Saturday, April 09, 2011

Saturday Stuff

RIP Sidney Lumet, a native Philadelphian and legendary movie director who never won an Oscar for his marvelous films..."12 Angry Men," "Serpico," "Dog Day Afternoon," "Fail-Safe," "The Verdict," and others (yes, he was given an honorary one, but that's a small consolation).

This is perhaps the most famous scene from perhaps his most famous film - however, the most memorable clip from "Network" as far as I'm concerned is one that I can't embed, but here it is...

...and here's a peppy little number for all the kids milling around at the downtown bars, wondering what the night will bring.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Friday Stuff (updates)

And by the way, given the ridiculous fiasco about the federal government that appears to be resolved for now, let’s not forget this...

...and it might be resolved because, gee, maybe “Orange Man” or one of his many minions suddenly remembered this; I’ve had this song on my mind over the potential government shutdown all day, even though “time” seems to have come and gone, as the song goes, for now.

Update 1 4/9/11: As noted here (h/t Atrios), apparently one of our political parties remembered the lessons of the last shutdown, but the other one didn't - sigh.

Update 2 4/9/11: Funny, but isn't this what I and others have been saying all along?

Friday Mashup (4/8/11)

  • I’m not sure exactly what to make of this, but I thought I would just submit it as a curiosity of sorts for people to make of it what they will; an organization called the Institute for Economics and Peace in Australia released their findings that “the most peaceful (U.S.) states are Maine and New Hampshire, but Louisiana and Tennessee (came in near the bottom of their rankings).”

    The institute defines peace as the ‘absence of violence’ and looks at factors including homicide rates, violent crimes, jail populations, police officer numbers and small arms availability.

    One thing that puzzled me, though, was as follows: when you look at our very own commonwealth of Pennsylvania, it seems to score in the mid-range when it comes to “state of peace” in the top yellow/brown-shaded map, but in the bottom blue/purple shaded map, PA appears to be extremely violent relative to other states, implying a high “cost of violence” also.

    It would be easy to deduce merely from the yellow/brown map that “red” states have a higher “state of violence” than “state of peace” (as opposed to “blue” ones), but as much as I’d like to believe that, I’m sure it doesn’t tell the whole story. However, I believe this claim at the bottom of the page is something to investigate:
    ‘Reductions in violence, crime and incarcerations to the same levels as Canada would result in $361billion in savings and additional economic activity. This additional economic activity has the potential to create 2.7 million jobs, which would significantly reduce unemployment.’
    Works for me, eh?

  • Next, let’s see where we are on the issue of a likely government shutdown, shall we?

    Well, the House Repug “leadership” voted down two bills to support troop funding just so they could stage their idiotic political theatrics, forcing the Dems to vote against a stopgap measure that would have included “an anti-abortion policy restriction banning D.C. from using its own local funds for abortions and anti-environmental restrictions to limit the EPA from regulating green house gas emissions”; this way, when the Dems quite rightly ended up sinking the bill, the Repugs could crow that the House minority party wanted to stiff our military (noted in a New York Times editorial linked to below, particularly disgusting when you consider this).

    Also, I had to laugh at this post in which the “U.S.” Chamber of Commerce now wants our government to stay open, (particularly given this), even though they have no issue making common cause (or accepting the support) of the life forms who want to see a shutdown more than anyone else, and that would be those zany teabaggers (here). And you know it’s bad when Tom Coburn, Pat Toomey and Moon Unit Bachmann are actually voices of sanity here, telling the House Repug “leadership” not to shut down the government over their fight against Planned Parenthood and the dreaded “lady parts.”

    Not to be outdone on this issue, “Mikey The Beloved” Fitzpatrick propagandized as follows here in the Bucks County Courier Times…
    Fitzpatrick, Bucks County's 8th District representative, said the House's original plan to cut $61 billion is where discussions should stand until the Senate produces a budget.

    "I don't think Republicans should be negotiating against themselves," he said. "I think the number is $61 billion, but I'm a reasonable person who has negotiated a lot of budgets on the county level. The Senate's refusal to produce a plan is not acceptable, and I think the American people can see that."
    What the American people can see, Mikey, is here, which tells us that Senate Democrats put together an offer to help end this budget fiasco in February (I don’t call him Mikey The Liar for nothing, people).

    And by the way, I think it’s pretty hilarious to hear Mikey suddenly preaching fiscal rectitude when, as noted here by Above Average Jane, his ’09-’10 congressional campaign was, at one point, almost seven grand in debt and regularly filed late financial statements to the Federal Election Commission (and speaking of Mikey, this was a class move also).

    I think this editorial today in the New York Times pretty much nailed this whole situation, particularly the following…
    The public is not going to be fooled once it sees what the Republicans, pushed by Tea Party members, were really holding out for. There are a few hours left to stop this dangerous game, and for the Republicans to start doing their job, which, if they’ve forgotten, is to serve the American people.
    I would suggest keeping up with this at Think Progress, since this is obviously an ongoing story and they can do a much better job on it than I can (or, with the possible exception of “the old gray lady,” anybody else for that matter).

