Thursday Mashup (3/28/13)

March 28, 2013

  • (I’m trying to play catch-up a bit here – sorry if I’m a bit behind on some of this stuff.)

    Recently, Mikey the Beloved opined as follows (here)…

    In days of old, the filibuster was used as a way to prevent the majority from overriding the minority…

    I honestly don’t know if Mikey is living in a time warp these days or not (days of old?), but as noted here from last September, the Repugs (the minority party in the Senate, let’s not forget – and hopefully it will remain that way after next year) have blocked about 375 bills proposed by the Democrats via the filibuster. That’s not “prevent(ing) the majority from overriding the minority” – that’s called obstruction.

    I will grudgingly cede Fitzpatrick’s point that the so-called “talking” filibuster seemed to be preferred by most of those polled in this country as noted here, though the linked post also tells us that those polled are concerned also about other abuses of Senate process by the minority party (and why the hell is Mikey so damn concerned about the Senate anyway?).

    Mikey also tells us the following…

    Last year, the Administration proposed waiving work requirements for welfare recipients, a misguided move, I believe…

    Yes, it would be misguided, if in fact it had been proposed by the Obama White House. The only problem for Mikey is that it didn’t happen (here)…

    The administration’s welfare waiver initiative would strengthen work requirements by empowering states to innovate on strategies that could move 20 percent more of the caseload into sustainable employment. As the government’s directive announcing the initiative notes, “The Secretary is only interested in approving waivers if the state can explain in a compelling fashion why the proposed approach may be a more efficient or effective means to promote employment entry, retention, advancement, or access to jobs that offer opportunities for earnings and advancement that will allow participants to avoid dependence on government benefits.” Republican and Democratic governors — and even Romney and Paul Ryan — have all promoted flexibility before Obama embraced it. [HHS, 7/12/2012]

    Mikey concludes with the following…

    Sadly, I took to the House floor last week to speak about Harry Fawkes, the late and former chairman of the Bucks County Republican Committee. Harry was selfless and magnanimous; everything he did was for the benefit of our county. He was a friend and mentor to many of us in public life today and often said, “good government is good politics.”

    I tried to observe a bit of respectful silence over the passing of Bucks County Repug Poobah Harry Fawkes (probably more than he would afford us), but I think it is now important to recall the following…

  • Fawkes once lamented a win here by Repug Charley (“I Have A Semi-Open Mind”) Martin over Steve Santarsiero in the Bucks County Commissioners contest because it was too narrow, I guess (with Fawkes claiming that Bucks would turn into “New Jersey West” with a Dem majority of commissioners…typical).
  • Fawkes also encouraged real, honest-to-goodness voter fraud here upon hearing that some PA Repugs registered as Democrats so they could vote for Hillary Clinton in the ’08 primary, after which they would presumably switch their registrations back to Republican again, all in a failed effort to derail Number 44 (creating undue headaches and likely overtime for poll workers who had to process their application forms back and forth…”good government is good politics” – too funny.)
  • Fawkes also accused former PA-08 Congressman Patrick Murphy of “financial improprieties” here with defense contractor (and campaign donor) Kuchera Systems, all because Murphy accepted the donation and returned about $5 grand in earmarks in legislation, one of which benefitted Kuchera (no evidence that Murphy benefitted personally of course – yeah, remember how horrible earmarks were supposed to be, even though they accounted for about one one-hundredths or less of the federal budget?). And as I noted at the time, how ridiculous was it (to say nothing of partisan) to criticize Murphy for this given that Mikey the Beloved, Fawkes’ protégé for jobs both in county and federal government, held onto about $190 grand in donations from political action committees tied to disgraced former lobbyist Jack Abramoff (here)?
  • Mikey has a little caveat at the end that these little “Congressman’s notebook” posts of his will appear in his designated house organ twice a month as a way to “shed some light” on what he is doing. I think PA-08, though, would be better served if he were to spend the time he would use writing these posts instead on legislation that actually addresses the needs of his constituents.

  • Next, I turn to one of Mikey’s Repug playmates In the House (here)…

    A Republican lawmaker is concerned about voter registration questions buried in a draft application to receive benefits under President Obama’s healthcare law.

    Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.), who leads a House subcommittee on oversight, said the questions’ placement could lead some to believe that voter registration is tied to eligibility for the law’s insurance exchanges.

    “While the healthcare law requires that government agencies collect vast information about Americans’ personal lives, it does not give your department an interest in whether individual Americans choose to vote,” Boustany wrote in a letter Monday to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

    At the end of the Hill article, though, we learn the following (“asked and answered,” if you ask me)…

    Many voters register in the process of receiving or renewing their driver’s license, and applications for Medicaid, food stamps and other benefits usually afford the same chance.

    States must offer an opportunity for voter registration through any office that provides public assistance, according to the National Voter Registration Act of 1993.

    Of course, “Birther” Boustany (here), being a typical wingnut, is an old hand at blame avoidance; this tells us that, as a medical doctor, he was the target of three malpractice suits (kind of explains his embrace of “tort reform” – I’m sure this is more “cause an effect” stuff too). He also paid $18,250 to receive an English title that turned out to be bogus (as the 9/09 Daily Kos post tells us), and as noted here, he claimed in September 2007 that “sectarian slayings were down” in Iraq, when quite the opposite was true. And as noted here, “Lord” Boustany opposed a provision in the health care law that dedicated $1.1 billion to researching the effectiveness of medical drugs and procedures; what is so appalling is that Boustany had not, in fact, even bothered to read the text of the provision he opposed.

    I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise that Boustany and the rest of the “pay no price, bear no burden” bunch can’t fathom that lower-income voters don’t have the luxury of making multiple trips (in their luxury vehicles, no doubt, possibly with someone else doing the driving) and need the legally-protected option of registering to vote when they apply for federal government services as part of “one-stop shopping.” And I have no doubt that, given the chance, Boustany would eliminate that option for those less fortunate altogether.

    Which makes the task of ensuring voting integrity (as opposed to the straw man of “voter fraud” supposedly by actual voters) all the more important.

  • Continuing, the Daily Caller whines as follows (here)…

    Democratic New Mexico Sen. Martin Heinrich founded an environmentalist group with a convicted eco-terrorist in the 1990s.

    Heinrich, who will meet with President Obama in the Oval Office Monday to establish the Rio Grande del Norte as a national monument, was elected to the Senate in 2012 with the financial backing of numerous environmentalist groups.

    Prior to his political career, Heinrich c0-founded and chaired the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance. David Foreman, a convicted criminal and founder of the radical environmental “warrior society” Earth First!, was among the other co-founders of the group. He also sat on the board during Heinrich’s tenure as chairman.

    Leave it to Tucker Carlson’s Crayon Scribble Page to get the story exactly wrong – this tells us the following…

    Foreman’s arrest was the culmination of three years and two million tax dollars spent in an attempt to frame a few Earth First! activists for conspiring to damage government and private property. The FBI infiltrated Earth First! groups in several states with informants and undercover agent-provocateurs. Over 500 hours of tape recordings of meetings, events and casual conversation had been amassed. Phones had been tapped and homes broken in to. The FBI was doing their best to intimidate radical environmentalists across the country, marking them as potential threat to national security.

    Back in the 1970s the FBI issued a memo to their field offices stating that when attempting to break up dissident groups, the most effective route was to forget about hard intelligence or annoying facts. Simply make a few arrests and hold a public press conference. Charges could later be dropped. It didn’t matter; by the time the news hit the airwaves and was printed up in the local newspapers, the damage had already been done.

