Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday Stuff

(I honestly didn't plan for this to be such a dreadful week with the videos, but that's the way it turned out for a number of reasons, including the fact that my ISP decided to take a brief summer vacation at about midnight last night.)

Yes, she's an attractive woman, and she was OK in "Marley and Me," but my God, am I sick of seeing her face, as well as other parts of her body (and always with that ridiculous sort of pouting look on her face)...

(Oh, and by the way, for the benefit of the geniuses at MSNBC who hosed their video upload capability - hint: I'm running XP and IE 8 - allow me to tell you how I was able to add the Onion video above...I clicked on the Embed tab next to the video, copied the code to my clip board, and pasted it into this post. It was easy. And that's exactly how I should be able to upload what I want from K.O. and Maddow like I used to, instead of a story of the birth of quintuplet kittens from the NBC Nightly News, adorable though the kittens are...sorry to belabor this point, but it is necessary.)

...and it still disgusts me that I have to share a party allegiance with toadies and gutter snipes like Kent Conrad (here), especially in light of this, but alas I must...

...also, RIP Daniel Schorr...

...and to help out the real Florida Democrat in that state's U.S. Senate race, click here...

...also, kudos to Greenpeace for making a serious point with humor (another Daily Kos h/t)...

...and man, can I use a laugh after a week like this one.

Friday Mashup Part Two (7/23/10)

(Part One is here.)

  • I just wanted to take note of a couple of votes from the prior week’s Area Votes in Congress writeup from the Inquirer (here)…


    National flood insurance. Voting 329-90, the House sent the Senate a bill (HR 5114) to renew National Flood Insurance at an authorized cost of $476 million over 10 years. The renewal, covering five years, would increase premiums and deductibles, raise residential and commercial coverage limits, delay purchase requirements in areas newly added to flood maps, and provide $50 million annually in grants for programs to educate homeowners and renters about the program.

    A yes vote was to pass the bill.

    Voting yes: John Adler (D., N.J.), Robert E. Andrews (D., N.J.), Robert A. Brady (D., Pa.), Charles W. Dent (R., Pa.), Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.), Jim Gerlach (R., Pa.), Tim Holden (D., Pa.), Frank A. LoBiondo (R., N.J.), Patrick Murphy (D., Pa.), Allyson Y. Schwartz (D., Pa.), Joe Sestak (D., Pa.), and Christopher H. Smith (R., N.J.).

    Voting no: Michael N. Castle (R., Del.) and Joseph R. Pitts (R., Pa.).
    Castle and Pitts also voted against flood insurance not quite three years ago here (and interesting that Castle would vote against flood insurance given that he has also sought funding for coastline repair here – wonder if this is some kind of a “tit for tat,” as it were? “You don’t fund what I want, I don’t fund what you want” on a similar issue, I mean).

    And as we all know, Joe Pitts doesn’t need a reason to vote No against anything (and to do something about that, click here).

    Federal telecommuting. Voting 290-131, the House passed a deficit-neutral bill (HR 1722) to greatly increase the number of civil servants allowed by their agencies to work from home or remote telecommuting centers at least one day each week. The bill would require all agencies to establish "telework" programs, put a senior manager in charge, expand employee participation, and set up an appeals process for those denied participation. The vote sent the bill to a House-Senate conference committee.

    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.
    The following should be noted from here in response to PA-16’s waste of space…

    The potential savings of the (telecommuting) program were not presented by CBO. Using assumptions from a 2006 study commissioned by the U.S. General Services Administration (conducted by Booz Allen), we used our Telework Savings Calculator to quantify the potential governments savings if those eligible federal employees who wanted to work from home did so just one day every other week (half the level required in H.R. 1722):

    Agencies would:

    - Increase productivity by over $2.3 billion each year - equivalent to 26,000 man years of work
    - Save $850 million in annual real estate, electricity, and related costs
    - Save $2.3 billion in annual absenteeism
    - Save $3.1 billion in annual employee turnover
    PA-16, please vote Pitts out of office this fall. You can’t imagine how much you would help yourselves.

  • In addition, we learned the following today from the New York Times (here)…

    Adding to a drumbeat of concern about the nation’s dismal college-completion rates, the College Board warned Thursday that the growing gap between the United States and other countries threatens to undermine American economic competitiveness.

