Saturday, July 03, 2010

Saturday Stuff

Maybe Anderson Cooper is the only one left at CNN doing anything approximating serious journalism - Dave Weigel said last night on "Countdown" that Bobby ("Don't Call Me Piyush") Jindal's approval numbers despite the BP mess are still not bad, which to me is shocking but I guess it shouldn't be surprising, so possibly Number 44 is panicking in response for some reason...if so, this is exactly the wrong reaction...

...and here's some indie fun for the holiday weekend.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Friday Stuff

Yeah, well Dave, at least "Lars" didn't have an issue with keeping on his "Worldwide Pants" in the presence of his interns (ba-dump! - by the way, just refresh the page if you don't want to watch any more vids)...

...and I tried to find something a little mellow in the spirit of the upcoming holiday, so here goes; I never happen to hear this song on the radio as much as I used to - hope it's a nice break for everyone.

Friday Mashup (7/2/10)

Note: I’m currently experiencing technical difficulties with the weekly congressional votes write-up – I’ll resolve them as soon as I can.

Update: Actually, the only item of note that took place in last week’s votes had to do with the DISCLOSE Act, which of course the Repugs opposed even with the NRA “carve out”; a Repug-sponsored measure “require(ing) quick judicial review” was also defeated (a likely “poison pill” that would have gotten the entire legislation defeated in a court challenge), and both Joe Pitts and Tim Holden, for some unbelievable reason, opposed a measure to reveal the extent to which out-of-state interests seek to sway local and statewide races (all of this and more is noted here, including all of our local Dem senators supporting an extension of jobless benefits that didn't make it to the magical number of 60 votes to prevent the inevitable Repug filibuster).

  • I guess I slipped on the metaphorical banana peel, as it were, by commenting on the media yesterday here and not checking with “Z on TV” first, who manages to navel-gaze ad nauseum here for an interminable length over Larry King’s departure (even introducing the laughable idea of having Kate Gosselin host a CNN show at 10:00 PM).

    Also, the “Z” post is worth noting to read Zurawik’s attempt at justifying his equating of Glenn Beck with Keith Olbermann with “Matt” in the comments thread (with Zurawik noting a single instance where K.O. apologized for his comments against Scott Brown – comments based on thoroughly documented campaign ads by Brown, by the way – and implying to “Matt” that that somehow equates with all of Beck’s hysteria).

  • I also linked to this a couple of days ago, but to me, it bears repeating…

    George W. Bush was no FDR, but Barack Obama could be.

    That's the verdict of 238 of the nation's leading presidential scholars, who - for a fifth time - rated Franklin Delano Roosevelt the best president ever in the latest Siena College Research Institute poll.

    In office for barely two years, Obama entered the survey in the 15th position - two spots behind Bill Clinton and three spots ahead of Ronald Reagan.
    And with this in mind, I’d actually like to take a minute or two and compare Number 44 on economics with the late Number 40 of Bel Air, CA.

    As noted here…

    …Reagan did not inherit the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Nor did he inherit two wars, nor the collapse of the automobile industry, nor 8 years of budget profligacy, nor the radical right wing championing (and avoiding service in) another war or two or three. The retirement of the baby-boomers was 25 years in the future, not already ongoing and accelerating.

    And, of course, you don't need little Johnny Boehner to tell you that tax rates, even for the wealthiest Americans, are now already 14% lower than Reagan's 1981 tax cut, nor that 95% of Americans received a tax cut in the Obama stimulus, nor that tax rates will still be 10.5% lower for the wealthiest when Obama allows the George W tax cuts to expire, nor that those cuts were intended to expire for the simple reason that they were projected then to cause to big a hole in the deficit.

    But this, of course, begs the question as to what the Reagan tax cuts, such as they were, actually did achieve. At the same point in Reagan's Presidency as we are now at in Obama's, what was unemployment, and how long before it began to decline?

    …Reagan inherited an unemployment rate of 7.6%, no wars, no major financial crisis, a still robust auto industry, a right wing clamoring for increased defense spending (that helps domestic employment), no retiring baby boomers actually taking down social security funds.

