Congress Less Trustworthy Than Dirt

How low can they go?

A recent survey rated American’s belief in the honesty and integrity of people in a number of professions…

Congress came out next to dead last.

 

Good thing they didn’t include Pimps and Drug Dealers in the survey.

 

Really Bad week for Congressmen in DC

First we have the Tea Party Republican from Florida buying cocaine…

Federal law enforcement officials released new details this morning of U.S. Rep. Trey Radel’s arrest on charges of buying cocaine in Washington, D.C. earlier this fall.

In a press release put out just moments ago, agents indicate that the FBI and DEA had been watching Radel because they had learned he “would purchase cocaine for his personal use and sometimes share it with others.”

Radel, R-Fort Myers, entered a guilty plea this morning in court.

U.S. Rep. Trey Radel was sentenced to a year of probation after pleading guilty Wednesday to misdemeanor cocaine possession — a charge that authorities say came after he bought a small amount of cocaine in a sting in the nation’s capital last month.

Radel, a 37-year-old first-term Republican from Florida, said at his sentencing in D.C. Superior Court that he plans to enter an inpatient drug treatment program in Naples, Florida. It wasn’t immediately clear how long he would be in treatment.

The plea and sentence were part of a deal that Radel’s attorney struck with federal prosecutors. He could have received a maximum sentence of 180 days imprisonment or a $1,000 fine, or both. Instead, he was placed on one year probation, and if it is “successfully completed,” his guilty plea will be cleared from his record.

Then the brutal case of Congresswoman Grace Meng who was mugged last night on the way home -

Rep. Grace Meng attacked, robbed

Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.), a freshman lawmaker from the New York City area, was attacked and robbed Tuesday evening in the Eastern Market area.

Meng said she had just said goodnight to a friend she had dinner with in the neighborhood about 8:30 p.m. when she was attacked from behind.

Responding police officers found Meng disoriented at 2nd St. and Independence Avenue SE with bruising and swelling to the back of the left side of her head, and injuries to her left knee, hand and face. Meng was not able to remember where she was robbed or describe her assailant or assailants, according to a D.C. police report.

All Meng could tell police was that she had dinner on 8th Street SE and her black Gucci tote bag was stolen during the attack. Medics evaluated her at the scene then took Meng to George Washington University hospital. The report described her injuries as abrasion, swelling, bruises and unconsciousness.

No arrests have been made in the case, but an “active, open investigation” is underway, according to U.S. Capitol Police spokeswoman Lt. Kimberly Schneider.

By Wednesday, she was back on Capitol Hill for a series of procedural votes in the afternoon. She missed the first two votes of the day in the 1 p.m. hour, but arrived in time to cast votes all afternoon. As she left the House Chamber Wednesday evening, she told reporters she was “just taking it a little slower today.”

“I’m from New York City and I have not been mugged like that. But the Capitol Police were great, the D.C. Police Department was very helpful,” she said.

 

 

Nations Oldest Park Ranger Words of Wisdom

This is awesome!

If you are over 55 and grew up in the Southern US – you more than likely remember segregation and Jim Crow having lived through the last parts of it. Ranger Soskin at 92 years of age has seen much of the change in this country starting before WWII. Her insights are fascinating…

Nation’s oldest full-time park ranger, from California, furloughed

The nation’s oldest full-time national park ranger, who works at the  Rosie the Riveter museum in Richmond, Calif., recently joined the ranks of the furloughed because of the ongoing U.S. government shutdown.

Betty Reid Soskin, 92, is a ranger at the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park in Northern California.

“At 92, I am very sensitive to the passage of time. We learned about the furlough gradually,” Soskin said told the Associated Press last week. “When it came at midnight (on) October 1, it seemed like a major interruption in my life because I don’t have time and these young folks were wasting my time, precious time.”

To make matters worse for Soskin, California officials refused Friday to use state money to open national parks, which means no reprieve for Soskin.

Soskin works three days a week as a tour guide and two days in the administrative office at the park that honors not only the famous Rosie but also tells the story of the home front during WWII.

