Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday Stuff

Happy 80th birthday to boomer icon Angie Dickinson (John Cassavetes does something here in “The Killers” to The Sainted Ronnie R that I would like to have tried doing, thought I’m sure the Secret Service would have put a stop to it in short order)…

…and Jeremy Scahill was interviewed by David Shuster on the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki tonight on “Countdown” and made some really good points...can’t find the video yet, but I’ll keep looking for it– in the meantime, here is the “corporate news” version (yes, he was a bad dude, I know, but how many other people realize the “slippery slope” were on legally here with the extrajudicial killing of a U.S. citizen as ordered by our president?)…

Update 1 10/1/11: And I think questions about law and justice in this country are particularly timely in light of this.

Update 2 10/1/11: Here's the Scahill video...

…and Kevin Zeese made some good points as well about the “Occupy Wall Street” stuff and what he’s planning to organize in D.C…

Update 10/1/11: More here.

…and speaking of birthdays, here’s a request from your humble narrator.

Friday Mashup (9/30/11)

  • I was going to highlight a single wingnut post on the whole supposed Solyndra scandal, but there’s so much nonsense out there on that I decided not to bother (hard to highlight any one piece of idiocy). Instead, just flip through this typically exhaustive post from Media Matters on the subject, which is a much better response than anything I could come up with here.

    Update 10/12/11: I thought this was a good post on this subject also.

  • Also, I give you true hilarity from Peggy Noonan here, acolyte of The Sainted Ronnie R perhaps without peer, decrying the alleged “storytelling” of Number 44 (to read it all, subscribe if you must).

    In response, I give you the following (here)…
    Here's the problem: There is no story. At the end of the day, there is only reality. Things work or they don't. When they work, people notice, and say it.

    Would the next president like a story? Here's one. America was anxious, and feared it was losing the air of opportunity that had allowed it to be what it was—expansive, generous, future-trusting. It was losing faith in its establishments and institutions. And someone came out of that need who led—who was wise and courageous and began to turn the ship around. And we saved our country, and that way saved the world.

    Here is a gem of a good point: Reagan's sepia-toned deification is due to his stupid storytelling. But his electoral success was due to the fact that after Fed created a recession to tamp down on inflation, they stimulated the hell out of the economy in advance of his reelection campaign. Reagan (like FDR and Kennedy) is remembered as successful because of the media-driven "story" of his presidency, but he was politically successful because of economic factors. That's the actual lesson Obama has been slow in grasping about the Reagan thing. (Though Obama is right that Democrats are very poor at "selling" liberalism in simple, moral language, which has more of a bearing on the success of liberal policies than it does on Democratic Party electoral success.)
    Besides, “Nooners” is guilty of her own brand of storytelling, as noted here.

  • Next, I give you last week’s Area Votes in Congress (here)…

    Defeat of stopgap budget. Voting 195-230, the House on Wednesday defeated a bill (HR 2608) to fund federal operations through Nov. 18 and provide $3.65 billion to help communities recover from this year's earthquake, hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, storms, and wildfires. The short-term budget is needed because Congress, with the new fiscal year just days away, had enacted none of the 12 appropriations bills that fund the government. The bill drew opposition from 182 Democrats who did not want to cut other programs to fund disaster relief and 48 conservative Republicans who demanded deeper spending cuts.

    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.).

    Reversal on stopgap budget. Voting 219-203, the House on Friday reversed its vote of two days earlier (above) and passed a bill (HR 2608) to fund the entire government through Nov. 18 and provide $3.65 billion in disaster aid. The reversal occurred because 24 conservative Republicans, most aligned with the tea party, switched positions at the urging of GOP leaders.

    A yes vote was to pass the bill.

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

    Voting no: Andrews, Brady, Carney, Fattah, and Schwartz.
    Aha, so those zany teabaggers decided to get smart and do the bidding of their corporate puppet masters after all (And here is an update – wow, funding for a whole week? Don’t do us any favors, you meat sacks!).

    Remember this the next time you hear Repugs whine that the Democrats can never pass a budget. And by the way, I give you the following on this...
    Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., said: “When it comes to spending billions of dollars on two wars that are bankrupting us, the (Republicans’) concern for spending is nowhere to be found....When it comes to helping women, children, and families whose homes have been washed away, the majority has decided they just can’t help unless they get to take the money from a program that has created 39,000 jobs....”
    Uh, yep.
    Clean-air rules delay. Voting 249-169, the House on Friday sent the Senate a bill (HR 2401) to delay until February 2013 or later the effective dates of two clean-air regulations that the Environmental Protection Agency plans to begin phasing in next year. One is the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, which would limit power-plant emissions in 28 eastern, southern and central states that contribute to ground-level ozone and fine-particle pollution in other states. The other is the Utility Maximum Achievable Control Technology Rule, which would limit coal-and oil-fired power plants in their discharges of acid gases and toxic elements such as mercury and arsenic.

    A yes vote was to pass the bill.

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

    Voting no: Andrews, Brady, Carney, Fattah, and Schwartz.
    Here is more on the TRAIN Act, featuring another typically repulsive, partisan vote from Mikey the Beloved (and another strange vote from “Democrat” Tim Holden).

