Welcome To “Unemployment 101”

July 31, 2010

And your instructors are Mr. Grayson and Mr. Uygur (and Mr. Herbert).

(I would be a lot more encouraged if the House chamber attendance wasn’t so sparse for what Grayson said, I should add.)

Advertisements

Friday Mashup Part One (7/30/10)

July 30, 2010

  • 1) The Philadelphia Inquirer, in a shockingly sensible editorial today, tells us the following (here)…

    Former governors can choose many career paths. Some of them become college presidents. Some go on the lecture circuit.

    And then there’s Tom Ridge, who is set to become a paid shill for the natural-gas drillers swarming his native state.

    The Marcellus Shale Coalition, which represents natural-gas companies, has been negotiating to hire Ridge’s lobbying firm. The industry wants the ex-governor’s help with a campaign to educate the public about the benefits of drilling.

    It’s unclear how much Ridge will be paid, but he doesn’t come cheap. The tiny impoverished nation of Albania, for example, reportedly paid Ridge nearly $500,000 per year to lobby for its membership in NATO.

    Ex-governors are free to enrich themselves however they choose. But there’s something obnoxious about a former governor talking up an industry that poses serious environmental risks, and has already spent millions on lobbying to forestall paying its fair share of state business taxes.

    Yep, I would tend to agree with that, especially since, as noted here about the Josh Fox film “Gasland” on this subject, the industry has already wrought havoc with the lives of many across this country by fouling their water supplies in the process of trying to extract natural gas.

    And I can just picture Ridge trying to implement a color-coded alert system like the one he put into place when he headed up the DHS under Bushco – my guess is that it would go something like this:

    LOW – Water OK for drinking, washing clothes, bathing, etc…enjoy it while you can.

    GUARDED – Slimy film? What slimy film?

    ELEVATED – Hey, let’s not forget that xylene and naphthalene can break down those pesky algae and mineral deposits, OK?

    HIGH – Now I know what happened to the “wastewater” from the EOG Resources blowout.

    SEVERE – Don’t stand too close when you turn on your tap, or else…well, ever see “Ghost Rider”?

    This further amplifies my concerns…the post by Amy Wilson tells us that Stone Energy (which, God help us, could be “the BP of natural gas extraction” as one commenter put it) was granted the first permitted, non-test well approved in the Delaware River Basin, a watershed that serves 15 million people, including the Greater Philadelphia area.

    As far as I’m concerned, we can’t talk seriously in this state about natural gas exploration under we do a hell of a lot more research into this subject than we already have (another fight in the ongoing battle against “disaster capitalism”).

  • 2) Turning to our media, it seems that Christiane Amanpour will debut as host of “This Week” this Sunday morning, replacing Jake Tapper and George Stephanopoulos.

    And as you might expect, Tucker Carlson’s crayon scribble page is already throwing stones at her (here)…

    Her selection for the post, however, has caused a surprisingly potent backlash. Putting aside issues such as the suitability of a foreign affairs reporter for a show on domestic politics and reports of behind-the scenes opposition to her appointment, most of the criticism has concentrated on Amanpour’s political views and her allegedly biased reporting. In one form or another, this kind of criticism has dogged Amanpour for a very long time.

    ZOMG! A well-traveled journalist interjecting informed commentary into news coverage, instead of reading from a teleprompter like a well-coiffed corporate media cipher (wonder how loud and long Edward R. Murrow would have laughed at characters like Carlson in response)?

    And I realize that a conservative screaming about bias is about as newsworthy as a rooster cackling at the sunrise, but still, let’s look at what Carlson is alleging here.

    So he based his charge on a New York Times story here on Amanpour, in which the profile quotes an anonymous “insider” who “has doubts about Amanpour’s commitment to objective journalism”…

    “I have winced at some of what she’s done, at what used to be called advocacy journalism,” (the source) said. “She was sitting in Belgrade when that marketplace massacre happened (in the ‘90s), and she went on the air to say that the Serbs had probably done it. There was no way she could have known that. She was assuming an omniscience which no journalist has.”

    So basically, the charge that Amanpour’s reporting is “biased,” which has thus caused “a surprisingly potent backlash,” is based on a single eyewitness account in a New York Times story.

    And by the way, did I note that the Times story was written in 1994?

    I’ll tell you what, Tucker: if Amanpour opens the show with film footage of George W. Bush morphing into Che Guevara, and the set for the show now contains a poster of Ward Churchill, and she professes her undying love for Al Gore, then talk to us about “bias,” OK?

