Saturday, January 29, 2011

Saturday Stuff

Yeah, here's something our U.S. House Rep Mikey The Beloved should think about while his ankle heals, he being the beneficiary of that sweet, sweet guaranteed health care he voted to deny everybody else not as well off as he is...

Update 2/4/11: Oh, sorry, my bad - apparently Mikey uses his wife's health care bennies instead. Of course, if were not fortunate enough to be a schoolteacher like she is and get what should be nice coverage, I guess we're screwed, right?

...and on this day 150 years ago, Kansas was admitted to the Union - here's a song that too many in that state should think about, seeing as how they've been so effective at voting for total imbeciles over the last decade or so at least.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Friday Stuff

As anyone with any familiarity with this site knows, there are topics that I post about where I am actually knowledgeable on that subject, there are some that I post on where I have a passing familiarity with what’s going on, and there are some topics I post on where I just about have no clue. And the stuff going on in Egypt and Yemen more or less falls into the latter category.

I’m sure some of It is built-up repression against our de-facto-at-least endorsement of dictatorial leaders of countries that eventually boiled over (partly the fault of them getting some “love” from Bushco because they pledged to fight the Global War On Terra! Terra! Terra!). And I’m sure the fact that Number 44 is taking his bloody sweet time about getting us out of Afghanistan has more than a little bit of a ripple effect throughout a region of the world that is highly unstable anyway.

I have one request, though (which probably is why I’m bothering to say anything at all).

Yes, loss of life in street protest is terrible, and if this is the way that Tunisia, Egypt and maybe elsewhere are going to achieve popular rule that actually accomplishes something for the people it purports to represent, then just get out of the way and let it happen (happily, I honestly believe Obama gets that).

However, I’m just waiting for the inevitable wingnut umbrage with the accusation that Al Jazeera is fomenting some kind of unrest, and this is all a plot of their doing.

I don’t know how many other people besides me have noticed, but Al Jazeera is one of the few worldwide news outlets actually reporting on real people impacted by real news. They should be commended for that and not vilified (this came from Cairo about 12 hours ago – here is an update)…

…on a wholly other note, it looks like Jon Stewart is at it again, this time versus Bill Orally (here, in yet another sequel to the Steve Cohen-Nazi thing)…

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Bill O'Reilly Defends His Nazi Analogies
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire Blog</a>The Daily Show on Facebook

…next, Rachel Maddow brings us the latest in wingnuttia (truly sad, particularly the laughable nonsense with Moon Unit Bachmann at the end)…

…and I don’t know if this song works on another level concerning the Egypt protests or not, but I like it anyway.

Friday Mashup (1/28/11)

  • So, let’s see what the kiddies in charge of the U.S. House were up to last week, OK? (here – the Senate was still trying to figure out its rules for the upcoming session I believe)…


    Health-care repeal. Voting 245-189, the House passed a Republican bill (HR 2) to repeal the health-care overhaul signed into law March 23 by President Obama. All 242 GOP House members voted to repeal the law. All but three of the 192 Democrats who voted were opposed to repeal. The bill is expected to die in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

    A yes vote was to repeal the health-care law.

    Voting yes: Charles W. Dent (R., Pa.), Michael Fitzpatrick (R., Pa.), Jim Gerlach (R., 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.), Tim Holden (D., Pa.), and Allyson Y. Schwartz (D., Pa.).
    Oh, and speaking of health care, as noted here…

    A new report on the impact of the health care reform law shows that “individuals and families purchasing coverage through the exchanges in 2014 will save 14-20 percent over what coverage would cost them if the law had never been enacted.”
    By the way, based on this, it seems that Mikey The Beloved slipped on the ice and suffered a widdle boo boo (awwww…happily for him, he doesn’t have to worry about being denied for a “pre-existing condition,” which in his case would be egomania, demagoguery, political cowardice, or any and all of the above).

    Congressional health care. Voting 185-245, the House defeated a Democratic bid to prevent lawmakers from keeping their congressional health insurance if they repeal the new health-care law for their constituents. Under this motion to HR 2 (above), repeal could not occur until a majority of members in both chambers were dismissed from the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.

    Sponsor Robert E. Andrews (D., N.J.) said: "Members who support the repeal should live with its consequences."

    A yes vote backed the motion.

