Saturday, May 21, 2011

Saturday Stuff

What a shame - it's about 7:30 EST and it looks like I missed The Rapture :-)...

Anyway, a hat tip to Avedon Carol at Eschaton for this (it's the real thing)...

...and here is another video clip of a town hall event that you won't see from the news programs on networks with initials for names (and this addresses the Buerkle lie about the $500 billion - I cannot imagine how these people sleep at night, and hopefully I never will)...

...and here is another one (paging Alan Grayson - this Webster putz ought to read this...oh, sorry, I forgot; the Repugs have their hands over their ears and eyes closed I guess, yelling "NYAAAH, NYAAAH, CAN'T HEAR YOU")...

...and I realize that my musical selections have been stuck in a bit of a time warp, which isn't too bad I know, but here is something more current.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday Stuff

About what I said earlier, I didn't mean to imply that the Dems don't have more work to do on behalf of organized labor (here)...

...and I would say that this bears repeating based on this (and this...and I'm sure Repug Bucks County, PA DA David Heckler will release the results of his investigation into the Ciervo/Fitzpatrick voter fraud letter from last November any day now...any day now)...

...also, "What's Going On?," an album Berry Gordy definitely didn't want Marvin Gaye to release (until it started making money, that is), made its debut forty years ago (ugh) today...

...and finally...well, it looks like all good things must come to an end based on this, so I guess it's time for us to all find our biospheres or whatever and climb in, take one last big swig of that Kool Aid if you will, and call it a day - see you on the other side :-).

Friday Mashup (5/20/11)

  • On the subject of “disrespect” (and isn’t ripping “Bibi” here, of course), it should be noted that President Obama is being attacked by the usual suspects even though his call for Israel to return to its 1967 borders was also articulated by Former President Highest Disapproval Rating IN Gallup Poll History, as well as “The Big Dog,” as noted here.

    And here is another item for the “disrespect” file, concerning the nomination of Goodwin Liu to the U.S. Federal Appeals Court.

    Also, here is yet another item, and a response is here (impudent and naughty to call out my “A” list brethren I know, but I’ll be honest; sometimes I get a little tired of the whining from our side too…besides, I think the speech by Richard Trumka linked to by Atrios is more of a response to this, which I’ll admit is inexcusable).

  • Next, I give you the Area Votes in Congress writeup from last Sunday’s Philadelphia Inquirer (here)…

    Gulf of Mexico drilling. Voting 263-163, the House sent the Senate a bill (H.R. 1229) that would restore oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico to levels comparable to those in effect before last year's BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The bill would require the Interior Department to act within 60 days on about 40 permit applications now undergoing safety and environmental reviews. The administration lifted its post-spill drilling moratorium in October, and has since issued about 10 deepwater permits and nearly 40 permits for drilling in shallow water.

    A yes vote was to pass the bill.

    Voting yes: Charles W. Dent (R., Pa.), Michael Fitzpatrick (R., Pa.), Jim Gerlach (R., Pa.), Tim Holden (D., Pa.), Frank A. LoBiondo (R., N.J.), Pat Meehan (R., Pa.), Joseph R. Pitts (R., Pa.), Jon Runyan (R., N.J.), and Christopher H. Smith (R., N.J.).

    Voting no: Robert E. Andrews (D., N.J.), Robert A. Brady (D., Pa.), John Carney (D., Del.), Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.), and Allyson Y. Schwartz (D., Pa.).

    Blowout prevention. Voting 176-237, the House defeated a bid to expand H.R. 1229 (above) to include safety recommendations issued in January by the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling. The amendment would have required the enactment of minimum standards in areas such as preventing blowouts, cementing wells, and installing redundant safety barriers inside wells - steps that would be subject to independent, third-party certifications. Though the commission's recommendations have been addressed to varying degrees by governmental regulators and the oil industry, they have not been added to federal law.

    A yes vote backed the amendment.

    Voting yes: Andrews, Brady, Carney, Dent, Fattah, Fitzpatrick, LoBiondo, Schwartz, and Smith.

    Voting no: Holden, Gerlach, Meehan, Pitts, and Runyan.
    Hmmm…I smell another "safe" Yes vote that Mikey The Beloved can tout (along with Dent, LoBiondo and Smith) as part of his supposed environmental bona fides which, in fact, don’t exist, particularly since the bill was doomed to fail anyway, probably because it made too much sense for the bunch in power here.
    Outer continental shelf oil. Voting 243-179, the House authorized oil and gas exploration in several expanses of the outer continental shelf where drilling is now banned for primarily environmental reasons. In part, the bill (H.R. 1231) would require the Department of the Interior to sell leases for drilling off the Atlantic Coast from Maine to North Carolina, in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, off southern California, in the Arctic Ocean, and off Alaska's Bristol Bay. Depending on the state, the outer continental shelf usually begins three to nine nautical miles from shore and reaches outward for at least 200 nautical miles.

    A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate.

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

    Voting no: Andrews, Brady, Carney, Fattah, LoBiondo, Runyan, Smith, and Schwartz.

    Ban on oil exports. Voting 180-243, the House defeated a Democratic motion to H.R. 1231 (above) to prohibit energy companies from selling abroad the outer continental shelf oil and natural gas they extract under federal leases. The measure also would have required the Department of the Interior, over the next five years, to reduce by half the large number of nonperforming oil and gas leases in the outer continental shelf.

    A yes vote backed the motion.

