Thursday Mashup (5/1/14)

May 1, 2014

voter id

  • Wonder if Voter ID is starting to “crash and burn,” people? We can only hope (here)…

    In a clear-cut victory for Wisconsin voters, U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman came down on the side of foes of the state’s strict photo voter ID law Tuesday.

    In the 90-page decision, Adelman takes note of difficulties low-income citizens have in getting an ID, the cost of obtaining background documents to get an ID—such as a birth certificate—the cost of transportation to the DMV and work time lost…

    Of course, Gov. Hosni Mubarak Walker will probably appeal the ruling (and Repug Attorney General candidate Brad Schimel is trying to fundraise off the ruling as noted here).

    Not that we have anything to brag about on this subject in our beloved commonwealth of PA, of course, where Governor Tom “Space Cadet” Corbett has spent in excess of $2 million in state funds to defend voter ID (here) even though the PA Commonwealth Court recently affirmed its decision overturning it (here).

    But wait, there’s more…

  • A federal court ruled the same way about Texas’s voter ID law, one of the most restrictive in the nation (here), but the ruling was invalidated when The Supremes gutted the Voting Rights Act (yep, some nice “ROI” from The High Court of Hangin’ Judge JR to “the party of Lincoln” on that one).
  • As noted here, Judge Tim Fox of the Pulaski County Circuit Court recently struck down Arkansas’s voter ID law, quite rightly saying that it “illegally adds a requirement” voters must fulfill before going to the polls.
  • And in case anyone still had any doubt about this, conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly pointed out here that North Carolina’s law in particular was aimed at minorities (yeah I know, duuuh, though, as noted here – in a surprising development – that state’s voter ID law could actually help with voter registration in that state).
  • Here and here are links to the voter ID issue and how it is playing out across all 50 states. And as noted here, the Voting Rights Act Amendment (VRAA), introduced in the Senate by Dem Pat Leahy and in the House by Repug James Sensenbrenner, could address the voter ID issue in a bit of a favorable manner also (but good luck seeing that passed in the U.S. House as it is currently constituted; another reason to vote early and often this fall).

    david-koch-and-charles-g.-007_0
    And lest we forget, Chuck and Dave are all too happy to see voter ID enshrined all over this country (here).

  • Next, this tells us the following…

    RICHMOND — Former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell has landed a job as a part-time visiting professor of government at Liberty University’s Helms School of Government, the school announced Monday.

    McDonnell (R) will serve as a guest lecturer in other professors’ government classes at the Helms School, named for former senator Jesse Helms, a Republican from North Carolina.

    Any idea on McDonnell’s “course load”? These come to mind immediately for yours truly…

  • Influence Peddling 101 – How to Receive Money, Golf Fees, Other Equipment and Luxury Plane Flights to Resorts While Alleging That No Conflict of Interest Exists
  • Returning Obstetrics to the Middle Ages – Classroom Theory and Practical Working Exercises in Administering Fetal Ultrasounds, Plunging Virginia To The Same Depths As 23 Other States Advocating The Same Barbaric Procedure
  • Male-Only Human Sexuality – The Evils of (Pro) Contraception Legalization
  • And just as a reminder, the story also tells us the following…

    McDonnell left office in January and soon after was indicted with his wife, Maureen, on federal corruption charges related to about $165,000 in luxury gifts and loans that a businessman lavished on Virginia’s first family.

    The McDonnells, who have pleaded not guilty, were in financial distress when they accepted the largess of dietary supplement maker Jonnie R. Williams Sr., and their money woes have grown as they mount a legal defense in the case, scheduled to go to trial in July. Supporters have launched a fund to pay legal bills.

    The part-time position at the Lynchburg University is not likely to bring McDonnell the big bucks he could have counted on absent the scandal. Moore declined to disclose what Liberty will pay McDonnell, once regarded as a credible contender for president in 2016.

    Also, how apropos for “vaginal ultrasound” Bob to end up at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, where approval was revoked for a Democratic Party organization on campus here (wonder if I’ll get an Email blast about a Bias Alert! from Drudge and his pals – not holding my breath on that one), and where Glenn Beck, of all people, once gave a commencement address (here).

    And the cherry on the icing on the proverbial cake is the fact that McDonnell will now reside at the Helms School of Government, named after a noted racist, anti-immigrant homophobe and chauvinist (who, along with the rest of his party, ignored the al Qaeda threat in the ’90s, as noted here – Clinton stumbled a bit on that score also, but at least he did something).

    How much do you want to bet that (assuming a Dem wins in 2016) McDonnell ends up taking a shot at the 2020 Repug presidential nomination (and no, I can’t believe I just wrote that sentence either)?

  • Continuing, I give you the latest in Repug Party hijinks over the environment (which has presented us with particularly extreme weather lately)…

    Republican lawmakers pushed back at Environmental Protection Agency Chief Gina McCarthy after she assailed critics for charging the agency with using “secret science” to support its regulations.

    Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) said McCarthy is “ignoring the big picture” in her defense of the agency.

    Vitter and a majority of Republicans have continued to berate the EPA for its proposed carbon emissions limits on power plants, which they say are backed up by faulty science.

    “It is inexcusable for EPA to justify billions of dollar of economically significant regulations on science that is kept hidden from independent reanalysis and congressional oversight,” Vitter said in a statement on Monday.

    Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) echoed Vitter’s sentiment.

    “It’s disappointing that EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy continues to try to justify her agency’s use of secret science,” Smith said in a statement. “Relying on undisclosed data is not good science and not good policy.”

    OK, so “secret science” is the latest wingnut catchphrase (poll tested and approved by Frank Luntz, no doubt). Which is particularly amusing to me because, as noted here, the “science” to support EPA regulation doesn’t look very “secret” to yours truly.

    And of course Smith would protest, he who, though he routinely ignores sound climate science, once held a hearing on aliens (and no, I’m not talking about immigrants) here. And what can you say about “Diaper Dave,” who cheered the last government shutdown because it temporarily put the brakes on EPA’s ability to enforce regulations to protect our water and monitor coal and gas-fired power plants (here)?

  • Further, it looks like Joke Line is back to heap more ridicule (here)…

    Time magazine columnist Joe Klein called CNN “an embarrassment to our profession,” surprising a New York City audience on Sunday by declaring Fox News “the only option” for straight news at 6 p.m.

    “I come home, and I turn on CNN at 6 o’clock at night — because that’s something I kind of do in preparation for the 6:30 network news, to see what Wolf [Blitzer] is being really hyperbolic about — and he’s talking about the plane!” Klein lamented.

    “It is such an embarrassment to our profession that CNN has gone in the toilet the way it has,” he continued. “You know, I miss being able to turn on a straight newscast. And it turns out, the only place you can go to get one, at 6 o’clock at night, is Fox.”

    “The other option is to go to MSBNC and see the Reverend Al Sharpton, who I still consider to be a major criminal,” Klein quipped, prompting audience applause. “I mean, the guy can have a job on network TV, on an NBC cable network, and he still hasn’t apologized for Tawana Brawley? Gimme a break.”

    I cannot fathom why Klein would defend a network that was once responsible for this.

    That being said, he actually has a point about CNN and its endless coverage on Flight 370, which, horribly, I’m sure is at the ocean floor somewhere. At this point, I cannot imagine where else it could be; if it had been hijacked somehow, we surely would have heard at this point.

    And not for a second am I going to defend Al Sharpton over the Tawana Brawley stuff; I don’t know if Sharpton ever apologized for it either. However, making the leap from shameless self-promoter at the expense of a young girl who apparently didn’t know better to a “major criminal” staggers the imagination. And there’s a reason why I include his videos at the site I link to from here, and that is because I find his commentary to be fundamentally sound and factually correct. When Klein or anyone else has a factual criticism to offer (and I’ll admit that MSNBC overall flubbed some of the Trayvon Martin stuff), then I’ll definitely give it a fair hearing.

