Tuesday Mashup (7/31/12)

July 31, 2012
  • I got a laugh out of this item from “Deadeye Dick” Cheney recently…

    Former Vice President Dick Cheney said President Barack Obama is “one of our weakest presidents” and worse than Jimmy Carter.

    “Obviously, I’m not a big fan of President Obama,” Cheney said in an interview that aired Monday on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “I think he’s been one of our weakest presidents. I fundamentally disagree with him, philosophically. You’d be hard put to find any Democratic president that I’ve disagreed with more.”

    “Worse than Jimmy Carter, from your perspective?” ABC’s Jon Karl asked him.

    “Yes.”

    (Oh, and by the way, here is another example of journalistic malpractice from corporate media hack Jon Karl.)

    And one more thing – allow me to present the following in response:

    Approval rating upon leaving office (Jimmy Carter) – 34 percent
    Approval rating upon leaving office (Dick Cheney) – 13 percent

    I rest my case.

  • Further, I give you the following from some Fix Noise bimbette (here)…

    Warning: Bailout alert!

    The Obama administration has decided it’s time to spread the wealth some more, just in time for the election.

    Who’s getting it this time? Broke college grads.

    Obama’s team wants these borrowers to be able to wipe out their private student loans through bankruptcy.

    Again the administration is forgetting there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

    Oh yes, how dare those mooching, in-debt college students go looking for a “big gumint” handout, right (oh, and by the way, “Foxies,” you can have more than one sentence in a paragraph).

    In response, please allow me to point out how the ruinous 109th Congress rewrote the bankruptcy law that is now devastating both credit card and student loan debtors, as noted here.

    Of course, anyone defaulting on their home, car or credit card payments can declare bankruptcy, cumbersome though that process now is, but students carrying student loan debt cannot. And Obama is merely trying to level the playing field (which, of course, is all it takes to start another round of wingnut harrumphing).

  • Silly in-debt college students – don’t they know that corporate “welfare” is the only type approved by Republicans?

  • Continuing, “Pope” Douthat whined as follows recently at the New York Times (here)…

    “Our faith journey isn’t just about showing up on Sunday,” Michelle Obama said. “It’s about what we do Monday through Saturday as well … Jesus didn’t limit his ministry to the four walls of the church. He was out there fighting injustice and speaking truth to power every single day.”

    But Mrs. Obama’s words notwithstanding, there seems to be a great deal of confusion about this point in the Western leadership class today.

    You can see this confusion at work in the Obama White House’s own Department of Health and Human Services, which created a religious exemption to its mandate requiring employers to pay for contraception, sterilization and the days-after pill that covers only churches, and treats religious hospitals, schools and charities as purely secular operations. The defenders of the H.H.S. mandate note that it protects freedom of worship, which indeed it does. But a genuine free exercise of religion, not so much.

    If you want to fine Catholic hospitals for following Catholic teaching, or prevent Jewish parents from circumcising their sons, or ban Chick-fil-A in Boston, then don’t tell religious people that you respect our freedoms. Say what you really think: that the exercise of our religion threatens all that’s good and decent, and that you’re going to use the levers of power to bend us to your will.

    I think this commentary is particularly stupid considering the fact that the recent merger in these parts between Abington Memorial and Holy Redeemer Hospitals was canceled after widespread outcry among doctors, clergy, and community organizations (here)…

    “It was clear that the outrage and betrayal was felt unanimously throughout the hospital,” wrote the 20 residents in Abington’s OB-GYN program, in a letter they released after the meeting. “There is strong opposition to having our medical practice dictated by Catholic doctrine rather than our patients’ best interests and standard of care.”

    Lisa Jambusaria of Los Angeles, who is in the final year of her 4-year ob-gyn residency training at Abington, said she would never have applied there if she had known abortions would be banned. Although the hospital performs fewer than 100 abortions per year, many involve women carrying defective fetuses that would not survive beyond birth, or women whose own health is endangered by the pregnancy.

    “We are one of the rare hospitals that provides these (abortion) services,” Jambusaria said. “We get these referrals all the time.”

    So, instead of resorting to typical right-wing polarizing language next time, why doesn’t Douthat actually base his argument in science, best medical practice and medical community need instead of ideology (yes, I know asking the question is futile, but I’m inclined to do it anyway).

    (And by the way, on the subject of belief and mental health, I’ll offer this and merely say that this is consistent with my own experience.)

  • Finally, I give you yet another example of why our corporate media, for the most part, shouldn’t be taken seriously.

    See (as noted here), “Chuckles” Krauthammer of the WaPo opined as follows recently…

    Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer took a victory lap Sunday evening after White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer’s claim that the White House did not return a Winston Churchill bust to the British Embassy was discredited.

    “I suggest Mr. Pfeiffer bring this to a short, painless and honorable conclusion: a simple admission that he got it wrong and that my assertion was correct,” Krauthammer wrote in a Sunday evening blog post. “An apology would be nice, but given this White House’s arm’s-length relationship with truth — and given Ryan Zimmerman’s hot hitting — I reckon the Nationals will win the World Series before I receive Pfeiffer’s mea culpa.”

