Thursday Mashup 10/18/12

October 18, 2012
  • I give you The Daily Tucker (here)…

    Thursday marks the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act. No doubt, the billions spent on the act have improved overall water quality. Yet as someone who regularly rowed on Washington, D.C.’s Potomac River during college, I know that the Clean Water Act and the EPA are still in murky water.

    The author then goes on to lament the fact that storm runoff (i.e., trash) ends up in the Potomac, which he encounters while rowing. So, for that reason, he considers the Clean Water Act “40 years of inefficient solutions.”

    Seriously.

    Now I don’t know how culpable the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority (DCWSA) is for this circumstance (that is where the author squarely lays the blame). However, the author also tells us that he’s a member of the Property and Environment Research Center (note the order of “property” and “environment,” by the way) which, as noted here, “(is linked) to a long list of the country’s most powerful right-wing foundations and organizations committed to deregulation of industry and to the privatization of public assets” (David Currie, the author of this piece, keeps harking back to “market-based solutions,” which for our purposes here is wingnut code for letting business do whatever it wants).

    However, I think it’s still idiotic to consider the Clean Water Act to be a “failure” focus solely on the ongoing pollutions challenges not addressed by the Clean Water Act (here); Obama Administration EPA head Lisa Jackson, citing the Act’s accomplishments here, said it “has kept tens of billions of pounds of sewage, chemicals and trash out of the nation’s waterways during the past 40 years. The federal law, which includes regulations governing drinking water and requiring improvements in the environmental health of rivers, lakes and seas, has dramatically improved both human health and the environment.”

    Also concerning the Act, this tells us that the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has encouraged Congress to reauthorize the CWA; I guess Boehner, Cantor, Mikey the Beloved and their pals won’t do it because they consider it to be an unwarranted regulatory intrusion, or something. In addition, the National Clean Water Network tells us here what new assaults the life forms running the U.S. House are planning against the Act and the environment overall (with this Romney advisor telling us he, and by extension, his party’s presidential nominee, wants to “reverse this trend of ownership of public lands,” as if that’s supposedly so awful).

    I guess this is par for the Repug course when you consider that the law was originally vetoed here by then-president Richard Nixon because it was supposedly too expensive, which prompted a statesman-like response from Sen. Ed Muskie, asking what the “cost” was for our health and a safe environment.

    And while I wish Number 44 would distance himself from his electoral opponent on this issue, this tells us that “stim” funds were committed to cleanup of our waterways, and here, Dem Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, introduced H.R. 6249 – the Water Protection and Reinvestment Act in the House of Representatives, legislation to “establish a Clean Water Trust Fund, which is revenue neutral, does not add to the federal debt, (and raises) approximately $9 billion a year for the Trust Fund.”

    However, given this, do you honestly believe “Orange Man” and his pals will budge one inch in favor of doing the right thing?

  • Also, did you know that Mr. “Binders Full of Women” is supposedly better on LGBT Issues than Obama? The author of this piece says so anyway (sticking with The Daily Tucker)…

    While we applaud President Obama for supporting the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell — a failed policy that Governor Romney and his running mate Rep. Paul Ryan have said they will not reinstate — and while we give President Obama credit for coming to the Dick Cheney position on marriage equality, the truth is that Obama’s administration has been devastating for average gay people and their families.

    Really? Why, just stick a rainbow decal from that Toyota Sienna minivan on my forehead and Color Me Shocked!

    How can that be, given that Romney and his running mate, Mr. Puppy-Dog-Eyes-With-The-Shiv, both support the ridiculous Defense of Marriage Act, as noted here (well, Mitt was better on this in 1994, as noted here, opposing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and supporting the Employee Non-Discrimination Act – I guess he “shook that Etch-a-Sketch” and came up with a new answer…and isn’t this interesting concerning DOMA?).

    This takes us to a Think Progress post asking Romney six questions on LGBT issues that he should answer (and answering in the affirmative would definitely go against his party’s platform, such as it is). But until Romney does answer them (and holds to that answer without changing his mind for at least five minutes), there’s no reason to take him seriously on this subject.

    And as long as we’re discussing the Repug presidential nominee, I think this column asks a very good question (and one that definitely should be discussed in the debates – maybe for the last one I hope), and that is how Willard Mitt feels about torture (he can even call it “enhanced interrogation” if he wants – I have to tell you, though, that I think the answer is here, and it’s not a good one).

    Related to that item, I give you this, telling us about some of the “war heads” who would likely comprise a Romney foreign policy team, including PNAC’s Eliot Cohen, “Baghdad” Dan Senor, and Cofer Black of the aptly-named (but no longer – currently “XE”) Blackwater, along with former Bushie John Lehman and someone named Pierre Prosper.

