John Boehner, the House Minority Leader, floated an interesting idea today. Asked if he agreed with the head of the Chamber of Commerce that the US government that is to say, you know, you and me, fellow taxpayer should share the cost, along with BP, of the oil spill disaster in the Gulf. His response? I think the people responsible in the oil spill BP and the federal government should take full responsibility for what's happening there.
Later on in the day, his flacks started walking this back. BP, says flack, should be wholly responsible for the clean-up.
Of course they are responsible for the clean up. The question is, are they responsible for the damage? In other words, BP will have to pay to remove the crude from the water; that is all but certain. But will they have to pay the fishermen whose lives they ruined beyond the pathetic $75 million cap that Congress established years ago?
There is a move in Congress to retroactively abolish that bullshit cap and make BP pay for its negligence. The Chamber of Commerce actively opposes this.
Where will today's bought-and-paid-for, corporatist Republican Party come down? Stay tuned.
Save Cancer Boxes, Not Taxes! Ahhhhh! This is why I love the Internet.
Pat Toomey, the Pa. GOP's nominee for Senate, would like you to think he's a mainstream, conservative-but-not-insane kind of guy. That's how his campaign will present him over the next few months. They'll downplay his four-year stint at the helm of the Club for Growth, a far-right organization that sought to evict Republicans it deemed not conservative enough. Instead, they'll talk in generic terms about his "common sense approach" to lower taxes and limited spending, etc., while trying to castigate Joe Sestak, retired Navy admiral, as some lilly-livered Marxist. Sadly, there's a pretty good shot this strategy will work, too, since the election will be far more about the national mood than the merits of the individual candidates.
The truth is, Toomey at least during his tenure in Congress had a pretty radical record. Quantifiably so: According to a statistical analysis by Pollster.com's Harry Enten using lawmakers' DW-Nominate scores (a pretty standard political science measurement of ideology, alongside rankings from groups like Americans for Democratic Action and the American Conservative Union), Toomey is way, way, way to the right of even Rick Santorum, whom this state so rightly removed from the Senate back in 2006.
Is Pat Toomey too conservative for Pennsylvania?
This weekend in response to a post I wrote about possible Pennsylvania Senate match-ups Alan Reifman asserted that Toomey "is too far to the right for Pennsylvania." When I saw Reifman's post, I was going to respond "but Pennsylvanians elected Rick Santorum... twice." But before I did, I decided to contrast Santorum's and Toomey's DW-Nominate scores. DW-Nominate scores classify House and Senate members as liberal or conservative based on all their roll call votes than can be identified as liberal or conservative. These scores allow one to compare how rightward or leftward legislators are on a single dimension -1 to 1 scale with higher positive scores indicating a more conservative record*. What I found surprised me.
Using joint House and Senate scaling (which treat the House and Senate a single body to compare scores across chambers), we find that Pat Toomey (.718) had a considerably more conservative voting record than Rick Santorum (.349). To put that number into context, Lincoln Chafee (the ultimate liberal Republican and now independent) had a DW-Nominate score of .002 and Republican Arlen Specter had a score of .067. Republican Specter was slightly to the right of Chafee; Santorum was considerably right of Chafee; and, Toomey was much further right.
Still, I wanted to get a better idea of how conservative Toomey voting record was. So, I pulled the DW-Nominate score of every United States legislator (House and Senate) since 1995**. Indeed, of the 1,004 legislators to receive a DW-Nominate score for their career since 1995, Toomey ranked as the 22nd most conservative.
Toomey, by a very literal definition, is a fringe candidate, and he should be treated as such. He was more right-wing than JD Hayworth, Jim DeMint, and even the racist Jesse Helms. Cue the visual:
The question for the fall, I think, is whether the Pa media (and the Sestak campaign) allow Toomey to track to the middle unfettered, or whether they call him out for being the fringe, radical candidate that his record in Congress says he is.
Last year, you may recall, state Rep. Babette Josephs went on a privacy-rights campaign writing a bill (which unanimously passed the House) that would ban anyone from injecting microchips into anyone else. Said the researcher who helped her draft the language:
Despite the technologys potential usefulness, Sultzbaugh said, some Christian groups liken the identification devices to the mark of the beast, a Satanic mark described in the Book of Revelation and represented by the number 666.