    Oh, and by the way, as long as the Nationals were mentioned – yeah, as I type this, the Phillies are in full-sell mode and the Nats are clearly ascendant – I’d like to say something.

    First of all, good for the Nats…there are seasons of losing as well as seasons of winning, and the roles clearly are reversed at the moment. But the D.C. team should at least try to be gracious. By that I mean that they should stop their whining about those oh-so-bad-mannered Philly fans (I probably should have said this in May when the Phils last went there, though they’re slated to play there again beginning tonight). At least we came to watch you when you were lousy (and believe me that it isn’t easy to put up with New York or especially Boston fans at Citizens Bank Park, but we’ve gone along with it…their money is the same color as ours).

    So shut up and chalk it up to past history, OK? Nobody likes a winner with a chip on his shoulder.

    Now, back to Krauthammer – the following is noted in the Daily Tucker piece…

    It turns out there are two Churchill busts, one that had been in the White House since the 1960s and another that Prime Minister Tony Blair loaned President George W. Bush at the outset of the Bush administration. Pfeiffer admitted as much in an update to his blog post. Obama returned the loaned bust to the Brits when he moved into the White House, and the original bust was moved to the White House residence, where it is today.

    Do you want to know why Krauthammer refuses to give up on this, even though he is manifestly wrong? Because he was rooked into believing that the Obama Administration told the Brits what they could do with their bust of Churchill because of some nutball conspiracy theory by Glenn Beck, as noted here (namely, Beck circulated the urban legend that the return was an Obama Administration protest over Britain’s involvement in the Kenyan Mau Mau revolution of the 1950s).

    Wikipedia tells us that Charles Krauthammer is published in 275 newspapers and media outlets in this country. I can think of no greater evidence of the utter failure of our corporate media to educate and inform than that simple fact.

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    More Summer Health Care Hijinks with Mikey The Beloved

    July 30, 2012

    Our PA-08 U.S. House rep was allowed to propagandize last Friday in our local conservative scandal sheet…again…on health care reform…again (here)…

    I was sent to Washington to put our country back on the right track. As friends and neighbors expressed their feelings about the Affordable Care Act, it became abundantly clear that while all of us want to see more affordable and accessible health care, government-run, universal health care is the wrong direction. No matter how you feel about the decision, the Supreme Court has given us an opportunity to get health care right in America.

    The Affordable Care Act, which should have been used as an opportunity to bring us together, unfortunately became one of the most divisive issues ever addressed in the House of Representatives for two reasons: the 2,700 page bill was railroaded through Congress with little time afforded for any legislator to truly understand the bill, and, few Americans believe government-run, universal health care is the solution to making medicine more accessible and affordable.

    “Railroaded through Congress”? What planet is Mikey living on?

    Do you remember the months of hearings and political “sausage-making” that went on particularly in the Senate while the Obama Administration tried to woo people like Ben Nelson, Joe Lieberman, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe and Max Baucus and the Senate Finance Committee considered interminable amendment after interminable amendment? As well as the whole “will Harry Reid use reconciliation to pass the bill or won’t he” kabuki that played out something like this?

    I realize Mikey was out of Congress from 2006 to 2010, but that still doesn’t give him an excuse for playing fast and loose with the facts (and aside from his loss to Patrick Murphy, there was another reason why that matters very much in this discussion that I’ll note at the end).

    Continuing…

    Like most of us, I oppose a government-run health care system funded by mandatory taxes which puts bureaucrats, not patients and doctors, in charge of health care. It has been argued over the past 18 months that the Affordable Care Act did little to drive down the cost of health care and will be funded, devastatingly, on the backs of those who are already paying their fair share. In fulfilling my commitment to visit 100 businesses in 100 days this summer, employers explained that a Supreme Court decision upholding the costly mandate for families while imposing countless taxes would be the worst possible outcome for businesses to get our economy moving once again. To be clear, I believe failure to repeal the act will result in the largest tax increase in American history on middle-income families.

    Actually, Mikey has it exactly backward, as usual – as noted here, repealing the “law” (it’s not really an “Act” any more at this point – and yes, I make that mistake too) would cost over $100 million, and the effort to repeal to this point has cost $50 million so far (here).

    Continuing…

    Without a full repeal, the government will continue to hold our economy hostage and middle-income families will be taxed out of recovery. However, we must ensure that the solid progress we have made on issues such as pre-existing conditions and covering dependents under 26 continues in whatever framework we develop.

    I love the fact that Mikey says “solid progress” has been made on the very issues addressed by the Affordable Care Act, which he plainly detests. Also, as noted here, tax receipts in this country are at their lowest level in about 60 years (so much for being “taxed out” of recovery).

    Also…

    Even under the Affordable Care Act, 15 million people would have remained uninsured.

    Actually, Mikey, the number is a lot higher than that, as noted here. And signing the so-called “public option” into law, or establishing “Medicare for all” (both of which were strenuously opposed by you and your party) would have lowered that number considerably.

    Update 7/30/12: OK, so I was off too, on the jobless number anyway – but so was Mikey, still (here…h/t Atrios).

    Continuing…

    Taking a larger view, over 90 percent of privately insured Americans are covered by an employer-sponsored health care plan.

