Saturday, March 26, 2011

More Saturday Stuff

There are other reasons why Judge David Prosser is dirty (including this), but I don't know how there could be a worse one than this (this subject hits close to home for the Philadelphia archdiocese also, unfortunately)...

...and definitely changing the mood here, I should let you know that, in addition to the recent 80th birthday of Shatner, his main partner from the original series (not "dammit Jim" DeForest Kelley, who is no longer with us) hits that same number today, so let's wish him a good one also (always remember to "Spock it and lock it," people).

Saturday Stuff

RIP Gerry Ferraro - she went kind of "full mooner" at the end when trying to support Hillary Clinton's run for the Dem presidential nomination in '08, but I think she'll always deserve credit for this at least (the '84 vice-presidential debate with Poppy Bush)...

...and the next time you hear anybody make jokes about Canada, just remember that at least that country has enough common sense to know how ruinous tax cuts really are, unlike us apparently - some fun, eh?...

...also, I didn't have this ready quite soon enough for the earlier post, but V.D. Hanson tells us here that passing cap-and-trade legislation would have led to a "depression" because of loss of jobs...meanwhile, in the real world, tells us here that, at worst, there would be a slight loss of employment with jobs in traditional energy development lost, and at least partly offset, by developing alternative technologies...just add this to the ever-growing list of things Hanson knows absolutely nothing about as noted here - third bullet.

And as a reminder, this clip tells us what's at stake (preaching to the choir, I'm sure, but it needs to be said again)...

Update 3/27/11: Kudos to Austrailian PM Julia Gillard for this, by the way.

...and we haven't had any Indie fun for a little while, so here goes.

Saturday Mashup (3/26/11)

  • The New York Times published a great story yesterday telling us that General Electric — the world’s largest company — made $14.2 billion in profits ($5.1 billion in America) and managed to not pay a dime in federal taxes. In fact, the company actually received “a tax benefit of $3.2 billion,” as Think Progress tells us here.

    My little tribute to GE from about five years ago (yikes!) is here (and as you can tell from this, other multinationals operating in this country have managed to “skate” on the tax issue as well).

  • Also, I bring you the latest from the Repugs on the non-jobs front (here, with a “solution” in search of a problem)…

    RALEIGH, N.C. – Empowered by last year's elections, Republican leaders in about half the states are pushing to require voters to show photo ID at the polls despite little evidence of fraud and already-substantial punishments for those who vote illegally.

    Democrats claim the moves will disenfranchise poor and minority voters — many of whom traditionally vote for their candidates. The measures will also increase spending and oversight in some states even as Republicans are focused on cutting budgets and decreasing regulations.

    Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett, a Republican, said he believes his state's proposed photo ID law will increase citizen confidence in the process and combat fraud that could be going undetected.

    "I can't figure out who it would disenfranchise," Hargett said. "The only people I can think it disenfranchises is those people who might be voting illegally."
    Spoken like a Republican – meanwhile, as noted here…

    There truly is no difference between Poll Tests, Poll Taxes and the hysteria being whipped up by the GOP about ‘ Voter Fraud’. Under the guise of ‘Voter Fraud’, the GOP is doing their best to create all these laws that will limit the Democratic Party’s voting base. This is a deliberate and concerted effort. They don’t care about ‘Voter Fraud’, because, for all their yelping about ‘Voter Fraud’, look at the DOJ Statistics. During the Bush years, they couldn’t pull together enough of the so-called ‘ Voter Fraud’ cases to fill a schoolbus.

    But, DELIBERATELY went about IGNORING the ACTUAL voter suppression of minorities and young people through voter caging and other GOP schemes- the repeated challenges and attempts to gut the Voting Rights Act.
    And lest anyone think our beloved commonwealth is immune, this post from The Pennsylvania Progressive tell us that Repug State House Rep Daryl Metcalfe is trying to push through a similar vote of his own, even though, as the post tells us, Metcalfe’s “expert” from The Heritage Foundation (of course) couldn’t cite any actual instances of voter fraud.

