Report Card for “Bri-Fi,” 2018

September 10, 2018

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As we know, the mid-term elections are fast approaching, so I thought now was as good a time as any to take a look at what our Wet Noodle 2.0 U.S. House Rep for PA-01 was up to (I’m referring to Brian Fitzpatrick of course).

To begin, it should be noted that Bri-Fi sought to burnish his “pro-life” bona fides by voting for a 20-week abortion ban (that and other votes are noted here – fortunately, as noted here, the ban was rejected by the U.S. Senate in January).

As noted here, though…

Nearly 99 percent of abortions occur before 21 weeks, but when they are needed later in pregnancy, it’s often in very complex circumstances. For example, severe fetal anomalies and serious risks to the woman’s health — the kind of situations where a woman and her doctor need every medical option available.

20-week bans are also highly unpopular throughout the country. 61% of all voters say abortion should be legal after 20 weeks. Plus, Democrats (78%), Republicans (62%), and Independents (71%) say this is the wrong issue for lawmakers to be spending time on.

Fitzpatrick also voted for a permanent ban on federal funds for abortions or health coverage that includes abortions (which is pointless because federal funding for abortions is already banned under the Hyde Amendment, named after a serial philanderer in Congress – more here).

When it comes to civil liberties, Fitzpatrick also voted to reauthorize warrantless spying under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA); Republicans managed to make it worse in the process according to some fourth amendment advocates (a group which should include everyone I realize).

As noted here

“Not only does the (reauthorized) bill say you have our blessing to collect communications that contain a target’s email address, it also endorses collecting communications that merely contain a reference to the target,” says Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the Liberty and National Security program at New York University School of Law’s Brennan Center for Justice. “So literally if you and I sent an email to each other that had the word ISIS in it, if you and I send an email that talks about ISIS, under this bill the government is authorized to collect it.” (Assuming ISIS is a group that the NSA is specifically targeting.)

The bill does impose a warrant requirement upon the FBI, but the way it’s written appears to weaken privacy protections rather than strengthen them, says Goitein. Under the legislation, FBI agents need a warrant to search the Section 702 database when a criminal investigation has already been opened, but not when national security is involved. That means the FBI can query the database on nothing more than a tip. “It incentivizes doing searches earlier and earlier, when it’s less and less justified,” says Goitein.

Fitzpatrick also voted along with Generalissimo Trump (which he has done about 83 percent of the time according to Nate Silver) in the matter of disciplining VA whistleblowers (here).

Also, as noted here

The U.S. Government Accountability Office’s report says VA whistleblowers are far more likely than their colleagues to face discipline or removal after reporting misconduct.

The number of VA workers fired is up under President Trump. But congressional Democrats and the VA’s union cite VA data showing that the vast majority of those fired in the first five months of 2018 were low-level food service, laundry and custodial staff the majority of whom are veterans. In that same period, only 15 out of 1,096 employees fired were supervisors.

This report comes as the VA’s own inspector general has publicly clashed recently with the VA leadership over access to documents and information about whistleblower adjudication.

A recent NPR investigation showed a pattern of often vicious whistleblower retaliation at the VA in central Alabama and sidelining of whistleblowers in Indiana.

There’s also a news report this week that the VA, under Acting Secretary Peter O’Rourke, is aggressively reassigning or forcing out VA staff members thought to be disloyal to President Trump and his agenda for the agency.

I realize that we’ve had VA issues with both Democratic and Republican presidents (probably the result of too many damn wars and too many of our heroes getting maimed in our country’s service and putting a strain on available resources), but I don’t know of anyone being forced out for being “disloyal” to President Obama.

And speaking of Number 44, Fitzpatrick repeatedly attacked Obama-era rules, including a rule blocking states from defunding Planned Parenthood (here) as well as another rule requiring employers to keep better record of workplace injuries (here). He also voted to overturn a rule prohibiting labor law violators from eligibility for federal contracts, allowing these companies to underpay their workers once more and evade safety regulations (here).

Fitzpatrick also voted to overturn an Obama rule banning drug testing jobless applying for unemployment. As noted here

As things have long stood, states only had the authority to institute drug tests for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families cash welfare program. Thus far, 13 states have instituted such regimes. But what their experience has proven year after year is that the tests, while costly to administer, turn up very few positive test results. Out of about 250,000 applicants and recipients among these states in 2016, just 369 tested positive; in four states, exactly zero people tested positive for illegal drug use. In the states with positive results, they ranged from a low of 0.07 percent of all applicants to a high of 2.14 percent, rates far below the nearly 10 percent drug use rate among the general population.

