My 2014 U.S. Senate Voting Guide

October 30, 2014

(Subtitled, “Fighting the ‘Dirty Dozen’ of the U.S. Senate”)

With time growing ever shorter until next Tuesday November 4th, I give you 12 of the most hotly contested U.S. Senate contests (with the possible exception of Lankford/Johnson…we’ll see).

DSullivan

Dan Sullivan (Alaska)

As noted below…

Sullivan missed a candidate’s forum, but of course he didn’t miss a fundraiser at about the same location (here).

And as noted from here

Sullivan opposes raising the minimum wage. He opposes the rights of workers to bargain for fair wages, good benefits and safe working conditions. He even wants to raise the retirement age for Social Security, which would force many Alaskans to keep working physically demanding jobs well into old age.

And of course Sullivan is getting help from Chuck and Dave Koch (here); he has a lot of company on that one.

In response, to help incumbent Dem Senator Mark Begich, click here.

FINANCE COMMITTEE

Pat Roberts (Kansas)

As noted below…

  • He has a certain residency issue, seeing as how his declared residence is in Virginia, but he’s the Repug senator from Kansas (happens on both sides, to be fair – here).
  • Roberts said that Obama was a “socialist” who wanted to “nationalize,” you know, stuff, here (Proof? Anywhere in sight?) And we do know who the “national socialists” were, don’t we?.
  • Oh, and let’s not forget that Roberts once claimed in May 2006 that “you have no civil liberties if you’re dead” in defense of a certain Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History (here).
  • And things continued to look bad for Roberts as of about three weeks ago (here).
  • In response, to help Independent challenger Greg Orman, click here.

    Lankford

    James Lankford (Oklahoma)

    Yes, he’s quite probably going to win since we’re talking about Oklahoma (sigh), but the following should still be pointed out…

  • Lankford is a climate change denier like just about everyone else in that clown show of a political party (here).

    “This whole global warming myth will be exposed as what it really is — a way of control more than anything else. And that generation will be ticked.” [Edmond Sun, 2/16/10]

    Actually, they’ll be “ticked” because you continued to ignore proven scientific fact and did nothing in response.

  • He opposes government borrowing, and even throws in some quotes from the Bible for extra hypocrisy points to try and justify himself, but owes about $100 grand to Skank of America (here).
  • Said NSA snooping foiled 54 terrorist attacks (uh, no – once more, reminds me of James Gregory and the ketchup bottle in “The Manchurian Candidate”).
  • He said he wouldn’t prohibit people from getting citizenship “forever,” since he’s a Christian (here – how decent of him).
  • Lankford is opposed by Dem Connie Johnson in the contest to fill the seat vacated by Crazy Tom Coburn.

    Coffman_Gardner

    Cory Gardner (Colorado)

    As noted below…

  • Gardner voted against defunding raids on medical marijuana dispensaries in a state where medical marijuana is legal (here).
  • As noted from here

    In three years in Congress, voted 3 times to cut Social Security and raise the eligibility age to 70, voted 5 times to raise the Medicare eligibility age to 70, more than 5 times to increase current senior’s copays for preventative healthcare, and more than 5 times to reopen the prescription donut hole that his opponent, Incumbent Dem U.S. Senator Mark Udall, helped to close. In addition, Gardner voted 5 times to turn Medicare from a guaranteed benefit to a voucher program, which would have doubled Medicare out of pocket costs for seniors by 2022 according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

  • Opposed the DREAM Act, voted to deport DREAMers, and voted against immigration reform in a state where the latter is a particularly big deal (here).
  • Supported federal fetal personhood legislation that would outlaw abortions and some birth control measures nationwide (here).
  • In response, to help incumbent Dem Senator Mark Udall, click here.

    Cassidy

    Bill Cassidy (Louisiana)

    As noted below…

  • He said here that he doesn’t believe Obama “ever worked with a poor person” (so just how many levels of duuuh are we talking about here anyway?).
  • And of course, he also wants to make the Social Security retirement age 70 (here).
  • He not only wants to basically put the EPA out of business, but he even wanted to cut funding for portraits of former EPA head Lisa Jackson, taking partisanship to a ridiculously petty new low (here).
  • Cassidy also said that he’s “not sure climate change is the issue” as Louisiana loses more of its coastline (here).
  • Given the prior two items, it should be no surprise that he’s also getting help from Chuck and Dave of course (here).
  • I’ve often disagreed with Mary Landrieu in the past, but she’s been reliable on more issues than not. She shouldn’t have this tough of a fight on her hands, but she does – fortunately, she’s a skilled campaigner, but if you’re able to help her somehow, please click here.

    Obama_White_Slavery
    Update 10/31/14: Yeah, the truth hurts, doesn’t it, Repugs (here) – time to clutch those pearls again, I see.

    Rounds_635487516144747334-Screen-Shot-2014-10-12-at-9.59.52-PM

    Mike Rounds (South Dakota)

    I think it’s been kind of an under-reported story that Rounds is more of a crook than it might appear upon first glance – to wit…

  • He was part of a scheme to sell EB-5 immigration visas to the highest bidders, and then was caught lying about it (here).
  • Also, he “wildly overstated” the number of jobs created with those EB-5 visas here.
  • Rounds knew that a former Cabinet official in his administration was heading to a job with a beef plant for which Rounds had just authorized about $600,000 in state loans (how con-vee-nient) here.
  • Rounds’ Dem opponent Rick Weiland said he wouldn’t vote for Harry Reid as majority leader if elected, opening the door for Rounds to say he wouldn’t vote for Sen. Mr. Elaine Chao under the same circumstance, a door that Rounds won’t open, apparently (kind of a cunning move by Weiland, I think – here).

    (Oh, and as DWT also tells us, Rounds extended taxpayer assistance to companies where Rounds and Dennis Daugaard, Rounds’s successor as governor in 2011 and former running mate, were investors…once again, how con-vee-nient, overseen by the same state agency, the Office of Economic Development, that oversaw the EB-5 visa program).

