Friday Mashup (12/28/12)

December 28, 2012

Bushmaster

  • I was wondering about something; given the success of the gun buyback days in Los Angeles, CA (here) and Bridgeport, CT (here), why can’t we have a national gun buyback day? Turn in your gun and you get a gift card for $100 to spend wherever you want. Can’t help but be highly stimulative from an economic point of view, people (and right around the time when everyone is running around like the proverbial chickens with their heads cut off over the OMIGOD THE FISCAL CLIFF THE FISCAL CLIFF THE FISCAL CLIFF THE FISCAL CLIFF!!! – I thought Froma Harrop of the Providence, RI Journal had a good column on that here).

    “WHAA??? A NATIONAL gun buyback day? That’s more liberal crazy talk!!!”

    Lather, rinse, repeat (sigh).

  • And speaking of our alleged impending financial doom, our mistake of a U.S. House Rep from PA-08 recently took the time to send me a very professional written correspondence on that subject (of course, what he said was garbage, but at least it looked nice). In it, Mikey claimed that allowing the tax rates from those stinking Bush tax cuts to expire “would result in a tax increase of $4,400 per return in the 8th Congressional District.”

    Notice that Mikey the Beloved didn’t say “per person.” My guess is that he said “per return” to include any businesses in the 8th district, and I’m not terribly sympathetic to the tax liabilities of business since they can get a lot more creative with deductions and ways to shelter their money than I as a member of the “99 percent” can.

    Mikey also said that allowing those stinking tax cuts to expire would “cost 700,000 jobs” according to an analysis from the accounting firm of Ernst and Young.

    Really? As Factcheck.org tells us here

    There’s an important caveat in there that some may miss; the projection assumes the revenue generated by raising taxes on those making over $250,000 would be “used to finance additional government spending.” The report did not examine what would happen if the additional revenue were used to reduce future federal deficits. As we noted when the report was raised during the vice presidential debate, Moody’s chief economist, Mark Zandi, called that omission “odd” and said, “It seems to me that is the more relevant scenario. And my sense is that if they did, the results would be very different.”

    Also…

    There’s another small-print caveat to the Ernst & Young report, the definition of “long run” (when the job losses would supposedly hit). A footnote at the bottom of the report explains that “roughly two-third to three-quarters of the long-run effect is reached within a decade.” In other words, when the report cites the loss of 700,000 jobs, a quarter to a third of those job losses would happen more than a decade from now.

    Also, this tells us that someone named Gary Shapiro is upset here because he thinks, in response to all the “cliff” stuff, we’re going to abandon HR 3606, which is a crowd-funding initiative to try and kick-start job creation (I get concerned about this because I don’t think the proper oversight exists).

    We are talking about HR 3606, right? The bill that President Obama signed into law in April here? That HR 3606?

    Oh, and another thing, Mikey – if you supposedly care so much about the OMIGOD FISCAL CLIFF FISCAL CLIFF FISCAL CLIFF FISCAL CLIFF FISCAL CLIFF!!! so much, then how come you and your U.S. House “leadership” aren’t in DC right now trying to do something about it (here)?

  • Next, I have to admit that I’m getting a laugh out of the wingnuts’ latest fit of pique, and that would be over CNN’s Piers Morgan and his calling out of the gun nuts for their opposition to any firearms regulation whatsoever (here – more on the petition by James Taranto of the Murdoch Street Journal to get Morgan tossed out of the country follows)….

    “British Citizen and CNN television host Piers Morgan is engaged in a hostile attack against the U.S. Constitution by targeting the Second Amendment. We demand that Mr. Morgan be deported immediately for his effort to undermine the Bill of Rights,” the drafters of the petition wrote in their introductory statement.

    The petition has already netted more than 13,000 signatures one day after its launch, putting it well on pace to reach its goal of 25,000. That’s the threshold at which the Obama administration has promised to respond to online petitions submitted on the White House website, provided they reach that number in 30 days.

    “Ironic U.S. gun rights campaign to deport me for ‘attacking 2nd Amendment rights’ – is my opinion not protected under 1st Amendment rights?,” Morgan tweeted.

    “Your opinion is protected, your presence in the U.S. is not. See Kleindienst v. Mandel (1972),” Taranto replied to Morgan.

    As noted here, Richard Kleindienst was Attorney General under the Nixon Administration (a victim of the infamous “Saturday Night Massacre” over Watergate). He was also a litigant in the suit of Kleindienst v. Mandel, in which the U.S. AG was told that he had the power to bar someone’s entry into the U.S. under the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952.

    That had more than a little bit to do with the fact that Belgian journalist Ernest Mandel was a communist sympathizer (anathema back in 1952), which, last I checked, Piers Morgan is not in any way, shape or form.

    Silly wingnuts (and here is an update – too funny).

  • Continuing, this tells that that Number 44 was supposedly “humiliated” because the U.S. was not allowed to join the Regional Co-operative Economic Partnership (RCEP) with Asian countries.

    Meanwhile, this tells us the following…

    The notable absence of the United States should not signal alarm. The RCEP permits external countries to join later and does not prohibit members from acceding to other free-trade groupings, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement in which the United States is active.

    Besides, this tells us how Obama made an overture to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in ’09 after he was sworn in – the U.S. was denied entry, but it’s smart to keep a wary eye on this bunch – just file it under this (the SCO was formed in response to #43’s bungled war in Afghanistan…not saying we shouldn’t have gone after bin Laden and it’s possible the SCO would have formed regardless, but let’s just take it as a given that Obama’s wretched predecessor’s actions also gave rise to international responses that aren’t what we wanted).