Meanwhile, states collectively spent $1.6 million on drug testing, on top of the nearly $2 million spent during the previous two years, despite the apparent ineffectiveness of these programs. That’s money that could instead be used to expand welfare benefits or even drug treatment programs.

Another vote from Fitzpatrick to overturn Internet privacy rules allowed internet service providers, or ISPs, to sell “financial and medical information. Social Security numbers, web browsing history, mobile app usage (and) even the content of your emails and online chats,” according to Sam Gustin of the web site Motherboard (vote is here).

Fitzpatrick also voted to end federal checks preventing more than 167,000 veterans deemed “mentally incompetent” from keeping or purchasing firearms (H.R. 1181). This is part and parcel of Bri-Fi’s utterly craven voting recording in near-total fealty to the NRA. As noted here:

  • In February 2017, Fitzpatrick voted to block the Social Security Administration from sharing information with the National Instant Criminal Background Check System on people with mental disorders in order to prevent them from purchasing firearms.
  • In November, 2017 Fitzpatrick voted twice to block the establishment of a select committee on gun violence prevention.
  • In December 2017, Fitzpatrick said he supports concealed carry reciprocity which would force states like Pennsylvania to defer to the concealed carry weapon laws of more pro-gun states like Texas.
  • In February 2018, Fitzpatrick voted to kill consideration of legislation on gun regulations.
  • In March 2018, Fitzpatrick voted to block three bills to close gun safety loopholes including the gun show, internet sale, and classified ad background check loopholes to prevent the sale of guns without a completed background check.
  • Fitzpatrick also voted to prohibit Department of Justice (DOJ) settlements requiring parties to donate monies to outside groups. This may seem a bit obscure, but as a result, the following should be noted from here

    The decision (to distribute settlement funds only to those directly harmed by wrongdoing) by the Justice Department throws into question an upcoming $12 million settlement against Harley-Davidson. As part of the settlement, the motorcycle manufacturer agreed to stop selling illegal after-market devices that increase the air pollution emitted by the motorcycles.

    Harley-Davidson had agreed to donate $3 million to a project to reduce air pollution, the Justice Department said in August. With Sessions’s decision Monday, that settlement’s fate is now up in the air.

    Also, Fitzpatrick voted to get rid of financial protection regulations, otherwise known as the Dodd-Frank Act, put in place to increase financial stability and consumer protections in the wake of the 2008 recession. As Gregg Gelzinis of the Center for American Progress notes here

    The CHOICE Act also allows banks of any size to opt out of a suite of crucial regulations—such as stress testing, living wills, risk-based capital requirements, liquidity requirements and more—if they maintain a leverage ratio of 10 percent. And it repeals the Volcker Rule’s ban on risky proprietary trading bets. A 10 percent leverage ratio is not nearly enough capital to justify such drastic deregulation.

    Furthermore, the CHOICE Act shreds the authority and resources of the Financial Stability Oversight Council, the council of financial regulators tasked with looking at risks across the financial system. FSOC would no longer have the power to address dangers that emerge outside of the traditional banking sector, putting taxpayers at risk. The bill also eliminates the Office of Financial Research, which provides data-driven research support to FSOC to help identify emerging risks.

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    And speaking of money matters, Fitzpatrick also voted for his party’s so-called tax reform bill last December, which adds about $1 trillion to the deficit (which, of course, Republicans only care about when they’re trying to utterly gut the social safety net). The non-partisan Tax Policy Center found that after the tax plan has taken full effect in 2027, 80 percent of the benefits would go to the top 1 percent of earners in this country. When it comes to tax cuts, the top 1 percent will get an average cut of $1,022,120, while the middle 20 percent will get an average cut of $420, eviscerating any notion that the middle class are the key beneficiaries of the Republicans’ “Unified Framework for Fixing Our Broken Tax Code.”

    As noted here

    Should Trump-state Senate Democrats who voted against the tax bill, like Claire McCaskill (Missouri), Joe Manchin (West Virginia), Joe Donnelly (Indiana), and Jon Tester (Montana), really fear electoral backlash?

    Absolutely not, according to our analysis. In fact, they should highlight their opposition to Trump’s tax bill even in these red states.

