“Civility” For Thee, But Not For Me?

March 15, 2016

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We learn the following from today’s issue of the Bucks County Courier Times (here)…

A Bucks County Republican candidate for the 8th Congressional District came out vehemently against a rival’s call to sign a civility pledge for the duration of the campaign. Fellow GOP candidate Brian Fitzpatrick issued the pledge to campaigns on both sides last week, amid controversy over a parody website and accusations of Hatch Act violations.

“It is one of the most insulting documents ever presented to me as a candidate,” said Andy Warren, a former county commissioner seeking the Republican nomination in the April 26 Pennsylvania primary. “I’ve never said one disparaging word about any candidates. I’ve been issue-oriented from the beginning.”

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Oh, and speaking of Andy Warren (What is he this week? A Democrat? A Republican? Try flipping a coin.), as far as I’m concerned, you can’t say much about him without a nod to this legendary post on Warren from Above Average Jane, in which we learn (among many other things) the following…

“It’s more difficult to build [roads] in Bucks because if Newtown says it’s Wednesday, Lower Makefield says, “No, it’s not. It’s the day before Thursday,” said Warren. “And you can substitute any two municipalities in Bucks for Newtown and Lower Makefield.” …. “You don’t have that in places like Lackawanna County,” Warren said.

Yep, ol’ Andy is prone to what you might call the “incendiary quote” himself from time to time; he may be technically right about not insulting other candidates, but he’s not exactly acting in accordance with Emily Post here, either (you can Google it). And I never did find out what is behind his apparent preference for Lackawanna County.

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Returning to the story…in typical fashion, the Courier Times mentions possible Hatch Act violations committed on Brian Fitzpatrick’s behalf, but fails to point out that the possible violations were carried out by none other than Brian’s brother, our departing wet noodle rep himself, “Mikey the Beloved” Fitzpatrick.

Specifically, as noted here…

Last year, long after GOP Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick announced he would retire, the Philadelphia-area representative began calling Republicans in his district to pitch them on a perfect successor: his brother.

But Brian Fitzpatrick, a FBI agent and Mike’s younger sibling, was still working as a federal law enforcement official when the calls began, according to two sources with knowledge of Mike Fitzpatrick’s efforts, one of whom received a call personally. That could prove a problem: The below-the-radar persuasion campaign may have violated a law that prohibits federal employees, or surrogates acting on their behalf, from running for partisan office or making preparations to do so.

Only a couple weeks after his campaign launch, Brian Fitzpatrick drove another leading GOP contender out of the race. He secured the endorsement of the local Republican Party soon after, as the field cleared. But a campaign law expert says his brother’s legwork beforehand may have run afoul of the Hatch Act — specifically the part which forbids federal employees from even “preliminary activities regarding candidacy,” including preparation by proxies.

So am I the only one out there who thinks this whole “civility” thing is nothing but a ruse to try and deflect attention from the Hatch Act issue?

Oh, and for the record, the parody web site aimed at Brian Fitzpatrick and linked to the Steve Santarsiero campaign is small potatoes by comparison when you consider this that was perpetrated by Brian’s brother (or, at a minimum, Mikey’s NRCC supporters without a word of reprimand against them) in 2012.


Friday Mashup (11/30/12)

December 1, 2012
  • To begin, let’s take on the “crazy” right away with Joseph Curl of the formerly Moonie Times (here – a little behind on some of this stuff, I’ll admit)…

    Sure, the president got his minions to drop the unemployment rate to 7.8 percent a couple months before the election (“See? It IS getting better!”). But bam, just like you can be sure that the one relative who drives you nuts will absolutely make it to your house for the holidays, new jobless claims skyrocketed right after Nov. 6, jumping to 439,000 — up 78,000 from the week before the election.

    Oh yes, that Kenyan Muslim socialist pre-zee-zint cooked the unemployment numbers to win the election. Horrors!

    I thought this was a good response to the Ohio/Pennsylvania thing; namely, the state unemployment numbers are a week behind the federal numbers, and the state numbers in question weren’t released until November 10th – the federal Sandy-influenced numbers were released on November 3rd, with New Jersey being the 3rd-highest state in unemployment behind Ohio and PA…a fortuitous break for Obama to be sure, but definitely not an “OMIGOD ANOTHER SCARY MUSLIM BLACK MAN CONSPIRACY!!!” (what matters is whether or not the numbers turn out to be a trend or an aberration, and how much the numbers are attributed to OMIGOD THE FISCAL CLIFF THE FISCAL CLIFF THE FISCAL CLIFF THE FISCAL CLIFF!!!).

    With all of this in mind, Joe Nocera defends the Bureau of Labor Statistics here against the charge (made by Jack Welch and other greed heads) that Obama cooked the numbers (and I thought this was a good response also, with the trend lines providing the key details).

  • Next, this life form at clownhall.com tells us of the supposed “job killing” FDA-required menu labeling guidelines for calories stipulated in Section 4205 of the Affordable Care Act (which allegedly requires chain restaurants with 20 or more locations, including franchises and perhaps some grocery stores, to post calorie information for all products on in-store menu boards).

    I’m not exactly sure how this could be deemed as an issue, since, as noted here, the FDA withdrew food menu guidelines as of January 2011.

  • Continuing, this article from the Murdoch Street Journal tells us the following…

    The former chief executive of Massey Energy Co. said in a rare interview that he has no immediate plans to return to the coal-mining business after a noncompete agreement expires at the end of the year.

    (Don) Blankenship has started a personal website and began posting again on Twitter.

    A controversial figure in the coal industry and West Virginia politics, (Blankenship) has largely kept himself out of the spotlight since retiring from Massey in December 2010, eight months after an explosion—the industry’s worst in 40 years—killed 29 workers at the company’s Upper Big Branch mine in Montcoal, W.Va.

    In recent weeks, the 62-year-old Mr. Blankenship has launched a red-white-and-blue-themed personal website and began posting again on Twitter, raising speculation that he might be preparing to launch a business venture or even a political campaign.

    Well well now, isn’t that interesting? Imagine the utter nightmare of a Senator Don Blankenship, people.

    In response, there’s a ton of garbage here on Blankenship, including telling us that he considers the science on climate change to be “humorous” (not surprising, given that Blankenship made his fortune in coal) and that mountaintop removal for coal mining is “small afterdamage”; we also learn that Massey disabled the mine methane monitors before the April 2010 explosion that killed 29 miners, so that the miners could “continue to run coal.”