    To answer the pop quiz: the unemployment rate under Reagan went from 7.6% to 9.7-9.8% in the summer after his inaugural, and remained at that level for two years, before it began to decline in the summer of 1983. In "Obama-time", that would be the equivalent of the summer of 2011. Moreover, the economy did not begin improving until the Spring, 1983; in "Obama-time" that is Spring, 2011.
    I suppose the point of noting this is that this country once cut a lot more slack to a Republican chief executive who, while inheriting an economy battered by inflation (with OPEC’s price gouging playing no small role at the time), nonetheless concocted economic policies that were more egregious towards the unemployed than those of the current occupant of An Oval Office. And while I’d like to see Obama and the congressional Dems do more about that, I believe they are actually trying to do what they can (and Senate Repugs, under The Sainted Ronnie R, had not yet perfected the art of sucking the life out of government through filibuster abuse).

  • Also, this post at the Daily Caller states as follows…

    What’s more important than putting together a new budget for the federal government? If you’re one of the 219 representatives whose vote secured the passage of the so-called “DISCLOSE Act” in the House last Thursday, the answer is simple: providing incumbents with job security.

    For the overwhelming majority of corporations who can’t afford to hire all the lawyers and accountants that are needed to cut through the reams of red tape, DISCLOSE amounts to a de facto ban on speech.

    These restrictions are a blatant attempt to do an end-run around the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Citizens United v. FEC, in which the court held that the government may not censor corporations’ political speech. The DISCLOSE Act’s supporters know, and expect, that the law will discourage many corporations from speaking up in this year’s elections. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, who co-authored the bill with Representative Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, has admitted as much, noting that the act will make corporations “think twice” before speaking out. Indeed, as he unveiled the act, he declared that, “The deterrent effect should not be underestimated.”
    The authors of this nonsense, by the way, are Bert Gall, a senior attorney at the Institute for Justice, which litigates nationwide against restrictions on free speech, and Joseph Gay, a Constitutional Law Fellow at the Institute (only one pic appears with the column, and I can’t tell you which one it is).

    I’m not going to waste anyone’s time trying to untangle the specious legal reasoning on display here (particularly since the bill isn't even in its final form), which somehow leads to the conclusion stated above that the DISCOLOSE act could be harmful to corporations. Instead, I’ll just link to this writeup on the Act, which states as follows…

    …the House version of the bill…requires special interest group officials to physically appear at the end of campaign ads they sponsor, acknowledging who contributes to their campaign fund, and to disclose their campaign related expenditures on their websites.

    It also prohibits foreign controlled corporations from contributing to political campaigns.
    Actually, my only objection to the House version of the bill is the NRA “carve out,” which is rightly in danger of being dropped in the Senate version of the bill, as noted here.

    And let us not forget that the DISCLOSE Act is a remedy for the awful Citizens United ruling by The Supremes, which, as noted here, overturned two prior rulings on corporate funding of political campaigns. The Citizens United ruling also struck down a provision of the McCain-Feingold campaign financing law that banned corporations and unions from broadcasting electioneering communications in the 30 days before a presidential primary and in the 60 days before the general elections.

    In response to the Citizens United ruling (with this being the original title of the group founded by Repug bottom-feeder Roger Stone), retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens stated as follows…

    At bottom, the Court's opinion is thus a rejection of the common sense of the American people, who have recognized a need to prevent corporations from undermining self government since the founding, and who have fought against the distinctive corrupting potential of corporate electioneering since the days of Theodore Roosevelt. It is a strange time to repudiate that common sense. While American democracy is imperfect, few outside the majority of this Court would have thought its flaws included a dearth of corporate money in politics.
    (Also, to get a taste of Justice Antonin Scalia’s legendary arrogance, on this and other subjects, consider that his concurrence included the observation that “the dissent’s exploration of the Framers’ views about the ‘role of corporations in society’ (is) misleading, and even if valid, irrelevant to the text.”)

    I’m not sure what final legislative form the DISCLOSE Act will take once it is eventually passed (hopefully) by both houses of Congress and reconciled in the committee process. But it will definitely be a step to correct the egregious wrong committed by the High Court of Hangin’ Judge JR, and that can only be positive.

    And for anyone who thinks the Repugs aren’t getting ready to take full advantage of this opportunity, read what Karl Rove and his pals at American Crossroads are up to here.

  • Finally, with the upcoming Fourth of July holiday in mind, I came across this editorial in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer by author Michael Kranish, which states as follows…

    On July 4, 1776, Thomas Jefferson was writing at a table alongside other members of Congress in Philadelphia. This scene does not describe his work on the Declaration of Independence. Rather, he was taking notes on the nation's first congressional investigation - of American troops' disastrous campaign into Canada, in which Benedict Arnold played a leading role.