    Most polling about the bill has been national, and it suggests broad unpopularity. Our analysis of exclusive national data to model state support for the tax bill suggests that Democrats have little to fear from the GOP law and should embrace progressive policies to mobilize opposition.

    Update 10/5/18: For the record, here is Fitzpatrick’s vote from December, and here is a recent vote to make the tax cuts for the rich permanent – heckuva job!

    And for anyone out there who may have bought into the “trickle down” lie still after all this time, I give you the following (here)…

    In the first six months after the Trump tax cuts were passed, corporate investment in equipment declined, America’s projected long-term deficit swelled by nearly $2 trillion, and wages for the vast majority of American workers fell on an inflation-adjusted basis.

    And there is no sign that reality will start comporting with the GOP’s predictions any time soon. As the Washington Post’s Heather Long notes, Morgan Stanley reported last month that America’s businesses are planning less future capital spending now than they were a few months ago. And that finding is bolstered by a recent survey of 393 businesses from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the audit firm RSM, which found that only 38 percent of those firms plan to increase investment over the next three years.

    Instead of channeling their profits into productive investment, S&P 500 companies are on pace to plow a record-setting $800 billion into buying back their own stocks. The point of such “stock buybacks” is to increase a firm’s share price (and thus, in many cases, the performance-based pay of its CEO) by reducing the supply of shares on the market.

    Oh, and for good measure, it should be noted that, according to Nate Silver, Fitzpatrick voted no to impeachment resolutions against Trump at least twice (I realize this isn’t shocking given that they’re in the same party, but it should be pointed out for the record).

    By himself, as far as I’m concerned, Brian Fitzpatrick hasn’t done nearly enough to merit another two years in the U.S. Congress. Worse, he’s part of a majority that has done nothing whatsoever to rein in a calamitously unqualified individual currently taking up space in An Oval Office.

    Given that, I see absolutely no alternative than to vote for Scott Wallace for Congress from PA-01 on November 6th.


    Friday Mashup (3/28/14)

    March 28, 2014

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  • (Image from satiricalpolitical.com…)

    So, according to Repug Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, it looks like President Obama is granting “de facto amnesty,” or something, to illegal (undocumented – whatever) immigrants here.

    I wonder if that’s why Number 44 is nearing his 2 millionth deportation (here)? And I think this has a typically “inside-out” corporate media headline on the subject that basically tells us that, yes, U.S. House Repugs in particular are being intransigent a-holes on the issue (as with so many other matters of consequence).

  • Also, I really don’t want to waste a lot of time on this, but for some reason, the otherwise highly sensible Chris Hayes decided to grant a forum to Americans for Prosperity’s (and Koch-ette) Jennifer Stefano here, with predictable results (more of Stefano’s nonsense can be accessed at the fifth bullet from here).
  • Next, I realize that I should utterly ignore conservative quota hire Jennifer Rubin of the WaPo, but alas, I cannot totally – I give you the following from here

    I’ve got no problem with third-party money or with billionaires giving money directly to campaigns; neither do most Republicans. But it is Democrats who brought up the Koch complaint and who have been impugning the Koch brothers. In 2010 Democrats attacked the nefarious and non-existent “foreign money” from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; now it’s two businessmen.

    See how Rubin is trying to morph the dreaded “conventional wisdom” from “Oh, aren’t the Dems a bunch of crybabies for complaining about waay too much untraceable money in our political campaigns” to “Well, guess what? That money never existed anyway.”?

    Oh, and by the way, she’s wrong in either case. As Think Progress notes here (from October 2010)…

    The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has created a large presence in the small, oil-rich country of Bahrain. In 2006, the Chamber created an internal fundraising department called the “U.S.-Bahrain Business Council” (USBBC), an organization to help businesses in Bahrain take advantage of the Chamber’s “network of government and business relationships in the US and worldwide.

    With each of these foreign board members to the USBBC contributing at least $10,000 annually, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce raises well over $100,000 a year in money from foreign businesses through its operation in Bahrain.

    Like the USBBC, the (U.S. India Business Council) generates well over $200,000 a year in dues for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce from foreign businesses.

    Another foreign chamber, like the Abu Dhabi AmCham, which includes American firms and Esnaad, a subsidiary of the state-run Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, claims that it is a “dues paying member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and part of the global network of American Chambers of Commerce.”

