We are the 99%

July 31, 2012

Mitt Romney's Trickle Down Economics: The Hot Chocolate Edition


Via Jesus' General:
On their way out, Ann throws away her half-consumed hot chocolate, but Mitt approaches the counter. "I know you guys can't sell this again, but I was wondering if one of you guys wanted the rest of my hot chocolate."  
"No thanks," one of the other baristas told him, wondering if this was some sort of bizarre joke.  
"I don't want to waste it, there's still plenty left, it's still perfectly good..."
Got backwash? What's wrong with this guy?!

Gov. Romney Praises Socialized Medicine

The Washington Post's Wonkblog reports that at a fundraiser in Israel, presumptive GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney said this:
When our health care costs are completely out of control. Do you realize what health care spending is as a percentage of the GDP in Israel? 8 percent. You spend 8 percent of GDP on health care. And you’re a pretty healthy nation. We spend 18 percent of our GDP on health care. 10 percentage points more. That gap, that 10 percent cost, let me compare that with the size of our military. Our military budget is 4 percent. Our gap with Israel is 10 points of GDP. We have to find ways, not just to provide health care to more people, but to find ways to finally manage our health care costs.
What's the problem, you might ask?  I'll let the Wonkblog continue:
Israel regulates its health care system aggressively, requiring all residents to carry insurance and capping revenue for various parts of the country’s health care system.

Israel created a national health care system in 1995, largely funded through payroll and general tax revenue. The government provides all citizens with health insurance: They get to pick from one of four competing, nonprofit plans. Those insurance plans have to accept all customers—including people with pre-existing conditions—and provide residents with a broad set of government-mandated benefits.
Uh-oh.  But perhaps the Wonkblog has it wrong.  Here's what the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs describes the health care system over there:
The Ministry of Health is responsible for the development of health policy, operation of the nation's public health services and management of the governmental health care budget. The government also owns and operates many of the nation's larger hospitals. It licenses the medical and paramedical professions and initiates and oversees implementation of all health-related legislation passed by the Knesset. Medical services are provided through four health insurance companies, known as sick funds: Kupat Holim Clalit, Kupat Holim Maccabi, Kupat Holim Meuhedet and Kupat Holim Leumit. Kupat Holim Clalit (General Sick Fund), the largest organization and the first health insurance institution, was founded in 1911 by a small group of agricultural workers and taken over by the Histadrut (General Federation of Labor) in 1920.
And:
Even though health insurance was not mandatory in Israel until 1995, 96% of the population were insured before the National Health Insurance Law came into effect.
And then finally:
The law provides that:

Every resident must register as a member with one of the four sick funds.

The sick funds may not bar applicants on any grounds, including age and state of health.
Hmmm. The state caps prices, and citizens are required to participate.

Mitt Romney praises socialized medicine.

July 30, 2012

Jack Kelly...Friday?

On Friday, our trusty conservative columnist at the P-G posted a column that began thusly:
Team Obama has rushed out an unintentionally hilarious ad attacking Mitt Romney for quoting the president verbatim. It is revealing in multiple ways:

The ad charges, falsely, that Mr. Romney distorted what President Barack Obama said in Roanoke, Va., last Friday: "If you've got a business -- you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen."

There's nothing new about the mendacity. Since May, Team Obama has spent about $100 million on ads attacking Mr. Romney for jobs cut at firms acquired by Bain Capital. The jobs were cut after Mr. Romney left to head up the Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. Jonathan Lavine, the Bain executive who made the cuts the ads decry, is a major Obama fundraiser.

But this new ad is so poorly edited it is self-refuting. Included in it is footage that shows Mr. Obama saying exactly the words Mr. Romney said he said.
And in doing so, he joined a distinguished crowd of conservatives who are content with disregarding the truth  in order to try to make some political points.  They'll snip away context and in doing so make one thing sound like another.

It's another form of a lie of omission.  Let me explain.  Again.

Here's the ad that Jack misreads:


You will notice the deception that Jack is foisting upon you.  The part where the ad says "exactly the words Mr. Romney said he said" are the words that come directly from the deceptive Romney campaign ad.  The point of the "tampered" ad is to show, well, that the Romney camp tampered with what Obama actually said.

Jack's hoping his audience doesn't check his work.  Luckily for his audience, I will.

(Didn't I already do this?  That's right - for Selena Zito.  I guess this is yet another right wing zombie lie.)

What, exactly was tampered with?  This is the speech from which the snipped sentence was taken:
There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me -- because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t -- look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something -- there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there. (Applause.)

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business -- you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires. [emphasis added.]
Take a look at the paragraph the Romney folks snipped (I bolded the snipped sentences to make them easier to find).  It's about infrastructure.

Factcheck.org agrees with me, Jack.  As do the fact checkers at the Washington Post:
The biggest problem with Romney’s ad is that it leaves out just enough chunks of Obama’s words — such as a reference to “roads and bridges”— so that it sounds like Obama is attacking individual initiative.
It's taken out of context. It's deceptive.  It's a lie.

Jack Kelly is lying to you, folks.

July 27, 2012

PA Gov. Corbett Doesn't Know New Voter ID Requirements That He Signed Into Law

While Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett (R) doesn't seem to know what actually qualifies as proper ID under the new Voter Suppression ID law he signed,



I bet he knows why he signed it:


FUN FACTS!
  • 1 in 3 PA voters don't even know about the new voter ID law!  
  • Between 11 and 13% of PA's eligible voters, registered voters, and people who voted in 2008 believe they have the photo ID they need to vote in November, but actually don't!  
  • A whopping 43% of Philadelphia voters may not possess a valid PennDOT ID!
  • Had the new law been in effect in 2008, Barack Obama would have lost the state’s contest to John McCain by 200,000 votes! (The only fact that Republicans care about.)
  • What's up with that?

    North Pittsburgh Politics points out that mailers sent out by Republican candidate Rep. Randy Vulakovich for an August 7th Special Election for PA State Senate District 40 (Jane Orie's old seat) contain absentee ballot applications that do not comply with the new Voter Suppression ID laws, while his Democratic challenger, Sharon Brown, is using the new absentee ballot applications that includes a section requiring PA State issued ID number/last 4 digits of Social Security number.

    I'm finding conflicting information on exactly when the new requirements take effect. Anyone know?

    In any case, since Vulakovich voted for the law -- and so must obviously be very concerned about voter fraud -- it's interesting that he doesn't want to be absolutely certain that the people he thinks will vote for him are eligible to cast that vote. He seems to be concerned here for example:
    What is your position on the State's tightening restrictions on requirements to vote?  
    Rep. Randy Vulakovich: "It’s important to protect the cornerstone of our Democracy and to maintain an open and honest process. One person, one vote."
    Important except when voting for Vulakovich, I guess...

    So How Badly Did Romney Do In London?

    It was pretty bad.  But first, some context from Talkingpointsmemo:
    Undergirding Mitt Romney’s trip to Europe and Israel this week was a single concept: President Obama has weakened the view of America in the eyes of foreign leaders thanks to a policy of appeasement and “apology.” How the world views America is important, Romney said, and he’s going to see to it that America’s reputation overseas is bolstered on his watch.

    Within 24 hours of Romney landing abroad, that premise had unraveled and Romney’s own top surrogates were scoffing at the notion that foreign opinions of America mattered at all to American voters.
    But what went wrong in London?