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

    Voting no: Dent, Gerlach, Fitzpatrick, LoBiondo, Meehan, Pitts, Runyan, and Smith.
    Bloody stinking cowards, the whole, foul Repug lot of them (wonder if Preston and Steve would still cheer Runyan after disgusting votes like this one – they probably would, now that I think of it...and by the way, on a somewhat unrelated matter, I give you this "Thumbs Down" citation from the Courier Times against the latest Repug power grab, an attempt to reduce Democratic Party member representation on committees, with the blessings of The Orange One and that sleazy weasel Cantor of course) (Update: Never mind, my bad.).

    Health-law replacement. Voting 253-175, the House directed four of its committees to draft a health-care law to replace the one Republicans seek to repeal with HR 2 (above). The measure (H Res 9) sets no deadlines for the panels to report back to the full House.

    A yes vote backed the resolution.

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

    Voting no: Andrews, Brady, Carney, Fattah, and Schwartz.
    Sooo…they vote to repeal “Obamacare,” but set no deadline for reporting back with a plan of their own?


    Medicare fix. Voting 428-1, the House amended H Res 9 (above) to require the Republicans' proposed new health-care law to permanently change the outdated formula for paying doctors for their treatment of Medicare patients. Such a fix is expected to cost $250 billion or more over 10 years. The two parties have disagreed in recent years over how to pay that cost.

    A yes vote backed the amendment.

    Voting yes: Andrews, Brady, Carney, Dent, Fattah, Fitzpatrick, Gerlach, Holden, LoBiondo, Meehan, Pitts, Runyan, Schwartz, and Smith.
    Which is only appropriate since, as noted here, the Repugs created the problem to begin with in 1997 (and for the record, the one "No" vote was Dem Rep John Conyers of Michigan; at this moment, I don't know why).

    Government printing office. Voting 399-0, the House passed a bill (HR 292) to end the practice of the Government Printing Office providing members of Congress with paper copies of each bill or resolution introduced in their chamber. Members and staff would continue to rely on electronic copies.

    A yes vote was to pass the bill.

    Voting yes: Andrews, Carney, Dent, Fattah, Fitzpatrick, Gerlach, LoBiondo, Meehan, Pitts, Runyan, Schwartz, and Smith.

    Not voting: Brady and Holden.
    This week, the House voted on whether to cut nonsecurity spending in the current fiscal year, and it will take up a bill ending the system of voluntary taxpayer check-offs to fund presidential campaigns. The Senate debated changes in filibuster rules (and based on this, all three proposals were defeated…pathetic).

  • Next, Christine Flowers advocated for the sainthood of Pope John Paul II here, and of course, spewed her sneering contempt of anyone disagreeing with her every chance she got.

    I’m hardly a theologian, so I can’t make any kind of case for denying John Paul II’s sainthood. He was charismatic of course (I still vividly recall his 1978 visit to Philadelphia), and a man of courage, surviving World War II and playing no small part in the rise of the Solidarity workers union in Poland, which started a ripple that tuned into a tidal wave that ultimately washed away Soviet-style communism.

    However (and you just knew I’d take a contrary position at some point), as noted here…

    In his Church policies, John Paul II was, even from the standpoint of the extremely conservative doctrines of the Catholic Church, a reactionary. He set out to reverse the spirit, if not entirely the letter, of the reforms initiated by the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s.

    First, there is his cult of the Madonna and the saints. With 473 beatifications, he has created more than twice as many new saints as his predecessors over the preceding 400 years.

    The encyclical Evangelium Vitae, which dictates sexual mores, rejects not only abortion, but also any form of contraception. Every sexual act not aimed at reproduction is considered to be immoral. Even condoms are condemned—a policy that is all the more socially destructive and inhumane given the devastating AIDS epidemic in Africa and many other parts of the world. In Germany, against strong resistance by bishops and Church members, the pope insisted that the Church withdraw from committees that advise pregnant women as part of the country’s framework for legal abortion.

    The conservative personnel policy of the pope has also repeatedly led to conflicts. He sparked controversy by imposing conservative bishops on several dioceses, e.g., Wolfgang Haas in Chur, Joachim Meisner in Cologne, Hans Hermann Gröer in Vienna, and Kurt Krenn in St. Pölten. Critical theologians such as Leonardo Boff, Eugen Drewermann, Hans Küng and Tissa Balasuriya have been gagged with prohibitions banning them from publishing their works and preventing them from teaching.

