Ozark Billy Ain’t Doin’ Much Legislatin’

Have you ever heard of the Legislative Effectiveness Project? Yeah, me neither.

Here is how its creators, political scientists Craig Volden of the University of Virginia and Alan E. Wiseman of Vanderbilt University, describe it:

The Legislative Effectiveness Project (LEP) is a joint research project that seeks to understand which members of the United States Congress are the most effective at lawmaking. We use a precise research methodology to calculate a Legislative Effectiveness Score for each member of the House of Representatives, where the average score in each two-year Congress is equal to 1.

Given the title of this blog post, I think you know where I’m going. From the Springfield News-Leader:

Rep. Billy Long was not a very effective legislator in the last Congress, according to a new analysis examining lawmakers’ legislative success.

Among Missouri’s nine House members, Long, R-Springfield, earned the lowest score from the Legislative Effectiveness Project, a new website developed by two political scientists at Vanderbilt University and University of Virginia.

Long scored “well below expectations,” said Craig Volden, one of the website’s creators and a professor at the University of Virginia.

Mr. Volden got one thing wrong. For some of us, Long’s legislative prowess is not “well below expectations.” It is pretty much what we expected. Although I would have to say he is performing somewhat better than I imagined he would. I thought he would be the least effective legislator in Congress. Turns out that among his 245 Republican colleagues, he comes in at 212. So I suppose that’s something he can be proud of. There are 33 Republicans who do less legislatin’ than he does.

He outscores many more, though, when it comes to spending campaign cash on vittles. As Randy Turner has been tracking,

Federal Election Commission (FEC) documents indicate the Billy Long For Congress campaign committee has spent nearly $100,000 for meals since the beginning of 2013, including more than $20,000 in the last three months.

That’s a heapin’ helpin’ of hospitality right there. You could fill Jethro Bodine’s belly on that kind of tab.

As an example, Turner reported that,

On August 27, the Long campaign reported two meals at the Capitol Hill Club, one for $116.12 and the other for $215.10, and a third meal at Nicolas Ristarante in Springfield for $1,062.41, for a total of $1,393.63.

nicolas in springfieldIn case you, like me, can’t afford to eat at Nicola’s Ristarante in Springfield and therefore have never been there, fortunately you can go online and check out its fancy dining room and allow your taste buds to dream of sampling the “Sea Bass with saffron sauce” for a mere $25 or the “8 oz. beef tenderloin with gorgonzola cheese sauce or green peppercorn sauce,” a steal at only $29.

This is not the time to once again remind everyone how depressed wages are in Billy Long’s district, but now is the time to ask out loud, as Deirdre Shesgreen did,

Where is Rep. Billy Long? His campaign won’t say

Shesgreen is the Washington correspondent for Gannett’s Ohio and Missouri papers, including the Springfield News-Leader. Her story began:

Springfield-area residents who want to talk to Rep. Billy Long in advance of Election Day might have a hard time finding the Republican congressman.

highland springsWell, only those residents who can’t dine at fine places like Nicola’s Ristarante or the Highland Springs Country Club in Springfield (where Long’s campaign spent $5,573.50 on August 13th for a “campaign event”) will have a hard time finding Ozark Billy. Those who do frequent such places get plenty of access to the former auctioneer. (For the record, Long was invited to a local event here in Joplin to discuss pending legislation related to the Postal Service. No one from his local office bothered to show up, even though the Postal Service is needlessly closing a plant in Springfield next year that will cost the local economy around 300 good-paying jobs.)

As for the rest of his constituents, Deirdre Shesgreen reported that Long’s campaign manager, no doubt a beneficiary of at least a few of those campaign-financed meals, said that Ozark Billy has many good reasons for not showing up to events—like last week’s League of Women Voters forum—in which he might get asked tough questions about his time in Washington. And according to Shesgreen, Long’s campaign manager “refused to give out any details of Long’s upcoming campaign schedule.”

Now, think about that. Deirdre Shesgreen is the area’s number one political reporter, in terms of telling the locals what their legislators are doing (or, as the study above indicates, not doing) in D.C. and around the district. Yet Billy Long, with the election just two weeks away, won’t even tell her what his campaign schedule is!

That is how politics works here in Republican-dominated southwest Missouri. Long has always had a strategy of lying low and keeping his mouth shut because he knows that come November, the locals will run not walk to their polling places and give him about 65% of the vote. So why shouldn’t he keep bellying up to the buffet and gambling tables and avoiding the press and his non-moneyed constituents?

Oh, yeah. I almost forgot. Try finding anything in the Joplin Globe about this stuff. You’d have an easier time finding Ozark Billy.

Let’s All Drink To Ozark Billy! He’s Made The Big Time!

What does a resident of Southwest Missouri and a Las Vegas gazillionaire have in common?

Billy Long.

Congressman Long, far from the Ozark hills he sort of calls home, will serve as master of ceremonies and will be introducing Dick Cheney at gazillionaire $heldon Adelson’s $uck-up-a-thon in Las Vegas this weekend. In what many are calling the “Adelson primary,” several GOP presidential hopefuls are prostrating themselves before Adelson, a major GOP donor, hoping against hope that they will get his very important vote and subsequently stuff their campaign pockets full of casino cash. (The overtly Jewish* Adelson reportedly “earns” $32 million each and every day from his gambling empire. Praise God).

billy long poker2Speaking of gambling, we all know Ozark Billy, the “citizen legislator” from Springfield, Mo., is fond of the poker tables in Las Vegas and elsewhere. And, of course, part of the Adelson suck-up-a-thon festivities are, uh, poker tournaments! Congratulations, Billy! You’ve died and gone to heaven!

In case any of you low-dollar locals want to celebrate with your congressman, well, don’t bother looking into it. As Time reported:

Most of the action will be taking place behind closed doors, as the speakers meet with Adelson and other top-tier donors privately.

As thousands of Southwest Missourians relax at home this coming weekend, many of them after putting in grueling hours at low-paying jobs and many of them enthusiastic Billy Long voters, may they rest peacefully knowing their family-values congressman is hard at work playing poker, drinking, and rubbing bellies with $heldon Adelson and Dick Cheney, much of the fun on donors’ dollars I’m guessing.

Life is good, if your name is Billy Long and if you have convinced a bunch of working stiffs from the Ozarks to vote Republican.

____________________________

adelson* The event is officially a leadership conference of the Republican Jewish Coalition, which describes itself as “the voice for Jewish Republicans” and “the most trusted and sought-out Jewish advisor to Republican leaders.” Sheldon Adelson is on the Board of Directors.

Something To Do This Year

Salon.com published one of those New Year pieces that attempts to look ahead with hope in the heart. This one was titled,

New Year’s resolutions for the left: What liberals can win in 2014

Hmm. I suppose, given what is going on in Congress and what is going on around the country in the various right-wing controlled states, that it is a small victory to even imagine that liberals can “win” anything this year. But perhaps the various contributors to the piece, liberal activists all, are right that some important things can be achieved, even though I have serious doubts. However, what you won’t find on the list of things “liberals can win in 2014″ is perhaps the most crucial of them all, in terms of saving the very idea of American democracy: getting big, bad, and increasingly dark money out of politics.

It was bad enough when rich folks and corporate interests could openly court our legislators and throw money at their campaigns in order to secure the blessings of legislation or the blessings of writing regulations that stem from legislation. Now, dark money, that money that rich people and corporations can put into political activity anonymously—thanks to a conservative-controlled Supreme Court—allows these moneyed interests to control our politics—sometimes both sides of our politics, I hate to say—without us voting peons knowing exactly who is pulling the political and public relations strings.

Let me share with you a recent AP article on what Texas Republicans are worried about. The piece begins:

The deaths this year of three major Texas Republican donors, including a billionaire who died over the weekend, could signal a generational change for party kingmakers in the nation’s largest GOP stronghold.

Now, just why God chose to call home these wealthy right-wingers in 2013 I will leave to your imagination, but while they were still breathing the three managed to help transform Texas:

All three men were considered conservative renegades when they got involved in politics. However, as the state grew more conservative, they became part of the GOP mainstream.

You see? In a state like Texas—where, just like here in Missouri, there are no limits to how much dough you can stuff into the pockets of politicians—if you have enough money you can make the stream of politics bend to your will.

One of those Texas billionaire gave $31 million—think about how much money that is—to conservative groups in just a two-year cycle (2011-2012). Another gave “at least $75 million in political contributions in his lifetime.” And that doesn’t count the Supreme Court-blessed dark money he was able to give without his name publicly attached.

Ominously, the AP writer, speaking of the dark money aspect of today’s environment, wrote:

The full extent of their donations may never be known, since many were made privately.

“Privately.” Their donations were made privately. Their donations to public campaigns, to public policy initiatives, were made privately, so that the public would not be in a position to judge whether the public relations campaigns on TV and radio, and whether the politicians they elected, were serving the public interests or the interests of a private political donor or donors who had a lot to gain.

It’s shameful. And it is sad that many liberals don’t even dream of changing things, although some still are gallantly trying.

To end this beginning-of-the-year downer, I will leave you with a peek into the world of my congressman, Ozark Billy Long. I checked on the Federal Election Commission’s site to see how Billy was spending his donors’ dough this year. Remarkably, the man who has struggled with his weight has spent a lot of money on meals and fancy hotels and, well, don’t tell anybody, but some of those expenditures happily coincide with Billy’s fondness for the poker tables.

In April of 2013 he jetted out to Vegas and spent about $1500 bucks (from his campaign war chest) for accommodations at the Venetian (a big poker tourney was going on at the time). Earlier in the year he flew down to Florida (paid for by the campaign donors) and spent almost $2400 of campaign cash at The Ritz-Carlton in Naples. You ever been to a Ritz-Carlton? I know, I know, me neither. Here’s what the one Billy stayed at looks like:

ritz carlton in naplesJust in case some of you cold southwest Missourians think that anyone who can afford it ought to be able to pass time on a pristine beach in the middle of winter in Naples, Florida, I will agree with you. I just don’t think politicians ought to be able to do it on money given to them by donors, that’s all. If Ozark Billy wants to belly-up to a beach-side bar in paradise, he ought to have to spend his own money.

Oh, have you ever been to The New York Palace in Manhattan? Didn’t think so. But Ozark Billy has. He spent $1329 there in June of last year, all of it from campaign funds. If you ever decide to run for Congress and win, here’s what you can look forward to your donors paying for:

They don’t call it The New York Palace for nothing. Man, what a place. And paid for by anyone who has ever given Billy Long a dollar, or a thousand, or ten thousand. Mind you, campaign expenditures aren’t secrets, even if the sources of the money given to political activities are fast becoming very secretive. In fact, Randy Turner, writing for Daily Kos, has done a good job of documenting Ozark Billy’s use of campaign funds, especially the fact that the hungry congressman has spent a lot of campaign dough on meals, while voting to pass a farm bill without funding for the food stamp program.

