Wednesday Mashup Part One (6/30/10)

June 30, 2010

  • 1) Someone named Christian Adams over at the Washington Times tells us the following (here)…

    On the day President Obama was elected, armed men wearing the black berets and jackboots of the New Black Panther Party were stationed at the entrance to a polling place in Philadelphia. They brandished a weapon and intimidated voters and poll watchers. After the election, the Justice Department brought a voter-intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party and those armed thugs. I and other Justice attorneys diligently pursued the case and obtained an entry of default after the defendants ignored the charges. Before a final judgment could be entered in May 2009, our superiors ordered us to dismiss the case.

    The New Black Panther case was the simplest and most obvious violation of federal law I saw in my Justice Department career. Because of the corrupt nature of the dismissal, statements falsely characterizing the case and, most of all, indefensible orders for the career attorneys not to comply with lawful subpoenas investigating the dismissal, this month I resigned my position as a Department of Justice (DOJ) attorney.

    I already got into the Black Panther thing here, linking to a TPM post which pretty much blew the whole “controversy” to bits, though, being a true “zombie lie,” I expect this to keep getting resuscitated by the wingnutosphere on a fairly frequent basis (and I really could care less about Adams quitting – I’m sure he’ll be employed with some cushy right-wing think tank before too much longer).

    However, the real reason why I’m saying anything about this at all is because of this piece of nonsense from Adams’s column today…

    Some have called the actions in Philadelphia an isolated incident, not worthy of federal attention. To the contrary, the Black Panthers in October 2008 announced a nationwide deployment for the election. We had indications that polling-place thugs were deployed elsewhere, not only in November 2008, but also during the Democratic primaries, where they targeted white Hillary Rodham Clinton supporters. In any event, the law clearly prohibits even isolated incidents of voter intimidation.

    Using that Google thingie, I performed some random searches and found absolutely no evidence whatsoever to support this claim (aside from hysteria at sites linking to Adams). None.

    However, I did find out the following about Adams (here)…

    Adams was hired to the Civil Rights Division in 2005 by Bradley Schlozman, the Bush appointee who, as acting head of the division in 2006, was found to have violated rules against politicized hiring, then lied to Congress about it.

    Adams is also a former volunteer with the right-wing National Republican Lawyers Association, which has criticized the Obama Justice Department for dropping the New Black Panther case.

    And in 2004, as a Bush campaign poll watcher in Florida, Adams publicly criticized a black couple that refused to accept a provisional ballot, after election officials said they had no record of the couple’s change of address forms, Bloomberg reported. Voters had been warned not to accept provisional ballots, because of the risk that they could later be discounted.

    This whole “Black Panther” thing is an utter farce, treated seriously by news organizations which, if they were doing anything close to what their jobs purport to be, would have blown it to bits long ago.

  • Update 7/3/10: More on Adams here…

  • 2) Also, Matt Bai of The New York Times keeps giving me posting material (here)…

    This blurring of racial and ethnic lines (in our political campaigns) is, for the most part, deeply inspiring, the manifestation of hard-won progress. Race has not exactly been a nonfactor in Ms. Haley’s campaign (one Republican called her and Mr. Obama “ragheads”), but she has spent a lot more of her energy refuting accusations about her sex life — an intimation of scandal that is thoroughly egalitarian.

    The peril for candidates aspiring to a kind of post-racial identity, however, is that they defy our inclination to cast politicians as protagonists. “If you’re going to tell people who you are, then you’ve got to tell them your story,” (former presidential candidate Michael) Dukakis says now. Minus the continual telling and retelling of the story, voters may like what you signify as a politician, but they may find it harder, when times get rough, to assume your authenticity.

    And so, over the course of the last several weeks, commentators have taken to portraying Mr. Obama as clinical and insufficiently emotive, which is really just another way of saying the president is not really knowable. It is a caricature his opponents can exploit in part because a lot of voters remain murky on his cultural identity.