    Lots.  Gaffes galore.

    This one:
    Security shortfalls and a now-cancelled strike from border guards make for a "disconcerting" start to the London Olympic Games, presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney said in an interview Wednesday.

    Speaking with NBC News, Romney said it was too early to tell if the London organizers were ready for the start of the Games.

    "You know it's hard to know just how well it will turn out," Romney said. "There are a few things that were disconcerting. The stories about the private security firm not having enough people, the supposed strike of the immigration and customs officials - that obviously is not something which is encouraging."
    Led to a British rebuke:
    Romney's remarks became a full-blown controversy Thursday morning, when Prime Minister David Cameron -- asked in a press conference about disruptions in London's subway service -- defended the game's organizers.

    We are holding an Olympic Games in one of the busiest most active bustling cities anywhere in the world," Cameron said. "Of course it's easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere. I visited Naypyidaw recently, in Burma, they've got six-lane highways and no cars on them. This is a busy, bustling city so inevitably you're going to have challenges."
    It was a gaffe that Romney had to correct but it led to another lesser, though funnier gaffe:
    In an interview with NBC on Thursday, Mr Romney said stories about difficulties with security guards and threats of border staff strikes were "obviously... not something which is encouraging".

    Some eyebrows were raised when Mitt Romney referred to Ed Miliband as 'Mr Leader' But following talks with Mr Cameron he said mistakes were to be expected and he was sure the Games would be a success.

    "To look out of the back side of 10 Downing Street and see a venue having been constructed, knowing that athletes will be carrying out their activities almost in the back yard of the prime minister is really quite an accomplishment," said Mr Romney.
    What's the funny? I'll let a native British news source explain:
    Firstly, in Britain, "backside" means "ass". As in the part of the body. Secondly, "10 Downing Street" is often used in political reporting as a synonym for a press spokesman for the prime minister, in the same way as "the White House" can say things or have opinions.
    I'm thinking that if you wanted to "bolster" America's image, the first thing to do is to not insult your hosts or look like an ignorant backside ass.

    Yea, Romney's ready for the international scene.

    July 26, 2012

    Darn That Chris Potter!

    In a comment to this blog post, comet pilot Bram bammed:
    http://www.pghcitypaper.com/SlagHeap/archives/2012/07/24/did-the-state-really-concede-that-voter-fraud-never-happens

    It's good that the lawyers put this aside. The important issue isn't whether or not there has been vote fraud -- the important thing is that the "remedy" or "safeguard" disenfranchises thousands of people in this year.

    People are realizing how many people get by without "necessities" like a Drivers' License, prescription medication, and Giant Eagle cards.
    The link is, of course, to Potter's slag heap.

    In a blog post titled "Did the state REALLY concede that voter fraud never happens?" Potter gives us an annoying answer:
    Not exactly.
    His reasoning?
    As the stipulation agreement notes, the state's "sole rationale for the Photo ID law," is contained in a response to written questions filed by the ACLU. And in that answer, the state makes quite clear that it has plenty of suspicions that Voter ID does take place ... and that one purpose of the law is to ferret out such cases.

    State officials "are aware of reports indicating that votes have been cast in the name of registered electors who are deceased, who no longer reside in Pennsylvania , or who no longer reside in the jurisdiction where the vote is cast," the state's answer asserts. And without some proof of ID, the state contends, "there is a risk that votes may be cast in the names of registered electors who are dead or who have left [the area] by a person other than the registered voters ... Requiring a photo ID is one way to ensure that every elector who presents himself to vote [is] the person that he purports to be, and to ensure that the public has confidence in the electoral process. The requirement of a photo ID is a tool to detect and deter voter fraud." [emphasis in original.]
    I haven't been able to find the State's response to the ACLU's interrogatories (a little help, Chris? Bram?) so I can't link to it.  So while Pennsylvania stipulates no evidence of voter fraud, they're now saying that they need the law to find the evidence they suspect is out there.

    Potter has more:
    What's more, even after reading a fuller explanation of the state's position, it's not as if they have a particularly strong case. Many of the voting irregularities it cites are more than a decade old, took place in other states, or both. Some of them are simply canards: Chris Briem at Null Space, for example, has previously addressed the myth of dead voters showing up at polls.
    But still, he says, it's a "distortion" to say that Pennsylvania admitted that there's no voter fraud.

    Ok, fine.  He's right.  Leave it to Potter to buzz kill our triumphant chest thumping with, you know, facts and stuff.

    July 25, 2012

    Follow Up: On The Non-Existent Voter Fraud

    The P-G had the story yesterday:
    State attorneys defending the new voter ID law at a hearing beginning Wednesday will present no evidence that in-person electoral fraud is likely to occur this November without the law, according to a document signed earlier this month.

    The state and the parties challenging the law agreed in the court document that neither side knows of cases of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania.
    Here's the stipulation in the event you wanted to read it for yourself.  The first two points (FIRST TWO POINTS) are as follows:
    There have been no investigations or prosecutions of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania; and the parties do not have direct personal knowledge of any investigations or prosecutions in other states;

    The parties are not aware of any incidence of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania and do not have direct personal knowledge of in person voter fraud elsewhere;
    However, when asked about the stipulation, Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele strayed from the truth:
    Asked about a stipulation, signed by both parties in the lawsuit, that the state would offer neither evidence of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania nor evidence that voter fraud would be likely without the law this November, Ms. Aichele said there are few cases of such kind of fraud.

    "The attorney general is not going to pursue the issue of cases brought for voter impersonations, for voter fraud," she said. "If there are cases, there are very few."

    But she suggested this might be because district attorneys use limited resources to prosecute other crimes: "If you're a district attorney in a county, and you have a choice to prosecute crimes like murder, rape and armed robbery, you're going to do that before you go after the voter fraud cases."
    But the state stipulated that there have been no investigations - how can there be a case without an investigation?.  Aichele is trying to say there have been cases ("a few") but implied that since other crimes like  murder and rape take precedence those cases aren't pursued.

    But the state stipulated no incidence of in-person voter fraud (the sort the Voter ID bill is supposed to combat).

    But the big point is found here, on the pages of the Trib:
    Critics note that Senior Deputy Attorney General Patrick Cawley acknowledged in a stipulation with the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia for the Commonwealth Court hearing that Pennsylvania hasn’t investigated or prosecuted anyone for “in-person” voter fraud and won’t offer evidence of voter fraud.
    So if ever, in the future, our good friends on Scaife's braintrust ever assert the "fact" of voter fraud in Pennsylvania, we'll know that they're lying.  It was already reported in their own paper that Pennsylvania stipulated no voter fraud.

    NO VOTER FRAUD in Pennsylvania.

    July 24, 2012

    Guess What? NO VOTER FRAUD

    From the Post-Gazette:
    State attorneys defending the new voter ID law at a hearing beginning Wednesday will present no evidence that in-person electoral fraud is likely to occur this November without the law, according to a document signed earlier this month.

    The state and the parties challenging the law agreed in the court document that neither side knows of cases of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania.
    But...but I thought there was "significant voter fraud plaguing Pennsylvania's elections."

    Does that mean that Representative Metcalfe was lying?

    Say it ain't so!

    Who knew I was standing so close to the Muslim Brotherhood?

