Saturday, February 06, 2010

More Saturday Stuff

Oh gosh, I'm just a great big silly - I forgot all about those teabaggin' wingnuts holding their "White People Pity Party" in Nashville this weekend and earning all of this free press from our cousins in the corporate media, notwithstanding Rachel Maddow here (their convention having brought us this moment of "journamalism" from The Old Gray Lady - h/t Atrios)...

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...and oh yeah, Tom Tancredo was just so courageous here too, wasn't he (ha, ha, ha)...

...and I though Janeane Garofalo nailed those people in Nashville awhile back...

...and here's their theme song once more.

Update 1 2/7/10: A spot-on comment from Atrios here (I don't seem to recall that Netroots Nation got any coverage at all, or a fraction if it got anything).

Update 2 2/7/10: Gee, I'll bet Palin would probably try this trick for the State of the Union, though God help us if she ever receives that opportunity.

And to find out what her hand "says," click here.

Saturday Stuff

I got into some of this over here already, but it's so outrageous that it's worth another mention (and if you're so inclined, click here for Shelby, click here for Kyl, and click here for Sen. Mr. Elaine Chao)...

Update 2/7/10: I meant to include the Senator from "Puffy Chao" in action earlier here - even more ridiculous that Shelby couldn't "man up" and take responsibility here.

Update 2/8/10: Funny, but since this involves Shelby holding up Obama appointees over at least one earmark, you'd think "Straight Talk" McCain would be harrumphing his ass off. However, you would be wrong.

Update 2/9/10: Progress, but no resolution yet (here)...

...and this song includes that four-letter word that begins with "S," just so you know - had my fill of shoveling it for a little while today.

But look on the bright side - pitchers and catchers report to Phillies spring training in 11 days (waa-hoo!).

Friday, February 05, 2010

Friday Stuff

Wonder what Bill Orally chose not to highlight in his little discussion with Jon Stewart this week? This...

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...and this goes out to a guy I saw at a talent show tonight - I think The Beatles rule too.

Where The Rubber Meets The Road (2/5/10)

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 a video here).


Small-business financing. Voting 410-4, the House passed a bill (HR 4508) to extend several Small Business Administration loan and grant programs while awaiting Senate action on a House-passed bill to upgrade and reauthorize those programs.

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.), Joseph R. Pitts (R., Pa.), Allyson Y. Schwartz (D., Pa.), Joe Sestak (D., Pa.), and Christopher H. Smith (R., N.J.).
I was curious to find out who actually opposed this legislation, and as noted here, those voting No were all Repugs: Paul Broun, Jeff Flake, Tom McClintock, and Ron Paul.


Bernanke confirmation. Voting 70-30, the Senate confirmed Ben S. Bernanke, 56, for a second four-year term as chairman of the Federal Reserve System board of governors. Bernanke's first term was to expire (on the 31st). Bernanke has 10 years remaining in his 14-year term as a Fed board member.

A yes vote was to confirm Bernanke.

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

Voting no: Ted Kaufman (D., Del.) and Arlen Specter (D., Pa.).
I doubt that Snarlin’ Arlen would have cast this vote were it not for Admiral Joe’s primary challenge, especially when it looked like confirmation was assured anyway. And Kaufman knows he’s a lame duck, so he won’t pay a price for this one way or the other.

Did I support Bernanke’s confirmation? I really sat on the fence on this until I read a Paul Krugman column that pointed out Bernanke’s culpability for our current mess, though it also pointed out that he could be the least worst option out there.

The question to me is how far do you want to go here. Do you want to bring in the right person (such as Joseph Stiglitz) and watch the markets react by returning the Dow to 6,000? We know that the game is rigged against us, and you’d better damn believe the Dems know that too.

Sorry that that’s not particularly profound or courageous really, but I don’t know what else to say.

National debt limit. Voting 60-39, the Senate sent the House a bill raising the national debt limit by $1.9 trillion to $14.29 trillion. The bill (HJ Res 45) would extend Treasury borrowing authority until late 2010 or early 2011, at which time Congress would vote on whether to raise the debt ceiling.

A yes vote was to raise the federal debt limit.

Voting yes: Carper, Casey, Kaufman, Lautenberg, Menendez, and Specter.
This was a no-brainer (and a trick replicated by the congressional Repugs during their ruinous years in charge earlier in this decade too, let’s not forget).

"Pay as you go." In a party-line vote of 60-40, the Senate reached the supermajority it needed to add a pay-as-you-go budget rule to HJ Res 45 (above). Because the House already has approved pay-go, this vote cleared the way for it to become law. Under pay-go, tax cuts or entitlement spending hikes must be offset elsewhere in the federal budget. If not offset, they need supermajorities for approval. Pay-go was a staple of congressional budgeting throughout the 1990s but was dropped to facilitate Bush administration tax cuts, among other reasons. Republicans usually oppose pay-go as a deterrent to tax cuts.

