Saturday, July 17, 2010

Saturday Stuff

I forgot to wish Arianna Huffington a happy 60th birthday on Thursday; we should never forget how she came from "the dark side to the light"; here she is discussing the "Move Your Money" campaign from earlier this year (Wells Fargo bought our bank, and though we're happy with the people we deal with locally, we most definitely are not with an organization that, appropriately, is synonymous with the Wild West)...

...and if the state every gets rid of its "illegal to be brown" law, maybe I'll journey there and check these out myself.

Some More Summertime, Old Gray Lady Wankery

I was actually going to cut Sheryl Gay Stolberg of the New York Times some slack for the following (from here, in which she tries to make the case that Obama is not getting credit for his successes supposedly like Obama’s predecessor, which is a stretch to say the least)…

It is an argument that sounds eerily similar to the one Mr. Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, made to justify an unpopular war in Iraq as he watched his own poll numbers sink lower. Mr. Bush and his aides often felt they could not catch a break; when the economy was humming along — or at least seemed to be humming along — the Bush White House never got credit for it, because the public was so upset about the war.
I can never recall the economy “humming along” under Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History (here), but there you are.

However, what really cheesed me off was when Stolberg came back with the following today (here)…

Every president’s calculus is different. Mr. Bush quit playing golf after the August 2003 bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad; he later said, “Playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal.”
As K.O. tells us here from a Media Matters link, Dubya lied even about that; CBS News has records of Bush playing golf as late as Oct. 13 of that year, nearly two months later.

Next time, try reporting.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Friday Stuff

This tells us that the Repugs are mad at Obama because's he's taking a vaction in Maine with his family.

This tells us that Obama's predecessor broke the record for vacations by a president, shattering the total of The Sainted Ronnie R (and with two years to go in his second term, no less).

This tells us the word the Repugs should learn all about before they decide to open up their big, fat faces on this subject again.

And on the subject of political videos, I have to admit that I'm surprised that a true fighting Dem like Russ Feingold is having such a scrap with a corporatist Repug like Ron Johnson; this should help (also, check this out)...

...and yep, "Clueless Tom" indeed...

...also, I suppose I haven't featured a "relationship" song in a little while, so here goes, just in time for the weekend.

Friday Mashup (7/16/10)

  • I give you the following from Peggy Noonan at the Murdoch Street Journal (here)…

    We start with the president's dreadful numbers. People in politics in America are too impressed by polls, of course, and talk about them too much. In this we're like a neurotic patient who constantly, compulsively takes his own temperature. We are political hypochondriacs. But polls offer the only hard quick data there is, and when the temperature-taking consistently shows a worsening condition—the fever is not breaking but rising—you have to admit a sickness. And so the polls, the most striking of which this week was CBS's, which says only 13% of Americans feel President Obama's economic plans have helped them...
    Alas, I am unable to bring you more, because in order to read all of the drivel from “Nooners” here, you must subscribe to the Journal.

    (“subscribe to the Journal”…heh heh heh – teh funny!!!)

    Presumably, this story from CBS tells us of the latest poll conducted on Obama and the economy that Noonan refers to, which tells us the following…

    Mr. Obama's approval rating on the economy has tumbled five percentage points from last month, according to a new CBS News poll, with just 40 percent of those polled expressing full confidence in his actions.

    More than half of those questioned (54 percent) said they disapproved of Mr. Obama's handling of the economy. Last month, 45 percent approved. The drop in approval has been seen mostly among independents, just 35 percent of whom now say they approve.
    And by the way, there is nothing to indicate in the CBS story that “only 13 percent of Americans feel that President Obama’s economic plans have helped them” (I know those aren't exactly ringing numbers in the poll, but they aren't as bad as Noonan says they are either). However, based on this, Noonan has a problem with reading poll data anyway.

    Also, I should note that the title of Noonan’s opinion piece today is “Youth Has Outlived Its Usefulness,” and since I can’t read the rest of it except the opening paragraph, I’m going to guess that this is a plea for those oh-so-rude-and-unkempt liberal bloggers, along with those zany teabaggers and right-wing “values voters” (and of course, as everyone in our corporate media knows, both sides are exactly equivalent in their venomous wrongheadedness…uh huh) to pipe down and let the “adults” rule our discourse without such inconvenient interruptions from the rabble.

    Which is funny, because, as Eric Boehlert tells us here…

    …did civility-obsessed Noonan dedicate one column this year to denouncing the name-calling sewer that Fox News has become? Did she ever call out Rush Limbaugh for the incessant hate that anchors his show? Did Noonan ever take issue with AM talker Michael Savage for the way he rallies his listeners around the idea that Obama is "raping America" with Nazi-like policies? Did she demand that Glenn Beck retract his claims that Obama is a racist, communist, fascist, and socialist?

    Not that I ever saw she didn't.

    In fact, last summer when the GOP mini-mobs were storming public forums, marching around with Swastika signs, brandishing loaded weapons, and hanging politicians in effigy, Noonan played dumb. Noonan whitewashed the unprecedented embrace of violent rhetoric and announced the mini-mob members were simply "concerned" citizens. That the mayhem was just "democracy’s great barbaric yawp."

    And yet by year's end, the previously silent Noonan is bemoaning how liberals have acted poorly in public this year. Gimme a break Peggy. If you don't have the courage to take issue with your political pals in the face of their, at times, barbaric behavior, than you have no standing to lecture the left.
    Yep, that about says it, all right.

  • Also, does anyone remember how Repug Louisiana governor Bobby (“Don’t Call Me Piyush” Jindal) had the bright idea of constructing berms to try and absorb/deflect the dispersing oil from the BP disaster (here), a talking point that, unfortunately, was echoed by Obama in his speech on the subject of the spill?