    But as far as Romney and foreign policy goes (and tied to his utter debate flameout on Libya), this tells us about more of Willard Mitt’s “do as I say, not as I do” BS.

  • Further, I give you “Pastor” Gerson of the WaPo, lecturing the Dems (Biden in particular) on “civility” here (a bit behind in the news cycle on this, I’ll admit)…

    At the height of a close election, it is worth a reminder that civility is the essential democratic virtue. Civility is not the same thing as niceness. The high stakes of politics can produce intense disagreements. But manners — even cold, formal ones — communicate a modicum of mutual respect and preserve the possibility of cooperation. John Stuart Mill called democracy “government by discussion.” Biden has left our discussion more toxic — and Obama’s task more difficult.

    Of course, this was written before the Tuesday debate, it should be noted.

    This is the same Michael Gerson, by the way, who once said here that President Obama was “delusional” and the reconciliation process (used by both parties and embraced by that fine, upstanding Roman Catholic Repug VP nominee) was “dirty.” Also, the same Gerson held up “Straight Talk” McCain as a supposed model of civility here, even though McCain once asked “how do we beat the bitch?” in reference to Hillary Clinton (when “Senator Honor and Virtue” thought she would be the ’08 Dem presidential nominee), and said that Chelsea Clinton was “ugly” because “her father was Janet Reno.”

    I give you another lesson in wingnut code; when Gerson and his ilk talk about “civility,” what that means is a Democrat is supposed to sit down, shut up, and let a Repug take charge.

  • Finally, turning to sports, this tells us that Spencer Hawes, who I believe is still with the Sixers (haven’t found evidence to the contrary), has taken to the Twitter thingie to endorse Romney.

    Which I would care less about, were it not for the fact that he did it like this:

    Hawes made it clear earlier this year that he is not a supporter of noted basketball fan President Obama, or of the president’s signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act. When the Supreme Court handed down its ruling that the healthcare reform legislation is constitutional in June, Hawes tweeted: “Ronald Reagan is spinning in his grave. We might as well be in Russia in 1983.”

    He went on to refer to the Obama administration as communist in several tweets, and added:

    Just drove by a bald eagle who appeared to be crying. Coincidence @BarackObama?

    Ha and ha, wingnut.

    Oh yes, Hawes is so “established” that they traded for Andrew Bynum and his questionable knees and signed the human punch line that is Kwame Brown (here).

    When it comes to playing center for the Sixers, if Hawes is the answer, then the question is too scary to contemplate (just add him to the list of failed centers for that team – Matt Geiger, Jeff Ruland coming off injury, etc.).

    In the meantime, tells Hawes to try driving the lane against Dwight Howard the next time he opposes the Lakers.

    And then let me know when I should call 911.

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    Thursday Mashup (10/11/12)

    October 11, 2012
  • Gosh, Willard Mitt Romney just looks so presidential here, doesn’t he?…

    Mitt Romney called Monday for a change of course in America’s Middle East policy, accusing President Obama of sitting on the sidelines in the face of a “profound upheaval” across the region. The Republican nominee pledged that, if elected, he would prosecute a far more engaged foreign policy, including helping to arm the opposition in Syria’s bloody civil war.

    “Hope is not a strategy,” Romney said.

    In response, Juan Cole, who I’m sure has forgotten more about Syria and the Middle East in general than Romney will ever know, outlines at least ten reasons here why arming the Syrian rebels would be a terrible idea (let’s see, one of the rebel groups is affiliated with al Qaeda; another, the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, is pals with Hamas; flooding the region with weapons makes for an already volatile mix given Israel’s continued intransigence on those godawful settlements, etc.).

    Oh, and it’s not as if Romney’s supposed foreign policy strategy is so different from Obama’s anyway (I mean, to the extent that we can trust Romney at all on this subject, as noted here…and it looks like Romney shook that Etch-a-Sketch, or something, on this issue here).

    Not to be outdone, though, Romney’s fellow U.S. House Repugs carried out another little dog-and-pony show in lieu of actual governance here concerning the attack on our embassy in Libya and the killing of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others.

    Um, correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the U.S. House responsible for funding government operations? Such as security for our embassy personnel (with Repug Jason Chaffetz being dumb enough to give away the proverbial game here…and by the way, it looks like Chaffetz stepped in deep doo-doo again here)?

  • Next, I give you someone named Jay Greene, who claims to be “a fellow at the George W. Bush Institute” (not something I would advertise if it were me, actually – here)…

    Last week’s presidential debate revealed one area of agreement between the candidates: We need more teachers. “Let’s hire another hundred thousand math and science teachers,” proposed President Obama, adding that “Governor Romney doesn’t think we need more teachers.”

