Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Where The Rubber Meets The Road (5/20/09)

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 (the "turbo version" coming up here).


War appropriations. Voting 368-60, the House approved $84.3 billion to fund U.S. combat operations through Sept. 30 and $12 billion for nonmilitary programs. Now awaiting Senate action, the bill (HR 2346) would provide payments to 170,000 troops whose enlistments were extended against their will after 9/11.

A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate.

Voting yes: John Adler (D., N.J.), Robert E. Andrews (D., N.J.), Robert A. Brady (D., Pa.), Michael N. Castle (R., Del.), 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.), Joseph R. Pitts (R., Pa.), Allyson Y. Schwartz (D., Pa.), Joe Sestak (D., Pa.), and Christopher H. Smith (R., N.J.).
Hoping that Admiral Joe decides to "primary" Our Man Arlen any day now...

Green school renovations. Voting 275-155, the House passed a bill (HR 2187) authorizing $6.4 billion in fiscal 2010 for public-school renovations that use mostly "green" building materials and increase energy efficiency. The bill also authorizes $600 million for repairing Gulf Coast schools damaged by hurricanes.
A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate.

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

Voting no: Castle and Pitts.
So Mike Castle gets to join Joe Pitts in the congressional play pen this week with infantile votes against rebuilding our schools. Have fun banging the chalk out of the erasers, you guys.


Credit-card interest cap. Voting 33-60, the Senate refused to place a statutory cap on credit-card interest rates. The amendment to HR 627 sought to impose the same 15 percent usury limit on credit cards that applies to credit unions. The underlying bill remained in debate.

A yes vote was to limit interest rates.

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

Voting no: Thomas Carper (D., Del.), Ted Kaufman (D., Del.), and Arlen Specter (D., Pa.).
BoA (formerly MBNA, otherwise known as the “banksters”) calls the shots in Delaware (update: they ended up doing this after all - yaaay!)

Gun rights in parks. The Senate voted, 67-29, to affirm Bush administration regulations ensuring the right to bear loaded guns in the national park system and national wildlife refuge system. The amendment to HR 627 (above) seeks to counter a federal judge's recent ruling to block the regulations.

A yes vote backed the amendment.

Voting yes: Casey and Specter.

Voting no: Carper, Kaufman, Lautenberg and Menendez.
…and the NRA calls the shots in PA (hard to tell which vote is worse...Update 6/15: And by the way, never would I have imagined this unholy partnership - boooo!!!).

This week, the Senate resumed debate on new rules for credit cards, while the House took up the Transportation Security Administration budget and a bill to reduce home foreclosures. Next week, Congress is in Memorial Day recess.

And with that, I take my leave for a little while, but I’ll plan to rev this whole thing up again early next week. As to where I’ll be, I’ll merely note that it will not be that far away from Bellevue (insert your snark here).


”Legal Eagle” Special Ed Weighs In On The New “Supreme” For Souter

(And I also posted here.)

I suppose as far as the WaPo is concerned, it’s merely enough to note that today’s columnist, Ed Gillespie (picture above with one of his pals), “was in charge of the confirmation of Chief Justice John Roberts and played a leading role in the confirmation of associate Justice Samuel Alito” prior to allowing the former counselor to Dubya to display his own particular brand of hackery once more…

As President Obama decides on a Supreme Court nominee to replace Justice David Souter, Senate Republicans must decide whether they will abide by the standard they used in confirming Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer during Bill Clinton's first term, or the standard set by Democrats in the confirmations of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito during George W. Bush's second term. This is one instance where changing their previous position can be a principled approach.

In 1993 and '94, Republicans voted overwhelmingly to confirm Clinton's nominees on the long-held premise that presidential elections have consequences, and one of the most important of them is a president's prerogative to fill Supreme Court vacancies. If a nominee was qualified in terms of temperament, experience and intellect, senators should not vote against him or her for having a different judicial philosophy.
That’s some truly breathtaking BS by Gillespie; as noted here (something I noted in criticizing Christine Flowers on this subject here), the Senate Repugs managed to block 60 Clinton nominees from even receiving a hearing with the Senate Judiciary Committee.


For most of our history, this perspective was broadly shared on both sides of the aisle when it came to the unique intersection of the executive, legislative and judicial branches encompassed in the Supreme Court nomination and confirmation process. On the basis of this understanding, 41 of 44 Senate Republicans voted to confirm (Justice Ruth Bader) Ginsburg and 33 of 42 voted to confirm (Justice Stephen) Breyer.

