Month: June 2010

Why Aren’t Tea Parties Demanding That The Government Hold BP Accountable On Behalf Of Taxpayers?

Again, we are seeing the blatant hypocrisy of the “Tea Partiers”.  As the article below states, the BP oil eruption could end up costing American taxpayers millions if not billions of dollars for BP’s ineptitude. 

Think Progress

Tea Party activists’ self-proclaimed mission is to demand lower taxes. TEA, in fact, stands for Taxed Enough Already. As a part of this anti-tax crusade, the Tea Party has vehemently opposed comprehensive health reform, clean energy legislation, and even mandatory garbage collection.

Given that these protesters take their name from the Boston Tea Party, which was organized around protesting an unfair tax benefit given to a massive British corporation, and that British oil giant BP’s oil disaster could end up costing taxpayers billions of dollars, you’d think that Tea Partiers would be demanding that the government hold BP accountable and make the corporation pay the full costs for its bad behavior, so that taxpayers don’t have to foot the bill.

Yet the Tea Partiers haven’t descended on BP’s headquarters or marched on Capitol Hill demanding, for example, that the government lift the $75 million oil spill liability cap on BP so that the damages it pays aren’t severely limited. On the contrary, they’ve attacked President Obama for securing a $20 billion escrow fund from BP to recompense victims of its oil spill and cozied up to politicians who’ve sided with BP. As the Associated Press noted last week, “Tea Party candidates [have stood] by BP to rail against President Obama.” Here are just a few examples of Tea Party organizers and Tea Party-endorsed politicians siding with the foreign oil giant against American taxpayers:

– Republican Study Committee chair Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), who headlined a Tax Day tea party in the nation’s capitol this year, derided the escrow fund as “Chicago-style shakedown politics.” [6/16/10]

– Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), who has proudly boasted of supporting the “Tea Party movement and the people getting involved,” echoed Price’s language as he apologized to BP CEO Tony Hayword for the White House’s “shakedown” it performed while trying to hold his company accountable. [6/17/10]

– Conservative talk show host and chairman of the Tea Party Express Mark Williams compared Obama’s efforts to secure the escrow fund to those of “mobsters,” and added that where he comes “from, they call it extortion.” [6/21/10]

– The “tea party favorite” in the Oklahoma GOP gubenatorial primary, state senator Randy Brogdon, said that BP’s oil disaster was “a perfect example of why government should never be involved in the private sector,” while blasting efforts to properly regulate the foreign oil giant so that it couldn’t cause more devastation in the future. [6/21/10]

Without tough government action to make sure that BP pays for the own costs of its own disaster and doesn’t drop the tab on taxpayers — as leading right-wing figures like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce president Tom Donohue and House minority leader John Boehner (OH) have suggested — it is likely that the oil company will get off easy, much like Exxon did following its own oil disaster two decades ago.

If Tea Partiers truly want to defend taxpayers from facing undue burdens, it may be time for them to don their signs and demand that BP pay for the entire cost of its own disaster by lifting the oil spill liability cap and ask that the government end billions of dollars in special tax breaks for Big Oil (just as the original tea partiers wanted to end the tax advantages of the British East India Trading Company).

MSNBC’s Scarborough: ‘Every Republican I Talk To On The Hill’ Tells Me John Boehner ‘Is Not A Hard Worker’

I’m not surprised in the least.  It’ shows with the entire GOP leadership. 

Think Progress 

On MSNBC’s Morning Joe, host Joe Scarborough made a damning accusation against House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), with whom he used to work in the House of Representatives. Scarborough said that the rap on Boehner amongst people who know him best is that he’s lazy:

SCARBOROUGH: I hear it on the Hill, I’m sure you hear it on the Hill all the time, it’s not reported but so many Republicans tell me this is a guy that is not the hardest worker in the world. After 5 o’clock, 6 o’clock at night, he is disengaged at best. You can see him around town. He does not have, let’s say, the work hours of Newt Gingrich. … Every Republican I talk to says John Boehner by 5 or 6 o’clock at night, you can see him at bars. He is not a hard worker.

Growing exasperated, Scaborough scolded VandeHei: “How can you not know if he’s a hard worker! You work for Politico, you guys say you’re the smartest guys on the planet. You’re the young guns that get all these spreads, that you own Washington. You hear from people more than I hear from people. What do they tell you about John Boehner’s work ethic!?” VandeHei responded that while he has heard that concern, it is “not the knock I hear most frequently.” After Scarborough called Boehner “lazy,” VandeHei responded that he’s “not necessarily lazy,” but rather, he doesn’t have “fresh ideas” and a “vision.”  Watch:

Politico’s co-founder and executive director Jim VandeHei, doing his best to defend Boehner from Scarborough’s accusations, first tried to dodge the discussion but then said, “Well, a lot of those bars are fundraisers for Republicans, his people might say.”

