My 2014 U.S. Senate Voting Guide

October 30, 2014

(Subtitled, “Fighting the ‘Dirty Dozen’ of the U.S. Senate”)

With time growing ever shorter until next Tuesday November 4th, I give you 12 of the most hotly contested U.S. Senate contests (with the possible exception of Lankford/Johnson…we’ll see).

DSullivan

Dan Sullivan (Alaska)

As noted below…

Sullivan missed a candidate’s forum, but of course he didn’t miss a fundraiser at about the same location (here).

And as noted from here

Sullivan opposes raising the minimum wage. He opposes the rights of workers to bargain for fair wages, good benefits and safe working conditions. He even wants to raise the retirement age for Social Security, which would force many Alaskans to keep working physically demanding jobs well into old age.

And of course Sullivan is getting help from Chuck and Dave Koch (here); he has a lot of company on that one.

In response, to help incumbent Dem Senator Mark Begich, click here.

FINANCE COMMITTEE

Pat Roberts (Kansas)

As noted below…

  • He has a certain residency issue, seeing as how his declared residence is in Virginia, but he’s the Repug senator from Kansas (happens on both sides, to be fair – here).
  • Roberts said that Obama was a “socialist” who wanted to “nationalize,” you know, stuff, here (Proof? Anywhere in sight?) And we do know who the “national socialists” were, don’t we?.
  • Oh, and let’s not forget that Roberts once claimed in May 2006 that “you have no civil liberties if you’re dead” in defense of a certain Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History (here).
  • And things continued to look bad for Roberts as of about three weeks ago (here).
  • In response, to help Independent challenger Greg Orman, click here.

    Lankford

    James Lankford (Oklahoma)

    Yes, he’s quite probably going to win since we’re talking about Oklahoma (sigh), but the following should still be pointed out…

  • Lankford is a climate change denier like just about everyone else in that clown show of a political party (here).

    “This whole global warming myth will be exposed as what it really is — a way of control more than anything else. And that generation will be ticked.” [Edmond Sun, 2/16/10]

    Actually, they’ll be “ticked” because you continued to ignore proven scientific fact and did nothing in response.

  • He opposes government borrowing, and even throws in some quotes from the Bible for extra hypocrisy points to try and justify himself, but owes about $100 grand to Skank of America (here).
  • Said NSA snooping foiled 54 terrorist attacks (uh, no – once more, reminds me of James Gregory and the ketchup bottle in “The Manchurian Candidate”).
  • He said he wouldn’t prohibit people from getting citizenship “forever,” since he’s a Christian (here – how decent of him).
  • Lankford is opposed by Dem Connie Johnson in the contest to fill the seat vacated by Crazy Tom Coburn.

    Coffman_Gardner

    Cory Gardner (Colorado)

    As noted below…

  • Gardner voted against defunding raids on medical marijuana dispensaries in a state where medical marijuana is legal (here).
  • As noted from here

    In three years in Congress, voted 3 times to cut Social Security and raise the eligibility age to 70, voted 5 times to raise the Medicare eligibility age to 70, more than 5 times to increase current senior’s copays for preventative healthcare, and more than 5 times to reopen the prescription donut hole that his opponent, Incumbent Dem U.S. Senator Mark Udall, helped to close. In addition, Gardner voted 5 times to turn Medicare from a guaranteed benefit to a voucher program, which would have doubled Medicare out of pocket costs for seniors by 2022 according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

  • Opposed the DREAM Act, voted to deport DREAMers, and voted against immigration reform in a state where the latter is a particularly big deal (here).
  • Supported federal fetal personhood legislation that would outlaw abortions and some birth control measures nationwide (here).
  • In response, to help incumbent Dem Senator Mark Udall, click here.

    Cassidy

    Bill Cassidy (Louisiana)

    As noted below…

  • He said here that he doesn’t believe Obama “ever worked with a poor person” (so just how many levels of duuuh are we talking about here anyway?).
  • And of course, he also wants to make the Social Security retirement age 70 (here).
  • He not only wants to basically put the EPA out of business, but he even wanted to cut funding for portraits of former EPA head Lisa Jackson, taking partisanship to a ridiculously petty new low (here).
  • Cassidy also said that he’s “not sure climate change is the issue” as Louisiana loses more of its coastline (here).
  • Given the prior two items, it should be no surprise that he’s also getting help from Chuck and Dave of course (here).
  • I’ve often disagreed with Mary Landrieu in the past, but she’s been reliable on more issues than not. She shouldn’t have this tough of a fight on her hands, but she does – fortunately, she’s a skilled campaigner, but if you’re able to help her somehow, please click here.

    Obama_White_Slavery
    Update 10/31/14: Yeah, the truth hurts, doesn’t it, Repugs (here) – time to clutch those pearls again, I see.

    Rounds_635487516144747334-Screen-Shot-2014-10-12-at-9.59.52-PM

    Mike Rounds (South Dakota)

    I think it’s been kind of an under-reported story that Rounds is more of a crook than it might appear upon first glance – to wit…

  • He was part of a scheme to sell EB-5 immigration visas to the highest bidders, and then was caught lying about it (here).
  • Also, he “wildly overstated” the number of jobs created with those EB-5 visas here.
  • Rounds knew that a former Cabinet official in his administration was heading to a job with a beef plant for which Rounds had just authorized about $600,000 in state loans (how con-vee-nient) here.
  • Rounds’ Dem opponent Rick Weiland said he wouldn’t vote for Harry Reid as majority leader if elected, opening the door for Rounds to say he wouldn’t vote for Sen. Mr. Elaine Chao under the same circumstance, a door that Rounds won’t open, apparently (kind of a cunning move by Weiland, I think – here).

    (Oh, and as DWT also tells us, Rounds extended taxpayer assistance to companies where Rounds and Dennis Daugaard, Rounds’s successor as governor in 2011 and former running mate, were investors…once again, how con-vee-nient, overseen by the same state agency, the Office of Economic Development, that oversaw the EB-5 visa program).

  • I don’t know what the recent polling is on this race – I’m sure Rounds is still ahead, but I have a feeling this will be fairly close…we’ll see; if you can help Weiland, please click here.

    joni-ernst

    Joni Ernst (Iowa)

    As noted below…

  • Ernst didn’t want to answer tough questions from that dreaded “liberal media,” so she went to Fix Noise instead, of course (here – and again here).
  • She opposed raising the minimum wage here (once again, of course).
  • Ernst also wants to privatize Social Security, which, according to one estimate, would lead to about a 45-percent out-of-pocket increase in what subscribers would pay out due to a cut in coverage (here).
  • She “flat-out lied” on the question of the so-called “fetal personhood” amendment supported by Repug Cory Gardner in Colorado, among others (here).
  • She once ran for a job as county auditor and won, and apparently the first thing she did on the job was to get rid of county board veterans who had opposed her candidacy (so much for “Iowa nice” – here).
  • Apparently, Ernst rode to fame on an ad about hog castration, and equated that with making “big spenders” in Washington “squeal” here (I don’t know what is more damning – Ernst for making such an ad, or people supporting her for it).
  • And this tells you all the ways she does the bidding of the Kochs, in case you were wondering.
  • Oh, and she apparently wanted to arrest federal officials over “Obamacare” in 2012 here (charming).

