Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday Mashup (11/12/10)

  • I give you Professor Krugman on the findings of the “catfood commission” (here)…

    …how, exactly, did a deficit-cutting commission become a commission whose first priority is cutting tax rates, with deficit reduction literally at the bottom of the list?

    Actually, though, what the co-chairmen are proposing is a mixture of tax cuts and tax increases — tax cuts for the wealthy, tax increases for the middle class. They suggest eliminating tax breaks that, whatever you think of them, matter a lot to middle-class Americans — the deductibility of health benefits and mortgage interest — and using much of the revenue gained thereby, not to reduce the deficit, but to allow sharp reductions in both the top marginal tax rate and in the corporate tax rate.

    It will take time to crunch the numbers here, but this proposal clearly represents a major transfer of income upward, from the middle class to a small minority of wealthy Americans. And what does any of this have to do with deficit reduction?

    Let’s turn next to Social Security. There were rumors beforehand that the commission would recommend a rise in the retirement age, and sure enough, that’s what Mr. Bowles and Mr. Simpson do. They want the age at which Social Security becomes available to rise along with average life expectancy. Is that reasonable?

    The answer is no, for a number of reasons — including the point that working until you’re 69, which may sound doable for people with desk jobs, is a lot harder for the many Americans who still do physical labor.

    But beyond that, the proposal seemingly ignores a crucial point: while average life expectancy is indeed rising, it’s doing so mainly for high earners, precisely the people who need Social Security least. Life expectancy in the bottom half of the income distribution has barely inched up over the past three decades. So the Bowles-Simpson proposal is basically saying that janitors should be forced to work longer because these days corporate lawyers live to a ripe old age.

    Still, can’t we say that for all its flaws, the Bowles-Simpson proposal is a serious effort to tackle the nation’s long-run fiscal problem? No, we can’t.
    So, now that this ridiculous exercise is over – and you know it will generate nothing but Repug attack ads against Number 44 two years from now or earlier…”Obama wants seniors to work longer with less of a retirement nest egg,” and of course “DEATH PANELS!!” – I’d like to hear our president try to answer this question.

  • Having just criticized President Obama, allow me to emphasize the following from this New York Times story by Sheryl Gay Stolberg about his Asian trip…

    …analysts agree that the president’s moment of maximum leverage — his meeting with (South Korean President Lee Myung-bak) — has come and gone. The changed political landscape in Washington could give the deal new momentum. Yet, even with Republicans, who are more favorable toward free trade, controlling the House, Mr. Obama will still have to deal with a Democratic Senate, as well as a Republican Tea Party caucus whose members might be hostile to working with him and who are skeptical of trade deals.
    If our media absolutely ignored the teabaggers, they would be seen as nothing more than a bunch of essentially cranky, overweight, elderly white people wearing funny hats and carrying racist signs and yapping about “big gumint” as they await their reimbursement for their Medicare copays and their Social Security checks.

    (And by the way, in a recent interview with Rachel Maddow, Jon Stewart chided people of the left over our derogatory usage of the term “teabagger” to describe these people. I’ll make a deal – I’ll stop that when I no longer see the word “Democrat” used as a supposed adjective.)

    Returning to Stolberg…

    (Obama) is also under intense pressure from the auto industry. Just last week, the Ford Motor Company, the only one of the big three Detroit automakers to have survived the economic downturn without resorting to a government bailout, placed newspaper advertisements calling the deal unfair.
    Oh, and speaking of GM and Chrysler, read this to learn about how they’ve returned to profitability and are planning to actually add jobs!

    I just thought I should point that out in response to all the wingnut harrumphing about “government motors,” as well as the opposition Obama once faced from the individuals noted here (Dame Blanche Lincoln and Bob Bennett ended up paying a political price for fighting the automaker funding, as well as Norm Coleman – looks like the rest of the ones that faded away did so on their own).

    I ended what I said in the bullet above with a question, so allow me to end this with a question also…

    How about giving Obama a little credit? (Too late for the congressional Dems, though – once again, heckuva job, “moderates” and independent voters).

  • Next, it seems that Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History had a little “meeting of the mindless” with Flush Limbore here, with Number 43 criticizing the OxyContin addict for opposing one of the very few things Dubya actually got right, and that was immigration reform…

    RUSH: What was the objective of that legislation? What were you trying to accomplish with your comprehensive immigration reform because many people thought it was amnesty and that he they opposed it.

    PRESIDENT BUSH: No, I know, and that’s what happens a lot of times these issues get labeled and people react poorly. I couldn’t have said it more plainly: I was against amnesty. I don’t know many people who were for amnesty when it comes time for comprehensive reform. … I was trying to basically recognize that our economy required immigrants to work. I mean, there’s a lot of jobs Americans won’t do and therefore there needed to be an orderly, legal way for people to come and work on a temporary basis and that if you’d paid your taxes and had been here for a while and were a good citizen you had a chance to become a citizen, but you had to get at the back of the line.
    God, what an out-of-touch, narcissistic boob this man is and probably always will be (hard to choose here, but I’m referring to Dubya).