    When the investigation was over a few weeks later, Jefferson remained one of Arnold's defenders, calling him a "fine sailor." Other revolutionary leaders were not so sure; one warned Jefferson that Arnold was "fiery, hot, and impetuous."

    That turned out to be prescient. Less than five years later, the Revolution was on a razor's edge, and Arnold had turned traitor. In December 1780, he left British headquarters in New York with a fleet of 27 ships. His destination was Virginia, where an ill-prepared Jefferson was in his second one-year term as governor.

    One of American history's most reviled men was on a mission against a state led by one of its most revered. The ensuing clash was one of the great yet strangely little-noted events of the Revolutionary War.

    Arnold would gain the upper hand, repeatedly forcing Jefferson to flee the capital, Richmond. Other British forces later chased Jefferson all the way to Charlottesville. Eventually, he was forced to flee Monticello just minutes ahead of British soldiers, whose horses had galloped up his beloved mountain.
    As stated, Benedict Arnold is quite rightly reviled for his betrayal of our country. However, I recently watched a History Channel program on Arnold which mentions some details left out here.

    This Wikipedia article states that, after the failed attack on Quebec City in 1775, Arnold “distinguished himself in both Battles of Saratoga, even though General (Horatio) Gates, following a series of escalating disagreements and disputes that culminated in a shouting match, removed him from field command after the first battle.[40] During the fighting in the second battle, Arnold, operating against Gates' orders, took to the battlefield and led attacks on the British defenses. He was severely wounded in the same leg that was injured at Quebec late in the fighting. Arnold himself said it would have been better had it been in the chest instead of the leg.[41] (British Gen. John) Burgoyne surrendered ten days after the second battle, on October 17, 1777. In response to Arnold's valor at Saratoga, Congress restored his command seniority.[42]”

    The program also noted that our troops referred the general in command at Saratoga as “Granny” Gates since they believed he was reluctant to engage the enemy (and the military expert who was interviewed, whose name escapes me at the moment, claimed that, had Arnold been killed at Saratoga, he would have gone down in history as a hero, since his traitorous acts came later).

    Also, in his Inquirer editorial, Kranish alleges that the country voted for Jefferson and his Republican Party (though they bore no resemblance to the bunch claiming that name now) because the Federalists were more likely to engage England in war; that was certainly true of Alexander Hamilton, though John Adams, this country’s second president, successfully kept our country from going to war a second time so soon after the Revolution, which would have been devastating and endangered this country’s very survival.

    I just thought I’d point out a little bit of colonial history that you can think about while everyone is getting sunburned at the shore or burning the hot dogs and weenies on the grill this weekend :- ).
  • Thursday, July 01, 2010

    Thursday Stuff

    You have to cut The Orange One some slack here, really - I mean, how is he supposed to know from ants, seeing as how they can't get a sun tan...

    ...and keeping with the "ant" thing, I think I may have stumbled across the Repug theme for the fall campaign (maybe trying to take people back to the '80s wouldn't be a bad idea - that way, they might forget about "the naughts," or whatever the decade ending in '09 - ? - is going to be called).

    Thursday Mashup (7/1/10)

    (Posting may be questionable for tomorrow, by the way.)

  • I’m not going to waste too much time waxing nostalgic on the imminent departure of Larry King from CNN, but I have to give him credit here and here for calling out Moon Unit Bachmann, if for no other reason.

    Yes, there are times when we watched him during news events that monopolized coverage for the entire day and beyond (death of Princess Diana, explosion of the space shuttle, etc., usually bad stuff now that I come to think of it), and I have to admit that it requires a particular talent to fill time and juggle multiple interviews during long stretches on the air. And Larry King most definitely has that talent.

    And please, don’t let anybody con you into thinking that King is a casualty of our fractured corporate media and political culture. He’s had his time in the spotlight (and 25 years is a pretty darn good run), but as it must for all of us in one way or another, it’s time for him to step aside (besides, there are too many people making too much money over the conservative versus liberal shouting match that passes for informed discourse in this country to kill that golden goose, if you will, while Beltway shills like David Broder and his pals tut-tut over the oh-so-un-bipartisan incivility).

