Saturday, October 23, 2010

More Saturday Stuff

Let's not forget that this is another reason to support Congressman Patrick Murphy (from learn more, click here, and to support Murphy, click here - and by the way, let's give some credit to President Obama for loosening Dubya-era restrictions on funding of stem cell research...and speaking of the president, I thought this was a great article in Rolling Stone by Tim Dickinson)...

...and yep, I guess this about says it all.

Saturday Stuff (update)

(I also posted some stuff here.)

When it comes to Meg Whitman, it's just a case of "same as it ever was" (now watch her campaign use a Talking Heads song without permission)...

...and in response to Kristi (unsafe at any speed) Noem, click here...

...and as far as I'm concerned, all Repugs are hostile to family issues (I don't think you can just lump them into a category called "women's issues"), but in terms of hostility, Sharron Angle may be the worst...

...and I try to feature something by October Project this time of year, and it's usually "Bury My Lovely," but I saw this and thought it was pretty cool for all "Rings" trilogy fans - enjoy.

Update: By the way, here is an ad for Patrick Murphy from '06 that is still timely today (yeah, I'm not big on the border "wall" myself, but the point here is consistency in the argument, which Patrick has and Mikey doesn't).

Friday, October 22, 2010

Friday Stuff

And MoveOn is going to run a version of this ad in 28 states - good for them (don't know if one will run in PA against "No-Corporate-Tax Pat" Toomey or not)...

...oh, and speak of the devil (and I'll let you wonder how literal that remark is)...

...and click here to support this great ad and Roxanne Conlin too...

...and on this day, Dr. Timothy Leary would have been 90 - I always thought this song was way too good for him, but "turn on, tune in, drop out" and listen anyway (I should definitely find a way to work in more videos by The Moody Blues).

Friday Mashup (10/22/10)

  • The roaring controversy in the wingnutosphere at this moment has to do with the firing of former NPR commentator Juan Williams for comments about being nervous when seeing Muslims on a plane, or something.

    I’ll tell you what – here is a bunch of Media Matters links on the whole dustup (I’ll comment merely on particular lowlights in a moment).

    First, though (and probably the only reason why I’m saying anything about this at all), I should note that Christine Flowers dutifully piled on today in the Philadelphia Daily News today (here), telling us the following…

    Sure, it's not the politically correct thing to say that overtly religious Muslims make you uncomfortable when you're holding a boarding pass at the airport.

    But neither is admitting, as Jesse Jackson once did, that "There is nothing more painful for me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery - then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved."

    Or telling a buxom Latina journalist that it's not a good idea to show her puppies in a men's locker room.
    Putting aside the fact that the situation with reporter Inez Sainz being subjected to remarks by members of the New York Jets (here) has nothing to do with the Williams case, I would only ask, dear reader, how you would react if, in the process of posting about anything at all, I referred to a portion of the female anatomy as “puppies.”

    Also, as you can gather from a brief read of the Media Matters links posted above, Williams had a history of making controversial remarks as he danced along that proverbial razor’s edge while defending Democrats and, at the very least, sitting mute while they are pilloried, including drawing an association between Michelle Obama and Stokely Carmichael (also, Williams questioned a priest in Arizona about that state’s “papers, please” law and asked, “Is this about keeping Hispanics in the pews?”).

    No. It’s about simple human decency and the presumption of innocence to which we all should be entitled.

    And for all of the conservative umbrage over NPR supposedly stilling the voices of conservatives, I give you this (Matthew Continetti is a regular NPR contributor…also, as noted here - #2 - NPR’s Mara Liasson regularly appears on Fix Noise).

    Finally, Flowers in the Daily News today also said the following…

    Reporting is different. You simply do what the guy on "Dragnet" said: Just the facts, ma'am. But Williams wasn't hired to be a reporter at NPR.
    No, but do you know who was hired to be a reporter (and did so very well at the Washington Post)? Dave Weigel, that’s who.

    As noted here, Weigel covered conservatives and related developments for the WaPo, until Tucker Carlson got ahold of some of Weigel’s Email on a listserv that was supposed to be private and made the messages public (they cast some conservatives in an unflattering light, shall we way). And of course, as a result, Weigel was more or less forced to resign (again, though, none of these comments found their way into Weigel’s stories).

    And fortunately for both him and Williams, they both ended up landing other jobs after the dust settled (and Weigel had nothing on Williams when it came to remarks that were potentially offensive to his audience).

    Also, on the matter of conservatives “trying to cut NPR’s funding” (here), I would ask that they read this.

    Yet again (on this and every other issue), conservatives look into a mirror and see the warts-and-all reflections of everyone but themselves.

  • Update 10/23/10: Not surprisingly, Rachel Maddow cuts through all the nonsense on the Williams matter here.

  • Also, The Dean Of Beltway Journalism concocted some truly ripe material yesterday (here, spending what I guess were halcyon days at something called the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics)…

    From my seat, I was looking directly at the large photo mural of former senator Dole and his frequent partner, Rep. Gerald Ford of Michigan, the House minority leader.

    One of them -- Ford -- achieved the presidency only briefly, when Richard Nixon was forced to resign. The other -- Dole -- failed each time he ran. But no one regards them as political failures, because they realized that victory is counted in more than vote totals. They won the ultimate tests of character for two reasons. They did not sacrifice their political principles. And they acknowledged that they shared the responsibility for making this system of government work.
    OK now, before I say a word, I should express my gratitude to both former President Ford (posthumously) and former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole for their military service (we know about Dole’s essentially paralyzed arm, and also, if you ever get the chance, I would suggest reading up on Gerald Ford’s exploits in the South Pacific during World War II…harrowing stuff).

    That being said, I would ask that we dispense with the fantasies about what a nice guy Bob Dole Bob Dole Bob Dole supposedly was and consider the following from here…

  • He won re-election to the U.S. Senate in 1974 by painting his opponent, obstetrician Bill Roy, as pro-abortion (flyers with photos of fetuses in trash can were placed on cars in Catholic neighborhoods right before the vote, though Dole claimed no knowledge).

  • Dole received tons of money from booze, gambling and tobacco such as the Gallo Winery family and US Tobacco (I realize that isn’t illegal, but it does damage a bit to Dole’s “family vales” cred).