    The Swiss theologian Hans Küng, who was banned from teaching in the Church following an article in 1980 critical of the pope, describes the internal atmosphere of the Church and the role of John Paul II as follows: “[The pope is] the authority behind an inflationary number of beatifications, who, at the same time, with dictatorial power directs his inquisition against unpopular theologians, priests, monks and bishops; above all, believers distinguished by critical thinking and energetic reform are persecuted in inquisitorial fashion. Just as Pius XII persecuted the most important theologians of his time (Chenu, Congar, de Lubac, Rahner, Teilhard de Chardin), so too has John Paul II (and his grand inquisitor Ratzinger) persecuted Schillebeeckx, Balasuriya, Boff, Bulányi, Curran as well as Bishop Gaillot (Evreux) and Archbishop Hunthausen (Seattle). The consequence: a Church of surveillance, in which denunciation, fear and lack of liberty are widespread. The bishops regard themselves as Roman governors instead of the servants of churchgoers, the theologians write in a conformist manner—or not at all.”
    And oh yes, speaking of Pope Benny, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, promoted by John Paul II (here)…

    One of the most blatant examples of Ratzinger’s intervention into the political affairs of a country was his role in the 2004 US presidential election. A number of American Catholic bishops publicly declared in the run-up to the election that they would deny Holy Communion to Democratic candidate John Kerry, a Catholic, because of his pro-choice stance on abortion rights. Their intervention, a brazen violation of the secular foundations of the US Constitution, was tantamount to a religious injunction to Catholics to vote for George W. Bush.

    In June 2004, Ratzinger issued a statement of guidance to US bishops that, in effect, gave the Vatican’s seal of approval to Church officials who were using the abortion issue to discourage a vote for the Democratic candidate. In his missive to the bishop of Washington DC, Ratzinger wrote: “A Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil, and so unworthy to present himself for Holy Communion, if he were to deliberately vote for a candidate precisely because of the candidate’s permissive stand on abortion and/or euthanasia.”

    In an obvious reference to Kerry, Ratzinger declared that a “Catholic politician consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws” should be denied Communion.

    Since the Vatican officially opposed capital punishment and had denounced the US invasion of Iraq, Ratzinger was obliged to resort to casuistry to justify placing the Church’s onus on Kerry rather than Bush, who had not only led the unprovoked attack on Iraq, but who, as governor of Texas, had approved more than 140 executions. “Not all ... issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia,” he wrote. “There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not ... with regard to abortion and euthanasia.”

    The timing of Ratzinger’s statement, coming just a few months before the elections, was not coincidental. A week before Ratzinger’s statement, Bush visited the Vatican. According to the National Catholic Reporter, Bush complained to Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican secretary of state, that “not all the American bishops are with me”. He asked the Church to pressure bishops in the US to take a more open stance on cultural issues such as abortion and gay marriage.

    Ratzinger’s remarks made clear the Church’s position: anyone voting for Kerry could be adjudged to be in “formal cooperation with evil”. His intervention helped elevate Bush’s support among Catholic voters from 46 percent in 2000 to 52 percent in 2004.
    Oh, and by the way, Christine, let’s let some more time pass concerning Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and actor Michael Douglas before we refer to their recoveries as “miracles,” shall we? It’s a lot less difficult to find your way back to good health when you have the benefit of a public profile and the income and personal means that usually comes with it.

  • Finally, as noted here, today marks the 25th anniversary of the Challenger disaster in which seven astronauts, including teacher Christa McAuliffe, lost their lives.

    This article, based on the reporting of authors Malcolm McConnell and Joseph Trento, tells us about the political pressures affecting NASA, including the following anecdote (and the snark isn’t mine, by the way)…

    …in 1983, when Sally Ride became the first American woman in orbit, (first lady) Nancy Reagan flipped out because Jane Fonda was present for the launch. Michael Deaver, then at the White House, called NASA Administrator James Beggs on the carpet. When Beggs explained that civilian launches are open to the public, Deaver demanded that the NASA "flak" man who had invited Fonda to sit in the VIP section be fired.

    Beggs, NASA administrator from the beginning of the Reagan administration until two months before the Challenger disaster, has been all but forgotten in most accounts of the tragedy, because he was not in charge on the day the explosion occurred. Neither McConnell nor Trento make this superficial mistake, for the agency which sent Challenger to its fate is a perfect reflection of Beggs’ persona--rigid, remote, concerned first and foremost with budget politics.

