Saturday, March 05, 2011

More Saturday Stuff

Gee, I wonder what it's going to take for "The Most Trusted Name In News" to stop reporting on "Panda people," dog adoption and ENOUGH OF CHARLIE FREAKING SHEEN ALREADY!!! and pay attention to what I guess they think is dumb stuff like this and this instead (and h/t Daily Kos for this great video)...

...and I hope you're in the mood for some Saturday night funk - if you aren't, too bad, because here it is.

A Saturday "Foto Funny"

While doing my Internet thing looking for stuff in general to post about, I found the "Stay or Go" feature at, which the site does at the conclusion of every season by one of our area sports teams (which players/coaches/front office personnel for that team should stay or's basically a fan poll).

Well, the "Stay or Go" poll for the Eagles is still up after the conclusion of their season, but I think they need to make an update - defensive coordinator Sean McDermott was released by the team as soon as the season ended (and was almost immediately signed by the Carolina Panthers).

Saturday Stuff

While we're all quite rightly focused on Wisconsin, lets not forget about the nonsense in Ohio either...kind of wonder why any Dem anywhere would have been "sleeping" last year, but we are where we are (and coming to The Keystone State also, noted here, which is of course a commonwealth and not a state)...

...and this tune came readily to mind as a result (and by the way, this tells us how Chrissie Hynde ended up allowing the OxyContin addict to use it - not a fair trade as far as I'm concerned, but it was her call, not mine).

Friday, March 04, 2011

Friday Stuff

And yet again, when it's time for perspective on the demonizing of teachers in this country (which puts us in a league with who exactly, I wonder? Iran? North Korea??), it's time for Jon Stewart (here - and Fix Noise humanoid Megyn Kelly stands out as a cold, soulless harpie yet again)...

...and I think this report makes the jump a little too quick in assuming that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is necessarily talking about U.S. propaganda, though I'm not naive enough to discount that possibility out of hand - I saw another clip of her testimony where she's talking about how ridiculous the "dual arguing talking head" format is that passes for news analysis on cable, and she's absolutely spot-on there...important stuff that we ignore in this country at our peril...

...and Rachel Maddow brings us the latest on the Repug slo-mo train wreck, this time in Wyoming of all places (I don't buy all of what the two ladies with her say here, but I respect their opinions)...

...and I've been meaning to tip my hat to this guy all week for winning another Academy Award (here), so please allow me to do so now.

Friday Mashup (3/4/11)

  • We all know that Fix Noise is the epicenter of voter fraud allegations involving Democrats which just about always turn out to be baseless (as noted here – actually, I can’t recall a single instance when they’ve been right).

    Well, guess what? As reported in the New York Times here…

    Indiana’s top elections official, Secretary of State Charles P. White, was indicted Thursday on felony charges that he committed voter fraud.

    The indictment, announced by two special prosecutors, prompted immediate, bipartisan calls for Mr. White to resign. But Mr. White, a Republican who took office two months ago, said he would remain in the post as he contests the charges.
    And what do we hear from Fix Noise in response?

    Cue the sound of crickets (a Google search yielded nothing).

  • Next, I don’t know who else has noticed but yours truly, but The Orange One has been a veritable “laff riot” lately, with an allegation in particular here that “most Americans don’t have a clue” on the issue of entitlement reform (too funny...unlike you, at least we realize that Social Security has bupkes to do with the deficit).

    Well, fresh on the heels of that noxious instance of oral self-entitlement, Boehner is back with the following from here…

    Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has privately assured President Obama that House Republicans will not attack him if he makes a proposal to reform entitlement spending, according to sources familiar with the offer.

    Moreover, Boehner has personally promised Obama that he will stand side by side with him to weather the strong political backlash expected from any proposal to cut entitlement costs.
    Please allow me to respond with the following well-reasoned observation:



    There are at least six reasons why Boehner should not be trusted in any way, shape or form (probably many more, but life is short)…

  • Here, Boehner blames Obama for the debt but ignores the stinking Repug tax cuts that are primarily responsible.

  • Here, Boehner said Obama “ignores American exceptionalism.”

  • Here from last December, he told Obama it was “time to govern” (you first, Orange Man).

  • Here Boehner said how dare Obama claim Repugs hate government, or words to that effect (truth hurts, doesn't it?).

  • Here, Boehner falsely claimed Obama allowed AIG bonuses in the “stim.”

  • Here, Boehner said to Obama: “Fire (your) economic team” (and we get more whining about “uncertainty”).
  • So basically, I hope Obama takes Boehner’s olive branch and stomps all over it. And if the House Speaker goes on another crying jag over it, Obama should just utter three words: So be it.

  • Update: And The Orange One plummets to new depths of both stupidity and insensitivity here (as well as having zero respect for history, to say nothing of our veterans).