In any case, my particular favorite Billy Long meal expense was a couple of meals at a Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Manhattan in August of 2013. These two “campaign event” meals cost more than $2000. That’s a lot of Ruth’s Chris. But here’s the way I like to think of it in order to make myself feel better. A local family of wealthy Republicans, the Humphreys (who are well-known nationally as big-time donors), have given thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars to Ozark Billy. In fact, David Humphreys gave Long $2500 in March of 2013. It sort of makes me feel good to imagine that most of that money was spent at a steak house in New York City feeding the fed-up congressman and his entourage, or possibly all of it was spent at the Ritz-Carlton in Naples. You know what I mean?

But I wonder how it makes David Humphreys feel? Oh, then again I suppose it doesn’t really matter. When you have big money to toss around, it probably doesn’t worry you all that much that some of it ends up at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse in Manhattan or at the Venetian in Vegas or at The New York Palace or at a resort complex overlooking a beautiful beach in Florida. It’s just the price of doing business.

However, if you want to help change this sick and sickening system, there are ways to do it. Go here or here or here or here or here. Go somewhere and do something before more damage is done. It is, after all, a new year.

Congressman Ozark Billy Long: Cheap Shot Artist? Nope. He’s No Artist

cheap shot artist:
An individual who raises the act of taking a dishonorable, lowbrow, disrespectable action to an artform. This is accomplished either through frequent and conspicuous use of cheap shots or a particularly noteworthy low blow.

—from the Urban Dictionary

Geeze.

I had heard that my congressman, the former auctioneer Ozark Billy Long, participated in the farce that was Wednesday’s hearing conducted by the House Energy and Commerce Committee on “implementation failures” of the Affordable Care Act. But even I, a long-time critic of the congressman, never dreamed he would make such a cheap shot-shooting splash on the national stage.

Here is the painful transcript of Ozark Billy’s moment in the anti-ObamaCare sun. And keep in mind that he had plenty of time—almost three and a half hours during the hearing itself—to formulate his questions:

OZARK BILLY LONG: …thank you, Secretary, for being here today and giving your testimony. Earlier in today [sic] you said that “I’m responsible for the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.” I’ve heard you referred to, maybe yourself, as the point person for the rollout, the architect of implementing Affordable Care Act, so you are kind of the President’s point person, are you not, for this rollout?

SECRETARY SEBELIUS: Yes, sir.

OZARK BILLY LONG: I, uh, earlier, you were asked—and there’s a lot of things striking about the rollout of this and about the Affordable Care Act altogether—but the thing that’s most striking to me is that when we have the point person for the rollout here, and you’re not going into the exchange. Now, I’ve heard you say that—and you’ve got some advice from the folks behind you—but I’m asking you today could you tell the American public, if your advisers behind you, if they happen to give you some wrong information, if it is possible for you to go into the exchange like all these millions of Americans that are goin’ into the exchanges, will you commit to forgo your government insurance plan that you’re on now and join us in the pool? Come on in, the water’s fine, all the congressmen, all of our staff, have to go into the exchanges. We have to go into the D.C. exchanges.

And I will say that I tried to get on the website, I was successful during the hearing earlier, and I got to the D.C. exchange, which is where I have to buy from, and I got part way through and then when I got to the point where I had to enter Social Security number, billy long cheap shot artistI could not bring myself to do that from what I’ve heard from people like John McAfee and folks about the security, will you tell, if your advisers are wrong, and it is possible, for you, and I’m not saying it is, but if it is, if it is possible for you, to forgo your government program you have now, will you tell the American public that, yes, I will go into the exchanges next year like everyone else?

SEBELIUS: Sir, the way the law is written—

LONG: It’s a yes or no—let’s say that you’re wrong on that. Yes or no. If you’re wrong, will you yes or no…

SEBELIUS: I don’t want to give misinformation to the American public…

LONG: You what?

SEBELIUS: I don’t want to give misinformation…

LONG: I want you to go on and research it…if, if, if you’re wrong…will you go into the exchanges? If you can, will you? That’s a yes or no; if you can, will you?

SEBELIUS: I will take a look at it. I don’t have any idea…

LONG: That’s not an answer. That’s not a yes or no.

COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN FRED UPTON (R-Michigan): The gentleman’s time has expired…

LONG: You’re the architect of the whole program and you won’t go into it with the rest of the American public…

SEBELIUS: I did not say that, sir. I think it’s illegal for me—

LONG: —If it’s not illegal, if it’s legal will you go in? …Come on in, the water’s fine…

UPTON (R-Michigan): The gentleman’s time has expired…

CONGRESSMAN HENRY WAXMAN (D-California): Mr. Chairman, Mr. Chairman, I have a unanimous consent request…

SEBELIUS: (turning to someone behind her and muttering) …don’t do this to me…

WAXMAN: …Madame Secretary, I’d like you to answer for the record: if you were able to do what the gentleman just suggested…and went into the [exchange] to buy an individual policy, would you be able to find one that would protect you from cheap shots…?

Yikes. Cheap shots, indeed.

First of all, besides the cheap shots and incoherent mess that was Long’s questioning, when he asks Sebelius, “will you go into the exchanges like everyone else?” we know that “everyone else” will not be going into the exchanges. It will typically be only those Americans (about 15 million) who don’t get coverage through their employers or through Medicare or Medicaid or who are self-employed or who are owners of small businesses trying to provide insurance for their workers (or members of Congress and their staff who were, unfortunately, put into the exchanges by a Republican provision that Democrats adopted).

Second, Sebelius already has health insurance and doesn’t need to go into the exchanges. Her employer is the federal government and, by law, her employer must provide her with affordable insurance, which it does. And since apparently she is enrolled in Medicare Part A, she couldn’t go into the exchanges without withdrawing from that program, which would be dumb since it is, uh, free. Thus, in order for her to sufficiently prove to Billy Long that she loves ObamaCare, she would have to give up her government-provided health benefits, quit Medicare, and start paying out of pocket for her health insurance. Dang, I wonder why she doesn’t do that?

Third, when Long says that Sebelius “is the architect of the whole program,” he is either lying or he doesn’t realize that the architects of this program were largely Republicans, who, before Obama embraced their enhance-the-private-insurance-industry scheme, were all in favor of enhancing the private insurance industry. And if Sebelius were the architect of the program, she would understand it much, much better than she does and would be able to explain it much, much better than she has so far.

Fourth, when Ozark Billy referenced John McAfee, I thought he was kidding. John McAfee, besides being the founder of the anti-virus software company that used to haunt our computers, is actually a “person of interest” in a murder case in Belize. He is one weird cat. House Republicans solicited his “expertise” on October 14, those Republicans being in desperate need of a clown to complete their anti-ObamaCare circus act.

Instead, they settled for Ozark Billy Long, whose cheap shot artistry was long on cheap and short on art.

Geeze.

Here is the entire hearing in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee,  and you will find the complete display of Long’s lack of artistry near the end, at 3:23:22 or so:

Here is a clip:

We Now Know How Many Dangerous Radicals There Are In Congress

Here is the sad reality facing the country:

The final vote in Congress to temporarily open the government and to temporarily preserve the full faith and credit of the United States:

House of Representatives: 285 in favor (198 Democrats and 87 Republicans) and 144 against (all Republicans).

Senate: 81 in favor (52 Democrats, 27 Republicans, 2 Independents) and 18 against (all Republicans).

Thus: We now know there are at least 144 Tea Party radicals in the House (62% of all Republicans) and at least 18 Tea Party radicals in the Senate (40% of all Republicans). That’s about 58% of all congressional Republicans. Think about that: 58% of all congressional Republicans are nutty enough to wreck the economy in the name of Tea Party radicalism.

Let me repeat: Nearly 6 in 10 of the current complement of Republicans in Congress are radical enough to not only shutdown the government and keep it closed, but radical enough to severely damage the credit worthiness of the our centuries-old Republic and blow a hole in the economy.

God bless America.

Odds and ends:

♦ Democrats, once again, saved the country from utter chaos and ignominy.

♦ My own congressman, Ozark Billy Long, voted with the radicals. He obviously doesn’t give a damn about the viability of government or the full faith and credit of the United States. But the local paper and local television news outlets will never question him about his irresponsible vote or hold him accountable for it.

♦ Every single Missouri Republican in the House voted with the zealots. Yes, every one of them.

♦ A strange woman, apparently an official House stenographer, began yelling on the floor of the House during last night’s vote, saying something about our Freemason Constitution and that God will not be mocked. Poor lady. God is mocked every day in that Republican-controlled chamber and obviously since God has thus far failed to stop the mockery, she thought she’d give him a hand.

♦ After the Republican surrender, Rush Limbaugh now says the Republican Party is “irrelevant” and “made a decision not to exist.” God, for once I hope he’s right.

♦ The quack masquerading as a doctor on Fox “News,” Keith Ablow, said that President Obama’s language about the GOP “holding the whole country hostage” is simply the President “going back to when his dad abandoned him, when his mother left him with his grandparents.” Obama is, said the quack, extending his victimization “to this country.” Just part of another day of fair and balanced broadcasting on the Republican News Channel.

♦ Georgia congressman Jack Kingston told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes last night that the estimated $24 or 25 billion or so that the government shutdown and debt default scare cost the American people was worth it because it allowed Republicans to send a message to the public that they don’t like ObamaCare. I don’t think such stupidity needs any additional commentary from me.

♦ Club for Growth and Heritage Action and Freedom Works all put out an alert on the vote, warning legislators they would be using it to score their loyalty to Tea Party conservatism. We know it worked because of the 62% of House Republicans who followed the zealous lobbying groups and the 40% of Senate Republicans who did so. If that doesn’t scare you, you are unscareable. Right wing lobbyists are slowly ruining the country.

♦ We now know that Tea Party Conservatism doesn’t believe in personal responsibility—they oppose the individual mandate in ObamaCare that the Heritage Foundation originally championed—or in national responsibility—they voted to say to hell with paying the country’s bills. What kind of conservatism is that? If Edmund Burke were alive, he would fall over dead.

♦ How petty are these extremists? Look at this:
russert tweet

Obama’s “victory speech” was, of course, not a victory speech. He could have rubbed it in the faces of these extremists, but he didn’t. Why? Because unlike his political enemies, he has class.

