Monday Mashup Part One (10/18/10)

October 18, 2010

(Caught a bit of a break with posting today…)

  • 1) The Hill brought us the following item today, including this excerpt…

    Democratic leaders in the House and Senate alleging GOP groups have funneled foreign money into campaign ads have seen their party raise more than $1 million from political action committees affiliated with foreign companies.

    House and Senate Democrats have received about $1.02 million this cycle from such PACs, according to an analysis compiled for The Hill by the Center for Responsive Politics. House and Senate GOP leaders have taken almost $510,000 from PACs on the same list.

    Oh brother – I just knew at some point we were going to get a “story” along the lines of “nyaah, nyaah, both sides are using foreign money in campaigns, so there.”

    Fortunately, Media Matters brings us the reality point of view here (h/t Atrios)…

    See the obvious dots that The Hill is trying to connect? It’s trying to suggest because Democrats have accused GOP-friendly attack groups, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, of possibly using money foreign donations (sic) to help influence U.S. elections in the form of paying for relentless attacks ads targeting Democrats, that there’s some double standard in play because Democrats have cashed checks from “foreign-affiliated” PACs.

    But of course there’s no comparison between the two. None.

    The questions that continue to swirl around the Chamber revolve around unknown donors who may live in foreign countries giving undisclosed amounts.

    You know what this is starting to remind me of?

    Remember when the Jack Abramoff scandal broke and it was a major you-know-what storm for the Repugs? And then all of a sudden, stories started coming out to the effect of, “yeah, well, Democrats accepted donations from Abramoff clients,” as if that was supposed to even everything up (of course Abramoff’s clients were innocent, but no matter)? And then we kept hearing “well, Abramoff donated to Democrats too, but that just hasn’t come out yet” (and it never did, by the way)?

    Yeah, this whole faux equivalency thing is starting to remind me of that.

  • Update 10/19/10: And speaking of the Chamber, I’m sure this has been going on for years, but kudos to Think Progress for highlighting it now.

  • 2) Also, in light of the miraculous rescue of the 33 Chilean miners last week, this story tells us that mine safety has actually improved across the globe…

    Hopefully no one ever again has to do anything like this,” said Alonso Contreras, a cousin of (rescued miner Carlos) Barrios. “Never again.”

    That’s the sentiment of mine safety experts worldwide who are hoping that the saga will become a lesson for the mining industry, in Chile, the region, and the rest of the world.

    This rescue effort is believed to be the deepest ever and the survivors have been underground longer than anyone who has made it out alive. It’s also one of the most advanced of its kind, and it could help other countries and firms increase their standards moving forward, but first an analysis of what exactly went wrong will need to be undertaken, says Keith Slack, Senior Policy Advisor and Campaign Manager for Extractive Industries at Oxfam America.

    “The situation illustrates the need for stronger regulations and enforcement of existing regulations in the mining sector across Latin America” and the globe, says Mr. Slack.

    In this country, though, the New York Times informed us of the following last spring (here)…

    MONTCOAL, W.Va. — Rescue workers began the precarious task Tuesday of removing explosive methane gas from the coal mine where at least 25 miners died the day before. The mine owner’s dismal safety record, along with several recent evacuations of the mine, left federal officials and miners suggesting that Monday’s explosion might have been preventable.

    In the past two months, miners had been evacuated three times from the Upper Big Branch because of dangerously high methane levels, according to two miners who asked for anonymity for fear of losing their jobs. Representative Nick J. Rahall II, a Democrat whose district includes the mine, said he had received similar reports from miners about recent evacuations at the mine, which as recently as last month was fined at least three times for ventilation problems, according to federal records.

    The Massey Energy Company, the biggest coal mining business in central Appalachia and the owner of the Upper Big Branch mine, has drawn sharp scrutiny and fines from regulators over its safety and environmental record.

    And as noted here, it looks like Massey owner Don Blankenship is going to get a “pass” from the more-appalling-by-the-day Gov. (and Dem Senate candidate) Joe Manchin, who apparently is too busy trying to shoot holes in Democratic-sponsored legislation to do anything about it (and don’t get me started on Manchin’s Repug opponent John Raese, who is too busy at the moment trying to pronounce the names of public figures to care also).

    Of course, instead of ridiculous campaign photo-ops, Manchin could travel to Chile to find out what they did to save their people that we couldn’t do (or at least, he could make an arrangement to do that after November 2nd).

    If I ruled the world…

  • 3) Finally, John Harwood of the Times informed us of the following today (here, about the oh-so-untidy partisanship on display as yet another campaign season winds down to a finish)…

    Across the country, Democrats are scrambling to deflect voters’ unhappiness with the party in power over the sputtering economy. In many cases, that is producing a counterattack of striking ferocity.

    Sometimes that ferocity takes the form of discrediting their rivals’ backgrounds, as in a release by the House Democratic Campaign Committee late last week titled “Breaking News: Allen West (FL-22) Tied to Criminal Organization.” (The campaign of Mr. West, who is challenging Representative Ron Klein of Florida, the Democratic incumbent, said he had no ties to the organization in question, a motorcycle group.)

    Other times it involves linking their opponents’ policy agendas to objects of their constituents’ fear (China’s economic might) or loathing (Wall Street executives). In Michigan, an ad for Representative Mark Schauer, a Democrat, accuses his Republican opponent, Tim Wahlberg, of helping businesses outsource jobs to China during his earlier service in the House. Mr. Wahlberg called the ad “deceptive.”

