Friday, July 09, 2010

Friday Stuff

Once again, if you want a cogent, thoughtful analysis of the day's events, turn to Jon Stewart (and I know some of this duplicates what I said earlier today, but I thought it was good)...

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Latino 911!
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Update 7/13/10: Wow, I didn't know Napolitano was a DFH also (here) - I never saw him at one of our meetings :-).

...and fifteen years ago today, The Grateful Dead played its last concert at Soldier Field in Chicago; Jerry Garcia died a month afterwards - here is a remembrance from 1980.

Friday Mashup (7/9/10)

  • Hey everybody, it looks like “Bullsh*t Petroleum” has finally figured out a way to keep the oil from spewing into the Gulf. And if it works, that means that the Gulf will have been polluted for only three months, that’s all!

    This story tells us that the relief well they’re planning to install could be ready between July 20th and the 27th.

    Oh, and did I mention that the 27th is also the date that the company will issue its financial earnings report?

    But there’s no coincidence there at all, of course.

    None whatsoever.

  • Also, do you remember how Repug U.S. House Rep Paul Ryan claimed the following here last week…

    “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”...
    What Ryan was talking about was when the Congressional Dem leadership issued a “deeming resolution” that a budget had been passed in lieu of actually voting on the budget.

    Well, guess what David Waldman of Daily Kos found out here…

    The phrase (or any variation of it, including Ryan’s) is being repeated verbatim by teabagger types, wherever you can stand to look.

    But is it true? Well, I suppose PolitiFact might say, "barely true."

    Why? Well, because it's true that the House has never before failed to pass a budget and then deemed one passed instead.

    But the Senate has. Four times. And all under Republican control. And as we all know, it couldn't make less of a difference whether the House alone did or didn't fail to pass a budget and then deem one passed. It matters only whether or not the Congress fails to pass a budget and then deems one passed.

    And it has. As I said, four times. And again, all under Republican control.
    Looks like those evil bloggers in their bathrobes taking their hallucinogenic drugs and watching “School House Rock” have scooped our somnambulant corporate media again.

  • Also, I give you the latest comedy stylings from former Laura Bush employee Andrew Malcolm (here)…

    With less than four months before his first midterm election, President Obama's lawsuit against Arizona's new illegal immigrant law is running against a strong tide of American support for the measure.

    Acting through the Justice Department, the Democrat administration seeks an injunction to stop the state law, S.B. 1070, from taking effect on July 29 and allowing Arizona officials to enforce federal laws against illegal immigrants, nearly a half-million of whom are estimated to be in Arizona. The federal suit actually duplicates an earlier one filed by the ACLU and supported by the Mexican government.
    Leave it to a “Republic” Party sympathizer like Malcolm to note that Obama’s lawsuit is supported by only 33 percent of those polled thus far; Gallup is pretty reliable I’ll admit, but I wasn’t able to determine how many of those polled were Hispanic. Also, for what it’s worth, while 33 percent support the suit and 50 percent oppose it, 17 percent of those polled had no opinion.

    Well, maybe Malcolm should have a talk with fellow conservative Andrew Napolitano, who also happens to be a judge. As Media Matters tells us here, Napolitano said the AZ law was “unconstitutional” and noted that the Supreme Court has ruled that immigration laws are "strictly a federal issue."

    Indeed, in an effort to further smear Obama’s suit, Steve Doocy of Fix Noise ignored a High Court ruling in the 1941 case of Hines v. Davidowitz (here); the Court examined a Pennsylvania statute that mandated every immigrant to register with the state once each year, provide other information and details that the state Department of Labor asked for, obtain and carry an identification card, and display it when asked by police, among other stipulations. The federal government challenged the state law because the law "encroached upon the legislative powers constitutionally vested in the federal government." The Supreme Court agreed, concluding that the federal government:

    is correct in his contention that the power to restrict, limit, regulate, and register aliens as a distinct group is not an equal and continuously existing concurrent power of state and nation, but that whatever power a state may have is subordinate to supreme national law.
    So really, what Obama is doing with the suit against Arizona’s “illegal to be brown” law is merely to try and enforce federal authority (and as far as advocating amnesty for illegals after they “pay a fine and wait in line”…well, it looks like a presidential predecessor of the opposing party beat him to it here).

  • Also, I give you the following from last week’s congressional votes, taken before this week’s holiday break (here)…


    Financial regulations. Voting 237-192, the House approved the conference report on a bill (HR 4173) to impose new financial rules on Wall Street in hopes of preventing further U.S. economic meltdowns. The bill outlaws or regulates many of the reckless practices that led to the Great Recession's investment-bank failures, taxpayer bailouts, and epidemic of mortgage foreclosures.