  • Also, in the “past is prologue” department, Dole received campaign funding from none other than the Koch Brothers, located in Kansas as it turns out, as well as several natural gas companies -- Arco, Amoco, Coastal and Enron -- who enjoyed a special tax break that Dole promoted, even though it hurt Kansas' independent natural gas producers (for the Koch money, Dole helped fight off a Justice Department probe into millions of dollars worth of oil that Koch Industries allegedly stole from Indian-owned wells).

  • Dole also received “hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign money, plus dozens of flights on (food giant Archer Daniels Midland) at little or no cost.” In return, ADM received a $3.5 BILLION tax credit for ethanol (54 cents per gallon.) Archer Daniels makes 60% of this ethanol and receives $2 billion directly from this tax credit.
  • Also, the Dole for President campaign ended up yielding this true gem from The Onion (though it wouldn’t be so funny four years later, I know). My personal recollection from the ’96 contest was Dole’s appearances in which a band would play “Hail To The Chief” as he stepped to the podium (if there’s one constant upon which you can always rely, it’s the ego of conservatives).

    Part of me wishes that we truly lived in a political climate where such hazy recollections by Broder and his ilk could ultimately be realized, though most sentient life forms realize that that’s impossible (and by mentioning this, I am primarily trying to point out that Dole was a politician much like any better, and maybe no worse).

    I also think it’s instructive that Broder’s supposed model for “bipartisanship” includes two Republicans and no Democrats.

  • Finally, this New York Times story tells us the following…

    “Breaking New Ground: Presenting the George W. Bush Presidential Center,” an exhibit set to open this weekend on the campus of Southern Methodist University, prominently features the handgun taken from Saddam Hussein and the loudspeaker used to address rescue workers at the World Trade Center in September 2001.

    The choice of mementos, emphasizing some of the more controversial foreign policy aspects of the Bush presidency, has reinvigorated opposition to the center’s presence at the university.

    “It’s the approach they’ve taken all along; it fits their worldview,” said the Rev. William K. McElvaney, a professor emeritus of preaching and worship at the university. “It’s a tragedy for S.M.U. to hitch its star to this.”

    “I hope that a bullhorn will not become the symbol for the entry of the United States into an unjustified war and that a pistol of Saddam Hussein’s is not seen as some strange symbol of victory in that horrendous misjudgment,” said Tex Sample, an elder in the Methodist Church who helped lead the opposition to the Bush Institute’s placement at S.M.U. “That these should be the symbols of the values and commitments of the Bush administration and should now become the face of Southern Methodist University is cause for alarm.”
    And as noted here…

    Anti-war protesters are planning to converge around SMU next month, when formal groundbreaking ceremonies for the George W. Bush presidential library center are expected to draw up to 5,000 visitors to campus.

    The Nov. 16 groundbreaking probably will get considerable national attention, because it comes exactly one week after Bush's memoir, Decision Points, is released.

    The former president, who has made few public appearances since leaving the White House, is expected to break his self-imposed silence about his two terms in office when the book debuts.
    (And speaking of Number 43, I thought this was amusing.)

    Before he was installed into office by the Supreme Court in 2000, George W. Bush’s business career, such as it was, was marked by failed ventures and/or bailouts from deep-pocketed friends while he held ceremonial positions (such as a baseball team owner and a governor of Texas).

    How perversely apropos it would be if the one actual financial success he realized in his life came from his misbegotten and utterly ruinous presidency.
  • Thursday, October 21, 2010

    Thursday Mashup Part Two (10/21/10) (updates)

    (Part One is here.)

  • You know, I should laugh at the teabaggers and leave it at that, but sometimes the stoo-pid is impossible to ignore (here)…

    JASPER, Ind. — At a candidate forum here last week, Representative Baron P. Hill, a threatened Democratic incumbent in a largely conservative southern Indiana district, was endeavoring to explain his unpopular vote for the House cap-and-trade energy bill.

    It will create jobs in Indiana, reduce foreign oil imports and address global warming, Mr. Hill said at a debate with Todd Young, a novice Republican candidate who is supported by an array of Indiana Tea Party groups and is a climate change skeptic.

    “Climate change is real, and man is causing it,” Mr. Hill said, echoing most climate scientists. “That is indisputable. And we have to do something about it.”

    A rain of boos showered Mr. Hill, including a hearty growl from Norman Dennison, a 50-year-old electrician and founder of the Corydon Tea Party.

    “It’s a flat-out lie,” Mr. Dennison said in an interview after the debate, adding that he had based his view on the preaching of Rush Limbaugh and the teaching of Scripture. “I read my Bible,” Mr. Dennison said. “He made this earth for us to utilize.”
    God, that makes my head hurt (and kudos to Hill for doing what all Dems should be doing, and that’s taking on the wingnuttery head on).

    And as we continue in the Times story – well, it actually gets worse

    “This so-called climate science is just ridiculous,” said Kelly Khuri, founder of the Clark County Tea Party Patriots. “I think it’s all cyclical.”

    “Carbon regulation, cap and trade, it’s all just a money-control avenue,” Ms. Khuri added. “Some people say I’m extreme, but they said the John Birch Society was extreme, too.”
    Ugh – as noted here…

    Republican mainstream unhappiness with the Birchers intensified after (JBS founder Robert) Welch circulated a letter calling President Dwight D. Eisenhower a "conscious, dedicated agent of the Communist Conspiracy." Welch went further in a book titled The Politician, written in 1956 and published by the JBS in 1963, which declared that Eisenhower's brother Milton was Ike's superior within the Communist apparatus and alleging that other top government officials were also communist tools, including "ex president Truman and Roosevelt, and the last Sec. Of State John Foster Dulles and former CIA Director Allan W. Dulles." Conservative writer William F. Buckley, Jr., an early friend and admirer of Welch, regarded his accusations against Eisenhower as "paranoid and idiotic libels" and attempted unsuccessfully to purge Welch from the JBS. Welch responded by attempting to take over Young Americans for Freedom, a conservative youth organization founded with assistance from Buckley.