    It was the FBI’s assertion that the action stopped by the arrests under that Arizona power line in late May, 1989, was to be a test run for a much grander plot involving (Mark) Davis, (Marc) Baker, (Peg) Millet, and the group’s leader, Dave Foreman. The FBI charged the four with the intent to damage electrical transmission lines that lead to the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons facility in Colorado.

    “The big lie that the FBI pushed at their press conference the day after the arrests was that we were a bunch of terrorists conspiring to cut the power lines into the Palo Verde and Diablo Canyon nuclear facilities in order to cause a nuclear meltdown and threaten public health and safety,” explained Foreman.

    The Counter Punch story also tells us that, in the late 1980s, the FBI launched a unit called THERMCON “in response to an act of sabotage of the Arizona Snowbowl ski lift near Flagstaff, Arizona that occurred in October 1987, allegedly by Davis, Millet and Baker.” One of the THERMCON agents was Michael A. Fain, a fairly inept individual who basically admitted on tape that THERMCON had targeted Foreman (with Fain saying that Foreman “isn’t the guy we need to pop”).

    However, the case proceeded anyway, with this perhaps inevitable result…

    …the case against Foreman, having been deferred almost seven years, was finally reduced in 1996 to a single misdemeanor and a meager $250 in fines. The $2 million the FBI wasted tracking Earth First! over the latter part of the 1980s had only been nominally successful. Yet the alleged ring-leader was still free. Unfortunately, the FBI may have gotten exactly what they wanted all along. Dave Foreman later stepped down as spokesman to Earth First! and inherited quite a different role in the environmental movement — one of invisibility and near silence.

    And to think that Carlson and his ilk have the gall to criticize Foreman for “less-than-level headed statements,” which is a bit hilarious when you also consider this.

  • Finally, it looks like Teahadist nematode Phil Gingrey has entered the race for the soon-to-be-vacant U.S. Senate seat of Saxby Chambliss, as noted here.

    Given that, I think it’s instructive to look at what Gingrey “brings to the table,” as noted here.

    (And by the way, I am hardly gloating on this subject – given the fact that five incumbent U.S. Senate Democrats are stepping down also, as noted here, I would say that we have more than a little bit of work to do in that area.)

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    Thursday Mashup (3/21/13)

    March 21, 2013
  • Last Monday marked the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision of Gideon v. Wainright in which the High Court ruled unanimously that the Constitution requires the states to provide defense attorneys to criminal defendants charged with serious offenses who cannot afford lawyers themselves (this was the basis for the great TV movie called “Gideon’s Trumpet” starring Henry Fonda – here).

    As noted here, though…

    The issue is by no means settled. In his recent New York Times editorial “The Right to Counsel: Badly Battered at 50,” Lincoln Caplan contends that “After 50 years, the promise of Gideon v. Wainwright is mocked more of than fulfilled,” at times because of the lack of funding for public defender offices, in other cases due to incompetent counsel. He concludes, “There is no shortage of lawyers to do this work. What stands in the way is an undemocratic, deep-seated lack of political will.”

    Indeed – as noted here, Georgia shifted the burden of providing counsel to its 159 counties; this was an issue in particular for capital murder cases involving the death penalty (don’t know if it was an issue here or not) – apparently Georgia is responsible for more executions than any state except Texas (I think that’s what the author meant to say instead of “Houston”). And it’s not much better in the “Sunshine State” (here); New York State has issues also as noted here (lest anyone think I intend to pick on “red” states only).

    And from here

    The Supreme Court has carved out other exceptions to the right to counsel after an arrest. It has allowed law enforcement officials to have ex parte contacts with defendants to determine whether the defendant is in fact represented by counsel (sic). It has also allowed ex parte communications that are made with the consent of defendant’s counsel; those made pursuant to discovery procedures, such as subpoenas; communications in the course of a criminal investigation; communications necessary to protect the life or safety of another person; and those made by a represented person, so long as the person has knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waived the right to have counsel present. These exceptions apply to all persons, regardless of whether they can afford their own attorney.

    And as noted here

    No one wants to pay for more public defenders. Or, better put, few people in political power care enough about the gross injustices being done to poor people to spend more money trying to ensure they receive adequate representation. “Inadequate funding is the primary source of the systemic failure in indigent defense programs nationwide,” concluded Harvard Law School student David A. Simon in a thoughtful law review piece published a few years ago. “Of the more than $146.5 billion spent annually on criminal justice, over half is allocated to support the police officers and prosecutors who investigate and prosecute cases, while only about two to three percent goes toward indigent defense.”

    (Criminal justice experts Stephen B. Bright and Sia M. Sanneh) don’t just blame lawmakers. “Many judges tolerate or welcome inadequate representation because it allows them to process many cases in a short time,” they write. And the problem is made worse, they contend, because the “Supreme Court has refused to require competent representation, instead adopting a standard of ‘effective counsel’ that hides and perpetuates deficient representation.” Not only that, Simon adds, but the justices have “neglected to specify which level of government — federal, state or local — must serve as the guarantor” of the right to counsel nor the “method by which states should administer their public defender programs.” No one is responsible, in other words, because everyone is in charge.

    Let us hope that this HBO documentary, due to air this summer, helps to shed some more light on this travesty.

  • Further, I give you the latest from the fake outrage factory here (ZOMG! There goes that Marxist preh-zee-dint of ours again)…

    Yesterday during the White House daily press briefing, Press Secretary Jay Carney was asked by “just a blogger” if President Obama planned to cut back on his lavish vacations and travel at a time when the country is hurting economically. Carney’s answer wasn’t “no,” but rather a long drawn out “Obama is focused on jobs.”

    This question came just one week after it was revealed the Obama’s are living at a cost of $1.4 billion per year.

    This is an attempt to re-spin the finding here from last year that the Obama White House spent $1.4 billion on vacations, which was totally ridiculous when it was first pronounced for the reasons noted here (actually, Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs did an even better job of dispensing with this nonsense here).

    Memo to clownhall.com…the purse strings of the federal government rest with the House of Representatives. Neither you nor your wingnut brethren have any right whatsoever to complain about the effects of the sequester, particularly when Obama and the Senate Democrats have been proposing alternatives that don’t totally screw over many more people than necessary in this country and leave the “pay no price, bear no burden” bunch untouched as usual.

    Meanwhile, Man Tan Boehner, that sleazy weasel Eric Cantor, Mr.-Puppy-Dog-Eyes-With-The-Shiv and the rest of the Repug “young guns” (with Mikey the Beloved pledging his supine acceptance) are bound and determined to shove austerity down our throats whether we like it or not, all to make Congressional Democrats and Number 44 look as bad as they can.

  • Next, BoBo of the New York Times is back, as noted from here

    There is a statue outside the Federal Trade Commission of a powerful, rambunctious horse being reined in by an extremely muscular man. This used to be a metaphor for liberalism. The horse was capitalism. The man was government, which was needed sometimes to restrain capitalism’s excesses.

    Today, liberalism seems to have changed. Today, many progressives seem to believe that government is the horse, the source of growth, job creation and prosperity. Capitalism is just a feeding trough that government can use to fuel its expansion.

    For an example of this new worldview, look at the budget produced by the Congressional Progressive Caucus last week. These Democrats try to boost economic growth with a gigantic $2.1 trillion increase in government spending — including a $450 billion public works initiative, a similar-size infrastructure program and $179 billion so states, too, can hire more government workers.