A yes vote was to enact pay-go.

Voting yes: Carper, Casey, Kaufman, Lautenberg, Menendez, and Specter.
Another no-brainer (and kudos to the Inky for providing the bolded context; the party-line opposition to this is proof that the Repugs learned nothing from their years of malfeasance as noted above, spending like proverbial drunken sailors).

Spending caps. Voting 56-44, the Senate failed to get 60 votes for putting spending caps on the 40 percent of the federal budget that is discretionary spending. Under the amendment to HJ Res 45 (above), two-thirds majority votes would be needed in the Senate to waive the caps in order to meet national emergencies. The caps would be based on fiscal 2010 spending levels and expire after five years.

A yes vote was to adopt the amendment.

Voting yes: Carper

Voting no: Casey, Kaufman, Lautenberg, Menendez, and Specter.
Leave it to Carper to vote for an amendment sponsored by a Repug (Jeff Sessions of Alabama – again, for the moment, it’s not about the deficit, it’s about jobs!!!)

Deficit commission. Voting 53-46, the Senate failed to get 60 votes needed to establish an 18-member commission that would develop a deficit-reduction plan for an up-or-down vote in Congress with amendments barred. The president would have veto power over the legislation, which presumably would be a mix of tax increases and mandatory and discretionary spending cuts. This vote occurred during debate on HJ Res 45 (above).

A yes vote was to establish the commission.

Voting yes: Carper, Kaufman, and Menendez.

Voting no: Casey, Lautenberg, and Specter.
As noted here, 23 Republicans voted against this hairbrained idea, which is good news for us all (and kudos to Casey, Lautenberg and Specter). And here is today’s New York Times column by Paul Krugman to explain why (I’ve basically said the same stuff all along, but Krugman can explain it more expertly than I ever could).

This week, the House took up bills on raising the national debt limit and authorizing federal grants for university cybersecurity instruction. The Senate schedule was to be announced.

Friday Mashup (2/5/10)

(Note: I'm having a weird Blogger/browser issue during the day, which is why these posts are late.)

  • I believe this year’s Oscars are about a month away, but that hasn’t stopped Fix Noise from vying for its own coveted nod of Most Outrageous Right Wing Motion Picture Wankery.

    As noted here, James Pinkerton sings the praises of the supposedly pro-war film “The Hurt Locker,” which Christine Flowers also scribbled about today in the Philadelphia Daily News. And Pinkerton lists all of the Iraq War movies that haven’t achieved the big box office desired by their backers, though he conveniently leaves out Brian De Palma’s “Redacted,” which won the Venice Film Festival award and is “a fictional story based on true events” (this is the only Iraq War film I’ve seen to date, and it is truly a harrowing experience).

    Pinkerton also tells us the following…

    Hollywood was on the wrong side of the public. The public was by no means unanimous in its support of the war, but ticket-buyers did not want to see the military trashed. To be sure, Hollywoodites would say that these movies weren’t anti-military, only anti-war, but that’s too fine a distinction to make. To most people, to be loudly anti-war was to be at least quietly anti-military.

    And so, the Dixie Chicks, for example, were toast after their lead singer, Natalie Maines, attacked then-President George W. Bush in March 2003, on the eve of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
    This tells us that The Dixie Chicks “(have) sold 30.5 million albums in the United States through August 2009” and “won 13 Grammy Awards, with 5 of them earned in 2007 including the coveted Grammy Award for Album of the Year for Taking The Long Way”

    Sounds like somebody was “on the wrong side of the public” all right (though, as noted here, Pinkerton has been wrong about Iraq, among other topics, for years).

  • CNN’s Ruben Navarrette, Jr. opined as follows today, taking shots at President Obama and the congressional Dems, of course (here)…

    …when the issue turns to immigration reform -- oops, better make that, if the debate turns to immigration reform, since it doesn't look like Obama is ready to "man up" on that front and keep his promise to deliver a plan -- we're likely to hear again from these Blue Dogs, who find it easier to oppose what they call "amnesty" than to take on the businesses that create the problem by hiring illegal immigrants. What profiles in courage.
    As noted here from last July…

    The Department of Homeland Security is changing the way it tackles illegal immigration, in many cases remaking or rescinding Bush administration policies.

    The changes put heavier emphasis on employers, including more investigations of hiring records and fines for violations, says John Morton, assistant secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in DHS.

    "We have to come to grips with the market for illegal labor," he says. "To get there, we have to move beyond individual cases."
    And as the New York Times tells us here (from July ’08, with a Democratic congress in charge of course)…

    Under pressure from the toughest crackdown on illegal immigration in two decades, employers across the country are fighting back in state legislatures, the federal courts and city halls.

