Michael Matthew Bloomer
NOC Featured Blogger
Published: Monday 17 February 2014

Calling somebody else fat won’t make you any skinnier.Calling someone stupid doesn’t make you any smarter.And ruining Regina George’s life definitely didn’t make me any happier.All you can do in life is try to solve the problem in front of you.Cady HeronMean Girls, SNL Studios, 2004Should Chris Christie’s recent troubles end with a whimper rather than in a bang he might re-emerge as a 2016 contender for the GOP presidential nomination. If he survives, unless he finds a better team to guide him, his run for the nomination will not only be hotly contested by Tea Party fanatics, but also will be hamstrung from within by poor staff work as well. General staff ineptness hampered Mitt Romney in 2012, as did Mitt Romney being Mitt Romney, of course.Presently at the center of the Bridgegate scandal, David Wildstein, Chris Christie’s former muscle man at the Port Authority (and a man without a clear job description other than “$150,020/yr.”) has clothed himself like an Abrams tank in the 5th Amendment. Clearly, he seeks immunity from prosecution of any and all varieties, and has been as explicit as he can about it short of wearing a “Got Immunity” sign. He might escape prosecution, but he can’t escape persecution of any and all varieties. And lately the Christie camp upped the ante with its January 31st email purportedly from the Governor himself to his “family ...

Published: Saturday 4 January 2014

To keep an eye on the opposition, I subscribe to the email updates of many right-wing websites and people. Like Glenn Beck. He's a New Year's Resolution guy, and here's the gist of last year's New Year resolution: "Consider that man's voice and name a swear word."Glenn Beck 2013 New Year's Resolutionbanning both the name 'Barack Obama' ['that man'] and his voice from his broadcasts by anyone associated with his show except himself.January 2, 2013 He went on to demand that the title 'President,' too, was subject to the ban, so closely was it related to the name Obama. "I think we can refer to him as 'that man,'" and compared the three syllables in 'Obama' to Harry Potter's nemesis' name, Voldemort, the name that shall not be uttered. In an apparently expansive mood, though, Beck also approved a suggestion that 'that man' be referred to as "the man formerly born in Newfoundland." His resolution the previous year, for 2012, was an anti-government  paean to individuality, "I hope you can see how everything we have been working towards is about solutions born in the individual." No group-think, please. Most of his New Year 2012 message, though, was nothing more than a detailed advertisement for his new station, GBTV, and a few other of his 2011 achievements,  including a shout-out for his Restoring Love gig in Texas later in 2012. Having left FOX six months before, marketing was on his mind for the upcoming ...

Published: Wednesday 9 October 2013

The Republican howling about 'Obamacare' continues with little change in emphasis, although their 'Obamacare'-driven government shutdown qualifies as a change in emphasis. Predictions of increased insurance premiums, one of the more strident and emotional outcries since the unveiling of the Affordable Care Act, have framed this concern in Republican terms. They've used a few methods, among them:1. Lying by omission. GOP 'Obamacare' attacks fail to lay out the historical context of premium increases. It would maim their argument if they did. You will find an excellent graph of health cost data from 1999 through 2012 here. The display includes visually startling information about workers' wages, their contributions to their health insurance premiums, the path of their wages and overall inflation. The picture isn't pretty.Note that premiums rose 172% in the 13 years from 1999 to the end of 2012. There was no abatement, and much of the increase was insurance company profitability. which has soared. The ACA addresses this through the“80/20 rule, which went into effect right after the Affordable Care Act became law. So right now all insurance companies must spend 80-85% of premium dollars on actual health care costs. Not administrative costs or paperwork, not fancy offices, not profits, not CEO compensation, not insurer agent commissions—actual health care. And if an insurance company fails to do so, it must send a rebate back to the consumers it overcharged, either in the form of a check or lower premiums.”[

Published: Tuesday 3 September 2013

Military analysts and Syrian intervention cheerleaders maintain that limited air strikes will suffice to "degrade" Syria's chemical weapons capabilities. Senator John McCain, as always, is among those cheerleaders. During March 2012 he was the first senator to call for air strikes on Assad's armed forces.  Now, again, a week ago McCain described the relative ease of reducing Assad's air force and chemical weapons cache:"There would be no boots on the ground. We would use stand-off  weapons just as the Israelis have four times as they’ve taken out targets inside  Syria,” McCain said. “We would not put a single life at risk.”McCain said in a “matter of a couple of days” the U.S. military could take  out Syrian runways and the aircraft used by Syrian President Bashar Assad which  have been dominating the battlefields.Given McCain's proven record of military prognostication, we know his latest thoughts on Syria are the ravings of a man on the cusp of dementia. Nevertheless, others who ought to know better by now mirror McCain's thinking, including New York Democratic Congressman Eliot Engel:Engel advocated for the use of surgical airstrikes, not necessarily “boots on the ground” to eliminate Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s military advantage. “We could wipe out the Syrian air force if we wanted to,” Engel said.