Soskin became a park ranger seven years ago and leads tours at the park and museum that honors the women who worked in factories during wartime.But that all changed last week when the government shut down.

“It was like hitting a wall to come out from under my hat and back into civvies,” Soskin said.

She said she feels uncertain when she watches the developments between lawmakers in Washington, D.C., unfold on television.

“There are times when I feel like the only grown-up in the room. It’s a little disconcerting to feel like no one’s in charge. That’s the feeling I have when I watch the news,” Soskin said. “There are not enough wiser heads in Washington to determine where we should go. That uncertainty is unnerving.”

The National Park Service confirms that Soskin is the oldest full-time park ranger. At 93, Lyle Ruterbories, who works at Glacier National Park in Kintla Lake, Mont., near the U.S. and Canadian border, is the oldest seasonal ranger the park service is aware of, park service spokesman Jeff Olson told the AP this week.

Sonic Happiness

Moved a while back, and had to seriously downsize. Amazing what you collect through the years!

One of the “victims” of that was my mega-stereo… There is just nowhere rational that a single guy is going to live that will fit refrigerator sized speakers…

Damn.

So out with the Klipshs went the Conrad Johnson amps, the backup Nakamichi Dragon…The rock-a-small-stadium subs…

It was PAINFUL!

Fortunately I figured out I could keep a few things…On my way to find a tall building to leap from.

With a collection of about 1500 albums…I kept one of the turntables. My venerable Denon 62L (Forget lugging the concrete base of the other table…Don’t ask…)

I sold the tube amp (bad move), but kept a couple of Luxmans (The ones before they got bought and trashed by crappy Alpine) and  capable of powering my Infinity Kappa 8s (Don’t try this with most of your modern amps, these puppies will eat them and spit them out as they need about 200 Watts each in reserve power to be happy).The good news is Luxman (and McIntosh and NY Moscode) is back after a reverse IPO into capable hands. Unfortunately, they appear to be trying to pay for the entire IPO off the the sale price of the first two amps…I’ll keep my old babies running, Thank You.

Somehow the needle on the turntable got broken in the move. Now a needle on these things can set you back the cost of an iPod…And if you get crazy – the cost of an iPad…128G (Don’t believe me?). I thought prices had gone down, until I went on one of the Audio forums and learned about $400,000 Stereo systems! Checked on ebay…And the prices were stunning. Found a reasonable deal on a modest unit, and finally got it installed as one of my projects for the weekend.

Proud that my mechanical ability hasn’t failed me yet in a autotune world, In honor of the shutdown, I thought I’d listen to a little “Old Skool” from the Poet/Prophet…

This was the breakout album for Gil Scott Heron. And the lyrics eerily reflect today, even though the events they speak of are of yesteryear…

From “Winter in America”

…The Constitution
A noble piece of paper
With free society
Struggled but it died in vain
And now Democracy is ragtime on the corner
Hoping for some rain
Looks like it’s hoping
Hoping for some rain

And I see the robins
Perched in barren treetops
Watching last-ditch racists marching across the floor
But just like the peace sign that vanished in our dreams
Never had a chance to grow
Never had a chance to grow

And now it’s winter
It’s winter in America
And all of the healers have been killed
Or betrayed
Yeah, but the people know, people know
It’s winter, Lord knows
It’s winter in America
And ain’t nobody fighting
Cause nobody knows what to save
Save your souls
From Winter in America

And now it’s winter
Winter in America
And all of the healers done been killed or sent away
Yeah, and the people know, people know
It’s winter
Winter in America
And ain’t nobody fighting
Cause nobody knows what to save
And ain’t nobody fighting
Cause nobody knows, nobody knows
And ain’t nobody fighting
Cause nobody knows what to save…

From “H20Gate Blues”

…How long will the citizens sit and wait?
It’s looking like Europe in ’38
Did they move to stop Hitler before it was too late? (no…)
How long. America before the consequences of
Keeping the school systems segregated
Allowing the press to be intimidated
Watching the price of everything soar
And hearing complaints ’cause the rich want more? (Alright!)
It seems that MacBeth, and not his lady, went mad
We’ve let him eliminate the whole middle class
The dollar’s the only thing we can’t inflate
While the poor go on without a new minimum wage…