    Business groups have resisted measures that would revoke the licenses of employers of illegal immigrants. They are proposing alternatives that would revise federal rules for verifying the identity documents of new hires and would expand programs to bring legal immigrant laborers.

    Though the pushback is coming from both Democrats and Republicans, in many places it is reopening the rift over immigration that troubled the Republican Party last year. Businesses, generally Republican stalwarts, are standing up to others within the party who accuse them of undercutting border enforcement and jeopardizing American jobs by hiring illegal immigrants as cheap labor.
    So instead of using his column space to name particular companies fined by the Obama Administration for violations of immigration law, Navarrette decides to offer a blanket indictment of the Democrats only on this matter, even though the Repugs had years to resolve the issue of immigration when they ran Congress, but failed to do so.

    What a “profile in courage.”

  • And finally, the Bucks County Courier Times offered a “Thumbs Up” to the all-but-named Repug candidate to oppose Patrick Murphy for the PA-08 U.S. House seat (and former seat holder himself, of course) Mikey Fitzpatrick here due to his promise to limit his term in office were he to win election again in the fall.

    Putting aside the brass behind such a claim (typical of the arrogance that also brought us this), please allow me to point out other Republican politicians who promised to limit their term in office, only to rescind that promise after they were elected.

    One is the House rep who held the PA-08 seat before Mikey was elected, and that would be Jim Greenwood. Another would be a U.S. House rep who ignored that pledge and continues to serve (assuming you could call what he does “providing constituent service”), and that would be Joe Pitts of PA-16.

    It amazes me how gullible people can be, particularly those in our media who we entrust with the “gate keeping” function of filtering out partisan BS on all sides – though they often end up failing miserably at that function – in their duty to educate and inform.

    (And by the way, Courier Times, that "Vent" feature of yours is just "the bomb." Gee, how many MORE times will I have to read Bill O'Neill of Northampton, PA bitch about not much in particular, with O'Neill being the guy who supposedly hates government, though that never seems to stop him from seeking elected office every two years or so?)

    And while I’m on the subject of the Courier Times, I should note the paper’s “Thumbs Down” citation to our incumbent House rep Patrick Murphy here (see, Patrick had the temerity to question the paper’s coverage of him, which may be a bit of sour grapes I’ll admit, though the paper’s editorial board use this as an excuse to pillory him for not returning their calls personally).

    OK, enough is enough.

    Ever since he won election to the U.S. House about three and a half years ago, Patrick Murphy has been the subject of almost continual ridicule and (I believe) slander on the pages of the Courier Times. I don’t know how the paper has covered prior Democratic politicians – I didn’t live in Bucks when the House rep was Peter Kostmayer, so I can’t say anything on that subject for comparison purposes. But the attacks on Murphy are something unparalleled in my experience (and I grew up in Philadelphia, where politics is definitely not a spectator sport for the faint of heart).

    On an almost daily basis any more, Patrick Murphy’s voting record is misrepresented and he is attacked for his personal beliefs. And to prove my point, a letter today claimed that “Mr. Murphy, during his three-plus years in Congress, has voted in lock step with Nancy Pelosi on every piece of legislation she has rammed through the House” (the Courier Times apparently never requires substantiation for such charges against a Democrat when they appear in letters or opinion columns).

    Here is a partial list of Patrick Murphy’s votes in opposition to those of the Democratic Party, dating back to July 2009 (from here):

    Vote 991, H R 2847: Making Appropriations for the Departments of Commerce and Justice, and Science, and Related Agencies for the Fiscal Year Ending September 30, 2010, and for Other Purposes

    Vote 967, H.R. 4173: To provide for financial regulatory reform, to protect consumers and investors, to enhance Federal understanding of insurance issues, to regulate the over-the-counter derivatives markets, and for other purposes.

    Vote 958, H.R. 4173: (See above)

    Vote 746: H R 2892: Making Appropriations for Homeland Security Fy 2010

    Vote 700: H RES 317: Recognizing the Region From Manhattan, Kansas, to Columbia, Missouri, As the Kansas City Animal Health Corridor, and for Other Purposes

    Vote 663: H R 3326: Making appropriations for the Department of Defense for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2010, and for other purposes.

    Vote 644: H R 3293: Making appropriations for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2010, and for other purposes.

    Vote 636: H R 3288: Making Appropriations for the Departments of Transportation, Hud, and Related Agencies for Fy 2010

    Vote 623: H R 3288: (See above)

    Vote 580: H R 3183: Making appropriations for energy and water development and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2010, and for other purposes.
    All of this is damning commentary against a partisan rag which has clearly staked out its position in what it anticipates as a bellwether congressional election this fall in which its beloved “prodigal son” Mike Fitzpatrick will be returned to Washington. But this is also a commentary of the kittenish response by Democrats and progressives in this district to the tidal wave of right-wing garbage that infests this newspaper with very little protest on our part.

