Thursday Mashup (5/1/14)

May 1, 2014

voter id

  • Wonder if Voter ID is starting to “crash and burn,” people? We can only hope (here)…

    In a clear-cut victory for Wisconsin voters, U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman came down on the side of foes of the state’s strict photo voter ID law Tuesday.

    In the 90-page decision, Adelman takes note of difficulties low-income citizens have in getting an ID, the cost of obtaining background documents to get an ID—such as a birth certificate—the cost of transportation to the DMV and work time lost…

    Of course, Gov. Hosni Mubarak Walker will probably appeal the ruling (and Repug Attorney General candidate Brad Schimel is trying to fundraise off the ruling as noted here).

    Not that we have anything to brag about on this subject in our beloved commonwealth of PA, of course, where Governor Tom “Space Cadet” Corbett has spent in excess of $2 million in state funds to defend voter ID (here) even though the PA Commonwealth Court recently affirmed its decision overturning it (here).

    But wait, there’s more…

  • A federal court ruled the same way about Texas’s voter ID law, one of the most restrictive in the nation (here), but the ruling was invalidated when The Supremes gutted the Voting Rights Act (yep, some nice “ROI” from The High Court of Hangin’ Judge JR to “the party of Lincoln” on that one).
  • As noted here, Judge Tim Fox of the Pulaski County Circuit Court recently struck down Arkansas’s voter ID law, quite rightly saying that it “illegally adds a requirement” voters must fulfill before going to the polls.
  • And in case anyone still had any doubt about this, conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly pointed out here that North Carolina’s law in particular was aimed at minorities (yeah I know, duuuh, though, as noted here – in a surprising development – that state’s voter ID law could actually help with voter registration in that state).
  • Here and here are links to the voter ID issue and how it is playing out across all 50 states. And as noted here, the Voting Rights Act Amendment (VRAA), introduced in the Senate by Dem Pat Leahy and in the House by Repug James Sensenbrenner, could address the voter ID issue in a bit of a favorable manner also (but good luck seeing that passed in the U.S. House as it is currently constituted; another reason to vote early and often this fall).

    david-koch-and-charles-g.-007_0
    And lest we forget, Chuck and Dave are all too happy to see voter ID enshrined all over this country (here).

  • Next, this tells us the following…

    RICHMOND — Former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell has landed a job as a part-time visiting professor of government at Liberty University’s Helms School of Government, the school announced Monday.

    McDonnell (R) will serve as a guest lecturer in other professors’ government classes at the Helms School, named for former senator Jesse Helms, a Republican from North Carolina.

    Any idea on McDonnell’s “course load”? These come to mind immediately for yours truly…

  • Influence Peddling 101 – How to Receive Money, Golf Fees, Other Equipment and Luxury Plane Flights to Resorts While Alleging That No Conflict of Interest Exists
  • Returning Obstetrics to the Middle Ages – Classroom Theory and Practical Working Exercises in Administering Fetal Ultrasounds, Plunging Virginia To The Same Depths As 23 Other States Advocating The Same Barbaric Procedure
  • Male-Only Human Sexuality – The Evils of (Pro) Contraception Legalization
  • And just as a reminder, the story also tells us the following…

    McDonnell left office in January and soon after was indicted with his wife, Maureen, on federal corruption charges related to about $165,000 in luxury gifts and loans that a businessman lavished on Virginia’s first family.

    The McDonnells, who have pleaded not guilty, were in financial distress when they accepted the largess of dietary supplement maker Jonnie R. Williams Sr., and their money woes have grown as they mount a legal defense in the case, scheduled to go to trial in July. Supporters have launched a fund to pay legal bills.

    The part-time position at the Lynchburg University is not likely to bring McDonnell the big bucks he could have counted on absent the scandal. Moore declined to disclose what Liberty will pay McDonnell, once regarded as a credible contender for president in 2016.

    Also, how apropos for “vaginal ultrasound” Bob to end up at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, where approval was revoked for a Democratic Party organization on campus here (wonder if I’ll get an Email blast about a Bias Alert! from Drudge and his pals – not holding my breath on that one), and where Glenn Beck, of all people, once gave a commencement address (here).