    …Beggs changed the system so that the center directors reported to his deputy, who then reported to Beggs. Experience has shown that this formula is 100 percent guaranteed to prevent disagreeable news from reaching the desk of the boss--which it did in the case of growing concern over the reliability of the shuttle's solid-rocket boosters.

    This procedural change became a double fiasco in 1985 when that warm, wonderful human being, Donald Regan (!), insisted Beggs accept William Graham as his deputy. Graham, a nuclear-weapons specialist, had no experience in space issues or in management; his primary qualification was connections with the fruitcake wing of Ronald Reagan's California crowd. In November 1985, Beggs was indicted on charges of procurement fraud involving his previous job as an executive of that warm, wonderful corporation, General Dynamics. Beggs took a leave of absence, making Graham acting NASA Administrator. Graham was holding the reins when Challenger exploded.
    This article tells us how Lawrence Mulloy, project director of the solid-rocket booster portion of the Challenger ship, uttered the now-infamous question to Morton-Thiokol engineers who tried to prevent the launch because of justifiable-as-it-turned-out concerns over the O-rings separating the boosters: “My God, Thiokol, when do you want me to launch? Next April?”

    Of course, as we were to find out later, not only did Challenger take off during the coldest day on record for such a launch, but the ship also carried the heaviest payload to date (48,000 pounds, still below the maximum of 65,000 pounds the ship was supposed to handle). Also, the original launch was planned for Super Bowl Sunday two days previously, but it was delayed until that Tuesday (in which Reagan planned to say something about it during the State of the Union address).

    I’ll resist saying anything else of an accusatory nature at this point, even though it’s kind of tough I’ll admit, and instead merely link here to a tribute from the NASA site to the Challenger crew, as well as that of the Columbia shuttle disaster which took place nearly eight years ago, as well as the Apollo 1 fire that claimed the lives of astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee in January 1967 (and this gives us a bit of information on how space exploration has benefited our lives, providing more reasons why our fallen heroes should be honored on this and every day).
  • Thursday, January 27, 2011

    Thursday Stuff

    Leave it to the Onion News Network for topical content...

    ...and I was looking for something to do with summer here, and I suppose this does a bit, though I can't even escape the damn snow here either.

    Wednesday, January 26, 2011

    Wednesday Stuff

    I know we've done the whole Keith Olbermann thing to death, but this is pratically all of what Lawrence O'Donnell said on Monday as a tribute to K.O.- I thought it was very well put, and it was classy of O'Donnell to name all of the people behind the scenes on "Countdown" who helped him - I just hope everybody finds work elsewhere now that the show is done.

    (By the way, we know that Keith always signed off with the Edward R. Murrow trademark of "good night, and good luck" - as a reminder, this is what happened after Murrow heroically went after Joe McCarthy...advertisers pulled out of the broadcast, there were layoffs and much tighter editorial "oversight," and "See It Now," the name of Murrow's show, was moved from prime time to Sunday afternoons, where it eventually died due to bad ratings...doing good work on TV can give you a feeling of satisfaction I'm sure, but frequently, that's the only reward reward you're likely to get.)...

    ...and yeah, I would say that this song is appropriate right now (no video).

    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).

    Tuesday, January 25, 2011

    Tuesday Stuff

    Remember that video of Jon Stewart quite rightly criticizing Dem U.S. House Rep Steve Cohen last week? Well, here is an update (and the very best part is that Fix Noise humanoid Megyn Kelly looks like a complete and total idiot, as well as a liar)...

    The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
    24 Hour Nazi Party People
    Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire Blog</a>The Daily Show on Facebook

    ...and I know I've been observing a spate of 70th birthdays lately, and I was going to get to this one last Friday before all the stuff broke with Keith Olbermann, but I'm doing so belatedly now for this guy (with all due respect to the two guys last night, he's more deserving anyway).

    Tuesday Mashup (1/25/11)

  • If former Speaker Nance Pelosi were going to sit next to anybody at the SOTU tonight, it should be Boehner, since he’s now the speaker (here…if anybody, Cantor should sit with Steny Hoyer, who was majority leader before him – and no, I can’t believe I care about this either).