♦ I want to mention one particular senator who gets much credit for being a reasonable Republican. He ain’t. His name is Tom Coburn and he’s a right-wing freak. He has been a cheerleader for not raising the debt ceiling. As Huff Po reported:

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) voted with Cruz, but nevertheless said he thought the fiasco had been entirely predictable because it was obvious Democrats and the president would never end Obamacare, and they control two of the three relevant parts of government. He had a tart piece of advice for Cruz and others: “Have a coordinated strategy that’s based on reality rather than one that’s not.”

Coburn voted with Cruz and then advised him to have a strategy based on reality? Thank God Coburn is getting the hell out of the Senate. He has lost his mind.

♦ Finally, for the record, here are all the Republicans who voted against the shutdown-debt ceiling deal. May their names live on in utter infamy:

HOUSE:

Robert B. Aderholt (AL) Justin Amash (MI) Mark Amode (NV) Michele Bachmann (MN) Andy Barr (KY) Joe L. Barton (TX) Kerry Bentivolio (MI) Rob Bishop (UT) Diane Black (TN) Marsha Blackburn (TN) Kevin Brady (TX) Jim Bridenstine (OK) Mo Brooks (AL) Paul Broun (GA) Larry Bucshon (IN) Michael C. Burgess (TX) John Campbell (CA) John Carter (TX) Bill Cassidy (LA) Steven J. Chabot (OH) Jason Chaffetz (UT) Chris Collins (NY) Doug Collins (GA). Michael Conaway (TX) John Culberson (TX) Ron DeSantis (FL) Jeffrey Denham (CA) Scott DesJarlais (TN) Sean Duffy (WI) Jeffrey Duncan (SC) John J. Duncan Jr.(TN) Renee Ellmers (NC) Blake Farenthold (TX) Stephen Fincher (TN) Chuck Fleischmann (TN) John Fleming (LA) Bill Flores (TX) Randy Forbes (VA) Virginia Foxx (NC) Trent Franks (AZ) Scott Garrett (NJ) Bob Gibbs (OH) Phil Gingrey (GA) Louie Gohmert (TX) Robert W. Goodlatte (VA) Paul Gosar (AZ) Trey Gowdy (SC) Kay Granger (TX) Sam Graves (MO) Tom Graves (GA) Morgan Griffith (VA) Ralph M. Hall (TX) Andy Harris (MD) Vicky Hartzler (MO) Jeb Hensarling (TX) George Holding (NC) Richard Hudson (NC) Tim Huelskamp (KS) Bill Huizenga (MI) Randy Hultgren (IL) Duncan D. Hunter (CA) Robert Hurt (VA) Bill Johnson (OH) Sam Johnson (TX) Walter B. Jones (NC) Jim Jordan (OH) Steve King (IA) Jack Kingston (GA) Doug LaMalfa (CA) Raul Labrador (ID) Doug Lamborn (CO) James Lankford (OK) Robert E. Latta (OH) Billy Long (MO) Frank D. Lucas (OK) Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO) Cynthia M. Lummis (WY) Kenny Marchant (TX) Tom Marino (PA) Thomas Massie (KY) Michael McCaul (TX) Tom McClintock (CA) Mark Meadows (NC) Luke Messer (IN) John L. Mica (FL) Candice S. Miller (MI) Jeff Miller (FL) Markwayne Mullin (OK) Mick Mulvaney (RC) Randy Neugebauer (TX) Kristi Noem (SD) Richard Nugent (FL) Alan Nunnelee (MS) Pete Olson (TX) Steven Palazzo (MS) Steve Pearce (NM) Scott Perry (PA) Tom Petri (WI) Joe Pitts (PA) Ted Poe (TX) Mike Pompeo (KS) Bill Posey (FL) Tom Price (GA) Trey Radel (FL) Tom Reed (NY) Jim Renacci (OH) Tom Rice (SC) Martha Roby (AL) Phil Roe (TN) Mike D. Rogers (AL) Dana Rohrabacher (CA) Todd Rokita (IN) Tom Rooney (FL) Dennis Ross (FL) Keith Rothfus (PA) Ed Royce (CA) Paul D. Ryan (WI) Matt Salmon (AZ) Mark Sanford (SC) Steve Scalise (LA) David Schweikert (AZ) Austin Scott (GA)  James Sensenbrenner (WI) Pete Sessions (TX) Jason Smith (MO) Lamar Smith (TX) Steve Southerland (FL) Chris Stewart (UT) Steve Stockman (TX) Marlin Stutzman (IN) William M. Thornberry (TX) Michael R. Turner (OH) Ann Wagner (MO) Tim Walberg (MI) Greg Walden (OR) Jackie Walorski (IN) Randy Weber (TX) Brad Wenstrup (OH) Lynn Westmoreland (GA) Roger Williams (TX) Joe Wilson (SC) Rob Woodall (GA) Kevin Yoder (KS) Ted Yoho (FL)

SENATE:

Tom Coburn (Okla.), John Cornyn (Texas), Mike Crapo (Idaho), Ted Cruz (Texas), Mike Enzi (Wyo.), Chuck Grassley (Iowa), Dean Heller (Nev.), Ron Johnson (Wis.), Mike Lee (Utah), Rand Paul (Ky.), Pat Roberts (Kansas), Jim Risch (Idaho), Marco Rubio (Fla.), Tim Scott (S.C.), Jeff Sessions (Ala.), Richard Shelby (Ala.), Pat Toomey (Pa.), David Vitter (La.).

If you ever hear any of these people raging against wasteful government spending (as Tom Coburn does every time he opens his mouth) or droning on about the national debt, you can tell them to go straight to hell, as they voted to waste billions of dollars, break the legs of the economy, and thereby significantly increase the national debt.

Sgt. Joseph M. Peters, R.I.P. — Rep. Billy Long, Shame On You

I don’t know what’s worse: Republicans shutting down the government and thereby shutting down the government’s ability to pay death benefits to the mourning families of fallen soldiers, or Republicans shutting down the government and then claiming they are “working to ensure our nation’s military families are not forgotten in their time of need.” 

That last quote is from Ozark Billy Long, my congressman. It seems the results of the government shutdown he helped engineer have hit very close to home, namely in Springfield, Missouri, where Billy Long lives. From the Springfield News-Leader:

Lawmakers introduced a bill today to provide a death benefit to the families of soldiers killed — including Joseph M. Peters from Springfield — that stopped last week when the government shut down.

Rep. Billy Long’s office said the congressman is co-sponsoring the Fallen Heroes and Families Assistance Act, which his office says ensures future death benefits will not be delayed because of the government shutdown.

Yes, you read that right. Billy Long is “co-sponsoring” a bill to fix what he and his Tea Party friends mucked up and he acts like he is a hero for doing so. What a piece of work is my Republican congressman.

For your information and as a reminder of what a real hero is made of, I will post here a report from Officer.com on the death of Joseph M. Peters:

A special agent with the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division was among four soldiers killed in an attack in Afghanistan on Sunday.

Sgt. Joseph M. Peters succumbed to injuries sustained when his unit encountered an improvised explosive device in the Kandahar Province, according to a news release.

The 24-year-old Springfield, Mo. native was assigned to the 286th Military Police Detachment, 5th Military Police Battalion in Vicenza, Italy.

Peters was the first special agent for CID to be killed in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Also killed in the attack were 1st Lt. Jennifer M. Moreno, Sgt. Patrick C. Hawkins, and Pfc. Cody J. Patterson.

“Special Agent Peters was a highly respected agent and soldier who sacrificed his life in the defense of this nation,” Major General David Quantock, the Provost Marshal General of the United States Army and Commanding General of the United States Army Criminal Investigation Command said in a statement.

“We are extremely proud of his service and what he accomplished as a CID Special Agent and as a Soldier. His death is a reminder to all of us of the unequaled contributions our military members and their families make on a daily basis in the defense of the freedoms that we all enjoy and value so dearly.”

Peters was a member of the U.S. Army for six years and had served two deployments in Iraq before being assigned to Afghanistan. He is survived by his wife and 20-month-old son.

He was posthumously awarded the Combat Action Badge, Bronze Star Medal and Purple Heart.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

In a related story, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, which reportedly is the nation’s largest such group, is calling on President Obama to fix the mess Republicans have made:

“Mr. President, yes, you warned Congress in advance, and yes, they are responsible for continuing the government shut-down. But please take the higher ground and initiate executive action to pay for all related expenses for the funeral arrangements of our fallen hero, Special Agent Joseph Peters, and all our fallen military heroes,” FLEOA National President Jon Adler said in a statement.

“The government is responsible for all expenses and payments on behalf of our fallen heroes who protect life and property; not just their salaries. There is no greater priority for our government.”

Amen.

[U.S. Army photo]

Food Stamp Vote: “Beyond Shameless,” “Rock Bottom,” “A New Low,” “Outright Cruelty”

I was working on a post to explain what the Republican Party, via the House of Representatives, did to needy people on Thursday, many of them victims of Republican economics that led to the financial meltdown in 2008, but MSNBC’s Chris Hayes did it all for me. And he has moving pictures!

Watch the segments below (about seven minutes each) and you will know all you need to know about how far the GOP has fallen—except that Hayes doesn’t mention that Ozark Billy Long, here in needy Southwest Missouri, was one of the 217 Republicans, barely enough to pass the bill, who voted to continue the Republican Party’s War On The Poor:

Remarks And Asides

Scott Brown, who has been snooping around at the Iowa State Fair, thinks he has a shot at being president. Of course, he never will. Why? Because of this:

scott brown and corn dog

I just don’t see how Scott Brown, trying to make it in a half-puritanical Republican Party, can survive this image. Here are a couple of other Republican hopefuls that made the same mistake (via sodahead.com):

My guess is that Chris Christie will put a lot of things in his mouth between now and November of 2016, but a corn dog won’t be one of them.

____________________________________________

Speaking of corn dogs, Ted Cruz has thrown Canada under his presidential campaign bus. Meanwhile, the birther movement is claiming a media double standard related to this foreign-born demagogue. The problem is there is no double standard. Obama, you see, was actually born in America and the first breath that Ted Cruz took on this earth was filled with Canadian air. The question is whether Cruz, who obviously wants to be president, fits the constitutional definition of “natural born citizen.” And for my money, unless he was brought to earth by an intergalactic stork bent on starting a McCarthyite revival, then he is a natural born citizen.