Eloquent…And to the Point

The Last Colony (Washington, DC) Vows to Ignore Shutdown

Washington DC is unique among all principalities in the United States in that Congress – specifically the House – must approve all spending for the city. This means, if there is a Government shutdown the non-emergency city services would be shut down as well. This is particularly galling to DC Residents as it is their tax money paid to the city which operates the government, not Federal monies as is not uncommon in the rest of the country. So Congress has the authority to tell the DC Government how to spend it’s own tax money…

This has led to any umber of disasters as the Republican Congress has forced the city to adopt their confederate policies, such as school vouchers and limits on health care.

The Libraries are toast, too!

So…What happens if there is a shutdown in DC?

1. Parks, museums, and the Zoo closed: All Smithsonian museums, federal monuments, the National Zoo, and public facilities in National Parks like Rock Creek Park would be closed. Because tourists probably won’t realize it in advance, they’ll probably flood downtown Starbuckses and Potbellies with bored out-of-towners.

2. Libraries and recreation centers dark: All D.C. libraries and recreation centers will be closed, giving kids fewer places to hang out after school, which means who knows what kinds of trouble.

3. Department of Public Works off duty: Trash collection would be suspended for a week, as well as street sweeping, which this time of year means some very clogged drains.

4. Circulator offline: While the Metro would stay open and WMATA buses would keep running, D.C.’s super-convenient Circulator buses would have to stay in the garage.

5. Permit offices and the DMV shut: The Department of Motor Vehicles and Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs are closed, meaning even longer lines for licenses, permits, and car registrations when the shutdown eventually ends.

6. No parking enforcement: Okay, you probably don’t mind that so much, but it does cost the city money and could lead to shortfalls down the road.

7. University of the District of Columbia shuttered: You might not be the one with your academic year interrupted, but at least sympathize with the poor students who’ll likely have to make up the class time later.

8. Potential loss of city equipment and buildings: The city has a master lease on pieces of equipment like traffic lights, computers, and public safety vehicles, as well as a contractual agreement to use facilities like the Unified Communications Center, which controls all the city’s emergency systems — as long as payments are made on time. Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton warns that they could be repossessed if the city lacks the budget authority to do so. And in any case, ongoing worries about the city’s ability to use its own money could make it more expensive to borrow, which the city has to do every year for capital expenditures.

Yeah…This stops, too!


Mayor Gray designates all of District government ‘essential’ to avoid shutdown

Mayor Vincent C. Gray moved Wednesday to designate the entirety of the District government as “essential to the protection of public safety, health, and property,” in a bid to allow city services to continue during a federal shutdown.

Gray announced his position in a letter to the federal Office of Management and Budget, which is handling preparations for a shutdown that could take place if congressional leaders fail to reach an accord by Oct. 1.

“I am writing to inform you that I have determined that all operations of the government of the District of Columbia are ‘excepted’ activities essential to the protection of public safety, health, and property and therefore will continue to be performed during a lapse in appropriations,” the mayor wrote to budget director Sylvia Mathews Burwell.

Gray’s posture is unprecedented for the District government, whose budget comes largely from locally raised taxes and is set by locally elected officials but is ultimately appropriated by Congress. During past shutdowns, in keeping with federal guidance, the city has designated public safety and some other crucial functions as exempt from shutdown but curtailed many city services, including libraries, recreation centers and trash pickup.

The letter comes a day after Gray and D.C. Council members openly debated ways to defy the federal shutdown and keep the city government operating.

On the good side – these guys are out of work!

It is unclear how President Obama’s budget office will respond to Gray’s broad definition of “essential.” Requests for comment made to the agency Tuesday and Wednesday have gone unreturned.

In a statement issued with the letter, Gray said it is “ridiculous” that the District “cannot spend its residents’ own local tax dollars to provide them the services they’ve paid for without Congressional approval.”

“Congress can’t even get its own fiscal house in order; they should be taking lessons from us rather than imposing needless suffering on us,” he said. “I will not allow the safety and well-being of District residents to be compromised by Congress’s dysfunction.”