    And in an update to the Think Progress post, we learn the following…

    The US Chamber of Commerce has responded to this post in a statement to the Politico’s Ben Smith. The Chamber’s Tita Freeman did not dispute that the Chamber’s 501(c)(6) organization running attack ads receives foreign funds, and simply claimed, “We have a system in place” to prevent foreign funding for the Chamber’s “political activities.”

    Uh huh…

    As far as I’m concerned, the reality of the foreign funds used by the “U.S.” Chamber of Commerce for election purposes (unaccounted-for foreign funds, inasmuch as it’s impossible to find out just how much was spent for particular races on behalf of particular candidates) utterly puts the lie as far as I’m concerned to claims such as the one made by Mike Fitzpatrick that the Dems outspent him in the 2010 campaign in which he unseated incumbent U.S. House Rep Patrick Murphy. Can someone honestly tell me how much Fitzpatrick received in funding from the “U.S.” Chamber (a figure verified by an independent accounting firm)?

    I’ll have something else to say about Mikey the Beloved later, by the way.

  • Further, did you know that Greg Gutfeld of Fix Noise apparently wrote a book (here)? Why, color me shocked (something called “Not Cool: The Hipster Elite and Their War On You”…as always, Gutfeld and his kind have to invent a conflict with a real or imagined enemy – here)…

    Someone named Kyle Smith at Rupert Murdoch’s Vanity Rag tells us the following…

    Gutfeld finds that cool warps everything. In 2012, for instance, Zuckerberg’s Facebook not only didn’t pay any net federal income tax but was actually due a refund of about $430 million. Why? Because the company (lawfully) deducted the stock options it issues to Facebook employees, many of them now deliriously wealthy because of those options. If Exxon or Koch Industries had managed that, someone might have noticed.

    But because it was Facebook — a company that oozes cool out its pores — it was a one-day story that people forgot about. “If this company were something that actually made something in a factory or a field,” writes Gutfeld, “it would be roundly condemned by every single media hack on the planet.”

    Never mind that companies like Exxon and Koch supply the energy without which Facebook wouldn’t work: They’re not cool.

    Um…unless Exxon and the Kochs have suddenly made a splash in renewables, then that really isn’t true, is it (here)?

    Smith also blames “the left” for a ban of plastic supermarket bags in San Francisco that supposedly caused a 46 percent increase in deaths from foodborne illness – here is a response.

    But wait, there’s more…

    Now a few groovy artisanal types are sounding the alarm about vaccines, with predictably depressing results.

    A year ago, a Florida county saw its first death from whooping cough in decades. The victim, a baby, had parents who decided not to vaccinate.

    Vaccines, DDT, genetically modified foods — all these things are unnatural or impure, hence suspect.

    “Purity is a big thing with the coolerati,” notes Gutfeld. “But, like cool, it exists separate from the notions of good and evil. Pure sugar is delicious. How about pure cocaine? How about pure horses–t?” That depends: Is it locally sourced?

    Isn’t that simply precious?

    Yes, unfortunately, there is definitely a bit of anti-vaccine hysteria out there. But blaming us lefties for it is to assign fault in the wrong place.

    whooping-cough_200px
    And that is because it is very unlikely that you will see Jenny McCarthy, a leading anti-vaccine proponent, appearing on MSNBC any time soon (as noted here, just consider “the usual suspects” once again, the people who hate science generally anyway).

    It looks like Gutfeld is trying to make a name for himself as the Foxies’ latest attack dog in its increasingly futile efforts to gin up phony outrage over whatever real or alleged controversy happens to spring into the depraved mind of Roger Ailes or other culprits. However, I would argue that it’s really hard to sustain a career even in the wingnutosphere by trying to subsist on table scraps from Glenn Beck and Alex Jones (and probably Rusty and Drudge too).

  • Also, I came across this item in which Repug U.S. House Rep Lamar Smith, a particularly notorious climate change denier (at least when it comes to whether or not human activity is to blame), decried $700,000 that the National Science Foundation allegedly spent on a global warming musical (and did I mention that Smith is in charge of the House Science Committee?).

    Maybe this really happened and maybe it didn’t, but here is what I know…I checked the web site for the National Science Foundation (here), and I’ve spent a few minutes trying to locate this award on their site, and I can’t find it.

    And it’s not as if Smith doesn’t already have a history of making incendiary charges, as noted here.