  • Further, John Stossel wastes our time as follows at clownhall.com (here)…

    (Bill) Gates walks in the footprints of earlier creators, like John D. Rockefeller, who got rich by lowering the price of oil products, and Cornelius Vanderbilt, who did the same for transportation. The clueless media called them robber barons, but they were neither robbers nor barons.

    Call them whatever you want, but let me present the following in response.

    This tells us of the Ludlow Massacre in 1914 in response to oppressive mining conditions for those under the employ of John D. Rockefeller (Want to know where the eight-hour work day and child labor laws came from? As a result of this, which was called the deadliest labor strike in U.S. history, with anywhere from 69 to 199 fatalities).

    This tells us about the Great Railroad Strike of 1877, which actually was set in motion by Vanderbilt the year before by a 10 percent wage cut workers suffered during the century’s worst depression (and it didn’t help that all four major rail lines colluded in underpaying their work force). By the time the strike hit, Vanderbilt had died, but the damage was done.

    Once can only assume that Stossel is continuing his recovery from the head slap he endured from wrestler David Schultz; that could explain this fit of crackpot history.

  • Finally (and speaking once more of sports), Dennis Miller (of all people) recently stated as follows here

    On his program Monday, comedian and radio talk show host Dennis Miller took on the NFL for micromanaging the game in the name of safety.

    Miller’s comments were inspired by a cover story in Time magazine in which NFL commissioner Roger Goodell discussed a proposal to eliminate the kickoff to reduce neck injuries.

    To Miller, the NFL’s adjustments have gotten out of hand. And it may be time, he said, to stop tinkering with the rules and just start all over with a new game.

    “I think we should reboot this whole thing,” Miller said. “I think American football should be shut down by Congress. And I think they should build a new game so people who, and players too, I’ll be candid with you — I know a few players who think that it’s gotten so crazy and so politically correct and so out of its way and you can’t touch a quarterback, now they’re not happy with it.”

    “So why don’t we reboot?” he continued. “Why not let football remain in our memories as something — I don’t think it’s ever the ‘great American game’ like baseball, just because baseball is probably a better game and football innately does have the violence in it — but let’s stop it and leave it at that. Because it turned out that, as guys like [Bob] Costas and [Peter] King were the first to notice, it is a flawed exercise. And come up with a new game where people aren’t constantly thinking, ‘Oh my God. They are just contorting themselves to get around the fact that it is an innately violent game.’”

    I have to admit that this is a bit of an uncomfortable position for yours truly, feeling obliged to defend the oh-so-august-in-their-imaginations National Football League.

    I’m not a bit surprised to hear Miller come down on the sport, thought, when you recall that (as noted here), he was once voted the least favorite “Monday Night Football” personality of all time, coming in behind even O.J. “I’m Still Looking For The ‘Real’ Killer of My Ex-Wife And Her Boyfriend” Simpson.

    But of course, what else can you expect from a guy like Miller, who apparently has to prop up his “fake tough” bona fides by a stunt like this as well as attacking Sandra Fluke, as noted here, who has more character in her fingernail than Miller has in his entire body?


  • Thursday Mashup (12/20/12)

    December 20, 2012
  • I guess this isn’t really “cutting edge,” but this person at The Daily Tucker extols the supposed virtues of whaling here

    There are few activities more pleasurable than whaling. Like chess, the task of hunting giant, seafaring beasts engages all of a man’s wits. But unlike chess, whaling brings man deep into nature, far from the distractions of civilization. That combination is unique — no other sport matches it. That’s why I have never felt more alive, more human, than when I’m whaling.

    Whaling is also great for the economy. During its peak in the mid-nineteenth century, the U.S. whaling industry employed tens of thousands of Americans. Now, of course, it employs very few. Not only would legalizing whaling create jobs, it would spark the revitalization of America’s whaling centers, like New Bedford, Mass., while lowering the price of the whale oil we use to light our lanterns.

    Why, then, do environmental groups and others oppose whaling? It’s simple: racism. Whaling has historically played a central role in many Native American societies. Tribes like the Makah have whaled for centuries and want to continue to do so today. But the anti-whaling bigots will have none of it.

    It’s also possible that anti-whaling activists are Confederate sympathizers who are upset about the Union’s employment of whaling ships during the Civil War.

    (By the way, the author uses the pseudonym “Scoops Delacroix” to avoid prosecution, as the bio tells us.)

    Well, I oppose whaling, and I can assure you that I am most certainly not a Confederate sympathizer (I believe I have a bit more of an appreciation for their point of view after reading “Gods and Generals” by Jeff Shaara, but to me, that still doesn’t absolve them of leading an armed insurrection against this country). And while I readily admit that I’m not perfect on the issue of race and other matters, I do not believe that I’m an intolerant person on that subject.

    As nearly as I can tell, every product that we could obtain from whales can be manufactured synthetically. I will go along with some limited whale hunting by undeveloped nations that would be closely monitored by an international regulatory agency, but that’s it (more information is available from here, and here).

    And I don’t believe that God commands us to throw a harpoon or two into an 880-pound-or-more mammal that could easily kill me if I ever came face to face with it in a large body of open water.