    Oh yes, how dare those baaad, dastardly Dems try to hire more “government workers” (police, fire, teachers – you know, those lazy, gold-bricking swine…snark). And of course, David Brooks won’t tell us that the U.S. House Repugs and their economic warfare on said workers (as part of the austerity I noted earlier) is one of the biggest drags against our economic recovery (here).

    Oh, and BoBo also tells us the following about taxes (Brooks is responding to Back to Work, the plan of the Progressive Democratic Caucus, which would indeed raise the top-end rate to 49 percent – for anyone making $1 billion or more – I’ll acknowledge that there could be a “bite” when you calculate state and local taxes with it, but I’m sorry, I don’t see that as a “game changer”; maybe try to factor in a tax credit for these folks when we return to prosperity? Just a thought…)…

    Now, of course, there have been times, like, say, the Eisenhower administration, when top tax rates were very high. But the total tax burden was lower since so few people paid the top rate and there were so many ways to avoid it. Government was smaller.

    And high earners aren’t avoiding taxes now? Really?

    And Brooks also trots out the “higher taxes will cause me to work less” argument, supported by former Bushie Greg Mankiw among others – I think it is important to consider this in response, mainly that such thinking is counter-intuitive to human nature (wouldn’t you want to work more to make up lost earnings?) – also, deferring taxation this way might end up putting more of a burden on your kids if you’re a parent.

    As noted here, though, BoBo has been wrong about income inequality for years (and as noted here, Brooks once blamed women for it – nice). And for good measure, he once defended the “one percent” here (Matt Yglesias responds also here – h/t Jay Ackroyd at Eschaton).

    In conclusion, I just wanted to note that I did a search for “unemployed” or any variation thereof in Brooks’s column, and I came up empty, which isn’t surprising I know (love to see how Brooks would do having to work one or two “McJobs” in an effort to make up for his cushy pundit paycheck and related perks).

  • And never to be outdone when it comes to self-righteous indignation, the Murdoch Street Journal whines as follows here (about Medicare Advantage, which, quite rightly, is being targeted for a budget cut)…

    The tragedy is that Medicare Advantage architecture is far from perfect and HHS could save money if it wanted to, in particular by targeting the private fee-for-service plans that mimic all of traditional Medicare’s dysfunctions except with an element of private profit. But that approach conflicts with the Administration’s political goal of strangling Medicare Advantage in the crib.

    (Conservatives just love to punctuate their literary flourishes with violent imagery, don’t they?)

    As noted here

    Medicare Advantage was started under President George W. Bush, and the idea was that competition among the private insurers would reduce costs. But in recent years the plans have actually cost more than traditional Medicare. So the health care law scales back the payments to private insurers.

    And as noted here

    Private insurance plans under Medicare Advantage are often able to attract healthier Medicare beneficiaries by offering cheap — but bare-bones — health plans. When those healthier seniors encounter a medical problem that’s too extensive for their private coverage, they switch over to the more generous traditional Medicare program in order to take advantage of its more expansive benefits. That in turn, raises spending in the traditional Medicare pool

    And just go ahead and call me a filthy, unkempt liberal blogger, but based on this poll from last December, I would say that most of those people polled want traditional Medicare to be left alone (despite all of its “dysfunctions,” something the Repugs would do well to get through their thick heads in light of this).

  • Finally, Irrational Spew Online bloviates as follows here

    Elizabeth Warren was slated to be the first head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Senate Republicans stopped her confirmation, so now she is leading the charge to confirm Richard Cordray to that office.

    But nobody should be the head of this monstrous Dodd-Frankenstein by-product. The structure and powers of the CFPB, as created by Congress, put it outside our constitutional system. Most significantly, Congress allotted the bureau an independent source of revenue, guaranteed its insulation from legislative or executive oversight, and gave it the power to define and punish “abusive” practices.

    Actually, this tells us that the CFPB can have its rules vetoed by something called the FSOC, and no other regulator is subject to this kind of a check (so much for operating “outside our constitutional system”). Also, this tells us how Warren has called out the Repugs on their BS over Cordray in particular and the CFPB and Dodd-Frank in general.

    And as noted here (in the matter of supposed “insulation from legislative or executive oversight”)…

    “Since his first confirmation hearing in September 2011, Director Cordray has appeared before this Committee more than any other financial regulator,” said (South Dakota Democratic U.S. Senator Tim) Johnson. “During that time, he has proved to be a strong leader of the CFPB. He has completed many of the rules required by Wall Street Reform, including a well-received final [Qualified Mortgage] rule. He listens, and has crafted strong rules that take into account all sides of an issue. He has laid the groundwork for nonbank regulation. He has brought to light the financial challenges faced by students, elderly Americans, servicemembers and their families. He has taken important enforcement actions against banks that took advantage of customers. So I ask my colleagues, what more can Richard Cordray do to deserve an up-or-down vote? I hope we can finally put aside politics and move forward with Richard Cordray’s confirmation.” – Consumerist, 3/19/13

    The Daily Kos post tells us that the U.S. Senate Banking Committee approved the nomination of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The vote was 12-10 along party lines. Every Democrat supported him. Every Republican opposed him.

    As mad as I get at the Dems at times, I get even madder at people who say they’re the same as Republicans. The latter bunch just wants to keep fleecing us, fighting unending wars for little or no purpose, fouling the environment at will, sitting on their collective hands while austerity tries to wreck our fledgling recovery, allowing weapons of death to continue flooding every school, movie theater, and gathering place of any kind in this country, and continually trying to demonize the opposition party instead of working with them on behalf of the best interests of the majority of the people of this nation (oh, but they’re “pro-life,” aren’t they? Not if you’re actually born, they’re not).

    And unless you’re rich, if you know all this and still support these fools, frauds and charlatans (at least on the national level anyway – I’ve encountered precious few good Republicans on the local level, though not recently), then I have no tolerance for your point of view.

    Your willful ignorance continues to be the ruin of this country. Heckuva job!


  • An Anniversary of Disgrace

    March 19, 2013

    gwb_13-george-w-bush
    I’m not going to say that my outrage over the Not-So-Excellent Adventure in Iraq brought to us by Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History is all used up, because it isn’t and I don’t expect that it ever will be…at least I hope not.

    However, instead of restating what I and many others have already pointed out many times, I’ll just note that I visited the George W. Bush Presidential Center (or whatever it is) here and found no mention of Iraq at all. Which is pretty astonishing, even for Bushco.

    I cannot recall the exact segment, but Rachel Maddow recently pointed out the results of post-election polling from last fall in the contest between Obama and Willard Mitt Romney, and of the people who voted for Obama, the killing of bin Laden wasn’t even the number one reason they supported Number 44 (actually, that was the number two reason).

    The number one reason is because the Iraq war ended on Obama’s watch.

    So that means that the Iraq war was hated by more Democrats, independents, and (I’m sure) some Repugs than Osama bin Laden, the guy responsible for the worst terrorist attack that ever hit our country.

    I don’t know what needs to be added beyond that, except this I suppose.

    Update 3/20/13: Even though he is thoroughly delusional and remains, of course, catastrophically wrong, at least Former Defense Secretary Rummy went on the record for the occasion here (And by the way, let’s not forget the 2.2 million refugees from Iraq since 2003, as noted here).


    Friday Mashup (3/15/13)

    March 15, 2013
  • This story from The Hill tells us the following…

    The White House is playing defense over the decision to cancel tours at President Obama’s residence, the latest stumble for Obama in the messaging war with Republicans over the sequester.

