Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Tuesday Mashup Part Two (10/5/10)

(Part One is here.)

  • Over at the AEI blog, Marc Thiessen tells us the following (here)…

    …a new crop of senators may soon be arriving who have pledged on the campaign trail to forswear earmarks. They range from Tea Party-backed candidates such as Ken Buck, Marco Rubio, Pat Toomey, Mike Lee and Joe Miller to establishment candidates such as Mark Kirk, Dan Coats, Carly Fiorina and Kelly Ayotte.
    As the Philadelphia Inquirer tells us here…

    Republican Pat Toomey crusaded against earmarks for most of his three terms in the U.S. House, and not long ago took a live pig to Independence Mall as he challenged his Senate-race opponent, Rep. Joe Sestak, to swear off the funding that lawmakers direct to their pet projects.

    But in his first term representing the Lehigh Valley's 15th District, Toomey won at least $9 million in earmarks, including $3 million for a private company that became for a time his largest single source of campaign contributions.

    Air Products & Chemicals Inc., a major corporation based in Allentown, was awarded the money in October 1999 to develop a ceramic-based technology to generate sterile compressed oxygen for use by the military on the battlefield, in planes, and on ships.

    All told, Toomey got at least three earmarks that year, according to news releases archived on his old congressional website. He served in Congress from 1999 to 2005.

    Besides Air Products, he secured $1 million for a freight-transfer center that Bethlehem Steel Corp. was building as part of the redevelopment of its defunct Bethlehem mill. He also won $5 million for Navy research on double-hulled shipbuilding at Lehigh University.
    Of course, Toomey has now found “religion” on earmarks. How con-vee-nient.

    Meanwhile, this tells us the following about Admiral Joe’s earmark issue…

    The Morning Call reported Saturday that Sestak gave the Thomas Paine Foundation, a non-profit organization that advocates for keeping religion out of government, a $350,000 earmark to develop a prototype for an offshore wind turbine. Although the organization does not appear to have any history developing wind technology, its owner, Drew Devitt, also owns a for-profit energy company, New Way Energy LLC.

    The paper reported that Devitt acknowledged the money would go to him — his home address is listed on the earmark request — and could be used for commercial application.

    “One of the things Obama did for 2010 was to eliminate for-profit filing for line items, so obviously New Way wasn’t qualified,” Devitt told the Call. “But Thomas Paine wasn’t for-profit, so it was eligible to file for a line item.”

    The U.S. House this year barred delivering earmarks for for-profit companies. A Sestak spokesman said the congressman was unaware Devitt also ran a for-profit wind-turbine business.

    It’s the second time earmarks have tripped up Sestak in the general election. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported in July that Sestak had received more than $100,000 in campaign contributions from companies that received earmarks despite pledging not to accept donations from companies that received the federal money.
    And get a load of this from Toomey…

    “Congressman Sestak, please tell Pennsylvanians why it’s okay to break House rules to fund a wind turbine project for an atheist group with our tax dollars,” (Toomey spokeswoman Nachama Soloveichik) said.
    Trying to keep religion out of government makes the Thomas Paine Foundation an “atheist” organization? I can only imagine how hard a time Toomey is having trying to hide his wingnuttery under the guise of a “fiscal conservative” with telling little slips of the tongue like that.

    As I’ve said before, I basically don’t care about earmarks as long as they’re disclosed. And I’d be a lot more concerned about the leverage a corporate player like Air Products could bring to bear on a Senator Toomey than a “green” startup outfit like New Way Energy could utilize against a Senator Sestak (and why exactly is it a bad thing to provide seed funding for a company making wind turbines?).

    Please click here to help the Sestak campaign (and click here for another reason to oppose “No-Tax Pat”).

  • Also, former Buscho flak and 2004 presidential election disenfranchiser Ken Blackwell tells us the following about Repugs Sean Bielat running against Barney Frank in Massachusetts and Charles Lollar running against Steny Hoyer in Maryland (here).

    And of course, the column by Blackwell contains all kinds of stuff like, “oh, isn’t Barney Frank mean because he once mouthed off to the teabagger holding up the picture of Obama as Hitler,” and of course Bielat plays right along.

    Funny thing, though – apparently, both Frank and Bielat support, at the very least, marijuana decriminalization and quite possibly legalization (here). Personally, I favor the former but not the latter, though either position puts Bielat squarely at odds with the GOP establishment in the person of former Reagan confidant (and probable Iran-Contra justice obstructer) Ed Meese, as noted in this recent Philadelphia Inquirer Op-Ed (here, worth it for the comments if nothing else).

