Saturday, January 08, 2011

Saturday Mashup (1/8/11)

Obviously, the horrific event in Arizona today trumps everything, but there is still some unfinished business in our congressional district.

I said earlier that I would cut PA-08 rep Mikey Fitzpatrick some slack on the matter of his swearing-in screwup with fellow Repug Pete Sessions. What I meant was that I would give him the benefit of the doubt that there was a schedule conflict that prevented him from attending the ceremony in person.

I did not mean to absolve him of the idiocy of thinking that he could put his hand up at his fundraiser/party/whatever it was and swear himself in remotely over the TV (again, he’s a lawyer and not a “newbie,” having served a term already). I also did not mean to absolve him of the stupidity of reading the 25th Amendment at that dopey little show Boehner and company made of reading the Constitution and mispronouncing "president pro tempore," which I noted previously (and yes, I say “dopey” because they didn’t read the whole thing, with all members attending).

So that brings us to this story in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer…

In an interview late Friday, Fitzpatrick defended the Wednesday-afternoon reception that distracted him from his swearing-in duty, saying it was in no way, shape, or form a campaign fund-raiser, as Democrats have alleged.

House ethics officials "gave us very specific instructions that campaign funds could be used for that purpose," Fitzpatrick said. "The reception was open to anybody. . . . There was no charge. It was not a fund-raiser, and it is quite a stretch to suggest otherwise."
Well, as I already noted about Fitzpatrick’s attempt at a remote swearing-in, he definitely knows about behavior that is “quite a stretch.”

Meanwhile, Crooks and Liars tells us the following (here)…

Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (Pa.) was attending a celebration in the Capitol Visitor Center with supporters that his campaign bused in from Pennsylvania. A spokesman for Fitzpatrick said the event, titled “Fitzpatrick’s Swearing-in Celebration,” was not a fundraiser and that no contributions were collected.

“There was a bus available for people that wanted to ride it down,” spokesman Darren Smith said.

Fitzpatrick’s campaign website listed a $30 fee for transportation costs for the swearing-in festivities. In addition, more than 200 people who did not ride the buses attended the event for free, according to Smith.

CVC space may not be used for “political activities, including political campaign, political party, or political action committees activities,” according to a copy of rules for using CVC rooms.


Oh, okay! Big misunderstanding, right? Even though a screenshot of his webpage (which has since been taken down) offers check boxes for larger amounts and included the line: "Please note that your donation will appear on your credit card statement as "Campaign Financial Svcs."

And far be it from me to point out that we have no way of knowing if people were actually buying "bus seats" -- or just making a donation under cover of a bus ride they had no plans to take. (Which is an old political trick used to pad the take.)

My philosophy? When in doubt, reverse the parties and treat them the same way they'd treat us. If this was a Democrat, Fitzpatrick would be pilloried 24/7 on Fox.
Indeed (Remember the supposed scandal of Patrick Murphy's book deal? You know, the one for which Murphy did absolutely nothing wrong?)

Now, back to the shooting in Arizona, I give you the following from Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik (and kudos to him for his courage – the right-wing umbrage will begin momentarily)…

…and there are a few songs I had in my head as this all played out, and this is one of them…

…and Keith Olbermann had, I thought, some good words on all of this tonight.

Now, I don’t mean to absolve myself here either. As I’ve said, I only advocate violence against one person at this site, and that is bin Laden (maybe that’s wrong, but that’s where I’m coming from). I don’t personally advocate violence against anyone else, nor should I, and I don’t read people who do (unless I'm critiquing them, in which case I don't take them seriously). And sorry, I don’t know how else to say this, but I just don’t see this anti-government, veiled-threats-of-violence crap from anyone on the left (though, as Eugene Robinson noted tonight on the special edition of “Countdown,” there was definitely a time in this country when the left was very scary, with the legitimate Black Panther Party, the Weather Underground, etc.).

But that doesn’t mean I can’t do more to “lift all boats” either.

I know I indulge in name-calling at this site, typically using the terms “wingnut,” “numbskull,” “nematode,” and other stuff that is pretty bland compared to what people of my political persuasion are routinely called at right-wing sites and comment threads, even at supposedly “respectable” publications like the Bucks County Courier Times. But I’ll try to do better, I promise (I just changed a link at this site which, despite popup text to the contrary, could imply violence against a person or organization).

