Friday Mashup (6/13/14)

June 13, 2014
  • This story tells us the following (about the recent idiocy in North Carolina Virginia where Phillip Puckett, a thoroughly compromised Dem in the state senate, agreed to resign for a plumb patronage job that he since has chosen not to accept, and let the Repugs take over that body, denying Medicaid expansion in that state)…

    Puckett’s resignation leads the way for him to get a job as deputy director of the state tobacco commission and for his daughter to be confirmed for a state judgeship. Depending on how you look at it, it’s politics at its worst — or best.

    “Republicans I’ve talked to are chortling,” Larry Sabato, founder and director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, told Business Insider. “They think it’s one of the cleverest things they’ve done.”

    “And yet,” he added, “one of them asked me, ‘Do you think Democrats would not have done the same thing if they had the opportunity?’ And of course they would have. It’s yet another reason people hate politicians.”

    Perhaps, but is there a recent example of such an occurrence? You know, engaging in political nonsense that could prevent nearly 400,00 people in the state of North Carolina from receiving health care (here)? And let’s see how many Repugs are “chortling” in light of this.

    And Sabato follows up with the following…

    “This is really about Obamacare,” Sabato said of the dispute. “Forget about Medicaid.”

    I realize that it’s Sabato’s job to comment on the “horse race” political stuff and not necessarily the wonky material about, you know, actual policy and legislation that makes a difference in people’s lives, but if he doesn’t know what he’s talking about on this issue (and he obviously doesn’t), then he should shut up.

    You see, the people affected by the treachery orchestrated by Puckett and the North Carolina Repugs are (again) primarily the poor in his state who are due to receive the benefits of “Obamacare” through Medicaid expansion. Arguing that the two are separate in this case is disingenuous at best and outright lying at worst.

    This is par for the ridiculous course when it comes to Sabato, though; as noted here, he once said that the Swift Boat liars who impugned John Kerry ten years ago (remember that one?) were telling the truth; he also said that it would be “a national disgrace” to continue “the Clinton/Bush dynasty” (another idiotic construct as far as I’m concerned; things were a hell of a lot better for me and everyone I know under Bill than under either of the Bushes); and he also said (in the post I linked to previously) that the Democrats are the “mommy” party while the Repugs are the “daddy” party.

  • Next, I give you some truly ripe stuff from Larry Kudlow (here)…

    The Democrats want a minimum-wage hike. That may sound great on the surface, but it’s actually a big job loser for the lowest-skilled and poorest among us. President Obama and his EPA have launched a war on coal, which will cost hundreds of thousands of jobs if implemented. And then there’s Obamacare, which the CBO estimates will cost at least 2.5 million jobs.

    I don’t know how Kudlow can make that claim about the minimum wage with any degree of seriousness whatsoever (much more on that is available from here).

    And as far as coal goes, I also don’t know how Kudlow can seriously make the claim that Obama has “launched a war on coal,” considering that his administration encourages coal burning by aggressively issuing permits to mine coal on federal land, especially the Powder River Basin of Wyoming, as noted here.

    But wait, there’s more…

    With coal demand at home expected to fall by 20 per cent due to new regulations, and competitive pressure from low-priced natural gas, coal companies are now pushing to increase exports to Asia. … Three new coal-export ports are being proposed for the Pacific coast: two in Washington state and one in Oregon. They could eventually ship up to 100 million tons of coal per year—an amountequivalent to the total volume of coal the U.S. will export this year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA). …

    Environmentalists warn that emissions from that volume of coal would dwarf the savings from Obama’s new power plant rule.

    Since 2009, the Obama administration has sold leases for more than two billion tons of coal in the Powder River Basin for rates as low as $1 per ton, drawing the wrath of critics, including some in Congress, who say too much coal is being leased too cheaply. (Coal from the Powder River Basin is worth about $13 per ton.)

    As it reviews its long-term plans for the leases, which could eventually put another 10 billion tons of coal up for auction, the administration has so far resisted calls to include carbon emissions abroad in its decision-making.

    In addition, it looks like Kudlow is trying to propagandize once more about how the Affordable Care Law is a supposed job killer, when in reality (here)…

    The reduction in work hours that equates to 2.5 million jobs “stems almost entirely” from Americans deciding to work less or not at all in order to retain their eligibility for the Affordable Care Act’s expanded Medicaid coverage or government health insurance subsidies, the CBO analysis concludes.

    More on that is here; basically, we’re talking about a reduction in work hours that equates to 2.5 million jobs. Or, to give you an example close to home, maybe Mrs. Doomsy could continue to work on-call for about 20 hours or so a week if she qualified for “Obamacare” instead of having to work a minimum of 32 hours a week for her employer to get health insurance by that way instead (that’s partly a hypothetical and partly reality too, for the record).

    (Oh, and by the way, as you go to the polls later this year, please remember which political party was responsible for a near-catastrophic government shut down last year, and also remember who was one of the shut down’s biggest cheerleaders.)

  • Further, James Jay Carafano waxes hysterical as follows (here)…

    Iraq is a shambles. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the Al Qaeda off-shoot that now controls nearly a third of the nation, continues to run amok.

    It’s way past time for the White House to get its head in the game. The disaster unfolding in Iraq and Syria could very quickly spiral into a much, much bigger problem. And some problems are so big that even our president can’t spin his way out.

    At the top of the list of what the administration should be worrying about—and preparing to deal with—is the potential for an endless three-way civil war in Iraq. With Sunni, Shia and Kurds fighting one another, it would look something like the civil war in Syria—on steroids.

    Of course, back during the supposedly glorious days of Iraq War II, no one could have predicted that the quagmire in Mesopotamia would turn out to be favorable to Iran. Right?

