Your last legislative fix for almost three weeks, so savor it!
In a Dog Bites Man story, Sen. Colin Bonini sided with the oil polluters, casting the only ‘no’ vote against legislation eliminating a monetary cap on company liability for damages caused by an oil spill. Bloviator Bonini has suffered a precipitous decline in ink this session, having ceded his senatorial Hot Air Hegemony to Monsignor Greg Lavelle. I, for one, feel sorry for the disheartened former champion, and intend to do everything within my power to rehabilitate his diminished stature (I’m speaking figuratively, of course). The Comedic Gods demand it.
Probably the biggest news of the day is what didn’t happen:
1. Bill adding 2 more casinos doesn’t make it out of committee. Nobody has clean hands in this game. Just read today’s News-Journal article about it. Which I can’t link. Because even though we still buy the dead trees edition, the online access is screwed up, and I’m still limited to only 5 articles a month. Except the month doesn’t begin and end at the beginning and ending of the month. Hate to say it, but this enterprise has earned obsolescence, alienating the few of us who still believe in newspapers. But, I digress. Williams claims to have the support of Governor Markell, but the Executive branch provides weasel words instead (I’m typing this word for word from today’s print edition):
“The Governor always looks forward to discussing proposals with the sponsors and supporters to understand how proposals might add to the state’s revenue and economy.”
Which raises this question: Rep. Dennis E. Williams, overly-optimistic or delusional? For better or for worse, I don’t think this bill is going anywhere.
Get free of the cave, see you world for what it is (approx. 3 mins long):
Michael Hiltzik at the LA Times has written what I think is the definitive piece on the IRS problems — making the case that the real scandal in all of this is that the IRS isn’t functional enough to have stopped the bastardizing of the C(4) organizations in the first place. As usual, you have to go read the whole thing:
Here are the genuine scandals in this affair: Political organizations are being allowed to masquerade as charities to avoid taxes and keep their donors secret, and the IRS has allowed them to do this for years.
The bottom line first: The IRS hasn’t done nearly enough over the years to rein in the subversion of the tax law by political groups claiming a tax exemption that is not legally permitted for campaign activity. Nor has it enforced rules requiring that donors to those groups pay gift tax on their donations.
Sorry for my absence in the open thread department the last two days. I had some family business to deal with and thanks to Cassandra for stepping in.
So it looks like the whole Benghazi Conspiracy Theory being embraced by Republicans is based on a phantom email created by a GOP source. Whomever that GOP source on Capitol Hill is, he or she should be imprisoned. You have to wonder why the GOP does this to itself. Sooner or later some kind of actual government wrongdoing was bound to come down the pike for the GOP to make hay out of. It always does. In some administrations more frequently than others. But the current Repubican opposition is so bereft of ideas and new policies, and so desparate to come up with anything to tarnish the President so that he in reality matches their fantasy version of him, that they have tried to turn either minor stories or tragedies into massive scandals, like Fast & Furious, like Solundrya, and now, like Benghazi. And the reason why they were so desparate is that the Obama Administration, up until now, has been relatively scandal free.
If only the GOP had waited….. because now they do have two stories that could turn into actual wrongdoing, at least on the parts of the agencies themselves, but the poor GOP already cried Wolf.
Just two more days before the Memorial Day 2-week recess.
Actually, during the two weeks, the Joint Finance Committee will meet to mark up the budget. Meaning, you’ll hear a lot of bitching by Gov. Walker’s Markell’s budgeteers. The more bitching, the better the budget, IMHO. I especially look forward to their outrage should state employees (and don’t forget us pensioners!) get raises. Governor, I’ve got three words for you: Tax your friends. Three more: Or shut up. Damn, that feels good.
I gotta say it: The Delaware General Assembly has done a great job of pushing back at the NRA. And its pigeon-maiming front man.
The House passed SB 16(Henry), which will help put an end to ‘straw purchases’ of firearms. The bill just squeaked through the Senate by an 11-10 vote, and the House passed it by a similarly-close 22-19 count. D’s voting no: Atkins, Bennett, Carson, Mulrooney(?), Paradee, and Walker(?). R’(s) voting yes: Ramone(!). The bill heads to the Governor for his signature. Great work all around here! If I were a wounded pigeon in Pa., I’d be veryvery afraid right about now. John Sigler has even more blood in his eye than usual.
Kelly Wright upset two-term incumbent Edna Cale and two other challengers Tuesday to win a five-year term on the Appoquinimink school board.
