Friday, April 15, 2011

Friday Mashup (4/15/11)

  • Linked to this post is the roll call vote to the measure just passed by the Repug-dominated U.S. House to try to enact Paul Ryan’s Medicare voucher atrocity and also pass more tax cuts for millionaires (oblivious to this fact, of course).

    And “Mikey The Beloved” Fitzpatrick voted with Ryan.

    I hope our current PA-08 rep enjoys life as a private citizen once more after November 2012.

  • Next, corporatist Republican (redundant?) David Gergen said here that Obama, after his speech on Wednesday in which he drew a pretty clear line between himself and the Repugs (which needed to be said after his deficit giveaway a week ago), was a “timid” leader.

    Oh, but see, Gergen, having started out in the Nixon White House, usually does a better job of hiding his right-wing conceits and subservience to the “pay no price, bear no burden” investor class than betraying his true intentions with the phrasing that is on display here.

    And Gergen also joins the hallelujah chorus of pundits claiming that the Republicans were “unafraid” to “(go) first” in submitting their budget. I realize that this is one of the hot new Beltway narratives, but the fact of the matter, as noted here by Steve Benen (pointing this out once more) is that Obama submitted a budget in February.

    This is typical for Gergen, though; in July 2009, he said here that support for health care reform was beginning to “crumble” (we just celebrated its one-year anniversary last March 23rd).

  • In addition, I’d been avoiding Christine Flowers for the last couple of weeks, but I suppose it’s really not possible to do that any more (here).

    In today’s idiocy, she criticized the federal judge in Easton, PA for “allowing middle-school kids to wear ‘booby’ bracelets in support of breast-cancer awareness” (and she also took a whack at the Supreme Court of Justice Earl Warren…just use that Google thingie or ask your parents, or grandparents). Her reasoning, such as it is, is that “Putting the word’ boobies’ on your wrist is guaranteed to get a newly hormonal boy's attention, and not in a scholarly way.”

    Sooo…wouldn’t it be up to that “newly hormonal boy” to learn how to act like an adult instead?

    And in that spirit, get a load of this from Flowers…
    The thing that really irks me is the attempt to make it seem as if these middle-school girls are really engaging in some admirable campaign to raise breast-cancer awareness.

    They're raising something all right, but it's not awareness.
    When I read that, I recalled the scene in the movie “This is Spinal Tap” where the band is told that they’re not allowed to show on an album cover "a greased, naked woman on all fours with a dog collar around her neck and a leash, and a man's arm extended out...holding on to the leash and pushing a black glove in her face to sniff it" (the name of the album, aptly enough, was to be called “Smell The Glove”). Basically, as far as I’m concerned, that’s about the level of stupidity that matches Flowers’ reference above in response to the Easton students who are trying to do something that is actually constructive.

    This is more or less consistent for Flowers, who apparently wrote an October 2007 article criticizing breastfeeding (saw the article referenced at Brendan Calling and other blogs, but I can’t find an actual link), though I was able to find a Letter to the Editor here from an English teacher who was fired for supposedly attacking a student on a blog posting for her political views, a charge the teacher denied (and the teacher criticized Flowers for, as per usual, not letting the facts get in the way of one of Flowers’ typical me, this is a bit of a connection to the Breast Cancer Awareness story in that it shows Flowers' overall hostility to free speech).

    I don’t know how much of Flowers’ usual hackery here is merely projection or another example of her Philistine pig ignorance. All the same, I’d love to see her read this column in front of a gathering of breast cancer survivors to see her get the treatment she deserves.

  • Finally, I give you last week’s Area Votes in Congress writeup (here)…

    Republican budget plan. Voting 247-181, the House sent the Senate a GOP bill (HR 1363) to fund the military through Sept. 30 while funding the rest of the government through April 15 with $12 billion in spending cuts. The bill also barred the District of Columbia from using its own revenue to fund abortions.

    A yes vote was to pass the bill.

    Voting yes: Charles W. Dent (R., Pa.), Michael Fitzpatrick (R., Pa.), Jim Gerlach (R., Pa.), Tim Holden (D., Pa.), Frank A. LoBiondo (R., N.J.), Pat Meehan (R., Pa.), Joseph R. Pitts (R., Pa.), Jon Runyan (R., N.J.), and Christopher H. Smith (R., N.J.).

    Voting no: Robert E. Andrews (D., N.J.), Robert A. Brady (D., Pa.), John Carney (D., Del.), Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.), and Allyson Y. Schwartz (D., Pa.).
    I thought Michael Tomasky’s comments here on that ridiculous DC vote were spot-on (and if Tim Holden really had any integrity, he would just make it official and change his party affiliation once and for all).
    Democrats' budget plan. On a vote of 236-187, the House blocked a bid by Democrats to bring an alternative to HR 1363 (above) to a vote. Their measure was a "clean" continuing resolution that would keep the government fully in operation for another week but contain none of the spending cuts or policy riders in the underlying GOP bill.

    Because HR 1363 was debated under a closed rule that barred amendments, Democrats used this procedural route to seek a record vote on their competing plan for averting a government shutdown at midnight April 8.

    A yes vote opposed the Democratic alternative.

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

    Voting no: Andrews, Brady, Carney, Fattah, Holden, and Schwartz.
    This was probably another reason why Boehner, Cantor and company eventually went along with the last-minute vote to avert the shutdown last Friday. They would have looked stupider than usual if our troops had foregone payment, in addition to other myriad hardships across the board, if there had been both a shutdown and a failure to pass this “clean” resolution.
    Paying U.S. troops. Voting 191-236, the House defeated a bid by Democrats to ensure no loss of military pay during a government shutdown. The motion was offered to a Republican bill (HR 1363, above) that contains the same guarantee. Depending on the duration of a shutdown, service personnel could have one or more paychecks delayed until after the government resumes full operation. Though U.S. troops ultimately would receive full pay, the chance of civil servants recouping missed paychecks would depend on later congressional decisions.