    In response, I give you James Jay Carafano in 2010 (here)…

    Here is what we know for sure. 1) Given the state of Iraq in 2006, the country is in a much better place today that any reasonable observer then dared hope. 2) Iraq is better off than it was in the age of Saddam. Now the country has a future, and it rests in the hands of its people. Bonus: The world is rid one of its most dangerous and bloodthirsty thugs. Yes, it was a heavy price. Freedom rarely comes cheap. 3) The surge worked. The surge never promised a land of “milk and honey.” It just promised to break the cycle of continuous, unrelenting violence, to give the new Iraqi political process a chance, and to allow the Iraqis time to build the capacity for their own security. It did that. 4) Things didn’t turn out the way Bush planned. But the vision — a free Iraq without Saddam — was achieved. Remember, things didn’t turn out the way FDR planned either. He said all the troops would be out of Europe in two years.

    By the way, Carafano wrote the above column on August 19th, the day that Obama announced that all combat operations would end by August 31st, with the full withdrawal scheduled for December 2011 (here). And after that, the attacks started to ramp up again.

    Here is my point – if Carafano said that “this is the way history works” in 2010, acting like he was OK with what Obama was doing, then wasn’t Carafano just as wrong then as he thinks Obama is now (and personally, I think Obama was correct, as opposed to Carafano)?

  • Continuing, I came across this real whopper from Dr. Ben Carson (here – page 2)…

    Over the past year, I have learned a great deal about the press in America. It is not uniformly unfair with nefarious agendas, but a significant portion is. One of the best ways to determine which news organizations are objective and which have an agenda is to keep a scorecard that lists both electronic and print media. When evaluating a story, check off whether it is concentrating on factual reporting or demonization. If there is controversy, determine whether both points of view are considered. If major stories of a political nature are ignored or barely mentioned, that should raise suspicions about objectivity.

    You know what? I think Carson is actually onto something here. So, following up on his idea of a “score card,” I came up with the following…

    Story Demonization Factual Reporting
    Here Carson compares gay men and women to bestiality supporters. Bestiality is abhorrent to the gay community and just about every other life form that I know of (duuuh!).
    Here The VA scandal is “A gift from God” according to Carson. The VA scandal is a national bipartisan tragedy, owing primarily to the huge burden of treating our military personnel fighting two wars begun under the prior administration (not a criticism of our military in any way, of course – not their problem that Bushco was a gang of thugs who were asleep on 9/11).
    Here Carson compared the Affordable Care Law to “slavery.” Over 8 million (and counting) citizens of this country now have access to health care, many of whom had no access before.
    Here Carson once said that Russian President Vladimir Putin was right to call America “godless.” Why should we take seriously supposed lessons in morality from a thug who annexed Crimea away from Ukraine (you can go in many other directions here, I’ll admit).
    Here Carson invokes Lenin (no, not the Beatle) in attacking the Affordable Care Law. Sigh – is this really necessary anymore?

    Of course, if you want to do any research about Carson on your own, dear reader (trying to determine “factual reporting” vs. “demonization” without a visual aid, even the one as primitive as I provided), you can always just click here.

  • Update 6/14/14: Turning to Philadelphia-area stuff, it looks like a SEPTA transit strike is underway. I’m not totally familiar with all of the issues, though it apparently involves pension contributions and cost-of-living increases for transit workers (have to read more about it, as they say). It also looks like our illustrious governor, Tom “Space Cadet” Corbett, is going to ask Obama to appoint an executive-level commission, or something, to look into the matter, meaning that the striking workers will have to return to their jobs for a minimum of 240 days.

    I’m noting this particularly because of the following (here)…

    Bucks County Commissioner Charles H. Martin, who serves on SEPTA’s board of directors, said he was not aware of any plans by Bucks officials to handle potential traffic headaches.

    “Frankly, I don’t know what we could do,” he said.

    He said most people employed by the county and working in the county seat of Doylestown already drive to work, and would be unaffected by a Regional Rail strike.

    I know this may be hard for Mr. “I Have A Semi-Open Mind” to comprehend, but not all of the residents of Bucks County work in Doylestown (facepalm).

    Here’s a thought – why not try to encourage businesses to arrange staggered shifts for their employees or set up/encourage telecommuting or flex time options? Do anything you can to try and alleviate further traffic problems that may result from the strike!

    God, what a maroon (Update 6/16/14 – Hopefully, though, the strike won’t be an issue based in part on this)…

  • Finally (and returning to Fix Noise), I give you the following here

    This week, the president is speaking and acting on the issue of student loans for higher education. He appears to truly believe that a college education is important and is taking executive action to help students pay for their education. This seems like a straightforward feel-good issue…except there is a painful irony hiding behind the president’s words and actions.

    A closer look at the president’s Department of Education, sadly, reveals an elitist streak when it comes to higher education. At the same time that the president is speaking grandly about helping students pay for college, his education department is moving forward on a regulation that would severely limit the opportunity for college for a certain type of student — those attending non-traditional, private-sector colleges.

    There’s a hell of a lot of “red meat” and “dog whistle” language in what I suppose is a column that’s primarily an editorial as opposed to actual news (Number 44 is “elitist” and “classist,” etc., whatever the hell that means).

    I suppose this Jean Card person from Fox is responding to this news story (including the following)…

    The Obama administration is proposing to tighten oversight of for-profit colleges through new rules that seek to limit how much debt students can amass in career-training programs.

    The proposal, announced Friday, is the administration’s second try at regulations setting standards for what colleges must do to ensure that graduates of career programs get “gainful employment.”

    The first gainful employment initiative, debated from 2009 to 2011, spawned a huge campaign by for-profit colleges to block new regulation. The colleges, supported by many congressional Republicans and some Democrats, said then that they had been unfairly targeted and that the initiative would hurt low-income students.

    Obama administration officials said they were trying to protect those students from low-quality programs that would saddle them with too much debt.