    Also, when it comes to whether or not our supposedly elite journalists are doing their jobs, how does Klein account for this (and who knew besides me that Megyn Kelly of Fix Noise, for example, was a corporate attorney as opposed to a journalist, and she’s on the network Joe loves in bleeping prime time).

    Klein’s call for an “apology” is funny, though, when you consider that, to my knowledge, he never apologized for this.

  • Finally, Mikey the Beloved is back with another opinion column for the benefit of his PR factory (here)…

    Increasing and securing our investment in infrastructure is an investment in our country’s future. I am pleased to have worked across the aisle with Congressman John Delaney in supporting the Partnership to Build America Act (HR 2084). The bill will restore solvency to the Highway Trust Fund by revenues from repatriated earnings as a funding mechanism while the debate continues around ensuring long term solvency of the Fund. These efforts have merit, particularly if combined with other fiscally prudent ways of increasing infrastructure investment.

    The first question I have is why it took so damn long for Mikey or anyone else in his party (and the same goes for Delaney, to be fair) to say anything about HR 2084, seeing as how it was introduced about a year ago (here…and yes, I know the answer is that this is an election year).

    However, the more you look into this particular piece of legislation, the more problems you discover as far as I’m concerned. The bill establishes a government corporation headed by a board of trustees, appointed by the president (yeah, as if that will be OK with this Congress – the Teahadists are probably writing hate-filled blog posts and working on their misspelled signs even as I write this, and the bill hasn’t even come up for a vote yet).

    Also…

    The bill also “establish(es) the American Infrastructure Fund, to provide bond guarantees and make loans to States, local governments, and non-profit infrastructure providers for investments in certain infrastructure projects, and to provide equity investments in such projects, and for other purposes.”

    So it looks like the states will be responsible for funding infrastructure projects with minimal (at best) federal oversight (and yes, I realize that, since we’re talking about a Republican congress, they don’t want the federal government to be a “player” in this stuff at all, damn the consequences).

    Here is my concern: suppose the infrastructure projects blow up and the financial obligations cannot be satisfied. Is this yet another “bubble to bust” boondoggle where taxpayers will be called upon again to bail out the Fund if the infrastructure projects are cancelled because of, say, cost overruns (and another well-done Matt Taibbi comment on this whole potential mess will be written someday)?

    And did I mention that, according to Govtrack, the bill has about a 3 percent chance of being enacted anyway? More on the bill is here.

    Meanwhile (from here)…

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration sent a four-year, $302 billion transportation plan to Congress Tuesday, hoping to jump-start a national debate on how to repair and replace the nation’s aging infrastructure while accommodating the needs of a growing population.

    Action is urgently needed because the federal Highway Trust Fund is expected to run dry by late August, said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. Unless Congress acts to shore up the fund, transportation aid to states will be held up and workers laid off at construction sites across the country.

    President Barack Obama has emphasized infrastructure spending throughout his presidency as a means to spur job growth and increase economic competitiveness, but the bill is the first detailed, long-term transportation bill his administration has sent to Congress.

    There isn’t much time for Congress to act before the trust fund can no longer meet its obligations, especially in the hyper-partisan atmosphere of an election year. Many transportation insiders predict Congress will wind up doing what it has done repeatedly over the past five years — dip into the general treasury for enough money for to keep programs going a few weeks or a few months, at which point the exercise will have to be repeated all over again.

    But keeping highway and transit aid constantly teetering on the edge of insolvency discourages state and local officials from moving ahead with bigger and more important projects that take many years to build. In 2012, Congress finally pieced together a series of one-time tax changes and spending cuts to programs unrelated to transportation in order to keep the trust fund solvent for about two years. Now, the money is nearly gone.

    So instead of passing the Obama bill, it looks like Mikey and his pals (including Delaney, who apparently isn’t much of a progressive, though he’s definitely an improvement over the odious Repug Roscoe Bartlett, who formerly held the seat) are cooking up this new scam that could come back and bite us one day. All just so they can say that they didn’t raise taxes or fees, or something (if doing this right means paying a few cents more a gallon for gas, for example, to me, that makes a hell of a lot more sense than this idiotic funding mechanism).

    All of this and much more is a reason to support Kevin Strouse for Congress (to help, click here).

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    Friday Mashup (2/14/14)

    February 14, 2014
  • This story hits me where I live.

    If it had not been for the winter weather, I very well may have been involved in this disaster in the Pennsylvania Turnpike (I chose not to travel that route today).

    What matters most, of course, is immediate medical attention to the victims, which is currently underway of course. What matters beyond that is somehow allowing everyone trapped on the highway to get out as safely as possible (with their vehicles intact, or, short of that, with their vehicles salvaged somehow). And then, the roadway needs to be cleaned up to the fullest extent possible, of course.

    But at some future point, when everyone involved is OK (hopefully), I want SOMEBODY to ask this question (preferably a politician – put them to work doing something constructive):

    Why the hell is there STILL no light rail, mass transit alternative from Bucks County near the New Jersey/Trenton area to the western PA suburbs and Chester County in particular?

    Yes, I know – NIMBY. But as far as I’m concerned, that was never a good enough explanation. And it DEFINITELY isn’t a good enough explanation in light of this massive chain accident today.

    Commuter trains run near where we live (the R-3 West Trenton line in particular). It’s no big deal – you barely hear them (can’t say the same for the CSX freight trains, which are a whole other story). And they are clean, relatively speaking. There’s no reason why at least one commuter line cannot run from Bucks through Montgomery to Chester County (or even beyond). No, I don’t have any recent data on this, but I don’t know of a circumstance where a mass transit alternative was offered versus negotiating a congested thoroughfare, and that alternative was ignored.

    The time has long since passed for this discussion to be settled once and for all. If anything positive whatsoever can come of this horror today, then let this be it.

    Update 2/15/14: I apologize for being a bit unclear about something – when I’m talking about mass transit from Bucks to Chester counties, I mean that for both directions.

  • And as noted herewow, so Smerky has graduated to the higher (?) ranks of the pundit class now that he has been absorbed by “The Most Trusted Name in News.”

    I think this calls for a brief retrospective of some of his “highlights”:

  • As noted here, he once complained that Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels felt that he had to drop out of consideration for the 2012 Repug presidential nomination because of too much scrutiny of Daniels’ personal life, even though our intrepid Philadelphia Inquirer columnist had no qualms about going after former Dem presidential candidate John Edwards.
  • He came out in defense of saner schedules and more rest for air traffic controllers, which is good, without noting of course that the Teahadists in the U.S. House sought to cut the budget of the FAA (here – third bullet).
  • He criticized the de facto discrimination against the jobless in hiring, though he basically said that there’s nothing that the federal government should be able to do about it (here – typical).
  • He once heckled Roger Waters of Pink Floyd for supporting the Palestinians here, and was actually quite proud of his behavior (Smerky, I mean).
  • He tried to mythologize The Sainted Ronnie R here (third bullet), criticizing Obama for criticizing the Supremes over Citizens United, saying Ronnie didn’t do that on Roe v. Wade (no, not much – he just created that stupid “Mexico City” policy to go with his criticism, that’s all).
  • He compared Arianna Huffington to a hooker outing a john here (nice).
  • I will admit that Smerky is cagey enough to know he has to take a page, as it were, from the book of someone like Joe Scarborough, who pretends to be sensible amidst spouting his full-on wingnuttery, particularly over the Clintons.

