Saturday, July 31, 2010
Friday, July 30, 2010
...and ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Anthony Weiner freakout, which, as far as I'm concerned, was completely justified (more here, and the sequel is here - John Cole is absolutely right, by the way)...
...and Jon Stewart at last says what we've been thinking all of this time (here - the goatee may take some getting used to)...
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
...and here's some edgy indie stuff to start the weekend.
Also, this letter appeared yesterday…
Patrick Murphy Demands End to Insurer’s Secret Profits on Soldiers’ Death Benefits
Bucks County Congressman outraged over revelations of life insurance company making millions in profit off of soldiers’ death benefits, demands money is returned to families(Washington , D.C.) – It seems almost incomprehensible that life insurance companies would make millions in secret profits off of the death benefits of fallen U.S. servicemembers. But according to a groundbreaking report released yesterday by Bloomberg Markets magazine, that’s exactly what is happening to thousands of spouses and parents of troops who gave their lives serving our nation.
After learning of the ongoing scam, Pennsylvania Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-8th District) wrote a letter to the head of Prudential Financial, Inc. demanding that they end the practice immediately, disclose the exact amount of profit they made off troops’ death benefits, and return the money to the families. Murphy also made clear in his letter that while he hopes public outrage is sufficient cause for them to stop this practice, he’s already working with colleagues to pursue legislation to ensure it never happens again. While these practices may not be illegal, he said, they’re immoral and should stop immediately.
Murphy released the following statement after these revelations became public:
“I am outraged to learn that life insurance companies are ripping off parents and spouses of troops who sacrificed their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan, making millions off benefits that should be going directly to the families.
I hope that it doesn’t take an act of Congress to force life insurance companies to do the right thing by military families, but you can rest assured I’ll do everything in my power to stop insurance companies’ outrageous practice of secretly profiting off the death of U.S. troops.”
For the full Bloomberg Markets magazine report, click here.
For a chart demonstrating how insurers benefit from soldiers’ death benefits, click here.
A one-on-one meeting in May; jobs fairs in June and July; a veterans' information meeting. Wow! Congressman Patrick Murphy sure doesn't just sit behind a desk and read the newspaper all day!And as you can imagine, there was plenty of wingnut umbrage in the comments; funny how they have no trouble dishing it out, as they say, but all kinds of trouble taking it.
A recent letter writer wanted to know "where are the jobs?" while criticizing the "... glossy mailer" that notified people of a jobs fair. (Complaining by some cannot be avoided; it's all these types have to offer.)
A letter devoted to complaining about Patrick's one-on-one meeting in May where he offered the public a chance to talk to him personally; his staff getting their contact information afterward (I've been to a few; very helpful.). The man complained that the venue should have been changed into a town hall meeting to accommodate an unruly group led by GOP congressional candidate Mike Fitzpatrick, who the letter writer called a "calming influence; (he) defused what could have been a volatile situation." Spare me! These same people showed up at Murphy's Bristol office on a Wednesday night at 6 p.m. after office hours wanting a one-on-one!
I've been to several of Murphy's meetings. They might be in the produce section of the Acme, they might be at a church in Warminster, they might be at his campaign office, they might be at a local union hall, and they might be at a church in Bristol; not to mention several telephone conferences. They all count. He's out there!
But, as I say, some just want to complain. The complainers have taken hold of a new word: "unconstitutional."
I think the crux of it is that these people are angry that they do not have the power. They want it; not that they know what to do with it.
Patrick Murphy is doing a tremendous amount of work and using our tax money wisely and for the right reasons: for the good of our community!
And to reward good behavior, click here (and kudos to Murphy for this also).
HouseTo force Pancake Joe into retirement for good, click here.
Extended jobless benefits. Voting 272-152, the House sent President Obama a bill (HR 4213) to provide unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless through November, with the $34 billion cost added to the national debt. The bill will fund payments to those who have exhausted their initial 26-week allotments of state-funded jobless benefits and will deliver lump-sum retroactive payments to qualified individuals who lost eligibility after June 2. The bill keeps 99 weeks as the maximum eligibility period for receiving state-federal unemployment compensation.