    In response to our former preh-zee-dint’s claim about “jobs Americans won’t do,” I give you this once more, from “back in the day.”

  • Finally, I give you the following from Repug strategist John Feehery (here, returning to the “catfood commission”)…

    The deficit commission has taken a whack at a plan to deal with the deficit, and we can quibble with those proposals (I think getting rid of the mortgage interest deduction causes a whole lot of pain with not much corresponding gain, for example), but they are at least letting us all know that we have some big problems we have to deal with, and soon.

    That Americans are so delusional about the problems facing this country is clear from the name of the commission. The big problem facing the country isn’t the deficit, although that problem is significant. The big problem is the debt, which is now stretching beyond $13 trillion.

    When you get to trillion, what comes to my mind is the inflation that afflicted the Weimar Republic. These are silly numbers, beyond comprehension.
    Oh, so it’s the fault of “Americans” that the catfood commission engaged in this bogus exercise as cover to raid entitlements at the expense of the “pay no price, bear no burden” investor class?

    (And by the way, as noted here, inflation is at its lowest level "in decades.")

    And I wonder why Feehery mentioned the “Weimar Republic”? Any idea?

    Any idea at all?

    That isn’t what I wish to highlight primarily, though; instead, let’s look at Feehery’s claim about inflation. As noted here…

    …a little inflation would be good for the economy right now. If shoppers expect prices to rise in the future, they would buy now to lock in today's lower prices. This would stimulate demand, and that would stimulate economic growth. The economy is growing at around 2% right now, and it needs to grow at a 3% rate to create jobs.

    Of course, the bad news is higher prices, but they won't be THAT much higher, since the Fed's target for the core inflation rate is only 2%, and it's .8% now. It would be well worth it, if it were enough to stimulate economic growth and reduce the 9% unemployment rate.
    Actually, what we have to worry about mainly now is deflation – as noted here…

    The risk is rising that the U.S. will enter a prolonged period of stagnant growth combined with a risk of outright deflation -- similar to the environment that Japan entered in the 1990s," (PIMCO head of global portfolio management Scott) Mather wrote. "The last 20 years in Japan have seen continuously deflating real estate and equity prices."

    "Outright deflation" would occur if large swathes of the economy experienced negative price pressures over a long period of time, which then fed into expectations that prices would continue to fall broadly, Mather said.

    Mild deflation, by contrast, would occur if prices fell briefly in some sectors of the economy, but consumers did not begin to expect broad, sustained price declines, he said.

    Pimco has over $1 trillion of assets under management.

    "It is likely that the poor employment picture will pin the (Fed's) policy rate for a long time," Mohamed El-Erian, co-chief investment officer at Pimco, told Reuters in an interview on Friday.
    Returning to Krugman (here), he believes the Fed is taking the threat of Japanese-style deflation seriously – this also tells us the following…

    US inflation is currently at it lowest rate in 44 years. Consumer prices dropped 0.1pc month-on-month in June, following a fall of 0.2pc in May. The core consumer price index, which excludes volatile energy and food prices, increased 0.2pc in June, but is well below the 2pc growth targeted by the Federal Reserve.

    Concerns over deflation has already led some major investment funds to hedge against stock falls while buying more interest-bearing assets.

    The rush to safety saw two-year US Treasury yields fall to a record low of 0.51pc on Tuesday. The 10-year Treasury yield dropped to a 15-month low of 2.85pc in July.
    Sorry this isn’t more upbeat for the end of the week, but there you are (and on the matter of partisan punditry, here is more Feehery hilarity).
  • Thursday, November 11, 2010

    Thursday Mashup (11/11/10)

  • Oh noes, I tell myself…

    I’ll tell you what – here is the story. Try finding references to a liberal author or publisher anywhere (not including the comments).

    It should be noted, though, that Houghton Mifflin, the company that bought Harcourt School Publishers – the company that published “Storytown: Winning Catch 4” in which the update to the pigs story appeared – has contributed to Democrats…this begs to me the following question: Who the #@!$ cares!

    Meanwhile, this tells us that the “Tea Party Coloring Book” tells kids that “high taxes take away jobs and freedom,” or something (as Think Progress reminds us, “never mind that 2009 tax rates were the lowest since 1950” – why should teabaggers let pesky stuff like facts get in the way of their demagoguery?).

    And in the matter of people supposedly making “Chris Christie is fat” remarks, I agree that they’re uncalled for. I detest Christie not because of his appearance, upon which no one is entitled to judge about him or anyone else. My preoccupation with the fact that he’s a loudmouth and a bully and completely unqualified for the duties of his office keeps my plate pretty full as it is.