    And speaking of voter suppression, I’m sure our Bucks County Board of Elections and District Attorney David Heckler will be getting to the bottom of the Ciervo/Fitzpatrick letter from last November’s election any day now…any day now…

  • Next, here is last week’s Area Votes in Congress writeup from The Philadelphia Inquirer…


    Stopgap 2011 budget. Voting 271-158, the House passed a stopgap fiscal 2011 budget (HJ Res 48) to keep the government fully in operation between March 18 and April 8 while cutting spending by $6.1 billion over that period. The bill would cut $3.5 billion from 25 individual programs and rescind $2.6 billion in congressional earmarks abandoned by their sponsors. This is the sixth temporary budget Congress has passed for the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30.

    A yes vote was to pass the bill.

    Voting yes: Robert A. Brady (D., Pa.), John Carney (D., Del.), Charles W. Dent (R., Pa.), Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.), Michael Fitzpatrick (R., Pa.), Jim Gerlach (R., Pa.), Tim Holden (D., Pa.), Frank A. LoBiondo (R., N.J.), Pat Meehan (R., Pa.), Jon Runyan (R., N.J.), and Allyson Y. Schwartz (D., Pa.).

    Voting no: Robert E. Andrews (D., N.J.), Joseph R. Pitts (R., Pa.), and Christopher H. Smith (R., N.J.).
    I can appreciate the fact that Andrews’ vote was a principled objection. As for the other two, I don’t think they know what the word “principle” means.

    Social Security, Medicare. Voting 190-239, the House defeated a Democratic motion to ensure that no funds in HJ Res 48 (above) could be used to cut Social Security or Medicare benefits, privatize Social Security, or switch Medicare to a voucher plan.

    A yes vote backed the motion.

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

    Voting no: Dent, Fitzpatrick, Gerlach, LoBiondo, Meehan, Pitts, Runyan, and Smith.
    This was a really good idea, so of course the Repugs just had to defeat it.

    Foreclosed, abandoned homes. Voting 242-182, the House passed a Republican bill (HR 861) to repeal the three-year-old Neighborhood Stabilization Program. The program provides cities and nonprofits with funds for buying, repairing, and selling foreclosed, abandoned homes in order to keep neighborhoods intact. While government auditors have found waste in the program, its defenders say it should be improved, not ended. About $6 billion of the program's $7 billion budget has been allocated. The bill awaits Senate action.

    A yes vote was to pass the bill.

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

    Voting no: Andrews, Brady, Carney, and Fattah.

    Not voting: Schwartz.
    As is so often the case with legislation affecting the lives of everyday people, this was commented on as follows by Dennis Kucinich (here)…

    “You know, Mr. Speaker and to my friends on both sides of the aisle, we could very easily come up with money to save this program if we just put a windfall profits tax on the oil companies. I am here today to point out the critical importance the Neighborhood Stabilization Program and to urge my fellow members to vote against canceling it.

    “Over the past decade, the people of Ohio and my district in particular have weathered a terrible perfect storm of foreclosures, devastating entire communities. While some neighborhoods in my district have been hollowed out by the effects of this storm, the Neighborhood Stabilization Program funds have made neighborhoods and communities safer.

    “Those communities faced the constant risk of crime and of vandals taking advantage of empty structures, and Neighborhood Stabilization Program funds have been used to demolish hundreds of abandoned homes in those neighborhoods. They have helped protect existing home values and prevented neighborhoods from falling apart.

    “But the NSP program has not just financed the demolition of abandoned structures. In Cuyahoga County alone, this program funded the creation of 237 units of affordable rental housing and 25 single-family home renovations and neighborhood greenspace improvements.

    “It has also been used to leverage non-federal money to fund the innovative Land Bank—a public entity which buys vacant and abandoned land and puts ownership of that land back in the hands of the public so that it can be used again, often in conjunction with private development, to renew and revitalize communities.
    So of course, a program that no doubt has done so much good when you amplify the results across the country had to be killed in the name of fiscal prudence (the sort of thing Professor Krugman railed against yesterday here).

    Afghanistan withdrawal. Voting 93-321, the House defeated a measure (H Con Res 28) to bring U.S. troops home from Afghanistan by Dec. 31 under the 1973 War Powers Act. That law requires presidents to end combat operations after 90 days unless Congress authorizes the deployment. Opponents of withdrawal argue that the action is legal under the "use of force" resolution enacted Sept. 18, 2001. The previous House attempt to end U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan occurred in March 2010 and failed on a vote of 65-356.