I’ll keep trying to reach out, in the spirit of the example set by Congresswoman Giffords. I’ll try to be more tolerant, though I must tell you that that’s very tough. But it’s the least we can do to honor her at this time if for no other reason.

Finally, sorry again if this is self-righteous, but I’ve asked at this site what it’s going to take before someone puts a stop to the hateful language that, in some yet-to-be-completely-determined measure (at least concerning today), could potentially lead to violence.

It should never have come to this, but let’s hope and pray that we now have our answer.

Update 1/9/11: As the Philadelphia Daily News blog "High Cheese" by David Murphy (about baseball) tells us here, the 9-year-old shooting victim not only was born on 9/11, but she was the granddaughter of former Phillies manager Dallas Green (our prayers and sympathies go out to all of the victims, and probably for ourselves a bit also).

(2011 has gotten off to an absolutely horrific start - I wish we had a "do-over.")

A Word Or Two About Gabby Giffords

We now know that police have some life form named Jared Loughner in custody for the shooting of Dem U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and the murder of Federal Judge John Roll, a nine-year-old child and four others at this point (more here). Based on the MSNBC story, it looks like Loughner is another one of these anti-government nuts who paid too much attention to the whacked voices in his head instead of seeking counseling, but this is still very early in the process of trying to analyze and digest this horrific story.

Giffords herself notes, at about 2:30 in the clip below, that Sarah Palin marked Giffords' district as one to be "targeted" in 2010 with a gun sight on a map (Think Progress shows it here), though Palin took that down from her Facebook page apparently before she offered condolences to Giffords' family; try toning down your nutty rhetoric first, you lunatic - you should have done that long ago anyway (and by the way, the hairdo appearing here with Chuck Todd asks a truly outrageous question about the Democrats milking the Republican-leaning extremism, with no basis in actual fact of course).

Again, this is early in the story, and there is much to learn about this Loughner character and if there was a particular political motivation at work here. But for now, let us offer our sympathies, not only to the family and friends of Congresswoman Giffords, but to Judge Roll and the other victims.

Update: The very latest on this is here, with an appropriate cautionary note from Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, and here is a touching remembrance from Alan Grayson (and "Countdown" is airing a special episode tonight that I will tune in to shortly).

Friday, January 07, 2011

Friday Stuff

Good for Alan Grayson; he should keep speaking up even though he’s out of public life – his voice needs to be heard (here)…

…and it’s time for a theology lesson from “father” Bill Orally here (his stupidity goes in, it goes out – plenty of miscommunication)…

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Bill O'Reilly Proves God's Existence - Neil deGrasse Tyson
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…”Worst Persons” from Wednesday (An Illinois woman calls the police because she was afraid something happened to her husband when she heard scary noises over his cell phone, but in reality, he was safe and sound and the scary noises was just the sound of rap tunes coming from his car radio…wonder if she’ll have to pay for the time spent by the cops chasing the proverbial wild goose here?; President Traian Basescu of Romania inflicts a tax on gypsies and fortune tellers in that country - good luck trying to collect; but David Williams, president of the state senate in Kentucky, wants to be guv, so he decided to do his would-be counterpart in Arizona, Jan “Lady Skeletor” Brewer, one better on her “illegal to be brown” law…but of course, Williams is “a horse of a different color,” as they say, and I’ll let you, dear reader, assume the anatomical reference)…

…and finally, I have to tell you that I’ve felt like I’d rather vote for Tom Coburn than post this week, and if that isn’t a damning indictment, then I don’t know what is.

I’m surprised a bit that the story of the death of Bucks County, PA (and Lower Makefield) resident Matt Crozier made the Huffington Post here, but I suppose it was because it is such a horrific tragedy.

While giving away as few details as possible, I should point out that we’re friends somewhat of the family – not close, but we’ve interacted at school and church functions a bit. You would have to go a long way to find more selfless individuals. And we are part of a community in utter shock (I suppose my own personal sense of rage will come later, not that that’s worth much in the scheme of things I realize).

At times like this, you feel that no matter what you’re doing to help the family, it isn’t enough. And as someone who helped to bury a parent in his 70s, my personal experience was that there were times when I felt like I needed the support like nobody’s business, but there were also plenty of times when I just wanted people to get the hell out of my face, no matter how good their intentions. I can only imagine how much those feelings are magnified for someone cut down quite literally in the prime of his life.