    Trade adjustment assistance. Voting 69-28, the Senate on Thursday renewed Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) for workers displaced by foreign trade at a cost of $900 million over three years. The renewal was added to a broader trade bill (HR 2832) and sent to the House for pairing with U.S. free-trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama.

    A yes vote was to renew Trade Adjustment Assistance.

    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.).
    Credit goes to Dem Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio for this (here - and of course Toomey had to vote No on behalf of the “pay no price, bear no burden” bunch).
    F-16 jets for Taiwan. On a tie vote of 48-48, the Senate on Thursday defeated an amendment to HR 2832 (above) requiring the administration to sell 66 new F-16 fighter jets to the Republic of China, or Taiwan, over objections from the People's Republic of China, or mainland China.

    A yes vote was to sell new F-16 jets to Taiwan.

    Voting yes: Menendez and Toomey.

    Voting no: Carper, Casey, Coons, and Lautenberg.
    This is an update to this vote, by the way; apparently the Obama Administration is going to bend somewhat to Chinese pressure and not sell new aircraft to Taiwan, but only to upgrade existing aircraft (probably another intelligent, adult, reasonable position that will earn Number 44 points from absolutely no one – not sure anyone out there wants to piss off the Chinese on this, which I can understand to a point).
    Republicans' budget defeat. Voting 59-36, the Senate on Friday tabled (killed) a House-passed GOP budget (HR 2608) to fund the government through Nov. 18 while providing $3.65 billion to help communities recover from natural disasters. Democratic opposition centered on the bill's using $1 billion of cuts in a popular Department of Energy loan program for the U.S. auto industry to help offset the cost of the disaster aid. A yes vote was to kill the House Republicans' stopgap budget.

    Voting yes: Carper, Casey, Coons, Lautenberg, Menendez, and Toomey.
    Wow, “No Corporate Tax” Pat actually caved – maybe he was in a hurry to get out of town (Congress was scheduled to be in recess for the whole week, though I cannot possibly imagine why - too much trouble to work for at least part of it, I guess).

  • Further, I give you Ollie North, of all people, here…
    WASHINGTON -- When the U.S. State Department announced this week that it finally is going to designate the Haqqani network as a foreign terrorist organization, it was a nonevent for most of our countrymen. That's because few Americans know how deadly the organization is. For that we can thank those at Foggy Bottom who are wedded to the naive hope of a near-term "diplomatic breakthrough" in Afghanistan. Couple that misguided belief with the Obama administration's self-deception that the radical Islamic jihad against the West ended with the demise of Osama bin Laden and it's understandable why the Haqqani network is virtually unknown. Here's the short form of why it's important.

    When Jalaluddin Haqqani founded the criminal enterprise now known as the Haqqani network, Soviet troops were running amok in Afghanistan. Adopted by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency as a reliable ally, Haqqani's fame as a Pashtun mujahed soon rivaled that of Tajik leader Ahmad Shah Massoud. Both the ISI and the CIA believed that Haqqani was "controllable." But he wasn't.

    After the Soviets withdrew in 1989 and Afghanistan descended into civil war, Massoud opposed the Taliban takeover. Haqqani, encouraged by the ISI, sided with Mullah Mohammad Omar's Taliban and became a key player in Islamabad's window on what was happening in Kabul.
    I would call that an interesting non-history lesson that leaves out the following, as reported by Mark Mazzetti, Scott Shane and Alissa J. Rubin of the New York Times (here)…
    A quarter-century ago, the Haqqani fighters were not the targets of C.I.A. missiles. They were the ones shooting C.I.A.-supplied missiles, the shoulder-fired Stingers that would devastate Soviet air power over Afghanistan.

    Jalaluddin Haqqani was in temporary alliance with the United States against its greater adversary, the Soviet Union, just as his network today is allied with a Pakistan that sees Afghanistan as a critical buffer against its greater adversary, India. His clan’s ruthlessness and fervent Islam were seen then as marks of courage and faith on the part of men Ronald Reagan called freedom fighters.

    Representative Charlie Wilson, the late Texas Democrat who made the mujahedeen his cause, called the elder Mr. Haqqani “goodness personified.”

    American intelligence officers who worked directly with Mr. Haqqani had a somewhat less starry-eyed view. “He was always a wild-eyed guy,” said the former American intelligence official who worked with the Haqqanis. “But we weren’t talking about getting these guys scholarships to Harvard or M.I.T. He was the scourge of the Soviets.”
    Another wretched legacy from The Sainted Ronnie R, for whom North was a National Security Council staff member (oh, and as I recall, he was involved in some untidy business over illegal arms sales to Iran and diversion of profits to a rebel bunch in Nicaragua too…strange how one person’s “freedom fighter” can morph into another person’s terrorist, I guess – and no, even though Tom Hanks played him in that movie, Charlie Wilson wasn’t innocent either).

  • Continuing, this tells us the following…
    Fully knowing that they will be breaking the law and possibly leaving their churches in financial shambles, between 400 and 500 pastors will sermonize on Sunday about political candidates — even endorsing them from the pulpit. And the Internal Revenue Service will be watching.

    “Pastors talk about issues that are held by the candidates,” Erik Stanley told The Daily Caller. Stanely (sic) is senior legal counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund and head of its Pulpit Initiative.

    “They can choose the issues. They talk about what the Bible says about those particularly issues and based on that, they make a recommendation … about the issues the candidate holds.”

