He says he didn’t say it.

February 22, 2010 at 12:34 pm | Posted in God machine, health, law, politics straight up | Leave a comment
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Mentally Retarded children in E.S.F.S. for Crippled Children. (Library of Congress)

At a Thursday, February 18, 2010 press conference to discuss opposition to state funding for Planned Parenthood, Virginia State Delegate Bob Marshall of Manassa is reported to have said:

(NewsLeader.com) “The number of children who are born subsequent to a first abortion with handicaps has increased dramatically. Why? Because when you abort the first born of any, nature takes its vengeance on the subsequent children.”

“In the Old Testament, the first born of every being, animal and man, was dedicated to the Lord. There’s a special punishment Christians would suggest.”

I called Marshall’s office to find out the basis of his statement but was told that he is now claiming that isn’t what he said.* Someone from his press office is supposed to call me back. I will update if they do.

* The woman who answers the phone is a state employee, not an employee of Marshall. She seemed embarrassed to be associated with him, so be kind if you call.

UPDATE: It’s astonishing how clueless Republicans can be about modern technology. Turns out Marshall’s remarks were video-recorded. Oops!


Overview of the President’s Health Care Reform Proposal

February 22, 2010 at 11:53 am | Posted in Department of Health & Human Services, health, House of Representatives, politics straight up, senate, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Public Health Service nurse treating patient. Between 1918 and 1925. (Library of Congress)

In advance of Thursday’s bipartisan health care reform summit, the White House has posted specific proposals.

The 11-page “blueprint” is here (PDF).

The HCR bill passed by the House in November 2009, as well as CBO and budget information, can be read here. The HCR bill passed by the Senate in December 2009, as well as related information, is available here.

A Republican plan posted at an unknown date, but perhaps October 2009, is here. Whether they’re sticking to what is in this proposed “substitution” is anybody’s guess. Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office has no information.

Read up, then call your Congresscritters and let them know what you think.

UPDATE: The White House has information about Republican ideas included in the President’s proposal and the legislation passed by Congress here.

Igor Volsky at the Wonk Room provides a brief side-by-side comparison between the president’s current proposals and the House and Senate bills here.

‘The Status Quo Is Good For The Insurance Industry And Bad For America’

February 20, 2010 at 5:15 pm | Posted in health, Obama!, television | Leave a comment
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Who is David Margolis?

February 20, 2010 at 5:01 am | Posted in Judiciary, law, politics straight up, torture | 2 Comments
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Many errors found in Department of Justice mural. Washington, D.C., Aug. 17. Aides of Attorney General Cummings are taking great delight these days in criticizing the realism of several of the murals which ... Boughe, New York artist painted for the new Department of Justice building. Miss Margaret Burgess, a sightseer, points to the Statue of Liberty which was painted facing shoreward instead of seaward other glaring errors showed a convict facing four members of the Federal Court of Parole, although actually he faces only one in real life, a fire starting in a large city, although Federal Investigators work only on arson cases on Indian Reservations, 8/17/37

Despite the headlines you’ll see, the report from the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) did not in any way clear Yoo or Bybee. It recommended referral to state bar disciplinary authorities by whom Yoo and Bybee are now licensed.

The OPR report concluded that “two key authors—Jay Bybee, now a federal appellate court judge, and John Yoo, now a law professor—violated their professional obligations as lawyers when they crafted a crucial 2002 memo approving the use of harsh tactics.

Who is this man who is protecting John Yoo and Jay Bybee by blocking the Justice Department from making referrals that could result in their disbarment and loss of their current employment?

I used the Google and here is what I found:

It appears that Margolis has been used on a number of occasions to clean up a mess for the Justice Department. In March 2007 Margolis defended the firing of one of the nine US Attorneys at about the same time that Monica Goodling hit the front page. Some apparently took it for granted that because he was not a Bush hire, he was “clearly a ‘Clean’ player.” I would have to agree with those less inclined to view him so favorably.

His participation in the prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman seemed a bit stinky:

After ethics complaints were brought to the Justice Department, Leura Canary was nominally removed from the case. But in a circumvention of normal Justice Department rules approved by Associate Deputy Attorney General David Margolis, she was allowed to pick one of her deputies to manage the case against Siegelman in her stead. Canary represented to Congress that she removed herself from the case “before any significant decisions” had been reached. Now internal communications have been disclosed within Canary’s own office calling into question these claims.

(Two earlier articles here and here.)

As to Margolis, it seems to me that he had an assigned role here — to provide a veneer of respectability to an expediency. We are left with the question: why is the Obama administration once again protecting members of the Bush crime family?