    And speaking of the disaster, Massey under Blankenship also denied time off to the friends of the victims working at the mines so they could go to the funerals (nice).

    Gosh, the campaign slogan just about writes itself, doesn’t it? Vote for Don Blankenship To Risk An Unnatural Death While The Planet Slowly Suffocates.

    I’ll bet the Teahadists are already planning campaign rallies.

  • Finally, fresh off his victory over Dem Kathy Boockvar in the election a few weeks ago, I give you the following involving our wet noodle Repug PA-08 U.S. House rep (here)…

    Just two days after the November election, members of progressive groups filed into Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick’s office and called on him to oppose cuts to Medicare and Social Security as part of any budget deal.
    On Black Friday, as shoppers lined up at Oxford Valley Mall, many likely saw a 30-foot banner at the Woodbourne Road I-95 overpass, compliments of Pennsylvania Working Families that stated, “Tell Rep. Fitzpatrick: Extend the Middle Class Tax Cuts.”

    In the meantime, large labor unions took out radio ads targeting Fitzpatrick and fellow Republican Pat Meehan to renew middle class tax breaks.

    Election? What election?

    Oh, I’m sorry – I forgot to point out that this column was written by Mikey’s designated stenographer Gary Weckselblatt (who apparently believes, like a typical Repug, that election losers ought to sit down and shut up, since their opinion no longer matters, as if it ever did to begin with…oh, and speaking of “what election?,” I give you this).

    Continuing…

    (Fitzpatrick) said Obama’s plan to raise rates on the wealthy “presents American families with false choices that lead to more economic stagnation.”

    He called for a “grand bargain” that resolves not only the expiring tax rates but a fix to avoid the Medicare physician payment cuts and the looming debt ceiling.

    “I will vote for a plan which is bipartisan in nature that does not cost jobs,” he said. “My district demands we consider all the options, and to earn my vote any deal presented to Congress must present a vision for putting middle income families back on the path for stability and prosperity. And it must not cost jobs.”

    Earlier this year, the Senate voted to extend tax breaks for all but the top wage earners. The House voted to keep the rates for all.

    Asked if at the deadline he would support a version of the Senate plan to protect a potential hit to the middle class, Fitzpatrick said “call me then … you’re asking me a theoretical question.”

    What a profile in courage, my fellow prisoners.

    In response, 350 economists called for investment in jobs instead of “austerity” (which Mikey is basically calling for more of) here (including passage of the American Jobs Act, which continues to gather dust due to inaction from Mikey and his Repug pals in the House). And this is actually better evidence than the prior link that raising the top marginal rate would help job growth, not hurt it.

    And in a related story, as they say (concerning the “A” word), Pastor Gerson pontificates as follows here

    America is entering a period of prolonged austerity. The entitlement commitments made by past generations have been rendered untenable by demographics and health cost inflation. The problem is no one’s particular fault…

    Pardon me while I gag.

    For the reality point of view in response, former Reaganite Bruce Bartlett tells us the following here

    Because of the large deficits Mr. Bush bequeathed Mr. Obama – on Jan. 8, 2009, the C.B.O. projected a deficit for the year of $1.3 trillion that didn’t include any Obama policies – Congress was deeply reluctant to enact a stimulus larger than $787 billion, even though President Obama’s economic advisers thought that one at least twice as large was necessary to turn the economy around. The opposition of every Republican to the 2009 stimulus was a major factor in its inadequate size.

    By way of analogy, suppose you go to your doctor with an illness. He correctly diagnoses it and prescribes the right medicine, but for some reason you are given a dosage only half as large as required. The medicine was enough to improve your condition, but not enough to cure you. You remain sick although you feel better and will remain so until you finally get a full dosage of the proper medicine or your body is able to cure itself, which might take years.
    Note that in this analogy the medicine was properly prescribed; only the dosage was wrong. It would be incorrect to blame the medicine because you are still sick.

    The Republican economists nevertheless blame the medicine itself for the failure of the economy to respond to President Obama’s prescription.

    But it was Republican policies during the Bush administration that brought on the sickness and Republicans in Congress who have denied the economy an adequate dosage of the cure. Now they want to implicitly blame President Obama for causing the recession and the failure of stimulus to fix the problem, asserting that fiscal stimulus is per se ineffective.

    There is a word for this: chutzpah.

    I can think of some words myself, but I really do endeavor to keep this a profanity-free zone, so I’ll just let that go for now (and this tells us that the development by “no one’s particular fault,” according to Gerson, is hammering state economies). And for good measure, Professor Krugman chimes in as follows from here

    …the economic doctrine that demands austerity also rationalizes social injustice and cruelty more broadly, and how this recommends it to authority, rings especially true.

    We might add an insight from another 20th-century economist, Michal Kalecki, who wrote a penetrating 1943 essay on the importance to business leaders of the appeal to “confidence.” As long as there are no routes back to full employment except that of somehow restoring business confidence, he pointed out, business lobbies in effect have veto power over government actions: propose doing anything they dislike, such as raising taxes or enhancing workers’ bargaining power, and they can issue dire warnings that this will reduce confidence and plunge the nation into depression. But let monetary and fiscal policy be deployed to fight unemployment, and suddenly business confidence becomes less necessary, and the need to cater to capitalists’ concerns is much reduced.

    And Gerson actually has the utterly contemptible gall to use the words “austerity” and “morality” in the same sentence of his WaPo screed.

    By the way (returning to Mikey), I’m still waiting for The Treason-Alleging Liar to renounce his “no new taxes” pledge to Grover Norquist, who, last I checked, did not reside in Fitzpatrick’s congressional district (maybe Mikey could be spurred on by some of his Repug playmates who’ve found a collective spine on this issue, as noted here).


  • Friday Mashup (11/09/12)

    November 9, 2012

  • Isn’t this particularly funny now (and nice touch to darken Obama’s face to make him look threatening …ZOMG SCARY BLACK MAN SCARY BLACK MAN SCARY BLACK MAN SCARY BLACK MAN!!!!).
  • Also, it’s kind of hard to truly get a handle on all of the wingnut caterwauling going on out there over Tuesday’s election results, but I’ll do what I can. Apart from Mikey the Beloved being returned to Washington in the name of “representing” PA-08 (not entirely surprising given the efforts of his PR apparatus including the Courier Times as well as all the GOP-devoted life forms in Bucks County), it was all good. Still, though, there definitely are some highlights (or lowlights, depending on your point of view, some of which I’ll present ably aided by Think Progress here – to me, all of these are funny, except the one by Glenn Beck; if the NRA didn’t basically own out government, he would be in jail for it).