  • Next, I suppose it’s completely inevitable that we revisit the issue of guns once more, which we should do I realize – as noted here

    The incoming chairwoman of the House Republican Conference urged caution in passing new gun laws.

    Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), speaking in an interview with C-SPAN set to air Sunday, was asked whether it was time to review current gun laws in light of a shooting rampage in Connecticut.

    “We need to find out what happened and what drove this individual to this place,” McMorris Rodgers said. “I think we have to be careful about new —suggesting new gun laws. We need to look at what drives a crazy person to do these kind of actions and make sure that we’re enforcing the laws that are currently on the books. And yes, definitely, we need to do everything possible to make sure that something like this never happens again.”

    The text I highlighted above is one of the typical Repug boilerplate responses on this subject; more such responses are noted here; McMorris Rodgers’ is #4, which I want to highlight in particular…

    We only need better enforcement of the laws we have, not new laws. In fact, Congress has passed several laws that cripple the ability for current gun regulations to be enforced the way that they’re supposed to. According to researchers at the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, a series of federal laws referred to as the Tiahrt amendments “limit public access to crime gun trace data, prohibit the use of gun trace data in hearings, pertaining to licensure of gun dealers and litigation against gun dealers, and restrict ATF’s authority to require gun dealers to conduct a physical inventory of their firearms.” Other federal laws “limited the ATF compliance inspections” and grant “broad protections from lawsuits against firearm manufacturers and retail sellers.”

    By the way, as far as comments from a politician go on this subject, I thought this was pretty good; I honestly don’t mean to pat myself on the back, but I’ve been making noise about this for years, and incurring varying degrees of wingnut wrath for it – that’s just the price you pay, but my point is that, while it’s positive to add any voice in support, it’s terrible that it took the slaughter of white children in a well-to-do suburb to do it, whereas people of color in inner cities have been getting slaughtered for years, and I’m talking about all ages here, with nary a peep of outrage from a lot of these people who, quite rightly, are upset now (and in that vein, kudos to Bob Casey for this – a little late to the party, as they say, but at least he showed up).

    And by the way, you can learn about more “fun” involving Cathy McMorris Rodgers here.

    Also, on this subject, I came across this bit of soul-searching from Repug strategist John Feehrey, who has come to a bit of a realization on guns, or so he says.

    Well, I think the silence of Feehrey’s old boss on Capitol Hill, Dennis Hastert, speaks volumes. I realize that he hasn’t been in public life for a little while now, but I think he among others needs to answer for the fact that he supported reducing the waiting period for a gun from three days to one, co-sponsored banning a gun registration and trigger lock law in Washington DC (both noted here), and dragged his proverbial feet in allowing the assault weapons ban to expire in 2004 (here –Dem Rep Jan Schakowsky was absolutely prescient in her remarks).

    And sticking to our guns, so to speak…well, we know what Ann Coulter is, but I thought her drivel was particularly obnoxious here, extoling the supposed virtues of concealed carry laws (and citing more statistical misinformation from John Lott to do so).

    In response, Bob Cesca tells us here that, according to a U of P medical study, “people with a gun were 4.5 times more likely to be shot in an assault than those not possessing a gun.”

    Cesca also tells us the following…

    PROPAGANDA: Banning guns won’t stop mass shootings because of the outlaws, blah blah blah.

    REALITY: Once again, totally not true. Australia, May 1996, a lone gunman killed 35 people and wounded an additional 23. Subsequently, Australia passed a very strict gun control law that included a buy-back program that managed to recover 600,000 assault rifles and other arms — 20 percent of all the known firearms in Australia. There were no more private sales of firearms, there were stringent registration laws, and, as with other nations, you had to prove to authorities that you had a specific reason for purchasing a firearm. And no, according to Slate, self-defense wasn’t a valid excuse. What happened after that?

    Violent crime and gun-related deaths did not come to an end in Australia, of course. But as the Washington Post’s Wonkblog pointed out in August, homicides by firearm plunged 59 percent between 1995 and 2006, with no corresponding increase in non-firearm-related homicides. The drop in suicides by gun was even steeper: 65 percent. Studies found a close correlation between the sharp declines and the gun buybacks. Robberies involving a firearm also dropped significantly. Meanwhile, home invasions did not increase, contrary to fears that firearm ownership is needed to deter such crimes. But here’s the most stunning statistic. In the decade before the Port Arthur massacre, there had been 11 mass shootings in the country. There hasn’t been a single one in Australia since.

    One of the thoughts on my mind about this issue is as follows; we’re taught to do so much from a defensive posture in our lives, which makes sense since the need for protection is self-evident. Here is one example; any driving instructor worth his or her salt tells the student to drive defensively and try to avoid situations that could lead to auto accidents.

    Well, why don’t we apply that thinking to guns? Buying more guns is taking an aggressive posture that could (and often does) lead to violent behavior. I mean, going back to the driving analogy, we’re not taught that looking for ways to cause accidents will make us safer, are we?

    (At least, I hope not.)

    And by the way, kudos to the mayor of Bridgeport, CT near Newtown for this; instead of destroying the guns, he should send them to Texas (removing my tongue from my cheek).

  • Continuing, there are those on our side who claim that President Obama received a “mandate” with 51 percent of the popular vote (I don’t agree with that, thought I wish it were true, and he should govern like he did anyway), which kicked off another round of wingnut caterwauling, as noted here.

    Funny how many of those same folks believed that a certain Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History had a “mandate” also with the same percentage when he was re-elected, as noted here (and I definitely didn’t agree with that either).

