame those pesky government workers can’t pull down $175K a year like you do, huh Mikey?

    And Fitzpatrick’s U.S. House pal Bob Latta is opposing a medical device tax in the Affordable Care Act (here).

    As noted here, though…

    I heard convincing arguments in favor of the tax from … several executives of medical device making firms in Massachusetts! Bob DeAngelis, an executive with Katahdin, told me that he had no problem with the tax and didn’t see it having much impact on his 150-person firm. “I’m not terribly upset we’re going to have a tax on medical devices. I think it’s overblown,” he said. “Scott Brown says we ‘shouldn’t be taxing the job creators.’ That sounds great but what does that mean. He’s not talking about me. I’m going to hire based on people buying my product.

    Oh, and as noted here, Latta is pretty stinky on the environment too, voting against increased federal protections for Lake Erie, which is a bit of a problem with Latta being from Ohio and all.

  • Further Wisconsin U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R-Teahadist) agreed recently here with Flush Limbore when the leader of Johnson’s political party drew a line connecting marriage equality with pedophilia.

    I realize this is “water wet, sky blue” stuff, but this is particularly repugnant for Johnson, who is a thoroughly loathsome character in his own right, partly because he once spoke out in support of the Green Bay, WI diocese while it sought to shield itself from litigation over pedophile priests (here).

  • Nixon_YMQUD00Z

  • Continuing, it should be noted that yesterday was the 100th birthday of a certain Richard Milhous Nixon (I also had some related video here), and with that in mind, Fix Noise “Democrat” Doug Schoen referred to Nixon as a “liberal” here (if he were still alive, Number 37 would no doubt have brought the full weight on the Feds down on that toad Schoen in response for such an alleged calumny, which is a comment on Nixon’s paranoia and authoritarian streak more than anything else).

    And central to Schoen’s largely specious argument is the following…

    Though Nixon, and other Republicans in the 1970s, would never have expressed it in this way, our 37th president was a pro-big government, pro-public spending, and pro-social safety net president.

    Nixon was not only a fervent supporter of the Clean Air Act, the first federal law designed to control air pollution on the national level; he also gave us the Environmental Protection Agency. The creation of the EPA represented an expansion of government that would face fierce opposition were it being debated today. The EPA is also one of the agencies on Capitol Hill that the business community most detests—along with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which polices working conditions. OSHA is another Nixon creation.

    Well, I’m not sure exactly how “fervent” Nixon was about clean air, but as far as the Clean Water Act is concerned, Nixon was so “fervent” that he vetoed it, and when Congress overrode his veto, Nixon impounded the money (more on Nixon and the environment is here, and here too, to be fair).

    Basically, from a distance, Nixon looks like a giant on the environment partly because our problems with air and water pollution in particular were so horrific that all he had to do was not stand in the way of progress originated by others to look like he was accomplishing something.

    If you want to give Nixon props for being somewhat “green,” I suppose that’s OK, though (more of a comment on future ruinous Repug presidents by comparison, though: mainly The Sainted Ronnie R and his “son”). However, let’s not forget one of Nixon’s most enduring legacies that haunt us to this day, and that is his nurturing and perpetuating of white rage in pursuit of what now looks to be fleeting electoral glory for his party.

  • And as an example of what Tricky Dick has wrought, I give you this bit of pointless fluff from the Roger Ailes BS Factory (here), criticizing Dem U.S. House Rep Sheila Jackson-Lee for saying that entitlements such as Medicare and Social Security are “earned” (with the word in quotes to imply that Jackson-Lee is wrong, which she isn’t – more info here…kind of ridiculous that it still has to be pointed out after all this time).

    And since we’re talking about the TV and online equivalent of rabies after all, I’d like to call attention to the following comment…

    SJL_Gorilla_010713

    And this was one of about 4-5 gorilla-related comments (and the one I highlighted actually got about 5 “likes”).

    Stay classy, Foxies!


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