    A yes vote was to approve the conference report.

    Voting yes: John Adler (D., N.J.), Robert E. Andrews (D., N.J.), Robert A. Brady (D., Pa.), Michael N. Castle (R., Del.), Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.), Tim Holden (D., Pa.), Patrick Murphy (D., Pa.), Allyson Y. Schwartz (D., Pa.), and Joe Sestak (D., Pa.).

    Voting no: Charles W. Dent (R., Pa.), Jim Gerlach (R., Pa.), Frank A. LoBiondo (R., N.J.), Joseph R. Pitts (R., Pa.), and Christopher H. Smith (R., N.J.).
    Yet again, the Repugs (with the exception of Mike Castle, doing his best to position himself as a moderate for his Senate contest) just loves “the banksters.”

    Afghanistan withdrawal. Voting 100-321, the House defeated an amendment to require the military funding in HR 4899…to be spent on orderly U.S. troop withdrawals from Afghanistan instead of combat operations.

    A yes vote backed withdrawal from Afghanistan.

    Voting no: Adler, Andrews, Brady, Castle, Dent, Fattah, Gerlach, Holden, LoBiondo, Murphy, Pitts, Schwartz, Sestak, and Smith.
    I’m not really happy with anyone in this bunch who opposed funding the withdrawal of our troops from Afghanistan (though maybe a percentage of the funding could have been voted on instead?), but I just wanted to say thanks to the 93 Dems who are trying to restore some sanity to our debate about what to do in the land where empires die (here…and I know some Repugs voted Yes also, but I’m not about to give Dana Rohrabacher credit for anything).

    And last, but certainly least (he was overdue for a really awful No vote, actually)…

    Extended jobless benefits. Voting 270-153, the House passed a bill (HR 5618) to provide extended jobless benefits through November at a cost of $34 billion in deficit spending. Senate Republicans (below) blocked a similar bill. Both bills would immediately send checks to an estimated two million people whose eligibility for jobless benefits expired June 1 or later. Congress will revisit the issue after it returns July 12 from its current recess.

    A yes vote was to pass the bill.

    Voting yes: Adler, Andrews, Brady, Castle, Dent, Fattah, Gerlach, Holden, LoBiondo, Murphy, Schwartz, Sestak, and Smith.

    Voting no: Pitts.
    This tells us that Lancaster County’s unemployment rate went up over the last year from 7.0 to 8.0 percent (and as always, to send Pitts packing, click here).

  • Finally, this letter appeared in the Bucks County Courier Times this morning…

    On June 28 I attended a protest rally on Mill Street in Bristol: Tea partiers vs. supporters of Congressman Patrick Murphy. What a joke!

    Standing in front of Murphy's office were some very misinformed tea partiers. On the opposite side of the street were over 50 sign-holding Murphy supporters. The tea partiers were angry that Murphy was hosting a job fair.

    Do we not need jobs? Do we not want to keep our homes?

    All I have to say about those people yelling "We don't want socialism!" is hand over your Medicare cards.

    Cynthia Genis
    Middletown, PA
    Yep - also...

    (Bristol, PA) – ON JULY 8, 2010 Pennsylvania Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-8th District) hosted an Economic Forum to discuss efforts to revitalize the local economy. He was joined by panelists with extensive experience in the trade and manufacturing sectors to talk about what is being done to protect American jobs and rebuild the manufacturing base in Bucks County.

    “American families have been put through the wringer,” said Congressman Murphy. “We need to get our economy back on track by building things in America again.”

    In his remarks, the Congressman laid out his economic priorities, which include fighting against trade deals that ship American jobs overseas and working to close tax loopholes that encourage job outsourcing. He noted that failed economic policies and ill-conceived trade agreements have dealt a heavy blow to the manufacturing sectors in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Bucks County alone lost 35% of its manufacturing base –15,000 jobs – over the last 30 years.

    The Congressman also discussed incentives for manufacturing he has championed, including tax credits for companies to invest in clean energy technology. Gamesa USA, a Fairless Hills company that manufactures turbines used in wind energy, qualified for a $2 million tax credit to create green energy jobs in Bucks County.

    One of the panelists, Mike Russo, is President of the United Steelworkers of America Local 4889 and represents the employees at the Gamesa site. As a former US Steel employee, Russo witnessed firsthand the impact of the manufacturing giant’s collapse in Bucks County. Families who were once securely rooted in the middle-class suddenly faced the possibility of losing everything they’d worked for. Russo discussed how continuing to bring new American manufacturing jobs to the region is key to revitalizing the local economy.