  • Further, allow me to bring you the anatomy of a wingnut smear, beginning with the following from The Daily Tucker (here)…

    In her first appearance before the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee since the health-care law passed, Kathleen Sebelius responded to a line of questioning by Republican Rep. John Shimkus of Illinois about whether $500 billion in Medicare cuts were used to sustain the program or pay for the law.

    “There is an issue here on the budget because your own actuary has said you can’t double-count,” said Shimkus. “You can’t count — they’re attacking Medicare on the CR when their bill, your law, cut $500 billion from Medicare.”

    He continued: “Then you’re also using the same $500 billion to what? Say your funding health care. Your own actuary says you can’t do both. […] What’s the $500 billion in cuts for? Preserving Medicare or funding the health-care law?

    Sebelius’ reply? “Both.”
    And as a result, Tucker Carlson’s Crayon Scribble Page proclaimed the following headline: “HHS Secretary Sebelius Admits To Double-Counting Funds For Obamacare.”

    This is just sad, people – in response, I give you the following from last August (here)…

    Reporting from Washington — President Obama reached out Saturday to retired Americans, an important group of voters, touting a report that showed the healthcare overhaul had brightened prospects for the Medicare hospital trust fund.
    The whole “double-counting in the health care law” thing appears to be yet another right-wing zombie lie. Well, to begin, I give you the following from here...

    The long and short of it: the administration says that it estimates the effects of the law on the entire federal budget over a 10 year period. Under that scenario, the law increases the cash flow into the Medicare Trust Fund, but since that fund is part of the larger federal budget, some of the funds could be used on other legislative priorities. Klein quotes Jonathan Blum, the director of the Center for Medicare Management for CMS, as saying, “I think it’s been a historical, and longstanding budget convention that when you have less dollars paid to the Medicare program to pay for benefits, there are dollars that accrue to the overall federal treasury, that can be spent for other purposes. And this is an OMB, CBO budget convention.”
    OK, wonky stuff I know – more to the point, I give you the following from here…

    In a 2009 blog post, CBO Director Doug Elmendorf wrote: "The key point is that the savings to the HI trust fund under the (health care law) would be received by the government only once, so they cannot be set aside to pay for future Medicare spending and, at the same time, pay for current spending on other parts of the legislation or on other programs.

    To describe the full amount of HI trust fund savings as both improving the government's ability to pay future Medicare benefits and financing new spending outside of Medicare would essentially double-count a large share of those savings and thus overstate the improvement in the government's fiscal position."
    Further, as noted here…

    This double-counting charge is a bit vague. (The health care law) reduces the deficit, and it reduces future Medicare spending. Is it double-counting to take credit for both things, when some of this reduction in future spending will be used outside of Medicare, for example to help finance insurance coverage for all Americans?

    One might dismiss this question as reflecting a sudden double-standard. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities rightly points out that the Obama Administration presents budget numbers in precisely the same manner that elected officials from both parties always have. There is nothing dishonest or unusual here.

    Oh, and by the way Tucker, please note that, though I wish you were correct in the pic above, Joe Pitts is, in fact, the U.S. House rep from PA’s 16th congressional district.

  • Finally, it’s time once more for The Murdoch Street Journal to “Get Christie Love” (here, in a column by Reagan cultist Peggy Noonan about those oh-so-baad public sector teachers)…

    Let's look for a second at one of the most famous battles, in New Jersey. A year ago Chris Christie was sworn in as the new governor. He immediately faced a $10.7 billion deficit and catastrophic debt projections. State and local taxes were already high, so that if he raised them he'd send people racing out of the state. So Mr. Christie came up with a plan. He asked the state's powerful teachers union for two things: a one-year pay freeze—not a cut—and a modest 1.5% contribution to their benefit packages.

    The teachers union went to war. They said, "Christie is trying to kill the unions," so they tried to kill him politically. They spent millions on ads trying to take him down.

    And it backfired. They didn't kill him, they made him. Chris Christie is a national figure now because the teachers union decided, in an epic political drama in which arithmetic is the predominant fact, to ignore the math. They also decided to play the wrong role in the drama. They decided to play the role of Johnny Friendly, on whom more in a moment.
    Uh, well, the following should be noted in response here (from last October)…

    NJ Gov. Chris Christie and his advisors are trying to sell him as a "principled" man who does the right thing no matter what, but a closer look reveals an egomaniacal political hack who is a lot more concerned about his image than anything else. Now he blames a good little wingnut soldier like Bret Schundler for his very expensive temper tantrums, and apparently his major decisions are being dictated by the local right-wing talk radio:

    Before rejecting a compromise with teachers that would have won New Jersey a $400 million federal education grant, Gov. Chris Christie’s main objection was that it would appear that he had given in to the teachers’ union, a former education commissioner testified on Thursday.

