Saturday, October 16, 2010

Saturday Stuff

Too easy to say that Pat Toomey's campaign has gone to the dogs, but I will anyway (partly for this also - and to help Admiral Joe, click here)...

...and I just love '60s retro R&B stuff - here is more.

The Betsy Ross Of Beijing?

Mikey Fitzpatrick does it again (the Chamber would be so proud)...

In another insult to American workers, Mike Fitzpatrick's campaign hands out American flags made in China.

(Bristol, PA) - As a Congressman, Mike Fitzpatrick betrayed working families in Bucks County by supporting policies that continue to outsource jobs to foreign countries. Yesterday, Fitzpatrick's campaign stooped to a new low and showed just how out of touch Mike really is.

At a debate this past Thursday at the Central Bucks Chamber of Commerce, Fitzpatrick added insult to injury by allowing his campaign to hand out American flags made in China. While Americans are struggling to find work, Former Congressman Fitzpatrick apparently had no problem using his campaign dollars to buy American flags outside of the United States.

"I bet there are thousands of unemployed workers here in Bucks County who would have taken great pride in making those flags," said Neil Samuels, Executive Director of the Bucks County Democratic Committee. "Mike Fitzpatrick doesn’t see a problem if Old Glory is produced in China, but working families and American Veterans just might."

We know that Mike Fitzpatrick does not understand that outsourcing jobs hurts American workers. His tie-breaking vote for CAFTA was bad enough. Then he tried to deny that anyone was hurt by the policy that sent American jobs overseas. Now, he continues to support tax-breaks for companies that outsource jobs, so they can pad their bottom-line at the expense of our working families.

All the best,

Neil Samuels
Executive Director
Bucks County Democratic Committee
In response, to support Patrick Murphy, click here.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Friday Stuff

What a bunch of MFers the national Chamber is (and not the local ones, which do a lot of good and aren't necessarily affiliated with the national Chamber, it should be emphasized...yep, nothing to see here, Philadelphia Inquirer - move along)...

...and given the prior video, let's see if this song title is prescient or not (and sorry, but we'll have to "leave it there"...I'll settle for an electoral "riot" in favor of the Dems, though).

Friday Mashup Part Two (10/15/10)

(Part One is here – also, this may be it for posting actual content for awhile since most of next week doesn’t look too good at the moment.)

  • The Bucks County Courier Times informed us here of the debate between Mikey Fitzpatrick and our incumbent congressman Patrick Murphy for the latter’s U.S. House seat in PA-08, including the following…

    Democrats charging that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce may be using foreign money to fuel election efforts: Murphy said he's "never complained about that" but wants a "firewall" to prevent foreign money from influencing U.S. elections. He said Fitzpatrick "doesn't mind these shadow groups." Fitzpatrick said the "shadow groups" running political commercials on channels 3, 6 and 10 are labor unions. He called it "unAmerican" to attack the Chamber for following its First Amendment right.
    A typical Mikey response – well, guess what…it turns out that people are paying attention to this story, as well they should (here).

    Fitzpatrick isn’t the only one trying to stifle a yawn over the matter of foreign companies quite probably paying for political attack ads (I say “quite probably” since the Chamber of Commerce is stonewalling on the matter). The Philadelphia Inquirer also opined as follows today on the subject (here)…

    President Obama acted irresponsibly at Democratic rallies, including one Sunday in Germantown, when he warned about foreign bogeymen buying U.S. elections.

    "Groups that receive foreign money are spending huge sums to influence American elections, and they won't tell you where the money for their ads comes from," Obama said.

    The White House has no proof that foreign money is playing any role in this election, and presidential adviser David Axelrod admitted as much. But that hasn't stopped top Democrats from fearmongering as a last resort leading up to Election Day.
    I realize that the Inky is a little “behind the curve” on this story, so here and here are the latest developments (and by the way, Chamber apologists, please don’t waste my time with comparisons between the spending of the Chamber and the Sierra Club – let me know when the latter starts running attack campaign ads, OK?).

    This also gives me an opportunity to link back to this prior post (broken links and all – I’ll try to remove them later) as part of This Day In Mikey Fitzpatrick History, more or less; of the three 2006 letters, two have to do with Mikey’s unflinching support of Commander Codpiece in Iraq (and Mikey’s smearing of Patrick Murphy’s service), and one has to do with Fitzpatrick’s supported-it-before-he-was-against-it policy on stem cell research (and don’t get me started on the whole “working-with-adult-stem-cells-as-opposed-to-embryonic-ones-which-would-be-there-anyway-is-like-trying-to-learn-how-to-drive-a-Maserati-by-practicing-on-a-tyke’s-Big-Wheel” thing, OK?).

  • Next, it’s time for another scary election year poll hereooooh, hang onto your “trick or treat” bags, kiddies (yes, that’s coming around soon also)…

    Likely voters in battleground districts see extremists as having a more dominant influence over the Democratic Party than they do over the GOP.

    This result comes from The Hill 2010 Midterm Election Poll, which found that 44 percent of likely voters say the Democratic Party is more dominated by its extreme elements, whereas 37 percent say it’s the Republican Party that is more dominated by extremists.
    I think these findings are bizarre; I cannot fathom how anyone but the most jaded partisan would think that, somehow, the Dems are more extreme than the party of Sharron Angle, Ken Buck, Rand Paul, Ron Johnson, Joe Miller, John Raese, and Christine (Yes, Wiccan!) O’Donnell.

    As you keep reading the Hill post, though, you find out the following…

    The polling firm Penn, Schoen and Berland conducted the survey, contacting 4,047 likely voters by phone between Oct. 2 and Oct. 7. The margin of error for this sample is 1.5 percent.
    And yep, you guessed it – the “Schoen” would be Doug, who, as noted here, appeared at a fundraiser for Republican John Gomez of New York – so, given that the latter revealed his true ideological colors, the least I can do is provide a link for Gomez’s opponent, Dem Steve Israel, here.

  • Finally, Victor Davis Hanson haz a sad (here)…

    We will learn in November just how angry the public is about a lot of things, from higher taxes to massive unemployment.