    Those quick to criticize people criticizing Christie for his weight, though, would do well to read this (a bit of a “pot, meet kettle” moment).

  • Update 11/12/10: Oh, and here is more self-entitlement from “Governor Bully” (can hardly wait to see what Corbett in PA comes up with, considering that Christie is his “role model”…ugh).

  • Next, I wanted to make sure I got to this post before the end of the week from Michael Kieschnick of CREDO Mobile, in which he lists some objectives that should be pursued by the Democratic Party in the “lame duck” session of Congress: one is passing the DISCLOSE Act, another is telling the IRS and the Department of Justice to investigate the organizations set up by Karl Rove to launder millions in campaign dollars; another is to “convince the Obama administration to stop appealing progressive court rulings on matters like the Defense of Marriage Act, Don't Ask Don't Tell, and the state secrets defense against torture and wiretapping”; and another is telling the FCC to “use its authority to establish and defend Net Neutrality (another is making middle class tax cuts permanent and making the “two percenters” pay their fair share, but apparently the Dems are getting ready to do what they do best on this also, unfortunately).

    Update 11/12/10: OK, this is positive, but I must admit that the whole "mixed messaging" thing gets awfully tiresome.

    Still, though, please read what Kieschnick has to say and, if you’re so inclined, sign the linked petitions (all we can do is try).

  • Also, I wanted to note that, 25 years ago today, former Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Pelle Lindbergh was taken off life support and would be officially pronounced dead two days later, the result of one of the most horrific sports tragedies this city has ever seen.

    As former Flyers hockey writer Jay Greenberg tells us in his book about the team up to about the 2000 season called “Full Spectrum” (pgs. 198-199)…

    …on November 9 (1985), (Tim) Kerr pumped in three more goals, giving him 16 in 13 games and helping (backup goalie Bob) Froese to a 5-3 success over Boston. The 12-2-0 Flyers had won 10 in a row, led the league in fewest goals against, were second in goals scored, and were systematically dismantling opponents. As (owner) Ed Snider left the Spectrum after the Bruins’ defeat, he turned to his wife Martha. “This is the best team we’ve ever had,” he said.
    For what it's worth, I attended the Boston game, and I remember seeing Lindbergh joking with Froese a bit on the ice when it was over.


    The owner’s telephone rang before seven the next morning, far too early for a Sunday. It was John Brogan (assistant to Jay Snider, Ed’s son and team president).

    “Pelle’s been in a car accident,” Brogan said.

    One of the first things (Lindbergh) did after signing his contract (with the Flyers) in 1980 was to buy a new Corvette. Later, Lindbergh purchased a 1969 Porsche 930 Turbo and a speedboat that he kept in Stockholm. In 1983, he bought a new Porsche 930 Turbo in Germany for about $52,000 and sent it back to the Stuttgart factory for about $41,000 in modifications.

    The Porsche’s speedometer went to 190 miles per hour. “It was the fastest car I ever drove,” recalls Jack Prettyman, a Voorhees (NJ) police officer who befriended many players. “Pelle told me he once took it up to 150 on the autobahn.”

    Lindbergh did not always drive like a maniac, but enjoyed showing off what the car could do. After taking his first ride, (Bob) Clarke was never interested in another. “He scared me,” said the GM. “We told Pelle he had to slow down. I guess when you’re young and strong and full of life, you feel you’re invincible.”

    Shortly after midnight (on the 9th), the goalie drove to Bennigan’s on Route 73. There he met several teammates and friend Ed Parvin, a part-time bartender at Kaminski’s Ale House in Cherry Hill, NJ, who had visited Lindbergh the previous summer in Sweden.

    According to witnesses, Lindbergh drank at least three ten-ounce drafts before 2:30 AM. He asked (teammate) Rich Sutter, who was with his wife Rhonda and (teammate) brother Ron, whether anyone wanted to go to the Coliseum. Rich, who knew how Lindbergh drove, turned him down. Parvin went instead.

    The goalie gunned his Porsche up to 120 mph on Springdale Road towards the nightspot, where he and about a dozen teammates and friends drank. Close to 3 AM, Cindy Volpe, a woman (dated by teammate Rick Tocchet), and Kathy McNeal, her co-worker and friend, arrived after completing their shifts as cocktail waitresses at Trump’s in Atlantic City. McNeal had met many Flyers when she served drinks at the (Philadelphia) Airport Hilton and had dated (teammate Peter) Zezel for six months.

    The group ordered beers and B-52s, a concoction of several types of alcoholic beverages. McNeil later testified that she saw Lindbergh drink two of the mixed drinks, plus a beer. Tocchet also remembered buying Lindbergh two beers, but during the two-plus hours at the Coliseum, the goalie was often seen without a drink in his hand.