(Also, politics isn’t worth spit in the face of situations like this, but this has made me reflect once more on the stupidity of our wars, particularly in Afghanistan. Knowing that situations like this have played out literally thousands of times in the last ten years in particular across this country for our casualties has made me want to take to the streets banging pots and pans calling for people to get motivated and call their politicians, telling them to end the war in as direct a manner as possible, as The Eternal Molly Ivins once said we should. But of course, lacking her spine, I won’t.)

I’ve gone back and forth on an appropriate song, and I hope this will suffice (you hear Howard Stern and Robin Quivers at the end complimenting Dave Grohl).

"When he shall die, take him and cut him out in little stars and he will make the face of heaven so fine that all the world will be in love with night and pay no worship to the garish sun."

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Thursday Stuff (update)

So let's review, shall we?

First, Speaker Boehner decides to allow this little show of reading the Constitution as the soon-to-be-dreaded 112th Congress commences (and as noted earlier here, it wasn't even the whole document).

Next, he allows our own Mikey Fitzpatrick of PA-08 his turn to read the 25th Amendment, but oops! - it turns out he hasn't even been sworn into his job yet (sworn to be "bound by oath or affirmation to support this Constitution," that is).

So what does Mikey do when he reads it? As you can see, he refers to the "President pro tempore" of the Senate as the "President pro temporary."

Now I consulted with Mrs. Doomsy on this because this issue involves a "romance" language, Latin in particular (she being smarter than I on this and most other matters), and she advised me that the pronunciation is "pro tem-PRAY."

You would think Mikey would have known this since he's already served (and he's a lawyer also, of course). Short of that, you would think the geniuses who dreamed up this whole stunt (or one of them at least) would have told Fitzpatrick the correct pronunciation.

God, if they couldn't even get THIS right, imagine what kind of legislation we can expect from these bozos.

I'm afraid it's going to be a loooong two years (more here)...

Update 1/7/11: More on Mikey's rip-roaring start here (and good for Anthony Weiner to rub the Repugs' faces in it, as it were).

...and I was tempted to put up the original by Johnny Ray ("Cry," I mean - thinking of Boehner but probably us too), but perhaps this parody from Stan Freberg is more appropriate (this whole bunch running the House is a parody anyway as far as I'm concerned, of elected leaders, professionals, adults, etc.).

Thursday Mashup (1/6/11)

  • I’ve really tried to avoid the blog of former Laura Bush employee Andrew Malcolm for a little while now, but I suppose some things can’t be put off forever, particularly with us beginning a new year and all.

    And if you guessed that his latest nonsense here has to do with misinterpreting polling data, then you win a free, commemorative John Boehner crying towel…

    Finally, some good news to please President Obama in a new Gallup Poll.

    The survey finds that more Americans still identify themselves as Democrats (31%) than call themselves Republicans.

    Now, the bad news:

    That 31% ties the lowest annual average of Democrats since 1988, when fellow Harvard Law alum Michael Dukakis got thumped by the first Bush to become president.
    Oh yes, I know this news is absolutely terrifying and has all kinds of evil portents for the election of President Obama to a second term. OMIGOD!!

    Thirty one percent??!! Time to clean house!! Fire everybody and bring back the Clintonites!!!

    But before anybody does anything, I would ask that you look at this Gallup poll from June of 2008, a few months before Obama was elected. Guess what the percentage was of voters who identified themselves as Democrats?

    Thirty seven percent.

    So basically, Malcolm is trying to whip up opposition to Number 44 as usual, even though, despite the litany of “issues” Malcolm cites against Obama (“Broken promises”? For real, Malcolm??!!) and the pettiness of noting the times Obama flew on Air Force One and the Marine One helicopter (please), the number of voters identifying themselves as Democrats has decreased by a mere six points (and we have quite a way to go still until the 2012 elections, fortunately).

    Also, from the reality-based community, Eric Boehlert tells us here why he is “embarrassed” for Malcolm and his attempts at propagandizing poll data.