  • Also, TPM Muckraker tells us the following (here – I was wondering what that guttural lowlife James O’Keefe has been up to, and I think I have my answer)…

    In the course of five days this month, eight Planned Parenthood clinics in five states and D.C. reported getting the same visit: A man said he needed treatment for a sexually transmitted disease and then, once alone with a staff member, implied that he ran an interstate sex trafficking ring that involves minors and illegal immigrants.

    The Planned Parenthood Federation of America thinks that the visits, which happened between Jan. 11 and 15, are part of a James O'Keefe-style "sting." But the group called in the FBI anyway.

    "These multi-state visits from men claiming to be engaged in sex trafficking of minors may be a hoax," Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, wrote in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder last week. "However, if the representations made by this man are true," she wrote, they indicate violations of several sex trafficking, prostitution and child sex laws.

    A spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood would not reveal the identity of the man, or men, who visited the clinics. The group does, however, suspect he has ties to Live Action, the pro-life, anti-Planned Parenthood group run by O'Keefe associate Lila Rose.
    And don’t hold your breath waiting for a congressional resolution to get passed honoring Planned Parenthood for its vigilance as quickly as the one denouncing ACORN over a similar stunt even though they didn’t give Giles and O’Keefe any money, and one of ACORN’s offices called the California State Police in response (and the Mike Johanns amendment that denied funding ACORN was ruled to be “blatantly unconstitutional” here).

  • Next, this story tells us the following…

    In early 2009, the Obama administration tried limiting charitable tax deductions to pay for health-care reform, reducing the deduction from 35 cents to 28 cents per dollar for couples with more than $250,000 in income. Even though the measure would have raised billions in crucial revenue over the next 10 years, both Democrats and Republicans slammed it.

    Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House, was among those who opposed President Obama’s proposal to reduce the deduction for wealthiest donors. “[C]omparatively small but abundant charitable institutions are providing services that some politicians feel rightfully belong to the federal government,” he wrote in 2009. “By diminishing churches and charities, the administration fulfills a self-preserving objective of consolidating federal power by creating more taxpayer-funded programs to provide the services churches and charities are currently providing.”
    Oh yes, Baby Newton Leroy, please note how much Obama has “diminish(ed) churches and charities,” here (and from the Murdoch Street Journal, no less – I swear, Gingrich can say anything and still be taken seriously)…

    President Barack Obama's willingness to keep Bush-era policies on government-backed religious charities opposed by many liberals is helping to woo traditionally Republican evangelical leaders who can influence key blocs of voters.

    The approach, according to conservative leaders and liberal critics alike, is part of a broader strategy by Mr. Obama and fellow Democrats to regain credibility with centrist and conservative voters who tend to be more religious and have supported the GOP in recent polls and elections.

    Mr. Obama has left in place a contentious Bush policy permitting charities that receive federal aid to hire employees based on their religious beliefs—a policy that civil-liberties groups consider unconstitutional and that candidate Obama had criticized.
    Besides, as noted here…

    Estimates of how much the charitable deduction costs the government are sketchy. The one most policy makers rely on is calculated by Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation, which estimates that the government will lose roughly $237 billion to the deduction from 2009 to 2013.

    In the 2009 proposal, the Obama administration suggested that taxpayers earning more than $250,000 could make charitable deductions at a reduced rate of 28 percent, from the current rate of 35 percent.

    That proposal would have used the taxes generated by lowering the rate of reduction to support the health care overhaul, and it died amid much hue and cry from the nonprofit sector.
    Remember the funds this reduction would have generated the next time you hear the Repugs carping about lowering the deficit by privatizing Social Security (which doesn’t, in fact, contribute to the deficit at all…Medicare does, however, and they’re after that also of course, now that they've got their stinking tax cuts).

  • Update: Same old same old from Newt here...

  • Further, this tells us the following from…

    Newly empowered Republican lawmakers are taking their first shots at the United Nations, depicting it as bloated and ineffective as they seek to cut U.S. funding for the world body.

    On Tuesday, a House of Representatives panel aired criticisms of the U.N. at a briefing expected to prescribe congressional action.

    Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs committee, is seeking cuts and has introduced a bill intended to pressure the United Nations to change the way it operates and to make dues voluntary. She also is promising investigations into possible corruption and mismanagement.
    This was entirely predictable, of course, as well as Ros-Lehtinen’s umbrage over the U.S. being called a “deadbeat” nation when it came to back payment of dues here, even though such a description was entirely accurate (as noted here, though, when the grownups were in charge of the 111th Congress, they made sure this country paid its current dues and any that were in arrears).

    Further (as noted from the link)...

    The U.S. assessed contributions to the UN’s peacekeeping operations are funded through the State Department’s Contributions to International Peacekeeping Activities (CIPA) account. For any mission, which must be approved by the U.S. in the Security Council, other countries pay almost 75% of the costs.
    Also, I’m sure I R-L was none too pleased with the Universal Periodic Review this country received from the Human Rights Council; in response, we produced the following here (of course, Bushco could have merely sneered and insulted the council, but thankfully, our prior ruling cabal is long gone)...

    In August, the U.S. released a 20 page self-audit of its human rights record reflecting in large part its nationwide consultations on such topics as post-Katrina recovery, housing discrimination, racial profiling, hate crimes, and disparities in access to quality health care. While addressing shortcomings, the government's report also positively noted rights enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, underscored the lasting legacy of the civil rights movement, and applauded more recent achievements such as health care reform and President Barack Obama's signing of several key civil rights bills into law.

    "We are pleased that three of our key legislative achievements were highlighted by the Delegation: the adoption of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, and the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010," said Wade Henderson, President and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

    Nevertheless, the U.S. faced criticism for failing to ratify a number of human rights treaties — particularly the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) — for lacking a national human rights institution, for not shutting down Guantanamo Bay, and for its continued use of the death penalty.
    Well, it was nice to have our U.N. dues paid for however brief a moment, because I’m sure that, now that the bad-tempered children are making a fuss in Congress since their return to power, we’ll be in arrears again in no time.

  • Finally, of all of the pre-State of the Union idiocy (notwithstanding the whole “who sits with who” thing), I think this takes the cake as they say (mentioned it last night already I know)…

    Leading conservative voices have already gone on the record rejecting Obama’s calls for renewed investment before he has even delivered the address. Republicans have made it clear they view any government spending as unnecessary, and they believe Obama’s calls for “investment” are simply a conspiracy to increase federal spending:

    – Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY): “When you hear — and with all due respect to our Democratic friends — anytime they want to spend they call it ‘investment,’ so I think you’ll hear the president talk about investing a lot on Tuesday night. We’ve got a huge spending problem here.” [Fox News Sunday, 1/23/11]

    – House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA): “When [Obama] talks about investing — I think even someone from the White House this week had said that this is going to be a cut and invest White House. We want to cut and grow, because when we hear invest from anyone in Washington, to me that means more spending.” [Meet the Press, 1/23/11]
    (By the way, I’m going to ignore the Hillbilly Heroin addict on this since he’s never held elected office.)

    You want to know what the individuals who are supposedly admired by this bunch thought of investment? First, I give you none other than The Sainted Ronnie R here (our corporate media is already warming up for the Reaganalia due to commence on February 6th)…

    We've taken the time to consult closely with other governments in the region, both sponsors and beneficiaries, to ask them what they need and what they think will work. And we've labored long to develop an economic program that integrates trade, aid, and investment—a program that represents a long-term commitment to the countries of the Caribbean and Central America.

    At the Cancun summit last October, I presented a fresh view of a development which stressed more than aid and government intervention. As I pointed out then, nearly all of the countries that have succeeded in their development over the past 30 years have done so on the strength of market-oriented policies and vigorous participation in the international economy. Aid must be complemented by trade and investment.

    Exports from the area will receive duty-free treatment for 12 years. Thus, new investors will be able to enter the market knowing that their products will receive duty-free treatment for at least the pay-off lifetime of their investments.

    Secondly, to further attract investment, I will ask the Congress to provide significant tax incentives for investment in the Caribbean Basin. We also stand ready to negotiate bilateral investment treaties with interested Basin countries.
    Next, I give you Poppy Bush from the 1992 State of the Union Address (here)…

    We must encourage investment. We must make it easier for people to invest money and make new products, new industries, and new jobs.
    And his son (here)…

    Saudi Arabia has joined the World Trade Organization. Jordan, Oman, Bahrain, and Morocco have signed free trade agreements with the United States. Your nations are attracting more foreign investment. Oil accounts for much of the economic growth here. But the nations of the Middle East are now investing in their people, and building infrastructure, and opening the door to foreign trade and investment. America supports you in these efforts. We believe that trade and investment is the key to the future of hope and opportunity.
    (Telling that Number 43 was so interested in doing this for the Saudis but not for us; also, don’t worry, I know what’s really going on here – when it comes to actual investment for real, it’s baaad when a Democrat does it, but as always, IOKIYAR.)