    I’ve always wondered about this race – I never heard an official explanation from Tom Harkin why he decided to give up this seat (I might have missed it, I’ll admit). That being said, I have a feeling Bruce Braley is a lot more likely to carry on in Harkin’s footsteps than Ernst will ever be (to help Braley, click here).

    Update 11/7/14: As Atrios might say, time for a blogger ethics panel (here).

    Scott_Brown_centerfold

    Scott Brown (New Hampshire – this week…)

    Well, well – Scott Brown has taken his carpetbagger act on the road to the Granite State, huh? I think we should recall the following, then…

  • Brown said here in ’09 that the Senate health care bill that was signed into law “mirrored” the one he supported in MA (for it in ’09 before he was against it in 2010, as it were).
  • He said that the stimulus created not “one new job” here (once more, uh, no).
  • He engaged in taunts that Cherokee Nation described as “racist” against Sen. Elizabeth Warren, his 2012 campaign opponent, here.
  • For someone with supposed “teabagger” small gov’t (alleged, of course) “cred,” he backed this ridiculous weapons system GE wanted in MA that the Pentagon said they didn’t need (here).
  • Here, “Wall Street Scott” got paid to talk to hedge fund managers about money in politics (no joke).
  • He voted for Dodd-Frank financial reforms, then worked to undermine them (here).
  • He reversed his 2012 stance on whether or not climate change is real (of course – here).
  • I’ll be honest – I have a particular loathing for many of the Republicans on this list, but Scott Brown belongs in a whole other contemptible category as far as I’m concerned. With that in mind, I think Jeanne Shaheen definitely can use any assistance we can provide (please click here).

    Update: Whooping cough AND polio from illegals, Scott (here)? I’m sure the independent voters will really go for that one.

    Update 10/31/14: #epicfail

    ReallyTerriLynnLand

    Terri Lynn Land (Michigan)

    As noted below…

  • Land voted to “voucherize” Medicare (here).
  • She is also tied to the Koch Brothers (of course) and their piles of “pet coke,” which are byproducts of oil refining and produced clouds of dark dust over Detroit (not a question of whether or not the coke is unhealthy, but how much – here).
  • And with that in mind, Detroit residents asked Land to spend some time in their community here to experience the health effects firsthand, and she responded with “LALALALAICANTHEARYOU.”
  • Basically, she wouldn’t have supported the bailout of the automakers under Number 44 here (in so many words, since she tried so hard to avoid the question…keep in mind that she’s running to replace retiring Dem Senator Carl Levin, who at least understood what to do when thousands of jobs were at stake).
  • Land said here that she “made the DMV work,” which is a particularly neat trick considering that Michigan doesn’t have a DMV (here).
  • She also advocates “Obamacare” repeal of course, which means that about 630,000 residents of Michigan would lose their health coverage (here).
  • To help Land’s Dem opponent Gary Peters, click here.

    Tom Cotton (Arkansas)

    Cotton is easily the biggest neophyte of this bunch…

  • Here, he said that he didn’t think women were qualified to serve in the military (nice – it should be pointed out, though, that Cotton actually did serve, unlike most other Repugs).
  • Here, he said that Iraq was involved in 9/11 (ah, a golden oldie…oh, and when it comes to evaluating Number 43 and “Deadeye Dick,” Cotton believes 9/11 shouldn’t be included, as noted here).

    The Arkansas Times link also tells us that he, like many others in his party, voted against relief for the victims of Hurricane Sandy, and he’s a darling of the Club for Growth, no matter how that affects his congressional district…figures.

  • And like a whole bunch of House Repugs (including Mikey the Beloved), Cotton voted to separate SNAP funding from the farm bill (here).
  • Oh, and Cotton wants to punish not only those who violate economic sanctions against Iran (OK), but their family members too, as noted here (um, and why?).
  • Also, did you know that Cotton himself took out student loans, but then voted against funding them for everyone else (here)?
  • Cotton also said that a woman’s “deepest hope” is to be a good wife and mother here (uh, Tom, you’re running for the U.S. Senate, not the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops, not that a male would know something like that anyway).
  • He also wants to restore bank profits to student loan financing again here (and for doing what exactly, I wonder?).
  • He claimed here that ISIS collaborated with Mexican drug cartels, or something (that alone should disqualify him from this contest, but I’m sure it won’t),
  • Praised disaster relief program that benefited Arkansas farmers that he actually voted against (here).
  • As with Mary Landrieu, Cotton’s incumbent opponent, Dem Sen. Mark Pryor, shouldn’t have this big of a fight on his hands, but he does (to help, click here).

    Perdue

    David Perdue (Georgia)

    As noted below…

  • In what is probably the signature moment of his campaign, Perdue bragged about outsourcing jobs here (probably a ton of them based on the Daily Kos post).
  • Oh, and he also “outsourced” about $1 million to a Swiss bank here (looks like Perdue is a charter member of the “one percent”).
  • Given that, I guess it’s not surprising that Perdue loves bailouts for Wall Street, but not Detroit (here).
  • As noted here, Perdue needed “dark” money from Ohio groups to defeat U.S. House Rep (and wingnut extraordinaire) Jack Kingston in the GOP primary – normally I wouldn’t give a hoot about what happens to Kingston, but this is part of a disturbing trend.
  • Here, Perdue said he was proud that “less than 2,000 women” sued his company for pay discrimination (oh brother).
  • He basically acted like he would be OK with another government shut down here, blaming “Obamacare” and defaulting on interest payments, or something – the former part is merely propaganda and the latter part has nothing to do with reality.
  • This contest is to fill the open seat formerly held by departing Repug Saxby Chambliss, who once associated disabled Vietnam vet (and former Dem senator) Max Cleland with al Qaeda – to help Michelle Nunn, daughter of former Dem Senator Sam Nunn, click here.

    Tillis_EQUns.AuSt.156

    Thom Tillis (North Carolina)

    As noted below…

  • Tillis is pretty much a foot-soldier of Art Pope, the millionaire who took over N.C. and turned it into his own personal playground (here).
  • He would let pre-existing conditions protection disappear as part of what the GOP would do to replace “Obamacare” (here).
  • And oh – surprise, surprisenow Tillis favors expanding Medicare (here).
  • He advocated state cuts to public education, but of course supported tax cuts for private jets and yachts (here – nice…and if you think there are some recurring themes here among these characters, rest assured that it’s not your imagination).
  • Tillis would make birth control illegal, like many others in his party would also (here).
  • And as noted here, I think it’s fair to judge someone by the company they keep.
  • Tillis also encouraged college students to vote for him by digging up The Sainted Ronnie R again and harping on the 70s here; the problem is that all that happened before today’s college students were even born (just say “oops” and get out, Thom).
  • To help incumbent Dem Senator Kay Hagan, Tillis’s opponent, please click here.