    Meanwhile, I would ask that you keep the following poll numbers here in mind on the issue of choice and other family matters when the ruling U.S. House Repugs, flush now with their own sense of self importance, inevitably go too far in pursuit of a “values” issue (see trying to defund public television, turning the Terri Schiavo tragedy into a circus, Clinton impeachment, etc.).

  • Next, David Bossie of Citizens United propagandizes here about the now-departed 111th Congress (here)…

    The 112th Congress…will have the monumental task of cleaning up the mess made by the Democrat-controlled 111th Congress. First and foremost, it should be the goal of this Congress not to increase the exploding national debt. The 111th Congress added a seemingly impossible $3.22 trillion to the national debt in just two years, for a grand total of nearly $13.9 trillion and counting. Every American man, woman and child now owes $44,886.57 each toward the national debt. America cannot sustain itself on this massive borrowing and trillion-dollar deficit spending.
    “Democrat”-controlled…too funny (once again, “Democrat” is a noun, not an adjective). And in the matter of Pelosi supposedly “exploding” the national debt, I give you Media Matters once more here.

    So who exactly does Bossie support among congressional Repugs? Well, as noted here…

    Citizens United, the conservative, Supreme Court-case-winning no-profit that produced Newt Gingrich's "America at Risk" documentary (released two films last September). The first…"Fire from the Heartland," (is) a documentary that features Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wy.), and Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio) as examples of what CU's David Bossie calls "an awakening among women in America."
    And for the record, that would be the same Moon Unit Bachmann who, as noted here, supports increasing the deficit.

    Lather, rinse, repeat…

  • Finally, Orrin Hatch takes issue with those who take issue with the Repug-run 112th Congress reading the Constitution on the House floor (here)…

    …who would have thought that simply reading the Constitution out loud on the House floor — by the very House members who the day before took an oath to support and defend it — would be met with such cynicism. Many belittled it as “symbolism,” as if that were a bad thing. One Democratic congressman dismissed reading the Constitution as nothing but “propaganda.” He is — seriously — the previous chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on, yes, the Constitution.
    The person Hatch is referring to is Dem congressman Jerrold Nadler of New York (and of course, the wingnutosphere leapt into full-on umbrage mode here, saying that Nadler “slandered” the Constitution, which of course is demonstrably false).

    I think all of this is a tempest in the proverbial tea pot anyway also because, as noted here, even the now-ruling party in the House didn’t think much of the ritual they themselves ballyhooed to con play like fools once more steal votes from win over those zany teabaggers.

    Besides, Hatch doesn’t have any room to lecture anybody on the Constitution, particularly because, as noted here, he totally misrepresented the document on the matter of passing health care reform through reconciliation last year…

    To impose the will of some Democrats and to circumvent bipartisan opposition, President Obama seems to be encouraging Congress to use the “reconciliation” process, an arcane budget procedure, to ram through the Senate a multitrillion-dollar health-care bill that raises taxes, increases costs and cuts Medicare to fund a new entitlement we can’t afford. This is attractive to proponents because it sharply limits debate and amendments to a mere 20 hours and would allow passage with only 51 votes (as opposed to the 60 needed to overcome a procedural hurdle). But the Constitution intends the opposite process, especially for a bill that would affect one-sixth of the American economy.
    What we’ve got here, people, is your basic “bull-dookey” (and as Greg Sargent notes here, Hatch followed that dreaded “offens(ive) to democracy” reconciliation process to vote four times when his party ran the Senate).

    Oh, and speaking of Hatch and legislation, here is an example of a bogus bill he introduced to score partisan political points last year that was an utter embarrassment (though, as far as our corporate media is concerned – all together nowIOKIYAR…and that might as well be changed to “always OK” for good measure).
  • Wednesday, January 05, 2011

    Wednesday Stuff

    Meet the "new" GOP, same as the old GOP (here - but just keep telling yourself that people out there actually elect these fools)...

    ...and this is probably a little "Dawson's Creek" of me, but I'm putting up this video anyway; kind of in need of a bit of a pick-me-up...lots of stuff going on impacting blogging a bit that I may get into at some point, or I may not.