    Otherwise, shut up and give her a chance.

  • Update 8/2/10: I see Carlson has company (here – h/t Atrios).

  • 3) And speaking of heroic women (I consider them to be that, anyway), Paul Krugman, in yet another spot-on column about why President Obama hasn’t done much to energize his “base” in spite of all of his accomplishments (and no, I don’t think it’s excusable for anyone to sit on his or her hands, as it were, in response – what Dante Atkins sez here in that vein), mentions Frances Perkins, who, as noted here…

    …championed many aspects of the New Deal, including the Civilian Conservation Corps, the Public Works Administration and its successor the Federal Works Agency, and the labor portion of the National Industrial Recovery Act. With The Social Security Act she established unemployment benefits, pensions for the many uncovered elderly Americans, and welfare for the poorest Americans. She pushed to reduce workplace accidents and helped craft laws against child labor. Through the Fair Labor Standards Act, she established the first minimum wage and overtime laws for American workers, and defined the standard 40-hour work week. She formed governmental policy for working with labor unions and helped to alleviate strikes by way of the United States Conciliation Service, Perkins resisted having American women be drafted to serve the military in World War II so that they could enter the civilian workforce in greatly expanded numbers.[2]

    There have been so many hard-won battles by progressives in the name of fair wages and working conditions as well as health and retirement benefits that it’s really difficult to list them all here, though, as you can see above, Perkins was involved in a lot of them.

    And I don’t know of any other secular figure in our public life who is recognized by an organized religion as Perkins is; Wikipedia tells us that she is honored with a feast day on the liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church (USA) on May 13.


  • “Help Me Fight This”

    July 30, 2010

    This is how a Dem with guts is supposed to sound (and to do something about it, click here).


    One And The Same

    July 28, 2010

    Oh, and don’t forget about this guy also (and to help his opponent, click here…more on the video here).


    Tuesday Mashup Part One (7/27/10)

    July 27, 2010

  • 1) Gee, what a typically hilarious Fix Noise headline.

    Of course, as you read the actual story, you discover the following…

    The extreme overgrowth and underbrush on the hillside behind the Richard H. Chambers U.S. Courthouse in Pasadena, California, prompted GSA’s Pacific Rim Region property management to take quick action to avoid summer fires.

    Ultimately, the choice was easy: Use a herd of goats. The decision meant a cost-saving to taxpayers over hiring manual labor and proved to be better for the environment than bulldozers.

    The unusually wet winter and spring caused the overgrowth, which, in California, always means the risk of summer wildfires and grass fires because of tinder underbrush.

    And by the way, GSA stands for Government Services Administration.

    So, basically, it was the idea of the government to save money using the goats to clear the brush instead of paying workers to do it.

    Gosh, what will the public sector think of next?

  • 2) Also, this AP story tells us the following (on Obama and the economy)…

    “This is a choice between the policies that led us into the mess or the policies that are leading out of the mess,” Obama said recently in Las Vegas.

    Trouble is, it’s a tough sell to voters who’ve seen little progress.

    Unemployment is stuck near double digits and polls show many voters have decided Obama’s policies are to blame, not his predecessor’s.

    Oh, I beg to differ (here) – not saying Obama couldn’t have done more, but let’s be fair here.

  • 3) Also, The New York Times recently reported the following (here)…

    At a closed-door meeting of the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday, participants said Democrats were clearly divided while Republicans wanted assurances that any bill would be developed openly, allowing them to propose amendments. In a sign of how combustible the issue could be, Senator Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat and the committee’s chairman, has so far refused to make that commitment.

    Gee, I wonder why Baucus wouldn’t commit to allowing the Repugs to propose amendments?

    Maybe this explains it (the headline says it all).

  • 4) Finally (sticking with the Times), Eric Schlosser, the author of “Fast Food Nation,” wrote the following Op-Ed recently (here)…

    EVERY day, about 200,000 Americans are sickened by contaminated food. Every year, about 325,000 are hospitalized by a food-borne illness. And the number who are killed annually by something they ate is roughly the same as the number of Americans who’ve been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2003.

    Those estimates, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suggest the scale of the problem. But they fail to convey the human toll. The elderly and people with compromised immune systems face an elevated risk from food-borne pathogens like listeria, campylobacter and salmonella. By far the most vulnerable group, however, are children under the age of 4. Our food will never be perfectly safe — and yet if the Senate fails to pass the food safety legislation now awaiting a vote, tens of thousands of American children will become needlessly and sometimes fatally ill.

