Friday Mashup (2/22/13)

February 22, 2013

  • This story about another photo-op by Mikey the Beloved, for the purposes of consumption by unwitting consumers of the Bucks County Courier Times (Mikey’s house organ, let’s not forget), contains what might be the most shocking piece of actual reporting I’ve ever read from Gary Weckselblatt…

    Tuesday’s meeting in Sellersville Borough Hall was attended by veterans, nearly all of them seniors, who received automated calls by Fitzpatrick, R-8, for the mid-afternoon event.

    Fitzpatrick has taken to these smaller gatherings, where he is rarely challenged.

    Ye Gods, man! What are you trying to do, make it as plain as day that Mikey wants face time only with his followers and absolutely no one else?

    Weckselblatt had better be careful – he’s dangerously close to going “off script” here. And that will never do for a publication that sanitizes Fitzpatrick’s doings so effectively, all for the purposes of maintaining the “moderate Mikey” façade.

  • Next, I have to admit that I was puzzled by this item from Sen. Mr. Elaine Chao (blaming Number 44 exclusively for the looming “sequester,” a stinking dead dog of a deal Obama was basically forced to accept in order for the inmates running the asylum of the U.S. House to stop holding the debt ceiling hostage two years ago)…

    “Surely the president won’t cut funds to first responders when just last year Washington handed out an estimated $115 billion in payments to individuals who weren’t even eligible to receive them, or at a time when 11 different government agencies are funding 90 different green energy programs,” McConnell said in a statement. “That would be a terrible and entirely unnecessary choice by a President who claims to want bipartisan reform.”

    I really haven’t found any other information on the Senate Minority Leader’s claim, nothing direct anyway (and Heaven forbid that our lapdog corporate media actually hold McConnell to account).

    Unless of course Sen. Mr. Chao is referring to the Social Security payroll tax break, which, as noted here, would cost $115 billion were it to be extended through this year. Also, Think Progress tells us here that the Repugs basically opposed the tax break all along (egad, free money for the “47 percent”? You mean, those “takers”? Those people who believe they’re entitled to “big gumint”? Fetch the smelling salts – I may faint!…in addition, I thought this was an interesting related story).

    If that’s the “115 billion” McConnell is talking about…well then, shouldn’t he own that talking point for good and tells us what it means, if anything?

    (And speaking of McConnell…)

    And as long as I’m talking about the “sequester” and the Teahadists, it looks like someone in Boehner’s caucus named Jim Bridenstine of Oklahoma thinks the U.S. House Speaker will “cave” (herethis tells us how Bridenstine unseated incumbent Repug John Sullivan in the primary, which, for all intents and purposes, was the election…a curious case of optometrists versus ophthalmologists, apparently).

    Well, while the unemployment rate in Tulsa is about 5 percent (here), which is below the national average I know, I’m sure those 24 K or so people in Bridenstine’s district won’t be happy about a probable reduction in benefits, as noted here – you would think Bridenstine would be more concerned about that than sucking up to those zany teabaggers (kind of makes you wonder why they would even vote for Repugs to begin with given all of this, but that’s another story I know).

    Update 6/5/13: It looks like Bridenstine has endeared himself to the Teahadists again here.

    Update 6/12/13: I guess we’re looking at a weekly feature now – what stupid thing will Bridenstine say or do next (here).

  • Continuing, I really hadn’t planned to say anything about the business with Christopher Dorner in California, he being the LA cop who was let go and went on a killing spree before he was cornered and apparently took his own life, as noted here.

    That is, I hadn’t planned to say anything until a certain V.D. Hanson decided to opine on it here

    …the Dorner and (Trayvon) Martin cases suggest that the old racial binaries are fossilized and increasingly irrelevant. The United States is now a multiracial society, an intermarried society, and an integrated society, in which racial identity is each year more confusing. As we have seen with Elizabeth Warren and Ward Churchill, race is becoming a construct frequently used by elites for purposes other than their concern for the general welfare.

    I don’t know what the hell that sentence means (and I don’t have a clue as to what the “fossilized” old “racial binaries” are either), except to try and tie Dorner in with Trayvon Martin, Elizabeth Warren (whose ancestry was questioned here by “Wall Street Scott” Brown, bringing all of this to a head, let’s not forget) and OMIGOD Ward Churchill (who nobody cares about except conservatives).

    Hanson also references that stupid quote from Marc Lamont Hill, who, as Charles Blow pointed out, apologized for it (here – and Hanson, of course, being the hatchet man that he is, only included the word “exciting” from Hill’s quote anyway).

    Of course, this is about what you should expect from Hanson, who goofed on the issue of race before here, saying that then-presidential candidate Barack Obama did not give his views on “reparations” for people of color, when he had in fact done that very thing, with Obama saying that “the best reparations we can provide are good schools in the inner city and jobs for people who are unemployed.”

  • Further, I give you this on the nomination of Chuck Hagel for Defense Secretary…

    Sen. James Inhofe (R., Okla.) has warned fellow Republicans they will be held accountable if they vote to end an ongoing Senate filibuster over the nomination of embattled secretary of defense nominee (Hagel).