    Houses of worship, like other non-profit organizations, pay no federal income tax and can promise tax deductions to their donors. In return, the IRS forbids churches from attempting to “influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities” or “participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates.”

    The Alliance Defense Fund sees this this (sic) as “government censorship” of sermons. It created Pulpit Freedom Sunday in 2008 in protest, beginning with a group of 33 pastors.

    So far, the IRS has not punished any pastors for participating. But that could change as the movement gathers steam.
    Sure it could (and nice copy editing too). And, oh by the way, as noted here…
    Over the last several weeks, Jim Garlow has taken the lead in promoting the Alliance Defense Fund's "Pulpit Initiative," an effort to get pastors to speak out on political issues and even endorse or oppose candidates during their sermons in a direct challenge to the IRS.

    Last week, Garlow and Richard Land were featured on Glenn Beck's new program to push the effort and got Beck to announce his support as he vowed to do whatever he can to promote it, get pastors signed up, and "make a big deal out of it"...
    And speaking of “Lonesome Rhodes” Beck, this tells us the following…
    (Beck, in August 2010) announced that he would leave a church that "preach[ed] who to vote for," while discussing his 8-28 "Restoring Honor" rally. However, Beck is working with James Dobson on the formation of his "Black Robe Regiment," who, along with his organizations, has a history of trying to influence elections through churches, including advocating for pastors to endorse political candidates.
    So, as usual, Beck is opposed to political proselytizing, unless it’s political proselytizing he likes. Figures.

    However, in the final analysis, I think we should note the following from the very end (of course) of the Daily Tucker article…
    Ultimately, though, Pulpit Freedom Sunday is still a small movement that appears to represent only a small segment of U.S. clergy. A Lifeway study of 1,000 protestant pastors conducted in August revealed that 84 percent disagreed with the statement: “I believe pastors should endorse candidates for public office from the pulpit.” Fully 70 percent said they “strongly” disagreed.

    Another Lifeway study, conducted in October 2008, found that less than 3 percent of Protestant pastors had endorsed political candidates from the pulpit.
    The only way this “movement” could “gather steam” with only 3 percent approval would be if Glenn Beck spouted off on TV about it one day and broke wind in the middle of another crying jag over it.

  • Finally, I give you the following from Drudgico…
    Alan Simpson, co-chairman of the White House fiscal commission, isn’t a fan of President Barack Obama’s deficit-reduction plan or his new feisty tone.

    The decision to shield Social Security from changes “is an abrogation of leadership, a vacancy of leadership,” Simpson told POLITICO on Wednesday.

    Simpson said he is “saddened” and “tired of watching” the president talk up bipartisanship in public while bashing Republicans at private fundraisers.
    Awww, boo-freaking-hoo, Cranky McFossil!

    As noted here, however, Simpson has no trouble bashing Repugs in public (and rightly so, as it turns out). However, the following should be noted about the former Wyoming senator on this issue (here, by Kevin Drum)…
    HuffPost suggested to Simpson during a telephone interview that his claim about life expectancy was misleading because his data include people who died in childhood of diseases that are now largely preventable....According to the Social Security Administration's actuaries, women who lived to 65 in 1940 had a life expectancy of 79.7 years and men were expected to live 77.7 years.

    "If that is the case — and I don’t think it is — then that means they put in peanuts," said Simpson. Simpson speculated that the data presented to him by HuffPost had been furnished by "the Catfood Commission people" — a reference to progressive critics of the deficit commission who gave the president's panel that label.

    Told that the data came directly from the Social Security Administration, Simpson continued to insist it was inaccurate, while misstating the nature of a statistical average: "If you’re telling me that a guy who got to be 65 in 1940 — that all of them lived to be 77 — that is just not correct. Just because a guy gets to be 65, he’s gonna live to be 77? Hell, that’s my genre. That’s not true," said Simpson, who will turn 80 in September.

    Simpson is a guy who's taken very seriously on Social Security issues inside the Beltway. He's studied it for years. And yet, as he makes clear later in the interview, he simply had no idea any of this was true. No idea. And he doesn't believe it, even though this stuff is Social Security 101.
    Yep, it’s a darn shame Simpson doesn’t get it. Maybe he can call “enema man and Snoopy Snoopy Poop Dogg” to explain it to him (here).

    (Hey listen, if you want to blame me for the bodily reference about Glenn Beck, go ahead. But Simpson said that one, not me!)
  • Thursday, September 29, 2011

    Thursday Stuff

    I know I covered this already a couple of days ago about South Carolina, but it doesn't hurt to give those numbskulls Nikki Haley and Lex Luthor Scott in FLA another shot (and kudos to Carl Hiaasen, a guy who knows a thing or two about books)...

    ...also, K.O. talks to Matt Taibbi about the "Occupy Wall Street" protest ("maybe there just aren't enough funny hats" indeed)...

    Update 9/30/11: More here.

    ...and speaking of which, kudos to Lawrence O'Donnell for this...

    ...and I don't know if this linkage "works" or not, but I always liked this tune and this is an important story as far as I'm concerned, so here it is.

    Thursday Mashup (9/29/11)

    (Oh, and I guess as far as CNN is concerned, only Democrats, particularly African American ones, can have a "race problem.")