  • Continuing, I give you the following via Rich Lowry, on the whole Hobby Lobby/Conestoga Wood thing about companies not wanting to provide health care coverage for “conscience” reasons…

    Hobby Lobby is trying to fend off the federal government via the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a law that Democrats used to support before they realized how inconvenient it would prove to the Obama-era project of running roughshod over moral traditionalists. The act says that government can’t substantially burden someone’s exercise of religion unless there’s a compelling governmental interest at stake and it’s pursued by the least restrictive means.

    I don’t have anything particularly brilliant to add here, but I only wanted to point out that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act was originally passed and signed into law in 1996, with the following intended purpose…

    The Religious Freedom Restoration Act applies to all religions, but is most pertinent to Native American religions that are burdened by increasing expansion of government projects onto sacred land. In Native American religion the land they worship on is very important. Often the particular ceremonies can only take place in certain locations because these locations have special significance.[5] This, along with peyote use are the main parts of Native American religions that are often left unprotected.

    So, as a pretext for allowing business to pick and choose health care coverage for their employees based on their moral sensibilities, Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood are seeking protection by citing a law that was originally passed to allow Native Americans to use peyote and mescaline during religious ceremonies.

    So then, I guess drugs are OK, but for conservatives, protection against the dreaded (in their minds, anyway) “lady parts” isn’t.

    Hmmm…

    I think this is going to be another ruling that The Supremes slide under the proverbial door as they’re getting ready to leave Washington, D.C. in a couple of months. However, if they end up ruling on the side of faith instead of existing statute (a 50-50 bet as far as I’m concerned), then employers will be able to offer (or not offer) any health insurance that they want. Which will end up hastening the extinction of the whole “employer-based health insurance” model, which was bound to happen anyway.

    And, by default, that means that anyone seeking coverage will have no choice but to go to an exchange. Which will probably provide better and more affordable coverage, truth be told.

    And 10 years or so from now, the next generation is going to wonder what the fuss was all about. And given that, how many of them will actually vote for Republicans, who are overwhelmingly responsible for the fuss in the first place?

    (And by the way, I thought this was some interesting “food for thought” on this subject.)

  • Finally, I checked into Mikey the Beloved’s U.S. House web page to find out what he’s doing when it comes to Jobs! Jobs! Jobs!, and I found these items…

    Fitzpatrick_Economy_Jobs_0327
    The bottom link tells us that Mikey apparently appeared at a job fair, which is positive; no word, though, on any discussion he may have had with any of the attendees. And in the job fair story, we learn that Mikey has supported 25 “jobs” bills.

    Really?

    Since there’s no further information on these “jobs” bills from his web page, I navigated to the Republican Party web site to try and learn more. And this takes us to the party’s “jobs” page.

    Which contains no actual links to actual jobs bills, of course.

    On the other hand, this tells us of legislative accomplishments by congressional Democrats (and the typical Republican Party obstruction is duly noted).

    The only way this nonsense is going to stop is by voting in a Democratic congressional majority once more. And to help get that done, click here.


  • Friday Mashup (12/7/12)

    December 8, 2012
  • In a column that otherwise has some sensible moments in it, Michael Sivy of Time concocts the following from here

    While it is true that a large deficit in any particular year is not a problem, longer term trends do matter. If national debt is relatively low – less than 50% of annual GDP, say – there’s plenty of room to spend in the short run and then balance the budget later. This is basically what happened over the course of the combined Reagan and Clinton administrations. The result was an economic boom that lasted more than 20 years.

    The article likes to a chart of GDP stretching back to The Sainted Ronnie R, claiming that prosperity was built on low debt from then until now, which is hilarious when you consider this (so much so that Reagan raised the debt ceiling 17 times, as noted here, with #43, Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History, doing so 7 times…by the way, Number 40 commendably raised the taxes on capital gains relative to wages, as noted here).

    Between the administrations of Reagan and Number 42, Poppy Bush presided over an economic downturn that, albeit relatively brief, was just long enough to pave the way for Bill Clinton’s election (interesting that Sivy managed to forget that – of course, if he had, what passes for his argument would have fallen apart).

    Not to be outdone, Teahadist Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin also tried to claim that Reagan was responsible for Clinton’s success here before he was slapped down by Bob Shrum (and how funny is it for Johnson to claim that all he needed was lower tax rates to start his business when you consider this?).

