Friday Mashup (9/27/13)

September 27, 2013
  • I give you the latest in faux indignation from clownhall.com (here)…

    In the case of Obamacare, Members of Congress of both parties did not want to give up their superior health insurance for the system they imposed on the rest of us. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, saw this for the hypocrisy it is and proposed an amendment to the bill that forced members and their staff to do just that. It made the final cut in the bill because to oppose it would be to admit before passage the system progressives sought to force on Americans was inferior to what existed.

    Now that it’s the law, well, that’s a different story. Congress, with significant pressure from President Obama, forced the Office of Personnel Management to “reinterpret” the law to allow significant subsidies (our money) to be paid to them and their staff to cover the cost of premiums. If you’re in a similar income bracket and situation in the private sector you can’t get the deal they gave themselves.

    As noted here from Factcheck.org, the so-called “special subsidy” for the health care law “.. Is Simply A Premium Contribution” The Federal Government Has “Long Made To The Health Insurance Policies Of Its Workers.”

    And “Democrat-controlled Senate “ – bless Derek Hunter’s pointed little wingnut head.

    And get a load of this…

    Once the president started to delay, change and ignore parts of his own law, Republicans should have gone straight to court to force Democrats to implement the law as written or repeal it.

    Ummm – I wonder if this nematode knows that the Affordable Care Act was validated by the U.S. Supreme Court, including the individual mandate? Or that the whole damn thing came from the Heritage Foundation via Willard Mitt Romney anyway?

    Yes, I know – lather, rinse, repeat…

    It gets better…

    When Rush Limbaugh made his Sandra Fluke joke the left mobilized and to this day remain in combat mode. They harass him and his sponsors constantly. Rush apologized, but that wasn’t good enough.

    I’m not even going to make the effort to defend Flush Limbore, who is indefensible on so many levels.

    A joke? Try 46 personal attacks on Fluke, as noted here (and he deserves every bit of the fallout noted here).

    Besides, “the professional left,” or whatever we’re called these days, has nothing on the Teahadists, who hate the Affordable Care Act so much that they even turned on one of their own in Congress, who sponsored a dozen bills to repeal it (here).

    When Republican candidates no one had ever heard of made stupid comments about rape, every Republican was made to answer for them. Democrats had three prominent perverts in the news in San Diego and New York in the last month, people who did abhorrent things – not just say them – and it took weeks for any Democrat to be asked to simply distance themselves from them.

    Bob Filner is out as mayor of San Diego, and Eliot Spitzer and Anthony Weiner both lost their elections. So what logical reason is there for still talking about them?

    Hunter then engages in some truly hilarious guilt by association concerning health care reform and someone named Allan Brauer of the Sacramento, CA “Democrat” Party, lamenting that “were conservatives to treat Allan Brauer the way progressives treat their political opponents, every time he engaged in any political discourse this (and his other comments) would be trotted out like a scarlet letter to discredit him” (I’ll admit that Brauer’s behavior was pretty unconscionable, but for what it’s worth, at least he apologized, as noted here; he had a point about Cruz, but he took it way too far).

    Maybe if conservatives did a little better job of self-policing (despite Hunter’s bleating about every Repug quite rightly having to answer for “legitimate rape” Akin and his pals), then there wouldn’t be a need to call them out, even though Brauer definitely took it to extremes, like I said; an example is Sherri Goforth, the aide to Repug U.S. House Rep Diane Black, who, as noted here, sent an Email depicting Barack Obama as two eyes peering out of a black background (and I am not aware of any apology from Goforth for that disgusting mailer).

  • Next, I have to confess that I’d never seen the phrase “big abortion” used before, until now anyway – I guess it shouldn’t be surprising in the least that it came from Marjorie Dannenfelser (here)…

    The Washington Post got just one thing right in its (recent) editorial: the results of Virginia’s November 5th election will have widespread implications for the fate of abortion facilities – and women – across the Commonwealth. The next occupant of the governor’s mansion will be responsible for enforcing the abortion facility health and safety standards enacted by the General Assembly and the Board of Health last year.

    The Democratic candidate, Terry McAuliffe, has already vowed to unilaterally help existing abortion clinics skirt the regulations. It is this unwavering loyalty to the abortion industry – which has likewise fought tooth and nail against being regulated – instead of the health and safety of women that should give every Virginian pause.

    I think it’s actually grotesque for Dannenfelser to basically say that the abortion restrictions in the “Virginia is for Lovers” state are intended for “the health and safety of women.”

    As noted here (from November 2011)…

    The regulations, commissioned by the state legislature and written by the Virginia Department of Health, are largely unrelated to patient health and safety. They would treat abortion clinics as if they are hospitals if the clinics provide five or more first-trimester abortions a month and would enforce architectural design standards that will be almost impossible for most clinics to meet.

    For instance, a clinic must have 5-foot-wide hallways, 8-foot-wide areas outside of procedure rooms, specific numbers of toilets and types of sinks and all of the latest requirements for air circulation flow and electrical wiring. Each clinic must also have a parking spot for every bed, despite the fact that first-trimester abortions don’t require an overnight stay. Further, Department of Health employees will be allowed to enter an abortion facility at any time without notice or identification.

    Virginia Board of Health member Jim Edmundson tried to introduce a number of amendments…that would lessen the severity of the clinic restrictions and give some facilities a chance to comply. However, all but one of the amendments were rejected without a vote. For instance, he tried to distinguish between first-trimester surgical abortions and first-trimester medication abortions, so that the regulations would only apply to surgical procedures, but the amendment was not even seconded.

    “The board is not even seconding proposed amendments being offered,” said Patrick Hurd, the CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southeast Virginia, who observed the comment and voting process in Richmond on Thursday. “They’re so intimidated by the presence of the attorney general, they’re not even allowing these things to come up for a vote.”