  • This tells us of the recent outbreak of listeria, a disease tied to tainted cantaloupe, that has sickened 72 people and killed at least 16 others, making it the country’s deadliest food outbreak in more than a decade. And of course, the U.S. House Repugs, in response, are continuing their efforts unabated to gut our country’s food safety laws (with the benefit of those laws far outweighing the cost).

    The recent outbreak is reminiscent of the peanut butter scare that occurred shortly after President Obama took office, sickening 500 people in 43 states and killing eight (noted here…and by the way, the post is dated eight days after his inauguration, not allowing him any time to prevent the outbreak).

    This also makes me recall the following from The Eternal Molly Ivins from her book “Bushwhacked,” with Lou Dubose (here)…
    The Republicans win elections in the “red” states where cattle and chickens are produced and slaughtered. Democrats win their elections in the “blue” states on the coasts. Republicans use the USDA to pay off their contributors from the red states. The result of that crude electoral calculus is laissez-faire food safety policy whenever a Republican is in the White House…

    In the 2000 election, the corporate food-production combines donated $59 million in both hard and soft money, 75 percent of it to Republicans. Forget hanging chads. It was the hanging sides of beef in IBP’s hamburger factories that made George W. Bush president.
    It should be noted as well that Number 42 wasn’t perfect on this issue either, having been bankrolled in part by Tyson, another industry conglomerate. However, all of this is still food for thought (sorry).

  • Update 9/30/11: Hey, residents of the "Buckeye State" voted for him, and may very well return him to Congress next year in spite of this.

  • Continuing, I give you more recent false equivalency on the issue of natural gas drilling (here)…
    PITTSBURGH — Some insist Marcellus Shale natural gas is a huge economic boom for America, while others are certain it's an environmental catastrophe.

    Scientists at Duke University and Penn State University say people are oversimplifying their research, painting the issue as all black or all white, when in fact there's a lot of gray.

    But some say that's just the new reality in an age of social media, where everyone gets to questions scientists, not just their peers.
    Oh yes, it’s all the fault of that danged “social media,” isn’t it?

    The AP’s Kevin Begos then goes on to make some crack about how those who oppose the “fracking” process for natural gas are “departing from reason,” and then follows with a quote from filmmaker Josh Fox, which makes me wonder if Begos even went to the trouble to watch “Gasland.”

    In response, this tells us the following…
    Unfortunately, while we are waiting for further scientific research--which can take years to conduct--to follow up on these questions, frack wells are being drilled all over the state. One thing is for sure: Contaminated groundwater cannot be undone. Statistics show that water use in the US and globally is increasing, and projections estimate that by 2025 1/3 of the world will not have access to adequate drinking water. With this knowledge informing our decisions, does it make sense to put the drinking water of our state at risk, while we wait for further science to give us the most accurate picture of that risk? Sure, there are gaps in the science--but it is also entirely possible that the worst case scenario sometimes imagined by those of us in the anti-fracking movement could become our reality. Industry pushes ahead, fracking to extract shale gas and building an infrastructure for its export, regardless of the current science--the science that uncovers the fallacy of natural gas as a "bridge fuel," the science that documents significant, health-impacting air pollution associated with drilling, the science that that has found concentrations of heavy metals in water, the science that designates several of the ingredients in frack fluid as known carcinogens--or the need for further scientific research. It cannot be denied that fracking does indeed put water at risk. Replacing contaminated water by importing water from elsewhere into a community whose residents can no longer safely drink, bathe, or even wash dishes with their water is not a solution.
    And this tells us more about the disclosure laws on fracking chemicals in PA…
    The Marcellus Shale Coalition, which represents gas drillers in Pennsylvania, is “overwhelmingly on board” with the disclosure regulations, according to spokesman Travis Windle, who said the group would support a move toward posting the information online. Environmentalists want to see a public database, too. “I don’t think we’re quite there yet,” said PennEnvironment’s clean water advocate, Erika Staaf. “[The regulation] needs some tweaking, so not only our…agencies, but really our general public can know what’s going underground, and what’s coming back up.”

    Wyoming was the first state to pass disclosure regulations. Its guidelines went into effect about a year ago, in September 2010. The state’s rules are stronger than Pennsylvania’s in two respects: First, companies are required to disclose the details of all of their chemicals, not just the compounds deemed hazardous by OSHA. Second, the reports are then posted on the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission’s website. And while the state’s website has a labyrinthine mid-90s design, that information is still out there for public consumption.

    Steve Jones, a lawyer with the Wyoming Outdoor Council, called the regulations a good first step. “I think there is enough specificity with the requirement that they post the [chemical abstract service numbers]. We do like that about it,” he said. “One problem that bothers me is the trade secrets deal.”
    Of course, with PA’s illustrious Governor Tom “Space Cadet” Corbett having been bankrolled to the tune of $700,000 by the natural gas industry on his way to election (and developments such as this, in light of this), it will continue to be a long, hard fight to preserve our water as well as our air from this supposed energy “miracle cure.”

  • Further, I give you a rather novel (though wrong, IMHO) take on what is going on in Washington, DC from self-appointed moralist Bill Bennett (here)…
    …we are in the midst of a serious philosophical battle over the future of this country -- a battle between a small, limited government system and a big government entitlement state. The nature of our Constitution requires that the American people decide the direction of this country, not Washington. And until the American people decide, there will be arguments, division and gridlock.