    A yes vote backed the resolution.

    Voting no: Andrews, Brady, Carney, Dent, Fattah, Fitzpatrick, Gerlach, Holden, LoBiondo, Meehan, Pitts, Runyan, Schwartz, and Smith.

    National Public Radio. The House voted, 228-192, to permanently end federal funding of NPR, formerly known as National Public Radio. The bill (HR 1076) bars direct taxpayer funding of NPR while prohibiting its 400 member stations from using federal funds to buy programming from or pay dues to NPR. Republicans said the bill would save $64 million annually at present funding levels.

    A yes vote was to pass the bill.

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

    Voting no: Andrews, Brady, Carney, Fattah, Holden, and Schwartz.
    As I’ve said, as horrible and wrong-headed a vote as this is, part of me really wants to see public radio take a hit over this. That way, voters who in their pig-headed ignorance actually returned these clowns to power last year will always remember that it’s their fault when they try to tune in to “From The Top” or “Jazz At Lincoln Center” and find out that those programs are gone for good.


    Temporary 2011 budget. Voting 87-13, the Senate joined the House (above) in approving a stopgap budget that will expire April 8. This is the sixth temporary spending bill passed by Congress since fiscal 2011 began Oct. 1.

    A yes vote was to send the bill (HJ Res 48) to the White House.

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

    Small-business contracts. The Senate voted, 84-12, to begin debate on a bill (S 493) extending two programs under which certain federal agencies set aside a portion of their research, development and technology contracts for small businesses. The bill extends the Small Business Innovation and Research Program and Small Business Technology Transfer Program at a cost of $150 million over five years in discretionary spending. Under the former, at least 2.5 percent of contracts must go to small businesses. Under the latter, the set-aside is 0.3 percent. The bill would gradually raise those shares over several years.

    A yes vote was to advance the bill.

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

    Voting no: Toomey.
    Another sterling non-job creation vote from “No Corporate Tax” Pat…

    This week, Congress was in recess (poor babies, so tuckered out from their exhausting workload, I know). In the following week, the House will take up a repeal of a program that uses federal subsidies to ease terms of at-risk mortgages, and the Senate will resume work on a bill awarding federal contracts to spur small-business innovation.

  • Finally, I was intrigued by this item from Right Wing Watch, in which some huckster named David Barton helped kick off something called “Rediscover God in America,” a forum for Repug presidential wannabes (not surprisingly, Barton seems to be gravitating towards Mike Huckabee as the Repug presidential nominee…oh please, let it be so – Wayne DuMond will become a bigger household name than Bill Ayres, and the former actually killed somebody).

    And in his You Tube spiel, Barton tells us, among other things, that the Bible tells us that Jesus opposed the capital gains tax (citing Luke 19:13-26 as “proof”), as well as a progressive income tax (Leviticus from the Old Testament 27:32, Numbers 18, 28, 29…real thorough sourcing there…and Deuteronomy 14:22).

    Barton also tells us the Bible supposedly had something to say about the estate tax, citing Proverbs 13:22, 1 Chronicles 28:8, and Ezekiel 46:18.

    Well, just for the heck of it, I checked the estate tax references, and this is what I found – Proverbs is up first…

    See here, 1. How a good man's estate lasts: He leaves an inheritance to his children's children. It is part of his praise that he is thoughtful for posterity, that he does not lay all out upon himself, but is in care to do well for those that come after him, not by withholding more than is meet, but by a prudent and decent frugality.
    This tells us that, because he had the good fortune to die in a year with no estate tax, the heirs of former New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner will end up paying zilch – and tell me how Steinbrenner exemplified “a prudent and decent frugality,” by the way.

    Next up is 1 Chronicles…

    And the children of Israel carried captive of their brethren two hundred thousand women, sons and daughters,.... Which was a very large and unusual number to be carried captive; but having made such a slaughter of the men, and the rest being intimidated thereby, it was the more easily done:
    Soo…the rich are supposed to capture entire families into slavery? Gosh, I hope nobody tells Leonard Weaver of the Philadelphia Eagles (OK, this is snark, I’ll admit – the guy apologized here, so let’s give him a break, OK?).