    In October 1964, the Idaho Statesman newspaper expressed concern about what it called an "ominous" increase in JBS-led "ultra right" radio and television broadcasts, which it said then numbered 7,000 weekly and cost an estimated $10 million annually. "By virtue of saturation tactics used, radical, reactionary propaganda is producing an impact even on large numbers of people who, themselves, are in no sense extremists or sympathetic to extremists views," declared a Statesman editorial. "When day after day they hear distortions of fact and sinister charges against persons or groups, often emanating from organizations with conspicuously respectable sounding names, it is no wonder that the result is: Confusion on some important public issues; stimulation of latent prejudices; creation of suspicion, fear and mistrust in relation not only to their representatives in government, but even in relation to their neighbors."

    Today the John Birch Society still sees communism as a threat, and sees the collapse of communism in Russia and Eastern Europe as false and "planned" by the Russian/Eastern European governments which it sees controlled by "the insiders". The Society has been active in supporting the audit of and eventual dismantling of, the Federal Reserve System. The current legislation was initiated by Ron Paul. The Birch Society believes that the U.S. Constitution only gave Congress the ability to coin money, and did not intend for it to delegate this power to a banking monopoly, or to transform it into a fiat currency not backed by any precious metals.[6]
    So yeah, I hate to break the news to Kelly Khuri (another teabagger who is utterly clueless when it comes to the history of this country), but the John Birch Society IS extreme (and as Source Watch tells us, it is very much still with us).

  • Also, I could help but notice this headline portending utter electoral doom for the Democrats, so I read the story from this link and saw that it was another political screed from Liz Sidoti of the AP, including the following…

    The (Associated Press-GfK poll’s) key findings among likely voters show:

    _50 percent say they will back the GOP candidate in their House district; 43 percent say they'll support the Democrat. The edge has slightly narrowed over the past month as Democrats presumably have grown more energized.

    _61 percent expect the GOP to win control of Congress; 33 percent think Democrats will maintain control.

    _49 percent want to see their House representatives re-elected; 44 percent want to fire them.

    _54 percent disapprove of Obama's job performance; 45 percent approve.

    _Just 20 percent approve of how Congress is doing its job.

    _59 percent think the country is headed in the wrong direction; 39 percent say it's going the right way.

    _52 percent have a favorable impression of the GOP; 44 percent view the Democratic Party positively.
    Also, we learn that “neither party is popular. But likely voters view the GOP a bit more positively than they do the Democrats.”

    Even though I'll grant that these are worrisome numbers, I’m not at all sure that they point to “huge” Republican victories (again, as we’ve said before, the Repug energy is formidable this time around, with the party out of power typically revved up and aided this time in no small way by a 24/7 diet of wingnut propaganda from the usual suspects).

    And this is typical for Sidoti, by the way, who screeched here about how terrible Obama is even though 73 percent of those who voted for him approve of his job performance (noted by Media Matters here…and by the way, nice job by Sidoti and the AP to include that demonic-looking pic of our president – wonder what kind of outcry there would be if they tried that with Dubya?).

    Also, here is something else to keep in mind concerning our chief executive (and as far as the election goes, just take everything from every pundit in the world and toss it in the ashcan – kos tells us the bottom line here).

  • Next, Turd Blossom reached into his rancid bag of tricks again (here)…

    At an April 2008 fund-raiser in San Francisco, Barack Obama let loose with his famous "they cling to their guns or religion" line. Last Saturday at a West Newton, Mass., fund-raiser, the president said, "facts and science and argument [do] not seem to be winning . . . because we're hard-wired not to always think clearly when we're scared."

    Memo to White House: Calling voters stupid is not a winning strategy.
    Well, after reading this, all I can say is “stupid is as stupid does.”

  • Update 10/23/10: Here is more from "do as I say, not as I do" Karl.

  • Finally, I bring you another chapter of This Day in Mikey Fitzpatrick History, more or less (here), telling us that, on this day four years ago, I pointed out that former Fitzpatrick Chief of Staff Mike "Watch Me Phone Into Patrick Murphy's Press Conference Call Without Authorization" Conallen once worked for Solutions North America, the lobbying firm run by former PA-07 Repug U.S. House Rep Crazy Curt Weldon's daughter that was part of an FBI corruption probe (Conallen took a trip to Serbia for which he apparently repaid the firm $2,400 from his own funds in compliance with ethics rules).

    Also, in response to the relentless attacks on Patrick Murphy’s Catholicism in the pages of the Bucks County Courier Times, I put up a bit of a “faith” challenge to Mikey to which he never responded (yeah, like he would, I know…also, it’s funny that the Courier Times claims it doesn’t print “personal attacks” – gee, they didn’t have any problem waiving that little editorial guideline way back when).

    Oh, and the Courier Times also told us the following today (here)…

    Murphy wants to keep Social Security a government entity, while he says his opponent wants to privatize it.

    Last week, Fitzpatrick denied the allegation and said, "Patrick Murphy has lied about my position on Social Security. I have always been adamant about my opposition to privatization. And no amount of press conferences on his part can change that."
    Gee, Mikey, I hate to break the news to you, but you said/did the following…

  • “On Social Security, Fitzpatrick favors private savings accounts, saying the system needs to be better secured. However, he wants to see a more detailed plan from the president. That's a different stance from the one Fitzpatrick took during his election, when he came out against privatization. Fitzpatrick insists there's a distinction between privatization (or partial privatization) and the proposed savings accounts, and that he hasn't broken campaign promises. He couldn't name the distinction.” [Bucks County Courier Times, 02/20/05]

  • “Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick said he agrees with the president's plans for Social Security. ‘The president talked about how to strengthen the system for the future. The system is broken and it must be fixed and I believe he said all ideas are on the table,’ Fitzpatrick said.” [Bucks County Courier Times, 2/3/05]

  • “We had three entitlements. They were all broken.” [Bucks County Herald, 5/6/10]

  • “Fitzpatrick says he favors the private accounts, but he's been unwilling to go much further on what should be done with the 70-year-old safety net, saying ‘I haven't seen anything in writing.’" [Bucks County Courier Times, 04/10/05]

  • “And he defended President George Bush's efforts to revamp Social Security. There are too many seniors receiving and too few young workers to support the program, he said. ‘We don't have as many children as we once did,’ he said.” [Bucks County Courier Times, 04/23/05]
  • (Note: I will admit that I got the bulleted items above from the Patrick Murphy campaign, and I’m sorry I don’t have links because I cannot locate them.)

