Friday Mashup (5/25/12)

  • To begin, I give you the comic stylings of Mann Coulter, on how that Kenyan Muslim socialist wealth redistributor in the White House is supposedly such a spendthrift (here)…

    …Obama didn’t come in and live with the budget Bush had approved. He immediately signed off on enormous spending programs that had been specifically rejected by Bush. This included a $410 billion spending bill that Bush had refused to sign before he left office. Obama signed it on March 10, 2009. Bush had been chopping brush in Texas for two months at that point. Marketwatch’s Nutting says that’s Bush’s spending.

    Obama also spent the second half of the Troubled Asset Relief Fund (TARP). These were discretionary funds meant to prevent a market meltdown after Lehman Brothers collapsed. By the end of 2008, it was clear the panic had passed, and Bush announced that he wouldn’t need to spend the second half of the TARP money.

    I realize that there are probably too many layers of stoo-pid to cut through here, but let’s just focus on the patently absurd claim that “the (financial) panic had passed…by the end of 2008.”

    As noted here

    NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — The U.S. economy suffered its biggest slowdown in 26 years in the last three months of 2008, according to the government’s first reading about the fourth quarter released Friday.

    Gross domestic product, the broadest measure of the nation’s economic activity, fell at an annual rate of 3.8% in the fourth quarter, adjusted for inflation.

    That’s the largest drop in GDP since the first quarter of 1982, when the economy suffered a 6.4% decline.

    More to the point, I’m not going to play this game about Obama and spending, since he didn’t create the deficit to begin with (yes, he added to it, but you have to spend to invest and demand has to come from somewhere). I would only ask that you consider the following from here, and I would also ask that you keep all of this in mind assuming those wretched George W. Bush tax cuts finally die once and for all in 2013 and “Taxmageddon” (ugh) kicks in next year with spending cuts negotiated with that fraud U.S. House “leadership,” which, in all probability, will sink us into recession officially once again (thank you, o zany Teahadists).

    (Oh, and for the record, here is the chart Coulter is talking about…when you find that supposed $410 billion dollar spending bill Obama signed off on instead of Dubya, let me know, OK?)

  • Next, one of my pet causes resurfaced in the news yesterday (here)…

    WASHINGTON — Senator Bob Corker, the Tennessee Republican, joked that he was witnessing “sort of a Lazarus moment.” On that score, at least, Mr. Corker got no quarrel from his Democratic colleagues.

    Thirty years after it was signed in Montego Bay, Jamaica, the United Nations treaty that governs the world’s oceans is undergoing one of its periodic resurrections in Congress. A Senate committee on Wednesday summoned three top national security officials to make yet another plea for the agreement, in the face of narrow, but stubborn, opposition.

    The Senate has never ratified the treaty, despite the support of Republican and Democratic presidents, the Pentagon, environmental advocates, the oil and gas industry — virtually anyone who deals “with oceans on a daily basis,” in the words of Senator Richard G. Lugar of Indiana, the Republican who recently lost a primary, who is a supporter.

    So long has the “Law of the Sea” treaty been stalled on Capitol Hill that its opponents — a handful of conservative Republicans who view it as an infringement on American sovereignty — have taken to calling it “LOST, ” an uncharitable, if apt, acronym.

    Memo to Mark Landler and The Old Grey Lady – the correct acronym is UNCLOS, as in “United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.” And nice job not to use the correct acronym anywhere in the story and thus propagate another wingnut talking point (tell me once again how liberal the New York Times supposedly is…by the way, the story tells us that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta testified at the invitation of Sen. John Kerry, head of the Foreign Relations Committee).

    I’ve been posting to one degree or another about this topic for the last five years because, as noted here (from October 2007)…

    The Law of the Sea Convention was concluded in 1982 and went into force in 1994. President Reagan opposed U.S. participation because of one provision dealing with deep seabed mining. That provision was amended in 1994 to satisfy U.S. concerns and signed by President Clinton, but the Senate ignored it.

    (In 2004), the Foreign Relations Committee voted unanimously in favor of the treaty but the full Senate, then in Republican hands, did not take it up.

    The treaty recognizes sovereign rights over a country’s continental shelf out to 200 nautical miles and beyond if the country can provide evidence to substantiate its claims. It gives Arctic countries 10 years after they ratify the treaty to prove their claims under the polar ice cap. The United States, with its Alaskan coast, is the only Arctic nation not party to the treaty.

    Also (as noted here)…

    …unless the United States joins up, it could very well lose out in what is shaping up as a mad scramble to lay claim to what are believed to be immense deposits of oil, gas and other resources under the Arctic ice — deposits that are becoming more and more accessible as the earth warms and the ice melts.

    So who exactly is standing in the way of ratifying UNCLOS in the Senate (besides perpetual climate denier Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, I mean)?

    The Times tells us…

    Senator James Risch of Idaho said it would oblige the United States to adhere to international agreements to stem greenhouse gas emissions. “That’s got Kyoto written all over it,” he said, referring to the climate change treaty rejected by the United States.

    Mr. Risch seemed particularly rankled by Mrs. Clinton’s contention that the treaty’s opponents were driven by “ideology and mythology,” not facts. “I hope you weren’t scoffing at us,” he said. “I’m one of those that fall into that category.”

    Which is totally not surprising since Risch is one of the “44 Congressional Darlings of the Koch Brothers” Caucus; as noted here, Risch isn’t even in the top tier of recipients – he’s from the second-level “gang of eight” that received about $87 grand total (and don’t you know that “No Corporate Tax” Pat Toomey is on that list too).