    The club stopped serving at 4:45 and the lights went on at 5:00. Parvin, drunk and tired, told Lindbergh at about 5:20 he would wait in the car and fell asleep in the front seat. The goalie walked to the parking lot only steps away from (teammate Dave) Poulin. “He wasn’t falling-down drunk,” Poulin recalled.

    McNeal said she was hungry, so Lindbergh told (teammate Murray) Craven, who shared a house with Tocchet within walking distance of the Coliseum, that he would drive Parvin home to Mount Ephraim, NJ, then stop back for Craven and Tocchet so they could all go for breakfast. McNeal climbed into the console of the two-seat Porsche. Neither Lindbergh nor Parvin wore a seat belt.

    Tocchet and Craven were in the door less than twenty minutes when there was a knock. Two women who had been at the Coliseum said they had just seen Lindbergh’s car hit a wall on Somerdale Road.

    Lisa Garaguso and Kristina Trout, 19-year-old college students from Gloucester Township, NJ had pulled out of the Coliseum’s parking lot behind the Porsche. As it turned onto Somerdale Road, the sports car accelerated and swerved into the opposite lane before reaching the White Horse Pike stop light, three-fifths of a mile away. At the intersection, Trout pulled her Chevette alongside the Porsche. McNeal was between Lindbergh and Parvin in the two-seat vehicle, her arms on the back of both headrests.

    “They were all laughing,” Garaguso later told the Philadelphia Inquirer. When the light changed, the Porsche took off so fast that Trout said it looked like “the back wheels weren’t on the ground.”

    Three-tenths of a mile past the stoplight, at the intersection of Somerdale Road and Ogg Avenue, Somerdale turns sharply to the right. Trout saw the Porsche continue instead straight towards the three-and-a-half-foot-high wall of the Somerdale Elementary School. Residents head the car roaring down the road and then a dull thud.

    “Pelle just hit something,” Trout said to Garaguso. From a distance, it looked like the Porsche might have merely jumped the curb and stirred up some dust. When the women got closer, they saw otherwise. The vehicle had impacted the wall just at the point where it parted from the front steps of the school. The driver’s side was completely demolished and the passenger’s side rested against the steps. The windshield had been blown forty feet.

    Parvin was slumped in the passenger seat with McNeal lying across him. Lindbergh was tilted up against the steering wheel, bleeding from the nose and mouth. “It’s just amazing that someone with his kind of reflexes ends up like this,” Somerdale police chief Charles Pope would say later. The skid marks indicated that Lindbergh did not apply the brakes until he was only ten feet from the wall.
    And as noted here, as a result of the accident, in addition to Lindbergh’s death, Ed Parvin suffered brain damage and McNeal suffered injuries to her spleen and liver. It was determined later that Lindbergh’s blood alcohol level was an “astounding” .24 percent, with .10 being the legal limit for driving.

    The Daily News ran an update to the Lindbergh story here today, in which we learn the following…

    A FULL 4,000 MILES away from the city that grew to love him, Pelle Lindbergh's spirit lives on in the body of a teenager who has no biological connection to him.

    His name is Jens Somnell. Naturally, he is a goaltender. Somnell, 14, has grown up playing in some of the same rinks that Lindbergh skated in as a youngster in Stockholm, Sweden.

    Almost everything Somnell has learned about hockey, the NHL and Philadelphia has come from his mother, Kerstin Pietzsch-Somnell, who was engaged to Lindbergh and lived with him in South Jersey when he was killed.

    "Every time I look at him in net, I can't help but think of Pelle," Pietzsch-Somnell said Monday from Stockholm. "He isn't as talented as Pelle yet, of course, but he is always asking questions. I tell him stories about Pelle and he knows all about him."

    No Flyer has worn Lindbergh's No. 31 since his passing. Though it is not available, the number has not been retired by the Flyers. Jens Somnell could not have thought of a better number to wear.

    After all these years, Lindbergh remains one of Sweden's most revered hockey figures. He is right up there with Peter Forsberg, Borje Salming and Nicklas Lidstrom.

    Last March, Pietzsch-Somnell made a pilgrimage back to Philadelphia for the first time since Lindbergh's accident in November 1985. She wanted to meet with old friends, revisit favorite sites and most of all, introduce her son to the Flyers.

    Pietzsch-Somnell, who married a little less than 5 years after Lindbergh's death, brought her husband, Kurt, and Jens to a Flyers game.

    "I wanted to show my son a little bit what my life was like," Pietzsch-Somnell said. "Before then, he had just seen pictures and read stories about the Flyers. He was astounded by everything, from the arena to the players."
    Who knows – maybe one day there could be another young Swedish phenom tending goal in the NHL with a link to someone who, for all too brief a time, was one of the very best in the business.