    Our country does not undergo dramatic changes in political philosophy, for better or for worse, overnight. It is a slow, painful process and has been throughout our history. Our Founding Fathers foresaw this.

    In Federalist No. 10 James Madison wrote, "The latent causes of faction are thus sown in the nature of man. ... A zeal for different opinions concerning religion, concerning government, and many other points, as well of speculation as of practice; an attachment to different leaders ambitiously contending for pre-eminence and power ... have, in turn, divided mankind into parties, inflamed them with mutual animosity, and rendered them much more disposed to vex and oppress each other than to co-operate for their common good."
    So, basically, Wild Bill is saying (to paraphrase that noted philosopher Gordon Gekko) that “gridlock is good.” And hell, the Founding Fathers though it was just peachy too.

    Really? In response, I give you the following from John Adams, our second president (here)…
    There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.

    The essence of a free government consists in an effectual control of rivalries. The executive and the legislative powers are natural rivals; and if each has not an effectual control over the other, the weaker will ever be the lamb in the paws of the wolf. The nation which will not adopt an equilibrium of power must adopt a despotism. There is no other alternative.
    And I give you this from Thomas Jefferson, our third president (here)…
    The freedom and happiness of man...[are] the sole objects of all legitimate government.

    The most sacred of the duties of a government [is] to do equal and impartial justice to all citizens.

    The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.
    Yes, I will admit that each side can go back and forth all day playing a game of “Yeah, well, John Dickinson said this, and Benjamin Franklin said that, and John Hancock said something better than the other two” to justify one’s point of view. But Bennett is the one who decided to play this game, not me, and he really should never have even tried.

    Now comes the question that matters; I wonder if he’s still trying to “ride a hard eight” (here)?

  • Next, it looks like the Teahadists are upset with Mikey the Beloved (here)…
    A tea party leader is “listening” to people who want her to challenge Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick in a Republican primary next year.

    Jennifer Stefano, of the conservative Americans For Prosperity, said Monday that Fitzpatrick’s recent vote against a GOP bill to ban the National Labor Relations Board from ordering any employer to shut down plants or relocate work, has her “listening to people who would like me to be” a candidate.

    The director of policy for labor and energy for AFP said she initially “dismissed” overtures from individuals she would not name to seek the 8th District Republican nomination in 2012. But after Fitzpatrick’s Sept. 15 vote she told her courters “I will listen to you now.”
    More of the wingnut caterwauling on this is here (and one of the comments alleging that the teabaggers would have any type of common cause whatever with the aforementioned John Adams was particularly uproarious).

    Of course, the source of all the upsetment by our lower life forms has to do with Fitzpatrick’s shockingly sensible vote against the “Outsourcers Bill of Rights,” as noted here - last bullet. And further (as noted here)…
    Dozens of postal workers and supporters rallied in front of the office of Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick, R-8, Tuesday afternoon and thanked him for supporting a bill they say will save the country’s postal service.

    As one of 492 rallies nationwide scheduled for Tuesday, the rally attracted about 60 people to the parking lot of the congressman’s Middletown office. Earlier in the day, the workers rallied outside the Frankford Avenue office of Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz, D-13, in Philadelphia.

    Fitzpatrick and Schwartz are two of 216 co-sponsors of a bill by Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass, that an American Postal Workers Union Local 7048 official said will “put the postal service back on a sound financial footing.”

    H.R. 1351 will allow the U.S. Postal Service to use billions of dollars from an overfunded federal retirement fund and use it to pay off a $5.5 billion debt obligation.
    More on H.R. 1351 is here - by the way, get a load of the language Mikey used to defend his vote…
    “Since before the founding of the republic we have relied on local carriers to deliver our mail,” Fitzpatrick told the newspaper. “It is imperative that we maintain a stable and efficient national postal service not only in the interest of commerce prosperity but also national security.”
    He doesn’t feel the Teahadists breathing down his neck, does he? Not much he doesn’t.

    So actually, it looks like our PA-08 U.S. House Rep is having himself not too bad of a wankery-free week, wouldn’t you say?

    Not so fast – as noted here…
    Oil and water don’t mix, and discussing the two wasn’t easy for Bucks County Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick during a meeting with constituents in Middletown on Tuesday.

    The representative attended a meeting of the Bucks County Coalition of Senior Communities to poll its members on a bill that would authorize offshore drilling in America’s outer continental shelf.

    Taxes on oil drilling more than 100 miles from the coast could help pay for infrastructure improvements and jobs programs, he said.

    Yet most of those present instead drilled the congressman on flooding and homeowners who repeatedly receive disaster assistance from the federal government.
    “Taxes on oil drilling”? Is Mikey serious?

    As noted here, when he had the chance, he, along with every other House Repug, voted to extend tax breaks for the “Big Oil” sugar daddies that bankroll too much of the Democratic Party and ALL of the Republican Party.

    This of course is par for the proverbial course with Mikey the Beloved; hopefully, one step forward and no more than one step backwards in the process.

    All of which makes me want to say the following in response to his possible primary challenge next year (though I’m still reserving judgment on that):

    Go, Jen, Go!