    To begin, Fix Noise blamed Obama here for the stock ticker going down here the day after the election; actually, the Dow started off well on news of the Obama win, but declined because of typically bad Eurozone stuff and the fear of the U.S. House Repugs playing more infantile games with the debt ceiling.

    And really, Foxies, do you honestly want to compare the market under Number 44 versus its performance under Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History (here)?

  • Also, Armstrong Williams tells us here that Obama will prohibit Catholics from owning businesses, or something (seriously?). I’m sure that’s news to the Catholics who supported him, as noted here (Obama did well among non-white Catholics, as he did with all non-white groups).

    Besides, does Williams think we’ll forget that the two trail-blazing Catholic politicians in this country on the national level (former New York Governor Al Smith, as noted here, and JFK, as noted here), were both Democrats?

  • Oh, and in case you were wondering how those zany Teahadists were dealing with all of this, I give you the following from here…

    KENT, Ohio—Tea-party Republicans gathered to watch election returns here on Tuesday cringed when televisions flashed that the Republican Senate candidate had fallen to the incumbent Democrat.

    Sen. Sherrod Brown beat back a challenge by state treasurer Josh Mandel, a candidate with near-celebrity status among tea partiers here.

    The outcome “feels like people who work hard are really outnumbered here,” said JoAnn Schlue, a Republican voter who lives south of Kent, in northeast Ohio. A batch of early results showed Democrats retained control of the Senate.

    Shortly after, an “Oh, no,” and groans went through the room as Fox News called Ohio for President Barack Obama. “Why? Why?” several women at a table strewn with confetti moaned.

    For the tea party, Tuesday’s results tested the potency of a movement that helped reshape Washington two years ago. The party’s surge helped Republicans retake the House in 2010 and jump-started an anti-spending movement in Washington.

    According to exit polls Tuesday, 21% of respondents said they supported the tea-party movement, with 30% opposing it and 41% remaining neutral.

    So basically (now, as in 2010), we’re talking about a small, noisy minority. Which we already knew was the case.

    Continuing…

    “I will reconsider where we’re going and what we’re doing,” said Tom Zawistowski, executive director of the Portage County Tea Party and president of the Ohio Liberty Coalition, the umbrella for Ohio tea-party groups. “We thought when we won in 2010 that the people were speaking, but this tells us differently.”

    Gee, ya’ think?

    As Mr. Zawistowski spoke, the room drained of volunteers. In five minutes, it was empty, except for two women collecting black, white and blue centerpieces from the tables.

    “Is there a country I can move to?” asked Paul Freck of Twinsburg, cringing at returns from nationwide Senate races.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Yeah, wingnut; go ahead and move to Iran. Or Yemen. Or Somalia. You know, a place with the type of “government” you would appreciate.

    Oh, and by the way, Teahadists, thanks for giving us the U.S. Senate, as noted here.

  • Finally and perhaps inevitably, as part of their grieving process, you just knew the Repugs were going to find a way to invoke their idol, and the Foxies did so here…

    The Republican Party spent at least $1 billion on the 2012 presidential campaign and it still lost by a clear two percentage points in the national popular vote. There was no serious effort to reach out to women or Hispanics, nor to young Americans – a constituency who responded tremendously to Ronald Reagan back in 1980.

    Ronald Reagan have never have blamed (sic) these groups for not voting Republican. He would certainly never have written off 47 percent of Americans as a waste of time. He would never have dreamed of even thinking such a thought. Ronald Reagan loved and respected ordinary working Americans and they knew it. He always recognized clearly that arrogant, self-appointed elitists were political poison to the conservative movement and the GOP.

    Too funny – as noted from here (regarding Ronnie supposedly being a friend of the working man)…

    “If you’ll remember, there were 2 million who lost their jobs in the last six months of 1980, during the election…” (1/8/82)

    As I pointed out in the prior post (based on “Ronald Reagan’s Reign of Error,” by Mark Green and Gail MacColl) the number of people employed increased in the last six months of 1980, ending the year with 283,000 more people working than in July.

    “I realize there’s been an increase in unemployment. It’s been a continuation of an increase that got underway in the last several months of 1980.” (1/19/82)

    Still wrong. In the last six months of 1980, unemployment declined from 7.8% to 7.3%. It declined further to 7.2% in 1981, before beginning to climb to double-digit figures.

    “We have…in some of the hardest-hit states, extended the unemployment insurance. There’s nothing that strikes to my heart more than the unemployed…”(3/31/82)

    Then how come the Labor Department estimated that changes in the eligibility formula for the 1981 budget reduced extended benefits for 1.5 million jobless workers? Moreover, changes in the way a state became eligible for the extended benefit program had Michigan – the hardest hit of the states, then pretty much as now – thrown off that program for 13 weeks just prior to the President’s heartfelt speech.

    “Is it news that some fellow out in South Succotash somewhere has just been laid off?” (3/16/82)

    Enough said.

    And this is shades of Glenn Beck…

    “Anyone who wants to take a look at the writings of the members of the brain trust of the New Deal will find that President Roosevelt’s advisers admired the Fascist system.” (New York Times, 8/17/80)

    Some of the New Dealers made references to the efficiency of the Italian government. So did Winston Churchill. This does not add up to an admiration of fascism. Neither FDR nor the New Deal brain trust ever hinted at adopting that political program.

    …and from “Tear Down This Myth” by Will Bunch…

    …Jim Cramer, the popular, wild-eyed TV stock guru, and hardly a flaming liberal – was giving a speech at Bucknell University in which he traced the roots of the current mortgage crisis all the way back to the pro-business policies initiated nearly three decades earlier by America’s still popular – even beloved by some – fortieth president, the late Ronald Wilson Reagan. “Ever since the Reagan era,” Cramer told the students, “our nation has been regressing and repealing years and years’ worth of safety net and equal economic justice in the name of discrediting and dismantling the federal government’s missions to help solve our nation’s collective domestic woes.”

