Friday, February 12, 2010

Friday Stuff

This commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Alfred Hitchcock film "Psycho," which I suppose was a fitting prologue for the upheaval we would witness in that decade; this of course is the most memorable scene (Janet Leigh would receive strange phone calls, letters and even tapes from people telling her what they would do to Marion Crane, Leigh's character in the film, until her death in 2004 - she turned over one letter to the FBI, but I don't know if she ever filed charges...also, will anyone ever be ale to explain to me Gus Van Sant's remake?)...

...oh, and once more, a big Happy Birthday wish goes out to Snarlin' Arlen (message to PA Dems - this guy stands a better shot against wingnut Pat Toomey; we'd better "get in the game" on this one, people)...

...and of course, even though Marc Thiessen is a liar and an idiot, that still guarantees him a job at Kaplan Test Prep Daily, as noted here (h/t Atrios...and nice job by Joe Scar on that "liberal" MSNBC network to hoot down Lawrence O'Donnell even though O'Donnell was exactly right)...

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

...and here are more Anthem Blue Cross of California horror stories...

...also, K.O. talks to David Weigel about the hurt teabagger feelings concerning a "Captain America" comic book (awwwwww)...

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy's a tune, though, about another comic book icon (from DC, however).

Where The Rubber Meets The Road (2/12/10)

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 here).


National debt limit. Members voted, 217-212, to raise the U.S. debt limit by $1.9 trillion to $14.29 trillion. The measure was then joined to a "pay as you go" bill (below) and sent to President Obama.

A yes vote was to raise the federal debt limit.

Voting yes: Robert E. Andrews (D., N.J.), Robert A. Brady (D., Pa.), Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.), Tim Holden (D., Pa.), Allyson Y. Schwartz (D., Pa.), and Joe Sestak (D., Pa.).

Voting no: John Adler (D., N.J.), Michael N. Castle (R., Del.), Charles W. Dent (R., Pa.), Jim Gerlach (R., Pa.), Frank A. LoBiondo (R., N.J.), Patrick Murphy (D., Pa.), Joseph R. Pitts (R., Pa.), and Christopher H. Smith (R., N.J.).
This vote by Patrick Murphy earned the praise of the Bucks County Courier Times this morning (here), a paper whose readership is composed largely of retired or nearly-retired Republican individuals who don’t want to spend dime one on anything they see as some dastardly liberal plot. And in the same column praising Patrick, they also found a way to compliment Mikey Fitzpatrick, of course, as if he were the very model of financial prudence.

But it’s a funny thing – I happened to come across this post which mentioned some of the appropriations Fitzpatrick managed to bring home to PA-08 while he served in Congress. And I would really appreciate it if Fitzpatrick made it clear to us how many of these were achieved through the earmarks the Courier Times so despises…

• $1.25 million for a state-of-the-art fire training center in Lower Bucks County

• $250,000 grant for the Bristol Borough Police Department which will upgrade the department’s crime fighting technology infrastructure

• $425,000 for the Bristol Weed and Seed Program and Neighborhood One Project

• $450,000 to expand the capacity of Street Road by creating additional thru lanes and turning lanes

• $3.5 million to install bus shelters and transit signage, expand parking lots and improve bus access station improvements at Croydon and Levittown Stations In Bucks County

• $3 million for the Neshaminy Creek Flood Mitigation Program in Bucks County

• $50,000 to restore the historic Andalusia property

• $40,000 to restore the historic Delaware Canal

• $2.4 million for transportation enhancements along the Delaware Canal between Yardley and Bristol

• $5.9 million for US Route 13 corridor reconstruction, redevelopment and beautification

• $250,000 grant for Bucks County to distribute to police departments to upgrade the departments crime fighting technology infrastructure

• $1.6 million for Route 313 turning lanes, truck climbing lanes in Doylestown, Plumstead and Hilltown Township

• $750,000 for the September 11 th Garden of Reflection Memorial

• $3.3 million for the Swamp Road Improvement Project

• $300,000 for the Quakertown Rail Investment Study

• $10 million for the Pennsylvania Turnpike- I-95 Interchange Project in Bucks County

• $50,000 to restore the historic Honey Hollow property

• $220,000 for a virtual business incubator at Delaware Valley College

• $750,000 for an array of construction, infrastructure improvement and tourism projects along the 160 mile Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Trail

• $2 million for a two-lane extension of Bristol Road from US 202 to Park Avenue, Chalfont and New Britain
Sooo…if Fitzpatrick manages to bring home $300 grand for a Quakertown, PA rail study, for example, that’s providing good constituent service. However, if Patrick Murphy provides $100,000 for the Edgely Fire Department, then that’s engaging in wasteful spending…???