    So I guess congratulations are in order to Smerky for playing the typical corporate media game and ensconcing himself to an undeserved position of influence (though I guess he also deserves points for honesty based on this).

    And once again, I am compelled to ask the question…this is CNN?

  • Next (and speaking of wingnuttery), you can always rely on more bilious right-wing propaganda from Cal Thomas, and he delivers more of it here (from clownhall.com)…

    In 1976, Jimmy Carter promised never to lie to us, a promise that rested on a perception of his own virtue. Given his sad record, the country might have willingly exchanged veracity for competence.

    Interesting that Thomas would say that now even though he once complimented Carter on the former president’s “worship experience” here (and as noted here, he has a rather infamous track record at proclaiming “doom and gloom” over alleged “values” issue anyway).

  • Further, I give you the following from Repug U.S. House Rep Ted Poe via Fix Noise here

    (The) NSA argues that its employees only carry out the actions necessary to find terrorists and protect our country. They have even claimed that terrorist attacks have been prevented as a result of their actions.

    If this is true, those success stories should be made public. At a Judiciary Committee hearing last week, I asked Deputy Attorney General James Cole how many criminal cases have been filed as a result of this massive spying operation.

    His answer? Maybe one. And he wasn’t even 100% sure of that.

    That’s right, the NSA has launched one of the largest data collection programs in U.S. history that monitors who we call, how long we talk to them, who they called, and where our calls were made from, all in order to “maybe” catch one bad guy.

    In any event, the ends do not justify the means. NSA has trampled on the Fourth Amendment rights of millions of Americans.

    It’s funny in a way that Poe mentions the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution when you consider the following; as noted here, the USA Patriot Act…

    violates the Fourth Amendment, which says the government cannot conduct a search without obtaining a warrant and showing probable cause to believe that the person has committed or will commit a crime.

    Violates the Fourth Amendment by failing to provide notice – even after the fact – to persons whose privacy has been compromised. Notice is also a key element of due process, which is guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment.

    Under the Patriot Act PR/TT orders issued by a judge are no longer valid only in that judge’s jurisdiction, but can be made valid anywhere in the United States. This “nationwide service” further marginalizes the role of the judiciary, because a judge cannot meaningfully monitor the extent to which his or her order is being used. In addition, this provision authorizes the equivalent of a blank warrant: the court issues the order, and the law enforcement agent fills in the places to be searched. That is a direct violation of the Fourth Amendment’s explicit requirement that warrants be written “particularly describing the place to be searched.”

    And who voted to renew the Patriot Act three years ago? Why, Ted Poe, as noted here (other idiocy with Poe can be found here…he’s #39 on the list – Poe also opposed the census here; second bullet).

  • Continuing, I came across the following item that made my jaw drop (here)…

    Ask this question to almost anyone, and the resounding answer will be something like: “Yes! It is the American Way. ‘One person, one vote’ is the cornerstone of democracy.”

    True, but interesting in light of this from yet another elitist scumbag (but I digress)…

    Just how deep this sentiment runs can be seen in the recent protests against policies requiring all voters to first produce a photo ID. The protesters seem to feel that any restriction on the unimpeded access to voting undermines our very democracy.

    I support voter ID laws. Without them, a single person could theoretically cast many votes during one Election Day by going to different polling stations; the fraud potential is enormous. If there are people too poor to procure an ID, the small amount of money needed for this purpose should be provided, either by government or private charities.

    Even by the admittedly lame standards of The Daily Tucker, the stoo-pid with this one was thick enough that it could be cut only with a hack saw.

    The author of this column is someone named D.B. Ganz, who apparently wrote something called Uncommon Sense and is published at a site called The Blaze. Since he shows no apparent knowledge of how one votes in this country based on his commentary, please allow me to provide the following information.

    I reside in Bucks County, Pennsylvania (not news I guess considering what I said earlier about the Turnpike), so when I registered to vote, I did so at the Bucks County Court House in Doylestown. Of course, I could have picked up a voter registration application elsewhere or even online, completed it, and mailed it in (or pressed a button and sent it into cyberspace). On the application, it is necessary to enter your basic demographic information, including your address.

    I honestly don’t remember how I found out where my polling location was; I could easily have accessed the Board of Elections link from buckscounty.org and done a bit of searching to find out where it is, or I could have called someone (maybe we were notified by mail?). What matters is that, when I found out where my polling location was (and I go to vote on Election Day or Primary Day), I notify a worker and they check my information to see if I am in their book. I sign the book on the line next to my name and demographic information after checking my info; of course, they now ask me for a voter ID, which they don’t enforce yet (I can provide a driver’s license, so it’s no big deal, even though I object to voter ID in principle of course).

    Here is my point (took awhile to get there, I know) – I cannot just vote anywhere I want! I have to vote in the area where I live and where I am registered to do so (to prevent to supposed rampant “voter fraud” that the Repugs profess to hate). So that proves that Ganz doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

    I actually grew a little curious about Ganz, so I read up on him and found another column where he said that supporting health care reform was “short sighted and cruel,” or something. Which I thought was a really curious observation, seeing that Ganz is, “a long-time student of ancient Jewish texts, primarily the Talmud,” and Israel has universal health care with an individual mandate, as noted here.

  • Finally, and in observance of the recent 205th birthday of Abraham Lincoln, former Bushie Glenn Hubbard tells us the following here

    What would a mobility-enhancing agenda for today propose? A dynamic economy requires support for innovation, market expansion, and entrepreneurial risk-taking. “I know of nothing so pleasant to the mind as the discovery of anything which is at once new and valuable,” Lincoln said. Higher federal spending on basic research, trade-promotion authority, and business-tax reform to reduce marginal tax rates on income from business investments are important.

    Republicans should not be timid here. Lincoln was not: He expanded land ownership (the Homestead Act of 1862), access to higher education (the Morrill Act of 1862, with support for land-grant colleges across the states), and the scale and scope of commerce and trade (the Pacific Railroad Act of 1862, which supported the transcontinental railroad).

    Lincoln’s crusade for economic development was a lifetime political agenda. Just as the opportunity agenda he championed is much bolder than many conservatives appear willing to propose today, he was much less mired in emphasizing inequality than today’s Left. “I don’t believe in a law to prevent a man from getting rich; it would do more harm than good,” he said. “[But] while we do not propose any war upon capital, we do wish to allow the humblest man an equal chance to get rich with everybody else.”

    Fair enough (aside from the “ooga booga” nonsense about “today’s Left”), but let’s let the following also be known about our 16th president – as noted here, Lincoln definitely fought income inequality, particularly when it profited the banks (though he was once a lawyer for railroad companies also, which wasn’t in any way illegal I realize). And in opposition, Hubbard has called for expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit – that’s nice, but that, along with food stamps, housing allowances, heating assistance and Medicaid, have turned into welfare for corporations, subsidized by the taxpayers of course, as noted here.

    And on the subject of labor and capital, please allow me to quote President Lincoln once more (here)…

    Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.

    I would also like to point out the following about Lincoln (from “Team of Rivals” by Doris Kearns Goodwin, pg. 104)…

    Lincoln’s abhorrence to hurting another was born of more than simple compassion. He possessed extraordinary empathy – the gift or curse of putting himself in the place of another, to experience what they were feeling, to understand their motives and desires. The philosopher Adam Smith described this faculty: “By the imagination we place ourselves in his situation…we enter as it were into his body and become in some measure him.” This capacity Smith saw as “the source of our fellow-feeling for the misery of others…by changing places in fancy with the sufferer…we come either to conceive or to be affected by what he feels.” In a world environed by cruelty and injustice, Lincoln’s remarkable empathy was inevitably a source of pain. His sensibilities were not only acute, they were raw. “With his wealth of sympathy, his conscience, and his unflinching sense of justice, he was predestined to sorrow,” observed Helen Nicolay, whose father would become Lincoln’s private secretary.

