Tuesday Mashup Part One (8/31/10)

August 31, 2010

  • 1) In response to this story, I would like to ask the following questions:

    Where is the U.S. Congressional committee with subpoena power looking into the massive thievery of taxpayer funds designated for the reconstruction of Iraq (a topic that is noticeably missing in this triumphal column on the subject by BoBo today)?

    Where is Attorney General Eric Holder and his arrest warrants for those allegedly responsible for this genuine scandal?

    And why aren’t the members of our prior ruling cabal being called to account by our media and all of our institutions of government (and why is this story basically being ignored – yes, I know, everyone is focused on the economy, but that really isn’t an excuse, is it?).

    And why isn’t this person being called to account first for the insulting stupidity of her remarks on this subject from December 2008, noted by Think Progress?

  • 2) And speaking of investigations, look at what Fix Noise is telling us (here)…

    The Veterans Affairs Administration is spending tens of millions of taxpayer dollars every year to maintain hundreds of buildings – most of them vacant – that have fallen into such a state of disrepair that many of them are considered health hazards, an investigation by FoxNews.com reveals.

    Exactly how much it costs to maintain the run-down and abandoned buildings is a matter of dispute. The General Accountability Office estimates that the VA has spent $175 million every year since 2007. But the VA disputes that figure, saying it spent $85 million on the buildings in 2007 and only $37 million last year.

    Whatever the figure, the timing couldn’t be worse for the VA, as tens of thousands of American troops, many of whom have served multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, prepare to return to the U.S. and will require the expensive medical, psychological and support services it provides.

    Wow, talk about being “late for the party” – by about three years in this case…

    For you see, Fix Noise and their brethren basically ignored the scandal of how the VA was run when it was first reported by Anne Hull and Dana Priest of the WaPo here, including the particularly infamous “Building 18” of Walter Reed Army Medical Center, described as follows…

    When (a) wounded combat engineer stands in his shower and looks up, he can see the bathtub on the floor above through a rotted hole. The entire building, constructed between the world wars, often smells like greasy carry-out. Signs of neglect are everywhere: mouse droppings, belly-up cockroaches, stained carpets, cheap mattresses.

    And how did Fox and its right-wing brethren react at the time? I think Steve Young captures that pretty well here.

    But of course, now that Dubya is long gone (thank God) and we have a Democrat in the White House, Fix Noise is paying attention, as well as concocting propaganda that Obama was pushing a plan to get our vets to pay more for health care (here) and encouraging them to commit suicide (here – particularly despicable even for Fox).

    That, however, is very much in keeping with the “M.O.” of this bunch, as noted here.

  • 3) Finally, we have a particularly propagandistic screed from Cal Thomas (here)…

    President Obama may have experienced his Walter Cronkite moment over the economy.

    Responding to Cronkite’s reporting from Vietnam four decades ago that the only way to end the war was by negotiating with the North Vietnamese, President Lyndon Johnson was reported (though never confirmed) to have said, “If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost Middle America.”

    Now President Obama appears to have “lost” New York Times liberal economic columnist Paul Krugman. Krugman, who enthusiastically supported the president’s redistributionist and stimulus plans, has bowed to the reality that they are not working. In a recent column titled “This is Not a Recovery,” Krugman took issue with the president and Vice President Joe Biden that we have experienced a summer of economic recovery. “Unfortunately, that’s not true,” he wrote. “This isn’t a recovery, in any sense that matters. And policymakers should be doing everything they can to change that fact.”

    And of course Thomas then launches into a commercial for the RNC and its supposed economic platform, which of course is a rehash of every bad idea over the last 30 years or so that got us into this mess to begin with.

    I realize that only a fool would actually expect Thomas to tell the truth, but it’s particularly galling for him to take Krugman’s statements so thoroughly out of context, given that Krugman also said the following (here)…

    In the case of the Obama administration, officials seem loath to admit that the original stimulus was too small. True, it was enough to limit the depth of the slump — a recent analysis by the Congressional Budget Office says unemployment would probably be well into double digits now without the stimulus — but it wasn’t big enough to bring unemployment down significantly.