    The attorney general being Ken Cuccinelli, the guy currently losing to Terry McAuliffe in the Virginia governor’s race…

    “(As of November 2011), none of our facilities would be in compliance with these regulations,” said Paulette McElwain, president and CEO of the Virginia League of Planned Parenthood, which has five clinics in the state that provide abortions.

    The point of the regulation changes was to outlaw abortion clinics from practicing in Virginia, period, endangering the health of women seeking a perfectly legal medical procedure.

    Which is exactly what Dannenfelser and her minions want.

    And as noted here, Dannenfelser defended the odious Roy Blunt Amendment, in which the Missouri Repug U.S. Senator tried to “grant employers significant discretion in deciding what kind of health care they want to provide workers” (translated, that means employers could refuse to provide coverage for anything whatsoever to do with those dreaded, icky lady parts). Dannefelser also claimed that Planned Parenthood generated about $300 million in “profit,” which was properly debunked by Politifact (this and a lot more stuff on Dannenfelser can be accessed from here).

  • Continuing, it looks like former CIA head and General David Petraeus was the subject of recent protests when he spoke at City College of New York.

    For the wingnut perspective, I give you this from Fix Noise…

    FOX’s Jesse Watters confronted S. Sandor John, a professor of Latin American studies, about encouraging the student body to pester General Petraeus.

    John said “Students and faculty […] are not okay with a death squad organizer and somebody who organized drone attacks.”

    Jesse also spoke with CUNY students who supported Petraeus’ presence on campus, calling the General a “great professor”

    I don’t know what’s funnier – the fact that the Foxies don’t even bother to acknowledge the charges against Petraeus (here and here), or that Jesse Watters is actually given the imprimatur of respectability (here).

    Meanwhile, I think I should make note of the reality perspective from the same event (here)…

    A new video was just released of police brutalizing one of the City University of New York (CUNY) students protesting a fundraiser featuring former CIA Director and CUNY Macaulay Honors College adjunct professor David Petraeus.

    That video – taken from a new angle than the ones previously released and first featured here on The Dissenter – shows about a dozen police officers swarming a student, slamming him against the hood of a car and holding him there.

    Once pinned down, the video shows a white-shirted officer punch him in the head a couple times and another officer punch him in the head from another angle. He also had his head held in place from the back of neck with a nightstick when pinned down on the ground after being pulled from the car. [*Note: This takes place 5:50 into the embedded video segment.]

    The brutal blows were met with screams and shouts from students, no defense to policemen on a mission.

    Six students eventually were arrested, now known as the “CUNY 6.” They face charges of disorderly conduct, riot, resisting arrest and obstruction of governmental administration and will have a date in court on October 16.

    And though this is an important story, it really isn’t one with major import on foreign or domestic policy (not saying it shouldn’t be, though).

    Here is my point; if Fix Noise sanitized something like this, which will probably end up as little more than a blip on the media radar, imagine how they “report” national or international stories of actual consequence.

  • Further, “Pastor” Gerson at the WaPo goes there on Francis and teh gay here (mentioning the Pope’s namesake, St. Francis of Assisi, who knew “the power of a dramatic gesture”)…

    So Francis observed: “Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person? We must always consider the person.”

    This teaching — to always consider the person — was disorienting from the beginning. The outsiders get invited to the party. The prodigal is given the place of honor. The pious complain about their shocking treatment. The gatekeepers find the gate shut to them. It is subversive to all respectable religious order, which is precisely the point. With Francis, the argument gains a new hearing.

    (Oh, and typical for Gerson, he snuck in a dig earlier in his column about “progressive“ churches on “a panting, unsuccessful search for relevance” – as is usually the case, you’re left wondering what he said for a second or two before you realize just how insulting it really was).

    Gerson really shouldn’t say anything about the gays, though, given his de facto endorsement of Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria (here). Basically, Gerson piled on then-presidential candidate Barack Obama in 2008 for the latter’s relationship with Rev. Jeremiah Wright, when in fact Gerson was (still is?) a member of…

    ..the Falls Church in Falls Church, Va. (Gerson’s) congregation and the nearby Truro Church, (which) played the key role in leading 11 Virginia parishes out of the Episcopal Church after the Church consecrated Gene Robinson, an openly gay man as bishop in 2003. Most of these parishes joined the Church of Nigeria, which Akinola leads.

    Yep, I would say that you could classify this under “the power of a dramatic gesture” also; besides, let’s not be in a rush to throw plaudits at the still-new Pope on the question of human sexuality, particularly in light of this.

  • Finally (and returning to the health care law), I give you the following from Mikey The Beloved’s stenographer in chief, Gary Weckselblatt of the Bucks County Courier Times (here)…

    Democrats and Republicans each reside within their own truth.

    That was never more evident than the recent GOP House vote to fund all government operations, with the notable exception of President Barack Obama’s landmark Affordable Care Act.

    Moments after the 230-189 vote for the Continuing Resolution — only two Democrats and one Republican switched sides — the political spin machines worked to churn raw cream into sweet butter over an impending government shutdown.

    The headline on press releases from Congressmen Mike Fitzpatrick, R-8, Middletown, and Patrick Meehan, R-7, Drexel Hill, said the vote meant government would continue running.

    For Democrats such as Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz, D-13, Jenkintown, however, a government shutdown and the nation’s default were looming.

    One vote and the two parties’ opinions are as divergent as Oscar and Felix.

    I’ve had to endure some truly awful columns from Gary Weckselblatt over the years, but this may actually be the worst of all. It is the ultimate embodiment of the “both sides are just as bad” narrative. This might as well be called “The Health Care Reform Issue Is Too Confusing For Me To Understand, So Instead, I’m Just Going To Give Up And Write Nothing But Snark.”