    The governor, who had battled the union all year, said “that he was not going through the fire with all of their attacks on him merely to cave in to the union,” the former commissioner, Bret D. Schundler, told a State Senate hearing investigating the loss of the federal grant. “And he said that emphatically and for a rather extended period of time.”

    Mr. Schundler recalled that in his conversation with the governor, in May, he had explained that it was the union that had given ground, and that the administration had won nearly everything it wanted. “When the governor came to understand that, his concern became more about how it would be perceived,” he said.

    [...] Mr. Christie fired Mr. Schundler, a fellow Republican, in August, after New Jersey finished 11th in a competition, called Race to the Top, that rewarded the top 10 states.

    A minor omission in New Jersey’s application was one reason the state lost the contest. The mistake cost the state 4.8 points, giving it a score of 437.8, just 3 points behind 10th-place Ohio.

    But New Jersey lost at least 14 points because the teachers’ union, the New Jersey Education Association, refused to endorse the application; the added points from the union’s endorsement would have put the state into fourth or fifth place.

    The union had agreed in late May to a draft agreement negotiated by Mr. Schundler, signing on to almost every change called for by the governor, including paying teachers based partly on their students’ performance. There was one major exception, Mr. Schundler said: The union would not endorse giving up the principle that when tenured teachers were laid off, it had to be in reverse order of seniority. Mr. Schundler said that that was not a major issue, because such layoffs were rare, and the governor could pursue the change whether or not it was included in the application.

    The news release announcing the deal with the union intentionally avoided claiming victory for the governor, Mr. Schundler testified, so that the union could more easily sell the plan to its members. But the next morning, he said, the governor called him, irate because a talk-radio host, Jim Gearhart on WKXW, “was saying he caved in to the union.”
    So Christie scuttled a perfectly good agreement brokered by Bret Schundler with the teachers union, and cost New Jersey $400 million in education funds, because of a fit of pique over comments from a talk radio host.

    And this from a guy who claimed, in essence, that he could win the 2012 presidential election here (the gall of this man truly takes your breath away).

    Incidentally, the “Johnny Friendly” reference pertains to the legendary Hollywood film “On The Waterfront,” made in 1954 and starring Marlon Brando, Eva Marie Saint, Lee J. Cobb, Karl Malden and Rod Steiger (Brando won his first Oscar for the role of dockworker and washed-up fighter Terry Malloy). Basically, the author of the Journal piece is trying to compare the NJ teachers union to Friendly, the character played by Cobb, who indeed was a “selfish, bullying union chief.”

    Friendly, in the movie, was also behind the death of a would-be informant who was crushed by a case of whiskey in a dock “accident,” as well as the murder of Malloy’s brother, who was left to hang on a hook in a back alley as a message to Malloy about testifying against Friendly (which Terry eventually does).

    That’s the kind of association we’re supposed to make with teaching professionals according to the author, as people no better than murdering thugs.

    All class, Nooners.
  • Thursday, March 03, 2011

    A Thursday Meditation

    I don't know what else to do with this, so I thought I might as well put it here (my reaction to this - based very loosely on this)...

    O beautiful polluted skies
    That pour down acid rain
    Upon the heads of right-wing nuts
    Who shout out oaths insane
    From "Fox and Friends," the cancer spreads
    Across our panicked land
    Watch hate and fear now reappear
    Just like the Repugs planned

    We once stood up for people who
    We fought to liberate
    From oppressive demagogues
    Who we now imitate
    Our media's obsequiousness
    Keeps us hypnotized
    It's true, in sum, we've now become
    The thing we once despised
    God Bless America.

    Thursday Stuff

    Probably no posting today - whatever...

    I know I'm a bit late with this, but what George Miller said here definitely bears repeating (as what Jeff Merkley says here - h/t Atrios...I can't think of a word for the disgust that I feel when the Dems give up without a fight - it's sad that Merkley stands out the way he does because of the relative silence from the rest of the elected officials that supposedly belong to his party also)...

    ...and I understand the religious revivalism of this song, but I think this embodies the mindset that we must all have these days - the "pay no price, bear no burden" bunch won't be satisfied until they have everything and we have nothing (and no, I'm not exaggerating).

    Wednesday, March 02, 2011

    Wednesday Stuff

    Damn straight (and to help get the ad on the air, click here)…

    …and I must tell you that during weeks like this, when posting is getting all messed up for a variety of reasons, this song captures how I feel, despite my liberal do-gooder tendencies to try to make a positive difference at all times (hat tip to Matt Cord of WMMR for playing this tonight on my way home; it was the highlight of my day…Cord has the common sense to keep his political opinion to himself).

    Wednesday Mashup (3/2/11) (updates)

  • From the “past is prologue” file here (40 years ago yesterday)…

    Hundreds of thousands of workers across Britain have taken part in an unofficial day of protest against the government's new industrial relations Bill.

