Saturday, October 04, 2008

Saturday Stuff

I think Rachel Maddow is right; this may be the funniest "Worst Person" ever - now pardon me while I go smoke a cigarette (h/t to Attaturk at Eschaton)...

...and hey, ya' wanna buy a mansion? I'll give you a hint who owned it - a certain presidential candidate who called his opponent an "elitist."

Friday, October 03, 2008

Friday Stuff

K.O. compares Palin in '08 to Dubya in '00; if this doesn't scare you, nothing will...

...and by the way, the Obama campaign is putting together an ad based on this clip from the debate; to help out, click here...

...and whatever I can do to help Annette Taddeo unseat Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (a tall order) within reason, I'll do...

Update 10/06/08: Way too funny (h/t The Daily Kos)...

...The Gaslight Anthem ("The '59 Sound"; a little too talky on the lead-in, but I like the gritty, garage-band feel to it - good luck to them).

Update 10/4/08: Acebass, I had to reject your comment because I just got done fighting a hellacious war with Blogger because they thought I generated spam, and I think it had to do with accepting comments that contain URLs, even though your link is definitely applicable here. Given that, though, the least I can do is embed your video, which is Richard Trumka speaking about Barack Obama and racism along with a bunch of other great stuff last July - thanks for the heads-up.

Where The Rubber Meets The Road (10/03/08)

As reported in last Sunday's Philadelphia Inquirer, here is how Philadelphia-area members of Congress were recorded on major roll-call votes last week (and by the way, I also posted over here today).


Credit-card rules. Voting 312-112, the House sent the Senate a bill (HR 5244) setting pro-consumer rules for credit-card firms. In part, the bill would allow card holders to set their own limits above which transactions cannot be processed; set 18 as the minimum age for obtaining a card in most circumstances; require 45 days' notice of rate increases while allowing existing balances to be paid at the previous rate; and prohibit changes in contract terms until a card is up for renewal.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes: Robert E. Andrews (D., N.J.), Robert A. Brady (D., Pa.), Charles W. Dent (R., Pa.), Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.), Jim Gerlach (R., Pa.), Tim Holden (D., Pa.), Frank A. LoBiondo (R., N.J.), Patrick Murphy (D., Pa.), H. James Saxton (R., N.J.), Allyson Y. Schwartz (D., Pa.), Joe Sestak (D., Pa.) and Christopher H. Smith (R., N.J.).

Voting no: Michael N. Castle (R., Del.) and Joseph R. Pitts (R., Pa.).

GOP credit-card plan. Voting 198-219, the House defeated a Republican motion to delay the effects of HR 5244 (above) until the Federal Reserve studied the bill and certified it would not shrink credit availability and damage the economy.

Delaware Rep. Castle said: "What we are simply trying to do in this is to make sure that there is not a reduction in the availability of credit to certain groups, small businesses, veterans or minorities."

A yes vote backed the GOP plan.

Voting yes: Castle, Dent, Gerlach, LoBiondo, Pitts, Saxton and Smith.

Voting no: Andrews, Brady, Fattah, Holden, Murphy, Schwartz and Sestak.
This tells us that Mike Castle receives anywhere from 40 to 60 percent of his campaign contributions from the financial services industry (the number varies depending on whether or not you add in individuals who work for those companies to the donations made to their corporate PAC). The post also tells you that Castle was as deceptive about his answer concerning corporate contributions as he was about the reason for his motion for HR 5244 (trying to “run out the clock” on the deliberations for the bill before Congress adjourned).

Castle’s opponent is Karen Hartley-Nagle; to find out more, click here – don’t have polling numbers, but I’m sure she has an uphill fight, to say the least.

Mental-health parity. Voting 376-47, the House passed a bill (HR 6983) that would require private insurers to cover mental illness and chemical addiction at the same level and cost that they cover physical ailments in the same policy. The Senate included a similar measure in HR 6049 (below).

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes: Andrews, Brady, Castle, Dent, Fattah, Gerlach, Holden, LoBiondo, Murphy, Schwartz, Sestak and Smith.

Voting no: Pitts.

Not voting: Saxton.
This week’s stupid “No” vote by Joe Pitts (and as always, to help Bruce Slater, click here).


Tax-break extensions. Voting 93-2, the Senate passed a bill (HR 6049) to extend tens of billions of dollars in business, family, renewable-energy and education tax breaks due to expire at year's end. The bill contains a one-year fix of the Alternative Minimum Tax, whose cost of at least $64 billion would be added to the national debt. The bill also would require parity between mental and physical health-insurance coverage.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes: Bob Casey (D., Pa.), Frank Lautenberg (D., N.J.), Robert Menendez (D., N.J.) and Arlen Specter (R., Pa.).

Voting no: Thomas Carper (D., Del.).