  • I don’t know what the recent polling is on this race – I’m sure Rounds is still ahead, but I have a feeling this will be fairly close…we’ll see; if you can help Weiland, please click here.

    joni-ernst

    Joni Ernst (Iowa)

    As noted below…

  • Ernst didn’t want to answer tough questions from that dreaded “liberal media,” so she went to Fix Noise instead, of course (here – and again here).
  • She opposed raising the minimum wage here (once again, of course).
  • Ernst also wants to privatize Social Security, which, according to one estimate, would lead to about a 45-percent out-of-pocket increase in what subscribers would pay out due to a cut in coverage (here).
  • She “flat-out lied” on the question of the so-called “fetal personhood” amendment supported by Repug Cory Gardner in Colorado, among others (here).
  • She once ran for a job as county auditor and won, and apparently the first thing she did on the job was to get rid of county board veterans who had opposed her candidacy (so much for “Iowa nice” – here).
  • Apparently, Ernst rode to fame on an ad about hog castration, and equated that with making “big spenders” in Washington “squeal” here (I don’t know what is more damning – Ernst for making such an ad, or people supporting her for it).
  • And this tells you all the ways she does the bidding of the Kochs, in case you were wondering.
  • Oh, and she apparently wanted to arrest federal officials over “Obamacare” in 2012 here (charming).

    I’ve always wondered about this race – I never heard an official explanation from Tom Harkin why he decided to give up this seat (I might have missed it, I’ll admit). That being said, I have a feeling Bruce Braley is a lot more likely to carry on in Harkin’s footsteps than Ernst will ever be (to help Braley, click here).

    Update 11/7/14: As Atrios might say, time for a blogger ethics panel (here).

    Scott_Brown_centerfold

    Scott Brown (New Hampshire – this week…)

    Well, well – Scott Brown has taken his carpetbagger act on the road to the Granite State, huh? I think we should recall the following, then…

  • Brown said here in ’09 that the Senate health care bill that was signed into law “mirrored” the one he supported in MA (for it in ’09 before he was against it in 2010, as it were).
  • He said that the stimulus created not “one new job” here (once more, uh, no).
  • He engaged in taunts that Cherokee Nation described as “racist” against Sen. Elizabeth Warren, his 2012 campaign opponent, here.
  • For someone with supposed “teabagger” small gov’t (alleged, of course) “cred,” he backed this ridiculous weapons system GE wanted in MA that the Pentagon said they didn’t need (here).
  • Here, “Wall Street Scott” got paid to talk to hedge fund managers about money in politics (no joke).
  • He voted for Dodd-Frank financial reforms, then worked to undermine them (here).
  • He reversed his 2012 stance on whether or not climate change is real (of course – here).
  • I’ll be honest – I have a particular loathing for many of the Republicans on this list, but Scott Brown belongs in a whole other contemptible category as far as I’m concerned. With that in mind, I think Jeanne Shaheen definitely can use any assistance we can provide (please click here).

    Update: Whooping cough AND polio from illegals, Scott (here)? I’m sure the independent voters will really go for that one.

    Update 10/31/14: #epicfail

    ReallyTerriLynnLand

    Terri Lynn Land (Michigan)

    As noted below…

  • Land voted to “voucherize” Medicare (here).
  • She is also tied to the Koch Brothers (of course) and their piles of “pet coke,” which are byproducts of oil refining and produced clouds of dark dust over Detroit (not a question of whether or not the coke is unhealthy, but how much – here).
  • And with that in mind, Detroit residents asked Land to spend some time in their community here to experience the health effects firsthand, and she responded with “LALALALAICANTHEARYOU.”
  • Basically, she wouldn’t have supported the bailout of the automakers under Number 44 here (in so many words, since she tried so hard to avoid the question…keep in mind that she’s running to replace retiring Dem Senator Carl Levin, who at least understood what to do when thousands of jobs were at stake).
  • Land said here that she “made the DMV work,” which is a particularly neat trick considering that Michigan doesn’t have a DMV (here).
  • She also advocates “Obamacare” repeal of course, which means that about 630,000 residents of Michigan would lose their health coverage (here).
  • To help Land’s Dem opponent Gary Peters, click here.

    Tom Cotton (Arkansas)

    Cotton is easily the biggest neophyte of this bunch…

  • Here, he said that he didn’t think women were qualified to serve in the military (nice – it should be pointed out, though, that Cotton actually did serve, unlike most other Repugs).
  • Here, he said that Iraq was involved in 9/11 (ah, a golden oldie…oh, and when it comes to evaluating Number 43 and “Deadeye Dick,” Cotton believes 9/11 shouldn’t be included, as noted here).

    The Arkansas Times link also tells us that he, like many others in his party, voted against relief for the victims of Hurricane Sandy, and he’s a darling of the Club for Growth, no matter how that affects his congressional district…figures.

  • And like a whole bunch of House Repugs (including Mikey the Beloved), Cotton voted to separate SNAP funding from the farm bill (here).
  • Oh, and Cotton wants to punish not only those who violate economic sanctions against Iran (OK), but their family members too, as noted here (um, and why?).
  • Also, did you know that Cotton himself took out student loans, but then voted against funding them for everyone else (here)?
  • Cotton also said that a woman’s “deepest hope” is to be a good wife and mother here (uh, Tom, you’re running for the U.S. Senate, not the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops, not that a male would know something like that anyway).
  • He also wants to restore bank profits to student loan financing again here (and for doing what exactly, I wonder?).
  • He claimed here that ISIS collaborated with Mexican drug cartels, or something (that alone should disqualify him from this contest, but I’m sure it won’t),
  • Praised disaster relief program that benefited Arkansas farmers that he actually voted against (here).
  • As with Mary Landrieu, Cotton’s incumbent opponent, Dem Sen. Mark Pryor, shouldn’t have this big of a fight on his hands, but he does (to help, click here).

