Daily Archives: October 13, 2011

Bachmann Returns to House after Missing 88 Straight Votes

Official photo of Congresswoman Michele Bachma...

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Representative Michele Bachmann, the Presidential candidate from Minnesota, finally broke a streak by showing up to vote after failing to do so eighty-eight consecutive times.

The last time she graced the halls of Congress with her appearance was August 1, when she voted against raising the debt ceiling. Today, she voted on a gruelling six bills.

ABC News reports that she voted in favor of a free trade agreement with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea. After casting her vote, she released a statement:

The free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea, negotiated more than four years ago, received a long-awaited stamp of approval today by Congress. These agreements will create hundreds of thousands of American jobs and spur economic growth across a wide span of industries, without cost to taxpayers. My long-standing support of the free trade agreements was reinforced when I met with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos in Colombia in February, and again when I discussed trade in my office with South Korean Ambassador Han Duk-soo in June. Both the countries of Colombia and South Korea are eager for the implementation of these free trade agreements.

I guess Panama isn’t so eager.

It would be unfair to expect Bachmann to show up for all those votes when she’s got a Presidential campaign to run, you might say. You’d be wrong. Presidential candidates often miss votes but don’t often miss them in streaks as long as Bachmann’s.

Since declaring her run for the Presidency in June, she showed up to vote slightly more than half the time. The only three members of the House who have participated in fewer votes during that time period are Gabrielle Giffords, who is recovering from a gunshot wound to the head; Maurice Hinchey, who is recovering from cancer treatments; and John Boehner, who, as the House Speaker, traditionally doesn’t vote.

At an event in New Hampshire earlier this week, she declared,

You didn’t see me a lot here in New Hampshire and I’ll tell you why: It’s because my first duty was to go back to Washington, D.C.

The last time she spent any time in the Capitol was in September, when she heard the President address a joint session of Congress. While she was there, she didn’t vote.

Via Jezebel.

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Filed under Politics, Stupid Is As Stupid Does

Florida Welfare Recipients Use Drugs at Lower Rate than General Population

English: Rick Scott, 45th Governor of Florida

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When Tea Party Republicans like Rick Scott were elected last year, they were seen as favoring smaller government. Despite the branding, small government is not what these guys favor. The election of Tea Party Republicans has resulted in a radically expanded role for government.

Governor Scott’s brand of Tea Party Republican government has expanded the role of the state to include examination of Floridians’ body fluids. Last year, Gov. Scott instituted drug tests for Florida residents receiving public assistance. To get public assistance, one must give blood, hair, or urine samples to the state.

In June, Gov. Scott said, “Studies show that people that are on welfare are higher users of drugs than people not on welfare.”

Wrong.

Gov. Scott’s forced drug testing went into effect last month. According to the State, about 2% of welfare applicants have failed the test. A 2008 study by the Office of National Drug Control Policy showed that 8.13% of Floridians used illegal drugs.

So… a smaller percentage of Floridians on welfare use illegal drugs than the overall population. In fact, four times as many Floridians in the general population use drugs than have been found to fail the state’s mandated drug test.

At least this program is adding another level of bureaucracy to employ lots of Floridians, right?

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Filed under Health, Law, Politics, Sick Sad World, Stupid Is As Stupid Does

Congress Passes Free-Trade Bills

President Barack Obama gives his weekly addres...

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On Wednesday night, Congress passed free-trade bills with Colombia, Panama and South Korea.

President Barack Obama sent the proposed trade deals to Congress last week.

The White House, Republicans and big business groups said the deals would create jobs in the United States. The deals could spur $13 billion annually in new exports and “support tens of thousands of jobs,” a senior administration official has said.

Union groups and some Democrats have opposed the bills, expressing doubt that they would create jobs.

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Birth Rates Drop During Recession

The number of births per thousand people in th...

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Birth rates in the United States declined sharply during the recession, according to a Pew Research Center report released Wednesday. The analysis suggested women were putting off having babies while the economy was weak.

Birth rates dropped to 64.7 births per thousand women ages fifteen to forty-four, from 69.6 births per thousand women in 2007, when the recession began.

North Dakota, with one of the lowest unemployment rates in 2008 (about 3%), was one of two states to show an increase from 2008 to 2009. The other was Maine.

In all other states, birth rates declined. Arizona had the deepest decline, 7.2%.

It is not unusual for child-bearing to fall in times of economic hardship. Birth rates dropped 26% in the decade that ended in 1936, one of the greatest economic calamities in American history. The rates later pick up.

The only age group whose birth rate rose was the forty- to forty-four-year-olds, who could not delay childbirth any longer. All other age groups’ rates fell.

Hispanics saw the largest decline, with birth rates down 5.9% from 2008 to 2009. Rates dropped by 2.4% among black women and by 1.6% among white women.

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On This Day…

Zenith of the Axis Powers.

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In 1943, Italy declared war on Germany, its one-time Axis partner.

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Argentina Enacts New Measures to Protect Domestic Products

Over one million books are being held by the Argentinian government at customs.  The books are the newest good affected by the stringent economic protectionist plan that President Cristina Fernández has enacted.

Cartoon depicting Argentinas new policy to protect domestic industry.  (Photo Courtesy of The Economist)

Cartoon depicting Argentina’s new policy to protect domestic industry. (Photo Courtesy of The Economist)

Earlier restrictions have affected many things, including cars, cell phones, chemicals, pharmaceutical goods, textiles, and tires.  President Fernández’s goal is to see the Argentinian economy grow more self-sufficient by promoting local goods over imports.

Last year, the people of Argentina purchased seventy-six million books; the government maintains that sixty million were printed outside of the country.  Publishers disagree and instead argue that two-thirds of all books sold are printed domestically.

The ability of the publishing industry to keep up with the volume is being called into question.  Local printers are either not of as high a quality or drastically more expensive than printers overseas.

Other sectors affected by this plan report that they have been forced into talks with government representatives from the Commerce and Industry department to try to recover their stopped goods.  These talks result in the company agreeing to a plan which will increase their export capacity or increase their use of domestic products and labor.

Nordenwagen, an Argentinian car importer, had its business stopped in January when customs would not allow imported Porsches.  It took three months for the cars to be released.  The owners of the business, who also own a vineyard, had to agree to launch a mass-market line of wines for export around the world to secure the cars’ release.

Cell phones are in high demand across Argentina, since all cell phone carriers sold out of them months ago, and the government refuses to allow cell phone imports.  Brightstar, a multinational manufacturer of phones, has just agreed to begin manufacturing the phones in factories in Tierra del Fuego, south of the Magellan strait.

The phones will be made with imported parts but put together and packaged locally.  The cost of this is roughly fifteen times more than  phones made in Asia.

Via Impunity Watch.

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