Not voting: Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D., Del.).
Dem Senator Kent Conrad of North Dakota also voted against this bill in addition to Carper; here is more information.

As the eNewsUSA post notes, it’s a positive development that the Senate finally passed legislation to spur development of alternative energy, though lumped into it was funding for development from oil shale, tar sands and liquid coal that “can cause twice the global warming pollution as conventional oil” (probably one of the compromises necessary to get this passed at all).

The Inquirer tells us that Congress had planned to adjourn for the year after completing work on the bailout bill - I have no reason to believe that won't happen.

Update 10/6/08: Oops, my bad - they're back at it (and well they should be, on second thought).

A "Picture" Of Deception From BoBo

I actually tried to read David Brooks’ column today in the New York Times about last night’s vice-presidential candidates’ debate, and I got as far as five paragraphs (the fifth one, below, is where I “hit the wall”)…

When nervous, (Sarah) Palin has a tendency to over-enunciate her words like a graduate of the George W. Bush School of Oratory, but Thursday night she spoke like a normal person. It took her about 15 seconds to define her persona — the straight-talking mom from regular America — and it was immediately clear that the night would be filled with tales of soccer moms, hockey moms, Joe Sixpacks, main-streeters, “you betchas” and “darn rights.” Somewhere in heaven Norman Rockwell is smiling.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve HAD IT UP TO MY FREAKING EYES!! with ANY politician who professes to represent “small-town values” as opposed to offering constructive, legitimate solutions to any given problem (and yes, I wouldn’t like Sarah Palin anyway because she’s grossly under qualified, something only the most rabid of partisans fail to realize at this point, but it’s plain after last night that she barely has a constructive thought in her head as opposed to a collection of rote-learned GOP talking points – and people like BoBo consider it a triumph that she didn’t screw up too badly in their estimation while reciting them over and over).

And the consequence of listening to her spout her myriad drivel is that, while she endeared herself even more to people who, in their idiocy, choose to support her anyway, she put an exclamation point of sorts on the fact that independent voters have left the Repug Party at least for this election cycle (some preliminary focus group results about knowledge ability and electability looked good for her, actually, but Biden’s numbers were at least as good or better).

But getting back to the Rockwell thing, I wanted to link back to this recent column by Thomas Frank in the Murdoch Street Journal as a response of sorts to BoBo (in fairness, they publish Frank regularly to represent a left-of-center point of view; the closest the Philadelphia Inquirer comes to that, for example, is publishing George Curry, and he only shows up once every two weeks at the most).

Frank tells us the following about “Governor Hottie”…

It tells us something about Sarah Palin's homage to small-town America, delivered to an enthusiastic GOP convention last week, that she chose to fire it up with an unsourced quotation from the all-time champion of fake populism, the belligerent right-wing columnist Westbrook Pegler.

"We grow good people in our small towns, with honesty and sincerity and dignity," the vice-presidential candidate said, quoting an anonymous "writer," which is to say, Pegler, who must have penned that mellifluous line when not writing his more controversial stuff. As the New York Times pointed out in its obituary of him in 1969, Pegler once lamented that a would-be assassin "hit the wrong man" when gunning for Franklin Roosevelt.

There's no evidence that Mrs. Palin shares the trademark Pegler bloodlust -- except maybe when it comes to moose and wolves. Nevertheless, the red-state myth that Mrs. Palin reiterated for her adoring audience owes far more to the venomous spirit of Pegler than it does to Norman Rockwell.
This Wikipedia article on Pegler tells us that he was the forerunner of the bilious haters, particularly on right-wing radio, in this country (think Michael Savage and others of his foul ilk)…

Pegler became a supporter of the campaign to portray the New Deal as an internationalist Communist plot. Pegler compared union advocates of the closed shop to Hitler's "goose-steppers." (In his view, the greatest threat to the country was the corrupt labor boss.) By the 1950s, however, Pegler was showing some nostalgia for the Third Reich. His proposal for "smashing" the AF of L and the CIO was for the state to take them over. "Yes, that would be fascism," he wrote. "But I, who detest fascism, see advantages in such fascism."

In the 1950s and 1960s, as his conservative views became more extreme and his writing increasingly shrill, he earned the tag of "the stuck whistle of journalism." He denounced the civil rights movement, embraced anti-Semitism, and in the early 1960s wrote for the John Birch Society —until he was invited to leave for his extreme views.
Too extreme for the "Birchers"; truly scary...