    What total garbage…

    The reason the White House tours were cancelled, as noted here, was because of cutbacks to the Secret Service (the story tells us that the Obama White House is asking if the Secret Service could allow tours to resume for school groups). If the Secret Service isn’t able to both accommodate visitors and protect the President and the First Family because of budgetary reasons, then the tours should be cancelled.

    Of course, as far as the Repugs and their media acolytes are concerned, unemployed workers, children, mothers, and soldiers looking to enroll in the Army’s tuition assistance program aren’t really on their radar, as it were (as well as the thousands, and perhaps millions, of other Americans hurt by the sequester). But do something to shed a spotlight on their stupidity, and they’ll howl like the weasels that they truly are.

  • Next (and staying with The Hill), I give you this from Pope wannabe Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston (tough luck there)…

    (O’Malley) called on lawmakers Friday to exempt any employer who objects to birth control from having to meet the healthcare law’s mandate for providing the coverage to employees.

    O’Malley wrote that Rep. Diane Black’s (R-Tenn.) legislation preserves the “vitally important traditions of religious freedom and the right of conscience.”

    I’ve already pointed out that the Obama Administration allowed a “conscience” guideline in the health care law for certain religious organizations that didn’t want contraceptive services covered as noted here (see the ** notation at the bottom), so I don’t intend to revisit that “hobby horse” no matter how much O’Malley and his brethren want to ride it.

    Instead, I want to take a closer look at the U.S. House Repug behind this latest bit of “values voter” pandering (from the same state that gave us Marsha Blackburn)…

  • Here, Diane Black introduced legislation that basically bars government funding of Planned Parenthood, even though legislation of that type singling out a group is unconstitutional (like the Mike Johanns/ACORN stuff).
  • Here, she introduced legislation that would bar gays from adopting children (if a same-sex or LGBT couple wishes to take on the responsibilities of parenthood, I wish them luck).
  • Here, she said that “children with pre-existing conditions and chronic illnesses should not have to be covered under their parent’s plan by insurance companies. Her reasoning is that insurance companies would lose too much money” (I’ll give you a moment to do the same slow burn I did if you wish).
  • Oh, and based on this, Tennessee ranks 41st out of 50 states when it comes to teen birth rate, it ranks 42nd out of 50 states when it comes to teen pregnancy rate, and it also ranks 42nd out of 50 in public costs for births resulting from unintended pregnancies (1 is best among U.S. states, and 50 is worst; this is the most recent data I could find).

    That’s something a reasonably intelligent life form should consider before attacking an organization dedicated to the sexual health of women of all ages, to say nothing of the overall health of many of the constituents she allegedly represents (of course, since we’re talking about someone like Black, it is very likely that the description of “a reasonably intelligent life form” does not apply, and the word “allegedly” should be used as much as necessary when describing her notions of constituent service…oh, and when it comes to conservatives like Black yelling about “big gumint” spending – well, maybe she should take a look in the mirror).

  • Continuing, I give you “Pastor” Gerson of the WaPo here, trying to fire up the Jeb Bush bandwagon for 2016 (spare me)…

    Bush does not approach these issues as a moderate, or even as a Jack Kemp-like bleeding-heart conservative. “Expanding government to empower people? I haven’t been in favor of that. Forty percent of GDP [consumed by government] is the most I can take.” His primary focus is the reform of institutions, particularly the immigration system, public education and Medicare. “Government is mired in the 1970s,” he says, “with huge cost structures and poor outcomes. Every other institution has gone through a transformation. Government hasn’t.”

    As far as “being mired in the 1970s” is concerned, please take a look at the following graph (from here).

    Accumulated_Gross_Debt_031413
    As you can see, the green circle shows this country’s federal government debt during the ‘70s. The red circle shows our debt when Jeb’s brother inhabited An Oval Office. So basically, I wish we really were “mired in the 1970s,” because we’d be a lot better off.

    And I must tell you I got a hoot out of the typical convoluted “bleeding-heart conservative” language from Gerson on Jack Kemp, who was one of the “founding fathers” when it comes to Not Your Father’s GOP and their craven opposition to any tax increase whatsoever.

    This tells us, among other things, that Kemp also called John Kerry and Hillary Clinton “sad, hypocritical and pathetic” for supporting Ned Lamont in his successful Democratic senatorial primary bid in Connecticut in 2006 (Lamont being the anti-Iraq war candidate, as opposed to Holy Joe Lieberman); also, Kemp was considered “unmanageable” as a candidate for ignoring the timers on his speeches, refusing to call contributors, and refusing also to practice for debates.

    Returning to Jeb, this tells us how he flip-flopped on immigration, said Obama “needed a spanking” (so professional) here, and, while he is apparently wooing voters of one skin color now, this tells us how he disenfranchised voters of another skin color in 2004.

    Jeb also said that Texas might “go blue” here (dare I dream?). And if you want to revisit Jeb’s role in the Terri Schiavo fiasco from 2005, click here.

  • On we go – this tells us the following…

    A leading GOP critic of the White House’s management of offshore drilling wants to know more about an Interior Department unit tasked with tackling corruption.

    House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) said many operational and personnel specifics regarding the Interior Department’s Investigations and Review Unit (IRU) remain hazy, according to a letter first obtained by the Houston Chronicle.

    Established in 2010 and now part of the department’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), the unit is charged with stomping out any wrongdoing at firms drilling offshore, the federal officials overseeing them and the relationships between the two.

    “Questions remain about whether the IRU has been allowed to operate as a law enforcement program, reporting only to the BSEE Director and without sufficient public scrutiny and oversight from the Department and Congress,” Hastings said in a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

    In response, I give you this from two years ago…

    The House Natural Resources Committee chairman and his staff wanted to keep the details of his three offshore drilling measures off-limits, even to other Republicans on the committee, so they decided to keep emails to a minimum.

    Hastings’s staff discussed the bills largely through face-to-face conversations to prevent emails from being leaked, a spokesman said.

    […]

    Hastings also held a closed-door, invitation-only meeting with top energy lobbyists, including representatives from Chevron, Patton Boggs and about a dozen others.

    I’m not sure how the Repugs could have chosen someone more hostile to the environment and friendly to business interests, particularly in Washington State, than Hastings; as noted here, Hastings scored just about the lowest possible environmental rating he could from the League of Conservation Voters.

    Hastings assumed the chair of the House Natural Resources Committee in 2010. So the next time you see a teabagger, make sure you thank him (or her) for Hastings, someone who probably has not a clue as to the meaning of the words “environmental stewardship.”

    Update 3/26/13: Hastings is clueless yet again, as noted here, though he does manage to effectively regurgitate GOP talking points.

  • Further (and keeping with the Teahadists), I give you the following from here

    Medicaid is first a moral issue, not an economic one. The poorest and the sickest among us deserve better than a crass political debate over the potential economic windfall Pennsylvania may receive if our state takes federal dollars to expand Medicaid.

    Instead, the debate should focus on the health and dignity of low-income individuals who are relying on Medicaid, or soon will, and how the system is failing to serve our most vulnerable.

    The Medicaid system’s failure is so broad that Forbes Magazine called it a “humanitarian crisis” and a scandal bigger than Bernie Madoff’s investment schemes and the Wall Street bailouts. Gov. Corbett was right to say no to expanding it.

    (Don’t worry, I’ll stop. I don’t want to be responsible for killing more brain cells.)