    I don’t think it can be overstated just how hugely important the U.S. Senate elections in particular are this Tuesday, so it is incumbent upon all of us to vote and support Dem candidates as much as our means enables us to do so. I sincerely hope this post has given you ample evidence and motivation to do just that.

    Update 10/31/14: Based on this, I would vote for a Democrat as a protest vote, if for no other reason.

    Advertisements

    Friday Mashup (5/23/14)

    May 23, 2014

    model-s-official-5b-1024x683

  • This from Fix Noise tells us the following…

    Four years have passed since President Obama visited Kansas City’s main airport, rolled up his shirt sleeves and admonished the skeptics who said Smith Electric Vehicles was unlikely to make good on its promises to build 510 experimental electric-powered trucks and buses suitable for commercial use.

    “Come see what’s going on at Smith Electric,” the president said, inspecting a table full of bright green truck batteries in what was once a maintenance hangar for TWA. “I think they’re going to be hard-pressed to tell you that you’re not better off than you would be if we hadn’t made the investments in this plant.”

    The skeptics turned out to be right.

    Despite $32 million in federal stimulus funds and status as one of Obama’s favorite “green” companies, the firm has halted production, having built just 439 of the promised 510 vehicles.

    Gee, “just” 439 out of 510? That happens to be “just” 86 percent, for those of you playing along at home (and the story also tells us that production of the vehicles may resume this summer…money is slow in the pipeline these days, and that’s definitely affecting manufacturing, among other industries).

    I’m not going to say much about the “follow the money” stuff in the linked Washington Examiner story (from Fox), alleging that Smith “stiffed” the “Missouri University of Science and Technology, the state government, and a local electrical supply company, as well as its landlord, the Kansas City city government.” Also adding to the complicated financial picture is the fact that Smith is apparently an American subsidiary of a British firm. The Examiner article alleges impropriety, but upon a couple of reviews, I think there’s no “there” there (sounds to me like some financial stuff that would be normal for a lot of other established firms…I’m open to an opposing point of view on that one).

    I mainly want to point out that how the wingnuts have been attacking the Obama Energy Department and their loans to electric car manufacturers for a little while now, including here where the number of companies that applied for loans versus the number that actually received DOE loans was flipped on purpose (all part and parcel from this playbook).

    gwb_13-george-w-bush
    Actually, this issue gives me an excuse to plug this great documentary from a few years ago, telling us that, among other things, we were on track for electric cars in this country before a certain President With The Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History sent us on a merry goose chase in search of hydrogen cars (more on him later; of course, hybrid vehicles are flourishing now also – good news on that front).

  • Next, I give you more corporate media “SKY IS FALLING!!!” wankery from Matt Bai here (opining in part about a perhaps-inevitable Hillary Clinton presidential run)…

    The truth is that, leaving aside all this bravado about happy demographics and the disunion of Republicans, Democrats are scared out of their minds right now. The House is solidly out of reach. The Senate is slipping away. And the White House could be close behind, especially if Clinton doesn’t run, and if Republicans can rally around a credible candidate.

    I’ll admit that the odds are long on the Dems retaking the House, but I think it’s premature at best to say that such a goal is “out of reach,” partly for the reason noted here.

    And as far as the Senate “slipping away,” this tells us that, among other things, Terri Lynn Land in Michigan and former Dubya confidant/Repug lobbyist Ed Gillespie in Virginia aren’t faring too well (and while Sen. Mr. Elaine Chao has pulled out close races before, he’s not currently in a comfortable spot with Dem candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes – the slime is already at work, of course…I Googled Grimes and the first hit I got was a site proclaiming her a liberal, naturally, as well as “Obama’s Nominee for Kentucky”…OOOGA BOOGA, WINGNUTS! Blow that dog whistle a little louder, OK?).

    In addition, I give you the following from kos here

    Republicans are acting as if they’ve already won control of the next Senate, and the media appears happy to play along.

    But despite tens of millions of dollars in attack ads and the right wing’s religious certainty that ObamaCare will ride them to victory, a race-by-race look reveals that Democrats aren’t only competitive in this November’s Senate elections — they’re steadily improving.

    The math is simple: Republicans need to win six seats to take control of the Senate, and are prohibitive favorites in two Democratic-held seats: South Dakota and West Virginia. That means they have to win four of the six competitive Democratic seats — Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana and North Carolina — while holding on to two endangered GOP seats in Georgia and Kentucky.

    On the macro level, Republicans are banking that discontent over the Affordable Care Act and President Obama’s unpopularity will prove the keys to the majority. In both cases, the trends aren’t in the GOP’s favor.

    In Gallup polling, Obama’s unpopularity peaked in mid-February, with a 41 percent job approval rating and 54 percent disapproval rating. Early this week, that number was 45 percent approval to 49 percent disapproval, a 9-point shift.

    Similarly, the stunning early ObamaCare success — 8 million signups on the exchange and still counting — has already led to improving poll numbers across the board, like the ABC/Washington Post poll showing support of the law at 49 percent to 48 percent against. In November, the numbers were 40/57.

    I think those numbers are also borne out by this.

    And speaking of Senatorial races, it looks like “Wall Street Scott” Brown isn’t faring too well either (here, engaging in more trickery), despite Bai’s efforts to inflate his candidacy here – second bullet.

  • Further, I give you the latest right-wing propaganda on the Affordable Care Law (here, on the subject of so-called “risk corridors”)…

    The Obama administration has quietly adjusted key provisions of its signature healthcare law to potentially make billions of additional taxpayer dollars available to the insurance industry if companies providing coverage through the Affordable Care Act lose money.

    The move was buried in hundreds of pages of new regulations issued late last week. It comes as part of an intensive administration effort to hold down premium increases for next year, a top priority for the White House as the rates will be announced ahead of this fall’s congressional elections.

    Administration officials for months have denied charges by opponents that they plan a “bailout” for insurance companies providing coverage under the healthcare law.

    They continue to argue that most insurers shouldn’t need to substantially increase premiums because safeguards in the healthcare law will protect them over the next several years.

    I’m automatically suspicious of this story because there are no links to source material that confirms this accusation. Even if it were true, though, I think the following should also be noted (here)…

    The distortion that risk corridors are an insurance company bailout is a frequent theme (not just on Fox but in conservative media generally), but this latest narrative is especially misleading. What the Fox hosts failed to acknowledge is that the estimated $5.5 billion payment doesn’t come from taxpayers, but from the insurance companies themselves. The risk corridor provision transfers money from insurance companies with healthier risk pools to companies with less healthy risk pools with higher than anticipated costs.