    “Make no mistake; a vote for cloture is a vote to confirm Sen. Hagel as Secretary of Defense,” Inhofe wrote in a strongly worded letter to his Republican colleagues, several of whom have indicated in recent days that they would vote to end debate on Hagel’s nomination, paving the way for his confirmation.

    With that in mind, I give you this from Inhofe about a week ago…

    “We’re going to require a 60-vote threshold,” Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) told Foreign Policy. But, he added, “It’s not a filibuster. I don’t want to use that word.”

    Sooo…as far as Inhofe is concerned, on the 13th he wasn’t talking about a filibuster, but now he is?

    My understanding (and I’ll admit I’m hardly an expert when it comes to the minutiae of the U.S. Senate) is that to delay a vote for cloture is to continue a filibuster (with the word cloture meaning “to end debate,” more or less).

    But please don’t call the opposition to Hagel a filibuster, OK?

  • Finally, I should point out that Mark Halperin is still an idiot (here, saying on “Morning Joe” that Obama could “reach out” to “moderate” Repug Senators. Rob Portman, Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander…really?).
  • As noted here, Portman introduced something called the “End Government Shutdowns Act,” the next effect of which would be to create automatic “continuing resolutions” that would defund all of that stuff liked by those who are supposedly dependent on government in the event that a budget deal wasn’t reached, giving the Teahadists the capability to do what they want via legislation instead of through threatening fiscal calamity on a regular basis (and more fool Jon Tester for going along with this garbage).
  • As noted here, Corker would only cave on those stinking Bush tax cuts if there was a cut in Medicare benefits (remember that the next time you hear Corker or any other Repug saying it’s the Dems who would do hard to that popular program).
  • As noted here, Alexander once accused the Obama White House of compiling an “enemies list” after hearing about it from Sean Inanity (gee, “project” much, Lamar?).
  • Meanwhile, Halperin will always get a guest shot on the morning gabfests (just lather, rinse, repeat, and cash the f*cking check…nice work if you can get it).


  • Friday Mashup (2/15/13)

    February 16, 2013

    1_61_bridge_collapse_450

  • Never letting dumb stuff like, y’know, facts and actual data get in the way of his talking points (like everyone else in his party apparently), Repug U.S. House Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster recently engaged in some name-calling of Number 44 after the State of the Union address on Tuesday (here)…

    I think he’s lying about CEOs — they want to invest in a country that has high-speed rail? Really? Tell me what CEO said that, that cares about high-speed rail,” Shuster said when asked for his thoughts on the speech. “Manufacturers want to invest in a country that has roads that are built, they want the infrastructure to be right for the transportation system, but to say one of the reasons they’re going to invest in America and manufacturing plants is because of high-speed rail is crazy.”

    (Ok everybody, feel free to take a break for a few minutes, since we know what’s coming next…catch up on the laundry or the bills, check the kids’ homework, replace the leaky oil pan in your SUV, get a snack or a cup of coffee…I’ll wait.)

    (Oh, I think Shuster has something else to say now, so let’s resume…)

    “This type of incendiary rhetoric is not my style,” Shuster said at a Chamber of Commerce infrastructure summit after apologizing for his remarks. “I do not think the president is a liar.”

    Later, when asked what he thought of the “fix it first” portion of the speech, Shuster threw his hands up and said, “I started off saying what I shouldn’t have said.”

    In response, I give you the following on the matter of the U.S. and infrastructure here, in which we learn (among other things) the following:

    – China spends 7 percent of its Gross Domestic Product on its infrastructure. India spends 5 percent. The United States spends less than 2 percent. Engineers think the U.S. will have to spend $2.2 trillion over 5 years to bring the overall grade for infrastructure up to an ‘A.
    – Here’s a sobering statistic: more than 4,400 of the nation’s 85,000 aging dams are considered susceptible to failure, according to the Association of State Dam Safety Officials.
    – The investment needed just to maintain the transit system’s current condition and performance is $7,900,000,000 annually over the next five years, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). It would take between $12,900,000,000 and $14,500,000,000 annually to maintain and improve conditions and performance–a need of about $72,000,000,000 over the next five years. Federal, state, and local investment averaged just $5,400,000,000 annually in recent years.
    – America is known for its huge highways, but with few exceptions (London among them) American traffic congestion is worse than western Europe’s. Average delays in America’s largest cities exceed those in cities like Berlin and Copenhagen. Americans spend considerably more time commuting than most Europeans; only Hungarians and Romanians take longer to get to work. More time on lower quality roads also makes for a deadlier transport network. With some 15 deaths a year for every 100,000 people, the road fatality rate in America is 60% above the (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) average; 33,000 Americans were killed on roads in 2010.

    And from here (by T. Peter Ruane, president and chief executive officer of the Washington-based American Road & Transportation Builders Association )…

    Some might wonder: What about that $800 billion stimulus package that was enacted in 2009? Wasn’t that supposed to solve problems such as this? The answer is depressingly simple: Just 6 percent of that money went to transportation infrastructure and states cut their own transportation spending by almost an equivalent amount. It is indeed unfortunate that we haven’t had more of a debate these past four years — a debate over the physical plant of our nation, over the facilities we all rely on for our health and wealth.