His assertion in November 1963 (at the height of the civil rights movement) that it is "clearly the bounden duty of all intelligent Americans to proclaim and practice bigotry"; his embrace of the label racist, "a common but false synonym for Nazi, used by the bigots of New York"; or his habit of calling Jews "geese," because, "they hiss when they talk, gulp down everything before them, and foul everything in their wake," characterized his beliefs in the latter portion of his life.
And as far as how Rockwell was influenced by FDR, the subject of Pegler’s ire…

In 1943, during the Second World War, Rockwell painted the Four Freedoms series ("Freedom From Speech" appears above), which was completed in seven months and resulted in his losing 15 pounds. The series was inspired by a speech by Franklin D. Roosevelt, in which he described four principles for universal rights: Freedom from Want, Freedom of Speech, Freedom to Worship, and Freedom from Fear. The paintings were published in 1943 by The Saturday Evening Post. The U.S. Treasury Department later promoted war bonds by exhibiting the originals in 16 cities. Rockwell himself considered "Freedom of Speech" to be the best of the four.
So, as you can see, conflating Rockwell with ANYTHING having to do with Sarah Palin is truly grotesque. But as you can also see here, that’s never stopped BoBo from misrepresenting history before.

Finally, I just want to sneak in a plug here for the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA, here as long as we’re talking about him. If you have the opportunity to visit, I highly recommend it; it gives you the chance to see the original paintings that were used for the legendary Saturday Evening Post covers in all their magnificent detail.

(By the way, it's interesting that the Rockwell reference doesn't appear in BoBo's printed column - maybe edited for space.)

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Thursday Stuff

So "Governor Hottie" screws up the name of the commander of our forces in Afghanistan AND manages to lie about what he supposedly said about our COIN strategy (here)? I'm sorry, but please don't ask me a question about that, or I'll answer something else instead...

...yep, sure; just don't vote (may need to crank the volume a bit - Palin actually could've used that line about Darfur during the debate)...

...ready for a look at the monetary cost of the Iraq war? Neither am I, but here it is anyway...

...and BRUUUUCE is coming to town for Obama (details here - check out "Lonesome Day" on "Letterman").

Spy The Beloved County - The Sequel

(A follow-up of sorts to this post; by the way, there more stuff over here.)

The Murdoch Street Journal (a good place for reasonably legitimate news) reported the following from here yesterday…

WASHINGTON -- The Department of Homeland Security will proceed with the first phase of a controversial satellite-surveillance program, even though an independent review found the department hasn't yet ensured the program will comply with privacy laws.

Congress provided partial funding for the program in a little-debated $634 billion spending measure that will fund the government until early March. For the past year, the Bush administration had been fighting Democratic lawmakers over the spy program, known as the National Applications Office.
I don’t believe that’s correct; As this report from Tim Shorrock tells us…

…a National Applications Office (NAO) will be established to coordinate how the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and domestic law enforcement and rescue agencies use imagery and communications intelligence picked up by U.S. spy satellites. If the plan goes forward, the NAO will create the legal mechanism for an unprecedented degree of domestic intelligence gathering that would make the U.S. one of the world's most closely monitored nations. Until now, domestic use of electronic intelligence from spy satellites was limited to scientific agencies with no responsibility for national security or law enforcement.
And as Shorrock also tells us, the companies reaping the benefit of this intrusive new growth industry under Bushco are some of the usual corporate suspects: Boeing, BAE Systems, L-3 Communications and Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC).

(And speaking of these people, take a look here at how much they received in earmarks last year, and then take a look at how much they contributed to John W. McBush here; not earth-shattering amounts, but I would ask that you keep this in mind the next time the “straight-talk express” starts yammering about earmarks again – I’m not the biggest fan either if they’re not disclosed, but we’ve got bigger issues at the moment.)

So how exactly did we get to this point? Chalmers Johnson tells us the following from here…

To feed the NSA's insatiable demand for data and information technology, the industrial base of contractors seeking to do business with the agency grew from 144 companies in 2001 to more than 5,400 in 2006… At the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), the agency in charge of launching and maintaining the nation's photoreconnaissance and eavesdropping satellites, almost the entire workforce is composed of contract employees working for [private] companies… With an estimated $8 billion annual budget, the largest in the IC [intelligence community], contractors control about $7 billion worth of business at the NRO, giving the spy satellite industry the distinction of being the most privatized part of the intelligence community…


Reagan launched his campaign to shrink the size of government and offer a large share of public expenditures to the private sector with the creation in 1982 of the "Private Sector Survey on Cost Control." In charge of the survey, which became known as the "Grace Commission," he named the conservative businessman, J. Peter Grace, Jr., chairman of the W.R. Grace Corporation, one of the world's largest chemical companies -- notorious for its production of asbestos and its involvement in numerous anti-pollution suits. The Grace Company also had a long history of investment in Latin America, and Peter Grace was deeply committed to undercutting what he saw as leftist unions, particularly because they often favored state-led economic development.