    The United States used to lead the world in the number of 25- to 34-year-olds with college degrees. Now it ranks 12th among 36 developed nations.

    “The growing education deficit is no less a threat to our nation’s long-term well-being than the current fiscal crisis,” Gaston Caperton, the president of the College Board, warned at a meeting on Capitol Hill of education leaders and policy makers, where he released a report detailing the problem and recommending how to fix it. “To improve our college completion rates, we must think ‘P-16’ and improve education from preschool through higher education.”
    The importance and urgency of this issue cannot be overstated as far as I’m concerned. The reason I’m highlighting it, though, is to point out the idiocy of arguments like this one in response (along with J.D. Mullane and more of Murray’s ideological “fellow travelers”).

  • Also, did you know that there is a “vast left-wing (sort of) conspiracy” out there? And Fred Barnes of the Murdoch Street Journal is on the case (here)…

    Not to say there's a media conspiracy, but at least to note that hundreds of journalists have gotten together, on an online listserv called JournoList, to promote liberalism and liberal politicians at the expense of traditional journalism.

    My guess is that this and other revelations about JournoList will deepen the distrust of the national press. True, participants in the online clubhouse appear to hail chiefly from the media's self-identified left wing. But its founder, Ezra Klein, is a prominent writer for the Washington Post. Mr. Klein shut down JournoList last month—a wise decision.
    Yes, it was a "wise decision," because it was basically hacked by Tucker Carlson and his pals to get Dave Weigel canned from the WaPo because he refused to fellate the subjects of his fine coverage.

    And Barnes wouldn't know "traditional journalism" if it bit him in guide (asuming he has one).


    This week, Mr. Carlson produced a series of JournoList emails from April 2008, when Barack Obama's presidential bid was in serious jeopardy. Videos of the antiwhite, anti-American sermons of his Chicago pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, had surfaced, first on ABC and then other networks.

    JournoList contributors discussed strategies to aid Mr. Obama by deflecting the controversy.
    Oh yes, it’s so awful when presidents employ media “strategies,” isn’t it?

    Try reading this and then let me know how quickly we can retire that wingnut talking point, OK (and gee, I'm sure our author gave a certain bit of "strategy" here to a certain Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History).


    (The contributors) went public with a letter criticizing an ABC interview of Mr. Obama that dwelled on his association with Mr. Wright. Then, Spencer Ackerman of The Washington Independent proposed attacking Mr. Obama's critics as racists. He wrote:

    "If the right forces us all to either defend Wright or tear him down, no matter what we choose, we lose the game they've put upon us. Instead, take one of them—Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares—and call them racists. . . . This makes them 'sputter' with rage, which in turn leads to overreaction and self-destruction."
    Guess what, though? Maybe I wouldn’t have gone as far as Spencer Ackerman and called the wingnuts racists, but as far as I’m concerned, that’s what they are…I didn’t like Wright saying “God damn America” either, but try listening to the rest of the speech that led up to that (of course, that would deprive Barnes and co. of a really important wingnutosphere talking point).

    And as emptywheel tells us here…

    Spencer Ackerman and his friends on Journolist saw a wrong being committed in a craven political dirty play and discussed a way to right the wrong. If Daily Caller (and Barnes) thinks that is controversial and worthy of a featured expose, they must be awfully hard up over there.

    The subject attack by the right on Jeremiah Wright during the 2008 election, just as Ackerman and his fellow journalists discussed, was indeed a malicious and dishonest smear.
    And neither Barnes nor anyone else of his political persuasion should talk about religion and double standards here; try reading this post from Max Blumenthal about Sarah Palin and “pastor” Thomas Muthee and think about how fast the 2008 election would have been decided in favor of her and McCain if Obama were the politician in the story instead.

  • And this sort of leads into this last item based on this New York Times story today by Sheryl Gay Stolberg about the firing of Shirley Sherrod and the subsequent effort to reinstate her…

    During a seven-minute telephone call, White House officials said, the president shared some of his own personal experiences, and urged Ms. Sherrod to “continue her hard work on behalf of those in need.”

    Later, in an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Mr. Obama weighed in publicly for the first time. “He jumped the gun,” the president said, referring to Mr. Vilsack, “partly because we now live in this media culture where something goes up on YouTube or a blog and everybody scrambles.”