    Wednesday Mashup (1/5/11) - updates

  • What luck for the PA-08 U.S. Congressional district – it looks like Mikey Fitzpatrick is back on the job based on this item yesterday in the Bucks County Courier Times (ugh)…

    Fitzpatrick, who defeated two-term Democrat Patrick Murphy in November, avenging his loss to Murphy four years earlier, told the crowd his office in the Longworth House Office Building belongs to them.
    Of course, his voting record will probably belong to House Speaker John Boehner (you cannot imagine how galling it is for yours truly to type those words, but that’s the reality, my fellow prisoners)…

    "I want to deliver a message from the people of the 8th District," he said. "It will be your message."

    Fitzpatrick's town hall didn't have any rules. Questions didn't have to be submitted by audience members and read by a staffer. Rather it was a community conversation.
    More pointless partisan editorializing from Courier Times reporter Mikey's stenographer Gary Weckselblatt, no doubt trying to get in some last digs at former rep Patrick Murphy (this breaking story for Weckselblatt – Pottery Barn is hiring!).

    Also concerning PA-08 and Murphy, I was glad to see that he was hired as a partner with the law firm of Fox Rothschild, as noted here – not that I had any doubt that he would be rewarded for his hard work on behalf of our district (and all the best, of course).

    And this excerpt from the story was a bit heartwarming…

    While the former Army paratrooper has landed on his feet with a plum job following a tough campaign, he's not ruling out another run for political office.

    "My commitment to public service isn't over," he said, "but I'm excited to join Fox Rothschild and spend time with my family."
    Given what happened, I’m glad Murphy will be out of the spotlight for a little while and, I’m sure, earning more than he would in the public sector (to say nothing of having a better quality of life).

    But whenever you believe the time is right to rejoin the fight, Patrick, just give us the word. We’ll be there.

  • Update 1 1/6/11: A bit of an inauspicious start here, but I'll cut Mikey some slack for now...

    Update 2 1/6/11: OK, no more slack for Mikey; I didn't know our government featured a "President pro temporary" (here). Color me shocked!

    Update 1/8/11: By the way, when I said I would cut Fitzpatrick some slack, I meant that in the matter of a scheduling conflict between a fundraiser and his swearing-in ceremony. I did not mean that when it comes to his craven stupidity, along with Pete Sessions, in thinking that watching the swearing-in remotely and just putting up your hand while watching the screen passed for taking the oath of office - just wanted to be clear on that.

  • Also, it looks like Repug U.S. House Rep (and incoming chair of the House Homeland Security Committee) Peter King is having a pout over a New York Times editorial here (a little behind the news cycle on this one, I realize)…

    (King) ripped into The New York Times Tuesday for telling him in a weekend editorial to tone down his rhetoric.

    From King’s response, there is no indication he will do anything of the sort.

    “I’m absolutely delighted that The New York Times would attack me,” he said in an interview with The Hill. “I have nothing but contempt for them. They should be indicted under the Espionage Act. … The New York Times is just basically being a mouthpiece for political correctness.”

    King took aim at a Sunday editorial that criticized King's comments about the radicalization of Muslins. The editorial suggested such comments were beneath someone who will be chairman of the Homeland Security Committee.
    The Times editorial also made the interesting point that “(this) is all the more perplexing because Mr. King was one of the few Republicans to back the Clinton administration’s interventions in the Balkans to protect Muslims.”

    All so “pre-9/11” of the Times, I realize (removing my tongue from my cheek...and speaking of which and the whole matter of Muslim extremism, this tells us that, with typically idiotic bluster, King voted for implementing the 9/11 commission recommendations after criticizing Democrats for the bill, along with his partner in demagoguery, fellow Repug Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida).

    Also, if King decides to hold these hearings, I wonder if he’ll actually cite members of the Muslim community in this country who helped to foil terrorist plots, as Adam Serwer notes here?

  • Finally, I wanted to return to incoming House Oversight Committee Chair Darrell Issa briefly once more based on this story yesterday (briefly is all I can tolerate him, to be honest – and again, I know the news cycle has pretty well churned through the fact that he has approached various business-related entities asking what they want him to propagandize about wax hysterical over waste taxpayer funds pursuing investigate)…

    One person knowledgeable about the matter tells POLITICO that Issa on Dec. 29 appears to have re-sent more than 75 letters to administration officials.

    (Issa spokesman Kurt) Bardella acknowledged that Issa re-sent a host of unanswered missives recently. "This is something we've been working on since the election," he said. "Before we start something new, we want to get answers to the questions that have been ignored."