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  • Continuing, I know I just mentioned the ever-odious predecessor to President Obama above, but it bears repeating that yesterday (12/6) was the sixth anniversary of the findings of the Iraq Study Group, which announced in 2006 what just about any sentient being already knew by that point. And that is that Dubya’s Not-So-Excellent Adventure in Mesopotamia was an abysmal failure.

    And how did the overmatched man-child in An Oval Office respond? With this. And ultimately, as all of his horrendously awful decisions did, leading to this.

  • Next, we have U.S. Senate Repug Jeff Sessions from Alabama making a lot of noise here at Obama Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack for supposedly encouraging food stamp use by Mexican immigrants, or something.

    I wonder if Sessions knows that the number of his constituents who have signed up for food stamps has increased by 20 percent, as noted here? Or that food stamps are actually an economic stimulus, as noted here?

    Of course, why deal with reality when there are political talking points to propagate instead, right?

  • Turning to the pages of the Murdoch Street Journal, Turd Blossom himself (no escaping from Dubya’s awful legacy is there?) propagandizes as follows here

    …there are considerable downsides for Mr. Obama if the nation goes over the fiscal cliff. His approval rating (51% in the most recent Gallup Poll weekly average) will probably drop, as it did during the July 2011 debt-ceiling battle. While Congress’s standing dipped a little then, the president’s Gallup rating sank to 38% in August 2011 (from 47% at the start of the year). It didn’t get back to 50% until April 2012.

    As noted here, even though Obama’s approval numbers were admittedly not great during that farce, he and the Senate Dems polled better than Orange Man and his Repug pals in the U.S. House.

    Continuing…

    By contrast, when Mr. Obama and Republicans amicably agreed to extend the Bush tax cuts for two more years following the 2010 midterm elections, his job-approval rating rose to 49% from 43% over the course of 10 days. Deadlock, controversy and stalemate cause Mr. Obama’s numbers to drop. Bipartisan agreement causes them to rise.

    Rove is actually partly right on this; shocking, I know – of course, the part he doesn’t mention is that the GOP congressional numbers slipped by comparison also, as noted here (and of course, the vote was so “amicable” that Boehner called it “chicken (crap),” as noted here).

    At least Fix Noise actually had the good sense to tell Rove to take a seat for a while (here), though he’ll no doubt be back. Wonder if the Journal is keen to do the same thing?

  • Finally (and sticking with President Obama), I give you the latest bit of right-wing umbrage here

    “2016: Obama’s America,” a conservative documentary, raked in more money than all the 15 films being considered for the Best Documentary Academy Award combined. But the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Monday announced “2016″ won’t even get a shot to win a nomination for the award.

    Gerald Molen, the Oscar-winning producer of “Schindler’s List” and “2016,” blames Hollywood’s “bias against anything from a conservative point of view” for the Academy Award snub, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

    The film, directed by conservative author Dinesh D’Souza, earned $33.4 million nationwide, making it the highest-grossing documentary of the year.

    “Dinesh warned me this might happen,” Molen told THR. “The action confirms my opinion that the bias against anything from a conservative point of view is dead on arrival in Hollywood circles. The film’s outstanding success means that America went to see the documentary in spite of how Hollywood feels about it.”

    For his part, D’Souza jokingly thanked the Academy for “not nominating our film.”

    You want to know why this piece of propaganda didn’t receive an Oscar nomination? Read the following from here

    Why is the film called “2016”? D’Souza’s one-sided argument ultimately stoops to fear-mongering of the worst kind, stating in no uncertain terms that, if the president is reelected, the world four years from now will be darkened by the clouds of economic collapse, World War III (thanks to the wholesale renunciation of our nuclear superiority) and a terrifyingly ascendant new “United States of Islam” in the Middle East. These assertions are accompanied by footage of actual dark clouds and horror-movie music.

    The real bogeyman isn’t Obama, who D’Souza acknowledges can come across as an appealing and charismatic leader. That honor is shared by several men D’Souza refers to as Obama’s “founding fathers,” in an unsubtle dig at the president’s patriotism. It’s a group that includes communist Frank Marshall Davis; former Weather Underground member Bill Ayers; academic Edward Said, whose views are described as anti-Zionist; liberal Harvard professor Roberto Unger; and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, a proponent of so-called black liberation theology.