    And lastly, I give you Ezekiel 46:18…

    Moreover the prince shall not take of the people's inheritance by oppression, to thrust them out of their possession,.... Christ, the Prince, will never do this; he will never take any part of his people's inheritance from them, or thrust them out of the possession of any benefit or blessing of grace; they have chosen that good part which shall never be taken from them, Luke 10:42, this is said, not as a direction to the prince, as a law enjoined him, or a caution to him against oppression; but as expressing his clemency, grace, and goodness to his subjects, and their safety and security under him:
    I’ll tell you what – I’ll go better than a prince on this one: I’ll give you a King here (heh).

    Yep, that would be Repug House wingnut Steve King of Iowa, who said that people would die thinking about the estate tax if Congress doesn’t act (thought, logically, if people were so afraid of the estate tax, wouldn’t they try to spite it by staying alive, as Keith Olbermann once pointed out?)

    So basically, according to Barton, the Bible says the estate tax is bad because it requires a prudent and decent frugality while capturing two hundred thousand women while expressing clemency, grace and goodness. Everybody got that?

    And people actually wonder why I don’t take the wingnuts seriously.
  • Thursday, March 24, 2011

    Thursday Stuff

    Silly Ed Schultz - the notion of "Man Tan" Boehner having integrity? It is to laugh.

    Since Ed didn't ask it, I will...hey Orange Man and Mikey The Beloved - WHERE ARE THE JOBS??!!

    I hope everyone who voted to return these clowns to power last November is still proud of what they've done...

    ...and I just thought this was kind of a peppy little tune for all the youngsters out there.

    Thursday Mashup (3/24/11)

  • It would be sooo easy to say yes, wouldn’t it (they asked the question, not me).

  • Also, I give you the following from The Hill (here)…

    House Republican Conference Chairman Jeb Hensarling (Texas) on Wednesday said the growing federal debt is the "red menace" of the 21st century, warning that it is posing both economic and security risks to the United States.

    "In the 20th century, the red menace was communism," Hensarling said in Texas, according to a report in the Jacksonville Daily Progress. "The red menace for the 21st century is our public debt."
    Maybe to him, but somehow I don’t believe this is going to inspire a whole wave of science fiction films similar to the Cold War-era fare of the 1950s and 1960s (“The Public Debt From Another World,” or “The Trade Imbalance From 20,000 Fathoms,” or “Abbott and Costello Try To Reconcile The Cash Difference Between Government Receipts And Spending”).

    Nope, none of them work for me either.

    This is par for the proverbial course, though, from a guy who blamed the Dems for the ruinous Dubya deficits here but gave his fellow Repugs credit for the Clinton surplus here (which called “a Texas-sized whopper” here).

    No, I don’t encourage public debt either. But seeing as how our august captains of industry continue to sit on their financial largesse while so many of our fellow countrymen endure crisis after crisis from unemployment, somebody has to spend the money to keep this country afloat (in other words, what Atrios sez here).

  • Next, I give you the recent ravings of the utter, unmitigated embarrassment that is Former Laura Bush Employee Andrew Malcolm (here)…

    With the Japan earthquake and the devastating tsunami and the radiation leaks going global and the United Nations suggesting interested members start a war in Libya and American troops in two other conflicts and the immense federal government now budgeting in 21-day chunks with a colossal deficit and President Obama with his family offering toasts all over South America urging Brazil to drill offshore while stifling domestic production back home and rising bilateral congressional unhappiness with Obama's commencing military action on Libya whatever that goal is, some Americans appear confused and anxious.
    I really have neither the time nor the desire to try and unwind all of Malcolm’s sheer idiocy here (there’s a difference between principled disagreement and Malcolm’s particularly demented brand of propaganda), but let’s take a look at the bit about “stifling domestic (oil) production,” shall we?

    As noted here (in a claim called “mostly true” by…

    In his press conference on March 11, 2011, President Barack Obama talked up U.S. oil production against a backdrop of rising prices at the pump.

