Friday Mashup (2/21/14)

February 21, 2014
  • Jonah Goldberg, apparently vying for the title of Most Idiotic Pundit in the Universe, inflicts the following while bashing Number 44 overall for a variety of alleged reasons (here)…

    The Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to treat carbon dioxide as a “pollutant” is an outrageous expansion of executive power. But Obama (didn’t) tout that as a bullet point (last week at a Democratic retreat); he let the EPA take the political heat for that decision a while ago.

    So much stoo-pid, so little time – as noted here

    In March 2012 the Environmental Protection Agency released a draft rule limiting carbon pollution from new power plants. This standard was promulgated in response to the 2007 Supreme Court ruling requiring the agency to regulate carbon dioxide emissions under the Clean Air Act if it found that carbon dioxide emissions endangered public health and the environment. The agency published such a finding in 2009, noting that carbon-pollution-associated climate change will increase the frequency of unusually higher temperatures and heat waves.

    Increased temperatures can increase the risk for formation of ground level ozone or smog. Breathing ozone may lead to shortness of breath and chest pain; increased risk of asthma attacks; increased susceptibility to respiratory infections; need for medical treatment and for hospitalization for people with lung diseases, such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; and premature death. Children and senior citizens are most vulnerable to harm from smog.

    The Environmental Protection Agency held several listening sessions while drafting the proposal, held two public hearings on the proposed rule, and extended the comment period to 73 days. Almost 3 million comments were sent to the agency in favor of reducing carbon pollution from both new and existing power plants—a record for an Environmental Protection Agency rule proposal. The agency is now in the midst of finalizing its rule.

    Actually, based on this, the EPA finalized the rule last December 19th; carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology is “decades old,” though apparently it is still a relatively expensive technology (don’t know enough to say whether or not it should be subsidized by the federal government or if it is already, but if it isn’t, why not?).

    Of course, if Goldberg had an inclination towards actual journalism instead of hack punditry, he might be disposed to try and find that out (yes I know – if I ruled the world, every day would be the first day of spring…).

  • Next, I give you the latest from Repug U.S. Senator John Barrasso via Fix Noise in the “Let’s Bash Number 44” slug fest (here, opining about the fifth anniversary of the stimulus last Monday)…

    President Obama said that he was going to use the money to fund “shovel-ready” construction projects. Many of those projects stalled because of burdensome red tape, and Washington regulations. A couple of years later, the president even joked that “shovel-ready was not as shovel-ready as we expected.”

    In response, to give you an idea of how many jobs were saved or created the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, I would ask that you read the following from here.

    And what have Barrasso and his fellow U.S. Congressional Republican pals done in response (aside from saying that the stimulus “failed” even though they patted themselves on the back for bringing stimulus funds back to their states or congressional districts, as noted here)?

  • Obama’s jobs plan blocked in the Senate in October 2011 (here).
  • A $60 billion infrastructure spending bill was also blocked in the Senate in November 2011 (heregee, ya’ think that would have helped with repairing our roads crumbling from this awful winter? And do you remember this stellar related moment?).
  • Obama’s 2011 American Jobs Act was also blocked in the U.S. House (here).
  • A veterans’ jobs bill was also blocked in the Senate in September 2012 (here).
  • Of course, an extension of unemployment benefits that would create 2 million jobs was also blocked (here).
  • Here’s a more comprehensive list of legislation backed by Obama that has been blocked by Republicans in Congress (and here is another typical Barrasso move).

  • Continuing, I give you the latest from the perpetually angry Brent Bozell (here)…

    Media liberals are howling at the apparent injustice of the “anti-Clinton” Washington Free Beacon website, which has dared to paw through old Hillary Clinton history. The hypocrisy is stunning. Let us recall the avalanche of mean-spirited and sleazy “fair game” the networks assembled for us just a few years ago in the last election cycle.

    Bozell then goes on to list a whole bunch of imagined media slights involving Republicans, which I won’t bother to address here lest this entire subject grow too tiresome than it already is. However, I’m going to say something about this because 1) Without giving away the game too much, I think it’s safe to say that we’re going to be dealing with an upcoming presidential election cycle involving Hillary Clinton, and 2) Our wingnut brethren, if Bozell is any indication, have already decided to start dumping on the former First Lady, Secretary of State and U.S. Senator from New York regardless (it’s ALWAYS good sport for conservatives to dump on the Clintons, which, if nothing else, tells you how pitiable these people truly are).

    Bozell also mentioned something about the Washington Free Beacon (whatever that is). In response, this Media Matters post tells us that the “Free Beacon” relied on a report from a group called OPSEC to attack Hillary Clinton – this tells us more about the group:

    …OPSEC, a right-wing group made up of retired intelligence and Special Forces operatives, has partisan ties and a history of disingenuously attacking the Obama administration. The group “first surfaced during the 2012 presidential campaign,” when they produced a 22-minute film and TV ads accusing President Obama of “seeking political gain from the May 2011 military operation that killed Osama bin Laden.” (PolitiFact rated the claims made in the ads as “false” and “mostly false.”) Key members of the group have current and former affiliations with the Republican Party, and Reuters uncovered that more than a quarter of OPSEC’s 2012 funding was raised by Campaign Solutions, a political consultancy which represents Republican candidates.

    OPSEC’s president, Scott Taylor, has also previously been accused of “shady campaign tactics” in his multiple bids for Republican state office, and as Business Insider noted, the group’s maneuvers reveal they are more interested in attacking President Obama and the Obama administration than promoting any national security interests. According to OpenSecrets, OPSEC spent almost $500,000 in the 2012 election cycle on “electioneering communications” alone.

    Official investigations have found Secretary Clinton, the Obama administration, and the military did everything within their power to rescue the Americans stationed in Benghazi at the time. The official inquiry into the State Department’s role conducted by the independent, nonpartisan Accountability Review Board found that security at Benghazi was inadequate and offered recommendations for State to prevent future attacks, all of which are being implemented, but found Clinton personally blameless.

    Yes, having to counter the nonsense from Bozell and his ilk is time not spent trying to persuade anyone still on the fence at this point why they should vote for a Democrat in the upcoming and all future election cycles. But this is an exercise that must be done, since the “noise machine” will crank up ever louder, immune to facts and reason as always.

  • Further, I have to comment on the following here (staying with clownhall.com, and apparently still in need of an editor)…

    More than half of Americans oppose Obamacare and 56% claim the law is more about bolstering government control than it is about helping individuals gethealth care (sic).

    The millions kicked off their insurance certainly do not find the policy freeing, neither do millennials forced to pay for healthcare feel liberated.

    Obamacare is precisely the type of overbearing government policy that the Founders would have fought against…

    Oh? So the Founding Fathers would have opposed “Obamacare”?

