Friday, January 14, 2011

Friday Mashup (1/14/11)

  • For anyone who wonders whether or not any gun control-related legislation will emerge as a result of the Tucson tragedy, I think we have our answer (from here).

    The billboard advertises a gun show taking place about 13 miles from where the shootings occurred.

    And somewhere in the state of Arizona, the parents of 9-year-old Christina Green weep quietly to themselves.

  • Also related to the shootings in Arizona last weekend, I think Christine Flowers of The Daily News accidentally touched on an important subject here (“accidentally” being the only way she can make a substantive contribution to much of anything)…

    The real reason that (former Phillies manager) Dallas Green's granddaughter was murdered along with five other bright souls is that our mental- health system has created the ripest of conditions for the massacre.
    No, I don’t mean to agree with Flowers’ comical charge that mental health professionals contributed to the carnage. However, I do think she touches on the important issue of funding for mental health treatment, which, anymore, is pretty much left up to the states.

    As noted here, there have been funding cuts in Ohio, Colorado, Mississippi, New Hampshire, and Illinois (and this tells us about Kansas, a state which continues to elect astoundingly stupid people to public office). And keeping with that unfortunate trend, we learn the following about the state where last Saturday’s tragedy occurred from here…

    To fill a $1 billion hole in its 2011 budget, Arizona slashed this year’s budget for mental health services by $36 million — a 37 percent cut. As a result, advocates say 3,800 people who do not qualify for Medicaid are at risk of losing services such as counseling and employment preparation. In addition, more than 12,000 adults and 2,000 children will no longer receive the name-brand medications they take to keep their illnesses in check. Other services such as supportive housing and transportation to doctor’s appointments also will be eliminated.

    Arizona has been considered a progressive state because it provides the vast majority of mental health services through cost-effective outpatient community programs. By slashing these programs, experts say the state will force more people to use emergency rooms or end up in the criminal justice system, which will cost the state more.
    And allowing more people to “slip through the cracks,” unfortunately (once more, I’d love to be wrong).

  • Next, I guess I should probably bring back the Area Votes in Congress writeups to keep track of the activities of the dreaded 112th, so here is the first one for the new session (based on the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Sunday articles, including this one).

    I hope you’ll notice, by the way, that, now that the voters of this country, in their dunderheaded stupidity, have chosen to vote out the adults and let the children run amok in the play pen, the following results are entirely predictable.

    Legislative-branch budget. Voting 408-13, the House endorsed a cut of $35.2 million, or less than 1 percent, in the $4.6 billion legislative-branch budget. The cut amounts to 2.6 percent of the House's $1.37 billion share of that yearly budget. The $35.2 million is to be trimmed from House committee and leadership accounts as well as from members' office allowances. This measure (H Res 22) will be in effect through fiscal 2012.

    A yes vote backed the cuts.

    Voting yes: Robert E. Andrews (D., N.J.), Robert A. Brady (D., Pa.), John Carney (D., Del.), Charles W. Dent (R., Pa.), Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.), Tim Holden (D., Pa.), Frank A. LoBiondo (R., N.J.), Patrick Meehan (R., Pa.), Joseph R. Pitts (R., Pa.), Allyson Y. Schwartz (D., Pa.), and Christopher H. Smith (R., N.J.).

    Not voting: Michael Fitzpatrick (R., Pa.), Jim Gerlach (R., Pa.), and Jon Runyan (R., N.J.).
    No sweat – I’m sure Boehner will make that back with a few DC fundraisers (probably including this one).

    112th Congress rules. Voting 238-191, the House adopted GOP-written rule changes for the 112th Congress that require entitlement-spending increases, but not tax cuts, be offset elsewhere in the budget; prevent increases in the national debt limit without record votes; require the 21 standing committees to post members' votes online within 48 hours; set a three-day wait between the time bills are reported out of committee and the time they are debated on the floor; require bills to cite their constitutional authority; require committee hearings and markups to be broadcast over the Internet; and strip the six delegates from nonstates of their limited floor-voting privileges (below). These and other GOP changes were added to the body of standing rules that has governed House procedures since the first Congress in 1789.

    A yes vote was to adopt the Republican rules.

    Voting yes: Dent, Gerlach, LoBiondo, Meehan, Pitts, Runyan, and Smith.

    Voting no: Andrews, Brady, Carney, Fattah, Holden, and Schwartz.