    While the federal government may be required to subsidize some of the payment in extreme circumstances, White House officials expect that the entire risk corridor cost over the next year will be borne by the insurance companies themselves.

    And as long as we’re talking about risk corridors, this reminds us that those in the Affordable Care Law are temporary. On the other hand, those in the Medicare Part D scam under Number 43 are permanent (Heaven forbid that conservatives don’t applaud the intrusion into this supposedly sacrosanct, glorious-private-sector concoction…no such complaints about the “corridors” from 2006, of course).

  • Continuing (and in consideration of the upcoming holiday), I give you this from a few days ago…

    With the Department of Veterans Affairs coming under attack, meanwhile down in Texas, on the ranch of the former president, another way was being shown to support our vets. This past week former President George W. Bush brought together wounded veterans and active soldiers to honor them with a mountain bike ride. The message was clear – even when you leave active duty, we will still care for you.

    This from the individual who was taking up space in An Oval Office when the Walter Reed Hospital VA scandal was taking place, and of course the Foxies had precious little to say about it as opposed to the braying they’re doing right now, as noted here.

    (Also, this Fox screed was concocted by Dr. Marc Siegel, who last wrote about “typically unselfish” Number 43 here and the questions surrounding Dubya’s stent procedure – fourth bullet.)

    And as long as I’m talking about Siegel’s piece, I give you another excerpt…

    “Some of the people riding mountain bikes here have PTS (post-traumatic stress),” Bush said. “Mountain biking is helping them get back to as normal a life as possible. And that’s not a VA function, its a private sector function.”

    God, what a baboon – helping our vets isn’t just a “private sector” function – it’s a “function” for everyone whether they’re in public life or not!

    The scandal (yes, Repugs, a legitimate one – at long last, your dreams have come true!) of what is taking place with our veterans and providing the care they need is a bipartisan one, I’ll admit (well, maybe their dreams haven’t come true after all). And I don’t know if Gen. Eric Shinseki should resign as head of the VA or not. If he does, I hope it will not be just in response to a typical attack of conservative umbrage and, at the very least, an administrator at least as competent as Shinseki will be able to transition into the job relatively smoothly (that will make a big difference in how quickly our veterans receive care also, which should of course be the most important consideration). All I’m saying is that we should have a little perspective.

    You want to go after Shinseki? Fine. But let’s remember that the reason so many veterans require care is because of two wars that weren’t started on Obama’s watch (and, in the case of Dubya’s Not So Excellent Adventure in Iraq, this should have been an anticipated consequence of “the surge,” again, before Obama was sworn in).

    And you want to talk about a VA scandal and a certain president? Let’s not forget the following:

  • This tells us about Daniel Cooper of the Bush VA and how he thought his Bible study was more important than taking care of our wounded heroes (along with Dubya’s remark about battle being “romantic”).
  • This tells us how Cooper’s one-time boss Jim Nicholson approved $3.8 million in bonuses for VA executives even though the VA had underestimated the number of Iraq war vets who were expected to seek medical treatment in 2005 by nearly 80,000.
  • And among other things, this (a column from 2007 by Paul Rieckhoff, Executive Director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America), tells us that, for years under Dubya, PTSD was misdiagnosed as a “personality disorder” (the column has to do with the nomination of Lt. Gen. James Peake, M.D., to head the VA after Nicholson’s departure).
  • So there’s a lot more all of us can do to pay better attention to our veterans who have sacrificed (and in many cases, continue to sacrifice) for us. And sure, if Obama’s wretched predecessor wants to host a bike run or a golf tournament for them (which still sticks in my craw because of this, and this), then I have to admit that he deserves a bit of credit too, even though he was overwhelmingly responsible for the wars they had to fight that led to the death and injury of our personnel.

    american-flag
    And as long as I’m on this topic, I have a request – people, can you please fly your damn flags on Monday?

    Update: Uh, yep.

  • unemployment-line_000

  • Finally (and speaking of people suffering), according to The Daily Tucker (cherry picking from a Harris poll), nearly 47 percent of unemployed Americans have given up looking for work due to the still-moribund (for just about everyone, anyone I know at least) economy, as noted here.

    In response, this tells you that “Man Tan” Boehner has pissed away just about $5 billion in economic gains due to refusing to renew an extension to unemployment benefits.

    Are you disgusted by that? Good. Click here.


  • Tuesday Mashup (4/15/14)

    April 15, 2014

    equal pay

  • I know my “A” list “betters” have already pilloried Beltway media stenographer Ruth Marcus who said here in Jeff Bezos Daily that the Senate Dems’ language on equal pay for women is “revolting,” but I feel compelled to “pile on” anyway.

    And that is because what is really revolting is the fact that congressional Republicans have blocked the legislation Marcus ridicules three times now, including the occasion noted here from June 2012 (as the story notes, the equal pay issue sprung from the Lilly Ledbetter Law, passed and signed by Obama to correct yet another awful Supreme Court decision, this one limiting workers’ rights to sue for alleged pay discrimination – no word from Marcus on whether or not she thinks any of that is “revolting” also).

    With all of this in mind, I think it’s time to revisit the following lowlights from Marcus:

  • As noted here, Marcus also criticized Mary Cheney for supporting marriage equality (actually, opposing her sister Liz’s opposition to same, and yes, I know this puts me in the utterly weird position of actually defending a member of the family of Dick Cheney).
  • Marcus also said here once said that “80 percent of people with employer-sponsored health insurance would be unaffected” by a 2007 health care proposal from Dubya that would have led to smaller Social Security payouts for workers who participated.
  • She also sprang to the defense of former Bushie “Abu” Gonzales here.
  • Here, “Glenzilla” took Marcus to task in a discussion about NSA leaker Edward Snowden (yep, Greenwald is definitely someone who gives it to you straight, whether you like it or not).
  • Marcus had a problem here with recess appointments under Obama, but not under Dubya since her husband benefitted from it.
  • A whole bunch of stuff on Marcus can be accessed from here (some duplicate items I’ll admit).
  • It’s pretty disheartening to be a Dem when you don’t see your candidates mixing it up with the Repugs they claim to be running against, instead opting for some “sensible centrist” BS campaign that inevitably loses elections. And that is just fine with Marcus and her effete brethren, tut-tutting over that nasty rabble who dares to hold her to account while she hob-knobs with the “smart set” and politely asks to pass the sweet and sour shrimp.

  • And speaking of corporate media wankery, I give you this prize from Matt Bai (in the matter of “Wall Street Scott” Brown taking his act on the road to New Hampshire)…

    Constituency-shopping now isn’t only viable for a glamorous candidate like Hillary Clinton, an Arkansan by way of Illinois who followed RFK’s path to a Senate seat from New York. In a sense, most of our leading politicians now are carpetbaggers of one kind or another. Barack Obama is from Hawaii or Illinois or even Kansas, depending on how you look at it. Mitt Romney was a Massachusetts governor with a political base in Utah. The Bushes are from Maine and Texas and Florida.