    And of course, Ronnie “loved and respected” working men and women so much that he was also responsible for this (Update 11/15/12: And this kicked off during his time in office also).

    But more to the point, I have some questions for conservatives; namely, don’t you realize that you can’t ultimately win with the tactics you’ve used since Reagan (at least that far back, and probably longer)? Don’t you see that your core demographic (elderly conservative white people) is slowly dying out, making you pretty much a minority-only party? Has it occurred to you that maybe, just maybe, the majority of this country is pretty much tired of your act?

    Don’t you realize that you have to change?

    Well, I got my answers to those questions today when I came across the following from clownhall.com:

    Sigh…

    And I just have one thing to say about this story (more “Mikey The Beloved” myth-making in Tuesday’s wake, on the only race we lost); any “Democrat” who actually voted for Fitzpatrick instead of Kathy Boockvar should, if they had a spec of integrity, get the hell out of our party and not let the door hit them as they leave.


  • Wednesday Mashup (10/24/12)

    October 24, 2012
  • Mikey The Beloved’s PR’s service notified us of the following recently (here)…

    Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick is criticizing the Veterans Administration for awarding bonuses to employees at a time when there’s a massive disability claims backlog, improper payments have made national news and a systematic pattern of mail destruction is plaguing the agency.

    Fitzpatrick, the 8th District Republican, said the Philadelphia regional office, where the problems have occurred, has received $1.4 million worth of bonuses in the past three years.

    “These are taxpayer dollars being spent to reward a system that is in chronic failure,” he said. “If employees at the Veterans Administration are getting bonuses when they’re failing, what incentive do they have to fix the problem, and who’s holding them accountable?”

    By the way, it should be noted that the bonuses were discovered by the VA’s Inspector General, not Congress, something Mikey’s loyal stenographer Gary Weckselblatt dutifully omitted (here), leaving the reader the impression that Mikey and his pals in Congress somehow discovered it themselves. It should also be noted that a bill has been introduced to curb VA bonuses, as noted here.

    All of this is nothing but typical grandstanding, though, when you find out that the party of Fitzpatrick, Boehner, Cantor, Todd Akin, etc. decided that veterans’ benefits should be on the budgetary “chopping block,” as noted here. And it’s not as if Mikey has such a shining voting record concerning our vets, as noted here.

    Besides, does Mikey really want a comparison between current VA head Eric Shinseki and Bushco’s Jim Nicholson (here)? It looks like the current benchmark is 125 days to turnaround claims, but it was 145-150 under Bushco (still too long, but better). And this tells us how Nicholson underestimated VA funding requirements by $2.6 billion, expecting to provide care originally for about 25,000 of our military in 2005, though he ended up having to more than quadruple that figure. Oh, and there was that matter of veterans’ info that fell prey to identity theft under Nicholson’s tenure also (here).

    And for good measure, this tells you about Number 44’s efforts overall on behalf of our veterans.

    If you’re as fed up with Mikey’s antics as I am (not just on veterans issues, but everything), then click here to donate to Kathy Boockvar or help with the “get out the vote” effort (less than two weeks to go).

  • Next, I give you the following from one of Mikey’s U.S. House playmates, and that would be Sam Graves of Missouri (here – I can’t find anyone running against Graves, so I assume he’s unopposed; love to be wrong because Graves needs an opponent)…

    The Obama administration’s relentless government expansion has become a disturbing pattern. Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-Va.) report today (October 23) is a devastating list of the president’s failures and misplaced policies. The common thread is the drastic expansion of government’s role, without being too picky about the means. The attitude seems to be that nothing can or should stand in the way of this big government agenda – not the law, not the people’s representatives, not the deliberative legislative process envisioned by our nation’s founders.

    As chairman of the Committee on Small Business, I follow closely the effect of these decisions on small businesses. Job creators are frozen by the Administration’s tax and regulatory policies, and the fear of more.

    Taxes are a big part of the cloud of uncertainty looming over our job creators.

    To begin, I don’t know how Graves can claim that Obama has “expanded” government when he has, in fact, shrunk it, so much so that he was actually attacked for that in a campaign ad by Willard Mitt Romney and Mr.-Puppy-Dog-Eyes-With-The-Shiv here. On top of that, this tells us that two Goldman Sachs economists pointed out that “uncertainty” is just a normal part of an economic recovery, and we’re starting to come out of that (with the caveat being that I personally don’t consider our repeated cycle over the last 30 years or so of going from bubble to bust economically as “normal”).

    Here is more on Graves, including his support for “Jesus Q. Nutbar,” otherwise known as Todd Akin, his vote in favor of the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (abortion already isn’t federally funded because of the Hyde Amendment – this is a recording), his vote in favor of a government shutdown over the debt ceiling hissy fit even though he voted to raise the debt ceiling in 2004, etc.

    As I always say, there are people out there who actually vote for these characters.

  • And speaking of characters, the Old Gray Lady recently opined here on The Republican Former 43rd President Who Shall Not Be Named…

    He does not speak on the stump or appear in television ads. Campaign audiences rarely hear his name.

    But aside from President Obama and Mitt Romney, no one has shaped the 2012 election more than George W. Bush — on the economy and on the foreign policy issues in the spotlight during the final presidential debate on Monday.

    For Mr. Romney, the battered reputation of Mr. Bush represents a burden to minimize in a tight race for the White House. The two have not appeared together this year.

    When an audience member asked about Mr. Bush in the debate last week, Mr. Romney separated himself from what he characterized as Mr. Bush’s shortcomings on the budget deficit and on trade with China.

    For Mr. Obama, Mr. Bush’s economic record offers a shield against voters’ wrath over high unemployment and slow growth; majorities in polls describe the nation’s economic woes as something the incumbent inherited rather than caused.

    Continuing…

    Mr. Bush’s former aides chafe at criticism of his record from fellow Republicans, as well as from Democrats. Tony Fratto, a spokesman in the Bush White House and the Treasury Department, rebutted both of Mr. Romney’s barbs from the debate last week.

    “There are good reasons why we didn’t balance the budget,” like the fight against terrorism, Mr. Fratto said. On trade, “we were very effective with the Chinese” in paving the way for a rise in the value of its currency, to the benefit of American businesses.