  • Finally, here are last week’s Area Votes in Congress (the House voted, but the Senate didn’t)…

    D.C. school vouchers. Voting 225-195, the House passed a bill (HR 471) to revive the District of Columbia's school-voucher system at a cost of $100 million over five years in deficit spending. The program would provide more than 1,000 disadvantaged youths with scholarships of $8,000 to $12,000 annually for tuition costs at private elementary and secondary schools in the D.C. area. Republicans enacted the program in 2003, and in 2009 Democratic majorities in the House and Senate began shutting it down. The bill awaits Senate action.

    A yes vote was to pass the bill.

    Voting yes: Charles W. Dent (R., Pa.), Michael Fitzpatrick (R., Pa.), Jim Gerlach (R., Pa.), 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.), Frank A. LoBiondo (R., N.J.), and Allyson Y. Schwartz (D., Pa.).
    On this issue, I would tend to agree with the following from here...
    The following can be attributed to Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office:

    “Federal funds should mean adherence to federal law and that is simply not the case with voucher programs. These programs are fundamentally unfair because students in voucher programs are not guaranteed the same civil rights protections as their public school counterparts.

    “Once government dollars come into play, it becomes impossible to avoid using those funds for religious activity or favoring one religious program over another. Our nation’s students shouldn’t have to choose between their civil rights and a quality education.”
    Mortgage foreclosures. The House voted, 252-170, to repeal a 2-year-old voluntary program that uses federal subsidies to induce banks to ease the terms of distressed residential mortgages before they reach foreclosure. Under the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), banks either reduce mortgage payments to 31 percent or less of monthly gross income or facilitate a property sale before foreclosure occurs.

    The program has produced about 600,000 loan modifications toward a goal of three million, while spending about $840 million out of $27 billion allotted to it by the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). Homeowners must be current on loan payments to be eligible for the program. The bill (HR 839) awaits Senate action.

    A yes vote was to repeal HAMP.

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

    Voting no: Andrews, Brady, Carney, Fattah, Holden, and Schwartz.
    As noted here, HAMP had issues (which I suppose was inevitable considering that we had a White House dealing with the “banksters” in an effort to do the right thing by homeowners), but I believe the “way forward” was to fund the program, demand administrative changes, adhere to more translatable benchmarks and insist on more frequent reporting and oversight. But of course, since we’re dealing with the “teabagger” U.S. House, HAMP had to be killed DEADER THAN DEADER THAN DEAD instead. So there.
    Military benefits. Voting 185-238, the House defeated a motion by Democrats to continue the Home Affordable Modification Program (HR 839, above) for active-duty military personnel and Gold Star families.

    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.
    Remember this vote when you see the Repugs wrapping themselves around the flag on Memorial Day, July 4th, or Veterans Day in particular.
    Federal aviation budget. Voting 223-196, the House passed a bill (HR 658) authorizing federal aviation programs at a cost of nearly $60 billion through 2014, down about $4 billion from current spending levels. The funding will come from a combination of discretionary appropriations and user fees such as fuel and passenger-ticket taxes. In the lower 48 states, the bill would phase out the Essential Air Service program that subsidizes commercial service to smaller cities. The bill also would impose rules making it more difficult for air and rail workers to organize into unions.

    A yes vote was to pass the bill.

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

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

    Aviation regulations. Voting 215-209, the House amended HR 658 (above) to make it more difficult for the Federal Aviation Administration to write regulations for the aviation industry. In part, the measure requires the FAA to tailor rules to fit specific sectors of the industry, as opposed to the present one-size-fits-all approach, and raises the bar for showing that regulations' costs on the industry justify their safety benefits to the flying public.

    A yes vote backed the amendment.

    Voting yes: Fitzpatrick, Meehan, and Runyan.

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

    Air marshals. Voting 184-235, the House defeated a Democratic motion to HR 658 (above) requiring the assignment of a federal air marshal to every high-risk passenger flight in the United States.

    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.
    OK, so summing up on these three votes, the first would abrogate the decision of the National Mediation Board ruling that anyone not voting in a union election does not automatically have that vote counted No (what Repug U.S. House Rep Phil Gingrey of Georgia incorrectly opined about here, last bullet - more here). The second would make it harder for the FAA to regulate the airline industry (something that might be handy to prevent a repeat of episodes like this), and the last removes air marshals from high-risk passenger flights.

    I guess the Repugs like drama at 30,000 feet. Well, I don’t (their non-jobs agenda continues, by the way).
    Republican budget cuts. Voting 221-202, the House passed a GOP bill (HR 1255) aimed at gaining the enactment of $61 billion in GOP budget cuts (HR 1) that both the Senate and President Obama have turned against. The House passed these fiscal 2011 cuts on Feb. 19 as part of HR 1. The Senate then defeated HR 1, on a vote of 44-56, and Obama repudiated the bill. This follow-up bill would disregard the Senate and presidential opposition and "deem" HR 1 to be law if the Senate fails to pass it by April 6.

    This new bill also would prevent members of Congress from receiving paychecks during any government shutdown. The bill does not explain how its unicameral approach would meet the constitutional requirement that bills must pass both chambers in order to become law.

    Rep. Robert E. Andrews (D., N.J.) said the House was "debating a bill that any fifth grader would understand is unconstitutional."