______________________________________________

Speaking of Republicans who want to be prez, Chris Christie just told conservative Christians to go to hell by signing a law that bans licensed therapists in New Jersey from straightening out gay teenagers. Christie’s only hope of keeping the Jesus-is-a-Republican vote is that they will overlook his apostasy on changing-the-gay and reward him for his recalcitrance on the gay marriage issue and his veto of sensible gun restrictions.

By the way, Christie is, by most accounts, a committed Catholic, which means, of course, that he doesn’t think gayness is a sin in itself, but he thinks practicing gayness is. It’s sort of like saying it’s okay to be black, as long as you act white.

_______________________________________________

Speaking of black folks, Meet the Press’ silly David Gregory, in his melodramatic way, ask New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly—rumored to be on the short list for the Homeland Security czar— the following question:

If a program like stop-and-frisk is abandoned, will people die?

That’s a little like asking Franklin Roosevelt in 1942,

If imprisoning Japanese Americans is abandoned, will people die?

The proper question is this:

If stop-and-frisk laws were applied everywhere in America, would the Constitution die?

______________________________________________

Meanwhile, what is wrong with New York’s stop-and-molest law is not only that it unfairly profiles black folks, but that it unfairly profiles innocent folks. Nearly all those who are legally groped by New York City cops are innocent of any wrongdoing. The phony justification for the law is that “it works.” On that basis, I suppose President Obama could impose Marshall Law, use the military to confiscate weapons from potential white male mass murderers (who perpetrate most of the mass killings), and we could stop a lot of tragedies.  And American constitutional civilization along with it.

______________________________________________

Speaking of stop-and-frisk and the end of American civilization, a proposal by House Republicans, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, would stop-and-frisk food stamp spending and could potentially affect up to six million Americans, “including some of the nation’s poorest adults, as well as many low-income children, seniors, and families that work for low wages.”

Notwithstanding the colossally ignorant Bill O’Reilly and other Foxish quasi-bigots, most recipients of food help from the government actually work—“more than 80 percent,” according to CBPP—and you’d think Republicans, who constantly say they want to encourage work, would, well, encourage work. But they don’t. It’s just the opposite:

though proponents stress the need to promote work, the proposal cuts assistance to low-income working families who struggle to afford food.

My congressman, Ozark Billy Long, told the Springfield News-Leader that because there were no specific details out yet, he wasn’t sure of his support for this effort to, as one local Springfield businessman put it, “starve children.” To give Billy Long sarcastic credit, at least before he would be willing to take food out of the mouths of poor, hungry kids, he must know the details because, as we all know, that’s where the devil lives, especially in House Republican legislation.

Remarks And Asides, Republican “Reform” Edition

“It’s not morally right to starve children,” says Tim Straus, a Springfield, Mo., businessman who is critical of Ozark Billy Long’s vote to cut $20 billion out of the food stamp program.

Now, If you have to tell Republican legislators that they shouldn’t be starving children, I submit the GOP, in its tenth month of reform agony, is irreparable.

______________________________

Speaking of trying to repair the Republican Party, Newt Gingrich, who is responsible for much of the brokenness of the party that needs fixing, has offered some more advice—will the advice ever end on how to rehabilitate Republicans?—on just what it is that the party should do: come up with something to replace the Affordable Care Act:

I would bet for most of you, you go home in the next two weeks while your members of Congress are home and you look at them in the eye and you say, ‘What is your positive replacement for ObamaCare?’ and they will have zero answer…

Oh, but they do have an answer, Newt. It is found in Billy Long’s vote to cut food stamps and in the newest Republican effort in the House to cut food stamps even more. If you starve the children, then they won’t grow up to need health care at all! Voilà!

______________________________

Someone should tell the Tea Party in Tennessee that Republicans need to do more than, as Newt put it, be “negative” and “vicious” and “tear down” their opponents.

Tea Party zealots have asked Senator Lamar Alexander to retire “with dignity” before they expose him to Tennessee voters as the champion of “compromise and bipartisanship.” Yep, a man who has a 72% rating from the reactionary American Conservative Union and a 90% rating from the equally reactionary Americans for Tax Reform is not fit to be a Republican anymore because of all that compromisin’!

I don’t think these fanatics are listening to you, Newt!

_______________________________

And speaking of fanatics, no party that has as its head a man like Reince Priebus is either capable of reforming itself or worth reforming. I remind you that when Republicans were going through all this “reform” talk in January of this year, I wrote a piece appropriately titled, “To Hell With The Republican Party.”  In that piece I said my piece about Reince Priebus, which because I find him so appalling, I want to say it again:

Someone explain to me why a political party that supposedly wants to reform itself would put one of its most disgusting leaders of all time back on top. Oh, let me remind you of what this slimy bastard said while the tragedy in Benghazi was still warm:

reince priebus

If there were a God who gave a damn about this world, Reince Priebus would be putting out fires in hell about now. But instead, the creep has been put back in charge of the Republican Party, which may amount to the same job.

There, now I feel better.

_________________________________

And again speaking of Republican fanatics, yet another congressman is calling for a shutdown of the government in order to defund ObamaCare. This comes as a conservative polling outfit—a brother of The Heritage Foundation—defund obamacareis urging Republicans to shut ‘er down because the public would not necessarily put all the blame on the GOP:

This poll demonstrates that the Left cannot win the argument on either the policy front or the political front.  Americans – including 57 percent of independents in ten critical congressional districts – favor defunding Obamacare.  House Republicans should be much more concerned with the fallout of failing to defund Obamacare than with the imaginary fallout of doing so.

The country is waiting to see whether the extremist Tea Party clowns are running the GOP rodeo, or whether the GOP rodeo has become nothing but clown acts.

____________________________

Finally, speaking of clown acts:

GOP lawmaker invites rodeo clown who mocked Obama to Texas

Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas) invited the rodeo clown who sparked controversy by donning a mask of President Obama at the Missouri State Fair to preform in Texas, his office said Wednesday.

Stockman, one of the most clownish members of Congress himself, said,

I’m sure any rodeo in Texas would be proud to have [the] performers.

That just about says it all about Congressman Stockman, Texas, and the unreformable Republican Party.

Billy, My Hero

Below I am posting a video of my congressman, the much-esteemed, well-liked, and fast-rising Ozark Billy Long (you’ll know what I mean if you watch it). It’s almost 30 minutes long. It is in the form of an interview by Oklahoma congressman Tom Cole, who, I guess, is auditioning for a job on PBS, after his congressional career comes to an end. You can watch it if you want, but only for your convenience have I picked out a few highlights that I can, uh, celebrate with you.

First up is Billy’s conception of the kind of person who ought to be in Washington representing the folks back home:

I think the Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, people that have run businesses and signed the front of a check, to come up here and serve in Congress instead of people who’ve just been in Congress all their lives.

Now, Ozark Billy has said this kind of thing before. In fact, he ran on it. To him, “citizen legislators” are not postal workers or carpenters or school teachers or domestic engineers, but “people that [sic] have run businesses.” Those folks, he believes, know best how to make things work, know how to make government more efficient, know how to run government like, well, like a business. Never mind that it is insane to think that government can or should be run like a business, unless you think that JP Morgan Chase should have its own Navy. Wait, does JP Morgan Chase have its own Navy? God knows it could afford to buy one.

In any case, Long was asked about what it was like to be a brand new congressman and have to deal with the Joplin tornado that ripped through our town two years ago. Here was his initial reply:

It was really a welcome-to-Congress moment, I guess you could say. It was May 22, 2011, and it was my daughter’s birthday and we have a friend who has a birthday the same day so we were over at their house celebrating two birthdays. And we got word—our district director down in Joplin area called and said, “We’d been hit by a tornado”—and we said, “Oh, okay.” We didn’t think that much of it, because we’re in tornado alley, just like you are in Oklahoma, we have tornadoes all the time.

Hmm. “We didn’t think much of it,” Billy said. He was just told by his own guy on the ground that a tornado had hit Joplin and, shucks, Ozark Billy didn’t think much of it. Heck, tornadoes hit around here all the time. It’s tornado alley, don’t you know. Of course a tornado is going to hit Joplin and of course our congressman isn’t supposed to “think much of it.” That is, until he thought it was headed toward his friend’s house and that birthday party:

And then on the news in Springfield, which is 70 miles to the east, it came on and said there’s a tornado right outside of Springfield…we ran home—there was no basement in the house we were in—and we really thought it was to head to Springfield…

Oh, now I see. When a tornado hits Joplin it’s not much to worry about. But when it is headed Billy’s way, it is. Gotcha. He goes on:

…and then when it evolved and we  found out how terrible it was, then we made the decision—I was supposed to come back up here in Washington the next day—but I cancelled all those plans and we got down to Joplin at daybreak the next day…

That’s where Billy’s role as local hero begins.

He explains how he and his staff did heroic things, like leaning on the local fire chief to help get a travel ban lifted so “a prominent businessman in Joplin that was housing eight or ten families at his house” could get back home. That’s our Billy. Always thinking of the bidnessman because, well, you know, those are the ones those darn Founding Fathers thought ought to be in Washington. They are a special breed.

Besides the local heroics, if you watch the video interview you will also be treated to how “proud” Billy is of a resolution he created to not allow to happen in America what almost happened in Cyprus several weeks ago—the government was to levy a tax on the bank deposits of rich Russians, many of whom stash their ill-gotten gains there for strategic reasons.

Billy was “infuriated,” he said, upon learning of what the Cyprus government might do. A determined Billy said, “that will not happen here!” And you know what? It hasn’t! Thanks, Ozark Billy, for stopping Obama from taking our savings!

There are other efforts Billy the congressman chronicles for us, and then there is Billy telling falsehoods about budget balancing and the Keystone XL pipeline. And there is a touching plea for civility in Washington.

But in order to get those details, you’ll just have to sit through the 29-minute interview like I had to:

Sequestered Billy Long

Here is Ozark Billy making us shine here in southwest Missouri:

billy long and salon

According to KOLR10 News, the millionaire auctioneer was speaking at the Springfield Rotary Club, for God’s sake, when he said this:

The people that I’ve talked to seem to be doing well. In fact, when I got out in restaurants here in town, people come up to me. They want to see more sequestration, not less. So I think that’s different than it could be in some parts of the country, but we haven’t seen any measurable affect here at all.

Yeah, you tend not to see any negative sequestration effects when you spend your time in Rotary Clubs and fancy eatin’ places like the Metropolitan Grill in Springfield. But that’s our Ozark Billy. Wildly out of touch with his constituents, most of whom are too busy working their asses off just trying to survive, rather than hoping to catch a glimpse of a steak-chomping Billy Long in order to tell him about sequestration, whatever the hell that is.