Scarborough retorted that his accusation about Boehner’s work ethic “comes from every Republican I talk to on the Hill.” VandeHei, again defending Boehner, said that’s “not the biggest knock” on him and added that he didn’t know if John Boehner is a hard worker.  Watch:

Not only is Boehner apparently “lazy” and lacking in a “work ethic,” but he’s also disconnected. Yesterday, the House Republican leader compared the financial crisis to an “ant” that Democrats are trying to solve with a “nuclear weapon” in the form a financial regulatory reform bill. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said that comment demonstrated “how out of touch” Boehner is.

Update:  In an email to Politico, Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said, “Boehner grew up with 11 brothers and sisters and his dad owned a bar, but the only time he’s ‘around town’ these days is to raise money for our House Republican team.”
 
Update:  Scarborough tweets, “How sad that Republicans get upset when I simply repeat what GOP members say about DC leaders every day.”

Poll: Favorable views of health reform law increasing among Americans

A few months ago, right after the Health Reform bill  passed, I re-produced a list of 10 Immediate Benefits Of health Care Reform.  That list has been around the internet for months.  Perhaps people from all walks of life have read the list and see where they can benefit from health care reform.

The Washington Post -  David S. Hilzenrath

The health-care overhaul gained popularity from May to June, according to a new tracking poll.

The results suggest that the Obama administration’s promotion of the legislation may be paying off or that the public may be warming to the law as early provisions take effect.

The Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that 48 percent of the public had a favorable view of the law in June while 41 percent had an unfavorable opinion. A month earlier, the split was 41 percent favorable to 44 percent unfavorable.

The latest survey results were not much different from those in March, shortly before the law was enacted. Then, at the end of a bitter year-long battle, 46 percent said they supported the proposed legislation while 42 percent opposed it.

Since President Obama signed the law, Democrats and Republicans vying for advantage in the fall elections have been fighting to shape how the public perceives the historic legislation. The administration has been spotlighting potentially crowd-pleasing elements as they are phased in, including a provision that will allow many parents to keep young adult children on their insurance policies until age 26, and another provision that is helping some Medicare beneficiaries narrow a gap in their prescription drug coverage.

“Overall, roughly a third of voters say that a candidate who voted for the health reform law will be more likely to get their vote, a third say less likely, and a third say it doesn’t really matter,” said the foundation, which studies and distributes information about health-care policy.

When voters were pressed to choose the issue most important to them, “economic concerns came out on top, with 29 percent naming either the economy or unemployment,” the foundation said. Thirteen percent mentioned dissatisfaction with government, 12 percent mentioned health care, and 9 percent each pointed to the Gulf Coast oil spill and the budget deficit, the survey found.

The full impact of the health-care legislation will not be felt until 2014, when some of the most far-reaching and controversial elements take effect. Those include an end to discrimination by insurers based on preexisting conditions and a requirement that everyone carry health insurance.

The Kaiser tracking poll was conducted June 17 through 22 and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points, the foundation said.

Michael Steele’s Thurgood Marshall Fail

Well, it’s widely known that Michael Steele steadily drinks the Kool-aid that the GOP serves him on a daily basis.  There is no shame or remorse in Michael Steele’s character.  He has become the “water boy” (pun intended) for the GOP.  Steele started the attack on the late Justice Thurgood Marshall last month, per the instruction of the GOP, no doubt.  The GOP strategy was to continue the attacks on Marshall, started by Steele  because they couldn’t find anything “liberal or progressive” about Elena Kagan to attack.  After all, they had to give their base some red meat, so the Marshall attacks began en masse at the start of the hearings.

Mother Jones – David Corn & Suzy Khimm

During confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, it almost seemed as if the late and legendary Justice Thurgood Marshall was the one being vetted—rather than Kagan, who once clerked for him. Republicans on the Senate judiciary committee have tried to turn the civil rights icon into ammo for their assault on Kagan, attacking Marshall as a “judicial activist” and suggesting that the same could be expected of Kagan. This wasn’t a surprise. Michael Steele, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, kick-started this bash-Marshall campaign last month by pouncing on Kagan for praising a 1987 Marshall speech in which the ex-justice said the Constitution, “as originally drafted and conceived,” was “defective.” Marshall had been referring to the Constitution’s definition of slaves as three-fifths of “free persons.” But Steele’s oppo gang at the RNC seized on this and zapped out a memo hammering Kagan: “Does Kagan Still View Constitution ‘As Originally Drafted And Conceived’ As ‘Defective’?”