Yes. The Mark of the Beast, etc. (Of course, the bill exempted any Gitmo detainees who might end up in Pennsylvania someday, because, clearly, they're already on the devil's team.)
Well, the fine folks of the Georgia House Judiciary Committee took up this same heady issue this week. Hilarity ensues.
Three states have instituted bans, and others have considered the legislation. In Virginia, a bill supporter declared microchips to be the 666? mark of the beast referred to in the Book of Revelation.
Pearson has said his motivation isnt biblical or religious that he is simply working in advance of technologys next assault on personal privacy. Not unlike limiting the uses of DNA testing by health insurance companies, he argues.
At the House hearing, state Rep. Ed Setzler (R-Kennesaw), who is shouldering the legislation in the House, spoke earnestly for better than a half hour on microchips as a literal invasion of privacy.
He was followed by a hefty woman who described herself as a resident of DeKalb County. Im also one of the people in Georgia who has a microchip, the woman said. Slowly, she began to lead the assembled lawmakers down a path they didnt want to take.
Microchips, the woman began, infringe on issues that are fundamental to our very existence. Our rights to privacy, our rights to bodily integrity, the right to say no to foreign objects being put in our body.
She spoke of the right to work without being tortured by co-workers who are activating these microchips by using their cell phones and other electronic devices.
She continued. Microchips are like little beepers. Just imagine, if you will, having a beeper in your rectum or genital area, the most sensitive area of your body. And your beeper numbers displayed on billboards throughout the city. All done without your permission, she said.
It was not funny, and no one laughed.
Maam, did you say you have a microchip? asked state Rep. Tom Weldon (R-Ringgold).
Yes, I do. This microchip was put in my vaginal-rectum area, she replied. Setzler, the sponsoring lawmaker, sat next to the witness his head bowed.
Youre saying this was involuntary? Weldon continued.
The woman said she had been pushing a court case through the system for the last eight years to have the device removed.
Wendell Willard (R-Atlanta), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, picked up the questioning.
Who implanted this in you? he asked.
Researchers with the federal government, she said.
And who in the federal government implanted it? Willard asked.
The Department of Defense.
Thank you, maam.
The woman was allowed to go about her business, and the House Judiciary Committee approved passage of SB 235.
|Photo | Courtesy of defibrillators.us|
Remember the Riders Against Gender Exclusion (awesome acronym, BTW) protest earlier this week, in which transgender activists dressed in drag and marched around City Hall, in order to speak out against SEPTA's M/F gender transit passes?
It turns out that Chicago's TG community is grappling with a similar problem: Their rail system Metra also insists on keeping its M/F gender stickers, also because the company claims it cuts down on theft.
A new Research 2000 poll out today has Sen. Arlen Specter the subject, of course, of this week's cover story widening his leads against both Joe Sestak in the primary and Pat Toomey in the general. Caveat: This is a Daily Kos poll, which as Nate Silver at 538.com writes, has a decidedly Dem lean. Still, it supports the recent Q poll that came out and also has Specter ahead. Toomey, of course, has plenty of time to bridge the gap. Joe Sestak, Specter's primary opponent, does not. Being down 20 with two months to go has anyone see Sestak on TV in Philly, the state's largest Dem base? I haven't isn't a good omen for him.
Can you name the seven states in which more than 50,000 people have lost their unemployment benefits, thanks to the efforts of jackass Sen. Jim Bunning, who, on his own, has managed to hold up completely fuck over the unemployed, halt construction projects, end the government's subsidization of COBRA, and drastically cut payments to Medicare doctors? California, Texas, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, New York, and, of course, Pennsylvania.
Bunning, if you haven't been following the news, is holding what is in essence a one-man filibuster of one-month extensions of these programs, unless and until Democrats figure out where to find an extra $10 billion to pay for it. Of course, Bunning, a former baseball player who is generally regarded as one of the Senate's lesser lights so dimwitted, in fact, that Kentucky Republicans successfully pressured him into not seeking reelection has converted to deficit hawkery only lately. After all, he backed Bush's $1.2 trillion tax cuts.
