The Rehabilitation of Jim Cawley?

January 16, 2015

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(Note: For a lot of reasons, my typical posting activity is going to be greatly constrained, but I hope to be able to post periodically on selected topics. We’ll see.)

This story (sourced from a recent edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer) tells us the following…

PHILADELPHIA, Jan., 13, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Jim Cawley has been named president and chief executive officer of United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey (UWGPSNJ), effective February 9. The announcement was made by Lon Greenberg, chairman, UGI Corporation/AmeriGas and chair of UWGPSNJ’s regional Board of Directors, following a six-month national search.

“The Board was determined to identify a leader who demonstrated a commitment to serving the community and carrying out our mission, and who possessed the ability to build relationships, engender trust in the community and generate results. We considered a wide cross section of candidates, and Jim was the clear choice,” says Greenberg. “He has spent the majority of his career in the service of others, both regionally and nationally, developing productive relationships and leading large groups of constituents to success. As lieutenant governor, he also has a unique understanding of how United Way’s Impact areas connect, and how strategic improvements in Education, Income and Health can lift the entire region.”

Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter endorsed the Board’s selection. “Jim Cawley is a great guy and a fantastic public servant. I truly enjoyed working with him when he was a County Commissioner in Bucks County, in part because he always displayed a regional perspective on issues. He understood that we are one Philadelphia region with one common future,” says Mayor Nutter. “As lieutenant governor, Jim Cawley was always available and always listened when my team and I needed to discuss issues related to legislation or economic development projects. He is a great friend to Philadelphia and the Commonwealth and he cares passionately. I know that he will do a terrific job in his new position at the helm of United Way.”

“A great guy”? “A fantastic public servant”? Did I miss a memo or something?

Gosh, that’s not the Jim Cawley I remember from his days as a Bucks County Commissioner.

To wit…

  • As noted here, Cawley once said that he was “far from somebody who is rooting for the (Democratic) economic stimulus package” here (of course, forget for a moment the myriad benefits of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act as noted in the post.
  • He also supported so-called “right to work” legislation here (should REALLY be called right not to be paid a living wage – first bullet; by the way, it turns out that Richard Yuengling Jr., head of the PA beer company, supports it also as noted here…a shame to have to give up that brand now since I enjoy it).
  • This includes a veritable potpourri of bad governing decisions here that you can file under the heading of lack of transparency (with the Bucks commissioners, including Cawley at that time, refusing to provide more information on hiring and firing decisions, a budget being constructed which supposedly held the line on tax increases with no feedback from the county commissioners, again including Cawley…oh, and the entire fiasco over moving the voting location from the Creekside Apartments in Bensalem, PA in an effort to hurt Democratic electoral turnout also happened while Cawley was a Bucks commissioner, let’s not forget).
  • And of course, it’s “full steam ahead, water-on-fire-be-damned” when it comes to Cawley and fracking as noted here (4th bullet).
  • In addition to the Creekside fiasco, this tells us how Cawley made sure that about $400 grand of taxpayer dough in Bucks went to a golf course (hardly economically stimulative as opposed to true shovel-ready projects); we also learn that Cawley helped to steer about $200 an hour in legal services to the Langhorne, PA firm of Begley, Carlin & Mandio (which had given $142,000 to county Republicans and commissioner campaigns in the past seven years), and on that same day that the firm received the award, six of the firm’s attorneys contributed $9,000 to the county GOP, according to an analysis by the Democrats (last bullet).
  • Also, here is a reminder that Cawley may have had a hand in the supposed “third-party” candidacy of one Jay Russell in his run for a post as Bucks County Commissioner (think Ralph Nader in Florida in 2000 – Russell worked at a hardware store and apparently had no political experience), as noted in the comments from here. That ordinarily would not be a big deal, but that year, Russell ended up siphoning off just enough votes to prevent Steve Santarsiero from being elected as a commissioner and giving the board a Democratic majority.
  • Oh, and by the way, I couldn’t find anything in the prnewswire story about Cawley’s compensation for his new non-profit job.

    All of this makes me take an even dimmer view of United Way than the one I already have (here) – probably a lot more worthwhile charities to donate to, especially with a toad like Cawley running the local branch of this outfit.


    Thursday Mashup (9/25/14)

    September 25, 2014
  • Might as well start with the defining issue of the moment – I give you the following from Irrational Spew Online (here)…

    Since he ordered military action in Libya in 2011, President Obama has argued as a matter of routine that Article II of the U.S. Constitution confers such considerable power upon the commander-in-chief that, in most instances at least, Congress’s role in foreign affairs is limited to that of advice bureau. The political ironies of this development are sufficiently rich to stand without much comment. (Imagine, if you will, trying to explain to an average voter in 2008 that by his second term the Democratic candidate for president would have adopted wholesale an interpretation of the Constitution that was championed by the likes of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and John Yoo.) Less obvious, however, is what this means for America and her future. The bottom line: It’s not good.

    (I can just see the perfectly-coiffed Charles Cooke arguing with his oh-so-genteel British accent on “Real Time” about how that nasty Barack Obama has suddenly turned into “Torture” Yoo. Nice try, wingnut.)

    In response, I give you the following (here)…

    To judge the legality of war against ISIS, the terrorist group that calls itself the Islamic State, we need to be clear about two issues. The first is whether the president can put troops in harm’s way on his own authority. While the Constitution vests in Congress the power to “declare war,” presidents have launched military attacks on their own for many decades. Obama used military force in Libya in 2011; Bill Clinton, in Serbia in 1999; George H.W. Bush, in Panama in 1989; and Ronald Reagan, in Grenada in 1983. In all these cases, and many more (including the Korean War), Congress did not give its consent.

    The White House has not relied on Article II to justify the war on ISIS. This theory is too closely associated with the Bush administration, which used it to justify surveillance and torture that violated statutes. The Obama administration instead pointed to the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force, which gives the president authority to act “against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons.” The administration has also cited the 2003 AUMF that authorized the president to go to war to “defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq,” then governed by Saddam Hussein.

    The White House’s defenders argue that the 2001 AUMF gives Obama the authority he needs to fight ISIS because, while ISIS broke from al-Qaida in 2012, it is nonetheless composed of former al-Qaida members (at least in part), who have (or so it is argued by the administration) continuously conducted and sought to conduct attacks against the United States and its citizens and interests.

    Is war with ISIS the right thing to do right now? I don’t have a clue. I’m just some filthy, unkempt liberal blogger, not the President of the United States (God forbid).

    And no, don’t start with this “Well, if this were Dubya, you’d be screaming your head off” business. As usual, Obama is left to clean up a mess which ultimately extends to Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History, for good or ill. When Obama starts a war of choice for no good reason and leaves it to his successor to clean up, then talk to me, OK?

    Besides, Congress, in its infinite cowardice, passed the hopelessly-open-ended Authorization to Use Military Force and doesn’t have the spine to try and do anything about that, particularly in an election year. Giving a chief executive that much power without a fixed target or duration is a recipe for bad news – Obama has the precedent, so why shouldn’t he use it if he thinks he has to?

    I know all of this stuff is evolving, and I guess I am too, but this is where I’m at on this issue, for better or worse.