    The Education Department issued a rule in 2011 that set standards for loan-repayment rates and the ratio of graduates’ debt to income. Programs that failed the tests could be disqualified from participation in the federal student aid, which would essentially shut them down. But in 2012, a federal judge blocked major provisions of that rule, forcing the department to start over.

    The new proposal jettisons the repayment-rate metric. Instead, it would require that the estimated loan payments of typical graduates not exceed 20 percent of discretionary income or 8 percent of total annual income.

    If someone has a principled disagreement with what Obama is trying to do here, then I honestly get that. I do support the president on this, I wish to emphasize, because I don’t see anyone else out there lifting a finger to try in rein in student debt.

    More information on this is available from here, including the following…

    A year ago, President Obama set a national goal: by 2020, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world. But because of the high costs of college, about two-thirds of graduates take out loans with an average student debt of over $23,000. This debt is particularly burdensome for graduates who choose to enter lower-paying public service careers, suffer setbacks such as unemployment or serious illness, or fail to complete their degree.

    To ensure that Americans can afford their student loan payments, the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act gives student borrowers new choices in how they repay their loans. The initiative was developed by the Middle Class Task Force chaired by Vice President Biden, and it will expand the income-based repayment plan for federal student loans that was put in place last summer. More than 1.2 million borrowers are projected to qualify and take part in the expanded IBR program.

    Under this new law, students enrolling in 2014 or later can choose to:

    Limit Payments to 10 Percent of Income: Borrowers choosing the income-based repayment plan will pay no more than 10 percent of their income above a basic living allowance, reduced from 15 percent under current law. The basic living allowance varies with family size and is set at 150 percent of the poverty line, currently equaling about $16,500 for a single individual and $33,000 for a family of four.

    ◦More than 1 million borrowers would be eligible to reduce their monthly payments.

    ◦The payment will be reduced by more than $110 per month for a single borrower who earns $30,000 a year and owes $20,000 in college loans, based on 2009 figures.

    Forgive Any Remaining Debt after 20 Years, or after 10 Years for Those in Public Service: Borrowers who take responsibility for their loans and make their monthly payments will see their remaining balance forgiven after 20 years of payments, reduced from 25 years in current law.

    ◦Public service workers – such as teachers, nurses, and those in military service – will see any remaining debt forgiven after 10 years.

    Fully Funded by Student Loan Reforms: These new initiatives are funded by ending the current subsidies given to financial institutions that make guaranteed federal student loans. Starting July 1, all new loans will be direct loans delivered and collected by private companies under performance-based contracts with the Department of Education. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, ending these wasteful subsidies will free up nearly $68 billion for college affordability and deficit reduction over the next 11 years.

    And by the way, let’s not forget that the ridiculous practice of paying subsidies to financial institutions for basically nothing as part of the student loan process was ended by congressional Democrats in March 2010, with nary a single Republican voting in support (here).

    Oh, and speaking of the “respectful opposition,” this tells us that Sen. Mr. Elaine Chao did what he does best, and that was to launch yet another filibuster, this time of the student loan legislation sponsored by Dem Senator Elizabeth Warren (“come back louder” indeed).

    And things are no better in the House, of course; I give you the following…

    Congressman Fitzpatrick votes to protect the ultra-wealthy and votes against making college more affordable for America’s students and families

    Today, Congressman Fitzpatrick voted with Republicans to block H.R. 4582 “Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act,” the House version of Senator Warren’s companion bill that would allow students to refinance their loans at much lower rates than they are currently paying today.

    Congressman Fitzpatrick’s Republican budget charges students $40 billion more in loan interest, in order to pay for more tax breaks for those who need help the least, like special interests and the wealthiest Americans. Today’s vote was the latest in a record that clearly places the interests of banks above those of students.

    “Once again, Congressman Fitzpatrick gave us a clear view of his priorities when he voted with the Republicans against a bill that would lower the cost of education for students. Congressman Fitzpatrick has no problem standing up for tax breaks for the bankers and special interests he is supposed to regulate as a member of the House Financial Services Committee–but when it comes to helping Bucks County students and their families pay for college, Fitzpatrick turns his back on them” Strouse said.

    Strouse added, “Congressman Fitzpatrick continues to vote to protect the interests of wealthy bankers, while ignoring the needs of the middle-class. If America is going to succeed in a 21st century economy, we need to have the best-educated, best-trained workforce possible, and Congressman Fitzpatrick voting against making college more affordable for students in Pennsylvania’s 8th District is exactly the kind of representation we do not need in Washington.”

    ###

    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 local high school students. He earned his BA from Columbia University and a Masters in Security Studies from Georgetown University, graduating with honors.

    To support Kevin Strouse in his campaign against Mikey the Beloved (and stand up on this among many other important issues), please click here.

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    Friday Mashup (4/5/13)

    April 5, 2013

    Carson_Turbo

  • This tells us that the crybabies were out in force recently (for anyone unfamiliar with the admittedly dated boomer reference in the pic, rest assured that it’s appropriate)…

    The Bucks County commissioners should officially vote to assure all residents of its unwavering support of legal gun ownership in America.

    That was the request put forward Wednesday by gun-rights advocates stirred up by a recent inquiry led by Commissioner Diane Marseglia.

    During a retirement board meeting in March, Marseglia asked for and received support for a review of pension plan investments in companies that manufacture, distribute or sell guns.

    No further action was taken by the board, though the move has sparked outrage from some gun owners.

    Andrew Rumbold of Perkasie said Marseglia’s inquiry was only further evidence that “our constitutions, both federal and state, are coming under attack.”

    Oh yes, how dare that baaad Dem Bucks Commissioner Diane Marseglia try to get the county out of the business of helping to subsidize the wholesale death and carnage industry.

