Wednesday Mashup (11/21/12)

November 22, 2012

  • Yep, Thanksgiving will soon be upon us; one way to tell is that the Bucks County Courier Times ran its full-page ad for the Surplus City Gun Mart (well whaddaya know…a Yugo Zastava AK-47 PAP M70 is on sale for $675! Now here comes another angry comment thread started by a gun owner pissed off at me for not saying whether or not it was a full or semi-automatic).
  • Continuing, it looks like the punditocracy is still licking its collective wounds over the Repug election losses suffered two weeks ago – Ross Douthat opined as follows in the New York Times recently (here)…

    Liberals look at the Obama majority and see a coalition bound together by enlightened values — reason rather than superstition, tolerance rather than bigotry, equality rather than hierarchy. But it’s just as easy to see a coalition created by social disintegration and unified by economic fear.

    Consider the Hispanic vote. Are Democrats winning Hispanics because they put forward a more welcoming face than Republicans do — one more in keeping with America’s tradition of assimilating migrants yearning to breathe free? Yes, up to a point. But they’re also winning recent immigrants because those immigrants often aren’t assimilating successfully — or worse, are assimilating downward, thanks to rising out-of-wedlock birthrates and high dropout rates. The Democratic edge among Hispanics depends heavily on these darker trends: the weaker that families and communities are, the more necessary government support inevitably seems.

    Yes, you only need government if you’re “assimilating downward,” according to Douthat.

    Apparently it’s necessary for me to point out that one of our major political parties subjected this country earlier this year to all kinds of fear mongering about the supposed horrors of contraception (and I’ll note that again later), which would definitely help to reduce teen pregnancy (here – sorry to re-inflict “Little Ricky” on everybody again), and that same political party did all it could do to oppose the DREAM Act, which would encourage educational opportunity for Hispanics born of undocumented workers as a condition of citizenship (with the “E” in DREAM standing for “education” – hard to believe that Orrin Hatch was a co-sponsor of the original bill introduced in 2001 with Dick Durbin). And here’s a hint; that party isn’t the Democrats.

    I suppose it’s just “the soft bigotry of low expectations” for Douthat to assume that the only way Hispanics would support the Dems would be if they were getting a handout, but apparently that’s what we have here (with that awful phrase coined by Douthat’s fellow traveler and Bushie Michael Gerson, who, if nothing else, saw the need to reach out to Hispanics for real, albeit for political expediency, in a way Douthat apparently does not).

  • Next, I give you some true hilarity from Michael Barone of Irrational Spew Online (here)…

    Barack Obama attended more than 200 fundraisers for his presidential campaign, but he refrained from raising money for congressional Democrats.

    That proved to be a wise move for him, as were his strategists’ decisions to run heavy ad campaigns against Mitt Romney and to build an even more effective turnout machine in target states.

    But it proved to be less than helpful to his party. Democrats did gain two Senate seats thanks to clueless Republican candidates and Republicans’ failure to produce better turnout.

    But Democrats got beaten badly in races for the U.S. House and state legislatures. That’s clear when you compare the number of House Democrats after this year’s election with the number of House Democrats after 2008.

    In response, allow me to add this, which tells us that the U.S. House Repugs lost eight seats and the Dems picked up eight seats from 2010 until now (incremental progress to be sure, but progress all the same).

    Also, I’ve read some of my lefty brethren, including the folks doing God’s work at Think Progress, decrying the fact that the Repugs gerrymandered congressional districts to favor their party’s incumbents (and as noted here, when you look at net vote totals, the Dems were chosen more than the Repugs, though not by much). I have no doubt that the gerrymandering charge is true, but the Dems aren’t completely innocent on this either, since, as nearly as I can tell, that’s what happened to the gone-and-definitely-not-missed Repug U.S. House Rep Roscoe Bartlett of Maryland (I’m not going to tell you the Dems are perfect, just that the Repugs are better at seizing power and holding onto it by any means necessary).

  • Continuing, Jon Meacham of Time tells us the following; namely, that Number 44 should try to imitate Number 3’s second term (here)…

    At his core, from year to year and age to age, Thomas Jefferson was a politician who sought office and, once in office, tried to solve the problems of his day and set a course for the future within the constraints of his time and place. That he often did so with skill and effectiveness is a tribute to his life and is, I think, the heart of his legacy.

    Far be it for me to criticize a towering intellect like Jefferson, but I will only note the following from here; namely, that Jefferson’s second term wasn’t particularly “ducky.” The biggest thing he did wrong was to try and institute an embargo in an effort to remain neutral in France’s war with Great Britain; the embargo failed, severely hurting the commerce of the northeast states, and by basically entering the Napoleonic Wars on the anti-British side, Jefferson’s actions paved the way to our involvement in the War of 1812.