  • Finally, I want to touch briefly on the world of sports again in light of this story. It seems that recently-acquired Philadelphia Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds is in a bit of hot water over an incident in a recent pre-season game against the New York Rangers in which he used a “homophobic slur” against Rangers player Sean Avery. The league apparently will take no action, even though Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager Brian Burke wants it to.

    Why is Brian Burke, a general manager from another team, involving himself here? Because (as the ESPN story tells us) his son, Brendan, who also was a student manager for the Miami of Ohio men’s hockey team, came out as openly gay in 2007 (the younger Burke was killed in a car crash last February). So, as a gesture of respect to his son (and, God willing, I’ll never imagine the horror of such a circumstance – my sympathies to the Burke family), the elder Burke has remained vigilant on LGBT issues in the NHL, which is commendable.

    And I probably should side with Brian Burke 100 percent here. But I don’t (and this may make me a bit unpopular here, but I’ll take my chances).

    In professional sports, you often have physically huge, highly-skilled athletes colliding with each other at high speed and in all manner of circumstances, and in just about every case they’re acting in opposition to each other. In a situation like that, I don’t think it’s realistic to try enforcing rules of conversational etiquette.

    It would be one thing if Simmonds (assuming he and Avery were both penalized) had stood up in his penalty box and screamed the homophobic slur at Avery after both had had a chance to “cool off” a bit after the altercation. It would also be one thing if Simmonds had tried to joke around using the slur in a pregame warmup and he had been overheard by Avery, but that apparently didn’t happen either (also, Avery will never be nominated for the Lady Byng trophy awarded for gentlemanly conduct on ice, which is another discussion entirely I know).

    So I think the league should go easy on Simmonds (assuming it does anything at all). And this is actually the second recent incident involving Simmonds – as noted here, an idiot fan in Ottawa threw a banana peel on the ice near him (Simmonds is African American), and apparently, the fan will be charged.

    As I said, I don’t defend the use of the slur (and yes, I would say the same thing if Simmonds played for the Rangers and Avery played for the Flyers). This isn’t quite the same thing I know, but in the Flyers’ playoff series with Buffalo last year, at least one of the Sabres made derogatory comments to two Flyers who had undergone divorces. I know that’s not homophobic or legally actionable, but it was out of line all the same. All I’m saying is that, when words are exchanged on the ice between players that maybe should not be exchanged, the players should be allowed to police themselves.

    I know pro athletes make more money over their careers than I will probably make in my entire working life, but we pay them for their physical skill and expertise at their craft, not for their presumed knowledge of “The Elements of Style.” I just think expecting them to remember not to use certain words, when (in the case of hockey players) they’re skating towards each other as fast as they can in pursuit of a tiny disc of vulcanized rubber that they can shoot at a speed of approaching 100 miles per hour, is “a bridge too far.”

    Update 10/5/11: Well, this is one way to solve the issue.
  • Wednesday, September 28, 2011

    Wednesday Stuff

    I'll try to post again tomorrow...

    And yes, Jon, he sure is (and there are people in our beloved commonwealth who thought he was worthy of election to the U.S. Senate, twice no less)...

    ...and Miles Davis died 20 years ago today.

    Tuesday, September 27, 2011

    Tuesday Stuff

    "Worst Persons" (The College Republicans at UC Berkeley take third place for staging a bake sale in which women and minorities have to pay more I believe, or less, or something, dutifully "reported" by our lapdog "liberal media"; next is the heckler at an Obama fund-raiser calling him "the Anti-Christ"...gawd, that's so 2009, dude - you gonna ask for his long-form birth certificate next? Ha ha ha; but Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Ariz. gets it for...oops, looks like I shouldn't have said anything about the "birth cert"...gets it for getting defensive on what should have been a "gimme" of a question, saying he's not a racist (which would be a lie, of course) but instead, dragging his family into his answer...REALLY??!!)...

    ...and always remember that pedestrians have the right of way, my fellow prisoners (and that crime doesn't pay, of course...maybe for the "banksters," but that's a topic for another day).

    Bringing The Pain, Part 7

    (Part 1 including the setup is here, Part 2 is here, Part 3 is here, Part 4 is here, Part 5 is here, and Part 6 is here.)


    Ah, it’s time to turn to our beloved commonwealth at last. But before I do, let’s replay this moment of infamy from Governor Tom “Space Cadet” Corbett that should have cost him the election last year (and by the way, speaking of voters, I thought this was a refreshing bit of candor - I don’t know who this guy is, but I hope he isn’t now forced to write some kind of post about how rabid partisans on each side of the political divide are equally at fault, yada yada…).

    This provides some background on who you might consider to be typically unemployed residents (the article is a year old, but I’m sure it still holds true). Also, here is an opinion column on the subject which basically tells employers in this state (and across the country) to stop being so damn choosy about applicants and put more money into training instead (yes I know, I can dream, can’t I?).

    As noted here, an extension in June “(froze) the maximum benefit rate at $573 in 2012 and slow(ed) future benefit growth, and it limits benefits for people laid off with severance packages” (that’s still a lot better than what I collected when I had to file under former Repug Guv Dick “Six Times The Weekly Benefit Rate” Thornburgh).