    Oh, by the way, I should note that this column was written by John Harwood. That explains the cowardly tactic of paraphrasing a supposed reason from a former Bushie, basically acting as Fratto’s stenographer instead of showing the courage of whatever convictions Harwood has and making Fratto go on the record with an exact quote.

    Also, It’s funny to hear Fratto justify, on the one hand, whatever it was that Dubya supposedly did for China’s currency (color me skeptical on that one), while, on the other hand, Romany criticizes China as a currency manipulator here (actually getting something right for a change…see “Blind Squirrel” and “Nut”). Which one is it?

    The real howler from Fratto, though, is the line about how the GLOBAL WAR ON TERRA! TERRA! TERRA! was supposedly responsible for Dubya’s wretched non-management of our government’s finances under his watch; this provides the reality point of view on that subject (#3 in particular).

  • I guess that’s a bit of a transition to this idiocy from Investor’s Business Daily (here)…

    Election ’12: From Moscow to Caracas to Havana, something disturbing is happening: Dictators with long records of enmity toward the U.S. are endorsing Obama for president. What does that say about the Obama presidency?

    Fresh from abusing Venezuela’s opposition after his own rigged re-election, Chavez declared, “If I were American, I would vote for Obama. He is my candidate.” It was his second direct endorsement of Obama in a week. After that, he spooled off his plans to impose socialism on his country.

    Around the same time, Mariela Castro, daughter of Cuba’s ruling communist capo Raul Castro, Fidel’s brother, told CNN: “As a citizen of the world, I would like for (Obama) to win.”

    She added: “Obama deserves a second chance and he needs greater support to move forward with his projects which I believe come from the heart.”

    One or two silly endorsements from movie stars or Honey Boo Boo are one thing.

    But with this president, there’s a sustained and disturbing pattern of America’s enemies signaling preference for Obama over the alternative as U.S. president.

    In the case of Chavez and the Castro oligarchs, it’s obvious enough that Obama governs in a way that resembles their own — increasing state employees and state dependency, ruling by decree, singling out companies for punishment, and engaging in a cult of personality where the state is replaced by the leader.

    You want to talk about presidents and dictators, IBD? Really?

    OK, then, let’s go way back to here, where Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger endorsed the murderous brutality of Chile’s Augusto Pinochet, playing a role in the coup that ousted Socialist (for real) Chilean President Salvador Allende and installed Pinochet, igniting a “reign of terror which Pinochet’s secret police extended around the South American continent and across the globe.”

    Also, let’s go here, where The Sainted Ronnie R made nice with Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and our former pal in Iraq, none other than Saddam Hussein himself.

    And as far as Reagan’s “son” is concerned, the following should be noted from here, according to human rights attorney Scott Horton, as well as Glenn Greenwald (doing Tricky Dick and The Gipper each one better, you could say)…

    “We may not have realized it at the time, but in the period from late 2001-January 19, 2009, this country was a dictatorship. The constitutional rights we learned about in high school civics were suspended. That was thanks to secret memos crafted deep inside the Justice Department that effectively trashed the Constitution. What we know now is likely the least of it.”

    And as far as Obama “increasing state employees” (not totally sure what “state” IBD is talking about here)…well, once again, I give you the reality point of view here.

  • Finally, I give you the latest from the right wing umbrage factory, The Daily Tucker in particular (here)…

    If you ever wanted a glimpse into potentially just how rabidly left-of-center your average MSNBC viewer is, you had an opportunity this morning during the “What have we learned today?” segment on “Morning Joe.”

    As the Tuesday broadcast of “Morning Joe” was wrapping up, co-host Mika Brzezinski introduced viewers to 9-year-old Annabelle.

    “I have Annabelle,” Brzezinski said. “She is nine and a half. She has four brothers so she kind of feels my pain this morning. But Annabelle, who do you think should win the election, Annabelle?”

    Annabelle replied, “Mitt Romney,” which was met with a chorus of boos on the show’s live set at Racks Downtown Eatery and Tavern in Boca Raton, Fla.’s Mizner Park.

    “Booing a 9-year-old girl?” co-host Willie Geist said. “Clean it up.”

    Um, if you actually watch the video, you’ll see people laughing over it, OK? In other words, it…was…a…joke.

    (By the way, if you want to hear an audience booing someone or voicing disapproval for real over a political matter, click here.)

    Oh, and I give you this from the Daily Tucker item…

    “Booing a 9-year-old girl, a lot of these people must have come down from Philly or something,” Time magazine’s Joe Klein added.

    Oh, ha and ha, Joe (yes, we know the “short hand” by heart…Philly, the place where they booed Santa Claus, etc., etc.).

    Well, maybe I’m being a little thin-skinned myself here I’ll admit, but as long as Klein is bad-mouthing Philadelphia, let me share this item I happened to come across recently (here)…

    We can all agree that Philly gets a bad rap in the national media, especially when we witness wedding parties duking it out at the Society Hill Sheraton (“One dead, 3 held in wedding free-for-all,” Oct. 8). However, just a few blocks away, a number of Philadelphians showed their true colors.

    My 19-year-old daughter, a freshman at Drexel University, was out with one of her classmates on Church Street in Old City on the afternoon of Oct. 4. Her classmate (a Dallas native) was a few steps ahead when my daughter started to black out and have a seizure. A passerby saw what was happening and quickly caught her just before her head hit the sidewalk. Her friend turned around to see my daughter convulsing on the sidewalk. The friend then saw people pour out of nearby shops, offering assistance, bringing water and blankets, and calling 911. EMTs arrived within minutes and rushed her to the ER at Hahnemann.

    Fortunately, my daughter came out of it fairly quickly and is now OK.

    Her friend from Dallas was blown away at the random acts of kindness and how quickly everyone responded. As a parent, I thank God, the guardian angels watching over my daughter, and the good Samaritan who caught my daughter before she split her head open on the sidewalk.

    I am equally thankful for the other Philadephians who stepped up, did the right thing, and showed my daughter how kind and caring we can be as residents of this great city. This story will never make the national media, but it is a story that will be in our hearts for all eternity.

    John Pogas
    Hatfield, PA

    And if I were to venture a guess, I’m sure there were more than a few sports fans in the crowd that came to the aid of the daughter of Mr. Pogas.

    One more thing – I’m sure none of the people in Boca Raton Klein was bitching about ever acted as sock puppets for one-time U.S. House Rep Pete Hoekstra (here).