    None of the names of these putative villains is new, which gives “2016” the air of a “Nightmare on Elm Street” sequel, pandering to the franchise’s hard-core fans, while boring everyone else.

    More on D’Souza and his history of hateful fictions can be found here.

    Here is another reason why I’m not particularly sympathetic to any conservative argument about supposedly being slighted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (which sounds all high-falutin’ I know, though it is hardly that, despite the way they get dressed up at the Oscars) – anybody out there besides me remember a 1994 documentary called “Hoop Dreams”?

    As Wikipedia tells us…

    The film follows William Gates and Arthur Agee, two African-American teenagers who are recruited by a scout from St. Joseph High School in Westchester, Illinois, a predominantly white high school with an outstanding basketball program, whose alumni include NBA great Isiah Thomas. Taking 90-minute commutes to school, enduring long and difficult workouts and practices, and acclimatising to a foreign social environment, Gates and Agee struggle to improve their athletic skills in a job market with heavy competition. Along the way, their families celebrate their successes and support each other during times of economic hardship caused from the school change.

    The film raises a number of issues concerning race, class, economic division, education and values in contemporary America. It also offers one of the most intimate views of inner-city life to be captured on film. Yet it is also the human story of two young men, their two families and their community, and the joys and struggles they live from their recruitment in 1987 through their college freshman year (1991-92).

    Wikipedia also tells us that the film ended up earning about $11 million, which I know is a third of what this anti-Obama nonsense pulled in (I would argue that it will continue to earn money in video rentals, though obviously not as much as it earned years ago).

    Here is the kicker, though – as Roger Ebert and others have pointed out, “Hoop Dreams” was easily the best documentary the year it was made, and it wasn’t nominated for anything either (and good luck trying to find a conservative agenda in the compelling stories of William Gates and Arthur Agee).

    Of course, Molen and D’Souza could try to make a film following up on Gates and Agee if they felt compelled to right the wrong of that film’s denial of a nomination years ago, as opposed to their own.

    And I would expect that to take place at about the time hell freezes over (and speaking of Ebert, best wishes to him, on the mend as noted here).


  • Spitting On A Dead Man’s Grave

    June 29, 2010

    Way to play to “the base,” Repugs (hat tips to Atrios and The Washington Monthly for this). As Steve Benen says, “And the Republican Party’s outreach to minority communities suffers yet another setback.”

    …here’s a brief presentation on the man whom Kyl and Sessions tried to denigrate (and who, of course, successfully argued this case).

    (And by the way, kudos to Dick Durbin for this.)


    Wednesday Mashup (4/7/10)

    April 7, 2010

  • 1) I don’t know if anyone else has noticed besides yours truly, but Dana (“Mouthpiece Theater”) Milbank of the WaPo has been on a roll (including here, on what you could call a taxing matter – maybe I should have saved this for April 15th, but I thought it couldn’t wait – Milbank is a bit tasteful with his snark here also)…

    You thought only conservatives got mad about taxes?

    Tea partiers, eat your hearts out: A group of liberals got together Tuesday and proved that they, too, can have a tax rebellion. But theirs is a little bit different: They want to pay more taxes.

    “I’m in favor of higher taxes on people like me,” declared Eric Schoenberg, who is sitting on an investment banking fortune. He complained about “my absurdly low tax rates.”

    “We’re calling on other wealthy taxpayers to join us,” said paper-mill heir Mike Lapham, “to send the message to Congress and President Obama that it’s time to roll back the tax cuts on upper-income taxpayers.”

    “I would with pleasure sacrifice the income,” agreed millionaire entrepreneur Jeffrey Hollender.

    The rich are different.

    In another era, the millionaires on Tuesday’s conference call might have been called “limousine liberals.” But that label no longer applies. Now any wealthy liberal worth his certified-organic sea salt is driving a Prius.

    Among families earning more than $250,000, fully 64 percent favor raising taxes on themselves. This part was surprising — but possibly suspect. Only 65 of the 1,907 people polled were in that income group, too small a sample for solid conclusions.

    Still, the millionaires on the call get credit for putting (some of) their money where their mouths are. They are among 50 families with net assets of more than $1 million to take a “tax fairness” pledge — donating the amount they saved from Bush tax cuts to organizations fighting for the repeal of the Bush tax cuts. According to a study by Spectrem Group, 7.8 million households in the United States have assets of more than $1 million — so that leaves 7,799,950 millionaire households yet to take the pledge.