    Figures suggest over 100,000 workers walked out on strike in London alone - although only a tiny proportion of that number, about 2,000 joined a march through the capital.

    Some reports suggest as many as 1.5 million people stopped work across the country.

    The protest is the latest and biggest demonstration so far against the bill, which includes proposals for a strike ballot and a cooling-off period before any industrial action, as well as tighter controls on union agreements and membership.
    And by the way, in a related story as they say, kudos to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops for this (and in the other corner, wearing the white trunks, it’s “Now watch this drive” Boehner).

  • Update 3/3/11: Now I must tell you that, as a Democrat, I start off as being biased against Boehner I'll admit, so my point of view isn't going to be totally impartial (though I don't like him for a lot of good reasons, chiefly that he is a thoroughly co-opted corporate shill).

    But after reading this, you have to admit that he truly is overmatched by his job. For a public official to not admit that Social Security has bupkes to do with the deficit is the height of dishonesty and/or incompetence. And you can say the same thing for the fact that the health care law, as it is currently constituted, will lower the deficit over the next ten years, despite what that idiot Joey Vento says (who, I should point out once more, wasn't elected to a damn thing).

    Update #1 3/4/11: Actually, Boehner is partly right here, shockingly enough - someone "doesn't have a clue," but it's not who he thinks.

    Update #2 3/4/11: And here is an item about workers taking out their frustrations that I don't condone or encourage, by the way.

    Update 3/5/11: And add this to the "not having a clue" file.

  • Next, I have some truly shocking news for you – Mikey The Beloved actually made a mistake (here – and yes, you can add this to the swearing-in gaffe and the supposed “listening” session over the health care law which, by total coincidence of course, was attended by a lobbyist representing an organization opposed to the bill, as well as members of that organization, all of whom donated to Mikey’s campaign, as noted here...first bullet)…

    Two weeks ago, while defending his vote not to penalize companies that ship jobs overseas, Bucks County Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick said the motion defeated in January would have sent the full bill back to committee, where it would have been killed.

    And since it was tied to
    House Resolution 38, which allowed Republicans to cut federal spending, the GOP would have been prevented from slicing the budget.
    It turns out, that's not the case.

    Because the term "forthwith" was included in the Democrats' motion, the proposal to "curb the practice of U.S. companies sending jobs overseas" would have been attached to the spending-cuts bill and it could have been voted on immediately.

    Fitzpatrick, however, maintained this week that even without the bill having to return to committee, the Democrats were not interested in a good law but rather in playing politics.

    "The minority party was given an option to file an amendment to the bill and there would have been a debate," the 8th District Republican said. "Instead, they chose to file it as a motion, which is procedural and not substantive."

    Well, among other things, this confirms for me the fact that Mikey doesn’t read liberal blogs, since David Waldman at Daily Kos posted about this two years ago (linked from here). As Waldman points out (along with Lara Brown, a Villanova poli-sci professor quoted in the Courier Times story)…

    …a motion to recommit a bill to committee with instructions to report back a proposed amendment "forthwith" means the bill stays on the floor and is amended immediately, whereas instructions to report back "promptly" actually sends the bill off the floor and back to committee, where it usually dies.
    Yes, it’s minutiae, but guess what? Mikey served in Congress once before, remember? Why doesn’t he get this stuff?

    And oh yes, it’s the Dems’ fault because they didn’t offer an amendment to the bill instead of the recommit motion (and how the Repugs love their amendments to legislation, usually stupid, pointless ones such as the 400 here to largely short-fund or no-fund agencies of government that they don’t want to expose to the cold light of day, as it were).

    Mikey, you screwed up. Again. Admit it for a change, OK (what was that popular phrase from the last election..."man up"?)

  • In addition, I saw something here that made me scratch my head, so I had to look into it a bit more. In the story at The Hill, we learn the following (about Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and his efforts to clean up the patent approval process – more wonky stuff I know, but it’s important)…

    In the past seven years, of almost 3 million applications filed, only 25 patents were granted to small entities that were the second inventor to file but were able to prove they were first to invent. Of those 25, only one patent was granted to an individual inventor who was the second to file. Thus, in the last seven years, only one independent inventor in nearly 3 million patent filings would have gotten a different outcome under the “first-inventor-to-file” system.

    Many proposals in this legislation have been debated for a decade, but we now have core provisions with broad support that will undoubtedly add more certainty around the validity of patents; enable greater work sharing between the USPTO and other countries; and help the agency continue with operational changes needed to accelerate innovation, support entrepreneurship and business development, and drive job creation and economic prosperity.
    So, let me try to “wrap my arms around” this again, OK?

    Three million patent applications filed in seven years, but only 25 granted to legitimate entrepreneurs who could prove they were the first to invent? And one to an individual inventor who was the second to file?