    Well, based on this, it doesn’t appear to be working (drat those pesky scientists and their…science).

    And for the record, here are other ways that Jindal has screwed up the spill response (though I am by no means trying to argue that the Obama people have handled this perfectly either).

  • And finally, as much as part of me wants to get through a week without having to face the dreck of former Laura Bush employee Andrew Malcolm, alas, I came across this item anyway (he’s complaining about the cost of signs advertising stimulus projects)…

    ABC News got a clever idea and started checking on how much was being spent on signs advertising money being spent to stimulate the economy. ABC's Gregory Simmons and Jonathan Karl found about $20 million -- as in, $20,000,000 -- has gone so far for signs advertising spending.

    Illinois alone has spent $650,000 on stationary stimulus signs; Pennsylvania, another state with a fellow Democrat as chief executive like President Obama, spent $157,000. Virginia, which has a Republican governor, allows no such signage.
    Well, I know I’m just a filthy, unkempt liberal blogger, but I don’t have a problem with the cost of signs telling me about a project funded with the “stim.” And of course, if the “worthy opposition” weren’t so busy decrying the stimulus but taking credit for the jobs generated by it anyway (here, more or less), maybe the signs would be a little less necessary.

    And besides, I strongly suspect Obama and company got the idea from the Great Depression signage for the National Recovery Act above (wonder if FDR had to deal with niggling conservative pundits and politicians worried about the relative cost of the signage – he probably did, I guess).

    And as long as we’re talking about Obama on spending, did you know that his predecessor increased government spending at its highest rate in 30 years (here)? Or that Obama managed to win more spending cuts than Bush (here)?

    Of course, Heaven forbid that Malcolm would point that out, or else the following would result (speaking of signs)...

  • Thursday, July 15, 2010

    Thursday Stuff

    I know this is two years old, but I still thought it was kind of neat (yes, MSNBC's videos are still screwed up - wonder if they have a clue as to how much of the great content from K.O./Rachel Maddow/Dylan Ratigan/Ed Schultz etc. can't be distributed because of their apparent incompetence? Or is that somehow their "plan"?)...

    ...and I think you can file this under "local boys make good."

    Thursday Mashup (7/15/10)

    (I also posted here.)

  • You want to read an example of a really stupid post by a left-wing blogger? Click here.

    It is in response to this news story.

    Yeah, great idea, goofball – give Bill Orally, Sean Inanity and Flush Limbore, along with all of the life forms at Fix Noise, another reason to yell that Daily Kos is a “hate site.”

    I know Markos Moulitsas and company don’t need advice from me when it comes to managing this sort of thing, but there’s a time and a place to address our grievances with Deadeye Dick, which are legion. However, a moment when he’s getting a heart pump inserted into his body, a procedure entailing grave medical risk especially for a person with his age and history, is not one of those times.

  • And as long as we’re dealing with Bushco, I should note that Turd Blossom himself tells us here what he considers to be his “biggest mistake” in the White House…

    Top Democrats led their party in making the "Bush lied, people died" charge because they wanted to defeat him in 2004. That didn't happen. Several bipartisan commissions would later catalogue the serious errors in the intelligence on which Mr. Bush and Democrats relied. But these commissions, particularly the Silberman-Robb report of March 31, 2005, found that the "Bush lied" charge was false. Still, the attacks hurt: When they began, less than a third of Americans believed the charge. Two years later, polls showed that just over half did.
    Through one of the easiest Google searches in my life, I came across this item from Media Matters, which tells us the following…

    During a discussion about a November 20 Washington Post op-ed by former Sen. Bob Graham (D-FL) detailing conflicting intelligence in the lead-up to war, (Charles) Krauthammer responded to National Public Radio legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg's assertion that information had been withheld from Congress by claiming that the Robb-Silberman report "concluded precisely the opposite -- that there was not a scintilla of evidence of that."

    In fact, the Robb-Silberman report never examined the administration's use or provision of intelligence, so there was no "opposite" conclusion for it to reach. As The Washington Post noted in a November 12 article, upon releasing the report in March, Silberman said: "Our executive order did not direct us to deal with the use of intelligence by policymakers, and all of us were agreed that that was not part of our inquiry."

    In challenging Totenberg's assertion, Krauthammer also claimed that the Robb-Silberman report concluded that "the information that the president received was far more indicting of Saddam and of the existence of weapons of mass destruction than the information that the Congress received, and Congress came to precisely the same conclusion."

    The only section of the report that indicated any difference between intelligence received by the Bush administration and by Congress, however, was an indication that the PDBs and Senior Executive Intelligence Briefs (SEIBs) contained information not "markedly different" from that contained in the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) presented to Congress. The report described the PDBs and SEIBs as "more alarmist and less nuanced than the NIE," creating "an impression of many corroborating reports where in fact there were very few sources."
    And Rove actually sounds in the Murdoch Street Journal Op-Ed as if he thinks he took it easy on John Kerry when Kerry said that, “It is time for a president who will face the truth and tell the truth,” when in reality, he accused Kerry and the late John Murtha, decorated veterans both, of “cutting and running” in Iraq, an act of callow brazenness that few people other than Rove could pull off (here).

    Besides, I don’t hear Rove offering a single word in response to the Downing Street Memo, in which British Foreign Minister Jack Straw said that that it was clear that Bush had "made up his mind" to take military action (in Iraq) but that "the case was thin."