    But the popular uproar pales in comparison to the sense of humiliation over the fact that we are quite broke. In 2008, the public was furious at George W. Bush not because he was too much of a right-wing tightwad, but because he ran up a series of what were then thought to be gargantuan deficits. The result was that under a supposedly conservative administration and small-government Republican Congress, the deficit nearly doubled, from $3.3 trillion to $6.3 trillion, in just eight years.

    President Obama apparently never figured out that he had been elected in part because that massive Republican borrowing had sickened the American people. So he took Bush's last scheduled budget deficit of more than $500 billion and - in a Keynesian attempt to get the country out of the 2008 recession and financial panic - nearly tripled it.
    In fact, as noted here, the deficit Obama inherited was more like $1.3 trillion. And it doesn’t do any good, I realize, to try explaining to “Clap” Hanson that Obama is a disciple of Milton Friedman, not Keynes.

    As noted here, though…

    Anyone who looks at the evidence will find what we found: There is very little to suggest that the public wants Washington to focus on the deficit or debt right now. A couple of polls do indicate that concern over the deficit is greater than concern over the economy and jobs. But the great majority of polls show that the public is far more worried about the economy's weakness than it is about America's large public debt.
    And I would ask that you keep this in mind as we take a trip back in time to 2004, just after Number 43 was re-elected (more or less, not completely counting Ohio, which is what happened), to here, in which Hanson said the following…

    At its richest, most populous stage in its history, the United States, after reeling from a devastating blow to its financial and military nerve centers, in less than three years toppled the Taliban and Saddam Hussein, implemented elections in Afghanistan and scheduled them in Iraq, prevented another 9/11-like attack — and so far has tragically lost about 1,100 in combat in a war against a virulent fascism that is antithetical to every aspect of Western liberty.
    “At its richest, most populous stage in its history,” huh (and yes, I’ll admit that that’s some terrible sentence construction)?

    Meanwhile, in the world of reality, we learn the following from about that same time (here)…

    The budget deficit has ballooned under Bush, slipping back into the red from the surpluses of the late 1990s. The Congressional Budget Office says that the deficit will hit $422 billion in 2004. That's a record dollar amount, and represents 3.6 percent of GDP.

    Bush, who did not veto one spending bill in his first term, campaigned on a pledge to cut the deficit in half over the next five years by growing the economy and limiting discretionary spending. That may not be easy.

    Many economists say that Bush's spending proposals, combined with his desire to make permanent the tax cuts of recent years, mean that the numbers simply don't add up.

    "There will have to be much more significant restraint on spending growth than we've seen over the last four or five years," says Tim O'Neill, chief economist at Harris Bank.

    In fact, the anti-deficit Concord Coalition calculates that Bush's proposals would worsen the ten-year shortfall by $1.33 trillion.

    "Throughout his presidency, George W. Bush has refused to calibrate his drive for lower taxes with his support for expensive initiatives such as the global war on terrorism and a major expansion of Medicare," the group concludes. "There is no reason to expect anything different in a second term."
    (And by the way, given what Obama ended up inheriting, that shortfall estimate was pretty spot-on.)

    What? No whining about “national reputation and sense of self” in 2004 from “The Pericles of Petticoat Junction,” as James Wolcott calls Hanson? No pontificating about how “(the) bleak reality creates hopelessness - and anger - among voters”?

    Victor Davis Hanson established a long time ago that he doesn’t know anything about foreign affairs, particularly on the subject of combat. He has now established that he doesn’t know anything about the economy either.
  • Thursday, October 14, 2010

    Thursday Stuff

    I have to admit that I've never really been able to comprehend the totality of Christine O'Donnell's stupidity until I watched this clip from her debate last night with Chris Coons - he tells any organism with more than a single functioning brain synapse that the whole "bearded Marxist" business was A JOKE, and she STILL keeps beating on it like it was a policy issue (and all with that cutesy smile, of course - more here, and an appropriate comeuppance is here, and this is utterly predictable)...

    ...and after watching that, I'd like to just go get in my car and drive to a place where there are no politics, like in this song (yeah, right - and he threw away the chicken skin but still ate those gloppy mashed potatoes anyway...kind of self-defeating, you think?).

    Thursday Mashup (10/14/10)

    (I also posted something here.)

  • I would like to begin today by asking a simple question: approximately how many people attended the “One Nation Working Together” rally in Washington, D.C. on October 2nd?

    I’ve looked all over the place and I can’t find a hard, fast answer (I saw 175,000 somewhere on a message board, I think, attributed to the event organizers, and I’d love to believe that that’s accurate, but I’m just a tad suspicious).

    I say this because Byron York of the Washington Examiner wrote a column about the rally here, but, as is typical for right-wing propagandists, he doesn’t even bother to do actual reporting on the event as opposed to partisan editorializing, only saying that it didn’t match the attendance of the Glenn Beck-Sarah Palin fraud show without substantiating his argument.

    And as noted here, CBS News “commissioned a crowd estimate” at the Beck/Palin-fest and came up with 87,000. For the “Working Together” event, though, the only information I found related to attendance was the line that the National Park Service stopped providing crowd estimates for events at locations under its purview in 1990, or words to that effect.

    I’ll tell you what, though; for the sake of argument, I’ll just assume that Beck-Palin drew more, OK? Which should not be one bit surprising, considering that, as noted here…

    When making this comparison, however, it is important to remember that Beck benefited from relentless promotion, not only from the #1 cable news network, but also from MSNBC and CNN. A TV Eyes search for each rally shows that, up until the day before each event, “Restoring Honor” was mentioned 2,877 times, versus 520 mentions of “One Nation Rally.”
    Of course, leave it to The Daily Tucker to lament that the “Working Together” participants supposedly trashed the mall more than the Beck-Palin participants here, a claim which recalls some similarly odious wingnut propaganda here.

  • (By the way, it occurs to me that I once politely criticized Jed Lewison for posting about the size of the Beck-Palin Bund rally in the middle of a campaign season, but I think this is a different circumstance because progressives are getting slighted here. If anybody thinks I’m wrong on that, I’m OK with it.)