    If you guessed that the author of this nonsense is Jennifer Stefano of Americans for Prosperity, then you win a free trifold hat, a copy of Dinesh D’Souza’s latest anti-Obama screed, and a poster with Number 44’s face partly morphed into that of Adolf Hitler.

    I can’t think of a word for Stefano’s gall to quite rightly claim that funding Medicaid (I think that’s what she’s talking about) is “first a moral issue,” then turn around and call it a failure (judging from that, Stefano is apparently fine with this). Also, this tells us that funding Medicaid is not only the right thing to do to provide for the poorest residents of our beloved commonwealth, but it also creates jobs (yeah, jobsremember them?).

    This is par for the proverbial course when discussing Stefano, though; as noted here, she claimed, among other things, that the 62 million people who voted to re-elect President Obama last year basically were supporting “some weird ideological agenda,” which presumably includes the Affordable Care Act, which the majority of this country no longer wishes to fight about as noted here (I guess one person’s “weird ideological agenda” is another person’s “oh my love of freaking God, can’t we FINALLY STOP FIGHTING OVER THIS AND TRY TO WORK TOGETHER AND SOLVE OUR PROBLEMS FOR A CHANGE???” epiphany). She also claimed that anyone in the “Occupy” movement wanted to “defecate on the flag” here (all class).

    Oh, and as noted here (fourth bullet), Stefano is perpetually angry at Mikey the Beloved for not passing some Teahadist litmus test, or something. Of course, if Jen wanted to put her money where her proverbial mouth was, she would actually go ahead and “primary” him.

    Don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen, though; it apparently benefits Stefano more to be a wingnut celebrity than to engage in the often hard, messy work of an actual political campaign.

  • And speaking of wingnut celebrities, it looks like Pat Boone is back again trying to generate “Drudge bait,” calling Number 44 a “Marxist” here.

    This is typical for Boone, a frequent contributor to World Nut Daily who said here that former Obama nominee for “safe schools czar” Kevin Jennings wanted to erase “taboos against sexual aberrance, possibly including pedophilia.” Boone also said here that the “varmints” in the White House should be “gassed” (figuratively, of course…we also learn about something called “tenting” from Boone in the same column), and he claimed here that Obama informed the “Muslim world” that this country “is no longer a Christian nation.”

    Pat Boone made a name for himself by covering 1950s-era rock n’ roll hits of black artists, including Fats Domino, Little Richard, and Ivory Joe Hunter. Yes, he aided the early career of Elvis Presley and helped to establish this developing new music genre, but he also made a nice, comfortable living for himself from other people’s work. And I guess that’s about what you would expect from a typical grifter, isn’t it?

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  • Finally, I have to say that, as fed up as I am about the wingnut umbrage over Obama and the White House tours as I noted earlier…well, you can times that by about three when it comes to the supposedly “racist” tweet from Progress Kentucky about Elaine Chao, wife of Senate Repug Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (here).

    So the “tweet” points out that Chao has McConnell’s “ear” and that might explain why “your job” may have moved to China. And the fact that Chao is of Asian ancestry supposedly makes that “racist.”

    To begin, I should note that, in my lifetime, Elaine Chao was the absolutely worst Secretary of Labor that I have ever seen (the only Bushco cabinet official to “serve” through both terms of the administration); jobs were indeed offshored to China during her tenure as noted here.

    It should also be noted that H-1B visa fraud increased 27 percent on her watch (here), and this tells us how Bushco, with Chao’s consent of course, sponsored conferences for companies to learn the benefits of offshoring (including avoiding paying taxes) and supported new tax breaks for companies that did the same. Also, this tells us about McConnell’s work for Communist China and (probably) James Chao, Elaine’s father.

    Oh, and the Daily Kos post about her father also reminds us that Chao said the following:

    You could lose your job to a foreign worker — not because he’s cheaper but because he has better workplace skills and discipline. That’s the message Labor Secretary Elaine Chao hears from U.S. executives who are worried about America’s competitive future. While losses are low thus far — one study estimates that only 280,000 jobs in the service industry out of 115 million are outsourced each year — that could change. Beyond the cheaper cost of labor, U.S. employers say that many workers abroad simply have a better attitude toward work. “American employees must be punctual, dress appropriately and have good personal hygiene,” says Chao. “They need anger-management and conflict-resolution skills, and they have to be able to accept direction. Too many young people bristle when a supervisor asks them to do something.”

    As for our job future, Chao notes that most of the fastest-growing jobs today are in industries requiring advanced knowledge and skills and are “very high or high wage.” But critics say we’re not doing enough for those without a higher education. “Today, only 30% of the workforce has four years of college,” says Jared Bernstein of the Economic Policy Institute. “Instead of factory slots, there are slots for security guards and food-prep workers.”

    So Chao thinks American workers smell bad, have lousy attitudes, and need to dress better (gee, maybe that’s because we’re not all indentured servants as Chao and her puppet masters would have us, and God willing never will be…kind of like the way many workers are in, say, China?).

    I want to emphasize that I’m not a fan of racial slurs either. However, Chao is different; yes, she is of Asian ancestry, but she also held a job in which she did all she could to utterly screw over workers in this country, and sending their jobs to China was definitely part of that. And she has never apologized for that or for her insulting comments about American workers. And I don’t expect that she ever will.

    In our rush to be “PC,” let’s not lose sight of that, OK?


  • Thursday Mashup (3/7/13)

    March 7, 2013
  • Another day, another supposed “scandal” according to Fix Noise (here)…

    President Obama’s pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency is already running into resistance from the fossil fuel industry over concerns that she would escalate a “war” on oil, coal and natural gas.

    EPA veteran Gina McCarthy was one of three nominees Obama announced at the White House late Monday morning. He also tapped MIT scientist Ernest Moniz to head the Energy Department and Walmart’s Sylvia Mathews Burwell as his next budget chief.

    All will have to undergo Senate confirmation. And McCarthy — given her background and the controversial nature of the agency she wants to lead — could face the toughest screening.

    “Today’s announcement that the president wants Gina McCarthy to serve as the next EPA administrator is a clear indication that the administration will continue a war on affordable energy,” Thomas Pyle, president of the Institute for Energy Research, said in a statement.

    Oh yes, the EPA is so “controversial,” isn’t it? How dare they do their best to ensure that our water is safe to drink, our air is safe to breathe, and our landscapes aren’t hopelessly fouled by toxic waste! Damn tree huggers…

    Oh, and I almost forgot this choice item…

    Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., said the nomination makes clear that Obama “wants to continue pursuing an aggressive climate agenda at EPA.”

    I guess “aggressive climate agenda” is wingnut code for making sure that we don’t take a deep breath and end up coughing up a lung as we exhale, in addition to being exposed to airborne particulates that could cause (or exacerbate) asthma, chronic bronchitis or heart disease, among other health concerns (I mean, it has to be that since, according to Inhofe, God has protected us from man-made global warming – really).

    And speaking of Inhofe…well, he once said that “I supported Regina McCarthy’s nomination today because I think she possesses the knowledge, experience, and temperament to oversee a very important office at EPA” (here, in a post that also includes praise of McCarthy from the following other Repugs: former CT governor Jodi Rell, former Ohio U.S. Senator George Voinovich, and Charles Warren, a former top EPA regulator who now represents industries such as steel companies).

    I think McCarthy deserves the benefit of the doubt thus far, though this could end up to be yet another case of the Repugs getting exactly what they want but carrying on with their caterwauling like spoiled brats anyway.