    Yes, but not a one of them tried to flip from one Congressional seat to another representing constituencies from completely separate states, did they?

    Oh, and let’s not forget how Bai also once claimed that we lefties “demand…partisan government,” or something, here.

  • Next, it looks like Murdoch Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens is in a particularly crabby mood today, lashing out at Republicans and Democrats alike and basically arguing that Rand Paul should win the Repug presidential nomination (God, how can we seriously be talking about that already?) “because maybe what the GOP needs is another humbling landslide defeat” (here).

    See, our Pulitzer Prize-winning (ugh) scribe is mad at Paul (the junior senator from a state with eight electoral votes, as Stephens puts it) because the “ophthalmologist” criticized “Deadeye Dick” Cheney and the rest of Bushco for waging war in Mesopotamia to make scads and scads of dough for Halliburton (I think you can chalk this up to the broken clock that is right no more than twice a day).

    So how does Stephens put it?

    …It’s the signature question of every conspiracy theorist with an unhinged mind. Cheney. Halliburton. Big Oil. The military-industrial complex. Neocons. 9/11. Soldiers electrocuted in the shower. It all makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?

    Is Stephens seriously trying to argue that the documented incidents of our soldiers electrocuted in showers in Iraq and Afghanistan (I must have slept through the scathing congressional hearings that took place over that one…right?) are instead the work of “every conspiracy theorist with an unhinged mind?”

    As repugnant as that false equivalency is, it is totally in character for Stephens, given his prior commentary on Iraq as noted here.

  • Further, this story seemed to come and go about the U.S. potentially allowing international control over domain names that used to be under our purview, but I thought it rated a mention (especially since that moonbat Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee was caterwauling about it in the House)…

    The “domain name system” is sort of like the phone book for the Internet—it’s the tool your computer used to convert the URL “Time.com” into the unique code of numbers and letters that are the actual address for this website—and it has historically been owned by the United States but administered through the international nonprofit ICANN. The Domain Openness Through Continued Oversight Matters Act (a name excruciatingly eked out of the DOTCOM Act acronym) would, if passed into law, prevent the Obama Administration from going through with its plan to permanently turn control of the Internet’s domain name system over to an international authority comprised of various Internet stakeholders. Under the DOTCOM Act, that handover would be delayed at least until the completion of a government study into the implications of such a move.

    I honestly don’t know enough about this issue to comment much one way or the other, but here is my question – how come there are so many congressional representatives on both sides who are apparently up in arms over a real or imagined threat to the Internet from non-U.S. “actors,” but these same folks apparently have no issue with the telcos running completely roughshod over any attempts to maintain a free and open internet in this country via Net Neutrality?

    Yes, I know the answer (ka-ching!), but I need to ask anyway.

  • Continuing, I haven’t bothered to find out what “The Pericles of Petticoat Junction” (as James Wolcott calls him) has been up to for a little while now, so I give you the latest from a certain V.D. Hanson here (looks like it’s more indignation over supposed liberal persecution)…

    What if you supported equality for all Americans regardless of their sexual preference, but — like presidential candidate Barack Obama in 2008 and about half the country today — opposed making gay marriage legal?

    If you were the CEO of Mozilla, Brendan Eich, you would be forced to resign your position.

    Awww…

    The departure of Brendan Eich, as far as I’m concerned, was nothing more than the free market, so beloved by Hanson and his playmates, at work. And that would be the same free market that dispatched Martin Bashir from his job as an MSNBC commentator, even though he apologized for an inference about Sarah Palin that was admittedly sickening (matched only by Palin’s original comments about slavery).

    abughraibhood
    Oh, and as long as we’re talking about a supposed liberal “inquisition,” let’s not forget that this image (the closest thing to an honest-to-goodness, for real inquisition that I can recall) can be traced back to the foul, fetid Bushco reign, with that gang being comprised of anything but liberals.

    Besides, if Hanson honestly cared about free speech in the workplace, then he might want to read this column from Slate’s Jamelle Bouie on the subject, particularly the following…

    …let’s grant that…Eich’s forced resignation is an attack on speech, and that this is an ugly bout of bullying against someone who hasn’t expressed his views in the context of his job. If that’s true, then Eich is just the highest profile victim of a status quo that threatens countless workers.

    Title VII of the Civil Rights Act might protect workers from discrimination on the basis of their race, color, religion, sex, age, or national origin, but almost everything else is fair game for private employers who want to get rid of workers. Not only can you be fired for your political views—for sporting the wrong bumper sticker on your car, for instance—or for being “sexually irresistible” to your boss, but in most states (29, to be precise), you can be fired for your sexual orientation or gender identification, no questions asked.

    In any case, there’s nothing conservatives can do about Eich’s resignation. But they can join with labor activists and others to push for greater worker protections, like the Employee Non-Discrimination Act. For as much as employer flexibility is important to a dynamic economy, it’s also true that no one should fear firing for the people they love, the identity they claim, or the donations they make.

    Simply put, if conservatives are frustrated by the treatment of Eich for his role in Proposition 8, then they should be outraged by the treatment of ordinary people at the hands of the people who employ them.

    More on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act is here, which has been introduced in congressional sessions for just about 20 years and has been stalled every time (the latest version has passed the Senate and is currently stuck in the U.S. House…shocking, I know).

    Update 4/16/14: And as long as I included that pic, here is an update.

  • On we go – this from The Daily Tucker tells us the following…

    Senate Republicans warn that President Obama’s new focus on agricultural methane emissions could mean a tax on livestock emissions — including cow flatulence.

    South Dakota Sen. John Thune and fellow GOP senators sent a letter to Obama administration officials urging them not to regulate livestock emissions as part of the president’s crusade against global warming.

    Obama’s “Climate Action Plan” would require the dairy industry to reduce methane emissions by 25 percent by 2020. The Agriculture Department, Energy Department and Environmental Protection Agency are set to put together a “Biogas” roadmap to reduce methane emissions.

    Republicans argue that Obama’s methane reduction plan could lead to “heavy-handed” regulations that would “have detrimental implications on livestock operations across the country.”

    The EPA is currently barred from regulating methane emissions from livestock production through an “annual appropriations rider” that expires every year. But this does not mean the EPA will not try again, warn Republicans.

    Of course, EPA head Gina McCarthy (as the piece tells us) said that the EPA has no plan to try and regulate methane emissions from “cow flatulence.” Which is a shame, actually.

    And that is because, as noted here, “cow flatulence and indigestion is really no joke: measuring and reducing methane emissions from all of the world’s livestock is a serious area of study.”

    Continuing…

    …there is general agreement that livestock farming worldwide is a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions, producing 80 million metric tons of methane a year, or about 28% of global methane emissions from human-related activities.