    Every president in my experience who is elected to a second term faces some kind of travail, either of his own making or not. And believe me when I tell you that I don’t wish that on President Obama, since he has already inherited enough trouble without having to create any more.

  • Further, there are some on my ideological side who have quite rightly taken Charles Lane of the WaPo to task, but I’ve more or less given him a pass. That is, until now; here, he basically says that the income tax deduction for state and local taxes should be eliminated because it benefits “blue” states that “need to live within their means” (see, they have “their expensive urban school systems, bloated pension liabilities and all” – with “urban” being a code for those oh-so-bad Obama voters who “want stuff”).

    Of course, Lane doesn’t even take into account that, regardless of what happens with the budget and the Beltway “fiscal cliff” kabuki, “blue” states will end up paying most of the bill anyway (here). Also, here is an example of “red state socialism” that doesn’t do anything to help our finances either (and Lane, imagining himself as a supposed fiscal guru here, once claimed that cutting the minimum wage was a supposed means to stimulate job growth.

    (I’ll tell you what – I’ll just let Atrios, using that Twitter thingie, have the last word here.)

  • Finally, this Jim Treacher idiot over at The Daily Tucker tells us the following (here)…

    When last we heard from Sandra Fluke, she had parlayed the worldwide fame she earned by being insulted by Rush Limbaugh into a spot on the Obama campaign. Her public appearances have been very successful, with attendance numbers sometimes breaking double digits.

    I was going to try and paraphrase Treacher some more, but I’m not going to bother; putting it as simply as I can, he is criticizing Fluke for her claim that an unintended pregnancy can be a barrier to a career or educational opportunity (which, as noted here, ties into a Guttemacher Institute study that claims the very same thing).

    (Also, though I’m sure Treacher and his fellow wingnuts don’t care, I’m going to provide this link anyway, telling us that the U.N. has declared that contraception is a “human right.”)

    Beyond that, let’s not forget how Fluke ended up in the spotlight; as noted below from here

    Fluke, then a 30-year-old law student at Georgetown, was invited by Democrats to speak at a hearing by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on the new Administration rules on Conscience Clause exceptions in health care.[20] The exception applies to church organizations themselves, but not to affiliated nonprofit corporations, like hospitals, that do not rely primarily on members of the faith as employees.[21] In addition, another exception was created for religious institutions in which an employee can seek birth control directly from the insurance company instead of the religious-based nonprofit.[22] Democrats requested the committee add Sandra Fluke to the first panel, which was composed of clergy and theologians. Committee chairman Darrell Issa (R-California) refused, stating that Fluke lacked expertise, was not a member of the clergy, and her name was not submitted in time.[20][23] Democratic members criticized the decision not to include Fluke since it left that panel with only male members,[24] when the hearing covered contraception coverage.[25]

    So basically, if the Repugs had allowed Fluke to speak at the hearing instead of engaging in a typical hissy fit, then that probably would have been the end of it. But no.

    When I worked on the phones for President Obama and the Democrats a couple of days before the election, I had the opportunity to meet Sandra Fluke; she and Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood stopped by. It was hard for me to recall a more unassuming individual; if anything, she was effusive in her praise of our efforts and tried to downplay her own accomplishments. I made sure to thank her for standing up to Rush Limbaugh and the other blowhards on the right on the contraception issue, and if anything, she was embarrassed by my compliment.

    I started this post writing about Ross Douthat and his column about the Dems and Hispanics. And yes, it’s true that Republican alienation of this very powerful voting bloc had a lot to do with their losses on November 6th.

    But make no mistake that this bunch also lost because of their shameful, despicable words and actions to a hell of a lot of women in this country. And the Sandra Fluke case is Exhibit A on that sorry score.

    And if the Repugs choose to learn absolutely nothing and repeat their grotesque actions two years from now, then they will entirely deserve the electoral losses they will inevitably suffer once again.

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    Friday Mashup (10/30/09)

    October 30, 2009

  • Over at the AEI blog, Baby Newton Leroy Gingrich opined as follows on Wednesday (here, specifically concerning health care legislation)…

    …Senator Jim Bunning (R-I Hear Voices) recently introduced an amendment that would require legislators to make all bills public for 72 hours, with legislative text and an official budget analysis from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), prior to being considered. Democratic senators blocked the amendment.

    It is unfortunate that the Democratic leadership has decided it would be easier to rush their legislation through rather than honoring the people’s right to know. At healthtransformation.net, we have posted a petition to Washington to support the principle of Senator Bunning’s amendment by requiring Congress to make all bills public for 72 hours before voting.