  • Next, I give you the following item based on the recent passing of Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez…

    In a longer statement on his website, (Dem U.S. House Rep Jose) Serrano acknowledged that Chavez was a “controversial leader.” The New York lawmaker insisted Chavez helped Venezuela, because he tried to help the poor and disenfranchised. Serrano invited him to visit his district in 2005.

    The Republican National Committee pounced on Serrano’s tweet, issuing a statement that it was “simply insulting that a Democrat congressman would praise the authoritarian ruler Hugo Chavez.” Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., told WPLG in Miami that she is “ashamed” by the comments made by Serrano and Rep. Joe Kennedy, D-Mass.

    The Florida congresswoman singled out Kennedy because he issued a statement saying his “thoughts and prayers are with President Chavez’s family.” Ros-Lehtinen told the Miami TV station that condolences should go to Venezuelans who came to America to escape the Chavez regime.

    I will acknowledge that Chavez was one of these “one step forward, two or three steps back” kind of guys who rose to power pledging aid to the poor, and he delivered on that a bit, though he also did a poor job of managing his country’s economy as it transitioned from a “bubble to bust” cycle, typical for a country upon which oil remains a key exported commodity. And as Think Progress reminds us here, Chavez also demonized his opposition, attacking the press when it dared to criticize him, and he also helped to cultivate a particularly virulent strain of anti-Semitism.

    However, Ros-Lehtinen has no room to be “ashamed” of anybody when it comes to freedom of speech (and yeah, “Democrat” congressman – funny one, RNC).

    If I were a resident of the Sunshine State, I’d be “ashamed” of her for claiming to care about jobs first and foremost but waging war on those dreaded lady parts instead, along with (of course) tax cuts and trying to overturn those pesky government regulations that are supposedly holding back our “job creators” (here).

    I would also be “ashamed” of her for first blasting Democrats for an anti-terrorism bill in response to the 9/11 Commission recommendations before she (and Steve King, her partner in wingnuttery) voted for the bill anyway (here).

    I would also be “ashamed” of her for supporting tax breaks for Big Oil and Social Security privatization (no evidence that she has ever changed her mind on that – here).

    Oh, and I think Ros-Lehtinen should also be “ashamed” of doing her part to scuttle the International Protecting Girls By Preventing Child Marriage Act of 2010 (a bill which doesn’t even mention family planning or abortion, by the way, as HuffPo’s Amanda Terkel points out here). Or, as Conor Williams of the Washington Post pointed out, “How can Republicans explain efforts to defeat a human rights bill because of $67 million in potential spending while simultaneously pushing for a tax cut deal for wealthy Americans that will add $858 billion to the deficit? Is this at all credible?”

    When it comes to Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and her playmates, if you even have to ask a question like that, chances are that you already know the answer.

  • Continuing, I wanted to point out the following here

    HARRISBURG – They can’t breathe. They don’t bleed. They don’t digest food.

    But, as Mitt Romney famously blurted, corporations are people – at least under the law. In theCitizens United decision in 2010, for instance, the Supreme Court recognized that corporations have the constitutional right of free speech, something most people assumed belonged to actual carbon-based life-forms.

    The court struck down limits on corporate election spending, ruling them the same as banning speech. It helped unleash an estimated $933 million in spending by outside groups and wealthy people in the 2012 presidential race.

    And that was why David Cobb was preaching in a steamy and too-small hotel meeting room at the Pennsylvania Progressive Summit here Friday night, selling the salvation of a constitutional amendment that would restrict rights to “natural persons only,” giving government the power to regulate corporations, and declaring that campaign expenditures are not speech.

    “Corporations are ruling us, as surely as masters once ruled slaves, as surely as kings once ruled subjects,” said Cobb, a former Texas trial lawyer and 2004 Green Party presidential nominee. “We don’t have a functioning democracy in this country. The word we should be using is plutocracy. . . . It really chaps my hide.”

    Cobb is one of the leaders of Move to Amend, a sprawling coalition of lefty groups worried about the corrosive influence of money in politics and intent on upending Citizens United. More than that, Cobb said, the idea of legal personhood gives corporations disproportionate power over the political system.

    I applaud the efforts of Cobb and those who belong to the coalition – it’s a huge fight, but one that must be waged, I know.

    However, I wanted to take a very slight issue with something Cobb said below…

    Move to Amend is gathering force, with more than 272,000 supporters and 175 local affiliates, including one in Pittsburgh. Activists have persuaded 500 city and county governments to pass resolutions of support, including in Philadelphia and Wilkes-Barre.

    The initiative would curb unions’ ability to finance campaigns, too.

    Support crosses political divisions. True-blue New Jersey’s Legislature backed a resolution, as did super-red Montana voters in a referendum – the same day they voted for Romney.

    “We’re true believers,” Cobb said in an interview. “We’re Elmer Gantry. We’re not going to compromise.”

    For the uninitiated, that’s a reference to the book by Sinclair Lewis in which the lead character was a charismatic huckster who once set out to become a lawyer but decided to turn to evangelism instead (played brilliantly by Burt Lancaster in the 1960 movie, for which he won an Academy Award). I’d be a little leery of invoking that kind of a comparison…just sayin’.

  • Further, someone named Michael Warren at The Weakly Standard criticized Bruce Braley, the Dem running to replace Iowa’s Tom Harkin for the latter’s U.S. Senate seat, for Braley’s claim that any proposed Senate budget has been filibustered; Warren says that only a simple majority is needed to pass a budget (here).

    That actually is true, shockingly enough. However, as noted here, the Senate needs to clear the 60-vote threshold to enact the budget (more parliamentary minutiae concerning “the world’s greatest deliberative body”…wonder how the DC punditocracy came up with that, by the way?).

    So that would make Braley partly right after all (and to find out more about Braley, click here).

  • Also, this tells us about the lawsuit that Beef Products, Inc. filed against ABC News, Diane Sawyer, and anyone else under the sun that has had anything to do with the term “pink slime” going viral concerning their meat product; I don’t really care about our supposedly august corporate media facing legal action, nor am I longing to hear another “gee whiz” account of social media in action doing good (though credit should go where it is supposed to, I know), but I do care about how BPI’s product ended up in supermarkets, school kitchens and fast food restaurants.

    And with that in mind, this 2009 New York Times story referenced in the Reuters account tells us the following:

    Eight years ago, federal officials were struggling to remove potentially deadly E. coli from hamburgers when an entrepreneurial company from South Dakota came up with a novel idea: injecting beef with ammonia.

    The company, Beef Products Inc., had been looking to expand into the hamburger business with a product made from beef that included fatty trimmings the industry once relegated to pet food and cooking oil. The trimmings were particularly susceptible to contamination, but a study commissioned by the company showed that the ammonia process would kill E. coli as well as salmonella.

    Officials at the United States Department of Agriculture endorsed the company’s ammonia treatment, and have said it destroys E. coli “to an undetectable level.” They decided it was so effective that in 2007, when the department began routine testing of meat used in hamburger sold to the general public, they exempted Beef Products.

    With the U.S.D.A.’s stamp of approval, the company’s processed beef has become a mainstay in America’s hamburgers. McDonald’s, Burger King and other fast-food giants use it as a component in ground beef, as do grocery chains. The federal school lunch program used an estimated 5.5 million pounds of the processed beef last year alone.

    But government and industry records obtained by The New York Times show that in testing for the school lunch program, E. coli and salmonella pathogens have been found dozens of times in Beef Products meat, challenging claims by the company and the U.S.D.A. about the effectiveness of the treatment. Since 2005, E. coli has been found 3 times and salmonella 48 times, including back-to-back incidents in August in which two 27,000-pound batches were found to be contaminated. The meat was caught before reaching lunch-rooms trays.