    Though Lincoln’s empathy was at the root of his melancholy, it would prove an enormous asset to his political career. “His crowning gift of political diagnosis,” suggested Nicolay, “was due to his sympathy…which gave him the power to forecast with uncanny accuracy what his opponents were likely to do.” She described how, after listening to his colleagues talk at a Whig Party caucus, Lincoln would cast off his shawl, rise from his chair, and say: “From your talk, I gather the Democrats will do so and so…I should do so and so to checkmate them.” He proceeded to outline all “the moves for days ahead; making them all so plain that his listeners wondered why they had not seen it that way themselves.” Such capacity to intuit the inner feelings and intentions of others would be manifest throughout his career.

    And based on this signature moment from Hubbard, I would say that he has a thing or two to learn in the empathy department.


  • Wednesday Mashup (8/14/13)

    August 14, 2013
  • Looks like it’s time to rally around the supposedly oh-so-put-upon American Legislative Exchange Council, as the Murdoch Street Journal tells us here

    The campaign to suppress political speech has found its next tactic, using outrage over Trayvon Martin’s killing in Florida as a hammer. (Last) Wednesday, Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin sent a letter to corporate and nonprofit supporters of the American Legislative Exchange Council, asking them to disclose their positions on stand-your-ground legislation that ALEC supported in Florida in 2005.

    ALEC is a group of state legislators from around the country that promotes center-right reform ideas, mostly on economic issues. It has had success spreading those ideas, which has made it a target of liberal activists trying to cut off its funding.

    Like the Repugs did successfully to ACORN, a left-wing advocacy organization which no longer exists, let’s not forget.

    Enter Mr. Durbin. “Although ALEC does not maintain a public list of corporate members or donors, other public documents indicate that your company funded ALEC at some point during the period between ALEC’s adoption of model ‘stand your ground’ legislation in 2005 and the present day,” Mr. Durbin writes in the letter to groups and companies that have donated to ALEC.

    Since support for ALEC doesn’t “necessarily mean” that it endorses every position taken by the organization, Mr. Durbin continues, he is “seeking clarification” on whether companies that have “funded ALEC’s operations in the past currently support ALEC and the model ‘stand your ground’ legislation.” Oh, and by the way, the letter concludes, he intends to make the responses public at a Congressional hearing in September.

    Translation: If your company engages in political debate or supports conservative groups, he will tie your name to controversies or force you to publicly disclaim positions taken by groups you support. Mr. Durbin knows that if he can drive a wedge between ALEC and its corporate donors, it will help cripple the group’s influence on issues like tax policy and education and remove a significant voice for conservative reform in the states, including Illinois.

    “Conservative reform” being code for gutting clean air and water laws, trying to abolish public school education, disenfranchising poor and minority voters, et cetera…

    The plan also sends up a flare for Mr. Durbin’s allies at agitprop outfits like MoveOn.org, which will then target for public abuse and perhaps boycott the companies whose names Mr. Durbin exposes.

    By the way, isn’t it interesting how the Journal refers to ALEC as a group that “promotes center-right reform ideas” and MoveOn.org is an “agitprop outfit.”

    The strategy was used against Target retail stores in 2010, when MoveOn pushed a boycott because Target donated to a group that in turn donated to a GOP candidate for Minnesota Governor.

    MoveOn “targeted” Target, if you will, because the company did indeed donate $150,000 to a Minnesota politician who opposes gay marriage, but decided not to give a matching amount to pro-gay candidates for balance (here).

    Did Target have a right to do that? Yes. Did MoveOn.org have a right to push its boycott in response? Again, yes.

    To me, it just sounds like democracy in action (which is messy at times, for a reason). Of course, leave it to the Journal to view it as a lefty conspiracy, or something.

    ALEC was targeted last year when former White House aide Van Jones accused the group and its donors of racism during the election-year fight over voter ID laws. Through letters and media smear campaigns…

    Proof?

    …the group succeeded in getting such non-profiles in courage as Coca-Cola, Mars and Kraft to stop donating to ALEC. One result is that ALEC closed its task forces that dealt with non-economic issues.

    That was an effort to minimize the political fallout for members and donors around issues that weren’t ALEC’s core mission, but now Democrats are back for more.

    Oh, so the Journal knows what ALEC’s “core mission” is? Oh, right – “center/right reform ideas”…uh huh. And apparently, that includes widespread lobbying while claiming tax-exempt status, as noted here.

    Mr. Durbin knows that companies making hamburgers or allergy drugs don’t care about stand-your-ground laws. His goal is to scare them with reputational damage by mentioning them in the same breath as Trayvon Martin. This is how the modern left—via the IRS, the Federal Election Commission and now in Congress—tries to stifle political debate.

    Ha and ha (and I would say that writing an editorial like this without noting that the Journal is itself a member of ALEC is an attempt to “stifle political debate” also, as noted here – and of course, lefties were targeted by the IRS too, a fact the Journal choose to ignore).

    Oh, and assuming a bill is ever signed into law containing language directly from an “agitprop outfit” like MoveOn.org (this Michigan “right to work” bill received that treatment, including language that came directly from ALEC), I’m sure the Journal will let me know – yeah, right.

    Update 8/15/13: More here

  • Next, I have a feeling that the other Bush brother is getting a little antsy about all the big media love doled out to fellow Repugs (and potential 2016 presidential candidates) Rand “Fake Ophthalmologist” Paul and Ted “Calgary” Cruz (to say nothing of Governor Bully, of course), and I guess the former FAL guv thought he had to make a splash somehow (here)…

    Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) on Wednesday criticized actor Matt Damon, a vocal public-school advocate, for sending his children to private school.

    Matt Damon Refuses to Enroll Kids in Los Angeles Public Schools. Choice ok for Damon, why not everyone else? http://t.co/yHrTbakeIW

    — Jeb Bush (@JebBush) August 6, 2013

    “I’ll take ‘Desperately Trying To Remain Relevant Somehow’ for 100, Alex!”

    There are a few directions you can go with this, but for now, I’d like to point out the following (here, in which the Daily Kos diarist notes that the “research” in support of school choice is largely bankrolled by the Walton Family, the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute, and the usual coterie of right-wing propagandists)…

    School choice may, in fact, hold some promises for reforming education since “choice” is central to human agency and empowerment. But the school choice movement and its advocates are the least likely avenues for us ever realizing what school choice has to offer because the advocates are primarily driven by ideology and funding coming from sources that have intentions that have little to do with universal public education for free and empowered people.

    And the growing evidence that corporate charter schools as the latest choice mechanism are causing harm–in terms of segregation and stratification of student populations–is cause for alarm for all people along the spectrum of school reform and school choice. [5]

    If a school choice advocate sticks to the talking-points script and will not acknowledge the overwhelming evidence that out-of-school factors determine student outcomes, that evidence is mounting that choice stratifies schools, and that evidence on how school is delivered (public, private, charter) is mixed and similar among all types of schooling, then that advocate isn’t worth our time and isn’t contributing to a vibrant and open debate that could help move us toward school reform that benefits each student and our larger society.

    And on top of that, this tells us the following…

    Charter school trends vary substantially across different regions of the country. Latinos are under-enrolled in charter schools in some Western states where they comprise the largest share of students. At the same time, a dozen states (including those with high concentrations of Latino students like Arizona and Texas) report that a majority of Latino charter students attend intensely segregated minority schools. Patterns in the West and in a few areas in the South, the two most racially diverse regions of the country, also suggest that charters serve as havens for white flight from public schools. Finally, in the industrial Midwest, more students enroll in charter schools compared to other regions, and midwestern charter programs display high concentrations of black students.