    When it comes to the politicians in this state, this tells us of the Orwellian-titled “right to work” legislation courtesy of that fathead Daryl Metcalfe (R-Crazy). Also, this tells us about the latest corporate “astro-turfing” from a group called Americans for Job Security (dated a year ago) running ads attacking the “stim” along with would-be U.S. House Rep Bryan Lentz and actual U.S. House Rep Jason Altmire (both Dems, of course… the group just loves “No Corporate Tax” Pat Toomey, wouldn’t you know).

    On the “D” side, state rep John Galloway introduced legislation here to mandate that all employers use eVerify to check the immigration status of their workers; short of federal immigration legislation that may never be forthcoming because not enough of our politicians want to act like grownups on this issue or most others, this may be the least bad option out there, though it is opposed by immigrant right groups and “undocumented” workers generally.

    (Note: The Galloway House link is flaky, so try this instead.)

    Oh, and once more, here is the latest from “Sideshow Bob” Casey on this subject (sad…even worse considering the state had an unemployment rate of 8.2 percent last month as noted here– better than the national average, but still not great).

    Puerto Rico

    The unemployment rate in this U.S. territory was 14.9 percent in June (ugh). Also, here is a hodgepodge of news articles about Puerto Rico in general from resident commissioner Pedro Pierluisi.

    As noted here, though, there is support on the island for President Obama’s jobs bill…
    Through a press release, Popular Democratic Party gubernatorial candidate Alejandro García Padilla expressed his support for the president’s bill. Both he and PDP Senator Eduardo Bhatia encourage Gov. Fortuño to distance himself from the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives and support the president.

    In an interview with the Daily Sun, Bhatia said that “President Obama has delivered on his promise to help invigorate the economy of Puerto Rico. The Jobs Act is a great step in the right direction lead by the White House. Bhatia, a candidate for Senate president in the next term, were the PDP to win the senate, warned that “A true plan for increasing jobs in Puerto Rico will also require bold steps by both the local government and the private sector. Small and medium-sized businesses must make the effort to quickly identify areas of growth and development and proceed to hire new employees. While I commend the resident commissioner for his leadership on this issue, I hope to hear the same position by Gov. (Luis) Fortuño and truly hope that he will not side with the Republican Party in the Congress. One additional job created on the island makes the program worth it,” concluded Bhatia.
    Now all they have to do is win over “Democrats” like Bob Casey.

    Rhode Island

    Based on this, it sounds like the “Family Guy” state could get $24 mil from the aforementioned jobs bill (assuming “Man Tan” Boehner and that sleazy weasel Cantor each come down with an attack of conscience and decide to move on it – not likely I know). And as noted here, the unemployment rate was 10.6 percent in August, which actually is a dip of two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous month (yeeeoooowwww – the rate actually went down in June to 10.8 percent even though the state lost 1,500 jobs, as noted here).

    And as noted here, Rhode Island is one of twenty states participating in a work-sharing program, which involves cutting the hours of the workforce instead of laying them off (what a concept…I believe Germany has had success with this also – Dem U.S. Senator Jack Reed has sponsored federal legislation on this, which, as far as I’m concerned, is long overdue).

    (By the way, this doesn’t directly pertain to jobs I know, but it’s really impossible for me to say something about this state and not mention state rep Dan Gordon - what a sociopath.)

    South Carolina

    Warning, people – we’re about to journey through the looking glass again.

    As noted here, Repug Guv Nikki Haley wants to drug-test the unemployed, though there’s no evidence to support it of course (she said that half the people who applied to work at a nuclear facility in the state had failed drug tests – wrong of course).

    And in case you were wondering, this tells us that every Repug in the state’s U.S. congressional delegation – including Huckleberry Graham, DeMint, teabagger token Tim Scott and Joe “You Lie!” Wilson…what a sorry lot – voted against extending unemployment benefits last year. DeMint in particular wanted all Repug presidential candidates to support “cut, crap and balance” here even though that meant slashing unemployment benefits, as noted here.

    The more I think about it, though, the more I realize that I should have linked to the CNN Granderson post here instead; want to know how this state could elect such buffoonish politicians? Check this out.

    “Oh, you danged li-bu-ruul, your state should be ‘right to work’ like ours. That would shut up you and your socialist friends in the Democrat Party!”

    Uh, no. And furthermore, here is an enlightening comment from the Media Matters post…
    Here in SC unionization is actually illegal. As you all can see, SC is a vibrant, thriving, beacon of hope for all states to look up to:

    --41st in age 25 and over with High School diploma
    --1st in the country in mobile homes as a % of total housing
    --42nd in disposable personal income
    --9th in families below poverty
    --9th in individuals below poverty
    --38th in median family income
    Oh, and by the way, the unemployment rate in August was 11.1 percent (here). Maybe they should try Democrats next time, huh (yeah, dream on, I know).

    Update 9/29/11: I wonder if Marie Antoinette ordered the peasants to be "cheerful" also (here)?

    South Dakota

    As noted from the South Carolina link, the unemployment rate in this state was 4.7 percent in August, third lowest in the nation, though there are apparently worrisome signs based on this.

    And by the way, all of you who voted from Kristi “Unsafe At Any Speed” Noem last year, I hope you’re still pleased with yourselves after reading the utterly vapid nonsense on jobs from her web page (and John “Looney” Thune doesn’t support infrastructure spending, of course, as noted here).