    So basically, I don’t know why (aside from stupid, petty partisan politics of course) Shuster or anyone else is quibbling over what President Obama or anyone else has to say about the need to rebuild our country’s infrastructure; money is cheap, and this is the time to spend it and invest in the future.

    I should also point out that “Tiger Beat on the Potomac,” as Esquire’s Charles Pierce astutely refers to Politico, called the story an “apology” from Shuster. To yours truly, however, it looked like nothing of the kind.

  • Next, I should note that there’s a reason why economists should be on the Sunday gab fests more often discussing financial matters as opposed to Beltway media talking heads; Fred Barnes of The Weakly Standard attempts to discuss money matters, and hilarity ensues (here)…

    Obama, though, was on-message (during the State of the Union address), just as he was in his inaugural address three weeks ago. He wants to spend more. He wants the government to do more (except overseas). And he isn’t much worried about the possibility of a debt crisis. He leaves it to Republicans to worry about things like the debt-to-GDP ratio.

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

    (The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities) goes on to advocate another $1.4 trillion in revenue and/or spending cuts, which would bring the debt ratio at the end of the decade back down to around its current level. But the larger message here is surely that for the next decade, the debt outlook actually doesn’t look all that bad.

    True, there are projected problems further down the road, mainly because of the continuing effects of an aging population. But it still comes as something of a shock to realize that at this point reasonable projections do not, repeat do not, show anything resembling the runaway deficit crisis that is a staple of almost everything you hear, including supposedly objective news reporting.

    So you heard it here first: while you weren’t looking, and the deficit scolds were doing their scolding, the deficit problem (such as it was) was being mostly solved. Can we now start talking about unemployment?

    And where exactly did that $1.4 (or so) trillion come from exactly? As noted here (in a post where Mr.-Puppy-Dog-Eyes-With-The-Shiv now embraces the “sequester,” due to cause the pain he professed to oppose on the campaign trail last year)…

    Days before House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) abandoned negotiations with President Obama to advance his failed Plan B, the White House paired a tax increase on the richest Americans with spending cuts of $1.22 trillion over 10 years, including “adopting a new measure of inflation that slows the growth of government benefits, especially Social Security.” Despite Ryan’s claims, the Democrats’ plan contained: $400 billion in savings “from federal health care programs; $200 billion from other so-called mandatory programs, like farm price supports, not subject to Congress’s annual spending bills; $100 billion from military spending; and $100 billion from domestic programs under Congress’s annual discretion.”

    Ryan also reiterated that Republicans won’t support additional revenues to turn off the sequester, noting that the American Taxpayer Relief Act — the last minute law that averted the fiscal cliff — included an increase in taxes on couples making more than $450,000 annually and singles making more than $400,000. “The point is, though, the president got his additional revenues. So that’s behind us,” Ryan said on Sunday.

    The comments represent another retreat for Ryan, who backed Mitt Romney’s proposal to raise revenues by eliminating tax loopholes and deductions for the wealthiest Americans. Those reforms were not included in the American Taxpayer Relief Act and could be part of a package that reforms tax breaks for high-income individuals and corporations, generating “$1 trillion in potential savings over 10 years” — more than enough to replace the sequester.

    But of course, since we’re talking about the Beltway…well, If it isn’t good news for Republicans somehow, then it must be bad news for Democrats, as noted here

    The president mentioned the coming sequester, but Douglas Elmendorf, the director of the Congressional Budget Office, told the Senate’s Committee on the Budget, that he can’t score the proposal to replace the sequester because he hasn’t yet seen “a specific proposal.” The sequester was the president’s idea, though he now suggests it came from Congress. The House has proposed targeted spending cuts that protect defense. Those proposals have gone nowhere in the Senate.

    Yes, the sequester did come from Obama, but Congress voted on it and approved it, with “Man Tan” Boehner saying he got “98 percent” of what he wanted in it here (and maybe this tells us why the proposals have “gone nowhere” in the Senate…because of military push-back, that is).

    And while we continue to dither away over this temporary nonsense, our roads continue to crumble, our bridges continue to wear, and our planet continues to melt.

  • Further, The Doughy Pantload is unintentionally hilarious here yet again…”oh, it’s ‘too trite’ to compare Obama to W.E.B. DuBois and the Repugs to Booker T. Washington…but I will anyway”…

    In an earlier era, Dr. Benjamin Carson’s speech before the National Prayer Breakfast last week would have been a really big deal rather than mere fodder for a brief squall on Twitter and cable news.

    Born in crushing poverty to an illiterate single mother dedicated to seeing her children succeed, Carson became the head of the department of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins medical institutions when he was 33. He’s been a black celebrity role model ever since.

    So what’s the deal with Dr. Carson anyway? As Jonah Goldberg tells us…

    Although much of Carson’s speech focused on personal responsibility, he offered two concrete policy ideas. The first is a flat tax. The Bible endorses the idea, Carson explained. Everyone should tithe — give 10 percent — in good times and bad. It doesn’t have to be 10 percent, he conceded. It’s the principles of proportionality and simplicity that matter.