Tammy Duckworth Hammers a Fraud!

At least the woman progressives are being real in terms of standing up for their principles. In this one, during a Congressional Hearing on companies which benefit from Small Business Set Asides for disabled Veterans (In tax hack Darrel Issa’s Committee no less), Tammy unloads on a guy who has fraudulently represented himself as a disabled vet to take advantage of the program…

 

The Marathon Bombers…And Gun Control

Not much is being said about this, and it certainly hasn’t risen to the attention of the mainstream media – but…

How exactly did the Boston Marathon terrorists get their explosive material to make a bomb?

 

Boston

 

I took a bit of artistic liberty with Michael Ramirez’s excellent and poignant cartoon commentary to add a bit of truth.  The “cowards” in this case sit in the US Congress.

You see – the explosive material for the bombs constructed by the Tsamaev brothers  is commonly available in just about every gun store, and gun show in America.

Now in an America where Homeland Defense is busily putting cameras in just about every spot except up your ass – although if some Republican Senators have their way they will be able to shove them up women’s vaginas… Why is it harder to buy a joint of Marijuana than the tools to kill and maim dozens of your neighbors? (Speaking of – what the heck is the deal with the pot heads in Denver shooting up- instead of smoking –  the joint?)

Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t turned into an advocate for drug use – but guns in America are now paraphernalia for addicts and drug dealers…. And mass killers.

And no sportsman, we aren’t talking about your trusty Remington shotgun here.

This is what I am talking about …

Gunpowder

 

This is a one pound container of “gunpowder” (It’s not really “gunpowder” anymore, but it is the fuel which goes bang when you pull the trigger). It also comes in 8 lb packages.  You see – there is a group of, in vast majority law abiding, shooters who like to make their own bullets. (And no – I don’t mean to pick on NORMA, as far as I know they are a perfectly law abiding company with no criminal connection, and there is no published evidence that their product was used in the Boston bombings). However – I can buy this “explosive” in many states he same way I can buy ammunition which already has been assembled containing it – cash and carry. Which apparently is exactly what the Boston Marathon terrorists did.

No – this isn’t C4 or SEMTEX or any of the vastly more powerful Military explosives used by international terrorists. Nor is it Ammonium Nitrate, previously featured in the Oklahoma City Bombing, currently starring in the leveling of an entire Texas town. But you walk into your local store and ask for a block of SEMTEX or C4, and there is a very good chance you will be invited to visit at your local Federal Law Enforcement Office, and get to met some swell FBI or ATF guys with a very limited sense of humor. Indeed – to purchase Ammonium Nitrate which is a common ingredient in many fertilizers requires a background check to make sure you are going to fertilize the fields instead of blow up a buildings.

Ergo in the NRA’s version of America (and 46 Senators), it’s easier to buy “gunpowder” than fertilizer.

So… The 46 azzwipes who voted down watered-down gun legislation are not only guilty of enabling the Newtown killer… But international terrorism via the Boston Marathon terrorists.

Do you really want to live in an America where you have to have armed guards so the kiddies can go to the playground and swing on the swing set?

 

 

 

Mia Love’s Nothing Speech

Mia Love SpeechThe Republicans are extending a lot of effort to place their newest buckdancers front and center. The problem is, Mia Love – Like Scott of South Carolina isn’t buying the Lawn Jockey routine.

The usual suspects are trying to spin Mia’s speech last night into some sort of home run successful come out at the Debutante Ball –  As if Snookie suddenly changed into Selma Hayek…

The problem is..Mrs Love didn’t bite on being the Party’s newest Tom in residence by doing the Herman Cain.

In that – Mia should get a little respect here, for not wallowing in the filth.

Taken for it’s content – Mia’s speech was nothing more than neutral pablum – I mean everybody loves Mom and Apple Pie. The attack on President Obama (for a change) wasn’t out-of-bounds – or an appeal to the dog-whistle racism of her party.

Let me tell you about the America I know. My parents immigrated to the U.S. with ten dollars in their pocket, believing that the America they had heard about really did exist. When times got tough they didn’t look to Washington, they looked within.