  • Next, as part of an emerging new corporate media narrative to try and make President Obama the reincarnation of Jimmy Carter somehow (and as far as I’m concerned, you could come up with a lot worse of a comparison), Richard Cohen wrote this column recently which contained what I thought was a particularly wankerific ending…

    Carter's energy program was right on the money. The message was fine; the messenger was awful. This is exactly the case with Obama, who is far more likable than Carter, yet is being cuffed around in a similar manner. Being right is nice. Convincing others you are is essential. Yet even George W. Bush, who left a grateful nation with two wars and a recession -- somehow he forgot the mumps -- hypothetically runs neck and neck with Obama. This is because Obama's insistence on realism comes across as pessimism. This is our national character flaw, and it is what did in Carter: Ask us for sacrifice, and we'll show you the door.
    Spoken like a typically jaded corporate media pundit.

    And I think such a sentiment is particularly wretched when you consider that today is the fiftieth anniversary of the very first mention of the Peace Corps by President John F. Kennedy, in a debate with Vice President Richard Nixon. As noted here, some well-known alums of the Corps include retiring Dem U.S. Senator Chris Dodd, as well as Dem U.S. House Rep Mike Honda and former Repug U.S. House Rep Chris Shays.

    Also, I give you the following from an April 2009 speech in the Rose Garden (here)…

    I’ve told this story before. When I moved to Chicago more than two decades ago to become a community organizer, I wasn’t sure what was waiting for me there, but I had always been inspired by the stories of the civil rights movement, and President Kennedy’s call to service, and I knew I wanted to do my part to advance the cause of justice and equality.

    And it wasn’t easy, but eventually, over time, working with leaders from all across these communities, we began to make a difference -- in neighborhoods that had been devastated by steel plants that had closed down and jobs that had dried up. We began to see a real impact in people’s lives. And I came to realize I wasn’t just helping people, I was receiving something in return, because through service I found a community that embraced me, citizenship that was meaningful, the direction that I had been seeking. I discovered how my own improbable story fit into the larger story of America.

    It’s the same spirit of service I’ve seen across this country. I’ve met countless people of all ages and walks of life who want nothing more than to do their part. I’ve seen a rising generation of young people work and volunteer and turn out in record numbers. They’re a generation that came of age amidst the horrors of 9/11 and Katrina, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, an economic crisis without precedent. And yet, despite all this -- or more likely because of it -- they’ve become a generation of activists possessed with that most American of ideas, that people who love their country can change it.

    They’re why the Peace Corps had three applications for every position available last year; why 35,000 young people applied for only 4,000 slots in Teach for America; why AmeriCorps has seen a 400-percent increase in applications in just the past four months. And yet, even as so many want to serve, even as so many are struggling, our economic crisis has forced our charities and non-for-profits to cut back.

    What this legislation does, then, is to help harness this patriotism and connect deeds to needs. It creates opportunities to serve for students, seniors, and everyone in between. It supports innovation and strengthens the nonprofit sector. And it is just the beginning of a sustained, collaborative and focused effort to involve our greatest resource -- our citizens -- in the work of remaking this nation.

    We’re doing this because I’ve always believed that the answers to our challenges cannot come from government alone. Our government can help to rebuild our economy and lift up our schools and reform health care systems and make sure our soldiers and veterans have everything they need -- but we need Americans willing to mentor our eager young children, or care for the sick, or ease the strains of deployment on our military families.

    That’s why this bill will expand AmeriCorps from 75,000 slots today to 250,000 in less than a decade. (Applause.) And it’s not just for freshly minted college grads. As I said, my wife Michelle left her job at a law firm to be the founding director of an AmeriCorps program in Chicago that trains young people for careers in public service. And Michelle can tell you the transformation that occurred in her life as a consequence of being able to follow her passions, follow her dreams.

    Programs like these are a force multiplier; they leverage small numbers of members into thousands of volunteers. And we will focus their service toward solving today’s most pressing challenges: clean energy, energy efficiency, health care, education, economic opportunity, veterans and military families.
    “Ask us for sacrifice and we’ll show you the door” indeed.

  • Finally, I give you the following from the Patrick Murphy for U.S. Congress campaign…

    Fitzpatrick’s Pay-to-Play Record

    Mike Fitzpatrick’s record as County Commissioner marred by long history of rewarding political insiders with taxpayer-funded contracts

    (Doylestown, PA) – As County Commissioner, Mike Fitzpatrick raised property taxes seven times in ten years while taking nine pay raises totaling $20,000. But lost in that record of bigger government and higher taxes is the more troubling record of votes that rewarded political insiders with sweetheart deals at the public’s expense.

    In the current election campaign, Former Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick has attempted to reinvent his record, but area newspapers have long documented his habit of rewarding contributors to the Republican Party and Party officials with public contracts during his tenure as County Commissioner.

    In fact, Fitzpatrick was so shameless in using taxpayer dollars to support his Republican cronies that he actually awarded contracts to companies located at the County GOP headquarters.

    And in an article in the Bucks County Courier Times, then-Commissioner Fitzpatrick was quoted as saying, ‘I’m not going to sit here and say there is not pressure put upon us. There is.”

    “Budget hawk, my a&%*. Mike Fitzpatrick is a tax and spend, pay-to-play, serial politician who lined his own pockets and now tries to pretend the past never happened – his campaign is a total whitewash of a political career built on patronage,” said Neil Samuels, Executive Director of the Bucks County Democratic Committee.

    Fortunately, Samuels added, the press reported on his sweetheart deals at the time and the record is still available in black and white for anyone to read. Samuels explained that Mike Fitzpatrick has always put his Republican Party loyalty ahead of Bucks County’s families because he owes his lengthy political career to GOP party leaders and GOP Chairman Harry Fawkes. Fitzpatrick was their handpicked appointee for County Commissioner and then handpicked to run unopposed for Congress when Jim Greenwood resigned.

    “Over two decades of being a political insider can’t be erased by a lot of election year BS and Tea Party talking points,” said Samuels.

