Thursday Mashup (3/28/13)

March 28, 2013

  • (I’m trying to play catch-up a bit here – sorry if I’m a bit behind on some of this stuff.)

    Recently, Mikey the Beloved opined as follows (here)…

    In days of old, the filibuster was used as a way to prevent the majority from overriding the minority…

    I honestly don’t know if Mikey is living in a time warp these days or not (days of old?), but as noted here from last September, the Repugs (the minority party in the Senate, let’s not forget – and hopefully it will remain that way after next year) have blocked about 375 bills proposed by the Democrats via the filibuster. That’s not “prevent(ing) the majority from overriding the minority” – that’s called obstruction.

    I will grudgingly cede Fitzpatrick’s point that the so-called “talking” filibuster seemed to be preferred by most of those polled in this country as noted here, though the linked post also tells us that those polled are concerned also about other abuses of Senate process by the minority party (and why the hell is Mikey so damn concerned about the Senate anyway?).

    Mikey also tells us the following…

    Last year, the Administration proposed waiving work requirements for welfare recipients, a misguided move, I believe…

    Yes, it would be misguided, if in fact it had been proposed by the Obama White House. The only problem for Mikey is that it didn’t happen (here)…

    The administration’s welfare waiver initiative would strengthen work requirements by empowering states to innovate on strategies that could move 20 percent more of the caseload into sustainable employment. As the government’s directive announcing the initiative notes, “The Secretary is only interested in approving waivers if the state can explain in a compelling fashion why the proposed approach may be a more efficient or effective means to promote employment entry, retention, advancement, or access to jobs that offer opportunities for earnings and advancement that will allow participants to avoid dependence on government benefits.” Republican and Democratic governors — and even Romney and Paul Ryan — have all promoted flexibility before Obama embraced it. [HHS, 7/12/2012]

    Mikey concludes with the following…

    Sadly, I took to the House floor last week to speak about Harry Fawkes, the late and former chairman of the Bucks County Republican Committee. Harry was selfless and magnanimous; everything he did was for the benefit of our county. He was a friend and mentor to many of us in public life today and often said, “good government is good politics.”

    I tried to observe a bit of respectful silence over the passing of Bucks County Repug Poobah Harry Fawkes (probably more than he would afford us), but I think it is now important to recall the following…

  • Fawkes once lamented a win here by Repug Charley (“I Have A Semi-Open Mind”) Martin over Steve Santarsiero in the Bucks County Commissioners contest because it was too narrow, I guess (with Fawkes claiming that Bucks would turn into “New Jersey West” with a Dem majority of commissioners…typical).
  • Fawkes also encouraged real, honest-to-goodness voter fraud here upon hearing that some PA Repugs registered as Democrats so they could vote for Hillary Clinton in the ’08 primary, after which they would presumably switch their registrations back to Republican again, all in a failed effort to derail Number 44 (creating undue headaches and likely overtime for poll workers who had to process their application forms back and forth…”good government is good politics” – too funny.)
  • Fawkes also accused former PA-08 Congressman Patrick Murphy of “financial improprieties” here with defense contractor (and campaign donor) Kuchera Systems, all because Murphy accepted the donation and returned about $5 grand in earmarks in legislation, one of which benefitted Kuchera (no evidence that Murphy benefitted personally of course – yeah, remember how horrible earmarks were supposed to be, even though they accounted for about one one-hundredths or less of the federal budget?). And as I noted at the time, how ridiculous was it (to say nothing of partisan) to criticize Murphy for this given that Mikey the Beloved, Fawkes’ protégé for jobs both in county and federal government, held onto about $190 grand in donations from political action committees tied to disgraced former lobbyist Jack Abramoff (here)?
  • Mikey has a little caveat at the end that these little “Congressman’s notebook” posts of his will appear in his designated house organ twice a month as a way to “shed some light” on what he is doing. I think PA-08, though, would be better served if he were to spend the time he would use writing these posts instead on legislation that actually addresses the needs of his constituents.

  • Next, I turn to one of Mikey’s Repug playmates In the House (here)…

    A Republican lawmaker is concerned about voter registration questions buried in a draft application to receive benefits under President Obama’s healthcare law.

    Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.), who leads a House subcommittee on oversight, said the questions’ placement could lead some to believe that voter registration is tied to eligibility for the law’s insurance exchanges.

    “While the healthcare law requires that government agencies collect vast information about Americans’ personal lives, it does not give your department an interest in whether individual Americans choose to vote,” Boustany wrote in a letter Monday to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

    At the end of the Hill article, though, we learn the following (“asked and answered,” if you ask me)…

    Many voters register in the process of receiving or renewing their driver’s license, and applications for Medicaid, food stamps and other benefits usually afford the same chance.

    States must offer an opportunity for voter registration through any office that provides public assistance, according to the National Voter Registration Act of 1993.