    “Working families in our area have had it tough, especially those of us who used to work in the steel industry,” said Russo. “The fact is, the future lies in clean energy and we’ve been proud to work with Patrick Murphy to bring those jobs here to Bucks County and put people back to work.”

    Other panelists included Jim Horan, president of local clean energy company Y-Carbon, and Scott Paul of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, who laid out a blueprint for protecting American jobs and what investments need to be made to revitalize the American manufacturing sector.
    To reward our congressman’s good behavior, click here.
  • Thursday, July 08, 2010

    Thursday Stuff

    Straying into sports again here - for the longest time, I absolutely couldn't give a fig where that egomaniac ended up playing (I guess referring to him as an egomaniac, since he is a pro athlete, is probably redundant), and I still don't, truth be told, but I can appreciate how these Cleveland fans now feel (though starting a bonfire like this is a bit much - still though, it's their right as long as no one gets hurt...and yes, I'm bypassing MSNBC because their vids are still screwed up)...

    ...and I need to owe up to the fact that I neglected to note a recent birthday for Commander Codpiece himself - my bad; I think this is an appropriate tune for the occasion.

    Thursday Mashup (7/8/10)

  • Gosh, whaddaya know? It’s time for more “Foto Funnies” with J.D. Mullane of the Bucks County Courier Times (here).

    I’ll give you a hint, J.D. – it’s two “Ns” (and referring to her as a "rat" - nice).

    And yes, I wish the Obama White House had done more on jobs to date also. But before anyone dumps on Number 44 too much, remember that his predecessor oversaw the worst record of job creation in about 60 years (here), so anything Obama did (or didn't do) was bound to be an improvement.

  • Also, the “Doughy Pantload” strikes again (here); see, Jonah Goldberg tries to bring teh funny over Iran’s ban on the “mullet”…

    Ban tofu and the New York Times letters section will light up with outrage.
    Ha, ha, ha.

    In response, this tells us the following…

    Tofu is (a) good source of protein. Also, it is a (remarkable) source of calcium, zinc, vitamin B and iron. Countless researches (sic), clinical trials and laboratory investigations have demonstrated the wonderful advantages of consuming soy and soy products.

    The health benefits of tofu are numerous and far-reaching, the chief benefits being protection against cancer and averting cardiovascular disorders.
    And that’s something that at least some of Goldberg’s audience should consider, given this item which tells us that “more than 30 percent of the South is obese.”

    I guess that's why Goldberg didn't crack wise about banning "Little Debbie."

  • Also, the New York Times opined today here about the recess appointment by President Obama of Dr. Donald Berwick to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, stating in part the following…

    Dr. Berwick’s major credential for the job is that he leads the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, a consulting group that promotes measures to improve the quality and safety of health care while reducing its costs. He has been enormously successful at getting health care professionals and institutions to work together to reform their practices — exactly what the agency needs.

    His appointment is backed by the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association and scores of other health organizations and patient advocacy groups. He has been endorsed by three predecessors who held the same job in Republican administrations.
    Of course, the recess appointment by Obama has met with the typical right-wing umbrage over Dr. Berwick's past praise about "socialized medzin'," as noted in this Hill article with the odious Max Baucus joining the opposition chorus (considering that Baucus did his best to derail health care reform by trying to suck the life out of it before it emerged from his Senate Finance Committee, he really has no room to talk about health care reform, or much of anything else for that matter).

    And for anyone out there harrumphing over the recess appointment of Dr. Berwick (which brings the Obama total to 15), here is information on recess appointments by A Certain Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History.

  • Finally, this Courier Times story tells us the following…

    Congressman Patrick Murphy and candidate Mike Fitzpatrick agree on one thing: Arizona has the right to protect its border with Mexico since the federal government has failed to do so.
    This is disappointing, but not surprising, as is the claim from Fitzpatrick that "the current administration has defunded chief operations of our border security."

    Uh huh – as noted here by The Hill…

    …the House last week passed the fiscal year 2010 Supplemental Appropriations Bill, which includes $700 million in border security funds, including $50 million to deploy National Guard troops to the border states.
    Oh, and by the way, I have a message for “Dems” Ann Kirkpatrick, Harry Mitchell and Gabrielle Giffords; STFU. As I noted here a couple of days ago…

    The Obama Administration has exceeded Bush Administration efforts on border control. Last year saw the highest number of people ever deported: 387,790, up from 116,782 in 2001 and 349,041 in 2008. Thus far this year, some 185,887 people have been deported, a record pace that, if maintained, will nearly double the number of deportations in 2010 to 604,133. The Administration has also doubled the number of agents assigned to the Border Enforcement Security Task Force and tripled intelligence analysts along the Southwest border.
    I realize that it’s not good short-term politics for a Dem to attack the “illegal to be brown” law in Arizona and advocate a path to citizenship for illegals (pay a fine, get in line – makes sense to me), but I’m sorry – Patrick Murphy really should know better here.