    This tells us about the U.S. Marine Hospital, founded in 1798, under President John Adams (it eventually became our Public Health Service, led by the Surgeon General). And as noted here, the hospital was also supported by Thomas Jefferson, hardly an acolyte of “big gumint.”

    And did I tell you that Benjamin Franklin co-founded the nation’s first public hospital offering free health care, as noted here (which became Pennsylvania Hospital)? Gosh, I didn’t know our founding fathers were such a bunch of damn socialists (removing my tongue from my cheek).

    As long as I’m on this subject, though, I should point out that this tells us that the number of health care repeal votes in the U.S. House under Republican Party “leadership” has now ballooned to 47. And that means that I’ve fallen behind a bit on my count, based on my pledge to highlight a different U.S. House Republican for each repeal vote:

    Here is the tally so far:

    #1 – #31 is here.
    #32 – #40 is here.
    #41 – #42 is here.

    So without any more ado, let’s pick up the count, shall we?

    meadows

    #43 – Mark Meadows (NC – 11)

    As far as I’m concerned, Meadows is infamous for only one act, but it was a real doozy, and that would be last year’s government shut down; as noted here, he was more responsible for it than any other person in the U.S. Congress.

    And just to refresh our memories, these in part were the results:

  • Disadvantaged women and infants relying on nutrition programs, as well as anyone relying on Head Start, individuals with disabilities and people needing heating assistance were all hurt (here).
  • Processing of veterans’ compensation, pension and education benefits was delayed; the shutdown was projected to drain about $10 billion out of our economy (here).
  • Passport applications were delayed as well, and shutting down sites in the U.S. Parks service hurt tourism as well as related businesses relying on tourist dollars, OSHA halted inspections, and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission halted investigations of fraudulent trading practices – processing of Pell Grants and student loan assistance was also slowed (here).
  • FEMA ended up furloughing 86 percent of their employees during the height of the hurricane season (here).
  • So yeah, if Mark Meadows does absolutely nothing else of consequence one way or the other for the remainder of his public life, he will always be remembered for the utterly ruinous 2013 government shutdown, as well he should.

    ellmers

    #44 – Renee Ellmers (NC – 02)

    What a prize of an elected official…

  • Speaking of the shut down, Ellmers voted for it of course, but when asked why she wouldn’t donate her salary, said “I need my paycheck” here (as Laura Clawson says, as if Head Start teachers don’t?).
  • Oh, and an unsecured AR-15 rifle was stolen from her home here (smooth move).
  • Here, she introduced a “bill” to provide “rights” to disabled (injured and amputee) veterans that they already have.
  • As noted here, Ellmers introduced a resolution to honor Jesse Helms (ding ding ding! We have a winner in the “Wingnut of the Week” contest!).
  • Also, I’m not the biggest fan of Clay Aiken either, and I know politics ain’t beanbag as somebody once said, but I thought it definitely showed a lack of class on her part to mock his singing here.
  • reid-ribble-oops

    #45 – Reid Ribble (WI – 08)

  • This tells us that a petition with 120,000 signatures was delivered to Ribble’s office telling him not to include Social Security cuts in fiscal discussions last year, which Ribble intended to do regardless of the fact Social Security does not contribute to the federal deficit…remember the whole “chained CPI” thing, which apparently has come around again as an issue as noted here?
  • And speaking of Social Security, he wants anyone relying on that popular federal program to get it in the proverbial neck, as it were, as noted here.
  • In a truly guttural move, Ribble actually scolded Sister Simone Campbell for asking government to help the poor (nice).
  • Here, Ribble ducked out early from a jobs fair to attend a campaign fundraiser (what a swell guy).
  • Ribble said here that government shouldn’t borrow, even though he personally carries a couple of hundred thousand in debt (the latter isn’t a crime, but don’t be so damn two-faced about it).
  • And OF COURSE he’s a member of the “Koch Caucus” (here).
  • SteveStockman

    #46 – Steve Stockman (TX – 36)

    I don’t know if Stockman is the biggest goof ball on this list or not, but if he isn’t, he’s certainly in the top two…

  • There’s lots of stuff on Stockman from this great post – take your pick.
  • He also thinks Ted Nugent is a patriot (here).
  • Stockman invited the rodeo clown wearing an Obama mask noted here to perform in his district (nice).
  • He apparently went missing also (here), but he turned up later (here), thinking the whole “missing” thing was a joke apparently (of course, if you want to read something really funny, take a look at this…wonder if the Teahadists will do the U.S. Senate Democrats another favor?).
  • As noted here, Stockman is also apparently a fan of that show “Duck Dynasty,” along with a lot of others I know (in response, I give you this…anyone who buys into that show is a total rube).
  • Update 3/4/14: HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

    Neugebauer

    #47 – Randy Neugebauer (TX – 19)

  • Yes, it’s true – as the picture shows, any discussion of Neugebauer has to begin with his truly infamous episode where he yelled at a U.S. Park Ranger for closing the WWII memorial during the shut down his party initiated (here).
  • He also yelled out “baby killer,” presumably at former Dem U.S. House Rep Bart Stupak, during Stupak’s speech on the House floor at about the same time as the vote for the Affordable Care Law in 2010, which is truly idiotic but particularly in the case of pro-lifer Stupak (here)…and yes, he apologized.
  • Oh, and when asked here, he wouldn’t provide a copy of his birth certificate, even though Neugebauer is a “birther” himself, as noted here (uh oh).
  • Neugebauer was also one of the House Repugs who voted for farm aid (receiving about $4 grand in subsidies) while also voting to cut food stamps (here…also, he’s very definitely a member of the “Koch Caucus” along with Reid Ribble, noted in the link above).
  • So I think that brings the official count up to date; I should also start thinking about a proper commemoration for the eventual 50th repeal vote. Because, knowing this bunch in the House, that vote will surely come.

  • Rep_Holt_Official_Headshot

  • Finally, as long as I’ve devoted so much space to Congressional miscreants, allow me to finish by bidding a fond farewell to a retiring Dem who set, I believe, a sterling example of how Democrats are supposed to advocate for their constituencies and what kind of legislation they are supposed to author and/or support. And that would be Rush Holt of New Jersey (here).

    As noted below (citing what I know is an incomplete list of accomplishments)…

  • He spoke out against the ever-pervasive surveillance state here.
  • On a related note, he sponsored the RESTORE Act in 2007 here (earning the enmity of Joke Line, among others).
  • He was also a visionary on climate change (here).
  • He helped secure $3 million to keep the NJ Technology Center at Ft. Monmouth open (here).
  • He was a staunch defender of Social Security (here).
  • He won congressional approval of a measure to mandate video recording of interrogations (here).
  • Holt once introduced a bill to ensure a paper ballot in elections here (that issue more or less got swept under the rug, but last I checked, it still needed to be addressed).
  • We are truly losing some giants on our side in the House between Holt, Henry Waxman and George Miller. However, it is only right to cycle in new blood, as it were, and to also give thanks for the exemplary precedent set by those who have done their time and have now earned a well-deserved rest, providing the way forward for future heroes on our side, championing future causes for the good of our country. And may we see the day when their hard work comes to joyful fruition for us all.

