Monday, February 8, 2010


When John Murtha Stood Up To Oppose The War In Iraq

On a Personal note: I spent some time with John in Johnstown PA back in the 80s when the steel mills were closing. Arlen Spector and John Murtha were the Only Politicians that tried to do something about it.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Virginia GOP Mocks Epic Snow Storm As ‘12 Inches Of Global Warming’

From Think Progress

Record snowfall is now falling in the Washington D.C.-Baltimore region, with accumulation expected to shatter the 1922 Washington record of 28 inches and the 1993 Baltimore record of 26.8 inches of snow. The storm is leaving destruction in its wake, with tornado watches in Florida and ice storms expected in North Carolina. In Virginia, towns are struggling to decide how to pay for snow removal, as their budgets have been blown through by previous storms.

In response, the Virginia Republican Party has ads that mock Rep. Rick Boucher and Rep. Tom Periello — both Democrats in conservative districts who support climate legislation — because they “think global warming is a serious problem for Virginia…so serious they voted to kill tens of thousands of Virginia jobs just to stop it.” The ad “features images of falling snow, stuck cars, and weathermen,” and urges viewers to call the congressmen “and tell them how much global warming you get this weekend”:

Call Boucher and Perriello and tell them how much global warming you get this weekend. Maybe they’ll come help you shovel.

Watch it:

In reality, catastrophic “snowpocalypse” and “snowmageddon” events are exactly what scientists have been warning would hit Virginians because of global warming, in part because warmer air can hold more water. As National Wildlife Federation climate scientist Amanda Staudt notes, winter storms are getting fiercer even as the season gets warmer:

Wintertime temperatures have been increasing across the northern United States. Since the 1970s, December-February temperature increases have ranged from 1 to 2 degrees in the Pacific Northwest to about 4 degrees in the Northeast to more than 6 degrees in Alaska.

Winters are getting shorter, too. Spring arrives 10-14 days earlier than it did just 20 years ago.

Global warming is bringing a clear trend toward heavier precipitation events. Many areas are seeing bigger and more intense snowstorms, especially in the upper Midwest and Northeast.

Global warming is shifting storm tracks northward. Areas from the Dakotas eastward to northern Michigan have seen a trend toward more heavy snowfall season.

In other news, this past month of January was the warmest on record for the planet.

Tea Bagging for Jesus

By Jon Perr

As a quick glance at the video tape makes clear, the supposed Tea Party movement is simply a continuation of the right-wing's failed 2008 presidential campaign by other means. (Senator Jim Demint (R-SC) spoke for Sarah Palin, John Cornyn, Michele Bachmann and countless others when he insisted, "We need to stop looking at the tea parties as separate from the Republican party.") But as the sessions by Pastor Rick Scarborough and Judge Roy Moore at today's National Tea Party Convention show, the assembled Birthers, Birchers, Deathers and Deniers have seamlessly embraced the extremist religious right agenda. They are Tea Bagging for Jesus and they are in your face about it.

On that point, Pastor Scarborough is unapologetic. The Vision America founder and face of the "War on Christians" conference, Scarborough told MSNBC's Norah O'Donnell Friday that he considered the event his organization sponsored "a good investment."

And Michelle Goldberg wrote in the American Prospect, what Rick Scarborough is investing in is new adherents to his particularly draconian right-wing vision:

In 2002, he left his post as pastor of Pearland First Baptist Church to form Vision America, a group dedicated to organizing "patriot pastors" for political action. That year, Falwell identified him as one of the new leaders of the Christian right. The author of books like In Defense of ... Mixing Church and State and the pithier Liberalism Kills Kids, Scarborough spent the Bush years organizing conferences that brought together conservative Republicans with preachers and activists working for the imposition of biblical law.

Among Pastor Scarborough's closest allies has been the disgraced former House Majority Leader Tom Delay. At his 2006 War on Christians conference, Scarborough defended His Hammer:

"I believe the most damaging thing that Tom DeLay has done in his life is take his faith seriously into public office, which made him a target for all those who despise the cause of Christ."

As the indicted Delay left the stage, Scarborough urged him to "keep your eyes on Jesus" and informed the audience that "God always does his best work after a crucifixion."

While Rick Scarborough was scheduled to host a Friday session titled, "Why Christians Must Engage," at Thursday evening's Tea Party kick-off he conducted the "Organized Prayer Session for the convention & our nation." As Time described it:

By the end of the night, much of the room knelt in prayer - one of the pastors, Rick Scarborough, went after homosexuals several times to choruses of amens -- before watching a Tea Party video.

Then there's Republican candidate for governor and former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court Judge Roy Moore.

Former that is, because an Alabama ethics panel removed Moore from his position in November 2003 after he refused a mandate to remove a 10 Commandments monument from his courthouse rotunda. In response, as the New York Times recalled, Moore was unrepentant:

Moreover, Judge Thompson said, "the chief justice showed no signs of contrition for his actions."

Indeed, just minutes later, Mr. Moore strode out of the courthouse into a crush of his supporters and announced, "I have absolutely no regrets."

"We fought a good fight," he said. ''We kept the faith. But the battle is not over. The battle to acknowledge God is about to rage across the country."

And to be sure, Moore continues to wage that battle. In addition to his campaigns for office, Judge Moore is an outspoken supporter of Senator Richard Shelby's jaw-dropping "Constitution Restoration Act," which:

"...aims to reinforce states rights by clarifying that the Supreme Court and district courts do not have jurisdiction to hear cases brought against a federal, state or local government or officer for acknowledging God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government."