    Meanwhile, researchers at the University of New Hampshire had to defend their $700,000 Department of Agriculture grant to study reducing emissions from cow burps at organic dairy farms, when it wound up on Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn’s list of the most wasteful government programs.

    Researchers in Argentina don’t think cow farts are a laughing matter either. They have strapped plastic tanks to cows’ backs in order to trap and measure the amount of methane each animal produces (a 1200-pound cow produced 800 to 1000 liters of emissions each day). With about 55 million head of cattle grazing on grasslands in its beef industry, Argentina has a significant stake in understanding this source of its greenhouse gases (which could be as high as 30 percent of its total emissions).

    And as noted from here

    Most of the planet-warming greenhouse gas pollution in the United States comes from carbon dioxide, which is produced by burning coal, oil and natural gas. Methane accounts for just 9 percent of the nation’s greenhouse gas pollution — but the gas is over 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide, so even small amounts of it can have a big impact on future global warming.

    So go ahead and keep making your “Apocalypse Cow” jokes, wingnuts, while our planet slowly melts, our waters dry up and we all choke to death on our own fumes. Heckuva job!

  • Kathleen_Sebelius_official_portrait

  • Finally, I just wanted to say thanks to departing HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who probably will get only a speck of the credit she is due for helping to ensure that the Affordable Care Act became law; millions of Americans have benefitted and will benefit by obtaining health coverage when they would have otherwise been denied, in no small part because of her efforts (I thought this was a well-done appreciation – this also).

  • Friday Mashup (2/22/13)

    February 22, 2013

  • This story about another photo-op by Mikey the Beloved, for the purposes of consumption by unwitting consumers of the Bucks County Courier Times (Mikey’s house organ, let’s not forget), contains what might be the most shocking piece of actual reporting I’ve ever read from Gary Weckselblatt…

    Tuesday’s meeting in Sellersville Borough Hall was attended by veterans, nearly all of them seniors, who received automated calls by Fitzpatrick, R-8, for the mid-afternoon event.

    Fitzpatrick has taken to these smaller gatherings, where he is rarely challenged.

    Ye Gods, man! What are you trying to do, make it as plain as day that Mikey wants face time only with his followers and absolutely no one else?

    Weckselblatt had better be careful – he’s dangerously close to going “off script” here. And that will never do for a publication that sanitizes Fitzpatrick’s doings so effectively, all for the purposes of maintaining the “moderate Mikey” façade.

  • Next, I have to admit that I was puzzled by this item from Sen. Mr. Elaine Chao (blaming Number 44 exclusively for the looming “sequester,” a stinking dead dog of a deal Obama was basically forced to accept in order for the inmates running the asylum of the U.S. House to stop holding the debt ceiling hostage two years ago)…

    “Surely the president won’t cut funds to first responders when just last year Washington handed out an estimated $115 billion in payments to individuals who weren’t even eligible to receive them, or at a time when 11 different government agencies are funding 90 different green energy programs,” McConnell said in a statement. “That would be a terrible and entirely unnecessary choice by a President who claims to want bipartisan reform.”

    I really haven’t found any other information on the Senate Minority Leader’s claim, nothing direct anyway (and Heaven forbid that our lapdog corporate media actually hold McConnell to account).

    Unless of course Sen. Mr. Chao is referring to the Social Security payroll tax break, which, as noted here, would cost $115 billion were it to be extended through this year. Also, Think Progress tells us here that the Repugs basically opposed the tax break all along (egad, free money for the “47 percent”? You mean, those “takers”? Those people who believe they’re entitled to “big gumint”? Fetch the smelling salts – I may faint!…in addition, I thought this was an interesting related story).

    If that’s the “115 billion” McConnell is talking about…well then, shouldn’t he own that talking point for good and tells us what it means, if anything?

    (And speaking of McConnell…)

    And as long as I’m talking about the “sequester” and the Teahadists, it looks like someone in Boehner’s caucus named Jim Bridenstine of Oklahoma thinks the U.S. House Speaker will “cave” (herethis tells us how Bridenstine unseated incumbent Repug John Sullivan in the primary, which, for all intents and purposes, was the election…a curious case of optometrists versus ophthalmologists, apparently).

    Well, while the unemployment rate in Tulsa is about 5 percent (here), which is below the national average I know, I’m sure those 24 K or so people in Bridenstine’s district won’t be happy about a probable reduction in benefits, as noted here – you would think Bridenstine would be more concerned about that than sucking up to those zany teabaggers (kind of makes you wonder why they would even vote for Repugs to begin with given all of this, but that’s another story I know).

    Update 6/5/13: It looks like Bridenstine has endeared himself to the Teahadists again here.

    Update 6/12/13: I guess we’re looking at a weekly feature now – what stupid thing will Bridenstine say or do next (here).

  • Continuing, I really hadn’t planned to say anything about the business with Christopher Dorner in California, he being the LA cop who was let go and went on a killing spree before he was cornered and apparently took his own life, as noted here.

    That is, I hadn’t planned to say anything until a certain V.D. Hanson decided to opine on it here

    …the Dorner and (Trayvon) Martin cases suggest that the old racial binaries are fossilized and increasingly irrelevant. The United States is now a multiracial society, an intermarried society, and an integrated society, in which racial identity is each year more confusing. As we have seen with Elizabeth Warren and Ward Churchill, race is becoming a construct frequently used by elites for purposes other than their concern for the general welfare.

    I don’t know what the hell that sentence means (and I don’t have a clue as to what the “fossilized” old “racial binaries” are either), except to try and tie Dorner in with Trayvon Martin, Elizabeth Warren (whose ancestry was questioned here by “Wall Street Scott” Brown, bringing all of this to a head, let’s not forget) and OMIGOD Ward Churchill (who nobody cares about except conservatives).

    Hanson also references that stupid quote from Marc Lamont Hill, who, as Charles Blow pointed out, apologized for it (here – and Hanson, of course, being the hatchet man that he is, only included the word “exciting” from Hill’s quote anyway).

    Of course, this is about what you should expect from Hanson, who goofed on the issue of race before here, saying that then-presidential candidate Barack Obama did not give his views on “reparations” for people of color, when he had in fact done that very thing, with Obama saying that “the best reparations we can provide are good schools in the inner city and jobs for people who are unemployed.”

  • Further, I give you this on the nomination of Chuck Hagel for Defense Secretary…

    Sen. James Inhofe (R., Okla.) has warned fellow Republicans they will be held accountable if they vote to end an ongoing Senate filibuster over the nomination of embattled secretary of defense nominee (Hagel).

    “Make no mistake; a vote for cloture is a vote to confirm Sen. Hagel as Secretary of Defense,” Inhofe wrote in a strongly worded letter to his Republican colleagues, several of whom have indicated in recent days that they would vote to end debate on Hagel’s nomination, paving the way for his confirmation.