    I’ll tell you what – here is an actual news story with actual reporting, something Weckselblatt is apparently incapable of crafting, even though it’s supposed to be his job (more is also here and here)…

    The House of Representatives passed a 2014 continuing resolution Friday with a vote of 230 to 189. The $986.3 billion stopgap bill would fund the government until Dec. 15, preventing a government shutdown, but it’s expected to be dead on arrival in the Senate, as it also defunds the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

    It was the 42nd vote the GOP has taken to repeal the new health care law. The Senate is expected to restore funding and return the bill to the House. If lawmakers cannot agree on a funding measure by Sept. 30, there will be a government shutdown on Oct. 1.

    So yes, the Republicans in the House passed the continuing resolution to fund the government, stripping out the funding for the Affordable Care Act in the process. So they are technically correct in saying that they passed the CR over to the Senate.

    Now that it’s there, the bill will have the funding for the Act reinserted into it when the filibuster of “Calgary” Cruz eventually ends with the conclusion of the “filibuster” by “Calgary” Cruz (which, ostensibly, is the reason for his filibuster antics, though in reality the point is to gin up more phony outrage, to say nothing of dollars from campaign contributors, for his 2016 presidential run). And when the funding is reinserted, the bill will be sent back to the House, where it likely will fail to pass.

    So Schwartz’s remark is based on that eventuality (smartly moving a step or two ahead of things –she’s such a bright lady that she should run for governor :-)). And guess who now shares that view?

    Boehner_Time_Shutdown_0926
    Oh, and a budget deal has to be approved by September 30th, the end of the government calendar year, or else we really will have a default for real (though Treasury has said October 17th, I believe). Of course, Obama could just reconsider doing this (yes, I know it’s a trick, but if it keeps the government running)…

    Also, if you want to know the polling on this issue, just look at this – it’s been pretty consistent for awhile now (the hell with Terry Madonna – yes, there are a lot opposed, but a lot are in favor also…what matters are the trends). And though this is a bit funny, it’s also a bit pathetic too (approval for the ACA rose 8 points among Repugs when it wasn’t called “Obamacare”).

    This is all a consequence of the truly lazy “reporting” on this issue, as noted here, and embodied by Weckselblatt – he really should stop stealing from his employer with this crap and click here at long last (i.e., take my advice and apply at Pottery Barn – probably looking for seasonal hires about now).

    And as I was about to put the wraps on this post, I came across this item (h/t Atrios) from Ed Kilgore of Washington Monthly, opining on a similar column by Ron Fournier, who is an old hand at manufacturing the old “equivalency” narrative. I was struck by this excerpt in particular…

    At the risk of getting maudlin about it all, I’d say we all lose when respected journalists look at something like Boehner’s debt limit bill and see it as no worse than the President saying we ought to pay our bills and keep that separate from our differences over spending and taxing. The Equivalency Formula makes it impossible to see clown clothes, and thus encourages clowns to cut capers even more.

    And to take the circus metaphor to its logical conclusion, the calliope will keep playing, along with the parade of jugglers and fire-eaters while the acrobats swing high above, until one day, the show closes, the cleanup begins, the ring shuts down and the pitched tents are rolled up and put away for good, and we have nothing left.

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    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 (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).


  • Friday Mashup (1/18/13)

    January 18, 2013
  • Remember all of the wingnut outrage from the 2012 presidential election over those 59 voting divisions in Philadelphia in which Mitt Romney didn’t get a single vote?

    Remember (from here)…

    Obama_Romney_Fishy

    Well, as it turns out (from here, in a post refuting a lot of other baseless garbage)…

    It’s not mathematically impossible. The 59 districts are in areas of the city that are mainly African American, as the Inquirer reported. And Obama received 93 percent of the black vote nationwide.

    In 2008, Obama received 100 percent of the vote in 57 districts in Philadelphia. So it was not that unusual that something similar happened this time around. In fact, Inquirer reporters had a tough time tracking down any registered Republicans in these areas.

    To be clear, these districts make up a small subset of all of Philadelphia. The 59 that went 100 percent for Obama in 2012 constitute 19,605 votes, just 3 percent of the total votes cast in the city.

    This also concludes that supposed political maven Larry Sabato should shut his pie hole (more stuff on him is here).

    (It should also be noted that this story was buried at philly.com in response to a baseless allegation published at hundreds of wingnut web sites. Which further proves the adage that a lie is halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its pants.)

  • Next, I give you more literary fertilizer from Tucker Carlson’s crayon scribble page (here, trying to undermine Number 44’s recent gun proposals by making him look like he’s “soft on crime” from his prior career in politics)…

    In 1999, State Senator Barack Obama voted “present” on a bill that would require adult prosecution for discharging a gun in or near a school.

    That legislation came as a response to the tragic Columbine High School shooting that year.

    That vote followed a trend for the young lawmaker, whose controversial votes on crime legislation often raised eyebrows.

    A Chicago Tribune editorial even accused Obama of being a “gutless sheep” for missing a vote on crime legislation in late 1999.

    In response to the “present” vote, I’d like to note the following (from here)…

    The vote on the juvenile-justice bill appears to be a case when Mr. Obama, who represented a racially mixed district on the South Side of Chicago, faced pressure. It also occurred about six months before he announced an ultimately unsuccessful campaign against a popular black congressman, Bobby L. Rush.

    State Senator Christine Radogno, a Republican, was a co-sponsor of the bill to let children as young as 15 be prosecuted as adults if charged with committing a crime with a firearm on or near school grounds.

    The measure passed both houses overwhelmingly. In explaining his present vote on the floor of the Senate, Mr. Obama said there was no proof that increasing penalties for young offenders reduced crime, though he acknowledged that the bill had fairly unanimous support.

    “Voting present was a way to satisfy those two competing interests,” Ms. Radogno said in a telephone interview.

    Thom Mannard, director of the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence, said political calculation could have figured in that vote.

    “If he voted a flat-out no,” Mr. Mannard said, “somebody down the road could say Obama took this vote and was soft on crime.”

    Mr. Obama’s aides said he was more concerned about whether the bill would be effective rather than with its political consequences. They did not explain why he did not just vote no.

