Tuesday Mashup (10/29/13)

October 29, 2013
  • Last week, Philadelphia’s supposed “newspaper of record” ran a front-page story on “No Corporate Tax” Pat Toomey…

    I had no objection to reopening the government. My main objection was combining that with several hundred billion dollars of additional debt that’s piled onto our already excessive levels of debt with no reforms whatsoever,” Toomey told The Inquirer. “Nothing that curbs the spending.”

    Gosh, how nice of “No Corporate Tax” Pat not to have an “objection” to “reopening the government” – here is a partial list of everyone who was screwed over by the calamitous antics of Toomey’s political party.

    And as far as Obama and reducing the debt is concerned, I give you this and this.

    Continuing…

    Toomey had sought to distance himself from the GOP’s most strident voices in the latest fight, saying he disagreed with threatening a shutdown to “defund” Obamacare. He called that “a bad idea” that could not succeed with President Obama still in the White House.

    But when the deal to reopen the government after 16 days included plans to increase borrowing authority without finding savings elsewhere, he said it was more than he could stomach.

    I read that last phrase in particular in disbelief because it totally disregards the impact of the ruinous “sequester” – as noted from here

    In fact, Democrats have agreed to the sequester funding levels, not the funding levels agreed to in the Budget Control Act, the law that supposedly set priorities for spending limits. The Tea-Publican economic terrorists have already won. Democrats have agreed to the Ryan budget spending levels that American voters overwhelmingly rejected in the 2012 election.

    Indeed – as the graph from the linked article indicates, the Senate “continuing resolution” funding request (taking the sequester into account) was $72 billion below the proposed budget for 2014. How much more in the way of “funding savings” does Toomey expect us to cough up by emptying our pockets and looking under the seat cushions (as it were)?

    The rest of the article is right-wing political insider crap and really deserves no further comment, so I won’t provide any.

    Update 10/31/13: Wonder what Toomey has to say about this (cue the sound of crickets).

  • Next, former Bushie Peter Schaumber haz a sad over Richard Griffin’s nomination to the NLRB (here)…

    For the second time in a year and a half, a powerful official may be appointed to the National Labor Relations Board without the Senate scrutiny his nomination requires.

    President Obama’s controversial nomination of Richard Griffin, Jr. for general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board was voted out of committee without a hearing, and the full Senate will vote on Griffin without a meaningful debate. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) set a cloture vote limiting debate for October 28. The Senate’s Democratic leadership has shown again that it is willing to dispense with a necessary element of the democratic process to serve the interests of Big Labor.

    Maybe the lack of “Senate scrutiny” is due to the fact that Griffin’s nomination, as well as that of Sharon Block to the NLRB, was filibustered, as noted here (third bullet)…

    When Obama took office, the NLRB only had two members. In April 2009, Obama nominated three people to serve on the NLRB – Mark Pearce (D), Craig Becker (D) and Brian Hayes (R). Yet Senate Republicans’ silent filibusters were effective in preventing a Senate vote on these nominees.

    In March 2010, Obama recess appointed Becker and Pearce to the board. In June, the Senate confirmed Pearce and Hayes, but continued to block Becker.

    When Becker’s recess appointment expired on Jan. 3, 2012, the NLRB didn’t have a quorum to make decisions. Confronted with Senate Republicans intent on undermining the NLRB’s authority, Obama made three recess appointments – Sharon Block (D), Richard Griffin (D) and Terence Flynn (R) – to guarantee a fully functioning board. These members joined Pearce and Hayes, who left the board in December 2012.

    Oh, and if you think the party of Sen. Mr. Elaine Chao was gumming up the Senate to a fare thee well already, get a load of this case on the docket of The Supremes, which could enable the Repugs to wreak even more havoc (and as the Media Matters post tells us, the ruling of unconstitutionality by the D.C. Circuit Court on the recess appointments by the Obama Administration of Block and Griffin was “extreme” and “contradictory to settled executive branch practice” according to the Constitutionality Law Center).

    Fortunately, based on this, it looks like two other competent Democrats got through all the ridiculous obstruction by the Senate minority party and were named to the NLRB.

    And Peter Schaumber, Peter Schaumber…why does that name ring a bell?

    Oh yeah – this tells us the following from April of last year…

    WASHINGTON — A top labor adviser to GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney stepped down from his volunteer role with the campaign not long before he was publicly implicated in a federal ethics investigation, according to a Romney campaign aide.

    The inspector general of the National Labor Relations Board has asked federal investigators to examine whether Peter Schaumber, a former NLRB board member and erstwhile Romney adviser, may have been involved in violations of the Hatch Act, the federal law that prohibits civil servants from engaging in partisan politics.