    Note that Mikey didn’t say “90 percent of all employed Americans” (I honestly think the unemployed are invisible to our PA-08 rep, hence his touting earlier in his column about meeting “100 business people in 100 days,” or something – yes, meet with business people, but just because someone isn’t a “job creator,” that doesn’t mean that they don’t have health insurance coverage issues also…when Mikey makes an appearance at a job fair, I would appreciate it if he would let us know).

    In addition…

    Tort reform is another critical component as frivolous lawsuits costs the health care industry between $70 billion and $126 billion annually by forcing doctors to recommend needless tests and procedures in a game to limit exposure to liability. Doctors continually cite this as a major problem that is not only costly, but, limits access to medical care.

    I beg to differ with Mikey on tort reform – it was tried in Texas (referred to as “the breeding ground of bad government” by The Eternal Molly Ivins), and the predictable result is here (Mikey and his pals plan to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act, but with what, they apparently don’t know, or possibly do know but are refusing to tell us, as noted here – more good stuff on this from Media Matters is here).

    It’s particularly galling to hear Mikey whine and propagandize about this issue as opposed to other right-wing “hobby horses,” mainly because, though he managed to benefit from excellent care during his struggle with cancer a little while back, he would willingly sabotage the Affordable Care Law and thus deny others of potentially the same opportunity.

    There are a few words that can be used to describe that type of an individual, but I’ll merely say that they have nothing to do with the religious faith he professes to believe and practice and leave it at that (and to do something about this, click here).

    Update 8/2/12: Oh, and speaking of our congressman, it should be noted from here that he recently voted against extending those stinking George W. Bush tax cuts to anyone making less than $250 grand (I guess he thinks none of us are “job creators”).


    Monday Mashup (7/23/12)

    July 24, 2012
  • Pity the poor “pay no price, bear no burden,” put-upon “job creators,” as Ari Ari Bobari whines here

    You wouldn’t know this from President Obama’s rhetoric, but our tax system, according to a recent report by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), is incredibly progressive. Consider: The top 1% of income earners pay an average federal tax rate of 28.9%…The average federal tax rate on the top 20% is 23.2%. The 20% of taxpayers earning between $50,100 and $73,999 pay an average 15.1%, and so on down the line. The CBO report includes payroll as well as income taxes paid.

    There’s also another way of looking at fairness, and that’s the tax burden. Here, consider the top 20% of income earners (over $74,000). They make 50% of the nation’s income but pay nearly 70% of all federal taxes.

    WAAAAHHHHH!!!!!!

    Gee Ari, do you want to know what the top rate was in, say, 1958? You know, back when this country had a federal government that actually did stuff, like building the interstate highway system, without a bunch of conservative naysaying? 90 percent, that’s what!

    Moreover, as noted here

    Rich Americans are not overtaxed. Not by a long shot. From 1996 to 2007 the overall federal tax rate for the richest 1 percent fell by more than 6 percentage points. The top marginal income tax rate dropped from 70 percent in 1980 to 35 percent today. And that’s just for starters.

    The Bush tax cuts, enacted in 2001 and 2003, delivered massive new tax breaks to the rich, reducing a millionaire’s tax bill by hundreds of thousands of dollars. And tax benefits—such as the home mortgage interest deduction, the charitable deduction, and the employer provided health care exclusion—all benefit the rich more than they benefit the middle class. One in four millionaires pays a lower overall tax rate than millions of middle-class families.

    One percent of the people paying 40 percent of all the taxes? It sounds unfair, right? But stop to think about it for more than a moment and it becomes apparent that the statistic is meaningless.

    First of all, federal income taxes are only one part of the overall tax system. By focusing only on the one piece of the tax code that is very progressive, conservatives are artificially inflating the share of taxes paid by the 1 percent.

    Second, the rich pay most of the taxes because they make most of the income. Think about it: Of course the richest 1 percent of people pay way more than 1 percent of all the taxes—they have way more than 1 percent of all the income. That’s why they are in the top 1 percent.

    Third, the share of taxes paid is a really silly way to think about tax burden. What matters isn’t the amount of taxes someone pays as a share of total revenues. What matters is the amount of taxes someone pays as a share of his or her own income.

    But of course, this is typical for Fleischer, who has a knack for numeric misrepresentation, as noted here.

  • Next, it was inevitable that the pro-gun crowd would use the Aurora massacre over the weekend to express their own sort of umbrage at those nasty “anti-gun libs” who want to confiscate their weapons of death and mayhem, as noted here

    The target of liberal legislators is the gun show. If you are a licensed gun dealer you hold a Federal Firearms License and are required by law to perform a background check before you can release the gun to the buyer. That makes good sense and often there is a waiting period. A waiting period makes good sense too unless you are someone being threatened or harassed and you happen to need a way to defend yourself. The attacker will be reassured that the government will deny you, the potential victim, an immediate opportunity to purchase a tool to defend yourself. When an attack is going to happen in seconds the police, if called, will respond in minutes to take the crime report.