    And as noted here, the Illinois bill for which then-State Senator Obama missed the vote was called the Safe Neighborhoods Act, and it did indeed contain a gun control measure. And he was indeed called one of a bunch of “gutless sheep” by the Chicago Tribune.

    The reason why he missed the vote is because, while he was vacationing in Hawaii with his family, his daughter Malia came down with a fever and he waited an extra day to come home to make sure she was OK, thus missing the vote (something any self-respecting father would likely do).

    Of course, if we were talking about a reputable publication that followed the most elementary guidelines of Journalism 101, then Carlson would have decided to note that (or even leave the mention of the missed vote out of the story altogether).

  • Continuing, I give you more fun with Daniel Henninger of the Murdoch Street Journal (here, in which Henninger parrots Frank Luntz in saying that the Repugs merely have a “messaging” problem, that’s all – yeah, that’s the ticket)…

    The current Republican class in both houses may be the best in a generation.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!

    In response, this tells us that the current Repug strategy, as opposed to holding the 3,254,738 debates they staged during their riotously funny presidential primary, seems to be to be quiet and let everyone guess what they’re up to (gosh, if this “Republican class” is supposedly “the best in a generation”…well then, wouldn’t they want to be baselessly bragging about that every chance they get?).

    Oh, and this calls to mind this other recent item from Henninger…

    The point of Reaganesque tax-and-spending reform was to cleanse the system. Purge the inevitable, destructive sludge that slows down an economy. The message of Bowles-Simpson and Domenici-Rivlin was that the time to do that again had arrived.

    We’re sticking with the sludge. The progressives are more comfortable there.

    Love and kisses to you too, Danny (and this Media Matters post from 2006 comments on Henninger’s complaint about the use of the filibuster by the U.S. Senate Democrats, who, at that time, were the minority party, a particularly humorous observation given what the Repugs would subsequently do in that regard when they were relegated to the same status).

  • Finally, it looks like the wingnuts are going on a publicity offensive in response to all of the heat the NRA is quite rightly receiving these days with a stunt called “Guns Across America” (yep, I’m serious) as noted here.

    So what do I find when I go to the site’s home page to learn more about them…

    Guns_Across_US_Lorem_Ipsum

    Boy, that Lorem Ipsum sure gets around, huh? : -).

    Update 1/19/13: All idiocy notwithstanding, I hope everyone is OK (here).

    Update 1/21/13: Truly, words fail.


  • Monday Mashup (1/7/13)

    January 7, 2013

    (I know I’m a news cycle or two behind on some of this stuff, but this is the best I can do.)

  • It looks like I’m not the only one who thinks that PA Governor Tom “Space Cadet” Corbett’s lawsuit against the NCAA on behalf of Penn State isn’t a stinking dead dog of a case (here)…

    There have been a lot of embarrassing days for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and, by association, Penn State, but Wednesday was the worst of all.

    After months of trying to heal from the most horrifying scandal and cover-up in the history of American colleges and universities, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett undid a year’s worth of goodwill by announcing in a bizarrely timed news conference that the state is suing the NCAA to overturn the strong Jerry Sandusky scandal sanctions Corbett himself welcomed less than six months ago.

    The crux of Corbett’s case is that the unprecedented NCAA sanctions were “overreaching and unlawful” and an “attack” on the economy of the state.

    But, on July 23, 2012, Corbett welcomed the NCAA sanctions, saying, “The appalling actions of a few people have brought us once again into the national spotlight. We have taken a monster off the streets and while we will never be able to repair the injury done to these children, we must repair the damage to this university. Part of that corrective process is to accept the serious penalties imposed by the NCAA on Penn State University and its football program.”

    So which one is it, Governor? This couldn’t have anything to do with trying to convince football coach Bill O’Brien to stay at Penn State and not bolt to the NFL, could it? (Although, after that performance Wednesday, one would think O’Brien would know that ripping the scab off the terrible wounds at Penn State is the last thing that will encourage already wary recruits to commit.)

    Christine Brennan’s well-done article in USA Today also points out the following…

    The fact that Corbett has the audacity to say these things with a straight face is mind-boggling. One could even ask why he’s still the governor, because his actions – inaction, actually – played an integral part in the entire, horrifying Sandusky saga. Corbett was the attorney general when his office took over the Sandusky case in early 2009. As we know now, even then, there was plenty of graphic and stunning testimony from at least one young man, then known as Victim No. 1, not to mention the story of another victim that had been covered up for 10 years.

    Yet it took Corbett’s state prosecutors nearly three years to charge Sandusky.

    Nearly three years.

    And to answer the question Brennan poses above as to the real reason behind this utterly pointless lawsuit (to say nothing of a waste of taxpayer money), she tracks down one of the biggest pieces of the proverbial puzzle by pointing out that a certain Tom Corbett was indeed PA’s attorney general while the Sandusky monstrosities were happening. Also, as noted here, Corbett needs to shore up his base as they say for an upcoming gubernatorial re-election bid, trailing a generic Democrat 47 to 37 percent.

    USA Today also tells us that Corbett has yet to discuss the suit with incoming PA Attorney General Kathleen Kane, who is facing a bit of a test on this issue herself. If she caves and goes along, then that will speak volumes as to how much she truly cares about the rule of law versus political expediency (and let’s not forget that she stood mute during Corbett’s “fetal ultrasound bill” nonsense while her Dem challenger Patrick Murphy rightly stood up and decried another hateful right-wing stunt…for now, though, Kane deserves the benefit of the doubt).

    (Oh, and an update here tells us that Corbett first went along with the NCAA sanctions against Penn State but has apparently changed his mind because he didn’t have all the information in front of him at first, or something – no word in the story as to whether or not Corbett’s nose grew when he said that.)

  • Next, Jeffrey Goldberg concocted the following in the Philadelphia Inquirer (here)…

    Myth: Renewing the assault-weapons ban is the clear answer.