    We can’t stop it, but we can sure as hell try to slow it down. And the time to do that grows shorter with each passing day.
  • Thursday, February 04, 2010

    Thursday Stuff

    This is Nicole Lamoureaux, the executive director the National Association of Free Clinics, discussing what she encountered at a free clinic in Hartford, CT (the clinics have been sponsored in part by donations raised from the viewers of "Countdown").

    She is barely able to contain her disgust over the treatment she has received from our elected officials (and when it comes to elected officials in Connecticut, I'm sure I don't have to tell you who the guilty party is, as Daily Kos blogger nyceve explains here)...

    ...and speaking of disgust, I promised I wouldn't say much about Sarah Palin anymore, but this is "pushing the envelope" of BS even for her...

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    ...and in the matter of BS, it sounds like the Andrew Malcolm Fiction Factory is working overtime...

    Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

    ...and here's a nice upbeat little number to check out while we wait for the big snow (thought of Palin on this a bit).

    Thursday Mashup (2/4/10)

    (And I also posted here.)

  • I find myself today in the highly unusual position of having to defend conservadem Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana; it seems that his GOP challenger Dan Coats has some ‘splainin’ to do when it comes to “Terra! Terra! Terra!”

    Or, as Greg Sargent tells us here…

    …in 1998, Coats questioned Bill Clinton’s motives in ordering air strikes targeting Osama Bin Laden and associates, in the wake of the bombing of U.S. embassies in east Africa.

    Coats hinted it was a wag-the-dog effort to distract from the Monica Lewinsky scandal:

    “The president has been consumed with matters regarding his personal life. It raises questions about whether or not he had the time to devote to this issue, or give the kind of judgment that needed to be given to this issue to call for military action.”

    This was something of a radioactive position even at the time, and those who voiced similar sentiments came under severe criticism for undermining efforts to counter a genuine terror threat.

    In light of the subsequent September 11th attacks, of course, the comments look even worse, and may be used to cast doubts on Coats’ judgment and even perhaps his deference to the commander in chief’s office.
    And by the way, did you know that Coats also lobbied for an oil company with ties to Hugo Chavez, as noted here (hey, no prob for a filthy, unkempt liberal blogger such as yours truly, but if you’re a Repug…).

    Maybe Bayh will remember this the next time he complains about “far left-wing blogs” in the manner he did here (yes, I know – I can dream, can’t I?).

  • We learned the following today via Drudgico from Senate Repug Judd Gregg (here)…

    Reconciliation is not the right path to achieve this goal. The process first emerged to give Congress a tool to help bring spending and revenues in line with the fiscal policy assumed in the budget resolution. In short, the intended purpose of reconciliation is to make sure there is a way to enact, via a simple majority vote, changes to fiscal policy levers that will implement the budget totals, not to force through, using an expedited process, drastic and expensive new policies that will affect every American household.
    As Ezra Klein tells us here…

    Under George W. Bush, Republicans managed to ram tax cuts, oil drilling, trade authority, and much else through reconciliation.

    …the reconciliation process has been used for plenty that did not reduce deficits. Both of President Bush's tax-cut plans traveled through the process. And the very senators who speak reverentially of the filibuster now, voted for reconciliation then. Judd Gregg, in fact, voted for reconciliation every time it was used in the Bush era.
    And to think, the Obama Administration actually considered this bozo for commerce secretary.

  • Finally, the New York Times tells us that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas spoke recently in defense of the dreadful Citizens United ruling (here)…

    He added that the history of Congressional regulation of corporate involvement in politics had a dark side, pointing to the Tillman Act, which banned corporate contributions to federal candidates in 1907.

    “Go back and read why Tillman introduced that legislation,” Justice Thomas said, referring to Senator Benjamin Tillman. “Tillman was from South Carolina, and as I hear the story he was concerned that the corporations, Republican corporations, were favorable toward blacks and he felt that there was a need to regulate them.”

    It is thus a mistake, the justice said, to applaud the regulation of corporate speech as “some sort of beatific action.”
    However, this tells us the following about the Act bearing the name of “Pitchfork Ben” Tillman, passed to hurt Republicans who supported Reconstruction in the South…

    (In 1907) Congress sends the bill to President Roosevelt’s desk for his signature, but not before the GOP-controlled Senate rewrites it so that the law bans only corporate or bank contributions to federal elections, not state or local ones. In practice, the Tillman Act proves to be fairly toothless. Since the law sets no limits on what individuals can give, corporations can easily get around it by having executives make donations in their own names and then reimbursing them by paying bonuses.
    So…Thomas thinks it’s wrong to regulate corporations, then, because a law was passed by a segregationist that failed in that original purpose?