    “Obama is detached from the American experience,” Rick Santorum, the former Republican senator from Pennsylvania, told a blog called the Iowa Republican on Monday. “He just doesn’t identify with the average American because of his own background — Indonesia and Hawaii.”

    It was a dubious remark, heavy with racial implications.

    I don’t mean to dignify the idiocy of Rick Santorum by quoting him here, or echoing the meely-mouthed concerned trolling of Matt Bai, but on the subject of voters “remain(ing) murky on (Obama’s) cultural background,” I give you this from Think Progress, which tells us that 24 percent of those polled believe Number 44 was born outside of the U.S.

    It’s almost not even worth responding to anymore, really.

    Oh, and on the subject of diversity in politics, Bai cites the following joke once told on the campaign trail by The Gipper himself in 1980 (here)…

    “How do you tell the Polish (guy) at a cockfight? He’s the one with a duck.”

    “How do you tell the Italian (guy)? He’s the one who bets on the duck.”

    “How do you know the Mafia is involved? The duck wins.”

    And of course, The Sainted Ronnie R was just full of outrage because people believed that he thought the joke was funny, even though he said, “I don’t like that type of humor.”

    Sure…

  • 3) And finally, Attaturk at Eschaton presents the latest dustup in “left blogostan” here between Glenzilla and Joke Line (who sayeth as follows)…

    Greenwald–who, so far as I can tell, only regards the United States as a force for evil in the world

    I have to back up a bit here and explain that columnist Jeffrey Goldberg, one of our most notorious and unapologetic Iraq war cheerleaders, beat up on David Weigel, who resigned from the Washington Post after some Emails that were assumed to be on a private listserv were obtained by Tucker Carlson and other conservative miscreants and made public. Glenn Greenwald then went after Goldberg, and now, Klein has gone after Greenwald (you can read what Klein says and Greenwald’s typically thorough response here…kind of hard to summarize all of Greenwald’s details in this post).

    Oh, and one more thing, Joe…

    If you’re going to say anything about Weigel, the least you can do is spell his name right.

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    Spitting On A Dead Man’s Grave

    June 29, 2010

    Way to play to “the base,” Repugs (hat tips to Atrios and The Washington Monthly for this). As Steve Benen says, “And the Republican Party’s outreach to minority communities suffers yet another setback.”

    …here’s a brief presentation on the man whom Kyl and Sessions tried to denigrate (and who, of course, successfully argued this case).

    (And by the way, kudos to Dick Durbin for this.)


    Monday Mashup Part One (6/28/10)

    June 28, 2010

  • 1) In response to this pic, I only wish to ask the following question…

    This is CNN?

  • 2) Also, Tyler Cowen of the New York Times wrote an entire column yesterday about our economy with not a single mention of this country’s chronic unemployment (here).

    Meanwhile, in the reality-based community, Paul Krugman gives us the following (here)…

    We are now, I fear, in the early stages of a third depression. It will probably look more like the Long Depression than the much more severe Great Depression. But the cost — to the world economy and, above all, to the millions of lives blighted by the absence of jobs — will nonetheless be immense.

    And this third depression will be primarily a failure of policy. Around the world — most recently at last weekend’s deeply discouraging G-20 meeting — governments are obsessing about inflation when the real threat is deflation, preaching the need for belt-tightening when the real problem is inadequate spending.

    In the face of this grim picture, you might have expected policy makers to realize that they haven’t yet done enough to promote recovery. But no: over the last few months there has been a stunning resurgence of hard-money and balanced-budget orthodoxy.

    As far as rhetoric is concerned, the revival of the old-time religion is most evident in Europe, where officials seem to be getting their talking points from the collected speeches of Herbert Hoover, up to and including the claim that raising taxes and cutting spending will actually expand the economy, by improving business confidence. As a practical matter, however, America isn’t doing much better. The Fed seems aware of the deflationary risks — but what it proposes to do about these risks is, well, nothing. The Obama administration understands the dangers of premature fiscal austerity — but because Republicans and conservative Democrats in Congress won’t authorize additional aid to state governments, that austerity is coming anyway, in the form of budget cuts at the state and local levels.