    By my definition, any device that can fire a metal projectile at a high rate of speed into a human body is assaultive. How deadly a shooting is depends as much on the skill and preparation of the shooter as on what equipment he uses. It may be beneficial to ban large-capacity magazines and other exceptionally deadly implements. But we shouldn’t be under the illusion that this will stop mass killings.

    I know of no one arguing that that is the case; the issue is trying to make it as difficult as possible for those killings to take place. And as Think Progress points out here

    One of the principal weapons used by James Eagan Holmes in the horrific Dark Knight Rises shooting would have been subject to a series of sharp restrictions under the now-expired federal Assault Weapons ban. The AR-15 rife carried by Holmes, a civilian semi-automatic version of the military M-16, would have been defined as a “semiautomatic assault weapon” under the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. If the law was still in force, semiautomatic assault weapons would have been outright banned.

    The post also tells us that there were loopholes in the 1994 bill that allowed gun manufacturers to legally produce slightly modified AR-15s, though a 2008 bill closed them.

    The Inky piece above is a little less wanker-ific for Goldberg on this subject relative to his other tripe; as noted here about another gun column he wrote for The Atlantic…

    Goldberg’s macho obsession reveals itself further in the stories he tells of shootings in progress that were allegedly stopped by good guys with guns. It’s telling that in every single one of these stories, he seriously misrepresents the facts — check out (Salon’s Alex) Seitz-Wald’s piece for the details of this.

    In fact, in the real world, it is very rare for people to successfully defend themselves with guns when they are unexpectedly attacked; indeed, such attempts often prove counterproductive. Seitz-Wald has more on this, but I urge you to check out this fascinating video, which illustrates the general point. Overall, the serious health and safety risks of owning a gun almost always outweigh the negligible benefits. That is generally true at the individual level. It is definitely true on the level of society as a whole.

    And yet, Goldberg is simply incapable of thinking clearly on this point. Instead, he spouts libertarian gibberish and wanks off to macho fantasies about whipping out his penis substitute and blowing the bad guys away. Toward the end of the article, he writes, “I am sympathetic to the idea of armed self-defense because it does often work” (not!) and “because encouraging learned helplessness is morally corrupt.”

    Does Goldberg believe that the majority of Americans, including a large majority of American women, who do not own guns are “morally corrupt”? What, exactly, is “morally corrupt” about leaving the business of armed defense to the trained professionals in our police departments and military who make this their life’s work? Isn’t one of the fundamental reasons of forming any kind of government in the first place to provide for a common defense, instead of having to bear the totality of that burden all by yourself? Did Goldberg ever take political science 101?

    Maybe not, or maybe for Goldberg, common sense is merely a “suggested elective.”

  • Continuing, it looks like the corporate media campaign to proclaim the Speaker of the U.S. House as a Republican statesman of some type is kicking into overdrive, with Ross Douthat of the New York Times performing a bit of fluffery noted here.

    Aside from Douthat’s ridiculous attack on Chris Christie for “Governor Bully” rightly calling out Boehner for refusing to hold a vote on aid primarily to New Jersey and New York as a result of Hurricane Sandy, we also get this from the Times’ conservative quota hire columnist…

    …Boehner has done his country a more important service over the last two years than almost any other politician in Washington.

    That service hasn’t been the achievement of a grand bargain with the White House, which he has at times assiduously sought. Nor has it been the sweeping triumph over liberalism that certain right-wing activists expect him to somehow gain. Rather, it’s been a kind of disaster management — a sequence of bomb-defusal operations that have prevented our dysfunctional government from tipping into outright crisis.

    I think it’s hilarious to read this from Douthat as he utterly whitewashes Boehner’s role in contributing to “dysfunctional government” that has risked “tipping into outright crisis” (please note the following)…

  • Here, Boehner basically made noise to the effect that he would take the debt ceiling hostage again in upcoming negotiations, even though he said here that doings so in 2011 would lead to “financial disaster.”
  • Here, Boehner allowed another vote to repeal the health care law, this one from Moon Unit Bachman (Boehner could have put his foot down and said no, but of course he didn’t want to risk the almost-perpetual rage of the Teahadists).
  • This tells us that Boehner’s supposed “Plan B’ at deficit reduction would have cut taxes for the richest 1 percent of earners and raised them for the poor (as Atrios and many others have pointed out, the Repugs claim to care about the deficit, but in fact they want to use that as a cudgel to attack “New Deal” and “Great Society” social programs).
  • Here, Boehner said that there’s “no difference” if revenue comes from the middle class or the super rich (the latter has had a nice, cushy ride for the last 10 years at least).
  • Here, Boehner threatened filibuster reform, which is particularly funny since that has nothing to do with the U.S. House, but it is a matter for the U.S. Senate.
  • There’s a lot more I could get into about Orange Man and how he has done more than his share to contribute to the utter mess in Washington, but instead of listing it all, I’ll merely link back to here if you want to read further (and here is another example of Douthat acting as the press secretary for another Republican politician, perhaps the most infamous one of this still-new century).

  • gwb_13-george-w-bush

  • And speaking of Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History, The Daily Tucker propagandized as follows recently (here, using the business of Fluffy Head bringing the illegal ammunition onto “Meet The Press” despite being warned by the D.C. police not to do so)…

    (David) Gregory’s soft-glove treatment of Obama stands in contrast to the media’s treatment of President George W. Bush in 2003, and especially before the 2004 election.

    Shortly before the 2004 election, Bush was slammed by numerous media outlets for not securing the large stockpiles of weapons in Iraq. For example, in late October 2004, the New York Times ran front-page articles about missing weapons from the Al Qaqaa, creating a mini media scandal.

    But before and after the 2012 election, Obama escaped scrutiny from the established media outlets.