The Grace Commission's actual achievements were modest. Its biggest was undoubtedly the 1987 privatization of Conrail, the freight railroad for the northeastern states. Nothing much else happened on this front during the first Bush's administration, but Bill Clinton returned to privatization with a vengeance.
Yep, I’m afraid “The Big Dog” gets a slap on the paw too; according to Shorrock…

"Bill Clinton… picked up the cudgel where the conservative Ronald Reagan left off and… took it deep into services once considered inherently governmental, including high-risk military operations and intelligence functions once reserved only for government agencies. By the end of [Clinton's first] term, more than 100,000 Pentagon jobs had been transferred to companies in the private sector -- among them thousands of jobs in intelligence… By the end of [his second] term in 2001, the administration had cut 360,000 jobs from the federal payroll and the government was spending 44 percent more on contractors than it had in 1993." (pp. 73, 86)

These activities were greatly abetted by the fact that the Republicans had gained control of the House of Representatives in 1994 for the first time in 43 years. One liberal journalist described "outsourcing as a virtual joint venture between [House Majority Leader Newt] Gingrich and Clinton." The right-wing Heritage Foundation aptly labeled Clinton's 1996 budget as the "boldest privatization agenda put forth by any president to date." (p. 87)

After 2001, Bush and Cheney added an ideological rationale to the process Clinton had already launched so efficiently. They were enthusiastic supporters of "a neoconservative drive to siphon U.S. spending on defense, national security, and social programs to large corporations friendly to the Bush administration." (pp. 72-3)
And up to now, it should be noted that, by law, NRO activities are supposed to be confined to “foreign countries and battlefields.”

And how successful has this all been? Are you sure you want to know, because, according to Shorrock…

"If there's one generalization to be made about the NSA's outsourced IT [information technology] programs, it is this: they haven't worked very well, and some have been spectacular failures… In 2006, the NSA was unable to analyze much of the information it was collecting… As a result, more than 90 percent of the information it was gathering was being discarded without being translated into a coherent and understandable format; only about 5 percent was translated from its digital form into text and then routed to the right division for analysis.
All of this for a measly five percent?

And going back to the Journal story for a moment, I simply had to share this with you…

Homeland Security spokeswoman Laura Keehner said department officials concluded that the program "complies with all existing laws" because the GAO report didn't say the program doesn't.
Two wrongs making a right once more in the Bizarro Bushco universe; what a bunch of rapacious weasels! This sounds like another job for Rep. Henry Waxman’s House Oversight Committee.

If our ruling cabal of crooks is going to conduct ever-more-intrusive activities into our lives in violation of the spirit if not the actual intent of our laws until someone or something makes them stop (no one has so far), the least they can do is give us a better return on our taxpayer dollars for it.

Update 6/23/09: I was incorrect in my summation above, and I updated the post accordingly.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Wednesday Stuff

(I also snuck in a post over here today.)

Funny stuff here with Bill Maher and Chris Rock, particularly at the end (and I hope they're right)...

...and I think the great New York Times story on Sunday about McBush and the casino industry is something else we need to look at more closely, and I'll try to do so this week...

..."Worst Persons," with Steve King who can't count the number of lost jobs, some Fox Noise dweeb who can't count the number of Obama voters in the room, and Bill Orally who can't count the number of times he's compared people or organizations he doesn't like to that goose-stepping little Austrian postcard painter...

...Marc Broussard ("Home"; time to git down wid' da' funk!).

(Note: YouTube is currently undergoing site maintenance - again - so this may be up later.)

Could "Governor Hottie" Be A "Trojan Moose"?

I read this article in the Murdoch Street Journal today about Our Gal Sarah’s debate history in the frozen north, and I thought this was interesting…

Despite Gov. Palin's recent travails, Democrats seem to be raising expectations for her performance. "We've looked at tapes of Gov. Palin's debates, and she's a terrific debater," Obama campaign manager David Plouffe told reporters Saturday. "She's obviously a skilled speaker. We expect she'll give a great performance next Thursday."

Gov. Palin herself engaged in a little pre-debate spin on Monday, telling reporters "I've been hearing his speeches since I was in the second grade." The remark suggested she would be a decided underdog against Sen. Biden, while underscoring the McCain campaign's message that it represents a newer, better alternative to the Democratic ticket.

She was a sensation as a candidate for governor two years ago, excelling in about a dozen debates during a primary bid against a sitting governor and later in the general election against a former governor attempting a comeback. In both rounds of voting, she was in a three-way race, the only woman running against two older men. A newcomer, she radiated "change" -- and stood out with trademark attire, such as a chic scarlet blazer that became almost her debate uniform.