    With that in mind, I give you this from Inhofe about a week ago…

    “We’re going to require a 60-vote threshold,” Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) told Foreign Policy. But, he added, “It’s not a filibuster. I don’t want to use that word.”

    Sooo…as far as Inhofe is concerned, on the 13th he wasn’t talking about a filibuster, but now he is?

    My understanding (and I’ll admit I’m hardly an expert when it comes to the minutiae of the U.S. Senate) is that to delay a vote for cloture is to continue a filibuster (with the word cloture meaning “to end debate,” more or less).

    But please don’t call the opposition to Hagel a filibuster, OK?

  • Finally, I should point out that Mark Halperin is still an idiot (here, saying on “Morning Joe” that Obama could “reach out” to “moderate” Repug Senators. Rob Portman, Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander…really?).
  • As noted here, Portman introduced something called the “End Government Shutdowns Act,” the next effect of which would be to create automatic “continuing resolutions” that would defund all of that stuff liked by those who are supposedly dependent on government in the event that a budget deal wasn’t reached, giving the Teahadists the capability to do what they want via legislation instead of through threatening fiscal calamity on a regular basis (and more fool Jon Tester for going along with this garbage).
  • As noted here, Corker would only cave on those stinking Bush tax cuts if there was a cut in Medicare benefits (remember that the next time you hear Corker or any other Repug saying it’s the Dems who would do hard to that popular program).
  • As noted here, Alexander once accused the Obama White House of compiling an “enemies list” after hearing about it from Sean Inanity (gee, “project” much, Lamar?).
  • Meanwhile, Halperin will always get a guest shot on the morning gabfests (just lather, rinse, repeat, and cash the f*cking check…nice work if you can get it).


  • Friday Mashup (10/5/12)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    In response, Forbes tells us the following here

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The postal service, we are told, is broke.

    There’s only one problem with this diagnosis.

    It’s wrong.

    The postal service is not broke.

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

    Actually, Bloomberg pegs that number even higher here

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

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

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

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

    And with postage due.


  • Wednesday Mashup (9/29/10)

    September 29, 2010

    Some of these are a few days old, but this is my first chance to say anything in response…

  • 1) John Harwood of the New York Times told us the following recently (here)…

    Mr. Obama aims to use President George W. Bush’s record in the same way Mr. Reagan used Mr. Carter’s. It was Mr. Bush and his Republican allies in Congress, he tells campaign audiences, who drove the economy “into a ditch.”

    The velocity of contemporary media, not to mention its ferocity, may render that argument more difficult to make. In the ever-advancing news cycle, on cable television and the Internet, news tends to get old faster.

    Soo…Harwood is arguing that the Internet will make people forget who created the mess that Obama inherited?

    Not according to this.

  • 2) Also, Marc Thiessen, in the midst of some shockingly sensible commentary, provided what I thought was a hilarious observation here…

    The arrival of conservative insurgents will fundamentally transform the Senate in other ways. Some of the worst bills in the Senate get approved by unanimous consent, which means all it takes is one senator to object. Today, for example, Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma wages a lonely campaign for fiscal discipline by objecting to authorization bills where spending increases are not offset by spending cuts elsewhere. But it gets tiring being the skunk at the garden party every week. Soon there will be a raft of newly elected senators willing to join him in saying “no” to bad legislation.

    This tells us that Coburn is holding up a food safety bill costing $1.4 billion because he claims that the bill isn’t paid for. Of course, no immediate calculation is available telling us how much it would cost to hospitalize victims of something similar to the recent egg contamination outbreak were that to occur again – my guess is that it would cost more than $1.4 billion (And as far as I’m concerned, Coburn’s supposed fiscal prudence is more Beltway media mythology – how about cutting $95 million in useless “abstinence only” funding, as noted here?).

    What I object to most in Thiessen’s column, though, is the notion that, in the god awful event that people such as Ken Buck, Sharron Angle, etc. were actually elected to the Senate, they would restore some kind of fiscal rectitude.

    In response, I think we should look at a hero of the teabaggers from a few months ago, and that would be Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts. As noted here (hat tip to lynnrockets.wordpress.com)…

    WASHINGTON — Senator Scott Brown says he will fight to fund a multibillion-dollar weapons program that could generate jobs in Massachusetts but that the Pentagon insists it does not need, sparking criticism that Brown is breaking his campaign vow to rein in wasteful spending.

    The Bay State Republican’s support for General Electric’s bid to build a backup engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter puts the new senator in the middle of a confrontation over congressional earmarks with the Obama administration, which has threatened a presidential veto if Congress inserts funding for the engine for the fifth year in a row.

    “This is yet another example of how ‘fiscally responsible’ lawmakers have a giant blind spot when it comes to defense spending in their districts,’’ said Laura Peterson, a senior national security analyst at Taxpayers for Common Sense, a nonpartisan budget watchdog group that monitors earmarks. “His support was clearly driven by parochial concerns rather than financial ones.’’

    “If Scott Brown helps out GE he will be doing exactly the opposite of what he said he would do when he ran,’’ said Loren Thompson, a defense budget specialist at the Lexington Institute in Arlington, Va., which is supported by multiple defense firms, including Pratt & Whitney.

    And in another related “pot, meet kettle” development, I give you this.

  • 3) Finally, Joe Pitts was given more online real estate at Tucker Carlson’s Crayon Scribble Page recently to concoct the following (here)…

    The first objective of the Pledge to America is to create jobs, end economic uncertainty, and make America more competitive. This means standing against job-killing tax hikes that are due to take effect on January 1, 2011. Our plan calls for growing new and existing small businesses through a tax deduction equal to 20 percent of their business income. We also need to repeal the burdensome new tax-reporting requirement created by the health care reform bill.

    As noted here…

    Republicans forecast disaster when the Democratic Congress and President Bill Clinton raised taxes in 1993, and forecast rising prosperity when taxes were cut in 2001. Both forecasts were wrong.

    From the end of 1993 through the end of 2000, the American economy grew at a compound annual rate of 3.9 percent. Since then, the average rate has been 1.6 percent. The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index rose at a compound rate of 13.1 percent a year during the first period, assuming reinvestment of dividends. Since then investors have not even broken even. Of course, there is no way to know what would have happened had tax laws not changed in those years.

    Pancake Joe also tells us…

    The Pledge calls for an immediate stop to stimulus spending. Over $200 billion remains unspent and we must act quickly to prevent more waste. This also means permanently cancelling the TARP bailout program and returning the money to the Treasury.

    As the New York Times noted recently here in a fine editorial about the “pledge,” the recent Dodd-Frank amendment in financial reform legislation prohibited more TARP funding.

    The editorial also tells us the following…

    While it promises to create jobs, control deficit spending and restore Americans’ trust in government, (the “pledge”) is devoid of tough policy choices. This new “governing agenda” does not say how the Republicans would replace revenue that would be lost from permanently extending all of the Bush tax cuts, or how they would manage Medicare and Social Security, or even which discretionary programs would go when they slash $100 billion in spending. Their record at all of these things is dismal.