    And who will pay the price for this triumph of orthodoxy? The answer is, tens of millions of unemployed workers, many of whom will go jobless for years, and some of whom will never work again.

    What a shame that those in the “pain caucus” such as Cowen, who seem to have no problem whatsoever with a national unemployment rate of 9.7 percent, apparently can’t or won’t find an appreciation for the plight of those worse off than they are.

  • 3) And in the department of corporate media illogic, Ross Douthat of the Times tells us the following today about Afghanistan (here)…

    Advocates of a swift withdrawal tend to see Biden as their ally, and in a sense they’re right. His plan would reduce America’s footprint in Afghanistan, and probably reduce American casualties as well.

    But in terms of the duration of American involvement, and the amount of violence we deal out, this kind of strategy might actually produce the bloodier and more enduring stalemate.

    It wouldn’t actually eliminate the American presence, for one thing. Instead, such a plan would concentrate our forces around the Afghan capital, protecting the existing government while seeking deals with some elements of the insurgency. History suggests that such bargains would last only as long as American troops remained in the country, which means that our soldiers would be effectively trapped — stuck defending a Potemkin state whose leader (whether Hamid Karzai or a slightly less corrupt successor) would pose as Afghanistan’s president while barely deserving the title of mayor of Kabul.

    At the same time, by abandoning any effort to provide security to the Afghan people and relying instead on drone strikes and special forces raids, this approach would probably produce a spike in the kind of civilian casualties that have already darkened America’s reputation in the region.

    Shorter Douthat…

    We have to stay in Afghanistan and execute McChrystal’s counter-insurgency strategy, including rules of engagement that allow our people to get killed easier than they might otherwise, because if we pull out (and Heaven forbid we execute some cowardly li-bu-ruul strategy like that), we’ll just have to go back in and start all over, and in the process, kill more people than we are now. Is that about right?

    But just remember that Douthat tells us that “success is the only way out.”

    With all of this in mind, I give you the following from U.S. House Rep Dennis Kucinich (here)…

    In a little more than a year the United States flew $12 billion in cash to Iraq, much of it in $100 bills, shrink wrapped and loaded onto pallets. Vanity Fair reported in 2004 that “at least $9 billion” of the cash had “gone missing, unaccounted for.” $9 billion. Today, we learned that suitcases of $3 billion in cash have openly moved through the Kabul airport.

    One U.S. official quoted by the Wall Street Journal said, “A lot of this looks like our tax dollars being stolen.” $3 billion. Consider this as the American people sweat out an extension of unemployment benefits. Last week, the BBC reported that “the US military has been giving tens of millions of dollars to Afghan security firms who are funneling the money to warlords.” Add to that a corrupt Afghan government underwritten by the lives of our troops. And now reports indicate that Congress is preparing to attach $10 billion in state education funding to a $33 billion spending bill to keep the war going. Back home millions of Americans are out of work, losing their homes, losing their savings, their pensions, and their retirement security. We are losing our nation to lies about the necessity of war.

    Bring our troops home. End the war. Secure our economy.

    Amen to that.


  • RIP Sen. Robert Byrd

    June 28, 2010

    I know a lot more will be said and written about this man in the coming week, but for now, I thought this was a nice tribute.


    A Kink “Kicks It”

    June 26, 2010

    RIP Pete Quaife (here)…


    Friday Mashup Part One (6/25/10)

    June 25, 2010

  • 1) I got a kick out of this article about Jeb Bush from Matt Bai in the New York Times recently (though not in a good way, I should note, particularly the following)…

    CORAL GABLES, Fla. — For months now, Jeb Bush has been listening as President Obama blasts his older brother’s administration for the battered economy, budget deficits and even the lax oversight of oil wells.