    I know it’s hard to believe, but we have less than two weeks to go in this election. Please click here to provide whatever support your means allows to Congressman Patrick Murphy (and once more, what kos sez here).

  • Update 10/23/10: By the way, one of my "senior correspondents" alerted me to this letter that appeared in the paper yesterday with some rather interesting insights into the Courier Times' coverage of the Murphy/Fitzpatrick campaign (not surprising though, I must say)...

    Kudos to Shir Ami Synagogue for hosting the debate between congressional candidates Mike Fitzpatrick and Patrick Murphy.

    I agree with Courier Times reporter who covered the debate that it was mostly an occasion for the presentation by each candidate of his party's talking points. That and the many interruptions by self-appointed cheerleaders in the audience assured that the event would cast more heat than light, so I left a little more than halfway through.

    Unfortunately, the reporting lacked balance in my view. He repeatedly characterized one issue that was debated as the "death tax." "Death tax" is a buzz term used by opponents of what is officially called the "estate tax" in the United States. The estate tax only applies to millionaires, as both the candidates and your staff writer failed to point out.

    Further, he devoted four paragraphs to reporting what he indicated were factual inaccuracies in candidate Murphy's presentation, without offering any indication whether or not candidate Fitzpatrick had overstated his facts, or whether he had presented any.

    Max Roesler
    Morrisville, PA
    And by the way, here is an important message concerning our congressman...

    And to help "get Patrick back," click here.

    Wednesday, October 20, 2010

    Wednesday Stuff

    "Mommy, Daddy - where do teabaggers come from?"

    I think this goes a long way towards answering that question (from 1968)...

    ...and I don't know how on earth Tom Petty can be 60, but he is - happy birthday (and I don't know if embedding this qualifies as "broadcasting" or not time, disallow embedding if you're so worried about it).

    Wednesday Mashup (10/20/10)

  • Former Laura Bush employee Andrew Malcolm tells us the following from here…

    As The Ticket pointed out here a couple of weeks ago, Barack Obama's poll numbers have sadly sagged among most sectors of American voters -- young people (down to 57%), Easterners (52%), women (47%), independents (41%), seniors (38%), whites (36%).

    Only among blacks has his support stayed very strong (91%).

    The trouble, with severely challenging midterm elections coming up 14 days from right now, is that without Obama on a ballot somewhere, African Americans haven't demonstrated an eagerness or even willingness to flock to the polls as they did for him in 2008.

    Last November that racial absence cost the Democrats the New Jersey governor's race, hurt in Virginia's and likely the Massachusetts Senate race too that went to Republicans for the first time since the Korean War.

    So, what's a black president to do?
    Life being short, as they say, I’m not going to make an exhaustive attempt to criticize Malcolm’s continuing battle with common sense as he tried to report on empirical polling data (at least, not this word, of course, on how many people of which group are Republican or Democratic supporters).

    Instead, I’ll merely point out that, according to here, Virginia is one of two remaining states in this country that denies the right to vote — for life — to anyone with a criminal conviction (Kentucky is the other).


    The only means by which an individual can regain the right to vote is by going through a lengthy application process to prove to the governor that he or she is worthy of the right to vote; even then the governor can deny that application for any reason or no reason at all.

    The result: hundreds of thousands of Virginians are denied the right to vote, even though they have completed their entire criminal sentence and are living and working in the community. The laws that disenfranchise citizens who have been convicted of a crime were shaped in many respects by Jim Crow laws and continue to disproportionately affect people of color: one in every six African Americans in Virginia is permanently disenfranchised under this law. African Americans make up only one-fifth of Virginia's population, but over half of those who are disenfranchised.
    After enduring the 2007-2008 presidential primary season, I now know that we above that Mason-Dixon Line really have no right to preach to anyone in another geographic location of this country about racial tolerance. However, I don’t believe we can just “whistle Dixie” and ignore this either.

    And I’ll overlook for now Malcolm’s implied racism (can hardly wait to see a “Top of the Ticket” post from him about white politicians reaching out to Tea Party white voters...featured in the third item here, by the way).

  • And speaking of southern racism, former Va. Governor George Allen popped up apparently out of nowhere today to tell us the following from The Daily Tucker (here, about the “Teahadists”)…

    Just a few years prior to (now), the anger was directed at a Republican president and Congress that failed to bring spending under control. That spending was a fraction compared to what is going on now, but people had a right to expect better of the Republicans when we were in charge.
    Actually, as noted here…

    only 10 percent of $2 trillion swing into deficit is due to Obama policies; the rest, about 53 percent of the new deficit, is attributed to Bush’s tax cuts and spending increases (including the extension…of Iraq and Afghanistan). Nonetheless, by 2020, spending will equal 26 percent of GDP because of Social Security — that Bush promised to but never did reform — and Medicare — to which he added benefits — while taxes will bring in only 19 percent of GDP.
    (Oh, and speaking of Former President Nutball, I give you this – I have no personal grudge against the Texas Rangers baseball team, but if they advance to the World Series, I’m sure a certain 43rd president will find a way to try and hog the spotlight once again, taking credit for something he doesn’t deserve, he being a former figurehead of a team owner.)

  • Finally, it looks like Governor Bully decided to bring his “No, I have no presidential ambitions, and I’m not trying to build up national ‘cred’ within the party to try and run in 2012…not much” show to PA-08 recently (here).

    I’m not going to waste our time trying to dissect all of the dog whistle red meat dished out by Christie that was dutifully echoed by Mikey The Liar; if you wish to test your gag reflex, you can read the Courier Times story as well as I can.

    But only a Republican apparently can inhabit that parallel universe allowing them to think that Christie is actually competent at anything, given that he wasted an opportunity to obtain $400 million in matching federal school reform money here, and even worse as far as I’m concerned, pulled the plug on a $8.7 billion commuter tunnel project from New Jersey to New York here.

    Oh, and did I mention that Christie offered former DC schools chancellor Michelle (“Watch Me Fire 96 Teachers At Once”) Rhee the job of New Jersey education commissioner (here)?

    Note to all Dems – this is what happens when we sit out an election (and to prevent anything like this awful mistake from happening in our beloved commonwealth, vote straight Democratic on November 2nd – in the meantime, please click here to help Patrick Murphy and send Mike Fitzpatrick back to private life for good).
  • Tuesday, October 19, 2010

    Tuesday Stuff

    I believe this is the definition of the term "epic fail" (more here)...