    Almost one year ago, the House of Representatives passed the Food Safety Enhancement Act with bipartisan support. A similar bill, the F.D.A. Food Safety Modernization Act, was unanimously approved by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee in November. This legislation would grant the Food and Drug Administration, which has oversight over 80 percent of the nation’s food, the authority to test widely for dangerous pathogens and improve the agency’s ability to trace outbreaks back to their source. Most important, it would finally give the agency the power to order the recall of contaminated foods — and to punish companies that knowingly sell them.

    This bill is supported by an unusual set of advocacy groups: the American Public Health Association, Consumers Union, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the United States Chamber of Commerce and the Grocery Manufacturers Association, among others. Last week, a poll for Consumers Union found that 80 percent of Americans want Congress to empower the F.D.A. to recall tainted foods.

    You’d think that a bill with such broad support, on a public health issue of such fundamental importance, would easily reach the floor of the Senate for a vote. But it has been languishing, stuck in some legislative limbo. If it fails to gain passage by the end of this session, Congress will have to start from scratch again next year.

    Here is more information on the Food Safety Modernization Act, sponsored by Sen. Dick Durbin. I would strongly urge anyone from Illinois or any other state of a senatorial cosponsor to contact the individuals listed to let them know that you support this legislation (and to contact any other senator to let them know also, click here).


  • Monday Mashup (7/26/10)

    July 26, 2010

  • 1) The Bucks County Courier Times brought us more riotous comedy yesterday from Repug Mikey Fitzpatrick, running to reclaim his PA-08 House seat from Dem Patrick Murphy (here)…

    Unemployment has risen 100 percent in the four years Congressman Murphy has been in Congress; notably, his party has been in the majority in every one of those years.

    It has only occupied the White House for a year and a half, though (of course, Mikey omits that incon-vee-nient detail). And the event that triggered the skyrocketing unemployment rate was the fall of Lehman Brothers in September 2008, which took place on the watch of A Certain 43rd President, as well as approval of TARP funding soon afterwards.

    Besides, based on the graph that appears here, the Repugs and their “leader” in the White House had nothing on the employment numbers of the full eight-year Democratic presidential administration that preceded it (and here is more on Murphy and jobs).

    And a lot of other House members, both Democratic and Republican, have held their House seats since 2006, so I guess you could say that they brought us a “100 percent” increase in unemployment also.

    Otherwise, Mikey’s screed was full of the “tax cuts, magic of the marketplace” mythology that got us into this mess to begin with, as well as “Murphy-Pelosi Murphy-Pelosi Murphy-Pelosi baad scary liberals vote for me I’m a native Bucks Countian with six kids” stuff (and to help his opponent, click here).

  • Update: Oh, and P.S…

    Fitzpatrick Spending Cuts While in Office: 0

    Former Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick’s criticism of Murphy bill to cut spending shows complete lack of an agenda to move country forward.

    (Bristol, PA) – Former Congressman Fitzpatrick announced last week that, given the chance to return to Washington, he will not fight for legislation to cut government spending and waste. He criticized Patrick Murphy for passing a new law to cut spending but clarified that he agreed with the content, just not the act of passing a law.

    “We are all against waste, fraud and abuse,” former Congressman Fitzpatrick said, “but shouldn’t the federal government be working to eliminate fraud without new federal legislation?”

    Patrick Murphy’s campaign manager Tim Persico noted that it was unclear what, exactly, Fitzpatrick suggested we do to cut spending and eliminate fraud, since it seems unlikely that asking agencies nicely will work.“Fitzpatrick’s comments pretty much sum up his economic agenda,” Persico said. “If sent to Washington, Fitzpatrick promises not to fight for legislation to cut spending and waste.”

    This matches up neatly with his past record. When the voters of Bucks County gave him a chance in Washington, Fitzpatrick failed to introduce or pass a single bill to cut spending. However, he was happy to support massive, unpaid tax breaks for the richest people in the country. Now, in a bit of sour grapes, he’s whining that we’re finally making progress against outrageous and wasteful spending. It’s his own record in Congress – not Patrick Murphy’s – that Mike should take issue with.