    No, Karl, it doesn’t matter what you could have said in response to the plainly obvious fact that the Iraq war was ginned up to remove Saddam Hussein for personal reasons on the part of Commander Codpiece, to get our hands on Hussein’s oil, or to perpetuate some sort of “pax Americana” in the Middle East in accordance with PNAC’s wet dreams, teasing the “fundies” with an image of some sort of holy path from Jerusalem to Baghdad (or all of the above).

    You broke it. You own it. And because of that, we all own it too. And it’s your fault and that of your regime, first and foremost.

  • Also, on the subject of energy legislation (which we may yet see out of the U.S. Senate one day), the New York Times tells us the following here…

    It remains far from certain, however, that Mr. Obama and Mr. Reid can win passage even for the limited legislation. Most Republicans remain firm in their opposition to any cap on emissions, and six Democrats recently joined an effort by Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, to pass a resolution criticizing new Environmental Protection Agency rules relating to greenhouse gases.

    “Senator Murkowski won’t support a utility cap-and-trade bill because it raises energy prices on Americans at a time when they are already struggling financially,” said Robert Dillon, a spokesman for the senator. “It’s a light-switch tax.”
    And how much, exactly, would this “light switch” tax cost? Paul Krugman gave us some idea last September (here)…

    …the best available economic analyses suggest that even deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions would impose only modest costs on the average family. Earlier this month, the Congressional Budget Office released an analysis of the effects of Waxman-Markey, concluding that in 2020 the bill would cost the average family only $160 a year, or 0.2 percent of income. That’s roughly the cost of a postage stamp a day.

    By 2050, when the emissions limit would be much tighter, the burden would rise to 1.2 percent of income. But the budget office also predicts that real G.D.P. will be about two-and-a-half times larger in 2050 than it is today, so that G.D.P. per person will rise by about 80 percent. The cost of climate protection would barely make a dent in that growth. And all of this, of course, ignores the benefits of limiting global warming.
    Kind of a shame that Times writers Peter Baker and David M. Herszenhorn apparently don’t even read the rest of their own paper.

  • Another thing – I periodically get updates from Politico, and on occasion, they do break some good stories, such at the piece on Repug U.S. House Rep Thad McCotter of Michigan that I noted here.

    Of course, being a product of the Beltway media culture, they are also capable of bloody great wankery, and I’m afraid this falls under the latter category (dealing with why, even when he succeeds, Obama is supposedly a failure – these are the enumerated “reasons” from Jim VandeHei and John Harris)…

    1) The flight of independents
    Yes, I realize basically that independent voters decide our elections any more due to that oh-so-unpleasant partisanship that David Broder and Steve and Cokie Roberts tut-tut about during their dinner parties, but that doesn’t mean that these people are better informed than anyone else. At this moment, though, no one should govern as if they’re preoccupied with whether or not “independents” approve of them. Their support is always a lagging indicator, if you will, probably up to the moment when those voters step into the voting booth.

    2) The “Ideology conundrum”

    Even as Obama pays the price for liberal positions, he doesn't manage to reap what should be the rewards. That's because he has never adequately reckoned with the divisions in his own party and taken a clear stand of his own. During the campaign, he avoided the whole question of whether he is centrist “new Democrat” or a “traditional liberal” by insisting the debate was irrelevant, and uniting the party around Bush hatred and the power of his own biography.
    Obama does not try to mobilize Democrats by “Bush hatred.” He does so in part by plainly pointing out the messes left to him by his predecessor (reflected in this, by the way).

    3) Likeability

    Many Democrats on the Hill don’t much like Obama, or at least his circle of advisers. They think the White House makes them take tough votes, but doesn’t care that much about the problems those votes leave politicians facing in tough races in 2010. Numerous Democrats have complained privately that Obama only cares about Obama — a view reinforced by Gibbs’s public admission that Democrats could lose the House.
    Gosh, a president who imagines that he’s the center of his own universe. I’ll bet we’ve never had that before! Besides, based on this, it sounds like everyone is playing nice, at least for now (I'll admit, though, that that "mixed message" from Gibbs had questionable worth, trying to be "bipartisan" yet again while motivating the Dem base at the same time, or trying to).

    4) West Wing is unsteady

    But Democrats privately complain that the real power center — the West Wing staff — isn’t nearly as impressive. A common gripe on the Hill and on the lobbying corridor is that the communications team isn’t great at communicating, the speech-writing team isn’t great at speech writing (exemplified by Obama’s flaccid Oval Office speech last month on the BP spill and energy policy) and the political team often botches the politics.
    See above (though the point about the energy speech is well-taken, unfortunately…parts were great, but parts also went thud.)

    5) Numbers matter
    Indeed they do (and here are some for consideration).

    6) Liberal echo chamber

    The liberal blogosphere grew in response to Bush. But it is still a movement marked by immaturity and impetuousness — unaccustomed to its own side holding power and the responsibilities and choices that come with that.

    So many liberals seem shocked and dismayed that Obama is governing as a self-protective politician first and a liberal second, even though that is also how he campaigned. The liberal blogs cheer the fact that Stan McChrystal’s scalp has been replaced with David Petraeus’s, even though both men are equally hawkish on Afghanistan, but barely clapped for the passage of health care. They treat the firing of a blogger from the Washington Post as an event of historic significance, while largely averting their gaze from the fact that major losses for Democrats in the fall elections would virtually kill hopes for progressive legislation over the next couple years.
    Aw, c’mon! You just knew that Harris and VandeHei were going to find some way to blame the DFHs, didn’t you?

    And by the way, Dave Weigel was basically fired from the WaPo because he communicated in unflattering terms about conservatives through a listserv that he thought was private. That had no impact at all on his actual reporting, which was top-notch.