    The Hatch Act request stems from an earlier investigation by the labor board’s inspector general that found that NLRB board member Terence Flynn had allegedly violated the agency’s ethical code by sharing sensitive information with outsiders, including Schaumber, while serving as counsel last year. Flynn was notified Dec. 5 that he was being investigated. According to the aide, Schaumber left the campaign in December. The NLRB investigation first became public in March and now appears to be widening.

    In fact, the former campaign of Willard Mitt even scrubbed all mention of Schaumber from its web site last year (here).

    Tee hee hee…

  • Continuing, I give you the following from Debra Saunders (here)…

    During the Obama years, a potent mythology has taken root in Democratic circles. In this narrative, Democrats are victims, martyrs even, whereas Republicans are wily tricksters.

    Last year, there was a hyped-up fable about Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. President Barack Obama told “60 Minutes,” “When I first came into office, the head of the Senate Republicans said, ‘My No. 1 priority is making sure President Obama’s a one-term president.'” Sen. Dianne Feinstein even told the San Francisco Chronicle’s editorial board she heard McConnell speaking to that effect on the Senate’s opening day.

    The thing is that the quote in question first appeared nearly two years later — in an October 2010 interview with the National Journal’s Major Garrett.

    And guess what? Saunders is absolutely right.

    That being said, I think the following should be noted from here

    WASHINGTON — As President Barack Obama was celebrating his inauguration at various balls, top Republican lawmakers and strategists were conjuring up ways to submarine his presidency at a private dinner in Washington.

    The event — which provides a telling revelation for how quickly the post-election climate soured — serves as the prologue of Robert Draper’s much-discussed and heavily-reported new book, “Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives.”

    According to Draper, the guest list that night (which was just over 15 people in total) included Republican Reps. Eric Cantor (Va.), Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), Paul Ryan (Wis.), Pete Sessions (Texas), Jeb Hensarling (Texas), Pete Hoekstra (Mich.) and Dan Lungren (Calif.), along with Republican Sens. Jim DeMint (S.C.), Jon Kyl (Ariz.), Tom Coburn (Okla.), John Ensign (Nev.) and Bob Corker (Tenn.). The non-lawmakers present included Newt Gingrich, several years removed from his presidential campaign, and Frank Luntz, the long-time Republican wordsmith. Notably absent were Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) — who, Draper writes, had an acrimonious relationship with Luntz.

    For several hours in the Caucus Room (a high-end D.C. establishment), the book says they plotted out ways to not just win back political power, but to also put the brakes on Obama’s legislative platform.

    “If you act like you’re the minority, you’re going to stay in the minority,” Draper quotes McCarthy as saying. “We’ve gotta challenge them on every single bill and challenge them on every single campaign.”

    The conversation got only more specific from there, Draper reports. Kyl suggested going after incoming Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner for failing to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes while at the International Monetary Fund. Gingrich noted that House Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) had a similar tax problem. McCarthy chimed in to declare “there’s a web” before arguing that Republicans could put pressure on any Democrat who accepted campaign money from Rangel to give it back.

    So basically, GOP obstruction of this president began on the very day he was inaugurated. Imagine the howls of outrage had a similar meeting been held by the Democratic congressional leadership the night of January 21, 2001.

    To use a parlance you’re sure to understand, wingnuts, you “built this.” Have the courage and basic human decency to own up to it, OK?

  • Further, I have some health-care-related items for discussion, beginning with this one

    Conservative commentator Pat Buchanan says the troubled Obamacare rollout could potentially vindicate the tea party for the government shutdown.

    “During three and a half years, from 1942 to ’45, the United States government built, with the help of the industrialists, got hundreds of thousands of aircraft, 1600 ships. We armed the United States — 12 million men, Russia, the British Empire — destroyed two of the greatest empires on earth,” Buchanan told “On The Record” host Greta Van Susteren on Thursday. “And you mean to tell me these folks in that amount of time, and with $500 million can’t create a website?

    Oh, yes, Obamacare website, Obamacare website, Obamacare website…yes, it’s bad, but cut them some slack, OK? I mean, it’s not as if hugely popular federal government entitlements (which I supposed the Affordable Care Law is, to an extent) haven’t had trouble during the roll out phase before (here – and by the way, we also can’t seem to be able to build a commuter tunnel from New Jersey to NYC either – here…hopefully voters in the Garden State will remember this before they rush off to give Governor Bully four more years in about a week…and to do something to prevent that, click here).