    Perdue

    David Perdue (Georgia)

    As noted below…

  • In what is probably the signature moment of his campaign, Perdue bragged about outsourcing jobs here (probably a ton of them based on the Daily Kos post).
  • Oh, and he also “outsourced” about $1 million to a Swiss bank here (looks like Perdue is a charter member of the “one percent”).
  • Given that, I guess it’s not surprising that Perdue loves bailouts for Wall Street, but not Detroit (here).
  • As noted here, Perdue needed “dark” money from Ohio groups to defeat U.S. House Rep (and wingnut extraordinaire) Jack Kingston in the GOP primary – normally I wouldn’t give a hoot about what happens to Kingston, but this is part of a disturbing trend.
  • Here, Perdue said he was proud that “less than 2,000 women” sued his company for pay discrimination (oh brother).
  • He basically acted like he would be OK with another government shut down here, blaming “Obamacare” and defaulting on interest payments, or something – the former part is merely propaganda and the latter part has nothing to do with reality.
  • This contest is to fill the open seat formerly held by departing Repug Saxby Chambliss, who once associated disabled Vietnam vet (and former Dem senator) Max Cleland with al Qaeda – to help Michelle Nunn, daughter of former Dem Senator Sam Nunn, click here.

    Tillis_EQUns.AuSt.156

    Thom Tillis (North Carolina)

    As noted below…

  • Tillis is pretty much a foot-soldier of Art Pope, the millionaire who took over N.C. and turned it into his own personal playground (here).
  • He would let pre-existing conditions protection disappear as part of what the GOP would do to replace “Obamacare” (here).
  • And oh – surprise, surprisenow Tillis favors expanding Medicare (here).
  • He advocated state cuts to public education, but of course supported tax cuts for private jets and yachts (here – nice…and if you think there are some recurring themes here among these characters, rest assured that it’s not your imagination).
  • Tillis would make birth control illegal, like many others in his party would also (here).
  • And as noted here, I think it’s fair to judge someone by the company they keep.
  • Tillis also encouraged college students to vote for him by digging up The Sainted Ronnie R again and harping on the 70s here; the problem is that all that happened before today’s college students were even born (just say “oops” and get out, Thom).
  • To help incumbent Dem Senator Kay Hagan, Tillis’s opponent, please click here.

    I don’t think it can be overstated just how hugely important the U.S. Senate elections in particular are this Tuesday, so it is incumbent upon all of us to vote and support Dem candidates as much as our means enables us to do so. I sincerely hope this post has given you ample evidence and motivation to do just that.

    Update 10/31/14: Based on this, I would vote for a Democrat as a protest vote, if for no other reason.

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    My 2014 U.S. House Voting Guide

    October 23, 2014

    (Subtitled “Fight The 40!”)

    At long last, here is my 2014 U.S. House voting guide; sorry I didn’t get it out earlier, but there’s still plenty of time left to make a difference.

    This started when I decided to highlight 52 U.S. House Republicans for the 52 (or so) votes to repeal the Affordable Care Law. That was for the 2012 cycle. Now, with representatives losing primaries and falling short when running for the U.S. Senate (as well as redistricting issues and retirements), the list has shrunk to 40 (if I had the time, I’d expand it, but this will have to do for now).

    Another note – don’t be confused if you read about people highlighted in 2012 (most of the list) and see that they have a different number on the 2014 list from the 2012 one. Again, with all the changes, people were shifted around, added, subtracted, etc. For example, Marsha Blackburn was #31 on the 2012 list, but she’s #17 on the 2014 list (I’m not sure that moving up on a list like this is necessarily something to brag about, though).

    So, with no more ado, here is the list:

    No.

    Repug Incumbent Dem Challenger
    1

    Steve King Jim Mowrer
    2

    Mike Fitzpatrick Kevin Strouse
    3

    John Boehner Tom Poetter
    4

    Paul Ryan Rob Zerban
    5

    Louie Gohmert Shirley McKellar
    6

    Joe Pitts Tom Houghton
    7

    Patrick McHenry Tate MacQueen, IV
    8

    David Schweikert John Williamson
    9

    Martha Roby Erick Wright
    10

    Pete Sessions Frank Perez
    11

    Trey Gowdy Curtis E. McLaughlin*
    12

    Cathy McMorris Rodgers Joe Pakootas
    13

    Chris Smith Ruben Scolavino
    14

    Kristi Noem Corinna Robinson
    15

    Hal Rogers Kenneth Stepp
    16

    Lou Barletta Andy Ostrowski
    17

    Marsha Blackburn Daniel Nelson Cramer
    18

    Blake Farenthold Wesley Reed
    19

    Diane Black Amos Powers
    20

    Raul Labrador Shirley Ringo
    21

    Tim Huelskamp Bryan Whitney
    22

    Peter Roskam Michael Mason
    23

    Scott DesJarlais Lenda Sherrell
    24

    Ted Poe Niko Letsos
    25

    Stephen Fincher Wes Bradley
    26

    Mo Brooks Mark Bray**
    27

    Doug LaMalfa Heidi Hall
    28

    Mike Coffman Andrew Romanoff
    29

    Ted Yoho Marihelen Wheeler
    30

    Markwayne Mullin Earl E. Everett
    31

    Mark Meadows Tom Hill
    32

    Renee Ellmers Clay Aiken
    33

    Reid Ribble Ron Gruett
    34

    Michael Grimm Domenic M. Recchia Jr.
    35

    Randy Neugebauer Neal Marchbanks
    36

    Mike Pompeo Perry Schuckman
    37

    Steve Southerland Gwen Graham
    38

    Mike Kelly Dan Lavallee
    39

    Blaine Luetkemeyer Courtney Denton
    40

    Lynn Jenkins Margie Wakefield

    * – Libertarian
    ** – Independent

    As I said, sorry it’s later than I would have preferred, but 11 days (more or less) is still time enough to work miracles.


    Friday Mashup (10/17/14)

    October 17, 2014

    mark-bio

  • By the time you read this, the sickening little demonstration noted here will be over (due to take place around midday today) – more follows…

    The video opens with the black-and-white footage of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s stirring clarion call for equal rights at the 1963 March on Washington.

    It quickly goes full color, and cuts to gruesome close-ups of the bloody remnants of abortions. It is fair to say that what is shown is disturbing.

    On Friday, the images will be displayed on a 10- by 12-foot screen set high on Independence Mall, the heart of Philadelphia’s tourism zone, as the antiabortion group Created Equal brings its high-tech assault on the practice to Philadelphia.