Most of those folks can’t go to Metropolitan Grill and order the “Merlot demi-glace glazed filet Wellington with Gorgonzola in a puff pastry topped with a black pepper shitake supreme” for a mere thirty bucks. Some of those folks are worried about whether their kids will get booted out of Head Start or whether they’ll get another bite to eat from Meals On Wheels.

So, I would bet that where Billy Long goes to dine in Springfield or in Washington, D.C., or, heck, in his favorite gambling and watering hole, Las Vegas, unless a knowledgeable and brave member of the wait staff speaks up, Billy never hears a goddamn thing about sequestration from the people it is affecting. Thus, I would bet that those folks who “want to see more sequestration, not less” are not waiting tables or serving our congressman cocktails in some restaurant or casino. Those people more likely own the damn place.

The sad thing about all this is Billy Long will never hear from the folks he needs to hear from for at least a couple of reasons. One, unless you have a lot of money to contribute to his relection, your voice doesn’t exactly move him to action. billy long at rotary in springfieldSecond, he doesn’t hold town hall meetings around here, where the hoi polloi can bend his ear about their troubles. He runs from those brave enough to interrupt him and attempt to ask him critical questions, like the last time I ran into him.

In short, I have no doubt that Billy Long has met people around here who have the time and luxury to figure out what sequestration is and who, because it doesn’t affect them, want more of it. It’s those other folks, those other folks he is also supposed to be representing, those other folks who don’t have cash to stash in his campaign pockets, those folks with little time to mess around with figuring out what terms like sequestration mean, who he needs to hear from.

And the last time I checked, those folks don’t attend Rotary Club luncheons.

Billy Long’s Shame

My congressman, Ozark Billy Long, has now voted to, in the words of Salon’s Richard Kirsch, “kill tens of thousands of people. Every year.”

Hear me out, people.

Republicans in the House passed Paul Ryan’s budget today by a vote of 221-207, with all Democrats voting against it. Ten Republicans, some of them because it wouldn’t inflict enough pain and misery and death on the country, also voted against it.

But Ozark Billy apparently considered the bill sufficiently painful to warrant his vote. The Associated Press reported today’s macabre theatrics this way:

WASHINGTON — The Republican-controlled House passed a tea party-flavored budget plan Thursday that promises sharp cuts in safety-net programs for the poor and a clampdown on domestic agencies, in sharp contrast to less austere plans favored by President Barack Obama and his Democratic allies.

And thanks to Barack Obama and his Democratic allies, Ryan’s budget will never get to do its killing, killing that is quantifiable because, as Richard Kirsch, pointed out:

when more people lack health coverage, more people die.

It is uncertain just how many people would be threatened by the Republican vote to, among other things, end ObamaCare and mangle Medicare and Medicaid, because we still don’t know how many Republican governors and Republican-dominated legislatures will refuse to expand Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

But we do know that studies have found that somewhere between 26,000 and 45,000 people die needlessly prematurely because they don’t have health insurance. And the Ryan-Long-Republican budget, if it were to become law, would see to it that the needless deaths continue.

Kirsch says,

I’ve grown tired of providing a veneer of respectability to people in power –people with good health insurance, coverage that provides them with access to the best medical care, and pays most of their bills – who deny their constituents a basic human right.

Yes, I’ve grown tired of it, too. Thus, today I say that Billy Long, my representative in Congress, voted to allow countless Americans to die needlessly, even if Democrats will see to it that some of them won’t have to.

And to further strip off the veneer, I say today that those of you who went to the polls last November and cast a vote for Billy Long bought yourself a share of his shame.

Guns, God, Hemp, And Ozark Billy

The local wingnuts have been busy.

The Joplin Globe reported:

More than 150 residents, local politicians and rally organizers attended what was described as a “peaceful demonstration to support and defend the Second Amendment” Saturday at Landreth Park in Joplin…

One of those residents is a man named John Broom, who the Globe said is trying to start a “permanent group” of locals in order “to support firearm rights.” Apparently for Broom the NRA isn’t doing enough.gun rally in joplin

Broom, I must say, did an excellent job—much better than I could do—of exposing just how misguided gun enthusiasts can be:

We want people to know what we are about and why we support this right. The Second Amendment isn’t about hunting. It’s not about competition or sport, and it really isn’t about self-defense. It’s about rights of the people to protect themselves from invaders and from tyrants. We have to start educating folks really quick.

Yep, really quick, I mean, quickly: before people figure out how dumb it is to sit around the house with a small arsenal, waiting for invaders and tyrants. In any case, thanks to John Broom for that enlightening interpretation of the Second Amendment.

Last Saturday proved to be a busy day for local reactionaries. The Jasper-Newton County Lincoln Days brought into Joplin none other than Tom Schweich, who is Missouri’s auditor. Schweich told his Republican congregation:

God is a part of the Republican Party.

Yep, he said it. And, as the Joplin Globe reported, he said it “to applause from the crowd.” God always gets an ovation around here, don’t you know.

Apparently, the Globe couldn’t get God to comment on the remark, or, more likely, the paper didn’t bother to ask Him. Maybe next time. Oh, and maybe the Globe could ask God about that ass whippin’ that Barack Obama and the Democrats gave His party last November and just what He intends to do to get even. Democrats would do well to remember: Vengeance is mine, I will repaysaith the Lord.

During his keynote speech, Schweich estimated that 70 percent of the gathered locals were Christian conservatives. He was way off on that one. I doubt you could have found anyone in the crowd who would have courageously testified to being, say, an Allah-loving Republican. It’s GOP Jesus or nothing around here.

And speaking of GOP-Jesus-loving Republicans, Ozark Billy Long was in attendance. My congressman did not disappoint. He gave my president a compliment:

We spent all our time saying Barack Obama was nothing but a community organizer. He organized his community and got out the vote.

That had to hurt the Sarah Palin fans in attendance. The former fractional governor and former Fox babe made a small fortune by making fun of the community organizer. But fearless Billy had more to say, as reported by the Globe’s Susan Redden:

Long, speaking at the local Lincoln Days event, noted that a recent National Journal ranking had placed him as more conservative than Reps. Michele Bachmann and Paul Ryan.

Only in Southwest Missouri would a congressman actually brag about being nuttier more conservative than Michele Bachmann. And although Redden didn’t report it this way, I’m guessing that Long made his I’m-crazier-than-Bachmann statement “to applause from the crowd.”

Finally, Ozark Billy has been called out by, uh, The Weed Blog: Marijuana News and Information. It seems one of Billy’s constituents wrote him, asking support for the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2013. Yes, there is such a bill, and it has several bipartisan co-sponsors in the House (the Senate version includes Mitch McConnell as a co-sponsor).billy long and hemp

For those of you who don’t touch the stuff, industrial hemp is not marijuana, although both are prepared from Cannabis plants. As Wikipedia points out,

Hemp is refined into products like hemp seed foods, hemp oil, wax, resin, rope, cloth, pulp, and fuel.

The stuff in the Cannabis plant that gives you the munchies (THC) is very low or nonexistent in industrial hemp. Thus, when we’re talking about hemp farming we’re not talking about growing pot, as disappointed as that may make some of you out there, and you know who you are.

In any case, Billy Long responded to his constituent with a letter that, as The Weed Blog noted, indicated Long didn’t have the slightest idea what industrial hemp was. In the response letter, Long said,

While I am a strong believer in personal freedom, I do not support the recreational or medical use of illegal drugs regardless of whether the drug is marijuana, cocaine, or any other illegal substance.

The Weed Blog writer, Johnny Green, wrote:

I find it odd that someone who dislikes hemp so much, doesn’t even understand what it is. Is he serious?

Well, it’s hard to answer that question, Johnny. Perhaps Billy Long, somewhere in his past, had a bad experience smoking industrial hemp. Who knows? Smoking industrial hemp may explain a lot about Billy Long.

But I certainly don’t find it “odd” that Long, like so many Bachmannish conservatives, can dislike something without understanding it. That’s how they manage to stay in power in places like Southwest Missouri. From evolution to global warming to hemp farming, the less they understand, the more popular they are.

Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em, everyone!

The President Remembers Joplin

The night of President Obama’s State of the Union speech, Ozark Billy Long, my congressman, greeted the President as he made his way up to the podium. No telling how long Ozark Billy waited to get the seat he had, but I am sure it was worth it, since he is such a great admirer of the President.

He’s not? Oh, well. In any case, here’s a picture of their encounter:

obama greets billy long at sotu

Long tweeted (while Obama was on the podium receiving an ovation before he began his speech) the following:

billy long tweet from sotu

On May 22, 2011, a tornado ravaged Joplin and killed 161 people. A week later, President Obama, Governor Jay Nixon, Senator Claire McCaskill and Billy Long visited our devastated city. The President said then:

This is not just your tragedy. This is a national tragedy and that means there will be a national response.

There was. Still is.

At a memorial service President Obama said:

 I can promise you your country will be there with you every single step of the way. We will be with you every step of the way.  We’re not going anywhere. The cameras may leave.  The spotlight may shift.  But we will be with you every step of the way until Joplin is restored and this community is back on its feet.  We’re not going anywhere.

The President came back to Joplin in May of 2012 to speak to graduates of Joplin High School. Some local conservatives thought he was doing so as a campaign event, even though there was no chance of picking up any votes in this Obama-despising part of the country. Indeed, the locals gave him a whopping 28.3% of the vote.

Obama told the graduates,

Now, just as you’ve learned the goodness of people, you’ve also learned the power of community.  And you’ve heard from some of the other speakers how powerful that is.  And as you take on the roles of co-worker and business owner — neighbor, citizen — you’ll encounter all kinds of divisions between groups, divisions of race and religion and ideology.  You’ll meet people who like to disagree just for the sake of being disagreeable. You’ll meet people who prefer to play up their differences instead of focusing on what they have in common, where they can cooperate. But you’re from Joplin.  So you will always know that it’s always possible for a community to come together when it matters most. 

On Tuesday, before the State of the Union Address, President Obama saw Billy Long and remembered Joplin. Good for him. Good for Joplin. And good for Billy Long for telling us about it.

Here is a short clip I put on YouTube of the President greeting Ozark Billy:

 

The Wisdom Of Ozark Billy Long

In all the excitement over what freaked-out conservatives are calling President Obama’s “gun grab,” we perhaps lost sight of what Republicans actually tried to do to the citizens of the Northeast, those who suffered from the ravages of Hurricane Sandy.