    A photo I took on March 14, 2008, whilst standing mere feet away from Huma Abedin and Hillary Clinton

    While Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) may have decried Rep. Michele Bachmann's (R-McCarthyville) baseless attacks on Huma Abedin -- a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton -- for having imaginary ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, Newt Gingrich has come to Bachmann's defense.

    Bachmann has also accused the country's first Muslim congressman, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), of being associated with the Muslim Brotherhood. Abedin has had to be placed under extra security after being threatened. And, Clinton's motorcade was pelted with tomatoes and shoes while in Egypt by crowds who bought into the claims by Bachmann and others of Obama Administration ties to the Brotherhood.

    That's our Michele! Spreading joy and sunshine where she goes!

    Guns don't kill people. People don't kill people. People who don't stop people with guns kill people.


    Think Progress documents the victim blaming:

    Former State Senator Claims Colorado Shooting Victims Lacked Courage To Stop Gunman

    Zito Shills For The Romney Campaign. Again.

    And remember, this is one of the people the Trib's news division has covering the Romney campaign.

    She begins her opinion column with a bit of Romney-dishonesty:
    Mitt Romney was fired up.

    “The president actually said, if you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that, somebody else made that happen.” He paused and threw his hands up before adding: “Really?”
    Ah, Selena. But that's not all the president said, did he?  As the good book says "the truth shall set you free" (John 8:32).  To see the truth, we have to take a look at what the president actually said.  There are two things to keep in mind here - how Romney lies about it and then how Selena Zito lets him get away with it.

    The current Romney lie was snipped from a campaign speech in Roanoke Virginia:
    [L]ook, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something -- there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there. (Applause.)

    If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business -- you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

    The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. [emphasis added]
    Now go back and look at how Romney characterized it.  Take a look at the middle paragraph.  Obama was
    talking about various forms of infrastructure (roads, bridges, the internet), pointing out that a business' success is built upon the infrastructure that someone else built.

    And yet, Romney, by snipping out the context, makes it sound as though Obama said that someone else built the successful business.  A lie.

    Whatever the rhetorical distance you find between the truth and Romney's spin on it, is exactly the rhetorical distance that Zito allowed him to have - by not correcting him.

    And this is a reporter that the Tribune-Review sends to cover the Romney campaign.

    July 23, 2012

    The Religious Right Begins Blaming

    And guess where the self appointed guardians of our collective souls find fault for the Aurora shooting?

    Yep - our secular society.

    We'll start with a sitting member of Congress:
    A Republican congressman from Texas says society's fractious relationship with faith may have spurred the "Dark Knight" massacre.

    Rep. Louie Gohmert charged Friday that prohibiting prayer in civic places can give rise to such senseless acts of violence as the shooting inside an Aurora, Colo. movie theater that killed at least 12 people and injured at least 58 others.

    "What have we done with God," Gohmert told The Heritage Foundation's "Istook Live" radio show, citing prohibitions on religous blessings at public high school graduation ceremonies and off-campus dinners, according to a transcript posted on the legislator's congressional website. "We told him that we don’t want him around. I kind of like his protective hand being present."
    Then there's former Governor of Arkansas and former presidential candidate and current Fox News commentator, Mike Huckabee:
    We don't have a crime problem, a gun problem or even a violence problem. What we have is a sin problem. And since we've ordered god out of our schools, and communities, the military and public conversations, you know we really shouldn't act so surprised when all hell breaks loose.
    And then there's Rick Warren, megachurch pastor:
    When students are taught they are no different from animals, they act like it.
    Ha! Evolution - that despicable "theory." NOTE: Pastor Warren has since deleted his tweet.

    The lesson from this religious fringe: Removing God from public life causes people to act horribly.  And that's something you should fear.

    July 22, 2012

    Jack Kelly Sunday

    In this week's column, the P-G's Jack Kelly goes after President Obama's honesty.

    I don't think Jack Kelly has any room to comment on this particular subject.  Anyone remember his incredibly dishonest attack on Van Jones in 2009?  How many lies were found in there?  Know what happened to that column?  It got pulled and scrubbed from the P-G website a few days later.

    This is the guy currently lecturing us on presidential honesty.

    Be that as it may, let's take a look at what he actually says, avoiding his obvious lack of credibility on the subject.

    He begins:
    Our first president was so revered for his integrity that most believed that even as a child, George Washington could not tell a lie.
    What an interesting way to start a column on telling the truth!  Obviously, it's a reference to the "cherry tree" story part of George Washington's biography - a story that as far back as 1911, was acknowledged to have no supporting evidence outside of the assertion of the man, Parson Weems, making it.  Yet with near endless repetition, the story's "established" as fact.

    Interesting thing to keep in mind when reading Jack's assertions about Obama's credibility.

    Next paragraph:
    Can our current president tell the truth? Former Amb. Fred Eckert has filled a 188-page book, "That's a Crock, Barack," with "untrue, duplicitous, arrogant and delusional" things Barack Obama has said.
    But who's this Fred Eckert?

    According to this review at Townhall.com, he's:
    ...a prototypical unsung hero of the conservative movement. Eckert paid his political dues in upstate New York in 1968, organizing local Republican support for the presidential candidacy of Richard Nixon, standing in opposition to the native New York liberal GOP hero, Nelson Rockefeller. This baptism of fire led Mr. Eckert to a series of increasingly responsible positions in New York municipal, county, and state government, most notably as a state senator for ten years, 1972-82. Eckert, a staunch conservative, who endorsed the Reagan presidential effort as early as 1975, served as U.S. Ambassador to Fiji from 1982-84. He then won a seat in the 99th Congress, serving as a Republican and representing a district based in Rochester, New York. He finished his calling in public life, serving as a second U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Agency for Food and Agriculture during 1987-88.
    Not really a detached observer, then is he?  Perhaps just labeling him, as Jack does, as merely a "former ambassador" leaves out some important information.  This is what's known as a lie of omission, my friends.

    Oh, and according to that same review, the book's actually 183 pages, not 188. So, if that's true, I guess we caught Jack in another lie that discredits his entire column, huh?

    Geez, this is easy.  Back to Jack:
    A few caveats. Often when we say something that isn't true, we aren't lying, because we think it is true. We are ignorant or careless or both, but we aren't trying to deceive.

    When a politician says one thing while seeking office, but does the opposite in office, that isn't exactly a lie. Sometimes a new president learns stuff that causes him to alter stances he took during the campaign. This could be why Mr. Obama reneged on his pledge to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay.
    Closing the prison may have been delayed, but did Obama renege on his pledge to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay?

    No.  When he signed HR 1473 in April of 2011, he wrote:
    Today I have signed into law H.R. 1473, the "Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011".

    Section 1112 of the Act bars the use of funds for the remainder of fiscal year 2011 to transfer Guantanamo detainees into the United States, and section 1113 bars the use of funds for the remainder of fiscal year 2011 to transfer detainees to the custody or effective control of foreign countries unless specified conditions are met. Section 1112 represents the continuation of a dangerous and unprecedented challenge to critical executive branch authority to determine when and where to prosecute Guantanamo detainees, based on the facts and the circumstances of each case and our national security interests. The prosecution of terrorists in Federal court is a powerful tool in our efforts to protect the Nation and must be among the options available to us. Any attempt to deprive the executive branch of that tool undermines our Nation's counterterrorism efforts and has the potential to harm our national security.
    So it was the Congress that stopped the closing of the prison by barring the use of funds to transfer anyone out of there.  A paragraph or so later, he wrote:
    Despite my continued strong objection to these provisions, I have signed this Act because of the importance of avoiding a lapse in appropriations for the Federal Government, including our military activities, for the remainder of fiscal year 2011.