A yes vote was to pass the bill.
Voting yes: John Adler (D., N.J.), Robert E. Andrews (D., N.J.), Robert A. Brady (D., Pa.), Michael N. Castle (R., Del.), Charles W. Dent (R., Pa.), Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.), Jim Gerlach (R., Pa.), Tim Holden (D., Pa.), Frank A. LoBiondo (R., N.J.), Patrick Murphy (D., Pa.), Allyson Y. Schwartz (D., Pa.), Joe Sestak (D., Pa.), and Christopher H. Smith (R., N.J.).
Voting no: Joseph R. Pitts (R., Pa.).
Tariff reductions, suspensions. Voting 378-43, the House sent the Senate a bill (HR 4380) reducing or suspending tariffs on the import of thousands of components and raw materials used by U.S. companies to manufacture made-in-America products. The bill is designed to boost production and create jobs in industries such as automobiles, agriculture, chemicals, electronics, machine tools, pharmaceuticals, and textiles.
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.
And based on this, it looks like health care reform is on its way to achieving a similar level of acceptance by the vast majority of this country.
(Also, we recently observed the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Americans With Disabilities Act, and in that spirit, I think this is an excellent idea also.)
To support that claim, Varroney tells us the following (about the economic challenges also faced by JFK)…
In 1962…President Kennedy proposed a broad and bold series of tax cuts with the aim of spurring private-sector job creation. Kennedy believed the federal government's "most useful role is not to rush into a program of excessive increases in public expenditures, but to expand the incentives and opportunities for private expenditures." Acting on those beliefs, Kennedy called for a reduction in personal and corporate tax rates and simplification of the tax code.Varroney then uses this as an excuse to extol the supposed tax-cutting success of The Sainted Ronnie R, which “went on to generate 16.4 million new jobs between 1983 and Inauguration Day 1989. Even more impressive, total tax revenues nearly doubled and personal income tax revenues increased by more than 54 percent by 1989.”
The Kennedy tax cuts ultimately spurred the creation of 9 million new jobs and increased federal revenues from $94 billion in 1961 to $153 billion by 1968.
Yeah, well, even supply-siders such as Greg Mankiw tell us here that "Most economists ... believe that taxes influence national income but doubt that the growth effects are large enough to make tax cuts self-financing."
Been there, done that, people…
The main reason why I’m pointing this out, though, isn’t to try and kill another “zombie lie” about tax cuts being supposedly deficit-neutral and leading to growth. It is to say that I actually agree with Varroney a bit on one point (shocking, I know); President Obama should be more like President Kennedy.
I’m talking about our 35th president who stood up to U.S. Steel, as noted here (every Democrat, not just President Obama, should read/listen and learn).
The Church tells us that NFP is a “safe, effective, and morally acceptable method of ‘spacing’ children.”
And this from an organization of men not allowed to marry or father kids of their own.
I don’t like criticizing my faith – it’s as important to me at least as it is to any Catholic. But it is wanton foolishness to think of NFP as anything other than a means to determine the optimum conditions for conceiving a child.
If anyone who happens to be reading this has been able to apply NFP successfully within their married lives, hey, good for you. But if you’re trying to prevent conception of a child as opposed to merely ‘spacing’ pregnancies, learn about actual methods of birth control and save yourselves some unnecessary heartache and/or anxious moments.
To paraphrase a bumper sticker I often see in our church’s parking lot (along with the ones about not believing the “liberal media”), it’s a child AND a choice.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
...and God, I thought this was hilarious...
...and hey, they're coming to the Tower Theater on September 7th - check 'em out...
...and no video for this, but it's sadly apropos in light of this disgusting development (add this to war without end in Afghanistan and totally bailing on the Senate climate bill, as well as what happened with HAMP...memo to Van Jones and others scolding the netroots - if 44 gets primaried, I just told you the reason why).
I have to give a high-five to Gov. Chris Christie. The New Jersey Republican was on “Morning Joe” today and showed why he is not only a rising star within the GOP, but also a model of leadership for politicians who have lost touch with their spines.Yeah, Christie is such a visionary leader, isn’t he?