In 2005, Senate Democrats -- notably then-Sens. Barack Obama, Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton -- argued for a different standard, one based on how they thought the nominee might rule on important cases in the future. On these grounds, all three opposed both Roberts and Alito. Indeed, half the Senate's 44 Democrats voted against confirming Roberts, and a shocking 40 of 44 voted against Alito.
Assuming you buy Gillespie’s ridiculous argument that there is somehow a dividing line between “temperament, experience and intellect,” and “how (a) nominee might rule on important cases in the future,” it is beyond disingenuous to claim that Hangin’ Judge J.R. didn’t sell himself as advertised during his confirmation hearing.

As noted here (quoting an article in this week’s New Yorker by Jeffrey Toobin)…

Roberts’s hard-edged performance at oral argument offers more than just a rhetorical contrast to the rendering of himself that he presented at his confirmation hearing. “Judges are like umpires,” Roberts said at the time. “Umpires don’t make the rules. They apply them. The role of an umpire and a judge is critical. They make sure everybody plays by the rules. But it is a limited role. Nobody ever went to a ballgame to see the umpire.” His jurisprudence as Chief Justice, Roberts said, would be characterized by “modesty and humility.” After four years on the Court, however, Roberts’s record is not that of a humble moderate but, rather, that of a doctrinaire conservative. The kind of humility that Roberts favors reflects a view that the Court should almost always defer to the existing power relationships in society. In every major case since he became the nation’s seventeenth Chief Justice, Roberts has sided with the prosecution over the defendant, the state over the condemned, the executive branch over the legislative, and the corporate defendant over the individual plaintiff. Even more than Scalia, who has embodied judicial conservatism during a generation of service on the Supreme Court, Roberts has served the interests, and reflected the values, of the contemporary Republican Party.
And as we know, Gillespie, being a loyal Bushie, isn’t above lying when he feels he must; as noted here, he repeated the false claim that Roberts didn’t refer to Roe as “settled law” in his confirmation hearing.

And if the vote against Alito was “shocking,” as Gillespie put it, it was because, as Linda Hahn of Planned Parenthood of Bucks County wrote here (before Alito was confirmed)…

Alito is frankly so far outside the mainstream that his confirmation could radically transform the Supreme Court and create a direct threat to the health and safety of American women. Sandra Day O’Connor is a moderate without an agenda like Alito, and has often cast the all-important swing vote in cases of reproductive freedom. Alito shows open antagonism to women and to the rights and protections that we need.
And this doesn’t even take into account Alito’s convenient moment of forgetfulness during the whole “Concerned Alumni of Princeton” flap (fortunately, though, he has not yet had an opportunity to make manifest his hostility towards reproductive freedom through authoring a high-court ruling, and God willing, he never will).

So the next time you hear about how doctrinaire Roberts and Alito really are (as opposed to their smoke-and-mirrors acts at their confirmations), remember that we can thank Ed Gillespie, among others, for their presence on the high court.

And let’s not forget that Gillespie is a “message” guy, with this site under construction for his latest business telling us that “In 25 years in politics, government and business, Ed Gillespie has emerged as one of the premier communications strategists in America. He knows what it takes to effectively convey information and image in today’s cluttered and constantly churning media environment.”

Well, here’s a message for you, Ed – in 2008, your party lost! Time to reap the whirlwind.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Tuesday Stuff

I'll bet you never imagined that Rummy had a role in the Bushco Katrina frackup, did you? Well, along with the bit about the biblical verses on the intelligence briefings for Dubya and his pals, we learn that also from Rachel Maddow and author Robert Draper (giving Dubya the "Heisman" - heh)...

...and wow, I'll bet you also didn't know Chris Christie was a closet "teabagger" (from here). Color me shocked!...

Update 6/26/09: Sounds like Christie bailed on the hearing when it hit a little too close to home (here).

...and I thus have a reason to put this up again...

...(update 5/20) and the video that was here got pulled, so here's a new one.

I Think That I Shall Never See A Poet As Bad As Huckabee

I guess, when you’re a Repug who has utterly ceased to be relevant on the national stage any more, and you watch the progress of events in this country as it tries to rebuild from the wretched failures that occurred while your party was in charge, and you realize that you are not part of that process in any way, you feel irrelevant to the point where all you can do is engage in childish tactics of defiance.