    (And I included the horrific details of Lindbergh’s accident for a reason – if anyone reading this knows of anyone who engages in purposeful high-risk behavior with an automobile, whether they’re under the influence or not, please tell them Lindbergh’s story, as well as those of his passengers.)

  • Finally, to commemorate Veterans Day, I wanted to present a list of the bills related to our veterans either signed into law or passed through the U.S. House by the current Congress (and as you can tell from the membership of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees, there will be vacancies in the upcoming 112th – gulp! – Congress).

    And in other vets news, Senator “Country First” is ready to filibuster the defense spending bill if the repeal of DADT is included here (and as noted here, most soldiers favor repeal). Just to show, though, that stupidity is bipartisan, I give you this, in which Kent Conrad believes that our vets should now be forced into co-pays for treatment (I said it during the health care reform mess and I’ll say it again here – it disgusts me to no end that I have to share a party allegiance with this worm).

    Also, here is some truly sobering information about our wounded heroes returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (h/t Daily Kos).

    In closing, please allow me to point out that there are at least four days in which we should fly the American flag or display it on our property in one fashion or another: Memorial Day, July 4th, 9/11 Remembrance Day, and today.

    So fly the damn flags, OK people?

    (And if you’re already doing so, sorry to be a crank.)
  • Wednesday, November 10, 2010

    Wednesday Stuff

    Better not let Bowles and Simpson of the "catfood commission" see this, or else they might issue it as another policy recommendation...

    Social Security Scam Robs Elderly By Convincing Them They Are Dead

    ...and the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald took place 35 years ago today; if nothing else, it yielded this song, which became a huge hit for Gordon Lightfoot.

    Wednesday Mashup (11/10/10)

  • I have only one word to say in response to the release of the “Catfood Commission” proposals here…

    OMFG (I may have more to say later – and I’m sure it’s no accident that this “dropped” while Number 44 was far away from Washington).

  • Also, we learn the following from The Daily Tucker here…

    ACORN executive Amy Adele Busefink has cut a deal with Nevada prosecutors in hopes of avoiding prison time for her role in a voter fraud-related conspiracy.

    Voter fraud, also called electoral fraud, is a blanket term encompassing a host of election-related improprieties. In this case, Busefink entered an “Alford plea” which is roughly equivalent to “no contest.” The case involves a conspiracy to provide illegal financial bonuses to voter registration canvassers exceeding their daily quotas. Nevada law forbids the practice on the theory that such bonuses provide an incentive for canvassers to file bogus registrations.
    By the way, it should be noted from here that Busefink was no longer employed with ACORN as of May 2009.

    Also, name for me a single occasion in which an individual affiliated with ACORN falsified a ballot that ended up being counted in an election.

    On the other hand, I give you the following from here, alleging that Texas teabaggers engaged in a campaign of voter intimidation; Fix Noise humanoid Megyn Kelly also failed to mention that the Department of Justice was looking into the allegations. Also, Republicans allegedly harassed elderly black voters in their homes, and Sen.-Elect Mark Kirk of Illinois planned to organize “voter integrity squads” for African American neighborhoods for the 2010 election.

    Closer to home, the Bucks County Courier Times has basically “disappeared” any mention of the “Self” Ciervo-Mike Fitzpatrick voter fraud letter, which is in keeping with a tradition in our fair county of trying to disenfranchise voters, to wit…

  • In 2008, the Bucks County Board of Election relocated a minority serving polling location, a move that led to a lawsuit from concerned voters. [Philadelphia Inquirer, September 28, 2008]

  • Across the state, Pennsylvania Republicans have engaged in widespread efforts to intimidate and disenfranchise voters. In 2004, Republicans tried to relocate 63 Philadelphia polling places, mostly in Democratic and minority serving areas. [Philadelphia Daily News, October 18, 2004]

  • In 2004, Republicans tried to challenge tens of thousands of voters in Philadelphia, a desperate move that was condemned by a legal counsel to the Republican City Committee who said Republicans were being "chicken littles." [Philadelphia Inquirer, October 25, 2004]

  • In 2008, Republicans attempted to institute a "dress code" for voters. Republican Party Chairman Rob Gleason worried that voters could wear "musical hats" to the polls. This move was clearly targeted at intimidating voters. [AP, October 5, 2008]
  • But look there – ACORN!

  • Next, Charles Babington of the AP is just oh so happy to tell us about the Dem “division” caused by the decision of Nancy Pelosi to run for Minority Leader here in this recent column (wonder if The Orange One garnered this much publicity when he did the same thing awhile back?)…

    Rep. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., said he was "disappointed that Speaker Pelosi is going to seek the position of Minority Leader." North Carolina Rep. Larry Kissell's office said he hopes Pelosi "will change her mind and step aside."

    Reps. Dan Boren of Oklahoma and Mike Ross of Arkansas also said they opposed Pelosi.
    Oh, speaking of Ross and Boren, did you know that they were two of four Democrats who actually benefited from spending by the “U.S.” Chamber of Commerce in the last election, as noted here (also including Jim Matheson and John Barrow)?