    This includes past letters to Veteran Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki and White House Counsel Robert Bauer regarding reports by POLITICO and others about the use of official travel for political purposes. In his letter to Bauer, Issa notes he wrote last June to the heads of 21 federal departments and agencies "requesting documents and information about the extent to which White House political personnel have been involved with planning, directing, or coordinating the travel of department and agency officials to participate in official or political public events."

    Issa said that former Oversight and Investigations Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) did a similar probe of Bush administration officials in the prior Congress.
    (And speaking of Issa and Waxman, let’s not forget this charming moment either, OK?)

    Well, yes, Waxman did pursue the Bushies when he chaired the committee, including Deadeye Dick Cheney – as noted here…

    Henry Waxman (D-CA), the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, (wrote) to Vice President Cheney demanding an explanation for his decision not to comply with executive orders (see 2003). Cheney’s office, like other executive branch entities, is required to annually report on the amount of documents it is classifying, and how those documents are being kept secure. The annual requests are made in pursuance of an executive order, last updated by President Bush in 2003. The order states that it applies to any “entity within the executive branch that comes into the possession of classified information.” Cheney…justified the decision by saying that because the Vice President is also the president of the Senate, the vice president’s office is not strictly a part of the executive branch, and therefore is not subject to the president’s executive orders; he cites as evidence his Constitutional role as a tie breaker in the Senate. Waxman writes, “Your decision to exempt your office from the President’s order is problematic because it could place national security secrets at risk. It is also hard to understand given the history of security breaches involving officials in your office.” Waxman’s point is that, if Cheney’s office is not part of the executive branch, then it is not authorized to view many of the classified documents it routinely receives; therefore the viewing of these documents by Cheney and his officials constitutes a breach of security. Waxman writes, “I question both the legality and the wisdom of your actions. In May 2006, an official in your office [Leandro Aragoncillo] pled guilty to passing classified information to individuals in the Philippines [as part of a plot to overthrow President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo… Aragoncillo reportedly disclosed numerous secret and top secret documents to Philippine officials over several years while working in your office.… In March 2007, your former chief of staff, Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby, was convicted of perjury, obstruction of justice, and false statements for denying his role in disclosing the identity of a covert CIA agent (see November 20, 2007). In July 2003, you reportedly instructed Mr. Libby to disclose information from a National lntelligence Estimate to Judith Miller, a former New York Times reporter. This record does not inspire confidence in how your office handles the nation’s most sensitive security information. Indeed, it would appear particularly irresponsible to give an office with your history of security breaches an exemption from the safeguards that apply to all other executive branch officials.… Your office may have the worst record in the executive branch for safeguarding classified information.” Waxman notes that Cheney’s office is notorious for declassifying information for purely political reasons, as in the Libby case. Waxman concludes, “Given this record, serious questions can be raised about both the legality and the advisability of exempting your office from the rules that apply to all other executive branch officials.” [CONGRESS COMMITTEE ON OVERSIGHT AND GOVERNMENT REFORM, 6/21/2007; NEW YORK TIMES, 6/22/2007] The next day, when asked what he believes about Cheney’s position, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will quip, “I always thought that he was president of this administration.” [COX NEWS SERVICE, 6/22/2007] Five days later, Waxman will say, “I know the vice president wants to operate with unprecedented secrecy, but this is absurd. This order is designed to keep classified information safe. His argument is really that he’s not part of the executive branch, so he doesn’t have to comply.… He doesn’t have classified information because of his legislative function. It’s because of his executive function.” [NEW YORK TIMES, 6/22/2007]
    Somehow, though, I seriously doubt that Issa, even if the evidence of similar illegality existed in the Obama Administration, would be up to the task of attempting to ferret it out (though I’m sure that will not prevent him from trying to do so).

    And speaking of the former veep, this New York Times story tells us of the latest medical technology that is keeping him alive (we learn that, due to the way his heart pump works, Cheney has no literal pulse that can be measured as yours or mine would be, but it ensures a continuous flow throughout his body instead; the story provides more details – and I’ll leave the snark up to you on that, dear reader...despite the fact that he’s an utterly despicable character, I don’t wish the misfortune for him that, as a consequence of his psychotic notions of governance, he inflicted on others).