    Nevertheless, my Administration will work with the Congress to seek repeal of these restrictions, will seek to mitigate their effects, and will oppose any attempt to extend or expand them in the future.
    Categorizing this as "reneging" is simply a lie, Jack.

    But let's take a look at some of the things Jack says are actual lies.  For example, Jack ends his list with this debunked factoid:
    "If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor," he said. Post-Obamacare, 83 percent of physicians are considering quitting medicine, according to a survey by the Doctor Patient Medical Association.
    Politifact looked at the survey and found out some very interesting things.

    For example, it's not a poll and that, in itself, undermines the scientific credibility of its "findings."  Add on to that the fact that the survey was done by the Doctor Patient Medical Association Foundation - a group founded to oppose the health care law. Who did they send the survey to? Did the respondents know about the group when they received the survey?  Did they agree with the group's politics before starting the survey?  Then there's the return rate:
    The survey was conducted by fax and online from April 18 to May 22, 2012. Of 16,227 faxes that were successfully delivered to doctors’ offices, 699, or 4.3 percent, submitted responses.
    4.3% responses?  And then the methodology of the survey questions themselves:
    the question actually does not mention the law. In fact, none of the two dozen questions in the poll mentions anything about it.

    Instead, the question asks about "current changes," which could include not just the law, but many other factors, such as changes driven by insurance companies and hospital systems. There’s no way of knowing what specifically the respondents were referring to.
    So it's a mistake to assume that all those physicians would leave their profession because of "Obamacare."

    Presenting it all as if it is, is another huge lie, Jack.  You should know that.

    And I didn't even get to any of the hard stuff.

    July 20, 2012

    Taking The Day Off

    In light of this, I can't bring myself to blog today, sorry.

    At this point, there are 14 dead, 50 wounded.  A 6 year old kid was among those killed.  A 3 month old baby among the wounded.

    Sorry - the blogging will have to wait a day or so.

    July 19, 2012

    Tracking Teh Crazie - Bachmann/Gaffney/Scaife

    First let's start with the defense:
    Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) came to an unexpected and impassioned defense of Huma Abedin, a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, saying that "sinister accusations" by congressional conservatives about her alleged connection to the Muslim Brotherhood must end.

    The attacks have been led by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), the chairwoman of the tea party caucus in the House, and four other lawmakers, who have asked federal officials to investigate whether Abedin, a Muslim American who is deputy chief of staff at the State Department, is influencing U.S. policy in ways beneficial to the pan-Arab Islamic group.
    Senator McCain said on the floor of the Senate that the attacks have "no logic, no basis and no merit."

    Good for him.

    But where did Bachmann get her "info"?  Take a look:
    The congresswoman drew on the report "The Muslim Brotherhood in America: The Enemy from Within," an online video project from the Center for Security Policy. The group's founder and president, Frank Gaffney, is a former Reagan administration defense official who hosts the nationally syndicated "Secure Freedom Radio" show.
    Ah...Frank Gaffney.  We'll get to him in a minute.  What, exactly, was the evidence against Abedin?

    Representative Keith Ellison explains it to Representative Bachmann in this letter:
    In discussing this claim, you provide absolutely no information about Ms. Abedin herself. Instead, you write that “her late father, her mother and her brother [are] connected to Muslim Brotherhood operatives and/or organizations.” Your letters fail to explain your claims regarding Ms. Abedin's mother and brother.

    With regard to Ms. Abedin’s father, you point to a single passage from an article claiming that he founded “the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, an institution that had the quiet but active support of the then General Secretary of the Muslim World League, Dr. Umar Abdallah Nasif.” You then write, “As the Pew Forum notes, the Muslim World League has a longtime history of being closely aligned and partnering with the Muslim Brotherhood.” Put together, the primary source of evidence for your serious claims against Ms. Abedin is that her deceased father founded an institute that received unspecified “support” from a man who at one point led an organization that was aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood. In making this connection, which is five times removed from Ms. Abedin, you engage in guilt by association.
    And she got this evidence, as stated above, from Frank Gaffney and the Center for Security Policy.

    The same Center for Security Policy that's received millions of dollars from Richard Mellon Scaife controlled foundations.

    Nice to know his money's doing such good work.  Especially since today's editorial page accuses the Obama Campaign of "Distortions, lies & innuendo."

    July 18, 2012

    How The Trib Is Covering (For) Romney

    Doing something a little different today - I think. 

    In today's Tribune-Review, I find two pieces written or co-written by columnist Salena Zito. We've looked at Zito's writing before, by the way.  But today might be something new - or at least newish.

    But before we go any further, let's see who Salena Zito is.  Here is her bio at Townhall.com:
    Salena Zito is a political analyst, reporter and editorial page columnist. She has also reported on Pennsylvania politics for The Weekly Standard. A board member of the Center for Media & Public Policy at the Heritage Foundation, Salena Zito honed her skills working on the campaigns of George H.W. Bush, Senator Rick Santorum, Bush2000, Bush-Cheney 2004 served on the senate staff of U.S. Senator Arlen Specter. Salena Zito has interviewed one on one Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, CIA Director General Hayden, Homeland Security Director Chertoff, Attorney General Gonzales and First Lady Laura Bush. Zito spends a third of her time on the road interviewing legislators as well as current policy makers.
    We'll try to ignore the conservative credentials when we read this news article about Governor Romney's visit yesterday to our fair city where Zito oh-so-subtly covers for him:
    Mitt Romney repudiated President Obama’s attacks on his personal finances on Tuesday, calling it “a sad day when that is the course that the president takes.”

    “I think it is beneath the dignity of the presidency for him to wage a campaign of personal attacks, and particularly when it is based on dishonesty,” Romney said in an interview with the Tribune-Review.

    He referred to the Obama campaign’s two weeks of criticism of the former Massachusetts governor’s record at Bain Capital, a venture capital firm Romney founded in 1984 and headed until 1999, and his refusal to release more than two years’ worth of tax returns.
    Did Romney actually leave Bain in 1999?  I hear there are some SEC documents that say otherwise.  But the  1999 date remains unchallenged by Zito.

    And we'll also try to ignore Zito's conservative credentials in this other news article about Romney's fundraiser in North Huntington:
    Mitt Romney sharpened his attacks on President Obama’s economic and health-care policies in appearances at a Westmoreland County business and a Pittsburgh fundraiser on Tuesday.

    “He has to recognize that his policies have failed to get Americans work again,” Romney told a crowd of more than 1,000 people at Horizontal Wireline Services in North Huntingdon, which runs wires into gas and oil wells to help extract Marcellus shale gas. “I have an answer for him: liberal policies don’t make jobs.”

    Later, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee and former Massachusetts governor attended a fundraiser at the Duquesne Club, Downtown, where tickets ranged from $2,500 for the reception to $50,000 for a private dinner. More than 300 tickets were sold.
    In the piece Romney says Obama is out of touch.  I wonder how the construction of Romney's car elevator is going.

    For the Romney campaign, they must be happy to know that they have such good friends in the news media.

    July 16, 2012

    What Race-Baiting?

    The editorial board of the Tribune-Review, yet again, is hoping that its loyal readers simply trust what they say and won't bother checking the details from yet another editorial.