    “It’s kind of like a kid coming to school saying, ‘The dog ate my homework,’ ” Mr. Bush, this state’s former governor, said over lunch last week at the Biltmore Hotel. “It’s childish. This is what children do until they mature. They don’t accept responsibility.”

    In fact, instead of constantly bashing the 43rd president, Mr. Bush offered, perhaps Mr. Obama could learn something from him, especially when it comes to ignoring the Washington chatter. “This would break his heart, to get advice that applies some of the lessons of leadership my brother learned, because he apparently likes to act like he’s still campaigning, and he likes to blame George’s administration for everything,” Mr. Bush said, dangling a ketchup-soaked French fry. “But he really seems like he’s getting caught up in what people are writing about him.”

    Yeah, it’s a real issue when a sitting president blames his predecessor, isn’t it (here).

  • 2) And speaking of presidents, former Laura Bush employee Andrew Malcolm tells us here that The Sainted Ronnie R “had a profound appreciation for show business stars” (Malcolm’s post has to do with the anniversary of the death of Michael Jackson).

    Well, I can think of at least one show business luminary that Reagan thought little of (besides Gregory Peck, a far better man on many counts), and that would be Rock Hudson (I’ll get to him in a minute).

    As noted here, though, about the epidemic that flourished under Reagan’s watch…

    Although AIDS was first reported in the medical and popular press in 1981, it was only in October 1987 that President Reagan publicly spoke about the epidemic. By the end of that year 59,572 AIDS cases had been reported and 27,909 of those women and men had died. How could this happen? How could Reagan not say anything? Do anything?

    The Reagan administration’s reaction to AIDS is complex and goes far beyond Reagan’s refusal to speak out about the epidemic. A great deal of his power base was born-again Christian Republican conservatives who embraced a reactionary social agenda that included a virulent, demonizing homophobia. In the media, people like Reverends Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell portrayed gay people as diseased sinners and promoted the idea that AIDS was a punishment from God and that the gay rights movement had to be stopped. In the Republican Party, zealous right-wingers, such as Representative William Dannenmeyer (CA) and Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC), hammered home this same message. In the Reagan White House, people such as Secretary of Education William Bennett and Gary Bauer, his chief domestic advisor, worked to enact it in the Administration’s policies.

    In practical terms this meant AIDS research was chronically underfunded. When doctors at the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institute for Health asked for more funding for their work on AIDS, they were routinely denied it. Between June 1981 and May 1982, the CDC spent less than $1 million on AIDS, but $9 million on Legionnaire’s Disease. At that point over 1,000 of the 2,000 AIDS cases reported resulted in death; there were fewer than 50 deaths from Legionnaire’s Disease. This drastic lack of funding would continue through the Reagan years.

    The story tells us the following repugnant anecdote also…

    When Rock Hudson, a friend and colleague of the Reagan’s, was diagnosed and died in 1985 (one of the 20,740 cases reported that year), Reagan still did not speak out. When family friend William F. Buckley, in a March 18, 1986 New York Times article, called for mandatory testing of HIV and said that HIV+ gay men should have this information forcibly tattooed on their buttocks (and IV drug users on their arms), Reagan said nothing. In 1986 (after five years of complete silence) when Surgeon General C. Everett Koop released a report calling for AIDS education in schools, Bennett and Bauer did everything possible to undercut and prevent funding for Koop’s too-little too-late initiative. By the end of 1986, 37,061 AIDS cases had been reported; 16,301 people had died.

    The most memorable Reagan AIDS moment was at the 1986 centenary rededication of the Statue of Liberty. The Reagan’s were there sitting next to the French Prime Minister and his wife, Francois and Danielle Mitterrand. Bob Hope was on stage entertaining the all-star audience. In the middle of a series of one-liners, Hope quipped, “I just heard that the Statue of Liberty has AIDS, but she doesn’t know if she got it from the mouth of the Hudson or the Staten Island Fairy.” As the television camera panned the audience, the Mitterrands looked appalled. The Reagans were laughing. By the end of 1989, 115,786 women and men had been diagnosed with AIDS in the United States—more then 70,000 of them had died.