    During a political career that began in the 1990s, Fitzpatrick has a long record of rewarding political contributors with no-bid contracts using taxpayer dollars as the following newspaper stories document:

    "(Former Bucks Commissioner Sandra) Miller, who says she supports the land purchase, questioned the award of a contract to KM Abstract Co. of Doylestown, a title insurance firm owned by Republican Party vice chairwoman Keren McIlhinney. Miller said KM Abstract received most of the county's title insurance business and questioned why other firms aren't being used. "I'm comfortable with the idea of purchasing the property," Miller said. "I do have a problem with one firm always getting the title work." Miller also protested in July 1993 when KM Abstract received a $11,200 to do title searches for the tax sale that year. Former Commissioner Andrew Warren was upset because the firm listed its address as the county Republican Party headquarters in Doylestown." (Morning Call, May 4, 1995)

    "Two years ago, the Bucks County commissioners pledged to play fair. They would no longer, they said, funnel all of the county's title business to a company owned by the vice president of the Bucks County Republican Party. The commissioners, two Republicans and one Democrat, promised they would tap the services of three other local title companies, none of them owned by GOP bigwig Keren McIlhinney. While the county no longer deals with KM Abstract, McIlhinney's company on the second floor of the county's Republican headquarters in Doylestown, it still funnels most of its land-title/settlement work to one company with close McIlhinney ties." (Philadelphia Inquirer, March 20, 1997)

    “Fitzpatrick, himself a Republican Party contributor, said he does not see anything wrong with Republican commissioners awarding no-bid contracts to qualified professionals who make campaign donations to the GOP.”(Courier Times 1/24/95)

    “Many of the largest contributors are professionals who hold no-bid county contracts. ‘I’m not going to sit here and say there is not pressure put upon us. There is,’ Fitzpatrick said.”(Courier Times, 11/1/95)

    “The Bucks County commissioners are looking into how one title company with ties to a Republican Party official received work in the county's farmland preservation program in apparent violation of county policy. The commissioners directed employees two years ago to alternate title insurance work among three companies: American Land Transfer Inc. of Buckingham, Robert Chalphin Associates of Southampton and Surety Abstract Inc. of Doylestown. But American Land Transfer, which has business ties to Keren McIlhinney, vice chairwoman of the county GOP, was the only company used in the county's farmland preservation program. American has handled 14 settlements since 1994. (Allentown Morning Call, March 27, 1997)

    "[A] 87,500 no-bid contract to Pennoni Associates for work at the Oxford Valley Swimming Pool. Pennoni, which has an office in Quakertown, is an engineering firm with close ties to the county Republican Party. (Allentown Morning Call, April 22, 1995)

    "[A] Republican committeeman and the treasurer of Fitzpatrick's campaign for commissioner, was hired as the county's public works director. The county did not advertise the opening, instead relying on word of mouth to fill the post." (Allentown Morning Call, February 19, 1998)

    "Four of the six underwriters of Bucks County's open space bonds -- and the adviser who recommended the county hire them last week -- have contributed $14,950 to the county Republican Party during the past two years. The county -- governed by a three-person board of commissioners with a Republican majority --is preparing to float $36 million in bonds later this year through the companies, which stand to collect $222,000 from the deal. Of those involved, Wheat First Butcher Singer gave $5,100 to the county GOP; CoreStates gave $2,750, Janney Montgomery Scott gave $1,000, First American gave $5,000 and Walker gave $1,100. Walker said party members asked him to donate to the Republicans. "It's not because I want to but because I'm asked to," Walker said of the donations. "Generally you give because people are asking you to give."(Morning Call, September 23, 1997)
    Also, I give you the following from today’s Bucks County Courier Times (here)…

    You don't have to be a police officer to understand the devastation that assault weapons, like semiautomatic rifles and AK-47s, can cause when they fall into the wrong hands. Far too often the nightly news carries a painful reminder that the men and women who are sworn to protect the public risk - and sacrifice - their lives to keep us safe.

    And so I was deeply angered when our former congressman and now candidate Mike Fitzpatrick flipped his position on the assault weapons ban, which helps keep dangerous semiautomatic weapons off our streets. Fitzpatrick supported the ban when he was first running for Congress back in 2004. A county commissioner at the time, Fitzpatrick said that because of his support for law enforcement, he believed the assault weapons ban should remain on the books. In fact, in a Sept. 12, 2004 report in the Courier Times, Fitzpatrick said anyone who was reasonable would agree.

    A mere six weeks later, Fitzpatrick disagreed.

    Perhaps in an attempt to win the support of the NRA, Fitzpatrick said in an Oct. 21, 2004 Courier Times story that he saw no reason to keep the assault weapons ban. He claimed he'd seen no evidence that the ban had reduced violence. Maybe he wasn't looking very hard. Or maybe he was just doing what was politically convenient at the time. According to the website Fitzpatrick has received three separate contributions totaling $12,450 from the NRA.

    Whichever reason it was, I'd be willing to bet that Philadelphia police Officer Kevin Livewell would be happy to explain to the former congressman, who has never been a police officer or served in the military, the problem with having assault weapons widely available to anyone without a criminal background check.

    As reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer after the recent shooting of Officer Livewell this summer, the police were entirely outgunned as they chased down a vehicle heavily armed with military-style weapons, including AK-47s and Glock handguns. The bullets fired from weapons like that, according to the article, travel so fast that they can penetrate a standard police vest and even the flak jackets worn by SWAT teams. The lieutenant surveying the cache of weapons recovered from the scene couldn't believe the officer had escaped with only a leg wound.

    Americans have the right to bear arms. That's one of the fundamental principles of our nation. But the right to carry an assault weapon should not be.

    Equally concerning as his opposition to the ban is the former congressman's apparent willingness to blow with the political winds on vitally important issues. Police risk their lives day in and day out. They shouldn't have to worry about whether or not lawmakers are looking out for them.

    I want to be clear: I'm not looking for politicians to stubbornly refuse to change positions or adapt if there is good reason for doing so. But that's not what this was.

    Fitzpatrick's change of heart was not based on evidence or changing facts. His statements, after all, were made barely six weeks apart. This was political pandering at its worst, coming from a weak-kneed candidate who changes his mind depending on who he's talking to and what he wants.