    ...and maybe the line here about "losing all the stupid games I swore I'd never play" fits with the prior clip - just a thought.

    Tuesday Mashup (10/19/10)

    (I might have a little posting luck today after all.)

  • It takes a lot for me to put up a post where I’m asking for people to contribute money to a group or candidate, but when it comes to doing so on behalf of Matt Campbell running in Iowa to defeat the beyond-odious Steve King, I’m only too happy to do so…

    In the middle of a competitive 2002 Republican primary, Steve King cheated his own Party!

    Newly uncovered information details how Steve King benefited from $140,000 worth of illegal campaign expenditures on his behalf by the Club for Growth.

    Please make a LEGAL $10, $50, $100 or more contribution today to help me beat Rep. King.

    In September of 2005, the United States government through the FEC sued the Club for Growth in federal court asserting it failed to register as a political committee, despite soliciting and spending millions of dollars illegally on federal campaign activity from 2000 to 2004. Included in the expenditures: $140,000 to create and run a television commercial for King in Iowa's 5th district.

    Please help me raise the funds to LEGALLY beat Steve King. Please make a LEGAL $10, $50, $100 or more contribution today.

    In a September 2007 decision - the FEC contended and the federal court agreed that the combination of the large expenditure and the specific mention of King in the commercial constituted a gross violation of Federal election laws.

    Send Rep. King a message: contribute $10, $50, $100 or more LEGALLY to help boot Rep. King.

    King's victory was a surprise at the time for many and it's now shown to be tainted by the revelation that King benefited improperly from illegal expenditures on his behalf.

    Please help me run LEGAL commercials by contributing $10, $50, $100 or more today.

    Steve King has stolen a public right by refusing to debate and now we see he originally got elected by benefiting from illegal expenditures. Moderate Republicans and independents have had it with King and are just looking for one more straw to tilt the race. This is it, folks.

    Thanks for your support,
    To learn more about Matt Campbell, click here.

  • Also, the Philadelphia Inquirer was just full of only good things to say about Mikey Fitzpatrick here; I’ll acknowledge their right to run a “puff” piece like this, but I wanted to call attention to this particular excerpt…

    …(as Bucks County Commissioner Fitzpatrick) worked to end no-bid contracts, back the county's first enterprise zone, and design an open-space program that preserved more than 10,000 acres and 100 farms.

    (Congressman Patrick) Murphy notes that property taxes went up in seven of Fitzpatrick's 10 years. Two of those increases were voter-approved, Fitzpatrick said, and the others helped the county keep its debt low and its bond rating high.

    "It couldn't have been so bad, because Patrick Murphy moved here," he said. "It's called pay as you go."
    Ha ha, Mikey. And yeah, we sure are paying. And our kids and their kids too.

    And the reason why is because every time Bucks County wants to preserve open space, it issues another bond to do it (part of Mikey’s brilliant plan). And as one-time commissioner candidate and current PA-31 House rep Steve Santarsiero tells us here…

    …(it’s cheaper to draw) up a regional plan in coordination with other Bucks municipalities…”the county doesn’t have enough money to (issue a bond) for every piece of property that needs (an open space) designation.”
    And Santarsiero is an environmental lawyer, by the way (as noted in the post).

    Also, the article ends with Fitzpatrick saying that his loss in 2006 “had less to do with him and Murphy than with Bush and Iraq.”

    Let’s send Mikey a message that, no, it’s really all about him by clicking here to support Patrick Murphy.

  • And speaking of Steve, his Guest Opinion appeared today in the Courier Times (here)…

    Since taking office in January 2009, I have worked hard to bring jobs to our community, cut spending and reform Harrisburg. I am running for re-election to the Pennsylvania House to continue that work.


    Earlier this year I was able to convince a marketing firm to relocate to Lower Makefield. It will bring over 200 jobs to the area. At the same time, I fought against a proposal by New Jersey to require all of its public employees to live in the Garden State. In the end, I was able to convince New Jersey lawmakers to amend the proposal so that it did not apply to existing employees. As a result, over 3,000 residents of the Newtown-Yardley area who work in New Jersey's public sector - including my opponent in this race, ironically - will not have to choose between their homes and their jobs.

    In a second term I will work to create a system of tax credits to small businesses to help them expand and create more jobs. Those credits will complement the bill that I proposed this year - and which was passed and signed into law in July - that will make more credit available to small businesses as they grow. I also push for targeted tax incentives to attract biotech and alternative energy companies to Pennsylvania. These incentives will include the creation of "Green Enterprise Zones" designed to offer tax abatements to companies in the alternative energy and green technology sectors who pledge to stay in Pennsylvania for the long haul and create jobs for Pennsylvanians.

    Cutting Spending

    Faced with an historic budget deficit in 2009 of $3.2 billion, I voted with a majority of the Legislature to make cuts across the board. We did the same thing this year. Overall, total state spending has gone down since I took office. As a result, we were able to balance the budget in each of the last two years without raising the sales or income tax. Despite those cuts, we were able to preserve funding for important services and even increase funding for basic education, helping our local school districts.

    I also voted for a pension reform bill that will save taxpayers over $25 billion and will avoid a spike in property taxes in the next few years.

    Reforming Harrisburg

    I am the only representative from Bucks County who does not take the $163 per diem, the check that lawmakers get for just showing up to work at the Capitol each day. Most legislators use it for additional, non-taxable income each year. It's wrong and I don't accept it. I also am one of the few representatives who pay toward the cost of health care and proposed a bill last year that would require all representatives to do the same. I also refuse to take a cost of living increase in my salary and don't take a state car. Put simply, public servants should serve the public, not the other way around.

    I also support term limits for the Legislature and believe that we should cut the size of the Legislature in half. Doing so will reduce costs and make the legislature more efficient.

    We also need real campaign finance reform. I am a sponsor of legislation that would impose federal-style limits on the amount of contributions that can be made to candidates. I also have introduced a joint resolution of the Pennsylvania House and Senate proposing a 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would allow Congress and the states to impose limits on both contributions and campaign spending. It would overturn the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in the Citizens United case that held that corporations and unions can contribute unlimited amounts to influence elections.