    And as for “Democrat” Boren, he once claimed here that he couldn’t support Barack Obama for president because he was “too liberal,” he opposed a provision in an Iraq supplemental appropriation to try and keep Dubya from launching a pre-emptive attack on Iran here, and of course he supported the tax cuts of Commander Codpiece here.

    Pelosi said she wore the scorn of the Repugs as a badge of honor, or words to that effect. She should treat the cowardice of these four insects the same way.

  • Update 11/12/10: And I'm sure Matheson will follow suit shortly also (here).

  • Finally, I give you the following from Repug U.S. House Rep Fred Upton here…

    As you know, your health care bill passed with zero Republican support. Never in modern American history has such a landmark piece of legislation — which affects nearly every man, woman and child — passed with no votes from the minority party.
    This tells us that the stimulus passed without the vote of a single Repug U.S. House rep, and the 1993 budget from President Clinton that subsequently brought us about eight years of prosperity passed with the same Repug non-support (and by the way, since he opposes HCR, he should read this and find out that about 50 million people in this country did not have health insurance last year – aside from Upton’s “free market” pabulum, any other ideas that are actually serious?)


    Though we agree that our current system is broken, the “Affordable Care Act” merely compounds existing problems and creates a slew of new ones. The law not only sets a frightening precedent by federally forcing individuals to purchase a private product, it mandates that these products have certain level of benefits, increasing costs.
    Upton is talking about the mandate to purchase coverage, which the Repugs actually supported back when they were sane (here, led by a certain Willard Mitt Romney, the architect – no matter how much he’s running away from that now – of Massachusetts’ coverage)…


    Most alarmingly, the bill allows federal funds to go toward abortion services for the first time ever, which goes against the strong pro-life values that many American taxpayers, including myself, hold dear.
    As noted here...

    The (amendment sponsored by Dem U.S. House Rep Lois Capps) does contain a statement...that prohibits the use of public money to pay for abortions, except in cases of rape, incest and to save the life of the mother. That would still allow the public plan to cover all abortions, so long as the plans took in enough private money in the form of premiums paid by individuals or their employers. The Capps language also would allow private plans purchased with federal subsidies ("affordability credits" for low-income families and workers) to cover abortion.
    And as Rachel Maddow, among others, has noted, women seeking abortion coverage have to elect that apart from their regular coverage, forcing them to pay out of pocket for a medical service (which abortion is in the final analysis, as any reasonable person would recognize) that they may never need (conversely, I wonder how loud the howls of outrage would be if men had to pay an additional premium and “elect” coverage for Cialis or Viagra).

    And on the question of HCR paying for abortions (which it doesn’t through government funds, but only through subscriber premiums and credits, as noted above), I’m still waiting for the outcry from Repugs on the matter of “health savings accounts” used to pay for abortion coverage (cue the sound of crickets).

    Oh, and just for good measure, I should add that Upton opposes Net Neutrality (here), having received over $135,000 in campaign contributions from the telcos, and has said that “we do need hearings” here, having questioned the science of man-made global warming and thus calling for Congressional hearings to investigate climate scientists (did I mention that Upton may end up in charge of the House Energy Committee, assuming he beats out “Smokey Joe” Barton?).

    The good news is that I should have tons of posting material after these clowns take over the House in January (assuming I can keep this thing going…we’ll see).

    The bad news is that, by the time they’re done, we could be a banana republic in more than name only (here).
  • Tuesday, November 09, 2010

    Tuesday Stuff

    You know, I would expect J.D. Mullane of the Bucks County Courier Times (And why exactly are we still subscribing to that newspaper anyway? I may have some news on that soon.) to fluff the teabaggers as I noted in the post earlier today, but somehow, I really gave Mark Warner more credit than to say this (lucky for him 2014 is a ways off, though we remember things for a loooong time).

    And the funny part is that these clowns, yet again, provided cover for the corporatist Republicans to take over - get ready for a horrific two years coming up (I suppose some people will never lose the desire to allow themselves to be played for utter saps)...

    Update 11/10/10: And their hate isn't confined to race, by the way (here).

    ...and on a wholly other note, on this day 50 years ago, Penguin Publishing's first run of D.H. Lawrence's sexually explicit novel "Lady Chatterly's Lover" sold out after being banned for more than 30 years (the book is mentioned in this topically related tune by the funniest math professor who ever lived).

    Tuesday Mashup (11/09/10)

  • J.D. Mullane gives us more teabagger love here, telling us of the individuals who profess to support fiscal prudence now but apparently were asleep or living under a rock during the decade of the “oughts” when the prior ruling cabal was digging the hole in which we now find ourselves…

    The tea party movement in Bucks County was among the first in the nation to host a rally, and its leaders are young women - two Latinas, a former PBS journalist and a woman whose feminist mother burned her bra in the 1970s.