    And while you’re pondering that one, I should also point this out from the Times story…

    Justice Thomas would not directly address the controversy over Mr. Obama’s criticism of the Citizens United ruling or Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.’s mouthed “not true” in response. But he did say he had stopped attending the addresses.

    “I don’t go because it has become so partisan and it’s very uncomfortable for a judge to sit there,” he said, adding that “there’s a lot that you don’t hear on TV — the catcalls, the whooping and hollering and under-the-breath comments.”

    “One of the consequences,” he added in an apparent reference to last week’s address, “is now the court becomes part of the conversation, if you want to call it that, in the speeches. It’s just an example of why I don’t go.”
    However, as noted here from 1994…

    WASHINGTON, May 16— Justice Clarence Thomas of the Supreme Court said today in a speech that the disorder and rampant crime in America's cities were results, in part, of what he called the "judicial rights revolution" that ended up treating blacks and poor people as victims of their situations rather than holding them responsible for their actions.

    In his first speech on the issue of morality and justice since he joined the Court more than two years ago, Justice Thomas said well-intentioned judges and government officials had moved many American blacks from a position of slavery to one of crippling dependency.

    Justice Thomas said that when black and poor people were regarded as victims and not held responsible for their actions when they commit crimes, they are being treated as children, "or even worse, treated like animals without a soul."

    "Why are so many of our streets rife with drug bazaars?" he asked. "Why is there no discipline in our schools?" A big reason, he said, is that people are no longer held responsible for their acts and that judges are often lenient with criminals because of their positions in society and personal histories.
    Your Honor, by virtue of remarks such as these, you became part of “the conversation” long ago (the National Review couldn’t have said it any better). So don’t act like a crybaby when that “conversation” goes in a direction you don’t like.
  • Wednesday, February 03, 2010

    Wednesday Stuff

    So, then, if Tom Campbell is supposed to be a FCINO (the hilarious video explains), so then, would Scott Brown be a PLCINO (Pro-Life Conservative In Name Only), or would Michele Bachmann be a TPCINO ("Tea Party" Conservative In Name Only)? Where oh where would the acronyms end anyway?

    Or, as Jake McIntyre of The Daily Kos tells us here...

    It's as if a very expensive Senate campaign for an incredibly wealthy woman in the biggest, richest state in the United States of America collectively dropped acid and decided to make an art school, prog rock "concept commercial."
    Yep, this is a typical political attack ad until it gets truly surreal at about 2:30, when the dreaded "sheep with the red eyes" appears (I was disappointed not to see Nigel Tufnel..."this goes to 11").

    If I watch this again, I may bust a gut (yeah, and check out the guy walking away in the sheep outfit)...

    ...and this should be the official theme song of the Carly Fiorina campaign.

    Wednesday Mashup (2/3/10)

  • For some inexplicable reason, the Bucks County Courier Times has decided to include a “Vent” feature on its Op-Ed page, whereby someone can write in and crank off in 25 words or less (as opposed to the usual abundant sounding off, usually by the wingnuts…a feature like this is actually pretty common for tabloids, and if that’s what the Courier Times aspires to be, then it should just perform the necessary makeover and be done with it).

    And here is one of the inaugural submissions…

    The height of hypocrisy or deceit is to tar the opposition as obstructionist while possessing a filibuster proof absolute majority to pass any legislation desired!

    Andy Warren
    Middletown, PA
    Hmmm, Andy Warren…the name sounds familiar.

    Oh yes, I remember now. He was the “Democrat” who ran against Patrick Murphy in the 2006 Democratic primary for the right to face Mike Fitzpatrick in the general election for PA-08 U.S. House rep and did absolutely nothing to help Patrick in the general election that year (as noted here). And now he’s claiming that it’s the fault of the U.S. senators from the party he allegedly supports that “the world’s greatest deliberative body” somehow can’t manage to do a damn thing (and in fact, two of the supposed 60-senator majority are registered independents, Holy Joe Lieberman and Bernie Sanders).

    Far be it for me to defend the likes of Evan Bayh, Blanche Lincoln and the other conservadems, but it’s particularly hilarious for Warren to dole out blame only to one side while ignoring the record number of filibusters executed by the other.

    And as long as I’m noting the Courier Times here, does anyone have any idea as to why the paper has stopped allowing comments to its online Guest Opinions?

  • I know I put up the following videos already last night, but David Zurawik of The Baltimore Sun said here that it’s “rich” for Arianna Huffington to criticize Roger Ailes of Fix Noise over his coddling of that lunatic Glenn Beck, and the two Brave New Films clips are appropriate responses (and in the Zurawik clip, I love the way Baba Wawa helps propagate the lie that Fix Noise was “banned” from covering the White House, when in fact all the Obama people said was that they would be treated as an organization with a particular point of view as opposed to a news organization, or words to that effect).