    And the outcry from the methane dispensers in attendance yielded the following reaction from Mr. “I Have A Semi-Open Mind” and his accomplice…

    The commissioners quickly responded. During the meeting, Charley Martin put on his National Rifle Association ball cap. Rob Loughery spoke briefly about his 12-gauge shotgun.

    And as they did so, the process of human evolution no doubt came to a standstill for an unspecified period (somewhere, Barney Fife is smiling as he forgets to load the bullet into his gun).

    Rumbold
    And speaking of Andrew Rumbold (pictured above), it should come as absolutely no surprise that he once ran for the PA Republican committee along with Simon Campbell and Jennifer Stefano (if it sounds like the Teahadists and reeks like the Teahadists…) but was apparently sued for his efforts by the three “endorsed” Repug committee candidates, George F. Komelasky, Joseph Cullen and “Skip” Goodnoe (here).

    Nothing like a wingnut circular firing squad, is there?


    And in other Bucks County political news, it looks like Mikey the Beloved has his first Dem challenger for 2014, and that would be Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran Kevin Strouse, as noted here (more info is here).

  • Next, this tells us the following (speaking of weaponry)…

    “The U.S. has a system for controlling arms exports that, though too complex, is basically reasonable.”

    According to HuffPo here, the “basically reasonable” U.S. exported about $66 billion in arms in 2011, while Russia, our nearest competition in that area, sold $4.8 billion.

    This is tied into the following story as noted by Think Progress of an Arms Trade Treaty that was recently passed by the U.N., which, by all appearances, seems to have been necessitated by our cornering of that market all over the world (“We’re Number One! We’re Number One! U-S-A! U-S-A!”).

  • And keeping with the theme of world stuff, Claudia Rosett of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies recently opined as follows in the Murdoch Street Journal (here, about how Iran is trying to win favor throughout the U.N. – I’m sure there’s at least a kernel of truth here, but as far as I’m concerned, Israel should manage its own problems and leave us out of it)…

    Unlike in the case of Iraq—where the 2003 toppling of Saddam Hussein exposed troves of financial records that helped explain how Baghdad persuaded the U.N. to ignore its own sanctions against Iraq—there is no access right now to Iran’s internal records. Perhaps with time, more will become clear.

    In the matter of U.S. sanctions against Iraq, this from John Pilger of antiwar.com tells us the following…

    In 1999, I traveled to Iraq with Denis Halliday, who had resigned as assistant secretary-general of the United Nations rather than enforce a punitive UN embargo on Iraq. Devised and policed by the United States and Britain, the extreme suffering caused by these “sanctions” included, according to Unicef, the deaths of half a million Iraqi children under the age of five.

    Ten years later, in New York, I met the senior British official responsible for the imposition of sanctions. He is Carne Ross, once known in the UN as “Mr.Iraq.” I read to him a statement he made to a parliamentary select committee in 2007: “The weight of evidence clearly indicates that sanctions caused massive human suffering among ordinary Iraqis, particularly children. We, the US and UK governments, were the primary engineers and offenders of sanctions and were well aware of this evidence at the time but we largely ignored it or blamed it on the Saddam government. [We] effectively denied the entire population a means to live.”

    I said, “That’s a shocking admission.”

    “Yes, I agree,” he replied. “I feel very ashamed about it.”

    So should we all (And nothing like creating a whole new generation of terrorists that we can arbitrarily decide to kill with our flying death robots, is there?).

  • Further (and returning to this country), this tells us of the consequences of PA’s illustrious governor Tom (“Space Cadet”) Corbett’s refusal to accept additional billions of dollars in Medicaid funds for our beloved commonwealth (though this does tie into the theme of victimizing those who can afford it the least…not much else to add here except maybe this).
  • Continuing, it looks like Dennis Miller has some competition in the “wingnut alleged comedian” category based on this

    Comedian Evan Sayet says he transformed from a self-described “brain-dead liberal” to a “9/13 Republican” because of his liberal friends’ failure to recognize the evil that motivated the terrorists who carried out the 9/11 attacks on America.

    “What surprised me, what rocked my world, is what I metaphorically call 9/12. That’s the days, the weeks, the months and now the years after 9/11 and my liberal friends’ response to it,” Sayet told The Daily Caller’s Ginni Thomas.

    “Here’s the most obvious case of good versus evil of my lifetime — perhaps the only case of good versus evil that hit anywhere close to home — and not only were the liberals on the side of the terrorists, but they were engaging in the most horrible slanders against the victims.”

    Oh, and for good measure, “Political analyst Michael Barone says Sayet has ‘crossed the line from funny to important’” according to The Daily Tucker.

    Yep, I would say that Sayet has crossed a line all right, but not in the way that he imagines (of course, he offers no proof whatsoever to back up his utterly scurrilous charges, and I for one have no desire to do the research on this that he should have done himself).

    Also, this tells us that Sayet was to have been featured on the right-wing comedy network sponsored by Ed Snider, owner of the Philadelphia Flyers (as far as I’m concerned, the concept itself writes its own punch line…and yes, kudos to the team for playing better recently, but I can’t get excited about a possible first-round win and likely second-round loss in the playoffs, assuming they even make it).

    We also learn from the Daily Caller post that Sayet is (or, at least, was) a fan of that dastardly liberal Bruce Springsteen, particularly in reference to songs by “The Boss” about cars.

    This brings to mind the following lyric: “The highway’s jammed with broken heroes on a last-chance power drive” (I’ll admit, however, that it’s a stretch to consider Sayet to be a “hero” about anything).

  • Staying with Tucker Carlson’s Crayon Scribble Page, this tells us the following…

    Convicted murderer Mumia Abu-Jamal has received three nominations on a web page for the “Unsung Hero” project from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

    The project, launched during Black History Month, allows users to highlight influential civil rights leaders in exchange for an email address and postal code.