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    Tuesday Mashup (10/29/13)

    October 29, 2013
  • Last week, Philadelphia’s supposed “newspaper of record” ran a front-page story on “No Corporate Tax” Pat Toomey…

    I had no objection to reopening the government. My main objection was combining that with several hundred billion dollars of additional debt that’s piled onto our already excessive levels of debt with no reforms whatsoever,” Toomey told The Inquirer. “Nothing that curbs the spending.”

    Gosh, how nice of “No Corporate Tax” Pat not to have an “objection” to “reopening the government” – here is a partial list of everyone who was screwed over by the calamitous antics of Toomey’s political party.

    And as far as Obama and reducing the debt is concerned, I give you this and this.

    Continuing…

    Toomey had sought to distance himself from the GOP’s most strident voices in the latest fight, saying he disagreed with threatening a shutdown to “defund” Obamacare. He called that “a bad idea” that could not succeed with President Obama still in the White House.

    But when the deal to reopen the government after 16 days included plans to increase borrowing authority without finding savings elsewhere, he said it was more than he could stomach.

    I read that last phrase in particular in disbelief because it totally disregards the impact of the ruinous “sequester” – as noted from here

    In fact, Democrats have agreed to the sequester funding levels, not the funding levels agreed to in the Budget Control Act, the law that supposedly set priorities for spending limits. The Tea-Publican economic terrorists have already won. Democrats have agreed to the Ryan budget spending levels that American voters overwhelmingly rejected in the 2012 election.

    Indeed – as the graph from the linked article indicates, the Senate “continuing resolution” funding request (taking the sequester into account) was $72 billion below the proposed budget for 2014. How much more in the way of “funding savings” does Toomey expect us to cough up by emptying our pockets and looking under the seat cushions (as it were)?

    The rest of the article is right-wing political insider crap and really deserves no further comment, so I won’t provide any.

    Update 10/31/13: Wonder what Toomey has to say about this (cue the sound of crickets).

  • Next, former Bushie Peter Schaumber haz a sad over Richard Griffin’s nomination to the NLRB (here)…

    For the second time in a year and a half, a powerful official may be appointed to the National Labor Relations Board without the Senate scrutiny his nomination requires.

    President Obama’s controversial nomination of Richard Griffin, Jr. for general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board was voted out of committee without a hearing, and the full Senate will vote on Griffin without a meaningful debate. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) set a cloture vote limiting debate for October 28. The Senate’s Democratic leadership has shown again that it is willing to dispense with a necessary element of the democratic process to serve the interests of Big Labor.

    Maybe the lack of “Senate scrutiny” is due to the fact that Griffin’s nomination, as well as that of Sharon Block to the NLRB, was filibustered, as noted here (third bullet)…

    When Obama took office, the NLRB only had two members. In April 2009, Obama nominated three people to serve on the NLRB – Mark Pearce (D), Craig Becker (D) and Brian Hayes (R). Yet Senate Republicans’ silent filibusters were effective in preventing a Senate vote on these nominees.

    In March 2010, Obama recess appointed Becker and Pearce to the board. In June, the Senate confirmed Pearce and Hayes, but continued to block Becker.

    When Becker’s recess appointment expired on Jan. 3, 2012, the NLRB didn’t have a quorum to make decisions. Confronted with Senate Republicans intent on undermining the NLRB’s authority, Obama made three recess appointments – Sharon Block (D), Richard Griffin (D) and Terence Flynn (R) – to guarantee a fully functioning board. These members joined Pearce and Hayes, who left the board in December 2012.

    Oh, and if you think the party of Sen. Mr. Elaine Chao was gumming up the Senate to a fare thee well already, get a load of this case on the docket of The Supremes, which could enable the Repugs to wreak even more havoc (and as the Media Matters post tells us, the ruling of unconstitutionality by the D.C. Circuit Court on the recess appointments by the Obama Administration of Block and Griffin was “extreme” and “contradictory to settled executive branch practice” according to the Constitutionality Law Center).

    Fortunately, based on this, it looks like two other competent Democrats got through all the ridiculous obstruction by the Senate minority party and were named to the NLRB.

    And Peter Schaumber, Peter Schaumber…why does that name ring a bell?

    Oh yeah – this tells us the following from April of last year…

    WASHINGTON — A top labor adviser to GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney stepped down from his volunteer role with the campaign not long before he was publicly implicated in a federal ethics investigation, according to a Romney campaign aide.

    The inspector general of the National Labor Relations Board has asked federal investigators to examine whether Peter Schaumber, a former NLRB board member and erstwhile Romney adviser, may have been involved in violations of the Hatch Act, the federal law that prohibits civil servants from engaging in partisan politics.

    The Hatch Act request stems from an earlier investigation by the labor board’s inspector general that found that NLRB board member Terence Flynn had allegedly violated the agency’s ethical code by sharing sensitive information with outsiders, including Schaumber, while serving as counsel last year. Flynn was notified Dec. 5 that he was being investigated. According to the aide, Schaumber left the campaign in December. The NLRB investigation first became public in March and now appears to be widening.

    In fact, the former campaign of Willard Mitt even scrubbed all mention of Schaumber from its web site last year (here).

    Tee hee hee…

  • Continuing, I give you the following from Debra Saunders (here)…

    During the Obama years, a potent mythology has taken root in Democratic circles. In this narrative, Democrats are victims, martyrs even, whereas Republicans are wily tricksters.

    Last year, there was a hyped-up fable about Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. President Barack Obama told “60 Minutes,” “When I first came into office, the head of the Senate Republicans said, ‘My No. 1 priority is making sure President Obama’s a one-term president.'” Sen. Dianne Feinstein even told the San Francisco Chronicle’s editorial board she heard McConnell speaking to that effect on the Senate’s opening day.

    The thing is that the quote in question first appeared nearly two years later — in an October 2010 interview with the National Journal’s Major Garrett.

    And guess what? Saunders is absolutely right.

    That being said, I think the following should be noted from here

    WASHINGTON — As President Barack Obama was celebrating his inauguration at various balls, top Republican lawmakers and strategists were conjuring up ways to submarine his presidency at a private dinner in Washington.

    The event — which provides a telling revelation for how quickly the post-election climate soured — serves as the prologue of Robert Draper’s much-discussed and heavily-reported new book, “Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives.”

