Thursday, March 31, 2011

Last Call

Rep. Louie Gohmert may actually be the craziest guy in Congress, and that's saying something.

GOHMERT: It's a bad bill. And then when you find out that the prior Congress not only passed that 2,800 page bill with all kinds of things in it, including a new president's commissioned officer corps and non-commissioned officer corps. Do we really need that? I wondered when I read that in the bill. But then when you find out we're being sent to Libya to use our treasure and American lives there, maybe there's intention to so deplete the military that we're going to need that presidential reserve officer commissioned corps and non-commissioned corps that the president can call up on a moment's notice involuntarily, according to the Obamacare bill.

Yep, Obama is trying to kill as many of our troops as possible to leave us vulnerable to his secret Sharia plan to enslave us with his Obamacare Army of oddly healthy jackbooted goons. 

And this man is a United States Congressman.

Personally, I think it's time we ask every Republican in Congress if they believe Rep. Gohmert here and support his um...theories.

Birthers Get A Trump Card, Part 4

As I have said before, Donald Trump knows exactly what he is doing going full birther.

It's official: Donald Trump is a "birther." But he'd prefer you don't use that term.

Speaking to MSNBC Thursday, the business mogul and improbable presidential candidate reiterated much of what he has said in the last several days when it comes to doubting President Obama's birthplace, declaring, "I am embracing the issue, and I'm proud of the issue. I think somebody has to embrace it."

Trump, who in the last two weeks has raised the debunked issue on several programs, added he finds the term "birther" downright insulting.

"I don't like the name birther," he said. "I think it's very unfair and derogatory to a lot of good people that happen to think there is a possibility that this man was not born in this country."

Trump added he will continue to press the issue because, "If it were true, it'd be the greatest scam in the history of this country."

Look objectively at what Trump has done here.  He's as brilliant as he is dangerous.

He has gone on "liberal" MSNBC to defend the millions of Republicans (and some Independents and even a few Democrats) who believe that Barack Obama is hiding something on his birth certificate.  Before, the birther movement's greatest spokespeople were crackpot idiots like Orly Taitz and Alex JonesSarah Palin and Newt Gingrich have tried on their birther costumes, but they only did it halfway and they immediately jumped out after taking the heat.

But Trump knows how to play hardball.  Trump is selling birtherism as mainstream the way he hard-sells properties, and he knows rule #1 of the sale is never sell it halfway.  He knows what I've been saying for months now:  birtherism is mainstream Republican thinking.  And brother, he is selling that for everything it's worth.

In two weeks, Trump has gone from embarassment to nutjob to crazy like a fox to a serious threat.  And he's doing it by stomping as hard as he can on the birther message.

In fact, how long before we see other Republicans pick up the message that using the term "birther" is a filthy pejorative, insulting to all those hard working Real Americans out there who think the President is the greatest scam artist in American history, the way they freaked out over use of the term "Teabagger"?

Oh, and Trump is damn sure aware of the racial connotations to all this.  And he doesn't give a damn.  Trump has sold his soul for his shot at the big time, and that alone makes him the perfect GOP candidate.

Sing A Song Of Sick Pence, Pocketful Of Lies

Indiana Republican Rep. Mike Pence takes to the National Review to declare war on women again.

On Feb. 18, 2011, with bipartisan support, the House of Representatives passed the Pence Amendment, which would end taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood. In response, Planned Parenthood used its vast resources to launch slick Madison Avenue television ads portraying the group — the nation’s largest abortion provider — as an altruistic organization that provides health-care services to the poor and has only an incidental interest in abortion.

Despite efforts to suggest otherwise, the Pence Amendment does not reduce funding for cancer screenings or eliminate one dime of funding for other important health services to women; the money that does not go to Planned Parenthood as a result of the Pence Amendment will go to other organizations that provide these services. If the Pence Amendment becomes law, thousands of women’s health centers, clinics, and hospitals will still provide assistance to low-income families and women. The Pence Amendment would simply deny any and all federal funding to Planned Parenthood.