    7) BP cam

    Obama is not responsible for the leak, and realistically there was little he could do to expedite the repair. But for an irritable public the Gulf coast debacle was a reminder — horribly timed from Obama’s perspective — that big business and big government are often a problem, not a solution.
    Don’t you just love the way they so con-vee-niently conflate the two like that?

    Yes, Team Obama needs to tighten up their message discipline a bit, especially as we proceed further into the electoral season. They need to be as forceful about telling everyone what they’ve done right as Bushco was about telling everyone what they’d done (as it turned out) wrong (and we in the field have to do all we can to support them, even if we get highly POed at them from time to time).

    Unfortunately, Politico will be one of the outlets they’ll need to get the Obama story told (and told straight, as it were).

    More’s the pity.

  • Finally, I give you the latest from the Patrick Murphy for Congress campaign…


    Is Congressman Fitzpatrick Confused About His Own Immigration Record?

    Bucks County voters demand answers on why Congressman Fitzpatrick supported amnesty and voted against (an) Arizona-Like measure.

    (Bristol, PA) – In recent days, former Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick has again assumed that voters in the 8th district have amnesia – this time on immigration.

    Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick now claims to support the new Arizona law, but he voted against nearly identical legislation while he was in Washington. The legislation he voted against would have given state and local authorities the ability to detain illegal immigrants in the course of the officers’ regular duties.1 Further, Congressman Fitzpatrick voted to allow “sanctuary cities” to continue their practice of ignoring federal anti-immigration laws.2

    Patrick Murphy doesn’t just talk tough on illegal immigration. He actually does something about it. Patrick broke with his party to support the Arizona law, which requires police to check the immigration status of individuals stopped for other crimes. He was the lone Democrat to vote in support of an amendment to prevent the Obama administration from using federal funds to sue Arizona over the law.

    Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick also voted against providing $20 million for construction of a fence to protect our borders from the flow of illegal immigrations.3

    Patrick Murphy, on the other hand, has constantly fought to beef up security along our borders and introduced legislation to increase penalties for border agents who help smuggle people into the country, a serious breach of national security.4

    While he claims to be tough on illegal immigration, Mike’s voting history from his time in Washington falls far short of his newfound rhetoric. He also fails to match up to Patrick Murphy’s record of being tough on illegal immigrants as well as the employers who hire them.

    Talk is cheap. Mike might hope people in Bucks County have amnesia, but it's impossible to forget a voting record this appalling.

    1Roll Call Vote #659, 109th Congress, 1st Session
    2 Roll Call Vote #177, 109th Congress, 1st Session
    3 Roll Call Vote #669, 109th Congress, 1st Session
    4 Secure Borders Act (H.R. 4622)
    (Yes, it's true that I oppose the Arizona law, for purposes of disclosure. My point is to publicize Mikey's record here.)

    And here is a letter from today’s Courier Times…

    I can't believe Republican congressional candidate Mike Fitzpatrick has the nerve to make statements about Congressman Patrick Murphy.

    Fitzpatrick sold his country out on CAFTA when he served in Congress, while sending our jobs overseas. He said Murphy isn't doing enough about immigration. It just shows how much he doesn't know.

    Murphy opposes amnesty for illegal immigrants and supports the E-verify law. He is in support of the Arizona law. Who is Mike Fitzpatrick trying to kid?

    State Rep. John Galloway probably spent years trying to get the E-verify bill passed in the state House.

    Patrick Murphy is overqualified for his position; he could be the next John Kennedy. God knows we need it. I wish there were a hundred more like Murphy.

    Chuck Clayton
    Levittown, PA
    (Hey, a little unbridled enthusiasm from time to time doesn’t hurt, people.)

    And as always, to reward good behavior (you know the rest)…
  • Wednesday, July 14, 2010

    Wednesday Stuff

    I'll try to say more about this tomorrow, but apparently, today marked the final column in the Philadelphia Inquirer by Former Senator Man-On-Dog (shocking, I know). So, for the occasion, I thought I'd feature this clip of Santorum doing what all "values" Republicans do best, and that it to talk down to people they know nothing about (usually African American)...

    ...and when I think of PA's former senator from Northern Virginia, this is one song that comes to mind.

    Wednesday Mashup (7/14/10)

  • I think it’s time for those nice men wearing their clean, white coats to bring a butterfly net or two (or, more likely, a straight jacket) for Bernie Quigley (here)…

    If President Obama wants to win in 2012, and the race has already begun, he desperately needs some new friends. I would like to suggest four who like him and who have supported him: the senators from Virginia, Mark Warner and Jim Webb, and Dave “Mudcat” Saunders, who advised them; and Toby Keith.

    When Hillary quits in six months to run against him, Obama should replace her as secretary of State with China secretary Jon Huntsman Jr. And ditch the white guy from central casting standing in at VP, Joe Biden. Replace him in the 2012 campaign with Warner.
    Implied racism notwithstanding, what makes Quigley think that Mark Warner is any less of a “white guy from central casting” than Biden? If Quigley wants a “conservadem” on the 2012 ticket, which Warner and Webb have become as a matter of political survival (and God almighty, why on earth are we talking about that now??!!), then Quigley should just say so.

    And Toby Keith as an advisor to Obama – ROFLMAO!!!

    Quigley also invokes “Cheech and Chong” liberals and claims that Paul Krugman is Obama’s “economic front man” (would that that were true) and he should be replaced with Niall Ferguson, which is indeed interesting because Ferguson is a Harvard historian who, as noted here, once compared Obama to Felix the Cat (see, because Obama is so “lucky” – yeah, if you believe that inheriting two wars, an imploding economy, a melting planet, and a hopelessly compromised federal government overrun by Bush cronies in perhaps the same way ants at a picnic would overrun a basket full of Lorna Doone cookies has anything whatsoever to do with luck!).

