Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wednesday Mashup (1/26/11)

  • Hold onto your hats – I know this is hard to believe, but our prior presidential administration was found to have (gulp!) actually broken the law.

    Yes, I know that’s positively shocking, but the Bucks County Courier Times brought us the following details here today (and more from Daily Kos is here)…

    The Bush administration tried to illegally help Mike Fitzpatrick and other candidates get re-elected to Congress in 2006, according to a government report.

    The White House repeatedly broke the law by using federal funds to send Cabinet secretaries and other high-level political appointees to congressional districts of GOP candidates in tight races, the long-running federal investigation concludes.

    Jack Claypoole, administrator of the Drug Free Communities program, was sent to Quakertown by the White House to speak with the Upper Bucks Healthy Communities Healthy Youth Coalition on Oct. 23, 2006, just two weeks before Election Day. The visit was viewed as getting "attention" for Fitzpatrick, the report states.

    The 118-page report, which cites "a systematic misuse of federal resources," was released Monday. It was put together by the Office of Special Counsel, an independent federal agency that enforces Hatch Act restrictions on partisan political activity inside the federal government.
    And in response, I have only this to ask:

    You think the fact that the Bush Administration violated the Hatch Act is actually news?

    I can’t think of a word for the type of denial practiced by our corporate media to overlook the fact (up to now) that, in addition to the Jack Claypoole visit (from the Courier Times)…

    …The report found that in the three months before the 2006 elections, agency political appointees participated in 197 events. Out of that number, 183 of the events were with a Republican candidate. In contrast, in the same time frame in 2005, a non-election year, agency political appointees went to 76 events, 46 of them with a Republican candidate.

    The 10 agencies that used federal funds to pay for political appointees to travel to events supporting Republican candidates in 2006 were the departments of Transportation, Interior, Housing and Urban Development, Education, Agriculture, Health and Human Services, Energy, the Veterans Administration, the Small Business Administration and the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
    I’m not sure how the report overlooked the General Services Administration under Lurita Doan, but somehow it did (Digby provides some background on the fiasco which ensued under Doan’s watch here, along with Hatch violations involving Karl Rove – of course – along with former Commerce Secretaries Don Evans and Carlos Gutierrez; there’s a Hatch-related link to the firing of U.S. Attorney David Iglesias also – more on Doan is here).

    Oh, and did I mention the Hatch violations involving the deletion of what could have been as many as 22 million Emails involving the dismissal of eight U.S. attorneys total, including Iglesias (here)?

    All of this positively screams for a special prosecutor with subpoena power to be appointed by the Justice Department. However, with our “hopey, changey” chief executive in full-on 2012 re-election mode, don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen now.

    Yes, we may see our prior criminal ruling cabal held to account one day. But first, we have to elect a president from the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.

  • Also, speaking of President Obama, I got a kick out of this from the no-longer-Moonie-but-still-hopelessly-conservative Washington Times (we also learn about a Massachusetts-based non-profit organization called Homes For Our Troops…just an FYI: I have a link to the group’s site from the home page of this blog under “Help Our Service People”)…

    The charity was founded in 2004 to help those who have been severely wounded in service to the country in the war on terrorism. The organization donated the money to build a wheelchair-accessible home for (Marine Cpl. Vishnu Gonzalez, paralyzed from the waist down due to combat wounds in Iraq), his mother and his sister. Another nonprofit, Hope for the Warriors, contributed funds to help buy the lot on which the house was built.
    All good and commendable stuff…

    The efforts of Homes for Our Troops and other charitable organizations reveal the heart and soul of America. The United States is the most giving country in the world, with our voluntary contributions adding up to more than $300 billion a year. Mr. Obama is right to elevate the needs of military families and veterans, but compared to these young pioneers, he is a newcomer to the effort.
    Oh really?

    This compares then-Sen. Obama’s record on legislation in support of our military versus that of Sen. John McCain, this tells us of the May 2010 law he signed in support of our veterans, and this tells us of a speech First Lady Michelle Obama gave in which she made an “impassioned plea” for business to hire vets.

    In comparison (and yes, I know I just got done beating up Former President Nutball over the Hatch Act stuff, but here I go again), this tells us that the odious Jim Nicholson, Bushco’s head of the VA, denied wounded veterans disability pay and mental health treatment (and allowed a 145-150-day delay to process payments for those Nicholson actually approved), and he also accidentally exposed the social security numbers of millions of vets to possible fraud and identity theft (there’s more highly unflattering stuff in the ’07 post).

    Well, at least this is “respectful” idiocy from the Times, as opposed to this.

  • Finally, I should note that, for someone who acts like he has no interest in running for the Repug 2012 presidential nomination (or latching on as the veep nominee), Governor Bully is doing a pretty good imitation of an actual candidate (here)…

    After watching Gov. Chris Christie try to burnish a reputation as a fiscal conservative, political analysts said the New Jersey governor on Monday significantly broadened his national credentials as a social conservative by joining abortion protesters at a rally and encouraging them to “stand up and speak strongly in favor for the protection of every human life.”

    Christie spoke to the crowd from the top step outside the Statehouse, with the temperatures in the teens and the governor not in a topcoat. But there were other reasons why the five-minute speech was unusual. Marie E. Tasy, executive director of New Jersey Right to Life, said it was the first time a New Jersey governor had addressed a pro-life rally. The event marked the 38th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision.
    This seems to be the latest evolution by Christie on this issue; this tells us that he said he was pro-choice in a 1996 interview with The Record of Bergen County (of course, now Christie says he was “misquoted”...of course).

    And on top of that, as noted here…

    This is especially disturbing because the governor last year cut state funding for family planning and women’s health services. That move saved only $7.5 million for the state, while forfeiting a much larger share of federal matching funds.

    At the time, he said it was strictly a matter of saving money, but that was plainly untrue. When Democrats found a way to cover the costs with federal money, he still blocked it. The problem was that some of these services were being performed by Planned Parenthood, an organization that anti-abortion conservatives detest.

    It’s also disturbing that the governor kept these sentiments hidden during the 2009 campaign, though his spiritual conversion came 14 years ago.

    Yes, he made it plain he was anti-abortion, but when The Star-Ledger pressed him, he suggested only the mildest restrictions. He wanted a 24-hour waiting period, and he wanted minors receiving abortions to notify their parents. He even opposed the idea of requiring parental permission.

    Now, suddenly, he’s a crusader. And while he didn’t propose specific restrictions, we should be worried. Because even with the protection of Roe v. Wade, many states have found obnoxious ways to harass or block women seeking abortions.
    For the record, this story about a possible expansion of Planned Parenthood clinics tells us that, in addition to abortion services, Planned Parenthood offers "a unified set of core preventive services," including HIV testing, the vaccine to prevent most kinds of the human papilloma virus in girls and young women, screenings for sexually transmitted diseases, and all forms of birth control, according to Lisa David, senior vice president for Health Services Support at the national office.

    But we know the story here, people. Women with means can get an abortion if they believe that they need one. And it should be the same for all women in this country regardless of their income.

    Besides, there’s another New Jersey politician who’s far nuttier on this issue than Christie will ever be, and that’s Repug U.S. House Rep Chris Smith; as noted here, he’s introduced legislation that, while it doesn’t criminalize abortion, does everything else to make it illegal (including banning funds from health savings accounts, addressing one of my pet peeves – Smith is a wingnut, but at least he’s consistent).

    Christie would have to go a long way to top Chris Smith. And knowing Governor Bully, I’m sure he’ll make every effort to do just that.

  • Update 1/28/11: As I said, Christie would have to go a looong way (here).

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