Yes, I realize this publication is likely to mitigate the impact of or ignore outright Palin’s numerous gaffes, including her most recent one here where she couldn’t name a single newspaper or magazine she’d ever read (h/t Atrios) even though he obtained a degree in journalism after stints at numerous colleges (and following that, she learned how to proficiently broadcast sports on T.V. station KTUU in her home state, learning how to "work the crowd"; also, as an athlete, she’s been used to the spotlight all along).

And I know the oh-so-august Journal will think absolutely nothing of the fact that Palin named her daughter after a body of water.

But anecdotes such as this intrigued me somewhat (and I think David Plouffe was wise to tell people to be cautious)…

The candidates she squared off against (while running for Alaska governor), and the reporters who posed questions in several debates, recall that she related high gas prices to the difficulties her family had buying a car.

The other candidates scowled and sighed over her inability, in one exchange, to identify a single bill passed by the legislature that she either approved or disapproved of. She ignored their frustration.

Then, in one of the evening's final questions, she deftly turned the tables on the two men.

Asked what jobs she might have in her administration for either opposing candidate, she chuckled that former Gov. Knowles could be her official chef, while Mr. Halcro would be Alaska's top statistician.

"It was a witty answer, and funny," recalls Larry Persily, the Anchorage Daily News editor who posed the question at a debate broadcast on the state's public television network. "But it was also a put-down. Everyone knows Tony used to own a restaurant called Downtown Deli, and she was suggesting he should go back to running a lunch counter. With Andrew, she was saying, basically, 'Gee, all your facts and numbers are nice, but the voters just don't care.'"
That’s the sort of stuff that people remember from debates, my friends (and that’s one of the reasons why I generally don’t pay much attention to them; I can find out about the gaffes and “gotcha” nonsense later).

Also, as Kagro X notes here, Palin was recruited by a certain Newton Leroy Gingrich for GOPAC some time ago…

Back in the heyday of GOPAC, when it was Newt Gingrich's operation, one of the chief functions of the organization was to equip the Republican "farm team" with the kind of rhetoric Newt was well-known for. Attention grabbing, bombastic, and most importantly, focus-group tested for resonance. Right down to the molecular level. They actually used to distribute a list of words they wanted you to use to describe Republicans and Republican policies, and those they wanted used to describe Democrats and Democratic policies.

For most Republicans, that rudimentary training is usually enough to get you through most situations. They rarely, if ever, face the national press corps for a full and wide-ranging examination of the breadth of their policy positions, instead perhaps occasionally doing national interviews on specific topics of expertise. Only the top leaders from each party tend to find themselves in a position like Palin will be facing on Thursday, and even then only for perhaps ten minutes at a time. It's highly unusual for such an untested politician to find themselves in this bright a spotlight, and it's only due to the fact that a vice presidential nominee can literally be picked out of the blue and thrust into the spotlight with no special prerequisites that this can even happen. Ordinarily, people choose their running mates with, you know, a little care and forethought. And that usually produces a selection who's actually ready for the job.

Not this time. This time, we're being given a chance to watch one of the GOPAC spawn in the larval stage, not yet fully developed, and we'll have a chance to see the limitations of trying to teach someone to talk and argue like Newt Gingrich before they're ready.
I realize that the circumstances in this country now are completely different from any time that I can ever recall in my life, and I don’t mean that in a good way; for that reason, voters in this country generally are less tolerant of a pretender. And maybe it’s possible that Palin will continue to make utterly ditzy pronouncements along the lines of her earlier gems, such as not being able to name a Supreme Court case besides Roe v. Wade (here) or describing the looming threat of Vladimir Putin’s noggin suddenly appearing over her home state here (which gives me an excuse to take this gratuitous swipe again).

But then again, she may come out tomorrow and make just barely enough sense to startle people into thinking she could actually be competent as vice president (and in the event of that horrid development, I think Tina Fey can just go get rich playing her for as long as we’re stuck with her).

Somehow, though, I can’t help but feeling that there’s a bit of “rope-a-dope” going on here. After what this guy pulled off in 1980, I’ll never assume anything for certain about a Repug again.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tuesday Stuff

(Posting is going to be a question mark for a little while, both here and at Wordpress, just to let you know.)

Who says John W. McBush doesn't have a clue about the economy - au contraire (and a serious "Frontline" ad? Somebody at PBS had their thinking cap on)...

McCainâ??s Economic Plan For Nation: 'Everyone Marry A Beer Heiress'

..."Worst Persons" from last night: a certain presidential candidate forgets the number of his wedding anniversary - oops! - Sean Hannity refuses to let reality intrude once more, and Karl Rove thinks "Governor Hottie" is being over-prepared for her debate with Joe Biden? Really?...

...and Julia Louis-Dreyfus piles on in the whole McBush flap over his Letterman no-show...

...Groove Armada ("At The River"; I guess this is "house" or "electronica" or something, but I thought it was kind of neat).