    Oh, and just to let us know that he’s still “opining” away, Quigley tells us here that Sarah Palin is “a political genius.”

    My guess is that Bernie’s has been out in those gorgeous New Hampshire woods just a tad too long.

  • Also, I give you the return of Ken Blackwell, whether you want it or not (here, and I'll overlook his awful attempt at a pun)…

    President Obama made much of the Executive Order he signed last March. It was supposed to stop federal funding of abortion. It was given as a fig leaf to formerly pro-life Democrats who had voted for ObamaCare and enabled it to pass, narrowly, in the House of Representatives.

    Most pro-life Americans knew the Obama order was a charade. We have had this administration pushing vigorously for abortion-on-demand from the first day they took office. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had hardly taken her oath of office before she told a House Foreign Affairs committee hearing early in 2009 that “sexual and reproductive rights and health” were a major goal of the Obama administration. She assured House members she would do all in her power to help overturn foreign countries’ pro-life laws. The Obama administration may not want to protect democracy demonstrators in the streets of Tehran. That would be, they say, “meddling.” But they are more than willing to trample the sovereignty of other nations to advance the Planned Parenthood agenda.

    Take Kenya, for example. Kenya suffered terrorist attacks back in 1998 because of their close ties to the U.S. You would think that this East African ally would get a special measure of respect, especially because Barack Obama’s late father, and many of his relatives, hail from Kenya. Think again.
    Umm, not quite; as noted here…

    Added Bill Ryerson, president of the Washington-based Population Institute: "There were so many areas in which the U.S. slid back during the Bush administration"...

    "The gag rule (that banned U.S. government money from going to international family planning groups that either offer abortions or provide information, counseling or referrals about abortion) alone led to closure of one-third of the family planning clinics of Kenya. As a result, the birth rate went back up, which has badly affected women's lives."
    And as noted here…

    (AP) Nairobi's sprawling Kibera slum is far from America but not from America's battle over abortion.

    Aid workers and experts say President Barack Obama's decision to allow aid money to flow again to international groups that offer abortion counseling will help restart programs desperately needed in Africa, the continent hardest hit by (the) "gag rule."

    Dr. Walter Odhiambo, the country director for Marie Stopes Kenya, said his family planning organization had been limping along on European aid because of the U.S. rule Obama overturned on Jan. 23 in one of his first presidential acts. Now, Odhiambo said, he would be applying for U.S. funds he hoped to use to expand counseling and other services, particularly in rural Kenya.

    "Family planning was not given the prominence it needs," Odhiambo said.
    And do you want to know what happens when “the Planned Parenthood agenda,” as Blackwell so ridiculously puts it, is ignored, and right-wing ideologues dictate government policy? Real-world misery, that’s what, such as this…

    Marie Stopes Kenya, which does not offer abortions, closed two slum clinics after losing its USAID funding because of its association with Marie Stopes International, one of the world's largest family planning organizations.

    Odhiambo, the country director for Marie Stopes Kenya, said it was likely that women who would have used his group's contraceptive services became pregnant instead and joined the 300,000 Kenyan women that Marie Stopes says seek dangerous, illegal abortions each year.

    Two years ago, Joyce and her cousin Carolyne went to a Kibera slum clinic for a contraceptive injection. Because supplies were low, the doctor shared one between the two. Joyce, then a shy 18-year-old high school student, became pregnant. Her boyfriend deserted her and she had an illegal abortion.

    "The fetus came out but she did not stop bleeding," recalled 29-year-old Carolyne. By the light of a small kerosene lamp, the two women used every sheet and towel in Carolyne's small house to try to stop the blood. Joyce spent the night twisting in pain on the floor, crying out for God to forgive her and screaming for her mother.

    At dawn the two women went to a government hospital and had to plead with doctors to treat Joyce without informing police of the abortion.
    The story from CBS News tells us that “even without the U.S. policy, abortions would be controversial here. They are illegal in almost all African countries, many of which have conservative Christian or Muslim populations _ one of the reasons women interviewed about their abortions declined to give their full names.”

    And given the fact that sub-Saharan African women have had to endure such immense hardship because of typical Bushco bungling, Blackwell and his pals have no grounds whatsoever for criticizing anyone of denying “a special measure of respect.”

    Besides, if Obama really were as bad on choice as Blackwell alleges, he would have pushed for the Freedom of Choice Act to pass out of Congress (remember that one?).

  • Finally, it looks like Scott (“Ready For My Closeup”) Brown is not going to support the DISCLOSE Act based on this…

    Rather than reform our campaign finance laws and provide increased transparency, the DISCLOSE Act advances the political agenda of the majority party and special interests in an effort to gain a tactical and political advantage little more than 100 days before an election. No matter how one feels about McCain-Feingold, at least that was an honest attempt to reform campaign finance laws that would not have gone into effect until after the next election cycle. The DISCLOSE Act does the opposite – it changes the rules in the middle of the game to provide a tactical advantage to the majority party.

    Even more astonishing, this bill does not treat all organizations equally and does not apply to everyone. For example, not all the disclosure requirements apply to labor unions and other special interest groups – despite these groups being among the most active political organizations. Labor unions and their political action committees spent more than $450 million to help their allies in 2008, and they have already pledged to spend upwards of $100 million in the midterms. Yet they would be carved out of this legislation and not face the same regulations that would apply to everyone else.
    I wonder if Scott’s nose grew an inch or so longer as he typed that second paragraph. It should have, because, as Ben Smith of Politico via fdl tells us here, there is no “carve out” for big donors to labor unions.