    Within the U.S.D.A., the treated beef has been a source of friction for years. The department accepted the company’s own study as evidence that the treatment was effective. School lunch officials, who had some doubts about its effectiveness, required that Beef Products meat be tested, as they do all beef used by the program.

    School lunch officials said that in some years Beef Products testing results were worse than many of the program’s two dozen other suppliers, which use traditional meat processing methods. From 2005 to 2009, Beef Products had a rate of 36 positive results for salmonella per 1,000 tests, compared to a rate of nine positive results per 1,000 tests for the other suppliers, according to statistics from the program. Beef Products said its testing regime was more likely to detect contamination.

    Well, that’s about what you would expect BPI to say, wouldn’t you?

    So who was the U.S.D.A. head who approved the scheme around 2002 to inject ammonia into the beef, leaving it tainted and rendered as “pink slime”? Why, that would be Bushco’s Ann Veneman.

    And who was in charge of the U.S.D.A. in 2007 when the decision was made to exempt Beef Products, Inc. from testing before selling their “Franken meat” to the general public? Why, that would be Bushco’s Mike Johanns (yeah, the same guy who passed that resolution defunding ACORN that was later ruled to be unconstitutional – here and here).

    Oh, and isn’t it just such a coincidence that BPI’s Eldon Roth was a “Top 10” contributor to Johanns during the latter’s career in public life, as noted here?

    Meanwhile, it looks like McDonald’s has ended its association with BPI and its “pink slime” burgers based on this, and we can thank UK celebrity chef Jamie Oliver for that.

    What a shame that we can’t pursue any kind of action against Veneman and Johanns for this stuff (an appropriate sentence would be to force them to eat this garbage, keeping the stomach pumps at the ready if needed).

  • goldberg

  • Finally, I read this from The Doughy Pantload yesterday, and I really had to work hard to compose myself after doing so…

    One thing nearly everybody agrees upon is that the “sequester” is a silly sideshow to the real challenge facing America: unsustainable spending on entitlements. Ironies abound. Democrats, with large support from young people, tend to believe that we must build on the legacy bequeathed to us by the New Deal and the Great Society. Republicans, who marshaled considerable support from older voters in their so-far losing battle against ObamaCare, argue that we need to start fresh.

    Perhaps it’s time for both sides to consider an underappreciated fact of American life: The system we are trying to perpetuate was created for the explicit benefit of the so-called greatest generation, the most coddled and cared for cohort in American history.

    You son of a bitch…

    OK, let me back up and point something out here. As you can note from the rest of this post and what I generally try to do at this site, I often provide multiple links to content in the process of making my case.

    To respond to this contemptible gutter snipe, though, I’m not going to do that. Instead, I’m going to tell you a little bit about my family.

    My father was a World War II veteran who served in Europe for five years before he came home, went to college on the GI bill, and earned a Master’s degree before he began a lengthy and somewhat-high-profile career in government service. My mother was primarily a homemaker, though she also worked as an office manager in the medical field for many, many years (I was tempted to tell her about this garbage from Goldberg, but she’s in frail health and the last thing I want to do is cause some medical problem because of this idiot).

    And if you want to go back even further than that, my grandfather served in World War I. He was a member of the “Bonus March” (you can Google it) and ended up doing anything he possibly could when the Great Depression hit (dig ditches, selling pencils – he and my grandmother had to take on boarders when my mom was a little girl). None of this makes my family and I particularly special, I know.

    Oh yeah, The Great Depression – something Goldberg barely mentions in his ridiculous column. It went on for about 10 years, though it varied across the country. Around the middle of the 1930s it appeared to be letting up (in the days before credit cards, let’s not forget), but somebody came up with the bright idea of “austerity” (Past is Prologue 101) and it all went south again, with things starting to turn around at about 1938 or so (going from my mom’s recollections).

    So what happens when the Depression ends? Why only World War Freaking Two, that’s all (and yes, I know there’s a good argument to be made that that was really the end of the Depression, marking a return to full employment…I get that).

    So let’s jump ahead to 1945 or so (’46, in the case of my parents). Whoever survived the Depression and the war comes home and goes to work creating what will likely turn out to be the greatest run of peacetime industrial productivity and prosperity this country has ever seen, primarily for the “baby boomers” (I guess I’m bringing up the rear on that demographic, as they say).

    Now, I’m not going to buy into this Tom Brokaw “Greatest Generation” hagiography either; notwithstanding what I just pointed out, the men and women of my parents’ era were not beings descended from ivory towers or Doric temples. They were just dumped into inexplicably awful circumstances, showing legendary courage and resolve to be sure, but prone to imperfections, as are we all.

    However, you can rest assured that they were definitely not “the most coddled and cared for cohort in American history” either.

    And I’d like to venture a guess about something – if I were to ask some of them what they thought about what Goldberg said, I think they would probably feel more than a bit of disgust, but then they would derive satisfaction from the fact that they ended up building a way of life that allows a fungible little nematode like Goldberg the freedom to concoct this bile without fear of retribution from a fuhrer, emperor, or some other totalitarian leader.

    In other words, to use a somewhat misinterpreted phrase that grew trite over the last election, my parents “built it.”

    And the pride from that monumental accomplishment is something Goldberg will never, ever know or understand.


  • Friday Mashup (3/1/13)

    March 1, 2013
  • Did you know that conservatives are “leading” on prison “reform”? I mean, the Daily Tucker says it here, so it must be true, right (snark)…

    In conservative states like Texas, Georgia, and South Dakota, conservative policymakers have spearheaded statutory and budgetary reforms that prioritize prison space for violent and dangerous offenders while strengthening cost-effective alternatives that hold nonviolent offenders accountable.

    I have to admit that there’s a smattering of truth in that claim, but as far as I’m concerned, not much.

    To begin, I should point out that you really can’t talk about the state of prisons in this country without talking about the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). And you certainly can’t talk about the state of prisons in Texas without mentioning CCA; as noted here from 2010 about a scheme to privatize prison health care under the banner of “deficit reduction” (sound familiar?)…

    Private prisons are a big business in Texas, where the combination of federal immigration policies and one of the nation’s largest inmate populations has led to a boom in construction over the last two decades. As governor, Perry, the front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination, has supported privatizing everything from public lands to highways, but according to Scott Henson, a criminal-justice watchdog who runs the blog Grits for Breakfast, the governor had remained largely quiet on the prisons issue—until this year.

    That coincided with an influx of campaign contributions from private-prison executives and lobbyists, among them his former top aide, Michael Toomey, a political powerbroker who represents the nation’s largest private corrections contractor…CCA, per its website, “provides health care services to male and female inmates and youthful offenders who are housed in local jails, detention facilities, and correctional institutions around the country.” (Toomey told Mother Jones he had not lobbied Perry’s office or the state Legislature on the prison health care plan; Perry’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.)

    Toomey, who had not contributed directly to any of the governor’s previous gubernatorial campaigns, opened up his wallet for two separate $10,000 donations to Perry two months before Election Day in 2010. Thomas Beasley, the founder of CCA, has given $17,000 to Perry’s campaigns over the last decade. Another private prison firm, the GEO Group, poured $15,000 into Perry’s 2010 reelection effort in 2010 through its eponymous political action committee. Luis Gonzalez, a GEO Group lobbyist, meanwhile, gave $50,000 to Perry’s reelection bid.