    Now, it’s arguable that even in early 2009, when President Obama was at the peak of his popularity, he couldn’t have gotten a bigger plan through the Senate. And he certainly couldn’t pass a supplemental stimulus now. So officials could, with considerable justification, place the onus for the non-recovery on Republican obstructionism. But they’ve chosen, instead, to draw smiley faces on a grim picture, convincing nobody. And the likely result in November — big gains for the obstructionists — will paralyze policy for years to come.

    And besides, given this incorrigible dreck, Thomas really should stay away from any historical references whatsoever.


  • On Dem “Misdeeds,” Ferris Brews “Weak Tea”

    August 30, 2010

    Philadelphia Inquirer Op-Ed writer and conservative shill Kevin Ferris concocted the following yesterday (here)…

    …The Inquirer, Politico, and others have reported on several instances of Democrats helping so-called tea-party candidates – nationwide and close to home.

    Florida: Republicans and tea-party activists are accusing Democratic U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson and a Republican consultant of forming a front group, the Florida Tea Party, to help Democratic candidates in state and congressional races, including Grayson.

    Michigan: A Democratic official was forced to resign his party position last week after being accused of fraudulently notarizing campaign filings for a dozen so-called tea-party candidates. The 23 candidates statewide who were supposedly representing tea parties have been denied ballot positions.

    New Jersey: In the Third Congressional District, where Republican Jon Runyan is challenging Democratic freshman U.S. Rep. John Adler, the GOP says the incumbent is boosting the third-party bid of Peter DeStefano. There are reports of longtime Adler and Democratic Party supporters signing nominating petitions, and Adler’s campaign suspiciously released an early internal poll that included DeStefano. Adler denies any connection between his campaign and DeStefano.

    Pennsylvania: In the governor’s race, a review of state records led the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review to report on Aug. 10: “Members of unions that endorsed Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato, as well as one of his campaign workers, helped get Tea Party candidate John Krupa onto Pennsylvania’s gubernatorial ballot.” Krupa dropped out of the race a week later when challenged by tea-party activists.

    In the Seventh District race to replace U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak, third-party candidate Jim Schneller wouldn’t be on the ballot with Republican Pat Meehan and Democrat Bryan Lentz if not for Democrats circulating petitions for him. Swarthmore Democrat Colleen Guiney, one of the “Lentz or Schneller for Congress” devotees, was referred to by Lentz earlier this year as “the hardest worker on my campaign.” A hearing on Meehan’s challenge to Schneller’s candidacy is scheduled for this week.

    “It’s almost an admission that the party’s candidates need something other than merit to win this fall,” a recent Detroit Free Press editorial said of the Michigan case.

    Wow, what a festival of generalizations, innuendo, and strawman arguments! It must’ve taken Ferris more than a week to come up with this dookey (I’m sure that’s why his column didn’t appear last week).

    And of course, it’s only an issue if those teabaggers are helped by Dems and not Repugs as far as Ferris is concerned (can you say “double standard”?).

    Concerning FLA, the following should be noted (here)…

    In Florida, the evidence of a Democratic conspiracy is circumstantial at best. But Republicans gained new traction this week with a Roll Call article outlining connections between Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson, the famed firebrand who accused Republicans of telling patients to “die quickly,” and the upstart Tea Party. As reported in the piece, one of the Tea Party candidates for the state House, Victoria Torres, took $11,000 from the Grayson campaign for polling work. And one of the Florida Tea Party’s most prominent backers is longtime political consultant Doug Guetzloe, who serves as a Grayson appointee on a business advisory board and whose teenage son has worked as an intern for Grayson

    A spokesman for Grayson, Todd Jurkowski, denied the charges to The Daily Beast and produced a copy of the poll he said the party commissioned from Torres, which was publicly released at the time it was conducted. It was a publicity stunt: Grayson polled himself as a candidate in the Republican primary and found himself in the lead. Jurkowski said the party sought a Republican pollster to better capture that side of the electorate, and that the firm that conducted the poll, Middleton Market Research, was subcontracted by Torres. (Torres did not return requests for comment.) As for Guetzloe, Jurkowski noted that Grayson has plausible appeal to some Tea Party members given his close association with Ron Paul on legislation like an amendment to audit the Fed.