    That, however, is unlikely to be the end of it for Mr. Obama, who has struggled since the beginning of his presidency with whether, when and how to deal with volatile matters of race. No matter how hard his White House tries to keep the issue from defining his presidency, it keeps popping back up, fueled in part by high expectations from the left for the first black president, and in part by tactical opposition politics on the right.
    I have a question in response; what the hell did “the left” do to get Shirley Sherrod fired?

    Did “the left” doctor the video of her NAACP speech to make it sound as if she was attacking white people? No, the person responsible for that was the festering human stain known as Andrew Breitbart.

    Did “the left” overreact and fire her without giving her a chance to defend herself? No, that was the fault of her clueless boss, Tom Vilsack of the USDA.

    Did “the left” hire Vilsack for the job as head of the USDA to begin with? No, Mr. President, that was your responsibility.

    Has “the left” made it absolutely clear to the employees of your administration that you must take a deep breath, as it were, first and make every effort to examine and weigh any and all circumstances concerning a controversial media moment when it appears that a person or an agency of government under your purview has been maligned? I don’t know the answer to that question, but if it isn’t “yes,” then Mr. President, you have some serious work to do.

    It really pains me to imagine that the prior ruling Bushco regime probably would have handled an episode like this better than you, but I think that’s true, if for no other reason to hold that middle digit on high to the whole world as they were wont to do (and in the face of much more disastrous circumstances than this one, it should be noted).

    Yes, we face a hostile, attack-media environment here, Mr. President. But stop conflating the pit bulls with the people who are trying to support you.

    Or else you may find yourself in a position where you, or Democratic candidates, will need some of those “blogs” to help get re-elected. And we’ll remember the way you maligned us for a wrong for which we are not to blame.

  • Update 7/26/10: And in a related story, as they say, hat tip to Atrios for this.

    Thursday, July 22, 2010

    Helping Out A Congressman With Guts

    I may not have time for any of my crappy blogging today, but in the meantime, I thought that we should read this.

    Wednesday, July 21, 2010

    Wednesday Mashup (7/21/10)

    (I also posted here.)

  • I give you more “conventional wisdom” from CNN’s Gloria Borger here…

    (President Obama) did an economic stimulus plan and devoted a year to health care. He bailed out the banks and passed financial reform. And he still wants to get something done on energy and immigration, so long as there are enough Democrats to pass something.

    All of which has left an American public anxious about the reach of government in general, and, more specifically, about what all of this is costing.
    Well, despite what Borger considers to be an “anxious” American public “about the reach of government in general,” I think the following should be noted (here).


    It's no surprise, for instance, that a slim majority of the American public now believes that reducing the deficit is more important than spending or even tax-cutting to promote economic growth, according to a new National Journal poll.
    I’ll see Borger her National Journal poll and raise her two ABC and CBS polls here, with the results indicating that those polled thought jobs were more important than reducing the deficit.


    So anything that smacks of big-government right now is a no-no.

    For its part, the Obama administration argues that its view is the long view that health care will, for example, reduce the deficit in the long term. And, as one senior adviser tells me, they could end up with the best of both worlds -- renewed economic growth as well as a list of momentous policy achievements.

    In the meantime, however, they've given rise to the Tea Party and given congressional Democrats political agita. Long-term thinking can be politically dangerous.
    Those zany teabaggers would have made their presence felt regardless of what Obama said or did because of the color of his skin (I got into some of that yesterday in response to David Brooks here).

    Yeah, I know that Gloria Borger is “low-hanging fruit” when it comes to our corporate media, but still, that doesn’t mean that she should escape scrutiny.

  • Also, did you know that the unemployed are “unpleasant personalities” who don’t know how to do a day’s work?

    Ben Stein said so here, so he must be correct, right?

    That figures in a way, really, when you consider that this is the same guy who said that we are in a “psychological” recession and Exxon Mobil “needs a hug” here (he also said our deficit was “highly stimulative”).

    Oh, and did you know that Stein also said here that he didn’t like the idea of then-presidential candidate Barack Obama's plan to deliver his speech accepting the Democratic presidential nomination at Denver's Invesco Field (or, as Stein put it, he didn’t "like the idea of Senator Obama giving his acceptance speech in front of 75,000 wildly cheering people,” adding that, "Seventy-five-thousand people at an outdoor sports palace, well, that's something the Fuehrer would have done.")?