  • Continuing with the “crazy” – Repug U.S. Sen. John Cornyn propagandizes as follows here

    Despite all the challenges facing our country, my colleagues in the majority continue to prioritize political stunts and show votes over serious legislating. Indeed, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. has allowed so few amendments that one of his fellow Senate Democrats recently told Politico, “I got more substance on the floor of the House in the minority than I have as a member of the Senate majority.”

    Actually, if Cornyn wants to blame anyone for alleged negligence in governance, he should look no further than his same-state, same-party counterpart (here)…

    WASHINGTON – In case you weren’t glued to C-Span2 for the last hour, here’s what you missed.

    The Senate voted 67-31 to quash a filibuster by Sen. Ted Cruz that would have blocked the Senate from lifting the federal debt ceiling. Cruz voted against cloture, naturally. But the top GOP leaders, fellow Texas Sen. John Cornyn and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, sided with Democrats to cut off the filibuster.

    The measure raising the federal credit line through March 2015 sailed through the House on Tuesday, after Speaker John Boehner decided that it would be better to let Democrats own it (only 28 Republicans voted aye) than to dig in, insist on budget concessions, and force a stalemate that would spook world markets and risk a default.

    Cruz announced the same day that he wouldn’t let the Senate raise the debt ceiling via a simple 51-vote majority. The filibuster threat pushed the threshold to 60.

    As GOP strategist John Feehery pointed out, Democrats control 55 votes, so without Cruz’s maneuver, they would have been fully responsible, politically, for raising the debt ceiling. Instead, Cruz put GOP leadership on the spot.

    Cornyn and McConnell – both facing tea party challengers for reelection – took the heat, and voted for cloture.

    Apparently, no senator wanted to be tarred as the one to put the vote over the top, though. At the end, a number of Republicans switched their votes simultaneously, giving political cover to each other and their party leaders. Among the switchers: Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake of Arizona and Orrin Hatch of Utah.

    The procedural vote was the key. The debt limit itself sailed through on a predictable party-line vote, 55-43.

    Everybody got that? Cornyn (who at the time was facing a Tea Party challenge from the otherwise laughable Steve Stockman) wanted to crow about how he’s supposedly holding the line on spending, but he and Sen. Mr. Elaine Chao also wanted the political cover to make that claim while, in reality, they (in a shocking moment of sensibility) actually voted to raise the debt ceiling.

    And Cornyn blames Harry Reid for not being “serious about solving the problems at hand”…

    Here are more “lowlights” of what Cornyn and fellow Repugs have wrought in the U.S. Senate…

  • They blocked a minimum wage hike here.
  • They obstructed on jobless benefits here.
  • They also obstructed on veterans’ benefits here.
  • They also killed Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s student loans bill (which would have actually reduced the deficit, bringing in $72 billion in new revenues by implementing the so-called Buffet Rule, an added surcharge tax on millionaires to ensure that they pay at least 30 percent of their income in taxes, as noted here).
  • Cornyn, in his column, also said that “our colleagues in the House of Representatives have sent over scores and scores of bills on job creation, taxes, health care, immigration, and other issues, only to have Senator Reid declare them dead on arrival.”

    Um, no – on the issue of job creation, Steve Benen tells us here that…

    …of the remaining 40 “jobs bills” on the list, very few can credibly be described as actual jobs bills.

    For example, the first 14 bills on the list of 40 – more than a third of the overall list – are giveaways to the oil and gas industries. The bills expand drilling, expand fracking, expand pipelines, expand mining, expands coal-ash projects, and “protect” coal plants. How many jobs would this collection of energy bills actually create? The heralded list from the Speaker’s office didn’t say, but the total would likely be pretty modest.

    Boehner can prove me wrong by getting an independent score on the collection of bills, but I have a hunch if all of these bills were combined into one package, they still wouldn’t produce as many jobs as extended unemployment benefits. Besides, the point of these bills is to help polluters, ExxonMobil, and energy companies. We can debate such efforts on the merits, but to consider every giveaway to Big Oil a “jobs bill” is hard to take seriously.

    OK, but that’s 14 out of 40. What about the rest of the list? Several of the “jobs bills” attack the Affordable Care Act, and there’s simply no evidence that taking health care benefits away from millions of American families will create jobs.

    The list of “jobs bills” includes the Farm Bill. The list of “jobs bills” includes Paul Ryan’s budget blueprint. The list of “jobs bills” includes a pointless measure intended to stop President Obama from allowing state experimentation with welfare reform.

    The list of “jobs bills” includes a measure to increase federal spending “transparency.” The list of “jobs bills” includes a framework on cybersecurity.

    I hate to break this to Speaker Boehner, but a lot of these measures aren’t what any sensible person would call a proper “jobs bill.” They may or may not have merit on their own, and they may or may not require some modicum of new hiring, but legitimate legislative efforts to create lots of jobs – such as the American Jobs Act, unveiled in 2011 and killed by congressional Republicans soon after – aim higher.

    Indeed, independent analysts determined the American Jobs Act would have created over 1 million U.S. jobs in just one year. Can the same be said for Boehner’s misleading list of 40? Common sense suggests otherwise, though we can’t say for sure since the Speaker’s office hasn’t sought an independent analysis.

    And by the way, who can forget Cornyn’s singularly rancid defense of the wretched Patriot Act here?

  • Next, it’s time for the latest adventures with Louisiana Repug Gov. Bobby (“Don’t Call Me Piyush”) Jindal here

    Like many liberals, President Obama believes in making energy less affordable, and more scarce, for the American people. That’s why, even as crude oil production has skyrocketed on private lands—rising 61% in just the last four years—it has fallen on publicly-owned property in the same time span. The administration is deliberately squandering the opportunities that affordable energy can bring by refusing to develop all the energy resources owned by the American people.

    This column is meant to publicize Jindal’s 47-page proposal on energy with the understated title of “Organizing Around Abundance: Making America an Energy Superpower.”

    As Meteor Blades of Daily Kos notes here

    …Jindal’s plan is pretty much the standard right-wing blueprint: a minor manifesto filled with the same ideas that the string-pullers in the fossil-fuel industry have been promoting for decades: support for more drilling (including fracking) of oil and gas, more digging of coal, chopping of environmental regulations, opening up more federal land to drillers and diggers, building more nuclear power plants, finishing the Keystone XL pipeline and ending the ban on exporting crude oil.

    There’s also a complaint about the “activist” Supreme Court majority, which ruled 5-4 in 2007 that the Environmental Protection Agency is obligated to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.

    The Jindal plan does offer some lip service to renewable energy. But mostly this section is just boilerplate about the rapid, no-longer-can-be-ignored growth of renewable installations. The rest of the section is an argument against the tax incentives designed to ramp up the generating of electricity from wind, solar, geothermal and hydro sources. Though hardly original, the governor proposes that the still toddling renewables industries compete on a “level playing field” with the mature fossil fuel industry. In other words, not level competition at all.

    Also, as noted here on the whole drilling on “publicly-owned property” thing, the feds have the right to own and drill on states’ lands, and any claim to revert back to the states wouldn’t stand up in court; besides, what we’re talking about basically here is more $$ for corporations vs. taxpayers, and 71 percent of those polled oppose it.