    So good luck managing your finances among your 27 wives, Larry (personally, what did it for me with King was the kiss from Marlon Brando – bleaugh!).

  • Back to more familiar territory for me, Fix Noise tells us the following (here)…

    Republicans are accusing Democrats of invoking Nazis after Vice President Biden sent out a fundraising message warning of the looming "GOP blitzkrieg" of dirty campaign tactics.

    The e-mail was sent via the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. In it, Biden warned that House Democrats would "be hit with a GOP blitzkrieg of vicious Swift-Boat-style attack ads, Karl Rove-inspired knockout tactics, thinly veiled attempts at character assassination and Tea Party disruptions."

    Republicans took exception at the characterization, given that "blitzkrieg" was a term to describe Germany's military offensives during World War II. A spokesman for House Minority Leader John Boehner told The New York Daily News that "invoking the Nazis' crimes against humanity in a political debate is simply inappropriate."
    So “invoking the Nazis” is inappropriate, huh (and yes, it is)?

    In response, I have only this to say:

    Halt die Fresse, wingnuts (I’ll let you, dear reader, search for the translation – and by the way, you will note that Boehner didn’t say that Biden was wrong).

  • Update: Even though I STILL can't embed their vids - heckuva job, MSNBC! - K.O. had a good comeback on the whole "blitzkrieg" thing here, along with some lamentable idiocy from Kathleen Parker that was so stupid, it gave me a headache just to consider posting about it (what was that Pulitzer for again?).

    Update 7/14/10: Oh, and let's not forget this either (h/t Atrios).

  • Since I’m not sure what will be happening tomorrow posting-wise, I wanted to make sure not to end the week without sampling the comedy stylings of former Laura Bush employee Andrew Malcolm (here)…

    This week the country was treated to some mid-summer levity as a bunch of U.S. House members manufactured and professed grave concern and quite possibly outrage about the possibility of ongoing political corruption -- way over there in Afghanistan.

    This is the upside-down red-blooded American political institution where folks have stored $90,000 in cash in their food freezers. Doesn't everyone? Where phone calls from substantial political donors get passed right on through to the elected member while ordinary citizens can leave a message.

    Now, as for the $787 billion approved 16 months ago for stimulating the domestic economy, a sum almost 197 times larger than the controversial Kabul aid package, well, that money is obviously in safe, clean, English-speaking American hands. No need to examine that spending too closely.
    Malcolm’s idiotic jibes notwithstanding, this story tells us that $4 billion in aid to Afghanistan is being cut because of allegations that our tax dollars are going to Afghan warlords (would that Obama’s predecessor had taken such a step, or at least bothered to account for the billions that were funneled into Mesopotamia without accounting for where the money went and how it was used).

    And if Malcolm or anyone else has any questions about how the funds for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act are being allocated, all you need do is click here.

    But if he included that link, of course, that would imply that Malcolm would be practicing something approximating "fair and balanced" punditry. And when I think of that cockeyed notion, all I can say is this...


  • Finally, it seems that this has been a big week for Repug U.S. House Rep Paul Ryan of Wisconsin; he gave the GOP response to Obama’s weekly radio address last Saturday and said the following (here)…

    “Talk about a recipe for disaster: Democrats are offering no budget, no priorities, and no restraints – yet all their taxing, borrowing, and spending continues unchecked,” says Ryan, the top Republican on the budget committee.

    “With this budget failure – a first in the modern era – Democrats are missing a critical opportunity to provide the fiscal discipline economists say is needed to create private-sector jobs and boost our economy,” Ryan also says.
    (And this was after the Repugs voted against the Dem budget because of taxes on Big Oil and the "banksters," while crying poor mouth at an extension of unemployment benefits...and speaking of which, except for John Edwards Ensign, Lugar and "Err, Err" Voinovich...well, I just see a pattern here, that's all, y'all.)

    Ok, time for just a little perspective.

    As noted here, Ryan was elected to Congress in 1999. That would make him a member of the 109th Congress, which was run by his party.

    And as the Center for American Progress tells us here…

    The 109th Congress left office in the early hours of Saturday morning, December 9, having logged fewer days of legislative activity than even the infamous “Do-Nothing Congress” of 1948. Notably absent from the following list of last-minute “accomplishments” is comprehensive immigration reform, a minimum wage increase, and nine out of 11 appropriations bills needed to fully fund federal activity for the 2007 fiscal year.