    Openness is never a bad thing, I realize, even though this is tantamount to a publicity stunt by the about-to-retire Sen. “High And Tight” Bunning (can YOU read a nearly 2,000 page bill in three days? I can’t). And Gingrich is right that the amendment was voted down in the Senate.

    However, this TPM story from last month tells us the following…

    Accepting Republican demands, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has promised to post health care reform legislation online for 72 hours before a final vote on the bill, The Hill reports.

    House Republicans, including Minority Leader John Boehner, have introduced a petition to require three days for lawmakers to read the final bill before voting. Two Democrats, Brian Baird and Walt Minnick, have also signed on. At today’s press conference, Pelosi said she would “absolutely” support the petition.

    Besides, House Bill 3200 has been available from the House HELP site for months (how else do you think Bucks County’s big mouth pundit J.D. Mullane was able to supposedly find his “angel of death” clause?), as has the HELP bill from Sen. Bob Casey’s site, among other places.

    Oh, and the following should be noted from here concerning Mr. Former House Speaker Who Resigned In Disgrace and his alleged “openness”…

    Gingrich was the author of an infamous secret memo to GOP leaders in 1995 titled “Language: A Key Mechanism of Control”, which one of America’s foremost linguists called an outline of a strategy to frame the word “liberal” as “something akin to traitor” in the media. This was in line with his once-described goal of “reshaping the entire nation through the news media” (New York Times,12/14/94).

    And I’m still waiting to hear about Newt’s space-based air traffic control system, by the way (from here).

  • Repug Senators Orrin Hatch and Jim DeMint also inflicted us with the following from the Murdoch Street Journal site today (here, opposing the Net Neutrality rules proposed by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski)…

    Ten years ago, we effectively had no broadband marketplace. Dial-up Internet was common, but not ubiquitous. Consumers had a choice of service providers, but they were typically confined to walled gardens of preselected or preferred content. The broadband revolution led us out of that desert. Instead of dog-paddling, we could surf the net, choosing between broadband service offered by traditional phone and cable companies and, now, wireless companies as well.

    Compare that to the last decade of success at government dominated companies like Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, GM or Chrysler.

    Of course (as alluded to here, concerning what is probably the “granddaddy” of all the Repug big lies out there, right next to Casey Sr. not being allowed to speak at the ’92 Democratic National Convention because he was pro-life), if it weren’t for the “government,” there probably wouldn’t be an internet at all, something the Journal and their Repug playmates are counting on people to forget (heaven forbid that Al Gore actually get any credit here, right?).

    Also, it’s a good thing Hatch and DeMint opposed the “stim” and the 7.2 billion for “complete broadband and wireless Internet access,” right (here – snark)? Especially since the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) issued a report from the summer of ’08 that lists the U.S. as 15th in broadband subscribers per 100 inhabitants (here, with Japan, Francesacre bleu, wingnuts! – and Korea 1, 2 and 3 respectively).

    And it wasn’t that bad “gumint” that was found guilty of violating Net Neutrality principles by “secretly degrading or blocking peer-to-peer traffic — specifically that used by BitTorrent,” was it? Nope, it was Comcast (here).

    And by the way, to learn more about the principles of Net Neutrality (which, not coincidentally, debunk in total this ridiculous Journal column), click here.

  • Finally, House Repug John Shadegg of Arizona patted himself on the back as follows (here)…

    October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. It is a time for women across America to highlight the importance of prevention and to celebrate the millions of breast cancer survivors across our nation. This year, it is also a time to recognize the looming danger of government-run health care and what it could mean for America’s women. If Democrats in Congress pass a bill that allows Washington to take over health care, future generations of American women may be at risk.

    Shadegg then goes on to say that he “offered an amendment that would have ensured that US (breast cancer) survival rates remain high and women had the option of choosing (another health care plan). But Democrats shot it down.”

    This tells us more about Shadegg’s amendment, which would have…

    … require(d) the Government Accountability Office to perform an annual study of breast cancer survival rates. Based on the study’s findings, if five-year survival rates for breast cancer decreased by more than .1 percent, women and families with at least one female member would be allowed to purchase health insurance that does not meet the requirements set forth in the bill, 22-36.

    So basically, the amendment would not have “ensured” anything, except portability of insurance if the GAO allowed it.