    The video, on a continuous loop, will be played from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., according to Mark Harrington, Created Equal’s national director.

    “It seems fitting to me that we are launching this campaign in the very place where our nation’s founders penned those words, created equal,” Harrington said. “We are still battling for equal rights. In this case, it is the pre-born who are being discriminated against.”

    I know there are individuals out there who profess to be “pro-life” and who indeed “walk the walk” as opposed to just “talking the talk,” and who have adopted babies, taken in single mothers in desperate situations, staged prayer vigils away from clinics and not interfered with the medically-related activity taking place (and of course not shouted epithets at anyone, thrown blood, tried to wreck cars, or any of that other stupidity, to say nothing of not writing ridiculous garbage in newspapers or calling into talk radio demonizing mothers seeking medical help). To me, those people deserve respect.

    However, most of these individuals in my experience (such as it is) are cut from the same disgusting cloth as Mark Harrington (pictured). And I think it’s particularly vile for Harrington and his ilk to even imagine that his escapades have anything whatsoever to do with the struggle for civil rights in this country.

    There is no good reason whatsoever for Harrington to engage in an activity like this (showing fetuses in the most grotesque situations imaginable, and probably some situations we can’t imagine), trying to force these images down the metaphorical throats of anyone visiting Independence Mall (including very young children, I’m sure), once of the more scenic places in the city (and the weather is nice today, so it should be busy), other than self-promotion.

    And yes, I have a particular axe to grind here because I can still vividly remember the seemingly never-ending pictures of fetuses in jars in the Catholic Standard and Times newspaper after the Supreme Court handed down Roe v. Wade in 1973, a time when I was still quite young and impressionable. As I’ve said, the images had an impact, but probably not the one the Church intended.

    Harrington has pulled this stunt before, by the way, including Turlington Plaza at the University of Florida (generating this response, including the following)…

    This has nothing to do with being pro-choice, pro-life or pro-anything. Regardless of anyone’s beliefs about abortion — and we all have an opinion there — does anyone feel it is acceptable to make students with abortion experiences feel uncomfortable on their own campus? No matter what the message, presentation is everything. In my opinion, a less-hostile open dialogue would be a more productive model of outreach. There must be another viable medium that doesn’t feel like an ambush. If I were considering abortion, or simply on the fence about my beliefs, these seemingly extremist people are not the ones I would consult.

    Created Equal executive director Mark Harrington says his platform targets “the mushy middle,” people who have no strong stance at either end of the abortion debate spectrum.

    I don’t believe such an audience exists on a university campus. If you do exist, on-the-fence folks, here’s my message to you: engage in civil, fact-based conversations with multiple people from both sides of the issue. Sharing beliefs and creating an open dialogue about social issues is a fundamental aspect of university life. One beauty of our campus is that it fosters constant exposure to new belief systems. No one here is naïve enough to want protection from opposing views. I imagine we all value them greatly. But this sideshow? It’s all a sensational stunt, an exhibition of the outlandish that serves only to needle young women into feeling guilty.

    To the members of Created Equal, thank you for voicing your beliefs and exercising your right to free speech. However, is it too much to ask that women with abortion history or those considering it presently have a peaceful walk across their campus without being confronted by grisly photos of fetuses on coins? Is there not enough humanity in your movement to recognize the benefits of a different approach? Judging from the pamphlets that were available at the exhibit, I know you have other media at your disposal.

    Regardless of my abortion views — which have probably become apparent anyway — it’s important to note these images are not from the typical procedure. Traveling pro-life groups are notorious for using photos of late-term abortions carried out for emergency reasons. Those interested should visit http://www.thisismyabortion.com/ for a glimpse of reality.

    Uh, yep.

  • Next, I don’t want to spend too much time on the waste of protoplasm that is Erick (“Son of Erick”) Erickson, but he concocted the following nonsense here (in a column trying to equate ISIS with the cases of Ebola in this country)…

    The Syrian rebels were too rag-tag and weak to take on ISIS, according to President Obama. But within a week of saying that, he announced to the world that his plan in Syria was to arm those rag-tag rebels and have them do our bidding against ISIS.

    Um…regardless of what you may think of the strategy of arming Syrian rebels against ISIS (not a good option as far as I’m concerned, but preferable to U.S. “boots on the ground”), doesn’t what Erickson describe above seem like a logical course of events? Where is the “there” there?

    It gets better…

    The president also told the American public that Ebola would never come to the United States.

    Not according to factcheck.org, which tells us the following (here)…

    Sen. John McCain claimed on a Sunday talk show that “we were told there would never be a case of Ebola in the United States.” Not exactly. U.S. health officials, early in the outbreak, said it was highly unlikely, but we could not find any instances of them saying it would never happen.

    This item from Fix Noise shill Jeanine Pirro doesn’t have anything to do with the Erickson column, but it does have something to do with ISIS, so allow me to add it here; namely, Pirro’s claim that Obama released Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, supposed head of this bunch of murderers, in 2009, which is categorically false. And as for Ebola, I guess what you would call of “clearing house” of debunked Ebola-related BS is here. And in conclusion on ISIS, I think this is definitely food for thought also.

  • Further (and sticking with Number 44), it looks like “liberal” Richard Cohen is at it again (here)…

    Tell me something: What do you think would happen if the United States concludes that Iran has been cheating and delaying and is about to pop a fully functional nuclear weapons program? Would President Obama respond by joining Israel to bomb the Iranian nuclear facilities to smithereens, or would he stall and equivocate? My bet is the latter and also, just to double down, what I bet the Iranians are betting. They have taken the measure of Obama. He lacks menace.

    Menace is essential in a world leader if he (or she) is going to be feared as well as admired. Obama falls into the admired category — the leader who won the Nobel Peace Prize with mere good intentions, a guy who had a new attitude toward Russia (a reset) and Iran (an approach) and China (a pivot) and, of course, to the Muslim world — an appreciation from a president who had broken the mold. We know him now as someone miscast: a rational man in an irrational world.