    As the New York Times tells us once again (here)…

    As the Justice Department points out in its complaint, the Arizona law will divert resources from the government’s pursuit of dangerous aliens, including terrorists, spies and violent criminals. It will harass authorized immigrants, visitors and citizens who might not be carrying their papers when stopped by the police. It will ignore the country’s cherished protections of asylum and will interfere with national foreign policy interests. (Already several Mexican governors are refusing to meet with their American counterparts in Arizona, a sign of the diplomatic disarray produced by the law.)

    The courts have repeatedly made these fundamental ideas clear. A federal court in 1997 struck down Proposition 187 in California, which would have denied social benefits to illegal immigrants and turned state employees into enforcement agents because it was pre-empted by federal authority. (Appeals in the case were dropped.) The Supreme Court has said federal authority can pre-empt state law when the federal interest is dominant and where there already exists a system of federal regulations. The government has done a poor job enforcing its immigration rules, to say the least, but they do exist, and clearly fall under what the Constitution calls “the supreme law of the land.”
    We do not have comprehensive immigration reform in this country because of Republican obstruction, pure and simple (goaded on by right-wing hate radio). That is so even though Obama’s predecessor supported a policy of not prosecuting illegals for violating immigration law, and instead receiving eligibility to apply for "green cards" and eventual U.S. citizenship without penalty if U.S. employers are willing to give them jobs (here).

    But you’d better not call that policy “amnesty,” you dern li-bu-ruul (that’s not the way it’s done in Texas, I suppose).

    And I wish Murphy (and any other Dem who supports Arizona’s law) luck in trying to mobilize a Latino vote for the fall. Also, this will win no support among the wingnuts, who, sad to say, will despise Murphy anyway.
  • Wednesday, July 07, 2010

    It's "Duck Amok" Time In Philly

    By the way, given this ongoing story, perhaps the good folks at the Parks and Recreation Service should have listened to Walt Sherman (he hasn't posted to this site for awhile, though...maybe he wasn't so "crazy" after all).

    At this moment, two people are still missing from the boating accident - our thoughts and prayers are with them and their families and we hope they turn up safe (and then, afterwards, these ridiculous "duck tours" will be cancelled once and for all).

    Wednesday Stuff

    (This may be it for today's blogging, by the way.)

    "Worst Persons" on "Countdown" last Friday (Repug U.S. House Rep Louie Gohmert of Texas, of course, warns us about "terror babies!" without, apparently, finding out any information on their grandparents - your first clue; Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer alleges that Mexican drug gangs are beheading U.S. citizens and burying the bodies in the desert - I'll admit that Mexican drug gangs are pretty messed up, but it would be nice if Brewer had some actual proof before she made a charge like that; but the winners here are those 26 percent polled in the US who didn't know which country we fought our Revolutionary War against...color me shocked - I always thought it was the Republic of Togo :-)...

    ...and I know I've been in a bit of a "boomer" song mode lately, but I think this is the perfect day for this one (could probably clean up the sound a bit, though).

    Tuesday, July 06, 2010

    Tuesday Stuff

    I don't know about you, but I've seen a lot of references lately to the "Democrat" Party, including some from people who should know better; Hendrik Hertzberg tells us what's wrong with that here, and I think this is a fitting comeback from Dem U.S. House Rep Anthony Weiner of New York (most of what Weiner talks about here is the climate crisis, which makes this post all the more meaningful)...

    ...and it's actually Wednesday morning in these parts, so I can now officially say it; Happy Birthday, Ringo! (no vid for this one).

    Tuesday Mashup Part Two (7/6/10)

    (Part One is here.)

  • I have a leftover item from the holiday weekend here from the New York Times. The paper ran a few articles about how the Fourth would be observed at some historical landmarks (including the Liberty Bell), and one place they reported on was Tampico, Ill, one of the two locations in that state claiming to be the Reagan birthplace…

    Visitors climbed a steep staircase here the other day and crowded into a second-floor apartment-turned-museum. This was the simple bedroom where Ronald Reagan’s mother gave birth to him.

