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.
Remember a few weeks back when I broke down the Pew Charitable Trust's poll? Well, part 2 is out today, and it "shows that Philadelphians are optimistic about the city's prospects even though many of them have suffered personally as a result of the economic downturn of the last 18 months." Primarily, according to the poll, we're far less worried about crime than we were a year ago: In January 2009 45 percent of respondents cited "crime" as their biggest concern; that percentage has dropped markedly, to 35 percent. 63 percent of us rate Philly as an excellent or good place to live, up from 55 percent last year.
Although, on the other hand, 37 percent say they'd leave town if they could, up slightly from last year, and only 59 percent say the city will be a better place to live next year than now, down from 68 percent who said so last year.
Now, for the cross-tabs: Interestingly, it's the youngest Philadelphians who are most concerned with crime. 40 percent of those under 35 rate it as a top concern, compared to 26 percent of those over 65. Also, crime is the most primary concern of what I might call the sorta upper middle class, those earning 50k to 100k a year. They rate crime a few points higher than do our poorest brethren. Oh, here's something else I need to wrap my head around: Guess which hood is the most concerned about crime. If you said West Philly, you'd be wrong. North Philly, home of the Badlands? Bzzz. It's Northwest Philly, home to East Falls, West Mount Airy, and Chestnut Hill, all bastions of criminal activity, to be certain (to be fair, there are some sketchy zones up that way).
Citywide, 49 percent of us say we or someone we know was unemployed last year. Not surprisingly, that number goes down as one's level of education goes up. Stay in school, kids. Not surprisingly, whites consider their financial situation more secure than do blacks or Hispanics. According to the poll, 41 percent of whites describe their financial situation as good or excellent, to 37 percent of Hispanics and only 26 percent of blacks.
Equally across demographic groups, 47 percent of residents label Philly a "good" place to live; however, the number of those who call it "excellent" varies: 23 percent of whites, to 12 percent and 11 percent of blacks and Hispanics, respectively. Again, not a shock, but the number of those who feel positively toward the city correlates strongly with increased income and education.
Finally, the city's right track/wrong track numbers seem pretty positive, given the national mood 41/34.
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.
Lara Coleman here with your morning fix:
While facing possible civil penalties and media pressure after recalling over 8.5 million vehicles, Toyota is considering increasing that number after hearing complaints about power steering problems in the Corolla.
After a two-year study, scientists now believe that King Tut's death was caused by malaria.
A New Jersey man abducted his baby from her maternal grandmother's house yesterday around 4:30 p.m. and told police that he threw her off the parkway's Driscll Bridge in Middlesex County. Police have been searching since 9 p.m. last night.
Economists are now calling the national debt worse than ever before, reporting that it will now have extreme consequences for taxpayers including ridiculous tax increases and a lower standard of living for future generations.
More cheery news: By 2014, the interest payments on the national debt will exceed Congress's discretionary funding. The chief culprits? The recession, and Bush-era economic policies. Thanks, Republicans.
Scottish terrier Sadie wins the Westminster Dog Show, beating over 2,500 other dogs. Suck it, poodles.
Fashion designer Alexander McQueen hung himself in his apartment after leaving a suicide note.
Yesterday, a flash mob of about 100 teens wreaked havoc at The Gallery mall, in particular Macy's, on Market and 13th, leaving one teen hospitalized and over a dozen in jail.
International arrest warrants have finally been issued for 11 suspects of assassinating a Hamas leader, Mahmoud al-Mabhough, in Dubai last month.
The New York Times is investigating allegations that one of its reporters plagiarized from The Wall Street Journal.
Germany is keeping it interesting, as they surpass the United States in the Medal Count by one medal.
Christine Adkins here with your morning fix:
The US leads the Olympics in overall medals won, but Switzerland currently has the most gold medals.
Speaking of Olympic medals, did you know this year's were made of landfill-bound electronics? Environment win.
Charged in the murders of three University professors, University of Alabama-Huntsville professor Amy Bishop Anderson was originally a suspect in a 1993 bomb attempt on one of her former colleagues.
Ricky, a West Caln Township K-9 who protected two presidents, had to be put down after his owner discovered a soft-ball sized tumor in his spleen. Sad face.
Twelve Afghani civilians died when a high-tech military rocket missed its target. Sorry about that.
Gastric bypass surgery, though still considered an experimental surgery on children, could be the next step in fighting adolescent obesity.
The economy's reverberations are felt on private college campuses, where schools are hacking away at their financial aid programs. Say hello to crushing student loan debt, kids.
Urban citizens are battling their rural neighbors, claiming that allowing the US Census to count prisoners as residents of the town in which their prison resides instead of their actual hometown inflates the population numbers of these heavily white areas.