Bunning is holding up the unanimous consent needed to move the process forward. His objection is that he wants the package funded through unused stimulus funds (which means the projects those funds are meant to pay for will go dark). Harry Reid allowed that this was a reasonable argument: He promised Bunning he'd bring up his amendment for a vote. Not good enough, Bunning replied. Why not? "I was not ready to risk voting on a bill," he explained. "I knew it would not get the amount of votes necessary to pay for it.
In other words, Bunning would lose the vote. Even with the filibuster, he'd lose the vote. But his play isn't to win the vote. His play is to win the clock. Breaking his hold would require a cloture vote, which would mean two days to let the cloture vote "ripen" and then 30 hours of post-cloture debate. That means benefits will run out.
He, of course, totally sympathizes with your plight, you poor unemployed bastards.
As Democratic senators asked again and again for unanimous consent for a vote on a 30-day extension Thursday night, Bunning refused to go along. And when Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) begged him to drop his objection, Politico reports, Bunning replied: "Tough shit."
Meanwhile, Bunning was not happy about at least one aspect of single-handedly screwing over millions of people.
And at one point during the debate, which dragged on till nearly midnight, Bunning complained of missing a basketball game. "I have missed the Kentucky-South Carolina game that started at 9:00," he said, "and it's the only redeeming chance we had to beat South Carolina since they're the only team that has beat Kentucky this year.
Fuck you, too, dickbag. Until recently, congressional Republicans had shied away from endorsing Bunning's brand of cold-heartedness. But then the GOP's No. 2 guy in the Senate, Jon Kyl of Arizona, offered this thought:
Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona, the Republican whip, argued that unemployment benefits dissuade people from job-hunting "because people are being paid even though they're not working."
Unemployment insurance "doesn't create new jobs. In fact, if anything, continuing to pay people unemployment compensation is a disincentive for them to seek new work."
Hear that, you lazy shitheels? Why can't you find a fucking job already? It's not like there aren't six unemployed people for every job opening. What's your problem?
And we're supposed to take these people seriously.
I've found myself thinking quite a bit lately about the Senate and its arcane and undemocratic rules, and how a super-minority is essentially able to hold up and stymie any substantive progressive. For instance, health care. Scott Brown wins an election in Massachusetts, and suddenly it takes a herculean task to even bring a much-needed, long-overdue up-or-down vote to the Senate floor. Or there's that son of a bitch Richard Shelby of Alabama, who placed a hold on hundreds of appointments to try to score his home state some sweet, sweet pork.
And now, another example: Sen. Jim Bunning, a former baseball player who is so incredily stupid that even the Republicans of Kentucky don't want him any more, is single-handedly blocking a 30-day extension of unemployment benefits for 1.2 million Americans.
All. By. Himself.
Jim Bunning, a Republican from Kentucky, is single-handedly blocking Senate action needed to prevent an estimated 1.2 million American workers from suddenly losing their unemployment benefits next month.
As Democratic senators asked again and again for unanimous consent for a vote on a 30-day extension Thursday night, Bunning refused to go along.
And when Sen. Jeff Merkely (D-Ore.) begged him to drop his objection, Politico reports, Bunning replied: "Tough shit."
Bunning says he doesn't oppose extending benefits -- he just doesn't want the money that's required added to the deficit. He proposes paying for the 30-day extension with stimulus funds. The Senate's GOP leadership did not support him in his objections.
And at one point during the debate, which dragged on till nearly midnight, Bunning complained of missing a basketball game.
It's one thing to debate the propriety of the filibuster. Indeed, perhaps some changes should require extraordinary measures (but hell, even Robert Bork got an up or down vote; he just lost). But the fact that one guy a backbencher on a minority party, no less is able to fuck over more than 1 million Americans by himself, when even his own party doesn't agree to his objections that's just nuts.
The Utah legislature 78 percent of whom are male, coincidentally has just passed a law that will, in essence, make it a crime for a woman to have a miscarriage. Of course, that's not what the bill's backers say they want to do. Heavens no. Rather, they just want to crack down on women who pay men $150 to beat them up so they will miscarry, which has happened, you know, once. A scourge, truly.