    Not voting: Fitzpatrick.
    As noted here, five of the six delegates who lost their privileges were Democrats, including Eleanor Holmes Norton of DC. Also, this tells us more about the intentional idiocy of trying to make entitlement increases deficit neutral but not doing the same thing for the Repugs and their ridiculous tax cuts (intentional so they can try to gut entitlements later, particularly Social Security and Medicare). Finally, this tells us that the moronic stunt of having the Constitution cited for any vote (as a sop to those zany teabaggers of course...guess that rules out the Clean Air and Water Acts and any civil rights legislation for starters) will cost us taxpayers $570 grand.

    Congressional health coverage. Voting 191-238, the House defeated a Democratic bid to require members to publicly disclose whether they will continue to participate in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. There was no floor debate on this attempt to add the disclosure requirement to H Res 5 (above).

    A yes vote was to require disclosure.

    Voting yes: Andrews, Brady, Carney, Fattah, Holden, and Schwartz.

    Voting no: Dent, Gerlach, LoBiondo, Meehan, Pitts, Runyan, and Smith.

    Not voting: Fitzpatrick.
    I don’t know whose idea this was, but I applaud it (and isn’t it hilarious that the Repugs, supposedly promising transparency in all things, refused to do so here).

    Delegates' voting rights. Voting 223-188, the House blocked a bid to retain limited voting rights on the House floor for the six delegates representing the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. This preserved a GOP rule in H Res 5 (above) to strip these delegates of their standing to vote when the House is in the Committee of the Whole if the vote is not decisive in passing or defeating a measure. These delegates will continue to cast committee votes in the 112th Congress.

    A yes vote was to strip delegates of voting rights on the House floor.

    Voting yes: Dent, Gerlach, LoBiondo, Meehan, Pitts, Runyan, and Smith.

    Voting no: Andrews, Brady, Carney, Fattah, Holden, and Schwartz.

    Not voting: Fitzpatrick.

    Health-care repeal. Voting 236-181, the House approved the parliamentary rule for debating within days a Republican bill (HR 2) to repeal the 2010 health-care law. The procedural step drew the support of all 232 Republicans who voted and was opposed by 181 of the 185 Democrats who voted.

    A yes vote was to advance the bill.

    Voting yes: Dent, Gerlach, LoBiondo, Meehan, Pitts, Runyan, and Smith.

    Voting no: Andrews, Brady, Carney, Fattah, Holden, and Schwartz.
    By the way, Rachel Maddow, among others, noted how utterly ridiculous it is that, for all their caterwauling about “Obama care,” the Repugs could only manage to get four Dems to “cross the aisle” on this one (and this poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation, as reported by Dave Weigel, tells us that 21 percent of the public favors expansion of the health reform law, 19 percent want to leave it as is, a quarter want to repeal parts of the law, and 24 percent want the entire law repealed).

    Gee, a whopping 24 percent of those polled by Kaiser want health care completely repealed, huh? And the Repugs are wasting all of this effort on legislation that, even if it somehow made it through the Senate, would be vetoed by the president faster than you could say The Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

    Let the overreach begin (and I could care less about that stupid resolution on Sessions and Our Beloved Mikey - as Anthony Weiner said, the Repugs violated the Constitution they profess to love so dearly on their very first day).

    (And speaking of health care, this is even better news.)

  • Finally, this item from Mark Feldstein in the Washington Post today laments the assumed dirty tricks pulled by the Kennedy family that ensured JFK’s election about 50 years ago, alleging a “Watergate-style burglary” of material that documented a payoff between Richard Nixon and financier Howard Hughes.

    Considering that, as noted here, Nixon began his career in elected office by smearing both Congressman Jerry Voorhis and Congresswoman Helen Gahagan Douglas with accusations of being Communist sympathizers (with Nixon famously – and without evidence, of course – claiming that Gahagan Douglas was “Pink right down to her underwear”), leading to many other legendary political theatrics and dirty tricks, I think Feldstein would be better off looking for sympathy somewhere else (particularly when Feldstein himself wrote a book about Nixon's dirty tricks, as noted here).

    And speaking of JFK, let’s not forget this bit of good news (and no, I'm not trying to absolve the Kennedys - all I'm saying is that, if you're looking for the origin of political corruption in this country, you'd probably have to go back to George Washington hiring an “agent” to seize copies of Ye Olde National Enquirer, which alleged a tobacco payoff with the London Virginia Company and included salacious artist renderings of a dalliance with Betsy Ross – and yes, I’m only joking, a bit).
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