Saturday, March 06, 2010

Where The Rubber Meets The Road (3/6/10)

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 (posting will continue to be flaky for a little while, and I still don't know what I'm going to do about the pic).

Antitrust exemption. Voting 406-19, the House sent the Senate a bill (HR 4626) to end the health-insurance industry's 64-year-old federal antitrust exemption under the McCarran-Ferguson Act. Health insurers are regulated on the state level and are subject to state antitrust laws. Under this bill, the Justice Department would provide another layer of enforcement against monopolistic activities such as collusion in the setting of premium rates, allocating market shares, and rigging bids on contracts. The bill exempts medical-malpractice insurers.

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.), Joe Sestak (D., Pa.), and Christopher H. Smith (R., N.J.).

Not voting: Joseph R. Pitts (R., Pa.).
Interesting vote for Pitts to miss (and by the way, here is more info to consider on PA-16’s waste of space…and to do something about it, click here).

2010 spy budget. Voting 235-168, the House approved a classified 2010 U.S. intelligence budget unofficially estimated at $50 billion or higher. The bill (HR 2701) funds operations of the CIA, National Security Agency, and several other spy agencies. The bill awaits Senate action.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

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

Voting no: Castle, Gerlach, LoBiondo, Pitts, and Smith.

Not voting: Dent (official leave).
So the next time you hear Cheney or some other GOP sugar daddy yakking on the Sunday morning gab fests about how they’re supposedly the party to keep us safe as opposed to those bedwetting liberal Democrats, remember this vote in which they chose not to fund our spy operations.

Native Hawaiian sovereignty. Voting 245-164, the House sent the Senate a bill (HR 2314) empowering Native Hawaiians to form a sovereign government comparable to the Native American and Native Alaskan nations in the United States.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

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

Voting no: Castle, Dent, Gerlach, LoBiondo, Pitts, and Smith.

Not voting: Andrews.
I couldn’t hope to summarize the complex issue of Hawaiian sovereignty here even if I tried, but it looks like this bill sponsored by Dem Neil Abercrombie will set forward a process allowing Hawaii the right of self governance without undercutting Federal authority, very possibly en route to building casinos to generate revenue as noted here (though that is in dispute also, apparently).


Jobs creation. Voting 70-28, the Senate sent the House a bill (HR 2847) that would temporarily exempt businesses from having to pay the 6.2 percent employer's share of Social Security withholding taxes on workers they hire this year from the jobless ranks. Employers also would receive a $1,000 tax credit for each new hire that stays on the job for one year. The two incentives would cost the Treasury about $13 billion.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

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

Not voting: Frank Lautenberg (D., N.J.).

Travel to America. Voting 78-18, the Senate sent President Obama a bill (HR 1299) that would establish a federal corporation to increase foreign travel to the United States. The Corporation for Travel Promotion would be funded initially by about $100 million in assessments on the U.S. hospitality industry and another $100 million in special visa fees collected by the Department of Homeland Security.
A yes vote was to pass the bill.

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

Not voting: Lautenberg.
Establishing this agency is important for the following reason (noted here, and comparable to what other countries do, by the way)…

International travel to the United States took a significant hit after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, research shows.

Images of long lines and bomb-sniffing canines at U.S. airports have lingered. And while international travel boomed over the last decade - the U.S. Travel Association says 46 million more foreign travelers took long-haul trips in 2009 than in 2000 - this country lost visitors, welcoming 2.4 million fewer last year than in 2000.

The net loss, according to the travel group: 68 million visitors and more than $500 billion in total spending.
This week, the Senate took up a short-term extension of unemployment and COBRA health benefits for those who have lost jobs (after Jim Bunning decided to stop being an a-hole on this subject). The House schedule was to be announced.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Friday Stuff

(And by the way, I also posted here.)

Blanche Lincoln, in her own words (with some embellishment too, of course)...

...and here's the latest from Bill Halter...

...Rachel Maddow takes a crack at the latest in trying to repeal DADT, including that dumb Times Op-Ed by Gen. Merrill McPeak today (and don't forget Patrick Murphy's efforts on this in the House)...

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

...and I know you crazy kids have been asking for this, so here it is (can't get used to seeing these guys without the treadmills, though).

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Thursday Stuff

Man, I'd love to see "Bush's Brain" go hunting with Dick Cheney one day - if ever there was someone who deserved some well-placed buckshot (and I think Col. Wilkerson makes the case for a war crimes tribunal against Bushco in about the last minute and a half here better than I ever could)...