    And I think it’s “rich” for Zurawik to criticize anybody when he said here that MSNBC is following a path to “fascism” and unjustly compared Keith Olbermann to Sen. Joseph McCarthy here (third item...and based on the third item also in this post, I don’t think Zurawik has a clue as to what constitutes “real reporting”).

  • And I guess this is a fitting segue to the latest from Andrew Taylor of the AP, who tells us the following here (on President Obama’s recently released budget)…

    Obama's deficit salve mixed nearly $1 trillion in tax increases on higher-income people with $250 billion in savings over a decade from a partial freeze on domestic programs. But popular benefit programs like Medicare would remain untouched.
    It sure would have been nice for Taylor to note the following (from here)…

    The President is committed to undertaking (health care) reform that is completely paid for and deficit neutral over the next decade. That is why he put forward in his FY 2010 Budget an historic $635 billion down payment on reform. Roughly half of this amount comes from revenue proposals, including limiting the value of itemized deductions for families making over a quarter-million dollars a year to the rates they were during the Reagan years, and about half comes from savings from Medicare and Medicaid.
    You want Medicare and Medicaid savings? Fine. Stop screwing around and pass health care reform, then.

  • In his Philadelphia Daily News column yesterday, Smerky took on the whole “Alito head shake” thing over Obama’s calling out of The Supremes in the matter of the dreadful Citizens United decision by the High Court. Smerky of course thought Obama was wrong, and to give an example of how Smerky thought presidents were supposed to voice their disapproval with Supreme Court decisions, he cited The Sainted Ronnie R and his veiled digs at the Court over Roe v. Wade.

    In case anybody ever thought this was all Reagan ever did in his fight against choice, it should be noted that Number 40 also brought us the so-called “Mexico City Policy”; Wikipedia tells us the following about it here…

    Critics of the Mexico City Policy refer to it as the "global gag rule", arguing that, in addition to reducing the overall funding provided to particular NGOs, it closes off their access to USAID-supplied condoms and other forms of contraception.[15] This, they argue, negatively impacts the ability of these NGOs to distribute birth control, leading to a downturn in contraceptive use and from there to an increase in the rates of unintended pregnancies and abortion.[15] Critics also argue that the ban promotes restrictions on free speech as well as restrictions on accurate medical information.[16][17][18][19] The European Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development presented a petition to the United States Congress signed by 233 members condemning the policy. The forum has stated that the policy "undermines internationally agreed consensus and goals".[20]
    And as Wikipedia also tells us, President Clinton rescinded the policy, Dubya reinstituted it, and Obama rescinded it again (so let’s all act like adults and let this thing die a natural death, then, OK?).

  • Finally, former Buscho Attorney General Michael Mukasey inflicted the following yesterday (here)…

    (Mukasey) slammed his successor on Tuesday morning, declaring it "amateur hour" at the Justice Department and labeling current Attorney General Eric Holder weak for his handling of terrorist trials.

    Appearing on "Fox and Friends", Mukasey dispensed with any of the formalities that guide how previous administrations discuss the current one. Asked about DOJ's apparent indecision over whether to try 9/11-plotter Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in a New York City criminal court, he unloaded.

    "It makes it look like amateur night down there," he said. "Yes, it makes us look weak. It is weakness. And I can't understand the reason for the vacillation. I can't understand the choice to bring it to New York in the first place other than showboating."
    The story also tells us that Mukasey said the sentencing of Zacarias Moussaoui was a “circus,” and he said show-bomber Richard Reid was only tried in civilian courts because the kangaroo courts military tribunals weren’t set up yet.

    However, it’s not as if terrorists had never existed in this country prior to the ruinous Bushco reign. This tells us that Timothy McVeigh (Oklahoma City bombing), Lee Boyd Malvo, John Allen Muhammed (D.C. snipers) and Ramzi Yousef ('93 WTC bombing) were all tried in civilian courts (McVeigh and Muhammed were executed). And as the prior post notes, civilian courts would not allow such “bogus standards of admissibility” as the military commissions.

    Yes, I’ll admit that Attorney General Holder has a bit of “egg on his face” from NYC and Michael Bloomberg’s apparent flip-flop on trying Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in Manhattan. But let’s see how many convictions the Obama Justice Department is able to obtain when they’re done versus their predecessors before we pass judgment too quickly, OK?
  • Tuesday, February 02, 2010

    Tuesday Stuff

    (I had some stuff to get to but I didn't quite make it today - I'll try again tomorrow.)