    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.
    I thought Pete DeFazio had a good response to this here (and once more, kudos to Rob Andrews for calling this what it is).

    This week, both chambers took up bills to avert a government shutdown at week's end, while the Senate continued to debate air-pollution rules and the award of federal technology contracts to small businesses.
  • Thursday, April 07, 2011

    Thursday Mashup (4/7/11)

  • Looks like Congressman Peter King, fresh off his SCARY MUSLIM! hearings on Capitol Hill, has found a new gratuitous way to generate headlines (here)…
    On Monday, as Attorney General Eric Holder stood at the podium at the Justice Department headquarters in Washington to announce that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other 9/11 terrorists would be tried by military commissions at Guantanamo, he still insisted that he'd much prefer to try them in civilian courts.

    The guy just doesn't get it -- and because he doesn't, he should resign forthwith.
    In response, I give you the following from here…
    On Wednesday (December 15, 2010), a federal judge in Brooklyn sent a terrorist to prison for the rest of his life. Abdul Kadir, a former politician from the South American country of Guyana, was convicted in August of conspiring to blow up huge fuel tanks at JFK airport. The New York Times covered Kadir's sentencing, but I'll forgive you for missing it: it was on page A29 of the print edition, above a story about the Korean community in Palisades Park, New Jersey.

    This type of media treatment is a big problem for supporters of civilian trials for terrorist suspects. Kadir was involved in an actual terrorist plot—one he hoped would "dwarf 9/11." He isn't an American, he wasn't arrested in America, and he is allegedly connected to a militant Muslim group that has been characterized as one of "Al Qaeda's Inroads in the Caribbean." In other words, he has a lot in common with the Gitmo detainees that civil libertarians so desperately want tried in civilian court. (The difference, of course, is that since he was captured by law enforcement in 2007, he was never subjected to "enhanced interrogation.")

    But because Kadir was tried, convicted, and sentenced in the civilian system, the resolution of his case has received little media attention—and the federal justice system gets almost no credit for its success in dealing with him. If advocates of civilian trials for Gitmo detainees like Ahmed Ghailani want to win the argument, they're going to have to be more aggressive about drawing attention to every single example of the civilian system's success in dealing with terrorism cases. This is one of those successes.
    And as noted here…
    Over parts of three decades, from his days as an aspiring politician in Long Island through his early years in Congress, King was one of the nation's most outspoken supporters of the Irish Republican Army and a prolific fundraiser for the Irish Northern Aid Committee (NorAid), allegedly the IRA's American fundraising arm. The IRA waged a paramilitary campaign against the British presence in Northern Ireland for decades before peace accords were signed in 1998. Part of that effort included bombings and shootings that resulted in civilian deaths in England and Northern Ireland. During the period of King's involvement, the US government accused both NorAid and the IRA of links to terrorism.
    So then, because of his support of a terrorist organization, I suppose King is the one who should “resign forthwith” instead (rest assured that I’m not holding my breath).

  • Next, I came across something from Cal Thomas at here that was actually somewhat interesting (I’ll explain presently)…
    HOUSTON -- On the day of the NCAA men's basketball final, the Supreme Court handed down a decision that is likely to produce champions for generations to come.

    By a 5-4 vote, the majority upheld an Arizona tax-credit program that, writes David Savage of the L.A. Times, gives taxpayers a "dollar-for-dollar tax credit, up to $500 per person or $1,000 for a couple, for those who donate to organizations that in turn pay tuition for students attending private and parochial schools." The minority contends this violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The majority opinion, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, maintains that since such donations are with pre-tax dollars, the government never has the money, and thus, "there is no such connection between dissenting taxpayer and alleged establishment."

    With this in mind, I give you the following (from here, in the Repugs’ war against the dreaded “lady parts”)…
    Another step towards smaller, less intrusive government, courtesy of the libertarian-minded teabagger-dominated House majority: Internal Revenue Service agents will be required to determine whether your abortion was paid for with tax dollars. Even more horrifying, income tax return filing forms may need to ask if you’d had an abortion and how you paid for it.

    Speaker John Boehner has declared this bill to be a top priority of the new GOP Congress. Can you find the jobs agenda in this bill, except possibly the need to hire more IRS auditors to review women’s tax returns and inquire about how their abortion was paid for? Or whether parents paid for a daughter’s abortion with pre-tax health savings accounts?

    That’s right — you can’t even use your own health savings account, set aside from pre-tax earnings, to fund an abortion under the bill...
    Sooo…as far as the Repugs are concerned (at least on the High Court of Hangin’ Judge J.R.), pre-tax dough is safe because “the government never has the money,” at least when it comes to throwing it at parents who want to send their kids to private or parochial schools. However, as far as “Orange Man” Boehner and his pals are concerned, pre-tax dollars aren’t safe to use to fund an abortion even if they’re coming from a private savings account?

    Yes, I’m being tongue-in-cheek here, in case you hadn’t noticed. One of my points is that, if the Repugs are going to disallow pre-tax dollars from being used for abortions, even when subscribers pay for coverage aside from a plan in a government exchange (when the exchanges finally get here), then they should be equally draconian and try to deny anyone using those funds from a health savings account (Chris Smith is nuts, but at least he was consistently nuts in trying to do so in a recent bill). Of course, in response, I should note that, in accordance with a House amendment named after a now-deceased serial philanderer, it’s impossible to use government money to fund abortions anyway.