    Mr. Romney quickly replied, “I reject the idea that I don’t believe in great teachers or more teachers.” He just opposes earmarking federal dollars for this purpose, believing instead that “every school district, every state should make that decision on their own.”

    As noted here and here, Willard Mitt mocked Obama for wanting to hire more teachers, even though, as noted here, 100,000 teachers have lost their jobs over the prior year (yikes!).

    Continuing with Greene…

    Let’s hope state and local officials have that discretion—and choose to shrink the teacher labor force rather than expand it. Hiring hundreds of thousands of additional teachers won’t improve student achievement. It will bankrupt state and local governments, whose finances are already buckling under bloated payrolls with overly generous and grossly underfunded pension and health benefits.

    Concerning those “overly generous and grossly underfunded pension and health benefits”…well, they were “grossly underfunded” for a reason – namely because states were legally obligated to contribute matching amounts but refused to do so (here).

    And get a load of this generalization from Greene…

    Most people expect that more individualized attention from teachers should help students learn. The problem is that expanding the number of hires means dipping deeper into the potential teacher labor pool. That means additional teachers are likely to be weaker than current ones.

    Couldn’t you say that about every occupation if you wanted to, then? Besides, what about degreed teachers who aren’t able to find work in their profession, but instead are working other jobs (such as at Lowe’s, Wal-Mart or Applebee’s until, hopefully, a legitimate teaching job opens up)?

    Also…

    Then there is the trade-off between labor and capital. Instead of hiring an army of additional teachers, we could have developed and purchased innovative educational technology. The path to productivity increases in every industry comes through the substitution of capital for labor. We use better and cheaper technology so that we don’t need as many expensive people. But education has gone in the opposite direction, making little use of technology and hiring many more expensive people.

    I would be shocked to find out if this guy actually had a son or daughter attending a public or parochial school. Having a state-of-the-art white board doesn’t mean a damn thing if all the teacher does is use it for presentations while he/she sits at their desk and catches up on Facebook or their Email instead of using their people skills and training to, y’know, actually teach their students.

    As usual, a Repug thinks so little of anything related to liberal arts that they think technology can totally replace the function that a certain individual committed a great deal of money and a significant amount of time to learn about as part of their course of study.

    One more thing…here is a reminder here that teachers, as well as public sector workers in general, do indeed contribute to economic growth (silly to feel compelled to point that out, but we are where we are – and as long as Greene said that Obama’s call for more teachers is a “Solyndra-like solution”…an idiotic statement because there is no comparison between the Solyndra loan and teachers…the following should be noted from here).

  • Continuing, I give you Fix Noise “Democrat” Pat Caddell here

    A few weeks ago I wrote a piece which was called “The Audacity of Cronyism ” in Breitbart, and my talk today is “The Audacity of Corruption.” What I pointed out was, that it was appalling that Valerie Jarrett had a Secret Service detail. A staff member in the White House who is a senior aide and has a full Secret Service detail, even while on vacation, and nobody in the press had asked why. That has become more poignant, as I said, last week, when we discovered that we had an American ambassador, on the anniversary of 9/11, who was without adequate security—while she still has a Secret Service detail assigned to her full-time, at a massive cost, and no one in the media has gone to ask why.

    This tells us, among other things, that there were multiple teams of armed guards at the Libyan consulate. Also, Dubya designated more of his appointees for Secret Service protection than Obama, as noted here (and yes, this is a recording)

    And based on this, if Caddell is a “Democrat,” then I’m the illegitimate love child of William F. Buckley (and rest assured that I’m not).

  • Further, it’s time to pick the proverbial low-hanging fruit with Thomas Sowell (here, he decries the “name calling” of President Obama and his supporters)…

    In response, Sowell referred to “green bigot” environmentalists here, called Teresa Heinz-Kerry “rich white trash” here, and (just for kicks I suppose) called for a military coup here.

    As usual, a conservative looks in the mirror and sees the reflection of everyone but him (or her) self.

  • Moving on, it looks like Catholics supposedly aren’t supporting Obama after all (oh noes!) according to “The Catholic Association” (here).

    Meanwhile, this Pew poll tells a very different story (praise the Lord!).

  • Finally, I give you the following from The Hill (here)…

    House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) is questioning Obama administration financial support for green energy companies in former Vice President Al Gore’s portfolio, calling it part of a “disturbing pattern.”

    Upton is quoted in a Washington Post story on Gore’s success as an investor in green technology companies, which the Post reports has helped boost Gore’s wealth to an estimated $100 million.

    The Post reports that 14 green tech companies that Gore invested in directly or indirectly have “benefited from more than $2.5 billion in loans, grants and tax breaks, part of President Obama’s historic push to seed a U.S. renewable-energy industry with public money.”