    According to Draper, the guest list that night (which was just over 15 people in total) included Republican Reps. Eric Cantor (Va.), Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), Paul Ryan (Wis.), Pete Sessions (Texas), Jeb Hensarling (Texas), Pete Hoekstra (Mich.) and Dan Lungren (Calif.), along with Republican Sens. Jim DeMint (S.C.), Jon Kyl (Ariz.), Tom Coburn (Okla.), John Ensign (Nev.) and Bob Corker (Tenn.). The non-lawmakers present included Newt Gingrich, several years removed from his presidential campaign, and Frank Luntz, the long-time Republican wordsmith. Notably absent were Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) — who, Draper writes, had an acrimonious relationship with Luntz.

    For several hours in the Caucus Room (a high-end D.C. establishment), the book says they plotted out ways to not just win back political power, but to also put the brakes on Obama’s legislative platform.

    “If you act like you’re the minority, you’re going to stay in the minority,” Draper quotes McCarthy as saying. “We’ve gotta challenge them on every single bill and challenge them on every single campaign.”

    The conversation got only more specific from there, Draper reports. Kyl suggested going after incoming Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner for failing to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes while at the International Monetary Fund. Gingrich noted that House Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) had a similar tax problem. McCarthy chimed in to declare “there’s a web” before arguing that Republicans could put pressure on any Democrat who accepted campaign money from Rangel to give it back.

    So basically, GOP obstruction of this president began on the very day he was inaugurated. Imagine the howls of outrage had a similar meeting been held by the Democratic congressional leadership the night of January 21, 2001.

    To use a parlance you’re sure to understand, wingnuts, you “built this.” Have the courage and basic human decency to own up to it, OK?

  • Further, I have some health-care-related items for discussion, beginning with this one

    Conservative commentator Pat Buchanan says the troubled Obamacare rollout could potentially vindicate the tea party for the government shutdown.

    “During three and a half years, from 1942 to ’45, the United States government built, with the help of the industrialists, got hundreds of thousands of aircraft, 1600 ships. We armed the United States — 12 million men, Russia, the British Empire — destroyed two of the greatest empires on earth,” Buchanan told “On The Record” host Greta Van Susteren on Thursday. “And you mean to tell me these folks in that amount of time, and with $500 million can’t create a website?

    Oh, yes, Obamacare website, Obamacare website, Obamacare website…yes, it’s bad, but cut them some slack, OK? I mean, it’s not as if hugely popular federal government entitlements (which I supposed the Affordable Care Law is, to an extent) haven’t had trouble during the roll out phase before (here – and by the way, we also can’t seem to be able to build a commuter tunnel from New Jersey to NYC either – here…hopefully voters in the Garden State will remember this before they rush off to give Governor Bully four more years in about a week…and to do something to prevent that, click here).

    And potentially “vindicate” the Teahadists for the government shut down, huh? Well, this tells us what this country thinks of those wheezing old white, middle-aged-and-older crybabies, and this tells us that the Affordable Care Law, while still trying to win approval despite everything currently going on, is gaining traction to a degree, despite Republican efforts to kill it in its infancy.

    Turning to Indiana, this also from The Daily Tucker tells us the following…

    Obamacare will cause 11,000 low-income residents of Indiana to lose their existing health coverage.

    Oh brother… in fact, it was known in September that, under Repug Governor Mike Pence, the 11,000 or so residents would be moved from the state exchange and have to enroll because, as the Journal-Gazette tells us here, “the income eligibility threshold (will) drop significantly, from up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level to up to 100 percent.”

    And get a load of this…

    The Obama administration demanded that an Indiana health insurance program for the poor alter its eligibility requirements and recommended that booted patients seek out Obamacare plans instead.

    I don’t know how accurate “demanded” is, but what I do know is that, like every other Repug governor I can think of, Pence turned up his nose at Medicaid expansion (in essence, free money) to cover the cost of enrolling everyone in his state who was eligible under existing guidelines. So of course the guidelines had to be modified, booting off about 11,000 “Hoosiers” (and here is more Pence nonsense on this issue).

    gwb_13-george-w-bush
    And just when you thought we were done with this guy, along comes Dr. Marc Siegel (who?), who inflicts the following from here

    From Benghazi to the health of former President George W. Bush, wild unsubstantiated assertions by the news media take the place of real reporting. Fox News is left to set the record straight, yet frequently it doesn’t get the credit it deserves.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!

    OK, I’ll stop. Continuing…

    The stent placement in President Bush’s coronary artery is the latest example of the world of Fox News versus wild speculation.

    The subsequent media firestorm and unsubstantiated August debate over whether Bush’s heart procedure was needed has culminated in yet another round of anti-journalistic speculation this week more than two months after the fact.

    I had attempted back then to report the facts about the severity of President Bush’s lesion, and the appropriateness of his treatment by his team of doctors in Dallas, led by Dr. Tony Das, who inserted the potentially lifesaving stent.

    My source for the real medical facts back in August was the president’s senior spokesperson, Freddy Ford.

    President Bush, typically unselfish, was not responding to criticism with anything personal or political but was concerned for the reputation of his doctors who he felt were being falsely maligned.

    Um…the dookey’s getting pretty deep quickly, so I’d better respond with this by Steven M. Greer, M.D…

    A recent short article in an obscure Washington, DC wonky journal triggered national media when it asserted that President George W. Bush’s (43rd President) coronary artery disease was far more dangerous than originally reported in August. NBC Nightly news picked up the story along with numerous other national outlets. The headline was “President Bush had a 95% blockage of the artery”.

    When President Bush first received a coronary stent in August, after a routine “Executive Physical” exam at the Texas Cooper Clinic found coronary artery disease, the national TV and print news (and this author) widely reported that the stent was unnecessary and did little to reduce his chance of future heart attack. A Washington Post Op-Ed went on to use the Bush case as an example of expensive ineffective therapy in the American healthcare system. A contrarian view came from Fox News’ Dr. Marc Siegel in his USA Today Op-Ed.

    On October 15th, in response to the NBC, Dr. Siegel appeared on afternoon Fox News to scream to the world that “We got this story first” and send the message, “Told you so. The Bush stent was critical to saving his life and the doctors in Texas were Super Heroes”. During his segment, Dr. Siegel insinuated that he is very close with President Bush and that President Bush personally informed him of the details of his coronary artery lesion, location, etc.

    Dr. Siegel’s behavior seemed so erratic and manic that the credibility of his comments were in question. We emailed him to clarify a few points, and he promptly replied by telephone. What ensued was a bizarre series of calls.

    I’ll leave it up to you, dear reader, to read the rest of Dr. Greer’s post about his communication with Dr. Siegel (yep, it’s pretty unusual, all right).

    Not being a medical professional, I don’t have the first clue as to whether or not George W. Bush actually needed a stent or not to correct his heart issue. And despite the ruin he oversaw while he occupied space in An Oval Office, I don’t wish ill on him. I don’t wish anything particularly good for him, either. I wish he would continue to just go away and stay away.