    Such inconsistency (pre-tax dollars are safe for “vouchers,” but not safe for icky stuff having to do with women’s health) is typical for an alleged political party, by the way, that is also guilty of this.

  • In addition (and staying with the topic of sex-ed), kudos to Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter for introducing the “Freedom Condom” here in an effort to stem “spikes in gonorrhea and infectious syphilis, and a 40 percent rise in new HIV diagnoses over three years in teens and young adults” in the City of Brotherly Love.

    This tells us more about the effective use of condoms, and this provides some Q&A on condom use and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (as with all things, education is preferable to ignorance on this vital public health issue).

  • And in conclusion, I suppose it’s weirdly appropriate to transition from that topic to J.D. Mullane’s editorial butchery here today on the pages of the Bucks County Courier Times – his column has to do with President Obama’s visit yesterday to the Gamesa wind turbine plant in Falls Township, PA (here).

    Through a combination of innuendo, cherry-picking of quotes from Obama and Energy Secretary Steven Chu and a thoroughly non-humorous reference to unicorns mixed in with some smatterings of actual fact, Mullane, ever the climate change denier, sought to portray Obama as hopelessly out of touch on energy issues.

    In response, here is a rather thorough rebuttal from Media Matters on accusations from Mullane and his fellow wingnuts aimed at Number 44 on the issue of energy. Also, under Obama’s predecessor, gas reached $4.55 a gallon (noted here), and this tells us of the many ways that our prior ruling cabal contributed to what was, up to that point, “the highest gas prices in 20 years.”

    Besides, I’m not going to worry about Obama on the issue of the oil we receive from our “dear friends” the Saudis unless I see him in a photo similar to this one.
  • Thursday AM Stuff

    I would say that this guy is long overdue for this type of treatment...

    ...and when I think of Ryan, this song comes to mind immediately, even though it doesn't quite match what the historical reference is all about.

    Wednesday, April 06, 2011

    Wednesday Stuff

    By the way, today is the 40th anniversary of the passing of Igor Stravinsky - anybody got a cigarette?...

    ...and gosh, can "Lonesome Rhodes" Beck really be leaving Fix Noise? Where will he takes his "water works" to next, I wonder? Spike TV?...

    Update 4/7/11: More here.

    ...and bad news for "Orange Man" too, I see (here)...

    ...and I put this song up awhile back, but it's too good not to make a repeat appearance (and timely concerning the House Speaker as far as I'm concerned).

    Wednesday Mashup (4/6/11)

  • Seriously, Tucker, give up (here)…
    Two mainstream news organizations are receiving hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars from Obamacare’s Early Retiree Reinsurance Program (ERRP) — a $5 billion grant program that’s doling out cash to companies, states and labor unions in what the Obama administration considers an effort to pay for health insurance for early retirees. The Washington Post Company raked in $573,217 in taxpayer subsidies and CBS Corporation secured $722,388 worth of Americans’ money.

    “It is fine with me if they continue covering the ObamaCare debate,” said Rep. Marsha Blackburn, Republican of Tennessee, in an e-mail to The Daily Caller. “When NBC used to cover energy issues, they identified themselves as a subsidiary of General Electric. CBS and Washington Post just have to disclose that they are subsidiaries of the Obama Administration.”
    I think, from now on, the next time Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn says something truly stupid, I’ll just embed this video in response and leave it at that.

    Meanwhile, I give you the following in response (here)…
    President Obama’s health department has paid out more than a half-billion dollars in health benefits to a temporary early retiree insurance program included in the healthcare reform law, the department announced Wednesday morning.

    As of Dec. 31, 2010, almost 5,500 employers covering 61,000 people had been accepted into the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program (ERRP), which reimburses plan sponsors for part of health insurance costs for early retirees – typically people between 55 and 65 – and their families.
    The story at The Hill tells us basically that the ERRP is a “bridge” of sorts for early retirees between now and the setup of the health insurance exchanges in 2014.

    Of course, as noted here, Carlson has trouble with even the simplest concepts on the issue of health care reform (or any other issue, for that matter).

  • Next, this tells us the following about corporate media poster boy Paul Ryan (if I see one more picture of this guy looking earnest or like he’s actually trying to accomplish something truly bipartisan, I’m going to vomit – he’s as ruthless an ideologue as they come, as noted here)…
    Don't worry about the scary-sounding federal budget proposed by House Republicans ever becoming law. Democrats who control the Senate--and the White House--will never approve it. But pay attention to the details anyway, because sooner or later, many of the deep cuts and other hardships envisioned in the plan are likely to happen.

    [See how to survive tax hikes and spending cuts.]

    The audacious Republican proposal, authored by (Ryan) of Wisconsin, is the first serious effort to tackle the mushrooming cost of government-funded healthcare for retirees and the needy.
    Really? “The first serious effort”?

    As noted here in a response to Mark Halperin (h/t Atrios), Obama proposed a budget plan for the next fiscal year in mid-February.