    Since Brown v. Board of Education, public schools have been compelled to address this disparity. That public schools have been inconsistent in this mission is a conclusion that is not in dispute.

    Charter schools on the other hand, — especially those operated by national Charter Management Organizations like KIPP and National Heritage Academies — tend to reinforce geographic racial patterns in their marketing appeals. On their websites and in their printed materials, these charter chains invariably promote their abilities to educate “underserved” communities and “close achievement gaps,” even though there is no evidence that charters in general are any better at this than traditional public schools. In fact, many of them are worse.

    But beyond all of that, this tells us, among other things, that Jeb Bush is criticizing actor Matt Damon for doing something Bush did himself (oh, and last I checked, Matt Damon isn’t a potential candidate for any government office whatsoever).

    However, I’ll let a professed Jeb Bush supporter get the last word here…

    MS_Kelly_J_Bush_0813
    Actually, no, he isn’t.

  • Continuing, it looks like John Lott is all up in arms (pun intended) over keeping the identity of gun owners a secret (here). Funny, but I didn’t see NRA members being so shy when it came to showing off their hardware at a Starbucks in Newtown, CT recently, as noted here (the place where the Sandy Hook school carnage took place last year, for the benefit of anyone who has somehow forgotten that – to the credit of the Starbucks store, it closed early on Friday, but it should not have had to do that).

    (I suddenly realized that, in accordance with the ALEC editorial earlier, the Murdoch Street Journal would probably try to accuse me now of suppressing the legitimate free speech of the NRA…I have a two-word response, and it isn’t “happy birthday,” or “lock n’ load.”)

    I wonder if Lott is trying to hide the identity of gun owners also because, as determined in a 1994 study noted here, male gun owners were 2 ½ times more likely than non-gun owners to be arrested for non-traffic offenses? And by the way, as noted from the same HuffPo link, a 2012 survey found that most guns used in mass shootings were legally purchased – just an FYI.

    Honestly, though, I think Lott and his pals have nothing to worry about (just whipping up phony outrage as usual). From what I’ve read, Gawker and the New York Journal News took so much flak for publishing the names of New York gun owners that I think the chilling effect of that alone would be enough to prevent anyone else from doing it.

  • Further, I give you Mark Hemingway of The Weakly Standard (here)…

    On August 15, 2012, at 10:46 a.m.—one year ago this week—Floyd Lee Corkins entered the lobby of the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C. He was carrying a backpack that contained 15 Chick-fil-A -sandwiches, a Sig Sauer 9mm pistol, and 100 rounds of ammunition. Corkins has since pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing for the crimes he proceeded to commit. He’s set to spend decades in a prison cell and fade into obscurity.

    But Leo Johnson deserves to be remembered for his heroism that day. The building manager for the Family Research Council was manning the front desk that morning and let Corkins enter the building under the pretense he was a new intern. The video of what happened after that is remarkable.

    After Corkins takes a suspiciously long time rummaging through his bag to produce identification, Johnson cannily stands up and walks around the desk to get a closer look at what Corkins is doing. Corkins bolts upright, gun in hand. Without the slightest hesitation, Johnson rushes Corkins, who fires twice. A bullet shatters Johnson’s left forearm. “And I just couldn’t hear anything, my arm just kind of blew back. So at that point I was thinking: ‘I have to get this gun,’ ” Johnson told The Weekly Standard. “That was my sole focus—I have to get this gun—this guy’s gonna kill me and kill everybody here.”

    From there, Johnson somehow manages to push Corkins across the lobby and pin him against the wall with his bad arm. “I just started punching him as hard as I could, until I could feel his grip loosen,” recalled Johnson. Eventually he takes the gun from Corkins with his wounded arm. Before long, Corkins is subdued on the ground. Corkins now admits that it was his intention to shoot everyone in the building. There’s no question Johnson saved a lot of lives.

    Leo Johnson’s actions were heroic, absolutely, and Hemingway’s piece tells us about all of Johnson’s difficulty with rehabilitation and medical bills, as well as caring for his elderly mother and very elderly grandmother (and yes, Corkins is just another cowardly idiot with a gun).

    But if you think all of this is just a setup to take a shot at us lefties, then you win a commemorative Mexican terrorist doll with the face of Repug U.S. House Rep Louie Gohmert (the commemorative model with the face of Steve King has “calves the size of cantaloupes”).

    Continuing…

    There’s a lot that should be said about Johnson’s heroism, starting with the fact that it hasn’t been widely recognized. Over the last few years, thanks to events such as the Gabrielle Giffords shooting and the George Zimmerman trial, the media have been subjecting us all to a constant and unavoidable national debate about the nexus of politics and violence. This has been unusually perplexing because the media persist in having this debate even when no connection between politics and violence exists.

    Obama_Baby_Teabagger

    Obama_White_Slavery

    Taxpayer_Obama_Oven


    Really?

    The Family Research Council shooting is one of the few inarguable examples of politically motivated violence in recent years, yet looking back a year later, the incident has garnered comparatively little attention. Corkins openly admits he selected the Family Research Council because the Christian organization is one of the leading opponents of gay marriage in the country. He had Chick-fil-A sandwiches in his backpack because the CEO of the fast-food chain was under fire for publicly supporting a biblical definition of marriage. Corkins said he planned to “smother Chick-fil-A sandwiches in [the] faces” of his victims as a political statement. And in case that didn’t make his motivations transparent, right before Corkins shot Leo Johnson, he told him, “I don’t like your politics.”

    Later in the column, Hemingway blames the Southern Poverty Law Center (as if they had anything to do with Corkins and his criminal behavior) for designating the Family Research Council as a “hate group” (with Leo Johnson basically wondering why anyone would do such a thing – making that designation against the FRC, I mean).

    I’ll tell you why – as noted here

    The SPLC gave the Family Research Council the designation due to anti-gay speech from its leaders, which the SPLC says includes calls for gay men and lesbians to be imprisoned.

    Labeling the Family Research Council a hate group puts one of Washington’s most powerful social issues advocates into the company of groups like the Nation of Islam and the now mostly defunct Aryan Nations in the eyes of the SPLC, which tracks 932 active hate groups in the U.S.

    Groups are labeled hate groups by the SPLC — which made a name for itself by using civil lawsuits to severely weaken the KKK and other white supremacist groups — when they “have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics,” according to the group’s website.

    The main offender in the eyes of the SPLC is Peter Sprigg, the FRC’s senior researcher and vocal opponent of the gay rights movement. In May, Sprigg told me that an end to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell would lead to more American servicemen receiving unwelcome same-sex fellatio in their sleep, part of a long line of reasoning from Sprigg suggesting that gay men are more likely to be sex offenders than anyone else.

    SPLC Research Director Heidi Beirich told me the FRC is part of a growing list of what the SPLC calls anti-gay groups masking themselves under the guise of conservatism or Christianity.

    “What this really is is a wholesale defamation attack on gays and lesbians,” Beirich said. “Some of the stuff is just as crude if you compare it to, say, the Klan’s racism. But a lot of it’s a little more sophisticated and they try to make it more scientific even though what they’re pushing are falsehoods.”

    I wish Leo Johnson all the best in his recovery, and he is of course entitled to his opinion no matter how much I may disagree. But to use the horrible attack he endured as an excuse to whitewash the FRC’s bigotry is a whole other level of repulsive that I didn’t think I could ever imagine from the wingnutosphere until now.

  • Finally, it looks like Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina (do I need to mention the party?) is shocked, shocked I tell you! to hear Dem Senator and Majority Leader Harry Reid tell us that Republicans don’t like Obama because he’s an African American (here)…


    Yeah, don’t you hate it when somebody makes up stuff like that?