    I have a feeling, ladies and gentlemen and boys and girls, that "Straight Talk" McCain could say ANYTHING and STILL be given a warm seat on the Sunday morning gabfests (and gee, I wonder if McCain's perspective on this is being affected by the fact that he has conservative primary challenges from loudmouth J.D. Hayworth and Minuteman nutball Chris Simcox? And by the way, kudos to Admiral Mike Mullen - yes, overturning DADT is long overdue, but at least he's taking a lead role here)...

    Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

    ...and in a way, I apologize for adding this; anyone who takes Glenn Beck seriously is an utter fool, but when he's nailed in a particularly red-handed manner such as this, it should be publicized...

    ...which of course is part of the larger issue Jon Stewart addresses with typical comic precision here (and good for Arianna to get Roger Ailes on the record with his utter non-answer)...

    ...and I always wondered what would happen if an '80s video was ever merged with a '50s sci-fi movie, and now that I know the answer, I'm not sure if it's a good thing or not.

    Monday, February 01, 2010

    Monday Stuff

    And you just know that the “banksters” just loves them some Scott Brown “a whole big bunch and a lotta much,” as they say (here)…

    …and I’m not sure exactly why The Old Gray Lady decided to act as Megyn Kelly’s PR service here today, but here is Fix Noise’s most attractive humanoid on display, as Cenk tells us (more here – learning her “dark art” from Billo, no doubt…it’s all good until she opens her mouth)…

    …and K.O. makes an interesting observation about that murdering lunatic Scott Roeder…

    Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

    …and here is today’s obligatory music video (c'est si bon!).

    Monday NYT Mashup (2/1/10)

    (And I also posted here.)

  • There was so much dookey in Matt Bai’s Sunday Times Magazine article yesterday (more political punditry) that I don’t think I could address all of it if I tried, though I wanted to highlight one item in particular…

    Sure, all things being equal, a president would rather have his allies firmly in control than not. But recent presidents have had more success when forced to work with slim majorities in Congress, or even none at all. Ronald Reagan teamed with influential Democratic senators and a Democrat-controlled House to overhaul the tax code. Richard Nixon and a Democratic Congress enacted historic protections for the environment. Lyndon Johnson may have enjoyed sizable majorities in the sense of party affiliation but not in terms of ideology: a large contingent in his own party opposed civil rights and new social programs. He succeeded only by building a coalition that enlisted a lot of Northern moderate Republicans.
    As noted here…

    By the end of 1966 Johnson was forced to announce budget cutbacks in his War on Poverty and Great Society programs because of the competing need for funds to prosecute the Vietnam War, which had rapidly escalated in the last half of 1965 and through 1966. Funds for the OEO went from $4 billion in 1966 to $1.75 billion in 1967. From 1966 on, the Johnson administration became increasingly focused on the war effort. Moreover, the voter backlash resulting from the urban riots of 1964, 1965, and 1966 manifested itself in the 1966 House and Senate elections, which brought the conservative coalition back to a position of power. After 1966 Johnson introduced no major new social programs, and in 1969 his successor, Richard M. Nixon, was more interested in measures to fight crime than in finding ways to meet the demands of the poor.
    And as noted here, in the 1966 Congressional midterm elections, the Democrats, because of the voter backlash noted above, lost 47 seats.

    So the answer to the question is no, I confess that I don’t know exactly what the hell Bai is talking about above. I will grant Bai’s point that Republicans aided the social legislation of the Great Society. But that happened before the voters sent the message that they rejected that agenda.

    To argue that a more divided government produced the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act than a more united one, with bigger Democratic majorities, is nonsense.

  • The Times also included some essays from individuals who served in prior presidential administrations, all of whom described what they believed their bosses managed to accomplish after their first year in office (with Obama having passed that milestone a week or so ago).

    This was written by Richard Allen, national security adviser for Ronald Reagan, including the following…

    Tax cuts were high on the president’s agenda, and work began, quietly and in the background for the most part, on a huge “get well” program for the nation’s defenses.
    As Walter Rodgers noted in his fine essay from about a year ago (here)…

    Reagan Republicans disingenuously claimed credit for much of America's long-range military buildup that helped win the cold war. But it was Carter who proposed deployment of 200 MIRVed MX missiles in hardened silos to counter an unbridled Soviet buildup. (Under Reagan, only 50 were actually deployed.) Cruise missiles and the B-2 Stealth bomber technology were also born under Carter.