    McConnell and Cantor should note that, with their latest outburst, Former President Highest Disapproval Rating in Gallup Poll History looks more mature than they do.

    And if that isn’t an insult, I don’t know what is.
  • Monday, January 24, 2011

    Monday Stuff

    Uh, yep...

    (And by the way, for the record, I was a bit hasty in judging Lawrence O'Donnell on Friday - he had some good stuff tonight on guns and an extended interview with Glenn Greenwald.)

    ...meanwhile, thank God these characters haven't been in charge of this country for very long relative to our country's history - if they were calling the shots in the last century, we'd probably still be on the gold standard, and forget the New Deal of course, as well as the postwar boom, the interstate highway system, moon missions, Social Security and Medicare of course, the Internet, clean air, clean water, etc., etc (here)...

    ...and by the way, "with all due respect to our Repug friends"...kiss my ass; it would be hilarious if it weren't so pathetic when you consider what these clowns did earlier in the prior decade (again, they're suddenly spendthrifts after they got their stinking tax cuts - and the reason Obama and co. have been spending is because the private sector won't...screw you, Cantor, and this "uncertainty" crap)...

    ...on a happier note, happy 70th to Aaron Neville...

    ...and oh yeah, to this guy also.

    Monday Mashup (1/24/11)

  • Yesterday, the New York Times ran some opinion columns from people suggesting what Obama should say or do when he gives his State of the Union address tomorrow night (sorry, but I know those things basically are pep rallies regardless of which side is in power, so I don’t attach much significance, although Obama calling out the Supremes last year over Citizens United was pretty cool).

    One column was from former Iran-Contra scoundrel Elliott Abrams, who of course blames Obama for the uprising in Tunisia (and it’s Abrams birthday today, strangely enough…forgive me if I don’t send a card)…

    THE revolt in Tunisia has thrown both that nation’s dictator, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, and the Obama administration’s democracy-promotion policy onto the ash heap of history. The revolt undermined — indeed, destroyed — two years of effort in Washington to move toward a policy of “engagement” with hostile and repressive regimes.

    The price for this policy has been paid by men and women from China to Russia to Iran to Egypt to Venezuela, who had expected a louder voice and a firmer helping hand from the United States. Now, watching the Tunisians try to move from a rapacious dictatorship to a stable democratic system, the president should say that in Tunisia, and everywhere else, we will side with those working to build democracies.
    Sooo…all of these countries should have expected the U.S. to support militarily some kind of a coup? Is that what he means by “a louder voice and a firmer helping hand”?

    And did I mention yet again that Abrams has never served in our armed forces?

    I just want to make sure I’ve got this straight; according to the rules of wingnut punditry, such as they are, Dubya gets a pass because he believed former Tunisian dictator Zine El Abadine Ben Ali was a friend in the Now And Forever You’d Better Believe It You Kenyan Muslim-Lovin’ Democrat Party Terrist America Haters in the Global War on Terra! Terra! Terra!, even though, as Think Progress tells us here, “the excesses of President Ben Ali’s family…inspire outrage” among Tunisians.

    However, when President Obama decides not to interfere and let natural events run their course (inspired by this brave example by a man named Mohamed Bouazizi, though I don't encourage anyone to imitate it), he’s criticized for not interfering, which, given our wrongheaded support of Ben Ali previously, is exactly the right course of action.

  • And from that same section of pundits trying to “help” Obama, I give you the following odious Third Way tripe (here)…

    To get something done with a skeptical Congress, the president ought to shift the focus from the instruments of violence to the perpetrators by calling for a substantial increase in the number of people who are listed by the F.B.I. as barred from purchasing guns.

    An approach aimed at the person, not the gun, has a real chance of winning bipartisan support.
    If I were more prone to colorful language from movies about the Old West (appropriate for me when talking about the gun issue anyway), I might refer to Jon Cowan and Jim Kessler here as a couple of lily-livered panty waists more anxious to fluff Republicans than stand up to them. And that is because trying to divide the difference on guns by choosing to strengthen the system of background checks (a petition is here) versus making high-capacity magazines illegal is stupid; both of these goals should be pursued, not one or the other.