    Don’t you just hate it when “Hollywood types” pollute our political discourse with their opinions?

  • (And by the way, I guess Stein is OK with this also, apparently.)

  • Also, this New York Times story tells us that Solicitor General Elena Kagan has cleared her first hurdle, as it were, to being confirmed to the High Court; the Senate Judiciary Committee approved her by a 13-6 vote, with Huckleberry Graham as the lone Repug voting in favor (which also gave him the excuse to pontificate about the confirmation process along the lines of “well, I don’t like her but I’m going to defer to the president, unlike those bad Democrats under Bush,” blah blah blah)…

    If she is confirmed as expected, Ms. Kagan, 50, a former dean of Harvard Law School and the nation’s first female solicitor general, would be the court’s youngest justice, putting her in a position to influence American jurisprudence for decades to come. She would be only the fourth woman to serve on the court, and the only current justice who did not come from the federal appellate bench.

    Although Democrats on the Judiciary Committee gave Ms. Kagan their unanimous approval on Tuesday, one, Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, said he was doing so with “grave concerns.”

    Tuesday’s session was a kind of swan song for Mr. Specter, a former Republican who was once chairman of the judiciary panel. After being defeated in a primary election, he is being forced to retire. He used his last Supreme Court committee vote to complain that Ms. Kagan, who had criticized confirmation hearings as vapid and hollow, did not meet her own standard.

    “She chastised nominees by name and castigated this committee,” Mr. Specter said. “When she came before this committee, it was a repeat performance.”
    Tick tock, Arlen – you gambled by leaving the political party where you truly reside ideologically, and you lost. The rest is sour grapes.


    The committee’s Republicans cited many reasons for voting against Ms. Kagan: her lack of judicial experience; her decision, while dean at Harvard, to briefly bar military recruiters from the use of law school facilities; and her work as an aide to President Bill Clinton on matters like gun rights and the procedure known as partial-birth abortion.
    You know, it really would be nice if our corporate media stenographers would do some actual research and call out the Repugs for the liars that they are; among other things, this Media Matters post tells us that Harvard students had access to military recruiters during Kagan's entire tenure as dean.

    Stolberg’s story also tells us…

    The Senate’s No. 2 Democrat, Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, said Mr. Graham had made him rethink his own approach to judicial nominations, including a move by Democrats several years ago that prevented Miguel Estrada, a prominent conservative lawyer and a good friend of Ms. Kagan, from having a hearing after President George W. Bush nominated him to a federal appeals court. The Estrada filibuster remains a sore point with Republicans.

    “I reflected on some of the things that I have said and how I have voted in the past, and thought that perhaps his statement suggested a better course,” Mr. Durbin said. He said he now believes “Miguel Estrada deserves a day in court or a day before the committee.”
    Excuse me?

    Are we talking about the same Miguel Estrada who was told by Bushco “not to answer questions, not to give up certain documents that would show his views on key issues that affect millions of Americans, workers’ rights, and the right to privacy, and the First Amendment, and environmental rights” at his confirmation hearing for a spot on the U.S. Court of Appeals (here)?

    Memo to Durbin and the Dems (particularly in the Senate) – just because Kagan and Estrada are friends, that doesn’t give you the right to go all wobbly and start propagating revisionist history.
  • Tuesday, July 20, 2010

    Tuesday Stuff

    John Cornyn of Texas says here that he looks back on Dubya with "fondness," which, given that he's from the state that is the breeding ground for bad government, as The Eternal Molly Ivins once called it, isn't that surprising I realize. However, I still think we should keep that in mind as we view this clip (second item in particular - probably would have inspired "Special Comment"-esque outrage if it had come from anyone else, but from Dubya, I guess we're numb to it by now, sadly)...

    ...and I think this band recently played at the "Xponential Music Festival" in these parts - enjoy.

    Tuesday Mashup (7/20/10)

  • Gee, no points for originality here, wingnuts; let’s see if your cheap knockoffs manage to outsell the same items denoting the last day in office of Obama’s predecessor.