    “Instead of engaging in serious debate about the failed policies of this administration – from the ever-increasing burdens created by the national health care reform plan to the tax and spend approach to economic recovery, along with countless others – Democrats are once again trying to hide behind a smokescreen,” the Republican said.

    Added Scott: “Our country deserves more from those in Washington. I hope Senator Reid will realize the offensive nature of his remarks and apologize to those who disagree with the President’s policies because of one thing – they are hurting hardworking American families.”

    (Just as a reminder, this tells us once again that the “jobs” plan from congressional Republicans won’t create actual, y’know, jobs.)

    And when it comes to “hurting hardworking American families,” Scott has a pretty good (which is to say, bad) track record, as noted here

  • Scott attempted to prevent the families of striking workers from receiving food stamps (including kids).
  • He also tried to hurt the NLRB’s ability to go after law-breaking employers.
  • In addition, he also authored a bill that would have stripped the National Labor Relations Board of its ability to penalize companies that illegally move jobs in retaliation for workers exercising their legal rights.
  • Scott also supported a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act that determined that immigrant, Native American and LGBT women should be afforded no protections at all, as noted here.
  • Oh, and Scott also helped slash South Carolina’s HIV/AIDS budget and defended billions in subsidies to Big Oil. He also floated the idea of impeaching Obama over the 2011 debt ceiling nonsense (which led to the sequester, let’s not forget, in which “Man Tan” Boehner said he got “98 percent” of everything he wanted). And while he sat on the Charleston (SC) County Council, he wanted to spend an unlimited amount of money to display the Ten Commandments outside of a government building (all of this awfulness is noted here).

    In conclusion, I’d like to point out that I think Harry Reid is wrong. Scott and his pals don’t oppose Obama because he’s black.

    It’s merely because he’s a Democrat.


  • Wednesday Mashup (6/26/13)

    June 26, 2013

  • Yes, we’re still dealing with the fallout from the latest travesty brought to us by the High Court of Hangin’ Judge JR (and by the way, it’s great that the DOMA was ruled unconstitutional, as noted here, but once again, Anthony Kennedy of the Supremes proved why, rightly or wrongly, he’s the most important man in America, or at worst a close second behind Number 44).

    As Think Progress points out here

    (Yesterday), the Supreme Court declared Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 unconstitutional. Section 4 is the formula which determines which jurisdictions are subject to “preclearance” under the law, meaning that new voting laws in those jurisdictions must be reviewed by the Justice Department or a federal court before they can take effect. Although today’s opinion ostensibly would permit Congress to revive the preclearance regime by enacting a new formula that complies with today’s decision, that would require a functioning Congress — so the likely impact of today’s decision is that many areas that were unable to enact voter suppression laws under the Voting Rights Act will now be able to put those laws into effect.

    More on this sorry development is here.

    Of course, the seamy underbelly of wingnuttia has cause to rejoice, and the once-mighty Journal of Rupert The Pirate does so here

    …as Chief Justice Roberts wrote for the Court, “history did not end in 1965.” In the 48 years since, those Southern barriers to voting have disappeared.

    Really? From here

    The jurisdictions that needed pre-clearance under a 1975 revision had a history of discriminating against certain minorities. They include a handful of Southern states, where African Americans faced discrimination, and a number of counties and cities in other states where minorities faced hurdles in voting rights, including two counties in South Dakota, five counties in Florida and three boroughs of New York City.

    And true to form, this tells us that, in “the land of the yellow rose,” a voter ID law and a redistricting map that discriminated against black and Latino residents (and likely would have failed the “preclearance” requirement of the Act) is now advancing through the state legislature (and this tells us that the same thing is happening in South Carolina concerning a voter ID law with the same background as the one in Texas).

    And in Alabama (here)…

    The state currently has at least one major voting law — a requirement that voters produce a photo ID at the polls — awaiting preclearance. The Star’s attempts to reach officials in Chapman’s office for comment on that matter were unsuccessful.

    Local officials are still unsure exactly what the ruling means for Calhoun County. County administrator Ken Joiner said he needed to consult with county attorney Tom Sowa for more insight on the matter. Attempts to reach Sowa were not successful Tuesday.

    Joiner said he didn’t have an estimate of how much money the county spent per year on preclearance for changes to the voting process.

    “There’s no way to tell,” he said. “You’d have to look at all the time spent on it, personnel-wise. But it does cost money, and it’s not a small amount.”

    And concerning Mississippi and North Carolina, I give you the following (here, and this tells us of similar developments in the “illegal to be brown” state of Repug Governor Jan Brewer).

    But before what was once called the “party of Lincoln” give themselves too many “high fives,” they might want to consider this

    The Supreme Court’s decision to strike down a central provision of the Voting Rights Act will make it easier for Republicans to hold and expand their power in those mainly Southern states. That will, in turn, make it easier for them to hold the House. It will also intensify the Southern captivity of the GOP, thereby making it harder for Republicans to broaden their appeal and win back the White House.

    Heckuva job, conservatives!

    SCOTUS_Outdated_0625
    And on a related note, please tell me once more that The Daily Tucker is both a “news” and “opinion” site and not just completely the latter, OK?

    Update 6/27/13: I forgot about Arkansas and Virginia, which are noted from here.

  • Next, OMIGOD! It’s OBAMACARE – RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!!! (here)…

    As the Obamacare “train wreck” unfolds we continue to learn of the unintended, unnecessary, and burdensome consequences of a law passed without a single bipartisan vote in Congress.

    Despite the President’s promise of lower health care costs, premiums are rising for families and estimates show that because of Obamacare, over 7 million Americans will lose their employer provided insurance.

    In response, allow me to point out the following from here

    When one hears a title of a story like “Seven million will lose insurance under Obama health law”, the rule thumb is to first panic. Should not Obamacare have ensured that that would not occur? When one further dives into the story and realize that it means seven million will lose insurance provided by their employers and not insurability, it presents an excellent segue to discuss America’s healthcare insurance payment system abyss.

    It is likely more people will eventually lose their job-based insurance simply because companies may realize it is not only about the cost of the premiums they pay for their employees, but the inefficiencies of renegotiating healthcare insurance contracts yearly. They can get rid of their healthcare infrastructure (employees, space, and other overhead), pay a fixed “penalty” and have their employees all join an exchange.

    Basically, as the Kaiser Foundation tells us here, we’re talking about a likely decrease of 7 million in coverage over the next 10 years (Kaiser also tells us that 27 million are likely to gain coverage). And this appears to be true mainly because of the “fiscal cliff” deal towards the end of last year and also because more states didn’t opt for Medicaid expansion, including our illustrious commonwealth of PA under Governor Tom “Space Cadet” Corbett, as noted here.

    So yeah, this is pretty much rank propaganda from U.S. House Teahadists Larry Buchson (who proposed cutting the U.S. foreign aid budget to keep Navy fighter pilots in the air here), Trey Radel (who suggested impeaching President Obama over executive orders on gun violence here), and Phil Roe (who voted against funding for victims of Hurricane Sandy here).

    The model of employer-based health care served this country pretty well for a long time, but it’s a dinosaur. All the Affordable Care Law is doing is hastening the process of extinction, which will happen one way or the other.

    Update 6/27/13: And speaking of Corbett and health care (here)…

    Update 7/9/13: Corbett continues to be an utter embarrassment on this issue (here).

  • Continuing, this tells us the following…

    …over 50 non-profits across the country have launched National Employee Freedom Week, a national campaign which runs June 23-29 focusing on educating employees about all of their rights in the workplace.