    I must tell you that I read over this a few times and thought “do I really want to say something about this idiot” (Cohen, I mean)? Isn’t life already too short?

    And then I thought to myself, sure, why not?

    For one thing, comments like this betray more of Cohen’s mindset than that of the world he supposedly knows something about. Because he apparently craves the “certainty” of a leader who, though perhaps catastrophically wrong, would act as if his thought processes are populated by fevered dreams of something called American Exceptionalism (I know you know who I’m talking about). And if this leader takes us into yet another catastrophic misadventure in the Middle East for no good reason…well, that means that Israel won’t be fighting alone now, will it?

    Call me just a filthy, unkempt liberal blogger, but maybe the reason we have an irrational world (I agree with Cohen on that much) is because we have too many irrational people in charge! And wouldn’t it be nice if we did a better job of recognizing people who actually have their scruples and act like intelligent adults in the face of onslaughts from all over the world (not saying to never question them, but just to try and support them when we believe it is necessary)?

    Given that, then surely Cohen would have noted long ago that Obama is “a rational man in an irrational world” and tried to make sure that his criticisms had at least some basis in reality, right?

    Well…

  • Here, he condemned the White House visit by the parents of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the U.S. soldier held captive in Afghanistan for five years, as “utterly repellent,” even though Cohen acknowledged that the circumstances surrounding Bergdahl’s capture are unclear.
  • Here, he embraced the “leading from behind” smear of President Obama (straight out of Drudge, Breitbart, and the like).
  • Here (as he does in his most current column), he makes a misguided push for a strike on Iran.
  • Here, he criticized Obama’s body language and supposed inability to “emote.”
  • Here, he wrote that Europe’s supposed view of Obama is that he’s an “accidental” president, among other nonsense.
  • (By the way, lots of other Cohen-related idiocy can be read from here.)

    Yes, I realize this is part of the whole pundit game about finding ways to be talked about. However, I honestly believe that Cohen thinks he’s right that our president should act in the manner and style deployed here (and no, I haven’t forgotten what led up to that). All to display “menace,” no doubt.

    How pitiably sad for Cohen not to realize that, were Obama to do such a thing, the rest of the world would surely laugh in his face.

  • Continuing (and speaking of pitiably sad), I give you former Ken Blackwell here on the matter of “biosimilar” drugs (more here…and this gives us a refresher on why Blackwell is such a miscreant – hard to believe that it’s been nearly 10 years)…

    Now, it is up to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to implement the biosimilar approval process. But millions of dollars have been spent on a lobbying effort from Obama’s crony capitalist friends on K Street to protect the interests of biologic drug markers. Initially, they were given a 12-year data exclusivity clause in the Obamacare law. But now, they are fighting through a questionable grassroots campaign, with the goal of distracting the FDA.

    These special interests are demanding unnecessary distinct naming rules for the ingredients in generic drugs, even though Obamacare does not allow for it. Americans with life- threatening diseases do not deserve to suffer thanks to these complicated and underhanded tricks by those in the pockets of Big Pharma.

    HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

    I hate to break the news to Blackwell, but both parties are in the hands of “Big Pharma,” as noted here.

    More to the point, this tells us that the 12-to-14-year window Blackwell criticizes “drew applause from CVS Caremark, whose EVP specialty pharmacy services, Dave Golding, participated in an FTC roundtable event on the issue” (the Generic Pharmaceutical Association agreed with Number 44 on this also).

    Not surprisingly, though, naming conventions for generics provoked this letter from 28 members of Congress who opposed the move; I believe the FDA recommendation on that was voluntary, by the way – hard to sift through some of the bureaucratic-ese (and the 28 who signed the letter are the same motley crew of usual conservative suspects, by the way). However, for anyone criticizing naming conventions for generics (which would bring them to parity with name brands, by the way) I have two words; Accutane and Sulindac (read from this link about the misery suffered by those who took these poisons).

    And from here

    “Regulation of these formularies is going to be a huge thing moving forward,” said Paul A. Calvo, a director in the biotechnology group at Sterne Kessler Goldstein & Fox. “I think as soon as the public heard there is very limited oversight in these areas, they went nuts.”

    Understandable as far as I’m concerned; background on formularies (basically, lists of prescribed medications for particular illnesses for insurance purposes) can be accessed from here.

    Oh, and speaking of “nuts” (and having to do with bioresearch a bit), I give you this.

  • Finally, I give you this from the Kevin Strouse campaign…

    Contact: Will Block, will@kevinstrouse.com, 610-400-3163
    For Immediate Release: Monday, October 13th, 2014

    Takeaway from Mike Fitzpatrick’s New TV Ad: Veterans Are Tired of Fitzpatrick’s Failures and Deception

    Fitzpatrick Voted Against Reducing the Veterans Disability Claims Backlog

    Bristol, PA – Last week, Fitzpatrick for Congress released its first ad of the general election. Unfortunately, the ad misleads voters about Fitzpatrick’s failed record on veterans’ issues. The facts show that Congressman Fitzpatrick has stood in the way of reducing the veterans disability claims backlog, and has voted against veterans’ interests on multiple occasions.

    The ad shows a doctor walking alongside a disabled veteran in a wheelchair. The exact footage used in the ad is available for purchase on http://www.istockphoto.com as “Man in wheelchair walking with doctor – Stock Video.”

    Strouse campaign spokesman Will Block commented, “This year, we saw Congressman Fitzpatrick jump onto a bandwagon with his colleagues to put a bandaid on a problem that he helped create in the first place. Disabled veterans are real heroes with real stories who deserve a Congressman that will fight for the care that they deserve — not some stock footage that can be purchased online. The fact that Fitzpatrick suddenly cares about the disability backlog, especially when he’s running against a combat veteran, is exactly what’s wrong with politics.”

    Fitzpatrick’s ad claims that he worked with a whistleblower this year to uncover the claims backlog at the Philadelphia Veterans Benefits Administration office. Well, the backlog is nothing new, and the Congressman knows it. In fact, in 2013 he voted against a motion which would have provided funding to hire more adjudicators to cut through the disability claims backlog.