"Pay as you go." Members passed, 233-187, a rule under which tax cuts or entitlement spending hikes must be offset. If they are not offset, 60 Senate votes and a House majority would be needed to approve them.

A yes vote was to enact "pay as you go."

Voting yes: Adler, Andrews, Brady, Fattah, Holden, Murphy, Schwartz, and Sestak.

Voting no: Castle, Dent, Gerlach, LoBiondo, Pitts, and Smith.
As noted here, the House merely followed their Senate peers on this one, voting for it before they voted against it, if you will.

Cybersecurity programs. Members authorized, 422-5, $396 million in National Science Foundation grants to boost cybersecurity research and instruction at universities.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes: Adler, Andrews, Brady, Castle, Dent, Fattah, Gerlach, Holden, LoBiondo, Murphy, Pitts, Schwartz, Sestak, and Smith.
And Joe Pitts voted yes for cyber security? Sweet Mother of Abraham Lincoln! Nancy Pelosi must have slipped him a “mickey” or something :-).


Patricia Smith confirmation. Senators voted, 60-37, to confirm New York Labor Commissioner M. Patricia Smith as the Department of Labor solicitor. This followed the GOP's nine-month delay of her nomination.

A yes vote was to confirm Smith.

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

Martha Johnson confirmation. Senators voted, 82-16, to end a GOP filibuster against the nomination of Martha N. Johnson to head the General Services Administration. She was then confirmed, 96-0, eight months after she was nominated.

A yes vote was to advance the nomination.

Voting yes: Carper, Casey, Kaufman, Lautenberg, Menendez and Specter.
Oh, and before I forget, here's wishing Snarlin' Arlen a happy 80th (here).

This week, the House debated the 2010 intelligence budget and whether to end the health-insurance industry's antitrust exemption. The Senate took up a jobs bill.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Thursday Stuff

(I also put up a video here.)

Kudos to Sen. Al Franken for standing up against the proposed NBC/Comcast merger (sorry the audio is a little weak - to learn more, click here)...

...and I would call this a pretty thorough catalogue of GOP obstruction, particularly on the stimulus (or, as Rachel Maddow says at the end, grow up, Democrats)...

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

...and I was pretty PO'ed at Obama yesterday, but kudos to him for calling out Anthem Blue Cross of California here...

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

......and I thought this was an appropriate tune to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Nelson Mandela's release from prison (here).

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Wednesday Stuff

(I put up a video over here - the weather has definitely reduced my blogging capability today.)

This goes out to the Op-Ed page of the Bucks County Courier Times, which just loves Mikey Fitzpatrick a whole bunch (and yep, a term-limit pledge is another maneuver from a career politician)...

...and yeah, all you climate change deniers, after we've just lived through the warmest ten years on record, just continue to pretend that there's no problem; just look outside your window in these parts and sing "Don't Worry, Be Happy" - you fools...

...but worst of all is this from our "hopey, changey" chief executive...

...and in response, I give you Paul Krugman, who said the following today...

...first, baseball players didn’t trigger a global economic collapse, and second, the baseball industry isn’t the beneficiary of a massive and continuing taxpayer bailout (continuing because banks would be in deep trouble even now if it weren’t for the belief that they have a government backstop).

Yes, he said some things about making compensation better tied to results — but it was framed purely in terms of stockholder interests, with no mention, again, of the damage bankers have done and the public support they still require.
It astonishes me (though I guess it really shouldn't) that this White House thinks it can throw a few populist, rhetorical bones out there to satisfy the Democratic Party base, but then come back a little later when it thinks people aren't paying attention and say this stuff.

And while I don't encourage "sitting on hands," no one in this White House should be a bit surprised if that happens this November and beyond (bye bye cap and trade, jobs bill, energy, and don't get me started on health care again - almost too pathetic for words)...

...and I don't know about you, but I'm sick of looking at snow - here's about 30 seconds of a sunset from Aquinnah beach in Martha's Vineyard as a "tonic" of sorts...sigh.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Tuesday Stuff

Hey teabaggers! You want something to protest for real? Check out the story of Kyler Van Nocker, told to us by K.O. from today's Philadelphia Daily News (here)...