    Yeah, well, it’s a funny thing about West – the story was also reported by NBC (and Talking Points Memo) here, in addition to the House Democratic Campaign Committee; it tells us the following…

    West has also invited the Outlaws to participate in a campaign bike ride, and asked them to provide him with protection at one event. When asked to distance himself from the Outlaws by one Republican operative, West refused and instead came to the group’s defense.

    And of course West is going to deny the story, by the way.

    As for Tim Wahlberg, he called the ad of his Dem opponent Mark Schauer “deceptive,” but didn’t say it was wrong – as noted here…

    JACKSON – Today the pro-outsourcing group “Americans for Prosperity” launched a $260,000 smear campaign against Congressman Mark Schauer (D-MI) with misleading TV ads that aim to distort Schauer’s record of fighting for Michigan families and businesses.

    “This shadowy group was founded by a billionaire CEO whose company actually won an award for outsourcing American jobs to China,” said Zack Pohl, spokesman for Schauer’s campaign. “Since Tim Walberg has pledged to defend tax loopholes that encourage companies to ship jobs overseas, it’s no surprise that his special interest allies are willing to spend whatever it takes to buy this election. Mark Schauer doesn’t work for the special interests – he’s fighting to help our businesses create jobs here, not in China.”

    And by the way, the “billionaire CEO” behind “Americans for Prosperity” is a certain David Koch, who, as noted here, has been spreading his money all over the place this election season on behalf of Repugs, having been freed to do so with impunity by the horrific Citizens United decision from Hangin’ Judge JR and The Supremes.

    I know our corporate media has been pretty much yawning over the story about the Chamber of Commerce quite probably using foreign funds in its political advertising against Dems, as well as the horrific influence of the Koch brothers and their fellow travelers, but I’m still shocked that Harwood managed to miss all of this.

    Maybe he’s been taking hallucinogenic drugs or something.

  • Update 10/19/10: Very much in heroic fashion, Think Progress continues to “connect the dots” the way Harwood and the rest of our corporate media absolutely will not here.

    Two For Steve Against “Self” Ciervo

    October 18, 2010

    This letter appeared in the Bucks County Courier Times today…

    Steve Santarsiero is the type of state legislator we need in Harrisburg. With our struggling economy, frequent stories of corruption and bad behavior by politicians, and the flood of negative political advertising it is tempting to think “throw the bums out” and vote against all incumbents. Don’t do it.

    I have watched Santarsiero first as a Lower Makefield supervisor and now as a state legislator for District 31. He has always done what he believes is right and not what is politically expedient.

    In Lower Makefield he was the driving force behind televising the board of supervisors meetings, opening up the process of appointments to boards and commissions, pursuing green energy alternatives and fighting commercial development which would negatively impact our lives.

    In Harrisburg he has led on fiscal responsibility by example, not taking per diems, a government car, or public health insurance. He has proposed a bill that would require all representatives to pay toward their health care and supports the recommendation put forward by the grand jury investigating corruption in the legislature. After last year’s budget stand-off Steve proposed a bill that would cause legislators to lose their salary for every day past the June 30 deadline that a budget is late.

    One state legislator cannot change Harrisburg alone. But we cannot afford to lose one who is sincerely trying to bring responsibility and sanity to our state government by replacing him with someone who cannot match his record.

    Doreene Kaplan
    Lower Makefield, PA

    …followed by this letter…

    My family has lived in Newtown Township for 18 years – the past six in a new development called Wiltshire Walk. Shortly after moving in, my neighbors and I discovered the ill-willed plan to build the massive (2,000 employees) Brandywine office complex next door and feed the traffic right through the middle of our neighborhood.

    We were even more devastated to read in the traffic study that our neighborhood street was slated to become a bypass to the Newtown Bypass. The residents in the older neighborhood behind us did not have to worry about the impact of traffic, because they had their public road closed – no surprise that I would later learn of their close ties to the local Republican “good ole’ boys.”

    I first met Rob Ciervo when he was a resident who publicly and fully supported the high-density Brandywine development, despite the fact that it would have meant our kids dodging thousands of cars coming through our neighborhood every day and residents having another light and more congestion on the Bypass. I still have the e-mail he sent my husband and I convincing us Brandywine was not so bad. Then we learned he was the manager for a local supervisor campaign and that the campaign’s party took two large contributions from a VP of Brandywine. No wonder he was trying to promote their destructive plan!

    I have watched how Rob has conducted himself over the years – especially during his campaign for supervisor in 2007. I have never seen anyone twist or bend the truth more than he does. He has a Ph.D. in psychology and he uses it well to craft his spin into sound bites that will get him elected. His partisan antics as supervisor have divided the community rather than uniting us for the common good.

    Rob also claims that because he was born and raised here that somehow makes him a superior candidate. Well, we had a Newtown native in charge here for years – Skip Goodnoe – who was instrumental in the local Republican good ole boys putting party interests over those of residents. They sugar-coated their detrimental plans to sell them to the public or, even worse, shoved them down our throats when we protested – as was the case with Brandywine. Protecting the community’s heritage was not Skip’s priority despite being born and raised here. Sometimes people who move here appreciate and fight harder to keep the unique character we love about our town.

    This is why I find it easy to say no to Rob Ciervo and cross party lines to say yes to Steve Santarsiero. As a Lower Makefield supervisor for six years and state representative since last year, Steve has proven to me that:

    – He can be trusted to do the right thing on behalf of residents to ensure our quality of life.
    – He works hard for everyone – not just those in his own party.
    – He is willing to fight for reform in Harrisburg, even if it means going against his own party leadership.

    That’s the kind of leader I can wholeheartedly support.

    Jen Dix
    Newtown Township, PA

    And to help Steve, click here.

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