    To the Russians, the most terrifying weapon the Americans ever deployed was the intermediate-range Pershing missile, which had a flight time of 10 minutes to Moscow from NATO bases in Germany. Carter agreed to deploy that weapons system. The irony is that Carter's hawkish leanings later in his administration alienated many in the party of George McGovern and, ultimately, Carter was crippled at least as much by Democratic liberals as by Republicans.
    And as Will Bunch noted in his fine book “Tear Down This Myth” (pg. 51)…

    As for the tax cuts, it was clear in a matter of months that the initial Reagan plan (in 1981) went too far. How far? Less than one year later, Congress passed – and Reagan signed – what at the time was the largest peacetime tax increase in American history, a revenue booster with the Orwellian name of the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982. That wasn’t all: Reagan signed further tax increases in 1983 and 1984, and in 1986, enacting a broad tax reform plan that is also a major part of his legacy, he ceded a leading role to the Democrats who were reasserting their authority on Capitol Hill. Given the nation’s skyrocketing debt, it’s easy to understand why Reagan lost much of his influence in this area.
    And Allen also tells us of “David Stockman’s effort, as budget director, to undercut the president’s budget.” This Wikipedia article tells us that Stockman gave a 1981 interview for the Atlantic Monthly in which he was more candid than he should have been as far as the Reaganites were concerned (and for which he was chastised by The Gipper), though in 1985, he wrote a book blaming congressional Republicans for not reducing the spending that should have followed after the lost revenue from the tax cuts.

    Sounds to me like Stockman “got religion” a little late in the game (also, charges of securities fraud against Stockman were recently dropped, as Wikipedia also tells us). And that to me was the difference between Bushco and the Reagan people; a few of the latter actually had some understanding of what they were doing wrong, whereas that was nowhere to be found in Dubya’s administration.

    And speaking of Number 43, loyalist Karen Hughes also chimed in yesterday (here)…

    We had watched Mr. Bush make the most profound decision a commander in chief can make, committing American lives to battle in Afghanistan. We had witnessed the fall of the Taliban and worked to calm the panic of anthrax attacks.
    Oh yes, Hughes, the Taliban sure “fell,” didn’t they (as noted here, Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai is reportedly trying to reconcile with this “fallen” regime). And as noted here, Dem U.S. House Rep Rush Holt has proposed a commission to examine the Anthrax attacks; how the “panic” was “calmed” by Bushco is highly debatable, but it was yet another mess left for Obama by his predecessor.

    Hughes continues…

    As President Bush took office, the economy was falling into recession; we passed tax cuts to try to stimulate jobs.
    I swear, Dubya’s people are utterly shameless; this tells us that the National Bureau of Economic Research tells us that the U.S. economy went into recession in March 2001, and no earlier. I don’t know when the recession that began Dubya’s awful presidency officially ended, because it didn’t as far as we were concerned. And as far as the recession that concluded Dubya’s term, of course, no end is in sight (and it erased the pittance of job growth from 2001 to 2009).

  • Finally, New York Times book critic Devin Leonard, reviewing “Freefall: America, Free Markets, and the Sinking of the World Economy” by Joseph Stiglitz, tells us the following here…

    What’s more, (Stiglitz) says, Americans need to get over the idea that higher taxes and more government involvement in the economy are a recipe for disaster. He points to Sweden as an example of a country that has a thriving economy but still provides its citizens with extensive social services.

    These may all be worthy ideas. But at times, Mr. Stiglitz’s call for a new economic order seems a bit fanciful. Can you imagine President Obama going before the American people and telling them they need to emulate Sweden? Imagine the fun Glenn Beck would have with that.
    As noted here (a lesson for the supposed financial geniuses of this country)…

    Just as Japan was heading toward a financial meltdown in the early 1990s, Sweden was about to confront its own crisis.

    Banks lent freely during a 1980s boom, which caused real estate prices to rise, said Giovanni Zanalda, a Duke University professor currently teaching a course on financial crises through history.

    Many Swedish banks, as a result of deregulation of the financial sector, engaged in heavy lending during the boom. When the bubble burst in 1991 they were saddled with vast amounts of bad debt. Three major banks eventually collapsed, Zanalda said.

    However, the Swedish response was quick and aggressive.

    "They just grabbed the whole thing immediately and began to work through the issues purposefully through the government," said Peter Rodriguez, an economist at the University of Virginia. "They did not even really presume to try free-market solutions."

    In late 1992, the government guaranteed the debts and deposits of all Swedish banks, forced them to write off their losses and bailed them out when needed.

    The government also nationalized the banks to relieve them of their bad debts. Effectively, Swedish banks were forced to separate their healthy assets from their bad ones, Zanalda said.

    These bad debts were then placed in an entity -- what is typically called a "bad bank." Since these bad loans were no longer on the banks' asset sheets, they were free to resume lending. Once they were healthy again, banks were returned to the private sector.

    Meanwhile, by 1997, as the economy recovered, all the assets that were in the "bad bank" were sold off.
    Now it’s true that Sweden’s economy has suffered a recent downturn similar to ours due to problems in the financial sector. However, my guess is that they’ll emerge from them sooner than we will.

    And by the way, Mr. (Ms.?) Leonard, I could care less about what Glenn Beck thinks (to the extent that he thinks at all). And you should feel the same way.