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

    Voting no: Gerlach, Fitzpatrick, LoBiondo, Meehan, Pitts, Runyan, and Smith.

    Not voting: Dent.
    Sooo…while the Repugs and their minions scream “drill, baby, drill,” nobody is supposed to ask where the product of that effort is supposed to go, are they? We can’t tell Big Oil not to sell that “black crude” offshore if those markets are more favorable than ours, can we?

    Sometimes I think the Republicans must read about votes like this and laugh their asses off. And when it comes to the stupidity of the voters who returned them to power last November, they should.
    2011 intelligence budget. Voting 392-15, the House passed a classified U.S. intelligence budget (H.R. 754) estimated at $55 billion or more for fiscal 2011. The bill would fund operations of civilian and military spy agencies such as the CIA, National Security Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency, and National Reconnaissance Office. When other outlays in the federal budget are counted, total spending for intelligence activities is projected to top $80 billion this year.

    A yes vote was to pass the bill.

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

    Not voting: Brady.


    Judge Edward Chen. Voting 56-42, the Senate confirmed the nomination of Edward M. Chen as a federal judge for the Northern District of California. Chen, 58, has been a federal magistrate judge in San Francisco for 10 years, and before that he was an American Civil Liberties Union staff lawyer. Senate Republicans stalled the nomination for 21 months over concerns that Chen would be an "activist judge," while Democrats noted that Chen received the American Bar Association's highest rating for a judicial nominee.

    A yes vote was to confirm Chen.

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

    Voting no: Pat Toomey (R., Pa.).
    Toomey had to pull at least one stupid and/or irritating stunt last week to fulfill his quota, and I guess this was it.

    This week, the House was in recess, and the Senate voted on judicial nominations and took up a bill to rescind billions of dollars in oil-industry tax breaks.

  • Continuing, I give you a tale of two presidents, sort of – to begin, John Lott whines as follows here…
    Wasn't the world supposed to end on Monday? No, I'm not talking about May 21. But on Monday, the U.S. government officially hit its debt limit, but where are disasters that the Obama administration has been predicting for months? We were warned that hitting the debt limit would be "deeply irresponsible" or “insanity” or “abrupt contraction would likely push us into a double dip recession.” But Americans woke up today to find nothing really changed from last week.

    The Obama administration’s scare tactics are getting old. Unfortunately, they keep on getting away with this and aren’t held accountable when their scare stories prove false.
    If Lott doesn’t want to believe Number 44…well then, would he believe the words of Number 40 (here)?
    In 1983, Reagan warned that the consequences of failing to raise the nation’s borrowing limit “are impossible to predict and awesome to contemplate”:

    The full consequences of a default — or even the serious prospect of default — by the United States are impossible to predict and awesome to contemplate. Denigration of the full faith and credit of the United States would have substantial effects on the domestic financial markets and the value of the dollar in exchange markets. The Nation can ill afford to allow such a result. The risks, the costs, the disruptions, and the incalculable damage lead me to but one conclusion: the Senate must pass this legislation before the Congress adjourns.

    In a 1987 radio address, Reagan also said, “Congress consistently brings the government to the edge of default before facing its responsibility. This brinksmanship threatens the holders of government bonds and those who rely on Social Security and veterans benefits. Interest rates would skyrocket, instability would occur in financial markets, and the Federal deficit would soar.”
    Also, Reagan was invoked here in an Op-Ed claiming that the Repugs need to find an “heir” to none other than Calvin Coolidge (our 30th president…paying tribute using multiples of 10, I see).

    In response, the following should be considered about “Silent Cal” from here…
    …a more important question to ask is whether the prosperity of the 1920's was experienced by all. In fact it was not. According to the Brookings Institution during the Coolidge era the top 0.1% (not 1% but 0.1%) of the population earned as much as the bottom 42%. While the top 0.1% was able to save at a clip of 34% another 80% of Americans had no extra money to put into savings. The rich were certainly experiencing prosperity but most Americans did not experience the benefits of Coolidge's tax policy.

    In addition many historians blame Coolidge's economic policy as one of the primary causes of the Great Depression. When the rich got richer through Coolidge's policies they ended up saving the money rather than putting it back into the market as can be seen above. Most Americans did not have the income to purchase "luxury" items like a car or radio which led to many to buy such items on credit. By the end of the 1920's 60% of cars and 80% of radios were bought on credit. Finally Coolidge generally supported a laissez-faire policy which allowed businesses to grow bigger, stocks to be bought on margin, and consumers to be exploited with shady sales practices. All of these policies helped to later create a perfect storm which brought about the Great Depression.
    Actually, given the fact that we’re currently living in the gilded age on steroids (as at least one pundit has put it), maybe the comparison to Coolidge is more apt than Washington Times editorialist Garland S. Tucker III realizes (not easy for me to beat up on a Vermonter and otherwise solid citizen like Coolidge, but as another president once said, and I don’t mean Reagan, “facts are stubborn things”).

  • Finally, this tells us that Dick Ebersol is stepping down as head of NBC Sports after contract talks for a four-year deal stalled, bringing to an end (apparently) a storied career in network television; probably his most famous achievement is defining the NBC Sports “brand,” if you will, based on the network’s coverage of the Olympic Games (Ebersol has also overcome horrific personal tragedy, including the loss of his son in a plane crash and his near-demise in the same fashion).

    So why am I bothering to say anything at all about him?