Two problems with that.  One, Pence believes 100% in the fungiablity of federal dollars to Planned Parenthood, but of course doesn't mean that women, particularly poor women, will have access if Planned Parenthood shuts down.  If Planned Parenthood is the only clinic around offering women's health services in the area, and funding goes away, it's going to take time to replace the clinic with the "other organizations".  In the meantime, where do women go to get health services?

Second, if you buy the fungiabilty argument, then no government dollars can ever go to any organization, clinic, doctor, or nurse at a clinic that does provide them, but why does the argument stop there?  Why not strip federal funding from the local, county, and state government that allows the clinic to exist?  Why not strip tax breaks from medical equipment providers, power companies, water and sanitation providers, contractors, and automakers that allow the people at the clinic to function as a business?

Oh, and Pence has no problem with oil companies making tens of billions in profits while getting government subsidies, nor does he have a problem with farm subsidy payments (being from Indiana.)  Only when it involves Planned Parenthood does he decide to be a fiscal hawk who wants the federal government to interfere between doctor and patient, if THAT stance makes any sense.

[UPDATEMore on Pence's pile of lies from marindenver at Rumproast.

This Week In Pants On Fire Lies

Liar, liar...

Pants on Fire!

As we check PolitiFact we see our own Speaker of the House, Ohio's own John "Orange Julius" Boehner can't seem to help himself when it comes to lying about health care reform.

Republicans and Democrats alike marked the recent anniversary of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s passage.

The White House issued a report listing benefits the bill had brought to Ohioans, like free wellness visits, mammograms and colonoscopies for Medicare beneficiaries, while Republicans like House Speaker John Boehner issued statements that said it destroys jobs and should be repealed.

"In the coming weeks, you’ll see more votes and more hearings in the House to take this law apart, step by step," Boehner promised in a press release and video disseminated to reporters on March 23 . "That includes repealing the law’s mandatory spending slush funds."

Boehner expounded more on the health care "slush fund" theme in a video released the previous week.

"Let’s look at Obamacare," Boehner said in the March 14 video. "Its authors went to great lengths to protect their government takeover of health care from anyone attempting to repeal it. They funneled federal bureaucrats billions of taxpayer dollars to implement this job-crushing health care law. This isn't just some startup money that fell into the wrong hands. It's a series of slush funds, set up to stay on the books automatically, with little or no oversight."

So what did PolitiFact find about OJ's "Obamacare slush fund" nonsense?

The health care bill provides several pools of money that the HHS Secretary can disburse for purposes designated by the legislation. Is it appropriate to call them "slush funds?" The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a "slush fund" as "an unregulated fund often used for illicit purposes." The money vexing Republicans is designated for programs specifically defined by the law, which hardly makes them illicit and unregulated. Congress also has the power to oversee the bill’s implementation, and Republicans have held several hearings on the subject already this year.

Boehner may object to the latitude the health care bill gives HHS. But as speaker, his words carry a lot of weight, and he should choose them wisely. His  "slush fund" label is not only inaccurate, but ridiculous. On the Truth-O-Meter, that rates a Pants on Fire.

Oops.  And hey, it seems America's newest Tea Party darling has trouble with truth too.

"Let's look at the number one. Number one," Bachmann said. "That's the number of new drilling permits under the Obama administration since they came into office.

Too bad Bachmann doesn't know how to count.

Bachmann's press office did not return our call, so we are relegated to playing the "perhaps she meant" game to test whether there is a sense in which she might be accurate.

Perhaps she meant permits since the moratorium, not since Obama administration came into office, as she said. (There were hundreds issued pre-gulf oil spill).

Perhaps she meant just deepwater drilling, not shallow water drilling. There have been 39 shallow-water permits for new wells since June 2010. And many more before that.

Perhaps she meant to exclude permits issued for projects that were under way prior to the oil spill (and which had to come back and meet the new, modified standards). Five of the six new well permits were underway prior to the moratorium.

Perhaps she meant not permits, but exploration plans. The first exploration plan since the oil spill was approved last week.


But that's not what she said.