    Continuing (from Jindal)…

    If we develop our untapped energy resources, our nation could see a new burst of economic growth and prosperity. One study, noting the benefits of unconventional oil and gas exploration, found that this fracking revolution created 2.1 million jobs in 2012—and could create another 1.8 million jobs between now and 2025.

    In response (here)…

    A study commissioned by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s 21st Century Energy Institute says the extraction of “unconventional” shale oil and gas through horizontal hydraulic fracturing – or fracking – has meant a job boom even in states that don’t actually have shale deposits, with 1.7 million jobs already created and a total of 3.5 million projected by 2035.

    The study was released in two phases in October and December, and a third phase is forthcoming.
    Skeptics with environmental and citizens groups have questioned the numbers and also the benefits that these jobs actually provide to local communities. Many industry jobs are not filled by local residents, and a boom town effect, including escalating cost of living and other social problems, has been documented in places where an extraction industry rapidly arises.

    They also say the study doesn’t account for the economic impacts of possible environmental problems and copious water use, or impacts on other industries and quality of life.

    “We’re definitely seeing some local jobs – anyone with a CDL and a dump truck can get work hauling gravel or pipes or produced water,” said Paul Feezel, a resident of Carroll County, Ohio, the epicenter of the state’s fracking boom.

    “There’s definitely more money floating around in the community, people buying new cars and agricultural equipment,” he said. “I’m told churches are seeing higher donations because people are tithing part of their signing bonus. But when you see the rigs and even the welders on the pipeline jobs, the license plates are all out-of-state.”

    (More on fracking is coming up a bit later, by the way, including one increased “cost of living” measurement.)

    Jindal yet again (here)…

    Most importantly, our plan to promote energy abundance stands in direct contrast to the Obama administration’s tired policies of energy scarcity and sluggish growth.

    In response, I think the headline here says it all, and it isn’t necessarily something I support…even though parts of Florida are gorgeous, I think they would deserve any of the environmental ruin this might cause (that’s what you get when you either vote for Republicans or don’t even bother to vote, period).

  • Further, did you know that (here)…

    Over 90 percent of funding for a diesel reduction program paid for by the stimulus law was misspent, according to a report by the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Inspector General (OIG).

    An audit analyzing $26.3 million in funding to non-profit organizations and state governments meant to reduce truck emissions and create jobs found that the program had “significant financial management issues.”

    OMIGOD, it looks like that Kenyan Marxist Socialist in the White House is at it again!

    There’s just one problem, as noted here

    Only six projects out of the 160 so-called “Diesel Emission Reduction Act” stimulus projects awarded by the EPA were reviewed by the inspector general. The entire grant program cost taxpayers about $294 million, but the IG only looked at a $26 million share of it.

    You know, it’s pretty sad for Fix Noise that they need to be fact-checked by the formerly Moonie Times, but I guess that’s where we are all right.

    Why does this matter? Well, in part because of the following from March 2009 (here)…

    EPA March 20 announced the availability of $20 million under the stimulus law for its Clean Diesel Emerging Technologies Program, $156 million for the National Clean Diesel Funding Assistance Program, and $30 million for the agency’s SmartWay Clean Diesel Finance Program. Guidance documents for the programs now encourage applicants to quantitatively project annual GHG reductions in funding requests, along with traditional measures including cuts in nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds and fine particulate matter. In a press release, EPA said grantees will use the funding to implement projects that will cut thousands of tons of diesel emissions and “reduce premature deaths, asthma attacks and other respiratory ailments, lost work days, and many other health impacts every year.”

    More on the awards for the $20 million Clean Diesel refinance program can be found from here.

    Oh, and remember that Cornyn guy I mentioned earlier? Well, as it turns out, both he and former Repug Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison wrote two letters “asking for consideration of grants for clean diesel projects in San Antonio and Houston,” that came from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, even though each voted against the so-called “stimulus” twice (both the ARRA and the “stimulus” are the same thing, it should be pointed out), as noted here.

    Also, this tells us that about $1 million in stimulus funds were allocated for clean diesel projects in Ohio, this tells us that about $1.7 was allocated for clean diesel projects in South Dakota, this tells us about stimulus funds used for clean diesel projects in Connecticut, and this tells us about clean diesel projects underway in Michigan.

    So it looks like the administration of Number 44 is helping the states to make inroads on the issue of toxic emissions from vehicles contributing to the pollution affecting our climate. Too bad that Obama can’t do anything about pundit pollution too.

  • Continuing, it looks like someone named Casey Given at The Daily Tucker says that liberals are, in fact, anti-science after all because we oppose fracking for natural gas (here)…

    A study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is casting serious doubt on one of the environmental movement’s favorite talking points — namely, that fracking contaminates drinking water. The report, conducted by five professors from renowned universities such as Duke, Dartmouth, and Stanford, concluded that a number of water contaminations near fracking sites were most likely caused by well leaks — not fracking itself.

    Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” for short, is a well stimulation technique that has been standard practice in the energy industry for over sixty years. The way it works is drillers pump a mixture of mostly water onto rocks deep below the earth’s surface to release trapped oil and gas.

    To begin, if fracking is supposed to be so damn wonderful, how come former VP “Deadeye Dick” Cheney obtained an exemption for the practice from the Safe Water Drinking Act in 2005, as noted here – more here?

    But not to worry… Given says that, because it has been supposedly proven that well casings are the culprit for groundwater contamination, can we stop picking on fracking? In response, I believe the well casings have to be leaking something other than, say, air or untreated water, or else none of this would matter (sounds to me that, by that logic, if you’re still bleeding from a gunshot wound but you’re bandaged, it’s the bandage’s fault that you’re still bleeding instead of the bullet’s fault, if you will).

    I’ll tell you what, though; I’ll humor Given and grant him his point about fracking. Well then, what does he say about the study noted here, in which scientists tells us that injecting fracking wastewater underground is causing earthquakes?

    Given also tells us that the fracking is great because it means that, in North Dakota (for example), the minimum wage is about $15 an hour. What good does that do when the rent on a one-bedroom apartment goes for about $1K a month (here)?

  • Finally (and in what is becoming a regular feature here I guess), I give you the following from Kevin Williamson (here, on the subject of rape on college campuses)…

    The subject is a maddening one. President Obama repeated the endlessly reiterated but thoroughly debunked claim that one in five women will be sexually assaulted in her college years. The actual rate is sort of an interesting problem, the information being so inconsistent and contradictory that one almost suspects that it is so by design.

    Much of the scholarly literature estimates that the actual rate is more like a tenth of that one-in-five rate, 2.16 percent, or 21.6 per 1,000 to use the conventional formulation. But that number is problematic, too, as are most of the numbers related to sexual assault, as the National Institute of Justice, the DoJ’s research arm, documents. For example, two surveys conducted practically in tandem produced victimization rates of 0.16 percent and 1.7 percent, respectively – i.e., the latter estimate was eleven times the former. The NIJ blames defective wording on survey questions.

    As noted here, “the NIJ is notable among U.S. governmental research organizations because it is headed by a political appointee of the President rather than by a scientist or a member of the civil service.” To me, it’s more than a little off to rely on an NIJ study into this subject because I think it demands a scientific analysis.