    From Scaife's braintrust this weekend:
    "Race-baiting” is “the act of using racially derisive language, actions or other forms of communication in order to anger or intimidate or coerce a person or group of people.”
    And then:
    Speaking last week to delegates at the NAACP convention in Houston, Mr. Holder likened voter ID laws to “a poll tax” that takes America back to its Jim Crow days.

    Never mind that free identification will be provided to any voter who doesn’t have and/or can’t afford it — and never mind that those still without IDs can cast provisional ballots — Holder says the Obama administration “will not allow political pretexts to disenfranchise American citizens of their most precious rights.”

    Yet it is Holder who uses the political pretext of race-baiting to undermine the very franchise he’s sworn to protect.
    Um...so where's the race bating?  Perhaps it's somewhere else in his speech.

    Did you know that the phrase "poll tax" doesn't actually occur in Holder's speech?  Even though the Trib used quotation marks when describing what Holder said?  Did you know that the phrase "Jim Crow" doesn't occur in the speech at all?  The braintrust is projecting those things onto Holder's speech - all without telling you.  And finally did you know that in the speech Holder was specifically referring to just one Voter ID law?  The one in Texas, which not-coincidentally is where he was speaking?

    Yet again, the Tribune-Review is counting on its readership to skip the invaluable step of checking the Tribune-Review's facts (or better yet "facts").

    This is actually what the Attorney General said about SB14:
    At a fundamental level, this is the same commitment that has driven us to expand access to, and prevent discrimination in, America’s elections systems. And in jurisdictions across the country, it has compelled the Civil Right’s Division’s Voting Section to take meaningful steps to ensure integrity, independence, and transparency in our enforcement of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 – a law that the NAACP was instrumental in advancing. Especially in recent months, Texas has – in many ways – been at the center of our national debate about voting rights issues. And I know many of you have been on the front lines of this fight. Here – as in a number of jurisdictions across the country – the Justice Department has initiated careful, thorough, and independent reviews of proposed voting changes – including redistricting plans, early voting procedures, photo identification requirements, and changes affecting third party registration organizations – in order to guard against disenfranchisement, and to help ensure that none of these proposals would have a discriminatory purpose or effect.

    And, as many of you know, yesterday was the first day of trial in a case that th e State of Texas filed against the Justice Department, under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, seeking approval of its proposed voter ID law. After close review, the Department found that this law would be harmful to minority voters – and we rejected its implementation.

    Under the proposed law, concealed handgun licenses would be acceptable forms of photo ID – but student IDs would not. Many of those without IDs would have to travel great distances to get them – and some would struggle to pay for the documents they might need to obtain them. Since the passage of this law, the NAACP and other leading civil rights organizations have been spearheading critical efforts to protect the rights of minority voters in this and other states. And a growing number of you are working to raise awareness about the potential impact of this and other similar laws – and the fact that – according to some recent studies – nationally, only 8% of white voting age citizens, while 25% of African-American voting age citizens, lack a government-issued photo ID. In our efforts to protect voting rights and to prevent voting fraud, we will be vigilant and strong. But let me be clear: we will not allow political pretexts to disenfranchise American citizens of their most precious right.

    Now, I can’t predict the future. And I don’t know what will happen as this case moves forward. But I can assure you that the Justice Department’s efforts to uphold and enforce voting rights will remain aggressive. And I have every expectation that we’ll continue to be effective. The arc of American history has always moved toward expanding the electorate. It is what has made this nation exceptional. We will simply not allow this era to be the beginning of the reversal of that historic progress.
    So where, again, is the race-baiting?

    In the meantime, how bad is the "voter fraud" problem in the Great State of Texas?

    Turns out, it's nearly non-existent:
    While the State of Texas invests time and money into defending its voter ID law in federal court this week, KHOU 11 News has found the problem isn’t as extensive as portrayed. KHOU 11 News asked Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott to sum up the defense of the state’s law.

    “There are two main things that we want to prove in this case. One that voter fraud is a serious problem in the state of Texas,” he said.

    So KHOU 11 News requested a list of voter fraud cases in Texas to see the extent of the problem.

    The total number of cases on the AG’s own list was 62 since 2002.
    62.

    July 15, 2012

    LIBOR? What's LIBOR?

    Today, instead of deconstructing Jack Kelly or Richard Mellon Scaife's braintrust, we'll start here:
    Major American television news outlets are devoting scant coverage to one of the largest banking scandals in history. Regulators are investigating whether major financial institutions have been manipulating the LIBOR, a key interest rate that banks use to borrow money from one another. The British multinational financial institution Barclays has already been fined $450 million for its role in the scandal. Despite the massive scope of the controversy -- LIBOR is "used as a benchmark to set payments on about $800 trillion worth of financial instruments" -- CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, and NBC have only spent about 12 minutes combined covering the story during their evening newscasts and opinion programming.
    The link in that paragraph leads to an article at The Economist that explains a little more what that LIBOR number is:
    The number that the traders were toying with determines the prices that people and corporations around the world pay for loans or receive for their savings. It is used as a benchmark to set payments on about $800 trillion-worth of financial instruments, ranging from complex interest-rate derivatives to simple mortgages. The number determines the global flow of billions of dollars each year. Yet it turns out to have been flawed.
    So what, exactly, is this LIBOR thingie?

    The BBA (British Bankers' Association) explains that it:
    ...stands for 'London InterBank Offered Rate'. It is produced for ten currencies with 15 maturities quoted for each - ranging from overnight to 12 months - thus producing 150 rates each business day.
    And how does this happen?
    Every contributor bank is asked to base their  [LIBOR] submissions on the following question:

    “At what rate could you borrow funds, were you to do so by asking for and then accepting inter-bank offers in a reasonable market size just prior to 11 am?” Therefore, submissions are based upon the lowest perceived rate at which a bank could go into the London interbank money market and obtain funding in reasonable market size, for a given maturity and currency.

    [LIBOR] is not necessarily based on actual transactions, as not all banks will require funds in marketable size each day in each of the currencies/ maturities they quote and so it would not be feasible to create a suite of LIBOR rates if this was a requirement. However, a bank will know what its credit and liquidity risk profile is from rates at which it has dealt and can construct a curve to predict accurately the correct rate for currencies or maturities in which it has not been active.
    And so what did Barclays do?

    This, from the BBC:
    Here is today's statement from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the CFTC:

    "Barclays….attempted to manipulate and made false reports concerning both benchmark interest rates to benefit the bank's derivatives trading positions by either increasing its profits or minimizing its losses. The conduct occurred regularly and was pervasive."

    The CFTC also says that after the start of the credit crunch in August 2007, all the way through to early 2009, Barclays made "artificially low…submissions" about the interest rate it was being forced to pay to borrow to "protect Barclays' reputation from negative market and media perceptions concerning Barclays' financial condition".

    This was done, according to the CFTC, "as a result of instructions from Barclays' senior management".

    In other words, Barclays was pretending that it could borrow more cheaply than was actually the case, to reassure its owners and creditors that lenders had more confidence in it than was true. [emphasis added]
    AY-und:
    To put it another way, a tiny difference in the Libor or Euribor rate could determine whether a bank like Barclays - and other banks - would make a profit or a loss on huge derivatives deals. So there was a massive incentive to try and manipulate that rate.
    Of course there was.