    I wanted to take a moment and comment on this, though, because this stuff is about as serious as it gets. A decision about this type of a procedure should be made after careful consultation with the appropriately degreed medical professional (I know, duuuh!). And unless time is of the essence (which it often is with a heart-related blockage), a second opinion is a good idea. There are tradeoffs to this type of a procedure, and they should be discussed along with the benefits (and preferably not with someone who doubles as a pundit for Fix Noise).

  • Finally (for folk in Bucks County, PA, Lower Makefield in particular), I just wanted to point out that a week from today is Election Day (that would be November 5th). Click here to support Deb Wachspress and Josh Waldorf for the Pennsbury School Board (this is our chance to boot Simon Campbell, people – what more do I need to say?), and click here to support John Lewis and Mark Moffa for Lower Makefield Supervisors.

    Because…

    Every_Election_Matters


  • Wednesday Mashup (7/17/13)

    July 18, 2013
  • Part of me truly wanted to avoid this recent column by Stu Bykofsky, but I believe it is too rank to be ignored (on the matter of PA AG Kathleen Kane’s decision not to enforce the commonwealth’s indefensible Defense of Marriage Act)…

    It doesn’t matter whether you support or oppose gay marriage, this is an issue of law, current law.

    The state Attorney General is substituting her own preferences to Pennsylvania law, which she is sworn to uphold. Ms. Kane doesn’t get to decide constitutionality, the courts do that.

    This is materially no different than George Wallace blocking the entrance to a school because he didn’t agree with the court knocking down segregation. It is different only in that we don’t like where he was, but (most of us) do like Kane’s position. But that it (sic) not the issue. The issue is obeying (and in Kane’s case) defending the law, even if not palatable.

    (Frankly, couldn’t she just have assigned a low-ranking, inexperienced attorney, who would botch the job? She could have. I think she is show-boating here.)

    In response, I give you the following from here

    In a public statement on Thursday, Kane said, “I cannot ethically defend the constitutionality of Pennsylvania’s version of DOMA where I believe it to be wholly unconstitutional,” adding, “It is my duty under the Commonwealth Attorneys Act whenever I determine it is in the best interest of the Commonwealth to authorize the Office of General Counsel to defend the state in litigation. Additionally, it is a lawyer’s ethical obligation under Pennsylvania’s Rules of Professional Conduct to withdraw from a case in which the lawyer has a fundamental disagreement with the client.”

    So Kane didn’t kill the case. Not at all! Instead, she rightfully disclosed a conflict of interest due to a difference of opinion, and passed the case along to Gov. Corbett.

    How many politicians do you know that disclose a conflict of interest? You can count that number on one hand.

    Oh, and paging “Byko” for this one…

    Kane also didn’t sabotage the case by accepting it and then giving it to a lackey – an awful suggestion that has been made by some.

    Instead, she took the high road and essentially recused herself and her office from handling the case.

    Kane’s decision is making national news. But it shouldn’t. She’s hardly the first attorney general to refuse to participate in a case involving this or any other hotbed social issue.

    Back when California Gov. Jerry Brown was the state’s Attorney General, he refused to defend California’s anti-gay-marriage measure, Proposition 8. Just last month, the U.S. Supreme Court addressed the case, ruling that those who defended Proposition 8 didn’t have legal standing to do so.

    Time will show very soon that PA’s DOMA law is unconstitutional, too – the same way that Loving v. Virginia declared that banning interracial marriages was illegal.

    And as far as “Byko” and the comparison between Kane and George Wallace (really?) is concerned, I give you this

    Of course, while similar on the surface (the law is involved?), Kane’s position isn’t really like Wallace’s at all! In Brown v. Board of Ed., the Supreme Court said that states could no longer segregate their own schools. In the Supreme Court’s DOMA decision this year, it was ruled that the federal Defense of Marriage Act is not constitutional, though doesn’t say the same about Defense of Marriage Acts passed in individual states.

    When Wallace stood in front of the University of Alabama in 1963, he was refusing to enforce a federal court order to allow three students with perfect qualifications to attend the school.

    Wallace_Katzenbach

    (And somehow, I find it hard to believe that Eric Holder or another Justice Department attorney would ever show up on the steps of the governor’s mansion in Harrisburg, arguing with Tom “Space Cadet” Corbett about whether or not straights should be allowed to marry, parroting this iconic photo of Wallace with Kennedy Justice Department lawyer Nicholas Katzenbach.)

    I will admit that there’s a bit of posturing by Kane going on here, since I’m pretty sure that she once claimed in her primary campaign against Patrick Murphy that the Attorney General didn’t have the right to decide which laws should be enforced. However, I definitely believe that she’s acting in the interests of the “greater good” here.

    Besides, Kane is, aside from the head prosecutor in PA, also the chief administrator of law enforcement. Given that, what kind of judgment would it show if she committed personnel and resources of her office, all on the public dime, to defending a law that, on the federal level, had recently been invalidated by the U.S. Supreme Court?

  • Next, if we’ve recently suffered a gun tragedy or a miscarriage of justice of some type over guns within the last week or so, you can always count on John Lott to pop up with more demagoguery and misinformation to try and show that it’s all the fault of those dastardly liberals somehow (here)…

    Comments by President Obama, Al Sharpton and others surely stirred up the racial aspects of the case and appear to have led some blacks across the country to attack whites to avenge Trayvon Martin

    Really? Obama “stirred up the racial aspects” by urging calm? Before he presses on another ugly piece of propaganda for Fix Noise, Lott should actually try reading their web site once in a while (here).

    Also, Reverend Al said that the protests in the wake of the Trayvon Martin verdict were mostly nonviolent here, which is also borne out by this clip from Rachel Maddow here.

    Of course, this isn’t the first time that John Lott has either demonized African Americans or whitewashed attempts to marginalize them at the ballot box, as he did here, claiming that he somehow wasn’t able to name a single person who was disenfranchised from voting in the Florida 2000 presidential election.

    I don’t know what’s in the minds of these people when they concoct this garbage. And I really don’t want to know either.

  • Further, I got a bit of a laugh out of this item (here)…

    Ranking member of the Senate Banking Committee Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) charged that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) was engaged in “unprecedented data collection.”

    “The CFPB is collecting credit card data, bank account data, mortgage data and student loan data,” Crapo said on the Senate floor Tuesday. “This ultimately allows the CFPB to monitor a consumer’s monthly spending habits.”

    Crapo’s comments came just hours after the Senate voted 71-29 to end debate on the nomination of Richard Cordray to lead the CFPB. A final vote on Cordray’s nomination could come as early as today.

    I’d recently read comments from Mikey the Beloved to this effect also. And in response, let me ask this; who isn’t engaged in massive data collection these days (not approving it – just asking the question).