    Fortunately, a scientific analysis was conducted into this subject by the CDC. And that is where the “one in five” number came from, as noted here (more is here).

    We also learn the following from the CDC link…

    Rape, and other forms of sexual violence, is preventable. Recognizing this, Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act in 1994. This landmark legislation established the Rape Prevention and Education (RPE) program at CDC. The goal of the RPE program is to strengthen sexual violence prevention efforts at the local, state, and national level. It operates in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and six U.S. territories.

    And concerning the VAWA, I think the following should be noted from here

    …with Ray Rice in the news and the anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) upon us, it’s worth taking a minute to think about the connection between our everyday lives and what Congress can, and should, do to improve them.

    VAWA protects women from domestic violence. Period. It gives prosecutors stronger tools to crack down on domestic abuse and expands victims’ services for women. Since it became law two decades ago, VAWA has impacted the lives of millions of women and children around the country. It has protected women from abuse, provided support for women and children to escape violent situations, and improved the ability of law enforcement to handle this complicated issue. It has made a real difference.

    Which is why it mattered that House Republicans blocked VAWA reauthorization for 500 days. It mattered that House Republicans refused to strengthen the law and voted down an additional $4 million that would have bolstered prevention and prosecution programs.

    And it matters that Republican candidates like Representative Steve Southerland (FL-02) are now claiming to support VAWA in their re-election campaigns even though they voted against it in Congress.

    It matters to the women who need these protections. It matters to the women who call the National Domestic Violence Hotline for help, which saw an 84 percent increase in calls after the Ray Rice incident hit the news (and which is, by the way, funded partially by VAWA).

    Of course, now that he’s running for re-election, Sen. Mr. Elaine Chao (here) is distancing himself from VAWA opposition any way possible (one way to respond is to click here).

    To me, both the CDC study and the issue of renewal of the VAWA is part of a larger mosaic, if you will, having to do with enlightened gender relations and mutual respect (I haven’t had a lot to say on this, aside from pointing out the absurdity of Janay Rice being more mad at the media on this than she is at her husband, and I’m not trying to criticize her by saying that, because I don’t think I have much of a right to pontificate). If we did a better job of accomplishing those two objectives, then there would be no need to quantify and study all the many ways that we fall short.

    And as noted from here, we still have a long way to go.

    Update 9/26/14: Well, it looks like the proverbial stopped clock was right one of two times here (h/t Atrios).

    Update 9/30/14: Update 9/30/14: Why do I have a feeling that Williamson is going to go the way of Robert Weissberg and John Derbyshire based on garbage like this?


  • Thursday Mashup (8/8/13)

    August 8, 2013

    rbby_92

  • Gosh, it looks like RNC Chair Reince Priebus has his proverbial shorts in a knot here, all right…

    The Republican National Committee is threatening not to partner with NBC and CNN on future presidential debates unless they halt production of recently announced programs about Hillary Clinton, according to letters RNC Chairman Reince Priebus sent to network heads.

    NBC announced in July that the network would air a four-hour miniseries about the former first lady called “Hillary,” and CNN Films is producing a documentary about her as well.

    In letters addressed to NBC Chairman Robert Greenblatt and CNN President Jeff Zucker on Aug. 5, Priebus warned that RNC members intend to vote on a resolution at their party-wide meeting later this month to shut out the networks from partnering with the party on Republican primary debates if they do not cancel the programs.

    “Out of a sense of fairness and decency and in the interest of the political process and your company’s reputation, I call on you to cancel this political ad masquerading as an unbiased production,” Priebus wrote. “If you have not agreed to pull this programming prior to the start of the RNC’s Summer Meeting on August 14, I will seek a binding vote of the RNC stating that the committee will neither partner with you in 2016 primary debates nor sanction primary debates which you sponsor.”

    Somehow I don’t think Priebus knows the meanings of the words “fairness” and “decency,” but that’s a secondary point (and I actually hope the two networks tell him where to go – I realize the ad revenue rules their world and they don’t want to miss out, but all of those debates should be run by the League of Women Voters anyway).

    But to refresh Priebus’s memory in the “political ad masquerading as an unbiased production” department, here and here are prior posts from 2006 concerning the “Path to 9/11” non-documentary that aired on the Disney/ABC/RNC network, full of all kinds of questionable assertions about that dreaded day that (surprise, surprise!) aired two months before the 2006 midterm elections (fortunately, based on the electoral outcome, the strategy backfired).

    And I thought the following was interesting (from here)…

    …I also wonder if Priebus might have motivations of his own for getting some RNC debates off networks. Given that the Republican Party seems no closer than it was in 2012 to reaching a decisive break between its radical and moderate wings, if I were Priebus, I might want to keep that debate between them as far away from mass audiences as possible. Given how far moderate Republicans like Mitt Romney have had to run to the right during their primary campaigns, one of the things that debates do is generate a vast trove of high-quality clips of things that the eventual nominee will eventually have to try to explain away in a shortened general election season. If I were Priebus, I’d want as few of those debates as possible, and I’d want them to happen further from the public eye so my eventual candidate has less baggage that can eventually be hung around her or his neck.

    So we’ll see if our corporate media goes weak in the knees when confronted with the “Ooga Booga! Li-Bu-Ruul Bias!” charge once again (though, based on this, I think the GOP needs a dose of “physician, heal thyself” if they’re so concerned with women voters, among other demographics that they’re losing badly).

    On a related note, I have to tell you that this is a real head-scratcher as far as I’m concerned (h/t Atrios). Normally I definitely side up with David Brock and Media Matters, and I’m sure the NBC miniseries will be nothing but trash TV (and I don’t know how CNN can say they’ll create a “documentary” on HRC without involvement of the news division), but rightly or wrongly, here is where I come down on this.

    First, this furor assumes that cable TV will hold sway over the outcome of the 2016 presidential election (assuming Hillary runs – wink, wink), and to be honest, I don’t know how you can say that. No, I don’t have viewing demographic numbers in front of me at the moment, but I think the very fact that the two cables in question are even contemplating these productions gives you an idea of how hard-up they are ratings-wise (relative to Fox, of course, which is a whole other discussion). And I want to emphasize that I’m talking about holding sway over the general election; from what I read last year, the ratings for the 2,347,618 Republican primary debates actually weren’t bad – if Priebus and Brock have leverage here, this is it (i.e., CNN and NBC wouldn’t want to lose out).

    Second, can you really honestly say that there are that many people without an opinion on the Clintons one way or the other at this point (people likely to be swayed by these two productions, which I’m sure will be heavy on the “entertainment” and very light on the facts and historical context)? So basically, I don’t care if CNN and NBC go ahead with these productions; I have a feeling that there will be salacious stuff with no basis in reality (I can see it now…the closet door of the darkened room pops open while Bill and Gennifer Flowers are engaged in carnal acts, and Hillary, holding a gun, shoots Vince Foster, who was trying to talk Bill out of it…fade to black), but there will probably also be complimentary stuff too. As I said earlier, my beef with Priebus is that he’s alleging preferential treatment from the networks, when he definitely benefitted from some of that in the “Path to 9/11” mess.

    A final observation: how big of a dope is Reince Priebus anyway to end up doing something that ends up playing into the hands of David Brock and Media Matters (and as noted here, just when I was about to post this, Priebus said something else that would qualify as “gobsmacked,” I guess – what a maroon).