    The political gamesmanship on this issue (which plays into both our military and economic well-being, to say nothing of the future survival of this planet) is something more representative of a third-world, pseudo Marxist-Leninist tribal backwater than a country that is supposedly the leader of industrialized nations. And the fact that it has gone on now for 30 years with no end in sight is so absurd as to be beyond parody.

    Update 7/18/12: OWWWW, TEH STUPID!!! IT BURNS US!!!

  • Finally, I give you the following hilarity from Michelle Malkin (here, in the matter of the resignation of Gregory Jaczko as the head of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission)…

    (Nevada Dem Senator Harry) Reid connived to install Jaczko at the NRC to carry on their shared crusade against the Yucca Mountain nuclear-waste facility in Nye County, Nevada. Despite assurances that he would recuse himself, Jaczko proceeded to meddle aggressively in the issue. After the Obama administration named Jaczko chairman of the safety panel in 2009, all hell broke loose — and then some.

    Oh, and by the way, Jaczko was named to the NRC in 2005. Now who would have been president back then?


    Hmmm, let me think…

    Continuing…

    Out of fear that researchers would confirm positive safety data, Jaczko ordered NRC staff to halt a technical evaluation of Yucca Mountain. Then he used the lack of data to order a complete work stoppage on the long-obstructed project. Last summer, the NRC inspector general determined that Jaczko “strategically withheld” information from the rest of the panel, manipulated agendas, and “was not forthcoming about his intent” to shut down Yucca by any means necessary.

    Let us not forget that any actions by any government official that runs contrary to the wishes of Malkin and her ilk automatically constitutes a conspiracy of one type or another (And any proof of “positive safety data,” by the way? What on earth does that phrase even mean?).

    Continuing…

    (Jaczko) kept the panel in the dark on other matters, too. After the Fukushima meltdown in Japan, Jaczko ordered his staff to hoard safety findings and keep them from other commissioners while he made unilateral policy decisions against their will.

    In the course of his investigation, the NRC inspector general heard from numerous commission staffers about Jaczko’s “unprofessional behavior” and outbursts of anger that created an “intimidating workplace environment.” The report said Jaczko told investigators he “regretted” his temper tantrums.

    Last fall, the entire commission sent an extraordinary letter to the White House expressing “grave concerns” about Jaczko the Jerk’s continued boorishness. “We believe that his actions and behavior are causing serious damage to this institution and are creating a chilled work environment at the NRC,” wrote NRC commissioners George Apostolakis and William D. Magwood IV (Democrats) and William C. Ostendorff and Kristine L. Svinicki (Republicans). Commission staff detailed how Jaczko’s “shaking angry” rage fests caused at least one woman to cry, and prompted Svinicki to have a staffer accompany her whenever she was in Jaczko’s presence.

    In response, I give you the following from here

    In the wake of the (nuclear accident in Japan), Jaczko sought recommendations for US nuclear safety. The Near-Term Task Force (NTTF) Review of Insights from the Fukushima Dai-Ichi Accident produced a collection of basic (and, as discussed here, rather weak) recommendations last summer. Chairman Jaczko tried to start the process of turning those recommendations into rules–a process that could stretch beyond five years–but met objections from each of the other four commissioners. Jaczko also wanted lessons learned from Fukushima included in construction and licensing permits granted to four AP1000 reactors (two to be built in Georgia, two in South Carolina), but the chairman was outvoted four-to-one by his fellow NRC members.

    Doesn’t sound to me like Jaczko “kept the (NRC) panel in the dark” and “made unilateral policy decisions against their will” (of course, Malkin’s lies fall under the heading of “sky is blue and water is wet”…what would be newsworthy would be if she were actually telling the truth).

    Continuing…

    (Another) (and most often referenced) complaint fired at Jaczko was that he had created a “hostile work environment,” especially for women. Though Svinicki, the only woman on the commission, lamented Jaczko’s tone, the specific “charge” (if it can be called that) was brought by Commissioner William Magwood. Magwood said there were female staffers that Jaczko had brought to tears, though none of those women personally came forward (because, it was said last year, they did not want to relive the humiliation).

    The story gained extra prominence when Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY; Kentucky, by the way, home to a nuclear waste nightmare called Paducah) attempted to use this alleged incident to disrupt the rising narrative of the Republican “war on women.” McConnell and others from his side of the aisle took to the microphones to denounce the administration’s treatment of whistleblowers and praise the apparently brave and much put-upon Svinicki.

    In what seems to be a rare case where the public’s relative lack of interest in nuclear regulation can be called a positive, McConnell’s gambit failed. . .

    . . . at least in derailing the “War on Women” story. (It also probably owes much to the GOP actually continuing its war on women.)

    But when it came to serving the nuclear industry, McConnell’s contribution to the ouster of Jaczko will likely be rewarded. . . with industry contributions of the monetary kind.

    (The nuclear industry, it should be noted, was not a fan of Jaczko because of his emphasis on safety, particularly in light of the Fukushima accident. Something else that should be noted is that President Obama nominated Svinicki, a Republican, to the commission for a second term this year over the objections of Harry Reid and Sen. Barbara Boxer of California.)

    Was Jaczko a tyrant on the job? Probably, maybe…I don’t care (unless he was doing anything illegal, which is another story). What I do care about is that someone takes his place as NRC head who isn’t a craven industry shill and who would actually pay attention to safety considerations (such a person would no doubt also earn Malkin’s enmity, a life form who, as noted here, knows a thing or two herself about meltdowns).

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