    They are educated professionals, mothers with young children. What galvanized them into the potent conservative activism that cost liberal Congressman Patrick Murphy his seat?

    Blame George W. Bush.

    "That's where it started, Bush and the TARP in '08," said Mariann Davies, a lawyer from Doylestown who founded the tea party group Kitchen Table Patriots.

    Recall that in the fall of 2008, Wall Street icons such as Bear Sterns and Lehman Brothers were collapsing beneath bad loans. Bush borrowed $700 billion to bail out other banks under legislation called the "Troubled Asset Relief Program."

    "I just thought it was insanity," Davies said.

    She commiserated with a neighbor, Anastasia Przybylski, also a stay-at-home mom. When Barack Obama continued the bailouts in 2009, they were alarmed.

    "We were worried sick that Obama was spending the country broke. Who was going to pay for this? Our children," said Przybylski, 38. "They call us 'mama grizzlies.' That's what I became, for my kids."
    Memo to those zany teabaggers – read this Wikipedia article (or at least look at the table) to find out that in 2007, the year before the financial collapse hit, we were already $460 billion in debt. The time to become a “mama grizzly” was during the presidential election of 2004 to get rid of the main culprit and his henchmen chiefly responsible for “spending the country broke.”

    And when this bunch finally discovered a pulse, who did these fools choose to support? Not Patrick Murphy, who was responsible for saving $20 billion in budget spending as noted here. No, they chose to support Mikey Fitzpatrick, who was accused here of being one of the most “liberal” Republicans in Congress (with that dreaded “L” word meant as a pejorative, of course).

    Continuing with Mullane…

    The Kitchen Table Patriots are not stopping at Murphy. School boards, town councils and the statehouse are in view.

    The establishment GOP in Bucks views the tea partiers as agitators to be tolerated, for now.

    "Lots of gray hair," a high-ranking Republican told me, by which he meant the tea party won't last.

    That attitude reminds me of stories about Hollywood in the 1920s, when talkies arrived. Just a fad, said the people who ran things. Moviegoers will return to silents.

    Really? Read here about how “teabagger” hero Rand Paul has already caved and now supports earmarks (to say nothing of one-time idol Scott Brown, who has taken a similar path). And this tells us how Just Plain Folks Sarah Palin is being roundly rebuked for costing the GOP the Senate by supporting life forms like Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell (hard to imagine how the Repugs could have found someone who would actually lose to Harry Reid, but they did).

    And when it comes to “listening to his master’s voice” at the expense of those “mama grizzlies,” Fitzpatrick will remember what he’s supposed to do and roll over and beg along with everyone else.

  • Also, John Harwood of the New York Times told us the following recently (here, about the upcoming “lame duck” session of Congress)…

    The (session), expected to end by mid-December, will only hint at the new dynamics of divided government in Washington. A fuller picture will unfold as Republican leaders grapple with the demands of the Tea Party and Democrats cope with internal tensions caused by Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s decision to run as her party’s leader in the House, despite last week’s drubbing.
    What exactly would those “internal tensions” be, Harwood? Do you mean the yapping of “Bush Dog” Heath Shuler, who claimed that he would challenge Pelosi for the job of minority leader?

    Try reading this to find out how quickly Shuler backed down when Pelosi called his bluff and announced that she would run for the job (and if you are so inclined, please sign the petition in support of Pelosi from the Bowers post, which apparently has about 25,000 signatures to date).

    The Bush Dogs lost half their membership last week (including Patrick Murphy, of course, sadly). As awful as that outcome was, it actually was of some slight benefit if it meant that progressives would fare better than that group in the outcome; though that was due partly to the accidental political geography in their favor (i.e., California with its majority Hispanic demographic which went solidly Dem), that is exactly what happened.

  • Finally, I thought this recent article by Peter Baker in the New York Times was interesting concerning the impact of the mid-term elections on our president’s attempted “restart” with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev…

    In forging a friendlier relationship with the Kremlin after years of tension, Mr. Obama needs Congress to sign off on three major policy changes: an arms control treaty to reduce nuclear arsenals and resume inspections; a civilian nuclear agreement to permit greater cooperation; and a repeal of cold war-era trade restrictions so Russia can join the World Trade Organization.

    Persuading Congress to approve any of those was already daunting when Democrats had control of both houses, but with Republicans taking over the House and bolstering forces in the Senate, all of these initiatives appear in jeopardy. If Mr. Obama cannot deliver on his promises, American officials and foreign policy specialists fear it will rupture the so-called reset policy and validate Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin and other hard-liners who have been skeptical of the rapprochement.
    So basically, if the Dems had held the House, it would have been easier to pass the reforms that Obama had wanted, thus supporting Medvedev at the expense of our ol' buddy Vlad Putin, with the Russian president delaying $13 billion in arms sales to Iran as part of the deal to support sanctions.