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

...and oh yeah, it looks like the Brits have the guts to at least investigate the crimes of Dubya and Deadeye Dick on Iraq, as opposed to we utterly cowed, corporate-media-spoon-fed Americans (and making this even more preposterous - what asshats)...

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

..."Worst Persons" (Repug U.S. House Rep Marsha Blackburn returns to suggest privatizing Social Security...uh, and tell me one more time how long it took the Dow to climb back up to 10,000; the family of Sen. Jim Inhofe demonstrates that climate crisis denial runs in the family - utter fools; but David Steiner of the New York State Department of Education gets the "Worst" citation for refusing to accept the makeup test scores of a student who missed the regularly scheduled Regents exam...Steiner didn't think her excuse was acceptable - it turns out, though, that the student was in a seven-hour meeting the day of the exam at the Central Homeless Family Intake Center trying to keep her family from losing their home...just the kind of diligent, committed individual we should kick right in the shins while we lecture them about making bad life choices, right? What country am I living in again?)...

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

...and speaking of the climate, this has something to do with the white stuff outside, or at least the band name does anyway.

The Ever-Growing "Sixty-Year Shadow"

(And I also posted here.)

On this day in 1950, as noted here, the junior senator from Wisconsin, as he was once referred to by Edward R. Murrow, gave a speech in which he alleged that more than 200 employees of the U.S. State Department were members of the Communist Party.

And that was how Joseph R. McCarthy began to build his shameful legacy.

I guess the first thing you think of concerning McCarthy are the lives and careers he ruined through his inquisition that capitalized on the rampant anti-Communism of the time, but when you read about how he fought with congressional Democrats and the incumbent Democratic president Harry Truman, something else that becomes apparent is the fact that McCarthy created the Republican template through which all future Democrats would be bullied with virtual impunity ever since.

This link from PBS and playwright Arthur Miller tells us of some of the most noteworthy figures from that era who were victimized to one degree or another by McCarthy (Miller notes that the furor had died down by about 1954). Also, McCarthy enjoyed a friendship for a time with the Kennedy family, partly by virtue of the fact that both McCarthy and the Kennedys were Roman Catholic (expressions of loyalty to McCarthy were communicated by both Bobby and JFK as noted here, to the point where the future president would be scolded by Eleanor Roosevelt at the 1956 Democratic Convention). Eventually, though, “Tail Gunner Joe” grew too toxic even for the “Camelot” crew.

Someone else who benefited from McCarthy was Roy Cohn, whose career also was launched by the Wisconsin senator. As noted here, Cohn would end up with blood on his hands concerning the trial of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, and for a time, one of lawyer Cohn’s clients was the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, among many others (Cohn would also end up as an adviser to both Presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan).

One of McCarthy’s staunchest defenders, by the way, was the conservative columnist Westbrook Pegler, who once expressed regret that an assassination attempt against President Franklin Roosevelt didn’t succeed and who also wished for RFK to be killed in 1965 (Pegler would get his wish three years later, of course). And for anyone who doesn’t think that “past is prologue,” consider how Pegler was quoted by Sarah Palin in her acceptance speech of the vice-presidential Repug nomination in 2008 (here), in particular that stuff about “(growing) good people in our small towns ... I grew up with those people. They're the ones who do some of the hardest work in America, who grow our food and run our factories and fight our wars. They love their country in good times and bad, and they're always proud of America" (implying, of course, that "good" people could grow only in "small-town America"...and how apropos for Palin to peddle that mess in the land of Pancake Joe Pitts).

Another McCarthyite echo from the past was provided here by Moon Unit Bachmann, who wanted liberals “investigated.” I would argue that one of the most notorious McCarthyite smears, though, was provided by Bushco Secretary of Defense Don (“The Defense Secretary You Have, Not The One You Wish You Had”) Rumsfeld here, when he equated critics of the Iraq War with appeasers of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany before World War II in April 2006.

So just remember, the next time you hear of a loudmouth political demagogue trying to lay waste to his or her enemies through the most groundless, inflammatory language possible, this person is carrying on the foul tradition of Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin.

And the cause of informed discourse dies another inch at a time (addressed by actor David Straithairn as Edward R. Murrow in “Good Night, And Good Luck”).