    The NAACP displays about 100 nominations, including the pro-Mumia nominations, on the website for its 2013 “Unsung Heroes” project, which asks the public for nominations, under the title, “Your Heroes.” Abu-Jamal, a former member of the Black Panther Party, was convicted for the December 1981 murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner, stemming from a shootout that resulted after Abu-Jamal approached Faulkner, who had pulled over Abu-Jamal’s younger brother at a traffic stop.

    Of course, let’s forget shall we that the NAACP page has nominations of many other meritorious individuals as well as that of the convicted killer of Officer Faulkner (this reminds me of the urban legend of MoveOn.org supposedly awarding first prize to a commercial about an attempt to assassinate George W. Bush, or something). The post from The Daily Tucker also tells us that, as a test, this Patrick Howley person submitted a couple of bogus nominations but they were filtered, while the Mumia Abu-Jamal nominations weren’t.

    I just have a couple of points in response:

    1) Is Howley prepared to state, once and for all and on the record, that neither he nor anyone else at The Daily Tucker had anything to do with the three M A-J nominations?
    2) Does this Howley person realize that he has done far more to publicize the cause for M A-J than any other left-wing site that I have yet seen? The post tells us about a “Free Mumia” rally in Philadelphia on April 24th and a new documentary about Jamal that has just been released.

    The best thing to do about Mumia Abu-Jamal is ignore him and let him rot, especially since the question about capital punishment is no longer in play.

  • Obama-laughing

  • Finally, I have to tell you that I’m currently boiling mad at this guy, for the reasons noted here.

    It’s not enough that, as noted here, his administration didn’t bother to investigate fraudulent lending practices as he said he would. Now, he’s putting proposals to cut Medicare and Social Security on the table in an effort to make Republicans (and by extension, the Beltway media-political complex) like him at long last (of course, Social Security doesn’t have a damn thing to do with the deficit or the debt, but this is where we are).

    Congressional Republicans are truly lucky. They have at their disposal, between Obama in the White House and Harry Reid in the Senate, the most utterly feckless Democratic “opposition” on the federal level that I have ever seen.

    Mr. President, you’re a smart man. Try to get this through your head. Follow through on these boneheaded ideas (which Congress probably won’t do anyway, since they apparently know the electoral calculus better than you do) and, at the very least, you will give over all branches of the federal government to the Republicans by 2016 by utterly and completely demoralizing your base to the point where they won’t turn out to the polls in the numbers that will be needed. And this country can’t survive another turn like that.

    Try representing the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party for a change.

    Update 1: And once more, the Obama Administration gives me grist to justify my griping (here).

    And by the way, I want to emphasize something. It’s not just the fact that the supposed effort to investigate mortgage fraud was an utter sham. It’s not just the cave-in on what has been referred to as “chained CPI.” And it’s not just the administration’s opposition to contraception for women under 17.

    It’s part of the whole bloody, stinking pattern of this administration to often (and usually on crucial issues) run against the needs and wishes of its base (and as I’ve said in the past, as much as I detested Dubya and our prior ruling cabal in the White House, they had a laser focus on the people who got them where they were and they acted accordingly, at least as long as Turd Blossom took up residence there also).

    No, I don’t expect the Obama Administration to do everything I want. I couldn’t possibly expect that out of anyone in good conscience. But I DON’T expect them, nor should anyone expect them, to cater so slavishly to an opposition constituency that HAS ONLY HATED THEM IN THE PAST and WILL DO NOTHING BUT HATE THEM NOW AND FOR ALL TIME, and in the process, tie the proverbial millstone around the neck of the Democratic Party that it will have to carry through election cycles in the immediate and forseeable future.

    Update 2: And oh yeah, remember the economy (here)?

    Update 4/10/13: So let me guess…2.3 million people are wrong and you’re right (here)?


  • 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

    January 22, 2010

    (Note: I’m probably a couple of weeks away at least from posting again the way I have in the past due to my arm injury. I’ll be sure to let you know what’s going on.)

  • 1) Over at The Hill, Repug Congressman Mike Pence of Indiana recently said the following (here, in yet another attack on the Obama Administration)…

    First out of the gate was the $787 billion so-called stimulus bill that was nothing more than a wish-list of liberal spending priorities. Following the policies of more spending and more debt — the same policies that got us into this mess — would not get our economy moving again.

    Meanwhile, this tells us the following (from Crooks and Liars)…

    Rep. Mike Pence disagrees with the stimulus and voted against it but wants more of it for his state. “The Democrats in Congress and the administration said we were going to have to borrow nearly a trillion dollars from future generations and spend it on this — this long laundry list of liberal spending priorities we called stimulus and that unless we did that, unemployment would reach 8% nationally. It’s 9.5% nationally today,” Pence told Fox News’ Chris Wallace.

    But Pence charges that Indiana isn’t getting enough money from the very program that he doesn’t support. “You check the Indiana Star, you’ll see stories about the stimulus. One is that four out of ten major projects in the stimulus for Indiana had been allotted to companies outside the state of Indiana,” complained Pence.

    So which is it, Pence? Do you support the “stim” or don’t you? If you don’t, then why are you trying to grab up the dough?

    Oh, and by the way, as Think Progress notes here, Pence was one of the Repugs who was just thrilled over yesterday’s horrific Supreme Court ruling allowing unlimited free speech for corporations, among other entities (no word on what Pence’s reaction would be if another Giganticorp, Inc. came along and decided to fund a Pence election opponent as much as they wanted, which is now allowed of course).

    So what other economic ideas has Pence supported as long as he opposes Obama and the “Democrat majority” (jerk)? Why, as noted here, he supports a spending freeze, which, as TP (again) tells us, “would allow inflation to eat away at funding for vital programs, including Pell Grants, Head Start and infrastructure investments. It would mean less money, in real terms, for just about everything. There are also projects — like the 2010 census – that need a spending boost.”