    Number One, I don’t know what that previous sentence even means. Number Two, trying to draw a comparison between the attack in Benghazi which, tragically, claimed the life of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others and the missing Al Qa’qaa explosives is particularly ridiculous. As Wikipedia tells us here (quoting from a Frank Rich New York Times column in May 2005)…

    It’s also because of incompetent Pentagon planning that other troops may now be victims of weapons looted from Saddam’s munitions depots after the fall of Baghdad. Yet when The New York Times reported one such looting incident, in Al Qaqaa, before the election, the administration and many in the blogosphere reflexively branded the story fraudulent. But the story was true. It was later corroborated not only by United States Army reservists and national guardsmen who spoke to The Los Angeles Times but also by Iraq’s own deputy minister of industry, who told The New York Times two months ago that Al Qaqaa was only one of many such weapon caches hijacked on America’s undermanned post-invasion watch.

    Staying with Number 43 for a minute, “The Pericles of Petticoat Junction” alleged here that Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi in Libya dismantled his WMD because Saddam Hussein did also. In response, this tells us that Gaddafi first said he’d do that in December 2003, when the debate about Saddam Hussein and his alleged WMD was still raging (more is here).

    And while we’re still on this wretched subject, Jennifer Rubin of the WaPo tells us here that Dubya is supposed to be such a humanitarian…please; I guess the wingnuts have given up on the “Bush bounce” at last and are merely settling for a “bump” at this point.

    In response, this tells us that, over a year since we left Iraq under the SOFA, there are still about 500,000 “displaced persons” (i.e., refugees) as a result of the war of choice in Iraq waged by President Obama’s wretched predecessor.

  • Finally (switching back to sports), this tells us that the NHL lockout is over, the third of its type over the 20-year reign of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.

    I hope you’ll excuse me if I’m not bubbling over with joy at the moment.

    Of course, many “Stepford” Flyers fans in this area are deliriously happy at this moment, if the social media activity is any indication. They can’t wait for the orange-and-black to hit the ice again.

    Count me out (and I think this covers a lot of how I feel about this).

    Of all the professional sports leagues, the NHL can probably afford this type of a spat between players and management the least mainly because of the comparative pittance the sport generates in TV revenue versus MLB, the NFL or the NBA. And while I’m not totally enamored with the players’ role in this mess, it should be noted for emphasis that they did not strike during any of the three stoppages, but were locked out by ownership each time.

    And I guess it would make me a bit too much of a cynic to put out the possibility at least that maybe the owners decided to cave a bit because they realized they were losing too much money.

    It really gets me, though, that, as I said, there are far too many people in this area of the country who are just willing to let bygones be bygones and put down the dough for a ticket to a Flyers game like nothing ever happened.

    You know what? There are lots of venues for college or minor-league professional hockey out there that you can support if you love the game (the Trenton Titans for one are closer to my turf), and you won’t have to wonder if the entire league will shut down when it comes time once more to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement. And you’re bound to have a seat closer to the action (ice hockey, on any level, remains a truly great live spectator sport).

    And that is all I will support when it comes to ice hockey for a little while. The NHL took all of the excitement and interest it has generated in the game to date (helped in no small measure by the great run of the Los Angeles Kings that led to their first-ever Stanley Cup win last season) and pissed it down the drain. Now they have to win me back (and firing Bettman would be a nice first step in that direction).

    I don’t like hostage taking when it comes to politics. And I certainly don’t like it when it comes to our professional sports also.


  • Thursday Mashup Part One (10/21/10) (updates)

    October 21, 2010

  • 1) I swear, every time I think our corporate media can’t get any stupider (here)…

    Yesterday, several news outlets reported that White House aides had scrapped a planned presidential tour of the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India, the spiritual center of the Sikh religion. The reason for avoiding the temple, according to unnamed sources: Head covering. As the New York Times explained, “[T]he plan appears to have foundered on the thorny question of how Mr. Obama would cover his head, as Sikh tradition requires, while visiting the temple.” (It was previously reported, in India, that Obama would likely visit the shrine.)

    Obama, according to unnamed sources, did not want to stoke the false impression among many of his constituents that he is a Muslim, even though the Sikh religion is distinct from Islam. I was skeptical of the reports when I read them, given the scant sourcing, so I emailed two officials at the White House. I did not hear back.

    So, of course, Michael Scherer of Time contacted White House spokesman Robert Gibbs and claimed that – aha! – I got a “non-denial denial,” so there must be something to Obama not wanting to wear a head covering.


    Of course, some presidents can visit places of religious worship and wear such ornamentation with no problem and some can’t (because, you know, no one will ever associate Dubya with rumors that he’s really a closet Kenyan Marxist who won’t show us his Hawaiian birth certificate).

  • 2) Next, it’s time for more propaganda from The Doughy Pantload (here – first the following is from Greg Sargent’s blog at the Washington Post that Jonah Goldberg links to in his post)…

    The new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll came out this morning, and there’s no sugar-coating it: The poll has some very grim results for Democrats. In the 92 most competitive House districts, the GOP’s lead among registered voters is 14 points.

    But what may be even worse are the numbers that show how bad the “enthusiasm gap” remains, with less than two weeks until election day.

    I would only say in response that the issue isn’t really one of Dem non-enthusiasm, but one in which there is typical Dem enthusiasm for a mid-term election – however, Repug enthusiasm is off the charts because, now as ever, they never had a desire from Day One to work with Obama and the Democrats and now see their chance to hurl us back into the ‘90s, with Newt Gingrich, Bob Dole, and more investigations than you can imagine (oh, and by the way, defunding government and rolling back all the good that has been accomplished over the last two years in particular…also, what else would you expect from a poll involving the Murdoch Street Journal?)

    (Also, I don’t mean to imply that Democrats don’t have to continue trying to counter the Repugs on this up until the moment the polls close on November 2nd, because we do.)

    Now, I give you J. Goldberg…

    First, I’ve never had a problem with using fear in elections, if it’s rational and accurate. But I’m not the one who elevated “playing on our fears” to some sort of cardinal sin.