    Yes, I’m not an expert on patent law, but this doesn’t pass the smell test, people.

    So with that in mind, I came across this item…

    In crafting the American Inventor Protection Act of 1999, Congress inserted a proviso calling for the director and other high-level appointees to have “a professional background and experience in patent or trademark law.” The previous year Bruce Lehman had resigned as agency director. Appointed in 1993, he was credited by some with bringing the agency and intellectual property issues from the backwaters to a prominent stage, but Lehman was dogged by the fact that his background was in copyrights.

    After his failed efforts to get the U.S. Copyright Office moved from the Library of Congress to the PTO, Lehman ended up leaving in 1998. Q. Todd Dickinson, with an extensive career in patent law, took over for the final two years of the Clinton administration.

    In 2001 President George W. Bush appointed James Rogan, who had no experience in patents, trademarks or intellectual property in general. As a congressman, he had been one of 13 U.S. House managers in President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial, and in the 2000 elections, his Los Angeles County constituency showed their disapproval at the polls. Bush picked him up.
    So Commander Codpiece “picked...up” Jim Rogan, he being a “made man,” having done his best to prolong the Clinton impeachment spectacle.

    And as a result…

    After a little more than two years, Rogan resigned and went into private practice. He now is a California state court judge. He was succeeded by (Johnathan) Dudas, who also came from Capitol Hill in 2002 to be the agency’s No. 2 appointee. Dudas had worked on intellectual property matters as a congressional staffer, but otherwise had no background in patent or trademark law.
    Lather, rinse, repeat – sigh…

    “The levels of review got ridiculous,” says Robert Budens, president of the Patent Office Professional Association, the union representing examiners and other patent professionals in the agency. “The allowance rate began to drop like a stone, in part from a larger fear created in the examining corps, and especially the supervisors who don’t want to get dinged on their performance. People started becoming fearful of allowing things because you could run headlong into quality review problems that make life miserable.”

    Dudas defends his quality-control measures, though he does admit they had some unintended consequences.

    “We focused on quality with a number of new initiatives and the error rate came down,” Dudas explains. “We anticipated the allowance rate to come down, but didn’t think it would come down as much as it did. You never target an allowance rate.”

    While morale plummeted among examiners, it probably wasn’t that good at the top, either. All the while in the background, from cocktail palaver to prominent blogs, there were questions about the bona fides of political appointees in the PTO leadership, some of whose backgrounds ran deep in politics and shallow on patents.

    In 2007, a San Francisco lawyer and patent activist, Gregory Aharonian, along with several others, sued for the removal of a political appointee in a high-level position at the PTO, saying she was not qualified under the provisions of the 1999 statute. The suit claimed Margaret Peterlin’s only qualification was that she’d served as a senior aide to House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., who resigned in late 2007 not long after her appointment.

    Judge James Robertson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed the case in December 2007, finding no congressional intent for a private cause of action. But in his opinion, Robertson wrote that even if he couldn’t order it, it would be good if Peterlin acknowledged her deficiencies and asked various PTO constituencies for help.

    “Besides holding out the prospect of actually addressing the real problems besetting the office,” he wrote, “any such behavior from Ms. Peterlin would be a refreshing change from the hostility and adversarial stance taken in recent times by patent office management.”

    The point was made. Peterlin resigned eight months later, in August 2008.
    Yet another story of Bushco ineptitude, staffing an agency of government with a sycophant and/or ideologue and/or party hack who was previously turned out of public office by voters (though, as noted above, Peterlin was an aide to Hastert).

    Usually, after reading stories like this about our prior ruling cabal, I come to the conclusion that, except for the “pay no price, bear no burden” bunch, this country saw nothing approximating economic prosperity because of the utter cluelessness of the stooges who served in the executive branch from 2001-2009.

    After reading this, though, I kind of think that maybe it all happened by design. Which is worse.

  • Continuing, I should note that I came across this rather shocking piece of right-wing propaganda from an individual named Burt Prelutsky, which I probably would not have given further thought to had I not recognized his name as one of the writers of the “M.A.S.H.” T.V. series.

    Now I’m not going to say that, just because of the subject matter of the TV show and the movie, I automatically assumed that everyone associated with either production is a liberal. I know there are certain actors and media people generally who are conservative, which is their right. Of course, that doesn’t mean that I actually have to watch an Adam Sandler movie or a Kelsey Grammer TV show (and I don’t), or listen to Lyle Lovett who voted for George W. Bush in 2004, for example. I know the actor Robert Duvall is also a conservative (speaking of the original “M.A.S.H.” movie – he played Frank Burns), but that doesn’t mean that I don’t respect his work.