    And potentially “vindicate” the Teahadists for the government shut down, huh? Well, this tells us what this country thinks of those wheezing old white, middle-aged-and-older crybabies, and this tells us that the Affordable Care Law, while still trying to win approval despite everything currently going on, is gaining traction to a degree, despite Republican efforts to kill it in its infancy.

    Turning to Indiana, this also from The Daily Tucker tells us the following…

    Obamacare will cause 11,000 low-income residents of Indiana to lose their existing health coverage.

    Oh brother… in fact, it was known in September that, under Repug Governor Mike Pence, the 11,000 or so residents would be moved from the state exchange and have to enroll because, as the Journal-Gazette tells us here, “the income eligibility threshold (will) drop significantly, from up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level to up to 100 percent.”

    And get a load of this…

    The Obama administration demanded that an Indiana health insurance program for the poor alter its eligibility requirements and recommended that booted patients seek out Obamacare plans instead.

    I don’t know how accurate “demanded” is, but what I do know is that, like every other Repug governor I can think of, Pence turned up his nose at Medicaid expansion (in essence, free money) to cover the cost of enrolling everyone in his state who was eligible under existing guidelines. So of course the guidelines had to be modified, booting off about 11,000 “Hoosiers” (and here is more Pence nonsense on this issue).

    gwb_13-george-w-bush
    And just when you thought we were done with this guy, along comes Dr. Marc Siegel (who?), who inflicts the following from here

    From Benghazi to the health of former President George W. Bush, wild unsubstantiated assertions by the news media take the place of real reporting. Fox News is left to set the record straight, yet frequently it doesn’t get the credit it deserves.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!

    OK, I’ll stop. Continuing…

    The stent placement in President Bush’s coronary artery is the latest example of the world of Fox News versus wild speculation.

    The subsequent media firestorm and unsubstantiated August debate over whether Bush’s heart procedure was needed has culminated in yet another round of anti-journalistic speculation this week more than two months after the fact.

    I had attempted back then to report the facts about the severity of President Bush’s lesion, and the appropriateness of his treatment by his team of doctors in Dallas, led by Dr. Tony Das, who inserted the potentially lifesaving stent.

    My source for the real medical facts back in August was the president’s senior spokesperson, Freddy Ford.

    President Bush, typically unselfish, was not responding to criticism with anything personal or political but was concerned for the reputation of his doctors who he felt were being falsely maligned.

    Um…the dookey’s getting pretty deep quickly, so I’d better respond with this by Steven M. Greer, M.D…

    A recent short article in an obscure Washington, DC wonky journal triggered national media when it asserted that President George W. Bush’s (43rd President) coronary artery disease was far more dangerous than originally reported in August. NBC Nightly news picked up the story along with numerous other national outlets. The headline was “President Bush had a 95% blockage of the artery”.

    When President Bush first received a coronary stent in August, after a routine “Executive Physical” exam at the Texas Cooper Clinic found coronary artery disease, the national TV and print news (and this author) widely reported that the stent was unnecessary and did little to reduce his chance of future heart attack. A Washington Post Op-Ed went on to use the Bush case as an example of expensive ineffective therapy in the American healthcare system. A contrarian view came from Fox News’ Dr. Marc Siegel in his USA Today Op-Ed.

    On October 15th, in response to the NBC, Dr. Siegel appeared on afternoon Fox News to scream to the world that “We got this story first” and send the message, “Told you so. The Bush stent was critical to saving his life and the doctors in Texas were Super Heroes”. During his segment, Dr. Siegel insinuated that he is very close with President Bush and that President Bush personally informed him of the details of his coronary artery lesion, location, etc.

    Dr. Siegel’s behavior seemed so erratic and manic that the credibility of his comments were in question. We emailed him to clarify a few points, and he promptly replied by telephone. What ensued was a bizarre series of calls.

    I’ll leave it up to you, dear reader, to read the rest of Dr. Greer’s post about his communication with Dr. Siegel (yep, it’s pretty unusual, all right).

    Not being a medical professional, I don’t have the first clue as to whether or not George W. Bush actually needed a stent or not to correct his heart issue. And despite the ruin he oversaw while he occupied space in An Oval Office, I don’t wish ill on him. I don’t wish anything particularly good for him, either. I wish he would continue to just go away and stay away.

    I wanted to take a moment and comment on this, though, because this stuff is about as serious as it gets. A decision about this type of a procedure should be made after careful consultation with the appropriately degreed medical professional (I know, duuuh!). And unless time is of the essence (which it often is with a heart-related blockage), a second opinion is a good idea. There are tradeoffs to this type of a procedure, and they should be discussed along with the benefits (and preferably not with someone who doubles as a pundit for Fix Noise).