This is pure genius. From W. Kamau Bell’s TV show, Totally Biased, he goes to Harlem with a white guy to let black and brown people ask the questions they always wanted to ask a white guy:
Yesterday, the AP disclosed that the DOJ obtained lists of “incoming and outgoing calls, and the duration of each call, for the work and personal phone numbers of individual reporters, general AP office numbers in New York, Washington and Hartford, Conn., and the main number for AP reporters in the House of Representatives press gallery.” Apparently this is in the service of an investigation of a leak — one that revealed an Al-Queda affiliate plot to blow up an airliner on the anniversary of the killing of Bin Laden. Except that it wasn’t a real plot –it was one cooked up by a CIA plant to try to discover the elements of this affiliate. The Obama Administration has been pursuing this leak — they seem to pursue them all — but there is a little extra impetus in this one:
While we were busy celebrating the passage and signing into law of Delaware’s Marriage Equality Act, the House effectively killed off legislation providing a modest hike in Delaware’s minimum wage. Make no mistake: the killing of SB 6 was deliberate and planned, and the co-conspirators were all Democrats: Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf, Rep. Bryon Short, and Gov. Jack Markell.
Here’s how it happened. After bargaining in what he thought was good faith with Gov. Walker Markell, Sen. Robert Marshall agreed to amendments that significantly reduced the impact of SB 6. Specifically, he agreed to push back the effective date, to decouple subsequent rate increases from the rate of inflation, and to lower the amount of the increase. Markell praised the eviscerated finished product, and said he could support the bill. Which was the last ‘support’ he provided. And Speaker Pete got the memo loud and clear: Kill the bill!
And he did. How? By assigning it to the House Business Lapdog Committee, aka the House Economic Development/Banking/Insurance/Commerce Committee, instead of to the House Labor Committee. Chaired by Rep. Bryon Short. You may recall that this is precisely the same tactic that former Speaker Bob Gilligan employed when Markell wanted him to kill the bill last session. And, for the second straight session, Short did not disappoint. SB 6 was passed in the Senate on March 21. It did not receive its hearing in the committee until May 8, and that was deliberate. Short allowed the bill to languish until the last day that, according to House rules, it had to be considered in committee. Many of you are aware of the full-court press opposition led by the respective Chambers of Commerce in the past two weeks. By delaying consideration of the bill, the committee chair enabled that campaign to have optimal effect. To the point where empty tabula rasas like Andria Bennett were reciting Chamber talking points verbatim in opposition to as Democratic a bill as you’ll ever find.
Gov. Markell demonstrated some slickness here. By saying that he would sign SB 6, he eliminates any political stigma that Democrats would attach to him in a future run for political office for publicly opposing a minimum wage increase. And he gets Pete and his DLC house cronies to kill the bill. Just like he did last year. Just remember, Markell’s fingerprints are all over this. Cut’n save.
On Friday afternoon, Marcos at dKos posted up a great analysis of how the new gun safety groups — Mayor Bloomberg’s and the one headed up by Gabby Giffords — are changing the state of play over gun safety legislation. Kos’ piece focuses entirely on the money in the game, not on any of the organizing that might be done by either group, but if Bloomberg can keep this up, I’m hopeful:
Today’s NJ has a piece by Adam Taylor explaining the stakes in the upcoming meeting regarding rezoning several areas of the Beaver Valley holdings of the Woodlawn Trustees. I’ve seen alot of Facebook energy on this, but this is the first I’ve seen the issues spelled out.
In all, the plans call for 200,000 square feet of commercial space that would be housed in several buildings and residential developments with a total of 432 houses and townhomes, Green said.
The commercial development would be called Concord Commons, an age-restricted community would be called The Mews at Concord and the other residential development would be called The Preserve at Concord.
Nothing about this seems like conservation. And conservation is about more than preserving recreational options. And certainly this is one more opportunity to increase traffic and congestion on roads that were not built for their current capacity.
First the alleged child rapist Eric Bodenweiser, and now this:
A young woman is suing a veteran Sussex County councilman, claiming he repeatedly sexually assaulted her after encouraging her to become in involved in politics. The lawsuit filed this week in Kent County Superior Court alleges that Republican Councilman Vance C. Phillips forced sex on the woman several times in 2011, beginning a few weeks after she turned 18. The 17-page complaint includes graphic details involving bondage and sex toys during the sex acts that she says happened in Kent and Sussex counties. The complaint also says Phillips threatened the young woman not to tell anyone.