    I don't need to agree with the person I vote for on every issue and I definitely don't agree with Fitzpatrick's opponent, Patrick Murphy, on everything. But I do believe that Murphy, the son of a Philly cop and a veteran himself, stands by his word. He stakes out his positions based on what he believes is the right thing to do and in the best interest of Bucks County, regardless of how politically popular they may be.

    I don't believe people should base their decision on who to vote for on a single issue, but I do think that whether you can take a candidate at his word is important. Mike Fitzpatrick already had his chance to prove that to Bucks County voters that he was that guy, and he failed.
    (By the way, kudos to writer Paul Hampel for revisiting the topic of gun control. I haven’t said anything about it for a long time partly because I got tired of being one of the few voices anywhere saying anything about it, while those on the front lines, including police and emergency medical personnel, remain largely silent. And except for Michael Bloomberg, Governor Rendell, Frank Lautenberg and Carolyn McCarthy, don’t get me started on the politicians.)

    There’s ample reason provided here to re-elect Congressman Patrick Murphy, and to help in that effort, click here.
  • Wednesday, October 13, 2010

    Wednesday Stuff

    The message can be found here also...

    ...and gee, you're just in time to see this home movie of Kristi Noem's recent trip to California (based on this :-)...

    ...and FINALLY, a Dem figures out how to run with the new health care law instead of away from it...

    ...and happy 45th birthday to "My Generation" by The Who, recorded on this date in 1965 (glad not everybody in the band died before it got old - sorry two did anyway - introduced by Roger from Oz, leading into "The Kids Are Alright").

    Wednesday Mashup (10/13/10)

    (I also posted some stuff here.)

  • John Fund at the Murdoch Street Journal, as you might expect, is busy spinning the story line that Obama is supposedly just as popular as a certain Former President Nutball here (which I already responded to when this talking point was echoed by former Laura Bush employee Andrew Malcolm a couple of days ago here – last item).

    However, the reason I’m bringing this up again is to ask the following question: if Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History is now as popular as they say – WHERE IS HE?

    Why isn’t he, true to his utterly insufferable form, standing up and saying, “yeah, all you dern members of the Democrat Party, guess I’m not so bad after all, am I?”

    As we learn from here…

    Bush left office deeply unpopular and sour on domestic politics. After leaving Washington and returning to Texas, he has kept a low profile, working on his memoir and appearing only occasionally at paid speeches. Aides say he has no plans to be a figure in this year's elections, which could see major gains for the GOP.
    Yeah, Obama sure is as popular as Dubya all right. But tell Former Commander Codpiece to get lost anyway just to make sure, why dontcha?

    I double-dog-dare Number 43 to get behind a campaign for a Republican politician and show up on TV between now and Election Day.

    And just for good measure, he should do it under this sign.

  • Next, I give you Kristi Noem, the latest darling of the teabaggers, as noted here…

    (AP) - Republican challenger Kristi Noem raised more than $1.1 million in the past three months in her race for South Dakota's lone U.S. House seat, about double the amount raised by the Democratic incumbent, Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin.

    The campaigns will not file detailed finance reports on contributions and spending for the July-through-September period until later this week, but both released summaries of donations on Tuesday.
    Yep, sounds like the Repug soft money machine fronted by Karl Rove, Ed Gillespie and the Chamber of Commerce is working overtime (the Citizens United legacy in full flower – and yes, I know the detailed reporting is yet to come, but this is my guess and someone will have to prove to me that I’m wrong).

    But it looks like Noem has spent a lot of time on those apparently-wide-open South Dakota roadways living by her own rules; as noted here…

    According to local news reports, Noem’s lifetime driving record includes 20 speeding tickets, three stop sign violations, two seat belt violations, and a citation for failing to carry her driver’s license. She has also received six notices for failing to appear in court and two arrest warrants for failing to pay fines related to her tickets. She was stopped by police earlier this year for driving 94 mph.
    As all Repugs know, rules are for the little people. And Democrats, of course.

  • In addition, I give you the latest “gridiron” news here…

    With labor troubles looming over the National Football League season and the prospect of a football lockout next spring, two Republican senators have sent letters to the league and the NFL Players Association urging a quick resolution to behind-the-scenes wrangling, CNBC has learned.

    The letters appear to be the first time Congress has weighed in on the lockout issue publicly, although members of Congress frequently speak to lobbyists for the NFL and the players association.
    As the CNBC story tells us, the letters were sent by Huckleberry Graham (who urged the players and the owners to settle their differences “without congressional involvement”) and George Lemieux (who said, “More than 125,000 support personnel owe their jobs directly to an NFL franchise, and many more businesses and workers are directly or indirectly supported by the League’s economic activity”…).

    It’s commendable, actually, that both Graham and Lemieux are choosing to involve themselves in this matter which could affect people’s employment.

    It would have been even more commendable if they had not voted to filibuster unemployment benefits, as noted here.

  • Also, I give you some true hilarity from Bernard Goldberg here…

    …San Franciscans voted 60 percent to 40 percent to ban military recruiters from their public schools. The vote was non-binding, but it did tell us something about how the majority feels about the army, navy, air force and marines, doesn’t it?

    And once, in a vote that did count, the school board decided to throw Junior ROTC out of the city’s high schools, despite the fact that the programs were optional and immensely popular with the kids who chose to join. One school board member said it was better to focus on a “curriculum of peace” than allow JROTC to remain as an after school activity.
    However, as noted here from May of 2009…

    SAN FRANCISCO - A three-year battle over whether Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps belongs in San Francisco schools ended Tuesday night with a 4-3 vote by the school board to restore the military leadership program weeks before its scheduled expiration.

    More than 200 supporters and opponents of the program crowded into the school district headquarters to make their final pleas to the board. And their arguments were as emotionally charged as they were when the fight began in 2006.

    "To some of you, this is a political issue," Balboa High School sophomore Malik Douglas told the board. "But to me it's a personal issue. Represent our opinions instead of yours."

    Board members Rachel Norton, Hydra Mendoza, Norman Yee and Jill Wynns voted to keep the program. Jane Kim, Kim-Shree Maufas and Sandra Fewer voted against the program.