She said: "One. That's the number of new drilling permits under the Obama administration since they came into office." It's not even close, and the claim is ridiculously false. Pants-On-Fire.

At least someone is calling Republicans out on their constant lies.  But they only seem  to be rewarded for it.

As The Technology Turns

Technology is always shifting and taking new directions.  This article is a helpful guide as to what you can part with (desktop computers and digital cameras are listed) and what you should keep (books and alarm clocks were among them).  Not only does it list some surprises, but the author does a great job of explaining why.  This is good insight for everything from purchasing decisions to predicting what will be coming in the next few years.  I'm glad to say we had just talked about a few of those topics (cable vs. Netflix and Hulu) and I was on the right track.

I disagree only on one point and say goodbye, alarm clocks.  I'll take my chances and let it go the way of my watch and Flock of Seagulls keychain.

Another Star Is Fading

It looks like Zsa Zsa Gabor isn't going to be with us much longer.  The actress has suffered from several serious ailments over the past year, including amputation and most recently coughing up blood.  She is another legend, a hell of a strong woman.  And for those who don't remember, she was one of many stars who in her prime could stop traffic.  She's pictured here with some other famed females from her time.  A time that is fading with each passing of some of our classic leading ladies.

Shutdown Countdown, Part 13

John Boehner's professional hostage game is now working perfectly, and Dems are falling for it hook, line, and stinker.

A top Senate Democratic aide says there's been a key thaw in discussions between Senate Dem leaders and House Republicans to avert a government shutdown.

The aide said Republican negotiators are once again willing to meet Democrats in the middle, to cut a bit over $30 billion from current spending -- just about half the $61 billion House Republicans have proposed.

Crucially, the idea of drawing from mandatory spending areas -- including the big entitlement programs -- is back on the table, according to the aide.

"Part of the thaw is that we think we can get some of the cuts we need to add up to this number from areas outside of discretionary," the aide said.

Another source familiar with the discussions says, "The appropriations committees in the House and Senate have been tasked to work on a bill that achieves cuts betweenw 30 and 36 [billion dollars]."
"That's just on [overall] spending cuts," the second source added, "and they'll have to hash out how much mandatory, how much discretionary."

I don't buy the news that Cantor has been cut out of the budget loop, either.  Meeting the GOP halfway on budget cuts is not something the Tea Party will accept.  It's possible they are going to save their ammunition for the debt ceiling fight, but you notice that the original GOP proposal way back in early February was $32 billion or so out of the House Appropriations committee.  After a Tea Party revolt, it was pushed up to $60 billion as a compromise with the wingers, who wanted $100 billion plus (and some wanting several times that.)

But you see, now the GOP has gotten their opening proposal as the minimum of what they are going to receive from the Dems.  The Dems have basically folded from day one.

All this talk about government shutdowns and Eric Cantor and his threats are just hiding the reality that the Dems have given the Republicans their original proposal without so much as a fight.  Orange Julius has gotten a 100% win here and the Dems, the Village, and everyone has fallen for it.  The Republicans started with $32 billion in cuts and the Democrats' pushback lasted less than a week.  It is still possible that the Tea Party could go into complete revolt.  But the real power behind the GOP will put them in their place, as always, and the GOP will take yet another complete win.

Anything above the $32-$33 billion mark they are going to get now is gravy, and they know it.  Should make the debt ceiling fight even more fun.

SB 5 Isn't The Last Word

As expected, Ohio Republicans sent the union-busting SB 5 to Gov. John Kasich's desk yesterday, where he is expected to sign it into law quickly.  It is not however the last word.

Union officials are gearing up for a Nov. 8 ballot issue that would seek to repeal Senate Bill 5. The measure will affect labor contracts as they expire. Union leaders favor a statewide vote this fall instead of waiting until the 2012 presidential election.

The bill passed 53-44 in the Ohio House Wednesday evening. Then, by one vote just before 9:30 p.m., the Senate agreed 17-16 to 25 House amendments.

Gov. John Kasich, who said he will sign the bill into law, said his $55.5 billion state budget counts on unspecified savings from lifting union protections to plug an $8 billion gap and offset $1 billion in proposed cuts to local governments and $3 billion to public schools.