    "We need to continue to boost domestic production of oil and gas," he said. "Last year, American oil production reached its highest level since 2003. Let me repeat that. Our oil production reached its highest level in seven years. Oil production from federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico reached an all-time high. For the first time in more than a decade, imports accounted for less than half of what we consumed. So any notion that my administration has shut down oil production might make for a good political sound bite, but it doesn’t match up with reality."
    Of course, when it comes to Obama (as noted here) and Democrats generally, Malcolm has only a passing familiarity with reality anyway.

  • Also (continuing with the Bush sycophant), it looks like another wingnut talking point against Obama has emerged, as noted here…

    The Democratic administration of Barack Obama, who denounced his predecessor, George W. Bush, as the most secretive in history, is now denying more Freedom of Information Act requests than the Republican did.
    In response, I give you the following from Media Matters…

    Malcolm (originally) linked to the Fox News version of that AP article. Had he read this one, he might have been able to give readers a more accurate report.

    First of all, according to the AP, there have not been 466,872 denials. There have been 466, 872 citations of FOIA exemptions -- a significant difference because, as AP notes, "Agencies often cite more than one exemption when withholding part or all of the material sought in an open-records request."

    Now, notice that "part or all of" bit. Contrary to Malcolm's implication, there have not been 466,872 blanket rejections of FOIA requests. Nor have there been 466,872 citations of FOIA exemptions for the purpose of rejecting an entire FOIA request. There have been 466,872 citations of exemptions for the purposes of denying part or all of a request. Indeed, there has been a decrease in the number of FOIA requests denied in their entirety.
    Media Matters goes on to tell us that about 20,000 requests were denied last year, as opposed to about 21,000 the year before. I will grant you that those are not great numbers, but at least those didn’t emerge from the “rabbit hole” of Malcolm’s alleged thought processes.

  • Further, Charles Krauthammer whines as follows (here)…

    Well, I can understand the administration saying because of the situation in Benghazi they had to rush and they couldn’t get congressional approval. But what’s not explicable is why the president hasn’t addressed the nation.

    When in 1998 there was the attack on our embassies in [Kenya] and Tanzania and there was a single act of retaliation by the United States — not a military operation anywhere near the size and scope of what’s happening now — the president of the United States, [Bill] Clinton, went on television and explained what he was doing.

    And so far, this president, who doesn’t like to use the word “war.” He won’t use the [term] “war on terror.” He doesn’t want to talk about the war in Afghanistan…
    As noted here in a speech about that very topic from December 2009, President Obama mentioned the word “war” no less than 16 times.

    At least Krauthammer managed to opine on something allegedly concerning Obama about which he would be a subject matter expert, as noted here (arrogance, I mean).

  • Finally, it looks like The Daily Tucker has caught Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid attacking the Kochs, even though it turns out that the DSCC accepted $30,000 from Koch Industries last year, as noted here (actually, the brothers-in-evil Charles and David gave $120 K or thereabouts to Democrats generally).

    Which might be shocking if it weren’t for the fact that they also gave $618 K to Republicans over the same period, according to Open Secrets.

    See what happens when Tucker gets too clumsy with his crayons?
  • Wednesday, March 23, 2011

    More Wednesday Stuff

    To commemorate the one-year anniversary of the signing of health care reform under President Obama, I thought it would be a good idea to watch this Special Comment from Keith Olbermann once more from about August of '09, chiefly about the battle for the public option (giving us an idea once more of what an almighty struggle it was to achieve what we have thus far, with that struggle continuing as noted here; I believe this aired soon before Ted Kennedy's death - more commentary on Republican politicians was edited out, but I'm not sure why)...

    ...and here's a song for the occasion.

    Wednesday Stuff

    (Posting will still be off and on for a bit, by the way.)

    OK, let me restate that I currently support our involvement in Libya because what I read is that we will be involved for "a matter of days, not weeks" according to the White House (and any comparison to Iraq is, I think, utterly ridiculous - we were asked to help along with France and the U.K., and we're not going to deploy troops). If any of this changes, though, you can be sure that I will object (and I respect those who currently have principled objections of their own).