    However, there is being a conservative I admire for his or her work (Duvall), a conservative I more or less tolerate and say “I think they’re nuts, but they have a right to their opinion” (Sandler, Grammer), and a conservative I loathe even though I have to grudgingly give him credit for performing for our military, never mind the jingoistic, simplistic claptrap he peddles in his songs (Toby Keith).

    And then there is Burt Prelutsky. In his Daily Tucker screed, he tells us the following…

    Quite frankly, I am getting sick and tired of my fellow conservatives who seem to feel that they should take on back-alley thugs while confining themselves to Marquis of Queensbury rules. I mean, either, like me, they seriously believe that those on the left are out to destroy America or they don’t. If they don’t, they’ve been lying to us. If they do, they shouldn’t be above kicking, kneeing and gouging, because all is fair and even necessary in war, if not necessarily in love.

    Frankly, I personally find their insistence on maintaining a civil tone and setting an upstanding example to be as tedious and self-laudatory as a PBS fundraiser.
    You get the idea; Prelutsky also said here that “if Obama had turned out to be a serial killer, he would be in prison today instead of the Oval Office”; here, he said Congressman Barney Frank should “stop phoning every number he finds scrawled on bathroom walls”; and here, he said "[O]nly [a] loop ... hanging from the branch of a very tall tree" is "appropriate for most ... ninnies in Congress."

    Oh, and of course he opposes those in Wisconsin protesting in response to Gov. Hosni Mubarak Walker’s attempt to gut collective bargaining (funny to me that Prelutsky now opposes the principle of working men and women standing up for their rights, when he apparently had no issue with that as chairman of the Writers Guild of America disciplinary committee here).

    Quite frankly, I think Prelutsky, in addition to being a demagogue, is a hypocrite.

  • Finally, congratulations are in order to Dem U.S. House Rep Rush Holt of New Jersey, who, as noted here…

    ..topped the IBM computer (Watson) Monday night in a "Jeopardy"-style match of congressmen vs. machine held at a Washington hotel.

    Though Holt isn't the first human to beat Watson, the victory adds to the 62-year-old Democrat's already-impressive resume: a former State Department arms control expert and ex-leader of the federal Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory.

    "I wonder if Watson wasn't having a low-voltage night, because I certainly didn't expect to score higher than the computer," he told The Associated Press in an interview Tuesday.

    He built a lead in categories including "Presidential Rhyme Time," in which the correct response to "Herbert's military strategy" was "Hoover's maneuvers." The congressman also correctly identified hippophobia as the fear of horses.

    Watson beat him to the buzzer with "love" when prompted on what Ambrose Bierce described as "a temporary insanity curable by marriage."
    Bierce also described politics as “a strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principle…the conduct of public affairs for private advantage.”

    Fortunately for us all (and the residents of NJ-12 in particular), Holt has stood as an exception to that axiom. May he serve in government as long as his sanity permits him to do so.
  • Tuesday, March 01, 2011

    Tuesday Stuff

    Ed Schultz brings us a recap of the Sunday bobbleheads here, including Nikki Haley and her "Democrat" Party reference - wonder who she's rumored to have had an affair with this week (oooohh).

    And by the way, the voters of Wisconsin appear to have had enough of Hosni Mubarak Walker and some of the "Republic" Party senators who want to help him end collective bargaining for public workers in that state (to say nothing of Walker's "fluffing" of the Koch Brothers, which explains all of this).

    ...and hopefully this is what awaits Walker, from a political point of view anyway.

    (No posting today because of medical stuff, hopefully not a big deal - I'll try to get back to doing what I do tomorrow.)

    Update: And the Kochs had more than a little bit of a hand in this also (funny how Mikey The Beloved flipped from voting against cutting funding for the Greenhouse Gases Polluter Program last week to now supporting oil subsidies; hope he didn’t hurt himself doing the “360” for that one…the “pay no price, bear no burden” bunch skates again while the rest of us get it in the proverbial neck – can’t wait to see how the Bucks County Courier Times spins this move)…

    Monday, February 28, 2011

    Monday Stuff

    Hey, it could've been a lot worse; they could have found a way to delete our porn...

    Al Qaeda Attacks Internet With Photo Of Adorable Piglet

    ...and a long time ago, Fred Rogers defended his PBS show before Congress, and I think it's a good idea to check this out once more (not sure if, had he lived, he would have been able to reach the fools and frauds currently taking up space in the House ruling majority and diddling over this question, among other "values issues" - hat tip to Talking Points Memo for this)...

    ...and RIP Jane Russell (gotta love that old-time movie-making - there are a lot of good reasons to watch "The Aviator," starring Leonardo Di Caprio, but his explanation before the Hays office that successfully avoided censorship over this pic is definitely one to remember)...

    ...and finally, thinking of Jane Russell put me into a "western" frame of mind, and somehow I came up with this...and by the way, they're coming back!