  • Also, Repug U.S. House Rep Eric Cantor of Virginia believes that he has bragging rights over the adoption of his home state’s budget (here)…

    During these challenging economic times, Virginia balanced its budget and created a revenue surplus of more than $200 million in FY 2010. This is a result of the steady leadership of Gov. Bob McDonnell (R). Due to its fiscal prudence, Virginia was also able to close a $4.2 billion budget shortfall in the FY 2011/2012 by significantly cutting spending and without raising taxes. If America is to get its fiscal house in order, Washington needs to learn from the bold actions taken in Virginia by Governor McDonnell.
    Really? As noted here…

    Virginia lawmakers went into overtime this weekend to pass a two-year, $70 billion budget that includes millions in cuts to health and human services programs in the state.

    (Katherine Webb, senior vice president of the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association) said hospitals will need to make tough choices to either reduce service or even jobs.

    Prior to the finalized budget, the VHHA was critical of health care cuts for these very reasons.

    “The General Assembly, like all Virginians, has had to make tough decisions during these difficult economic times,” said says Laurens Sartoris, president of the VHHA, in a statement. “But it is unconscionable to take money designated for a specific purpose and allocate it to other areas of the budget. No one would find it reasonable to transfer federal dollars for education to Medicaid. Why would it be acceptable to take health care dollars away from health care?”

    Other health aspects of the pending budget include mental health services for 250 additional Virginians through Medicaid and $1 million for the Massey Cancer Center at VCU Medical Center in 2011.
    And given the ridiculous attempt at fiscal management here, Cantor really has no room to say anything on this subject anyway.

  • Also, does anyone besides me remember how the Philadelphia Inquirer had once contemplated a “pay wall” for its glorious content here (snark – I know the story from last year didn’t say that was coming soon, but I don’t know how it could be avoided since they were discussing ways to generate revenue online)?

    Well, it seems that, according to this, the Times of London has already tried that. And they lost 90 percent of their online readership as a result.

    Just sayin’…

  • Finally, I give you BoBo in the New York Times today (here)…

    This progressive era amounts to a high-stakes test. If the country remains safe and the health care and financial reforms work, then we will have witnessed a life-altering event. We’ll have received powerful evidence that central regulations can successfully organize fast-moving information-age societies.

    If the reforms fail — if they kick off devastating unintended consequences or saddle the country with a maze of sclerotic regulations — then the popular backlash will be ferocious. Large sectors of the population will feel as if they were subjected to a doomed experiment they did not consent to. They will feel as if their country has been hijacked by a self-serving professional class mostly interested in providing for themselves.

    If that backlash gains strength, well, what’s the 21st-century version of the guillotine?
    Is that supposed to be funny?

    When we are routinely deluged in our media with images like this?

    But then again, as noted here, Brooks has been making excuses for the teabaggers in the name of false equivalency with the DFHs for some time, so I don’t suppose that his bit apologia for right-wing violence today is surprising in the least.
  • Monday, July 19, 2010

    Monday Mashup (7/19/10)

    (I also posted here.)

  • ZOMG! – it turns out that our Kenyan-born Marxist preh-zee-dint who won’t show us his Hawaiian birth certificate just pulled a fast one on us – fortunately, we have Repug U.S. House Rep James Sensenbrenner to tell us about it here (removing my tongue from my cheek)…

    As reports are coming out that Pennsylvania is receiving $160 million from the Department of Health and Human Services to set up a new high-risk insurance pool program that will fund abortions, we are seeing, yet again, that the Obama Administration will say and do anything to pass their liberal agenda — ignoring public opinion along the way…
    And on the same day Sensenbrenner wrote this, we received the following from (here)…

    …the chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee for Pro-Life Activities praised the Department of Health and Human Services July 15 for reaffirming that no federal funds will be provided to cover elective abortions under state-run health insurance plans.

    The statement came from Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston after HHS spokeswoman Jenny Backus said that "in Pennsylvania and in all other states, abortion will not be covered in the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan except in the cases of rape or incest, or where the life of the woman would be endangered."
    Oh yes, it’s part of the “liberal agenda” to kill babies, let’s not forget.