    Now, with the Repugs taking over, it is very likely that the foreign policy initiatives won’t pass, forcing Medvedev to take a harder line to win Putin's approval, which probably will mean bailing on the sanctions and finalizing the Iranian arms deal, thus ratcheting up pressure in that region (as if it needs any more of that) to the point where Israel will threaten, and quite possibly carry out, military action against Iran.

    As somebody said, elections have consequences (and once more, heckuva job, “moderate” Dems and independent voters).
  • Monday, November 08, 2010

    Monday Stuff

    Of course, as Bill Maher said this, he did so in the presence of Darrell Issa sitting on the show's panel, who is going to make it his life's mission now as incoming head of the House Oversight Committee to investigate every stinking thing Obama has ever done or has been alleged to do - just sayin'...

    Update 11/9/10: And in case anyone thought I was kidding about Issa, I give you this.

    ...and for no particular reason, I give you this little number.

    Some Monday "Byko" Blather Redux

    I was really hoping that Stu Bykofsky of the Philadelphia Daily News would give the Keith Olbermann story a rest, but no such luck (here)…

    Anyone who thinks Olbermann is an impartial journalist would also have to believe Eliot Spitzer's whore was a virgin.
    Wow, what astute commentary from “Byko” (and he’d better be careful when it comes to invoking philandering episodes involving TV personalities; he just got done writing this idiotic column alleging that his hero Bill O’Reilly was more “fair and balanced” than Olbermann – good luck trying to pin something like this on K.O., whereas all you have to do is Google Billo and Andrea Mackris to discover some truly interesting legal revelations involving a loofah and a shower, and I’ll leave it at that).


    (MSNBC) has wanted it both ways. He's a commentator on "Countdown with Keith Olbermann," which The New York Times recognizes as "a leading forum for liberal politicians." As my column last Thursday showed, it is a forum for liberals only. But MSNBC also allowed him to anchor, as he did for the network's Tuesday election-night coverage.

    Being openly partisan kills your credibility as an objective journalist, which anchors should be. They, and reporters, must avoid even the appearance of partiality.
    I would add that wishing “another 9/11,” as Bykofsky did here, does a hell of a lot more to “(kill) your credibility” than making a political contribution (and just for the record, I’ll let go of that when Bykofsky apologizes for it, if he ever does).


    Last month - proving you're never too old to learn something stupid - K.O. self-righteously grumped about "a national cable-news outlet [Fox News] that goes beyond having a point of view and actually starts to shill for partisan causes and actually starts to donate to partisan groups of one party."

    Do as I say, not as I do?

    More trouble rolled in. After the Murdoch donations were disclosed, MSNBC president Phil Griffin last month told The New York Times, "Show me an example of us fundraising."

    Donating is worse…

    I’ll tell you what, Byko – here is Rachel Maddow’s commentary once more from last Friday on all of this, in which she contrasts the $7,200 donated by Keith (of course, Bykofsky doesn’t mention that Pat Buchanan and Joe Scarborough donated to Republicans before this mysterious change in network policy at MSNBC) with the millions raised by Fix Noise on behalf of Republican candidates.

    Oh, and Byko concludes by saying "The fact that Olbermann is MSNBC's most popular personality explains why the suspension was so brief."

    I would say that that's true. I would also say that a petition with about 200,000 signatures demanding Keith's reinstatement was a factor also (here - actually, I think the final total was closer to 250,000).

    Do us all a favor, Byko, and write about Center City Philadelphia scofflaws, ethically compromised public officials and abuses of the Parking Authority next time, OK? If you feel the inclination to comment on things you don’t know about, talk to your editor (do you have one?) first. It will help to have input from an actual grownup in these matters.

    Or, if all else fails, just go ahead and launch another ad hominem attack on bloggers again as you did here. After last Tuesday, I could use a good laugh.

    Update 11/11/10: Sounds like “Byko” got “pwned,” as they say, here (of course, Carlson is a juvenile idiot – in other news, water is wet and sky is blue…wonder if Bykofsky will now write a column or two comparing Carlson’s scribble page to HuffPo?).

    Sunday, November 07, 2010

    Sunday Stuff

    He was announced as the "official" winner of Florida and thus the presidential election ten years ago today, by the way (before he was installed by the Supreme Court, and of course, the minute this year's midterm elections end, he sticks his head out of his proverbial hole to be the subject of this column, in which Peter Baker repeats the corporate media mythology that "he kept us safe after 9/11")...

    Uh huh (and speaking of Commander Codpiece, his wretched term had a lot to do with this)...

    ...and once again, this tune from RT beginning at about 4:20 is timely (I wish Dubya were gone...from sight anyway).