    The game of Pence and his Repug playmates is to do nothing and hope that voters forget that our current economic mess, to say nothing of two wars, originated under the administration of Obama’s predecessor. And that worked in Massachusetts because the Democratic Party leadership was utterly asleep and thought they would win a ceremonial victory.

    But Messrs. Kaine, Menendez and the rest of the Dems should have learned from that debacle that everything is in play for November. However, the Repugs will have to play the same game of defending their seats as the Dems.

    Being a Dem in this climate has disadvantages, as does being a Repug. But being an incumbent, period, is the biggest disadvantage of all.

  • 2) Today’s Bucks County Courier Times tells us the following (here)…

    A 12.5 percent salary increase to the Bucks County employee in charge of overseeing the $100 million courthouse project led to a heated disagreement among county commissioners.

    Diane Marseglia, the lone Democrat on the three-member panel, criticized the decision of her colleagues, Republicans Charley Martin and Jim Cawley, to raise the salary of Director of Operations Jerry Anderson to $104,456.

    “It’s too much money,” Marseglia said Wednesday of the $11,575 bump in pay from $92,881. “Nobody gets an increase like that, especially in this economy.”

    Martin defended the pay hike, saying the “fairly substantial amount is appropriate.”

    Anderson is in charge of all county bridges, buildings and the parks and recreation department, in addition to spearheading work on the new courthouse, according to Chris Edwards of the county public information office.

    He also headed up building the $22 million parking garage on Broad Street.

    Compensation for non-union county personnel is set by the salary board. Martin said Anderson’s raise fit within that range.

    Hired Dec. 26, 2006 as special projects manager in the public works department for $55,344, Anderson became the director of operations on Sept. 17, 2008 at a salary of $85,000. Since then, his annual pay has jumped nearly $20,000, or 23 percent, including a 3 percent cost of living adjustment on Jan. 1.

    Another “triumph” for Jim Cawley and Charley (“I Have A Semi-Open Mind”) Martin (no comment from Jay Russell, the “independent” candidate in the last Bucks County commissioners election who ensured that we would be saddled once more with Martin and a Repug majority).

  • Update 1/24/10: The Courier Times points out here today that Anderson basically contributed $4,400 to “Republican causes” and was rewarded with about a $50,000 raise as a result. And Republicans dare to scream about alleged Democratic Party fiscal malfeasance.

  • 3) Finally, this letter in the Courier Times yesterday stated as follows…

    Newtown Township Supervisor Rob Ciervo recently announced he will run for the 31st Assembly District seat now held by state Rep. Steve Santarsiero.

    Ciervo was elected supervisor in 2007 to a six-year term and assumed the role of chairman this summer, after former Supervisor Tom Jirele’s sudden resignation. As a resident of Newtown Township, I feel that Mr. Ciervo should fulfill his commitment to the residents of Newtown Township who elected him to the board of supervisors.

    If these local politicians can’t commit themselves for six years, they shouldn’t run for the position in the first place. Perhaps Mr. Ciervo wishes to leave the NTBOS before local residents catch on to the fact that constant dipping into reserve funds is a temporary fix and only postpones the inevitable tax increases facing Newtown Township.

    Steve Santarsiero has been in office less than one year. Honestly, that is not enough time to truly gauge the job of a state representative. However, in that time, Steve helped balance the state’s budget and actually decreased overall spending by $500 million. Let’s keep Steve Santarsiero working for us and let self-serving politicians finish the jobs they started.

    Edward H. Valenti
    Newtown, PA

    To contact Steve, click here.


  • A Bucks Countian’s Response To Dave Sanko’s Sendoff

    October 28, 2009

    sanko
    Now-departing Bucks County Chief Operating Officer David Sanko wrote the following Guest Opinion in the Courier Times yesterday…

    For the last five years, it has been my privilege to serve the residents of Bucks County as chief operating officer. During that time, your county government has made tremendous strides – fiscally, physically and in the constantly evolving realm of service provision. At a time when governments around our nation are seeing budgets stretched thin or turned to ribbons of red ink, Bucks County is uniquely positioned to handle the current economic climate. The reason for this is two words: fiscal responsibility.

    For three years in a row, the board of commissioners held the line on county property taxes – the first time since 1994-96!

    I’m not sure why Sanko is praising the commissioners here, but it should be noted that (according to here), property taxes in Bucks have gone up 46 percent since 2001, so I think the whole “three-year” thing should be taken with a grain of salt, to say the least.

    Back to Sanko…

    Further, under the expert guidance of Finance Director Brian Hessenthaler, the last five years have produced a steady growth in the county’s general fund, also known as the “rainy day” fund. From a 2005 total of $9 million, we increased that rainy day fund to the current figure of $73 million. This allowed us to earn a record setting high S&P bond rating, and saves us money as we borrow in the future for open space and the new Justice Center.

    In response, I’d like to point out (from here) that every time our august Bucks County Commissioners want to designate property for open space, they issue a bond as opposed to drawing up a regional plan in coordination with other Bucks municipalities, which is bound to be cheaper; as former commissioner candidate (and now PA House Rep for District 31) Steve Santarsiero noted, “the county doesn’t have enough money to (issue a bond) for every piece of property that needs (an open space) designation.”

    Back to Sanko…

    How has this growth been achieved? In addition to prudent spending, we’ve refinanced multiple bond issues, hired a county grants coordinator (producing more than $2 million in grant awards), convened a BEST (Bucks Employees Saving Taxes) Committee that replicates sound business practices, asked our management team to make difficult but wise choices regarding their departmental budgets, and improved efficiencies by hiring an asset manager.