Choosing to go after the country’s first black Supreme Court justice is an iffy strategy for the GOPers. But it’s an especially strange line of attack for Steele—formerly Maryland’s first black lieutenant governor—who used to laud Marshall as a hero.

For instance, in July 2004, Steele honored Marshall as a barrier-shattering champion on the 40th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Standing in front of a memorial statue of Marshall near the Governor’s Mansion in Baltimore , Steele declared: “Without the ’64 act, I do not stand in the shadow of this giant.” Also in attendance was Arthur Fletcher, one of the original plaintiffs in Brown v. Board of Education. As the NAACP’s chief counsel, Marshall had represented Fletcher in that landmark case, which ended legalized segregation in schools. During the ceremony, Fletcher told then-Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich, “Thank you for making that young man [Steele] lieutenant governor.”    Continue reading… 

Gates Tells Defense Contractors To Increase Efficiency, Cut Costs

It’s about damn time! 

Now, I’d feel like they meant it if they rescinded that $100 million contract to Xe (formerly Blackwater.)

 

Crooks & Liars

Translation: “Santa Claus doesn’t live here anymore, boys!” I remember doing a defense story years ago and being surprised to learn that defense contractors typically use a research and development approach of several teams working on the same program at once, something they said enabled them to pick best practices from each team.

Oh yeah, and it’s an extraordinarily expensive approach virtually unheard of in the private sector:

The Pentagon on Monday told the US defense industry to bring down costs and find more savings in a “new era” of more modest military spending.

Ashton Carter, chief arms buyer for the Pentagon, delivered the belt-tightening message to a gathering of hundreds of defense chief executives and senior managers at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank.

The appeal for cost savings was part of an initiative announced by Defense Secretary Robert Gates last month to free up funds for weapons and other vital military needs, amid increasing pressure on the federal budget.

The industry CEOs understood the fiscal climate had changed, Carter said after the closed-door meeting.

“Everybody knows we’re entering a new era,” he told reporters. “They can do the math.”

The US defense budget would no longer grow at the same dramatic pace that marked the years after the September 11, 2001 attacks, and instead would expand at a more modest rate, said Carter, who also issued an open letter to industry.

As a result, weapons programs and services from private contractors would have to be carried out more efficiently starting next year, he said.

By slashing overhead, the Pentagon could increase funding for “war-fighting capabilities” by two to three percent, said Carter, or “in effect, doing more without more.”

Boxer, Brown Lead in California

More good news.  However, November is still way off…so I’m cheering with “cautious optimism.

Political Wire

A new Reuters/Ipsos poll in California finds 78% of registered voters believe the state is on the wrong track, with most saying the biggest problem facing California is the weak economy.

In the U.S. Senate race, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) leads challenger Carly Fiorina (R), 45% to 41%.

In the gubernatorial race, Jerry Brown (D) leads Meg Whitman (R), 45% to 39%.

Said pollster Clifford Young: “There’s a high level of discontentment. They’re mad. However, in California is not clear who they’re going to be mad at. It will be incumbent upon the different candidates to frame that to their advantage.”

Senate Republicans block measure to provide additional benefits to homeless veterans.

Between the GOP stalling on the passage of a jobs bill which would help millions on unemployment, the GOP has stooped even lower by blocking a measure to provide additional benefits to homeless female veterans.   Why are Conservatives so damned heartless?

Think Progress

Today, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) brought her bill — the Homeless Women Veterans and Homeless Veterans With Children Act — to the Senate floor seeking unanimous consent. Murray said the bill would “expand assistance for homeless women veterans and homeless veterans with children and would increase funding and extend federal grant programs to address the unique challenges faced by these veterans.” However, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) objected on behalf of Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) to this seemingly non-controversial issue:

McCONNELL: Madam president, reserving the right to object and I will have to object on behalf of my colleague Sen. Coburn from Oklahoma. He has concerns about this legislation, particularly as he indicates in a letter that I’ll ask the Senate to appear on the record that it be paid for up front so that the promises that makes the Veterans are in fact kept. So madam president I object.

This is pretty low, even for Republicans,” the Washington Monthly’s Steve Benen said. While Murray pledged to continue to fight for the bill’s passage, Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) spokesperson said “Republicans have their priorities backwards — according to them, it’s OK to give tax breaks to CEOs who send American jobs overseas, but not to help out-of-work Americans and homeless veteran.”

Kyl Denies That The Roberts Supreme Court Is On The Side Of ‘Big Business’: It’s A ‘Fradulent Claim’

It’s absolutely amazing how the GOP can lie with such a straight face.  It’s as if they really believe the lies they’re spewing.