    I am honored to have received the endorsement of the Sierra Club for my work to protect our environment and the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police for my dedication to public safety.

    It's easy to make promises as a candidate. The real test is whether an elected official actually follows those promises up with action. As my record shows, that is exactly what I have done and what I will continue to do if re-elected. I ask for your support on Nov. 2.
    To help re-elect Steve, click here.
  • Monday, October 18, 2010

    Monday Mashup Part Two (10/18/10)

    (Part One is here.)

  • The New York Times reported the following yesterday (here, in the matter of campaign finance reform)…

    Beyond that, conservatives say they are guided by less partisan motives: the fervent belief, shared by some liberal groups like the A.C.L.U., that the First Amendment should prevent the government from enacting campaign finance restrictions that can chill free speech, even if it means giving anonymity to donors and rights to corporations.

    “There’s a common ideological mind-set that I think we all share,” (Repug campaign-finance lawyer Michael) Toner said.
    Says you (and the story notes how Sen. Mr. Elaine Chao, perhaps the biggest corporate shill in Congress, likes to be referred to as “Darth Vader” for his stealth opposition to campaign finance limits – can’t possibly imagine how he looks at himself in the mirror in the morning).

    I should note that the Times isn’t entirely incorrect by saying that the ACLU doesn’t like campaign finance limits. However, they’re not entirely right either; as noted here, the group restated its policy last April, as follows…

    The policy accepts spending limits as a condition of voluntary public financing plans. The ACLU supports such plans as long as they ensure candidates have a true choice as to whether to participate and provide sufficient and equitable funding for all legally qualified candidates to run an effective campaign.

    • The policy permits reasonable limits on campaign contributions to candidates. This contrasts with prior policy, which opposed all such limits. The revised policy acknowledges that very large contributions to candidates may lead to undue influence or corruption and, at a minimum, have the appearance of impropriety and undermine public confidence in the electoral system’s integrity.
    It would be nice if the Times would spend a little more column space explaining how the position of the Repugs on this issue is an utter perversion of what our democracy is supposed to be all about instead of trying to concoct some feeble pretext to justify it.

  • Next, it seems that the Obama Justice Department, according to Eric Holder here…

    … is warning that the federal government will not look the other way, as it has with medical marijuana, if voters next month make California the first state to legalize pot.

    Marijuana is illegal under federal law, which drug agents will "vigorously enforce" against anyone carrying, growing or selling it, Holder said.
    Is this really the best use of law enforcement resources in this country, people?

    Who gives a fig if California wants to legalize pot? The laws of other states, cities, municipalities would remain in force. If they want to add the smell of hemp to their smog, it’s their business as far as I’m concerned (besides, both gubernatorial candidates Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman oppose it, so whoever ends up in Sacramento will fight the initiative anyway).

    I mean, it’s not exactly where I come down on the subject; I do favor decriminalization, as a certain former community organizer did here.

    But somehow, I think this administration has bigger issues to deal with, such as its defense of former Bushco Attorney General John Ashcroft (I can hardly believe I’m actually typing these words), asking the Supreme Court to reverse the Ninth Circuit’s decision allowing the suit of Abdullah al-Kidd to proceed; Kidd alleges that Ashcroft employed an unconstitutional use of a law meant to hold “material witnesses” in detaining him for “16 days in federal detention in three states in 2003, sometimes naked and sometimes shackled hand and foot,” all noted here.

    Now I will grant you that the Ashcroft business is bigger than the pot stuff, but it is still symptomatic of the same pathological tone-deafness of this administration (and yes, we should still support and vote for Democrats, but please Mr. President, spare us your lecturing and hectoring at “the professional left” while you also engage in this indefensible garbage).

  • Finally, I give you Pancake Joe Pitts at Tucker Carlson’s Crayon Scribble Page (here)…

    Many businesses are grappling with the changes in the new healthcare law. Because of changes concerning retiree healthcare, AT&T had to book an additional $1 billion in costs in just the first quarter of this year. These kinds of changes affect how many new employees an employer can hire.
    As noted here…

    In a March 26 letter to AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, Henry Waxman, chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, and Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI), chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, describe AT&T's write-downs as "a matter of concern" because "[t]he new law is designed to expand coverage and bring down costs." The letter adds that AT&T's numbers "appear to conflict with independent analyses," such as those estimated by the Congressional Budget Office and the Business Roundtable. From the March 26 letter:


    … AT&T stated in its March 26,2010, filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it intends to take a charge of approximately $1 billion in the first quarter of 2010. As a result of the legislation, the company says it "will be evaluating prospective changes to the active and retiree health care benefits offered by the company."

    The new law is designed to expand coverage and bring down costs, so your assertions are a matter of concern. They also appear to conflict with independent analyses. The Congressional Budget Office has reported that companies that insure more than 50 employees would see a decrease of up to 3% in average premium costs per person by 2016.2 The Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers from leading U.S. companies, asserted in November 2009 that health care reform could reduce predicted health insurance cost trends for businesses by more than $3,000 per employee over the next ten years.

    The Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will hold a hearing on April 21, 2010, at 10:00 a.m. in Room 2123 of the Rayburn House Office Building to examine the impact of the new law on AT&T and other large employers. We request your personal testimony at this hearing.
    I have no word as to whether or not anyone from AT&T ever showed up to testify before Waxman’s Energy and Commerce Committee.

    Also, as noted here…

    Beyond this, firms are being masochistic to bear the full tax payment now. Firms enjoy tax flexibility individuals do not; firms can defer taxes, or pay them later, over time. Over decades, if they want. Corporate tax law allows firms to pay taxes, in many senses, when it’s most advantageous to them. Don't you wish you could do that? So the sums of money firms complain of now can actually be paid over the course of 30 years or more. If firms pay now, they are doing so by choice, in order to make a scene and oppose health care reform.
    As you think about this, I would ask that you read near the bottom of this Daily Kos post, which shows that a reputable service recently released a poll internal to the Lois Herr campaign showing her trailing Joe Pitts by only seven points (with Pitts’ favorability way below 50 percent at 41, to be exact).

    So please, click here and contribute any way that you possibly can to help elect Lois Herr and give PA-16 the representation it deserves at long last.