    The best way to understand the pledge is as a bid to co-opt the Tea Party by a Republican leadership that wants to sound insurrectionist but is the same old Washington elite. These are the folks who slashed taxes on the rich, turned a surplus into a crushing deficit, and helped unleash the financial crisis that has thrown millions of Americans out of their jobs and their homes.

    Not only are the players the same, the policies are the same. Just more tax cuts for the rich and more deficit spending. We find it hard to believe that even the most disaffected voters will be taken in. But again, these are strange and worrying times.

    Returning to Pitts…

    One way to get back to balanced budgets is to repeal the healthcare law. Contrary to White House claims, the Congressional Budget Office and Medicare’s own actuaries have shown that Obamacare will not pay for itself. This new law will be an extraordinary weight on government, businesses, and, most importantly, doctors and patients. We are committed to repealing the law and replacing it with free-market solutions.

    No word on whether or not Pitts wants to “repeal” the defense budget, for example, and replace it with “free market solutions” (many expenditures in the budget will not pay for themselves and are “an extraordinary weight”…of course, Pitts con-vee-niently singles out one of his favorite targets).

    Meanwhile, in the matter of the financing of health care reform, the following should be noted (here)…

    (The Congressional Budget Office) has finished its work and will release the official preliminary score…But here are the basic numbers: The bill will cost $940 billion over the first 10 years and reduce the deficit by $130 billion during that period. In the second 10 years — so, 2020 to 2029 — it will reduce the deficit by $1.2 trillion. The legislation will cover 32 million Americans, or 95 percent of the legal population.

    And if Pitts had read the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) report that was released in April of this year, he would know that increases in national health expenditures are largest in 2016 and “gradually decline thereafter” (here).

    Update 10/1/10: As noted here, HCR is “paid for” anyway, so Pitts’ entire talking point looks particularly ridiculous.

    When I think of the GOP’s “pledge,” I think of a household product of the same name that applies a shine to furniture, but does nothing to structurally reinforce the product to which it is applied. And in terms of making something look attractive without implementing economically sound fundamental fixes, I think of the GOP’s “pledge” in about the same way.

    Once more, to help Lois Herr, Joe Pitts’ Dem opponent for his PA-16 U.S. House seat, click here.


  • Wednesday Mashup Part One (4/28/10)

    April 28, 2010

  • 1) There aren’t too many issues where I split with my lefty brethren, but the Cape Wind development project in Massachusetts is most definitely one of them.

    And we all heard the news today, oh boy (here).

    In response, I give you Sen. Scott Brown from here (yes, I’m serious)…

    “I am strongly opposed to the administration’s misguided decision to move forward with Cape Wind. While I support the concept of wind power as an alternative source of energy, Nantucket Sound is a national treasure that should be protected from industrialization,” Brown said in a statement. “With unemployment hovering near 10 percent in Massachusetts, the Cape Wind project will jeopardize industries that are vital to the Cape’s economy, such as tourism and fishing, and will also impact aviation safety and the rights of the Native American tribes in the area. I am also skeptical about the cost-savings and job number predictions we have heard from proponents of the project.

    “Instead of forging a coalition and building consensus, this administration has created a deep division that will lead to fewer Massachusetts jobs and more expensive court battles,” Brown wrote. “I am proud to stand with Congressman Bill Delahunt and leaders on both sides of the political aisle who share my concerns with this ill-advised plan.”

    (And by the way, I thought Brown was a Johnny-come-lately to this, until I found a story claiming he opposed the project last February…can’t find the link at the moment – and I know there’s political posturing by Brown here, but I – gulp! – fundamentally agree with him).

    I am not unsympathetic to the job creation issue for the commonwealth of MA, but there absolutely had to be a better place to stick a bunch of wind turbines than smack in the middle of Nantucket Sound (and I haven’t heard a serious alternative to this plan anywhere).

    And yes, I partly blame myself also for not devoting more attention to this over the last few months. However, what had transpired were a bunch of rulings and matters of bureaucratic minutiae, which, truth be told, makes for pretty boring posting material.

  • 2) That being said, I should bring to your attention two more matters of activism where we can be a bit more proactive; the first is described here about an event that transpired yesterday…

    It was a silent call to arms: an easy-to-overlook message urging New Jersey students to take a stand against the budget cuts that threaten class sizes and choices as well as after-school activities. But some 18,000 students accepted the invitation posted last month on Facebook, the social media site better known for publicizing parties and sporting events. And on Tuesday many of them — and many others — walked out of class in one of the largest grass-roots demonstrations to hit New Jersey in years.

    [snip]

    The mass walkouts were inspired by Michelle Ryan Lauto…”All I did was make a Facebook page,” said Ms. Lauto, who graduated last year from Northern Valley Regional High School in Old Tappan, N.J. “Anyone who has an opinion could do that and have their opinion heard. I would love to see kids in high school step up and start their own protests and change things in their own way.”

    And as noted in the Daily Kos post, the diarist has started a Facebook page in an effort to get “Governor 33 Percent” recalled (We “see” your Bob Menendez and “raise” you Christie, wingnuts).

    Awesome!

  • Update 5/1/10: And by the way, charming imagery here, Governor…

  • 3) And here is the second…

    San Francisco officials on Tuesday will consider(ed) a sweeping boycott of Arizona in the wake of that state’s passage of tough anti-illegal-immigration measures.

    A resolution before the Board of Supervisors calls on the city to cancel contracts with companies based in Arizona and halt business ties between city government and the state.

    Well, that’s actually a starting-off point for what I’m proposing, good idea though it is. And I got the idea after reading this story, including the following…

    HOUSTON — The Oklahoma Legislature voted Tuesday to override the governor’s vetoes of two abortion measures, one of which requires women to undergo an ultrasound and listen to a detailed description of the fetus before getting an abortion.

    Though other states have passed similar measures requiring women to have ultrasounds, Oklahoma’s law goes further, mandating that a doctor or technician set up the monitor so the woman can see it and describe the heart, limbs and organs of the fetus. No exceptions are made for rape and incest victims.

    A second measure passed into law on Tuesday prevents women who have had a disabled baby from suing a doctor for withholding information about birth defects while the child was in the womb.

    To me, this is at least as monstrous as the Arizona “illegal-to-be-brown” law.

    Sooo…a doctor could actually lie about the health of the baby to the mother with impunity? And that is after the mother is made to watch for proof that the baby is viable?

    In a scenario like this, I suppose?


    If this isn’t a reason to boycott travel to the state of Oklahoma or impose punitive sanctions, I don’t know what is (and keep telling me that “The Handmaid’s Tale” is fiction).

  • Update 5/11/10: Want another reason to boycott the “OK” State? Read this.

    Update 5/13/10: Troglodytes…


  • Top Posts & Pages

  • Advertisements