According to the California Institute of Technology, fruit flies have brains; the first recordings of their brain activity have been studied while in flight and at rest.
And the NY Times, in its classic, understated way, gives tea-baggers some rope and lets them hang themselves on their own crazy.
So, it's official. We're all going to die.
I've lived through a lot of things in my life this son of a bitch, for instance but a blizzard is not one of them. (I know this area was hit pretty hard with that monster storm in December, but I was (foolishly) driving through it, all the way to South Carolina, to meet up with my family, because I thought driving through that thing wouldn't be a big deal. I was wrong. So very wrong.) So here's my question for the Cloggers: What should I expect?
In Florida, any time a hurricane got anywhere near the coast, the weathermen would just about masturbate on the air to their newfangled satellite technology, bread and water vanished from grocery store shelves. And then the storm would miss us, and everyone would feel stupid, but it was annoying and inconvenient all the same. I would sort of imagine it's similar here everyone overreacts, especially on teevee.
But, should I make an Acme run this evening or what?
More importantly, how do you pass the time? Load up on booze? Will the trains and subways shut down? Will the power go out?
In short, Cloggers, tell me what I should know. Post in the comments, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hey, so you know that recession? Over: 5.7 percent GDP growth in the last quarter of 2009, bitches. Stock market up 83 points today, according to my iPhone. And hey, this just in from City Controller Alan Butkovitz: Philadelphia's unemployment rate dropped, just a little bit, from 11.1 percent to 10.6 percent. Hot damn.
OK, so the unemployment rate is still way too high. This city still faces a massive deficit, thanks in large part to ridiculous structural problems amassed over several decades. And that GDP growth is partially the result of businesses having cut back their inventories so deeply last year that they had to restock, eventually, and this is it. But as Reuters points out:
The robust performance closed out a year in which the economy contracted 2.4 percent, the biggest decline since 1946.
So, you know, not all good news. But it's a start.
We've got about T-minus 2 until President Obama's first real-deal State of the Union address, and I'll be liveblogging the whole sumbitch right here on the Clog. So pour yourself a drink, and gather round the laptop to hear my ever-incisive, always witty banter. Oh, the fun we'll have.
PS - Resident SmartyPants David Faris will be Clogging his in-depth review of SOTU tomorrow, so be sure to check that out. In the meantime, hit refresh every, oh, 10 minutes or so. Also, please forgive any typos, etc. I've been pre-gaming for an hour or so. (Get your own SOTU drinking game here.)
Also, RIP Howard Zinn.
9 - The wife is watching HGTV. Hippies buying homes, or whatever. Dirty fucking hippies.CHANGE THE CHANNEL, I'M WORKING!
9:01 - I'm watching NBC by the way. Brian Williams!
9:02 - BW: People are angry. Massachusetts. Bailouts.
9:02 - David Gregory: Washington is a trap, etc. He's got a very tall order. Divided Congress [OH RIGHT 70-SEAT MAJORITY IN HOUSE, 18 IN SENATE, SUPER DIVIDED!] Blah blah
9:03 - DG - In choosing to take up health care, he knew he'd be taking a lot.
9:05 - Alright, here we go...
9:06 - Boehner, tan as always
9:07 - White House wants to deemphasize health care, says Mitchell. Oh, fantastic.
9:08 - Joe Wilson & Repubs had to be reminded to be courteous, reports Kelly O'Donnell. Sheesh.
9:09 - Barry went with the red tie? Likey.
9:10 - Is Nancy Pelosi a real human being?A mannequin? Loaded on Botox? Discuss amongst yourselves.
9:11 - Is one of the CritMass kids liveblogging Idol?
9:13 - Barack's hair is now 30 percent gray. Has he just aged a lot, or you think he was dye-ing before?
9:14 - Things suck now, but it's cool. Chillax, yall.
9:14 - Actually, things are half as bad as they were a year old. Bush sucks.
9:15- Seriously, I'm pretty sure I've heard this exact same speech before. I mean, I guess there's only so much new material you can throw out there, but come on.
9:15 - Wall Street, Main Street. Populism yay.
9:16 - Chuck Grassley with the red sweater vest.
9:16 - Seven minutes in and no applause line.
9:17 - Hope for the future gets em on their feet. Except the Supreme Ct. They don't go for this hope shit.
9:17 - Joe Biden a little early on the clap there.
9:18 - Who's the jackass clapping on his own?
9:18 - We all hated the bank bailout. Especially Carl Levin. About as popular as a root canal. He made a funny.
9:20 - Joe Biden reportedly never drank a beer in his life, but he really looks like a whiskey-drunk uncle tonight. He's enjoying this shit.
9:20 - Make the bankers pay, those fucks. Ha, and the Repubs are all sitting down. St. Ronnie told them not to stand up, because of socialism!