    Upton, a frequent critic of federal green energy support, calls the aid “reflective of a disturbing pattern that those closest to the president have been rewarded with billions of taxpayer dollars . . . and benefited from the administration’s green bonanza in the rush to spend stimulus cash.”

    This is utterly farcical, of course, but there’s a method to Upton’s wingnuttery, in case we had any doubt about that.

    Here, Upton called for end to oil subsidies after repeatedly voting to preserve them; this tells us that he has received about $144 K from the oil and gas sector in the way of campaign contributions – and Upton is chair of the House Energy Subcommittee (can you say, “conflict of interest”?); and here, Upton claimed that the passage of the Affordable Care Law was the first occasion where legislation was passed with no support from the Repugs – the only problem is that the first Clinton budget, which ushered in the longest period of prosperity this country has seen (or maybe ever will see) was voted on the same way.

    I would say that one’s notion of a “disturbing pattern” is in the eye of the beholder, wouldn’t you?


  • Thursday Mashup (8/23/12)

    August 23, 2012
  • I’ve had this editorial from the Murdoch Street Journal kicking around for the last week or so, but I haven’t gotten around to it until now (sad face)…

    …the Romney campaign says it expects to increase revenues by increasing the rate of economic growth to 4%, up from less than 2% this year and in 2011. (Separately from tax reform, but clearly relevant to budget deficits, Mr. Romney says he’d gradually reduce spending to 20% of the economy from the Obama heights of 24%-25%.)

    In response, it should be noted from here that Obama is responsible for the lowest level of government spending since President Eisenhower.

    Continuing with the Journal…

    The Tax Policy Center also ignores the history of tax cutting. Every major marginal rate income tax cut of the last 50 years—1964, 1981, 1986 and 2003—was followed by an unexpectedly large increase in tax revenues, a surge in taxes paid by the rich, and a more progressive tax code—i.e., the share of taxes paid by the richest 1% rose.

    As noted from here, “the Reagan tax cuts DECREASED revenues over what they would have been, at least over the short (10-year) term.”

    And as far as the “son” of The Sainted Ronnie R…

    …real individual income tax receipts declined 25.06% from 2001 to 2009. Even total receipts declined -13.93% over that period. Finally, real GDP grew just 13.36% from 2001 to 2009. This was the lowest real GDP growth over any 8-year span since 13.33% from 1966 to 1976.

    And when it comes to comparing Number 44 with Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History on the economy (here), private sector job creation under Obama is better in about three years-plus than it was under GWB in eight (though Dubya is better in public sector job creation, believe it or not, mainly because he didn’t have to deal with the Teahadists who refuse to spend any money on that area of employment).

    And on the matter of Obama and the economy, did each “stim” job really cost about $738 grand, as alleged here?

    Uh, no.

  • Further, I give you the following (here)…

    (Reuters) – A U.S. appeals court on Tuesday overturned a key Obama administration rule to reduce harmful emissions from coal-burning power plants, sparking a rally in coal company shares and relief among utility firms.

    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit said in a 2-1 decision that the Environmental Protection Agency had exceeded its mandate with the rule, which was to limit sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions from power plants in 28 mostly Eastern states and Texas.

    In the latest setback for the EPA, the court sent the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule back for revision, telling the agency to administer its existing Clean Air Interstate Rule – the Bush-era regulation that it was updating – in the interim. The EPA said it was reviewing the ruling.

    And of course, this was more good news for Republicans (a typical response is here), even though dday at firedoglake tells us the following (here)…

    This is a clear example of the power of federal judicial appointments. Two George W. Bush appointees at the DC Circuit Court just rolled back pollution regulations to the George W. Bush parameters. As a result, according to the EPA’s statistics, 30,000 Americans will die prematurely, hundreds of thousands will fall ill, and 240 million will be exposed to increased emissions of pollutants.

    Court appointments matter a great deal. And a combination of unprecedented Senate obstructionism and needless delays from the White House in naming appointees has a deleterious effect.

    The ruling could have implications on other EPA regulations, especially as it values state anti-pollution laws above the federal government. Environmentalists want the EPA to appeal, possibly to a full panel of the Circuit Court, but of course then it eventually gets kicked up to the Supreme Court. The last SCOTUS rulings on greenhouse gas emissions have been favorable, but the good neighbor rule covers other forms of pollution, and really attempts to resolve a dispute between the states, so you could easily see a different outcome.

    (This is another less-than-glorious moment for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals particularly on the environment…as noted here, the court upheld an EPA decision a few days earlier, though as a result, it will lead to more manufacture of corn ethanol, which is both worse for the environment and particularly stupid with people hungry during a time of drought and the lousy economy…rather see the corn on dinner plates than in gas tanks.)