    And the cherry on the icing on the proverbial cake is the fact that McDonnell will now reside at the Helms School of Government, named after a noted racist, anti-immigrant homophobe and chauvinist (who, along with the rest of his party, ignored the al Qaeda threat in the ’90s, as noted here – Clinton stumbled a bit on that score also, but at least he did something).

    How much do you want to bet that (assuming a Dem wins in 2016) McDonnell ends up taking a shot at the 2020 Repug presidential nomination (and no, I can’t believe I just wrote that sentence either)?

  • Continuing, I give you the latest in Repug Party hijinks over the environment (which has presented us with particularly extreme weather lately)…

    Republican lawmakers pushed back at Environmental Protection Agency Chief Gina McCarthy after she assailed critics for charging the agency with using “secret science” to support its regulations.

    Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) said McCarthy is “ignoring the big picture” in her defense of the agency.

    Vitter and a majority of Republicans have continued to berate the EPA for its proposed carbon emissions limits on power plants, which they say are backed up by faulty science.

    “It is inexcusable for EPA to justify billions of dollar of economically significant regulations on science that is kept hidden from independent reanalysis and congressional oversight,” Vitter said in a statement on Monday.

    Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) echoed Vitter’s sentiment.

    “It’s disappointing that EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy continues to try to justify her agency’s use of secret science,” Smith said in a statement. “Relying on undisclosed data is not good science and not good policy.”

    OK, so “secret science” is the latest wingnut catchphrase (poll tested and approved by Frank Luntz, no doubt). Which is particularly amusing to me because, as noted here, the “science” to support EPA regulation doesn’t look very “secret” to yours truly.

    And of course Smith would protest, he who, though he routinely ignores sound climate science, once held a hearing on aliens (and no, I’m not talking about immigrants) here. And what can you say about “Diaper Dave,” who cheered the last government shutdown because it temporarily put the brakes on EPA’s ability to enforce regulations to protect our water and monitor coal and gas-fired power plants (here)?

  • Further, it looks like Joke Line is back to heap more ridicule (here)…

    Time magazine columnist Joe Klein called CNN “an embarrassment to our profession,” surprising a New York City audience on Sunday by declaring Fox News “the only option” for straight news at 6 p.m.

    “I come home, and I turn on CNN at 6 o’clock at night — because that’s something I kind of do in preparation for the 6:30 network news, to see what Wolf [Blitzer] is being really hyperbolic about — and he’s talking about the plane!” Klein lamented.

    “It is such an embarrassment to our profession that CNN has gone in the toilet the way it has,” he continued. “You know, I miss being able to turn on a straight newscast. And it turns out, the only place you can go to get one, at 6 o’clock at night, is Fox.”

    “The other option is to go to MSBNC and see the Reverend Al Sharpton, who I still consider to be a major criminal,” Klein quipped, prompting audience applause. “I mean, the guy can have a job on network TV, on an NBC cable network, and he still hasn’t apologized for Tawana Brawley? Gimme a break.”

    I cannot fathom why Klein would defend a network that was once responsible for this.

    That being said, he actually has a point about CNN and its endless coverage on Flight 370, which, horribly, I’m sure is at the ocean floor somewhere. At this point, I cannot imagine where else it could be; if it had been hijacked somehow, we surely would have heard at this point.

    And not for a second am I going to defend Al Sharpton over the Tawana Brawley stuff; I don’t know if Sharpton ever apologized for it either. However, making the leap from shameless self-promoter at the expense of a young girl who apparently didn’t know better to a “major criminal” staggers the imagination. And there’s a reason why I include his videos at the site I link to from here, and that is because I find his commentary to be fundamentally sound and factually correct. When Klein or anyone else has a factual criticism to offer (and I’ll admit that MSNBC overall flubbed some of the Trayvon Martin stuff), then I’ll definitely give it a fair hearing.