    The board's vote reverses a controversial 2006 vote to get rid of JROTC in the city high schools. The armed forces, the board then argued, should not be in public schools, and the military's discriminatory stance on gays made it unacceptable.
    And if you want to indulge in more Goldberg propaganda, click here.

    Now who’s a “ding dong,” Bernie?

  • Finally, today marks what would have been the 85th birthday of legendary comic Lenny Bruce. And for the occasion, I offer you the following quotes for your consideration…

    Life is a four-letter word

    If you can take the hot lead enema, then you can cast the first stone
    And finally...

    The liberals can understand everything but people who don't understand them.
    I added that last one just to let everyone know that I cast a withering eye in my own direction from time to time also.
  • Tuesday, October 12, 2010

    Tuesday Stuff

    I meant to get to this a little while ago, but I kept forgetting (probably also because of MSNBC's ongoing web site issues) - when you hear the Repugs (or some Dems too) talking about "small business," keep in mind that this is what they're talking about - and the next time you hear "Z on TV" or some other media nitwit bitching about Keith Olbermann, ask him who else is doing this type of reporting on "the idiot box"...exactly the stuff our corporate media doesn't want us to know (and in a related story, I give you this)...

    ...and speaking of business, "small" or otherwise, here's a song about entrepreneurship.

    Tuesday Mashup (10/12/10)

  • J.D. Mullane of the Bucks County Courier Times took to his odious blog recently here to blame the pending sale of Mercy Health Partners in Scranton, PA on “Obamacare.”

    As noted here, though…

    "Actually we're doing well. We're ahead of budget for the year. It's more that when we look out over the landscape of health care over the next five years and the needs of these facilities, the needs of this community, we understand a different level of investment will be needed than what we can do on our own," (Mercy Health Partners CEO Kevin) Cook said.

    They said much of that required investment is the result of the health care reform bill passed in Washington.

    The CEO said it means the need for more spending and less federal reimbursements.

    "Health care reform is absolutely playing a role. Was it the precipitating factor in this decision? No, but was it a factor in our planning over the next five years? Absolutely," Cook added.
    OK, I realize this doesn’t completely validate my criticism of Mullane, because Cook is saying that HCR “play(ed) a role.”

    However, I think the following should be noted from here…

    Discussions concerning mergers, acquisitions and strategic partnerships have been conducted in the healthcare community for years--long before the passage of the Affordable Care Act. The decision announced this week was due to many factors.
    Also, from here…

    Still, the acquisition trend is likely to pale in comparison to the late 1990s and early 2000s, when for-profit companies such as Columbia/HCA (now the Hospital Corp. of America) and Tenet Healthcare snapped up non-profit hospitals at a rapid clip.

    No one is predicting that most hospitals will become for-profit entities. Almost three-fifths of the more than 5,000 hospitals in the USA are non-profit, while an additional one-fifth are for-profit and the rest are government-run, according to the American Hospital Association.

    But hospital mergers-and-acquisitions tend to go in boom-and-bust cycles. "My guess is that this is entering a period of expansion again," says Gerard Anderson, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Hospital Finance and Management.

    One big reason is that the new health overhaul law will eventually extend coverage to an additional 32 million people, reducing the financial burden of the DMC and other hospitals that treat a lot of uninsured patients. "Health reform gets rid of a big chunk of the uncompensated care problem," making urban hospitals more attractive acquisition targets, says Jack Wheeler, a professor of health management and policy at the University of Michigan.

    "Detroit, Boston, Chicago — these are not hotbeds" of for-profit hospitals, he says. Traditionally, most acquisitions by for-profit hospitals have been in the Sun Belt and suburban areas with few uninsured patients and high population growth. But some urban non-profit hospitals are struggling to get credit and see deals with for-profit companies as their best option.
    Soo…my reading of this is that, though nonprofit hospitals will now be at the not-so-tender mercies of for-profits, that might be the best way for patients to get the care they need.

    OR, as ICU Nurse Lori Brown put in the USA Today story about the pending purchase of the Detroit Medical Center by Vanguard Health Systems…

    "In the beginning, we were concerned about whether it would be good for our minority population, but it doesn't sound like that part will change," she says. "We'll continue to be the hospital that takes care of everyone. We don't turn anyone away."
    This is part of what is so ridiculous about what passes for the health care debate in this country. You could argue that the new law passed this year will usher in more cost controls and take a hard look at procedures and treatments that might not provide the best outcomes for all.

    But that is going on anyway, and it’s better to have the government as a player in this process ostensibly representing us than it is to allow the private sector free rein to do what it wants, including dropping subscribers when they need coverage the most and refusing treatment for pre-existing conditions.

    In fewer words – if J.D. Mullane wants a return to those days, he should have the guts to say so.

  • And staying with this topic, I give you the following from here…

    The Republican running against Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) recently compared the Democrats' healthcare reform bill to the Fugitive Slave Act.

    State lawmaker Scott Bruun (R) told a crowd in Canby, Ore., during an Oct. 7 speech that the healthcare bill was "right up there" with the infamous slave act.

    "I would argue that from a fiscal perspective, it's probably the worst piece of legislation this nation's ever passed," Bruun said during a speech that was recorded by a Democratic campaign tracker.
    Let's count down to the "walk back," people - three, two, one...

    Bruun's campaign was quick to issue a statement denying he was making a direct comparison between the two pieces of legislation.

    The healthcare bill, Brunn said, "pales in comparison … to laws that promoted the exploitation of humans, and I would never compare such reprehensible actions to any of the legislation passed by this Congress — no matter how flawed they might be."

    "It saddens me that my comments at a recent forum were construed as anything different, and for Democrats to suggest that I have ever placed this abhorrent law on the same level as the healthcare bill is not only false, but shows the true depth of their desperation."
    Uh, actually comparing the health care law to the Fugitive Slave Act shows the true depth of your idiocy, Scott.

    This, however, is par for the proverbial course for Bruun, who flip-flopped here on “cap and trade,” flip-flopped here on privatizing Social Security (“Doesn’t support privatizing but does support reform of entitlements”…what does that mean?), and as noted here, the individual or company responsible for his web site couldn’t even spell his name properly, nor was that mistake caught by his campaign.