    I don’t know about the Bible, but as far as Utah is concerned, that state passed a flat tax and quickly ran into funding problems, as noted here (and oh yes, what would our lives be like without another conservative lecture on “personal responsibility”?).

    Continuing…

    Critics complain that the poor guy who puts in $1 will be hurt more than the rich guy who puts in $1 billion. But, Carson asks: “Where does it say you’ve got to hurt the [rich] guy? He just put a billion dollars in the pot. We don’t need to hurt him. It’s that kind of thinking that has resulted in 602 banks in the Cayman Islands.”

    Oh, so it’s the fault of that baaad Kenyan Muslim Socialist in the White House that our august captains of industry have to shelter their booty offshore, isn’t it? Uh huh.

    Meanwhile, it looks like the U.S. loses about $280 bil a year in offshore accounts, as noted here, and this tells us what the IRS plans to do about it (have to assume it’s legal unless I know otherwise, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t stink to high heaven…and yes, I know about this in a related story, but I don’t think it’s as big of a deal as it was with Romney because, in the latter case, it fit in with a pattern of misbehavior and sanctimony towards the “47 percent” that was truly galling; there’s also a big difference between serving as Treasury Secretary and President of the United States).

  • Finally, I absolutely must say something about the latest from “Chuckles” Krauthammer (here)…

    I find this amazing. First of all, just hearing him say every first grader in America has to be prepared for a high-tech economy, that is a bit early, I think. The other part of this is here we are with $16 trillion in debt, a trillion dollars a year of deficits. We have created already, with under Obama, the biggest entitlement in 50 years. And now he wants to create a new entitlement for preschool for every 4-year-old in the country.

    The worst part of this, this isn’t just any new entitlement. This is an entitlement in an area where we know the $7 billion a year that we spend on Head Start doesn’t make any difference after the third grade. There is a study that HHS has done that showed that. So it’s failure and yet he wants to double down and to make it universal. That’s probably a definition of a liberal.

    Boy, am I sick of defending Head Start against attacks from the wingnutosphere (not attacking the program, I hasten to add).

    As noted here

    …according to Scholastic, “Economists say that the return for every dollar invested in preschool can be anywhere from $2 to $17 when you total the drop in special education, grade repetition, and crime, and add the value of a more productive workforce.” A 2005 study by the University of Texas’ Children’s Learning Institute estimates the return on investment at somewhere between $7 and $8 for every dollar spent, and National Head Start Association study pegs the benefits at $9 returned for every $1 invested in Head Start alone.

    And from here

    At the end of 3rd grade, the most striking sustained subgroup finding was related to children from high risk households. For this subgroup, children in the 3-year old cohort demonstrated sustained cognitive impacts across all the years from pre-K through 3rd grade. At the end of 3rdgrade, the Head Start children from high risk households showed favorable impacts on the ECLS-K Reading Assessment, the WJIII Letter-Word Identification, and the teacher reported reading/language arts skills. This was in contrast to the impacts for children in lower and moderate risk households, for whom there were no impacts. [U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, October 2012]

    And from the same link above…

    Head Start’s success over the decades has been built on evidence-based practices. The model, informed by programs like the Perry Preschool, an influential project that tracked children for decades, is constantly adapting — using the best available science and teaching techniques to meet the needs of local communities. [Reuters, 12/27/12]

    And from the same link above…

    Four indicators of economic and social success in adulthood are examined. We find that, for whites, participation in Head Start is associated with a significantly increased probability of completing high school and attending college as well as elevated earnings in one’s early twenties. African Americans who participated in Head Start are significantly less likely to have been charged or convicted of a crime. We also find suggestive evidence that African-American males who attended Head Start are more likely than their siblings to have completed high school. Finally, we uncover some evidence of positive spillovers from older children who attended Head Start to their younger siblings, particularly with regard to criminal behavior. [National Bureau of Economic Research, December 2000]

    I could go on, but I’m sure you get the idea.

    Charles Krauthammer is an utterly hacktacular propagandist who will continue to parlay his thoroughly discredited literary dreck in the face of all possible evidence that he is categorically, provably and demonstrably wrong, all for the furtherance of an “ownership society” agenda (them that’s got shall get, them that’s not shall lose, as the song goes) that has been catastrophic for the short, medium and long-term health of our nation.

    That’s probably a definition of a conservative.

    Update 7/9/13: And when it comes to Head Start, maybe “Chuckles” Krauthammer should suck on this (not that he would actually care, I know).


  • Tuesday Mashup (2/12/13)

    February 12, 2013
  • It looks like VA Repug governor Bob McDonnell was in these parts recently telling the party faithful that the “pity party” is over (here).

    So what does he propose as a “solution” to his party’s recent electoral woes?

    It’s time for Republicans to stop coming across as sour-faced free-market scolds, he said. Conservative principles are not the problem, he said; history has shown small government and free markets to be the world’s best engines for human freedom. The problem? Tone. It’s time for Republicans to be “happy warriors,” he said.