    Well, awhile ago, I read this fine book about “Saturday Night Live,” which includes more interesting (and usually funny) remembrances from former and current (I believe) cast members than I could possibly recount here. And while there are a few people who are universally hailed (I cannot recall a single negative comment about Gilda Radner, for example), there are some who are not (Harry Shearer, for example, is a funny and talented guy, but apparently he rubbed a lot of people the wrong way during his two turns as a cast member…the only fault of the book as far as I’m concerned is the relentless hosannas to Lorne Michaels, the show’s original and – as far as I know – current producer).

    The second of Shearer’s turns, it should be noted, came in the early 1980s while Ebersol was the show’s producer, having stepped in for Michaels for a time. And though Ebersol improved the show’s ratings by loading up the lineup with talent (Billy Crystal, Martin Short, and Christopher Guest, among others), the show definitely lost much of its satiric edge as far as I’m concerned (Ebersol favored performers such as juggler Michael Davis, who was witty I’ll admit, and Harry Anderson and his cockeyed magic acts…Anderson, of “Night Court” fame, also was and still is funny).

    However, political humor pretty much disappeared during the Ebersol era (this is borne out by cast remembrances in the book also), including the presidential election year of 1984. I’ll admit that more satiric bits skewering The Sainted Ronnie R would not have made a difference in the electoral outcome, but those would have been welcome anyway (even more jousts at Walter Mondale, Reagan’s Dem opponent in ’84, would have been fine).

    Instead, we were treated to such schlocky bits from the Ebersol period as renaming “Weekend Update” “SNL Newsbreak,” with a bolt of lightning supposedly hitting the letters of the show title and raining down debris on Brian Doyle-Murray, the “news anchor.” Apparently, stuff like this was funny to Ebersol.

    After Ebersol stepped down and Michaels returned (rebuilding the show around Jon Lovitz, Nora Dunn and the now-execrable Dennis Miller, adding Dana Carvey, Jan Hooks and the great Phil Hartman later), the political edge returned also, with Lovitz as ’88 presidential contender Michael Dukakis, Hartman as Reagan and Carvey of course as Poppy Bush, paving the way for people like Darrell Hammond as Bill Clinton (Hartman did a good turn or two as Number 42 also).

    So congratulations once more to Ebersol for his accomplishments. But when it comes to “Saturday Night Live” (a show I really don’t follow any more for a variety of reasons), the program maintained its edge in spite of him, not because of him.
  • Thursday, May 19, 2011

    Thursday Stuff

    More like this, a lot more (and we may see it)...

    ...and I'm sure he tore it up at the Tower Theater tonight in these parts.

    Thursday Mashup (5/19/11)

  • I’d better get teh stupid of former Laura Bush employee Andrew Malcolm out of the way first, I suppose (here, concerning Libya and the Middle East in general)…
    We froze Col. Kadafi's assets over here a while back and all he did was change hats.
    Uh, no – as noted here…
    “As of today, at least 30 billion dollars in government of Libya assets under United States jurisdiction have been blocked as a result of the executive order issued by President Obama,” Acting Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen said on a conference call with reporters. “This is the largest blocking under any sanctions program ever.”

    The $30 billion is a sum total of all of the assets that have been blocked, including assets of the government of Libya, the Central Bank of Libya and the Libyan Investment Authority.

    Obama issued the executive order on Friday freezing the assets of Gaddafi and his children as well as the government of Libya and its agencies. On Saturday, the United Nations Security Council adopted resolution 1970, which froze the assets of Gaddafi and his five children. The UK then adopted complementary sanctions on Sunday and today the EU announced they are in the process of adopting their own sanctions.
    I will admit that this by itself is not going to stop the conflict…but then again, maybe if Malcolm’s former boss’s husband hadn’t decided to reward Quaddafi by restoring full relations with him, we might not be in as big of a mess as we are now.

    Malcolm also came up with a doozy yesterday that I’m just getting to now, in which he told us of the “secret lesson” of Baby Newton Leroy Gingrich’s hilarious presidential run, which is apparently to not declare too early as Gingrich did, and from that point, Malcolm proceeds to attack President Obama for a supposed never-ending presidential campaign, or something (as noted here, though, Malcolm suffers from Obama Derangement Syndrome anyway).

    (I know this stuff is tiresome and definitely is lacking in the “man bites dog” quality of something that is actually newsworthy, but Malcolm is an insect who deserves to be swatted every so often.)

  • Next, this story from Fix Noise yesterday tells us the following…
    The Navy's decision to name a cargo ship now under construction after labor activist Cesar Chavez has drawn sharp criticism from one veteran lawmaker who says that a military war hero should receive the honor instead.

    Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, said he understands the Navy's desire to honor Hispanic leaders, but the Navy may want to skip the politically divisive names and opt for an outstanding service member.

    "If this decision were about recognizing the Hispanic community's contribution to our nation, many other names come to mind, including Marine Corps Sergeant Rafael Peralta, who was nominated for the Medal of Honor for action in Iraq. Peralta is one of many Hispanic war heroes -- some of whom are worthy of the same recognition," said Hunter, a Reserve lieutenant in the Marines who says he was informed of the decision by Navy officials Tuesday.

    Peralta was 25 when he died in a battle in Fallujah, Iraq, in 2004. After he was shot in the head by friendly fire, he pulled a grenade lobbed by an insurgent under his body before it detonated. He was nominated for the Medal of Honor for sacrificing his life to save the lives of several of his fellow comrades.

    Peralta has not been awarded the Medal of Honor, but was offered the Navy Cross, the second highest honor in the Navy. His family declined to accept it.
    I agree that Sergeant Peralta should receive the Medal of Honor, but I don’t understand the decision of his family to decline the Navy Cross.