    To his credit, Dem U.S. House Rep Edward Markey of Massachusetts had the following to say about the cross-state pollution ruling here

    “I urge the Obama administration to appeal this misguided decision by the courts so that Massachusetts and other states impacted by harmful emissions from old, polluting coal plants can clean up their air,” Markey said after the ruling was announced Tuesday.

    Even Tom Carper (D-Skank Of America But Formerly MBNA) recognized that something smelled here, and it wasn’t just cross-state contaminants (here)…

    (Carper), who previously tried to pass legislative fixes for CAIR, also called for EPA to appeal the ruling and suggested he may try again to get Congress to act. Carper chairs the Senate Clean Air and Nuclear Safety Subcommittee.

    “I will be working with this administration, the impacted states and my colleagues to ensure we find a swift solution to ensure all states do their fair share to clean up our air if that appeal is not successful,” he said.

    In addition, we should all note the following (here, from last November)…

    In their zeal to allow industry an unfettered right to pollute, however, anti-EPA representatives in Congress might be overreaching. A new poll by Ceres, a nonprofit environmental coalition, shows that 88 percent of Democrats and 58 percent of Republicans surveyed oppose efforts to stop EPA pollution rules from taking effect on power plants. And while critics of stiffer regulations decry the economic costs and job-killing effects of the rules, they’re selective about which costs count. A study by the Economic Policy Institute found that the air-toxics rule on power plants could create up to 158,000 jobs by 2015, even after counting jobs lost due to higher electricity rates.

    “The fear of not having clean air is a clear-cut issue according to the voting public,” said Geoff Garin of Hart Research Associates, which helped conduct the poll. Voters, he added, also “firmly believe EPA should be allowed to do its job without interference from Congress.”

    (Or interference from the courts also, I would guess.)

    And of course, who among others in his party supported the so-called TRAIN Act, which would have blocked a legislative resolution on cross-state pollution? Gee, let me think really hard now.

    To do something about it, click here.

    Update 8/24/12: And I give you another garbage ruling from this court of morons.

  • Finally, local radio big mouth Dom Giordano was allowed to propagandize in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer, with predictable results (here)…

    What supporter of voter identification said the following in 2005?

    “Some critics of voter IDs think the government cannot do this job, but Mexico and most poor countries in the world have been able to register and give IDs to almost all their citizens. Surely the United States can do it, too. Free photo IDs would also empower minorities, who are often charged exorbitant fees for cashing checks because they lack proper identification.”

    Was it Gov. Corbett? One of the Koch brothers? Karl Rove?

    No, it was former President Jimmy Carter, summarizing some of his findings as co-chairman of the Commission on Federal Election Reform.

    Nice to cherry-pick what Carter actually said in support of your flimsy argument, isn’t it? Typical…

    In response, I give you the following from here

    In 2005, we (primarily, Carter and legendary Repug “fixer” James Baker) led a bipartisan Commission on Federal Election Reform and concluded that both parties’ concerns were legitimate — a free and fair election requires both ballot security and full access to voting. We offered a proposal to bridge the partisan divide by suggesting a uniform voter photo ID, based on the federal Real ID Act of 2005, to be phased in over five years. To help with the transition, states would provide free voter photo ID cards for eligible citizens; mobile units would be sent out to provide the IDs and register voters. (Of the 21 members of the commission, only three dissented on the requirement for an ID.)

    As we stated in our 2005 report, voter ID laws are not a problem in and of themselves. Rather, the current crop of laws are not being phased in gradually and in a fair manner that would increase — not reduce — voter participation. The recent decision by the Department of Homeland Security to delay putting in place the Real ID Act for at least five years suggests that states should move to photo ID requirements gradually and should do more to ensure that free photo IDs are easily available.

    And as noted here, PA’s onerous “voter fraud” law is in response to not one actual example of actual fraud (as noted here, though, ALEC has invested heavily in trying to railroad voter ID laws in statehouses from sea to shining sea…chalk all this up to “return on investment”; and just to refresh our memories, genius PA state house rep Mike Turzai had the following to say about the law here).

    Besides, Giordano is the last person who has the right to screech about voting impropriety – as noted here from 2008, he said he would change his party allegiance from Republican to Democratic so he could vote for Hillary Clinton (PA’s primaries are closed by party), then (perhaps) change his allegiance back to Republican for the general election (of course, it wouldn’t be necessary to do that by November, though I’m sure he’d change it back over time).

    Hey, ya’ think that PA election workers racked up just a bit of overtime because some of Giordano’s knuckle-dragging listeners tried the same stupid trick? Wonder if any registrations got mixed up because poll workers were deluged by Teahadists who were scared of that Kenyan Muslim socialist wealth redistributor?