  • Finally (and on a somewhat related note), I give you the following from a former half-term-before-she-quit-to-cash-in governor of Alaska here

    When asked last night by Fox News’s Greta Van Susteren about Time magazine’s selection of President Obama as the 2012 person of the year, Palin responds, “Time magazine, you know, I think there’s some irrelevancy there, to tell you the truth. I mean, consider their list of the most influential people in the country and the world—some who have made that list: yours truly. That ought to tell you something right there regarding the credence that we should give Time magazine and their list of people.”

    This may come as a shock, but I actually agree with that.

    gwb_13-george-w-bush
    After all, in addition to Palin, this guy was also named Number One (and not once, but twice).


  • Friday Mashup (12/14/12)

    December 14, 2012
  • With all of the ongoing fiscal cliff kabuki going on, it was only a matter of time before deficit scold Judd Gregg made a return appearance, and he did so recently here

    In the parlance of John Wayne, it is a time to stand and deliver.

    “Stand” in this context means “stand up to” Republican and Democrat special interests.

    Both parties have, as part of their core elements, groups that do not wish to govern.

    Rather, they wish to stay in the corners of the ring and shout — artificially firing up their constituencies so that they can mine their followers for contributions and power.

    On the left, this is the cause of big labor and the AARP. On the right, it is the cause of the self-anointed definers of religious purity and the anti-tax cabal.

    These groups do not want action.

    That’s partly true, actually – no deal is better than a crappy one (oh, by the way, the last I checked, there was an “ic” in the name of the political party I support, as noted here).

    Oh, and did you know that Gregg helped kill the long-term care component of the Affordable Care Act, according to Charles Pierce here (and in case you don’t make it all the way to the end of either of the first two linked articles, allow me to point out that, since leaving the Senate, Gregg has taken up a nice cushy gig as an “international advisor” to Goldman Sachs…more on the “vampire squid,” as Matt Taibbi calls it, from here).

    And by the way, I could find no citation of John Wayne ever speaking the line “stand and deliver,” though Lee Marvin used it in “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,” in which Wayne co-starred (Marvin spoke the line to James Stewart).

  • Also, I know that continuing to pick on the media wing of the Republican Party is a bit of cruel sport at a certain point, but they do bring it upon themselves after all; as noted here, Obama campaign donor and Google ex-CEO Eric Schmidt (described as “creepy”) is attacked for sheltering money in Bermuda to avoid U.S. taxes.

    Didn’t we just finish an election where the nominee of the party Fox supports did the same thing in the Cayman Islands, as noted here?

    Boy, does our corporate media think we’re stoo-pid!

  • Continuing, Mike Moritz opined as follows at the Murdoch Street Journal (here)…

    After a seaside area has been designated as wilderness, when is it considered pristine enough by Washington’s standards? Is it after airplanes have been banned from flying over it? After electricity pylons and telephone cables have been removed, cars and bikers prohibited, the roads torn up? When hikers are forbidden access to trails, and kayakers, sailors and snorkelers banished from the water? When eucalyptus trees and other foreign species are eradicated? Or only after Miwok Indians’ arrowheads have been excavated and placed in a museum?

    Apparently it is none of the above, at least according to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. Instead, he seems to think that turning a tiny portion of the lovely coastline of California’s Marin County (part of the National Seashore) into the first marine wilderness in the continental United States also requires destroying a family-run oyster operation that has conducted business in the same spot for eight decades.

    So Mr. Salazar recently ordered the business to close within 90 days—a decision that will spell ruin for the Lunny family, owners of Drake’s Bay Oyster Farm, which supplies 40% of California’s oysters.

    The Lunny family, which has made major improvements to the farm operation it took over in 2004, has been hounded for years by a National Park Service with a vendetta so chilling that any rancher on federal lands should be alarmed. Goaded by a clutch of environmental groups, the Park Service has resorted to tactics that might have come straight from Nixon’s dirty-tricks department. For instance, the Park Service alleged that the farm’s oyster boats disturbed the quiet of the area, but the measurements used were revealed to have been taken in New Jersey—and involved jet skis.

    Who exactly is Mike Moritz? As noted here, he’s a well-heeled venture capitalist with Sequoia Capital in Menlo Park, California; he also is a prominent supporter of President Obama, as Wikipedia tells us (I have a suspicion that there’s more going on here, but that’s all I have for the moment).

    More on this is noted in this story (and it looks like the person handling the litigation here is Dan Epstein of the conservative front group “Cause of Action”).

    To me, though (and based on this), Kevin Lunny took a gamble in 2004 and lost (and I think the whole “noise” thing involving the NJ park rangers is much ado about zilch).

    The bottom line, IMHO according to the Daily Kos post, is as follows (from the comments)…

    (The Point Reyes National Seashore, where Drake’s Bay Oyster Farm is located) was PRESERVED (in 1962 by JFK, and designated a marine wilderness in 1976). That means it’s for the environment and recreation FIRST. Ranching was specified in the enabling language as a compatible use so long as it was consistent with the natural resource values. Mariculture was NOT.

    To me, there’s the potential for a rather dangerous precedent to be set here. If the decision to keep the oyster farm stands, then that means that federal laws and treaties affecting natural resources can be overturned by states in the name of preserving commerce.

    And if that happens, does anyone in this country seriously think the right-wing desecration of the environment will come to a halt over the fate of an oyster bed?