    The failure to pass a working budget for the federal government—the fundamental constitutional task of Congress—highlights the failures of the conservative leadership of the departing Congress.
    The gall of the modern-day Repug party is almost too contemptible for words.

    And Irrational Spew Online gives “props” to Ryan here for his talk to the AEI on the budget, in which Ryan said “the economy is going off a fiscal cliff” (not a single syllable uttered about unemployment, apparently).

    Well, Ezra Klein took a look at Ryan’s budget proposal here and tells us as follows…

    As you all know by now, the long-term budget deficit is largely driven by health-care costs. To move us to surpluses, Ryan's budget proposes reforms that are nothing short of violent. Medicare is privatized. Seniors get a voucher to buy private insurance, and the voucher's growth is far slower than the expected growth of health-care costs. Medicaid is also privatized. The employer tax exclusion is fully eliminated, replaced by a tax credit that grows more slowly than medical costs. And beyond health care, Social Security gets guaranteed, private accounts that CBO says will actually cost more than the present arrangement, further underscoring how ancillary the program is to our budget problem.

    An important note to understanding how Ryan's budget saves money: It's not through privatization, though everything does get privatized. It's through firm, federal cost controls. The privatization itself actually costs money.

    You can argue whether this cost control is better or worse than other forms of cost control. But it's a blunt object of a proposal, swung with incredible force at a vulnerable target.

    I wouldn't balance the budget in anything like the way Ryan proposes. His solution works by making care less affordable for seniors. I'd prefer to aggressively reform the system itself so the care becomes cheaper, even if that causes significant pain to providers. I also wouldn't waste money by moving to a private system when the public system is cheaper.
    And yes, you’re right – I scurrilously failed to include Klein’s complimentary language towards Ryan for so much as even having a set of ideas, regardless of how draconian they are.

    The net effect is still the same, though. Despite our corporate media’s infatuation with Ryan’s presumed back-to-basics simplicity, his fiscal policy would be emblematic of his party; the full flowering of the Repugs’ “ownership society,” in which those with means will succeed, while those without will have their savings drained, health care denied, and “kicked to the curb” for their trouble.
  • Wednesday, June 30, 2010

    Wednesday Stuff

    More "comedy gold" from Jon Stewart (here...and by the way - and I know Barnes is an habitual liar - the Community Reinvestment Act had bupkes to do with the housing collapse)...

    The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
    Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

    ...and speaking of Former President Highest Disapproval Rating in Gallup Poll History, I think it's time to give a listen to this little number once more from RT at about 4:22 ("Misunderstood" is a great track also).

    Update 7/1/10: Uh, yep.

    Wednesday Mashup Part Two (6/30/10)

  • Former Senator Man-On-Dog offered the following today in the Philadelphia Inquirer – from here (and Part One, also featuring PA’s former senator from Northern Virginia, is here)…

    …blue-state Republicans have a new role model when it comes to fiscal responsibility: the Jersey Juggernaut, Chris Christie.

    Gov. Christie has gained YouTube fame with his Jersey straight talk. He's been taking on the state teachers' union and the Trenton press corps. And in the face of deficits amounting to more than a third of projected revenues, he has stuck to his guns about not raising taxes, and he actually cut business taxes.
    I think this prior post addresses Christie’s typically draconian Republican budget priorities, so I’ll try not to rehash that old ground.

    Only in a conservative house organ like the Inky, though, could someone like Little Ricky actually be considered an expert on public sector fiscal policy. This tells us some of his most notorious votes on this subject…

    Voted YES on prioritizing national debt reduction below tax cuts. (Apr 2000)

    Voted YES on funding GOP version of Medicare prescription drug benefit. (Apr 2001)
    As former Reaganite Bruce Bartlett tells us here…

    Recall the situation in 2003. The Bush administration was already projecting the largest deficit in American history — $475 billion in fiscal year 2004, according to the July 2003 mid-session budget review. But a big election was coming up that Bush and his party were desperately fearful of losing. So they decided to win it by buying the votes of America’s seniors by giving them an expensive new program to pay for their prescription drugs.

    Voted YES on $350 billion in tax breaks over 11 years. (May 2003)
    As noted here…

    Some 53 percent of all U.S. households — or 74 million — will receive a tax cut of $100 or less in 2003 from the bill. Additionally, 36 percent of households — or 50 million — will receive no tax cut whatsoever in 2003, while tax filers who make $1 million or more per year will receive an average tax cut in 2003 of $93,500.