    (Last but not least, I think this is full of great observations from kos).

    Update 8/9/13: And I would say that this sums up most of what I’ve been saying for the last eight years or so.

  • Next, I give you the following pro-fracking commercial that recently appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer (here)…

    The Marcellus Shale formation – the second-largest natural-gas field in the world – has been a blessing for Pennsylvania’s workers and our economy.

    Almost a quarter-million people in Pennsylvania work to produce natural gas from the Marcellus Shale or in related industries. Thanks to the growth of hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, the Marcellus has been responsible for more than 150,000 new hires in the past three years – almost three-quarters of them state residents. The average salary in core fracking industries is more than $90,000 a year. In 2010 alone, oil and gas development utilizing fracking contributed more than $11 billion to Pennsylvania’s economy.

    Fracking is safe and environmentally friendly. In Pennsylvania, more than a dozen state and federal regulatory agencies oversee all aspects of fracking, from well development to pipeline construction. Properly constructed wells leave a very small environmental imprint, and about 99.5 percent of the solution used to free natural gas from shale formations is just water and sand.

    Pennsylvania leads the country in developing safe, effective fracking technologies and policies – and other states are starting to follow suit.

    If fracking is so “safe” and “environmentally friendly,” then how come the fracking companies, after paying out large settlements to people whose properties have been ruined by fracking, make those folks sign gag orders, extending not just to the parents, but to their kids also, as noted here? (An update is here.) Or, as noted from here, “these gag orders are the reason [drillers] can give testimony to Congress and say there are no documented cases of contamination,” said Earthworks organizer Sharon Wilson.

    And as noted from here, Pennsylvania is 33rd in the nation in employment; that’s OK, but nothing to brag about as far as I’m concerned.


    The writer of this column, Kevin Colosimo, serves as a managing partner at Burleson LLP in Pittsburgh, and is a trustee at large for the Energy and Mineral Law Foundation in Kentucky (I sincerely hope that he is based in Pittsburgh and not Kentucky, since the former is smack in the middle of the Marcellus Shale but the latter isn’t, as you can see from the gray area in the map above – it would be pretty low down for him to be praising something that has no chance of blowing up in his face, an expression you can actually take literally when talking about fracking).

  • Continuing, It’s time to find out what our wet noodle PA-08 rep is up to (from his web site here)…

    WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick (PA-8) ignited a bipartisan push Thursday (8/1) with Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17) to ensure our nation’s veterans play a critical role in rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure with the introduction of the Fairness to Veterans for Infrastructure Investment Act.

    “Our fighting men and women are the most highly skilled workforce in history,” said Fitzpatrick, “We must leverage their unprecedented skills to get our economy moving once again.”

    “Rebuilding our nation’s transportation infrastructure is one of my top priorities and is absolutely essential to growing our economy and creating jobs,” said Bustos, “The brave veterans who served us so honorably deserve our full support and that starts with making sure they have good-paying jobs here at home.”

    “With the unemployment rate for returning veterans remaining far too high, it is common sense that they should have access to the contracting preferences available for transportation projects,” Bustos continued.

    This is more distracting feel-good pabulum that is yet another feint to burnish Mikey’s alleged “moderate” bona fides while his utterly lunatic U.S. House “leadership” fiddles as our country burns.

    And that is because, as noted here, Dem U.S. House Rep Rosa DeLauro introduced the National Infrastructure Development Bank Act of 2013 on June 27th, but no vote was scheduled (there was no other activity of any kind, apparently). On top of that, the Water Infrastructure Resiliency Act was introduced by Dem U.S. House Rep Lois Capps on February 15th here (same story).

    “Oh, there you go again, telling us that it’s only the Dems who are doing the right thing. How typical!”

    Well, guess what? As noted here, Republican U.S. House Rep Tom Marino of PA also introduced the Energy Infrastructure Improvement Act, and that is currently in the same limbo as the other two bills (the people who have signed on as cosponsors automatically makes me suspicious about the bill’s intent, but it is no less worthy of a vote than the other two). So the utter, craven failure of the House Speaker and Majority Leader cuts both ways.

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

    Mikey and Cheri Bustos can introduce all of the bills giving the military preference on infrastructure jobs that they want (which is fine by me and commendable, actually), but it won’t matter if there’s no infrastructure funding forthcoming from this wretched Congress.

    Besides, on the subject of the military, I never found out why Mikey voted against a combat pay increase (here) or a guarantee to pay our military in the event of a government shut down (here).

    With all this in mind, if you really want to do right by someone from our military, click here.

    Update 8/16/13: And it looks like Mikey wants to ultimately phase out credits for wind here, which, as far as I’m concerned, is a dumb idea (would the cost savings make that much of a difference?). Wonder if he’d dare do the same thing for Big Oil, as noted here? Do I even need to ask (seeing as he once voted to cut funding of clean energy here)?

  • Further, it’s time to bring “teh stupid” with Fix Noise here

    Vague terrorist threats shutting down nineteen of our embassies, Russian strongman Putin thumbing his nose at President Obama, Iran jerking our chain – the U.S. hasn’t looked this cowardly on the world stage since the Jimmy Carter administration.

    Here at home, too, we’ve gone back to the Carter future; unemployment is high, Keynesian economics are all the rage, our professorial president is increasingly whiny and ineffectual; all that’s missing is a cardigan sweater and that infernal violin.

    I know you know what’s coming – wait for it anyway (and here is food for thought on the whole “Keynesian” stuff)…

    President George W. Bush is widely scorned these days for attempting to export democracy to the peoples of other lands; Mr. Obama, like Carter before him, has sought kindness and justice from the likes of Hugo Chavez and Bashar-Al-Assad. Which is more naïve?

    Naivete is costly. Both the Carter and Obama administrations have been distinguished by the rare murder of an ambassador.

    So was the administration of Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History; this tells us that U.S. Ambassador David Foy was murdered in Pakistan in 2006 (and if you want to real the real story of what happened under Number 43 on this score, click here).

    This Liz Peek person also tells us that Carter didn’t win an agreement on Pershing missiles in Europe to counter the Soviet SS-20 missiles; in response, the following should be noted from here

    (In 1979) Presidents Carter and Brezhnev (sic – Brezhnev was the Soviet Premier) sign SALT II treaty, setting ceiling of 2,400 strategic missiles and bombers on each side, to be reduced to 2,250 by 1981. After Soviets in- vade Afghanistan, US withdraws SALT II from Senate, but both governments say they will abide by provisions. In December NATO decides to deploy 572 US Pershing II and cruise missiles in Europe starting in late 1983 to counter threat from Soviet SS-20s targeted on European cities.

    And here is another choice item from Peek…

    Who today believes that ObamaCare is the best possible answer to reining in the cost of healthcare?

    I do, for one, based on this (#1 just for starters).

    Lather, rinse, repeat (sigh).

  • RS_Media_Friendly_0802

  • Finally, I have to tell you that I’ve been quietly fuming for the last week or so about this pic from The Philadelphia Inquirer over the Rolling Stone story on Dzhokhar Tsarnev and his brother and their alleged involvement in the Boston Marathon bombing (sticking with terrorism).