But in their push to ban everything that even remotely resembles abortion but isn't protected under Roe v. Wade, this Christianist crusade may well produce some unintended consequences. Actually, that's not quite right. Does it still count as "unintended" if they know about them in advance, and don't care? See, the bill criminalizes we're talking homicide charges, here a woman's 'intentional, knowing, or reckless act' leading to a pregnancy's illegal termination.
Reckless. Think about that for a second. Per RH Reality Check:
In addition to criminalizing an intentional attempt to induce a miscarriage or abortion, the bill also creates a standard that could make women legally responsible for miscarriages caused by "reckless" behavior.
Using the legal standard of "reckless behavior" all a district attorney needs to show is that a woman behaved in a manner that is thought to cause miscarriage, even if she didn't intend to lose the pregnancy. Drink too much alcohol and have a miscarriage? Under the new law such actions could be cause for prosecution.
"This creates a law that makes any pregnant woman who has a miscarriage potentially criminally liable for murder," says Missy Bird, executive director of Planned Parenthood Action Fund of Utah. Bird says there are no exemptions in the bill for victims of domestic violence or for those who are substance abusers. The standard is so broad, Bird says, "there nothing in the bill to exempt a woman for not wearing her seatbelt who got into a car accident."
Such a standard could even make falling down stairs a prosecutable event, such as the recent case in Iowa where a pregnant woman who fell down the stairs at her home was arrested under the suspicion she was trying to terminate her pregnancy.
Dan Savage over at Slog offers his thoughts:
Um... Utah? If every miscarriage is a potential homicide, how does Utah avoid launching a criminal investigation every time a woman has a miscarriage? And women have a lot of miscarriages: one in four pregnancies end in a miscarriage. And how is Utah supposed to know when a pregnant woman has had a miscarriage? You're going to have to create some sort of pregnancy registry to keep track of all those fetuses, Utah. Perhaps you could start issuing "conception certificates" to women who get pregnant? And then, if there isn't a baby within nine months of the issuance of a conception certificate, the woman could be hauled in for questioning and she could be indicted for criminal homicide if it's determined that she intentionally or accidentally induced a miscarriage. Of course, lots of women miscarry before they even realize their pregnant... so Utah will have to pass another law, one that compels all sexually active womenactually, let's just say all women, Utah, since some sexually active women claim they're chasteto come in for mandatory monthly pregnancy tests...
The bill is now in the governor's hands. The governor is, of course, a man. And like the male-heavy Utah legislature though, in fairness, the bill was sponsored by a woman in the Senate he knows better than you little women what to do with your bodies. In the meantime, don't fall down stairs, ladies.
Oh, by the way, Utah Dems tried to get that egregious "reckless" word out of the bill, because, you know, in theory, a preggo woman going back to an abusive spouse could qualify. Republican Sen. Margaret Dayton, the bill's sponsor, patted them on the head, and said, without a hint of irony:
"I don't think we want to go down the road of carefully defining the behavior of a woman."
Of course, the Utahans have nothing on my former home state, where wingnut legislators want to not only ban all abortions, but send abortion docs to prison for life. Up yours, Roe v. Wade.
John Yoo, our favorite Bush administration torture apologist/Inky columnist, is back in the news. Last week, as reported by Newsweek, senior Justice Department officials overruled department investigators â who ruled that Yoo and Jay Bybee (now a federal judge), two lawyers in the department's Office of Professional Responsibility, had violated their ethical obligations as lawyers when they authored a 2002 memo that basically authorized the Bush administration to torture anyone they wanted, anytime they wanted, because why the hell not â and reported that Yoo and Bybee had indeed shown poor judgment, but had not committed professional misconduct.
While the probe is sharply critical of the legal reasoning used to justify waterboarding and other âenhancedâ interrogation techniques, NEWSWEEK has learned that a senior Justice official who did the final review of the report softened an earlier OPR finding. Previously, the report concluded that two key authorsâJay Bybee, now a federal appellate court judge, and John Yoo, now a law professorâviolated their professional obligations as lawyers when they crafted a crucial 2002 memo approving the use of harsh tactics, say two Justice sources who asked for anonymity discussing an internal matter. But the reviewer, career veteran David Margolis, downgraded that assessment to say they showed âpoor judgment,â say the sources. (Under department rules, poor judgment does not constitute professional misconduct.) The shift is significant: the original finding would have triggered a referral to state bar associations for potential disciplinary actionâwhich, in Bybee's case, could have led to an impeachment inquiry.