    So what of Michigan, then? As noted here…

    According to a report from the Detroit Free Press Jason Bauer, former director of operations for the Oakland County Democratic Party, notarized a dozen affidavits for Tea Party candidates including one for a candidate who had no idea he was on the ballot. Two of the candidates were also later found to be under-aged and one was a resident of Phoenix, Arizona.

    The Oakland County Sheriff’s Department has been investigating the matter and on Friday Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson filed a petition in court asking for a one-person grand jury to investigate possible election fraud.

    Bauer resigned Sunday night and was condemned by the Oakland County Democratic Party as reports of his actions surfaced. He faces potential criminal charges over misusing his notary license. The head of the Oakland County Democrats resigned on Sunday as well.

    So basically, Bauer acted like a total idiot and notarized the affidavits when he shouldn’t have, but my question is who prepared the affidavits to begin with? Until we know the answer to that question, I’m reserving judgment on the question of whether or not this is some kind of Dem “dirty tricks” operation or just a case of Bauer getting duped (he’d have to be pretty dumb to orchestrate something like this just to help his party knowing the risk).

    And in New Jersey, Ferris is alleging a Dem/Tea Party conspiracy because incumbent Rep John Adler “suspiciously released an early internal poll” that included third-party candidate Pete DeStefano? Shocking!

    Try reading this post where DeStefano says the Dems and Repugs “are both full of crap” and the Tea Partiers “are shills for the Republicans.” With that in mind, you would truly have to have a vivid imagination to think DeStefano is in collusion with anyone.

    And concerning John Krupa, the alleged tea party candidate in the PA gubernatorial race, if the state GOP thought he was a “plant,” then why didn’t they challenge his petition? Why did they leave it up to the teabaggers to do that (here)?

    The charge about Jim Schneller in the PA-07 U.S. House contest (pitting Dem Bryan Lentz against Repug Pat Meehan for Joe Sestak’s seat) is the one from Ferris that looks the most legitimate, though Schneller doesn’t consider himself to be a “tea party” candidate (walks like one and talks like one, though, based on this – the story notes, though, that Schneller has been percieved as a threat by both Democrats and Republicans).

    However, considering that the Repugs did the same thing with Jay Russell in the Bucks County Commissioners election (here, with convenience store owner Russell siphoning just enough votes to prevent Dem Steve Santarsiero from winning and re-electing Repug Charley “I Have A Semi-Open Mind” Martin instead), I have no sympathy for the teabaggers on this or any other issue.


    “These People Could Be In Charge”

    August 29, 2010

    And if that doesn’t scare you, I don’t know what does.

    Update 8/30/10: And here and here is more of the stuff of nightmares.


    Sorry Meg, The Price Isn’t Right

    August 28, 2010

    Sounds like “Gubernatorial Campaign Fail, Clean Up Aisle 7″…


    Five Years After Katrina

    August 27, 2010

    Still lots to do (here)…


    Take A Stroll Through Downtown Kabul

    August 27, 2010

    And try not to lose your lunch (kudos to Rachel Maddow and Richard Engle – this is where our tax dollars are going; it kind of reminds me a bit of Atlantic City after the casinos took over, though at least the streets are paved).

    Also, speaking of Afghanistan, this just about made me physically ill.

    (By the way, it will probably be just videos for a few days.)


    Meg Whitman’s Notion Of Civic Duty

    August 25, 2010

    Fortunately, it isn’t shared by everyone.


    Tuesday Mashup Part One (8/24/10)

    August 24, 2010

  • 1) Interesting stuff from BoBo in the New York Times today (here – not necessarily good, mind you, just interesting)…

    …in general, the culture places less emphasis on the need to struggle against one’s own mental feebleness. Today’s culture is better in most ways, but in this way it is worse.