    Yes, I get the fact that Tsarnev the younger was photographed with a background that would normally be reserved for a rock star that is popular at the moment. However, the cover makes it clear that the magazine quite rightly considers him to be a “monster” (how that constitutes “too friendly” for the tastes of the Inquirer is something I cannot fathom).

    Also I wonder how many of the people who screamed about the magazine’s cover actually took the time to read the story by Janet Reitman? Like just about everything else I’ve ever read in Rolling Stone, it was thoroughly researched and written very well. The story takes you inside the life of this kid, including his family, friends, and lifestyle (I was surprised by how plentiful pot apparently is on college campuses, if the Cambridge area is any indication – I didn’t know parts of the first “Harold and Kumar” movie were a documentary; yes, I’ve been out of that loop for a long time). In addition, while I respect the fact that Tsarnev and his family faced great financial difficulty, I cannot imagine how two parents could emigrate back to Russia two years ago (though they were separated for a time) and leave their four kids at the mercy of whatever fate befell them in this country, including Dzhokhar, his older brother (who really did call the shots) and his two sisters, who ended up in arranged marriages and apparently disappeared (and yes, I know this is partly a cultural issue, but as far as I’m concerned, that’s no excuse on the part of the parents).

    It’s hard to say what exactly led to the Tsarnev Brothers’ murderous and terroristic behavior – whether or not their impulse for violence existed all along, how much of their radicalism was fostered by the disintegration of their family and older brother Tamerlan’s burning desire for jihad (Tamerlan was a Golden Gloves boxer), et cetera. But this to me is a hallmark of good reporting; the story makes you think about it enough to try and connect those dots on your own.

    Does the story make me feel sorry for either of the Tsarnevs? Hell no! The older brother got what he deserved as far as I’m concerned, and at a minimum, I hope the younger one rots in prison (the story tells us that Dhzokhar apparently had a pretty casual attitude while the carnage went on and the manhunt ended up shutting down the city of Boston – let’s give him the rest of his life to think about his behavior, unless he ends up getting a date with a needle).

    It’s easy to bash Rolling Stone as some kind of a nutty, left-wing-hippie publication. That of course is utterly wrong (and I thought the paper has done a good job trying to defuse the cover controversy). It’s obviously a lot harder to give it credit for crafting exemplary journalism. What a pity.

    Update: And I guess it would be a good idea to link to the Rolling Stone piece too, wouldn’t it (here).


  • More Mikey Energy Idiocy And Fracking Fairy Tales

    July 11, 2013


    I’m going to be behind with stuff for a little while yet, but I absolutely couldn’t ignore the latest nonsense from our wet noodle PA-08 U.S. House rep from last July 4th (here)…

    By matching American ingenuity and enthusiasm to resources, North America could be energy-independent within the next decade.

    We are well on our way. Energy production in the United States is booming. Much of this growth stems from new and innovative ways to extract oil and gas from once hard-to-reach deposits in North America, including the Marcellus Shale areas of Pennsylvania. By harnessing our resources through environmentally safe yet efficient means, it is likely that the United States will become the top oil manufacturer in the world, overtaking Saudi Arabia – a profound shift in the energy universe.

    Everything Mikey says is validated from here – shocking for him to demonstrate this degree of accuracy (it gets better, though; besides, given the fact that this country is a safer energy bet than the Middle East, it kind of makes me wonder why the political party of Mikey’s affiliation supported Dubya’s Not So Excellent Adventure in Iraq, though I know that’s oil leaking under the barge, as they say).

    Continuing…

    By combining our natural gas, oil, clean coal, nuclear, and sustainable resources as part of a diverse energy portfolio, we can position America as an international leader in energy innovation, in economic power, and in prosperity and freedom for our people, our businesses, and our nation.

    First, anytime anyone uses the phrase “clean coal” in a discussion concerning energy, rest assured that they’re full of “bullpuckey,” as Rachel Maddow might say. Second, it’s nice for Mikey to talk about “renewable” energy, but the problem is that the moronic “leadership” of his party in the House just tried to scrap renewable energy and energy efficiency programs that cost less than $1 billion (here).

    Continuing…

    In order to reap the benefits of energy independence, I will continue to support the Keystone XL pipeline, the responsible development of shale gas and drilling – on and off shore – and sound investments in renewable energy.

    As stated, Mikey, maybe you support those “sound investments,” but your party certainly doesn’t.

    I call on President Obama and my fellow lawmakers to remove unnecessary, burdensome restrictions on the energy sector, pass more pro-energy legislation, and find ways to work with, not against, energy producers.

    Oh, and about those supposedly pesky environmental regs, let it be known that Mikey supported the following (noted here):

  • The TRAIN Act, which would have created a special committee to oversee the EPA’s rules and regulations and required the agency (For the first time in its history) to consider economic impacts on polluters when it sets standards concerning how much air pollution is too much (with “not your father’s Repug Party” putting profits over people’s health and well-being yet again – here)
  • The REINS Act, which, as noted here, would have mandated that any new regulation that is deemed to be a “major regulation” (having an impact of $100,000,000 or more) must be approved by both the House and the Senate (and not only that, it must happen within 70 days of being submitted to Congress…which begs the question – aside from the likely unconstitutionality of allowing the legislative branch for basically usurp a function of the executive, when what the last time this congress did anything in 70 days?)
  • The Upton-Inhofe bill (from U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee Head Fred Upton and Legendary Climate Change Denier Jim Inhofe in the Senate) that would have eliminated the EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions (dubbed by House Dem Gerry Connolly as the Koch Brothers Appreciation Act – here).
  • And concerning the Keystone XL pipeline, as noted from here, “The only thing beyond any doubt is that KXL would be far more destructive to the climate than the State Department has let on, a key reason why both the EPA and major environmental groups have asked State to redo its environmental impact statement.” And this is because, as Think Progress points out, “Tar sands are considerably more energy intensive to extract and refine than typical crude oil.”

    And as far as this country supposedly “fracking” its way to energy self-sufficiency, I give you the following from here

    “Energy independence.” “Family-sustaining jobs.” “Transition to renewable energy.” – These have been the promises made to residents in shale states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, Maryland, and West Virginia since the ‘fracking boom’ came to the northeastern United States several years ago.

    But as time passes, the glimmer of these promises has faded into a starker reality – the jobs are fewer and far more dangerous than imagined – government and industry are gearing up to ship our domestic shale gas supplies overseas – foreign countries like China are buying out large shale lease holdings on American soil – property values are diminished for leased landowners and their neighbors – and in places like the (PA) Laurel Highlands, industrial development threatens the tourism and recreation industries that already provide sustainable economies.

    Also…

    On Thursday, July 11th, MWA’s Marcellus Citizen Stewardship Project is coordinating visits to State Senators offices in Westmoreland and Fayette Counties as part of a statewide effort to support a moratorium, called “Independence from Fracking.”