    A yes vote backed the Democratic motion.

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

    Voting no: Dent, Fitzpatrick, Gerlach, LoBiondo, Meehan, Pitts, Runyan, and Smith.
    As I’ve previously noted on other votes, remember this one when the Repugs wrap themselves around the flag on Memorial Day, July 4th, and Veterans Day.
    Greenhouse gases, climate change. Voting 255-172, the House passed a bill (HR 910) denying the Environmental Protection Agency authority to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions associated with climate change and challenging the science upon which those regulations are based. The Senate (below) defeated a similar measure.

    A yes vote was to pass the bill.

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

    Voting no: Andrews, Brady, Carney, Fattah, and Schwartz.
    Another disgusting vote by Holden in the Repugs ongoing non-jobs agenda (with climate change denialist Mikey The Beloved doing his duty on behalf of his puppet masters).
    Climate-change science. Voting 184-240, the House defeated an amendment to HR 910 (above) stating that Congress accepts the EPA's "scientific findings that climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for public health and welfare."

    A yes vote backed the amendment.

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

    Voting no: Dent, Fitzpatrick, Gerlach, LoBiondo, Meehan, Pitts, Runyan, and Smith.
    So Holden votes to not allow the EPA the ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions…but then votes in favor of an amendment stating that climate change is occurring? Geez, at least be consistent in your wingnuttery, willya?
    Seventh stopgap budget. Voting 348-70, the House sent President Obama a bill (HR 1363) to keep the government in full operation for the next several days. Congress then will take up a bipartisan funding bill for the remaining five-plus months of fiscal 2011, a measure cutting spending by nearly $39 billion and containing several Republican-backed policy changes. Because Obama and congressional leaders negotiated the latter bill, it is expected to become law by midweek, ending a marathon dispute during which Congress passed seven stopgap 2011 budgets, including HR 1363. The Senate passed HR 1363 on a nonrecord vote.

    A yes vote was to pass the bill.

    Voting yes: Andrews, Brady, Carney, Dent, Fattah, Fitzpatrick, Gerlach, Holden, LoBiondo, Meehan, Pitts, Runyan, Schwartz, and Smith.
    Maybe this is really the secret Repug plan to lower the deficit – just hold votes every two weeks to decide whether they want the government to continue operation or not. Brilliant!

    Presidential war powers. Voting 90-10, the Senate tabled (killed) a challenge by Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.) to President Obama's authority to involve the U.S. military in Libya's civil war without congressional approval. The nonbinding amendment to S 493 said Obama lacks constitutional authority "to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation." Under the 1973 War Powers Act, the president can deploy troops for up to 60 days without congressional approval in response to "imminent" national-security concerns. The multination military action against the Libyan regime began March 19 under authority of the United Nations.

    A yes vote was to portray the March 19 presidential troop deployment as constitutional.

    Voting yes: Thomas Carper (D., Del.), Bob Casey (D., Pa.), Chris Coons (D., Del.), Frank Lautenberg (D., N.J.), and Robert Menendez (D., N.J.).

    Voting no: Pat Toomey (R., Pa.).
    As noted here, “No Corporate Tax” Pat voted in favor of the Authorization to Use Military Force in Iraq and voted No to disallowing the invasion of Kosovo during the Clinton presidency. But I suppose it’s a different story for our Kenyan Marxist pre-see-dint as far as Toomey is concerned.
    Greenhouse gases, climate change. On a tie vote of 50-50, the Senate fell short of the 60 votes needed to pass a Republican measure to strip the Environmental Protection Agency of its authority to regulate carbon emissions associated with greenhouse gases and climate change. The amendment was offered to a small-business bill (S 493) that remained in debate.

    Frank Lautenberg (D., N.J.) said: "The tea party Republicans say you can't restrict polluters with regulations. By their logic, we ought to get rid of traffic signals" and "maybe we ought to get rid of the air-traffic-control system, too, because why should pilots of these big aircraft have to wait for some government bureaucrat to tell them where and when they can land or take off?"

    A yes vote backed the amendment.

    Voting yes: Toomey.

    Voting no: Carper, Casey, Coons, Lautenberg, and Menendez.
    This is totally consistent for Toomey and his fealty to Big Oil, as noted here (and I wish more members of “the world’s greatest deliberative body” had a fraction of Lautenberg’s guts).
    Health-law paperwork. Voting 87-12, the Senate sent President Obama a bill (HR 4) to strip the new health law of its rule that businesses issue an IRS Form 1099 to any vendor to whom they pay at least $600 annually. Scheduled to take effect next year, the rule is intended to raise money for preventive-care measures while helping the IRS catch tax cheats. But it has come under bipartisan assault as a paperwork burden on small businesses.

    A yes vote was to pass the bill.

    Voting yes: Carper, Casey, Coons, Menendez, and Toomey.

    Voting no: Lautenberg.
    I suppose this was inevitable, and I admit that I don’t have a “dog in this fight,” as they say. However, I’d like to know how Congress intends to replace the revenue that will be missing if this is signed into law. Wonder if anyone has thought of that?

    This week, the House took up the budget for the next fiscal year, and the Senate continued to debate the award of federal technology contracts to small businesses.
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