    Block continued, “Fitzpatrick’s anti-veteran record speaks for itself. It’s especially egregious for Fitzpatrick to claim to be working to end the disability claims backlog after voting in 2013 against a measure to do exactly that. These issues at the VA are nothing new — unfortunately, they only seem to matter to Congressman Fitzpatrick in an election year.”

    BACKGROUND:

    Stock Footage Used in Fitzpatrick’s TV Ad: [www.istockphoto.com, Man in wheelchair walking with doctor – Stock Video]

    Fitzpatrick’s TV Ad…aired on 10/8/14:

    Fitzpatrick voted against quicker disability claims processing:

    In 2013, Fitzpatrick voted against a motion to recommit with instructions that would help reduce the backlog of disability claims for veterans. The amendment would add $9.2 million in funding (double the funds in the underlying appropriations bill) to hire an additional 94 claims processors to help reduce the veterans disability claims backlog. The amendment failed 198-227. [MTR on H.R. 2216, Vote #192, 6/04/13]

    Fitzpatrick voted to block the “Veterans Backlog Reduction Act”, which would
    direct the secretary to pay provisional benefits for claims that are still processing: [New York Times, 5/30/14; Vote #180, 5/23/13]

    “From The New York Times: Republican House candidates could also find themselves under pressure to explain their past votes against proposals for more money for veterans programs. Democrats were pointing to a procedural vote in May 2013, when House Republicans opposed a Democratic measure called the Veterans Backlog Reduction Act.”

    ###

    Kevin Strouse is a former Army Ranger, CIA counterterrorism analyst, and veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan who lives in Middletown, Pa., with his wife, Amy, and two young children, Walter and Charlotte. He is currently Program Director of Teach2Serve, a non-profit that teaches social entrepreneurship to regional high school students. He earned his BA from Columbia University and a Masters in Security Studies from Georgetown University, graduating with honors.

    To help with the Kevin Strouse campaign in the closing days, please click here.


  • Monday Mashup (10/13/14)

    October 13, 2014
  • In the latest TERRA! TERRA! TERRA! news, I give you the following from Joshua Katz here

    America’s Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, revealed the name last week of a top secret, very small Al Qaeda cell operating inside Syria called the Khorasan Group. The revelation by Clapper was the latest in a series of seemingly authorized disclosures of highly sensitive national security information by the Executive Branch.

    Khorasan Group isn’t a name that trips off the tongue. It isn’t sexy. It wasn’t appearing in newspapers and on websites every day. It wasn’t being talked about in Washington — until now. That’s because its name and organization were classified information. The fact that you had, in all likelihood, never heard of Al Qaeda’s Khorasan Group demonstrates the importance of the security placed around any information about this group and confusion in the White House about Al Qaeda.

    As a former Operations Officer for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and an Army Ranger, I have risked my own life to provide this level of secure intelligence to our president and other policy makers.

    Katz deserves our thanks and gratitude for his service, but if he’s going to criticize anyone for revealing what a supposedly secret bunch this outfit is (I know there’s nothing funny about terrorism, but the name of this gang sounds like a bunch of people making slipcovers), maybe he ought to blame some of his fellow wingnut media loudmouths too for saying that the group was made up (here); maybe if they’d kept their mouths shut, Clapper wound not have had to say anything (though, based on this, I wonder if this is a smokescreen too).

    Here’s my point to Katz and anyone else who blames Number 44 over this; make up your minds on what the narrative is supposed to be as far as you’re concerned. Either blame the Obama Administration for hyping a new terror threat that wasn’t there OR blame them for revealing sensitive information about these life forms. You can’t do both.

  • Next, I give you the following from WaPo conservative quota hire Jennifer Rubin (here), on Teahadist U.S. Senate embarrassment Mike Lee of Utah…

    (Lee) extolled Abraham Lincoln as the first great anti-poverty president. (“[I]n America’s original war on poverty, government did not give the poor other people’s money. It gave them access to other people. In Lincoln’s era that meant dredging rivers, building canals, and cutting roads. It meant the Homestead Act and land-grant universities. These public goods weren’t designed to make poverty more tolerable – but to make it more temporary. They reduced the time it took to get products to market, increased access to banks and land, and increased the speed at which knowledge could be developed and shared.”

    What Rubin describes above sounds an awful lot to me like spending on infrastructure, and as noted here, Lee introduced a bill to pretty much eliminate federal transportation funding (it even has an acronym that spells TEA – blow that dog whistle a little louder, why dontcha?).

    Lee is also leading a repeal of the Davis-Bacon Act (a perennial target for the Teahadists), the federal law that requires government contractors to pay workers the local prevailing wage (the Act is named for two Republicans, it should be noted, and it was signed into law by Herbert Hoover, a Republican president; I guess that’s typical for a guy who once said that child labor laws were “unconstitutional” here).

    Turning back to the “values” political red meat that the Teahadists love, Lee had no problem with the Supremes as “unelected, politically unaccountable judges” when they decided Hobby Lobby, but that’s what he thinks of them now that they’ve decided to allow rulings on marriage equality to stand (here).

    Oh, and speaking of our 16th president, he also said the following (noted here, tied to labor and the economy in general)…

    “While we do not propose any war upon capital, we do wish to allow the humblest man an equal chance to get rich with everybody else.”

    And as a commenter here noted (again, quoting Lincoln)…

    “Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital.
    Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed.
    Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.”

    So what do Lee and the Teahadists have to say about that?

    Cue the sound of crickets (and I don’t think we should need any motivation to vote for Dems in November, but in case we do, Rubin provides it here).

  • Further, someone from The Daily Tucker is (of course) in favor of genetically modified organisms (or GMOs for short) in our food, as noted here (more background is here)…

    I have to admit that I don’t have a ready comeback in response to the data presented in the Daily Tucker post, but I would only present the anti-GMO point of view here, including data on the money spent by food companies to lobby against GMO labeling in California and Washington state, where much of our food is manufactured and/or processed (additional data on the problems already being caused by genetically modified foods is presented here – and if GMOs are supposed to be so damn safe, then please explain this).

    (By the way, to their credit, ice cream makers Ben and Jerry decided to leave GMOs behind, as noted here).