    What a shame that his daughter would deprive others less well off of the advantage of state-of-the-art medical care enjoyed by her father, as noted here.
  • Tuesday, January 04, 2011

    Tuesday Stuff

    I may have more to say about Darrell Issa tomorrow; in his case, a lot needs to be said (hopefully back to posting tomorrow, and congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton makes a great point in the last minute here about the Democrats and investigations - more on Issa here)...

    Update 1/5/11: More here.

    ...and RIP Gerry Rafferty - I think it's safe to say that this song helped to define an entire genre of music, despite the fact that I think "classic rock" is an oxymoron.

    Monday, January 03, 2011

    Monday Stuff

    The first "Worst Persons (Not Really)" segment of 2011 (Michael Steele, running again for RNC head, and Ann Wagner, also trying for that gig, take the "bronze" for not remembering what books they supposedly read recently, with Steele somehow mixing up quotes between Dickens and Tolstoy - "My kitchen table" for Wagner??? Bizarre, yet somehow apropos; maybe-somehow-actually-honest-to-goodness-retired-for-real-once-and-for-all Brett Favre from the Minnesota Vikings follows up his "sexting" peccadillo with a New York Jets employee with a lawsuit by two massage therapists - you would think a guy with his kind of NFL "clout" would know how to hush up stuff like this, but I guess not - not that I condone it anyway, I want to emphasize; but Governor Bully and NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg share top "honors" for their abysmal performances during the recent snowstorm...plenty of right-wing umbrage for Obama going to Hawaii, though it isn't 44's job to make sure the snow plows show up...elections have consequences, as our beloved commonwealth is about to learn also)...

    ...and I give you the following as a tribute to Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy, who died 25 years ago tomorrow (I'm sure the title of this song is what Favre is telling anyone who will listen).

    Monday Mashup (1/3/11)

    (All four of these items are based on content recently published in the New York Times, for what it’s worth.)

  • I realize that it’s probably not a good practice for me to call out “civilians” here (non-pundit types who write Letters to the Editor and are merely expressing their opinion), but an individual named Oren M. Spiegler of Upper St. Clair, PA is often published in the “Letters” section of the Times, so if there was anyone who stood as an exception, it would be him.

    And he wrote the following recently (here, on the matter of the federal government helping the states with their budgetary shortfalls)…

    Giving states additional tens of billions of dollars in federal money would serve to reward those which have acted with the greatest profligacy, irresponsibility and contempt for their citizens, and it would send the wrong message.

    My liberal, big-government state of Pennsylvania is among the greatest offenders, having lived high on the hog when it was possible to do so.

    The enactment and expansion of social spending programs have brought us to annual multibillion-dollar deficits, and the provision of spectacular pensions for public employees, public school teachers and state legislators has brought about woefully underfunded public pension funds.
    Oh yes, PA is such a “liberal, big-government” state that Election Day last November was an almost-total Republican wipeout.

    And in the matter of “spectacular pensions for public employees,” I give you this, explaining how the present crisis in PA and many other states is owed not to the employees themselves who paid their share, but to employers who have been paying into the plans at an ever-lower rate since the 1960s. And as of August 2009 when the Pennlive post was written, the plan for PSERS (the PA Public School Employee Retirement System) was 86 percent fully funded for all future obligations, which is very good as pension plans go.

    I realize that Mr. Spiegler has the right to express his opinion, and I don’t begrudge him that. But that doesn’t give him an excuse to be fast and loose with the facts either.

  • Next, I give you the following from an interview Deborah Solomon recently conducted with incoming Repug U.S. House Rep Allen West of Florida for the Sunday magazine (somehow, I’m sure the Times could have found a better subject)…

    Q: When the 112th U.S. Congress is officially sworn in on Jan. 5, two black Republicans will be among the new majority in the House of Representatives. Do you think the G.O.P. has made progress in attracting African-Americans to the party?

    A: One thing that you guys aren’t talking about is the fact that there were 42 African-Americans that ran on the Republican ticket in this election cycle; 14 made it to the general election, and 2 of us were elected to the House.
    Isn’t that so damn typical? Even with a question as innocuous as this one, all West does is pretty much restate what Solomon just asked and throw in plenty of attitude for good measure (the other Repug African American elected to the House was Tim Scott of South Carolina - West decided to join the Congressional Black Caucus, though Scott declined; the predictable result is here).