    I would say that that’s a real dig at the men and women of law enforcement, which of course is typical for the hardcore pro-gun zealots. If you believe that you could be attacked “in seconds,” then I think the prudent thing to do is give the police some advanced notice, wouldn’t you say? Or (and here’s a really left-wing idea I suppose), you could go to the police, tell them you have a suspicion that someone is going to attack you, and actually let them investigate as opposed to carrying out some vigilante “justice” with tragic consequences (see Martin, Trayvon).

    Continuing…

    Here is the controversial aspect of a gun show: the unlicensed seller. This is a person that wants to sell his personal property to another individual. It is the equivalent of you saying “Mike, you want to sell that .22?” And then me telling you I’ll take 50-bucks for it. We have a deal and I’m the unlicensed seller. But, I don’t need a license to sell you my .22. That is the “gun show loophole.”

    Closing the “gun show loophole” enables the government to curtail person to person sales. That is what is really behind the attack on gun shows. Every gun would have to be turned into a gun dealer so that it could be tracked by the Federal Government and then the transfer process would be monitored by the Federal Government. The right you have now to sell your neighbor your shotgun will be gone, forever.

    Once again, WAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!

    In response, I give you the following from here

    Why is it important to get rid of the gun show loophole?

    The gun show loophole makes it very easy for guns to fall into the hands of prohibited individuals, including criminals and juveniles. Closing the loophole would put a barrier between the legal and illegal markets for guns. It is more difficult for law enforcement to trace firearms sold on the secondary market. Second-hand firearms typically have left the possession of a licensed dealer, where records are kept, and reached the hands of an unlicensed seller, who is not required to keep records.

    How can we close the gun show loophole?

    It’s simple. Closing the dangerous loophole merely requires unlicensed gun sellers at gun shows to conduct the same instant background checks that licensed dealers must conduct.

    Won’t closing the gun show loophole violate the Second Amendment?

    No. No matter what your interpretation of the Second Amendment is, it is illegal for criminals and youth to get guns, and federal law already requires background checks for sales by licensed dealers. We need background checks at guns shows to protect law-abiding citizens while keeping guns out of the hands of those prohibited from owning them.

    Won’t requiring background checks on all sales at gun shows be a bureaucratic nightmare?

    Closing the gun show loophole would merely involve unlicensed gun sellers at gun shows implementing that same system. More than 95% of background checks are completed within two hours, and most are completed in just two minutes.

    Will closing the gun show loophole put gun shows out of business?

    No. Three of the five states that host the most gun shows – Illinois, Pennsylvania, and California – closed the gun show loophole years ago, and gun shows continue to thrive.

    And as far as the supposed lack of public interest in gun control, I think the following should be noted from here.

  • Finally, I didn’t realize that Willard Mitt Romney was so desperate to shift the debate from his whole “to the manor born” attitude about not releasing additional tax returns (to say nothing of his wife) as well as how many employees he laid off at Bain Capital (to say nothing of when he supposedly left) that he would start clipping quotes (and, if past is prologue, he’ll continue to pull this garbage even though he has been completely busted on it, though the wingnutosphere, true to form, has dutifully carried his proverbial water).

    Update 7/31/12: And isn’t this precious, by the way, in a related story? Too damn funny…

    For the record (as Greg Sargent notes here), this is what President Obama actually said about job creators and government…

    Let me tell you something. There are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there. If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that.

    I also think it’s a good idea, in light of this, to look at what past presidents have said about government, to give you some perspective as to who is on the right side of history here and who isn’t (and please spare me any dreck from The Sainted Ronnie R or his “son”…the yield from those tiny minds on this subject isn’t worth noting in the final analysis).

    First, though, I digress slightly and give you this (Update 7/24/12: I forgot to add this yesterday)…

    …big government is not something that has been forced on Americans by liberal elitists and power-hungry bureaucrats. We have it because we ourselves have demanded big government to deal with the many big problems we have faced in our society. We have called for big government programs when it has been obvious that there are serious problems that cannot be solved through individual effort or by the natural workings of the free market.

    And by and large, most Americans continue to support these big government programs. Polls consistently show that between 60 and 70 percent of Americans want to see increased federal government activity around issues of the environment, education, crime, Social Security, and health care. Importantly, such large majorities supporting big government programs cannot simply be made up of liberals; they must also include a lot of moderates and conservatives as well.

    So when it comes to the issue of big government, it may actually be the Republicans who are the elitists — who are trying to impose their view of minimal government on a public that has demanded and still supports most big government programs. Democratic candidates in the upcoming elections would do well to make that one of their campaign messages.

    Further, I think we need to consider the following quotes from some of our former presidents:

    If men were angels, no government would be necessary.James Madison

    “The bulk of government is not legislation but administration.” “Men can never escape being governed. Either they must govern themselves or they must submit to being governed by others.” – Theodore Roosevelt

    “The object of government is the welfare of the people.”- TR again

    The success of our popular government rests wholly upon the correct interpretation of the deliberate, intelligent, dependable popular will of America. – Warren Harding (even someone not remembered as that great of a president knew something so obvious)

    And perhaps, coming from the granddaddy of them all on this subject (don’t totally agree with all the sentiments of the author here, even if he does make some good points – and I think we can substitute “9 and 3” years here with “8 and 4,” and we’d be about right)…

    For twelve years this Nation was afflicted with hear-nothing, see-nothing, do-nothing Government. The Nation looked to Government but the Government looked away. Nine mocking years with the golden calf and three long years of the scourge! Nine crazy years at the ticker and three long years in the breadlines! Nine mad years of mirage and three long years of despair! Powerful influences strive today to restore that kind of government with its doctrine that that Government is best which is most indifferent.