Monday, February 08, 2010

Monday Stuff

RIP John Murtha - I tried to embed all 31:52 of his November 2005 press conference from the MSNBC link, but it didn't work; watch all of it to be reminded of what politicians who actually are accountable to us sound like (it takes a few seconds to buffer after the ad, but it's worth the wait)...

...and I just felt like embedding this for no particular reason, so here it is.

A Cowen Connivance On “The Great Middle”

(And I also posted here.)

I guess N. Gregory Mankiw was unavailable for the Sunday New York Times this weekend to condescend once more to those of us struggling to hang onto our jobs and our health care, so Tyler Cowen put on the “right-wing wanker” hat to hold court in the Business section (of course).

From here, we learn the following…

When it comes to the big issues, voters at the midpoint usually get the policies, if not always the exact outcomes, they want. In the federal budget, the largest line items include Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and military spending — all very popular programs. The interest on the national debt is mounting because we don’t like paying higher taxes now for all those benefits, so our government borrows to postpone the pain.
That is indeed what has been happening, of course, but TPM found an item here that I thought was noteworthy…

A new Rasmussen poll supplies a very interesting data point in the ongoing debate about the budget deficit: As it turns out, Republican voters would prefer having a deficit if it meant they can get more tax cuts, instead of raising taxes in order to balance the budget.

The national poll of likely voters asked: "Would you rather see a balanced budget with higher taxes or a budget deficit with tax cuts?" A 41% plurality would rather have budget deficit with tax cuts, with 36% calling for higher taxes and a balanced budget. The internals of the poll show Republicans favoring deficits and tax cuts.

"The partisan differences on the questions are notable," says the pollster's analysis. "While 50% of Republicans would rather see a budget deficit with tax cuts, a plurality (46%) of Democrats favor the opposite approach - a balanced budget with higher taxes. Voters not affiliated with either party are evenly divided on the question."
So basically, Republicans want to continue having their cake and eating it too, Democrats want to “pay the piper” and be done with it, and those glorious independent voters are still watching the Super Bowl ads, I guess.

Continuing with Cowen…

Correctly or not, most Americans have failed to embrace the Democratic health care plans. And ever since the Republicans won the special Senate election in Massachusetts, even the Democrats in Congress have stalled on the legislation. It now appears that much of the initial support was thin.
Wrong – support has been strong for health care reform all along (particularly the public option, as noted here), but it has only dissipated as this country has watched the opportunity for landmark change for the better squandered by corporatist greed head Republicans and utterly spineless Democrats.

But wait – it gets better…

Many people are increasingly worried about deficits. That may have led Mr. Obama to announce a freeze on nonmilitary discretionary spending, and yet this freeze refuses to target major, popular budget items like Social Security. The public seems to want the self-image of being tough on spending without giving up the goodies. President Obama may well know better, but he is doing his best to oblige, if only to prevent a Republican landslide this November.
Short of the right-wing propagandistic wet dreams of the Bucks County Courier Times Op-Ed page, where all manner of charges without attribution against Democrats reign supreme, I don’t see anyone claiming “a Republican landslide” in November (assuming you can believe RNC chair Michael Steele, who, as noted here, has had difficulty making up his mind on the subject).

And as noted here, the Republican Party nationally polls lower than the Democrats or President Obama. The problem, though, is that, on the sample congressional ballot, the Republicans and Democrats are statistically tied.

(Also, it should be noted that Cowen tells us that the Supremes ruled in the Citizens United fiasco that corporate campaign contributions cannot be banned. That is incorrect – the issue was limiting contributions, not banning them.)

I do agree with Cowen on one point, though; he tells us that most people aren’t very well informed about politics and can be downright irrational or stubborn. And badly written editorial commentary that really doesn’t even belong in the business section of a newspaper will not help that one bit.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Sunday Stuff

Good for John Podesta and his "push back" here (more like this - a lot more; so I guess Jake Tapper is going to be the new moderator of ABC's Sunday morning gab fest...mmmmm, o-kaaay)...

...and here's some music to listen to while we contemplate the rudeness of people who take the parking spots cleared of snow for community residents, with those space-stealers being visitors only showing up for Super Bowl parties (OK, rant mode off...and by the way, I don't have a clue about the "Doralee" - ? - and Omaha stuff in the video).