    Oh, and speaking of hiring employees, it should be noted that Sanko, along with Bucks County commissioners Jim Cawley and Charley “I Have A Semi-Open Mind” Martin, “(hired) two employees without publicly advertising those open positions or interviewing anyone other than those who got the nod for the jobs,” as the Courier Times tells us here (one position was a $30,992-a-year job as an administrative assistant for the public information office, and the other was a $19-an-hour position for a legal secretary – the whole matter was aptly summed up by the other commissioner, Dem Diane Marseglia, as “policy as usual”).

    And speaking of cronyism in hiring, Martin said here that he wanted to replace Sanko with “a political operative” (the beat goes on).

    Also, I would like to enter the following “into the record,” as it were, as long as Sanko is telling us how wonderful he is:

  • Sanko dismissed Patrick Murphy’s call here for a paper ballot backup to a vote as an “unfunded mandate” (makes too much sense, I guess).
  • He had the lock changed on the County Commissioner’s office because Diane Marseglia gave a reporter the combination to the office suite, as noted here (drat that “good government” impulse!).
  • Cawley said Diane owed Sanko an apology because Sanko had failed to provide information Diane had requested, namely, the written justifications by county employees for vehicles on our dime (here – typical).
  • County Board of Elections Director Deena Dean accused Sanko of “two years of harassment” here.
  • Sanko participated in a GOP fundraiser here, which he considered “no big deal,” even though he did so as a government employee (typical for a Bucks County Repug).
  • I will acknowledge Sanko’s successes in his position, which he notes in his farewell. While he deserves credit, I would be happy if his replacement achieved a similar measure of success without the execrable wreak of political partisanship that Sanko managed to turn into a job requirement.


    Tuesday Mashup Part 1 (7/21/09)

    July 21, 2009

  • I guess I shouldn’t when all is said and done, but I feel sorry for PA Governor Ed Rendell.

    As noted in this Wikipedia article, Pennsylvania’s minority and women owned business participation rate quadrupled under his administration. He also managed to save $180 million by fixing PA’s antiquated procurement system (“antiquated” is an apt term for much of our state government, by the way). Also under his watch, gaming legislation was passed in an effort to reduce property tax revenue, which, despite some of my reservations, is a good thing on balance. Also, as noted here from a year ago, he presciently called for the development of an infrastructure bank, and as noted here, he has been a steadfast force in the Herculean effort of trying to enact common sense gun legislation in this state (though he was a bit too kind to the life forms who wanted to hang Philadelphia state rep Angel Cruz here).

    However, Rendell now holds a 39 percent approval rating largely due to the budget wrangling going on in Harrisburg, as noted here (hey, it could be worse – we could be “Gullyvornia” here, people), and he is now reduced to the role of running interference for fellow “Democrat” Arlen Specter as the latter tries desperately to hang onto his Senate seat in the face of a challenge from Joe Sestak, among others, as noted here.

    All of this leads me to believe that there will be a backlash of sorts next year when the Dems have to play defense in the 2010 elections, including in the Pennsylvania state house. And though I’m not sure what else Rendell could have done to avoid it, I have this unpleasant suspicion that he will end up marking off his remaining days while the Repug faithful await the gubernatorial coronation of Tom Corbett next year (please let me be wrong…).

  • And speaking of Corbett, it seems that Bucks County’s own commissioner Jim Cawley is making noises as if he wants to be Lieutenant Governor in a Corbett administration, according to this story in the Bucks County Courier Times, which has gone “the full wingnut” lately, with stories such as “Conservative Activism On The Rise” and “Conservatives Decry Obama Policies” by Gary Weckselblatt as well as a spread devoted to a Pat Toomey/Simon Campbell/Kathleen Zawacki fundraiser at Shady Brook Farm.

    (Yes, I understand these are coverage-worthy topics, but I don’t recall so much column space EVER devoted to Democratic/progressive causes or meetings leading up to the 2006 or 2008 presidential or congressional elections.)

    Well, as it turns out, Cawley and his fellow commissioner playmate, Charley “I Have A Semi-Open Mind” Martin, worked in concert with fellow poobah (and county operations officer) Dave Sanko to “(hire) two employees without publicly advertising those open positions or interviewing anyone other than those who got the nod for the jobs,” as the Courier Times tells us here (one position was a $30,992-a-year job as an administrative assistant for the public information office, and the other was a $19-an-hour position for a legal secretary – the whole matter was aptly summed up by the other commissioner, Dem Diane Marseglia, as “policy as usual”).

    By the way, the same “Thumbs Down” editorial criticizing Cawley and Martin also criticizes Rendell for saying that “one year” of incarceration for disgraced PA Dem Senator Vince Fumo would have been enough (he ended up with a 55-month sentence). I didn’t like Fumo’s creation of phantom jobs and other acts of taxpayer malfeasance, as well as hiring someone to spy for him on our dime (I should object to his shaking down of Exelon Energy also, though it’s hard to work up sympathy for them as well). However, I thought reporter Dave Davies of the Philadelphia Daily News made the following good points in a July 15th story (link expired on me – another genius Tierney move to combat those dastardly search sites stealing his precious circulation, or so he believes)…

    We should remember that Fumo isn’t getting away clean. He’s lost his office, his reputation and his law license, and will be ravaged by multimillion-dollar legal fees and restitution payments.

    Indeed, the sight of Fumo in court yesterday was pitiful. He sat between his fiancée and daughter, often clutching the hands of both. His expression was vacant, and a facial tremor became more acute as the day wore on. His lawyers say he’s now dependent on tranquilizers.

    When he rose to speak with Buckwalter, his voice was soft and he began to weep almost immediately. For those who remember Fumo in his blustering and confident prime, it was shocking to behold.

    And Fumo will serve four years in prison, a significant term for a 66-year-old man in poor health.