    And as far as Shadegg’s record on women’s health issues is concerned, the following should be noted from here…

    • (He) twice co-sponsored legislation to override the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of mifepristone (RU 486), a safe and effective early abortion medication. [H.R.3453, 108th Cong. (2003); H.R.1079, 109th Cong. (2005)]
    • Twice co-sponsored legislation crafted establishing “personhood” at the moment of fertilization. [H.R.552, 109th Cong. (2005); H.R.618, 110th Cong. (2007)]
    • Co-sponsored legislation forcing women to undergo a medically unnecessary ultrasound procedure before receiving abortion care. [H.R.5032, 110th Cong. (2008)]
    • Voted to de-fund Title X, the nation’s only federal program dedicated exclusively to family planning and reproductive-health services. [House vote #614 (8/2/95)]
    • Voted five times to deny federal employees the right to choose a health plan that covers abortion care. [House vote #526 (7/19/95); House vote #320 (7/17/96); House vote #288 (7/16/98); House vote #301 (7/15/99); House vote #422 (7/20/00)]
    • Voted against contraceptive equity for federal employees – a provision of law that ensures health plans cover birth control equally with other prescription medications. [House vote #493 (10/7/98)]
    • Voted twice to eliminate funding completely for all international family-planning programs. [House vote #358 (9/4/97); House vote #360 (8/3/99)]

    And to get an idea of how this has worked for Shadegg’s constituents, this tells us that teen birth rates have risen sharply in his state. Also, this Think Progress post tells us more about Shadegg’s flair for demagoguery; he claimed that the congressional Democrats are trying to give us “full on Russian gulag, Soviet style health care.”

    Actually, given Shadegg’s contempt for basic women’s health care, a gulag might one day be more preferable as a location to obtain services than his own state if it continues on its present, ruinous path.

  • Update 11/7/09: Wow, I’d never consider bringing the young one to my job, and he’s way older than this baby Shadegg uses as a prop here (words fail me).


    Another “Short Ride” On Health Care From Holy Joe

    August 24, 2009

    tv_7sep05_Joe-Lieberman_I guess it had been waay too long since what passes for our political discourse was fouled once more by the whining, sniveling sanctimony of the “Independent Democratic” U.S. Senator from Connecticut, but alas, The Last Honest Man was granted a forum to pontificate on one of the Sunday morning gab fests, and he did so, true to form (here)…

    “Great changes in our country often have come in steps. The Civil Rights movement occurred, changes occurred in steps,” he argued. Lieberman added that Congress should address the nearly 50 million uninsured at some point down the road:

    LIEBERMAN: Morally, everyone of us would like to cover every American with health insurance but that’s where you spend most of the trillion dollars plus, or a little less that is estimated, the estimate said this health care plan will cost. And I’m afraid we’ve got to think about putting a lot of that off until the economy is out of recession. There’s no reason we have to do it all now.

    As you can read from healthreform.gov here, what follows are issues pertaining to health care in Connecticut and how the Obama Administration is trying to help address them (of course, it would be nice if DINO Joe felt compelled to actually do something about this also)…

  • Right now, providers in Connecticut lose over $383 million in bad debt which often gets passed along to families in the form of a hidden premium “tax”.1 Health insurance reform will tackle this financial burden by improving our health care system and covering the uninsured, allowing the 34 hospitals2 and the 15,257 physicians3 in Connecticut to better care for their patients.
  • Premiums for residents of Connecticut have risen 98% since 2000.4 Through health insurance reform, 274,200 to 332,600 middle class Connecticut residents will be eligible for premium credits to ease the burden of these high costs.5
  • 56,659 employers in Connecticut are small businesses.6 With tax credits and a health insurance exchange where they can shop for health plans, insurance coverage will become more affordable for them.
  • Under health insurance reform, insurance companies will be prevented from placing annual or lifetime caps on the coverage you receive. Insurance companies will also have to abide by yearly limits on how much they can charge for out-of-pocket expenses, helping 36,400 households in Connecticut struggling under the burden of high health care expenses.7
  • There’s a host of other good information available from the healthreform.gov site for all fifty states; just click on the interactive map for more information.

    And by the way, I’m having a hard time trying to stomach this particular moment of sanctimony from Lieberman seeing as how he chose to try and establish a false equivalency here with the civil rights movement…I would say that Lieberman left those days behind long ago (here is a rather shameful chronology, and I really didn’t care much one way or the other in the matter of actor Alec Baldwin contemplating a run against Lieberman, as noted here).

    But as we know, this is par for the course when it comes to a guy who was on the short list for VP with John McCain at the head of the ticket last year (here – at least Just Plain Folks Sarah Palin was a whole lot more entertaining) and who supported the right of hospitals not to provide contraceptives for rape victims because “In Connecticut, it shouldn’t take more than a short ride to get to another hospital,” as noted here.

    I know Chris Dodd (Connecticut’s other U.S. Senator, of course) is a bit too cozy with some bigwigs in the financial services racket, but as far as I’m concerned, there are a multitude of other reasons to support him; it’s beyond pathetic to me that Lieberman faces better election prospects than the “Nutmeg State’s“ legitimate Democratic senator.


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