Published: Monday 26 August 2013

In my August 4, 2013 post, I suggested that the rumors about Star Scientific's Jonnie Williams ratting out Governor Bob McDonnell were likely true. Well, that seems ever more likely now in light of Star Scientific's quarterly 10-Q report, filed with the SEC on August 9, 2013. Star Scientific's Williams would be very motivated to talk with investigators given the number of difficulties his company presently faces, particularly legal challenges that could mortally wound. Soon, it seems, we'll learn Governor McDonnell's fate, but Jonnie Williams' role looks clearer and clearer. In truth, he had little choice.Under Commodity and Securities Exchanges regulations, this report requires, among other things, that a company reveal any pending claims or legal proceedings, "other than ordinary routine litigation incidental to the business."  Here are two provisions mandating certain reporting:§ 229.103 (Item 103) Legal proceedings.   Describe briefly any material pending legal proceedings, other than ordinary routine litigation incidental to the business, to which the registrant or any of its subsidiaries is a party or of which any of their property is the subject. Include the name of the court or agency in which the proceedings are pending, the date instituted, the principal parties thereto, a description of the factual basis alleged to underlie the proceeding and the relief sought. Include similar information as to any such proceedings known to be contemplated by governmental authorities.Section ...

Published: Sunday 28 July 2013

Late last night the Republican-dominated North Carolina House, by a vote of 73-41, concurred in the Senate version of HB589, the Voter Information Verification (VIVA) & Election Reform Act.  Without a single House Democrat voting for the bill, it now goes to Republican Governor McCrory who will sign the draconian legislation. (See the official roll call vote tally here.)For a brief official legislative history of HB589 through tonight's Senate proceedings, much of which is discussed in the narrative below, click here.Note: The following was prepared just prior to this evening's passage of HB589.The Tar Deal State.  North Carolina's voter suppression bill was introduced on April 4, 2013 in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. Much the same as other voter ID proposals in Republican-controlled states, North Carolina's Voter Information Verification ACT (VIVA) passed the House 20 days later, 81-36, with a unanimous GOP and only four Democrats aboard. Since then HB589 underwent a makeover that transformed it from burdensome and unnecessary voter identification package into the growling predatory beast that will likely be approved today in the state's Senate.Shelby v. Holder, A Game Changing Supreme Court Decision. On April 24, 2013, North Carolina's House passed HB 589, the Voter Information Verification Act (VIVA). It contained ...

Published: Saturday 25 May 2013

Yesterday, President Obama declared Oklahoma a disaster area thereby making federal funding available to affected individuals in Cleveland, Lincoln, McClain, Oklahoma, and Pottawatomie counties. FEMA immediately followed the declaration with a factsheet listing those assistance programs available to the area. So far, so good.Nonetheless, Oklahoma's Senators Tom Coburn and James Indore have routinely opposed disaster relief packages unless offset by cuts elsewhere in the federal budget, and Coburn is already on record to demand the same for Oklahoma tornado relief. CQ Roll Call indicates that "Coburn said he would '“absolutely' demand offsets for any federal aid that Congress provides." Huffington Post reports:Coburn spokesman John Hart on Monday evening confirmed that the senator will seek to ensure that any additional funding for tornado disaster relief in Oklahoma be offset by cuts to federal spending elsewhere in the budget. "That's always been his position [to offset disaster aid]," Hart said. "He supported offsets to the bill funding the OKC bombing recovery effort."Offsets can make sense, of course. Yet, during catastrophic emergencies approving disaster relief and mitigation funds requires swifter decision-making than, let's say, offsetting Senators' increased office expenses. The rule in the U.S. Congress had been to ensure relief funds as quickly as possible - to, in effect, remove partisan politics from intruding. In the muddy wake of the present-day GOP, ...

Published: Wednesday 15 May 2013

 Ten Thousand Men of Harvard want victory todayFor they know that o'er old EliFair Harvard holds sway.So then we'll conquer all old Eli's men,And when the game ends we'll sing again:Ten thousand men of Harvard gained vict'ry today."Ten Thousand Men of Harvard" Harvard's fight songEnter Jason Richwine, a reputed Harvard-trained Ph. D, now experiencing his 15 minutes of infamy. Surely, as fervently as a New England Congregationalist might, folks associated with Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) hope Richwine's notoriety quickly fades. You see, his debut on the national stage via the right-wing nut factory The Heritage Foundation will likely result in a nasty bit of paper shuffling and Committees of Excuse Us at the Big Crimson. Why? Well, for starters, Mr. Richwine is a racist. And a rather stupid racist, which is a stretch. Moreover, he's considered smart by the same people who consider Newt Gingrich an intellectual. People like Heritage Foundation brainiacs, and apparently HKS, which awarded him his doctorate in Public Policy in 2009.Richwine, now (still) a Heritage Senior Policy Analyst, Empirical Studies, was co-author (with Robert Rector) of The Heritage Foundation's just released immigration screed, The Fiscal Cost of Unlawful Immigrants and Amnesty to the U.S. Taxpayer ( if you care to read it). It delivered all the usual Heritage Foundation humbug and right-wing hyperbole, and then some. "Then some" being Mr. Richwine's Harvard Ph. D dissertation, IQ and Immigration (