    (Sorry I couldn’t get the word out on this before today…)

    It’s not surprising in the least for Mikey to be an utterly craven shill of the energy industry, though, considering that, as noted here, he not only voted against funding renewable energy, but also…

  • Voted to fundamentally rewrite our national mining policy by ending a decade-long congressional ban on the sale of public lands to mining companies
  • Voted against requiring federal agencies to identify the environmental impacts of their programs on minority and low-income populations and to develop policies for implementing their programs in a nondiscriminatory manner
  • Voted to cut discretionary spending on the environment and natural resources by $2.85 billion, more than 9 percent below the previous year’s levels…among the hardest hit are the Land and Water Conservation Fund, as well as programs to invest in clean water infrastructure, protect oceans and coasts, and conserve agricultural lands
  • Voted to waive any federal or state law in building roads, walls, fences and other barriers along U.S. borders. In addition to jeopardizing a wide array of protected federal lands, the waiver provision would deny citizens the right to appeal
  • Mikey likes to talk about “taking risks” here, when in fact, the only “risk taking” that matters is to stand in the way of our headlong rush into fracking for natural gas, which pose a very real threat to the sustainable economies mentioned earlier (and to learn more about all of this, click here to read about “Gasland 2,” the sequel to filmmaker Josh Fox’s landmark documentary on this subject).

    Update: Oh, and did you hear the one about how Mikey the Beloved and his pals voted to cut food stamp funding by separating it from the farm bill?

    Unfortunately, it’s no joke, though he is (and they are – here – Update 7/12/13…And to do something about it, click here).


    Friday Mashup (10/5/12)

    October 5, 2012
  • Let’s begin with Fix Noise here, concerning an anti-fracking film by actor and activist Matt Damon…

    Things aren’t panning out the way the left wanted. In the small Pennsylvania town of Dimock, anti-fracking activists claimed the drilling had harmed the water supply. “[W]hile “Promised Land” was in production, the story of Dimock [Pa.] collapsed. The state investigated and its scientists found nothing wrong . So the 11 families insisted EPA scientists investigate. They did — and much to the dismay of the environmental movement found the water was not contaminated ,” (documentary filmmaker Phelim McAleer) explained.

    Oh, and by the way, more on “filmmaker” McAleer is here (I wonder if Leni Riefensthal was his role model?).

    And as far as “the state investigated and found nothing wrong,” the PA State DEP report (linked to Fox) tells us the following…

    DEP has been actively investigating stray gas in Dimock since January when a resident reported an explosion in an outside well pit. Samples of private wells were taken from approximately 24 homes to check for dissolved methane. Nine wells were found to be impacted, with methane in four of those wells at levels that could pose a threat of explosion in enclosed areas of the home.

    DEP cited these water wells in its request to Cabot Oil and Gas Co. for an ongoing alternative water supply and proper venting for as long as the methane readings remain at elevated levels. Cabot is providing those homes with alternative water supplies and is monitoring natural gas levels.

    To date, no indoor vapor problems have been encountered. Additionally, the company has installed a treatment system at another home where the department concluded the water supply was impacted by drilling activities.

    DEP is inspecting existing wells in the area and monitoring new drilling activity. The department continues to schedule residential visits to take water samples and monitor for gas.

    And as far as “the water was not contaminated,” the EPA report (also linked to Fox) tells us the following……

    EPA visited Dimock, Pa. in late 2011, surveyed residents regarding their private wells and reviewed hundreds of pages of drinking water data supplied to the agency by Dimock residents, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and Cabot. Because data for some homes showed elevated contaminant levels and several residents expressed concern about their drinking water, EPA determined that well sampling was necessary to gather additional data and evaluate whether residents had access to safe drinking water.

    Between January and June 2012, EPA sampled private drinking water wells serving 64 homes, including two rounds of sampling at four wells where EPA was delivering temporary water supplies as a precautionary step in response to prior data indicating the well water contained levels of contaminants that pose a health concern. At one of those wells EPA did find an elevated level of manganese in untreated well water. The two residences serviced by the well each have water treatment systems that can reduce manganese to levels that do not present a health concern.

    As a result of the two rounds of sampling at these four wells, EPA has determined that it is no longer necessary to provide residents with alternative water. EPA is working with residents on the schedule to disconnect the alternate water sources provided by EPA.

    Overall during the sampling in Dimock, EPA found hazardous substances, specifically arsenic, barium or manganese, all of which are also naturally occurring substances, in well water at five homes at levels that could present a health concern. In all cases the residents have now or will have their own treatment systems that can reduce concentrations of those hazardous substances to acceptable levels at the tap.

    Kind of tells you what Fix Noise thinks of its audience; namely, that its readers are too lazy to go to the trouble of reading legitimate content linked to its own propaganda.

    Oh, and speaking of “Foxy Time,” they’re taking Obama aid Stephanie Cutter to task for supposedly lying about Willard Mitt Romney’s promised $5 trillion tax cut here.

    In response, Forbes tells us the following here

    Previously, Governor Romney has said that his tax plan would cut all individual income tax rates by 20%, eliminate the AMT, eliminate the estate tax, and eliminate taxes on investment income for low- and middle-income taxpayers. He would also extend all of the Bush-era tax cuts that are scheduled to expire at the end of 2012.

    Those tax cuts would reduce federal revenues by $480 billion in 2015 over and above the cost of extending the Bush tax cuts. Allow for some growth in income, and the total comes to over $5 trillion over ten years.


    And since we’re talking about Fix Noise, I thought it appropriate to include this comment to their “story” (which not only wasn’t censored, but actually received one “like,” last I checked).

  • Next, it looks like Sen. Mr. Elaine Chao is in high dudgeon again over something from that Kenyan Socialist Marxist Wealth Redistributor (here)…

    Senate Republicans joined a lawsuit on Wednesday (9/26) that opposes controversial recess appointments President Obama made to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) earlier this year.

    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he and 41 other GOP senators are filing an amicus brief to show that Obama acted outside the Constitution when he appointed three members to the labor board in January.

    “The president’s decision to circumvent the American people by installing his appointees at a powerful federal agency while the Senate was continuing to hold sessions, and without obtaining the advice and consent of the Senate, is an unprecedented power grab,” McConnell said in a statement. “We will demonstrate to the court how the president’s unconstitutional actions fundamentally endanger the Congress’s role in providing a check on the excesses of the executive branch.”

    Cue the scary-sounding incidental music – in response, I give you this from last December…

    The Obama Administration, expecting that we’re in an age where the normal rules of politics apply and not an age of nullification, nominated two labor officials for open slots on the National Labor Relations Board. That board will see previous recess appointments expire at the end of the year, leaving it without a quorum and unable to function. The two appointees would fill the Democratic spots on the board.

    Obama picked Sharon Block, a deputy assistant secretary for congressional affairs at the Department of Labor and Richard Griffin, general counsel for the International Union of Operating Engineers, to join the panel […]

    Given recent criticism of the NLRB by prominent Republicans as well as recent successful efforts to block nominees for administration posts, confirmation of the NLRB nominees is not assured.

    Senate Democrats began urging Obama to make a recess appointment of former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray to run the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau after Republicans blocked his nomination last week.

    On Monday, Senate Republicans also blocked Obama’s nomination for U.S. ambassador to El Salvador as well. In response, the White House said the GOPer’s obstruction of the nomination was motivated by partisanship.

    And by the way, more on McConnell’s obstruction is here (which gives me an excuse to put up this pic again).