    Besides, I’m not aware of a litmus test that must be passed in order for a U.S. ship to be named after a notable American. As noted here, a U.S. Army ship is named after General Joseph E. Johnston.

    Joseph E. Johnston served in the Confederacy during the Civil War, the bunch that led an armed insurrection against this country. You know, against the Union (the guys in the blue coats). And that’s OK?

    I’ve got an idea – let’s name the cargo ship after Chavez, name the next U.S. ship to be built after Sgt. Peralta and call it a deal, all right? And let Duncan Hunter find another issue for which he can be a demagogue.

  • In addition, Senators Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle Dumber from Oklahoma both made the news this week; as noted here, Crazy Tom Coburn bailed on the supposedly august “Gang of Six” that was tasked to come up with some kind of a budget compromise.

    Gee, I wonder if a Dem would have gotten a pass from our august corporate media for walking away from a bipartisan commission like this (I could see the screaming headlines now about Durbin, Sherrod Brown, Patty Murray or whoever supposedly not caring about the deficit, along with the typical bloviation from the right-wing echo chamber, had they done this).

    Truth be told, I think Coburn actually did us a favor here by deflating this utterly ridiculous exercise (what we need is a jobs commission…wonder if “President Hopey Changey” will ever name one?).

    And that now leads us to James Mountain Inhofe (here)…
    It's not surprising that Democrats in Washington have no plan to bring down rising gas prices. But make no mistake, they do have a plan - to make them go higher.

    That's right: the Democrats, along with President Obama, are advocating policies that will make you pay more at the pump. And that's exactly what they want. Consider President Obama's Energy Secretary, who said, "Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe." That's about $7 to $8 a gallon.
    As noted here, Obama has directed the Justice Department to look into speculation in the energy markets that is driving up the price of gas (yeah, Obama wants the price of gas to go up and hurt his re-election prospects – uh huh).

    Also, Inhofe’s former Dem U.S. Senate opponent Andrew Rice told us the following here (noting also that Inhofe has received at least $1,076,573 in campaign contributions from Big Oil)…
    It's nothing new for Oklahoma's senior senator to try to distract from our energy problems by pointing fingers and shifting blame. Rather than taking responsibility for his own inaction on gas prices and energy independence during his 22 years in Congress, Inhofe chooses to accuse those who disagree with him of "an attempt to misinform and frighten the public" (Inhofe in a July 9, 2002 floor speech) and "fear-mongering" (Inhofe in a January 4, 2005 floor speech). He used two hours of the Senate's time last October to discuss Leonardo DiCaprio, the Weather Channel, and his climate change denial, when he could have used that time to put forward solutions to the growing energy crisis.

    During the 14 years Inhofe has been in the Senate, gas prices have nearly quadrupled. Yet he seems content to blame others and takes no responsibility for his own failures. It's time Oklahoma's voters held Jim Inhofe accountable, and it's time we sent him a message that pointing fingers is no way to lead.
    Of course, since Rice is a Dem and we’re talking about Oklahoma, he lost (idiots).

    Oh, and here’s another Inhofe “funny,” remember (the global warming Al Gore igloo)?

    Well, as noted here, the recent extreme weather patterns such as those in Texas and Louisiana were predicted by climate scientists years ago as part of the global warming that is so funny according to Inhofe.

    Ha, ha, ha…

  • Finally, allow me to communicate the results of the primary election in these parts a couple of days ago here, with the following totals:
    Pennsbury School Board
    All seats for 4-year terms

    Region 1: 1 Seat


    Gene D. Dolnick (I) 507
    Steve Kosmorsky 1,526


    Gene D. Dolnick (I) 1,008
    Steve Kosmorsky 693

    Region 2: 3 Seats


    Matthew Arlen 695
    Mike Giosa 296
    Gallus J. Obert Jr. 551
    John Palmer 990
    Jacqueline Redner 948
    Gary Sanderson (I) 1,075
    Dorothy Vislosky 667


    Matthew Arlen 330
    Mike Giosa 166
    Gallus J. Obert Jr. 213
    John Palmer 179
    Jacqueline Redner 186
    Gary Sanderson (I) 187
    Dorothy Vislosky 311

    Region 3: 1 seat


    Chris Cridge 826
    Linda L. Palsky (I) 981


    Chris Cridge 1,017
    Linda L. Palsky (I) 284
    So basically, if this had been the general election instead of the primary, based on the voting of “Democrats” who chose to support Steve Kosmorsky, Chris Cridge and Dorothy Vislosky instead of those of their own party, Simon Campbell would now be in charge of the Pennsbury School Board.

    Short of guttural profanity, I can’t think of a way to properly communicate my disgust.

    Oh, and as noted here today in the Courier Times, “Only 11.56 percent of registered voters in Bucks turned out to the polls in Tuesday’s primary election.”

    11.56 percent? That’s how many parents in this school district care about the education of their kids?

    On second thought, I think guttural profanity actually works at this moment…

    Are you fucking kidding me??

    I read this column from Kate Fratti about all this the other day (she being a writer I genuinely respect), and I get what she’s saying here, about everybody having it tough and the teacher’s union having to give on salary and bennies. However, we need to keep the following in mind also…
    … it's very hard for some of us to relate to some of the anti-union candidates when it comes to matters other than finance. Region 3 Republican Chris Cridge, for instance, confirms that as a parishioner at St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church, he videotaped sermons by a priest he perceived as too liberal and sent them on to the archdiocese. I think that's weird.

