Saturday, July 18, 2009

Saturday Stuff

Kudos to Marcy Wheeler for using that dreaded "B" word here that is less obscene than other language representing the illegality and malfeasance perpetrated by the Repugs during their ruinous turn in charge of our government (more here)...

...and even though it appears that Judge Sonia Sotomayor navigated successfully through some truly insipid questioning this week (surprised?) on her way to confirmation, I thought this moment with Tom Coburn of Oklahoma was important to recall once more in its proper context.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Friday Stuff

As a tribute to Walter Cronkite, here is a link to his broadcast of the Apollo 11 moon landing (the 40th anniversary of which we will sadly observe this Monday without him) and here are words from President Obama (definitely not the way I'd hoped to return to this after the break; he had been sick for some time, though).

I know it's difficult to imagine a time when broadcasters were trusted and respected as Cronkite once was, along with Murrow of course and people like Eric Sevareid, Huntley and Brinkley, Howard K. Smith, Frank Reynolds and a few others, but such a time once existed in this country. And when all is said and done, Cronkite may go down as the one who eclipsed them all (hat tip to The Raw Story for both of these videos).

Walter Cronkite-JFK - The best free videos are right here

1968 King Assassination Report (CBS News) - video powered by Metacafe

Update 7/18/09: I thought this was a nice remembrance last night by David Shuster and Matt Lauer.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Where The Rubber Meets The Road (7/13/09)

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 (and I also posted here).


2010 foreign-affairs budget. Voting 318-106, the House approved a $48.8 billion foreign-affairs budget (HR 3081) for fiscal 2010 that provides $9.6 billion to operate the Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development while funding the hiring of more than 1,300 Foreign Service officers for duty mainly in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

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.), Allyson Y. Schwartz (D., Pa.), and Joe Sestak (D., Pa.).

Voting no: Joseph R. Pitts (R., Pa.) and Christopher H. Smith (R., N.J.).
My guess is that both Smith and Pancake Joe voted against this because of the repeal of the so-called “Mexico City” ban, which, as noted here, “require(d) any non-governmental organization to agree before receiving U.S. funds that they will 'neither perform nor actively promote abortion as a method of family planning in other nations'” (with funding to those organizations provided by US AID, which is funded in this bill).

However, as we know, Joe Pitts really doesn’t need much of a reason to vote “No” to anything.

Agriculture spending cut. Voting 185-248, the House rejected a proposed 5 percent across-the-board cut in fiscal 2010 appropriations (HR 2997) to fund agriculture and food programs, rural development, and agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration and Commodity Futures Trading Commission. The amendment would have trimmed $1.1 billion from the bill's $20.5 billion in discretionary spending. The bill was later passed.

A yes vote backed the amendment.

Voting yes: Adler, Castle, Dent, Gerlach, Murphy, and Pitts.

Voting no: Andrews, Brady, Fattah, Holden, LoBiondo, Schwartz, Sestak, and Smith.
I think Patrick voted yes here to burnish his “Blue Dog” budgetary “cred” (can’t think of why else he and John Adler would line up with so many Repugs here – kind of an astute vote here in a way, considering that the money was ultimately approved anyway - "having it both ways," sort of).

Food and Drug Administration. Voting 135-292, the House refused to freeze the 2010 Food and Drug Administration budget at its 2009 level. The amendment to HR 2997 (above) sought to block a proposed 11 percent, or $373 million, increase in FDA spending for the budget year that begins in October.

A yes vote was to freeze the FDA budget at the 2009 level.

Voting yes: Adler and Pitts.

Voting no: Andrews, Brady, Castle, Dent, Fattah, Gerlach, Holden, LoBiondo, Murphy, Schwartz, Sestak, and Smith.
I have to admit that I’m stumped on this one. I can’t think of why Adler would oppose this (and there’s nothing on his web site about it), particularly given that an amendment was defeated introduced here (near the bottom of the Congress Matters post) by the odious Jeb Hensarling seeking to strike funding that Adler and his fellow Jersey reps had requested for researching cranberry and blueberry disease.


Mexican border fence. The Senate voted, 54-44, to require the government to build at least 700 miles of double-layered fencing along the nearly 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border by the end of 2010. The amendment was offered to a bill (HR 2892), later passed, that appropriates $42.9 billion for the Department of Homeland Security in fiscal 2010.

A yes vote backed the amendment.

Voting yes: Arlen Specter (D., Pa.).

Voting no: Thomas Carper (D., Del.), Bob Casey (D., Pa.), Ted Kaufman (D., Del.), Frank Lautenberg (D., N.J.), and Robert Menendez (D., N.J.).
Not sure what else the “fence” will do except isolate wildlife and encourage the use of “coyotes” (noted here) to a greater extent that we have already – interesting vote for “Democrat” Arlen Specter.

Prescription-drug imports. The Senate approved, 55-36, an amendment to HR 2892 to permit individuals to import prescription drugs for their personal use from Canada. The measure would prohibit U.S. customs officers from confiscating Canada-bought pharmaceuticals at border crossings.

A yes vote backed the amendment.

Voting yes: Casey, Kaufman, and Specter.

Voting no: Carper, Lautenberg, and Menendez.
Big Pharma doesn’t like competition – kind of a gutsy vote by Kaufman here in particular.

Firefighter grants. Voting 32-58, the Senate refused to add $100 million for firefighter grants to the Federal Emergency Management Agency budget (HR 2892, above) in addition to $810 million already in the bill for that purpose.
A yes vote backed the amendment.

Voting yes: Carper, Casey, Kaufman, and Specter.

Voting no: Lautenberg and Menendez.
This was an attempt to by Dem Rep David Price to add funding to the FIRE grant program, which (as noted here) “helps enhance the basic operational capabilities for career, combination, and volunteer fire departments”; it was cut by about 70 percent in the Obama FY 2010 budget (though, in addition to the current funding, about $210 million in stimulus funds were set aside for fire station construction, as noted here – not sure why a cut in firefighter funding was approved by Lautenberg and Menendez, given that their state has so many refineries).

This week, the House will debate the 2010 intelligence budget, and the Senate will take up the 2010 defense budget.

And with that, I’m outta here (off to a hedonistic blue-state locale) – hope to rev this up again starting early next week.