    So what does that mean to everyone else outside of the banking industry?

    Take a look at what's happening in Baltimore:
    The city sued in August because of Libor's relationship to some of Baltimore's bonds, naming banks on the Libor-setting panel, including Bank of America, Barclays and Citibank.

    In the early 2000s, during Martin O'Malley's tenure as mayor, Baltimore issued bonds tied to Libor to raise money for parking infrastructure, water utilities and other projects. To entice investors, the bonds paid a floating interest rate — Libor plus an additional percentage. Such floating rates insulate investors from interest rate swings and inflation.

    But they can present problems for municipalities with tight budgets. If interest rates shoot up, a municipality would need to find money by either raising revenue or cutting costs to pay more to the bond investors.

    "A typical city just cannot afford that uncertainty. That would be deadly. They just cannot take that risk because they live on a thin margin," said Yuval Bar-Or, an adjunct professor at the Johns Hopkins University's Carey Business School.

    In order to protect itself, Baltimore executed a contract with a bank that transferred that uncertainty. The city agreed to pay the bank a fixed interest rate and, in return, the bank agreed to pay the amount the city owed investors on the floating-rate bond.

    It's called an interest rate swap. In such an arrangement, if the benchmark rate goes up, the city is protected because the bank foots the bill.

    Both the city and the bank should anticipate that the floating rate will remain below the fixed rate that the city pays the bank, so the bank can make money.

    But if the benchmark rate is lowered artificially, the city loses more money than it should in the swap transaction.
    Which means, of course, that the bank makes more than it should.

    More evidence, as if we needed it, that the system is fixed in favor of the 1%.

    July 14, 2012

    Mitt Romney - Not The Solution But The Problem

    Woodie Guthrie, Happy Birthday


    Number 34 on the 2002 National Recording Registry list of "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" recordings, "This Land of Your Land" was intended, as the description on the Registry to be a "a grassroots response" to "God Bless America."

    Both are songs we all know from grade school, right?

    But there's more to the story.  From Will Kaufman, professor of American Culture, University of Central Lancashire, England:
    Woody saw [God Bless America] as a strident, jingoistic, complacent, tub-thumping anthem to American greatness. And now, he had just come from the Dust Bowl. He’d just come from the barbed-wire gates of California’s Eden there. He’d seen the Hoovervilles. He’d seen the bread lines. He’d seen labor activists getting their head busted. And so, he’s thinking, what—God bless—what America, you know, is Kate Smith singing of? So he sits down and writes a song in response to Irving Berlin, and he calls it "God Blessed America for Me." And later on, he decides to come back to that song and change the title, change the verses, change the refrain, and it becomes "This Land Was Made for You and Me."
    We all know the beginning lyrics.  But do you know the ending?  There are many versions from Guthrie himself but let's take a look at how Arlo Guthrie (Woodie's son, in case you're younger than 40 or so) ends it:
    As I was walkin' - I saw a sign there
    And that sign said - no tress passin'
    But on the other side .... it didn't say nothin!
    Now that side was made for you and me!

    In the squares of the city - In the shadow of the steeple
    Near the relief office - I see my people
    And some are grumblin' and some are wonderin'
    If this land's still made for you and me.
    Happy Birthday, Woodie.

    I wonder what you'd think about Citizens United, the Koch Brothers, the Tea Party Movement.

    July 13, 2012

    Song of the day (Mitt Romney Edition)

    Either Mittens lied...or he lied!

     
    Bonus: You can now dance to the song of the day while wearing some MittFlops:


    Mitt Romney Lied. That Part Is Simple.

    That part is simple.  Who (whom?) he lied to is complicated.

    From Politico:
    Deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter laid out the issue as the Obama team sees it: “Either Mitt Romney, through his own words and his own signature, was misrepresenting his position at Bain to the SEC, which is a felony."

    "Or," she said, "he was misrepresenting his position at Bain to the American people to avoid responsibility for some of the consequences of his investments,” including layoffs and the outsourcing of jobs.
    Over at Foxnews.com, the story's not about the SEC, Bain Capital, or Mitt Romney's honesty, it's about what each campaign said about the other:
    The battle between President Obama and Mitt Romney reached new levels of rancor Thursday, with each campaign accusing the other of lying over Romney's tenure at private-equity firm Bain Capital.

    The charges flew at a rapid pace, and by the end of the day the Romney campaign was demanding an apology after a senior Obama campaign official said the Republican presidential candidate may have committed a felony.
    Now, that's good, unbiased reporting.  Don't spend much (if any) time ascertaining what's true.  Just let each side tell its own story and you've done your job.

    But which side is telling the truth?

    Let's go back to the original reporting.  The story that triggered this was published at the Boston Globe.  Here's how it begins:
    Government documents filed by Mitt Romney and Bain Capital say Romney remained chief executive and chairman of the firm three years beyond the date he said he ceded control, even creating five new investment partnerships during that time.

    Romney has said he left Bain in 1999 to lead the winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, ending his role in the company. But public Securities and Exchange Commission documents filed later by Bain Capital state he remained the firm’s “sole stockholder, chairman of the board, chief executive officer, and president.”

    Also, a Massachusetts financial disclosure form Romney filed in 2003 states that he still owned 100 percent of Bain Capital in 2002. And Romney’s state financial disclosure forms indicate he earned at least $100,000 as a Bain “executive” in 2001 and 2002, separate from investment earnings.
    Why is this a big deal?  The Globe gives an answer:
    The timing of Romney’s departure from Bain is a key point of contention because he has said his resignation in February 1999 meant he was not responsible for Bain Capital companies that went bankrupt or laid off workers after that date.
    Whether he was in on any decision is beside the point.  His name is on the SEC filings.  The company was his.  He is responsible for all the decisions Bain Capital made.

    So he either lied to the SEC or he's lying to you now.

    How hot is it?


    With temperatures slated to shoot up again next week, how hot has it been?

    According to federal climate scientists, the first half of this year has been Pittsburgh's warmest on record. Moreover, the National Climatic Data Center announced in their "State of the Climate” report:
    The last 12-month period on the mainland United States, it notes, were the warmest on record. What’s notable, however, is that every single one of the last 13 months were in the top third for their historical distribution–i.e., April 2012 was in the top third for warmest Aprils, etc.
    The odds of this being a random fluke -- and not due to climate change -- is about 1 in 100,000. Or as Jerry Meehl of the National Center for Atmospheric Research put it, “This is what global warming is like. And we’ll see more of this as we go into the future.”

    Swell!

    July 12, 2012

    Freeh Report Shocker: Powerful Men Will Cover-up Rape & Abuse for Own Selfish Interests!

    The Freeh Report on the Penn State rape scandal came out today. Via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
    A special investigator today condemned Penn State University leadership for what he called "the total disregard for the safety and welfare" of children who were sexually abused by former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.  
    "The most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized," investigator Louis Freeh said in remarks prepared for a 10 a.m. news conference.  
    [snip] 
    "Four of the most powerful people at The Pennsylvania State University -- President Graham B. Spanier, Senior Vice President-Finance Gary C. Schultz, Athletic Director Timothy M. Curley and Head Football Coach Joseph V. Paterno -- failed to protect against a child sexual predator harming children for over a decade," according to the report. "These men concealed Sandusky's activities from the Board of Trustees, the University community and authorities. They exhibited a striking lack of empathy for Sandusky's victims by failing to inquire as to their safety and well-being, especially by not attempting to determine the identity of the child who Sandusky assaulted in the Lasch Building in 2001.  
    "Further, they exposed this child to additional harm by alerting Sandusky, who was the only one who knew the child's identity, of what (graduate assistant Mike) McQueary saw in the shower on the night of February, 9, 2001," according to the report.
    I am completely shocked by the revelations!