    "It was a long time ago," he said. But he makes no apology.

    Another keeps a "Don't Tread On Me Sign" on his front lawn, and collects guns. I couldn't get him on the phone to talk about it Tuesday after leaving messages on his phone and with his campaign organizer.

    Longtime Democrats ask, "Do we want social conservatives such as these running our schools?"
    If your answer is No, then you’d damn well better get off your asses and vote for the Democrats in November, people. And the following came from the comments…
    Get ready for the "intelligent design" and "abstinence solution " curriculum push once these folks are in control. That's the real long-term hidden agenda. Bank on it.
    If you don’t vote for yourselves this fall, people, at least do it for your kids.
  • Wednesday, May 18, 2011

    Wednesday PM Stuff

    I give you a cautionary (and sickening, truth be told) reminder on our economy from Ed Schultz...

    ...and as long as we're being robbed, I guess it's just a "short walk" off the cliff when there's nothing left to steal...

    ...a fate brought to us by these cretinous life forms, among others (oh, go write one of your phony "I Love America" hymns, Saint Orrin)...

    Update 5/21/11: And by the way, when it comes to subsidies for Big Oil, let's not forget the vote of "No Corporate Tax" Pat Toomey and his fellow Repugs here.

    ...and do you know what? Sorry if this is harsh, but maybe it's time to let nature run its course here (yeah, I guess this wasn't a very cheery post).

    A Word About Arnold and Maria and John and Liz

    Am I the only one who thinks there is something that really stinks about the way our corporate media is covering the breakup of Ahhnold and Maria Shriver?

    No, this blog is not turning into The Hollywood Minute and ignoring all of the infinitely more important issues, such as what the hell it is that’s going on in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, and what kind of a blind eye we’re turning in Bahrain and whether or not sanctions against Syria is really a good idea (that is, are we prepared for any adverse consequences?), and also what on earth is going on with Bradley Manning at this moment and whether or not he will ever be officially charged with anything (as well as the real-life-or-death-consequence story of Troy Davis on death row).

    I think what has really compelled me to say something is the picture from CNN above, showing “the governator” in an almost heroic pose, and the accompanying story telling us, more or less, that, oh well, divorce is sad but it happens every day, couples have to work at marriage (duh) and sometimes a spouse will stray though it may not “doom a relationship,” and how exactly should the kids handle it (I thought it was particularly ridiculous, by the way, for Dr. Steve Solomon of The Relationship Institute in La Jolla, CA to tell either the cheating or cheated-upon spouse to not tell the kids…does this genius somehow think they won’t find out?).

    I’m not saying this because I have an axe in particular to grind against Schwarzenegger or Maria Shriver, or certainly against their kids, or the former guv’s love child. And I hope somehow this mess gets worked out for the betterment of all concerned.

    I’m saying this because I notice a distinct difference between the way this story is being reported and the story of the breakup of this couple because of a husband’s infidelity.

    OK, so Ahhnold supported the child, which he should have done anyway. That doesn’t make him any less of a lying, deceiving weasel than John Edwards. But I have yet to come across any parody videos of Schwarzenegger sneaking around, playing to his vanity (maybe that stuff is in the works…I just haven’t seen it).

    I’ll wait to see if the New York Times, for example, has a multi-page spread on California’s former first couple, giving the coverage that they never received while one of the spouses served in public life.

    Also, I would ask just exactly how the hell our media with initials for names apparently found a way to miss this story of Schwarzenegger’s illegitimate progeny for ten years!

    Update 1 5/19/11: And as far as I’m concerned, it’s just a “short ride,” if you will, from CNN’s coverage to this.

    Update 2 5/19/11: A question for Howie Kurtz based on this - what makes the housekeeper more "private," than, say, Rielle Hunter?

    Wednesday AM Stuff

    (The first three videos are from a post that disappeared last week when Blogger crashed, for what it's worth.)

    This just in: a video press release from the Republican House Congressional Committee in response to this…

    …and in a related story, say buh-bye to those 2012 presidential prospects, Willard Mitt – waay too logical for the wingnuts here…

    …and as long as we’re talking about health care, let’s not forget this (we should also keep this in mind the next time some political troglodyte, who probably will be a Republican, rejoices over cutting funding to Planned Parenthood)…

    ...and composer Gustav Mahler died 100 years ago today (the subject of a great Ken Russell film, if you ever come across it).

    Tuesday, May 17, 2011

    Tuesday Stuff

    See all the fun Mikey The Beloved is missing with his chicken "E-Town Halls" and phone calls? And by the way, Rachel Maddow connects the dots brilliantly here...

    ...however, I don't believe she included this (Ben Quayle is, of course, a typical Repug stooge - I see the apple doesn't fall far from the proverbial tree)...

    Update 5/18/11: God, I hope Alan Grayson is girding for a rematch against this clown.

    ...and silly Rachel, it's just the "conventional wisdom" that Democrats/liberals/progressives or whatever should only be reported on when there's a scandal or John Edwards is combing his hair, or something (and oh noes, look over there GEORGE SOROS DEATH PANELS TICKING DEBT TIME BOMB UNSUSTAINABLE MEDICARE AND SOCIAL SECURITY and of course ACORN PLANNED PARENTHOOD ACORN PLANNED PARENTHOOD PHILADELPHIA SCARY NEW BLACK PANTHER PARTY "SCANDAL"!!!!)...