    The ensuing mental flabbiness is most evident in politics. Many conservatives declare that Barack Obama is a Muslim because it feels so good to say so. Many liberals would never ask themselves why they were so wrong about the surge in Iraq while George Bush was so right. The question is too uncomfortable.

    Uh, actually the question isn’t “uncomfortable” at all.

    In as much as the surge “worked,” it did so also because of the ethnic cleansing that preceded it and because of the Sunni Awakening, which basically went after al Qaeda operatives in concert with the fine work of our military (and as you might expect, I see no equivalency between this matter and that of Repugs who will never believe Obama is anything but a SCARY MUSLIM SCARY MUSLIM SCARY MUSLIM SCARY MUSLIM!!!).

    And if BoBo needs more proof that Iraq can hardly be called a success, I give you this from one of Brooks’ former colleagues (and a highly unlikely source, I know).

    When that country has a government that actually functions and shares power between its perpetually warring (either politically or for real) factions (and can provide more than a few hours of electricity per day for residents of Baghdad), THEN Brooks can crow about how wonderful Mesopotamia supposedly is now.

  • 2) Next, I give you the latest from Tucker Carlson’s scribble page (here, on a bit of a similar theme)…

    Expect to hear a lot about how much the Iraq war cost in the days ahead from Democrats worried about voter wrath against their unprecedented spending excesses.

    The meme is simple: The economy is in a shambles because of Bush’s economic policies and his war in Iraq. As American Thinker’s Randall Hoven points out, that’s the message being peddled by lefties as diverse as former Clinton political strategist James Carville, economist Joseph Stiglitz, and The Nation’s Washington editor, Christopher Hayes.

    I’ll cut to the chase a bit here and tell you that the right-wing argument is that the “stim” costs more than the Iraq war, so Obama is more at fault for our deficit than Dubya.

    Yes, sadly, I’m serious.

    In response, I give you the following (here, from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)…

    The events and policies that have pushed deficits to these high levels in the near term, however, were largely outside the new Administration’s control. If not for the tax cuts enacted during the presidency of George W. Bush that Congress did not pay for, the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that were initiated during that period, and the effects of the worst economic slump since the Great Depression (including the cost of steps necessary to combat it), we would not be facing these huge deficits in the near term.

    In rather stark terms, Paul Krugman (h/t Atrios) tells us here that, if ever there was a time to borrow like crazy and create all kinds of “shovel ready” infrastructure projects, it is right now, with a 10-year Treasury rate of 2.53 percent.

    But of course, if we do that, the invisible bond vigilantes will descend from the planet Klorp in their spaceships, capture our women and children and enslave us in debt forever, so we won’t (and that explanation is only a shade stupider than what passes for conventional wisdom on this subject these days).

  • 3) Finally, this post from Forbes tells us the following (staying with the economy a bit)…

    No matter how many Obama economists say that stimulus has a positive multiplier, it’s simply not true. Stimulus spending does not stimulate. Because it takes resources from growing sectors of the economy and pushes them to shrinking sectors of the economy– it de-stimulates. It taxes and borrows from good business models to support bad business models.

    It’s simple math. Enlarging government means shrinking the private sector. History is clear: The larger the government share of GDP, the higher the unemployment rate.

    Well, for stimulus spending that supposedly did not “stimulate,” the CBO told us last May that it is projected to create a total of 3.7 million jobs (here – and yes, I know this is familiar territory).

    However, the reason I’m highlighting this story is to counter it with this Daily Kos post, which tells us the following…

    Businesses aren’t creating jobs, and they have no intention of doing so unless they see signs that consumers will again resume spending. Consumers won’t be spending as long as they have nothing or too little to spend. It’s a feedback loop. There is only one way to break it. It has to be the government. The government has to create jobs. Infrastructure. Clean energy. Mass transit. There are plenty of social goods for government to fund, and there are plenty of people who are willing and able to be trained and employed. It has to happen. And only the government can do it.

    I also wanted to highlight the Forbes story for this item…

    But before you think that we have slipped into pessimism, we expect growth to accelerate in the year ahead and we expect the unemployment rate to fall further.