    Gee Inky, I wonder what do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do column is coming up next? Perhaps Willard Mitt Romney himself on the virtues of clipping coupons from the Sunday newspaper circulars?

    Update 9/11/12: In the matter of PA and voter ID…well, it’s not called “Pennsyltucky” for nothing (here).


  • More Summer Health Care Hijinks with Mikey The Beloved

    July 30, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Continuing…

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

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

    Continuing…

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

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

    Also…

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

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

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

    Continuing…

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

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

    In addition…

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

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

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

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

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


    Wednesday Mashup (6/6/12)

    June 7, 2012

  • Yep, if there’s someone who knows about despotic leaders generating something akin to a cult following (in this case, a certain deceased head of al Qaeda killed at the order of Number 44), it’s Dana Rohrabacher.

    And by the way, I’m hardly a fan of the Chinese. And sure, go ahead and try to kill the clean energy sector of our economy, something else that actually generates revenue besides, you know, junk food, Walmart and Fox “News” (anybody besides me see a thread there?).

  • Next, as I live and breathe, it looks like Bucks County, PAs senior law enforcement official poked his head out of his proverbial hole and, not unlike a celebrated rodent in our beloved commonwealth, cast a blind eye towards at least six more weeks of malfeasance (theater of the mind here, people).

    For, as noted here

    A two-year investigation of voter fraud during Bucks County’s last congressional contest is unlikely to result in criminal charges, District Attorney Dave Heckler said Tuesday.

    Only a handful of interviews remain in the case, which centers around absentee ballots submitted during the November 2010 general election.

    County board of elections employees rejected almost 900 ballot applications during the match between then-incumbent Congressman Patrick Murphy and the successful challenger Mike Fitzpatrick.

    County investigators have determined that indeed “there were ballots with fraudulent signatures on them,” said Heckler. But there’s little evidence of a conspiracy by a political campaign, he added.

    Republicans had called into question a get-out-the-vote effort organized by state Democrats on Murphy’s behalf. They claimed Bucks residents were pressured into applying for absentee ballots they did not want or signing applications for family members.

    Democrats, including Murphy, denied any wrongdoing.

    Don’t you love it? A bunch of baseless aspersions cast at Democrats for alleged fraud, even though nothing was ever proved.

    And get a load of this in particular…

    “Certainly, there was some criminality at a low level of people, and that was mostly what the board of elections had suspected,” said Heckler. “The part that is still an open question in my mind is whether there was some instruction and design here, or whether these were just some people out there roaming the countryside…”


    I give you Night of the Living Democrats, according to Heckler (I’ll grant that the whole “PA Voter Assistance Office” bit from the Murphy campaign was a bit of a ham-handed attempt to coordinate votes, but the goal was to make sure every voted was counted, and no illegality took place).

    Also in response, as noted here (from a prior post by yours truly just before the 2010 election – second bullet)…

    In a news release, Murphy’s campaign said the board of elections remedied errors on Republican ballot applications but not those of Democrats.

    As evidence, the Democrats provided a copy of an absentee ballot application submitted by a Republican woman from Bensalem who used her married name, although she is registered under her maiden name, and failed to include her date of birth. Board of elections workers added the woman’s maiden name and approved the application.

    In contrast, the Democrats provided copies of applications submitted by Democrats from Levittown and Fairless Hills who put incorrect dates in the field for date of birth.

    The Democrats “didn’t get the same special treatment,” as the Republican voter, the news release says.

    (Board of Elections Director Deena Dean) said the campaign staff’s allegations are absolutely false.

    “No one has been tampering with any ballots and I’m offended by that,” Dean said.

    Dean explained that a ballot application with a woman’s maiden name is permissible. A voter who has married and changed his or her name but has not updated his or her voter registration may sign an affidavit at the poll. Dean did not explain why the application was approved without a date of birth.

    Of course she didn’t, because she didn’t want to admit that then-head of the Bucks County Commissioners Jim Cawley and Charley (“I Have A Semi-Open Mind”) Martin told her to do that (no, I don’t have proof of that charge, but if something wasn’t afoot, why did Bucks County Republican Committee Vice Chairwoman Pat Poprik drop her challenge to the absentee ballot applications?).

    Besides, Heckler (to no one’s surprise) utterly failed to note anything whatsoever about the so-called “Ciervo/Fitzpatrick Letter,” in which then-Repug State House candidate Rob Ciervo and now-U.S. House Rep. Mikey The Beloved told Bucks County voters (on Ciervo’s letterhead)…

    …“Mike Fitzpatrick and I need your help” and instructing voters as follows concerning their absentee ballot applications: “If the application is for a student who will be away in November, be sure to use their college address to ensure they receive the ballot in a timely manner.” This, then, introduces the possibility that the college address, as opposed to the actual voting residence address, could be entered onto the ballot application.