    And in defense of Cordray, I give you this

    Cordray replied that the credit card and mortgage payment data are widely available and are bought from companies such as Argus and from credit records, which the CFPB is using to work with the Federal Housing Finance Agency to construct a national mortgage database. “The information is not personal but is anonymized,” he said. “If people want to misunderstand and think that it’s invading privacy based on speculation, I’d simply say, that’s not what it is.”

    The bureau must gather such data if it is to prepare cost-benefit analysis of the structure of markets and to deliver reports required by Congress, he added. “If we didn’t, you’d be disappointed with us and rightly so.”

    Similarly, the CFPB’s consumer complaint database, which has accumulated nearly 100,000 complaints about lenders, does not risk disclosing personal data, Cordray said. The complaints are “scrubbed” of personal identifiers after confirming that the complainer has a commercial relationship with the company. “We use it to communicate to companies on how to improve, and to the public too,” he said. “We need more of this, not less.” He did promise Crapo a visit from his staff to clarify the bureau’s privacy safeguards.

    Also, while I’m on the subject of Cordray, allow me to congratulate him due to the fact that he was finally confirmed by the Senate as part of a recent deal “aimed at freeing up seven stalled appointments President Barack Obama has made to the consumer agency, the National Labor Relations Board and other agencies,” as the AP via HuffPo tells us here.

    And concerning the NLRB part of the deal, I give you the following whining from Sen. Charles Grassley here (from “Tiger Beat on the Potomac,” as Charles Pierce rightly calls it)…

    …Grassley (R-Iowa) said the decision to block Cordray ultimately helped lead to a deal that forced two previous nominees for the National Labor Relations Board to be replaced with new candidates as part of a broader Senate deal struck this week over how executive branch nominees will be handled going forward.

    “We got two illegally appointed NLRB people off the agenda,” he said. “It was pretty important when the court says somebody’s been illegally appointed that they don’t get Senate confirmation.”

    The two NLRB appointees in question, Sharon Block (a former labor counsel to Senator Edward M. Kennedy) and Richard Griffin (former general counsel for the International Union of Operating Engineers), had been serving on the board since January 2012, appointed by Obama during a Senate break after Republicans blocked their confirmations (as the New York Times tells us here).

    The “legality” of Block and Griffin’s appointments was decided by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit; as noted here, the court issued a ruling that, in essence, also retroactively invalidated about 300 other recess appointments of this type by prior presidents since 1981 (and of the three judges on the appeals court panel, one was appointed by The Sainted Ronnie R, one was appointed by Bush 41, and one was appointed by Bush 43).

    And I think we also need to recall the following from here

    When Obama took office, the NLRB only had two members. In April 2009, Obama nominated three people to serve on the NLRB – Mark Pearce (D), Craig Becker (D) and Brian Hayes (R). Yet Senate Republicans’ silent filibusters were effective in preventing a Senate vote on these nominees.

    In March 2010, Obama recess appointed Becker and Pearce to the board. In June, the Senate confirmed Pearce and Hayes, but continued to block Becker.

    When Becker’s recess appointment expired on Jan. 3, 2012, the NLRB didn’t have a quorum to make decisions. Confronted with Senate Republicans intent on undermining the NLRB’s authority, Obama made three recess appointments – Sharon Block (D), Richard Griffin (D) and Terence Flynn (R) – to guarantee a fully functioning board. These members joined Pearce and Hayes, who left the board in December 2012. (Flynn resigned after an ethics scandal in March 2012.)

    So basically, that’s the history of the Repugs doing their best to gum up the NLRB since Obama was first elected in 2008. In fact, they have such an animus towards the NLRB (how dare an agency of government create such a “burdensome” environment for business by allowing workers to present and seek redress of grievances??!!) that the House, apparently believing that the Senate would end up allowing the NLRB appointments, decided to make things worse on their own by passing the utterly odious HR 1120 here, which basically shuts down the NLRB altogether (Mikey the Beloved commendably voted No).

    Grassley should shut his proverbial pie hole on matters related to the NLRB and Obama’s recess appointments overall. The actions of his party may not have been illegal, but that doesn’t mean that they didn’t stink to high heaven anyway (besides, based on this, it looks like Sen. Mr. Elaine Chao got outfoxed for a change).

    Update 7/18/13: And depressing though it is, here is more food for thought on this subject (to me the name James Sherk is a bit Dickensian).

  • Finally, I’m glad to hear that this guy is back on the air (here). I’m sorry that he will no longer be a political voice; I think that’s a monumental waste, but it was even worse for a reporter and broadcaster of his caliber to be effectively blackballed from TV journalism altogether.

    So good luck, Keith, and just bite your lip if the Texas Rangers make it to the World Series and Former Commander Codpiece starts strutting and yakking all over the place, trying to take credit for something he didn’t do, as usual.


  • 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.)


  • 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 :-).


  • Friday Mashup (2/22/13)

    February 22, 2013

  • This story about another photo-op by Mikey the Beloved, for the purposes of consumption by unwitting consumers of the Bucks County Courier Times (Mikey’s house organ, let’s not forget), contains what might be the most shocking piece of actual reporting I’ve ever read from Gary Weckselblatt…

    Tuesday’s meeting in Sellersville Borough Hall was attended by veterans, nearly all of them seniors, who received automated calls by Fitzpatrick, R-8, for the mid-afternoon event.

    Fitzpatrick has taken to these smaller gatherings, where he is rarely challenged.

    Ye Gods, man! What are you trying to do, make it as plain as day that Mikey wants face time only with his followers and absolutely no one else?

    Weckselblatt had better be careful – he’s dangerously close to going “off script” here. And that will never do for a publication that sanitizes Fitzpatrick’s doings so effectively, all for the purposes of maintaining the “moderate Mikey” façade.

  • Next, I have to admit that I was puzzled by this item from Sen. Mr. Elaine Chao (blaming Number 44 exclusively for the looming “sequester,” a stinking dead dog of a deal Obama was basically forced to accept in order for the inmates running the asylum of the U.S. House to stop holding the debt ceiling hostage two years ago)…

    “Surely the president won’t cut funds to first responders when just last year Washington handed out an estimated $115 billion in payments to individuals who weren’t even eligible to receive them, or at a time when 11 different government agencies are funding 90 different green energy programs,” McConnell said in a statement. “That would be a terrible and entirely unnecessary choice by a President who claims to want bipartisan reform.”

    I really haven’t found any other information on the Senate Minority Leader’s claim, nothing direct anyway (and Heaven forbid that our lapdog corporate media actually hold McConnell to account).

    Unless of course Sen. Mr. Chao is referring to the Social Security payroll tax break, which, as noted here, would cost $115 billion were it to be extended through this year. Also, Think Progress tells us here that the Repugs basically opposed the tax break all along (egad, free money for the “47 percent”? You mean, those “takers”? Those people who believe they’re entitled to “big gumint”? Fetch the smelling salts – I may faint!…in addition, I thought this was an interesting related story).