    According to this New York Times story, though, it seems that our "friends" the Chinese are concerned because the attack on Libya could bring on a "humanitarian disaster."

    So the Chinese suddenly care about human rights? What's next, Mikey The Beloved defending health care reform?

    Take a look at this clip from about the time of the Beijing Olympics three years ago, where ITN correspondent John Ray gets a first-hand look at China's supposed commitment to human rights on behalf of those protesting the freedom of Tibet (sorry for the lousy video quality). And rest assured that I could show you a lot worse, such as that country's treatment of their child Olympic athletes (that very phrase to me indicates that something is wrong) and those tortured in the name of "Falun Gong" (clips of which would absolutely turn your stomach)...

    ...and picking my favorite movie moment from Elizabeth Taylor? Well, this, from "A Place In The Sun" with Montgomery Clift may be could also pick a scene from "Giant," "Butterfield 8," even "Cleopatra" (it wasn't her fault the film was too damn long), "Cat On A Hot Tin Roof," and many others (for all the fighting between her and Burton, including their tiff that comprises just about all of "Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?," there is still that breakthrough moment of tenderness at the end...she also very nearly saved the terminally creepy "Reflections In A Golden Eye" with Brando, but not quite).

    Also, let's not forget that, when everybody was too busy Hating Teh Gay to realize that golden boy Rock Hudson had some "big disease with a little name," Liz and a handful of people stood by him, even when everybody gasped at the pictures of Hudson just before he died (and as wonderful as this clip is, it led up to the murder of Shelly Winters' character after all - RIP).

    Tuesday, March 22, 2011

    More Tuesday Stuff

    All over the country, it's true, as Rachel's not about the budget (and between 200 and 800-something million, Gov. "Space Cadet" Corbett? Wow, that's some "sound fiscal management," all right...maybe in Bizarro-land)...

    ...and here's a melodic and contemplative tune to help us wind down at the end of the day.

    Tuesday Stuff

    Nic Robertson is my new hero for this, reminding us once more how ridiculous it is to take Fix Noise seriously…

    …and by the way, Captain Kirk is 80! Happy Birthday!

    Tuesday Mashup (3/22/11)

    (Lots of catching up to do, so I’d better get started…)

  • First of all, memo to The Donald – some things are better kept to oneself.

  • Next, Mikey the Beloved held a town hall meeting last night, as the Courier Times tells us here…

    You are spending way too much and voting the wrong way," said Christine Urbanski of Buckingham.

    She was particularly irked with $105 billion that's budgeted to move Democratic health reform plans forward as part of a continuing resolution House Republicans passed last week to fund government operations through April 8.

    "I voted in January to repeal Obamacare, to repeal the (Affordable Care) Act," Fitzpatrick said. "I voted in February to defund the act. + Your frustration is my frustration."

    "You're a liar," Urbanski interrupted, telling him to shut down the government if he has to.
    Far be it for me to actually defend Saint Mikey, but he’s right; he did cast such a thoroughly wrongheaded vote (this Urbanski person needs to make sure she knows what the hell she’s talking about before she opens her mouth next time...and the stupidity of "shutting down" our government is something that has been posted about many times before by myself and others).


    Fitzpatrick had his supporters. Military veterans praised him, one saying "he's the only reason we have a veterans cemetery in Bucks County."
    That’s a particularly outrageous lie; as noted here (first bullet), the deal for the veterans cemetery was wrapped up about three years ago while Patrick Murphy was still our rep (of course, how con-vee-nient for the link to the Courier Times story stating that to be expired…and of course, it was too much trouble I guess for Mikey’s stenographer Gary Weckselblatt to find out who the veteran was who said that).

    Also, Mikey the Beloved defended his vote to defund Planned Parenthood, claiming the group “made $85 million in profits” as if that’s supposed to be a crime.

    All I will say in defense of Planned Parenthood – yet again – is that, as noted here "for the three million patients (the group’s) doctors and nurses saw (in 2008-2009, the most recent data available), (Planned Parenthood) provided contraception (36 percent of…total services), testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections (31 percent), cancer screening and prevention (17 percent), and abortion services (three percent)."

    But Mikey and his pals voted to defund the group anyway, even though abortion services constituted three percent of Planned Parenthood’s activity over that period.