Published: Tuesday 30 April 2013

 Last night, from Abu Dhabi, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel revealed certain intelligence assessments of Syria's suspected use of chemical weapons against Syrian rebels and civilians, or at least for a moment it seemed like he did:"This morning, the White House delivered -- delivered a letter to several members of Congress on the topic of chemical weapons used in Syria. The letter, which will be made available to you here shortly -- as soon as George gets it, we'll get it to you -- states that the U.S. intelligence community assesses with some degree of varying confidence that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale in Syria, specifically the chemical agent sarin." [Italics added; for compete text and accompanying story]  We absolutely positively without a scintilla of doubt have some degree of varying confidence. Thus we have an official definitive conclusion that Syria's Assad regime may or may not have used deadly chemical weapons on its own people, perhaps as far as we know.  The White House letter Hagel referenced provided more detail about the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime, and included this: "Given the stakes involved, and what we have learned from our own recent experience, intelligence assessments alone are not sufficient – only credible and corroborated facts that provide us with some degree of certainty will guide our decision-making..."  [Italics added; for ...

Published: Thursday 11 April 2013

 Reality Irrelevant. The man poised to replace Louis Gohmert (TX-1) as the most galactically loopy Texas representative, 36th Congressional District Congressloon Steve Stockman, is among the more vocal supporters of virtually unlimited 2nd Amendment rights. During February 2013 he invited the public to a meeting where they would learn of the "Fallacy of Gun-Free School Zones." Here's the headline on his invite:Grab free donuts and coffee before Obama grabs your gun!Also during February, Stockman issued this cris du coeur:I whole heartedly (sic) endorse the February 23rd “2-23 Day of Resistance” and urge every gun owner, and everyone concerned about civil rights and peace, to call their member of Congress and urge him or her to oppose all anti-gun legislation.The right of the people to keep and bear arms in an unalienable civil and human right. An armed populace is the reason the United States are (sic) the world’s oldest and most stable (sic) democracy.The purpose of the Second Amendment is clear. Every peaceful person should be able to possess arms without restrictions, reporting or permission to serve as (sic) an unorganized civilian military force to resist violence, oppression or invasion.Nest, reacting to an overwhelming need, he introduced H.R. 577. Among other things, this legislation would provide more 2nd Amendment protection for those unfortunate military ...

Published: Sunday 24 March 2013

For my part, I consider that it will be found much better by all Partiesto leave the past to history, especially as I propose to write that history.Sir Winston ChurchillSpeech in the House of Commons (January 23, 1948)Yesterday, heeding Winston Churchill's advice, former SecDef Donald Rumsfeld, on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War, continued rewriting its history. Or tried to do so. Little needs saying here about how ludicrous his account is, and that of other co-conspirators as well, especially Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz. As President, poor Dubya never grasped what happened, to his country, to his legacy, to him. In 2008, taking his leave from the White House, he revealed his "biggest regret" was the "intelligence failure in Iraq," and concluded with this, "I wish the intelligence had been different, I guess." [Italics added] "I guess"? That's as much a baffling thought as it is clueless - he could have received good intel only by, among other things, cashiering Donald Rumsfeld, the man who now, ten years later, demands respect and appreciation.Here's Rummy's Iraq Invasion Day tweet:@RumsfeldOffice10 years ago began the long, difficult work of liberating 25 mil IraqisAll who played a role in history deserve our respect & appreciation.The liberation claim. Well, early on we all knew that "liberating the Iraqi people" was a trivial concern for the likes of Rumsfeld. His consistent callousness about Iraqis after the invasion was proof enough, and the failure to even plan for a ...

Published: Monday 4 March 2013
Shelby County Counsel Bert Rein Staggers Through Early Verbal Gauntlet Into Scalia's and Alito's Fond Embrace

 Alabama, you gotThe weight on your shouldersThat's breaking your back.Your CadillacHas got a wheel in the ditch And a wheel on the track Neil Young,  AlabamaHarvest (1972)What are you doing Alabama?Yesterday's oral argument did not begin well for Bert W. Rein, Shelby County's lead counsel in the blockbuster Voting Rights Act case, Shelby County v. Holder. The word "gauntlet" comes to mind, an ordeal swiftly doled out by Justices Sotomayor, Ginsburg, and Kagan. It was left to Justice Anthony Kennedy to calm the fray a bit. Inevitably, though, Rein fell into the loving arms of the dark eminences, Justices Scalia and Alito (while their brother dark eminence, Justice Thomas, retained his usual oral argument quietude).Nonetheless, the initial four questioners - a literal minority of the Court - sought to undress and uncover an obvious truth: Despite Rein's arguments, and the state's voting rights kicking-and-screaming progress since 1965, on its overall record, Alabama has "a wheel in the ditch and a wheel on the track." Still.Putting aside the legal and practical value of the three Madame Justices' fully unplugged and ...