9:20 - We cut taxes. We rule. Republicans do not stand, because, oh hell, whatever.
9:21- He just called the fucks out. Boehner had deer in headlights look.
9:22 - Harry Reid wake up
9:23 - So is Barack going to spend all night talking about how he didn't screw everything up, so shut up Glenn Beck?
9:25 - Jobs must be our No. 1 focus. A new jobs bill. Republicans like jobs.
9:26 - OK, this is a little boring.
9:27 - Allentown, what what! My dad was born there. Sweet.
9:27 - Tarp money to small biz; Eric Cantor=sniveling little shithead.
9:27 - Tax cuts for everyone.
9:29 - Jobs bill. House has passed. Senate people yell.
9:30 - I want ajobs bill without delay. So, you know, in six to eight months, or whenever they get around to it.
9:30 - I like Barack and all, but he's not subtle with the straw men.
9:31 - Yeah, right on. Second place is no place.
9:32 - Financial reform. I am not interested in punishing banks. EVERYONE ELSE IS.
9:33 - Get on the ball, slackass Senate.
9:34 - He really isn't a good populist. Which is why I liked him as a candidate - I don't trust populists. But he's not really good at faking it either. He gives fantastic, moving speeches. But when he tries to act like he's pissed about and about to bust your lip or whatever â¦ I don't know, doesn't sell.
9:35 - Wait, what, nuclear power???? Off shore drilling? Dude, the Republicans still won't like you. Honest.
9:36 - House 3, Senate 0.
9:37 - I know there are some who disagree with the overwhelming evidence on climate change. Haha. Morons.
9:37 - Export more goods. That's cute. We used to make stuff.
9:38 - Double exports: 2x0 is what now? Oh right. 2 million jobs.
9:38 - Reforming export controls will really pacify the Beckians. I'm sure that tested well in focus groups.
9:39 - DOHAT trade agree â¦ snooze...
9:40: Can we get to the good part? Doma? Health care? Joe Lieberman's general dickheadedness?
9:40 - Schools: we only reward success.
9:41: Yall see that South Carolina lt gov who compared poor kids to stray animals. If you feed them, they breed, and so on? Fuckin a. South Carolina.
9:41 - Community college! CCP!
9:42 - Tax credit for four years of college. My parents would've liked that a decade ago.
9:42 - Only 10 percent of income on student loans, forgiven after 20 years. That's uh, a pretty good deal.
9:43 - Homeowners into bettter mortgages got no applause.
9:43 - HEALTH CARE. ALRIGHT.
9:44- By now, it's fairly obvious, not good politics.
9:45 - A century of trying. We are closer than ever.
9:45 - Michelle=kinda hot, no?
9:46 - Health care sell, part 4676
9:46 - Call out GOP call out GOP call out GOP come on
9:47 - I will not walk away from these Americans, and neither should the people in this chamber.
9:47 - If anyone has a better approach, let me know. Let me know. Oh God, can't wait for the gooper response.
9:48 - Finish the job, let's get it done.
9:49 - Grades so far? I dunno. B.
9:49 - Bush sucks.
9:50 - Aren't you glad John McCain isn't giving this speech? My friends, my frieeeeeeennnnnds
9:51 - Belt tightening. Here comes spending freeze. 2011: Freeze govt spending for 3 years. If I have to enforce this discipline I will. Don't make me take off my belt.
9:52 - Called for bipartisan budget commish. Just got voted down in the Senate, and by voted down I mean it only got 53 votes. Neat math there. Executive order forthcoming.
9:54 - PAYGO.
9:55 - That's how budgeting works. Ha.
9:56 - Tax cuts, deregulation don't work, etc. It's time to try something new. Common sense.
9:57 - I think my dog needs to pee. Hang on, Belle.
9:57 - I'm gonna go with an B+. It's quite precisely tailored to quell the populism and all that. I don't know.
9:57 - You think Congress will do any of this lobbyist stuff? Not a chance. But he's right about the Supreme Court. That was a shitastic ruling. John Roberts.
9:59 - Isaiah has a good column about the SC thing in this week's paper.
10 - Earmark reform. Publish all earmarks online.
10 - Philosophical differences: Yeah, but we won, bitches.
10:01 - We can't wage a perpetual campaign.. Neither party should obstruct every single bill just because they can.
10:01 - Distrust in govt. Campaign fever earlier than usual.
10:02 - To Dems, large majority. Solve problems. Buncha pussies.
10:02 - The responsibility is yours as well. Saying no to everything is good politics, but not leadership. Yep.
10:03 - Shit. BH just put this LiveBlog of Facebook. I've just kinda been amusing myself here.
10:03 - Fortunately for you, my Mac is right about to die. We'll see if I'm unlazy/interested enough to go get the power cord for the GOP response, which is by... who now?