    So the application is filled out with the college address, sent to the Bucks County Board of Elections…and then it is tossed because it doesn’t match the address to which the absentee ballot application was originally sent.

    Welcome To Voter Caging 101, ladies and gentlemen. Your instructors are Dr. Ciervo, Mr. Fitzpatrick, Mr. Cawley and Mr. Martin.

    I suppose this is about what you would expect from Heckler, someone whose career in criminal justice has trended decidedly backward (though his career as a craven Republican Party hack is in full flower).

  • Finally, please allow me to delve into the world of sports for a moment.

    The Los Angeles Kings and the New Jersey Devils are scheduled to play Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals tonight, with Los Angeles leading three games to none (this would have been a history making final anyway since this is the lowest that the final teams had both been seeded; the Devils were a Number 6 seed in their conference and the Kings were the Number 8 seed in theirs – I seem to recall Pittsburgh beat Minnesota about 20 years ago when the former North Stars were a low seed, but Pittsburgh and Mario Lemieux were seeded near the top).

    Basically, though I respect the Devils, I’m tired of seeing them win championships (and that’s not just sour grapes because they beat the Flyers). I think it’s great that the Kings are so close, and I sincerely hope they get it done.

    And for no small reason, I hope that happens because of this guy.

    When the Flyers traded Jeff Carter last year to basically clear salary to weight themselves down with stones to for eight years sign goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, I was a bit upset, since Carter is a great “finisher.” Still, I think they did well to get forward Jakub Voracek, and center Sean Couturier, who they ended up drafting with the pick they got for Carter, looks like a “keeper.”

    However, I think trading Mike Richards was utterly a mistake, even though I think Brayden Schenn has a big “upside” also, and as far as I’m concerned, you can make the case that, if Claude Giroux doesn’t end up as team captain, I’d give the “C” to Wayne Simmonds, the other player acquired in the Richards trade.

    But let’s just point out one example where the team missed Richards this year – do you honestly think that, with Richards in the lineup, they would have lost every single game they played against the New York Rangers? Don’t you think that, in at least one of those games, he would have managed to score a shorthanded goal or make a play that would have made the difference?

    The Flyers gambled that defenseman Chris Pronger would remain healthy for the whole year and give them the grit and leadership they would need without Richards. And that’s a gamble they lost, and who knows whether Pronger will ever be back.

    Oh, but if you listen to the sports radio loudmouths in this town, their attitude for the most part is “well, Richards didn’t have a good year last year, and he was surly, and they ended up not missing his goal scoring – the Flyers main problem last year was defense.”

    The last point is a valid one (and seriously, people, do they really need Jaromir Jagr for another year?). But as far as I’m concerned, the rest of it is just sour grapes from our local sports media because Mike Richards wouldn’t kiss their ass.

    Oh, but Richards partied too much off the ice with Carter. Here is my response – did that affect Richards’ play on the ice (Carter can fend for himself)?

    I suppose I’m in the minority a bit when it comes to defending Richards, but as far as I’m concerned, all of the partying stuff is something that a guy his age will eventually grow out of (maybe he already has). I just know that Richards played with busted shoulders and various other broken body parts, usually shadowing some of the best players on the other team such as Boston’s Zdeno Chara. And that’s what I remember, and that’s why I hope he ends up drinking from Lord Stanley’s bowl.

    Besides, if the Flyers had signed a quality goalie like Antti Niemi two years ago (who was then a free agent after being cut loose by the Chicago Blackhawks, a team for which he helped win a Cup against the Flyers), they wouldn’t have had to move both Richards and Carter to sign the “Russian Tragedy” anyway.

    (Oh well, looks like the Kings will play for another day.)


  • Some End-of-May Mikey Musings

    June 1, 2012


    The Bucks County Courier Times featured some actual, honest-to-goodness reporting here from Mikey the Beloved’s designated scribe Gary Weckselblatt (someone fetch the smelling salts – I may faint)…

    Back in March, following a fundraiser at a Florida resort, Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick introduced legislation to eliminate the cap on the number of reverse mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration.

    Donations from reverse mortgage brokers proceeded to flow to the 8th District Republican.

    Earlier this month, as Roll Call reported Wednesday, Fitzpatrick introduced several bills to suspend tariffs on chemicals to help a local business. The online publication that covers Capitol Hill said eight of the 12 proposals would benefit United Color Manufacturing Inc., a Newtown company whose owners have donated $26,000 to Fitzpatrick in the last decade.