A staggering 179 Republicans voted against helping those folks affected by the massive storm. It’s a wonder that there are any members of the Republican Party left in New York or New Jersey, but I saw plenty of them thanking “Congress” for helping them out. But, once again, it was Democrats who saved the day, with all but one of them in the House voting to help (that one nay vote by a Democrat was scandalous, by the way).

But perhaps the biggest scoundrel of all the 179 Republicans who voted against aiding storm victims was our own Ozark Billy Long, who, after bragging about all the help he secured for Joplin after our tornado, couldn’t muster support for equally needy folks in the Northeast.

Look at this headline from NPR in 2011, after our killer tornado:

A Foe Of Big Government Seeks Aid For Joplin

That article ended with this:

Long says he’s confident that whatever tough choices may have to be made, Uncle Sam’s not going to skimp on helping people laid low by a natural disaster.

As for the government, there are still a lot of things Long aims to change, but it’s less likely you’ll hear him complaining any more about being “fed up.”

Ozark Billy earned from the American Conservative Union a 92 rating, which made him “the most conservative member of the Missouri delegation in 2011,” said Billy. Congratulations to him. And with the “no” vote on help to victims of Hurricane Sandy, he is on track to be a hero of reactionary conservatives again in 2013.

But he is, without a doubt, a hypocrite, a self-serving scoundrel who takes credit for helping the local folks with dollars from others, including dollars from people in the Northeast, but is unwilling to do the right thing when those other folks need our help.

The people who voted for Billy Long should, but won’t, be ashamed of themselves. He could run and be reelected a thousand times in this sense-forsaken area.

And, by the way, who could have guessed this:

Rep. Billy Long said he is categorically opposed to the new gun restrictions proposed by President Barack Obama on Wednesday, arguing they would interfere with Americans’ ability to defend themselves.

The Springfield News-Leader also reported some Ozark Billy folk wisdom:

“People need to be able to defend themselves, as crazy as this world’s getting,” Long said.

When he was a child and learned about some tragedy like a shooting, Long said, his grandmother would tell him “there’s just a lot of meanness in the world.” That still resonates with him today, he said, adding “we need to figure out as a society what we’re doing to augment that meanness.

Meanness. It comes in all forms, including withholding help from folks in need in a part of the country that would, because they are sensible Americans, laugh Billy Long off any goddamned ballot.

Mandate? Whose Mandate?

Someone told me we had an election on November 6, discernibly about increasing taxes on the wealthy. And, I was told, President Obama won.

Yet, I heard some of the chatter on Morning Joe this morning regarding the negotiations over the coming austerity crisis, also known as the fiscal cliff, and guess what? It’s mostly President Obama’s fault that nothing has been accomplished so far.

The consensus appeared to be, among those around the Morning Joe table, that President Obama should be like Lincoln or Lyndon Johnson and essentially purchase House Republican votes with some kind of patronage scheme or go up to Capitol Hill and cajole Republicans in some unspecified way. All to get a deal on taxes.

Joe Scarborough mentioned that those House Republicans won their races, too, some of them with “a much,much higher percentage of the vote in their districts than the President,” and that the President should understand that,

They won as well. And so they have a mandate as well…you’d think this president, as a state legislator, would understand those dynamics, but he doesn’t.

Hmm. “They have a mandate as well.” “Understand those dynamics.” Let me get this straight: An indiscernible mandate of a congressman from, say, Southwest Missouri, is somehow on a par with a clear mandate of the newly elected President of the United States? Let’s think about that as we quickly look at my congressman, Ozark Billy Long, and how many votes he got on November 6:

Billy Long, Republican:   203,565    63.9%
Jim Evans, Democrat:      98,498    30.9%

You can see that Scarborough is right in one sense. Billy Long got a whopping 64% of the vote here in the Ozarks. That’s definitely more than the President got. But you can also see that Long got just over 200,000 votes. I wonder how many votes Barack Obama got? Oh:

popular vote totals 2012

Now, let me do some ciphering:

OBAMA:    65,355,488
LONG:            203,565
__________________
                    65,151,923

So, the President got about 65 million more votes than Ozark Billy, but in Scarborough’s world—and he was not contradicted by anyone on the set—Long has a mandate that President Obama is compelled to respect enough to go down to Long’s office and, uh, what? What is he supposed to offer Ozark Billy? A signed copy of his Hawaiian birth certificate? A free lunch at the White’s House buffet? An all-expenses-paid trip to Larry Flynt’s Holiday Poker Classic? (Billy likes to gamble.) Huh? Would any of that bring Billy Long to the light?

Mika Brzezinski, who often drowns in conversations like this one, actually piped up and said in response to Scarborough’s suggestion that Obama doesn’t understand the dynamics at play:

But what is he supposed to do with those dynamics?

Good question. And Jon Meacham, the now bestselling historian (his latest book is on Thomas Jefferson), added to Scarborough’s play for Republican respect by responding to Brzezinski:

Understand what the other guy feels like…That’s a huge part of what politics is. Henry Kissinger’s great insight: If you’re ever going to win a negotiation, if you’re ever going to have a result, you have to give the other guy a way out.

You know, he’s right. You do have to give the other guy a way out, a fig leaf, something which he can point to and say, “I got something out of the deal.” But what if what the other guy wants is totally unreasonable? What if what the other guy wants is his way or no way? What if what the other guy wants is the same thing he wanted before November 6? Before the election that saw President Obama get more than 65 million votes campaigning against what the other guy wanted?

Once again Republicans believe they are holding the country’s economic health hostage for the sake of protecting their wealthy friends, and they are trying to pretend the election on November 6 didn’t mean all that much. The problem with the political chatterers on television, most of whom are Beltway types, is that some of them respect the hostage takers more than they respect those trying to rescue the hostages.

So, sadly, Republicans are being aided in their efforts by some in the professional pundit class who are suggesting that the President is to blame for failing to satisfy the demands of the kidnappers.

Scarborough, without being challenged, looked into the camera this morning and emphatically gave the following advice to House Republicans on how to handle negotiations with President Obama:scarborough and fiscal cliff advice

If he doesn’t come to you with a deal, do-not-vote-to-raise-taxes-a-cent! Don’t do it! Don’t do it! You’ll get beaten! And Washington will spend that money and they won’t cut again and the deficit will be 18 trillion a couple of years from now.

The problem with Scarborough’s thinking, the problem with his blustery advice for Republicans, is that Mr. Obama now understands that a deal that pleases the right-wing zealots in the House of Representatives is not a deal worth making. He needs to make a deal with reasonable Republicans, if there are any left in Congress.

And if he can’t find any reasonable Republicans, if the country plunges off the cliff, falls off the curb, or waddles down the slope, however one wants to define what will happen on a deal-less January 1, the President knows that Republicans—Republicans—will get most of the blame:

fiscal cliff poll results

Bronco Billy And The Convention Circus

I guess Donald Trump wasn’t available.

But they got the next best thing.

I don’t know who the Republican genius was that thought it would be a good idea to have Clint Eastwood address the convention in prime time, but, as a Democrat, I’d like to personally thank him or her.

Unfortunately, by now the Republicans have offered their thanks to the genius by giving him or her a much less dignified, but certainly much more challenging, job: getting the chili sauce stains out of Newt Gingrich’s shirt, after that disappointed Romney surrogate got a little sloppy last night while pulling an all-you-can-eat all-nighter at the Golden Corral in Tampa.

That’s how Newt drowns his sorrows, and Republicans had reason to be especially sorrowful, after they quickly figured out that this year’s Republican National Convention will now be remembered, fittingly, as the night Clint Eastwood gave his greatest performance, at least in terms of representing today’s GOP.

His utter disrespect for President Obama, though cringe-inducing for most normal folks, was quite enjoyable for those lucky enough to be in the house for such buffoonery. The only thing that could have topped it would have been a Cheech and Chong routine performed by Donald Trump and Sheriff Joe Arpaio, with that zany Republican duo smoking dope, talking trash about Obama’s phony birth certificate, and doing an updated Obama-version of  “Basketball Jones.”

Our own Ozark Billy Long was in attendance and said this about Eastwood’s performance:

The crowd ate it up. They loved Clint Eastwood and loved his speech and my tip off was when all the liberals, including David Axelrod, was one of the first to chime in on Twitter, and, uh, some of the media folks down here started tweetin’ about how terrible it was, how egregious it was, and I thought, well, if we’ve ticked those people off, he probably did what he was suppose to do out there…talkin’ to the president, who wasn’t there, I thought that that was pretty entertaining…

And thus I leave you with that wonderful assessment from my congressman, our representative from Missouri’s 7th District. I am damned proud to be from such a place that would put such a man in Washington, D.C.

Aren’t you?

Akin Is “Our Guy” Says Ozark Billy

Southwest Missouri congressman Ozark Billy, who recently and stupidly said, “We’re not the land of the free anymore,” has now thrown his considerable weight—that’s not really a metaphor—behind the embattled Todd Akin, according to Politico:

First-term Rep. Billy Long, who represents the conservative southwestern portion of the state, said Akin was the party’s candidate, whom he planned to support.

“The people of Missouri voted for him, and he’s our guy,” Long told POLITICO. “And either you’re for Todd Akin and I’m not for Claire McCaskill. … He’s been an underdog his whole life, he won a lot of races he wasn’t supposed to win, so I think he can win.”

Yep, against the stream of establishment sentiment, our own Ozark Billy is making a gallant stand for ignorance and bigotry, but he’s not the only local embracing  Todd Akin’s “gaffe,” which, of course was not a gaffe but a rare moment of honesty and clarity.

Jasper County pooh-bah and resident Christian moralist-slash-Glenn Beck fan, John Putnam, said Mittens “needs to rescind” his demand that Akin give up the fight, and he offered this:

I think Reince Priebus and Roy Blunt and all the people need to support the candidate that the folks from Missouri nominated and picked in the primary. I think the GOP party bosses that are trying to drum him out are creating a bigger split in the party than Todd Akin is.

We’ll see whether Romney, true to form, or Priebus or Blunt waffles on Akin and accepts the Jasper County Republican’s godly counsel, but I have to admit that, for once, I agree with John Putnam. Party bosses—and right now there ain’t no bigger boss than Mittens—are creating a “split” in the party between evangelicals, who actually believe the nutty stuff they say, and regular party guys—characters who wouldn’t know Jesus if he jolted them with a bolt of overdue lightning—who use those evangelicals to obtain political power.

But my guess is that the evangelicals who are being used will, despite their Akin-induced dissatisfaction with the party honchos, nevertheless come to GOP Jesus and work hard to get their superiors elected, what with that Black Devil, Barack What’s-His-Unholy Name, lurking in the electoral shadows.