    Also, when it comes to whether or not our supposedly elite journalists are doing their jobs, how does Klein account for this (and who knew besides me that Megyn Kelly of Fix Noise, for example, was a corporate attorney as opposed to a journalist, and she’s on the network Joe loves in bleeping prime time).

    Klein’s call for an “apology” is funny, though, when you consider that, to my knowledge, he never apologized for this.

  • Finally, Mikey the Beloved is back with another opinion column for the benefit of his PR factory (here)…

    Increasing and securing our investment in infrastructure is an investment in our country’s future. I am pleased to have worked across the aisle with Congressman John Delaney in supporting the Partnership to Build America Act (HR 2084). The bill will restore solvency to the Highway Trust Fund by revenues from repatriated earnings as a funding mechanism while the debate continues around ensuring long term solvency of the Fund. These efforts have merit, particularly if combined with other fiscally prudent ways of increasing infrastructure investment.

    The first question I have is why it took so damn long for Mikey or anyone else in his party (and the same goes for Delaney, to be fair) to say anything about HR 2084, seeing as how it was introduced about a year ago (here…and yes, I know the answer is that this is an election year).

    However, the more you look into this particular piece of legislation, the more problems you discover as far as I’m concerned. The bill establishes a government corporation headed by a board of trustees, appointed by the president (yeah, as if that will be OK with this Congress – the Teahadists are probably writing hate-filled blog posts and working on their misspelled signs even as I write this, and the bill hasn’t even come up for a vote yet).

    Also…

    The bill also “establish(es) the American Infrastructure Fund, to provide bond guarantees and make loans to States, local governments, and non-profit infrastructure providers for investments in certain infrastructure projects, and to provide equity investments in such projects, and for other purposes.”

    So it looks like the states will be responsible for funding infrastructure projects with minimal (at best) federal oversight (and yes, I realize that, since we’re talking about a Republican congress, they don’t want the federal government to be a “player” in this stuff at all, damn the consequences).

    Here is my concern: suppose the infrastructure projects blow up and the financial obligations cannot be satisfied. Is this yet another “bubble to bust” boondoggle where taxpayers will be called upon again to bail out the Fund if the infrastructure projects are cancelled because of, say, cost overruns (and another well-done Matt Taibbi comment on this whole potential mess will be written someday)?

    And did I mention that, according to Govtrack, the bill has about a 3 percent chance of being enacted anyway? More on the bill is here.

    Meanwhile (from here)…

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration sent a four-year, $302 billion transportation plan to Congress Tuesday, hoping to jump-start a national debate on how to repair and replace the nation’s aging infrastructure while accommodating the needs of a growing population.

    Action is urgently needed because the federal Highway Trust Fund is expected to run dry by late August, said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. Unless Congress acts to shore up the fund, transportation aid to states will be held up and workers laid off at construction sites across the country.

    President Barack Obama has emphasized infrastructure spending throughout his presidency as a means to spur job growth and increase economic competitiveness, but the bill is the first detailed, long-term transportation bill his administration has sent to Congress.

    There isn’t much time for Congress to act before the trust fund can no longer meet its obligations, especially in the hyper-partisan atmosphere of an election year. Many transportation insiders predict Congress will wind up doing what it has done repeatedly over the past five years — dip into the general treasury for enough money for to keep programs going a few weeks or a few months, at which point the exercise will have to be repeated all over again.

    But keeping highway and transit aid constantly teetering on the edge of insolvency discourages state and local officials from moving ahead with bigger and more important projects that take many years to build. In 2012, Congress finally pieced together a series of one-time tax changes and spending cuts to programs unrelated to transportation in order to keep the trust fund solvent for about two years. Now, the money is nearly gone.

    So instead of passing the Obama bill, it looks like Mikey and his pals (including Delaney, who apparently isn’t much of a progressive, though he’s definitely an improvement over the odious Repug Roscoe Bartlett, who formerly held the seat) are cooking up this new scam that could come back and bite us one day. All just so they can say that they didn’t raise taxes or fees, or something (if doing this right means paying a few cents more a gallon for gas, for example, to me, that makes a hell of a lot more sense than this idiotic funding mechanism).