    Another thing…as noted here, there is a correlation between the pro-GMO forces and the climate change deniers and the “anti-vaxers,” which I found to be a bit interesting.

    To conclude on this topic, I give you the following from this Jerry Rogers person at The Daily Tucker…

    Over four dozen pieces of legislation have been introduced in nearly 30 states to require GMO labeling. Three states actually have labeling requirements on the books. These states and the others that will follow suit will end up disrupting the nation’s entire food chain, from farming to supply to retail. Americans will suffer with higher food prices and fewer choices, but for other parts of the world stuck in poverty, the impact will be a devastating loss of human life. The stakes are high.

    Proof? Anywhere in sight??

    The politics of GMOs need to catch up with the science. There is legislation that may be a good first step in doing just that. Introduced by Reps. Mike Pompeo (R., Kan.) and G.K. Butterfield (D., N.C.), the bill would preempt state laws and create national standards for food labeling under the sole authority of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Putting the issue of labeling under FDA authority will take it out of the hands of the anti-GMO activists. This simple act could reset the national debate over GMOs.

    I’m not totally surprised to read that when you consider this. However, how ridiculous is it that the pro-GMO people want to see federal regulation as opposed to a “patchwork” of state laws, when they favor the states over the feds on practically everything else?

  • Continuing, it looks like someone from The Daily Tucker is back to screech about the ACA (here)…

    Republican attorneys general have been administering the right medicine against this law since it was enacted. Just this week, a federal judge in Oklahoma agreed with Attorney General Scott Pruitt and declared unlawful certain regulations written by the IRS to implement the bloated statute.

    I don’t know what the difference between a “bloated” and a “non-bloated” statute is, and I don’t think this Jessica Medeiros-Garrison person does either. What I do know is that Pruitt and other wing nut AGs for their respective states are basing their opposition to the ACA on some bogus claim that subsidies for Medicaid expansion can only be used for states with state-established health care exchanges, not federal ones, which Media Matters called “a counter intuitive claim that has been widely discredited” here.

    Oh, and it should be noted that the federal judge who ruled in Pruitt’s favor, Ronald A. White, was appointed by George W. Bush (big surprise, I know – here). And as noted here, “to date, nine federal judges have considered this question of whether much of the law should be defunded. Only three — all of whom are Republicans — have agreed that it should be.”

    While doing some assorted Googling for this item, I came across the following on Jessica Medeiros-Garrison here (a lawyer based in Alabama for the record), and it turns out that she was in the middle of a messy divorce from her husband Lee Garrison a year ago; neither one of these individuals embody what I would call exemplary moral character (I merely present a link to the details here; it’s up to you, dear reader, to do the rest if you so choose).

  • Moving on, I give you some of the lowest of the low-hanging fruit here from someone named Michael Schaus who concocted something called “10 Things Liberals Believe That Government Does Well” (he added his categories with snarky little comments, so I think it’s only fair that I should be allowed to reply):

    1. Protecting our freedom

    So who do you think is going to train, feed, house, and maintain all other responsibility for the world’s largest (and most expensive) military (here) – the state of Alabama?

    2. Giving away land to common people

    As noted from here

    The federal government owns 655 million acres of land in the U.S., 29% of the total 2.3 billion acres. It administers its public lands through four agencies: the National Park Service (NPS), which runs the National Park System; the Forest Service (FS), which manages the National Forests; theBureau of Land Management (BLM), which manages public lands; and the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), which administers the National Wildlife Refuge System. National Monuments are assigned a managing agency at the time of their designation by the President. The Forest Service operates out of the Department of Agriculture, while the other three agencies are in the Department of the Interior.

    So yeah, I would say that the Feds do a good job in this area too.

    3. Educating everyone

    This provides a list of U.S. Department of Education funding as of August 25th of this year (if anyone out there is inclined to sift through all of these numbers and other data, have at it). And despite the Repugs’ war on public education in this country, students from overseas still flock to our universities, so I think the federal government does deserve at least a partial amount of credit for that, seeing as how the federal government subsidizes student loans and all.

    4. Helping us retiring (sic) with dignity

    As noted from here (under “Highlights”)…

    At the end of 2013, the (Operations of the Old Age Survivors Insurance and Disability Insurance programs) were providing benefit payments to about 58 million people: 41 million retired workers and dependents of retired workers, 6 million survivors of deceased workers, and 11 million disabled workers and dependents of disabled workers. During the year, an estimated 163 million people had earnings covered by Social Security and paid payroll taxes. Total expenditures in 2013 were $823 billion. Total income was $855 billion, which consisted of $752 billion in non-interest income and $103 billion in interest earnings. Asset reserves held in special issue U.S. Treasury securities grew from $2,732 billion at the beginning of the year to $2,764 billion at the end of the year.

    Not too shabby as far as I’m concerned…

    5. Improving public health

    As noted from here

    New York, NY, June 16, 2014—Despite having the most expensive health care system, the United States ranks last overall among 11 industrialized countries on measures of health system quality, efficiency, access to care, equity, and healthy lives, according to a new Commonwealth Fund report. The other countries included in the study were Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand Norway, Sweden Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. While there is room for improvement in every country, the U.S. stands out for having the highest costs and lowest performance—the U.S. spent $8,508 per person on health care in 2011, compared with $3,406 in the United Kingdom, which ranked first overall.

    The United States’ ranking is dragged down substantially by deficiencies in access to primary care and inequities and inefficiencies in our health care system according to Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: How the Performance of the U.S. Health Care System Compares Internationally, 2014 Update, by Karen Davis, of the Roger C. Lipitz Center for Integrated Health Care at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; Kristof Stremikis, of the Pacific Business Group on Health, and Commonwealth Fund researchers Cathy Schoen and David Squires. However, provisions in the Affordable Care Act that have already extended coverage to millions of people in the United States can improve the country’s standing in some areas—particularly access to affordable and timely primary care.

    To hear this Michael Schaus guy, though, “Obamacare” is the reason for our health care ills in this country, not our supposedly glorious private sector (and I think it needs to be pointed out once again that, notwithstanding Medicare/Medicaid and the VA, there is no government-sponsored alternative).