    Also, Brown disingenuously tries to side with the ACLU in his opposition; in reality, that group’s concerns are diametrically opposed to his. As the ACLU tells us here…

    Just to kick us while we were down, the House included a provision that would protect anonymity for the largest political groups because they feared the Democrats beholden to the gun lobby, a.k.a. the Blue Dogs, would otherwise not support the bill. Members worked with the National Rifle Association on an amendment that would exclude organizations from the disclosure requirements, but only when they have more than 1 million members, have been in existence for more than 10 years, and have a presence in all 50 states. This means that new organizations like the gay rights groups of the 1960s, pro-life groups of the 1970s and drug law reform groups of today would be forced to reveal their supporters, while the associational rights of the members of well-established and mainstream groups are protected. This makes no sense, and provides the direct opposite effect of the protections the court upheld in the NAACP case (in which Alabama, in response to the Montgomery bus boycott, tried to ban the NAACP from any further business in the state and issued a subpoena that would have forced them to disclose their membership).
    And for anybody out there who thinks that individual donors to labor unions on behalf of political campaigns, for example, wouldn’t be punished, read this story about what happened when management at a million-square-foot distribution center for Rite Aid Corporation in Lancaster, California changed hands (the employees rejected a Teamsters offer to unionize in 2002, and came to regret it…and speaking for myself, I once worked for a Philadelphia freight-forwarding company around the time Bill Clinton was elected president, and I heard the CEO say in the elevator one day that he would fire every Democratic Party supporter who worked for him in response).

    Oh, and one more thing, Scott; the unemployment rate has nothing whatsoever to do with disclosing campaign contributions.

    On balance, I support the DISCLOSE Act, though it definitely has some bugs to be addressed (and as noted here, Scott has some "DISCLOSE-ing" to do of his own).
  • Tuesday, July 13, 2010

    Tuesday Stuff

    Meet the new (would be) boss(es), same as the old boss(es), as the song goes...

    ...and as I mentioned earlier, here is just one of the many great performances from Live Aid.

    Tuesday Mashup (7/13/10)

  • Wow, did you know that Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota was awarded his Senate victory last year by “felons” (here)?

    Uh, no.

  • Fix Noise also tells us here that, in response to a resolution by the NAACP branding the Tea Party movement as "racist," a teabagger group in Missouri has drafted a resolution of its own condemning the civil rights group for reducing itself to a "bigoted" and "partisan attack dog organization."

    And I’m sure they were taking their cue from the guy who, quite rightly, is ridiculed here.

  • Next, we have Repug U.S. House Rep John Campbell telling us the following here…

    When you woke up on June 30, you may not have realized that you were waking up to a historic day. However, this was not a day that marked American achievement, innovation, or recovery. It was a morning that witnessed a $166 billion single-day increase in American debt. That would be the third largest deficit hike in American history and, shockingly, we reached this extraordinary mark in just two years of wanton, unchecked spending initiated by President Obama and carried by this Congress.
    In Campbell’s defense, it should be noted that, according to here, he has only served in Congress since 2005 (he was tabbed to run in a special election to replace fellow Repug Chris Cox, who resigned to become Dubya’s SEC chairman). So Campbell wasn’t in the U.S. Congress when both of Bushco’s ruinous tax cuts were passed and signed into law.

    However, Wikipedia also tells us the following…

    On June 17, 2009, Campbell signed on as a co-sponsor of H.R. 1503, the bill introduced as a reaction to conspiracy theories which claimed that U.S. President Barack Obama is not a natural born U.S. citizen.[1]

    In 2009, several watchdog groups accused Rep. Campbell of taking hundreds of thousands of dollars from used car dealers, and then introducing legislation exempting them from consumer protection laws.[2][3][4]
    So Campbell is both a birther and a crook in his own right (and he has the gall to wax propagandistic about deficits).

    California’s 48th should be so proud (and, given that that’s a bedrock conservative district, I’m sure they don’t “do irony”).

  • Also, Marc Thiessen bloviates as follows at the WaPo (here – there’s a ton of stuff in his screed that could be refuted, but I’ll just focus on one item for now because life is short; Thiessen apparently gazed into his navel too long and theorized that the coalition that elected Obama is full of “fading embers”)…

    To repair the breach, Democrats have turned their legislative agenda over to the unions. Instead of moving appropriations bills, they are pushing legislation that would shield unions from the campaign finance reporting requirements of the Disclose Act and force the unionization of public-safety workers in 21 states. And they have allowed the teachers unions to hijack the war funding bill for our troops…

    If anything, including the teacher funding in the war supplemental is, I’ll admit, a questionable tactic, but for a wholly different reason than the one espoused by Thiessen, and that is to encourage votes for funding the appropriation from House reps who might not vote for it otherwise because of opposition to the war (here).

    And I would ask that you keep in mind the caterwauling from the “pain caucus” about the deficit when you consider that, as Think Progress tells us above, the $10 billion came from the Race to the Top program and the Teacher Inventive Fund, both Obama Administration favorites, in the name of deficit neutrality.

    As Think Progress also tells us…

    Race to the Top, according to the New Teacher Project, “has already accelerated education reform by decades in some states.” “While Race to the Top has only been in existence for a short time, it has yielded some of the most dramatic state education reforms the country has seen in many years,” said (Center for American Progress) Vice President for Education Policy Cindy Brown. The Teacher Incentive Fund, meanwhile, is one of the best ways to support the development of teachers.
    (I would tend to think that Outgoing Dem House Appropriations Chair David Obey is being a little harsh in criticizing Race To The Top as a “slush fund,” but in this era of media preoccupation with those Club For Growth wannabes wearing their funny hats and carrying racist signs, all the rage is deficit reduction, so my guess is that he’s trying to placate these life forms for some reason.)