    We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace–business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.

    They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.

    And given all of what we’ve seen so far in this election (to say nothing of what remains to be seen), it’s pretty damn plain which candidate represents the “organized money” part of the equation and which one doesn’t.


  • Tuesday Mashup (7/17/12)

    July 18, 2012
  • To begin, here’s former Bushie Doug Feith in the pages of the Murdoch Street Journal yesterday (here)…

    In the 16 months since the revolt began (in Syria), the Obama administration has neither promoted humanitarian “safe zones” on Syria’s Turkish border, nor provided arms to the rebels. It has not helped establish a no-fly zone, nor has it supported NATO military strikes against Assad’s forces.

    In response, I would tend to side with foreign policy expert Joshua Landis, who said here that Obama was “smart” to stay out of Syria for the following reason…

    “America is not good at nation-building in the Arab World. We’ve seen this in Iraq. We’ve seen this in Afghanistan. Syria is not an easier country. It has the same divisions.”

    Uh, yep. And besides, as noted here, Obama promised to provide “non-lethal” aid to the rebels and stepped up sanctions against both Iran and Syria here (not a panacea I know, but something).

    And besides, as noted here

    For Obama, military engagement with Syria may not be feasible from either a policy and political perspective. Syria, unlike Libya, has greater defense capabilities, and administration officials doubt a bombing campaign could be accomplished quickly and relatively bloodlessly. Engaging U.S. forces in Syria would also run counter to Obama’s foreign policy campaign narrative, which is built on being the president who ends wars, with the Iraq conflict coming to a close under his watch and the Afghanistan campaign winding down.

    In addition, as noted here

    U.S. President George W. Bush had a falling out with the Assad regime over Iraq and vigorously contested its domination of Lebanon, but his hardball tactics weren’t really designed to undermine its grip on power. American officials denounced the lack of democracy in Syria and held high profile meetings with secular opposition leaders, but gave the cold shoulder to the Muslim Brotherhood. Washington wanted Syrian cooperation in Iraq, Lebanon, and Gaza, and for that it needed a stable government capable of honoring its commitments.

    Though outraged by the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri (in Western capitals, arguably the most personally well-liked Mideast leader of his day), European governments steadily reconciled with Damascus as its allies subsequently battled for supremacy over Lebanon’s pro-Western March 14 coalition. When EU Foreign Policy Chief Javier Solana visited Assad in March 2007, the subject of reform and human rights in Syria didn’t even come up.[3]

    I don’t know if it would have mattered if Former Commander Codpiece had bothered to broker the subject with Assad, but there’s no percentage at all in ignoring the subject altogether.

    Continuing with Feith, I give you the following…

    By refusing to act on Syria, the president is missing an opportunity to advance U.S. security interests in the Middle East, while benefiting Iran, the principal sponsor of the Assad regime. And by suggesting that America lacks international legal authority to act, he is undermining U.S. sovereignty. Presidents have traditionally striven to bolster America’s sovereignty and freedom of action, but Mr. Obama evidently sides with the global legalists who see national sovereignty as a problem to be overcome, not a principle to be cherished.

    Oh brother…

    I’ll tell you what – when it comes to overseas matters such as this, particularly in the Middle East, I inevitably turn to Juan Cole, who provides more typically cogent analysis here as to why we should stay out of arming the Syrian rebels.

    And let’s not forget Feith’s awful track record on Middle East foreign policy management overall, noted in horrendous detail by yours truly here (as well as the ludicrous charge that Obama is “anti-Israel” here).

  • Next, I give you the following from The Daily Tucker (here)…

    In 2010, Florida Democrats mercilessly attacked then-candidate Rick Scott over his record at Columbia/HCA, a company Scott founded that eventually became the largest private, for-profit health care company in the U.S. Democratic candidate Alex Sink spent much of the campaign alleging impropriety and scandal because Columbia/HCA paid $1.7 billion in fines to the U.S. government, never mind that Gov. Scott was never charged or even questioned in the matter.

    For the record, it should be pointed out that Lex Luthor Scott was investigated for the following, as noted here

    …federal investigators found that Scott took part in business practices at Columbia/HCA that were later found to be illegal — specifically, that Scott and other executives offered financial incentives to doctors in exchange for patient referrals, in violation of federal law, according to lawsuits the Justice Department filed against the company in 2001.

    The doctor payments were among 10 different kinds of fraud identified by the Justice Department in its 10-year probe of the company, records show. Three years after Scott left Columbia/HCA, the company admitted wrongdoing, pleading guilty to 14 felonies — most committed during Scott’s tenure — in addition to paying two sets of fines totaling $1.7 billion…

    Whether or not Scott was aware of his company’s questionable conduct, the breadth of the problems raises questions about Scott’s leadership, management experts say.

    Oh, and by the way, this isn’t technically illegal either (not as far as we know), but it still stinks to high heaven (take a bow, all you voters in the Mickey Mouse state who elected this fraud over Alex Sink two years ago).