    The story caught the eye of Public Campaign Action Fund, which is in favor of publicly financed elections and campaigns to hold elected officials accountable for opposing reform and for the special favors they do for their political contributors.

    “Voters send people to Congress because they think they’ll do what’s in their best interests,” said Adam Smith, spokesman for the watchdog organization. “Then you see legislation like this introduced and it raises real questions about who these members are working for in Washington.”

    In the matter of reverse mortgages, the following should be noted from here

    The formula used to determine how much equity you can take out of your home in a Federal Housing Administration, or FHA, reverse mortgage is based on home value, a value cap that varies regionally, the interest rate and the borrower’s age. Under typical conditions, the average reverse mortgage represents roughly 50 percent of a home’s value. In some circumstances the loan costs can eat a substantial percentage of the loan.

    The joint concepts of equity ratios and appreciation are the foundation supporting reverse mortgages. When you first take out the loan, you will be given about half the equity in the home and the property retains the other half. Then, as time goes by, the house appreciates, producing more equity still. The annualized historic home appreciation rate is 8.6 percent, which would result in a doubling of home value roughly every 12 years. Between the initial equity and likelihood of future appreciation, buffered by insurance provided by the FHA, banks are confident that they can recapture the loan balance upon sale of the house. The banks, however, have no interest or concern in what equity remains after the loan is repaid. If home appreciation does not match the historical rate, as it most certainly has not during the period from 2007 to 2010, banks will still be repaid by a combination of the house sale and the FHA insurance. In these instances, however, there will be no equity remaining in the estate. The building might be left to a son or daughter, but it would be worthless to them.

    As to suspending the tariffs on chemicals, that primarily benefitted a guy named Tom Nowakowski who, in addition to giving Mikey $26 grand, gave $150,000 to the Repugs over the last six years, as noted here.

    So what does he have to say? As the Courier Times tells us…

    He said he approached Sen. Bob Casey, a Democrat, both in 2009 and again this year about the (tariff) issue. He has not donated to Casey, who introduced legislation similar to Fitzpatrick’s.

    And of course, Nowakowski doesn’t see what the fuss is about. And yes, it is all legal (and he didn’t even have to donate to Sideshow Bob to get our senator to help him out – “free” is the best return on investment you can get).

    And get a load of how our U.S. House rep responded…

    Fitzpatrick’s campaign refused to comment on the issue without a response from his opponent Kathy Boockvar, who was unavailable.

    Ummm…does Mikey seriously expect Kathy Boockvar to be available for a public comment every time he screws up?

    No guts, no glory, Mikey.

    Because, as far as I’m concerned, this still doesn’t pass the smell test, particularly when, as noted here, Mikey criticized former rep Patrick Murphy two years ago for accepting $19,000 from Dem U.S. House Rep Charles Rangel, who was under a congressional investigation and was later censured. Despite that, Mikey had no issue with pocketing $20,000 from fellow House Repug Spencer Bachus, who was also under investigation by the House Ethics Committee.

    Oh, and as long as I’m talking about our PA-08 U.S. House rep, I’d like to point out that Fitzpatrick forwarded an Email to Le Manse Doomsy yesterday in which he asked your humble narrator to go to Mikey’s Facebook page to tell everyone how we feel about Facebook’s Eduardo Saverin’s decision to take his U.S. fortune and become an “expat” (the Repugs’ non-jobs agenda drags on – you can go here to speak out elsewhere if you wish).

    If you’re as tired of Mikey’s antics as I am, click here to do something about it.


    Looks Like Pancake Joe “Don’t Know Much About History”

    May 16, 2012


    Some more tongue-in-cheek foreign policy recommendations for Repug U.S. House Rep Joe Pitts (MISTAKE-PA16), based on this:

  • Encourage that foreign-country-apologizing-to President Obama to immediately begin negotiation with Emperor Napoleon of France so the U.S. can get moving on that whole “Louisiana Purchase” deal (I mean, who wants a bunch of frogs chowing down on their “Freedom Toast” right in our backyard, and I don’t mean the “ribbit at midnight on the bayou” kind).
  • Tell Congress to order our president to send U.S. troops to the Philippines, where they will be “greeted as liberators” (Pitts apparently has it on good information from Theodore Roosevelt that the insurgency there is in its “last throes”).
  • Issue a public statement of support for the pro-Democracy movement in Hungary, and, in a nod to the eternal leader of the Republican Party, encourage East German leader Erich Honecker to “tear down this wall.”
  • Send a congratulatory wireless telegram to aviator Charles Lindbergh upon completion of his trans-Atlantic flight.
  • Want to retire Pitts once and for all, at long last? Click here.


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