This seems to be connected to the allegations about Vance Phillips in an anonymous letter sent to the General Assembly last year. From the News Journal:
Delaware State Police investigated Phillips last year after members of the General Assembly received an anonymous letter claiming he was involved in a relationship with an underage girl. No criminal charges were filed. Phillips’ attorney, Joe Hurley, said he was told by the attorney general’s office earlier this year that the investigation was complete and that there would be no criminal prosecution.
So what does the 17 page complaint say? I am trying to get my hands on it, but here is the News Journal’s synopsis:
The lawsuit alleges that Phillips first met the girl at a GOP event in Sussex County in March 2010, when she was 16. The complaint said that she later began working with him almost daily, regarded him as a close friend and adviser, and became “completely reliant” on him.
On May 9, 2011, a month after she turned 18, Phillips accosted the young woman in a parking lot of a Georgetown dentist’s office, exposing himself and trying to take her clothes off, according to the complaint. Phillips then told her to follow him to an isolated rural area, where he again tried to have sex with her.
About a week later, the woman alleges, Phillips sent her a text warning her that if she told anyone what had happened, she would never have a career in politics, that he was “a very powerful politician with lots of power over the courts and judges,” and that no one would believe her. Phillips demanded that she meet him in Laurel, locked her in a farm building near his home, and sexually assaulted her, the complaint alleges.
Other attacks followed, with the woman claiming she feared what would happen to her if she did not submit to Phillips’ demands, according to the lawsuit.
I know we’ve had our differences. I know I’ve berrated you for allowing Christine ODonnell to ever address an audience. I’ve scorned you for voting for George Bush (twice!). I’ve scoffed, and spit on the ground as you’ve walked by to show my utter contempt. But I’m past all of that now. I’m just full of pity for you and honestly reaching out right now to see what i can do to help you.
I’ve been moving in this direction for a while because I can see you are a decent person. It know you have some whack-adoodle notions about taxation, but I think you want a better, more just, healthy, and sustainable democratic future for our state and country. I know that you have about as much in common with John Sigler and his whack job a-holes who have taken over your party as I do.
This, from Daily Kos, really brought that home for me.
“The meetings didn’t take. “[Newt] Gingrich and [Mitt] Romney understood, … and I think they even believed the evidence and understood the risk,” [MIT scientist Kerry] Emanuel says. “But they were so terrified by the extremists in their party that in the primaries they felt compelled to deny it. Which is not good leadership, good integrity. I got a low impression of them as leaders.” Throughout the Republican presidential primaries, every candidate but one—former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who was knocked out of the race at the start—questioned, denied, or outright mocked the science of climate change.
Soon after his experience in South Carolina, Emanuel changed his lifelong Republican Party registration to independent. “The idea that you could look a huge amount of evidence straight in the face and, for purely ideological reasons, deny it, is anathema to me,” he says.”
While I used to say “tough titties” that’s the party you created out of your cynical belief that you could control the idiots and Christianist maniacs, I now realize that “I told you so” isn’t going to cut it moving forward. We can’t have a two party system in which one party of openly committed to simply fucking shit up out of spite. So, I’m honestly asking – what can I do? How can i help the GOP return to some semblance of sanity and decent?
You know how to reach me. Let’s chat. I wouldn’t be much of a liberal if I didn’t think we could work things out.
PS. What the fuck were you thinking voting for George Bush for a second term? Honestly. okay- just had to say that one more time. Now I’m don’t with finger pointing. I promise. onward.
The Hill recounts the story about how Delaware’s own Joe Biden forced the President’s hand on gay marriage:
Last May, in the heat of President Obama’s reelection efforts, Biden went on “Meet the Press” and said he was “comfortable” with same-sex marriage. Obama had not at that point announced his support for gay marriage, and the vice president’s endorsement left the campaign lurching to clarify the administration’s position.
The following week, Obama acknowledged he had decided to make an announcement endorsing gay marriage before the election, but Biden’s comments forced his hand early. Biden at the time said he apologized to the president for putting him in that position, but in the Rolling Stone interview, Biden said Obama couldn’t have been happier.
“I got blowback from everybody but the president,” Biden said. ”I walked in that Monday, he had a big grin on his face, he put his arms around me and said, ‘Well, Joe, God love you, you say what you think.’ I knew he agreed with me. It wasn’t like he was in a different place.”
Booman wonders if the “Biden Push” was and is the seminal moment for progress on marriage equality in America. Recall that ever since, the polls have shown nothing but majority approval for it, and momentum in the states passing gay marriage legislation has been brisk.