  • Next, I just want to add a little more about the decision of the illustrious governor of the commonwealth of PA, Tom Corbett, to let the feds run the health care exchange instead of the state (here)…

    “Health care reform is too important to be achieved through haphazard planning. Pennsylvania taxpayers and businesses deserve more. They deserve informed decision making and a strong plan that responsibly uses taxpayer dollars,” Corbett said in the press release. “Therefore, I have decided not to pursue a state-based health insurance exchange at this time. It would be irresponsible to put Pennsylvanians on the hook for an unknown amount of money to operate a system under rules that have not been fully written.”

    In response, here is some background on the exchanges, which apparently Corbett had no desire to actually read. It should also be noted that both Michael Leavitt, the HSS Secretary under Dubya (who had issues like everyone else in Bushco, but actually “found the nut” for a change here) said that the states should set up the exchanges (with Repug former Senate Majority Leader – and MD – Bill Frist saying the same thing here…see the Leavitt note). In addition, this tells us that, as employers drop Medicare, more seniors are turning to the exchanges for care.

    Oh, and did I note that Corbett committed PA to running its own exchange here (in November of last year…near the bottom of the article)?

    And when it comes to PA and demagoguery on the health care law, you just know that Mikey the Beloved, our mistake of a U.S. Congressional Rep from PA-08, had to have a say (here…and how funny is it to hear a Teahadist like Mikey complaining about President Obama and his “ideology”)…

    (Fitzpatrick) said the scheduled reduction of about 30 percent in Medicare reimbursement payments to health providers at year’s end and the federal debt limit almost certain to be reached this winter should be part of current fiscal cliff negotiations between Democrats and Republicans.

    “Singling out one piece of the puzzle without seeing how all the other pieces can fit together, while politically expedient for some, is reckless and just bad policymaking,” Fitzpatrick said.

    In response, allow me to provide the following from here

    Now it is true that the law envisions reductions in Medicare. And some of that money will help pay for the rest of the law. And there are problems in some places with doctors not being willing to accept Medicare patients. But those two things aren’t actually connected.

    And if THEY aren’t connected on health care, then you’d better believe that the debt limit isn’t either (care for some oranges with your apples and pomegranates, Mikey?). And we are talking about health care here, aren’t we, Mikey?

    Continuing with the NPR story…

    The problem with Medicare pay for doctors actually predates passage of the health law by more than a decade — it’s a preexisting condition, if you will, (Harold Pollack, a professor of public health policy at the University of Chicago) says. “And every year, Congress has to go through the song and dance with something called the doctor fix to prevent Medicare fees from a fairly catastrophic reduction. That has nothing to do with the Affordable Care Act. Health reform does not cut physician fees.”

    But wait, there’s more (here)…

    (Fitzpatrick), in a statement issued jointly by 11 Republican members of the Pennsylvania Congressional delegation, said Corbett made the right call (on the exchanges).

    “The President’s health care law was passed nearly three years ago and yet the Department of Health and Human Services has yet to issue clear guidance to states…”

    Really, Mikey? Try reading this once more (same link as the one for Corbett).

    There are times when I honestly don’t know how this thoroughly unprincipled liar can bear to look at himself in the mirror.

  • Further, “The Pericles of Petticoat Junction,” as James Wolcott called him, is baaaack to claim, among other things, that Number 44 is going to get rid of the home mortgage interest deduction (here)…

    Such Obama supporters may soon notice that the new federal and state tax rates, the envisioned end to traditional deductions such as those for blue-state high taxes and for mortgage interest, and means testing for most government services are aimed precisely at themselves.

    Meanwhile, Obama’s proposal to get rid of the home mortgage interest deduction “hit a wall of resistance,” as noted here, for earners under $250 K (and may that continue to be the case).

  • Finally (and returning to Fix Noise)…well, it just wouldn’t be the season without more hilarity from this bunch, would it (here)…

    The 2012 White House “Holiday” card spotlights the Obama’s family Portuguese water dog — instead of Christmas.

    The black and white illustration was designed by Iowa artist Larassa Kabel and shows Bo the dog, wearing a scarf, while frolicking in the snow on the South Lawn of a blurred White House.

    The inside of the card reads:”This season, may your home be filled with family, friends, and the joy of the holidays.” The card is signed by the entire First Family — along with Bo’s paw print.

    Vanity Fair deemed this year’s Obama ‘Holiday’ card his best-ever in a posting titled, “Bo Obama: the True Meaning of Christmas.”

    Returning to the world of reality, this tells us the following…

    …White House holiday cards have not included the word ‘Christmas’ during the terms of George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. It was not included in the final six years of former President Ronald Reagan’s term. This year’s card (December 2005) does not mark a departure from the practices of recent previous administrations.

    And while we’re on the subject of the alleged “war on Christmas” by The Roger Ailes BS Factory, let’s not forget that we have a case of “physician, heal thyself” as noted here.

    God bless us every one.


  • Friday Mashup (12/7/12)

    December 8, 2012
  • In a column that otherwise has some sensible moments in it, Michael Sivy of Time concocts the following from here

    While it is true that a large deficit in any particular year is not a problem, longer term trends do matter. If national debt is relatively low – less than 50% of annual GDP, say – there’s plenty of room to spend in the short run and then balance the budget later. This is basically what happened over the course of the combined Reagan and Clinton administrations. The result was an economic boom that lasted more than 20 years.