A clip of a back-and-forth Christie had with a teacher over benefits contributions and a wage freeze was shown. In it, the governor says things that far too many politicians wouldn’t dare. When she claims, “You’re not compensating me for my education and you’re not compensating me for my experience,” Christie was blunt. “Well, you know what then?,” he said, “you don’t have to do it.... Teachers go into it knowing what the pay scale is.” His tart retort was met with applause.
As noted here…
To close a deficit that he asserted was approaching $11 billion, Governor Christie called for the layoffs of 1,300 state workers, closings of state psychiatric institutions, an $820 million cut in aid to public schools, and nearly a half-billion dollars less in aid to towns and cities. He also suspended until May 2011 a popular property-tax rebate program, breaking one of his own campaign promises.And of course, this gave Christie the opportunity to pretend to be above it all, or something, saying “The defenders of the status quo have already begun to yell and scream” (of course, being a typical Repug, all Christie cares about is zombie-like compliance, which, happily, he is not going to get).
Democrats were quick to characterize Mr. Christie’s proposal as falling disproportionately on the backs of the middle class, the poor, the elderly, schoolchildren, college students and inner-city residents, while leaving largely unscathed the wealthy and most businesses.
And as noted here (in the matter of “Everybody’s gotta be a part of the sacrifice” – unless they belong to the “pay no price, bear no burden” investor class)…
"They made a political judgment: it was either raise the tax, or we could have the issue to use against a Republican governor," Christie told reporters, referring to Democratic Party lawmakers.Read this well, all those in PA who would support Tom Corbett for governor. He would represent at least as big a mistake as the one now in charge of the Garden State (and by the way, to do something in response to Corbett, click here – Onorato has problems on the issue of drilling for natural gas, but he’s the least worst option IMHO).
"They chose the issue over the revenue," he added. "Well, they got the issue. They're not getting the revenue."
Well, if by “on the right track,” you mean extending the tax cuts for the rich into infinity and getting rid of those for the middle class (as noted here), I would have to agree (and by the way, to help Kendrick Meek – and he needs it against “Democrat” Jeff Greene based on this – click here).
With speculation growing that he’ll join the wide-open 2012 Republican presidential field, South Dakota Sen. John Thune plans to roll out a sweeping proposal Tuesday to remake the congressional budget process.Um, about that “10 percent” claim, TPM tells us the following (here)…
Thune’s budget plan would create a joint House-Senate panel on cutting government spending, call for a line-item veto and mandate that 10 percent of the deficit be cut each year until it is eliminated.
Appearing on Fox News, Thune and host Greta Van Susteren discussed the bill's call for the creation of a Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction, tasked with reducing the deficit 10 percent year over year.Of course, funny math from Thune is not surprising, seeing as how (as noted here) he rewarded his former lobbying client by allowing them to apply for a $2.5 billion appropriation after he was elected. Also, Thune once introduced the Freedom from Government Competition Act (S. 1167), in which Thune claimed that “studies” found that the government could save $28 billion.
"It would be required to find 10% in savings -- 10% of the deficit in savings every budget cycle," Thune said.
"So in 10 years we wouldn't have a deficit?" van Sustern asked.
"Theoretically, yes," Thune replied. "10% Is a floor. Obviously -- you can go beyond that."
This is what's known in think tank (and Twitter) circles as a #mathfail.
According to Thune's plan, "the new Joint Committee must introduce legislation that eliminates or reduces spending on wasteful government programs and achieves a savings of at least 10 percent of the previous year's budget deficit." Because the deficit would decrease yearly, the actual returns on 10 percent annual savings would diminish over time, such that it would take decades to reduce the deficit to one percent of its current level. Forty-three years to be exact. For those who remember Zeno's paradox, it would actually be impossible to ever completely eliminate the deficit under the Thune plan.
But for the help of Jeff Gannon’s dirty tricks against Tom Daschle in 2004 and Bushco’s influence in keeping Ellsworth Air Force Base off the fiscal chopping block, Thune would be little more than a good-looking shyster trying to ply his wares for the highest bidder. As it is, he’s a United States Senator with particularly bogus notions of fiscal management.