Oh, and I know that’s bound to happen when you’re pretty much goaded by our corporate media, which continues to “report” on whether or not Nancy Pelosi voiced her objections to Bushco’s torture in 2002, 2003, or whenever (I’m not going to provide any more commentary on this matter except to point out how ridiculous it is; as BarbinMD at The Daily Kos says here, what is being ignored is the more-and-more-emerging reality that, instead of being used in the so-called “ticking time bomb” scenario, as Darth Cheney and his acolytes claim, torture was used to try and forge a link between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda – and here’s more funny business in that regard).

So, perhaps while you hold your breath until your face changes color, you come up with the thought that you’ll poke fun at the individual I noted above since, as already stated, getting back at her seems to be generating some traction for now.

And I guess that explains this.

Well, Mike, two can play at that game (sorry about the utterly fractured meter)…

So Huckabee wants Pelosi to quit?
Well, I’ll be nice and say he’s full of…spit
Could it be that Huck is enraged
‘Cos, since the Clintons left, Arkansas is no longer the national stage?
Or perhaps there’s residual pain
Since, though he trounced Sleepy Hollywood Fred, he still lost to “Gramps” McCain?

Well, attempts at humor are a last resort
For a supposed nice guy who’s really a bad sport
And your “fundie” beliefs contain a lot of dross
Such as saying the death penalty is OK since He didn’t argue on the cross (
And jokes about suicide you connive
Along with nearly half-a-mil destruction of PC hard drives? (

Well, for independent voters, your shtick won’t “fly”
But I guess it will for that “Walker, Texas Ranger” guy
Yeah, I’ll bet your fellow Baptists think you’re a “scamp”
For making that joke about
the “Democrat” concentration camp
And in your state, luckily it’s not a crime
To run up a $6K wedding registry on the taxpayer’s “dime” (

And by the way, no matter what Mike sez
Sarah Palin got fewer votes for Wasilla mayor that Joe Biden got for prez (
And am I the only one who considers it beyond belief
That “aw shucks” Huck made a joke about the death of the commander in chief? (
And if you think only Obama spread around the dough, sue me
Especially since you were called a big spender by Pat Toomey (

Oh, and regarding law and order, I know you’re not fond
To recall the history of your “Willie Horton” – Wayne Dumond (
And what’s nuttier, you’re $1 billion prize for a “hundred-mile car” (
Or ignoring Dubya’s NASA funding cut as you joke about Hillary on Mars (
Alas, I know not which Huckabee foible is best
But it does lead me to this request
From Arkansas, please never roam
And spare us the torture of yet another poem
The slo-mo Repug train wreck continues…

Update 5/26/09: What a putz (h/t Atrios)...

Abridged Future Inquirer Columnists, May 2009

(I also posted here, and I ended up putting this out there "after hours" in case anyone missed it.)

Well, it figures that The Sturdy Beggars would kick off the speculation as to who would end up as the next monthly columnist of the Philadelphia Inquirer here (with Brendan Calling following up here – hat tips for both to Atrios). So I guess I’d better get my nominations in pronto.

I know D-Mac shut down his site a couple of months ago; he used to do this for the Daily News, but I think it fits here also. What follows are my list of candidates and their choice of topics…

  • Thomas Capano (in his words) – Hey, this says that we may have had a hand in the death of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, somebody we tortured to manufacture a link to Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda as an excuse for the Iraq war. Why didn’t we just stuff him in a water cooler and shoot a couple of holes in it instead (here)? That would have worked just as well, if only Gerry had shut his mouth and Debbie had decided to have a memory lapse about the gun. And you guys publish Yoo? God, he’s an amateur when it comes to torture. I know all about the real thing. And I’m more “local” than he ever was.

  • Rick Mariano (from the paper) – The Inquirer has consciously added a disgraced former Philadelphia city councilman to its daily op-ed page and Sunday opinion section to counter criticism that our editorials and columns always lean towards good governance and favor sane behavior by our public officials; this allows us to present the “pro-graft, pro-media paranoia, pro-self inflicted injury and pro-delusional voyage to the observation deck of City Hall prior to a conviction in a court of law” point of view.

  • Former State Sen. Vince Fumo (me) – You want to get the “horse’s mouth” point of view from a politician who embodies all of the excesses for which Yoo provided legal cover with his theory of the “unitary executive” (Vince was good at “subordinating independent government agencies,” if you count the Philadelphia Democratic City Executive Committee, to say nothing of shaking down a public utility for a charitable donation)? And an expert in “illegal surveillance” of his ex-wife? Well then, it sounds like Vince is your guy (besides, he’s already appeared in print numerous times to defend himself against a host of allegations, so he’s already had “on-the-job” training).
  • So there you have it, Inquirer Editorial Board. Sign these guys up, and you’ll get plenty of “distinct positions on every topic.”