    All of this and much more is a reason to support Kevin Strouse for Congress (to help, click here).


  • Tuesday Mashup (9/18/12)

    September 19, 2012
  • I know this is a bit behind the news cycle, what with Willard Mitt Romney basically writing off 47 percent of this country as believing that we’re “dependent” on government, or something (here…oh yeah, like Romney isn’t, insofar as “government” decides what his tax rate is), but I still think this needs to be discussed, particularly the following…

    Mitt Romney (sought) to bolster his support among Latino voters Monday with an address to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Los Angeles, hitting President Obama on the economy and vowing to reform the nation’s “broken” immigration system.

    “No one is exempt from the pain of this economy, but the Hispanic community has been particularly hard hit,” Romney will say, according to excerpts from his address. “While national unemployment is 8.1 percent, Hispanic unemployment is over 10 percent. Over 2 million more Hispanics are living in poverty today than the day President Obama took office.”

    Romney (touted) his economic plan, repeating pledges to “create 12 million jobs by the end of my first term” and vowing to balance the nation’s budget.

    Which I’m sure will happen when the Candyland Magic Spaceship arrives and The Sainted Ronnie R rises from the dead once and for all (still waiting for details, assuming they even exist)…

    “As business-men and -women, and as Hispanics, you understand the threat President Obama’s spending poses for our future,” says Romney. “Many Hispanics have sacrificed greatly to help build our country and our economy, and to leave for their children a brighter future. Today, those sacrifices are being squandered by a president who cannot stop spending.

    Too funny…and in the matter of who spent the most, Number 44 or Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History, this tells us that Obama has flattened out the spending versus his ruinous predecessor.

    However, on the matter of the former Massachusetts governor and Hispanics, this tells us that Ann Romney wants Latino voters to get past their “biases,” this tells us how Romney’s policies would hurt Hispanics, and this tells us that The Mittster supports Crazy Steve King, who thinks it’s fine to build an electric, barbed-wire fence to keep out illegal aliens.

    Of course, if Mitt were to find enough Hispanic voters in the other 53 percent group (you know, the “job creators” living off their investment income who just feel oh so put upon because of the rabble clamoring for a “big gumint” handout which are pretty much table scraps by comparison – who should just “go Galt” and be done with it)…well, then that would be a whole other story, huh?

  • Next, it seems that James Sensenbrenner of the U.S. House is in high dudgeon over…well, I’ll let him explain it (here)…

    The latest mandate handed down from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is so ridiculous, even I was shocked. The EPA has now mandated how much gasoline you must buy at certain gas stations. Say hello to the Obama Administration’s four gallon minimum.

    This unprecedented EPA overreach applies when filling up at a gas station that provides both E15 and E10, gasoline with 15 or 10 percent of ethanol, respectively, from the same hose.

    At the insistence of the ethanol industry, the Obama Administration is pushing E15 into the marketplace, regardless of the serious concerns about the fuel’s impact on drivers. From its inception, E15 is a study in the consequences of government interference in the marketplace. The EPA’s decision to set a minimum purchase requirement is just the most recent example.

    Well, before a U.S. House Repug gets his or her shorts in the proverbial knot, let’s provide the following reminder (from here)…

    A 2007 U.S. law enacted under President George W. Bush known as the Renewable Fuels Standard, or RFS, requires refiners to mix 13.2 billion gallons of renewable fuels, such as ethanol, with gasoline in 2012 and 15 billion gallons by 2015.

    The Tulsa World story also tells us that lawmakers are trying to get the Obama White House to lower the standard because of the severe drought that has hit much of the south and Midwest this year, severely impacting corn yields (hard to imagine that Obama wouldn’t relent on this, particularly in an election year).

    And for the pro-ethanol point of view, I give you this

    Matt Hartwig, a spokesman for the ethanol trade group Renewable Fuels Association, criticized the latest attack (from Sensenbrenner).

    “For nearly 30 years, ethanol has been a safe and effective component in gasoline use to the point that all engine makers today warranty their products for E10 use,” Hartwig said via email. “Nothing short of an end to America’s production of renewable fuels will satisfy those that share Mr. Sensenbrenner’s point of view. We don’t intend to let that happen.”