    Lay palm open on desktop, then smack in the middle of forehead with brute force.

  • Further, John Stossel tells us here that NRA members should “have a right to privacy.” I suppose, but they never seem to be shy about advertising their membership with decals in the rear windshields of their vehicles (his column is based on the revelation of celebrities in New York who own firearms)…
    People who want the lists (of gun owners) made public say the disclosure is necessary to assure that government doesn't issue permits to felons. They point to an AP report that gun permits were given to hundreds of felons in Florida, Tennessee and Indiana. So because government is not competent enough to obey its own rules, the rest of us must have our privacy compromised? I don't buy it.
    Speaking of the Sunshine State, this tells us about the so-called “Florida gun loophole,” whereby a Philadelphia resident can be denied a permit in PA but receive one in the land where they worship the rodent in Orlando.

    And in the matter of the total lack of gun-related legislative activity in the wake of the Tucson shootings, Amanda Marcotte tells us the following here.

  • In addition, Rob Mitchell, the press flak for “Mikey The Beloved” Fitzpatrick, authored this Guest Opinion yesterday in the Bucks County Courier Times (Mitchell took issue with complaints that Mikey wasn’t “accessible” made by Robin Stelly and Barbara Stakes, who participated in a gathering at Mikey’s Langhorne office to mark the one-year anniversary of the signing of the Affordable Care Act)…
    We know that Stelly is a vocal, professional political operative and staffer for Penn Action. She is, therefore, more than a "Lower Makefield resident," which is the way she described herself at the congressman's January town hall.

    And we should shine a light on Penn Action. The Philadelphia-based organization is billed as a progressive (read left-wing) advocacy group that involves itself in political campaigns and other activities, including public demonstrations - always in support of liberal-left causes. And it was reported last year that Penn Action was the recipient of funds from George Soros, the internationally known billionaire who promotes far-left politicians and causes.
    I’ll tell you what – if you want to learn more about Penn Action, click here and decide for yourself, dear reader, how “far left” they are (and don’t forget OOGA BOOGA GEORGE SOROS GEORGE SOROS OOGA BOOGA GEORGE SOROS GEORGE SOROS OOGA BOOGA!!!!).

    Continuing with Mitchell…
    …the publication of last week's news article also gave me an incentive to reflect on the Affordable Care Act. In one year, small businesses have seen double-digit premium increases that put health care beyond the reach of more and more Americans.
    As noted here, double-digit premium increases had been happening long before the advent of health care reform (and this tells us about projected premium savings by families and business when the exchanges begin operation in 2014 – that is, unless states run by Republican governors continue to try to opt out of coverage by legislative gamesmanship and pointless lawsuits).

  • Finally, former Laura Bush employee Andrew Malcolm plummets to a new low once again (here)…
    After his 2004 upset win over the political powerhouse of substitute Republican candidate Alan Keyes, the new senator from Illinois built on his speaking reputation to create an almost immediate presidential candidacy.
    With all of the stuff currently going on in this country and the world, leave it to Malcolm to rehash the U.S. senatorial campaign of President Obama seven years ago.

    As noted here, the reason why Keyes was a substitute candidate was because the winner of the Republican Senatorial primary, Jack Ryan (not the Tom Clancy character, but a real relation to "puppy-dog looking while holding the budget shiv" Paul, I believe) announced his withdrawal three months after winning the race — four days after the Chicago Tribune persuaded a California court to release child custody records. And when those records were released, it turned out that Ryan’s wife, actress Jeri Ryan, alleged that her husband had taken her to sex clubs in several cities, intending for them to have sex in public (“Seven of Nine” indeed).

    And what did Keyes do once his campaign got started? Well, he referred to Obama as “a good house Negro,” said he had “the cadence of an Islamic person” (so that’s how all the Kenyan Marxist stuff got started!) ,and referred to Obama supporter Oprah Winfrey as “the whore of Babylon,” as noted here. And as the polls tilted more and more in candidate Obama’s favor, he ended up spending less time on his own campaign, knowing he was cruising towards victory, and campaigned for his fellow Dems instead.

    And as far as blaming Obama for Libya (full disclosure: didn’t see speech – sorry), I think the following context should be noted from here (not that a pathetic, shameless partisan like Malcolm would ever provide intelligent context to anything on behalf of a Dem, I know).
  • Tuesday, April 05, 2011

    Tuesday Stuff

    I'm not going to kid you - I had a lot of problems with John Adler, the Democrat who represented NJ-03 until Jon "Uh, How Much Tax Can I Get Out Of Paying On My Farm?" Runyan defeated him last year. And I really went back and forth about whether or not I should say anything. But I think there is something to be said for someone who wins elected office and, at some point, honestly tries to do the right thing and make a difference.

    If Adler had actually managed his office like an actual Democrat and truly held fast to the courage of what should have been his convictions, he might very well have lost last year anyway. So here is a nice remembrance, and Dem House Rep Steve Cohen had some nice words here also (51 is way too damn young)...

    ...and now for something completely different, as they say - happy 85th birthday to Roger Corman, the auteur who brought us cinematic memories such as this (heh)...