    Rather than expound any more about how Scott Bruun is just another “Just Say No” boilerplate Repug from the RNC/Karl Rove cookie cutter factory, I’ll merely provide this link to Kurt Schrader’s web site; at this point, helping Bruun’s opponent is a much more productive exercise than pointing out that which is stupidly obvious.

  • Finally, on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole, I give you the following wingnuttery (from here, page 2)…

    We keep hearing that Guantanamo, etc. are major recruitment tools for our enemies, even though there is little empirical evidence to support this proposition.
    Actually, as noted here…

    …military and FBI interrogators have stated that terrorists have successfully used the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, as a recruiting device, and at least two reports have reached the same conclusion.

    For instance, using the pseudonym Matthew Alexander, an Air Force senior interrogator who was in Iraq in 2006 wrote: "I learned in Iraq that the No. 1 reason foreign fighters flocked there to fight were the abuses carried out at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. Our policy of torture was directly and swiftly recruiting fighters for al-Qaeda in Iraq."

    Moreover, as the blog Think Progress noted, in June 17, 2008, testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Alberto Mora, former Navy general counsel, said: "[T]here are serving U.S. flag-rank officers who maintain that the first and second identifiable causes of U.S. combat deaths in Iraq -- as judged by their effectiveness in recruiting insurgent fighters into combat -- are, respectively the symbols of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo."

    And by the way, as Wikipedia tells us, the decision not to respond militarily was that of Dubya, with Our Gal Condi Rice saying that Commander Codpiece "made clear to us that he did not want to respond to al Qaeda one attack at a time. He told me he was 'tired of swatting flies.'"
    It’s hard not to come to the conclusion that, with that remark, our 43rd president was equating 17 dead American sailors with insects.
  • Monday, October 11, 2010

    Monday Stuff

    Before it became a "brand," it was actually a pretty funny comedy show, and this is the very first sketch from its debut 35 years ago today (wondered what the hell this was at first, but it made me keep watching, and for about 20 years I'm glad I did for the most part) - happy birthday to Saturday Night Live...

    (Note: If the video doesn't appear at first, try a refresh.)

    ...I have to say, though, that this title describes how I felt watching the show recycle bits that were funny the first or second time but became utterly tiresome after the fiftieth (even though I just love a happy ending - sniff :-).

    Monday Mashup Part Two (10/11/10)

    (Part One is here.)

  • This story from the end of last week intrigued me a bit…

    TUPELO, Miss. – A Mississippi judge again asked everyone in his courtroom to stand and pledge allegiance to the flag, despite an uproar over whether he has the right to make such a request.

    The furor began Wednesday when an attorney with a reputation for fighting free speech battles stayed silent as everyone else recited the patriotic oath. The lawyer was jailed.

    A day later, Judge Talmadge Littlejohn continued to ask those in his courtroom to say the pledge.

    "I didn't expect the Pledge of Allegiance, but he asked me to do it, so I did it," said Melissa Adams, 41, who testified in a child custody case that was closed to the public.

    Attorney Danny Lampley spent about five hours behind bars before Littlejohn set him free so that the lawyer could work on another case. Lampley told The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal he respected the judge but wasn't going to back down.

    "I don't have to say it because I'm an American," Lampley told the newspaper.
    I agree with Lampley, but I must tell you that I have no issue with saying the pledge myself, nor do we have an issue with the young one saying it in his school. Ultimately, of course, it’s a free speech issue.
    But this made me a bit curious about the history of the Pledge, so I checked up on it starting with this Wikipedia article, which tells us the following…

    The Pledge of Allegiance was written in 1892 by Francis Bellamy (1855–1931), a Baptist minister, a Christian socialist, and the cousin of socialist utopian novelist Edward Bellamy (1850–1898). The original "Pledge of Allegiance" was published in the September 8 issue of the popular children's magazine The Youth's Companion as part of the National Public-School Celebration of Columbus Day, a celebration of the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus's arrival in the Americas. The event was conceived and promoted by James B. Upham, a marketer for the magazine, in a campaign to sell flags to public schools and magazines to students,[2][3] while instilling the idea of American nationalism in them.[4][5]
    So a so-called “Christian Socialist” came up with the Pledge as part of “a campaign to sell flags.”

    And do you want to know how the Pledge used to be recited?

    Like this (using the so-called “Bellamy Salute,” which of course bears a suspicious resemblance to the salute given to a former goose-stepping Austrian postcard painter).

    I just think it’s interesting that the Pledge is now deigned to have a borderline religious significance (the “under God” wording was added in 1953 – the wording of the Pledge has morphed every now and again over its history) given its commercial (and “Christian Socialist”) origins. It should also be noted that the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last March that the “under God” wording is of “a ceremonial and patriotic nature” and did not condone an establishment of religion.

    So there.

  • Next, I give you the latest from the U.S. House’s waste of space from PA-16 (here)…

    In March, House Republicans unanimously supported a one-year moratorium on earmarks. I voted for the moratorium, and for years now I’ve been calling on my colleagues to stop a practice that is subject to corruption and encourages free spending.

    I stopped taking earmarks almost four years ago, and I’m the only member of the Pennsylvania delegation with a standing policy against earmarks.
    (By the way, I guess the Chester County Republican Party has decided to pay attention to this race for a change since they’ve generated a ton of You Tube video hit pieces on Lois Herr, accusing her of being “a liberal” – horrors! – as well as these utterly saccharine and nauseating vids of Pitts pretending to display the empathy that is nowhere to be found in his thoroughly wretched votes.)

    Funny thing about Pitts’ claim to forego earmarks, though; this post from three years ago tells us that he voted No (as usual, along with former Repug U.S. House rep Jim Saxton)…

    …to end the secret "earmarking" of spending items and tax breaks. The measure, part of H Res 6 (above) also restores pay-as-you-go rules that require tax cuts and spending hikes to be offset elsewhere in the budget.
    And if earmarks are such a supposedly big deal to Pancake Joe and his pals, then why isn’t a ban on earmarks included in the GOP’s “Pledge to America,” or whatever it’s called (noted here)?