So the America I came to know was centered in personal responsibility and filled with the American dream.

The America I know is grounded in the determination found in patriots and pioneers, in small business owners with big ideas, in the farmers who work in the beauty of our landscape, in our heroic military and Olympians.

Mia Love to John Boener – Motown makes you move too?

It’s in every child who looks at the seemingly impossible and says, “I can do that.” That is the America I know!

President Obama’s version of America is a divided one — pitting us against each other based on our income level, gender, and social status. His policies have failed! We are not better off than we were 4 years ago, and no rhetoric, bumper sticker, or campaign ad can change that.

Mr. President I am here to tell you we are not buying what you are selling in 2012.

The American Dream is our story. It is a story of human struggle, standing up and striving for more. It’s been told for over 200 years with small steps and giant leaps; from a woman on a bus to a man with a dream; and the bravery of the greatest generation, to the entrepreneurs of today.

This is our story. This is the America we know because we built it.

With Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan we can restore the America we know and love. The world will know it, our children will tell it and our grandchildren will possess it for years to come!

No Mia – You didn’t build anything. It was already built by the sweat and blood of a lot of other Americans…

Before you got here from Haiti.

Perhaps that is why you got that sequence of events wrong starting with that “Woman on a bus..”

 

Obama Deals Body Blow to Congressional Republican Kangaroo “Court”

Look like Republican Congressman Darrel Issa’s Kangaroo trial of Attorney General Eric Holder just got derailed.

In a move that hopefully signals the development of a backbone in the Obama Administration, President Obama has exerted “Executive Privilege” for the first time in his Presidency. The fact that he had to do so to derail Issa’s Kangaroo “trial” of AG Eric Holder says more about Republican racism and political vendettas than legality. Post the 2008 Election with a Democrat Majority in Congress, Democrats cut a deal with the Devil not to pursue the illicit, illegal, and treasonous crimes of Bush, Cheney, and their accomplices – including Mr Issa, in an attempt to tone down the political acrimony which had brought the country to its knees during the Clinton investigations, and enabled 911. The deal further saved the country from the embarrassment of having a former President, Vice President, and senior Cabinet Ministers placed in Orange Jumpsuits to spend long terms in prison.

Like the parable about the Scorpion and the Frog, the only thing you can expect from a starving rabid dog when you try and feed him is to get bit.

I hope this is a sign that President Obama is willing to wield that proverbial 2 x 4 in his second term.

Obama Executive Privilege Asserted Over Fast And Furious Documents

President Barack Obama has asserted executive privilege in response to requests made by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, who has embarked on a controversial investigation into the Department of Justice’s Operation Fast and Furious gun-walking program.

The invocation of executive privilege allows the president to defy requests and subpoenas by members of the legislative and judicial branches for information the White House deems sensitive. Obama’s decision will allow him to refuse to provide certain documents pertaining to the Fast and Furious program.

The Oversight Committee has threatened to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt, and Issa had scheduled a vote on the matter for Wednesday morning. A committee aide told Reuters that Issa would proceed with the contempt vote even after Obama’s action. Issa later declared that the decision to assert executive privilege “falls short of any reason to delay today’s proceedings.”

Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole addressed Issa in a letter on Wednesday morning.

“We regret that we have arrived at this point, after the many steps we have taken to address the Committee’s concerns and to accommodate the Committee’s legitimate oversight interests regarding Operation Fast and Furious,” he wrote. “Although we are deeply disappointed that the Committee appears intent on proceeding with a contempt vote, the Department remains willing to work with the Committee to reach a mutually satisfactory resolution of the outstanding issues.”

Holder, who met with Issa Tuesday in an attempt to reach an agreement on how many and which documents related to Fast and Furious he would turn over, had formally written Obama requesting that he exercise executive privilege…(A copy of that letter is here)

In an email to The Huffington Post, an administration official noted that former President George W. Bush asserted executive privilege six times, while former President Bill Clinton did it 14 times. This is the first time Obama has exercised this authority. The Republican National Committee was quick to point out Wednesday that then-candidate Obama criticized Bush for using the practice in 2007…

More Zombies!