  • Finally (for folk in Bucks County, PA, Lower Makefield in particular), I just wanted to point out that a week from today is Election Day (that would be November 5th). Click here to support Deb Wachspress and Josh Waldorf for the Pennsbury School Board (this is our chance to boot Simon Campbell, people – what more do I need to say?), and click here to support John Lewis and Mark Moffa for Lower Makefield Supervisors.

    Because…

    Every_Election_Matters

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    The Latest In The “War On Brains”

    August 22, 2010

    Whatever comes after us and thus ends up trying to learn from our history will probably have a belly laugh over the stupidity such as that noted in this segment.


    Friday Mashup

    January 22, 2010

    (Note: I’m probably a couple of weeks away at least from posting again the way I have in the past due to my arm injury. I’ll be sure to let you know what’s going on.)

  • 1) Over at The Hill, Repug Congressman Mike Pence of Indiana recently said the following (here, in yet another attack on the Obama Administration)…

    First out of the gate was the $787 billion so-called stimulus bill that was nothing more than a wish-list of liberal spending priorities. Following the policies of more spending and more debt — the same policies that got us into this mess — would not get our economy moving again.

    Meanwhile, this tells us the following (from Crooks and Liars)…

    Rep. Mike Pence disagrees with the stimulus and voted against it but wants more of it for his state. “The Democrats in Congress and the administration said we were going to have to borrow nearly a trillion dollars from future generations and spend it on this — this long laundry list of liberal spending priorities we called stimulus and that unless we did that, unemployment would reach 8% nationally. It’s 9.5% nationally today,” Pence told Fox News’ Chris Wallace.

    But Pence charges that Indiana isn’t getting enough money from the very program that he doesn’t support. “You check the Indiana Star, you’ll see stories about the stimulus. One is that four out of ten major projects in the stimulus for Indiana had been allotted to companies outside the state of Indiana,” complained Pence.

    So which is it, Pence? Do you support the “stim” or don’t you? If you don’t, then why are you trying to grab up the dough?

    Oh, and by the way, as Think Progress notes here, Pence was one of the Repugs who was just thrilled over yesterday’s horrific Supreme Court ruling allowing unlimited free speech for corporations, among other entities (no word on what Pence’s reaction would be if another Giganticorp, Inc. came along and decided to fund a Pence election opponent as much as they wanted, which is now allowed of course).

    So what other economic ideas has Pence supported as long as he opposes Obama and the “Democrat majority” (jerk)? Why, as noted here, he supports a spending freeze, which, as TP (again) tells us, “would allow inflation to eat away at funding for vital programs, including Pell Grants, Head Start and infrastructure investments. It would mean less money, in real terms, for just about everything. There are also projects — like the 2010 census – that need a spending boost.”

    The game of Pence and his Repug playmates is to do nothing and hope that voters forget that our current economic mess, to say nothing of two wars, originated under the administration of Obama’s predecessor. And that worked in Massachusetts because the Democratic Party leadership was utterly asleep and thought they would win a ceremonial victory.

    But Messrs. Kaine, Menendez and the rest of the Dems should have learned from that debacle that everything is in play for November. However, the Repugs will have to play the same game of defending their seats as the Dems.

    Being a Dem in this climate has disadvantages, as does being a Repug. But being an incumbent, period, is the biggest disadvantage of all.

  • 2) Today’s Bucks County Courier Times tells us the following (here)…

    A 12.5 percent salary increase to the Bucks County employee in charge of overseeing the $100 million courthouse project led to a heated disagreement among county commissioners.

    Diane Marseglia, the lone Democrat on the three-member panel, criticized the decision of her colleagues, Republicans Charley Martin and Jim Cawley, to raise the salary of Director of Operations Jerry Anderson to $104,456.

    “It’s too much money,” Marseglia said Wednesday of the $11,575 bump in pay from $92,881. “Nobody gets an increase like that, especially in this economy.”

    Martin defended the pay hike, saying the “fairly substantial amount is appropriate.”

    Anderson is in charge of all county bridges, buildings and the parks and recreation department, in addition to spearheading work on the new courthouse, according to Chris Edwards of the county public information office.

    He also headed up building the $22 million parking garage on Broad Street.

    Compensation for non-union county personnel is set by the salary board. Martin said Anderson’s raise fit within that range.

    Hired Dec. 26, 2006 as special projects manager in the public works department for $55,344, Anderson became the director of operations on Sept. 17, 2008 at a salary of $85,000. Since then, his annual pay has jumped nearly $20,000, or 23 percent, including a 3 percent cost of living adjustment on Jan. 1.