    Please (I don’t even feel like trying to make the common-sense argument that health care reform doesn’t finance abortions anyway because women who elect it in their coverage have to pay out-of-pocket premiums for it; for the most part, our “dialogue” in this country on abortion has very little to do with common sense anyway…would men put up with such restrictions for Viagra or Cialis?).

  • Oh, and did you know that the stimulus an utter fraud? I mean, Joe Pitts says so here, so it must be true…

    We can’t go on pretending that the Stimulus Act is successful. Much of the money still hasn’t been spent and we should redirect these unobligated funds to better uses. If over $1 trillion of government spending can’t create jobs, then what do we need to do?
    This tells us the following about how stimulus funds are being used in Lancaster County, PA (Pitts’ home turf), including “Two miles of sewer line in Talmage, an outing to the symphony for city kids, (and) solar panels glinting on a Penn Township roof” (and Robert Schellhamer, head of the Lancaster City Housing Authority, described the “wonderful windfall” of $991,476 his agency received…it's replacing four aging elevators and more than 300 windows at two high-rises for senior citizens).

    And as far as jobs are concerned…

    It's anyone's guess whether the act's laundry list of tax cuts and spending did much to soften the recession's blow here.

    What can be said is nonfarm job loss in Lancaster County has slowed. Job loss averaged 1,167 jobs per month in the first half of 2009. In the second half, the rate of job loss fell to 250 per month.
    It’s true that the “stim” is not a panacea, and it should have been bigger. But aside from saying no and braying about the magic of tax cuts, I really didn’t hear the Repugs presenting realistic alternatives.

    If you want to “turn the page” on Joe Pitts (and God, why would you not want to do that if you live in PA-16?), click here.

  • And Kevin Ferris of Philadelphia’s conservative house organ of record really brought “teh stupid” here yesterday…

    If tomorrow, liberals in Congress, state legislatures, and town councils all across the nation raised taxes and increased spending in order to fund every single item on every special-interest wish list, would social-justice nirvana have arrived? No.

    Even under Ronald Reagan, who scaled back government somewhat, spending on…"human resources" grew 0.90 percent. That's far less than under most presidents, but still an increase.
    Oy – as noted here (from a "glibertarian," it should be noted)…

    In 1980, Jimmy Carter's (sic) last year as president, the federal government spent a whopping 27.9% of "national income" (an obnoxious term for the private wealth produced by the American people). Reagan assaulted the free-spending Carter administration throughout his campaign in 1980. So how did the Reagan administration do? At the end of the first quarter of 1988, federal spending accounted for 28.7% of "national income."

    Even Ford and Carter did a better job at cutting government. Their combined presidential terms account for an increase of 1.4%—compared with Reagan's 3%—in the government's take of "national income." And in nominal terms, there (was) a 60% increase in government spending, thanks mainly to Reagan's requested budgets, which were only marginally smaller than the spending Congress voted.

    The budget for the Department of Education, which candidate Reagan promised to abolish along with the Department of Energy…more than doubled to $22.7 billion, Social Security spending (rose) from $179 billion in 1981 to $269 billion in 1986. The price of farm programs went from $21.4 billion in 1981 to $51.4 billion in 1987, a 140% increase. And this doesn't count the…$4 billion "drought-relief" measure. Medicare spending in 1981 was $43.5 billion; in 1987 it hit $80 billion. Federal entitlements cost $197.1 billion in 1981—and $477 billion in 1987.
    Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera…

    Ferris also sneaks in a commercial for the budget proposal of Repug U.S. House Rep Paul Ryan; in response, Ezra Klein of the WaPo tells us the following here (last bullet)…

    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.
    The modern-day Republican Party had its chance to remake government in the early part of this decade, and it may take us years longer to recover from it. Aside from the failure of Ferris to acknowledge that, whatever else he has to say here is pouting and sour grapes while the grownups try to fix the mess he watched unfold and did virtually nothing about. Do they have anything else to offer?


  • Update 7/31/10: And in the matter of Ryan...tee hee hee.