    ...and "capping" our children's future and "trading" it to the Chinese (here)? Frank Luntz is no doubt so proud of you (and for this also I'm sure...take your pick)...

    ...and this goes out to you, congresswoman.

    Tuesday Mashup (4/5/11)

  • The New York Times told us last weekend here about how Number 43 and Laura are “kicking it”(this is from the former First Lady)…
    We built this house during the 2000 campaign. We knew we wanted it to be energy efficient. We have geothermal heat and air. We built a big cistern, and water runs off the roof into a trough into the cistern.
    That’s OK as nearly as I can tell, even though the following should be noted from here…
    ... The Bush family homestead in Crawford is nothing more than an elaborate set. The house, built in 2000, was designed to be ready for Bush to step into - like a set awaiting an actor - during the 2000 presidential election. Not only was the "ranch" created in 2000 - so, essentially, was the "town" of Crawford! Before then only about 400 people lived in the area. The Crawford Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture were formed shortly after the ranch was finished.

    The 1,600 acres on which the "ranch" sits was purchased in 1999 .Oh, and that "homey ole ranch house?" It's actually a 10,000-square-foot single level mansion/compound that won't even be 2 years old until this November! The compound features a swimming pool for daughters Jenna and Barbara, who apparently loudly demanded it - the Bushes call it the girls' "Whining pool."

    The original completion date of the house was November 7 - election day 2000.

    In other words, the curtain went up on the set on schedule for "show time." The very timing of this event indicates that Bush was absolutely confident that the election would be successfully engineered in his favor.
    The Times story also tells us the following about Mrs. Bush…
    I love cleaning. The girls love to make fun of me about this. I just like for things to be orderly. My husband is pretty orderly, too. We’re both ruthless about getting rid of clutter.
    Given that statement, it’s a shame that Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History didn’t find a way to get rid of the “clutter” from his administration: a war of choice in Iraq that has wrought virtually nothing except disaster; a more-legitimate campaign in Afghanistan that was completely short-changed to the point where it is now a tragic, pathetic burlesque not worthy of what is supposed to be the greatest democracy on earth; a barely functioning federal government, almost crippled by patronage and lack of funding and/or oversight (and which now, as noted here, is about to shut down); the boondoggle of Medicare Part D; and ruinous tax cuts that have played a major role in almost completely wrecking our economy.

  • Next, with all of the attention quite rightly paid to Hosni Mubarak Walker in Wisconsin along with John Kasich in Ohio, Lex Luthor in Florida, Governor Bully and our own Tom “Space Cadet” Corbett, let’s not forget some other Repug gubernatorial “lesser lights,” one of whom is Nathan Deal of Georgia; as Think Progress tells us here, Deal (all together now) is proposing massive tax cuts for the rich while everybody else gets it in the proverbial neck.

    Deal ascended to his current position after “serving” in the U.S. House (using the term loosely); CREW named him one of the 15 most corrupt members of that body here (and it’s funny to see Deal get attacked here by his own ideological fellow travelers of the “Republic” Party here for what is viewed as excessive government spending).

    Oh, and as noted here, Deal is also a “birther” (gapolitico tells us that pols like Deal “is the reason people hate the South”…uh, yep).

    Of course, we have nothing to brag about in PA as I alluded to above with Corbett; this tells us that “Space Cadet” Tom is playing from the save foul Repug playbook, even though, as noted here, PA’s job performance actually improved over the last year or so when this guy was in charge – a shame that didn’t translate into a win for Dem candidate Dan Onorato instead.

  • Further, leave it to the Murdoch Street Journal to look out for our “betters” also here…
    The Internal Revenue Service is stepping up audits of wealthier taxpayers as part of a multiyear effort to crack down on tax avoidance.

    According to the agency's latest statistical report for the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, the percentage of taxpayers who were audited increased in every category of adjusted gross income above $500,000, compared with a year earlier.

    The biggest jumps came at the top of the income ladder. About 18% of Americans earning at least $10 million were audited in fiscal 2010, up from 11% in fiscal 2009, according to the IRS. For those earning $500,000 to $1 million, the audit rate rose to 3.4% from 2.8%.

    Accountants and tax preparers said the IRS's heightened scrutiny of wealthier taxpayers is in sharp contrast to the agency's audit practices during the previous decade.

    David Lifson, an accountant in New York for Crowe Horwath LLP, said the number of audits among his high-earning clients has "at least doubled, if not tripled" in the past two years. The audits often are "correspondence" exams in which a series of letters is exchanged. Such exams account for more than 70% of IRS audits of individuals.

    "They are touching a broader group of high-income taxpayers, asking about one or two issues at a time," Mr. Lifson said. Common issues include high deductions for mortgage interest and charitable gifts.
    However, as noted here from March 2009, barely two months after President Obama was inaugurated…
    Syracuse, NY — The Internal Revenue Service's audit rate for wealthy Americans sharply declined in the just-ended fiscal year, according to agency data obtained by the Transactional Record Access Clearinghouse (TRAC).

    The significant turndown in audits for richer Americans from FY 2007 to FY 2008 sharply contrasts with the IRS claim in a 2008 press release boasting that the agency was making "strong progress in a number of key enforcement areas," especially for "those with incomes of $1 million or more."