    Just sayin’, that’s all…

  • And finally, I should note that while I was away, Repug U.S. House Rep of PA-16 Joe Pitts actually showed a pulse and did something besides vote No; he concocted this screed full of “values voter” red meat about how the coming health care legislation from Obama and the congressional Dems is going to (wait for it…) MANDATE ABORTION ON DEMAND!! OMIGOD!!!

    Well, for the reality-based point of view, here is the following from Judy Berman of Salon.com…

    In the depressingly titled piece “Could Abortion Coverage Sink Health-Care Reform?” Time’s Karen Tumulty reminds us that, since 1976, The Hyde Amendment has prohibited Medicaid from using federal funding for abortion. But now that massive healthcare reform is on the agenda once again, lawmakers will have a chance to tackle the issue anew.

    What’s truly chilling about Tumulty’s piece is its warning about the widespread effects of banning federal funding for abortion under Obama’s healthcare plan. While The Hyde Amendment was only concerned with Medicaid, the new legislation may also affect women who use government subsidies to buy private health plans. “[I]f the antiabortion legislators get their way, those subsidies would have a big string attached; they could not be used to purchase a policy that has abortion coverage,” Tumulty writes. “For many women, that would mean giving up a benefit they now have under their private insurance policies. And it would raise all sorts of other questions if insurers were allowed to discriminate among their customers based on whether or not they are using federal dollars to pay for their policies.”

    And as Berman notes, any legislation banning federal funding for abortion will impact poor women significantly more than women who already have this benefit from private coverage.

    So, as usual, Pitts, being the dutiful Repug cipher that he is, claims oppression while he and his brethren maneuver out of the spotlight to actually expand Hyde and take away a right already guaranteed to women with coverage they already have.

    All of which is part and parcel of following the marching orders noted here.


  • Cawley’s “Can’t Do” Spirit On The Stimulus

    March 24, 2009

    elephant2
    I want to thank Bucks County Courier Times letter writer Paul Lang, Jr. this morning for jogging my memory a bit on a recent quote from one of our illustrious county commissioners (sarcasm intended) – here is his letter…

    Regarding county Commissioner Jim Cawley’s quote, “I am far from somebody who is rooting for the (Democratic) economic stimulus package”: This comment is un-American and outrageous. I am an American first and want only the best for this country regardless of political party affiliation.

    As a registered Democrat, I voted for Barack Obama. If Cawley’s Republican choice, John McCain, had won the presidency, then I would be cheering and praying for McCain to succeed.

    Cawley should never be elected to any office anywhere again. He has shown his true un-American colors.

    Paul Lang Jr.
    Northampton

    And of course, that met with the predictable wingnut comment noise online, which Lang should wear as a badge of honor, actually.

    I believe the reason why I missed this is because the original quote from Cawley appeared in this column by J.D. Mullane about the current dilapidated state of Washington Crossing Park. And Cawley is entitled to his opinion, I realize, but in his capacity as a commissioner, I think his comments should be neutral at the very least, particularly given the fact that the Repugs are so tolerant of opinions which differ from their own, as we know.

    Well, for Cawley’s information, here is a link to an analysis from The Philadelphia Inquirer showing that Bucks County stands to receive millions in school district funding from the stimulus, as well as $600 million from the $48.1 billion in transportation stimulus funds for Greater Philadelphia (affecting many Bucks residents), as well as approximately $318 for highways in southeastern Pennsylvania, $120 million for highways in southern New Jersey, and $193 million for SEPTA (noted here).

    And as noted from here, the stimulus provides funding to…

  • (Protect) 972,000 Pennsylvanians from the Alternative Minimum Tax.
  • (Match) unemployed individuals to job openings through state employment service agencies and allow Pennsylvania to provide customized reemployment services ($15.4 million).
  • (Extend) Bonus Depreciation and Small Business Expensing through 2009, allowing businesses that make capital investments to immediately deduct one-half the cost. Small businesses can immediately deduct 100 percent of the cost of these investments.
  • (Help) law enforcement agencies enhance their investigative response to offenders who use the Internet or other computer technology to sexually exploit children ($1 million).
  • (Improve) the response to violent crimes against women and to assist victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking ($6.4 million).
  • But of course, Cawley is “far from somebody who is rooting for the (Democratic) economic stimulus package.”

    This is typical for someone who, as noted here, refused to fund an Army Corps of Engineers study of the Delaware River, to the point where Patrick Murphy had to intervene or else Bucks would have lost out on critical federal funds for this project.

    And as noted here, Cawley told a group of people gathered in Bristol, Pa. that “county money pegged for a three-hole golf course and driving range can be spent only for recreational purposes” (just what Bucks needs – another golf course), even though the majority of the residents favor a skate park, but with a chunk of the $400,000 going to keep the struggling Bristol Township homeless shelter open (also favored by Bucks commissioner Diane Marseglia, with the third commissioner, Charley Martin, stating that he believes skateboarding is “a fad” – here’s some reading material on this for Mr. “I Have A Semi-Open Mind”).

    Finally, this tells us that the Bucks County Coalition for Voting Integrity was denied access to records on the purchase of new county voting machines, as well as the fact that the Bucks County Health Department refused to turn over records of its pool inspections to the Doylestown Intelligencer, which attempted to publish an investigatory report on the safety of Bucks County swimming pools some years ago.

    So of course Cawley has to oppose the stimulus because of what it could provide to families and the working middle class of this county; also consider the fact that Cawley’s playmate Charley Martin would never have been returned to office were it not for the intercession of clueless third party candidate Jay Russell working on behalf of the Repugs, as noted here – it’s clear that their grip on county government is slipping anyway.

    And if the stimulus succeeds, making it plainly obvious which political party wants to ensure prosperity in Bucks and the rest of this country and which one doesn’t, they’ll lose that grip once and for all.


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