    Voted YES on $86 billion for military operations in Iraq & Afghanistan. (Oct 2003)
    The Afghanistan part I can see back then, but definitely not Iraq of course...

    Voted YES on permanently repealing the `death tax`. (Jun 2006)

    Voted YES on supporting permanence of estate tax cuts. (Aug 2006)
    As noted here, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimated that ending the estate tax would cost the United States Treasury $1 trillion over 10 years (and C&L reminded us of the tale of Texas billionaire Dan Duncan who passed away in March, and whose heirs will have to pay no estate tax whatsoever, a travesty which has taken place against the backdrop of congressional Repugs refusing to extend assistance to unemployed Americans).

    Oh, and by the way, the New York Times tells us the following here today…

    Democrats charge that, despite his rhetoric, Mr. Christie has actually driven up taxes at the local level. He cut deeply into a property-tax rebate program and cut aid to schools by more than $800 million, prompting many districts to ask for more from their residents.

    The governor deflected blame by encouraging voters to reject local school budgets, which they did in record numbers, and by blaming teachers in most districts for not accepting pay freezes. He also shifted focus to his proposed constitutional amendment on the property tax.

    The state budget for the fiscal year that begins Thursday is almost $3 billion smaller than the one passed last year, and more than $5 billion less than the peak spending year, 2007-8. It closed a deficit that the governor’s office had projected at $11 billion.

    For months, Democrats assailed Mr. Christie for opposing a “millionaires’ tax” on high-income residents, saying that he wanted sacrifice from everyone but the rich. But the measure would have raised about $700 million, a small fraction of the deficit, and Democrats decided not to go to the mat over the issue and risk a government shutdown. They passed it as a stand-alone bill, which the governor vetoed.
    It may have been a “small fraction,” but it would have been better than nothing. But Heaven forbid that either Christie or Little Ricky countenance any inconvenience to the “pay no price, bear no burden” crowd (and you can also consider this similarly infamous moment to be part of that mindset also).

  • Also, a story has been making the rounds (originating from Drudge, of course) that the Obama administration had only recently accepted overseas help in trying to clean up the mess from BP in the Gulf. This is not true, and Media Matters has the details here.

  • Finally, that walking, talking, methane-dispensing BS factory known as Marc Thiessen tells us the following (here)…

    In the Washington Post this morning, sports columnist Sally Jenkins complains about the lack of popular outrage over America’s elimination in the World Cup: “Why is it that Americans expect to win in every sport we compete in except for soccer? How is it that a nation so obsessed with games seems abnormally lacking in ambition when it comes to the most popular one on the globe?” Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports that the National Soccer Hall of Fame in Oneonta, New York, is shutting its doors. According to the Journal, the place never had more than 17,000 visitors a year, and “the hall’s passing seems to have gone almost unnoticed. The local newspaper barely covered its demise.”

    The world is crazy for soccer, but most Americans don’t give a hoot about the sport. Why? Many years ago, my former White House colleague Bill McGurn pointed out to me the real reason soccer hasn’t caught on in the good old U.S.A. It’s simple, really: Soccer is a socialist sport.
    There are a lot of directions I can go with this; for starters, this tells you about the country of Ghana, which eliminated the U.S. from the World Cup. Ghana happens to be a constitutional democracy; its president is John Atta Mills, and the country’s vice-president is John Dramani Mahama.

    And my opinion (for what it’s worth) is that soccer hasn’t really caught on in this country because we have a whole bunch of other sports-related distractions that fill up the time. I should note, though, that the latest attempt to bring big-league soccer to Philadelphia, the Union, just won its debut game (and I’m old enough to remember the Philadelphia Atoms, just to let you know).

    Also, I got a kick out of this from Thiessen…

    Soccer is also the only sport in the world that has “hooligans”—proletarian mobs that trash private property whenever their team loses.
    Tell you what, Marc – come on up to “the Linc” to watch the Iggles play the Washington Redskins this year (if you can get tickets) and make sure you wear a bright burgundy Number 5 jersey for your team’s new starting quarterback. And make sure you draw lots of attention to yourself.

    I guarantee you that, if you do, you’ll find out for sure what hooliganism truly is.