    Well, I would suggest that, using what is in all likelihood an RNC “Astroturf” outfit (the "Black Democratic Trust" of Texas, which doesn’t in fact exist) to depress voter turnout isn’t the best way to win over African American voters, as noted here (when the Dems are caught doing stuff like this, let me know, OK?)

    In addition, Wikipedia tells us here that the “Party of No” attracted a whopping 9 percent of African American voters in the 2010 midterm election, so I would say that they have some ground to make up in that department.

    Oh, and ever the font of holier-than-thou indignation, West tells us how our president should conduct himself with our military here (I’m sure Number 44 will “take that under advisement”…and as a commenter noted, I’m also sure the Secret Service would have a thing or two to say on the subject of Obama’s safety).

  • Also, speaking of the president, N. Gregory Mankiw dispensed some more accountability-free punditry here yesterday, saying that, in order to understand the Republican “approach to economic policy” (they have one?), Obama has to “stop trying to spread the wealth,” citing only Obama’s conversation with “Joe The Plumber” on the 2008 campaign trail for that claim.

    Actually, I’m surprised at such intellectual laziness on Mankiw’s part. In a “through-the-looking-glass” kind of way, I can comprehend his desire not to ply his craft because of what he anticipated to be higher tax rates (which he opined about here), but with the recent tax “compromise” with President Obama and Sen. Mr. Elaine Chao, Mankiw should be motivated to “shovel the dookey” deeper than ever.

  • Finally, Kate Zerinke of the Times tells us the following here (more “teabagger love,” minus context of course)…

    In their final days controlling the House, Democrats succeeded in passing legislation that Tea Party leaders opposed, including a bill to cover the cost of medical care for rescue workers at the site of the World Trade Center attacks, an arms-control treaty with Russia, a food safety bill and a repeal of the ban on gay men and lesbians serving openly in the military.

    “Do I think that they’ve recognized what happened on Election Day? I would say decisively no,” said Mark Meckler, a co-founder of Tea Party Patriots, which sent its members an alert last month urging them to call their representatives to urge them to “stop now and go home!!”

    “We sent them a message that we expect them to go home and come back newly constituted and do something different,” Mr. Meckler said. “For them to legislate when they’ve collectively lost their mandate just shows the arrogance of the ruling elite. I can’t imagine being repudiated in the way they were and then coming back and saying ‘Now that we’ve been repudiated, let’s go pass some legislation.’ ”

    “I’m surprised by how blatant it was,” he added.
    As noted here, Meckler is an expert on “blatant” and “arrogant” behavior, to say nothing of being “repudiated”…

    "I felt like the Republican Party didn't represent my values," Mark Meckler, one of two national spokesmen for the Tea Party Patriots, told Southern Nevada's (last March). "The political parties represent entrenched interests . . . and they never do what they say."

    Meckler knows mucho about never doing what he says. A new report shows he was recently paid to help a campaign launched by one of the GOP's largest lobbying groups, the Lincoln Club of Orange County.

    Talking Points Memo's Muckraker reported Tuesday that the NorCal lawyer also helped run a political consulting firm with ties to Republicans in Washington, D.C.

    That was curious, because Meckler told Muckraker in January, "The major parties in this nation haven't represented the American people."

    Meckler's involvement with the Lincoln Club campaign was first reported last month by Red County. He was paid $7,500 for "petition circulation management" by the "Citizen Power Campaign Supported by the Lincoln Club of Orange County," state disclosure records show.

    The exclusive, Rancho Santa Margarita Newport Beach-based Lincoln Club of Orange County, whose website takes credit for helping pass Prop. 13 and recalling Governor Gray Davis, is composed of some of the region's most powerful businesspeople. That would seem to put its interests at odds with "the Tea Party's more populist, anti-corporate ethos," Muckraker notes.
    Any teabagger out there who doesn’t realize that they’re getting utterly “played” by the likes of Meckler and other Repugs who, in fact, represent the true “pay no price, bear no burden” base of their party as opposed this mythical grass roots “revolution” within the party must also believe that Sharia law will be prescribed for midtown Manhattan any day now, and polar bears will adapt to global warming by learning to surf (and more evidence of the corporate capitulation by those zany teabaggers is here).