    # # #

    For Immediate Release, July 23, 2010
    Contact, Tim Persico, (215) 783-3736

    —————————————————-
    BACKGROUND:

    Passing this law is the latest in a series of initiatives that Patrick Murphy has championed to cut spending. He worked with Republican Congressman Tim Rooney (FL) to pass a law closing loopholes in Medicare that were allowing billions in fraud. He also has a measure to eliminate a massive corporate welfare scheme in the Department of Agriculture that would save $500 million taxpayer dollars.

    Additionally, Murphy has fought to eliminate the F-22 savings taxpayers $3 billion, and he has crossed party lines to vote for $20 billion in spending cuts.

    And Fitzpatrick? His bipartisan bills to cut spending while in Congress? …0

    Successfully passed Fitzpatrick bills to cut spending while in Congress? …0

  • 2) And speaking of big yuks, Jonah Goldberg chastised Tom Friedman in the New York Times yesterday since Friedman quite rightly took umbrage over what could be the death knell for common sense climate change legislation this year (here)…

    But when DC — and the entire East Coast — was shellacked by an historic snow storm and deep freeze, Friedman thought it was flat-out stupid to cite abnormal weather as evidence in political squabbles:

    I realize there are a lot of different directions I can go to point out that only a life form with a single-digit IQ could contest the fact that man-made global warming has accelerated to the point where our planet is melting and sane people need to do what we must to try and stop it, but I think this will suffice for now.

    Oh, That Doughy Pantload.

  • 3) Also, I’ll “cut to the chase” concerning this Matt Bai column in The New York Times yesterday; he blames the Shirley Sherrod mess last week on Obama because he isn’t “transcendent” enough on the race question – there really is no further need to frustrate yourself by trying to make further sense of it.
  • 4) And in a related story, as they say, Mark Halperin tells us the following on the Sherrod business here (comparing her case to the O.J. Simpson mess – Memo to Halperin: lay your hand on the table, open it up so your palm faces upward, and then smack yourself in the forehead)…

    But the coverage of both sagas — Simpson literally for years and Sherrod for the better part of a week — was insanely overblown. The Sherrod story is a reminder — much like the assault in 2004 on John Kerry by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth — that the Old Media is often swayed by controversies pushed by the conservative New Media. In many quarters of the Old Media there is concern about not appearing liberally biased, so stories emanating from the right are given more weight and less scrutiny. Additionally, the conservative New Media, particularly Fox News Channel and talk radio, are commercially successful, so the implicit logic followed by decision makers in the Old Media is that if something is gaining currency in those precincts, it is a phenomenon that must be given attention. Most dangerously, conservative New Media will often produce content that is so provocative and incendiary that the Old Media finds it irresistible.

    I guess this is as close as Halperin actually gets to something approximating introspection, but I still believe the following should be noted from here (in the matter of “Old Media” preoccupation with largely conservative “New Media”).

  • 5) Finally, the Washington Times continues to give column space to Ted Nugent, with predictable results (here)…

    We shouldn’t expect anything different from a president and administration who don’t have a clue about how private industry works or how Fedzilla’s policies stifle growth. At least from my research, I still can’t find anyone on the president’s closest team who has actually started a successful business.

    From here…

    In Obama’s Cabinet, at least three of the nine posts that Cembalest and Beck cite — a full one-third — are occupied by appointees who, by our reading of their bios, had significant corporate or business experience. Shaun Donovan, Obama’s secretary of Housing and Urban Development, served as managing director of Prudential Mortgage Capital Co., where he oversaw its investments in affordable housing loans.

    Energy Secretary Steven Chu headed the electronics research lab at one of America’s storied corporate research-and-development facilities, AT&T Bell Laboratories, where his work won a Nobel Prize for physics. And Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, in addition to serving as Colorado attorney general and a U.S. senator, has been a partner in his family’s farm for decades and, with his wife, owned and operated a Dairy Queen and radio stations in his home state of Colorado.

    The post also tells us that the only Obama cabinet appointees who do not have had “significant private sector experience” are Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

    And funny, but as I read this, I don’t have an inclination that Nugent, were he deprived of a guitar, a weapon, or his big mouth, would have the slightest clue as to how the “private sector” works either.


  • The One Thing Breitbart Got Right

    July 25, 2010

    I thought this was an appropriate summation of the whole Shirley Sherrod mess featuring Eric Boehlert of Media Matters (yes, the Obama people screwed up, but I honestly believe they’ve done their best to try and put things right – and it would be funny to listen to Breitbart’s “humuna, humuna” act at the end if it weren’t so pathetic).


  • Top Posts & Pages