    Of course, “Birther” Boustany (here), being a typical wingnut, is an old hand at blame avoidance; this tells us that, as a medical doctor, he was the target of three malpractice suits (kind of explains his embrace of “tort reform” – I’m sure this is more “cause an effect” stuff too). He also paid $18,250 to receive an English title that turned out to be bogus (as the 9/09 Daily Kos post tells us), and as noted here, he claimed in September 2007 that “sectarian slayings were down” in Iraq, when quite the opposite was true. And as noted here, “Lord” Boustany opposed a provision in the health care law that dedicated $1.1 billion to researching the effectiveness of medical drugs and procedures; what is so appalling is that Boustany had not, in fact, even bothered to read the text of the provision he opposed.

    I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise that Boustany and the rest of the “pay no price, bear no burden” bunch can’t fathom that lower-income voters don’t have the luxury of making multiple trips (in their luxury vehicles, no doubt, possibly with someone else doing the driving) and need the legally-protected option of registering to vote when they apply for federal government services as part of “one-stop shopping.” And I have no doubt that, given the chance, Boustany would eliminate that option for those less fortunate altogether.

    Which makes the task of ensuring voting integrity (as opposed to the straw man of “voter fraud” supposedly by actual voters) all the more important.

  • Continuing, the Daily Caller whines as follows (here)…

    Democratic New Mexico Sen. Martin Heinrich founded an environmentalist group with a convicted eco-terrorist in the 1990s.

    Heinrich, who will meet with President Obama in the Oval Office Monday to establish the Rio Grande del Norte as a national monument, was elected to the Senate in 2012 with the financial backing of numerous environmentalist groups.

    Prior to his political career, Heinrich c0-founded and chaired the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance. David Foreman, a convicted criminal and founder of the radical environmental “warrior society” Earth First!, was among the other co-founders of the group. He also sat on the board during Heinrich’s tenure as chairman.

    Leave it to Tucker Carlson’s Crayon Scribble Page to get the story exactly wrong – this tells us the following…

    Foreman’s arrest was the culmination of three years and two million tax dollars spent in an attempt to frame a few Earth First! activists for conspiring to damage government and private property. The FBI infiltrated Earth First! groups in several states with informants and undercover agent-provocateurs. Over 500 hours of tape recordings of meetings, events and casual conversation had been amassed. Phones had been tapped and homes broken in to. The FBI was doing their best to intimidate radical environmentalists across the country, marking them as potential threat to national security.

    Back in the 1970s the FBI issued a memo to their field offices stating that when attempting to break up dissident groups, the most effective route was to forget about hard intelligence or annoying facts. Simply make a few arrests and hold a public press conference. Charges could later be dropped. It didn’t matter; by the time the news hit the airwaves and was printed up in the local newspapers, the damage had already been done.

    It was the FBI’s assertion that the action stopped by the arrests under that Arizona power line in late May, 1989, was to be a test run for a much grander plot involving (Mark) Davis, (Marc) Baker, (Peg) Millet, and the group’s leader, Dave Foreman. The FBI charged the four with the intent to damage electrical transmission lines that lead to the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons facility in Colorado.

    “The big lie that the FBI pushed at their press conference the day after the arrests was that we were a bunch of terrorists conspiring to cut the power lines into the Palo Verde and Diablo Canyon nuclear facilities in order to cause a nuclear meltdown and threaten public health and safety,” explained Foreman.

    The Counter Punch story also tells us that, in the late 1980s, the FBI launched a unit called THERMCON “in response to an act of sabotage of the Arizona Snowbowl ski lift near Flagstaff, Arizona that occurred in October 1987, allegedly by Davis, Millet and Baker.” One of the THERMCON agents was Michael A. Fain, a fairly inept individual who basically admitted on tape that THERMCON had targeted Foreman (with Fain saying that Foreman “isn’t the guy we need to pop”).

    However, the case proceeded anyway, with this perhaps inevitable result…

    …the case against Foreman, having been deferred almost seven years, was finally reduced in 1996 to a single misdemeanor and a meager $250 in fines. The $2 million the FBI wasted tracking Earth First! over the latter part of the 1980s had only been nominally successful. Yet the alleged ring-leader was still free. Unfortunately, the FBI may have gotten exactly what they wanted all along. Dave Foreman later stepped down as spokesman to Earth First! and inherited quite a different role in the environmental movement — one of invisibility and near silence.

    And to think that Carlson and his ilk have the gall to criticize Foreman for “less-than-level headed statements,” which is a bit hilarious when you also consider this.

  • Finally, it looks like Teahadist nematode Phil Gingrey has entered the race for the soon-to-be-vacant U.S. Senate seat of Saxby Chambliss, as noted here.

    Given that, I think it’s instructive to look at what Gingrey “brings to the table,” as noted here.

    (And by the way, I am hardly gloating on this subject – given the fact that five incumbent U.S. Senate Democrats are stepping down also, as noted here, I would say that we have more than a little bit of work to do in that area.)