  • Further, it looks like one of the “winners” from the Willard Mitt Romney/Number 44 debate the other night was none other than Big Bird of Sesame Street (another reason why I don’t watch that nonsense…the debates I mean – with Romney’s actions probably motivated by this too, I’m sure).

    With that in mind, I thought I’d present this (and I know the numbers on the debate are still coming in, and Willard Mitt at least consolidated support among the Repugs, but someone’s going to have to prove to me that he’ll win over more independent voters with crap like this).

    Anyway, even mentioning this at all is just an excuse to link back to this hilarious pic.

  • Finally, this tells us that one of the Senators-From-What-Used-To-Be-MBNA is concerned about more dimwitted partisan political nonsense from the U.S. House Repug “leadership” concerning the post office…

    Imagine this scenario: An American business with a workforce the size of Wal-Mart defaulted on a $5.5 billion payment to its creditors in August, and defaulted again last weekend. On top of that, the company is losing $25 million a day. Nightmare? Sadly, it’s the hard reality facing an institution that has been a critical part of our nation’s fabric for more than 200 years — the United States Postal Service.

    The Postal Service faces serious challenges due to the recent economic slowdown, online competition, and congressional inaction. Unless Congress acts to help fix the problems, the universal mail service that Americans rely on – a service that supports a $1 trillion mailing industry and some 8 million jobs – will be in jeopardy.

    Five months ago, the Senate passed a bipartisan, comprehensive bill – the 21st Century Postal Service Act – to prevent these historic defaults by right-sizing, modernizing, and reforming the Postal Service. It wasn’t easy, and the Senate bill isn’t perfect, but most Senators recognized that we have to act now to save such a critical part of our economy and a key engine of our ongoing recovery. The bill passed by a vote of 62 to 37.

    In contrast, Republicans pushed through the House Oversight Committee their version of a postal reform bill on a strictly party-line vote nearly one year ago. House action stopped there, however, and the bill has languished ever since. Despite claims that they have enough votes to pass their bill, Republican leaders have refused to bring it to the House floor for a vote, forcing the Postal Service to default for the first time in its history.

    Carper sounds like he’s taking the lead on this mess a bit, which is commendable. However, John Nichols of The Nation (who I’d trust over Carper any day of the week) believes that Carper is culpable in his own right here

    (The) “21st Century Postal Service Act,” a supposed compromise now being weighed by the Senate (supported by Carper, Susan Collins, “Cherokee Scott” Brown and Oh-Mah-Gawd-Isn’t-He-Freaking-Gone-Yet Holy Joe Lieberman), would still force the postal service to close hundreds of mail processing centers, shut thousands of post offices, cause massive delays in mail delivery and push consumers toward most expensive private-sector services. It is, says National Association of Letter Carriers President Fredric Rolando, “a classic case of ‘killing the Post-Office in order to save it.’ ”

    Their rationale for making the bloodletting, much discussed in the media, holds that radical surgery is necessary because the postal service is in financial crisis.

    The postal service, we are told, is broke.

    There’s only one problem with this diagnosis.

    It’s wrong.

    The postal service is not broke.

    At the behest of the Republican-controlled Congress of the Bush-Cheney era, the USPS has been forced since 2006 to pre-fund future retiree health benefits. As the American Postal Workers Union notes, “This mandate is the primary cause of the agency’s financial crisis. No other government agency or private company bears this burden, which costs the USPS approximately $5.5 billion annually.”

    Actually, Bloomberg pegs that number even higher here

    Until 2006, the USPS handled its retiree health benefits on a “pay as you go” basis. They weren’t pre-funded; the service simply paid retirees’ health bills as they arose, reporting only those expenses. Because the cost of actually providing health care to retirees in a given year is less than the value of benefits current workers are accruing, that meant the post office was understating the cost of retiree health care.

    Then in 2006, Congress forced the post office to start prefunding its benefits for retiree health care on a schedule designed to reach full funding in 10 years. Now, the Postal Service is supposed to put about $8 billion a year toward retiree health care.

    And of course, “Man Tan” Boehner, that sleazy weasel Eric Cantor and Mikey The Beloved don’t plan to do a thing about any of this until the post office can no longer deliver our mail, and probably beyond that point too.

    What a shame that we can’t write “Return to Sender” on an envelope and send this wretched U.S. House back to some unknown destination instead.

    And with postage due.


  • No “Fracking” Way Our Water Should Be Unsafe

    October 13, 2010

    The latest from Democracy for America…

    I know we’re all focused on these crucial upcoming elections but I had to share this with you. Over the next several years, between 30,000 and 50,000 new natural gas wells will be drilled across Pennsylvania using the dangerous technology known as “hydrofracking.” Democracy for America and our members throughout the state are saying enough is enough, its time to take serious action.

    Join DFA members from across the state at “Building a Stronger Movement: Statewide Conference on Marcellus Shale” coordinated by Penn Action and Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania.

    The conference will be addressing what you can do in your community to protect your environment and the drinking water supplied to Pennsylvania working families from the dangerous effects of hydraulic fracturing. We need you there!

    Join in the movement! REGISTER HERE

    State and local officials from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh have called for a moratorium on this drilling due to the environmental and economic damage it has already caused in many Pennsylvania communities. They are calling for further study to assess how safe natural gas hydraulic fracturing really is. The gas drilling industry will not cooperate unless they are forced to. From ProPublica:

    Residents of Dimock, PA., water woes have been widely chronicled as a prime example of the hidden costs of natural gas drilling. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection announced recently that these residents will get a safe and permanent water supply to replace their methane-contaminated wells.

    For about two years, Cabot Oil and Gas, a natural gas drilling company, has supplied drinking water to some Dimock residents after several private drinking wells were found to be contaminated with methane, the main component of natural gas. A few wells have exploded. The Pennsylvania DEP has said that Cabot is responsible for the problems and announced intentions to bill the company for the cost of an $11.8 million plan to construct a new public water line to serve these residents.

    “We have had people here in Pennsylvania without safe drinking water for nearly two years,” said John Hanger, head of Pennsylvania’s DEP. “That is totally unacceptable. It is reprehensible. We have given Cabot every opportunity to resolve this matter.

    But Cabot has pushed back against the agency, calling plans to construct the water system “unreasonable, unprecedented and unfair.”

    We cannot afford to sit back and expect the gas industry is going to do the right thing, Democracy for America members and everyday working people in Pennsylvania are fed up with the blatancy with which the natural gas companies are assaulting the environment. Without public pressure the state government is not going to put the brakes on hydraulic fracturing or ensure the citizens of the commonwealth will be properly compensated for the extraction of this valuable natural resource.

    We need you there! Join in the debate and the movement to protect our communities! REGISTER HERE

    Saturday, October 16, 2010 11a-5p
    Radisson Hotel Harrisburg
    $25 donation requested to help defray costs
    More info here:
    REGISTER HERE:

    For more info or for questions, please email or call Hannah Miller. Thank you for everything you do,

    – Dan

    Dan Mulligan, National Field Organizer
    Democracy for America

    To learn more, click here.


    No “Fracking” Way Natural Gas Drilling Is Safe

    August 5, 2010

    In response to this video for the citizens of beautiful New York state in particular – hopefully it will stay that way (and posting may slow down over the next few days, by the way).


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