    And (from here)…

    More than 150 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, mostly Republicans representing poultry, cattle and dairy states, sent a letter to the EPA urging a waiver (of the EPA mandate). Twenty-five U.S. senators, about evenly divided by party, wrote a similar letter earlier. No Nebraska or Iowa member of Congress signed the letters.

    The waiver demands are not justified, (Brian Jennings, executive vice president of the American Coalition for Ethanol) said.

    “The drought’s the problem, not the Renewable Fuel Standard,’’ he said.

    Oh, and for anyone who thinks that Sensenbrenner is a neutral observer here, I give you this; basically, he would love to see development of ethanol and other renewables come screeching to a halt for good.

    I have to admit that this whole matter puts me in a bit of a quandary, since I’m hardly the first person who will rush to defend corn-based ethanol, particularly in a year with this kind of bad weather affecting corn yields (I’d like to see corn on people’s dinner plates as opposed to inside their gas tanks). However, to me the environment trumps all other considerations; relax the EPA standard for now (I think, based on this, the science is pretty set on this issue), but don’t do away with it altogether.

    And if that hurts Sensenbrenner’s “war chest” any, then, as the Speaker of the House infamously stated, “so be it.”

  • Finally, this column from Clintonite Joel Klein and Bushco’s Margaret Spellings tells us the following…

    …America is now five years late in updating No Child Left Behind, the signature national education law governing K-12 public schools. While both of us agree that the law needs significant changes, the one thing it doesn’t need is to be ignored.

    …in response, I give you the following from the reality-based community (here)…

    The Obama administration has given 10 states a waiver from the federal law known as No Child Left Behind — once a bipartisan hope to raise education standards, but now generally regarded as too cumbersome and draconian.

    The White House announced the first round of waivers for 10 states Thursday morning. The administration had said that it would grant the waivers because efforts to revise the 10-year-old law have become bogged down in Congress even though members of both political parties agree that the law has problems and is in need of major changes.

    “After waiting far too long for Congress to reform No Child Left Behind, my administration is giving states the opportunity to set higher, more honest standards in exchange for more flexibility,” President Obama said in a statement released with the announcement.

    “Today, we’re giving 10 states the green light to continue making reforms that are best for them. Because if we’re serious about helping our children reach their potential, the best ideas aren’t going to come from Washington alone. Our job is to harness those ideas, and to hold states and schools accountable for making them work.”

    Obama is scheduled to make a formal announcement later Thursday and will call on Congress to go back to work on revising the law, which was designed to get students up to standards in reading and mathematics by 2014. States sought the waivers because they have been unable to meet the goal and could face sanctions from the federal government for the failure.

    The first states to receive the waivers are Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Tennessee, the White House said. The administration said it is continuing to work with New Mexico, the only state not to receive a waiver in this first round.

    Twenty-eight other states along with the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have said they would seek a waiver.

    The states are all seeking waivers because they know that NCLB is an underfunded crock with thoroughly unattainable goals, pretty much a PR scam to help line the pockets of well-heeled players in the “learning” bidness (including a Bush family member, as noted here) who gave generously to our prior ruling cabal in the way of campaign donations.

    And of course, Spellings will defend NCLB to the bitter end, even though, as noted here, it piloted unproven programs such as “Reading First” to “promote teaching methods.” Also, Spellings fought the efforts of the Democratic U.S. House to reform NCLB (back when grownups were actually in charge, including our former PA-08 congressman Patrick Murphy), as noted here.

    Also, Spellings said that Head Start “must have strong ties to local school systems” or something, even though her boss proposed cutting Head Start by about $100 million in 2008, as Media Matters noted here.

    The June 2008 post above from yours truly noted that Spellings was once mentioned as a candidate to run for governor of Texas. To most functioning adults with a reasonably adequate brain capacity, this would seem to be a ludicrous notion.

    However, given this story of Spellings’ attack on a PBS cartoon character some years ago while plying her foul craft for her former handlers, it appears that she would be a perfect match for the job.


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