  • Friday Mashup (2/1/13)

    February 1, 2013
  • It’s been a little while since I checked in with former Laura Bush employee Andrew Malcolm of Investor’s Business Daily, but, kind of like the dull toothache you experience when you bite down a little too hard on a freezer pop, he has returned, Obama-baiting rhetoric and “Democrat” Party references in tow (here, and as is almost always the case accompanied by polling numbers that don’t come close to telling the whole story)…

    Predictably perhaps, the nation’s economy, which President Obama has vowed to repair even more often than he golfs, earns the least satisfaction from Americans, according to the new Gallup survey. Only one-in-five Americans (20%), presumably among those still employed, are somewhat or very satisfied with the economy. That’s down 27 points since the same 2005 Gallup survey.

    Inquiring minds giving Malcolm more attention than he deserves would be wondering I’m sure why the Dubya loyalist would go back to 2005. Why, that was at the peak of our last economic bubble under Former President Highest Disapproval Rating in Gallup Poll History, of course (you know, so Malcolm could skew the numbers as much as he could).

    And let me note also that, while only 20 percent of this country is satisfied with the economy, Gallup also tells us here that 14 percent approve of our wretched U.S. Congress.

    So with an economic approval of only 20 percent, Obama’s actual approval number would be about that or near Congressional approval if Malcolm were correct to blame Number 44 exclusively, right?

    Uh, no (48 percent, to be exact).

  • Next, Repug U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch tells us here that upgrading our system of background checks in this country prior to approving to gun purchases would lead to a “reduction in liberty,” or something.

    Really?

    To get an idea of why Hatch said that, you need only read this; basically, like all Repugs in Congress, Hatch is worried about saying or doing anything whatsoever that could bite him in the ass from the Limbaugh-Hannity-Drudge faction that was once the fringe, but pretty much calls the shots now in his party (Hatch easily won re-election last year, but the fundraising pretty much never stops any more in the absence of public-money-only campaign financing).

    Hatch also doesn’t want to do anything whatsoever to shut off that flow of dough from the NRA, which has graced him with about $136 grand to date, as noted here.

  • Continuing, I give you the latest from Stu Bykofsky at philly.com on immigration (here)…

    If we fail to get enforcement – not just at the border, but in the workplace – we will “invite” millions more “guests” to arrive illegally, and we will repeat the same drama again.

    That’s a recipe for disaster.

    In response, this tells us that, after about 30-40 years of steadily increasing immigration to this country from Mexico (legal and otherwise), the pace has slowed down. Also, this tells us that PA Repug U.S. House Rep Lou Barletta (who I discussed here) said recently that there basically was no point to pursuing immigration reform for unskilled workers since, well, they’ll just become Democrats anyway (nice guy).

    Think Progress has the nonsense from Barletta and a lot more important stuff on this issue from here (and on the question of Obama and enforcement, the following should be noted from here).

    Update 2/3/13: More “epic fail” from Barletta is here – voters in his district who supported this clown must be so proud (I’m sure Barletta needs special protection from an would-be assailant brandishing a spoon).

  • And speaking of policies from the Obama Administration, I give you this

    Smith & Nephew eliminated nearly 100 jobs in Memphis and Andover, Mass., on Thursday, Jan. 31, as the medical device company cuts expenses in an effort to offset tax hikes included in the Affordable Care Act.

    The Affordable Care Act includes a 2.3 percent medical device tax, which took effect Jan. 1.

    The London-based company, which employs about 1,800 people in Memphis, said the new tax will cost the industry about $30 billion over 10 years.

    “(The tax) has impacted a number of companies across the U.S.,” said Joe Metzger, senior vice president of corporate communications. “Smith & Nephew is not immune from this added expense burden.”

    Smith & Nephew announced in February 2012 that it would reduce its global workforce by 7 percent over the next three years. Several other companies announced similar plans, including Stryker and Medtronic.

    I’m sorry about the Smith & Nephew workers in this country who are now out of a job, of course. However, the company still was able to pursue a deal worth about $782 million in cash last year to acquire Healthpoint Biotherapeutics, a “big name” among bio-pharma companies (here). Didn’t they anticipate what they thought would be the “rainy day” of more medical device taxes to protect their workers?

    And I wonder if a $22 million settlement in a bribery case had anything to do with their sudden financial hardship (here and here)?

  • Finally, with the return of a new Congressional session last month, that marked a return of the old Repug U.S. House wingnut extraordinaire Steve King of Iowa (here, among other idiocies)…

    Mr. Obama’s executive elimination of all work requirements of “welfare to work” violated the 1996 welfare reform work legislation, which was signed by President Clinton. Mr. Obama violated the Constitution by waiving provisions that the law specifically stated could not be waived by the president.

    It should be noted that Politifact had something to say about that urban legend of sorts here when it was uttered by Former Senator Man-On-Dog during the Repug presidential primary last year (just add this to the ever-growing catalog of King wingnuttia, much of which is chronicled here).


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