UPDATE: Isn’t it lovely that the Obama administration had someone with credibility already in the DOJ to whitewash the final results.

“OPR’s own analytical framework defines ‘professional misconduct’ such that a finding of misconduct depends on application of a known, unambiguous obligation or standard to the attorney’s conduct,” [Margolis] wrote. “I am unpersuaded that OPR has identified such a standard.”

The investigation was apparently political theater, perhaps to mollify those calling for investigations that will not happen during this administration of crimes committed by the Bush administration. They should have saved themselves the trouble.

UPDATE: “Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) has forwarded materials on the writing of the torture memos to state bars where John Yoo and Jay Bybee are licensed, calling on the bar association to consider possible disciplinary action, Nadler’s office announced today.

Did you call your senator? Call him or her again.

February 20, 2010 at 2:54 am | Posted in health, senate | 1 Comment
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February 20-25:  Call Your Senator Week!

Chicago : Illinois WPA Art Project, between 1936 and 1940. (Library of Congress)

As you may have heard, Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) has written a letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) asking that Reid “bring for a vote before the full Senate a public health insurance option under budget reconciliation rules.” He’s circulating it to other senators for their signatures. [TPM reports as of 3/1/10 30 senators have signed the letter or issued statements indicating their support for passing a public option through reconciliation.  I only have 28 on my running list — who did I miss?]

I was heartened to read Friday morning that Senator Jean Shaneen (D-NH) was the 18th to sign it, so I spent some time phoning to encourage Democratic senators to sign the letter.

Imagine my delight to learn Friday evening that Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA) announced he has signed the letter as well.

If your senators haven’t signed the letter, give them a call. Short and sweet: “Please sign Senator Michael Bennet’s letter urging leadership to pass a public option via reconciliation. Thanks.”

It really only takes a minute. Even if you have already called your state’s senators about health care reform, call them again. And phone those listed below and let them know you appreciate their support of the public option.

UPDATE: Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) makes twenty. According to TPM, the Senator Michael Bennet’s (D-CO) letter also has 119 signatures from House members.

TPM asked Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) if he and other public option supporters would recruit more signatories to the letter, Whitehouse was non-committal. “It’s a matter of continuing interest,” he said. “Whether adding signatories to the letter is the means by which that interest gets expressed, I’m kind of open on that.”

Have you phoned your senators yet?

FURTHER UPDATE: The White House will back passage of health care reform via reconciliation if the GOP attempts a filibuster.

ADDITIONAL FURTHER UPDATE: Three more signatures have been added, bringing the total to 23: Senators Daniel Inouye (HI), Debbie Stabenow (MI) and Tim Johnson (SD).

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) is the 24th signatory.

Democratic senators who are signatories:

Historically inaccurate representation of our forebears working communally.

"BIRTH OF THE AMERICAN FLAG" -- between 1905 and 1945 (Library of Congress)

    1. Michael Bennet (CO)
    2. Jeff Bingaman (NM)
    3. Barbara Boxer (CA)
    4. Sherrod Brown (OH)
    5. Roland Burris (IL)
    6. Ben Cardin (MD)
    7. Dick Durbin (IL)
    8. Dianne Feinstein (CA)
    9. Al Franken (MN)
    10. Kirsten Gillibrand (NY)
    11. Daniel Inouye (HI)
    12. Tim Johnson (SD)
    13. John Kerry (MA)
    14. Amy Klobuchar (MN)
    15. Frank Lautenberg (NJ)
    16. Patrick Leahy (VT)
    17. Carl Levin (MI)
    18. Robert Menendez NJ)
    19. Jeff Merkley (OR)
    20. Barbara Mikulski (MD)
    21. Patty Murray (WA),
    22. Jack Reed (RI)
    23. Bernie Sanders (VT)
    24. Chuck Schumer (NY)
    25. Arlen Specter (D-PA)
    26. Debbie Stabenow (MI)
    27. Tom Udall (NM)
    28. Sheldon Whitehouse (RI)

      How does this happen?

      February 18, 2010 at 4:20 pm | Posted in elections, House of Representatives, politics straight up | Leave a comment
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      Apparently Rachel “dining room table” Brown plans to run against Representative Barney Frank (MA-4th District) in the next election.

      Ms. Brown is a member of the “Larouche Youth Movement.” She made quite a splash at Frank’s August town hall meeting.

      It doesn’t matter how beyond insane you are, as long as you’re registered to vote as a Democrat, you can get on the ballot. Larouche supporters are unsuccessful in establishing any electoral success on their own and have a history of attempting to co-opt the Democratic Party label.

      Consider making a contribution to or volunteering for Barney Frank‘s reelection campaign. One Brown nut is plenty for one state.