And I realize that that makes him eminently qualified to seek the Republican Party nomination for president (and I don't know what it says about South Dakota politics that Thune is unopposed, but it can't be anything good).
Update 10/1/10: Don't blink, or you'll miss Thune running away from his TARP vote (here).
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
...and the thought has occurred to me from time to time that, if this decade has a theme song (assuming we're still in the "oughts"), this would be it.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
I guess it was inevitable that Stephen Colbert would have a thing or two to say about the Shirley Sherrod business – kind of amusing (worth it if for no other reason than the Bill Orally clip)…
|The Colbert Report||Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
|Racial Pro Firing|
…and happy 70th birthday to none other than Bugs Bunny, who made his debut in the Warner Bros. animated cartoon "A Wild Hare” in 1940 (and yes, I realize the ending isn’t “PC,” but the rest of it is typically fun stuff).
From Keystone Progress...
Lancaster County is about to turn back the clock on civil rights-back to 1964!To reach Keystone Progress, click here (and for good measure, click here too).
Two Lancaster County Commissioners, Scott Martin and Dennis Stuckey, are trying to close down the Lancaster County Human Relations Commission, the body responsible for enforcing civil rights since 1964.
If they succeed, they will eliminate the ability of the county to enforce civil rights protections. This would be the first step of its kind to roll back civil rights in Pennsylvania's history. We can't let this happen!
This will be devastating to people who are victims of discrimination in Lancaster County. It will also send a message that discrimination is once again acceptable in the county. This will have a chilling affect on tourism and new business development in the region.
The vote to eliminate the Human Relations Commission will take place this Thursday night, July 29.
We are asking people of goodwill to send a message to the Lancaster County Commissioners: Don't turn back the clock on civil rights! Keep the Human Relations Commission!
You can send your message in two ways:
First, Click here to send an email to the Commissioners. You can use our pre-written email or compose your own.
Second, if you live near Lancaster, come to the Unity Rally to Defend Civil Rights. It will be this Thursday, July 29 at 5:30pm at Binn's Park, 100 N. Queen Street, Lancaster. There will be great inspirational speakers representing the diversity of Lancaster County, all testifying to the importance of keeping a strong Human Relations Commission.
This will be followed by the Lancaster County Commissioners meeting at 7:00pm at the County Administration Building, Room 102, 150 N. Queen St., Lancaster, PA 17603.
Please do all you can to help protect civil rights in Lancaster County. We can't let hate win the day!
for the Keystone Progress Team
I would add that this doesn’t exactly help either (this happened primarily under the watch of Dubya and the congressional Repugs – I truly can’t imagine the gall that they can now “rebrand” themselves after this as the supposed party of fiscal prudence).
The Taliban didn’t attack us on 9/11, though they provided aid and comfort to the ones who did. And there isn’t enough of an al Qaeda presence to justify our troop strength.
And yes, I know this is a recording.
But Mr. Obama lacks a key strategic advantage that his Democratic predecessor in the Oval Office enjoyed. Mr. Clinton’s small initiatives came as a relief to voters exhausted by the aggressive conservatism of a Republican Congress led by Newt Gingrich, then the House speaker.Oh, I’m not sure I would agree with that based on this (and as noted here, “Bush’s Brain” has no trouble trying to step into that void either).
Since Democrats control the White House and Congress alike, “Obama doesn’t have anybody to contrast with,” Mr. Reed said. “He doesn’t really have a boogeyman right now.”
Gee, I wonder, then, how that would explain this?
This really isn’t too surprising I know, given Johanns’ almost invisible progressive rating here (and as noted here, he also voted against extending benefits in May 2009).
Oh, and according to this, did you know that Johanns flip-flopped on the “stim”…
GOP Senator Mike Johanns of Nebraska told the Grand Island, Neb., Independent newspaper that “it would be hard for me to imagine that we are going to be creating many jobs here.”I’ll be honest – I wouldn’t like Johanns even if his record were decent on the economy because he introduced that ridiculous (and illegal, as it turned out) anti-ACORN Amendment, noted here (and speaking of the economy, I couldn’t find any statement from Johanns about the Vise Grip plant in DeWitt, NE moving to China when he was running against Scott Kleeb for the U.S. Senate…at least Kleeb brought it up in a debate in ’08, which was better than nothing).