    Oh, and by the way, to send Pitts packing and help that “godless, li-bu-ruul socialist” Lois Herr, click here.

  • Finally, I give you some truly preposterous dookie from Lee Siegel that I came across in the Sunday New York Times Book Review section (here)…

    The counterculture of the late 1950s and early 1960s appears to be everywhere these days. A major exhibition of Allen Ginsberg’s photography just closed at the National Gallery in Washington. A superb book, by the historian Sean Wilentz, about Ginsberg’s dear friend and sometime influence Bob Dylan recently made the best-seller list. “Howl,” a film about Ginsberg and the Beats, opened last month. And everywhere around us, the streets and airwaves hum with attacks on government authority, celebrations of radical individualism, inflammatory rhetoric, political theatrics.

    In other words, the spirit of Beat dissent is alive (though some might say not well) in the character of Tea Party protest. Like the Beats, the Tea Partiers are driven by that maddeningly contradictory principle, subject to countless interpretations, at the heart of all American protest movements: individual freedom. The shared DNA of American dissent might be one answer to the question of why the Tea Partiers, so extreme and even anachronistic in their opposition to any type of government, exert such an astounding appeal.
    Siegel then tells us that comparisons between the “Beats” and the teabaggers are “frivolous,” though he proceeds unabated to make them anyway.

    I’ll tell you what – I’ll give you a sampling of each, dear reader, and let you decide, OK?

    As Matt Taibbi tells us here in the new issue of “Rolling Stone”…

    It's taken three trips to Kentucky, but I'm finally getting my Tea Party epiphany exactly where you'd expect: at a Sarah Palin rally. The red-hot mama of American exceptionalism has flown in to speak at something called the National Quartet Convention in Louisville, a gospel-music hoedown in a giant convention center filled with thousands of elderly white Southerners. Palin — who earlier this morning held a closed-door fundraiser for Rand Paul, the Tea Party champion running for the U.S. Senate — is railing against a GOP establishment that has just seen Tea Partiers oust entrenched Republican hacks in Delaware and New York. The dingbat revolution, it seems, is nigh.

    "We're shaking up the good ol' boys," Palin chortles, to the best applause her aging crowd can muster. She then issues an oft-repeated warning (her speeches are usually a tired succession of half-coherent one-liners dumped on ravenous audiences like chum to sharks) to Republican insiders who underestimated the power of the Tea Party Death Star. "Buck up," she says, "or stay in the truck."

    Stay in what truck? I wonder. What the hell does that even mean?

    Scanning the thousands of hopped-up faces in the crowd, I am immediately struck by two things. One is that there isn't a single black person here. The other is the truly awesome quantity of medical hardware: Seemingly every third person in the place is sucking oxygen from a tank or propping their giant atrophied glutes on motorized wheelchair-scooters. As Palin launches into her Ronald Reagan impression — "Government's not the solution! Government's the problem!" — the person sitting next to me leans over and explains.

    "The scooters are because of Medicare," he whispers helpfully. "They have these commercials down here: 'You won't even have to pay for your scooter! Medicare will pay!' Practically everyone in Kentucky has one."

    A hall full of elderly white people in Medicare-paid scooters, railing against government spending and imagining themselves revolutionaries as they cheer on the vice-presidential puppet hand-picked by the GOP establishment. If there exists a better snapshot of everything the Tea Party represents, I can't imagine it.
    And I was kind – I didn’t even mention signs like this…

    By contrast, here is more information on the leading figures of the “Beat” generation, telling us in part the following…

    Central elements of "Beat" culture included experimentation with drugs and alternative forms of sexuality, an interest in Eastern religion, and a rejection of materialism.

    The major works of Beat writing are Allen Ginsberg's Howl (1956), William S. Burroughs's Naked Lunch (1959) and Jack Kerouac's On the Road (1957).[1] Both Howl and Naked Lunch were the focus of obscenity trials that ultimately helped to liberalize what could be published in the United States. On the Road transformed Kerouac's friend Neal Cassady into a youth-culture hero. The members of the Beat Generation quickly developed a reputation as new bohemian hedonists, who celebrated non-conformity and spontaneous creativity.
    Nested links to the Wikipedia article also tell us more of the following “Beat” icons: Jack Kerouac, recognized for his spontaneous method of writing covering topics such as jazz, promiscuity, Buddhism, drugs, poverty, and travel (Kerouac also wrote in French and died of alcohol abuse, a common malady for this bunch); Allen Ginsburg, a bisexual who studied Eastern religious disciplines extensively and once wrote “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix...; and William S. Burroughs, who became addicted to morphine and heroin and co-wrote with Kerouac a novel entitled And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks, in addition to Naked Lunch, a book that “seemed to forecast — with eerie prescience — such later phenomena as AIDS, liposuction, autoerotic fatalities, and the crack pandemic,” as Wikipedia tells us.

    This seems to be part of a recent trend in the Times of glorifying conservatives, possibly to make their lunacy seem more “mainstream” somehow, as exemplified by a recent Sunday Magazine profile of Glenn Beck, and a huge article on Ann Coulter in yesterday’s “Style” section. This leads me to believe that the newspaper as a whole is suffering from “Stockholm Syndrome.”

    To which I have only this to say: conservatives will never like you, so report on them straight and with all of their hateful actions and rhetoric in tact. Otherwise, you’re doing us all a huge disservice.
  • Sunday, October 10, 2010

    More Sunday Stuff

    I haven't really paid a lot of attention to Alexi Giannoulias running against Repug Mark Kirk for the U.S. Senate in Illinois (the one-time seat of that closet Kenyan Marxist who won't show us his Hawaiian birth certificate), but I will after the clip noted here - great job...

    ...and here's another reminder about "No-Tax Pat" (and to do something about it, click here).

    Update 10/12/10: Once a wingnut, always a wingnut (here)...

    ...and by the way, I thought this was a pretty hilarious takeoff on the new ad from "Yes Wiccan" O'Donnell here (bad words and an F-blast at the end)...

    ...and let us bid adieu to another weekend - sigh.

    Sunday Stuff

    And as you watch this ad, I would ask that you consider this also, and this...

    ...and RIP Solomon Burke.