  • Finally, I give you the following hilarity from BoBo (here)…

    Let’s say you are president in a time of a sustained economic slowdown. You initiated a series of big policies that you thought were going to turn the economy around, but they didn’t work — either because they were insufficient or ineffective. How do you run for re-election under these circumstances?

    Do you spend the entire campaign saying that things would have been even worse if you hadn’t acted the way you did? No. That would be pathetic.

    OK, to begin with, this tells us that the stimulus was successful (should be conventional wisdom by now…oh well), as was the bailout of the auto industry (sorry, BoBo).

    And on the subject of “things would have been even worse” had Obama not won election, I think we should consider the following from this March 2008 article in Salon…

    On domestic policy, (Repug presidential candidate John) McCain’s nostrums for the bad economy are job training and “tax cuts.” As Paul Krugman once pointed out, “tax cuts” were Bush’s response to each and every economic problem that arose, however unrealistic they were. Half of all the benefits of Bush’s 2003 tax cut went to millionaires, and the sad impact on ordinary Americans of consequent lack of services and the diversion of wealth to the wealthy, has now become amply apparent. The more economically literate Republicans have caught on to Bush’s “tax cut” shell game. Ironically, John McCain used to be one of them, declining to sign on to some of Bush’s tax cuts. No more.

    By “tax cuts,” Republicans such as McCain mean lowering specific federal taxes on income and capital gains. This step would harm federal income, which will fall anyway if there is an extended recession, and would mainly benefit Americans in the top income brackets. A federal government with less income will be less able to pay for the services and job training ordinary workers and middle-class people need, especially in bad times. Moreover, in a recession, you want the government to spend more money, not less, which cannot be accomplished by reducing its income. McCain, like Bush, seems firmly stuck in 1929.

    This isn’t surprising I suppose, when you consider that John W. McBush said repeatedly that he didn’t know much about the economy, or words to that sorry effect, as noted here. Also, on the subject of Obama’s alleged “socialism” (please – some interesting food for thought on that here), I should point out that McBush’s VP nominee, Just Plain Folks Sarah Palin Dontcha Know, set up something in Alaska, with everyone in the state getting about $3 grand each from oil company fees, that looks more like socialism than anything concocted by Number 44, as noted here.

    Oh, and did you know that BoBo once said that President Obama wouldn’t fit in at an Applebee’s salad bar, or something (particularly funny since Applebee’s doesn’t have salad bars, as noted here), and told our chief executive to “Go visit a factory for once” a matter of days after he had already done so (here)?

    But of course, we can’t expect BoBo to admit that he, along with Mr. “Chunky Reese Witherspoon” himself, are nothing but conservative quota hires for The Old Grey Lady, installed to merely propagate right-wing talking points as opposed to undergoing the frequently arduous work of crafting enlightening commentary whose stated purpose is to educate and inform, providing the vital information upon which we citizens can make informed decisions.

    That would be pathetic.


  • Thursday Mashup (7/12/12)

    July 13, 2012
  • Leave it to a former Bushie to throw cold water all over a good idea (here)…

    High-speed-rail executives from around the world gather in Philadelphia this week, hoping to boost support for bullet trains in the United States, where momentum has been slowed by high costs and political disputes.

    The new national transportation funding act signed by President Obama on Friday contained no money for high-speed rail, although the administration had sought about $8 billion a year. And Republican governors of Florida, Wisconsin and Ohio have spurned federal money for high-speed rail projects, sending the money back to Washington.

    “There’s no federal money, there’s no private money, and states are not in a position to finance it,” said Ken Orski, a transportation adviser to several Republican presidents, including George W. Bush. “The conference in Philadelphia will be high on rhetoric and talk of things going on in Europe and the Middle East . . . but in the domestic situation, their only hope is California.”

    Meanwhile, I give you the following (here)…

    High-speed rail does not exist in the U.S. And the fact that the new congressional budget deal completely eliminated high-speed rail funding for 2011 may lead many to believe it never will. Who can forget the headline-grabbing declarations by governors Rick Scott of Florida, John Kasich of Ohio and Scott Walker of Wisconsin that high-speed rail is a no-go in their states? Between their refusal of federal funds, the political posturing on Capitol Hill and the endless debates in the editorial pages of newspapers, it’s easy to get the sense that high-speed rail is dead.

    But while the fast train indeed has been dealt a serious blow, the fact remains that it’s coming: Illinois will spend more than half a billion dollars this year on upgrading existing tracks to accommodate speeds of 110 mph, while California officials plan to break ground next year on the $42 billion Los Angeles-to-San Francisco high-speed rail link. Notwithstanding the congressional budget cuts, there was still $2 billion up for grabs this year — thanks to Florida. Twenty-four governors — 12 Democrats, 11 Republicans and one Independent — applied for that money. The Federal Railroad Administration dedicated the $2 billion to 15 states and Amtrak in May.

    And from here

    By 2017, the fastest train in America will zip through Central New Jersey at 160 m.p.h…

    In two decades: New York to Philadelphia in 37 minutes. To D.C. or Boston in 94 minutes.