Equal Time For Tom Manion

Here's my response to the comment left by KW Smith of the Tom Manion campaign here.

As a supporter of Tom Manion, I find your comments out of line. I read the guest opinion too. First of all, it was only about education. He has another one on energy posted on his website.
I cannot find his Guest Opinion on energy at the Tom Manion web site (which had good ideas, actually, that haven’t been supported by the Repugs in Congress, as I noted here).

Scondly, he does describe the 21st century skills in the paragraph after the one you criticize.
I don’t have the hardcopy at the moment, and I cannot find it at (no surprise). I also cannot find it at Manion’s web site (??), so I have no point of reference at the moment.

Next, you say you would like to hear why Tom Manion would be better for us than Patrick Murphy. Perhaps the liberal press, like this website, are failing to notice some of Murphy's failings but I will point them out. Perhaps the liberal press are the problem, and not Tom Manion. But I digress.
Oh, stop your damn whining about “the liberal press” and make your point, OK?

Murpy (sic) co-sponsored the SAVE Act for the e-verify system and then would not sign the discharge petition to bring the bill to the floor for a vote.
Co-sponsoring this bill was pretty dumb, but you can chalk this up to some “Rahm-Emanuel-Blue-Dog-let’s-look-tough-on-immigration-so-the-Repugs-don’t-beat-us-up-politically” connivance; at least Patrick ended up doing the right thing by refusing to sign the discharge petition.

Problems? Well, as noted here, it concentrated more power in the Department of Homeland Security (does it make YOU happy to give that kind of clout to Mike “City of Louisiana” Chertoff?), it violated confidentiality of tax and Social Security information by dumping all reported anomalies such as multiple use of a Social Security number (SSN) and mismatches into a DHS database while providing few if any protections against misuse of such information, it expanded the scope of activity that can be prosecuted as “alien smuggling” (while doing nothing to combat the long-documented abuse of aliens in facilities where they’re held) and narrowed the protections from such prosecution enjoyed by religious workers, it punished immigrants here legally whose work visas expire…need I go on?

Lesson learned? Never trust ANYTHING from Heath Shuler.

Murphy co-sponsored the comprehensive Peterson-Abercrombie energy bill on July 31, and six weeks later voted for Pelosi's sham energy bill.
This post from Above Average Jane tells us of the press conference held last October with Patrick Murphy, Bob Casey and Pelosi following the energy package that passed with the federal renewable energy standard, providing more information. I do not know exactly why the latter bill was an improvement over the former; I’ll assign myself the task of trying to find out more information.

Murphy voted against measures that would open up our domestic energy supply seven times.
I’m not going to bother researching that because “drill, drill, drill” won’t do a damn thing to lower the price of gas and will only increase our addiction to oil primarily (but not exclusively) from the Middle East.

Murphy voted against funding the troops five times.
Since there are no citations on roll call votes, I’m not going to do the research that the Manion team should have done before they made that claim. However, this press release dated August 1st of this year tells us that Patrick passed the 21st Century Service Members Protection Act, modernizing the existing SCRA for the financial obligations faced by today’s troops – specifically to cover service contracts such as cellular phone service, car insurance, utilities, cable television, or internet access. Patrick also cut off funding for the VA’s misguided program of not allowing our veterans to register to vote, and he also voted to expand access to and strengthen the quality of veterans’ health care for 5.8 million patients, including 333,000 veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Murphy voted to take away a union employee's right to a secret ballot.
That’s Republican code language meaning that Patrick supports the Employee Free Choice Act (here’s a fact sheet on that).

Murphy claims to be a fiscal conservative but his record has been given a failing grade by two citizens watch dog groups. Failing as in 15 out of 100.
You know what? I’m not going to go crazy over what kind of rating a politician gets from Taxpayers For Common Sense or any of these outfits. An elected representative could be spending money wisely as far as I’m concerned by providing funding for schools, public parks, job retraining, law enforcement or libraries and get a lousy rating, whereas someone could vote No to everything (think Joe Pitts) and be celebrated for “leading the cause of tax reform.”

Speaking for myself, I vote for these people because I trust them to spend my money wisely, not because I trust them not to spend it at all. And I trust Patrick to do the right thing, and nine times out of ten at least, he does.

Murphy says porkbarrelers like Murtha and corrupt men like Rangel or his "heros." Then Murphy voted to grant Rangel a $2 million dollar earmark for Rangel's private library and office.
As I noted here, a $2 million earmark is actually “chump change” in the scheme of things; I have no problem with earmarks as long as they’re disclosed. And as I also noted, how funny is it to hear a Repug sympathizer complain about $2 million for Rangel (who’s a lightning rod of sorts at the moment, I realize) when former Speaker Denny Hastert inserted a $207 million earmark for his little Prarie Parkway deal?