      February 17, 2010 at 12:05 am | Posted in Historical, journalism, politics straight up | Leave a comment
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      Glenn Beck is sick.

      One hundred three companies have said “thanks but no thanks” to running ads during Glenn Beck’s TV show in the United Kingdom.

      His show “was forced to run without any advertisements” for five days in a row.

      Better call the wahhhhhhhhhmbulance!

      UPDATE (3/12/10): Glenn Beck is still losing advertisers in the US, and broadcast of his show in the UK “has been running without any advertisers for over a month now.”

      “New Law Would Ban Marriages Between People Who Don’t Love Each Other”

      February 16, 2010 at 11:18 pm | Posted in civil rights | Leave a comment
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      In honor of Sarah Palin I am inaugurating a new tag — “retarded” — to use in place of “satire.”


      February 15, 2010 at 12:45 am | Posted in Historical | Leave a comment
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      Senatorial huddle. Washington, D.C., February 24, 1938. Like Moslems in prayer these two Senators, Robert J. Bulkley of Ohio, and John H. Bankhead, of Alabama, huddled during a lull at Senate Banking and Currency Subcommittee on the Bulkley Bill providing for $6,000,000,000 system of superhighways in the U.S., financed by tolls. (Library of Congress)

      I doubt very much you will find very many Moslems huddling like senators when going about their prayers. Perhaps the caption writer was trying to inject a sense of the exotic into an otherwise boring photograph.

      While President Eisenhower gets credit for the nation’s highway system, it was in fact a Democratic initiative during the second administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt.

      On February 15, 1938, President Roosevelt announced his approval of a “proposal of Senator Robert J. Bulkley, of Ohio, that the Federal Government set up a public corporation to build 10 self-sustaining transcontinental highways as a national-defense and business pump-priming measure.

      This proposal was Robert Bulkley‘s claim to fame. His fellow senator, John H. Bankhead II, has the unfortunate legacy of having been “instrumental in preventing black voters in Alabama from registering, through a series of tests and poll taxes.” Bankhead came close to being nominated as the Democratic vice presidential candidate instead of Harry Truman in 1945.

      You want to defeat the filibuster?

      February 13, 2010 at 11:56 pm | Posted in politics straight up, senate | Leave a comment
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      Republican minority filibustering Democratic majority

      Senate chamber in U.S. Capitol. 1952 April. (Library of Congress)

      Clearly there are not 67 votes in the Senate to change the filibuster rule, but what about working within the system to make Republicans sweat the decision to demand a cloture vote to override a filibuster threat?

      Senator Begich of Alaska had this to say about the filibuster in a recent interview, and it gave me an idea:

      Begich: It’s just kind of a parlor game, it’s a parlor trick and what they do is they claim a “cloture vote” which is a vote that requires 60 votes instead of a real filibuster where you actually have to sit on the floor and talk about why you’re doing this. You just go home! And they get 30 hours to do nothing and the senate really just stands in stall. If people turn on C-Span they’ll see people presiding and the room empty, because they just get to burn up 30 hours of time and that’s it. In days gone by you’d actually have to come down and debate the reason why you’re holding up the legislation that might be in front. But the reason they don’t do that now, especially the minority, is because they’d be embarrassed. Because all they’re doing is coming down and delaying for the sake of delaying and costing this economy, costing American jobs, costing Alaskan jobs. It’s really a shame. So I hope in a lot of ways we can get beyond that a lot of the freshmen on both Democrat and Republican are somewhat fed up with that process and want to move forward and doing the business that this country, that my state, sent me here to do.

      What if Democratic senators didn’t “go home,” but instead stayed in front of those C-Span cameras and explained to the American people what is not happening because Republicans are holding the government hostage? What if Democratic senators took the opportunity to educate the public about the costs and benefits of universal health care systems in other countries, or even Hawaii? I would imagine that Senator Franken could fill an hour talking about the NBC/Comcast merger.

      The chances of Harry Reid taking the initiative and using that empty room to remind Americans through all those wasted hours just exactly why our government isn’t working is pretty remote. I keep trying to figure out why Harry Reid is Senate Majority Leader. Does he view it as an honorary title? From what I can see, at best he views himself as a kindergarten teacher, when he should be acting like the coach of a professional sports team. Instead of urging his members to play it safe, he should be encouraging his members to play hard ball.

      If the Republicans don’t want to stand in the empty Senate chamber and filibuster, the Democratic senators should be standing there instead, pointing out that the Republicans don’t want the public to know that they have little or no good reason for blocking votes.

      How about it, Democratic senators? Are you really so afraid of the crybaby Republicans that you can’t beat them at this stupid game?

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