Meanwhile, the Black Devil’s Missouri handmaiden, Claire McCaskill, will likely save her job, despite the fact that the faithful, led by conservative crusader and buffet king Billy Long, will try their best to exorcise her evil self from the United States Senate.

Remarks And Asides

I don’t see what the big deal was over Kansas Republican Congressman Kevin Yoder taking his love truncheon for what was, no doubt, a short dip in the Sea of Galilee. I mean, what bored kid in Sunday School doesn’t dream of doing that? Huh?

Fortunately for all involved, my own congressman, Ozark Billy, kept Mr. Winky in his drawer on his $11,789 junket to Israel—paid for by an arm of AIPAC, the Israeli lobbying group—which occurred a week later than the one in which Congressman Yoder’s tallywacker sort of made diplomatic history.

______________________________

Speaking of Israel and the GOP, I have it on good authority that God is so pissed at the Republicans for slandering his name that he may send Isaac in to Tampa to get their attention. Nothing demonstrates God’s wrath like a windy patriarch.

______________________________

Speaking of the Republican convention, Todd Akin has been disinvited. Gee, was it something he said?

______________________________

The Secret Service arrested a man in Washington state for emailing threats to President Obama. Needless to say, when an agent and a policeman went to his door, he greeted them with a shotgun. Like most of us, he also had a gun in his ankle holster.

His poor mum said,

He has a good education, he’s a good boy, but he’s done a stupid thing. Never got arrested, was in the military, has a college education. And I’m just a little bit upset and shocked.

Let me see, he was in the military and has a college education. I wonder which one of those things would best explain why a guy would threaten the president and greet the cops with a gun?

______________________________

Remember when a woman was attacked by three men, who stripped her and carved homophobic slurs in her flesh? Well, forget it:

A former University of Nebraska women’s basketball star who claimed to be the victim of an anti-gay attack appears to have staged the attack herself out of a desire to spark social change, police say.

Hmm. You mean to tell me that there is such a shortage of homophobia in America that you have to make stuff up? Damn. We are making progress.

______________________________

There’s been a lot in the news this year about the Supreme Court and obviously people are paying very close attention:

…even with all that debate over the Supreme Court and its rulings,  two-thirds of Americans can’t name any justices, according to a survey released Monday by FindLaw.com, a legal information Web site.

Okay. So people aren’t paying attention, particularly to institutions that can dramatically affect their lives.

But they are paying attention to important stuff like this:

Kelsey Grammer Wants to Have 9 Kids!

Wow! Who’s Kelsey Grammer?

______________________________

Let’s get serious:

WASHINGTON — Mitt Romney’s promise to restore $716 billion that he says President Obama “robbed” from Medicare has some health care experts puzzled…

Marilyn Moon, vice president and director of the health program at the American Institutes for Research, calculated that restoring the $716 billion in Medicare savings would increase premiums and co-payments for beneficiaries by $342 a year on average over the next decade; in 2022, the average increase would be $577.

Man. Romney better hope Kelsey Grammer keeps on procreatin’.

______________________________

Finally, and speaking of Mittens, it turns out that the “doctor” at the heart of Todd Akin’s theory regarding the special birth-control powers of “legitimately” raped female bodies was a Romney surrogate last time Mittens offered his services to the American people:

Today, Dr. John Willke, a founder of the Pro Life Movement, endorsed Governor Mitt Romney and his campaign for our nation’s highest office. Dr. Willke is a leading voice within the pro-life community and will be an important surrogate for Governor Romney’s pro-life and pro-family agenda…

Welcoming Dr. Willke’s announcement, Governor Romney said, “I am proud to have the support of a man who has meant so much to the pro-life movement in our country…I look forward to working with Dr. Willke and welcome him to Romney for President.”

Rumor has it that the guy who came up with the eat-a-vulture-to-cure-syphilis idea has endorsed Mittens and is about to be welcomed into the 2012 Romney fold.

Bon appétit!

“Seriously, Goodness Gracious,” Said Ozark Billy

The American Conservative Union—the folks who bring us the yearly circus known as CPAC—didn’t have to tell me that my congressman, Ozark Billy Long, was “the most conservative of the Missouri delegation in 2011.” I could have guessed that.

And I could have guessed that in accepting the praise of such an august group of conservative lobbyists Ozark Billy would say this:

Families in Missouri’s Seventh District expect me to protect their freedoms and our Constitution. As their advocate in Washington, I will continue to fight for common sense ideas and legislation to support a limited federal government and defend the values we hold close to our hearts.

Billy, as our “advocate in Washington,” will fight for “common sense ideas,” he says. Keep that in mind. And as much as I could have guessed he would appreciate the endorsement from right-wing extremists, what I couldn’t have guessed was that I would see his distinctive mug on my TV last night in the company of Congressman Mike Kelly, who told the world on Wednesday:

I know in your mind you can think of times when America was attacked. One is December 7th, that’s Pearl Harbour. The other is September 11th, and that’s the day of the terrorist attack. I want you to remember August the 1st, 2012, the attack on our religious freedom. That is a day that will live in infamy, along with those other dates.

The occasion for this blithering idiocy was implementation of the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that insurance companies offer contraception coverage to women.  Yes, that is what Congressman Kelly likened to the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the terrorist attacks on 9/11.

But Kelly wasn’t alone in his walk down Bat Crap Crazy Avenue. Along with him was our own Ozark Billy, who had this “common sense idea“:

America, 2012. Land of the free and home of the brave. Are we still the land of the free and the home of the brave? Let’s examine that for just a minute. I know we’re the home of the brave because as we walk off that house floor five days a week, three or four days there’ll be a wounded warrior settin’ there just like the one that was there yesterday.

He had no right arm. He had no left arm except for an artificial arm and an artificial hand. He was proud to shake my hand with his artificial hand to show me how it worked. He had no legs below the thighs. His wife was standing next to him with less than a one-year-old child in her hands. You don’t have to worry about the brave. We’re still the home of the brave.

But we’re not the land of the free anymore and we need to get that straight. If we’re not free to practice religious freedom in this country, what in the world have we come to? Seriously, goodness gracious.

This hysteria, as Jim Lee at Busplunge points out, may be designed to take “the heat off his gambling habits.”  Randy Turner on Monday published a piece on the many trips Long has taken to Las Vegas this year, presumably to represent the 7th district in Sin City, which given our low per-capita income probably doesn’t see many folks from Southwest Missouri these days.

I for one an confident that while Ozark Billy—our “advocate in Washington“— was at the Sheldon Adelson-owned Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas on July 5—which just happened to be hosting a no-limit poker tournament that day— he was having numerous common-sense discussions on just how this isn’t the land of the free anymore and how terrible it is that women can now—thanks to the Affordable Care Act—get these preventive and diagnostic benefits:

  • well-woman visits;
  • screening for gestational diabetes;
  • human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA testing for women 30 years and older;
  • sexually-transmitted infection counseling;
  • human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) screening and counseling;
  • FDA-approved contraception methods and contraceptive counseling;
  • breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling; and
  • domestic violence screening and counseling.

Seriously, goodness gracious, ” said Billy Long on Wednesday. Okay, seriously, our congressman not only stood with a man who equated the implementation of health benefits for women with the two worst days in the history of our country, he said that we need to get it straight that we are no longer free because women have access to contraception.

And what will be the price he pays for such nitwittedness? Nothing. A majority of women in these parts will run not walk to the polls to vote for him in November.

It’s Like Sex For Them

Remember the supercommittee from last year? Remember how it failed to engineer a deficit deal and thus triggered those dreaded sequestered cuts that were supposed to make lawmakers see the light or else?

Well, we all know that “or else” won’t likely materialize in the end, but why deprive Republicans of a little fun in the mean time? Despite knowing they will not get any cooperation from Democrats who have given too much already in exchange for, uh, not much, House Republicans are set to bring up a their own hand-crafted bill for debate this week that would replace $78 billion in sequestered cuts that are scheduled to take effect in 2013.

Now, wasting their time on such useless legislation before the election this November is perhaps understandable, since there isn’t much else for Republicans to do these days—the ongoing War on Women hasn’t exactly been a polling success.

But as I suggested there must be some fun in it for the hard-core legislators, and sure enough here it is:

In addition to the $78 billion in sequester replacement, the bill contains an additional $180 billion in cuts aimed at reducing the deficit. Among the federal programs hit are food stamps, funding for the 2010 healthcare and financial regulatory laws and the refundable child tax credit.

Ah, there’s the orgasmic rub: Besides taking a stab at the Affordable Care Act, they’re putting a hurt on those most in need by cutting food stamps and healthcare funding and the refundable Child Tax Credit—such needy folks aren’t exactly big donors to GOP campaigns, now are they?—all the while making sure that Wall Street gets to take off its greed-monitoring ankle bracelet and go back to its life of slime.

Fun, fun, fun!  The collective conservative climax that will result should this Republican effort pass the House this week will likely be audible all the way to Joplin. Ozark Billy‘s in for a good time as he contemplates how much damage his (likely) vote can do to folks around here who need food stamps and a little money refunded to help raise their kids.

Hold Your Nose

So much for the Democratic Party being in bed with Big Labor.

Most Senate Democrats, who have a Gingrich-like commitment to their political bedfellows, voted with most Republicans for the much-delayed Federal Aviation Administration bill.

For four years the long-term reauthorization of FAA programs has been in limbo (the FAA has continued operating under 23 temporary spending bills since 2007). For the last several months, the problem was primarily due to hostage-taking Republicans insisting that a provision be included in the law that would have counted abstentions in unionization votes as “no” votes (remember the partial shutdown last July?).

Democrats fought and won that battle, but apparently had no stomach to finish the job. Senate Democratic leadership (read: Harry Reid) yielded to House Republicans (our own Billy Long, a co-sponsor, among them) in a “compromise” that burdens transportation workers with a requirement that they must achieve the 50 percent threshold in order to have a vote on organizing a union (what kind of referendum is it that you have to have half on your side before you can even vote?).

The bill passed the Senate on Monday by a 75 to 20 vote, with only 14 Democrats and Independent Bernie Sanders voting against it (Claire McCaskill, thankfully, was on the right side of this one).

As for Mr. Obama, who is expected to sign the legislation, Shane Larson, the legislative director of the Communications Workers of America, said,

We’re frustrated that the White House was not more engaged in this.

Frustrated, yes. But surprised? Nope. Mr. Obama’s White House has not exactly been excited to join the specific causes of unions, even as unions have been decimated by Republican attacks across the country.