Murphy's voted with Pelosi 93% of the time. Murphy's new commercial features the Gamesa company which received a fine for emissions infractions and is being sued for age discrimination by workers who allege they were replaced by younger workers from Spain.
By the way, Gamesa is “the wind energy leader in Spain,” a good company to be partnering with at the moment. And as we know, only Democrats sully themselves by dealing with corporate wrongdoers.

By the way (again), I wonder what’s going on with that lawsuit Worth and company faces with the state of PA over approximately $142,000 in wages that company employees allege have yet to be paid on government projects (including Quakertown, PA Middle School) in violation of PA’s prevailing wage law (Worth is where all Repug candidates visiting this area go to pay homage for fundraising).

Just last week (Murphy) voted for a $60 billion dollar spending bill with nearly $7 billion in earmarks. In the middle of a fiscal crisis. Good Move.
Any particulars on that? (Earmarks are good if they’re disclosed…this is a recording…).

Today he voted to stick taxpayers with a $700 billion credit card bill.
I don’t like the bailout package either, but it’s what we’ve got at the moment, and we have to get credit moving again in this country or else jobs won’t be created (though that hasn’t happened much anyway under Bushco, as we know), houses won’t be built, freight won’t be transported, and on and on. Besides, “Man Tan” Boehner shot the package down supposedly because he was upset by a speech Nancy Pelosi gave, or something; uh…this is just a bit bigger than partisan political games, Mr. House Minority Leader.

There's a record I'd be proud of. And of course Congressman Murphy has plenty of money from his two years in office, and of course at this point you are hearing more from him.
I have a rough idea of what Patrick’s salary is, and he’s hardly a millionaire. Besides, what does that have to do with anything other than pure spite?

So, hang on and I am sure you will be hearing more from Tom Manion before Nov. 4. Or maybe you could just open your eyes and see what is in front of your face, as I got all this information from the internet. Right ____ now.
Oh, golly – color me embarrassed, especially since (as I noted in my comment), I’ve heard nary a word of this from the candidate himself.

And I know there’s probably a lot more that could be said about all of this, but I think this will suffice for now.

(By the way, I posted recently at the Wordpress site here - and to help Patrick Murphy, click here.)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Monday Stuff

I don't like the CEO pay thing either, but we can't go after that first in this whole bailout business...first thing is to restore faith with some of these crooks - won't be easy, I know - and get credit moving again (still a good ad, though)...

...and yep, when I'm on the precipice of financial Armageddon, the one person I want to hear from is Paul Krugman...

...and I think it's pretty unbelievable that the words didn't even need to be changed from Palin to Tina Fey...

...The New Pornographers ("Sing Me Spanish Techno"; edgy stuff, I know).

We Deserve A Better Campaign Than This

I don’t know about anyone else living in the PA-08 U.S. Congressional District, but at this point, I really have to write the “meta post from hell” about this contest.

You see, I’ve been waiting, like my neighbors in this district, for Tom Manion to demonstrate decisively on what basis he believes he should win the election and thus serve us in Washington instead of Patrick Murphy.

A couple of days ago, I commented here on how the current financial meltdown gave him an opportunity to blame “low interest rates” and “affordable housing goals” as the reason for our plight (a bit of truth, but not much; even though I wouldn’t expect Manion to be a financial expert, I would at least expect him to seek wise counsel on the subject).

This post tells us that Manion showed some original thought on the energy issue, though, as I noted, his own party in Washington is primarily responsible for blocking tax credits that would spur development of alternative sources.

This tells us about the controversy concerning a Manion fundraiser at Worth and Company (a noted center of Repug “rainmaking”), this tells us that Manion opposes an assault weapons ban (though, as noted here, Patrick Murphy compromised himself on the gun issue), and this tells us that all Manion has to offer in response to the “squeeze” we currently face with health care and energy costs in particular is the laughable bromide that “much more needs to be done.”

But what really tore it with me on Manion was his truly ridiculous Guest Opinion that appeared in the Bucks County Courier Times yesterday. I’m sorry that I cannot link to it online; that marvel of technology known as has experienced “temporary difficulties” for the last three days.

However, this paragraph sums it up (he basically repeats this in one variation or another for about 700 words)…

From my experience in the business world, I know that American workers are prized the world over for their creativity and ingenuity. Continued success in the global economy depends on our educational system’s continued ability to produce the world’s most valued workers. Specifically, our schools should produce workers who are adept at 21st century skills.
And what exactly do you consider those “21st century skills” to be, Tom? Managerial, primarily? Anything pertaining to life sciences? Insurance?

What about funding and development of alternative energy? How does that impact the skills you’re talking about?