    I’m sure your daughters Katie, Maggie and Molly will thank you, Congressman.

  • Further, Emily Bazelon wrote the following in a New York Times profile of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito on Sunday (here)…

    When Alito testified during his 2006 confirmation hearings, he talked about the influence his Italian-immigrant roots have on his judging. In immigration cases, Alito said, “I do say to myself, ‘You know, this could be your grandfather, this could be your grandmother.’ ” He continued: “When I get a case about discrimination, I have to think about people in my own family who suffered discrimination because of their ethnic background or because of religion or because of gender. And I do take that into account.”

    By focusing on Albert Snyder and Frank Ricci, Alito does a service by making us confront the human costs that liberals often turn from.
    (Note: Albert Snyder is the father of the soldier killed in Iraq – our sympathies – whose funeral was to be protested by those life forms at the Westboro Baptist Church…the “God Hates Fags And Loves Dead Soldiers” bunch. As the story tells us, Alito was the only Supreme Court justice to rule in favor of Snyder in his suit against the “church”…as repellent as the Westboro Baptist Church is, what they are practicing is free speech, however despicable it is, and it should be protected as such.)

    Also, Bazelon’s piece is otherwise good except for the cowardly phrase that I highlighted about liberals supposedly not confronting human costs of appellants before the Supreme Court, or something – I’m sure that would have been news to Thurgood Marshall and Harry Blackmun, among others.

    What I want to focus on, though, is the case of Frank Ricci, who was a right-wing “cause célèbre” a couple of years ago for testifying against the Supreme Court nomination of Judge (and eventual Justice) Sonia Sotomayor – Dahlia Lithwick told us here of Ricci’s repeated lawsuits throughout his employment history, asking us, finally…

    Is America's conservative movement really ready for an anti-affirmative action hero who has repeatedly relied on the government to intervene on his behalf to win him—and help him keep—a government job?
    Yes, I understand that “personal sacrifice” means a great deal to Alito, unless it is a sacrifice to which he cannot relate – something like the sacrifice depicted here of a Pennsylvania couple and their daughter based on a certain 1998 incident, I would imagine.

  • In addition, we have the following that recently appeared in the New York Times (pertaining to the right-wing assault on the health care law – the latest talking point is that the granting of waivers means that the bill was flawed; please)…

    “A lot of Americans just don’t know about some of the benefits,” said Senator Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana, who helped write the law as chairman of the Finance Committee.
    Well then, I would say that it’s incumbent upon you, Senator, to get out and explain the benefits a little better, thus defending the law, wouldn’t you say (to be fait, Baucus does some of that here).

    This is a bit of a tough call, but I’m a little tired of Baucus’s public hand-wringing on this subject, particularly when you consider the fact that, as noted here, he once proposed a Medicare buy-in at 55 as well as a – gasp! – public option as part of health care reform. And though we did end up with something approximating universal coverage which we’ve never had before in this country (which is a good thing because people won’t lose coverage for pre-existing conditions and it will reduce the deficit over time…assuming the Repugs don’t find a way to defund it or the Supreme Court of Hangin’ Judge JR doesn’t rule it to be unconstitutional), I just would like to see some more forceful and messaging-targeted support of the bill from Baucus and the Senate Dems. Is that really too much to ask?

  • Finally, this column in the New York Times business section on Sunday tells us the following…

    The Beatles were stymied. During a 1968 recording session, they couldn’t find a suitable introduction to “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” a song written by Paul McCartney. John Lennon didn’t much like the song, and, after several hours, he stormed out of the studio. When he returned, he strode to the piano and banged out several chords, then added petulantly, “Here’s your intro!”

    “All eyes shifted to Paul, expecting rejection, perhaps an outburst,” according to a new book, “Come Together: The Business Wisdom of The Beatles.” (Turner Publishing, $24.95). Instead, McCartney defused the tension with this: “That’s quite good, actually.” Lennon’s chords, pounded out in a fit of pique, make up the song’s now-famous opening.

    “The underlying disagreement about whether the song had merit in the broader scheme of things did not disappear,” the book concludes, “but resolving the conflict informed the work and made it stronger, rather than destroying it.”