    The article likes to a chart of GDP stretching back to The Sainted Ronnie R, claiming that prosperity was built on low debt from then until now, which is hilarious when you consider this (so much so that Reagan raised the debt ceiling 17 times, as noted here, with #43, Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History, doing so 7 times…by the way, Number 40 commendably raised the taxes on capital gains relative to wages, as noted here).

    Between the administrations of Reagan and Number 42, Poppy Bush presided over an economic downturn that, albeit relatively brief, was just long enough to pave the way for Bill Clinton’s election (interesting that Sivy managed to forget that – of course, if he had, what passes for his argument would have fallen apart).

    Not to be outdone, Teahadist Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin also tried to claim that Reagan was responsible for Clinton’s success here before he was slapped down by Bob Shrum (and how funny is it for Johnson to claim that all he needed was lower tax rates to start his business when you consider this?).

  • gwb_13-george-w-bush

  • Continuing, I know I just mentioned the ever-odious predecessor to President Obama above, but it bears repeating that yesterday (12/6) was the sixth anniversary of the findings of the Iraq Study Group, which announced in 2006 what just about any sentient being already knew by that point. And that is that Dubya’s Not-So-Excellent Adventure in Mesopotamia was an abysmal failure.

    And how did the overmatched man-child in An Oval Office respond? With this. And ultimately, as all of his horrendously awful decisions did, leading to this.

  • Next, we have U.S. Senate Repug Jeff Sessions from Alabama making a lot of noise here at Obama Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack for supposedly encouraging food stamp use by Mexican immigrants, or something.

    I wonder if Sessions knows that the number of his constituents who have signed up for food stamps has increased by 20 percent, as noted here? Or that food stamps are actually an economic stimulus, as noted here?

    Of course, why deal with reality when there are political talking points to propagate instead, right?

  • Turning to the pages of the Murdoch Street Journal, Turd Blossom himself (no escaping from Dubya’s awful legacy is there?) propagandizes as follows here

    …there are considerable downsides for Mr. Obama if the nation goes over the fiscal cliff. His approval rating (51% in the most recent Gallup Poll weekly average) will probably drop, as it did during the July 2011 debt-ceiling battle. While Congress’s standing dipped a little then, the president’s Gallup rating sank to 38% in August 2011 (from 47% at the start of the year). It didn’t get back to 50% until April 2012.

    As noted here, even though Obama’s approval numbers were admittedly not great during that farce, he and the Senate Dems polled better than Orange Man and his Repug pals in the U.S. House.

    Continuing…

    By contrast, when Mr. Obama and Republicans amicably agreed to extend the Bush tax cuts for two more years following the 2010 midterm elections, his job-approval rating rose to 49% from 43% over the course of 10 days. Deadlock, controversy and stalemate cause Mr. Obama’s numbers to drop. Bipartisan agreement causes them to rise.

    Rove is actually partly right on this; shocking, I know – of course, the part he doesn’t mention is that the GOP congressional numbers slipped by comparison also, as noted here (and of course, the vote was so “amicable” that Boehner called it “chicken (crap),” as noted here).

    At least Fix Noise actually had the good sense to tell Rove to take a seat for a while (here), though he’ll no doubt be back. Wonder if the Journal is keen to do the same thing?

  • Finally (and sticking with President Obama), I give you the latest bit of right-wing umbrage here

    “2016: Obama’s America,” a conservative documentary, raked in more money than all the 15 films being considered for the Best Documentary Academy Award combined. But the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Monday announced “2016″ won’t even get a shot to win a nomination for the award.

    Gerald Molen, the Oscar-winning producer of “Schindler’s List” and “2016,” blames Hollywood’s “bias against anything from a conservative point of view” for the Academy Award snub, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

    The film, directed by conservative author Dinesh D’Souza, earned $33.4 million nationwide, making it the highest-grossing documentary of the year.

    “Dinesh warned me this might happen,” Molen told THR. “The action confirms my opinion that the bias against anything from a conservative point of view is dead on arrival in Hollywood circles. The film’s outstanding success means that America went to see the documentary in spite of how Hollywood feels about it.”

    For his part, D’Souza jokingly thanked the Academy for “not nominating our film.”

    You want to know why this piece of propaganda didn’t receive an Oscar nomination? Read the following from here

    Why is the film called “2016”? D’Souza’s one-sided argument ultimately stoops to fear-mongering of the worst kind, stating in no uncertain terms that, if the president is reelected, the world four years from now will be darkened by the clouds of economic collapse, World War III (thanks to the wholesale renunciation of our nuclear superiority) and a terrifyingly ascendant new “United States of Islam” in the Middle East. These assertions are accompanied by footage of actual dark clouds and horror-movie music.

    The real bogeyman isn’t Obama, who D’Souza acknowledges can come across as an appealing and charismatic leader. That honor is shared by several men D’Souza refers to as Obama’s “founding fathers,” in an unsubtle dig at the president’s patriotism. It’s a group that includes communist Frank Marshall Davis; former Weather Underground member Bill Ayers; academic Edward Said, whose views are described as anti-Zionist; liberal Harvard professor Roberto Unger; and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, a proponent of so-called black liberation theology.

    None of the names of these putative villains is new, which gives “2016” the air of a “Nightmare on Elm Street” sequel, pandering to the franchise’s hard-core fans, while boring everyone else.

    More on D’Souza and his history of hateful fictions can be found here.