What would you do in Washington (apart from what Patrick Murphy is doing already, that is) to secure additional funding for our schools (you have “Education” listed as an issue on your web site, but that information doesn’t appear). Stem sell research? Global warming? Anything??

And while I know land use issues more or less “drill down” to the local level, I’d still like to hear your thoughts about what kind of planning municipalities can do in concert with county and/or state government.

Another thing – you apparently were meeting with train riders to help shape your views, which is a good (if unoriginal) idea. Did anything come out of that?

And don’t look for answers in Tom’s Guest Opinion yesterday, because they cannot be found. And what he wrote (assuming he, in fact, wrote it) should have received a thorough copy edit at the very least to clean up some of the style issues and grammatical mistakes before it was published.

Basically, it reads as if Manion reviewed his RNC-assigned boilerplate, decided to sit down and stare at the wall for a little while, and then concoct his Guest Opinion.

I’d like to see specific policy proposals, recommendations, or ideas for legislation. I’d like to see Manion review Patrick’s legislative record and explain to us what he would have done differently; I’m sure some of this will come out in the debate, but given the fact that we have a little more than a month to go until we vote…well, call me crazy, but I’d like to hear about this right freaking now!!

My preliminary impression of Tom Manion has been more or less supported by the developments in this campaign. I believe he is fundamentally a good man who, probably out of a sense of misplaced honor, considered it his duty to answer the call of the Bucks County Republican Party and oppose Patrick Murphy. But what I see from him is a dispirited effort and a total misunderstanding of the issues we face, let alone the solutions (yes, I would be inclined to support Patrick anyway, but I would at least respect Manion more if I saw that he was making a better case for himself).

Please click here to support Patrick Murphy for Congress. That will hasten Tom Manion’s return to corporate life, where I am sure he is much better suited than his current occupation, which is to serve as a human placeholder for his party and its failed notions of (non) governance, due to expire for good on election day.

Earning The Benefit Of The Doubt, For Now

Every once in awhile a story comes along that reinforces to me the fact that I don’t know everything, and this may be one of those stories.

This San Diego Tribune article tells that Attorney General Michael Mukasey actually appointed a prosecutor to look into the firings of the nine U.S. attorneys dismissed under the watch of Abu Gonzales (I thought Mukasey would “run out the clock”), in particular David Iglesias of New Mexico, ousted through the influence of Repug. Sen. Pete Domenici and House Rep Heather Wilson….

Mukasey named Nora Dannehy (pictured), a career prosecutor, to direct the probe.
This Waterbury Observer story tells us of the rise and fall of former Connecticut Repug governor John Rowland, a once-rising star in the party who was undone by accepting gifts and personal favors, including renovations to a weekend cottage from contractors doing state business, and also by “benefitting improperly” from the sale of a Washington, D.C. condominium.

The story also tells us that Dannehy was the lead federal prosecutor in Rowland’s trial. And while Rowland seemed very much to be the all-too-typical pol consumed with his own sense of self-importance and what you might call a highly diminished sense of moral clarity, it also didn’t help his party standing that he helped to raise money for Dem congressman Chris Murphy (noted by Wikipedia here).

Dannehy seems to be a public servant of integrity, so let us hope that she unearths all of what will likely be the tawdry doings of her fellow Repugs in terminating the U.S. prosecutors; Mukasey could have done a whole lot worse, which, truth be told, is what I expected.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Could Sarah Palin Actually Be Right?

Took good to pass this up...

More Sunday Stuff

John Kerry compares Obama to McBush on last week's market turmoil (did Kerry get an "eye job," I wonder?)...

...and by the way, Crooks and Liars had some interesting information here on how the people of this country supposedly favor McBush over Obama as commander in chief, when in fact, according to the poll Tom Brokaw sites, they favor Obama instead by two points (not beyond the statistical margin for error, but not something Brokaw admitted either - and of course, Steve Schmidt lies about McBush calling for Rumsfeld's firing, which he never did)...

...Killswitch Engage ("The End Of Heartache"; this is LOUD!)...

...and the tributes continue to pour in for Paul Newman, including this one.

Update 10/2/08: Definitely "part of his times," to our eternal benefit (here).

Sunday Stuff

Hey McBush, try shutting your yap long enough to let Obama finish his sentence before you criticize him next time, OK (and by the way, to help get another Obama ad on the air, click here)...

...and here are some highlights of the greeting "Governor Hottie" received when she ventured to these parts on Friday to the Irish Pub so she could watch McBush and Barack Obama; she had Ed Snider in tow, and just as a reminder (with the NHL ready to start again in a few weeks, including the Flyers), here is more about some of Ed's pals (and how funny is it that Biden was all over the place on the networks after the debate and she wasn't; the Pub does good things to help Philly's finest so I won't slam them, but I have to admit that I'm disappointed that they let themselves be a party to this charade).