    (By the way, please don’t read too much into this. Bielat is somewhat interesting, also for this, but by no means am I trying to imply that Barney Frank should not be re-elected, and resoundingly so.)

    If Bielat is more of a legitimate libertarian specimen for a Repug, however, then Charles Lollar is a typical full-mooner, “values” wingnut (as noted here – he also definitely speaks “teabagger-ese,” as noted here).

    I have to admit that I have a hard time working up support for Steny Hoyer for reasons such as this, but when push comes to shove, I’d rather be governed by adults.

  • Finally, I’d like to kick off a little feature that I may or may not be able to keep going depending on my posting availability (and by the way, it may be on-again, off-again for a little while, I’m just not sure yet) called “This Day In Mikey Fitzpatrick History” (well, more or less).

    As noted here on 10/6/06, our former PA-08 U.S. House rep called for “a hard investigation of the facts” (as opposed to an easy one?) into the matter of former Repug U.S. House Rep Mark Foley and “inappropriate” Emails and instant messages to 16-year-old male congressional pages (as opposed to calling for people to resign, namely former Speaker Dennis Hastert, though he eventually did so anyway). Mikey also submitted something called the Railroad Security and Public Awareness Act of 2005 in an attempt to allegedly safeguard rail traffic, which was promptly quashed by the House Repug party leadership

    And as if anyone had any doubt, Mikey is being helped by the Bucks County Courier Times editorial board, which recently published the following disclaimer in response to a Guest Opinion written by Patrick Murphy criticizing Fitzpatrick’s CAFTA vote (here) and another letter in a similar vein…

    "Fitzpatrick said he told opponents he would take their concerns into consideration, but that the vote had as much to do with security for young Central American democracies as trade."
    Oh, please – if you want to learn for real about how “free” trade agreements help “secure democracies,” check this out, particularly the following…

    Just as the flawed economic argument for CAFTA is that it will help American and Central American firms compete better against the Chinese manufacturing juggernaut, this security argument posits that, with the small increase in trade predicted by the U.S. International Trade Commission , we can stop further Chinese political/military inroads in Latin America, as well as curb the influence of in-place leftist regimes in Cuba, Venezuela, Brazil, and elsewhere. Unfortunately, both sets of arguments rely on faulty economic assumptions and projections, as well as ignore the realities of the respective Central American economic and political situations, not to mention those of China. The way to deal with China is to do so directly, and not to pretend that by linking up with six impoverished surrogates, the majority under IMF controls, the United States is going to stop Chinese advances across the board.
    The bottom line is this; assuming a “free” trade agreement actually addresses human rights concerns of workers trying to organize as well as environmental issues, they don’t mean a damn thing unless you address unfair Chinese trade practices, including the purposeful devaluation of their currency (and that’s a bipartisan criticism, by the way).

    Also (under the heading of Fitzpatrick media apologists), J.D. Mullane tells us here that Fitzpatrick has claimed that we’re “14 trillion” in debt due to Democratic governance (and Heaven forbid that Mullane would call Mikey on such an utter lie).

    Fitzpatrick probably got that number from former Bushco economic advisor N. Gregory Mankiw here, who said we would be in debt by that much by 2019 (as noted here, Mankiw favored the exporting of jobs that drove up the deficit even though Mankiw should also have known about the coming wave of Social Security payouts due to retiring baby boomers, which is noted here).

    Meanwhile, we learn the following from the Courier Times today (here)…

    Representatives from four small businesses lined up to endorse incumbent Bucks County Congressman Patrick Murphy, D-8, on Monday - and four of the five businessmen are Republicans.

    Joining Murphy at a press conference at Iron Horse Excavating Inc. in Falls were Iron Horse co-owners Troy Brennan and Chris Byelich; James Horan, CEO of Y-Carbon in Bristol Township; Luis Folgar, an engineer from Paramount Industries in Middletown; and Tom McCarthy, owner of TJM Electronics in Bristol Township.

    Byelich is the only Democrat, but all said they're convinced that their business and other small businesses would do better under Murphy than his Republican opponent, former Congressman Michael Fitzpatrick.

    With Murphy's support, Y-Carbon received a $150,000 federal grant to grow its business. And Brennan said Iron Horse has grown from about eight to 25 employees since 2005 because of the federal stimulus program and other incentives supported by Murphy.

    "We've grown every year," said Brennan. "Patrick knows that investing in new technology will lead to new manufacturing jobs that cannot be shipped overseas. His support helped our company move to Bristol and create new jobs in advanced manufacturing."
    To help re-elect our congressman, click here.
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