  • Thursday Mashup (9/27/12)

    September 27, 2012

  • If Mike Fitzpatrick is running in another election, that must mean that it’s time for more smears and partisan garbage (here)…

    Republicans injected one of the region’s most emotionally charged murder cases into a tight Bucks County-based Congressional race late Wednesday night, attempting to tie Democratic challenger Kathryn Boockvar to convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal because of legal work Boockvar’s husband (Jordan Yeager) performed in the mid-1990s and early 2000s.

    Republicans point to work Yeager did while he and Boockvar were partners in their own firm. In 2000 Yeager represented Abu-Jamal’s literary agent, who was arrested and charged with petty crimes while protesting his (sic) Abu-Jamal’s conviction. The agent, Frances Goldin, was 75 at the time and was one of 95 people arrested in the demonstration. The prominent agent, an Abu-Jamal supporter, later paid a fine and was sentenced to one year’s probation.

    Yeager, while at a separate Philadelphia firm, worked in 1996 as an attorney for Veronica Jones, a woman who initially gave testimony against Abu-Jamal but later recanted, saying she had been pressured by police when she provided the first version of her story. Yeager told reporters in 1996 police were also trying to intimidate her with arrests on old charges after she changed her story.

    The calls make no mention of the time frame of Yeager’s work. Republican Web ads include a grainy photo of Abu-Jamal alongside an image of Boockvar, who was in her teens at the time of Abu-Jamal’s conviction.

    Umm, so I guess the “issue” is that Yeager represented Mumia Abu-Jamal’s agent and a supporter after Abu-Jamal’s conviction, all of which is still thoroughly legal – ?????

    I guess it isn’t surprising that there’s no “there” there since we’re talking about our wet noodle PA-08 Repug U.S. House rep, who was mute while the state Republican Committee circulated a mailer claiming that Ginny Schrader (Fitzpatrick’s Dem 2004 opponent when running for the House) supported Hezbollah (here), a particularly odious charge since half of her family is Jewish. And this also isn’t surprising coming from the guy who also stood mute in 2006 while the Army service of former rep Patrick Murphy was questioned by two veterans, one who served in another branch of the military and one who served in the Army in a completely different time frame from the one in which Murphy served (here).

    I don’t know how the polling is going in this race, but even though this is right of out Mikey’s slimy playbook, the fact that he felt he had to resort to it must mean he’s more anxious about the final result than I thought.

  • And speaking of underhanded Repugs, I give you this from Mikey’s pal John Mica…

    Since taking office, the current administration has rebuffed nearly all attempts by Congress to create jobs and improve our economy. Voters will understand this at the polls. The rate of poverty, the number of food stamp recipients and soaring unemployment, especially among minorities, are all factors working strongly against the President’s campaign at this time. They are particularly poignant in Florida and the I-4 Corridor.

    Isn’t it darkly humorous to see how those who are disadvantaged actually show up on the radar of Republican Party politicians during election time, though they seem to be invisible to the “Party of Lincoln” at every other moment?

    As noted here, if you’re going to talk about poverty, you need to talk about unemployment. With that in mind, this tells us that Mica proposed a six-year transportation reauthorization bill last year that “would cut transportation funding to a level that is 20 percent less than the last reauthorization bill signed by President Bush in 2005.”

    Meanwhile, as noted here (and with not a peep of protest from Mikey or Mica), the American Jobs Act continues to sit in the House with no action (and this tells us that Medicaid expansion in the Sunshine State, which would help to alleviate the plight of some of those in poverty, would hardly “bust the budget” as Rick Scott, Mica’s fellow Floridian and Repug, claim here…when Scott isn’t trying to illegally purge voter rolls, that is).

  • Next, this story tells us the following…

    The House Ethics Committee on Tuesday officially cleared Rep. Maxine Waters of all ethics charges after nearly three years of investigating the California Democrat.

    

Members of the panel handed the lawmaker a gigantic victory by voting unanimously to find her not guilty of allegations that she tried to secure federal money during the financial crisis for a bank in which her husband owned stock.

    “It appears that Rep. Waters recognized and made efforts to avoid a conflict of interest with respect to OneUnited,” the committee said on Tuesday.

    Basically, Waters’ grandson represented OneUnited Bank and lobbied for TARP funds, but Waters made sure OneUnited didn’t get any because it would have been a conflict of interest (Waters’ husband would have reaped a significant windfall). All of which makes me wonder why this was investigated in the first place.

    Oh, and by the way, this development proves yet again that Michelle Malkin is an idiot (here).

  • Further, this item in USA Today caught my eye…

    Income is growing much faster in Republican-leaning “red states” than in Democratic-tilting “blue states” or the pivotal swing states that will decide the 2012 presidential election, a USA TODAY analysis finds.

    Personal income in 23 red states has risen 4.6% since the recession began in December 2007, after adjusting for inflation. Income is up just 0.5% in 15 blue states and Washington, D.C., during that time. In the dozen swing states identified by USA TODAY that could vote either way Nov. 6, income has inched ahead 1.4% in 4 ½ years.

    The big drivers of red state income growth: energy and government benefit payments such as food stamps.

    Food stamps? Really???

    Well then, shouldn’t those recipients automatically vote for President Obama? I mean, the Teahadists call him the “food stamp president,” after all, as noted here.

  • Continuing, I give you the following fit of umbrage from The Daily Tucker (here, from someone named Thomas Kilgannon)…

    Dear Mr. President:

    On September 14, at Andrews Air Force Base, you paid tribute to four Americans who lost their lives in the service of our country. These individuals were killed by terrorists who carried out an orchestrated attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Along with their families, friends and co-workers, you met the caskets containing the remains of Ambassador Chris Stevens, Tyrone Woods, Glen Doherty and Sean Smith.

    In closing your tribute to these men, you said that “the flag they served under now carries them home.” Indeed it did. American flags draped the caskets of each of these patriots and were solemnly presented to their families “on behalf of a grateful nation.” As you know, the manner in which the American flag is placed on a casket, and how it is folded, are rich in meaning. The protocol symbolically unites the deceased with America’s first patriots, who won our independence.