    Another “triumph” for Jim Cawley and Charley (“I Have A Semi-Open Mind”) Martin (no comment from Jay Russell, the “independent” candidate in the last Bucks County commissioners election who ensured that we would be saddled once more with Martin and a Repug majority).

  • Update 1/24/10: The Courier Times points out here today that Anderson basically contributed $4,400 to “Republican causes” and was rewarded with about a $50,000 raise as a result. And Republicans dare to scream about alleged Democratic Party fiscal malfeasance.

  • 3) Finally, this letter in the Courier Times yesterday stated as follows…

    Newtown Township Supervisor Rob Ciervo recently announced he will run for the 31st Assembly District seat now held by state Rep. Steve Santarsiero.

    Ciervo was elected supervisor in 2007 to a six-year term and assumed the role of chairman this summer, after former Supervisor Tom Jirele’s sudden resignation. As a resident of Newtown Township, I feel that Mr. Ciervo should fulfill his commitment to the residents of Newtown Township who elected him to the board of supervisors.

    If these local politicians can’t commit themselves for six years, they shouldn’t run for the position in the first place. Perhaps Mr. Ciervo wishes to leave the NTBOS before local residents catch on to the fact that constant dipping into reserve funds is a temporary fix and only postpones the inevitable tax increases facing Newtown Township.

    Steve Santarsiero has been in office less than one year. Honestly, that is not enough time to truly gauge the job of a state representative. However, in that time, Steve helped balance the state’s budget and actually decreased overall spending by $500 million. Let’s keep Steve Santarsiero working for us and let self-serving politicians finish the jobs they started.

    Edward H. Valenti
    Newtown, PA

    To contact Steve, click here.


  • Some (Shocking) Shield Law Sense From Pence

    March 20, 2009

    new20keyboardAnyone who has any familiarity with this site knows that I loathe most Republicans and some Democrats, but every one in awhile, some development causes me rethink that, and we have an example of that here from Indiana Repug U.S. House Rep Mike Pence…

    This week we celebrate “Sunshine Week” in America, and we take time out to recognize the importance of a free and independent press in our nation. But, we must be ever vigilant about maintaining and protecting the freedoms and independence our press enjoy.

    Four years ago, I originally authored the Free Flow of Information Act with Congressman Rick Boucher of Virginia. The bill, also known as a federal media shield bill, provides a qualified privilege of confidentiality to journalists, which enables them to bring forward information to the public that might otherwise never see the light of day. The bill is not about protecting journalists, it’s about protecting the public’s right to know.

    A prior related post is here about another unlikely ally in this fight (strange to be complimenting Pence since he was also responsible for this; sorry if I overdid it with the wordplay about his name).

    And this tells us that a Senate version of the Pence/Boucher House bill was introduced last month by Sens. Arlen Specter, Charles Schumer, Richard Lugar, and Lindsay Graham.

    The story also tells us that…

    At the state level, 49 states and the District of Columbia provide some legal protection for journalists and their sources.

    However…

    In June 2008, the Attorneys General from 42 states warned that the lack of federal standards was “producing inconsistency and uncertainty for reporters and the confidential sources” and undermining state shield laws.

    Aggressive prosecutors have learned how to sometimes do an “end run” around the existing state shield laws by bringing a case to bar in federal courts. One such example was the case against online journalist and blogger (Josh) Wolf in 2007, NPPA’s general legal counsel Mickey H. Osterreicher said.

    “A freelance photographer in California, Wolf spent 226 days in prison for his refusal to turn over his raw video of an incident involving the San Francisco police. He would have normally been protected by California’s strong shield law until prosecutors did an end run around the state’s protections by bringing the case in federal court where there was no such protection,” Osterreicher said.

    The story also tells us that Bushco threatened to veto the federal shield law in 2007, and “last year the Senate measure was stalled by Republicans (when) a 51-43 vote failed to move the legislation forward. The bill needed at least 60 votes to proceed, and it got stuck when Senate Republicans refused to debate the law until the body addressed a bill that provided more domestic oil and gas production.”

    Well, now with the price of oil way under $100 a barrel, I would say that there is no longer any excuse not to get a federal shield law bill passed and sent to Obama’s desk (and kudos to Schumer and the other congressional Repugs for keeping up the fight).

    Update 3/21/09: Serves me right for giving credit to Olson for anything (he’s mentioned in a linked prior post) – all Bossie and his playmates have to do here is identify who’s funding this Hillary hit piece, and we can all go home…BUT NOOOOOO!!!


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