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

...and Bart Stupak is back with the specter of his pro-sepsis amendment (sponsored with Pancake Joe Pitts, of course - more here and here)...

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

...and good for Jon Stewart for giving another boot to Fix Noise...

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Anchor Management
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Reform

...and yes, it's time for another crappy music video.

The Murdoch Street Journal "Strikes Out" On Obamanomics

I realize that, when you’re talking about this publication, you’re talking about the pre-eminent propaganda tool of the “pay no price, bear no burden” investor class, but some ripe fertilizer is too pungent to ignore.

And that is the best setup I can come up with for the following dreck from Daniel Henninger yesterday (here)…

The Senate passed a $15 billion "jobs bill." Its proudest piece is a tax credit for employers who hire a person out of work at least 60 days. The employer won't have to pay the 6.2% Social Security payroll tax for what remains of this year. If the worker stays on the job at least a year, the government will give the employer $1,000.

As to the earlier $787 billion stimulus bill, Vice President Joe Biden praised it in Orlando this week as an engine of job creation, while he stood before a pile of broken concrete and asphalt. The subject was highways.

Finally, Barack Obama's government now may force companies to raise wages and benefits by squeezing their federal contracts if they don't.

Maybe there's a better way.


Let's bring back the robber barons.

OK, so…by giving a tax credit to employers to encourage hiring, Henninger believes that “force(s) companies to raise wages and benefits”?

And by the way, as noted here, Henninger con-vee-niently failed to note that Biden was highlighting “part of a $20 million project to expand a 3.8-mile stretch of U.S. Route 27 from four to six lanes. It will create between 20 and 50 jobs at different stages.”

But of course, if you’re Henninger, why should you let the facts get in the way of your talking points?

What I really objected to, though, was Henninger’s typically rose-colored look at the people who fueled America’s industrialization during the late 1800s and early 1900s, and for the purposes of this post, I’m going to highlight James Hill, Andrew Carnegie, and John D. Rockefeller, individuals who came to control the vital industries that fueled this country’s growth.

As Wikipedia tells us here, Hill was a railroad magnate who managed to build lines all across this country during The Industrial Age, often doing so on the backs (literally and figuratively) of his work force. So much so that…

his hard micromanaging practices…eventually led to a railway-wide strike and the workers' unionization under the leadership of Eugene V. Debs. Hill and Debs agreed to arbitration by other business owners led by Charles Alfred Pillsbury. The result was restoration of the workers' wages to pre-(1893) depression levels.

And as far as Andrew Carnegie (steel) was concerned (here)…

The Homestead Strike was an industrial lockout and strike which began on June 30, 1892, culminating in a battle between strikers and private security agents on July 6, 1892. It is one of the most serious labor disputes in US history. The dispute occurred in the Pittsburgh-area town of Homestead, Pennsylvania, between the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers (the AA) and the Carnegie Steel Company.

The AA was an American labor union formed in 1876. It was a craft union representing skilled iron and steel workers.

The AA's membership was concentrated in ironworks west of the Allegheny Mountains. The union negotiated national uniform wage scales on an annual basis; helped regularize working hours, workload levels and work speeds; and helped improve working conditions. It also acted as a hiring hall, helping employers find scarce puddlers and rollers.[1]

And as Wikipedia tells us, “puddling” was a means of manufacturing high-carbon and low-carbon steel, considered an art for that time.

And finally, I give you the Rockefellers, who owned the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company, a mining company involved in the “Ludlow Massacre” (here) which was the culmination of the 1913-1914 mining strike organized by the United Mine Workers of America (20 people, including 11 children and 2 women, were killed). In response, the so-called Colorado Coalfield War led to the deaths of anywhere from 69 to 199 people.

The UMWA tried to achieve recognition by the mining companies to address grievances; even though they failed to do so…

…the (1913-1914) strike had a lasting impact both on conditions at the Colorado mines and on labor relations nationally. John D. Rockefeller, Jr. engaged labor relations experts and future Canadian Prime Minister W. L. Mackenzie King to help him develop reforms for the mines and towns, which included paved roads and recreational facilities, as well as worker representation on committees dealing with working conditions, safety, health, and recreation. There was to be no discrimination against workers who had belonged to unions, and the establishment of a company union. The Rockefeller plan was accepted by the miners in a vote.

So it can be argued that John D. Rockefeller, Jr. (from a family that primarily made its fortune in oil, let’s not forget) ended up doing the right thing by his work force, but it took a strike to do it, as well as the deaths of scores of mine workers.