    Monday Mashup (2/28/11)

  • Someone named James Pethokoukis tells us here that a shutdown of the US government, in the event that the “pain caucus” in the Repug-controlled U.S. House gets its way, is “worth it” (I’ll let you, dear reader, decipher the financial details behind his argument).

    In response, allow me to point out the following from here…

    During the last major shutdown (in 1995), the government closed 368 National Park Service sites, along with national museums and monuments.

    In addition, 200,000 passport applications went unprocessed, and toxic waste cleanup work at 609 sites stopped. The National Institutes of Health stopped accepting new clinical research patients, and services for veterans, including health care, were curtailed.

    Work on bankruptcy cases (slowed during the last shutdown). In the last shutdown, more than 3,500 cases were delayed.

    It is unclear how many workers would be furloughed in a new shutdown. Each federal agency has its own plan to wind down operations, and administration officials have not released details.

    During the Clinton-era shutdown, new Social Security claims weren't being processed because the agency furloughed 61,415 employees. As the shutdown wore on, the agency adjusted its plan and recalled workers to start processing new claims.
    And this tells us more about how we got to this point…

    After having stalled the funding bills until after the election, Democrats found their backs against the wall as they tried to pass an omnibus appropriations bill for the 2011 fiscal year. Republicans objected to billions of dollars in earmarks contained in the bill, and Democratic leadership ultimately relented, passing instead a temporary measure which will freeze funding for most government departments and will only last until March 4.
    (More on earmarks in a minute, by the way.)

    Meanwhile, The New York Times provides more of the reality point of view on this here, including the following…

    The threat of a shutdown is a serious one. Once the stopgap measure now supplying money to the federal government expires, hundreds of thousands of workers would be furloughed, halting vital services like veterans’ health care and passport processing, and possibly slowing the distribution of benefit checks. Essential services would continue, but the impact on a fragile recovery could be devastating.

    None of that has in the slightest deterred House Republicans — the fire-breathing freshmen and the older members who are afraid of them — from pursuing their single-minded goal of disemboweling the government.

    They took advantage of the Democrats’ failure to pass a budget last year and approved a bill that makes nearly $62 billion in cuts just over the next seven months. Much of the effort pursued longstanding partisan goals like eliminating programs for disadvantaged minorities, rather than real deficit reduction.

    The impact of these reckless, largely ideologically targeted cuts could be even more devastating for the recovery than a brief government shutdown. Hundreds of thousands of people would lose their jobs, and not just for a few days or weeks. Those at the bottom of the economic ladder would be hurt the most.
    Oh, and while we listen to congressional Repugs preach to the Dems about their supposed fiscal rectitude, keep in mind from here that, in 2006, they pretty much walked away from 9 of 11 appropriations bills after they lost Congress.

    I consider Pethokoukis to be pretty much a Repug-friendly corporate media stenographer anyway based on this (where he said “Country First” McCain didn’t want to privative Social Security – uh, no) and this, where Pethokoukis cited a study decrying “cap and trade” without noting that the study was funded by ExxonMobil.

  • And speaking of earmarks, the Times informed us yesterday here that The Orange One and Sen. Mr. Elaine Chao have apparently found “religion” on the subject, particularly the latter (the story tells us that Speaker Boehner has “battled” earmarks since he was first elected to the House in 1990, a claim which seems to be true as nearly as I can determine).

    However, as noted here, there are always ways around the transparency that the Repugs claim to value so earnestly…

    Lettermarking, which takes place outside the Congressional appropriations process, is one of the many ways that legislators who support a ban on earmarks try to direct money back home.

    In phonemarking, a lawmaker calls an agency to request financing for a project. More indirectly, members of Congress make use of what are known as soft earmarks, which involve making suggestions about where money should be directed, instead of explicitly instructing agencies to finance a project. Members also push for increases in financing of certain accounts in a federal agency’s budget and then forcefully request that the agency spend the money on the members’ pet project.

    Because all these methods sidestep the regular legislative process, the number of times they are used and the money involved are even harder to track than with regular earmarks.
    As I’ve said more than a few times already, I have no issue with earmarks as long as they’re disclosed, partly because they represent about 1 percent of the annual budget anyway. However, claiming austerity on this is the parlor game played by the same life forms who also claim, despite the evidence here, that the health care law won’t lower the deficit.

    And to talk about deficit reduction without pointing out the benefits of the health care law in cutting the numbers over the next ten years is about what you would expect from a bunch that railroads more of their stinking tax cuts into law for their “pay no price, bear no burden” puppet masters while also pretending to balance the budget on the backs of minorities, the poor, the elderly, and our kids (as Professor Krugman points out here).