    Writer Priya Abraham of the Commonwealth Foundation here in PA tells us in her column about Rob Brough and John Cress, two teachers who have apparently tried to cut ties with their union, to no avail (I don’t know the particulars of their case, and I haven’t been able to find out anything else about it, so I can’t really comment on it).

    What I can point out, though, is that the Commonwealth Foundation (as blogger Ben Waxman tells us here)…

    …is not a “government watchdog group.” It is the Pennsylvania version of the Heritage Foundation– a constant source of right-wing propaganda and misinformation. In the last few months, they have led the opposition to funding for mass transit, expanding healthcare coverage, and legislation designed to protect the rights of workers to organize. All of these positions can be found by looking at their website. Frankly, identifying an organization like the Commonwealth Foundation as simply a “government watchdog group” is bad journalism at best and completely disingenuous at worst.

    Oh, and the Commonwealth Foundation is also responsible for a monstrosity called “Project Goliath,” as noted here.

    And as noted here, Abraham and the Commonwealth Foundation are acting totally in concert with the interests of a host of right-wing organizations attempting to curtail workers’ rights in this country, including Americans for Prosperity (you can just draw a line right back to the Koch Brothers on that one) and the Heritage Foundation, among others.

    And as noted from here

    …every union member already has the freedom to leave his or her union, and keep in mind no one has to join a union to get a job—that’s the law.

    So what’s behind this latest stunt from the same folks who have pushed bills in state legislatures around the country to weaken workers’ rights and silence their voices in the political process?

    It’s pretty simple. Having fewer workers in unions really only benefits profit-driven CEOs and corporations. When workers have less of a say in their workplace, out-of-touch CEOs and corporations can cut costs and increase the bottom line by making employees work more hours for less pay and by offshoring jobs altogether. It’s a power grab by the same people who ship our jobs overseas and offshore their profits to avoid paying taxes—shifting the burden to the rest of us.

    Again, I don’t know what’s up with Brough and Cress, but somehow I have a feeling that their circumstance is yet another exception that the Repugs and their like-minded brethren are trying to turn into a rule (see Ronald Reagan’s “welfare queen,” among others).

  • Finally (and speaking of women), it looks like Cal Thomas at Fix Noise has the supposed solution to the Repugs and their electoral woes (here)…

    Republicans should place themselves on the side of giving more information to women, empowering them by making it law that they view a sonogram of their baby before they have an abortion. That could possibly lead to fewer abortions, the goal of pro-lifers, and likely make ineffective legislative measures unnecessary.

    OWWWW!!! THE STUPID!!! IT BURNS US!!!!

    So forcing women undergoing an abortion to view a sonogram of their fetus is “empowering”? Really???

    It should also be noted that Thomas is playing some word games here, and I need to clarify that a bit. I am definitely not a medical professional, so I checked to find out whether or not Thomas was really talking about a sonogram or an ultrasound procedure. As nearly as I can determine, they’re both the same thing; the ultrasound apparently has to take place (which can reveal a fetal heartbeat) to produce a sonogram (the hardcopy output of the result of the procedure, which does not of course reveal a heartbeat).

    So basically, we’re talking about an invasive procedure regardless. And to find out what happened when Scott Walker-istan tried to mandate an ultrasound prior to an abortion, read this. And to find out when Virginia tried to do the same thing, read this. And to find out what happened when our just-mentioned PA guv Tom “Just Look The Other Way” Corbett tried the same thing, read this.

    If Cal Thomas and Republicans as a political party really believe that they can legislate on the matter of the quality of women’s health care with impunity, then they will electorally “crash and burn” more severely than they can ever imagine, and it will be completely deserved.


  • Friday Mashup (9/21/12)

    September 21, 2012

  • Memo to Time Magazine: Even though the Repugs have obstructed legislation in the Senate in an unprecedented fashion, they are not officially in charge of that body in the legislative branch, despite the implication in your headline.
  • And speaking of Time, I came across this column on the recent finding by the Inspector General that Eric Holder and President Obama are blameless in the matter of the “Fast and Furious” gun walking operation; it’s basically a sensible piece, except for this knuckle-headed attempt at false equivalency…

    (Department of Justice Inspector General, Michael Horowitz) does dispense with one unsubstantiated claim from the left side of the aisle. Some Democrats have said Fast and Furious shows lax gun laws are to blame for the weapons trafficking that contributed to agent Terry’s death. Horowitz finds that prosecutor Hurley and ATF agents in the case did believe they didn’t have sufficient probable cause to seize weapons during Fast and Furious, and Horowitz rejects their “narrow view” of “the quality and quantity of evidence that was necessary to take enforcement action.”

    But ultimately Horowitz says it was not the legal view that prevented ATF or U.S. prosecutors from interdicting the guns in Fast and Furious, but a tactical and strategic decision to let the guns walk in order to pursue higher-ups in the gun-running, drug-smuggling and money laundering operation they were investigating.

    I supposed what Horowitz (or Time writer Massimo Calabresi) is saying is that, on some level, the “tactical and strategic decision” to continue the “gun walking” would not have continued if those who made that decision believed that laws were being broken…ergo, no law could have prevented the tragedy? Perhaps, but am I missing something? How about a bigger ATF budget for operational enforcement for starters?

    Calabresi’s column on this subject is a studious work, though, compared to that of Jake Tapper of ABC, who basically chides Obama here for blaming gun walking operations on our prior ruling cabal, even though Tapper makes no mention of Operation Wide Receiver, which predated F&F (and speaking of F&F, isn’t this interesting?).

    Much of the right-wing hectoring over this, though, had to do with some supposed Obama plot to enforce stricter gun control measures (here), which, sadly, is not likely to ever occur (and here is a shocking candidate for the voice of reason on that subject, since the Party of Obama has, except for folks like Frank Lautenberg and Carolyn McCarthy, basically punted on this life-or-death issue).

  • Turning to the subject of racism by the Teahadists (more “water wet, sky blue” stuff I know), I still think this is beyond the pale…

    …a Tea Party group is now threatening to exact revenge upon the (PA) state supreme court for refusing to uphold a law that prevents many low-income, student and minority voters from casting a ballot:

    Oh, and did you know that the New Hampshire Teahadists have been supposedly collecting data on “voter fraud” for years (here)? Any idea where this “data” is located? “Grant’s Tomb,” perhaps? Or maybe a mayonnaise jar underneath Funk and Wagnalls’ porch (a dated “Tonight Show” reference)?

    Or how about the Tea Party Voter ID antics in Ohio, as noted here? Or the Teahadists’ claim that there are supposedly 30,000 “dead voters” in North Carolina, which has resulted in all kinds of headaches for polling station workers trying to figure out whether or not that claim is actually true (here)?

    Let’s dispense once and for all with the ridiculous notion that voter ID laws are aimed at “voter fraud,” shall we? Their aim is to disenfranchise Democratic voters. Period. Full stop.

    And yes, that is indeed racist (gosh, how shocking for a filthy, unkempt liberal blogger such as yours truly to point that out! I may faint!).

  • Next, I give you more hackery from Investor’s Business Daily (here)…

    Politics: The White House claims two ex-SEALs killed in Libya were inept security guards.

    You know what? Let’s just stop it right there, OK?

    This tells us that the Obama Administration is conducting an investigation into the Benghazi embassy attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens, among others, the State Department is setting up an independent panel for that purpose as well, and the National Counterterrorism Director testified about the attack at a Senate committee hearing.

    We just got through a bunch of wingnut bloviation on Fast and Furious. Let’s not start over the embassy attack also, OK (yes, I know – I can dream, can’t I?).

    Update 9/23/12: Here’s more on one of the “inept security guards” (the bar is set pretty low with Investor’s Business Daily to begin with, but they still sank too low to reach even that).