    This month, in the course of a few days, Americans saw contrasting images of our flag in the news media. As described above, they watched you at Andrews AFB, a familiar ceremony in which the flag is proudly and prominently displayed to convey American resolve, but also a sense of national mourning. On the other hand, American citizens saw video footage showing angry Muslims desecrating the Stars and Stripes to demonstrate the depth of their hatred for America. Their understanding of how important our flag is to us is precisely the reason they burn it.

    Last week, as fundamentalist Muslim mobs burned American flags, it was revealed that you, Mr. President, took our nation’s banner, modified it with your political logo, and offered it for sale on your website. The modified American flag was designed for your personal and political profit.

    Mr. President, this is repugnant.

    In response, I give you this

    Here we go again with the right trying to turn a total non-issue into a firestorm. FOX News is LIVID that the Obama online store is now “selling copies of an American flag painting that replaces the 50 stars in the blue field with the president’s campaign logo.”

    Meanwhile, the Obama campaign tweeted that the print — entitled “Our Stripes: Flag Print” and designed by Ross Bruggink and Dan Olson of Studio MPLS — is “a poster to say there are no red states or blue states, only the United States.” Sadly, those who are staunchly red staters seem to want to take that unifying message and turn it into something extremely divisive. They’re crying foul, saying it’s creepy, “un-American,” “offensive,” “insulting,” and “stoops to new lows.” Ay yi yi!

    To be fair, I could see how any deviation from what we know the American flag to look like today in 2012 might upset people. It’s a sensitive subject. Especially those who have served in the military under that flag. And those people are entitled to their thoughts and feelings surrounding the image of the American flag.

    That said, you would think someone who considers themselves a “patriot,” a proud American, would be passionate about American values, which includes freedom of speech and expression. That’s all this is.

    The American flag has been used in political campaigns for probably over a century by both of the major political parties and some others (and by the way, I have no evidence that Kilgannon served).

    But let’s buy this phony-baloney premise for a minute, though. Let’s say that the image of the flag should never be used for political campaigns.


    Well then, what do you call this (from the GOP online store)? Call me crazy, but doesn’t that look suspiciously like an image of the flag behind that airplane (a subtle “9/11” reminder also)?

    I would say that “repugnant” is as “repugnant” does.


    Update 10/24/12: Oh, and by the way, wouldn’t this guy be guilty of appropriating the flag for political purposes too?

  • Finally, it looks like we lost the war in Afghanistan; we must, because wingnut columnist Jack Kelly said so (here)…

    As of Monday, 1,493 Americans have been killed in Afghanistan, 70 percent of them since Barack Obama became president. About 15 percent of NATO troops killed this year have been killed by our purported Afghan allies. “Green on blue” attacks were virtually unheard of four years ago.

    I guess, in a way, it’s a good thing that Kelly is saying something about the Afghanistan war, because we should all be paying more attention and clamoring to get our military out of there; of course, with the Repugs moving further and further into crazyland every day, that gives Dems and excuse to move more and more to “the sensible center,” as our pampered Beltway pundits like to refer to it. I’m not saying that to excuse our staying in The Land Where Empires Crumble, I hasten to add. I’m just saying that our goal should have been only to take out bin Laden and al Qaeda and then leave, but we are where we are.

    My problem, though, is that this criticism is coming from a guy who claimed that Dubya’s Iraq war was “all but won” in February 2005 here (I also cannot help but wonder what kind of a comment Kelly is making about our military, since, if someone had said this about Iraq under Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History, something like this would have happened – in fact, something like that did…also, as noted here, a big part of the reason why we’re in the mess we’re in there is that Dubya outsourced the Afghan war to Pakistan, providing a minimal amount of U.S. troops in Afghanistan while concentrating on Iraq instead).

    Or to put it another way, as journalist Douglas Anders wrote in February 2004 (here)…

    “Every Saturday morning I look forward to the Jack Kelly column on the Op-Ed page of the Blade. As surely as things fall down, Kelly can be counted on to recycle half-informed (not to mention half-formed) arguments from the right side of the blogosphere, and dutifully march forth to make the GOP sanctioned argument of the week. His modus operandi is simple and unvarying: report the facts that support his thesis, ignore everything that undermines it and end with an overblown claim that Democrats (or the ‘nay-sayers’ or peacenicks or Bush-critics) are nothing more than unrepentant liars. He rarely lies outright (though I have caught a few), but his one-sided presentation of the facts always produces a deeply deceptive column. I warn you, if you try to make pro-Republican arguments based on what you read in a Jack Kelly column, you will quickly establish that you are an easily hoodwinked fool. There are good honest conservatives out there, but Jack Kelly isn’t one of them, he exists to regurgitate the GOP line of the day.”

    And finally, I give you Kelly himself from his infamous 2005 column…

    “…when will journalists be held to account for getting every major development in the war on terror wrong?”

    When indeed?


  • More Summer Health Care Hijinks with Mikey The Beloved

    July 30, 2012

    Our PA-08 U.S. House rep was allowed to propagandize last Friday in our local conservative scandal sheet…again…on health care reform…again (here)…

    I was sent to Washington to put our country back on the right track. As friends and neighbors expressed their feelings about the Affordable Care Act, it became abundantly clear that while all of us want to see more affordable and accessible health care, government-run, universal health care is the wrong direction. No matter how you feel about the decision, the Supreme Court has given us an opportunity to get health care right in America.

    The Affordable Care Act, which should have been used as an opportunity to bring us together, unfortunately became one of the most divisive issues ever addressed in the House of Representatives for two reasons: the 2,700 page bill was railroaded through Congress with little time afforded for any legislator to truly understand the bill, and, few Americans believe government-run, universal health care is the solution to making medicine more accessible and affordable.

    “Railroaded through Congress”? What planet is Mikey living on?

    Do you remember the months of hearings and political “sausage-making” that went on particularly in the Senate while the Obama Administration tried to woo people like Ben Nelson, Joe Lieberman, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe and Max Baucus and the Senate Finance Committee considered interminable amendment after interminable amendment? As well as the whole “will Harry Reid use reconciliation to pass the bill or won’t he” kabuki that played out something like this?

    I realize Mikey was out of Congress from 2006 to 2010, but that still doesn’t give him an excuse for playing fast and loose with the facts (and aside from his loss to Patrick Murphy, there was another reason why that matters very much in this discussion that I’ll note at the end).