    Yeah, it’s the tone, that’s all.

    Maybe McDonnell should sing and dance while trying to cheat Virginia public employees out of “Obamacare” coverage (here). Either that, or he could sponsor a karaoke night to publicize legislation that, in essence, makes discrimination by university student groups in his state legal (here).

    Or how about a happy hour announcing plans to pay for road construction in VA by taxing the poor (here)? Or an all-night bowling marathon to announce restrictive new anti-abortion regulations that McDonnell certified, as noted here?

    McDonnell and his pals think that all they need to do is dump more perfume on the proverbial pig, and that will be good enough to start reversing his party’s sorry electoral trend. Fine – he should go with that (and as usual on this matter and many others also, I trust the sage words of Professor Krugman, as noted here).

  • Next, I give you the following (here)…

    Subsidies for wind power could lead to the shutdown of nuclear power plants, warned Exelon Corp. CEO Christopher Crane.

    “What worries me is if we continue to build an excessive amount of wind and subsidize wind, the unintended consequence could be that it leads to shutting down plants,” Crane told the Chicago Tribune, adding that states which have subsidized wind power might see jobs disappear if nuclear plants shut down.

    A report by the NorthBridge group found that this “negative pricing” of electricity from wind subsidies means less investment will go into conventional power generation which imperils the reliability of the electrical system.

    This is about what we can expect from Crane; as noted here, the nuke industry has been doing all it can to fight the so-called “production tax credit” that funds wind energy development, stupidly pitting one source of energy development against another (the Think Progress post also tells us that the “study” by the NorthBridge Group, an economic and strategic consulting firm upon which Crane’s alarmism is based, has been described as “deeply flawed” by TP Guest Blogger Richard W. Caperton for the reasons he cites).

    Also, this tells us the following about the phenomenon of “negative pricing”…

    Michael Goggin, (the American Wind Energy Association’s) manager of transmission policy, said negative prices in the wholesale electricity market are rare and occur because there is not sufficient transmission. But the problem, he said, is isolated to certain regions and will be alleviated in the coming months and years as new power lines are built to connect customers to pockets of wind power in Texas and Minnesota and throughout the Midwest.

    Goggin also said wind energy is inexpensive, regardless of the tax incentives, because wind power has no fuel cost and has extremely low variable costs for operation and maintenance. The PTC, he said, has very little effect on real-time electricity prices. Electricity prices have also been going “negative” for decades because nuclear reactors exceed power demand at night, he said.

    “Claims that the wind energy production tax credit is causing negative prices are misguided, as negative prices are extremely rare and would occur anyway even if the [production tax credit] did not exist,” Goggin wrote in a blog post this week.

    And as you might expect, TP tells us that Congressional Repugs Lamar Alexander and Mike Pompeo are working with Crane and Exelon in their efforts to “break wind” (sorry…too easy).

  • Continuing, I give you another Ron Fournier special from The National Journal (here)…

    White House officials tell me they feel stung by coverage of the inaugural address. Reporters highlighted the president’s left-leaning stances on immigration, gun control, climate change and gay and women’s rights. Obama’s aides argue that he devoted more inaugural address language to the economy, jobs and the deficit than all other issues combined.

    Still, the perception remains that Obama lost focus on the economy — the top issue in the minds of most voters.

    I cannot possibly imagine that I will ever teach a course in journalism, but if I did and I received something like this from a student, I would fail that person (I know it’s been a little while since we visited with Fournier, but he was notorious for stuff like this when he was employed by the AP).

    For you see, Obama’s “left-leaning” stance on immigration is actually quite popular (here), as is his stance on gun control (here). And while he could’ve done more on the climate, consider his Repug opposition in Congress as well as some coal-state Democrats, including Bob Casey, as noted here (and how can his stance be “left-leaning” when he really hasn’t been able to do much about it?). Also, Obama enjoys majority support on the issue of marriage equality (here), and the LGBT community definitely came out, as they say, for him in ’08 here (and as far as I’m concerned, Fourier’s reference to “women’s rights” is just corporate media shorthand for the Repugs’ war on those dreaded lady parts, and to see whether or not that was successful, look at the results of the last election).

    This is part and parcel of how Fournier operates, though; as noted here, he told Karl Rove to “keep up the fight” and continue to ignore subpoenas from Congress; in that same post, I also pointed out that Fournier used the occasion of Dubya commuting Scooter Libby’s sentence to attack the Clintons (???) and also said that a “Democratic interest group” aired a TV ad comparing Dubya to Hitler, which was and remains false. He also claimed here that Obama needed Biden to shore up his “weakness” on foreign policy, a “weakness” shared by almost every single other Presidential candidate who has ever run for the job in the last 20 or so years, with the possible exceptions of Poppy Bush, John Kerry, and “Straight Talk” McCain back when he was an actual maverick.

    Unsubstantiated dreck like this exists for one reason only, and that is to propagate the utterly false narrative that Number 44 is really some sort of a closet liberal who (and you just watch!) is going to totally turn over a new leaf one day and resurrect his ACORN army to take everyone’s guns and start dropping money from helicopters for “the poors” and “the blahs” (and this will happen right about at the time when austerity actually creates full employment).