With all of this in mind, I can tell Henninger to keep his “robber barons.” Just because he works for one doesn’t mean the rest of us should be forced to do so also.

(And speaking of “three strikes,” I should note that the Phils edged the Yanks 3-2 in Grapefruit League play today – yaay!)

Debunking an Obama-Rama "Jack Attack"

(I’ll try doing something a bit different here – let’s see if it works…)

The New York Times reported the following yesterday (here)…

In his speech before about 300 people at Savannah Technical College, the president urged Congress to approve a $6 billion proposal to provide cash rebates to homeowners who replace windows, insulate or install energy-saving heating and cooling systems. The so-called cash-for-caulkers initiative — modeled after the popular cash-for-clunkers program for old cars — would offer rebates directly at stores.

Representative Jack Kingston, Republican of Georgia, said it was refreshing to hear Mr. Obama set aside health care — even briefly — to discuss the economy, even if the two parties do not see eye to eye on all of the proposals to create job growth.

“As long as we’re talking about jobs, it’s a positive thing,” Mr. Kingston said. “It will really hurt the tone by shoving health care through. It will spill over to other very important issues, and it’s going to be harder for us to get other things done.”

Oh, and in the matter of health care “spill(ing) over to other very important issues” (as if health care somehow isn’t an important issue also), this tells us that the National Association of Free clinics (the amazing Nicole Lamoureaux’s organization) is coming to the Georgia International Convention Center in Atlanta on March 27 from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

And as far as Kingston is concerned, this tells us that he said the Dems’ “honeymoon” after the ’06 Congressional win “would explode on them like an IED” (nice), this tells us that he said our health care system “worked well” to Georgian Jim Parker even though Parker went bankrupt paying for his treatment, and here, Kingston claimed that the group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington was “a partisan 527 organization” (referring to the section of the tax code designating that status) when, in fact, CREW is a nonpartisan and nonprofit (501)(c)(3) organization (and there are too many Kingston lies documented here from a 2008 appearance on “Real Time” to summarize in one sentence).

Oh, and by the way, I still can’t find a trace of Kingston’s flag lapel pin (here).

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Wednesday Stuff

Just a reminder of how awful Blanche Lincoln is, in case we've somehow forgotten (and to do something about it, click here - and oh yeah, I also posted here)...

...and yeah, this is kind of talky, but I gotta tell ya' that I'm not paying a lot of attention to the words, if you know what I mean.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Tuesday Stuff

Gee, I wonder if those people who were quite rightly upset with Jim Bunning know that Rand Paul thought what Bunning did - holding up unemployment benefits, that is - was just fine (here...Trey Grayson agreed with Paul and Bunning as well, I should note)?

And God bless Sue Mason, and we wish her the best - I can't think of a word to describe how utterly vile it is to deny someone employment because they don't know a computer software program in their chosen field that they could no doubt be easily trained to use...

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

...and congratulations to "Goodhair" Perry, as The Eternal Molly Ivins used to call him; Texas deserves him (and if that isn't a tongue-in-cheek remark, I don't know what is...and sorry, I don't get Rachel's "Man After Midnight" reference; Abba parodies? Really??)...

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

...and I would say the title of this song definitely applies to Bunning (and Paul Jr., really)...

...and a hat tip goes out to Mrs. Doomsy for this; she brought to my attention the fact that yesterday would have been the 100th birthday of David Niven, and this clip of Oscar performances (which, shockingly, is still available - the "suits" haven't made sure this was taken down yet) includes Niven and the streaker at about 2:30 (and I'll be watching on Sunday - I think Steve Martin will do a good job, though I could do without Alec Baldwin).

A Summary Of Bushco Bungling On “The Dark Continent”

(Note: I will probably continue to have daytime ISP problems with IE and Blogger that will render me unable to post during the day - just an FYI...and I also posted here.)

This is some truly funny revisionist history from Kathryn Jean Lopez (here)…

In the tradition of the Bush administration, Dana Perino has a devotion to the people of Africa.
Sure, just like “in the tradition” of Bushco’s “devotion” to screwing over working families, the unemployed, women seeking family planning services, etc., as noted here.

This, though, does give me an excuse to debunk some more corporate media mythology on how much Number 43 and his pals supposedly paid attention to that continent.