    ...and as long as Darrell Issa felt like resurrecting Iran-Contra earlier, the least I can do is put this up in response (J.B. composed some great what-I-guess-you-would-call "protest" music in the '80s, including this tune).

    Tuesday Mashup (5/17/11)

  • I think this is the last bit of “old business” from last week for yours truly to catch up on; freshman Repug U.S. House Rep Adam Kinzinger opined as follows at The Hill (on “Ryan Care,” basically)…
    On May 10, 41 of my freshman colleagues and I sent a letter to the President that states the new members of Congress are committed to having a fact-based conversation immediately over reforming spending on entitlement programs and addressing the debt crisis now before it is insurmountable. The letter calls on the President to join House freshmen efforts to stop the political rhetoric, work to advance America’s interests, and end this cycle of debt, deficits and indecision.
    I’m sure that entire paragraph was poll-tested by Frank Luntz to make sure it elicited the proper response from those 30 percent “dead enders” who will do anything they’re told by their Repug handlers. However, it doesn’t take a genius to see what is going on here; namely, that the Repugs know what kind of a mess they’ve created for themselves by going all-in on the Paul Ryan Medicare scheme and are trying to drag Obama and the Democrats down with them (here…an update is here).

    Though still a House freshman, Kinzinger has shown himself to be seasoned when it comes to “weasel word” prevarications, as noted in this post from Politifact in which we learn as follows (from the election in which he defeated Dem congresswoman Deborah Halvorson last year)…
    A Kinzinger spokesman sent us to a web page posted by the Illinois Department of Employment Security. This page provided a new statistic -- the actual number of unemployed Illinois residents, measured every month from January 1976 until the present.

    According to these statistics, there were 449,300 unemployed people in Illinois in January 1993, and that number had grown to 671,400 by August 2010. That's 222,100 more unemployed people today than when Halvorson started. So using that measurement, it appeared Kinzinger was correct.

    Why the difference? The expanding labor force. Since January 1993, the Illinois labor force has grown by 598,800 people, as people have moved into the state and as Illinois children have grown old enough to begin working. So that makes it possible for there to be more unemployed people even as the state has experienced a net gain of jobs.

    So does this mean the statement should be rated True? Not necessarily.

    The numbers cited by the Kinzinger camp refer to the increasing number of unemployed people in Illinois. But that doesn't exactly mean that hundreds of thousands of jobs have been lost. Instead, it could mean that the state has failed to create hundreds of thousands of jobs to keep pace with population growth and new entrants into the work force. That's a similar point, but it's not exactly the same thing.
    And as noted here, Kinzinger also benefitted from another Breitbart smear alleging that Halvorson was linked a guy named Bill Preston who portrayed Kinzinger and Lonesome Rhodes Beck with Hitler moustaches; Preston said later that he was unaffiliated with the Halvorson campaign…of course, that was after the brouhaha had run its course (and this tells us of criticism over Kinzinger’s military record).

    Kinzinger leads off his Hill piece by saying “At present, America’s entitlement programs are towards their last years of solvency.”

    A lie is a terrible way to make a first impression, Congressman.

  • Next, I give you this in a matter pertaining to the Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia…
    PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The head of the Philadelphia archdiocese's panel on priest sex-abuse is blasting the cardinal's response to the pedophilia crisis, and pulling back the curtain on the panel's long-secret operations.

    Cardinal Justin Rigali and his bishops "failed miserably at being open and transparent," review board chairwoman Ana Maria Catanzaro wrote this week in the lay Catholic magazine Commonweal.

    "What will it take for bishops to accept that their attitude of superiority and privilege only harms their image and the church's?" Catanzaro wrote in an article titled "The Fog of Scandal."

    A grand jury this year criticized the panel and church officials for leaving dozens of problem priests in ministry.

    But Catanzaro said the lay board never saw most of them because the archdiocese prescreened which cases they reviewed.

    "She should feel very, very used," said Nicholas Cafardi, a Duquesne University law professor who once served as counsel to the Pittsburgh archdiocese. "They're being asked to give credibility to a process that is supposed to involve them but didn't."
    I know there really is no excuse for a Catholic to miss Sunday mass, when you get right down to it, and I don’t absolve myself on that either. However, no one should have any illusions as to the disgust of “the flock” guided by “the shepherd” over stuff like this.

    However, I wanted to note here that a group of Catholics recently made news for what I consider to be a better example of imitating His behavior, as it were (here)…
    Washington D.C., May 12, 2011 / 07:34 pm (CNA).- Ahead of House Speaker John Boehner’s May 14 commencement address at the Catholic University of America, over 75 professors from Catholic universities have written a letter criticizing the Ohio Republican’s budget proposal.

    The letter from academics said Boehner’s voting record is at variance from the ancient Christian teaching that those in power are “morally obliged to preference the needs of the poor.”

    “Your record in support of legislation to address the desperate needs of the poor is among the worst in Congress,” they charged.

    The letter said the 2012 budget Boehner supported is “particularly cruel” to pregnant women and children, as it cuts $500 million from the Women Infants and Children nutrition program. The letter also criticized the budget’s cuts to Medicaid and Medicare and its “$3 trillion in new tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy.”
    And of course, the letter met with the predictable outcry from self-appointed Catholic “spokesman” Bill Donahue, who said the letter was “not representative of Catholic sentiment.”

    I would ask in response that you keep in mind that Donahue does not serve as a spokesperson for the Church in any official capacity whatsoever (and, the last I checked, he was trying to whip up more “culture war” BS, as noted here).