  • Finally, I would like to recall some items to commemorate the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, as noted here (to begin, I didn’t know he could actually do that – I thought part of the job description is that those guys had to “die with their boots on”…shows what I know).
  • Here, he gave a speech about the prophet Muhammad and Islam in which he referred to “jihad” and “holy war” (oops – the apology came soon thereafter).
  • He defended “intelligent design” here and expressed the hope that he would have a “short papacy” (looks like he’ll get his wish).
  • He said that condoms promoted African AIDS, or words to that effect, here (yes, I know Church teaching on that subject, but particularly in that area of the world, condoms save lives).
  • There was a time when he was putting his foot in his mouth on a regular basis (a compilation is here), though he definitely tightened up his message discipline, as they say.
  • He, at best, tolerated “liberation theology” when he should have embraced it (here).
  • Announced “The Ten Commandments For Drivers” here (“Thou shalt not txt OMG!! while changing lanes eastbound on the PA Turnpike weeknights at 6 PM.”)
  • To be fair, I should note that he spoke out strongly in defense of the environment here (Think Progress notes this and other positive and negative moments with Benedict here).
  • There were times when I wanted to smack my open palm against my forehead while Benedict was pope. And make no mistake that the Catholic Church has taken an ever-harder right turn under his watch. But as a Roman Catholic, it would be fundamentally wrong for me not to acknowledge that, until he steps down, he remains the Vicar of Christ, and as such, I’ll pray for his good health.

    Update: John Patrick Shanley has the guts to actually say what I only thought about here.


  • Thursday Mashup (2/7/13)

    February 8, 2013

  • With the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers having just played another Super Bowl (the Ravens won, of course)…well, you just knew there would be a story like this (a little late here, I know)…

    The Parents Television Council urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Monday to take action against CBS for airing a curse word during its coverage of Sunday’s Super Bowl.

    Immediately after the game ended, an exuberant Joe Flacco, the Baltimore Ravens’s quarterback, could be heard saying “f—ing awesome” to one of his teammates.

    “Despite empty assurance after empty assurance from the broadcast networks that they would never air indecent material, especially during the Super Bowl, it has happened again,” Tim Winter, the Parents Television Council’s president, said in a statement.

    “No one should be surprised that a jubilant quarterback might use profane language while celebrating a career-defining win, but that is precisely the reason why CBS should have taken precautions,” he said. “Joe Flacco’s use of the f-word, while understandable, does not absolve CBS of its legal obligation to prevent profane language from being broadcast — especially during something as uniquely pervasive as the Super Bowl.”

    I should let Tim Winter know that, when the Phillies won the World Series in ’08, the team held a party at Citizens Bank Park, and everyone on the team as well as the coaches and the announcers spoke to the fans. In the course of the festivities, Chase Utley unleashed an “F” blast heard all over the place, and I don’t recall that anyone fell down and died or turned into a pillar of salt.

    Simply put, this is just another excuse for a “values” freeloader like Winter to let everyone know he’s still around (“I’ll take ‘Desperately Trying To Remain Relevant’ for 100, Alex!” – more here). And here is more on the Parents Television Council, including the fact that it was founded by the perpetually angry Brent Bozell.

    In other Super Bowl news, this tells us who was upset over the performance of Beyoncé at halftime, and this tells us that at least one person was upset by the performance of the national anthem by Alycia Keys because she was sitting down, even though she was apparently quite good also (full disclosure: I saw a few minutes of the second quarter, including the fake field goal and Dwayne Johnson’s milk commercial, both of which I thought were pretty cool, and that was about it).

    You know what, people? If you don’t like what you’re watching, then change the channel and tune into something else. Or, if you want to do something really “cutting edge,” try reading a book or a newspaper instead (or maybe this blog :-)).

  • Next, I’m going to go for more “low-hanging fruit” here with Kristol Mess on the nomination of Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense (here)…

    Our brave men and women in uniform deserve better than Chuck Hagel. Are there any courageous liberal voices who will find it within themselves to say so? Are there a few courageous Democrats in the United States Senate who will announce that they will not consent to a secretary of defense unqualified for that high office? Is there even one Democratic senator who will hearken to President Kennedy’s admonition, “Sometimes party loyalty asks too much”?

    I’ll admit that I really don’t have a lot to add, only to point out from here that Hagel earned two Purple Hearts, an Army Commendation Medal, the Vietnamese Gallantry Cross and a Combat Infantryman’s Badge for his military service.

    And when it came to the prospect of serving our country, the only thing Kristol did was run away with all speed (here).

    And Kristol is the one trying to invoke courage…

    I understand that there are substantive disagreements people have with the Hagel nomination. But let’s make them on a fair appraisal and not on the partisan spin of one side or another (including more on Kristol’s ridiculous charge here that Hagel is “anti-Israel” and said that Iraq was a war for oil…Hagel didn’t say that last part either, though that is most definitely correct).