I will grudgingly give Bushco credit for allocating approximately $48 billion for The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) in the Hyde/Lantos bill from August of 2008, as noted here. However, I also pointed out that there really wasn’t any good reason to establish PEPFAR instead of contributing to the U.N. Global AIDS Fund, though PEPFAR funding was contingent on what I thought were some pretty idiotic requirements that assumed “abstinence only” behavior by sub-Saharan men, as well as the fact that PEPFAR specified brand drugs and disallowed use of generics in their place.

Also, this tells us that, as of 2006 (most current available information on this), the U.S. “maintained its role as the leading supplier of weapons to the developing world,” including “the genocide in Rwanda (and) the ongoing civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” as well as what very possibly is our role in “illegal (small arms) deals that have fueled conflicts in Liberia, Sierra Leone (and) Angola (also).”

This story also tells us that, despite the signage of 156 countries including every sub-Saharan African country except Somalia, the U.S. still refuses to sign the international Mine Ban Treaty (I blamed Dubya first for this, but the Obama Administration has now signed onto this wrongheaded policy also).

And no discussion of Bushco and Africa could be complete without noting Samuel Bodman, Bushco’s former energy secretary and head of Cabot Corporation; as noted here, the company was the subject of a report by “a United Nations Panel of Experts…accusing the company, along with several other US corporations, of helping to fuel the wars in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) while (Bodman) ran Cabot by purchasing coltan from Congo during the conflict and illegally plundering the country's vast natural resources (coltan is "a heat resistant powder which has unique properties for storing electrical charge, heavily used for printed circuit boards included in cellphones").

Also, as noted here, Liberia's warlord Charles Taylor is currently facing the war crimes charges that Bushco should have to face one day (shockingly, though, it looks like Dubya and his pals did the right thing by rebuffing Pat Robertson, who lobbied the White House on Taylor's behalf in 2003...Robertson received a 1999 concession to run a gold-mining exploration in southeastern Liberia - interesting financial development for a self-proclaimed "man of God" if I do say so myself).

And all you need to know about the intellectual corruption of Bushco’s foreign policy is that they decided to blow Iraq to smithereens over lies but failed to put “boots in the ground” in Darfur, where a genuine human rights crisis was underway (here).

So in summary, I suppose you could argue that Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History and his pals had a “devotion” to Africa, all right, in the same way any real or would-be occupying colonial power had a “devotion” to profit and ruination of a country and its people to the exclusion of any other desired outcome.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Monday Stuff

Yes, I’m plenty PO’ed at Harry Reid for the health care fiasco, and the man is an exciting as boiled asparagus, but he’s dead right here…and three guesses who objects at the end? Yep, the same guy who told reporters to get off his elevator here.

And in a “Political Memo” column yesterday in the Times, Carl Hulse said the Repugs would threaten a vote on holding terrorist trials in this country in response. Oooh, I’m sooo scared…

Update 1 3/2/10: The latest sad chapters in this mess are here and here.

Update 2 3/2/10: Took him long enough (here)...

...and it looks like Harold Ford is going to climb back into his helicopter from whence he descended to spend seven minutes in the Bronx, or something, based on this (have fun watching your manicured nails dry, Harold)...

...and Keith brings us an update on his dad tonight (powerful, important stuff)...

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

…and even though I’m sure the tongue-in-cheek nature of this song would be lost on Jim Bunning for this (h/t Atrios) and this, and Jon Kyl for this, I want to dedicate this video to them anyway.

Support The Public Option, Bob

I give you Dem U.S. Senator Bob Casey from our illustrious commonwealth (here, last May)…

“Improving our health care system to increase quality and improve affordability is the ultimate and long-neglected goal,” said Sen. Casey. “A public option can help this effort by increasing competition in the market and maintaining patient choice.”
And I give you Casey from last November (here)…

He supports the public option to increase competition and reduce costs.
Funny thing, though – it seems that Casey was asked to support the public option here last June, but failed to do so.

And now, Casey is not one of the 30 (at last count) Democratic senators who has said they will support a public health insurance option in the pending health care reform legislation, whatever it may turn out to be (of course, maybe if the Catholic Church would utter a syllable of support too while it’s busy screaming about abortion, that would be useful also).

Show us that you’re as good as your word and support the public option, Senator Casey (click here to read and find out how).

Update 3/2/10: THANK YOU, SENATOR!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sunday Stuff

Kudos to Dick Durbin for injecting more needed humanity into the health care free-for-all (I never would have imagined this would still be going on into March)...

...and as a tribute to The Great White North for winning Olympic hockey gold, I give you this from perhaps Canada's pre-eminent musical talent (a lot of the pics are from various religions, in case that's hard to grasp).