    So, no, as usual, Thiessen is wrong. The “teachers unions” aren’t “hijack(ing) the war funding bill for our troops.”

    If anything, quite the opposite is true.

  • Also, it seems as if David Obey isn’t the only Congressional Dem upset with Obama (here)…

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wants President Barack Obama to be “more firm” and stop avoiding "confrontation" with Republicans.

    “He is a person who doesn't like confrontation. He's a peacemaker,” Reid said in an interview with Las Vegas television station KSNV.

    “Sometimes I think you have to be a little more forceful. And sometimes I don't think he is enough with the Republicans,” said the Nevada Democrat, whose allegiance with the White House is hurting his reelection prospects.

    “On a few occasions, I think he should have been more firm with those on the other side of the aisle,” he said.
    Simply put, this is too hilarious for words.

    How many speeches has Obama made recently about “grabbing a mop” and not letting the Repugs have the keys to the metaphorical car again after driving it into a ditch? And I think this is particularly cowardly on Reid’s part especially since Obama just came to Nevada and attacked Sharron Angle the way Reid should have done if he actually had a spine.

    Has Reid forgotten that we endured that ridiculous fiasco over health care reform last year, brought on in large part by Reid’s deferring to Max Baucus who, as Senate Finance Committee chair, very nearly scuttled the proceedings in the name of “comity” with those across the aisle, particularly Mike Enzi and Chuck Grassley, whose only intention was to derail health care reform from the start? Or that, in the name of obtaining the blessed 60 votes for passage, he signed off on the “Cornhusker Kickback” (here, which Obama disposed of before he signed it into law)?

    If Reid manages to win in the fall, it will be because he had the good fortune to end up facing a darling of the teabaggin’ crowd who, because of her laughable public comments and professed positions on the issues, would have been a more viable candidate in 1910 than 2010. And only for that reason.

  • And in addition to everything else that’s wrong with this wretched company, this tells us that BP may have been involved in the release of the human mistake convicted in the Lockerbie plane bombing…

    A U.S. lawmaker is calling on the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations to investigate whether BP influenced the release of Pan Am Flight 103 Lockerbie bomber Abdel Baset al-Megrahi.

    Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey wants to know whether a quid pro quo led to the 2009 decision by U.K. and Scottish lawmakers to set the Libyan terrorist free. Megrahi was sentenced to life in prison in 2001, but released last year when doctors said he had only three months to live before dying of cancer. A doctor now says he could live a decade, according to the Associated Press. The senator wants to know whether the bomber's release was connected to a BP plan to drill for oil off Libya, which the senator says could earn the company up to $20 billion.

    A bomb aboard Flight 103 blew up over Lockerbie, Scotland, on Dec. 21, 1988, killing 270 people, 189 of them American. The plane was headed from London's Heathrow Airport to New York's JFK International Airport.
    By the way, the story also tells us that al-Megrahi, contrary to reports that he had only three months to live, “could survive 10 to 20 years.”

    Oh, but Libya is a “friend” to us now.

    Sure they are.

  • Finally, this date marks two noteworthy anniversaries: the first is Live Aid, which took place 25 years ago.

    I guess, of the handful of memories I have from the concert, the ones that come to mind immediately are the outstanding performances of Queen, The Pretenders, Status Quo, and Elvis Costello, though they had a lot of company. The worst ones for me were Led Zeppelin (which, at their request, is not included on the DVD collection) and Bob Dylan (wheezing through “Blowin’ In The Wind” with Ron Wood and Keith Richards).

    Like many of you I’m sure, I watched much of the program on commercial TV, and to say that I got tired of Sally Field and her weepy entreaties every five minutes or so to help those starving in Africa (a worthy goal, I realize) is an understatement. Also, the version I saw of the Wembley Stadium performance featured the audio malfunction when Paul McCartney performed “Let It Be” as the next-to-last number (that to me was always a questionable choice to perform for the concert anyway, though I realize that the Beatles’ songs and McCartney’s “Wings” catalogue really didn’t lend itself to something more appropriate). It was also scary to watch David Ruffin singing “My Girl” with Hall and Oates, realizing how emaciated he had become due to his cocaine addiction that would eventually kill him (even creepily referring to himself as a “skinny man” when singing the song).

    Still, I thought the project was a worthy one, and it’s never a bad thing when Philadelphia is featured in as favorable a light as it was on this occasion.

    Also, on this date in 1955, Ruth Ellis was hanged for the murder of her lover David Blakely; she was the last woman to die of capital punishment in Great Britain (here), despite a public outcry (this is the subject of a great film called “Dance With A Stranger” starring Miranda Richardson and Rupert Everett, also from 1985).
  • Monday, July 12, 2010

    Monday Stuff

    Hey, Christine Flowers, Kevin Ferris, and every other wingnut trying to breathe life into the supposed "story" about the Black Panther thing at the Philadelphia polling place in '08 - check out this video from K.O. tonight (can't embed still - unbelievable! - but at least I can give a link).

    And here's something to keep things interesting a bit.

    Monday Mashup Part Two (7/12/10)

    (Part One is here.)

  • Good catch by Politico here, I have to admit…

    Rep. Thad McCotter (R-Mich.) has spent at least $30,000 in taxpayer-provided Republican Policy Committee funds to hire a consulting firm run by his chief of staff’s brother, Saul Anuzis, even as McCotter planned to kill the policy committee because it’s a “superfluous” waste of federal money.