  • Further, I came across more nonsense from Darrell Issa, as noted at The Daily Tucker (here)…
    Rep. Darrell Issa, California Republican and the Chairman of the powerful House Oversight Committee, expressed more confidence in his committee’s investigation into President Obama’s Department of Justice policies surrounding Project Gunrunner and Operation Fast and Furious, comparing it to the Iran-Contra scandal.

    Issa told radio host Rick Amato that it is “not unprecedented” for government agencies, like the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), to refuse to honor Congressional subpoenas.

    “This looks an awful lot like Iran Contra,” Issa said. “When a government agency makes a mistake they stall, delay and cover up. That’s what’s happening here.”
    Even for Issa, this statement is preposterous (I realize he’s just doing his part as a member of the right-wing echo chamber, but that still doesn’t make it right).

    As reported by an actual news organization that is somewhat reputable here, the intent of “Project Gunrunner” was “to stop the flow of weapons from the US to Mexico's drug cartels.” However, in the process of doing so, approximately 2,500 guns ended up in circulation, including 575 AK-47 type semi-automatic rifles; one of these weapons may have been used to kill Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry (not 100 percent sure of the timeline here, I’ll admit…my sympathies to his family and friends).

    From what I read, “Project Gunrunner” was a pretty stupid idea. However, do you want to know what is more stupid, as far as I’m concerned? The fact that the assault weapons ban was allowed to lapse in 2004 under the thoroughly misguided watch of Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History. And stupider still is the fact that no common-sense gun legislation is even being contemplated by this Congress, including the bills from Carolyn Maloney or Peter King (and Issa is every bit to blame for that as anyone else on Capitol Hill).

    God knows how many people have been killed on both sides of the border as a result (and once again, I’d like an NRA member to explain to me why a hunter would need an assault rifle or even a 30-round clip).

    Stupidest of all, though, is to compare the idiocy of “Project Gunrunner” to the Iran-Contra scandal, in which a doddering former president allowed a renegade foreign policy apparatus to illegally sell arms to an outlaw regime to fuel a South American insurgency (if and when it turns out that Obama has signed off on “Gunrunner,” something I seriously doubt, let me know, OK?).

  • Update 8/22/11: Looks like right-wing propagandist Christine Flowers is about three months behind on her talking points here...

  • Finally, I wanted to highlight the follow Op-Ed in the New York Times recently by John C. Bogle, founder of The Vanguard Group based in Malvern, PA…
    SHOULD Home Depot’s board report each year on the company’s political policies and spending? In a groundbreaking vote at the company’s June 2 annual meeting, Home Depot’s shareholders will have the chance to vote on a nonbinding resolution of support for the company’s policies on, and future plans for, political contributions.

    The vote was made possible because the Securities and Exchange Commission rightly decided in March to allow proxy proposals that require public companies to permit their shareholders to weigh in on their political spending.

    This means that, notwithstanding the Supreme Court’s decision last year that laws limiting corporate political contributions violate constitutional free speech principles, the game is far from over. Shareholders — not self-interested corporate managers — should, and can, decide policies on corporate political contributions.

    What makes this strengthening of shareholder rights particularly important is that over the past 50 years control of corporate America has shifted from individual stockholders to institutional stockholders. But these institutional investors have been unwilling to challenge political activities by corporate boards, even when those activities are not in their shareholders’ interests.
    For anyone unfamiliar with Bogle and Vanguard, I should note that he is all about shareholder participation in money management decisions as well as charging low (relative to the mutual fund biz) fees to attract customers. He has also argued that so-called “index” funds (with securities that comprise common “indices” of funds such as the S&P 500) will outperform actively managed mutual funds over time, and the last I checked, he was still right.

    I think this Op-Ed is important since he is calling for institutional shareholders to make the companies in which they have an ownership stake do the right thing when it comes to declaring their political contributions (Bogle plainly does not agree with the ruling by The Supremes in the Citizens United case). And absent the passing and signing into law of legislation such as the DISCLOSE Act, this may be the next arena, if you will, in which we should engage those who would consolidate the corporate voice at the expense of our own once and for all.
  • Monday, May 16, 2011

    Monday Stuff

    Before there were the Koch Brothers, there were the Rockefellers - yesterday marked the 100th anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling that Standard Oil was an "unreasonable" monopoly...

    ...and kudos to Carlos Santana for speaking truth to stoo-pid here.

    Monday Mashup (5/16/11)

  • This is a link to the Area Votes in Congress writeup in the Philadelphia Inquirer from May 8th (not yesterday, which I’ll get to later). It’s late primarily because of last week’s Blogger kerfuffle.

    There’s not a lot to say, though, except to point out that the House sent three measures to the Senate that have virtually no chance of becoming law unless Congress managed to override the inevitable (and justifiable) veto of President Obama in all three instances.

    The first measure pertains to the HR 3 Chris Smith anti-abortion atrocity, including the truly vile “rape audits” (with unanimous Yes votes by all local House Repugs including Mikey The Beloved and No votes by all Dems except Tim Holden). The second measure concerns establishing the state-run health exchanges (same as above – if Holden had any guts, he would just switch parties and make it official), and the third pertained to school-based health clinics (which, for some reason, Holden supported…all other votes were the same).

    One of the votes included an extension of oil industry tax breaks, including Yes votes from all House Repugs. The sole Senate vote was to confirm John J. McConnell, 52, as a judge on the U.S. District Court for Rhode Island (50-44, along party lines).