    If that’s the “115 billion” McConnell is talking about…well then, shouldn’t he own that talking point for good and tells us what it means, if anything?

    (And speaking of McConnell…)

    And as long as I’m talking about the “sequester” and the Teahadists, it looks like someone in Boehner’s caucus named Jim Bridenstine of Oklahoma thinks the U.S. House Speaker will “cave” (herethis tells us how Bridenstine unseated incumbent Repug John Sullivan in the primary, which, for all intents and purposes, was the election…a curious case of optometrists versus ophthalmologists, apparently).

    Well, while the unemployment rate in Tulsa is about 5 percent (here), which is below the national average I know, I’m sure those 24 K or so people in Bridenstine’s district won’t be happy about a probable reduction in benefits, as noted here – you would think Bridenstine would be more concerned about that than sucking up to those zany teabaggers (kind of makes you wonder why they would even vote for Repugs to begin with given all of this, but that’s another story I know).

    Update 6/5/13: It looks like Bridenstine has endeared himself to the Teahadists again here.

    Update 6/12/13: I guess we’re looking at a weekly feature now – what stupid thing will Bridenstine say or do next (here).

  • Continuing, I really hadn’t planned to say anything about the business with Christopher Dorner in California, he being the LA cop who was let go and went on a killing spree before he was cornered and apparently took his own life, as noted here.

    That is, I hadn’t planned to say anything until a certain V.D. Hanson decided to opine on it here

    …the Dorner and (Trayvon) Martin cases suggest that the old racial binaries are fossilized and increasingly irrelevant. The United States is now a multiracial society, an intermarried society, and an integrated society, in which racial identity is each year more confusing. As we have seen with Elizabeth Warren and Ward Churchill, race is becoming a construct frequently used by elites for purposes other than their concern for the general welfare.

    I don’t know what the hell that sentence means (and I don’t have a clue as to what the “fossilized” old “racial binaries” are either), except to try and tie Dorner in with Trayvon Martin, Elizabeth Warren (whose ancestry was questioned here by “Wall Street Scott” Brown, bringing all of this to a head, let’s not forget) and OMIGOD Ward Churchill (who nobody cares about except conservatives).

    Hanson also references that stupid quote from Marc Lamont Hill, who, as Charles Blow pointed out, apologized for it (here – and Hanson, of course, being the hatchet man that he is, only included the word “exciting” from Hill’s quote anyway).

    Of course, this is about what you should expect from Hanson, who goofed on the issue of race before here, saying that then-presidential candidate Barack Obama did not give his views on “reparations” for people of color, when he had in fact done that very thing, with Obama saying that “the best reparations we can provide are good schools in the inner city and jobs for people who are unemployed.”

  • Further, I give you this on the nomination of Chuck Hagel for Defense Secretary…

    Sen. James Inhofe (R., Okla.) has warned fellow Republicans they will be held accountable if they vote to end an ongoing Senate filibuster over the nomination of embattled secretary of defense nominee (Hagel).

    “Make no mistake; a vote for cloture is a vote to confirm Sen. Hagel as Secretary of Defense,” Inhofe wrote in a strongly worded letter to his Republican colleagues, several of whom have indicated in recent days that they would vote to end debate on Hagel’s nomination, paving the way for his confirmation.

    With that in mind, I give you this from Inhofe about a week ago…

    “We’re going to require a 60-vote threshold,” Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) told Foreign Policy. But, he added, “It’s not a filibuster. I don’t want to use that word.”

    Sooo…as far as Inhofe is concerned, on the 13th he wasn’t talking about a filibuster, but now he is?

    My understanding (and I’ll admit I’m hardly an expert when it comes to the minutiae of the U.S. Senate) is that to delay a vote for cloture is to continue a filibuster (with the word cloture meaning “to end debate,” more or less).

    But please don’t call the opposition to Hagel a filibuster, OK?

  • Finally, I should point out that Mark Halperin is still an idiot (here, saying on “Morning Joe” that Obama could “reach out” to “moderate” Repug Senators. Rob Portman, Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander…really?).
  • As noted here, Portman introduced something called the “End Government Shutdowns Act,” the next effect of which would be to create automatic “continuing resolutions” that would defund all of that stuff liked by those who are supposedly dependent on government in the event that a budget deal wasn’t reached, giving the Teahadists the capability to do what they want via legislation instead of through threatening fiscal calamity on a regular basis (and more fool Jon Tester for going along with this garbage).
  • As noted here, Corker would only cave on those stinking Bush tax cuts if there was a cut in Medicare benefits (remember that the next time you hear Corker or any other Repug saying it’s the Dems who would do hard to that popular program).
  • As noted here, Alexander once accused the Obama White House of compiling an “enemies list” after hearing about it from Sean Inanity (gee, “project” much, Lamar?).
  • Meanwhile, Halperin will always get a guest shot on the morning gabfests (just lather, rinse, repeat, and cash the f*cking check…nice work if you can get it).


  • Thursday Mashup (2/7/13)

    February 8, 2013

  • With the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers having just played another Super Bowl (the Ravens won, of course)…well, you just knew there would be a story like this (a little late here, I know)…

    The Parents Television Council urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Monday to take action against CBS for airing a curse word during its coverage of Sunday’s Super Bowl.

    Immediately after the game ended, an exuberant Joe Flacco, the Baltimore Ravens’s quarterback, could be heard saying “f—ing awesome” to one of his teammates.

    “Despite empty assurance after empty assurance from the broadcast networks that they would never air indecent material, especially during the Super Bowl, it has happened again,” Tim Winter, the Parents Television Council’s president, said in a statement.

    “No one should be surprised that a jubilant quarterback might use profane language while celebrating a career-defining win, but that is precisely the reason why CBS should have taken precautions,” he said. “Joe Flacco’s use of the f-word, while understandable, does not absolve CBS of its legal obligation to prevent profane language from being broadcast — especially during something as uniquely pervasive as the Super Bowl.”

    I should let Tim Winter know that, when the Phillies won the World Series in ’08, the team held a party at Citizens Bank Park, and everyone on the team as well as the coaches and the announcers spoke to the fans. In the course of the festivities, Chase Utley unleashed an “F” blast heard all over the place, and I don’t recall that anyone fell down and died or turned into a pillar of salt.

    Simply put, this is just another excuse for a “values” freeloader like Winter to let everyone know he’s still around (“I’ll take ‘Desperately Trying To Remain Relevant’ for 100, Alex!” – more here). And here is more on the Parents Television Council, including the fact that it was founded by the perpetually angry Brent Bozell.