MORE Zombies! What is going on here? Another incident of cannibalism, this one at Morgan State University in Baltimore.

zombie_attack_20120601070405_JPG

Miami “Zombie” Rudy Eugene (l), and his victim Ronald Poppo (r)

Baltimore Student: I Ate Housemate’s Heart, Brain

Alexander Kinyua Mug Shot

America’s gruesome zombie apocalypsemarches on. This time, a suburban Baltimore man lost his heart and part of his brain to his cannibal college-student roomie, according to police. Kenyan Alexander Kinyua, 21, told cops he stabbed 37-year-old Kujor Bonsafo Agyei-Kodie of Ghana, dismembered him, ate his body parts, then hid the rest of the head and hands in the basement laundry room. Investigators discovered the remains when Kinyua’s dad reported finding them in the home they all shared, reports AP. The rest of Kodie’s body was found in a trash bin outside a nearby church, said police. “I’ve been with the agency 40 years, and I would say this is the first time I can remember someone consumed the victim,” said sheriff Jesse Bane. “I’ve not encountered that in this county, and I hope we never encounter it again.”

Kinyua has been charged with first-degree murder. He was out on bail during the attack after he was charged earlier last month with savagely beating a fellow student, who survived. Kinyua was studying electrical engineering at Morgan State University in Baltimore, and was a one-time member of ROTC at the school. Fellow students told theBaltimore Sun that Kinyua appeared increasing agitated, and was odd to begin with. Police have not revealed a motive for the murder, and are consulting with behavioral experts from the FBI.

I mean – even politicians are getting in on the act! OK – he hasn’t eaten anyone (yet)… But he is showing all the signs of being brain dead!

Artur Davis, Once a Key Obama Backer, Switches to Republican Party

Artur Davis Mug Shot

A Southern Democrat defecting to the GOP is not news. A black Southern Democrat defecting to the GOP is pretty big news. A black Southern Democrat who is a member of Congress and a vocal supporter of President Barack Obama warrants a screaming headline.

Don’t look for the screaming headlines, but former Alabama Congressman Artur Davis has announced he is leaving the Democratic Party, joining the Republican Party, and says he will likely vote for Mitt Romney in November.

Davis is black, but even in Congress he didn’t toe the Black Caucus line. He was an opponent of what has become known as Obamacare, and left his U.S. seat to run for governor of Alabama…

Davis is considering changing his voting registration to Virginia, a fact not lost on Virginia’s Republican governor, Robert McDonnell, who pointed out how powerful a Black Republican running for Congress could be in the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C. Getting on the ballot to run against Jim Moran (D-VA) of Alexandria, or the seat in wealthy exurbs of the 11th Congressional District (now held by Democrat Rep. Gerry Connolly) in 2014 or 2016 would not be a heavy lift.

Hey.. Wait a minute! THAT’S my District! Time to head down to Dick’s Sporting Goods and see if they got any “Zombie Repellent”!

Yeah, I know Artur isn’t technically a Zombie – he hasn’t eaten anyone (yet)…

But the term Bamafied Lawn Jockey…

Just seems so dated.

Go on back home Artur – we don’t want you Uncle Tom ass in Virginia.

How Do You Make Our Schools Smarter… By Dumbing Down Our Elected Officials?

A favorite Republican whipping post is our “failing” educational system”…

The problem being that many of the Republicans who most vociferously shout about American Educational shortcomings…

Have benefited so little from their experience  in a learning environment.

I mean, if the first step to building a strong house is to dig a good foundation…

Then you best better hire a builder with more than a passing familiarity with a shovel.

Didn’t do so great on that last vocabulary test? That’s OK, there’s a place in Congress for you. The current class of congressmembers speaks at a 10.6 grade level—down almost a full grade from 2005′s 11.5 grade level on the Flesch-Kincaid scale. According to a political scientist at the Sunlight Foundation, the open government group that ran the numbers, one reason for the decline is the influx of new members who were elected in 2010, many of them with Tea Party support. “Particularly among the newest members of Congress, as you move out from the center and toward either end of the political spectrum, the grade level goes down, and that pattern is particularly pronounced on the right,” he says. In easier-to-understand terms: All of the 10 members who speak at the lowest grade levels are Republicans, and nearly all are freshmen.