    Somehow I’m sure that revealing piece of history will be scrubbed from the “Reaganalia” due to inflict this country next February on the 100th anniversary of his birthday (I’ll try to make sure I’ve booked a trip out of the country when that takes place…and yes, I know Bob Hope did a lot for our troops, but he sure as hell should have known better also).

    And I would call this a cautionary local note also; just because we don’t hear much on this issue, it doesn’t mean that HIV/AIDS has gone away by any stretch of the imagination.

  • 3) Finally, I don’t touch on world news the way I used to, but Australian PM Kevin Rudd was ousted this week, replaced by Deputy Julia Gillard (with the wingnuts claiming here that Rudd’s “cap and trade” policy was responsible…Australia has much more severe issues on its continent than we do because of the climate crisis, though we are catching up, sadly).

    This Telegraph article, though, tells us that one of the reasons why Rudd went down was because of “shelving (Australia’s) emissions trading scheme,” which, if those opposing him are right, should have enhanced his position.

    But then again, the climate change deniers have been screaming about alleged conspiracies for years (and one day, school children will read about why the Great Barrier Reef was destroyed and wonder why nobody did anything about it).


  • Monday Mashup Part One (6/21/10)

    June 21, 2010

    (Once again, no posting tomorrow and probably Wednesday also – TBD for the rest of the week.)

  • 1) Oh noes! Clownhall.com is telling us that gas prices are going up under our Kenyan Muslim pre-zee-dint who won’t show us his Hawaiian birth certificate (here)…

    Motorists heading out for the long July 4th weekend will find that filling up the family car is getting more costly.

    Retail prices for gasoline have climbed over the past week and are headed back toward a national average of $2.80 to $2.90 per gallon with higher prices on the West Coast, said Tom Kloza of the Oil Price Information Service.

    This tells us that, in April 2008, the average price for a gallon of gas was $3.35 under Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History (it was about $1.66 a gallon when he took over). And every time Number 43 made noises about attacking Iran or threatening Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, that country’s “president,” the price went up (not saying the puppet for the Mullahs didn’t deserve it then as now, though).

    The price of gas always goes up in the spring and summer (especially now with the crisis in the Gulf of Mexico) and, if we’re lucky, it comes down in the fall and close to winter. It has more to do with the driving habits of the people in this country more than anything else, though as noted above, other “actors” can affect the price also to some degree.

  • 2) Not to be outdone, though, someone named Kevin McCullough at Fix Noise tells us here that Obama should resign over the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe; according to McCullough, Obama was supposedly approached by BP for help on February 13 and the company was rebuffed (this starts off a really umbrage-filled rant by McCullough aimed at Obama – “how can you sleep at night,” did you inform the families of the victims of the rig’s destruction of your negligence when you posed with them for a photo-op, blah blah blah).Well, when you read the Bloomberg story linked to McCullough’s rant, what you find is this…

    On Feb. 13, BP told the (Minerals Management Service) it was trying to seal cracks in the well about 40 miles (64 kilometers) off the Louisiana coast, drilling documents obtained by Bloomberg show. Investigators are still trying to determine whether the fissures played a role in the disaster.

    The company attempted a “cement squeeze,” which involves pumping cement to seal the fissures, according to a well activity report. Over the following week the company made repeated attempts to plug cracks that were draining expensive drilling fluid, known as “mud,” into the surrounding rocks.

    BP used three different substances to plug the holes before succeeding, the documents show.

    “Most of the time you do a squeeze and then let it dry and you’re done,” said John Wang, an assistant professor of petroleum and natural gas engineering at Penn State in University Park, Pennsylvania. “It dries within a few hours.”

    Repeated squeeze attempts are unusual and may indicate rig workers are using the wrong kind of cement, Wang said.

    So how is it Obama’s fault if BP was using the wrong material to try and seal the fissures?