    Oh really?

    In response, I give you the following here (and from a conservative blogger, by the way)…

    The emotional state of conservatism now coupled with the hyper partisan atmosphere in the country (and the already excessive ideological nature of the opposition to Obama) is a combination that afflicts the reason centers of the mind and is proving to be a block to thinking logically. What is there to “fear” about Obama and the Democrats? They are proposing the same liberal crap that the left has been promoting for more than 30 years. We have fought them before using reason and logic. What is so different now?

    And when it comes to an absence of reason and logic (to say nothing of not being “rational or accurate”), I give you Goldberg’s “Liberal Fascism” noted here, in which he argues basically that Hitler was a “man of the Left,” even though “there exist about a million nearly epileptic quotes from Hitler and [Josef] Goebbels and other Nazis expressing their luminous hatreds of liberalism and of communism.”

    I respect Greg Sargent, but I wish he would bother to “look inside the numbers” a little more on this.

    The bottom line – it all comes down to GOTV, as noted here.

  • 3) Finally, I give you some true hilarity from Sen. Mr. Elaine Chao here…

    The Senate’s top Republican says President Barack Obama and a more-Republican Congress could join to pass laws on trade and spending policy and make changes to the health care overhaul if the administration listens to voters on Election Day.

    “I can’t believe he’s going to continue to ignore the wishes of the American people if his party has a very bad day Nov. 2,” Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said in a telephone interview Wednesday. “If he pivots and wants to work with us, obviously I’d be happy to talk to him.”

    Too funny; as noted here from January 2009…

    “As Republicans look for common ground,” McConnell says. “Some will no doubt accuse us of compromise. But those who do so will be confusing compromise with cooperation. And anyone who belittles cooperation resigns him or herself to a state of permanent legislative gridlock. And that is simply no longer acceptable to the American people.”

    So what did McConnell produce from then until now? As noted here from last March…

    We are now in the 111th session of Congress, and it appears that a new record will be set once again. To date, there have been 76 motions filed to end filibusters, resulting in 40 votes on cloture, and 40 instances of it being invoked. If we project these numbers to the end of the 111th session of the US Senate, that would result in a record number of cloture invocations, and near record levels of motions along with actual votes.

    There is more. Wes Rackley documents that while only 3 Bush nominees have been held up more than 3 months during his first year, 63 Obama nominees have been subjected to delay tactics, leaving important posts left unfilled.

    So, whenever I hear about McConnell pledging “cooperation” with Obama or any other Democrat…well, I think the following pic is a sufficient response:

  • Update 1 10/22/10: And this makes McConnell an even bigger liar than he is already.

    Update 2 10/22/10: My bad for not realizing that the true leader of the GOP was calling the shots on this all along (here – h/t Atrios).

    Update 3 10/25/10: The truth at last (here)…


    Wednesday Mashup (11/25/09)

    November 25, 2009

  • 1) Leave it to Dem U.S. House Rep Alan Grayson to launch a petition calling for the Senate to change its rule invoking cloture, or the end of debate on legislation prior to bringing it to a vote, in an effort to combat the abuse of the filibuster by the Repugs in the U.S. Senate (here)…

    “Why should launching wars and cutting taxes for the rich require only 50 votes while saving lives requires 60?” asked Grayson, who listed a series of important bills that passed with fewer than 60 votes.

    “Join me in calling for an end to this unfair system,” he added. “Tell Majority Leader Reid to modify the rules of the Senate to require only 55 votes to invoke cloture instead of 60. Fill out the form below to sign the petition today!”

    I know there are individuals in his district working to knock off Grayson in next year’s election, which is their right of course. If they are unsuccessful, though, I hope this guy serves forever.

    It should be pointed out, though, that if and when the Democrats become the minority congressional party once more (and given the overall ebb and flow of things, that is likely to happen again, though not for some time I hope), such a rule change could work against them.

    As noted here…

    Despite his attempts to persuade senators to vote for a medical malpractice bill limited to capping damage awards to providers of obstetrical and gynecologic services rather than all medical specialties, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) is not expected to get the 60 votes he needs Feb. 24th to cut off debate on the “Healthy Mothers and Healthy Babies Access to Care Act of 2003.”

    And it’s a good thing, too; imagine a monstrosity like that getting passed by an all-Repug congress and signed into law by Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History.

    Concerning the history of the filibuster, though, this tells us the following…

    Associate Senate Historian Don Ritchie said that since the nation’s start, dissident senators have prolonged debate to try to kill or modify legislation. The word “filibuster” — a translation of the Dutch word for “free-booter” or pirate — appears in the record of an 1840s Senate dispute about a patronage job.

    From Reconstruction to 1964, the filibuster was largely a tool used by segregationists to fight civil rights legislation. Even so, filibusters were employed only rarely; there were only three during the 88th Congress, which passed the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 after two months of filibustering.

    Filibusters were infrequent partly because the Senate custom of civility prompted consideration of minority views — and partly because they were so hard to overcome that compromises were struck. In 1917 cloture rules for ending filibusters were put in place, but required a two-thirds vote — so high it was rarely tested.

    Post-Watergate, in 1975, the bar was lowered to three-fifths, or 60 votes, and leaders began to try it more often.

    By the early 1990s, tensions between then-Majority Leader George Mitchell of Maine and Minority Leader Bob Dole of Kansas upped the ante, and the filibuster-cloture spiral has soared ever since as more partisan politics prevailed. The use of filibusters became “basically a tool of the minority party,” Ritchie said.

    The McClatchy story from 2007 also tells us the following…

    By sinking a cloture vote this week, Republicans successfully blocked a Democratic bid to withdraw combat troops from Iraq by April, even though a 52-49 Senate majority voted to end debate.

    Some Republicans say that (Majority Leader Harry) Reid forces cloture votes just so he can complain that they’re obstructing him.

    Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., called the all-nighter on Iraq “meaningless, insulting” and “an indignity.” “There is no doubt that there are not 67 votes present to override a veto. There is little doubt that there are not 60 votes present to bring the issue to a vote.”

    Maybe, but as noted here, Specter voted for cloture on a non-binding resolution opposing the surge in February 2007, to Specter’s credit, though the vote failed (so maybe Reid knew something Specter didn’t?).

    Again, I applaud the intention of what Grayson is trying to do here. However, I cannot imagine a body as monolithic as the U.S. Senate acting in accordance with his wishes (and again, even if it did, it might one day work against us).

  • 2) Also, as noted here, investigators in Kentucky have ruled that the death of census worker Bill Sparkman is a suicide, not a homicide…

    FRANKFORT, Ky. — On the surface it all seemed like a gruesome hate crime in a rural part of Kentucky with a history of disdain for the government: a census worker found bound with duct tape and hanging from a tree, the word “fed” scrawled across his chest.

    But investigators noticed the foot-tall letters scrawled in black felt-tip pen looked like they could have been written by the victim himself, and they soon found out that he believed he had cancer, had two insurance policies worth $600,000, and had an adult son in need of money.

    Investigators said Tuesday what they had been hinting at for weeks, that Bill Sparkman’s hanging was a ruse to mask his suicide for a big insurance payout.

    Cue the wingnut umbrage (here, where the following parties are listed for supposedly owing apologies)…

    MyDD – “No Suicide: That’s the one thing we know for certain now in the case of the Kentucky lynching….But the most worrying possibility – that this is Southern populist terrorism, whipped up by the GOP and its Fox and talk radio cohorts – remains real. We’ll see.”

    (By the way, if you click on the MyDD link above from the Reason article, it does not take you to the preceding paragraph.)

    Andrew Sullivan – The gruesome lynching of this Census worker seems to bear a disturbing similarity to some of the worst hate crimes committed across this country. Regardless of what the motive for the killing may have been, why would a murderer(s) take such pains to so blatantly convey anger, fear, and vitriol towards a Census employee? Perhaps because some on the right have created an impression that Census employees are terrifying.

    Earlier this summer, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) waged a high-profile, wildly-dishonest campaign against the Census.

    (Same as above – too funny.)

    ThinkProgress – Others, namely the type to kill a Census worker and string up his body as message to the government, may call it a retraining camp run by the “Feds.”

    This is the kind of violent event that emerges from a culture of paranoia and unsubstantiated attacks.

    (Same as above – this is hilarious.)

    Huffington Post – From this profile of the cancer survivor and volunteer, it appears suicide is unlikely. We’ll find out. But at some point, unhinged hostility to the federal government, whipped up by the Becks, can become violence. That’s what Pelosi was worried about.

    (OMIGOD!!!)

    Andrew Sullivan – Send the body to Glenn Beck…Is it possible that the time has come for the FCC to consider exactly what constitutes screaming fire over the publicly owned airwaves? And what if Mr. Sparkman’s murderer(s) is never found? How many other lunatics will be emboldened to make their own anti-government statement as the voices of Beck, Limbaugh and Dobbs echo in their ears?

    Nobody ever intended our public airwaves to be turned over to irresponsible voices. Maybe the time has come for the FCC to worry a bit less about wardrobe malfunctions and a whole lot more about those who would use our airwaves to make a name for themselves at the expense of the public they are suppose to serve–particularly when the expense comes in the form of blood.

    (A perfect five for five here, people! NONE of the excerpts shown above link back to the original posts. And I searched on keywords that Reason excerpted above – “violence,” “hostility,” “Beck,” “Pelosi,” “paranoia,” like that – and found nothing that matched.)

    Speaking for myself, I had this to say at the time, alleging that a teabagger or two might have gone too far, but I didn’t accuse anyone in particular.

    And such whining about being accused falsely is funny coming from the bunch whose de facto ringleader (sorry Rush) told us the following here.

  • 3) And finally, the ever-sanctimonious Cal Thomas had the following to say about the dustup between Dem U.S. House Rep Patrick Kennedy and Providence Bishop Thomas Tobin here (and once more, kudos to Patrick Murphy for defending Kennedy – had a link to a Chicago Tribune story that has mysteriously disappeared)…

    Catholic politicians have been trying to have it both ways for years, some even obeying that church’s teaching when it comes to capital punishment for convicted murderers but disobeying those teachings when it comes to “capital punishment” for the innocent unborn.

    No one is forced to join the Catholic Church and no one is forbidden to leave it. But if a Catholic politician wants the benefits of Roman Catholicism in his political life and the life to come, he should be expected to obey its most fundamental teachings.

    Strong stuff (and actually, as noted here, Thomas is exactly right about the Church’s position on capital punishment).

    But it’s a funny thing – this tells us the following…

    When the Supreme Court allowed capital punishment to proceed after earlier ruling it unconstitutional, it said, “the decision that capital punishment may be the appropriate sanction in extreme cases is an expression of the community’s belief that certain crimes are themselves so grievous an affront to humanity that the only adequate response may be the penalty of death.”

    Injustices and inequities can and should be repaired. But two brothers who beat a sleeping couple to death with baseball bats and a father who tortured his mute, severely retarded and handicapped stepdaughter for five years until she died (these were among the death-row inmates whose sentences were commuted by former Republican Governor George Ryan of Illinois) deserve to have their lives taken from them and not to be permanent “guests” of the state and a burden to taxpayers for the rest of their lives.

    Call me a filthy, unkempt liberal blogger, but if I didn’t know better, I’d say that that sounds like a defense of the death penalty. I wonder who could have written that?

    Why, it was none other than Cal Thomas, in 2003!

    What was that again about obeying the “most fundamental teachings” of the Catholic Church, Cal?

  • Update: And in a related story, as they say, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has officially lost its collective mind (here, its “heart” and basic sense of decency having long since departed as well).


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