    I think the true Repug “base” just tipped its hand here.

    Anyone who thinks that our august captains of industry in this country are merely impartial observers in our electoral process (particularly after the horrific Citizens United ruling, which opened the proverbial floodgates of corporate campaign donations) must also believe that those zany teabaggers are scholars of Constitutional law.

    They have a vested interest in seeing that the Democrats get trounced this fall (and here is the proof). Whether or not that happens (and let’s do all we can to make sure it doesn’t), they will do what is in their best interest regardless.

    And if that means a bit of a hiring uptick which ends up getting much more than offset by further gains in their wealth (which would tie neatly into the story line that even a modest Repug victory in Congress is a “miracle cure” for the economy), well, lah dee dah, lah dee dah….


  • Join The “Mosque-Keteers” In A Sing-Along!

    August 24, 2010

    Seriously, I’d love to know how much “Astro Turf” money is being spent on this operation (here – and actually, I think we have our thoroughly unsurprising answer here).

    Oh, and by the way, the guy wearing the head scarf, or whatever that is, is a guy named Kenny who is a Union carpenter working at Ground Zero (and as he tells us later, he most definitely is not a Muslim.)

    (Also, as far as I’m concerned, this bunch of protesters might as well be teabaggers, and here is a doozy of an item about that bunch.)


    Monday Mashup Part One (8/23/10)

    August 23, 2010

  • 1) Kudos to letter writer Rob Turbovsky of Holland, PA for writing a Letter to the Editor of the Bucks County Courier Times criticizing J.D. Mullane’s ridiculous blog (here).

    Of course, it would have meant a lot more if the paper had printed it before Mullane went on vacation, forcing him to respond (problematic as to whether or not he’ll do that when he returns).

  • 2) Also, Time’s Amy Sullivan reports the following about the “SCARY MUSLIM” rumors about President Obama (here)…

    Where is this confusion coming from? I asked (Alan Cooperman of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life) who suggested this explanation: “Part of what’s going on here may be that there’s been a relative–especially compared to the previous president–absence of information from the president himself and from the White House about his personal religion and his practice of his personal faith. In the relative vacuum of information, suggestions from the president’s critics have been able to gain more currency and uncertainty is rising.”

    In response, I give you the BS factory known as Marc Thiessen today (here)…

    The poll on Obama’s religious affiliation probably would have been a one-day story had the White House not launched a surprisingly aggressive defense of the president’s Christian bona fides. The White House immediately put out a statement declaring “President Obama is a committed Christian, and his faith is an important part of his daily life.” We soon learned from White House officials that the president reads a daily devotional on his BlackBerry each morning and that he dialed three Christian pastors to pray with him on his birthday. The White House even made one of those pastors, Joel Hunter, available to the media to discuss Obama’s Christian journey.

    Soo…the story is Obama’s fault because he didn’t say enough about his religion (probably because of the full plate of urgent issues left to him by his clueless predecessor…more on him shortly…that he thought he should devote his energy to instead), but it’s also Obama’s fault because of his “surprisingly aggressive defense.”

    Truly, our corporate media wants us to be stupid.

  • Update: And by the way, h/t to Atrios for this.

  • 3) Next, we have another item I was unable to get to last week from John Feehery at The Hill (here, about the upcoming elections)…

    That President Bush is making a comeback at the expense of President Obama in the 40 most vulnerable Democratic seats speaks volumes about where the collective head of the American people is now.

    Of course, Feehery is choosing to ignore the very real possibility that those voters who allegedly support Dubya more than Obama in those 40 Democratic seats would have done so regardless of anything Obama did.

    And as if it isn’t bad enough that a bought-and-paid-for GOP stooge like Feehery would say something like this, along comes someone a bit more legit like Howard Fineman of Newsweek (here)…

    To answer the billboard question of a year ago — Do You Miss Him Yet? — the answer about Bush remains “no.” But it’s less emphatic than it was a few months ago.