    Aside from Number 44’s sometimes ridiculous attempts to be “post-partisan,” I don’t know why he could not have settled for a Democrat as Secretary of Defense instead. But I have no substantive disagreement with Hagel; his service is commendable, and at least he recognized that we needed to stop digging the proverbial hole in Iraq and said as much. So I’m inclined to give him a chance.

    Which of course means that the Repugs in the U.S. Senate will do everything possible to obstruct Hagel even more (here).

  • Continuing, I give you more corporate media tut-tutting from Howard Kurtz here

    Now it’s true that Fox or Rush can boost or batter any lawmaker, and that they can help drive a controversy into the broader mainstream media. But we’re talking here about the president of the United States. He has an army, a navy and a bunch of nuclear weapons, not to mention an ability to command the airwaves at a moment’s notice. And he’s complaining about a cable channel and a radio talk show host?

    Sooo…as far as Kurtz is concerned, Number 44 is supposed to just shut up and take any nonsense doled out by The Roger Ailes BS Factory?

    But Kurtz of course has no issue with attacking Fix Noise himself, and rightly so, calling out Sean Inanity here for defending a typically scurrilous race baiting mess from The Daily Tucker. Also, the Foxies couldn’t wait to report the ruling by The Supremes that the health care law was unconstitutional last June…of course, the problem is that such a ruling was never handed down (here). And Kurtz called out Bill Orally here for not apologizing for messing up on the health care ruling in particular (if O’Reilly apologized for all of his screw-ups, he wouldn’t have time to do anything else, though he did issue a mea culpa the next day).

    Media Matters provided a better take-down of Kurtz here; I guess Kurtz thinks the Repugs are supposed to run the show, he and his media pals are supposed to be the referees, and the Dems are supposed to retreat to a neutral corner and be quiet (a perfect formula for electoral losses by our side, by the way).

  • Further, somebody named Chris Edwards over at Irrational Spew Online concocted the following from here (there’s a lot I could get into from his joke of an opinion column, but I’ll focus on the following for now)…

    High-speed rail represents another federal effort to create a one-size-fits-all solution for the country. The economic justification for high-speed rail is weak, yet the Obama administration is trying to impose its grand rail vision on the whole nation. Such infrastructure decisions should be left to the states. If California wants to blow its own money on a boondoogle (sp) rail system, it can do so, but the federal government shouldn’t foist the costs on the rest of us.

    Yeah, don’t you hate it when the federal government engages in its “boondoogle” projects (if you’re going to be snarky, learn how to spell first, OK?).

    To begin, this tells us that Repug Governors Lex Luthor Scott, John Kasich and Scott Walker all turned down high speed rail funds (in Scott’s case, to the disappointment of John Mica, U.S. House Repug and Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee). Also (and taking a page out of Edwards’ playbook I’m sure), Erick (“Son of Erick”) Erickson cropped comments by former Obama Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to make it sound like the latter supported the Chinese over this country on infrastructure (uh, no).

    More to the point, this tells us why the federal government should have a role in infrastructure projects, along with the attendant benefits (for example, does anything think we actually would have our highway transportation system from coast to coast if it had been left up totally to the states?). And this tells us how the Repugs have blocked transportation infrastructure projects, thus hindering our recovery (though they have no trouble with funding infrastructure in places like Afghanistan, as noted here).

    And as long as Edwards decided to take a shot at the “Big Dig” project in Massachusetts, the following should be noted from here

    The Big Dig is a marvel, even considering the construction problems that have surfaced since the project officially concluded in 2007. Traffic jams still occur in Boston but nothing like those on the elevated Central Artery and en route to and from Logan Airport when the only access was through the Sumner and Callahan Tunnels. A trip from the South Shore to Logan, which on weekdays was a crawl and stall through the tunnel, is now a breeze.

    The birth of a new Boston waterfront is not just a boon for tourists. The Seaport District finally is taking off. A few years ago the Institute of Contemporary Art was a lonely addition near the federal courthouse. Now the area is filled with new restaurants, a neighborhood of galleries and 1,700 new apartments built or planned. The new housing is a lure for young college grads especially; they have been leaving Boston in large part because of expensive housing costs and a dearth of apartments close to downtown offices.

    All this means more business – housing and entertainment dollars that add more money to the state’s bottom line. A good chunk of that money goes back to the cities and towns in the form of local aid, something lawmakers conveniently forget when they rail against what they call a Boston project. The capital city will always be the state’s primary economic engine, so what’s good for Boston is good for residents from Plymouth to the Berkshires.

    And as if we need another reality check on this issue, allow me to provide the following from here.

  • Finally, it looks like former Repug U.S. House Rep and (still, to my knowledge) deadbeat dad Joe Walsh is forming his own Teahadist Super Pac for the 2014 midterm congressional elections here (dear God, are we in this cycle already??!!).

    So let’s backtrack for a minute and look at where we are, OK?

    The name of Walsh’s former peer in the House, Steve King of Iowa, gets floated around a bit as the potential Repug candidate for the U.S. Senate seat in Iowa formerly held by the departing Dem Tom Harkin (here).

    Karl Rove responds with this.

    And now, Joe Walsh responds also here (aren’t circular firing squads fun?).

