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Bastards

The Democrats are about to sell out out on SS and Medicare for the PROMISE of tax cuts – after the election. Tell your congress critters this is not acceptable:

WASHINGTON — With a little over a week left to reach a deal, members of the Congressional deficit reduction panel are looking for an escape hatch that would let them strike an accord on revenue levels but delay until next year tough decisions about exactly how to raise taxes.

Under this approach, the panel would decide on the amount of new revenue to be raised but would leave it to the tax-writing committees of Congress to fill in details next year, well beyond the Nov. 23 deadline for the panel itself to reach an agreement. That would put off painful political decisions but ensure that the debate over deficit reduction stretched into the election year.

“There could be a two-step process that would hopefully give us pro-growth tax reform,” Representative Jeb Hensarling of Texas, the top Republican on the panel, said Sunday on the CNN program “State of the Union.”

Rob Zerban

This is the Dem who’s running against Ratface Boy – oh, I’m sorry, Rep. Paul Ryan in Wisconsin. If you can spare a few bucks to support his race, please do so!

Flashback

From Austan Goolsbee in 2003:

The government’s announcement on Tuesday that the economy grew even faster than expected makes the current ”jobless recovery” even more puzzling. To give some perspective, unemployment normally falls significantly in such economic boom times. The last time growth was this good, in 1983, unemployment fell 2.5 percentage points and another full percentage point the next year. That’s what happens in a typical recovery. So why not this time? Because we have more to recover from than we’ve been told.

The reality is that we didn’t have a mild recession. Jobs-wise, we had a deep one.

The government reported that annual unemployment during this recession peaked at only around 6 percent, compared with more than 7 percent in 1992 and more than 9 percent in 1982. But the unemployment rate has been low only because government programs, especially Social Security disability, have effectively been buying people off the unemployment rolls and reclassifying them as ”not in the labor force.”

In other words, the government has cooked the books. It has been a more subtle manipulation than the one during the Reagan administration, when people serving in the military were reclassified from ”not in the labor force” to ”employed” in order to reduce the unemployment rate. Nonetheless, the impact has been the same.

And now, in 2011, we’re told the unemployment rate is about 8.8%, while it’s really somewhere around 22%. The economic policies pushed by that same Austan Goolsbee helped get us there! Funny, how that works.

The way it’s done

I wish they ran stories like this before the election, and not after:

Newly elected Common Pleas Court Judge Thomas M. Nocella credits U.S. Rep. Bob Brady – Philadelphia’s Democratic Party boss – for intervening with ward leaders to put him on the ticket.

“He is the one in control,” said Nocella, 67, rated qualified for the bench by the Philadelphia Bar Association, despite having been sanctioned by the city Ethics Commission in 2009.

He pointed out that he had done years of free legal work for the party and said the judgeship was his reward. “That’s the way it’s done in Pennsylvania,” he said.

On Jan. 2, he will begin drawing a $165,000 judicial salary. Nocella welcomes the new income because there is a $358,000 IRS lien against him, the state says he ignored local taxes for years, and he has more than $1 million in debts listed in a bankruptcy case.

He is also embroiled in a Common Pleas Court lawsuit accusing him of fraud and deceit in 2005, when he helped sell off property for $507,500 that was owned by a Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Manayunk. The property, overlooking the Schuylkill and large enough to hold 10 townhouses, is four blocks up the hill from Manayunk’s main shopping area.

Testifying under oath in a deposition, Nocella admitted that he pocketed $60,000 as a consequence of signing a title-company document stating he was the secretary of Straughter-Carter Post 6627 – although he acknowledged that he was never a VFW member and was not authorized to act as secretary.

He called it an “accommodation” and said that without his signature, the deal would not have gone through.

His lawyer, Samuel C. Stretton, said that Nocella’s role in the property sale “was one of the stupider things he did” and that he would probably have to cough up some money as restitution to the VFW.

Independent voters

An oldie but goody from Family Guy:

Elizabeth Warren

Pulling huge crowds – for an election that’s a year ahead. Amazing.

Spiritual warfare

You know, I know a lot of New Age-y people, and while I’m basically sympathetic, sometimes the things they do and say seem a little bit strange to me.

But then I read and see stuff like this, and I think they’re not so extreme after all. Be sure to watch the video, too!

The right to shoot guns

Thanks to our good pro-gun, politician-buying, anti-sanity friends at the NRA and related lobbies, it is frequently easier for a convicted violent offender to get his right to own a gun legally restored than it is for him to vote. (His right to vote being opposed by many of the same people who want him to have his guns back.) The Times has a startling series about the results of what seem to be perfunctory hearings:

For years, Mr. Zettergren had been barred from possessing firearms because of two felony convictions. He had a history of mental health problems and friends said he was dangerous. Yet Mr. Zettergren’s gun rights were restored without even a hearing, under a state law that gave the judge no leeway to deny the application as long as certain basic requirements had been met. Mr. Zettergren, then 36, wasted no time retrieving several guns he had given to a friend for safekeeping.

“If he hadn’t had his rights restored, in this particular instance, it probably would have saved the life of the other person,” said Denis Tracy, the prosecutor in Whitman County, who handled the murder case.

Under federal law, people with felony convictions forfeit their right to bear arms. Yet every year, thousands of felons across the country have those rights reinstated, often with little or no review. In several states, they include people convicted of violent crimes, including first-degree murder and manslaughter, an examination by The New York Times has found.

While previously a small number of felons were able to reclaim their gun rights, the process became commonplace in many states in the late 1980s, after Congress started allowing state laws to dictate these reinstatements — part of an overhaul of federal gun laws orchestrated by the National Rifle Association. The restoration movement has gathered force in recent years, as gun rights advocates have sought to capitalize on the 2008 Supreme Court ruling that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to bear arms.

This gradual pulling back of what many Americans have unquestioningly assumed was a blanket prohibition has drawn relatively little public notice. Indeed, state law enforcement agencies have scant information, if any, on which felons are getting their gun rights back, let alone how many have gone on to commit new crimes.

While many states continue to make it very difficult for felons to get their gun rights back — and federal felons are out of luck without a presidential pardon — many other jurisdictions are far more lenient, The Times found. In some, restoration is automatic for nonviolent felons as soon as they complete their sentences. In others, the decision is left up to judges, but the standards are generally vague, the process often perfunctory. In some states, even violent felons face a relatively low bar, with no waiting period before they can apply.

This post is written as part of the Media Matters Gun Facts fellowship. The purpose of the fellowship is to further Media Matters’ mission to comprehensively monitor, analyze, and correct conservative misinformation in the U.S. media. Some of the worst misinformation occurs around the issue of guns, gun violence, and extremism, the fellowship program is designed to fight this misinformation with facts.

Let’s not kill all the lawyers

It’s a month old, but Gary Farber at Amygdala has a most informative post on the problems with the U.S. killing American citizens without offering any proof. You know, besides the fact that the Constitution says pretty fucking clearly that we can’t!

Cops

They really do get the best of both worlds now, don’t they? They get to routinely brutalize civilians without anyone ever getting to retaliate with military weapons.

Is this a great country, or what?

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