  • Update 7/13/10: Oh, according to this, Thiessen was only joking about soccer being a socialist sport (hard to know, then, when Thiessen's posts are intentional or unintentional ones).

    Tuesday, June 29, 2010

    More Tuesday Stuff

    For anybody who thinks that our politicians have only had to contend with those "values voters" over the last 30 years or so (from the age of The Sainted Ronnie R), "America's Finest News Source" unearthed this clip recently from waaay back telling us of another vital issue ignored by that dastardly liberal media, but bravely faced by a member of Congress from the days of women's high button shoes (removing my tongue from my cheek now)...

    ...and no, this is not my autobiography.

    Tuesday Stuff

    The Repugs “support our troops” again (here – kudos to Sen. Patty Murray)…

    …and here’s a video on the story by Michael Hastings in Rolling Stone that ended up getting Gen. Stanley McChrystal bounced from command in Afghanistan (I just finished reading the article, and it’s first-class reporting…amazing that McChrystal or anyone in his command didn’t bother to set up any kind of “ground rules” for Hastings, apparently).

    Monday, June 28, 2010

    Monday Stuff

    I wonder if George Will realizes here that he ended up giving a voice to what the Republican Party, practically in its entirety, really think of jobless Americans (an unemployment check, poor substitute that it is for a paycheck for an actual job, sure as hell is "permanent income" if that's the only way the kids are going to be fed and the bills will be paid, some of them anyway)...

    ...and if I were disposed to talk to Will (and I can't imagine I ever would be), I might just ask the question posed in this song.

    Monday Mashup Part Two (6/28/10)

    (Part One is here.)

  • Thus sayeth Sheryl Gay Stolberg of the New York Times yesterday (here)…

    The debate (over Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan) will play against a polarized midterm election where Democrats are expected to lose seats. Although Ms. Kagan is almost certain to be confirmed, and her nomination will hardly supersede issues like the economy and jobs, Republicans see the court fight as a way to energize their base, especially conservative Tea Party activists disenchanted with Mr. Obama.
    Yeah, well, that's typical RNC boilerplate I realize, but as noted here...

    "Establishment GOP PACs spend at least $2 million fighting Tea Party candidates in primaries"
    I’m really beginning to think more and more that those zany teabaggers are nothing more than The Club For Growth carrying racist signs and wearing funny hats. If the stated goal of each is to siphon off money from the RNC over pointless infighting, then I would say that they’ve each achieved more success than they could have ever imagined.

  • Sticking with the Times, we also learned the following today (here)…

    WASHINGTON — The Second Amendment’s guarantee of an individual right to bear arms applies to state and local gun control laws, the Supreme Court ruled on Monday in a 5-to-4 decision.

    The ruling came almost exactly two years after the court first ruled that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to own guns in District of Columbia v. Heller, another 5-to-4 decision.

    But the Heller case addressed only federal laws; it left open the question of whether Second Amendment rights protect gun owners from overreaching by state and local governments.

    Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., writing for the majority, said that the right to self-defense protected by the Second Amendment is fundamental to the American conception of ordered liberty. Like other provisions of the Bill of Rights that set out such fundamental protections, he said, the Second Amendment must be applied to limit not only federal power but also that of state and local governments.
    And what is really funny to me is that this took place on the same day that published a post titled “The Myth of the Conservative Supreme Court” (here).

    I realize that this is totally consistent with the Heller ruling from this court, and as the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence tells us here…

    …(the Court’s ruling today maintained that) the Second Amendment individual right to possess guns in the home for self-defense does not prevent elected representatives from enacting common-sense gun laws to protect communities from gun violence.

    The Court has rejected the gun lobby argument that its ‘any gun, for anybody, anywhere’ agenda is protected by the Constitution. The Court again recognized that the Second Amendment allows for reasonable restrictions on firearms, including who can have them and under what conditions, where they can be taken, and what types of firearms are permissible.
    I give the Brady people credit, but if they think there’s anything good about this outcome, then they’re whistling in the dark, as it were, particularly because The Supremes didn’t even really rule on the Chicago gun law itself, but merely sent it back to the lower courts for review. As the Times tells us, “Justice Stephen G. Breyer, in dissent, said ‘the majority would almost certainly strike down’ the Chicago law had it reached the question.”