    And if you’re REALLY desperate to boost circulation, you can just give space to this guy (this is a joke, trolls).

    Monday, May 18, 2009

    Monday Stuff

    “Worst Persons” (Harold Jackson of the Inky continues to sink in doo-do over the hiring of Torture Yoo, with K.O. drawing an apropos parallel to the mob here – by the way, Will Bunch had a great rebuttal on this today - h/t Atrios; Sean Inanity criticizes Obama for replacing some U.S. Attorneys – God, please let one of them be Mary Beth Buchanan! – attempting to draw a parallel to Bushco’s politically motivated firing of nine of its attorneys…nice try, numb nuts; but Bill Orally wins it again for bemoaning the lack of privacy due to technology – yeah, it’s not the fault of your “stalker” producers, Falafel Boy, it’s the fault of “technology”…and by the way, utter no-class to cheer the demise of newspapers, you welp!)

    …and maybe posting for one more day tomorrow and a little on Wednesday before I shut down for a few days for some R&R, as of now.

    A Case Study For Antonin Scalia

    (And I also posted here.)

    This story is probably a little old at this point, but I think it deserves comment based on this article in the New York Times today.

    It turns out that some law students at Fordham University, in a study of how information can be obtained online about famous people in particular (and probably many other people besides), compiled a dossier of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia; the story provides the following details…

    Why Justice Scalia? Well, the class had been discussing his recent dismissive comments about Internet privacy concerns at a conference. His summation, as reported by The Associated Press: “Every single datum about my life is private? That’s silly.”

    A gauntlet of sorts had been thrown down — though (class) Professor (Joel R.) Reidenberg said in an interview that he would disagree with that interpretation. The assignment, he said, was “not about embarrassing anyone, not about targeting Scalia in the sense of choosing him because of anything about his work on the court.” (He was also quick to point out that the year before, the assignment focused on himself.)
    And as a result…

    …the class managed to create a dossier of 15 pages, Professor Reidenberg reported to a conference on privacy at Fordham, that included the justice’s home address and home phone number, his wife’s personal e-mail address and the TV shows and food he prefers.

    How could there not be an aspect of poetic justice in creating the dossier: Still think the issue is “silly,” your honor? Teaching moments, after all, are not only for students.

    The dossier was never intended to be made public (though, the professor points out, since the law protects only material collected to assess a job applicant, it could have been) and Justice Scalia was never supposed to know about the assignment, much the way many of us are blithely unaware about what can be discovered about ourselves online.
    Oh, but Scalia did find out. And his reaction?

    “I stand by my remark at the Institute of American and Talmudic Law conference that it is silly to think that every single datum about my life is private. I was referring, of course, to whether every single datum about my life deserves privacy protection in law.

    “It is not a rare phenomenon that what is legal may also be quite irresponsible. That appears in the First Amendment context all the time. What can be said often should not be said. Prof. Reidenberg’s exercise is an example of perfectly legal, abominably poor judgment. Since he was not teaching a course in judgment, I presume he felt no responsibility to display any.”
    Ooooh, sounds like someone is having a hissy fit!

    Well, I guess this is what you can expect from a jurist who states that he believes that individuals should be protected against unlawful search and seizure here, though he ruled here that he had no problem with police not bothering to knock before they busted down a door to seize drugs and a gun from an individual in Michigan.

    And I guess this is also what you would expect from a judge who defends the idiotic dictum of the Bushco FCC’s sanctions against “fleeting expletives” here, though if Scalia were to let a bad word slip in a public appearance, we wouldn’t know of it since he doesn’t want his speeches covered (resulting in an AP lawsuit when a U.S. Marshal destroyed a recording of a Scalia speech), to say nothing of banning cameras in courtrooms – uh, who the hell does this guy think he is to try and ban coverage of his appearances? - I know the answer, but I'm still disposed to ask the question).

    Perhaps Scalia chafed at this “teachable moment” because, he was “schooled” by those who may one day sit in judgment of his legacy in the name of comforting those who suffer no affliction and inflicting harm on those who sought a legal remedy from him as a last resort.

    (And by the way, why do I get the feeling that Scalia’s fingerprints were all over this one?)

    Update 8/19/09: "Embarrassing" indeed, but not the way Scalia means I'm sure (here).