    In addition, I don’t really have anything to add from here, but I just wanted to give the site a plug.


    The unemployment rate in the “volunteer state” was 9.7 percent in August (also from the South Carolina link). And this tells us the following…
    NASHVILLE — Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester called out Republican lawmakers Thursday for being “out of touch with reality” on growing the state economy and assisting Tennessee’s 300,000 job seekers.

    “We don’t have a shortage of work ethic in Tennessee, we have a shortage of work. We have roads and bridges to fix, safe energy to harness, and schools to rebuild,” Forrester said. “Instead of playing politics and mocking people who have lost their jobs by no fault of their own, Republicans should want to work with Democrats in finding ways to make Tennessee work again for Tennesseans.”
    Uh, yep.

    And on the subject of jobs, this tells us how Repug U.S. House Rep Marsha Blackburn asked Gibson Guitar CEO Henry Juszkiewicz to be her guest at Obama’s speech on that subject, alleging persecution from that Kenyan Socialist Muslim over Gibson’s illegal importing of wood, when in fact the current administration was administering a regulation from the ill-fated term of Number 43 (and if the wood had been imported as a finished piece, that would have been that, as they say…more here).

    When it comes to anti-union antagonism, though (as demonstrated here), there aren’t too many people who can touch Bob Corker and his anti-UAW antics (from 12/08, while our government was trying to bail out the automakers). And this tells us that Corker and his fellow Repug U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander voted against extending unemployment bennies in March 2010.

    At least the legislature in this state, along with North Carolina, restored unemployment benefits after they lapsed in April, as noted here.


    Ummm…now who is that governor from this state running for president again? No wait, don’t tell me, I’m keen to guess.

    Oh yeah, “Goodhair” Perry! What was I thinking?

    Want to know something funny, though? As noted here, under his term, public sector jobs grew twice as fast as private sector jobs (and as noted here, the state has the highest percentage of minimum wage jobs in the nation).

    Meanwhile, it looks like Lamar Smith is sponsoring the same legislation on the federal level that John Galloway is sponsoring on the state level in PA, as noted here (wonder if Galloway knows that?).

    Oh, and just to show you how serious Repug U.S. House Rep Louie Gohmert supposedly is on jobs, he introduced his own “American Jobs Act” before his spineless “leadership” introduced Obama’s bill by the same name; of course, Gohmert’s joke of a bill was loaded up with more stinking tax cuts (here). And in this story, Gohmert’s fellow House Repug Jeb Hensarling utters the thoroughly laughable line of “deficit reduction is part of job creation.” (uh…proof?)

    As far as that state’s U.S. Senate delegation is concerned, Repug John Cornyn said here that any disaster aid that could be put to work to rebuild people’s homes and communities must be “offset” (didn’t hear that when these clowns ran up about a $10 trillion tab on two wars, Medicare Part D and Dubya’s stinking tax cuts, of course). And the state’s unemployment rate in August was 8.5 percent (referring back to that same link for S.C., S.D. and Tennessee one more time – not bad by comparison, but certainly nothing to crow about).

    In conclusion, this tells us that Richard A. Dunn of Texas A&M co-wrote a study with Timothy J. Classen of Loyola University Chicago that found that mass layoffs and long stretches of unemployment were attached to increased suicide risk (it should be noted, though, that underlying mental health issues frequently come into play here; if there’s an existing issue, it’s made worse by unemployment…would that the numbskull politicians of this state, and too many others, got that through their thick heads; I’ve got some suggestions for what they can do with that “yellow rose”).

    Update 9/29/11: On jobs, "Goodhair" strikes again (here).

    Update 10/5/11: And to think, Davy Crockett died at The Alamo for the likes of this clown (here).

    I should be able to finish this up next time.

    Monday, September 26, 2011

    Monday Stuff

    Hopefully back to posting tomorrow...

    I give you the latest in the War on Workers here - the mess noted below sounds like the handiwork of the Dreaded 109th Congress, of which Mikey the Beloved was a member (albeit a lame duck; just remember this the next time anyone gets the urge to complain about the post office...actually, for what we pay to send our mail, it's a bargain - Update 9/29/11: I noted recently that Fitzpatrick supports a bill to fix this)...

    ...and here's some Monday funk with a message - I guess we'll have to come back to that next song another time, and good luck to the happy couple.

    Sunday, September 25, 2011

    Sunday Stuff

    While our corporate media is busy manufacturing the Solyndra "scandal" and blaming Harry Reid (!) for what appears to be yet another upcoming government shutdown (something that doesn't seem to happen when Democrats run both houses of Congress, in case anyone hasn't noticed), as well as whining about a supposed "grand bargain" to be had if only, gosh, that Kenyan Socialist Muslim pre-zee-dint of ours would just reach out to those GOP "moderates" (who haven't existed on the national level for, oh, say 15-20 years, by the way), I give you some real, actual news here of a group of medium-build young women bravely protesting the "banksters" in NYC and who end up getting pepper-sprayed for their trouble by cops fully dressed for battle (here).

    Oh, but Kim Delaney lost her mind trying to give a speech in Philadelphia - why don't I post about "real" stuff like that instead...

    ...and this weekend marked the 20th anniversary of the debut album from Nirvana, marked elsewhere also I know - here is a selection for the occasion.