    Never before in the history of mankind have we seen powerful men from any company, religion, institution, industry, system (such as slavery), prison, government, military or family unit turn a blind eye to or actively cover-up -- let alone participate in -- the rape/abuse/exploitation of children and women (and other men) for their own selfish interests (nor would any women be their allies in this so their own little worlds would not be disturbed one tiny bit).

    In the case of Penn State, the leadership actually did this so that their own careers -- and the moving of a ball up and down a field -- would be protected.

    Shocking! Shocking, I tell you!

    We can now all go back to our lives and forget that this exact same thing happens daily.

    Fuck Joe Paterno. Fuck Penn State. Fuck the Patriarchy.

    Hey, Tea Partiers! Guess What?

    From the Washington Post:
    Americans paid the lowest tax rates in 30 years to the federal government in 2009, in part because of tax cuts President Obama sought to combat the Great Recession, congressional budget analysts said Tuesday.

    A sharp decline in income — especially among the wealthiest Americans, who pay the highest tax rates — also played a role, according to the report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Household income fell 12 percent on average from 2007 to 2009, with income among the top 1 percent of earners decreasing by more than a third.

    Still, at the very moment anti-tax protesters were emerging as the most powerful force in American politics, handing Republicans landslide control of the U.S. House, the data show that people were sending the smallest portion of their income to the federal government since 1979.

    During Obama’s first year in office, the average tax rate paid by all households fell to 17.4 percent, down from 19.9 percent in 2007, according to the CBO. The 2009 rate was significantly lower than the previous low of 19.4 percent in 2003 and well below the 30-year average of 21 percent.
    Something to chew on for a Thursday Morning.

    July 11, 2012

    More On Scaife's Braintrust

    A few days ago the editorial board over at Richard Mellon Scaife's Tribune-Review published yet another reality challenged attack on President Obama's policies.

    Let's take a look at what they got wrong.  Here's the set-up:
    Call it the Hobson’s choice of The Great Tax Debate — shaft the economy now or shaft the economy later.

    President Obama on Monday called for a one-year extension of the Bush-era tax cuts for single filers making less than $200,000 and families making less $250,000. It’s a matter of “fairness,” he said.

    Actually, it’s matter of politics; the proposal will be dead on arrival in the House. The president not only further seeks to stoke the furnaces of class envy, he fuels overall tax policy uncertainty that retards the spark of any hoped-for economic recovery.
    And now some context.  The Citizens for Tax Justice created some artwork to explain what the argument is all about:

    See that big red bar across the top?  See how much farther it extends than the smaller blue bar just below it?  See how all the other pairings of red and blue lines are more or less the same size?

    That's the difference between what the Obama Administration wants to do with the Bush tax cuts and what the GOP wants to do with them.  All of the efforts extended by the GOP are all about protecting that long red bar.  It's about protecting that $50,000 difference.  That's fifty grand (on average) for every tax payer in the top 1%.

    That's what they're fighting to protect.

    And how many people are we talking here?  CTJ has an answer for that one, too:
    President Obama’s proposal to extend most, but not all, of the Bush tax cuts, would result in 1.9 percent of Americans losing some portion of the Bush income tax cuts.
    Back to the Trib:
    Don’t count on small businesses to jump for much joy. Oh, there might be short-term tax savings, but with only a one-year extension, they really can’t plan for any kind of long-term investment and expansion.

    And “the rich,” those above the $250,000 threshold, certainly won’t be rushing to invest and expand. Individual taxes will rise anywhere from a rate of 33 percent to nearly 40 percent. Capital gains taxes will jump from a rate of 15 percent to nearly 24 percent. And the top tax rate on dividends will go from 15 percent to more than 43 percent.
    So how many people are we talking here?  According to this memo from the Joint Committee on Taxation, it's about 970,000 tax payers and they represent only about 3.5% of all small business owners.

    All that money for such a small sliver of the population.  All that work to protect the already vast profits of the already fabulously wealthy.

    Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Republican Party and their defenders in the right wing media.

    July 9, 2012

    Jack Kelly Sunday

    Ok, so it's a day late - so sue me.

    With Jack's P-G column this week he lengthens by one this list of crazie Roberts Conspiracy Theories.   As much as he might disagree with the Supreme Court decision validating the Affordable Care Act, he points out its (unintended??) consequences:
    Some conservatives think the chief justice did the right thing. Not legally -- I agree with his critics that Chief Justice Roberts tortured the law to make it go where he wanted to take it -- but politically.

    If the president is re-elected, it wouldn't have mattered if the Supreme Court had thrown out the health care law. He'd simply ignore the decision. (He's already ignoring the ruling that Obamacare is a tax.) The only way to restore constitutional government is to remove Barack Obama from office. I think that's why -- after siding with the conservatives on every point of law -- the chief justice strained so to find Obamacare constitutional.
    See? Roberts found the law constitutional in order to make it easier for the GOP to remove Barack Obama from office!  It's all so clear.  I can see the truth now (Acts 9:18).

    But think of what that says about what Jack's thinking.  Let's assume he actually believes what the GOP thinktanks are saying about "Obamacare."  For example, that it's a "job-killer" or that it "raises taxes" on Americans.

    For Jack, these horrors to be visited on the American People are acceptable (for other people to suffer through, of course) as long as their presence makes it easier for Mitt Romney to win in November.

    Nice to see your true colors, Jack.

    July 8, 2012

    Watch Them Misread. Again.

    Take a look at this from our good friends on the Tribune-Review editorial board:
    Even The Associated Press, long-serving cardinals in the Church of Global Warming, had to admit in a news story last week that “it’s far too early to say (global warming) is the cause” of the current spate of hot and stormy weather. But that didn’t stop it from giving ample space to those who do blame “climate change.” And the AP waited until the 20th paragraph of its 21-paragraph story to quote anyone with a counterargument. Fair and balanced? Try bogus and biased. [bold in original]
    Now take a look at the AP story they found so bogus and biased.  We'll start with the quotation.  Here it is in its original form:
    If you want a glimpse of some of the worst of global warming, scientists suggest taking a look at U.S. weather in recent weeks.

    Horrendous wildfires. Oppressive heat waves. Devastating droughts. Flooding from giant deluges. And a powerful freak wind storm called a derecho.

    These are the kinds of extremes climate scientists have predicted will come with climate change, although it's far too early to say that is the cause. Nor will they say global warming is the reason 3,215 daily high temperature records were set in the month of June.

    Scientifically linking individual weather events to climate change takes intensive study, complicated mathematics, computer models and lots of time. Sometimes it isn't caused by global warming. Weather is always variable; freak things happen. [emphasis added.]
    Take a look at that last sentence. Now here's the skeptic quoted:
    While at least 15 climate scientists told The Associated Press that this long hot U.S. summer is consistent with what is to be expected in global warming, history is full of such extremes, said John Christy at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. He's a global warming skeptic who says, "The guilty party in my view is Mother Nature."
    See that?  That's more or less exactly how the AP ends the fourth paragraph.  So the AP doesn't wait until the end of the 19 (not 21) paragraph piece to float some skeptical caveats, does it?