    I guess there’s a lot I could say in response, but I’ll merely link to this Media Matters post debunking yet again the “zombie lie” that a “Bush Bounce” is right around the corner.

    The people ruling our discourse working for the initials-for-names news organizations just loves them a whole big bunch of GOP sugar daddies, people. And none bigger than Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History.

  • 4) Finally, Joe Pitts continues to propagandize at The Daily Caller (here)…

    Over the past nine weeks the House has been in session, Republicans have offered more than $120 billion in cuts to wasteful government programs. These cuts could have paid for extensions of unemployment compensation, COBRA health insurance assistance and state Medicaid assistance — and there would have been tens of billions of dollars left that could have gone toward reducing the deficit.

    It’s really hilarious to read Pitts claim that he supports COBRA benefits considering that he voted against funding those benefits here.

    Continuing…

    All of these cuts were offered as part of the YouCut program, an effort to include the American people in the fight to cut government waste. Each week that Congress is in session, Republican Whip Eric Cantor hosts a poll on his website. The poll offers five different government programs that could be considered wasteful.

    Participants can vote for the cut they support by voting online or sending a text message from their phone. The cut receiving the most votes is offered as a motion on the House floor and every Member has to decide whether they support the program.

    What type of cuts have been winning polls so far?

    The winning cut in week six aimed to stop taxpayer support for union activities. Some federal employees currently spend their entire workweek on union activity. Federal employees should be doing the business of the people, and union membership fees should be used to compensate workers for performing union organizing and lobbying. It’s estimated that in a single year $120 million is spent paying federal employees who are doing union work.

    In response, the following should be noted from here (from a Fox site, surprisingly enough)…

    Another program is described as “Taxpayer Subsidized Union Activities” which, if eliminated, would save about $120 million a year by not paying federal workers who spend their time on union activities. Unions already are at a disadvantage in dealing with the federal government because they are not permitted to strike. Having as officers individuals who are federal employees and know exactly what goes on in the workplace is an important effort to level the playing field.

    The point, though, is not to challenge each of the programs selected for popular vote. It is probably easy to find, and describe, programs which might incur the wrath of the electorate and its budget paring. Ronald Reagan famously railed against a welfare queen – later found to be fictitious — as he argued against federal welfare programs.

    And Think Progress tells us here that YouCut ended up leading the Repugs to suggest shutting down a successful jobs program.

    Also, I believe the following should be noted (here)…

    Given the Republican Party’s history of fiscal recklessness, it’s no surprise that Eric Cantor and his House colleagues want to outsource responsibility to the conservative activists that will traffic his web site. But their fuzzy math doesn’t work. Even as the GOP and its Tea Party base calls for a balanced budget, they want the Treasury-draining Bush tax cuts for the wealthy to be made permanent.

    Of course, a balanced budget could theoretically still be achieved if the GOP and its Tea Party storm troopers were willing to make draconian budget cuts to the $3.8 trillion federal budget proposed by President Obama. But these faux fiscal conservatives won’t make the choices. We know this, because they told us so.

    A quick note on the basic math of the budget. President Obama’s proposed $3.8 trillion budget for 2011 is forecast to produce a $1.3 trillion deficit (down from $1.6 trillion in 2010). National defense and Social Security each come in at $738 billion. Medicare totals $498 billion, while Medicaid and other health care services add $260 billion and $25 billion, respectively. Throw in the required $251 billion in required interest payments on the national debt, and those portions alone of Washington’s bill total over $2.5 trillion. Meanwhile, given that the Bush tax cuts accounted for half of the deficits during his tenure and more than half over the next decade, the Obama budget rightly calls for letting the Bush tax cuts expire for Americans earning over $250,000.

    The Perspectives post tells us more about how those zany teabaggers, who are alleged to be budget hawks, have “taken the big ticket items off table when it comes to budget cuts.”

    And “Republic” Party blowhard Pitts concludes with this…

    Our debt isn’t a Republican problem or a Democrat problem.

    In response, please click here to support Lois Herr, Pitts’ Dem opponent in the PA-16 congressional race.


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