    Does that work for you? I hope so. Particularly since, as noted here, it is vital that our public transportation system do all that it can to connect workers to jobs (and even though I realize high-speed rail may cater to higher earners than many people living in cities, I’m quite sure it will return more “bang for the buck” than building more highways, hastening further sprawl and congestion).


    As that noted philosopher Mongo pointed out in “Blazing Saddles,” “got to do with where choo-choo goes”…

  • Next, leave it to the Murdoch Street Journal to accuse Obama Attorney General Eric Holder of “Jim Crow”-style politics (here)…

    Speaking to the NAACP in Houston on Tuesday, Mr. Holder assailed the Texas law that requires voters to show some identification, using terms redolent of Deep South racism before the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. “Many of those without IDs would have to travel great distances to get them—and some would struggle to pay for the documents they might need to obtain them,” he said. “We call those poll taxes.”

    The nation’s first black Attorney General knows exactly what he is doing by citing the fee that some Southern states used after Reconstruction to disenfranchise blacks. Poll taxes were made illegal by the 24th Amendment in 1964.

    Oh, and as far as the Journal is concerned, that automatically means that no such thing as a real or potential violation of the 24th Amendment could ever occur, right? Would that that were true – this tells us how the IRS under Bushco tried to find out the political affiliation of taxpayers in 2006 (also a violation of the amendment).

    And in response to that paragraph in the Journal editorial about Texas voters being allowed to use their gun permits as acceptable ID for voting (figures), I give you this

    In South Texas, the region with the richest tradition of voter fraud in the state, few election officials believe a new law requiring all voters to have photo identification will do much to curb voting chicanery.

    And that’s because more of a potential for actual fraud exists with mail-in ballots than in-person ballots, with 18 percent of Texas voters lacking proper ID as noted here (I don’t have any numbers on the percentage of mail-in ballots nationally from Democrats versus Republicans, but I would venture to guess that mail-in ballot voters typically are not the ones being targeted by ALEC and the Koch Brothers).

    In conclusion, the Journal tells us the following…

    As for the “poll tax” canard, the law says the Texas Department of Public Safety will issue a free Election Identification Card if requested.

    Umm, OK…of course, the Journal happily discounts the fact that voters most likely to be affected probably don’t know that they’re non-compliant with the law as it currently stands (also caring not to admit that there would be a huge burden put on state workers responsible for mailing out the proper ID to everyone, that is, if the affected voters realized something was wrong – and Heaven forbid that the “yellow rose” state, among all the others with onerous new voter ID laws, would educate in advance those who would be turned away on Election Day).

    The Journal also referred to Holder’s characterization of the Texas Voter ID law (and by extension, laws across the country, including our beloved commonwealth) as “buncombe,” which, I suppose, is French for horse dookey (thanks to the Journal for expanding my word power).

    Update 7/14/12: More here.

  • Finally, did you know that African American voters could actually cost President Obama the election?

    OK, you can stop laughing now.

    No, really, you can stop, OK?

    I mean, Edward Klein of Fix Noise says so here, so he must be right…right?

    And do you know why? Well…

    Many socially conservative church-going blacks are deeply upset with Obama’s endorsement of gay marriage.

    Oh, please.

    In response, I give you the following (here)…

    The expected backlash among blacks to President Obama’s endorsement of same-sex marriage has yet to materialize. And a new Washington Post-ABC survey suggests that black opinion is very quickly moving the other way, with a majority of African Americans now saying they support same-sex marriage.

    Fifty-nine percent of blacks now say they support same-sex marriage, an 18-point jump since the president’s announcement of his own support two weeks ago. Fifty-three percent of Americans now believe that same-sex marriage should be legalized, which also marks a substantial spike since 2006, when just 39 percent of those polled thought it should be legalized.

    And as noted here from Ben Jealous of the NAACP…

    “If you go to the board, you’ll see a lot of religious leaders,” Jealous told The Huffington Post last month. “All of the religious leaders on our board, except for one, were for marriage equality.”

    That one happens to be William Owens, who of course was also quoted at length in Klein’s piece.

    And if anyone thought Obama’s support of gay marriage was going to hurt him among African Americans, the following should be noted from here

    As Gallup itself reported in early May, Romney led Obama among non-Hispanic white voters by 54 to 37 percent, while the president had the support of more than three-quarters of non-white registered voters (77 percent). Obama’s support among African Americans on Gallup’s tracking poll stood at 90 percent.

    Oh, and let it be known that a certain Willard Mitt Romney hasn’t exactly endeared himself to African Americans lately (here and here).

    As noted here, though, Klein has been wanking away with fact-free punditry for some time now, infamously in his tome “The Truth About Hillary” (here). And the Tucson Citizen referred to Klein’s book on Obama called “The Amateur” as “the literary equivalent of a backed up-septic tank.”

    Well then, I’ve suppose we’ve identified Klein’s area of subject matter expertise at long last (buncombe, anyone?).


  • Monday Mashup (7/9/12)

    July 10, 2012
  • All class, Tucker – not sure what else I can add to an atrocity like this.
  • Next, I give you the latest propaganda from Investor’s Business Daily (here)…

    Political leaders continue to peddle the snake oil that we can spend our way back to prosperity.