    Well, a journey of a thousand miles, as they say…

    And on the matter of tax rates versus economic prosperity, Matt Yglesias (via Steve Benen and John Cole) tells us here about how those oh-so-horrible “soak the rich” rates during the years of the Clinton Administration led to economic prosperity, while “three periods of ultra-low taxes were followed by a budget crisis (Reagan) and catastrophic global economic collapse (Coolidge-Hoover, Bush).”

    Also, let’s not forget the myriad tax loopholes available to the “pay no price, bear no burden” investor class, some of which are noted here.

  • Update 7/21/10: A little late with this I know, but this is another good column by Milbank on Arizona governor Jan Brewer and her “illegal to be brown” law (cringing when I think of the wankery to come to make up for this).

  • 2) This tells us that, apparently, the new Obama-sponsored “boogeyman” for the wingnuts (tiring of Craig Becker, Kevin Jennings and Dawn Johnsen, apparently) is Goodwin Liu, a University of California at Berkeley law professor nominated by President Obama for the Court of Appeals for the Ninth District….

    On Tuesday, Liu sent 117 items to the (Senate Judiciary Committee), a “supplement” to an earlier questionnaire he filled out on his record, including articles he wrote and events in which he participated but neglected to include in his original submission. The committee’s seven Republicans — led by ranking member Jeff Sessions (Ala.) — responded with a scathing letter to panel Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.).

    “At best, this nominee’s extraordinary disregard for the Committee’s constitutional role demonstrates incompetence; at worst, it creates the impression that he knowingly attempted to hide his most controversial work from the Committee,” they wrote. “Professor Liu’s unwillingness to take seriously his obligation to complete these basic forms is potentially disqualifying and has placed his nomination in jeopardy.”

    As Mark Hamill (I believe) voiced once as The Joker in a “Batman” cartoon, this would be hilarious if it weren’t so pathetic (hey, have to work in my pop culture references where I can, you know?).


    I have a question for Jeff Sessions; do you member Miguel Estrada?

    As noted here in this “News Hour With Jim Lehrer” segment, Estrada was submitted by the prior ruling cabal to the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington. However, as noted by Charles Schumer in the interview, “the White House told him not to answer questions, not to give up certain documents that would show his views on key issues that affect millions of Americans, workers’ rights, and the right to privacy, and the First Amendment, and environmental rights.”

    Sessions of course disagreed with that, saying “Miguel Estrada did answer questions, and he did not turn over the internal memorandum of the U.S. Department of Justice Solicitor General’s Office, for which he worked, because they were not his documents.” Still, though, that leaves the question unanswered; how the hell is the Senate supposed to evaluate the fitness of a judge if there’s no paper trail? Strictly on his or her say-so? Do you seriously mean to tell me that the DoJ couldn’t have allowed the documents in question to be reviewed by the Judiciary Committee?

    So, as far as Sessions is concerned, Estrada is fine even though, when pressed about the typical hot-button issues as a right to privacy, he said “I can’t answer these questions because it might violate Canon Five of the legal ethics, which says you can’t talk about a pending case” (interesting dodge). But Liu showed “incompetence” when he sent 117 items to the Senate Judiciary Committee, a “supplement” to an earlier questionnaire he filled out on his record?

    Give me a break.

  • Update: More from Media Matters here…

  • 3) Finally, I have an update on the Repug gubernatorial primary in PA and DA Tom Corbett’s boneheaded decision to join other attorneys general in this country in a lawsuit to try and overturn recently-signed-into-law health care reform (seems the stupidity is contagious…as noted here, PA State House Appropriations Chairman Dwight Evans threatened to cut off funds to Corbett’s office in response).

    I will give Evans the benefit of the doubt that he’s trying to watch over taxpayer funds here, but despite the idiocy of what Corbett is trying to do, the best thing to do in response is to let the lawsuit die the natural death for which it is destined.

    However, because Evans “took the bait,” Corbett has – you guessed it! – turned the whole idiotic dustup into a campaign fundraising pitch (here).

    So the Repugs and Corbett played a bit of “rope-a-dope,” and Evans went for it (I believe Evans is a good man and a good public official, though he doesn’t have much in the way of political instincts if this ultra-dumb episode is any indication).

  • Update 4/8/10: Corbett sure keeps interesting company (here).


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