    Continuing…

    Like most of us, I oppose a government-run health care system funded by mandatory taxes which puts bureaucrats, not patients and doctors, in charge of health care. It has been argued over the past 18 months that the Affordable Care Act did little to drive down the cost of health care and will be funded, devastatingly, on the backs of those who are already paying their fair share. In fulfilling my commitment to visit 100 businesses in 100 days this summer, employers explained that a Supreme Court decision upholding the costly mandate for families while imposing countless taxes would be the worst possible outcome for businesses to get our economy moving once again. To be clear, I believe failure to repeal the act will result in the largest tax increase in American history on middle-income families.

    Actually, Mikey has it exactly backward, as usual – as noted here, repealing the “law” (it’s not really an “Act” any more at this point – and yes, I make that mistake too) would cost over $100 million, and the effort to repeal to this point has cost $50 million so far (here).

    Continuing…

    Without a full repeal, the government will continue to hold our economy hostage and middle-income families will be taxed out of recovery. However, we must ensure that the solid progress we have made on issues such as pre-existing conditions and covering dependents under 26 continues in whatever framework we develop.

    I love the fact that Mikey says “solid progress” has been made on the very issues addressed by the Affordable Care Act, which he plainly detests. Also, as noted here, tax receipts in this country are at their lowest level in about 60 years (so much for being “taxed out” of recovery).

    Also…

    Even under the Affordable Care Act, 15 million people would have remained uninsured.

    Actually, Mikey, the number is a lot higher than that, as noted here. And signing the so-called “public option” into law, or establishing “Medicare for all” (both of which were strenuously opposed by you and your party) would have lowered that number considerably.

    Update 7/30/12: OK, so I was off too, on the jobless number anyway – but so was Mikey, still (here…h/t Atrios).

    Continuing…

    Taking a larger view, over 90 percent of privately insured Americans are covered by an employer-sponsored health care plan.

    Note that Mikey didn’t say “90 percent of all employed Americans” (I honestly think the unemployed are invisible to our PA-08 rep, hence his touting earlier in his column about meeting “100 business people in 100 days,” or something – yes, meet with business people, but just because someone isn’t a “job creator,” that doesn’t mean that they don’t have health insurance coverage issues also…when Mikey makes an appearance at a job fair, I would appreciate it if he would let us know).

    In addition…

    Tort reform is another critical component as frivolous lawsuits costs the health care industry between $70 billion and $126 billion annually by forcing doctors to recommend needless tests and procedures in a game to limit exposure to liability. Doctors continually cite this as a major problem that is not only costly, but, limits access to medical care.

    I beg to differ with Mikey on tort reform – it was tried in Texas (referred to as “the breeding ground of bad government” by The Eternal Molly Ivins), and the predictable result is here (Mikey and his pals plan to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act, but with what, they apparently don’t know, or possibly do know but are refusing to tell us, as noted here – more good stuff on this from Media Matters is here).

    It’s particularly galling to hear Mikey whine and propagandize about this issue as opposed to other right-wing “hobby horses,” mainly because, though he managed to benefit from excellent care during his struggle with cancer a little while back, he would willingly sabotage the Affordable Care Law and thus deny others of potentially the same opportunity.

    There are a few words that can be used to describe that type of an individual, but I’ll merely say that they have nothing to do with the religious faith he professes to believe and practice and leave it at that (and to do something about this, click here).

    Update 8/2/12: Oh, and speaking of our congressman, it should be noted from here that he recently voted against extending those stinking George W. Bush tax cuts to anyone making less than $250 grand (I guess he thinks none of us are “job creators”).


    Some Thoughts On The Affordable Care Law Ruling

    June 28, 2012

    (Note: I am loathe to use the wingnut shorthand of “Obamacare,” which, I believe, belongs to Newsmax, Drudge, the Murdoch Street Journal, The Daily Tucker, NRO, and the other usual suspects, but NEVER on a lefty blog or a site that has anything whatsoever to do with the Democratic Party.)

    I just have some random observations here and not much of anything else.

    To begin, I have to admit that I expected the individual mandate to be struck down and the health care law to be basically maimed. The fact that it has been strengthened by The High Court of Hangin’ Judge JR (and with JR himself casting the deciding vote) is a cosmic wonder to yours truly (oh, and please explain to me again how Justice Anthony Kennedy is supposedly a moderate, since he basically wanted to can the entire law, as noted here?).

    However, something we need to remind ourselves (lost amidst all of the propaganda on this issue) is the fact that the Affordable Care Act is basically the product of a conservative think tank and a Republican former governor of Massachusetts (one Willard Mitt Romney, who of course is running away from that shocking stroke of common sense with all speed). It was borne from the fact that health care costs continue to rise for U.S. businesses and hurt competitiveness (to say nothing of the misery faced by the uninsured), and the Act, fully implemented, would make use of health care exchanges set up by the states with federal funds, with said exchanges being composed of private insurers offering competitive coverage at what should be affordable rates because of competition in that market for real at long last (really, when you think about it, this was a win-win for Roberts…he guts the individual mandate and the wingnuts love him, but he rules as he did today and helps businesses anyway while doing the right thing for a change).

    So, when you hear about Eric Cantor and the rest of his foul ilk saying that they will try once again to repeal it, as noted here (which they can’t do for the moment anyway, as noted here), try to imagine the horrific real-world impact of that action. And while you consider that, realize once more why it’s important to make sure the Democrats hold the Senate in November and President Obama is re-elected (if, God help us, the Repugs take over the entire federal government, this bit of good news won’t mean anything since they’ll abolish the Affordable Care Law once and for all – of course, electing Democrats in the House and re-installing a “D” trifecta among the executive and both legislative branches will enshrine the law even further).

    Oh, and speaking of the elections, I have a message for Kathy Boockvar (running against Mikey the Beloved, who has also pledged to repeal the law) and every other Democrat seeking federal office:

    Forget the polls saying “well, gee, a majority of the U.S. opposes the law, but they favor the provisions.” To me, the only way that cockeyed explanation makes sense is when you consider how our corporate media has completely and utterly FAILED to educate and inform its viewers and readers on this issue (here). It looks like, then, it’s up to Democratic politicians and filthy, unkempt liberal blogger types such as yours truly to try and right that egregious wrong.

    For now, though, we have a cause for celebration, as well as a huge sigh of relief.

    Update 6/29/12: Nail. Hammer. Head.


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