    Hmm, I can smell the conflict of interest like some sizzlin’ Texas beef barbecue. Can you?

    Turning to the Peach State, I give you the following (here)…

    For inmates at one Georgia prison, a one minute phone call could cost them five times more than they earn for a day of work.

    The Correction Corporation Of America’s Stewart facility, a private prison in Lumpkin, Georgia, is forcing prisoners to pay five dollars per minute to use the phone, Alternet reports (h/t ThinkProgress). The exorbitant rate would break most people’s budget, but it’s especially costly for inmates that the prison who make just one dollar per day to work at the facility.

    Faced with huge budget shortfalls, states are increasingly relying on privatized prisons to house criminals in their state and the for-profit corporations behind those prisons are coming up with various ways to maximize revenue. The money the Stewart prison is collecting from its 2,000 prisoners to use the phone helped the prison net profits of $35 to $50 million a year, ThinkProgress reports.

    Also, as noted here, what we have in Georgia, among other places, is basically a de facto criminalization of immigration. And turning to South Dakota, this tells us that the inmate population grew from “550 inmates in 1977 to more than 3,600 last year, outpacing the national prison growth rate” (in South Dakota, which comes out to about 500 percent).

    Call me a filthy, unkempt liberal blogger, but I wonder if the so-called prison reform movement by conservatives emphasizing decriminalization for non-violent offenses, which apparently is actually accomplishing some good, is also in part a feint so people don’t pay more attention to locking up illegals, which we seem to do in this country in ever-greater numbers, as well as paying attention to what is transpiring from outfits like CCA, aided and abetted by the silence of politicians who could turn over what I’m sure are some pretty unseemly rocks (including the fact that, as noted here, it doesn’t take much to draw a line from CCA back to ALEC and the Kochs – CCA ditched them, but I would argue that they did so because they didn’t need them any more).

    (Oh, and let’s not forget how the supposed “savior” of the Repugs tried to get CCA into “The Sunshine State,” as noted here.)

    Given all of that, I don’t think anyone has a right to crow about how reform-minded we supposedly are in a country where we still incarcerate a higher percentage of our population than any other nation on earth (here).

  • Next (and sticking with Tucker Carlson’s crayon scribble page), someone named Jamie Weinstein brought us the following nonsense here

    Listen to (Minnesota Dem U.S. House Rep Keith) Ellison’s plan to solve our long-term debt problem. He mentions closing tax loopholes and ending certain deductions for large corporations, citing specifically tax breaks for oil companies and special tax deductions for corporate jets. If Congress took Ellison’s advice on these two proposals, America’s deficit would decrease, at the very most, much less than $5 billion dollars a year. Our deficit last year was over $1 trillion. Our total debt is over $16 trillion.

    At best, Ellison is ignorant and/or an idiot.

    (Definitely glad I didn’t watch this clown on “Real Time with Bill Maher” recently; I understand that Maher is, first and foremost, an entertainer, but if he isn’t going to have a conservative who actually makes sense sometimes like David Frum, Rich Galen or Fareed Zakaria, then he really shouldn’t even bother.)

    I don’t know what exactly it says about Weinstein that he bothered to link to “Tiger Beat on the Potomac” for the item about oil industry subsides (worth about $40 billion) and didn’t mention the amount (here). I also don’t know what it says about him that he rather shockingly linked to a Center for American Progress post about closing the corporate jet loophole over 10 years ($3.2 billion) but didn’t provide the details, including how that would fund WIC, Head Start, Special Education, Title 1, and housing vouchers.

    And of course, Weinstein ignores what Prof. Krugman points out here – namely that the Obama Administration has already pursued deficit reduction (with the Budget Control Act and the American Taxpayer Relief Act), and all we need is about $1.2 to $1.4 trillion over the next 10 years to maintain our current debt-to-GDP ratio.

    Ellison has also proposed eliminating the damn sequester already here, along with fellow Dem Rep. Raul Grijalva, which automatically makes these two guys a lot smarter than many of the other horses asses on Capitol Hill (as noted here, Ellison did indeed vote against the Budget Control Act that created the sequester…more on Ellison railing against budget cuts, which really don’t do a hell of a lot to shrink our deficit anyway, here – also, based on this, the case can definitely be made that Obama has cut the deficit by $2.4 trillion already).

    Why Weinstein doesn’t point out any of this is a mystery to me. At best, he is either ignorant and/or an idiot (and speaking of idiots – Hannity, I mean…).

  • Continuing, I came across some true hilarity at clownhall.com here

    Liberals, whose connection with Hispanic America consists of lecturing their nannies about ensuring that little Bayley is raised in a gender neutral environment and doesn’t make toy guns out of his Legos, think all Hispanics are the same.

    In response to the life form named Kurt Schlichter who concocted this dreck, I give you this telling us, among other things, that President Obama is currently faring well with Hispanics.

    But of course it’s the “liberal establishment” that’s being driven by anger and fear.

    Sure it is.

  • Further, I give you the latest in that drama known as “As The Sequester Turns” from that sleazy weasel Eric Cantor (here)…

    House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) on Thursday blasted President Obama for touring around the country “scaring people, creating havoc” instead of working on a replacement for the sequester.

    “That’s supposed to be leadership?” Cantor asked on the House floor. “The president says to Americans that their food is going to go un-inspected, and that our borders will be less patrolled and unsafe.

    “His cabinet secretaries are holding press conferences and conducting TV interviews, making false claims about teacher layoffs.”

    I’m not going to bother pointing out once more that Number 44 is fundamentally correct on the impact due to hit us shortly, but instead, I’ll just link to this which lets us know that, as is the case on just about every other subject, Cantor has zero credibility when it comes to talking about the sequester.

    Cantor also said that the House supposedly passed an alternative and said that it’s time for the Senate to do the same – the first item is an utter lie (as noted here), and concerning the second, the Senate Dems offered a replacement, and Sen. Mr. Elaine Chao and his pals did what they do best – again (here).

    (And when it comes to the sequester, let’s not forget this.)

    Update: By the way, to get some idea of the cuts coming from the sequester and how they affect PA (and nationally), click here (thanks to the office of U.S. House Rep Allyson Schwartz).

  • LeBron1_LBJ

  • Finally, please allow me to try and leave my imprint on popular culture again after reading this story.

    This item really isn’t about basketball, but to me, it has more than a little bit to do with trying to equate someone idolized in professional sport with a legendary former President of the United States (yes, Vietnam took off on his watch, but you could argue that, between the two of them, Nixon, at a minimum, presided over at least as many casualties as Lyndon B. Johnson…probably more considering that Nixon escalated the war; being the filthy, unkempt liberal that I am, I tend to equate Number 36 more with The Great Society than anything else).

    36_lbj_1
    So for that reason, LBJ, to me, should be this guy…

    lebron-james-cory-mckee
    …and not this guy.

    And for anyone thinking that I’m making a mountain out of a proverbial molehill, let me point out the conservative apoplexy that would result if a serial killer was ever brought to trial who happened to be named Ronald Reagan: Irrational Spew, The Weakly Standard and others would be making every possible effort to make sure this person was referred to in the press as “Ronald B. Reagan,” “Ronald W.T. Reagan,” “Ronald Cleophus Reagan”…whatever – you see my point.

    Now I promise I won’t bring up this subject again unless and until the day comes when a superstar hockey player arrives from the Canadian junior leagues, holds out for a multi-million dollar contract, acts in a generally boorish way towards fans across the National Hockey League…and his name happens to be Jerry Francis Kinkaid :-).


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