Sophomoric? Members Of Congress Talk Like 10th-Graders, Analysis Shows

It turns out that the sophistication of congressional speech-making is on the decline, according to the open government group the Sunlight Foundation. Since 2005, the average grade level at which members of Congress speak has fallen by almost a full grade.

Making The Grade

The Sunlight Foundation analyzed the Congressional Record and found that Congress’ ranking on the Flesch-Kincaid scale — which evaluates readability — has dropped a grade level in recent years.

Average grade level of Congressional speeches

Every word members of Congress say on the floor of the House or Senate is documented in the Congressional Record. The Sunlight Foundation took the entire Congressional Record dating back to the 1990s and plugged it into a searchable database.

Lee Drutman, a political scientist at Sunlight, took all those speeches and ran them through an algorithm to determine the grade level of congressional discourse.

“We just kind of did it for fun, and I was kind of shocked when I plotted that data and I saw that, oh my God, there’s been a real drop-off in the last several years,” he says.

In 2005, Congress spoke at an 11.5 grade level on the Flesch-Kincaid scale. Now, it’s 10.6. In other words, Congress dropped from talking like juniors to talking like sophomores.

Of the 10 members speaking at the lowest grade level, all but two are freshmen, and every one is a Republican. For the record, though, Drutman isn’t passing judgment about whether speaking at a lower grade level is a good thing or a bad thing.

South Carolina Republican Rep. Mick Mulvaney ranks the very lowest, with a grade level of 7.94. Continue reading

History Shows Conservative Objections to Obamacare… Have no Clothes.

This is an absolutely brutal puncturing of the Republican/conservative balloon about Obamacare being un-Constitutional …

What this points out is that the conservative objection to Obamacare isn’t really about the Constitution. The 5 thugs in robes could give a damn about the “Original Intent” of the founders – and are on a path to force the country into a quasi-fascism.

A number of the FOunders, and signatories to the Constitution supported mandates... Including George Washington

Originalist Sin

The five conservative justices on the Supreme Court—Thomas, Alito, Scalia, Roberts and Kennedy—cloak themselves in the myth that they are somehow channeling the wisdom and understanding of the Founding Fathers, the original intent that guided the drafting of the Constitution.  I believe the premise of their argument is itself suspect: It is not clear to me how much weight should be given  to non-textually based intent that is practically impossible to discern more than 200 years later. Most of the issues over which there is constitutional dispute today could not even have been envisioned when the document was drafted.

Even so, it would be an even better response to the conservative wing’s claim of perceived understanding of original intent to be able to refute their claims by showing them to be historically and indisputably wrong.  So once again let’s venture into the world of the health care debate.   The consensus view is that existing Commerce Clause doctrine clearly authorizes the type of mandate passed in the act—see in particular the affirmance of the statute by ultraconservative Judge Silberman of the D.C. Circuit Court.

Nonetheless, those opposing the bill insist that an individual mandate has never been done and the framers would simply not permit such an encroachment on liberty and freedom.

Some spectacular historical reporting by Professor Einer Elhauge of Harvard Law School in the New Republic thoroughly rebut the argument. He has found three mandate equivalents passed into law by the early Congresses—in which a significant number of founders served—and reports that these bills were signed into law by none other than Presidents George Washington and John Adams. As Founders go, one might consider them pretty senior in the hierarchy.  Their acts can probably be relied upon to give us a reasonable idea what the Founders intended to be the scope of congressional and governmental power.

Amazingly, the examples of individual mandates passed by the founders are so directly applicable that the claim that original intent precludes affirming the heath care act should become almost laughable:

  • In 1790, a Congress including 20 Founders passed a law requiring that ship owners buy medical insurance for their seamen. Washington signed it into law.
  • In 1792, another law signed by Washington required that all able-bodied men buy a firearm. (So much for the argument that Congress can’t force us to participate in commerce.)
  • And in 1798, a Congress with five framers passed a law requiring that all seamen buy hospital insurance for themselves. Adams signed this legislation.