    The IRS data clearly show that the audit rate on the 300,000-plus returns reporting incomes of more than $1 million was substantially down last year — dropping at least 19 percent. But because of admitted agency accounting errors and two sets of conflicting numbers the IRS published just last Friday (March 13, 2009), the actual extent of this decline may be much larger.

    Given the lag between the year that income is received, a return is filed, and then becomes subject to audit, the drop in the audits occurred for those returns with income earned at the height of the real estate boom, just before the economy turned sour.

    And similar to many of the corporate financial reports of that era, the audit numbers that the IRS was so loudly trumpeting have turned out to be based upon inaccurate data drawn from the agency's own books.
    And on top of that, this tells you that making the “pay no price, bear no burden” bunch pay their fair share would do a hell of a lot more to preserve “certainty” than anything else (except revoking those stinking tax cuts and ending the wars, of course).

  • In addition, John Harwood of the New York Times told us the following yesterday here about the Repug 2012 presidential candidates seeking a “delay…in entering the race. Aside from conserving energy and resources, that would distance contenders like Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi and former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts from the unpredictable budget showdown between Republicans and Democrats in Washington.”

    Maybe, but it should be noted here that the Repug presidential hopefuls use PACs to get around campaign finance laws (no evidence that the Dems do it too, but I wouldn’t be surprised). Also, it turns out that Baby Newton Leroy Gingrich is being bankrolled by a certain Sheldon Adelson, as noted here (more on Adelson here).

    And as for Willard Mitt Romney, I thought this was hilarious (Bachmann-mania, anyone?)

  • Finally, someone named Eric Golub over at Tucker Carlson’s Crayon Scribble Page talked a lot of smack about recently departed (as in pursuing new career opportunities) New York Times columnist Bob Herbert yesterday here…
    …as Barack Obama tries to wage a kinetic conflict with one hand tied behind American military backs to remove Gaddafi, Americans of all stripes can be thankful that at least Herbert was unwilling to obtain weapons, in keeping with his anti-gun views.

    Just to be clear, Bob Herbert is nowhere near as bad as Gaddafi. Herbert is, however, worse than most people.

    So what do we do with people like Gaddafi and Herbert now? What would be an appropriate way for these men to spend their final years in exile?

    The solution is obvious. Send them both to Detroit.
    Actually, smart guy, Herbert signed off his final column by telling us here that…
    This is my last column for The New York Times after an exhilarating, nearly 18-year run. I’m off to write a book and expand my efforts on behalf of working people, the poor and others who are struggling in our society. My thanks to all the readers who have been so kind to me over the years.
    Would that Golub had a fraction of Bob Herbert’s character. Or guts. Or talent.
  • Monday, April 04, 2011

    Monday Stuff

    I wish this all were just a delayed April Fools' joke, but no such luck (and good luck finding many more people on TV except Rachel Maddow talking about this stuff)...

    ...and would it be in bad taste to say this show with Jon Stewart turned into "Sammon Chanted Evening"? (I was overdue for a bad pun...for the benefit of those people well-versed in Rodgers and Hammerstein out there)...

    ...seriously, though, this is what I really call a message...

    ...and let's not forget that he was slain while standing up for public sector employees, as Think Progress reminds us here.

    Update 4/5/11: Nothing to see here according to our corporate media - move along...

    More "Stinky Inky" Faux Ferris Equivalency (update)

    I actually didn’t even plan to read this pitiful dreck from Kevin Ferris of the Philadelphia Inquirer; I was looking for yesterday’s Area Votes in Congress writeup. However, to my utter disgust, I found it anyway (I have other stuff that I hope I can get to either later or tomorrow)…

    Nearly three months ago, a gunman in Arizona killed six people and wounded 13 others, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Within hours, and with no evidence, Republicans and conservatives, especially tea-party activists, were blamed. They didn't pull the trigger, the criticism went, but they certainly had encouraged a violent "climate" with "vitriolic" words, deeds, and symbols.

    That was nonsense.
    No it wasn’t; for a refresher on Sarah Palin’s notorious “crosshairs” map, Rep. Giffords basically calling out the teabaggers for their threats against her in an interview with Chuck Todd before the attack, as well as Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik calling out those engaging in violent rhetoric (and except for Paul Kanjorski saying that Florida Governor Rick Scott should be shot…well, I have news for Ferris – that’s all coming from his side), click here.

    But if the criticism wasn't just using a tragedy to score political points, if Democrats and liberals truly believed what they were saying, no doubt they would have become models of civility. Or at least attacked their own if they broke the new rules.


    Last week, Sen. Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.) was caught giving fellow Democrats talking points on the federal budget fight. "I always use the word extreme," he said. "That is what the caucus instructed me to use this week."

    Leftist comedian/pundit Bill Maher has taken to referring to former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as a "dumb t-."
    I don’t know what Bill Maher said, and I don’t care – for the most part, I’ve been taking a pass on his show this season because I’m tired of him giving air time to conservative liars (such as Breitbart and his pals and Stephen Moore, among others). If I know these people are lying and I keep watching anyway…well, that’s my fault, isn’t it?