    Here was the neighbors’ window he was handed through when the Reagans needed a baby sitter. Out another window, across Main Street in this western Illinois village of 800, was the store where the future president’s father sold shoes.

    For all but the most studious Reagan followers, though, there comes a moment of confusion. Was he truly from here or was he from Dixon (a city 30 minutes away and almost 20 times as big)?

    “People go to Dixon first” (where Reagan spent his “formative years” hating Democrats I’m sure, a party to which he was once a member – ed.) acknowledged Joan Johnson, volunteer coordinator of the Tampico museum. “It’s not as far off the beaten path.” When Ms. Johnson gets caught up in the Tampico-Dixon question, she said others calm her with a reminder: “This is Bethlehem. That is Nazareth.”
    Geez, when I refer to him as “The Sainted Ronnie R,” I’m only kidding, but it seems these people are serious (by the way, you may have to click on the "Gipper" icon in the upper right corner of the page to read the story).

  • Also, Florida Senator George LeMieux (holding the seat until the election is decided in the fall, and once more, to help out a worthy Dem, click here) recently complained here that “there are only 20 skimmers” off the coast of his state to try and dispense of the oil approaching from the BP disaster.

    Funny, but according to this story, Florida had 112 skimmers at work. That’s quite a difference, I would point out.

    Just sayin’…

  • Finally, this “Hill” post from Eliseo Medina of the SEIU tells us the following (and yet again, you can tell how correct she is by the level of vitriol in the comments, including one person calling him (?) a "gangster," I believe)…

    Those of us frustrated by perpetual inaction on immigration reform were reminded yesterday that President Obama was elected president, not king. Despite his every effort to deliver a federal fix to our broken immigration system, the president cannot act alone.

    The smart, workable reform plan laid out by the president would target the bad actors that profit off of our broken immigration system, restore the rule of law, and move us forward together. But despite months of outreach by the president and Democrat lawmakers, where on earth are the Republicans?
    Where indeed, particularly since Huckleberry Graham decided to pick up his toys and go home; as noted here by Politico…

    (Senate Majority Leader Harry) Reid suggested he would push an immigration bill ahead of comprehensive energy legislation, a schedule Reid has now agreed to reverse. But Graham has said he will not back a bill this year — a move designed in part to help protect Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who is facing a tough Republican primary.
    The policy behind Graham’s move is ridiculous, but the politics have a certain lunatic logic to them, with Graham trying position himself ever rightward with McCain in AZ, particularly since the Obama DOJ has made good on its promise to challenge that state’s “illegal to be brown” law here.

    One irony about this, though, is that Obama has actually gone to the right of the GOP on immigration reform, as noted here…

    The Obama Administration has exceeded Bush Administration efforts on border control. Last year saw the highest number of people ever deported: 387,790, up from 116,782 in 2001 and 349,041 in 2008. Thus far this year, some 185,887 people have been deported, a record pace that, if maintained, will nearly double the number of deportations in 2010 to 604,133. The Administration has also doubled the number of agents assigned to the Border Enforcement Security Task Force and tripled intelligence analysts along the Southwest border.

    In fact…some immigrant-rights groups, already peeved at the lack of action on comprehensive reform, are calling for a boycott in the 2010 elections. It is a powerful threat. Latino voters are credited with helping Obama flip red states in the 2008 elections, including Florida, Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico. And Democratic candidates in close races in those states and in California, Texas and Arizona are hoping for similar high levels of Hispanic turnout as Dems look at potentially losing more than 30 House seats.
    The Time article by Jay Newton-Small also tells us what has happened to the 23 Repug senators, including “Straight Talk” McCain, who supported reform in ’06 (hence his rightward shift due to his primary challenge from J.D. Hayworth alluded to above).

    The real story about the Repugs and immigration, though, is surmised by Kevin Drum here, who tells us that, “The Republican leadership caved in to rabid fearmongering, Hispanics defected en masse to the Democratic Party, and the entire topic has been radioactive ever since. If you want to know what's happened to the Republican Party over the last decade or so, this is it in a nutshell.”

    And make no mistake, on this issue perhaps above all others, the Repugs take their marching orders from this guy (and I dare a single one of them to go on his show and tell them that that isn’t the God’s-honest truth).
  • Monday, July 05, 2010

    Monday Stuff

    I'm planning to crank everything up again tomorrow, but in the meantime, I thought that this was a cautionary reminder that, as tough as we have it, there are others who face bigger challenges than we do...

    ...and it's going to be a hot one in these parts for a little while - just be safe and check up on anyone you know who may be infirm, a shut-in, elderly, etc.