    All of which makes me want to say the following (for the primary election anyway)…

    GO STEVE, GO!


  • Friday Mashup (2/1/13)

    February 1, 2013
  • It’s been a little while since I checked in with former Laura Bush employee Andrew Malcolm of Investor’s Business Daily, but, kind of like the dull toothache you experience when you bite down a little too hard on a freezer pop, he has returned, Obama-baiting rhetoric and “Democrat” Party references in tow (here, and as is almost always the case accompanied by polling numbers that don’t come close to telling the whole story)…

    Predictably perhaps, the nation’s economy, which President Obama has vowed to repair even more often than he golfs, earns the least satisfaction from Americans, according to the new Gallup survey. Only one-in-five Americans (20%), presumably among those still employed, are somewhat or very satisfied with the economy. That’s down 27 points since the same 2005 Gallup survey.

    Inquiring minds giving Malcolm more attention than he deserves would be wondering I’m sure why the Dubya loyalist would go back to 2005. Why, that was at the peak of our last economic bubble under Former President Highest Disapproval Rating in Gallup Poll History, of course (you know, so Malcolm could skew the numbers as much as he could).

    And let me note also that, while only 20 percent of this country is satisfied with the economy, Gallup also tells us here that 14 percent approve of our wretched U.S. Congress.

    So with an economic approval of only 20 percent, Obama’s actual approval number would be about that or near Congressional approval if Malcolm were correct to blame Number 44 exclusively, right?

    Uh, no (48 percent, to be exact).

  • Next, Repug U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch tells us here that upgrading our system of background checks in this country prior to approving to gun purchases would lead to a “reduction in liberty,” or something.

    Really?

    To get an idea of why Hatch said that, you need only read this; basically, like all Repugs in Congress, Hatch is worried about saying or doing anything whatsoever that could bite him in the ass from the Limbaugh-Hannity-Drudge faction that was once the fringe, but pretty much calls the shots now in his party (Hatch easily won re-election last year, but the fundraising pretty much never stops any more in the absence of public-money-only campaign financing).

    Hatch also doesn’t want to do anything whatsoever to shut off that flow of dough from the NRA, which has graced him with about $136 grand to date, as noted here.

  • Continuing, I give you the latest from Stu Bykofsky at philly.com on immigration (here)…

    If we fail to get enforcement – not just at the border, but in the workplace – we will “invite” millions more “guests” to arrive illegally, and we will repeat the same drama again.

    That’s a recipe for disaster.

    In response, this tells us that, after about 30-40 years of steadily increasing immigration to this country from Mexico (legal and otherwise), the pace has slowed down. Also, this tells us that PA Repug U.S. House Rep Lou Barletta (who I discussed here) said recently that there basically was no point to pursuing immigration reform for unskilled workers since, well, they’ll just become Democrats anyway (nice guy).

    Think Progress has the nonsense from Barletta and a lot more important stuff on this issue from here (and on the question of Obama and enforcement, the following should be noted from here).

    Update 2/3/13: More “epic fail” from Barletta is here – voters in his district who supported this clown must be so proud (I’m sure Barletta needs special protection from an would-be assailant brandishing a spoon).

  • And speaking of policies from the Obama Administration, I give you this

    Smith & Nephew eliminated nearly 100 jobs in Memphis and Andover, Mass., on Thursday, Jan. 31, as the medical device company cuts expenses in an effort to offset tax hikes included in the Affordable Care Act.

    The Affordable Care Act includes a 2.3 percent medical device tax, which took effect Jan. 1.

    The London-based company, which employs about 1,800 people in Memphis, said the new tax will cost the industry about $30 billion over 10 years.

    “(The tax) has impacted a number of companies across the U.S.,” said Joe Metzger, senior vice president of corporate communications. “Smith & Nephew is not immune from this added expense burden.”

    Smith & Nephew announced in February 2012 that it would reduce its global workforce by 7 percent over the next three years. Several other companies announced similar plans, including Stryker and Medtronic.

    I’m sorry about the Smith & Nephew workers in this country who are now out of a job, of course. However, the company still was able to pursue a deal worth about $782 million in cash last year to acquire Healthpoint Biotherapeutics, a “big name” among bio-pharma companies (here). Didn’t they anticipate what they thought would be the “rainy day” of more medical device taxes to protect their workers?

    And I wonder if a $22 million settlement in a bribery case had anything to do with their sudden financial hardship (here and here)?

  • Finally, with the return of a new Congressional session last month, that marked a return of the old Repug U.S. House wingnut extraordinaire Steve King of Iowa (here, among other idiocies)…

    Mr. Obama’s executive elimination of all work requirements of “welfare to work” violated the 1996 welfare reform work legislation, which was signed by President Clinton. Mr. Obama violated the Constitution by waiving provisions that the law specifically stated could not be waived by the president.

    It should be noted that Politifact had something to say about that urban legend of sorts here when it was uttered by Former Senator Man-On-Dog during the Repug presidential primary last year (just add this to the ever-growing catalog of King wingnuttia, much of which is chronicled here).


  • Top Posts & Pages