That did not, however, stop him from sending a letter to Vilsack requesting funds. “The proposed project would create 38 new jobs and bring broadband to eight hospitals, five colleges, 16 libraries and 161 K-12 schools,” Mr. Johanns wrote.
Update 7/29/10: Here is something else Johanns and his Repug pals attacking the "stim" should consider if they were fair-minded (which we know they aren't, of course).
According to the AP, President Obama said: "Every dollar wasted should be going toward helping people afford college, providing benefits to the military and many other legitimate uses of tax money."You can truly cut the stoo-pid here with a knife, people (and as we all know, based on this, Medicare/Medicaid fraud is no big deal…riiiight).
Which means the wasteful government will cut government waste to pay for - more government.
And as we also know (based on this), J.D. doesn’t think attending college is a big deal either, so that automatically makes it a “big gumint” plot (he has written extensively on this subject, though he would have been better off avoiding the topic).
Not to be outdone, though, he tells us the following today (here)…
In 2006, I was on Independence Mall in Philadelphia to meet Cindy Sheehan, the war protest mom. Across the street, there were a handful of Bush counter-demonstrators. The president's soaring popularity had sunk to low levels. A mid-term election approached.Maybe not, but I haven’t seen any anti-war protestors showing up with guns either, to say nothing of signs threatening violence against those with whom they disagree, as you can see…
"The momentum in this country is shifting," Sheehan said, as we were surrounded by throngs of her well-wishers, and she was whisked to her next antiwar protest in another city.
You may see these descriptions as troubling or unflattering. But, long ago, I concluded that such public demonstrations are a safety valve for the masses to blow off steam, to vent frustration.
It's the same spectacle seen with the tea partiers who, for a year, have vented in public at congressional representatives, and protested in Washington, D.C., albeit without leather whips and masks.
And it’s kind of funny in a way that, for someone who is actually a good “beat” reporter, Mullane is lazy when it comes to getting the details on the individuals he dislikes (he could try actually interviewing these people and learning about them, but I realize that that would thoroughly disrupt his narratives about “hippy dudes” and the like).
In a way, I suppose, his column today is a companion piece to the item I posed about here not quite five years ago, which touched on a similar theme of ridiculing anti-war protestors. And at the time (perhaps in a fit of pique, I’ll admit), I refereed to him as “a charter member of the right-wing fourth-estate freak show, posing as the journalistic equivalent of the dog-faced boy.”
And believe me when I tell you that absolutely nothing has changed since (and by the way, I don't recall any racism in war protests, further noted here).
Monday, July 26, 2010
The latest from Keystone Progress (and believe me when I tell you that I would like nothing better than to utterly ignore this woman, but because there are too many stoo-pid people in this country who let themselves be led by her…):
Sarah Palin is trying to influence Pennsylvania's elections with her right wing, special interest money. She has begun making contributions to candidates in Pennsylvania who share her radical Tea Party agenda.To follow Keystone Progress on the web, click here (or to follow on Twitter, click here).
What is Palin's agenda? Eliminate Social Security, overturning healthcare reform, eliminating regulations on corporations and banks, closing public schools and other public services.
We can't let Palin and her Pennsylvania surrogates succeed in enacting that agenda. That's why we've set up a new 527 organization called the Keystone Progress Action Fund (KPAF - here).
KPAF has made a commitment to try to match Palin's contributions in Pennsylvania-- dollar for dollar. So far, Palin has contributed $3500. We're asking our friends to help us reach that goal of making contributions in increments of $35 ($70, $105, $1750), or whatever you can afford.
Every dollar raised in this campaign will go toward countering Palin's efforts. Please join our campaign.
Help us send a message to Palin that her efforts in Pennsylvania will be matched with a movement of progressive people. Donate now using our ActBlue page here or send a check to the address below.
for the Keystone Progress Action Fund
Keystone Progress Action Fund, 1500 N. 2nd St., Suite 11, Harrisburg, PA 17102