In aggregate, these laws show that the Founders and the Congress of the time were willing to force all of us to participate in a particular act of commence and were comfortable requiring both the owner of a business and the individual employee to buy insurance in order to assure that health costs would be covered at a societal level.  That is a pretty complete rebuttal to all the claims being made by the originalists as they relate to the health care act.

But what is so powerful about these historical finds is not just that they rebut the specific argument about original intent as applied to the health care act. This history lays bare the ahistorical nature of the justices’ claims at another and deeper level. For the types of bill passed in 1790, 1792, and 1798 show the Founders to have been doing exactly what congress did especially well in the era of FDR—–experimenting with solutions and approaches to resolving social issues in ways that made government part of creative problem solving.

These examples show the fallacy and the false rigidity that the originalists seek to impose on our government. In their effort to cabin and restrain the government—their ideology of the moment—they seek to have the benefit of the claim that the founders shared such a limited approach to governing.  In fact, the approach to governing that these acts demonstrate is more nuanced and thoughtful.  As with so many of the claims of the originalists, a slight understanding of the true history shows that the originalists’ view is mere ideology being imposed on a false understanding of history.

I’m categorizing this post under “The New Jim Crow”, because the lack of health care results in the deaths of tens of thousands of black babies due to lack of pre-natal or post-natal care in the first year of life…

Every year in the United States.

Put in any other terms – the lack of Health Care i the US is genocide.

Rep, Gwen Moore Makes It Real in Speech for Violence Against Woman Act

Rep Gwen Moore recounts her own history of sexual abuse in floor speech in support of approval of Violence Against Women Act. Why does she have to do something that painful to force Republicans to do right?

Gwen Moore, Wisconsin Congresswoman, Recounts Her Rape Ordeal In House Floor Speech

As part of her floor speech pushing to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) on Wednesday, Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wisc.) told the story of her own history of being sexually assaulted during her childhood and then raped as a young woman.

“Violence against women is as American as apple pie,” she told colleagues. “I know, not only as a legislator, but from personal experience. Domestic violence has been a thread throughout my personal life, up to and including being a child repeatedly sexually assaulted, up to and including being an adult who’s been raped.”

The VAWA has been met with some resistance from Republicans. The bill would renew grants to U.S. domestic violence prevention and survivor support programs, would increase availability of legal assistance to victims and would extend assistance to battered undocumented immigrants and same-sex couples.

The House Judiciary Committee’s lack of support for the bill, Moore said, brought up terrible memories for her “of having boys sit in a locker room and sort of bet that I, the egg-head, couldn’t be had,” she said.

“And then the appointed boy, when he saw that I wasn’t going to be so willing, completed a date-rape and then took my underwear to display it to the rest of the boys,” she continued. “I mean, this is what American women are facing.”

Since Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee have not allowed Democrats to bring up the VAWA as a standalone bill, Democrats tried to attach it to the vote on the GOP budget proposal on Wednesday afternoon. But Republicans voted unanimously to end debate on the budget bill before Democrats could do so.

While some Senate Republicans have pledged their support for reauthorizing the VAWA, others said the bill touches on too many controversial subjects, which distract from the bill’s purpose of protecting battered women. For instance, that it creates avenues for battered undocumented immigrants to claim temporary visas and extends domestic violence protections to same-sex couples makes it tough for some conservatives to support.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), who opposed the latest version last month in the judiciary committee, told The New York Times that he thinks Democrats have politicized the bill on purpose to make the GOP look anti-women.

“I favor the Violence Against Women Act and have supported it at various points over the years, but there are matters put on that bill that almost seem to invite opposition,” he said. “You think that’s possible? You think they might have put things in there we couldn’t support, that maybe then they could accuse you of not being supportive of fighting violence against women?”

A Hoodie and a Pair of General George Patton Pistols

New Dress Code to hit the convenience store for a bag of Skittles!

A Hoodie and a pair of General George Patton Pistols…

Old Panthers never die…

American General and WWII Hero General George Patton's pearl handled, custom engraved Colt .45

Save a tree! Plant a Republican…

Indeed.

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