The goal of the GOP is to make it very difficult for workers to organize themselves into middle-class-creating unions, and some Senate Democrats, who haven’t learned how to negotiate effectively with Republican hostage-takers, are making it too easy for the GOP to achieve that goal. (House Democrats stood strong and most of them voted against the bill.)

Oh, don’t get me wrong, there are many important and crucial differences between the two parties; let’s never forget that fact.  Organized labor, which has taken a blow in this legislation, should resist the temptation to get angry and somehow punish Democrats for their failure to adequately defend workers’ interests.

Because, ultimately, to punish Democrats—traditional friends of organized labor—is to give a blessing to the other party—a party which routinely demonizes unions and what they stand for.

We simply have to hold our noses and go on.  For now.

Why Not Admit You Were Wrong, Billy Long?

Yesterday I wrote about the hearing in Springfield regarding the possible closing of the mail processing plant there (“The Post Office And Billy Long“).  I praised Congressman Billy Long for his efforts in trying to keep the plant open. And I have now seen a video of much of the hearing, including Long’s appearance, in which he does make an effort to persuade the powers that be that the plant should not be closed.

But he also said something strange during his time at the microphone, which Jim Lee at Busplunge transcribed:

You catch a lot more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. So, when you tell stories about me through some of your representatives that I want to privatize the Postal Service, which is an out and out lie, that doesn’t help you any with me or my office. So….

Apparently that was directed at union folks, particularly postal union leaders, who have dared tell the truth about Long’s response to a Citizens Against Government Waste questionnaire in 2010 (Busplunge posted screen shots of the document). Here is the relevant comment from Long included on the questionnaire:

Clearly, Billy Long in June of 2010, while he was seeking the Tea Party vote, had a different opinion of the Postal Service from one he holds today.  He commented back then:

Entities like the USPS, Fannie and Freddie are proven economic failures that operate at losses constantly. Service and profitability would be enhanced by privitization [sic].

What could be clearer than that? He supported privatizing the Postal Service.

Look, it is a good thing that Long has changed his mind. But it is not a good thing that he now denies what he most clearly believed (or said he believed) just a year and a half ago.

And, as Jim Lee notes:

And that last bit, the part where you say “that doesn’t help you any with me or my office. So….” — what is that supposed to mean? Does that mean if you don’t like what we say about you you won’t help us?

Or maybe you’ll just try to ignore us? Or don’t answer questions? Or maybe even keeps an ‘enemies list’?

Gee, I’ve been there before. “Is you is or is you ain’t my constituency?”

Instead of suggesting that telling the truth about what Long once believed will not “help” folks with him or his office, Ozark Billy should just admit that he was wrong in 2010 and he has changed his mind.

Why is that so hard for a politician to admit?

Here is the short clip of Long’s statement:

The Post Office And Billy Long

The Postal Service sells only one thing: postal service.

So, naturally, those crazy folks who are in charge of the Postal Service, in order to deal with a largely Congress-created financial crisis, want to jettison the service they sell.  That is what is happening with USPS management’s move toward 5-day delivery and its plans to close mail processing centers and post offices all around the country.

In Springfield on Wednesday, as Wally Kennedy of the Globe reported, the Postal Service held a public hearing on the closing of the mail processing plant in that city. If the plant were shut down, mail would be processed in far-away Kansas City. That would mean delivery standards for first-class mail would deteriorate. Mail that is now being delivered overnight would take a day or two more to deliver. And that would affect Joplin, too, because our mail is currently processed in Springfield.

We all know that first class mail is declining in the Internet age; we all know there has been a serious recession and a slow recovery; but we all don’t know that the real problem with USPS finances is Congress’ ridiculous insistence in 2006 that the agency pre-fund 75 years of retiree health benefits in 10 years, which means about $5.5 billion off the top every year since 2006. Without that onerous requirement, there would be no financial crisis in the Postal Service, although it would still face some long-term challenges.

But rather than focus all of their efforts on getting that burdensome requirement modified, USPS managers instead are slowly undermining the reason the Postal Service exists: to provide universal service in a timely manner.

Wally Kennedy reported:

So many people showed up for the public hearing that there was not enough room in the Executive Conference Center Ballroom, 910 W. Battlefield St., to hold them. Up to 100 people waited in line outside the center for seats to open inside.

There are two very basic reasons why so many folks showed up. One, there are lots of well-paying jobs at stake, which around these parts are hard to come by in good times, not to mention challenging times.  Two, a lot of folks rely on the service that management is so eager to cut. The Globe story briefly demonstrates how:

Specific segments of the business community, especially those with time-sensitive materials, such as newspaper and business journal publishers, said they would lose subscribers if the delivery of their products is delayed.

Frank L. Martin III, editor and publisher of the West Plains Daily Quill, said, “This could very well put us out of business, and we are the only source of local news in our area.”

Elaine Johnson, of Springfield, told the Postal Service representatives that she suffers from a medical condition that requires the timely delivery of medicine. She said she does not own a computer and relies on the Postal Service to help her keep in touch with other people. 

As I said, USPS has only one product and that is the timely delivery of the mail. Messing with the quality of that product spells doom in the end.

Finally, I want to put in a rare good word for Congressman Billy Long, who was in attendance and appeared to be trying to keep the processing center alive, according to the Globe:

Echoing what some others said, Long expressed the hope that the Postal Service would take into consideration the fact that Southwest Missouri is the fastest growing area of the state. He said the loss of the mail processing center to Kansas City, the loss of dozens of good-paying jobs, and the fact that mail would take several days to be delivered instead of arriving overnight would not help the region further its growth.

The paper also quoted him as saying, “This is pretty well a done deal. Is there anything we can do?”

Why, yes, there is, Mr. Long. I’m glad you asked. You can co-sponsor H.R. 1351 (which will help straighten out USPS finances) and urge your colleagues to vote for it.  And you can co-sponsor and urge your colleagues to support H.R. 137 (ensures 6-day mail delivery), which was introduced by Rep. Sam Graves (MO-6).

And you can vigorously oppose H.R. 2309, a bill sponsored by Darrell Issa that will eventually kill the Postal Service.

If you do all that, then I might go easy on you for a while.

_______________________________

Note: The Globe article contained this note:

PEOPLE WHO WANT TO SUBMIT comments in writing may send them to Manager, Consumer and Industry Contact, Mid-America District, 300 W. Pershing Road, Suite 207, Kansas City, MO 64108-9631. All comments must be postmarked by Jan. 19.

Heritagethink

“To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies…”

—definition of “doublethink” from George Orwell’s 1984

 

As an example of how a right-wing think tank—if that’s what you want to call the hopelessly extreme Heritage Foundation—spins the facts when a Democrat is in the White’s House, let’s look at today’s employment report from the Department of Labor for last month:

Nonfarm payroll employment continued to trend up in October (+80,000), and the unemployment rate was little changed at 9.0 percent, the U.S.Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.

By now most people have heard that bit of information. It has been spread far and wide today with various interpretations, from “anemic” to “hopeful.” (Private sector payrolls actually increased by 104,000, which means more government jobs were lost, but since Republicans don’t count government jobs as real jobs, I suppose that doesn’t matter much.)

But what most people probably haven’t heard, unless they have been paying close attention, is the following, from the same jobs report:

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for August was revised from +57,000 to +104,000, and the change for September was revised from +103,000 to +158,000. 

Those revisions are fairly substantial, particularly the August revision.  Perhaps most people have forgotten, but the original August report, which was used to blast the Obama Administration, said this:

Nonfarm payroll employment was unchanged (0) in August, and the unemployment rate held at 9.1 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.

It doesn’t take a Pythagoras to figure out that the original August report was off by 104,000 jobs, which is because the data is always subject to refining, as more reliable information is factored in.

But here is how the Heritage Foundation’s Mike Brownfield, billed as the “Assistant Director of Strategic Communications,” spun the August numbers on the foundation’s policy news blog:

President Obama enters this Labor Day weekend with a serious problem on his hands. For all intents and purposes, the economy appears to be stuck in neutral, with news out today that the U.S. economy created a grand total of zero jobs in August. This followed two months of near zero growth. Not surprisingly then, the unemployment rate in August remained at 9.1 percent, virtually unchanged since April. In fact, it was completely unchanged, and for the first time since 1945, no new jobs were created—Zero.

America now has the weakest labor market in a generation, and the American people know it…

The two-and-a-half-year Keynesian experiment of flooding the economy with taxpayer dollars has failed, yet the President and his union allies continue to peddle the myth that the only way to save the economy is to spend more. There’s another way to go: freeing America’s small businesses from the day-to-day shackles of existing over-regulation, freeing families and entrepreneurs of the threat of higher taxes, and cutting spending to eliminate the constraining fear of America’s debt crisis. Zero job growth does not have to be America’s reality, but changing course will mean ditching the dream that more government spending will save the day.

Blah. Blah. Blah. We expect the Heritage Foundation to behave this way with the facts, since it was founded by right-wing extremists like Joseph Coors and Richard Mellon Scaife and is sustained by right-wing extremists like the Koch brothers.

But shouldn’t a think tank at least trust its readers to engage in some thinking?  Here is how the same guy, Mike Brownfield, reported today’s news about jobs:

No news is good news–except when it means that the story about America’s slow-moving economy remains the same…

The word from the monthly jobs report shows that unemployment was little unchanged at 9 percent in October, with only 80,000 jobs created. While it’s always good news when jobs are created (especially given this Administration’s record), there isn’t much of a sign of a strong economic recovery…

Today’s economic report shows more of the same economic news for America, and President Obama is responding with more of the same policies that won’t change the country’s economic direction.

Not a word in the article about the August or September revisions.

Now, given the big deal that was made by Mr. Brownfield about the “Zero job growth” in August, one would think that an organization that claims it is a “research and educational institution” would at least bother to point out that the “Zero job growth” was in fact  an increase of 108,000 jobs, right?

Of course I know better than that. The point is that these think tanks on the right are in fact don’t-think-just-believe-what-we-say tanks.

The truth is that for 20 straight months the economy has added private sector jobs, to the tune of 2.8 million, which is far too few, but still moving in the right direction.  And we would be in better shape still if we hadn’t lost almost half a million government jobs over the last 20 months.

But, again, as Billy Long said on Wednesday, those “public sector jobs” are “usually wasteful,” so good riddance.

Meanwhile, Senate Republicans shot down another chance to create thousands upon thousands of jobs, and the Heritage Foundation couldn’t be happier.

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