    Here is another reason why I’m not particularly sympathetic to any conservative argument about supposedly being slighted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (which sounds all high-falutin’ I know, though it is hardly that, despite the way they get dressed up at the Oscars) – anybody out there besides me remember a 1994 documentary called “Hoop Dreams”?

    As Wikipedia tells us…

    The film follows William Gates and Arthur Agee, two African-American teenagers who are recruited by a scout from St. Joseph High School in Westchester, Illinois, a predominantly white high school with an outstanding basketball program, whose alumni include NBA great Isiah Thomas. Taking 90-minute commutes to school, enduring long and difficult workouts and practices, and acclimatising to a foreign social environment, Gates and Agee struggle to improve their athletic skills in a job market with heavy competition. Along the way, their families celebrate their successes and support each other during times of economic hardship caused from the school change.

    The film raises a number of issues concerning race, class, economic division, education and values in contemporary America. It also offers one of the most intimate views of inner-city life to be captured on film. Yet it is also the human story of two young men, their two families and their community, and the joys and struggles they live from their recruitment in 1987 through their college freshman year (1991-92).

    Wikipedia also tells us that the film ended up earning about $11 million, which I know is a third of what this anti-Obama nonsense pulled in (I would argue that it will continue to earn money in video rentals, though obviously not as much as it earned years ago).

    Here is the kicker, though – as Roger Ebert and others have pointed out, “Hoop Dreams” was easily the best documentary the year it was made, and it wasn’t nominated for anything either (and good luck trying to find a conservative agenda in the compelling stories of William Gates and Arthur Agee).

    Of course, Molen and D’Souza could try to make a film following up on Gates and Agee if they felt compelled to right the wrong of that film’s denial of a nomination years ago, as opposed to their own.

    And I would expect that to take place at about the time hell freezes over (and speaking of Ebert, best wishes to him, on the mend as noted here).


  • Friday Mashup (11/30/12)

    December 1, 2012
  • To begin, let’s take on the “crazy” right away with Joseph Curl of the formerly Moonie Times (here – a little behind on some of this stuff, I’ll admit)…

    Sure, the president got his minions to drop the unemployment rate to 7.8 percent a couple months before the election (“See? It IS getting better!”). But bam, just like you can be sure that the one relative who drives you nuts will absolutely make it to your house for the holidays, new jobless claims skyrocketed right after Nov. 6, jumping to 439,000 — up 78,000 from the week before the election.

    Oh yes, that Kenyan Muslim socialist pre-zee-zint cooked the unemployment numbers to win the election. Horrors!

    I thought this was a good response to the Ohio/Pennsylvania thing; namely, the state unemployment numbers are a week behind the federal numbers, and the state numbers in question weren’t released until November 10th – the federal Sandy-influenced numbers were released on November 3rd, with New Jersey being the 3rd-highest state in unemployment behind Ohio and PA…a fortuitous break for Obama to be sure, but definitely not an “OMIGOD ANOTHER SCARY MUSLIM BLACK MAN CONSPIRACY!!!” (what matters is whether or not the numbers turn out to be a trend or an aberration, and how much the numbers are attributed to OMIGOD THE FISCAL CLIFF THE FISCAL CLIFF THE FISCAL CLIFF THE FISCAL CLIFF!!!).

    With all of this in mind, Joe Nocera defends the Bureau of Labor Statistics here against the charge (made by Jack Welch and other greed heads) that Obama cooked the numbers (and I thought this was a good response also, with the trend lines providing the key details).

  • Next, this life form at clownhall.com tells us of the supposed “job killing” FDA-required menu labeling guidelines for calories stipulated in Section 4205 of the Affordable Care Act (which allegedly requires chain restaurants with 20 or more locations, including franchises and perhaps some grocery stores, to post calorie information for all products on in-store menu boards).

    I’m not exactly sure how this could be deemed as an issue, since, as noted here, the FDA withdrew food menu guidelines as of January 2011.

  • Continuing, this article from the Murdoch Street Journal tells us the following…

    The former chief executive of Massey Energy Co. said in a rare interview that he has no immediate plans to return to the coal-mining business after a noncompete agreement expires at the end of the year.

    (Don) Blankenship has started a personal website and began posting again on Twitter.

    A controversial figure in the coal industry and West Virginia politics, (Blankenship) has largely kept himself out of the spotlight since retiring from Massey in December 2010, eight months after an explosion—the industry’s worst in 40 years—killed 29 workers at the company’s Upper Big Branch mine in Montcoal, W.Va.

    In recent weeks, the 62-year-old Mr. Blankenship has launched a red-white-and-blue-themed personal website and began posting again on Twitter, raising speculation that he might be preparing to launch a business venture or even a political campaign.

    Well well now, isn’t that interesting? Imagine the utter nightmare of a Senator Don Blankenship, people.

    In response, there’s a ton of garbage here on Blankenship, including telling us that he considers the science on climate change to be “humorous” (not surprising, given that Blankenship made his fortune in coal) and that mountaintop removal for coal mining is “small afterdamage”; we also learn that Massey disabled the mine methane monitors before the April 2010 explosion that killed 29 miners, so that the miners could “continue to run coal.”

    And speaking of the disaster, Massey under Blankenship also denied time off to the friends of the victims working at the mines so they could go to the funerals (nice).

    Gosh, the campaign slogan just about writes itself, doesn’t it? Vote for Don Blankenship To Risk An Unnatural Death While The Planet Slowly Suffocates.