    The payments of $5,000 per month to Anuzis’s Michigan-based Coast to Coast Strategies, discovered by POLITICO in a review of RPC spending records, could roil a high stakes Republican leadership power struggle over the controversial proposal by McCotter, chairman of the Republican Policy Committee, to eliminate the 61-year-old policy shop — a fight that carries larger implications for the House GOP’s balance of power.
    And of course, Anuzis believes that there is nothing “improper” about the arrangement by which he received $30,000 in taxpayer-provided RNC funds through a policy committee that McCotter has promised to “kill.”

    I wonder if now, as a result, we will be treated in another lesson in how to speak “Democrat” as the one McCotter provided here, something else to consider along with McCotter’s opposition to the “stim,” of course, besides his vote against expanding the (Michigan) State Children's Health Insurance Program, which rightly earned him criticism from Catholics United for it (that, allegedly, is McCotter’s faith); McCotter called the group "the devil" over it.

    At least Catholics United isn’t “skimming” from taxpayer funds for the benefit of your chief-of-staff’s brother, you hypocrite (not to my knowledge, anyway).

    It depresses me unutterably that so many politicians who supposedly practice the same faith that I do are Republicans.

  • Also, I found myself wincing more than a little bit over this story in the New York Times yesterday…

    MANNING, S.C. — On a blisteringly hot afternoon here, Alvin M. Greene talked in a perfunctory way about his improbable candidacy for the United States Senate. But his voice intensified with grievance when the subject turned to his short-circuited career in the Army, from which he was discharged in August involuntarily.

    Mr. Greene said the Army discriminated against him by not promoting him. And yet, he said, it promoted to the rank of major a man who would later be accused of shooting 13 people to death last year at Fort Hood, Tex.

    “I didn’t have one promotion in six-and-a-half years of active duty, full time,” Mr. Greene lamented in an interview the other day at his father’s house on the outskirts of this small town in the south-central part of the state.
    Yes, this is the same Alvin Greene who somehow won the Democratic Party nomination for the U.S. Senate in South Carolina to run against Jim DeMint (who, sadly, probably won’t even bother having to campaign to keep his seat).


    (Greene) is still due in state court Monday on (an) obscenity charge, in which a student at the University of South Carolina said he showed her pornography and tried to go to her dorm room with her. Afterward, a relative paid the $500 fee to a bonding company for him to be released on $5,000 bail.
    And in addition, this tells us the following…

    ON THE ECONOMY, he wants to produce Alvin M. Greene action figures.

    “Another thing we can do for jobs is make toys of me, especially for the holidays,” he told a British newspaper, The Guardian. “Little dolls. Me. Like maybe little action dolls. Me in an Army uniform, Air Force uniform, and me in my suit.”
    Hey, don’t laugh too much – it worked for Obama’s predecessor (a stretch, I know).

  • And finally, it seems as if Joe Pitts has too much time on his hands again (here)…

    In March, the Department of Energy asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to withdraw the government’s application to approve Yucca Mountain, Nev. as the nation’s nuclear waste repository. By law, the government is required to collect nuclear fuel and provide for safe storage. Without such storage, no new nuclear power plant can be licensed.

    So what is Yucca Mountain? Over the last 23 years the government has been constructing a waste repository beneath a mountain in the middle of a military facility. The desert stretches for miles around the site located 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

    Because of decades of intensive study, we know more about the geology of Yucca Mountain than perhaps any other place on the planet. Between 1987 and 2002, the government spent $3.8 billion on scientific and technical studies of Yucca Mountain. Miles of tunnels and hundreds of boreholes have been dug into the mountain.

    In 1998, the Department of Energy, under President Clinton’s leadership, concluded that Yucca Mountain was an appropriate site. Approval was granted in 2002 and work began to move forward on building the appropriate containment facility. During all this time, scientific studies continued to be conducted.

    Now, with $90 billion already spent to build the repository, (Energy Secretary Steven) Chu has halted the project and cut off funding without a substantive scientific study to back him up. Instead of relying on decades of existing studies, President Obama and Secretary Chu have created yet another “blue ribbon panel” to determine what we should do with nuclear waste.
    Only a life form as dim as Pancake Joe would take the issue of Yucca Mountain and frame it as a policy debate between Democrats and Republicans (and Yucca Mountain, by the way, really isn’t even remotely close to PA-16, last I checked).

    Yes, a certain Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History ordered Yucca Mountain to go online in 2002 (here), but former presidents from Gerald Ford to Jimmy Carter to Poppy Bush opposed it. It also currently faces bipartisan opposition from both embattled Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons (who credits Obama for “zeroing out” the Yucca Mountain project to store the nuclear waste here) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

    Pitts does have an ideological kinsman (woman?) on this issue, and that would be Reid’s Repug opponent in the campaign for his Senate seat, Sharron (Wrong) Angle (here)…

    …In short, American Presidents since Gerald Ford have come to see the issue of reprocessing nuclear materials as fraught with environmental, non-proliferation, and budgetary problems. This brief history of Administration policies on reprocessing also illuminates a lack of depth in candidate Angle's understanding of the intrinsic issues related to nuclear material reprocessing.

    (Angle) appears not to understand that launching a commercial/military reprocessing operation at Yucca Mountain would require far more than a simple reversal of a Bush I administration's executive directive. The installation would require re-negotiation of non-proliferation agreements which might, in part, have an impact on our current international efforts to sequester the contemporary attempts by the Iranians to elude regulations.
    At times like this, I wish Pitts would stick to doing what he does best (a debatable prospect, I know – the assumption that Pitts is a master of much of anything except setting a bad example), and that is to vote No (and once more, to do something in response, click here).