    But where is Ferris and his selective outrage when “Orange Man” Boehner says he wants to kick the Dems’ ass, or something, here (or when Boehner actually traffics in the eliminationist rhetoric Ferris claims to despise against former Dem House rep Steve Driehaus, as noted here)?

    In Wisconsin, in reaction to Gov. Scott Walker's attempt to limit collective bargaining, "dead man" chalk outlines with his name on them appeared outside the state Capitol. Inside, after the Assembly passed the bill, an irate Democratic lawmaker turned to a female GOP colleague and shouted, "You are f- dead!" He later apologized.

    Aside from NOW's clucking at Maher - mostly the group was upset at having to rise to Palin's defense - there wasn't much made of this "vitriol." So, all the post-Arizona venting was just a cheap attempt to silence political opponents.

    Knowing all that, I was reluctant to attend last weekend's conference "Can We Talk? A Conversation About Civility and Democracy in America" at the National Constitution Center. But I went, and I'm very glad I did.

    First, the sessions I saw demonstrated what I've come to appreciate about the Constitution Center: It tries to present as many sides of an issue as possible. Is there a perfect balance of right, left, and center every time? No, but the effort is there.

    Second, I was reminded of the basic decency, common sense, and concern for the country's fiscal future that is at the heart of the tea-party movement. That was all courtesy of the Seattle area's Keli A. Carender.

    The 31-year-old blogger and activist used to teach math to inner-city adults. Now she works full time for Tea Party Patriots and State Budget Solutions, focusing on legislative research, government transparency, and helping states fight the worst aspects of the health-reform law.

    In the conference's opening minutes, the Oxford-educated veteran of comedy improvs politely, yet directly, put the day's topic in perspective.

    "It's hard to believe we're talking about civility now after I and others in the tea party have been maligned and impugned," she said. "I've been called a racist many times."

    As have other tea-party activists, including her parents, Carender told me in a phone interview last week.

    "My parents, when they were younger, threw themselves into the civil rights movement," she said. "Now people try to call them racists?"

    Yeah, now why do you suppose someone would refer to teabaggers as racist? Gee, I have no idea.

    Update 4/16/11: And here is more "non-evidence" of teabagger racism (h/t Daily Kos).

    How does that differ from calling supporters of health-care reform socialists?
    Uh, Ferris, do you remember reading about the National Socialists in Germany before World War II? Now think real hard about this, OK?

    As far as you’re concerned, it’s OK to call people who support health care reform Nazis?

    "When you call someone a racist, you've labeled them an immoral person, as a person who literally hates someone because of the color of their skin," she said.

    If the shoe fits, as they say...
    "Call someone a socialist, and you imply that they believe in a certain set of philosophies and policies. You're implying those policies are bad and dangerous, sure, but that doesn't say anything about the person's character, what's in their heart, or how they treat other people."

    You sure about that now?
    She has two simple rules to live by in her activism: Govern yourself first. Even if a policy or issue gets you angry, you won't win anyone over with insults or attacks.

    "Shrill gets attention, but it turns people off," she said at the conference.

    Second, govern your side.

    "If people are calling for civility, but not calling out the uncivil behavior on their own side, they have no credibility with me," she told me.

    At its worst, she sees the civility movement as a distraction from issues.

    "We can't put all our energy and resources into fighting smears," she says. "We have to put it toward effecting the change that we want to see."

    Last week, Carender was working to change federal budget policy. She and other tea partyers were backing rallies urging the GOP not to settle for less than $90 billion more in budget cuts this year.

    Isn't that uncivil, refusing to compromise?

    "I think $90 billion is a compromise," she replies, noting that the annual deficit is more than $1.3 trillion. "We're flying off a cliff and $90 billion is nothing."
    By the way, here is some of the “nothing” that would be cut if the teabaggers had their way (and this only lists $60 billion in cuts; Think Progress lists many more programs on the bloc at their linked post – and here is a post from RJ Eskow about $90 billion that was funneled to Wall Street while the teabaggers, dutiful Republican sheep that they are, created the necessary diversions for our corporate media with their racist-sign-and-funny-hat parades).

    I haven’t been this disgusted by a Kevin Ferris column in a long time. This is utterly fact-free, partisan right-wing hackery at perhaps its very worst (and Ferris actually gets a paycheck for concocting this garbage).

    No matter which group of millionaires headed by Bruce Toll is running this pathetic joke of a once-terrific newspaper, the result is always the same (at least from an editorial point of view); utterly laughable right-wing-talking-point-filled bile apparently rejected, for the most part (based on the comments) by all but the most fire-breathing, methane-dispensing wingnuts (and I’m not going to waste my time commenting further on the absurdity of equating alleged left-wing name calling with a murderous attack that led to the near-fatal shooting of a U.S. congresswoman and the murder of a federal judge and a 9-year-old girl, among others).

    The Inky is hastening its own extinction before our very eyes. And as far as I’m concerned, it can’t come soon enough.

    Update 4/9/11: I suppose I could have added this anywhere (h/t Atrios), but I put it here because, even though John Cole is talking about BoBo, Sully and Joke Line, he might as well be talking about Ferris also (the topic is the supposed "roadmap" from the Very Serious Person Paul Ryan).