And so it goes. Echoing Republican talking points from the 2008 campaign, failed GOP White House hopeful Tom Tancredo told the Tea Party faithful gathered in Nashville that Barack Obama is a "socialist." Tancredo also fired up the crowd, "You have launched the counter-revolution." Of course, the extremist right-wing counter-revolution urged by reactionaries like Rick Scarborough and Roy Moore has been underway for years. The Lord's Tea Baggers may now have a bigger stage, but they are delighting the same eager faces.

(This piece also appears at Perrspectives.)

State of Emergency - 2ft of Snow in Pittsburgh

Pictures by Wolf

Friday, February 5, 2010

GOP Budget Proposes to Ration Medicare, Privatize Social Security

The GOP can Kiss My retired ASS!!!! - Wolf

Throughout the bitter debate over health care reform, talking points about "rationing" and "cuts to Medicare" have been the twin pillars of Republican fear mongering. For example, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in June warned of reform that "denies, delays, or rations health care," only to falsely charge weeks later that Democrats "are going to pay for this plan by cutting Medicare, that is cutting seniors." But with the publication of theRepublican "shadow" budget by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), the GOP is now proposing exactly what just weeks ago it claimed to decry: rationing Medicare:

Last year, 137 House Republicans voted to convert the Medicare program that provides 46 million Americans with health insurance into a system of vouchers. (In September, Sarah Palin penned a Wall Street Journal op-ed which similarly called for "providing Medicare recipients with vouchers that allow them to purchase their own coverage.") Now, as Ezra Klein, Matthew Yglesias and TPM all noted, the GOP's Paul Ryan is making the privatization of Medicare the centerpiece of a new Republican deficit reduction gambit.

Of course, because the value of Ryan's vouchers fails to keep up with the out-of-control rise in premiums in the private health insurance market, America's elderly would be forced to pay more out of pocket or accept less coverage. The Washington Post's Klein described the inexorable Republican rationing of Medicare which would then ensue:

The proposal would shift risk from the federal government to seniors themselves. The money seniors would get to buy their own policies would grow more slowly than their health-care costs, and more slowly than their expected Medicare benefits, which means that they'd need to either cut back on how comprehensive their insurance is or how much health-care they purchase. Exacerbating the situation -- and this is important -- Medicare currently pays providers less and works more efficiently than private insurers, so seniors trying to purchase a plan equivalent to Medicare would pay more for it on the private market.

It's hard, given the constraints of our current debate, to call something "rationing" without being accused of slurring it. But this is rationing, and that's not a slur. This is the government capping its payments and moderating their growth in such a way that many seniors will not get the care they need.

On Tuesday, Ryan acknowledged as much.

Sadly for the Republican brain trust, he failed to follow the script that only Democratic reforms lead to "health care denied, delayed and rationed."

"Rationing happens today! The question is who will do it? The government? Or you, your doctor and your family?"

Of course, Ryan left out the real culprit - the private insurance market. But with 50 million uninsured, another 25 million underinsured, one in five American postponing needed care and medical costs driving over 60% of personal bankruptcies, Congressman Ryan is surely right that "rationing happens today."

But the Republican plan to "slash and privatize" hardly ends there. Despite insistence by the Republican leadership that the party is not officially advocating it, the Ryan alternative budget follows Rep. Jeb Hensarling's announced desire to privatize Medicare. As TPM documented:

Rep. Paul Ryan, (R-WI) the ranking Republican on the budget committee, recently detailed the Republican plan for Social Security that preserves the existing program for those 55 or older. For younger people the plan "offers the option of investing over one-third of their current Social Security taxes into personal retirement accounts, similar to the Thrift Savings Plan available to federal employees."

If that sounds vaguely familiar, it should. After all, George W. Bush's disastrous drive to privatize Social Security helped undermine his presidency. Now, in the wake of a Wall Street meltdown that evaporated the retirement savings for countless thousands of Americans, the Republican wunderkind Ryan is calling for an encore.

In Paul Ryan's defense, his so-called "A Roadmap for America's Future" was scored by the Congressional Budget Office as erasing the long-term deficit entirely, and produce surpluses by 2080 (!). While the Post's Klein stated, "I wouldn't balance the budget in anything like the way Ryan proposes," he also admitted:

"The audacity is breathtaking. But it is also impressive."

Audacious, indeed. After months of scaring the American people into believing that President Obama and the Democrats would ration health care and gut Medicare, Paul Ryan's Republican Party now proposes to do both.

(This piece also appears at Perrspectives. For a look back at the hilarious April Fool's Day unveiling of Ryan's 2009 budget "marketing document," visit here.)

UPDATE: In the latest pathetic twist in the Republican budget saga, House Minority Leader John Boehner is now trying to distance himself from Paul Ryan's document. Claiming "it's his," Boehner nevertheless replied "Off the top of my head, I couldn't tell you" when asked what in it he disagrees with.

If this storyline sounds familiar, it should. Boehner did the same thing last year after presenting Ryan's "The Republican Road to Recovery" with great fanfare:

"Two nights ago, the president said we haven't seen a budget yet of the Republicans. Well, it's not true, because here it is Mr. President."

For more, visit the American Road Map web site at