  • Next, J.D. Mullane of the Bucks County Courier Times weighed in here concerning the latest from Little Ricky Santorum, who claimed that Obama should be advocating “personhood” for fetuses…

    "The question is - and this is what Barack Obama didn't want to answer - is that (unborn) human life a person under the Constitution? And Barack Obama says no," Santorum said. "Well, if that human life is not a person, then I find it almost remarkable for a black man to say 'now we are going to decide who are people and who are not people.' "

    Santorum, undeterred by his critics in the media, the next day moved aggressively into the minefield of racially charged politics and personal choice.

    "For decades," he said, "certain human beings were wrongly treated as property and denied liberty in America because they were not considered persons under the Constitution. Today, other human beings, the unborn of all races, are also wrongly treated as property and denied the right to life for the same reason, because they are not considered persons under the Constitution. I am disappointed that President Obama, who rightfully fights for civil rights, refuses to recognize the civil rights of the unborn in this country."

    In fact, this thesis is not Santorum's. He lifted it from a famous Baptist preacher, the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

    In 1977, Jackson wrote an influential piece for the Right to Life News that linked the court-sanctioned "privacy" rights of the slave owner to that of one seeking an abortion.

    In 1,000 words, Jackson eloquently addresses arguments favoring abortion, aiming to weaken and dismantle them.

    The essay, "Respecting Life," is still widely circulated among pro-life activists. His arguments are why pro-life activists see themselves as modern abolitionists.
    I don’t know why Jackson apparently changed his position on abortion; I haven’t been able to find an explanation (though it’s not surprising that Jackson kept his thoughts on such a personal issue to himself). Was it made out of political calculation? Let me ask you this in response – when you’re talking about someone who once ran for elected office, what decision isn’t made out of political calculation?

    Besides, it’s not unheard of for politicians seeking the presidency to change their minds on this issue, as noted here.

    I have a question, though. When the 13th and 14th Amendments to the Constitution were passed in essence granting full personhood to slaves, did that mean that former slave owners could now be prosecuted since slaves were no longer three-fifths of a person in the eyes of the law? I believe the answer to that question is no.

    If The Supremes or another court eventually rules that even a partially developed fetus is a person with full rights, thereby codifying legally the belief that life begins at conception, what’s to prevent doctors performing abortions or women seeing them for whatever reason from being prosecuted for attempted or actual homicide in the same eyes of the law?

    Nothing, that’s what. Which is exactly something Santorum devoutly wishes to see transpire (and Mullane also, I’m sure).

    And on that day, God help us, we will take another step backward to the Dark Ages.

    (One more thing – this is about what you would expect from Little Ricky, seeing as how he’s already trailing Romney, Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin – God, what a field! – for the 2012 Repug presidential nomination.)

  • In addition, I should note that I read the latest Republican propaganda disguised as political analysis from Sheryl Gay Stolberg of the New York Times today (here), and I have only this to say:

    The Repugs got their stinking tax cut extension in the lame duck session last year (which, of course, will do nothing except add to the deficit, a fact that somehow was absent from most of the discussion during all the tax-cut theatrics). Now, as far as they’re concerned, everybody else besides the “pay no price, bear no burden” crowd can take it in the neck (or somewhere else – I’ll leave that up to you, dear reader). And there really isn’t much of anything else to say besides that.

  • Finally (sticking with the Courier Times), this tells us the following…

    When Bucks County's judges select a new county commissioner Tuesday afternoon, they will likely pick one of three GOP-endorsed frontrunners: Jon Forest, Robert G. Loughery or Jennifer L. Yori.

    The Bucks County Republican Executive Committee gave the trio its stamp of approval at a Jan. 13 screening meeting and forwarded their names to the judges, who will meet behind closed doors Tuesday to choose the candidate to replace James Cawley, sworn in as Tom Corbett's lieutenant governor last week.
    So judges from Bucks will meet behind closed doors, as the story tells us, to choose which Republican will take the place of the departed Jim Cawley.

    Being a filthy, unkempt liberal blogger, I have only this question to ask in response:

    Why can’t we have a special election instead?