    Many Americans believe President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Keynesian conversion beat back the Great Depression. It’s pure myth. In the 1930s, the United States doubled government outlays relative to GDP. The unemployment rate didn’t fall; instead, it jumped from 3.2% in 1929 to 25.2% in 1933 — an outcome contrary to Keynes’ doctrine.

    I think it’s utterly hilarious that IBD only considers four years of FDR’s entire term of office in its “analysis.” (if you want to read about historical U.S. unemployment rates from 1920 until the present day, click here).

    In response, I give you the following from Professor Krugman (here)…

    …there were big moves in years when nothing much was happening to military spending, notably the slump from 1929 to 1933 and the recovery from 1933 to 1936. But every year in which there was a big spending increase was also a year of strong growth, and the reduction in military spending after World War II was a year of sharp output decline.

    Yes, the unemployment numbers got worse later in the 1930s. However, that was due to a cut in government spending, not an increase (here).

    And if you don’t want to believe me, then believe that noted “Keynesian” Willard Mitt Romney himself, who said here that spending cuts would lead to “recession or depression.”

    If you want to know the real story on the drag on job growth, though, click here (and yes, I know all of this is a recording, but as long as the other side keeps lying through its metaphorical teeth…).

  • Further, Mark Krikorian of Irrational Spew Online takes a shot here at Denise Rich, former wife of fugitive financier (and Bill Clinton and Repug BFF) Marc Rich, for doing the “expat” thing and renouncing her U.S. citizenship (which, apparently, about 1,700 former citizens do a year – color me shocked)…

    I have no quarrel with people who want to emigrate. But to do so for tax reasons (which may or may not be the motivation in this instance) is, as David French put it in an exchange about Eduardo Saverin, “pathetic. Not punishable, but pathetic.”

    Why not punishable? Hey, why do the “half wingnut” when you can go “full on” with the crazy, you know?

    Well, given Krikorian’s staking out of the “America, Love It Or Leave It” ground, you would think that one of his conservative simpatico pals would be all too happy to mete out something that they approximate to justice on this score, wouldn’t you?

    Then please explain the following to me from here

    Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has a status update for Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin: Stop attempting to dodge your taxes by renouncing your U.S. citizenship or never come to back to the U.S. again.

    In September 2011, Saverin relinquished his U.S. citizenship before the company announced its planned initial public offering of stock, which will debut this week. The move was likely a financial one, as he owns an estimated 4 percent of Facebook and stands to make $4 billion when the company goes public. Saverin would reap the benefit of tax savings by becoming a permanent resident of Singapore, which levies no capital gains taxes.

    At a news conference this morning, Sens. Schumer and Bob Casey, D-Pa., will unveil the “Ex-PATRIOT” – “Expatriation Prevention by Abolishing Tax-Related Incentives for Offshore Tenancy” – Act to respond directly to Saverin’s move, which they dub a “scheme” that would “help him duck up to $67 million in taxes.”

    So two Democrats are the ones going after Facebook’s Eduardo Saverin, not, say, “Diaper Dave” Vitter and Sen. Mr. Elaine Chao.

    Well, that must be why Krikorian’s fellow traveler Jeff Jacoby considers Schumer and Casey to be demagogues here, even though Krikorian is the one trying to wax poetic about those leaving the U.S. trying to sever “the mystic chords of memory” (and from the strange political bedfellows department, I give you this).

    (By the way, my thoroughly unscientific and not-grounded-in-economic-facts-and-figures analysis says that we should just leave Saverin alone, people – let’s try fixing real problems instead, such as closing the corporate tax loopholes we currently tolerate, OK?)

  • Finally, I checked in with Pastor Gerson of the WaPo today, and found that he’s still doing a predictable job of opining about matters of almost no consequence (he’s in favor of circumcision because it’s proclaimed in the Old Testament – hey, whatever).

    And I really wouldn’t care if it weren’t for the second paragraph from here

    Along with the Cologne judge (in Germany, who ruled that ritual circumcision is a “crime”), most critics of circumcision also regard it as a violation of individual self-determination, which raises religious-liberty issues larger than a single snip.

    A strain of modern liberalism contends that only individuals and their rights are real in the legal sense — and there is no other acceptable sense. It is the role of the state to defend individual self-determination against oppressive institutions, including religious institutions. Since circumcision is coerced, it is unjust. The same claim might be made — and has been made — of early religious indoctrination of any kind. Liberalism thus leads to an aggressive form of assimilation to the values of the liberal order.

    Really? Then I guess every Jewish person here is just a damn stinkin’, Mumia-lovin’, Kenyan-Muslim-Socialist-supporting tree hugger, huh?

    Basically, I don’t care that much one way or the other – I think it should be left up to the family (though this is certainly important to consider). There are sanitary reasons in favor of it (full disclosure: I had it way back when), but just because a family opts out of it doesn’t mean that they’ve fallen prey to “an aggressive form of (liberal) assimilation.”

    You gotta hand it to Gerson, though, coming up with a new and different way to completely distract us from the issues that truly matter (economy, jobs, environment, civil liberties, Afghanistan, etc.).

    Yep, the guy is sure a cut-up (sorry…couldn’t resist).


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