    In other Super Bowl news, this tells us who was upset over the performance of Beyoncé at halftime, and this tells us that at least one person was upset by the performance of the national anthem by Alycia Keys because she was sitting down, even though she was apparently quite good also (full disclosure: I saw a few minutes of the second quarter, including the fake field goal and Dwayne Johnson’s milk commercial, both of which I thought were pretty cool, and that was about it).

    You know what, people? If you don’t like what you’re watching, then change the channel and tune into something else. Or, if you want to do something really “cutting edge,” try reading a book or a newspaper instead (or maybe this blog :-)).

  • Next, I’m going to go for more “low-hanging fruit” here with Kristol Mess on the nomination of Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense (here)…

    Our brave men and women in uniform deserve better than Chuck Hagel. Are there any courageous liberal voices who will find it within themselves to say so? Are there a few courageous Democrats in the United States Senate who will announce that they will not consent to a secretary of defense unqualified for that high office? Is there even one Democratic senator who will hearken to President Kennedy’s admonition, “Sometimes party loyalty asks too much”?

    I’ll admit that I really don’t have a lot to add, only to point out from here that Hagel earned two Purple Hearts, an Army Commendation Medal, the Vietnamese Gallantry Cross and a Combat Infantryman’s Badge for his military service.

    And when it came to the prospect of serving our country, the only thing Kristol did was run away with all speed (here).

    And Kristol is the one trying to invoke courage…

    I understand that there are substantive disagreements people have with the Hagel nomination. But let’s make them on a fair appraisal and not on the partisan spin of one side or another (including more on Kristol’s ridiculous charge here that Hagel is “anti-Israel” and said that Iraq was a war for oil…Hagel didn’t say that last part either, though that is most definitely correct).

    Aside from Number 44’s sometimes ridiculous attempts to be “post-partisan,” I don’t know why he could not have settled for a Democrat as Secretary of Defense instead. But I have no substantive disagreement with Hagel; his service is commendable, and at least he recognized that we needed to stop digging the proverbial hole in Iraq and said as much. So I’m inclined to give him a chance.

    Which of course means that the Repugs in the U.S. Senate will do everything possible to obstruct Hagel even more (here).

  • Continuing, I give you more corporate media tut-tutting from Howard Kurtz here

    Now it’s true that Fox or Rush can boost or batter any lawmaker, and that they can help drive a controversy into the broader mainstream media. But we’re talking here about the president of the United States. He has an army, a navy and a bunch of nuclear weapons, not to mention an ability to command the airwaves at a moment’s notice. And he’s complaining about a cable channel and a radio talk show host?

    Sooo…as far as Kurtz is concerned, Number 44 is supposed to just shut up and take any nonsense doled out by The Roger Ailes BS Factory?

    But Kurtz of course has no issue with attacking Fix Noise himself, and rightly so, calling out Sean Inanity here for defending a typically scurrilous race baiting mess from The Daily Tucker. Also, the Foxies couldn’t wait to report the ruling by The Supremes that the health care law was unconstitutional last June…of course, the problem is that such a ruling was never handed down (here). And Kurtz called out Bill Orally here for not apologizing for messing up on the health care ruling in particular (if O’Reilly apologized for all of his screw-ups, he wouldn’t have time to do anything else, though he did issue a mea culpa the next day).

    Media Matters provided a better take-down of Kurtz here; I guess Kurtz thinks the Repugs are supposed to run the show, he and his media pals are supposed to be the referees, and the Dems are supposed to retreat to a neutral corner and be quiet (a perfect formula for electoral losses by our side, by the way).

  • Further, somebody named Chris Edwards over at Irrational Spew Online concocted the following from here (there’s a lot I could get into from his joke of an opinion column, but I’ll focus on the following for now)…

    High-speed rail represents another federal effort to create a one-size-fits-all solution for the country. The economic justification for high-speed rail is weak, yet the Obama administration is trying to impose its grand rail vision on the whole nation. Such infrastructure decisions should be left to the states. If California wants to blow its own money on a boondoogle (sp) rail system, it can do so, but the federal government shouldn’t foist the costs on the rest of us.

    Yeah, don’t you hate it when the federal government engages in its “boondoogle” projects (if you’re going to be snarky, learn how to spell first, OK?).

    To begin, this tells us that Repug Governors Lex Luthor Scott, John Kasich and Scott Walker all turned down high speed rail funds (in Scott’s case, to the disappointment of John Mica, U.S. House Repug and Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee). Also (and taking a page out of Edwards’ playbook I’m sure), Erick (“Son of Erick”) Erickson cropped comments by former Obama Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to make it sound like the latter supported the Chinese over this country on infrastructure (uh, no).

    More to the point, this tells us why the federal government should have a role in infrastructure projects, along with the attendant benefits (for example, does anything think we actually would have our highway transportation system from coast to coast if it had been left up totally to the states?). And this tells us how the Repugs have blocked transportation infrastructure projects, thus hindering our recovery (though they have no trouble with funding infrastructure in places like Afghanistan, as noted here).

    And as long as Edwards decided to take a shot at the “Big Dig” project in Massachusetts, the following should be noted from here

    The Big Dig is a marvel, even considering the construction problems that have surfaced since the project officially concluded in 2007. Traffic jams still occur in Boston but nothing like those on the elevated Central Artery and en route to and from Logan Airport when the only access was through the Sumner and Callahan Tunnels. A trip from the South Shore to Logan, which on weekdays was a crawl and stall through the tunnel, is now a breeze.

    The birth of a new Boston waterfront is not just a boon for tourists. The Seaport District finally is taking off. A few years ago the Institute of Contemporary Art was a lonely addition near the federal courthouse. Now the area is filled with new restaurants, a neighborhood of galleries and 1,700 new apartments built or planned. The new housing is a lure for young college grads especially; they have been leaving Boston in large part because of expensive housing costs and a dearth of apartments close to downtown offices.

    All this means more business – housing and entertainment dollars that add more money to the state’s bottom line. A good chunk of that money goes back to the cities and towns in the form of local aid, something lawmakers conveniently forget when they rail against what they call a Boston project. The capital city will always be the state’s primary economic engine, so what’s good for Boston is good for residents from Plymouth to the Berkshires.

    And as if we need another reality check on this issue, allow me to provide the following from here.

  • Finally, it looks like former Repug U.S. House Rep and (still, to my knowledge) deadbeat dad Joe Walsh is forming his own Teahadist Super Pac for the 2014 midterm congressional elections here (dear God, are we in this cycle already??!!).

    So let’s backtrack for a minute and look at where we are, OK?

    The name of Walsh’s former peer in the House, Steve King of Iowa, gets floated around a bit as the potential Repug candidate for the U.S. Senate seat in Iowa formerly held by the departing Dem Tom Harkin (here).

    Karl Rove responds with this.

    And now, Joe Walsh responds also here (aren’t circular firing squads fun?).

    All of which makes me want to say the following (for the primary election anyway)…

    GO STEVE, GO!


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