  • And as long as I’m talking about Congress, I give you the following concerning the E-Town Hall that our Repug PA-08 U.S. House Rep held recently (here)…
    "We're thrilled it was a great turnout. The congressman answered 22 questions over the hour. We got about 60 questions, many of which were repeats. We covered a lot of ground," said executive editor Pat Walker (of the Bucks County Courier Times, which removed anything difficult did their best to avoid controversy thoroughly fluffed our congressman screened his questions).
    Fitzpatrick (said) that job creation is his "number one priority" and that he meets every week with small businesses to discuss what they need to create jobs.

    "There's general universal agreement that the primary source of new jobs is in the private sector, and shouldn't be in the public sector. That is why I have supported many efforts in the past four months to reduce the size of government, reduce spending, and create an environment where small business job creators can succeed," he wrote.
    In response, I give you this once more…

    On the subject of Medicare, Fitzpatrick said that "no person over the age of 54 years old will see any deduction or change at all in their Medicare benefits."

    In response to a question about applying spending toward restoring roads, bridges and tunnels, Fitzpatrick said he just agreed to co-sponsor a bill that would invest in infrastructure.
    Wow, this sure is some big-time “reporting” from Mikey’s PR service, isn’t it? So basically, according to Mikey, no one over 54 has anything to worry about (and why that number, I ask myself? How about 22? 87?). The trouble is, as has been pointed out over and over and over, the “Ryan Care” voucher a participant would receive on the dreaded day that Medicare is privatized would do nothing to contain costs of care.

    And as far as Mikey co-sponsoring an infrastructure bill…well, more details would have been nice, wouldn’t it (such as the number of the bill, other co-sponsors, how the bill would be funded, etc.).

    On top of that, if you want to hear something really disturbing, I’m hearing that the Repug poobahs in Harrisburg may redraw some of the districts in this state to favor a greater Repug voter registration, such as PA-08 (which would ensure that there was never a repeat of the scenario where Patrick Murphy barely lost Bucks in ’06, but defeated Fitzpatrick by taking just enough of the district from Philadelphia and Montgomery County).

    Stay tuned.

  • Next, I had to impart this bit of comedy from the New York Times over the weekend concerning John Ensign’s legal troubles (here)…
    The (Senate) Ethics Committee’s 68-page report…offers a blistering day-by-day account of what it portrayed as lies and deception, and an almost lurid description of (Ensign’s) affair and its consequences. It describes efforts by Mr. Ensign to keep the affair going even after Mrs. (Cynthia) Hampton pleaded to cut it off. The senator used multiple cell phone accounts and fired Mr. (Douglas) Hampton in part so that he could not track the senator’s schedule, the report said.

    The report also catalogs efforts by the senator’s friends to keep him away from Mrs. Hampton. When the senator was caught in a Nevada hotel room with Mrs. Hampton after he had vowed multiple times to end the affair, he received an angry phone call there from Timothy Coe, a prominent Christian fundamentalist and adviser to Mr. Ensign.

    “I know exactly where you are,” Mr. Coe reportedly told the senator, according to the Ethics Committee report. “I know exactly what you are doing. Put your pants on and go home.”
    And this from a guy who once claimed that Bill Clinton “has no credibility left,” for the Monica Whatsername stuff (here).

  • Finally, I have some local Bucks County, PA (and Lower Makefield/Pennsbury in particular) stuff to discuss.

    The other day, what should arrive at Le Manse Doomsy in the mail but a 56-page booklet on 8 ½ x 11 paper from teacher union antagonist Simon Campbell and his front group, Stop Teachers Strikes. It is full of anti-teacher cartoons and propaganda about “the public school employee pension crisis,” how “it pays to be a union boss,” and the evils of “compulsory unionism.”

    The booklet also lists the salary, pension, and full benefit costs of every teacher, administrator and employee in the Pennsbury School District.

    Mrs. Doomsy and I both looked at it and nearly fell over. And no, not because we were bowled over by the compensation of the district’s employees (truth be told, most of them are working more cheaply than I imagined).

    No…we were astonished because we never imagined that anyone, even a human stain like Campbell, could do something so outrageous as to publish each employee’s compensation like that (to say nothing of the cost of publishing and mailing something like this throughout the school district). Yes, it is a matter of public record, but just imagine any college student entertaining a notion of whether or not they ever want to teach, knowing they could be subject one day to the same treatment.

    And yes, the pension issue is a legitimate one. But how are teachers at fault who have paid into the fund for their whole careers, while politicians in this state and across the country have defaulted on their obligations on behalf of these public sector employees?

    This makes it even more important that all of us in Pennsbury vote for Gene Dolnick, John Palmer, Jacqueline Redner, Gary Sanderson, and Linda L. Palsky for the school board tomorrow. It also tells me more than a little bit about Campbell, by the way, that, when you browse the Stop Teachers Strikes site, you can’t tell which Campbell-backed candidates are running for school board (Steve Kosmorsky, Chris Cridge, and Dorothy Vislosky).

    Also, as noted here, there are many other fine Democrats on the ballot for tomorrow, including Diane Marseglia and Det Ansinn for County Commissioner. Also, please vote for Ken Seda and Ron Schmid for Lower Makefield Supervisor, along with Independent Ron Smith.

  • Update 5/17/11: I'm smacking myself in the forehead with an open palm at this minute for not pointing out that Ron Smith won't be on the ballot for LMT Supervisor until this November - my bad.