10:04 - Oh yeah, the Virginia guy. Like how Tim Kaine gave the response to Bush in 2005.
10:05 - Camera cut to somber looking military folks.
10:05 - As we take the fight to Al Qaeda, leaving Iraq to its people. Combat troops out by August.
10:06 - Hey, Doma anyone? DADT?
10:07 - Support them when they come home. ... God, it makes me laugh a little that freaking Al Franken is actually a US Senator. That's fantastic.
10:08 - Hey Barry, when you clap the mic picks it up. Annoying.
10:09 - Secure all nuke materials in 4 years. No loose nukes. Jeez, what will 24 do then? That's like every season.
10:10 - We just kinda did the "it's not a threat it's a promise" to iran, huh?
10:11 - Barack loves Haiti because he's a racist! I love Rush Limbaugh.
10:12 - We find unity in diversity. Wow. That's an actual Disney World slogan in Orlando.
10:13 - Civil rights. Hate crimes. This year, I will work with Congress to repeal DADT... It's the right thing to do.
10:14 - Fixing broken immigration system. Chances of that happening in an election year: Oh, maybe 423232456 to 1, give or take.
10:15 - Not now, Software Update.
10:16 - Each time a CEO rewards himself for failure ... laying it on thick.
10:17 - Haha. TV pundits.
10:17 - Shorter Obama: Grow up, people.
10:17 - The sad part is, I think he really means this Jimmy Stewart stuff. I think he overestimates the American voter.
10:18- Who knows? He's showing humility; people like that, right?
10:19 - Yeah, he's kinda bringing it home now. Aspirational.
10:20 - If congressional Republicans had consciences, would they feel guilty? Rhetorical question, of course.
10:21 - Spirit lives on in you.
10:22- Post-speech predictions: NBC loves it. Fox thinks it's the worst thing in 20 years.
10:23 - Brian Williams - The president brought the chamber for silence. It was more boisterous at times almost sarcastic the amount of comments and catcalls. NEWS: The president is a black guy. Not all Repubs are OK with that.
10:23- O'Donnell - I never heard a boo uttered. Enormous reaction of House Dems.House Rs would whisper to each other. No prepared pieces of literature. I saw far fewer Blackberries. Oh God, is that what we mark as progress?
10:23 - Brian Williams - speech long journey
10:23 - I'm not a fan of David Gregory. I'm not sure why.
10:24 - Chuck Todd - He spent more time talking about angst. He aired them very publicly here. Reactive to an angry electorate.
10:25 - Speech aimed at indies.
10:25 - Is this a dare? God, one can only hope.
- Commercial break -
Super Bowl? I'm taking the Saints. Can't stand the Colts. Plus, a dude I went to high school with is on the Saints.
10:28 - We're back. Will Bob McDonnell be the next â¦ who was that weird little man from Louisiana who boned this thing last year? Bobby Jindal.
10:29 - Here's the whole speech.
10:30 - Oh they gave this guy an audience. Cute.
10:31 - Republican perspective: Tax cuts, tax cuts, tax cuts, etc.
10:32 - Govt should not pile on taxation, etc. Of course. Now this is a broken record.
10:33 - Feds want to do too much. Says stim didn't work - well. yeah, we didn't spend enough and half of that was tax cuts. So your plan fails.
10:33 - Proper limited role of govt. Which means what, exactly? Govt growth is the problem, right? Oh ok.
10:34 - Cooperation, not partisanship. Please tell that to your senate colleagues. \
10:35 - Gubmint care. Gubmint care.
10:35 - 1,000 page bills - just because you don't have the attention span to get through them doesn't mean they're bad ideas.
10:35 - Facebook, Twitter.Oh Lord.
10:35 - Off shore drilling!!!! Virginia will love that. Virginia is for Oil Tankers.
10:36- I'm pretty sure he stacked the crowd. Cap n trade.
10:36 - Innovative energy policies. Drill baby drill. Jesus.
10:36 - Can we make a rule? No more southerners in the White House? I grew up down there. Not pretty.
10:37 - Token black guy!
10:38 - Did he endorse the Iraq withdraw? Communist.
10:39 - Every person of color in that building is staged behind him.
10:40 - Obama <3 terrorists.
10:40 - Scott Brown gets to be quoted now?
10:40 - Josh Marshall: I should have registered earmarks.com. Ha!
10:40 - Scripture. But I thought Haiti made a deal with the devil, silly satanists.
10:41 - The problem with SOTU is that it's over too late for Jon Stewart to make fun of it tonight. Dang.
10:42 - Are you done yet? Oh there you go. Thanks.
OK, I'm done. I just wasted two hours on this thing. Which means I'm gonna start drinking at 3 on Friday.
Oh, fuck yeah. THE OFFICE, IN PROGRESS.
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