    We can do this, people!
  • Sunday, October 17, 2010

    Dems Aren't "Energized"? Visit PA-08.

    (I also posted some stuff here.)

    Two letters appeared in the Bucks County Courier Times today concerning Mike Fizpatrick; here is the first one...

    Congressional candidate Mike Fitzpatrick supports privatizing Social Security, and handing over our retirement money to Wall Street bankers to squander. Imagine where seniors would be today if we had followed the advice of George W. Bush and Fitzpatrick before the financial collapse and allowed our Social Security benefits to be gambled on the stock market.

    Could we really expect anything less from a candidate who accepted $743,000 in campaign contributions from Wall Street firms, and refused to get tough on them when he was a member of the congressional committee with responsibility overseeing the financial industry?

    Fitzpatrick will continue to favor his fat cat Wall Street friends if we elect him to Congress this November.

    Joe Nickerson
    Bristol, PA
    And here is the second...

    I have been surprised at how the elections are playing out locally. Having been as familiar as perhaps anybody in the 8th Congressional District with Michael Fitzpatrick's work during his term as our representative, I feel it is essential to re-examine those two years.

    I do so from the vantage of my former position as director of PA Action, a statewide, pro-middle-class organization with a Bucks headquarters and an almost-exclusively Bucks staff. I can attest - from having been in his congressional offices more than weekly at times - that his period in office was characterized by continual position shifts that were out of touch with his constituents' stances.

    Fitzpatrick's political inconsistency is like nothing I have seen in working around politicians of all stripes over the past 20 years. (Note: As a nonpartisan organization, my group went on to challenge his successor, Patrick Murphy, to the extent that a senior New York Times reporter stated on that paper's most read page that we "grilled him.")

    Fitzpatrick more than once switched votes at the last minute. He called it proof that he was "independent." Disgruntled Republican and Democratic citizens called it something else. People complained to my group that his pro-Democratic voting only took place when Republicans had a comfortable majority on a bill.

    Such shifting reached beyond the district, as well. I recall repeatedly telling Fitzpatrick about local concern over his not opposing President Bush on Social Security privatization. One day, right before the election and with an important out-of-district reporter there, he suddenly touted a new Social Security position. It was not very relevant, since Congress would not vote until after the election, anyway. But he proceeded to tell the reporter to write it down, literally banging on her pad.
    Yep, typical spoiled brat antics from Mikey, all right...

    This inconsistency fit generally with how Fitzpatrick neglected to vote his constituents' interests. Constituent interactions are a central way for representatives to get the information needed to do just that. Time and again, sitting with Fitzpatrick, people would hear strong affirmation of their legislative hopes. Time and again, Fitzpatrick's votes would dash those hopes.

    My organization once facilitated a visit by a hundred older residents to Fitzpatrick's Oxford Valley Mall office. I had communicated numerous times over the course of weeks with his district director to confirm that Fitzpatrick would be there to hear their Medicare concerns. We even chose to bring the group during so-called public office hours.

    However, upon our arrival, early on a Saturday, our representative was nowhere to be found. So this swell of senior citizens stood for over an hour at an elevator bank next to the office. The district director, Fitzpatrick's senior constituent representative, finally acknowledged that Fitzpatrick was in the district. Fitzpatrick's home was nearby, unlike those of the constituents, some of whom hailed from the farthest points of Upper Bucks. We firmly requested he be called, but in vain. Unsurprisingly, his Medicare stance remained unpopular locally.

    These and other issues point to one conclusion: Fitzpatrick is not an appropriate "representative" for us at this crucial time. I have never written something of this nature, and I am not with his opponent's campaign. I have nothing against Fitzpatrick; personally, I like him, and his family as well.

    But strong political qualities, like the intellectual conviction that was always apparent in former Sen. Rick Santorum's presence, were not to be seen during Fitzpatrick's congressional term. Such qualities take many years to develop and cannot be grown overnight upon deciding to try to reclaim a former position.

    Leadership is about clarity. Even when Fitzpatrick opened his re-election campaign by attacking Murphy in his obligatory post-primary congratulations letter (the day after the primary), one could see this same pattern of inconstancy, which led to the loss of a longtime Republican seat.

    Fitzpatrick the candidate may be campaigning as an outsider, but it is essential that people, regardless of party, remember exactly how he treated the office when he was a complete insider.

    Craig Kaufman
    Levittown, PA
    Update 10/21/10: I'll allow an opposing point of view on this here.

    This Guest Opinion tells us what we have to look forward to under a Republican congress (as if we didn't already know)...

    As a senior citizen, I am very alarmed over the prospect that a Republican Congress will attempt to reduce the deficit and fund tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans and large corporations on the backs of senior citizens.

    Lest you think I exaggerate, consider the "Roadmap for America's Future Act," proposed by Republican Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. Forbes Magazine describes it as follows: "He is not quite saying, "Stop Social Security!" but he is getting dangerously close to the thought." Forbes continues, "His [Ryan's] "Roadmap for America's Future" both as a policy paper and proposed bill, calls for reducing the federal deficit and debt in decades to come by partly privatizing and trimming Social Security and Medicare, freezing most government programs and instituting a simplified, optional two-tier tax system that would cut taxes for the rich."

    Congressman Ryan proposes to privatize Medicare by replacing it with a voucher (with an average initial voucher value for 65-year-olds of $5,900 in 2010 dollars)." Try to imagine, what private health insurance would cost a person 65 or older who might have pre-existing conditions such as diabetes, heart problems or cancer, even if they could find an insurer who would accept them, which is highly doubtful once a Republican Congress rescinds President Obama's health reform legislation.

    Congressman Ryan is not someone outside the mainstream of Republican thought. He is a ranking member of the House "Budget Committee" which will play a leading role in how to deal with the deficit and as ranking member will be Chairman of the Committee if the Republicans have a majority in the next Congress. Congressman Ryan is also on the powerful "Ways and Means Committee" and on its "Subcommittee on Health" which will shape the future of Medicare.

    Congressman Ryan's "Roadmap for America's Future Act" has been praised by John Boehner, who will be the speaker of the House upon a Republican victory in November and Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich, two of the leading Republican candidates for president in 2012. The "Roadmap for America's Future Act" has also been endorsed by Republican senatorial candidates Rand Paul and Joe Miller - darlings of the tea party.