    That takeaway — that disagreement can lead to synthesis — is just one of 100 lessons that the book teases out of the history of the Fab Four.
    I think it’s a bit of a stretch to look to The Beatles as a model for how to run a business, but I guess it’s an interesting premise if nothing else.

    The story also tells us the following…

    “There were some very visible failures, particularly in the late ’60s, centered around the Apple group of companies,” he says, referring to the various enterprises the Beatles started at the time to enter the film, record and retail businesses. “For a lot of people that became the whole story as far as the Beatles and business are concerned.
    Yes, Apple definitely had issues, but I think the following should be noted from the book “John Lennon: The Life,” by Philip Norman (here)…

    Although Apple’s original raison d’être had been to lose money, and though it certainly attracted spongers, con artists, and hangers-on like wasps around a honey pot, it was very far from being (in George’s phrase) “a haven for drop-outs.” Its failure in the retail field and undiscriminating largesse were more than balanced by the instant spectacular success of its record label. Aside from the Beatles’ own automatically chart-topping output, Mary Hopkin’s single, “Those Were The Days,” had been an international hit. The roster of talent being built by Ron Kass and Peter Asher promised solid growth across the musical board, from the illustrious Modern Jazz Quartet to the American singer-songwriter James Taylor.
    Also (from Norman’s book, a story of a business practice of sorts involving the Beatles that really shouldn’t be imitated by anyone – naughty word alert)…

    The managerial duel between John Eastman (who supported McCartney) and Allen Klein (who supported Lennon and the other Beatles) at this point (1969) was still far from resolved, but once again Klein took the initiative, putting forward a strategy for Apple to snatch Northern Songs (Lennon and McCartney’s publishing company) from Lew Grade’s open jaws. At present, John and Paul each owned 15 percent of the company, and another token 1.6 percent was held jointly by George and Ringo. Klein’s plan was to offer $2 million for the 20 percent that would secure them a hair’s breadth majority stake. The money was to come from a firm of merchant bankers on collateral including John’s entire holding in Northern, 650,000 shares. While these arrangements were going forward, it emerged that, on Eastman’s advice, Paul had quietly increased his own holding to 750,000 shares, which would form no part of the collateral. John was vociferously upset by what he saw as Paul’s underhanded behavior and selfishness.

    By mid-May, it seemed as if they were going to win. Apple had found enough allies to secure that vital extra 20 percent, most crucially a City consortium that currently held 14 percent. A delicate deal was in place, stipulating among other things that Klein would have no part in the new Northern’s management structure and that John and Paul would extend their creative involvement beyond the present expiration date of 1973. Then, at a crucial meeting with the consortium’s representatives, John lost his temper and announced h was “sick of being fucked around by men in suits, sitting on their fat arses in the City.” The offended suits instantly switched allegiance to ATV, Lew Grade gained control of Northern Songs, and Lennon-McCartney’s catalog became a pass-the parcel prize that would be handed down the decades, increasing stupendously in value each time it was unwrapped.
    So I guess the moral is this: don’t say I Forgot To Remember To Forget to the Taxman, or else you’ll be Crying Waiting Hoping In Spite Of All The Danger Like Dreamers Do for Money (That’s What I Want).

    And who knows, maybe you’ll say one day, Baby, You’re A Rich Man (and if all else fails and you can’t get the dough any other way, just remember that Happiness Is A Warm Gun…just kidding).
  • Monday, March 21, 2011

    Monday Stuff

    The blogging gods have not been smiling on yours truly lately - I'll try again tomorrow.

    In the meantime, check this out from Lee Camp - Nail. Hammer. Head...

    ...and RT knocked 'em dead again tonight at the McCarter Theater in Princeton, NJ...this is from "1,000 Years of Popular Music," and this is the only way you'll find a Britney Spears tune at this blog - no, he didn't do this tonight, but lots of other good stuff as well.

    Sunday, March 20, 2011

    Sunday Stuff

    Read this, then watch the clip below and keep telling yourself that it is only satire (from back in the era of Dippity-Do and go-go boots)...

    ...and I think this is a timely little number (from the SRV tribute concert).