Published: Tuesday 26 February 2013

 "Mr. Mica said of his House colleagues,'They wouldn't vote on a Mother's Day resolutionif it had extra spending on it.'"In August 2012, Mark Thoma, economist and Fellow at the American Century Foundation, commented on the incontrovertible need for U.S. infrastructure investment. He was stunned by Congress's inability to fund it, even though it would surely boost to the general economy, a supposed goal of the GOP:"The first is infrastructure spending. We cannot afford to fall behind the rest of the world in terms of our infrastructure development, but that’s exactly what we are doing. At a time when interest rates are as low as we are likely to see, when labor and other costs are minimal due to lack of demand during the downturn, and when the need is so high, why aren’t we making a massive investment in infrastructure, which is ultimately an investment in our future? There are many, many public investments we could make where the benefits surely exceed the costs – these are things the private sector won’t do on its own even though they are highly valuable to society – so what are we waiting for?Particularly confusing for Thoma - and for most of us - is the Republican blockade of infrastructure spending when, in fact, it betrays their own professed beliefs in supply side economics:"If there’s any policy Republicans ought to be able to support, it’s infrastructure spending. It’s inherently a ...

Published: Monday 25 February 2013

 Much of the time South Carolina's Senator Lindsey Graham reminds me of a grade school pest, someone you want to swat away. Lately his insistence on "Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi!" was among the more unmoored and perhaps least useful. He strongly vowed to block Chuck Hagel's nomination, partly because of Benghazi, something Hagel had as little connection to as Graham's questioning had to relevance. Yesterday, Graham backed off, and on FOX News Sunday told Chris Wallace he'd support Chuck Hagel because “president deserves great deference in his choice.” HUH? Pest. He does that fairly often.Nonetheless, on immigration reform and a few other issues, in the age of red meat Republicanism, Graham is a bit of a centrist. He's more likely to showcase his wing nut nature these days, like his embarrassing questions during the gun control hearings, because he fears a 2014 re-election challenge by a really red meat candidate, as in Tea Party. Though not a centrist as in pre-Gingrich era centrist, Graham's among the more nearly centrists we have.About the sequester, though, Graham has always been clear in his distaste for it. (“I’ll fight it with every ounce of my being.”) During an appearance on Fox News Sunday, Graham answered a Chris Wallace sequester question with this pesky reply, and tries to conflate defense spending wth Obamacare savings:"Well, all I can say is the commander-in-chief thought — came up with the idea of sequestration, destroying the military and putting a lot of good programs at risk. It is my belief — ...

Published: Monday 28 January 2013

 While addressing the Republican National Committee (RNC) last Friday in Charlotte North Carolina, another "intellectual leader" of the Republican party, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, got lost in the woods of logic as he struggled foot by foot, forest path by forest path to escape the land called Wing Nut. He started out well enough, but paths he believed would lead to brighter vistas spiraled to the right leaving the poor governor pretty much where he started. In an auspicious start he tossed up an idea generally left unspoken at RNC gatherings:"We must not be the party that simply protects the well off so they can keep their toys. We have to be the party that shows all Americans how they can thrive. We are the party whose ideas will help the middle class, and help more folks join the middle class. We are a populist party and need to make that clear." (Full text here)By the conclusion of his speech, however, that liberating sentiment turned out to be simply only a feint to the left soon abandoned for a path circling back to the right.Another long quote from the same speech uncovered his particular problem - he doesn't understand that speaking of change doesn't fool anyone if in the very same speech you aggressively reiterate the very same GOP principles that most need reform and correction.That only leads you back to Wing Nut City.Jindal:"Now let me shift gears and speak to changes I believe we must make if we are to win elections. As I indicated before, I am not one of those who believe we should moderate, equivocate, or otherwise abandon our principles. This badly ...

ABOUT Michael Matthew Bloomer
Michael Matthew Bloomer wrote professionally for 25 years as a senior legislative research and policy staff member at the Library of Congress Congressional Research Service (CRS). Since retiring in 2007 he has been (of course) a blogger (They Will Say ANYTHING!), and have contributed to others’ blogs. His writing has taken a turn from the nonpartisan CRS viewpoint to a partisan “aggressive progressive” one.
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