    Given the Heller and now McDonald rulings, there is no way that the High Court of Hangin’ Judge JR is going to do anything but rule against common sense measures of protection from gun violence (and but for the rare exceptions such as Carolyn McCarthy, Frank Lautenberg and Michael Bloomberg, no politician is going to do a thing about it).

    Well then, if the Supremes are so peachy with gun rights, then they should remove the gun detection devices at the Court entrances, shouldn’t they?

  • Finally, it seems that, in between casting all of those “No” votes, Joe Pitts (Waste of Space, PA-16) had time to propagandize on health care reform, as noted here…

    “At this time, 18 states have opted-out of the program because they feel that the law fails to sufficiently fund the program.”
    Part of that is true, but as noted here…

    So far, at least 18 have decided not to participate, but their reasons vary. Some state officials said they think the health care bill will be declared unconstitutional, while others said they're already doing a good job helping the uninsured with existing programs.

    It's not clear whether the high number of states not participating could throw any kinks in the federal plan.

    By 2014, all insurance companies will have to provide insurance to citizens with pre-existing conditions, but until then each state must be able to offer temporary insurance coverage to these individuals, funded by federal dollars. The programs will go into effect July 1.
    Pitts also says that “in states that have opted out, the federal government will operate the program, closing off coverage after the funds run dry” (again, as noted above, some of the risk pools will be run by the states themselves, such as Minnesota).

    And one Republican governor had a completely different take on this as opposed to Pitts (I know Ahh-nold is wrong a lot, but when he’s right, he’s right in a big way)…

    Many officials, in their statements announcing their decisions to "opt in," cite their excitement to work with the government to put what they see as historic health care reform into action.

    "If national health care reform is going to succeed, it is up to the states to make it happen," said Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-Calif.), who is looking to have the new federal-run pool run alongside California's current state-run program. "California is ready to act … to successfully implement federal health reform and ensure it delivers its promise of expanded coverage, greater affordability and improved health outcomes.”
    And here’s more “Ooga Booga!” scare stuff from Tail Gunner Joe…

    At the same time that out-of-pocket costs will be driven up, overall costs for healthcare in the U.S. will also rise. According to (an) April report, the law will increase health spending by $311 billion over the next ten years.
    As Media Matters tells us here, Pitts is citing a recent Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) report that seems to rebut the Obama administration's argument that health care reform will lower health care costs (and Pitts doesn't consider beyond this decade of course). However, as Third Way has noted, the CMS report indicates that health care reform would actually result in lower health care spending per insured person over the next decade, and according to Ezra Klein, the trend outlined by CMS suggests that overall health spending will be lower after 2019.

    Media Matters continues...

    "The fact is that by 2019, national health spending per insured person will be $15,132 compared to $16,812 without the new law. That's 10 percent less spending per insured person than it would have been, according to the actuary's report."
    Of course, the truth of the matter is that Pitts sees no role for federal involvement in health care reform, period; in addition to voting against funding SCHIP four times as noted here, he also voted in favor of cutting the federal share of Medicaid by $13 billion over five years, leaving it up to the states to replace the funds or cut health services to the poor, something which would be a fiscal backbreaker for PA (and this tells us more about how health care reform will benefit our beloved commonwealth).

    Every other year I keep pointing out how bad Pitts is and encouraging his opponent, and this year is no different. So let’s all do what we can to put him out to pasture once and for all, and we can start by clicking here.
  • Sunday, June 27, 2010

    Sunday Stuff

    This is the "Worst Persons" segment from Friday in which K.O. comments on the forced resignation of Dave Weigel from The Washington Post because he didn't suck up to the conservatives he reported on with fairness and accuracy, to say nothing of kissing Matt Drudge's ass...

    ...and kudos to Jimmy Buffett for this; I basically like his music, though I never got into the whole "parrot head" thing, which to me is an excuse for a bunch of white-collar conservatives to parade around in garish costumes and wear Hawaiian shirts and get thoroughly loaded at his concerts.

    This tune is definitely my favorite from him, and he appeared on "Letterman" a few years ago and talked about it. Basically, it took the form of a phone conversation between him and his eventual wife about how he was about to get dropped from his record label for poor sales (kind of like the way Columbia was ready to drop Bruce Springsteen before he cut a little album called "Born to Run"). He said he'd give it one more try with this song and see what happened; I believe it went platinum, and the rest, as they say, is music history.