In a follow-up, also from Newsweek, we learned precisely how insane Yoo's outlook on executive authority is.
The chief author of the Bush administration's "torture memo" told Justice Department investigators that the president's war-making authority was so broad that he had the constitutional power to order a village to be "massacred," according to a report released Friday night by the Office of Professional Responsibility.
At the core of the legal arguments were the views of Yoo, strongly backed by David Addington, Vice President Dick Cheney's legal counsel, that the president's wartime powers were essentially unlimited and included the authority to override laws passed by Congress, such as a statute banning the use of torture. Pressed on his views in an interview with OPR investigators, Yoo was asked:
"What about ordering a village of resistants to be massacred? ... Is that a power that the president could legallyâ"
"Yeah," Yoo replied, according to a partial transcript included in the report. "Although, let me say this: So, certainly, that would fall within the commander-in-chief's power over tactical decisions."
"To order a village of civilians to be [exterminated]?" the OPR investigator asked again.
"Sure," said Yoo.
Yoo is depicted as the driving force behind an Aug. 1, 2002, Justice Department memo that narrowly defined torture and then added sections concluding that, in the end, it essentially didn't matter what the fine print of the congressionally passed law said: The president's authority superseded the law and CIA officers who might later be accused of torture could also argue that were acting in "self defense" in order to save American lives.
Yoo, now a law professor at Berkeley, is a member of the State Bar in Pennsylvania. If you're so inclined, you can sign a petition to have him disbarred here.
- Ask A Man-About-Town
- Award Tour
- Bad Idea Factory
- Below the Curve
- Brian Hickey
- Budget Fuss
- City Council
- City Hall
- CP Abroad
- CP in the Community
- Criminal Justice System
- Day Tripper
- Death and Taxes
- Delaware River
- Dubious Distinction
- End of Days
- Film Fest
- Financial Meltdown
- Free Library
- Gay Stuff
- Get Lit
- Hall Monitor
- Health Care
- Hello, Kitty
- Ice Cubes
- In Memoriam
- Marcellus Shale
- MUST READ
- Mysterious Mysteries
- Non Sequitur
- PA politics 2010
- Parking Wars
- Parks and Recreation
- People Send Us This Stuff
- Philadelphia Police
- Philadelphia Union
- Philly From Scratch
- philly madness
- President Obama
- Print Edition
- Readers Write
- Real Estate
- Rock Bottom
- Screwing Philly
- So Lush
- Sporting Life
- Sports Complex
- State Politicians
- State Politics
- Street Art
- Stuff We Like
- Taxi Drivers
- Tech Fetish
- The Budget Crisis
- The City Paper
- The CLOG
- The Human Condition
- The Mayor
- The Phightin Phils
- The World
- Things that make you go hm
- Tinfoil Hats Off
- Under the Table
- Under the Tables
- Urban Development
- Urban Planning
- urban wildlife
- Video Poker
- We Call Shenanigans
- Web Junk
- Weekend Omnibus
- White House
- What We've Found
- Women's Issues
- Flyered Up!
- How 'Bout That Weather?
- it's always sunny in philadelphia
- get out
- 10-track mind
- Bruce Being Bruce
- Gigantic Surprises
- Hello Canary
- Hello Puppy
- get lost
- Inside The Fishbowl
- Library Closings
- Local Support
- Night Moves
- Skeeze Police
- State Politicians Screwing Philly
- That's a cool stencil!
- Things We See
- This Week
- This Week in Oates
- University City
- What we don't heart
- what we heart
- Feeling Guilty
- Broke in Philly
- Dear Paper Doll
- Do A Good Thing
- Film Fest Schism
- G20-20 Vision
- Great American Heroes
- Pearl Jam Week
- Stars of the Photostream
- Lower Merion Webcam-Gate
- The Cycle
- Equality Forum
- Bureaucrat of the Week