    6. Building our transportation network

    Oh yeah, what is that supposedly awful federal government supposed to do about that?

    Try this for starters (as well as the fact that the best the U.S. House Repugs could do is come up with some lame stopgap measure to keep the Federal Highway Trust Fund solvent, as noted here). So, that supposedly awful Kenyan Muslim socialist responded with this.

    7. Investing in communications

    This Schaus guy has a bit of a point here, but read this McClatchy article to learn about how Motorola pulled all kinds of tricks to try and establish dominance in the broadband market (once again, our glorious private sector at work – and I’m pretty sure Motorola has a lot of corporate “person” company here). So maybe our government would spend these funds more efficiently if it weren’t for the fact that the fund recipients are busy trying to gouge their customers and/or competitors.

    8. Building our energy supply

    Why is that supposed to be the job of the federal government when we give out all kinds of tax breaks to the oil biz, as noted here (though we should be doing the same thing for renewables, but of course we’re not, as noted here.)

    9. Inventing the future (NASA)

    Actually, I think we’ve done OK in NASA funding, all things considered (and fortunately, they still have the resources to do ground-breaking research such as this, which of course should be a “hair on fire” moment for anyone in a political capacity who cares about the future of this planet).

    10. Defeating totalitarianism

    See #1.

    Of course, what else can we expect from Schaus, who (as noted here) used developments in so-called “smart” gun technology to baselessly claim that it was a confiscation scheme on the part of former Obama AG Eric Holder?

  • I also wanted to comment on this story

    Republican Gov. Tom Corbett said Monday (10/6) he supports a bill designed to prevent offenders from causing their victims “mental anguish,” a proposal launched after a Vermont college chose as its commencement speaker a man convicted of killing a police officer.

    Corbett spoke at a Capitol event a day after Mumia Abu-Jamal gave a recorded address to about 20 graduates at Goddard College in Plainfield.

    “Nobody has the right to continually taunt the victims of their violent crimes in the public square,” Corbett said.

    He called the college’s choice of Abu-Jamal “unconscionable.”

    The bill that advanced out of a House committee on Monday would allow a victim to go to court for an injunction against “conduct which perpetuates the continuing effects of the crime on the victim.”

    OK, to begin with, I think allowing Abu-Jamal to give a recorded address to the Goddard graduates was a dumb idea. I don’t care if he’s a graduate of the school or not; someone should have stepped in and disallowed it. As far as I’m concerned, a line needs to be drawn somewhere, and I think doing so right at the feet of a convicted murderer of a Philadelphia police officer is a pretty darn good place (kind of makes me wonder what’s going on with that school anyway, since apparently they don’t give out grades…yeah, that will REALLY prepare graduates for the workforce).

    However, this legislation is equally stupid, if not more so. How exactly does the author of this bill propose to establish the cause of “mental anguish”? Survivor flashbacks to the occurrence of the crime? An inadvertent mention of the crime from a passer-by in the form of an offhand remark? Having to watch an hour of Brian Kilmeade on Fox TV?

    (OK, I’ll stop.)

    Also, what exactly constitutes “conduct which perpetuates the continuing effects of crime on the victim”? By that standard, a candlelight vigil could prompt painful remembrances and thus be subject to penalty under this bill.

    As I said, I’ll definitely grant the point that allowing Abu-Jamal yet another platform for his thoroughly undeserved celebrity is stupid. But concocting some bill that doesn’t pass the legal smell test falls under the heading of two wrongs trying to make a right.

  • Finally, as noted here, it turns out Mikey the Beloved in PA-08 has spent about $200 grand on “franking” for campaign ads telling us how wonderful he supposedly is (including online at Twitter and Google), which apparently is not illegal in any way; as the article tells us, there is a franking limit for Senate campaigns, but not U.S. House ones (and why exactly is that, I wonder?).

    However, even though he’s running online ads, he still doesn’t advertise his Town Hall meetings (has he even had any during this campaign?). And it also doesn’t take into consideration his recent refusal to accept an invitation to a candidate’s forum hosted by the Lin-Park Civic Association and the Bucks County NAACP, even though he was notified about the forum five different times in August and September (his Dem opponent Kevin Strouse had no problem saying Yes).

    With that in mind, I give you the following from the Strouse campaign…

    Bristol, PA – Congressman Fitzpatrick, who missed 35% of his House Financial Services Committee hearings, is misleading his constituents with counter-terrorism theater and grandstanding on issues of national security. Fitzpatrick continues to mislead his constituents despite the fact that the Congressman’s Isolate ISIS Act is a duplicative effort that does nothing to further target ISIS’s financing.

    Executive Order 13324, signed by President Bush in 2001, provides the necessary framework for the Treasury department to sanction terrorist funding. Perhaps if the Congressman showed up to his committee hearings he would understand the mechanisms that have been in place for over 13 years to target terrorist network financing and levy sanctions against complicit groups and individuals.

    Strouse commented, “It’s extremely disappointing that Congressman Fitzpatrick would politicize national security problems that he clearly doesn’t understand. I fought terrorism as an Army Ranger in Iraq and as a CIA officer, so it’s time to set the record straight for the 8th District: Treasury already has the necessary authority to target ISIS’s funding, and has been doing so for quite some time. The issue that we ought to be addressing is that training the Syrian rebels will take much longer than Congressman Fitzpatrick and his colleagues have indicated.”

    The Congressional authorization to train Syrian rebels expires in December. Strouse has previously pointed out how short-sighted this short term authorization is, and has emphasized on multiple occasions that adequately training an army takes longer than 90 days.

    As early as 2008, Treasury was targeting the predecessor to ISIS. In February 2008, pursuant to Executive Order 13324, treasury took action against al Qaida in Iraq (AQI), which is the predecessor to ISIS. Instead of grandstanding on issues that are already addressed under current law, Congressman Fitzpatrick and his colleagues should be addressing the soon to expire authorization to train moderate rebel troops.

    Time is short until the election, so if you are able to help the Kevin Strouse campaign in any capacity at all, please click here.


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