  • Finally, it looks like the Potential Repug Presidential Nominee in 2016 haz a sad (here)…

    Asked to weigh in on Mitt Romney’s comments about not caring about 47 percent of Americans, Gov. Christie today went after the media.

    “Some people in the media should just turn in their media credential and get an Obama For President credential the way they focus on things that people said back last May.

    Gee, I wonder if this has anything to do with Governor Bully’s latest snit? Say buh-bye to a high-profile slot in a (God help us) Romney-Ryan administration if he can’t deliver The Garden State for The Mittster.

    Tee hee hee…


  • 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).


  • Thursday Mashup (7/12/12)

    July 13, 2012
  • Leave it to a former Bushie to throw cold water all over a good idea (here)…

    High-speed-rail executives from around the world gather in Philadelphia this week, hoping to boost support for bullet trains in the United States, where momentum has been slowed by high costs and political disputes.

    The new national transportation funding act signed by President Obama on Friday contained no money for high-speed rail, although the administration had sought about $8 billion a year. And Republican governors of Florida, Wisconsin and Ohio have spurned federal money for high-speed rail projects, sending the money back to Washington.

    “There’s no federal money, there’s no private money, and states are not in a position to finance it,” said Ken Orski, a transportation adviser to several Republican presidents, including George W. Bush. “The conference in Philadelphia will be high on rhetoric and talk of things going on in Europe and the Middle East . . . but in the domestic situation, their only hope is California.”

    Meanwhile, I give you the following (here)…

    High-speed rail does not exist in the U.S. And the fact that the new congressional budget deal completely eliminated high-speed rail funding for 2011 may lead many to believe it never will. Who can forget the headline-grabbing declarations by governors Rick Scott of Florida, John Kasich of Ohio and Scott Walker of Wisconsin that high-speed rail is a no-go in their states? Between their refusal of federal funds, the political posturing on Capitol Hill and the endless debates in the editorial pages of newspapers, it’s easy to get the sense that high-speed rail is dead.

    But while the fast train indeed has been dealt a serious blow, the fact remains that it’s coming: Illinois will spend more than half a billion dollars this year on upgrading existing tracks to accommodate speeds of 110 mph, while California officials plan to break ground next year on the $42 billion Los Angeles-to-San Francisco high-speed rail link. Notwithstanding the congressional budget cuts, there was still $2 billion up for grabs this year — thanks to Florida. Twenty-four governors — 12 Democrats, 11 Republicans and one Independent — applied for that money. The Federal Railroad Administration dedicated the $2 billion to 15 states and Amtrak in May.

    And from here

    By 2017, the fastest train in America will zip through Central New Jersey at 160 m.p.h…

    In two decades: New York to Philadelphia in 37 minutes. To D.C. or Boston in 94 minutes.

    Does that work for you? I hope so. Particularly since, as noted here, it is vital that our public transportation system do all that it can to connect workers to jobs (and even though I realize high-speed rail may cater to higher earners than many people living in cities, I’m quite sure it will return more “bang for the buck” than building more highways, hastening further sprawl and congestion).


    As that noted philosopher Mongo pointed out in “Blazing Saddles,” “got to do with where choo-choo goes”…

  • Next, leave it to the Murdoch Street Journal to accuse Obama Attorney General Eric Holder of “Jim Crow”-style politics (here)…

    Speaking to the NAACP in Houston on Tuesday, Mr. Holder assailed the Texas law that requires voters to show some identification, using terms redolent of Deep South racism before the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. “Many of those without IDs would have to travel great distances to get them—and some would struggle to pay for the documents they might need to obtain them,” he said. “We call those poll taxes.”

    The nation’s first black Attorney General knows exactly what he is doing by citing the fee that some Southern states used after Reconstruction to disenfranchise blacks. Poll taxes were made illegal by the 24th Amendment in 1964.

    Oh, and as far as the Journal is concerned, that automatically means that no such thing as a real or potential violation of the 24th Amendment could ever occur, right? Would that that were true – this tells us how the IRS under Bushco tried to find out the political affiliation of taxpayers in 2006 (also a violation of the amendment).

    And in response to that paragraph in the Journal editorial about Texas voters being allowed to use their gun permits as acceptable ID for voting (figures), I give you this

    In South Texas, the region with the richest tradition of voter fraud in the state, few election officials believe a new law requiring all voters to have photo identification will do much to curb voting chicanery.

    And that’s because more of a potential for actual fraud exists with mail-in ballots than in-person ballots, with 18 percent of Texas voters lacking proper ID as noted here (I don’t have any numbers on the percentage of mail-in ballots nationally from Democrats versus Republicans, but I would venture to guess that mail-in ballot voters typically are not the ones being targeted by ALEC and the Koch Brothers).

    In conclusion, the Journal tells us the following…

    As for the “poll tax” canard, the law says the Texas Department of Public Safety will issue a free Election Identification Card if requested.

    Umm, OK…of course, the Journal happily discounts the fact that voters most likely to be affected probably don’t know that they’re non-compliant with the law as it currently stands (also caring not to admit that there would be a huge burden put on state workers responsible for mailing out the proper ID to everyone, that is, if the affected voters realized something was wrong – and Heaven forbid that the “yellow rose” state, among all the others with onerous new voter ID laws, would educate in advance those who would be turned away on Election Day).

    The Journal also referred to Holder’s characterization of the Texas Voter ID law (and by extension, laws across the country, including our beloved commonwealth) as “buncombe,” which, I suppose, is French for horse dookey (thanks to the Journal for expanding my word power).

    Update 7/14/12: More here.

  • Finally, did you know that African American voters could actually cost President Obama the election?

    OK, you can stop laughing now.

    No, really, you can stop, OK?

    I mean, Edward Klein of Fix Noise says so here, so he must be right…right?

    And do you know why? Well…

    Many socially conservative church-going blacks are deeply upset with Obama’s endorsement of gay marriage.

    Oh, please.

    In response, I give you the following (here)…

    The expected backlash among blacks to President Obama’s endorsement of same-sex marriage has yet to materialize. And a new Washington Post-ABC survey suggests that black opinion is very quickly moving the other way, with a majority of African Americans now saying they support same-sex marriage.

    Fifty-nine percent of blacks now say they support same-sex marriage, an 18-point jump since the president’s announcement of his own support two weeks ago. Fifty-three percent of Americans now believe that same-sex marriage should be legalized, which also marks a substantial spike since 2006, when just 39 percent of those polled thought it should be legalized.

    And as noted here from Ben Jealous of the NAACP…

    “If you go to the board, you’ll see a lot of religious leaders,” Jealous told The Huffington Post last month. “All of the religious leaders on our board, except for one, were for marriage equality.”

    That one happens to be William Owens, who of course was also quoted at length in Klein’s piece.

    And if anyone thought Obama’s support of gay marriage was going to hurt him among African Americans, the following should be noted from here

    As Gallup itself reported in early May, Romney led Obama among non-Hispanic white voters by 54 to 37 percent, while the president had the support of more than three-quarters of non-white registered voters (77 percent). Obama’s support among African Americans on Gallup’s tracking poll stood at 90 percent.

    Oh, and let it be known that a certain Willard Mitt Romney hasn’t exactly endeared himself to African Americans lately (here and here).

    As noted here, though, Klein has been wanking away with fact-free punditry for some time now, infamously in his tome “The Truth About Hillary” (here). And the Tucson Citizen referred to Klein’s book on Obama called “The Amateur” as “the literary equivalent of a backed up-septic tank.”

    Well then, I’ve suppose we’ve identified Klein’s area of subject matter expertise at long last (buncombe, anyone?).


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