    But the piece, however, isn't about establishing the credibility of "global warming" as much as it's about how:
    [S]ince at least 1988, climate scientists have warned that climate change would bring, in general, increased heat waves, more droughts, more sudden downpours, more widespread wildfires and worsening storms. In the United States, those extremes are happening here and now.
    All of which is true - no "counterbalance" is possible.  The piece is about how our current weather closely matches the warnings climate scientists have been making for decades - all without going all post hoc ergo propter hoc on us.

    And yet Scaife's braintrust says it's bogus.  Who's bogus?  As the braintrust bellowed only a few days ago:
    A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep.

    July 6, 2012

    Obama CMU Rally Coverage...Until the Networks Got Bored


    Well, MSNBC and CNN covered the first few minutes until the President started repeating what he said in Ohio earlier this morning. President Obama did mention (in this order): Senator Bob Casey, Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl (I wonder if he showed?),  Congressman Mike Doyle, Allegheny County Chief Executive Rich Fitzgerald, and Democratic Party State Chair Jim Burns.

    He also mentioned that both the White Sox and the Pirates were in first place and he'd have a problem if they were up against each other in the World Series. Then, they switched over to other news and I need to head out to work (which is why I couldn't attend in person in the first place). 

    I'm sure the local media will have lots of coverage later.

    On the way to Pittsburgh: Obama Campaign buys cookies from bakery that Romney dissed

    If you recall, Mitt Romney dissed Pittsburgh cookies back in April:
    "I'm not sure about these cookies," Mr. Romney said during a staged roundtable meeting at the Bethel Park Community Center Tuesday, where a platter of Bethel Bakery cookies were among the trays of food laid out on a picnic table. "They came from the local 7-Eleven bakery or whatever."  
    The resulting firestorm on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter was instant, with insulted fans of the 57-year-old bakery taking to local talk radio shows and Internet blogs to express their outrage.  
    Among them was Republican congressional candidate Evan Feinberg, who summed the miniscandal up on Twitter: "Huge mistake. Bethel Bakery is an institution around here!"
    Via Pool Report (Timothy McNulty, Post-Gazette):
    BEAVER – Cookies are the cheeky theme of the day as POTUS rolls along toward Pittsburgh for the final stop of his “Betting On America” bus tour.  
    Mr. Obama’s motorcade stopped traffic in the Beaver County seat at 12:44 EST, as car drivers leaned out their windows to shoot cell phone video of the passing caravan of SUVs, buses and armored cars. About 75 locals pressed against police tape as the president climbed out of his black tour bus at 12:51 outside Kretchmar’s Bakery on Third Street. “I’ll be right back. I just have to get pie first,” POTUS said.  
    On the way to Beaver from Poland, Ohio, the president’s campaign announced it would provide cookies from Bethel Bakery to the press, cookies that Mitt Romney had briefly snubbed during a campaign visit in the spring. Outside the bakery in this old industrial town – full of union-friendly Democrats – Mr. Oboma’s chief political advisor David Axelrod said “there are good cookies in Pittsburgh. We like the cookies in Pittsburgh.”   
    Here's a taste of the waiting crowd:



    In Case You Missed It...

    From the Philadelphia Inquirer:
    More than 758,000 registered voters in Pennsylvania do not have photo identification cards from the state Transportation Department, putting their voting rights at risk in the November election, according to data released Tuesday by state election officials.
    And, as the OPJ has already noted, Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Mike Turzai admits that the recently passed Voter ID law has one important purpose:
    Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania...
    How? Back to the Inky:
    Philadelphia's top election official, City Commission Chair Stephanie Singer, said the figures reinforced her view that the state's new law was designed to suppress voter turnout in the predominantly Democratic city.
    That's how.

    And yet, with straight face and stern spine, our GOP overlords declare that the law is supposed to "protect the integrity" of the election process.

    Yea, right.

    Contrasts

    First, President Obama at a campaign event in Sandusky, Ohio:
    At one point, he consoled a crying woman, Stephanie Miller, who was telling him a story.

    President Barack Obama, right, talks to Stephanie Miller after speaking at an ice cream social at Washington Park in Sandusky, Ohio, Thursday, July 5, 2012. Miller's sister, Kelly Hines, died from colon cancer four years ago. She could not afford proper health insurance, had no employer-provided coverage, and "even after she was diagnosed with cancer, she was told her income was too high for Medicaid," Miller said. Miller thanked Obama for the getting the Affordable Health Act passed.

    Miller, reached by phone afterward, said her sister, Kelly Hines, died from colon cancer four years ago because she could not afford proper health insurance. She had no employer-provided coverage

    "Even after she was diagnosed with cancer, she was told her income was too high for Medicaid," Ms. Miller said. "I thanked him for the getting the Affordable Health Act passed," she said.
    And now, Senator Mitch McConnell on, of course, Fox "News":
    Pressed by Chris Wallace to say what he would do to insure the 30 million people who will get insurance under Obamacare, McConnell at first dodged the question, instead launching into a litany of complaints about the law. He repeated the debunked claim that it would cut $500 billion from Medicare. Asked the question again by Wallace, McConnell actually laughed, and said he’d “get to it in a minute,” before claiming the best thing we can do for the health system overall is to get rid of the law and all of its “cuts” to health providers. He labeled Obamacare a “monstrosity” and vowed that there would not be a “2,700 page” Republican reform bill.

    Asked a third time how Republicans would insure those 30 million people, McConnell said: “That is not the issue. The question is how you can go step by step to improve the American health care system.”
    Allowing a few people to die so that the GOP "improvements" can be implemented step-by-step - that's the plan.

    This from the pro-life party.

    Things to do before/around President Obama's Pittsburgh visit

    As you all should know by now, President Barack Obama will be holding a free, public rally at CMU today (you need to already have a ticket to get in). Why not make a day of it!

    Counter the Pawlenty/Jindal GOP/Romney Campaign Event

    Via the Post-Gazette's Early Returns:
    OK, forget all that Is-Pa-Still-A-Battleground hand-wringing: tomorrow is shaping up to be a crazy and fun day in Pittsburgh for presidential politics.  
    President Obama of course is coming in for a campaign rally at CMU Friday afternoon, but Republicans are bringing in big guns of their own for a counter-rally across Oakland in the morning, starring former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (right). The GOP/Romney campaign event is at 10 a.m. at Soldiers & Sailors Hall.
    Via the AFL-CIO:


    Event Details:
    When: Friday, June 6, 9:15 a.m.
    Where: Across from the Soldiers and Sailors Hall parking lot. 4141Fifth Avenue (OAKLAND) Pittsburgh, PA 15213



    Thank You, Mr. President! We <3 Obamacare!

    What: 'We'll have a large homemade banner that says, "Thank you Mr. President. We ♥ Obamacare" and lists the major pieces of the law that will make an enormously positive impact on all of our lives. We'll invite folks passing by to stop and add a thank you message or sign their name, and we'll be giving out great information about the law so folks can quickly understand what's in the law and how it helps them.'

    When: Friday, June 6, 12:00pm until 3:00pm
    Where: Meet near the entrance to the Morewood parking lot (on Forbes, just before the intersection of Forbes and Morewood).
    Hosted By: Pennsylvania Health Access Network
    More Info/RSVP: Facebook