  • Also, as long as I’m on the subject of pundit wankery, I give you Mark Halperin (here, on how the Dems are supposedly going to get creamed in the fall…yes, they’ll lose some seats, but if they stick to their proverbial guns – I know, this is a recording)…

    To be sure, the White House plans to continue to try to impact the national environment by touting its accomplishments, blaming Republicans for stopping other measures, and railing against the Bush legacy. They will also continue to work aggressively on the mechanics of victory, hoping to save their incumbents with their customized, race-by-race tactics. Vice President Joe Biden on ABC News' This Week crowed about Senate majority leader Harry Reid's back-from-the-dead strength in his Nevada race, credited largely to Reid's shaky Republican opponent, who landed her nomination in part because of Democratic shenanigans.
    Oh, so it’s the Dems’ fault that Nevada’s presumptive Repug U.S. Senate nominee Sue Lowden turned into The Chicken Lady (here) and lost the Repug nomination to teabagger Sharron (Wrong) Angle, huh?

    And concerning Angle, I suppose this is the fault of the Dems also.

  • (Oh, and I meant to include this for Halperin's benefit also.)

    Update 7/20/10: Halperin should give this a read also.

  • And speaking of wingnuts (and the Inky), I suppose it was time for another fluff piece on PA Repug U.S. Senate candidate Pat Toomey (here)…

    In a May 2009 op-ed piece in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Toomey argued for tolerance among Republicans on party members' abortion views. He outlined a vision of a GOP with room for vigorous debate on how to achieve the "unifying idea" of individual freedom and limited government, but "I would certainly not suggest that those who disagree with the pro-life position be banished from the Republican tent."
    Funny that Club-For-Growth Pat is saying that now, since, as noted here, he said, in so many words, that he would ban abortions and put doctors in jail for performing them.

    Oh, but he’s a “moderate” now.

    Sure he is (and to help Admiral Joe, click here).

  • Finally, this is a story of great cultural significance for a Philadelphia-based art icon, so of course I read it in the New York Times…

    PHILADELPHIA — The critic Clement Greenberg once described Thomas Eakins’s signature brand of darkness as “an ideal chiaroscuro.” Eakins was known to knock down even the brightness of a cheerful blue sky with a sober dimming wash.

    So it often struck scholars as odd that his greatest symphony of darkness and light — the huge, still unsettling “Gross Clinic” from 1875, showing an operation in a surgical theater, a bloody union of human progress and frailty — always seemed to have a little too much light in it, in all the wrong places. The two figures standing in a corridor behind the godlike surgeon Dr. Samuel D. Gross appeared to be emerging from an orange inferno, with parts of their clothes aflame, drawing the viewer’s eye away from the drama at the painting’s center. Many of the medical students arrayed in the darkened galleries above were too bright and reddish, as if some were fiddling with flashlights.

    “This is the picture that’s been in a thousand textbooks,” said Kathleen A. Foster, senior curator of American art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, staring despondently last week at an image of the work on a computer screen. “It’s the painting everyone knows. Unfortunately it’s not the one Eakins painted.”

    But on the wall next to the computer towered the one he did, the original, out of its frame and glowering once again with all the menace and murk its creator intended. Over the past 10 months, in a high-ceilinged conservation lab, Ms. Foster and Mark Tucker, the museum’s chief paintings conservator, have led an ambitious restoration effort to reverse extensive changes made to the work sometime between 1917 and 1925 under the direction of its former owner, Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. The painting, which has not been seen in public since last July, will go back on view Saturday at the museum in the exhibition “An Eakins Masterpiece Restored: Seeing ‘The Gross Clinic’ Anew,” which will continue through Jan. 9.

    The show will mark a rebirth in another sense as well. It will be the formal reintroduction of the picture to the public since a dramatic fund-raising effort in 2007 and 2008 that ensured the painting would stay in Philadelphia. The museum and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts raised the $68 million needed to keep it after Thomas Jefferson University, the medical school’s parent, announced plans to sell it for that price in a joint deal to the National Gallery of Art in Washington and to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, being built in Bentonville, Ark., by the Wal-Mart heiress Alice L. Walton.
    As noted here, there was quite a buzz when the smiley-faced-yellow-button people tried to get their filthy mitts on Eakins’s masterwork, aided in no small part by the utter cowardice of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, which, but for a furious bit of last-minute fundraising by some of the city’s deep-pocketed arts patrons, would have sold this precious piece of Philadelphia history.

    Fortunately, because the painting was kept where it originated, it was able to undergo this faithful restoration. And I can’t wait to see it again (trying to describe the detail of it here really doesn’t do it justice).