    Continuing…

    BP Chief Executive Officer Tony Hayward and other top executives were ignorant of the difficulties the company’s engineers were grappling with in the well before the explosion, U.S. Representative Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said today during a hearing in Washington.

    “We could find no evidence that you paid any attention to the tremendous risk BP was taking,” Waxman said as Hayward waited to testify. “There is not a single e-mail or document that you paid the slightest attention to the dangers at this well.”

    BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles and exploration chief Andy Inglis “were apparently oblivious to what was happening,” said Waxman, a California Democrat. “BP’s corporate complacency is astonishing.”

    In early March, BP told the minerals agency the company was having trouble maintaining control of surging natural gas, according to e-mails released May 30 by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which is investigating the spill.

    And have to admit that I dismissed at first the story about film director James Cameron offering to help with fixing the mess, until I did more reading and learned about Cameron’s extensive experience filming at the depths similar to that of the leaking pipe; you think his expertise would have come in handy here? And I had a similar reaction to the stuff involving Kevin Costner and his supposed oil/water separation device.

    The Obama Administration is guilty of trusting BP to know what they were doing in this mess, though, as I’ve said before, if they’d taken over earlier, I’d bet McCullough and his pals would have been one of the first to complain that that Number 44 is trying to “nationalize” the oil company the same way he allegedly did to the car companies and the crooks on Wall Street (and the only mention of Obama in the Bloomberg story has to do with the $20 billion fund BP set up for the victims of the oil flood).

  • 3) Finally, to complete this little “threesome” of stories pertaining to “Obama and the oil,” Roger Wicker of Mississippi gave the response to Obama’s Weekly Address on Saturday (here), stating as follows…

    “(Obama) was slow in listening to state and local leaders, slow in getting skimmers to the Gulf, slow in understanding the seriousness of this crisis, and slow in taking ownership and responsibility for the recovery. Many of his actions have actually taken us in the wrong direction.”

    Since Wicker doesn’t get into specifics about how Obama was supposedly “slow in listening to state and local leaders,” I’m not going to do his work for him by responding. However, on the subject of getting skimmers to the Gulf, this story from June 4th tells us the following…

    MISSISSIPPI — Dozens more private boats were deployed Friday to search for and skim oil, and many more were on standby as their crews awaited hazardous-materials training.

    The new boats bring to 158 the number primarily working the Mississippi coast, according to U.S. Coast Guard officials. There are another 220 in Alabama and 112 in Florida.

    And this story from last Thursday says “A decision is expected shortly on whether as many as 55 additional skimmers can be sent” to the Gulf (the Coast Guard reports that they’re reluctant to send more skimmers since it might risk leaving other waterways vulnerable to oil spills also). Also, this tells us that oil seeped past skimmers in the Pensacola inland waterway; the county deployed booms to protect 17 separate individual inlets from bayous and coves where the seagrass is especially sensitive. But (resident Dorothy) King noted mournfully that “they said a month ago our seas were too rough for the boom.”

    Oh, and for Wicker’s information, this New York Times story tells us that Mississippi governor Haley Barbour said that Obama “did more things right than wrong” on the spill.

    You could go back and forth on whether or not the Obama Administration should temporarily waive the Jones Act, which Repug Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison argues here (apparently, Dubya did that when Katrina hit – as noted here, the Act protects our martime interests, but critics argue that the Act makes the U.S. less competitive in the global shipping industry, but the counter argument is that “U.S.-citizen mariner pool needed for the Department of Defense in times of national emergency or war would simply disappear”). Perhaps waiving it for now would make it easier to put in place skimmers of other countries who have offered to help.

    But I shudder to think what would have happened by now if it had been up to Sarah Palin and John McCain to try and fix this mess (maybe they would have taken this idea seriously, for example).

  • Update 7/9/10: Gee, I wonder if Wicker will ever acknowledge that the Obama administration accepted 68 offers of help from other countries (here)? Do you even need to ask (and I never gave much of a thought to Mark Haines, but he did some good work here).


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