    Social Security and Medicare are not only under attack by national tea party candidates. Marsha Blackburn, Congresswoman from Tennessee's 7th Congressional District and a vocal advocate of privatizing Social Security, was campaigning here for Republican congressional candidate Mike Fitzpatrick, who has veered hard to the right to court tea party supporters. Statewide, when Pat Toomey was in Congress, he was one of the most aggressive supporters of President Bush's plan to privatize Social Security and as president of the ultra right wing "Club for Growth" he lobbied for tax cuts for large corporations and the wealthiest Americans and simultaneously for the elimination of entitlement programs - policies identical to those contained in Ryan's "Roadmap for America's Future Act."

    Nobel Prize winning economist and Princeton professor, Paul Krugman, has referred to Ryan as a "flim flam man" and his Roadmap as a "fraud." Krugman indicates that according to the nonpartisan "Tax Policy Center," Ryan's "Roadmap" would not reduce the deficit at all because any saving would be offset by the reduction in revenues caused by the proposed tax cuts - this in comparison to Ryan's claim that his plan would halve the deficit by 2020.

    Regarding the "roadmap" Krugman states that "all it would do is cut benefits for the middle class while slashing taxes on the rich" Further, Ryan's proposal would do little to address the current economic downturn, which resulted from a demand side recession caused by lack of consumption. A demand side recession and its aftermath can only be addressed by increasing consumption and this means creating good paying jobs. Tax cuts for the wealthy do little in this regard.

    So when you enter the voting both on No. 2 remember the word of the poet, John Donne, and "asked not for whom the bell tolls ..."

    Robert Wharton
    Langhorne, PA
    Also, here is one letter in support of Patrick Murphy (shockingly, a lot of good stuff in the Courier Times today, though they somehow thought that Murphy's fundraising edge was actually a front-page story - go figure)...

    In your Oct. 4 article about the Murphy-Fitzpatrick debate, the reporter wrote that Congressman Murphy's reference to the Iraq war as the "$3 trillion war" was an example of the Murphy campaign's continual overstatement of this point. In conducting his own fact check, he referenced a Reuters' report that stated by the end of 2009, the combined cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars topped $1 trillion.

    A closer look at this issue indicates that Murphy's $3 trillion figure is correct. The reporter's Reuters' figure only includes direct congressional appropriations to conduct the Iraq war, so far approximately $750 billion. Unfortunately, the ultimate cost of the Iraqi war will be far higher.

    A comprehensive look at the total cost of the war is contained in the 2008 book by Linda Bilmes and Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz entitled The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict. They point out what is not included in the cost estimates such as Reuters. Though there are no longer combat brigades in Iraq, we will continue to have a significant military presence there for quite awhile. The cost of future military operations in Iraq is estimated at $520 billion over the next decade.

    Advertisement Current and future health care and disability costs for returning veterans, including the 32,000 who were seriously wounded, are estimated at $590 billion over the lifetime of our Iraq-war veterans. Restoring the military's equipment, vehicles, etc. to their pre-war strength will add an additional $280 billion. Paying interest on the money borrowed by the federal government to fight the Iraq war is estimated at $615 billion over the next 10 years.

    When other factors are added to the $2.75 trillion in costs listed above, the figure reaches $3 trillion dollars. Murphy was right.

    Alan Dresser
    Lower Makefield, PA
    And here is another letter in support of Murphy...

    What is the makeup of a "great American?" The title seems to be thrown around by mainstream media like loose change. Coming from a family of predominantly military veterans, service was more an obligation, than a choice. Even with that, we never referred to one another as "great Americans," nor do we now. Maybe it is humility. Maybe the term has more sanctity to us.

    Serving one's country, paying one's taxes, providing for one's family and helping the less fortunate would, more than likely, warrant the title "good American." One who has gained much from the land of opportunity and, therefore, feels compelled to give back - it seems only fair.

    Advertisement I watch and listen to programs hosted by mainstream news commentators, who never served in the armed forces and whose agendas tend to exclude the interests of us "good Americans." Concurring calls pour in and the title "great American" is bestowed upon the caller from the show's host.

    Someone who has captured my attention is Patrick Murphy. His Airborne service in a combat zone is admirable. His social, economic, and political positions are sound. However, what makes Patrick Murphy a great American is his aspirations to represent the interests of the "good Americans" like my family.

    Wayne O'Neal
    Morrisville, PA
    To help Congressman Murphy, click here.

    Update 10/17/10: Uh, Meteor Blades at Daily Kos - before you start playing "taps" for Patrick Murphy here, maybe you ought to look at this first (unbelievable - I'd expect this from the wingnuts, but from a "liberal"?).

    Update 10/18/10: More fun with Mikey from here...

    Republican congressional candidate Mike Fitzpatrick actually said "the science of global warming has changed." No. The only part of that equation that has changed is the former congressman.

    He was once someone who might have been considered a moderate. That is certainly not true anymore. And it doesn't stop with denying global climate change. He rails against deficits, yet he supported two off-budget wars and tax cuts for millionaires. And he continues to support tax breaks on incomes of couples earning over $250,000 (it only significantly diverges from the Democratic plan for incomes over $500,000). He favors incurring $700 billion of additional national debt to benefit the top 2 percent of income even though he decries deficits.

    We thought we knew Mike. He's been appointed to or running for office for the last 20 years in Bucks County. He has changed. He once seemed to listen to Bucks County workers, but in 2004 he began supporting unfair free trade policies that continue to allow jobs to be outsourced to other countries. We need those jobs here in the USA.

    I doubt that he or any in his party will be able to work in a bipartisan fashion to fund the infrastructure improvements we so badly need to put people back to work. That may have been possible years ago. But, alas, too much of the Republican Party has ceded the middle ground to court the radical right. Mike and his new friends will obstruct any executive branch proposal, even those they like!

    You may disagree with Democrat Patrick Murphy on some issues (I do). But when he gives his word, you can trust it. And he has worked tirelessly and consistently for Bucks County veterans, seniors, children, those who experience discrimination and the disabled.

    Congressman Murphy has been a solid rock and he deserves my vote Nov. 2nd.

    Jeffrey Sagel
    Newtown, PA
    And I think this is a timely reminder.