“Senate Bill 5 gives local governments and schools powerful tools to reduce their costs so they can refocus resources on key priorities – like public safety and classroom instruction – while at the same time preserving government workers’ right to unionize and collectively bargain,” Kasich said in a prepared statement.

That doesn't change the fact that Kasich is plugging the state's budget hole by putting tens of thousands of government employees out of work and cutting billions from Ohio education budgets, which will lead to more layoffs, on top of the budget busting move.   Republicans want to delay the repeal referendum as long as possible, to 2012 or beyond.  After all, the "will of the people" only matters if the Republicans agree with it politically.

After all, Kasich has only a 30% approval rating, with some 53% opposed to his budget plan.  It's not like he gives a damn about the "will of the people" anyway.  Someone ought to ask him where the jobs are in Ohio, because everything he has done so far and plans to do will only put more and more Ohioans out of work.

Land Of The Rising Core Temperature, Part 21

TEPCO officials and the Japanese government have basically thrown in the towel on Fukushima Daiichi.  They have all but lost the battle with the six reactors, and at this point it's just as matter of time before the go-ahead is given to begin the work of "decommissioning" the plant.

And that work will take years, if not decades.

Japan will consider pouring concrete into its crippled Fukushima atomic plant to reduce radiation and contain the worst nuclear disaster in 25 years.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano yesterday ruled out the possibility that the two undamaged reactors at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s six-unit Dai-Ichi plant would be salvaged. Units 1 through 4 suffered from explosions, presumed meltdowns and corrosion from seawater sprayed on radioactive fuel rods after a March 11 earthquake and tsunami cut power to reactor cooling systems.

Workers have averted the threat of a total meltdown by injecting water into the damaged reactors for the past two weeks. The complex’s six units are connected with the power grid and two are using temporary motor-driven pumps. Work to repair the plant’s monitoring and cooling systems has been hampered by discoveries of hazardous radioactive water.

The risk to workers might be greater than previously thought because melted fuel in the No. 1 reactor building may be causing isolated, uncontrolled nuclear chain reactions, Denis Flory, nuclear safety director for the International Atomic Energy Agency, said at a press conference in Vienna.

Radioactive chlorine found March 25 in the Unit 1 turbine building suggests chain reactions continued after the reactor shut down, physicist Ferenc Dalnoki-Veress of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, California, wrote in a March 28 paper. Radioactive chlorine has a half-life of 37 minutes, according to the report. 

Oh, it gets worse.  Much, much worse.

Dismantling the plant and decontaminating the site may take 30 years and cost Tokyo Electric more than 1 trillion yen ($12 billion), engineers and analysts said. The government hasn’t ruled out pouring concrete over the whole facility as one way to shut it down, Edano said at a press conference.

And personally, I think that $12 billion estimate is missing a zero at the end.  TEPCO will have to be nationalized, that is a given.  I have said all along that the total cost to Japan as a result of the Sendai earthquake, tsunami, and Fukushima nuclear disaster, will end up costing a trillion bucks.

I feel even more confident of that estimate now. 


... A Rant Continued

I'm not sure how the post from yesterday was cut short, I'm sorry about that.  Here is the rest of that train of thought:

... Highly abusable private data, who we talk to, what we say, where we are.  Already there are "helpful" services that allow remote "technical support" of devices.  That means we're one step away from

the day when law enforcement, without the burden of getting a warrant, can point a finger and snoop on anyone they please.  This remote support capability  means that our text messages, emails, control of our phone functions, pictures, instant messages, browser history and cookies, documents, music, videos, GPS location, call history, contacts, calendar and more will be subject to the whim of a power that does not have a counterbalance.  It is for the greater good that those rules are in place.  Backup services could become mines of information in the wrong hands.

The future of our lives will be digital.  We'll never gain privacy rights, this is a purely downhill ride.  This is not where we should start.  We're talking about setting a foundation that will protect us from unwarranted intrusions, pun intended.
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