    I’ll bet the Teahadists are already planning campaign rallies.

  • Finally, fresh off his victory over Dem Kathy Boockvar in the election a few weeks ago, I give you the following involving our wet noodle Repug PA-08 U.S. House rep (here)…

    Just two days after the November election, members of progressive groups filed into Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick’s office and called on him to oppose cuts to Medicare and Social Security as part of any budget deal.
    On Black Friday, as shoppers lined up at Oxford Valley Mall, many likely saw a 30-foot banner at the Woodbourne Road I-95 overpass, compliments of Pennsylvania Working Families that stated, “Tell Rep. Fitzpatrick: Extend the Middle Class Tax Cuts.”

    In the meantime, large labor unions took out radio ads targeting Fitzpatrick and fellow Republican Pat Meehan to renew middle class tax breaks.

    Election? What election?

    Oh, I’m sorry – I forgot to point out that this column was written by Mikey’s designated stenographer Gary Weckselblatt (who apparently believes, like a typical Repug, that election losers ought to sit down and shut up, since their opinion no longer matters, as if it ever did to begin with…oh, and speaking of “what election?,” I give you this).

    Continuing…

    (Fitzpatrick) said Obama’s plan to raise rates on the wealthy “presents American families with false choices that lead to more economic stagnation.”

    He called for a “grand bargain” that resolves not only the expiring tax rates but a fix to avoid the Medicare physician payment cuts and the looming debt ceiling.

    “I will vote for a plan which is bipartisan in nature that does not cost jobs,” he said. “My district demands we consider all the options, and to earn my vote any deal presented to Congress must present a vision for putting middle income families back on the path for stability and prosperity. And it must not cost jobs.”

    Earlier this year, the Senate voted to extend tax breaks for all but the top wage earners. The House voted to keep the rates for all.

    Asked if at the deadline he would support a version of the Senate plan to protect a potential hit to the middle class, Fitzpatrick said “call me then … you’re asking me a theoretical question.”

    What a profile in courage, my fellow prisoners.

    In response, 350 economists called for investment in jobs instead of “austerity” (which Mikey is basically calling for more of) here (including passage of the American Jobs Act, which continues to gather dust due to inaction from Mikey and his Repug pals in the House). And this is actually better evidence than the prior link that raising the top marginal rate would help job growth, not hurt it.

    And in a related story, as they say (concerning the “A” word), Pastor Gerson pontificates as follows here

    America is entering a period of prolonged austerity. The entitlement commitments made by past generations have been rendered untenable by demographics and health cost inflation. The problem is no one’s particular fault…

    Pardon me while I gag.

    For the reality point of view in response, former Reaganite Bruce Bartlett tells us the following here

    Because of the large deficits Mr. Bush bequeathed Mr. Obama – on Jan. 8, 2009, the C.B.O. projected a deficit for the year of $1.3 trillion that didn’t include any Obama policies – Congress was deeply reluctant to enact a stimulus larger than $787 billion, even though President Obama’s economic advisers thought that one at least twice as large was necessary to turn the economy around. The opposition of every Republican to the 2009 stimulus was a major factor in its inadequate size.

    By way of analogy, suppose you go to your doctor with an illness. He correctly diagnoses it and prescribes the right medicine, but for some reason you are given a dosage only half as large as required. The medicine was enough to improve your condition, but not enough to cure you. You remain sick although you feel better and will remain so until you finally get a full dosage of the proper medicine or your body is able to cure itself, which might take years.
    Note that in this analogy the medicine was properly prescribed; only the dosage was wrong. It would be incorrect to blame the medicine because you are still sick.

    The Republican economists nevertheless blame the medicine itself for the failure of the economy to respond to President Obama’s prescription.

    But it was Republican policies during the Bush administration that brought on the sickness and Republicans in Congress who have denied the economy an adequate dosage of the cure. Now they want to implicitly blame President Obama for causing the recession and the failure of stimulus to fix the problem, asserting that fiscal stimulus is per se ineffective.

    There is a word for this: chutzpah.

    I can think of some words myself, but I really do endeavor to keep this a profanity-free zone, so I’ll just let that go for now (and this tells us that the development by “no one’s particular fault,” according to Gerson, is hammering state economies). And for good measure, Professor Krugman chimes in as follows from here

    …the economic doctrine that demands austerity also rationalizes social injustice and cruelty more broadly, and how this recommends it to authority, rings especially true.

    We might add an insight from another 20th-century economist, Michal Kalecki, who wrote a penetrating 1943 essay on the importance to business leaders of the appeal to “confidence.” As long as there are no routes back to full employment except that of somehow restoring business confidence, he pointed out, business lobbies in effect have veto power over government actions: propose doing anything they dislike, such as raising taxes or enhancing workers’ bargaining power, and they can issue dire warnings that this will reduce confidence and plunge the nation into depression. But let monetary and fiscal policy be deployed to fight unemployment, and suddenly business confidence becomes less necessary, and the need to cater to capitalists’ concerns is much reduced.

    And Gerson actually has the utterly contemptible gall to use the words “austerity” and “morality” in the same sentence of his WaPo screed.

    By the way (returning to Mikey), I’m still waiting for The Treason-Alleging Liar to renounce his “no new taxes” pledge to Grover Norquist, who, last I checked, did not reside in Fitzpatrick’s congressional district (maybe Mikey could be spurred on by some of his Repug playmates who’ve found a collective spine on this issue, as noted here).


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