  • Also, I stumbled across the latest dreck from Kevin Ferris of the Philadelphia Inquirer yesterday on the supposed virtue of school vouchers (here, and in his best “concern troll” mode, he tells us how wrong it is to vilify those voucher opponents)…

    …voucher opponent does not equal Klansman. Race-baiting for political purposes is loathsome, whether by John F. Street and the Philadelphia congressional delegation during the 2003 mayoral campaign; the NAACP ad in 2000 suggesting George W. Bush was OK with lynching; the recent charges of Jimmy Carter et al that opposition to President Obama amounts to racism - or school-choice advocates today.
    Only a true hack like Ferris would try to make such a thoroughly disingenuous argument like this.

    As noted here, the NAACP did indeed run an ad in the 2000 presidential election attacking then-Governor Bush of Texas for opposing a hate crime law that the legislature tried to pass in response to the racial-profiling murder of James Byrd, “who was chained to a truck and dragged three miles to his death in June 1998 at age 49,” as Salon tells us here (Salon also tells us that, “By the time his torso was ditched at one of Jasper County's oldest black cemeteries, Byrd's head had been severed.”).

    And when Dubya was called out over it by then-VP Al Gore in a presidential debate, he responded as follows (as Salon tells us)…

    Bush said Texas already had a hate crimes statute, and nothing more was needed, since Texas laws were tough on criminals regardless of the ethnicity of their victims.

    "The three men who murdered James Byrd, guess what's going to happen to them?" Bush said, smiling. "They'll be put to death. A jury found them guilty. It will be hard to punish them any worse after they get put to death." In actuality, two of Byrd's three murderers -- John William King and Lawrence Russell Brewer -- have been sentenced to death, while the third, Shawn Allen Berry, was sentenced to life in prison, and will be eligible for parole after 40 years.

    Reached over the weekend, members of the Byrd family said that they weren't surprised Bush got the details of the case wrong. Unlike other Texas public officials -- they cite local mayors, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, and President Clinton -- Bush was never remotely comforting to their family after Byrd's grisly murder, they say.

    "I wasn't surprised that he didn't know," says one of Byrd's younger sisters, Betty Boatner, 46. "I wasn't surprised at all."

    Bush "should have known" the details of the trial, says Stella Byrd, James Byrd Jr.'s mother. "But I wasn't surprised about his reaction." She says Bush showed no concern when her granddaughter talked to him in May 1999 to try to persuade Bush to support the James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Act, which would have increased punishment for criminals motivated by hatred of a victim's gender, religion, ethnic background or sexual orientation. "So I'm sure with that lack of interest, he didn't ask to see what was going on."
    Gosh, the sneering condescension, the total unfamiliarity with the actual facts, the utter void in the empathy department from this supposedly “Christian” political figure – so unlike Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History, I know.

    Besides, Elmer Smith of the Philadelphia Daily News wrote the following also about the voucher issue recently, including the following…

    …in Harrisburg, Senate Bill 1 would divert $7,200 from the state's education budget for every pupil who chose to go to a private or parochial school. The bill would also add $25 million a year to a fund that offers tax credits to companies that invest money in students who transfer to private schools.

    With the state facing a possible $5 billion budget shortfall, where do you think that money would come from?

    It will be drawn from the same source that has funded seven consecutive years of improvement in test scores in Philadelphia.

    Maybe it's time to get a few busloads of parents up to Harrisburg to advocate for that.
    And of course no one would advocate for lax state standards that would permit all kinds of messing around with the data to fake progress, to say nothing of underfunding the schools anyway (oh, wait).

  • Finally, it seems (based on this) that the head of 3M Corporation, somebody named George Buckley, recently said that President Obama is “bad for business,” which is hilarious when you consider that Obama named William Daley of J.P. Morgan Chase as his chief of staff and Jeffrey Immelt of G.E. to Obama’s “jobs” committee.

    Actually, I’m surprised that Buckley is even still in the picture, considering that, as noted here, 3M had to deny rumors recently that he was planning to retire early. Regardless, as the Minneapolis Star-Tribune story tells us, Buckley’s “compensation package last year totaled nearly $15 million,” and he “stands to make more than $32 million should he resign amicably, according to SEC filings.”

    And as far as the company itself is concerned, 3M “has undergone a restructuring that trimmed several thousand employees worldwide, many during last year's recession when sales fell about 8 percent to $23.1 billion.” And as Wikipedia tells us here, “Minnesota sued 3M claiming they pumped PFCs, a very toxic chemical according to the EPA, into local waterways” last year, though the US EPA has been investigating 3M’s PFC pollution since 1999.

    So maybe, according to Buckley’s definition of “good” business, Obama truly is “bad,” as Buckley says.

    Which is a lucky break for us.

  • Update 3/1/11: More on Buckley here...

    Sunday, February 27, 2011

    Sunday Stuff

    Can you hear us now, Hosni Mubarak Walker? And by the way, check this out...

    ...and here's a tune to help us keep up the fight (and it partly explains how we got into this mess to begin with).