Think Progress

Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, appeared on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show yesterday to discuss Elena Kagan’s Supreme Court nomination. Kyl complained that during the hearing, Democrats attempted to paint the Supreme Court led by Chief Justice John Roberts as “coming down on the side of big business“:

HH: With Chief Justice Roberts, was any review of those documents held by a — for example, the senior minority member of the Judiciary Committee?

JK: No. No, not to my knowledge, no.

HH: How did the first day go?

JK: Pretty much as expected. Republicans raised appropriate questions. It was respectful. She noted that all of her meetings with Senators have been courteous. Democrats primarily not only applauded her for having a wonderful background and being a great person, but also took the opportunity to slam what they call the Roberts Court and its activism in coming down on the side of big business repeatedly at the expense of the little guy. All a fraudulent claim, but that’s what they’re arguing.

Of course, the Senate Democrats’ arguments were far from “fraudulent.” The Roberts court has been one of the most pro-corporate in history. A recent study from the Constitutional Accountability Center documented how the court “has a decidedly probusiness tilt.” Demonstrating this bent, the court last week strengthened corporations’ power to force their customers and employees into biased, privatized courts whenever a dispute arises between them.

And, the court’s far-right voting bloc famously upended precedent to defend corporations’ supposed right to spend unlimited sums on elections in Citizens United. Today, in a piece on Roberts’ dramatic impact on the court, the New York Times said that decision “showed great solicitude to the interests of corporations.”

Boehner: We Can’t Have the War AND Social Security – So We Need To Cut Social Security! | Crooks and Liars

 

 

Crooks & Liars 

I saw this and I couldn’t believe it. But then I thought, well, Boehner’s only saying out loud what some Democrats seem to believe anyway: We can’t afford the war AND Social Security, so naturally, Social Security’s gotta get slashed. 

Makes perfect sense, right? Because, you know, stopping the war would be simply unthinkable! (And wasn’t it the Republicans who first promised us the Iraq invasion would pay for itself?) 

Boehner’s criticism of the Democratic agenda then moved to the recently-negotiated financial regulatory reform package, which he likened to “killing an ant with a nuclear weapon.” According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Boehner argued that the financial system would be better served by “more transparency and better enforcement by regulators.” 

The minority leader also answered questions about Social Security, which he said could not remain solvent as it is currently structured. 

Ensuring there’s enough money to pay for the war will require reforming the country’s entitlement system, Boehner said. He said he’d favor increasing the Social Security retirement age to 70 for people who have at least 20 years until retirement, tying cost-of-living increases to the consumer price index rather than wage inflation and limiting payments to those who need them. 

“We need to look at the American people and explain to them that we’re broke,” Boehner said. “If you have substantial non-Social Security income while you’re retired, why are we paying you at a time when we’re broke? We just need to be honest with people. 

No, John. How about you being honest with people? Social Security is not broke. It’s solvent through 2036 and can fund about 80% of its obligations after that. All we have to do to fix it is to raise the current tax by one percent, and remove the cap on earnings that made Republicans so happy. You know that. 

You think we haven’t noticed the class war in this country? You think we’ve forgotten that Social Security is pay-as-you-go, and doesn’t have a damned thing to do with our national deficit. Why would you say something that’s a bold-faced lie? 

Because the Republicans have been dying to privatize the system ever since it began. They hate the idea of a financial transaction happening somewhere that doesn’t make money for their corporate sponsors on Wall Street. (And let’s not even get into what would have happened to a privatized system in the crash.) 

They want workers to be desperate and disposable, grateful for crumbs. 

That’s why Republicans always want means-testing. They want to turn Social Security into a poverty program so it won’t have such broad-based support. 

They’re trying to confuse and worry people with this manufactured deficit “crisis.” And they’re telling us it’s much more important to keep the war going than to take care of the people in this country. You saw the unemployment vote last week — that’s the Republican agenda, in all its naked glory. 

They want cheap, disposable labor with no security whatsoever. And if we don’t do something soon to stop them, we’ll have it.

Al Franken Sketches Sessions During Kagan Confirmation Hearing (PHOTO)

This Senator, entertainer, political analyst is indeed multi-talented!

Huffington Post

Senator Al Franken has quite some talent for sketching.

AP photographer Alex Brandon caught Franken drawing a portrait of his GOP colleague Sen. Jeff Sessions during the confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan. The likeness is definitely there. Scroll down for an enlarged image.

(By the way, if you think this is impressive, watch this incredible video of Franken drawing an entire map of the United States by memory.)