Thursday Mashup (3/7/13)

  • Another day, another supposed “scandal” according to Fix Noise (here)…

    President Obama’s pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency is already running into resistance from the fossil fuel industry over concerns that she would escalate a “war” on oil, coal and natural gas.

    EPA veteran Gina McCarthy was one of three nominees Obama announced at the White House late Monday morning. He also tapped MIT scientist Ernest Moniz to head the Energy Department and Walmart’s Sylvia Mathews Burwell as his next budget chief.

    All will have to undergo Senate confirmation. And McCarthy — given her background and the controversial nature of the agency she wants to lead — could face the toughest screening.

    “Today’s announcement that the president wants Gina McCarthy to serve as the next EPA administrator is a clear indication that the administration will continue a war on affordable energy,” Thomas Pyle, president of the Institute for Energy Research, said in a statement.

    Oh yes, the EPA is so “controversial,” isn’t it? How dare they do their best to ensure that our water is safe to drink, our air is safe to breathe, and our landscapes aren’t hopelessly fouled by toxic waste! Damn tree huggers…

    Oh, and I almost forgot this choice item…

    Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., said the nomination makes clear that Obama “wants to continue pursuing an aggressive climate agenda at EPA.”

    I guess “aggressive climate agenda” is wingnut code for making sure that we don’t take a deep breath and end up coughing up a lung as we exhale, in addition to being exposed to airborne particulates that could cause (or exacerbate) asthma, chronic bronchitis or heart disease, among other health concerns (I mean, it has to be that since, according to Inhofe, God has protected us from man-made global warming – really).

    And speaking of Inhofe…well, he once said that “I supported Regina McCarthy’s nomination today because I think she possesses the knowledge, experience, and temperament to oversee a very important office at EPA” (here, in a post that also includes praise of McCarthy from the following other Repugs: former CT governor Jodi Rell, former Ohio U.S. Senator George Voinovich, and Charles Warren, a former top EPA regulator who now represents industries such as steel companies).

    I think McCarthy deserves the benefit of the doubt thus far, though this could end up to be yet another case of the Repugs getting exactly what they want but carrying on with their caterwauling like spoiled brats anyway.

  • Next, I give you the following item based on the recent passing of Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez…

    In a longer statement on his website, (Dem U.S. House Rep Jose) Serrano acknowledged that Chavez was a “controversial leader.” The New York lawmaker insisted Chavez helped Venezuela, because he tried to help the poor and disenfranchised. Serrano invited him to visit his district in 2005.

    The Republican National Committee pounced on Serrano’s tweet, issuing a statement that it was “simply insulting that a Democrat congressman would praise the authoritarian ruler Hugo Chavez.” Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., told WPLG in Miami that she is “ashamed” by the comments made by Serrano and Rep. Joe Kennedy, D-Mass.

    The Florida congresswoman singled out Kennedy because he issued a statement saying his “thoughts and prayers are with President Chavez’s family.” Ros-Lehtinen told the Miami TV station that condolences should go to Venezuelans who came to America to escape the Chavez regime.

    I will acknowledge that Chavez was one of these “one step forward, two or three steps back” kind of guys who rose to power pledging aid to the poor, and he delivered on that a bit, though he also did a poor job of managing his country’s economy as it transitioned from a “bubble to bust” cycle, typical for a country upon which oil remains a key exported commodity. And as Think Progress reminds us here, Chavez also demonized his opposition, attacking the press when it dared to criticize him, and he also helped to cultivate a particularly virulent strain of anti-Semitism.

    However, Ros-Lehtinen has no room to be “ashamed” of anybody when it comes to freedom of speech (and yeah, “Democrat” congressman – funny one, RNC).

    If I were a resident of the Sunshine State, I’d be “ashamed” of her for claiming to care about jobs first and foremost but waging war on those dreaded lady parts instead, along with (of course) tax cuts and trying to overturn those pesky government regulations that are supposedly holding back our “job creators” (here).

    I would also be “ashamed” of her for first blasting Democrats for an anti-terrorism bill in response to the 9/11 Commission recommendations before she (and Steve King, her partner in wingnuttery) voted for the bill anyway (here).

    I would also be “ashamed” of her for supporting tax breaks for Big Oil and Social Security privatization (no evidence that she has ever changed her mind on that – here).

    Oh, and I think Ros-Lehtinen should also be “ashamed” of doing her part to scuttle the International Protecting Girls By Preventing Child Marriage Act of 2010 (a bill which doesn’t even mention family planning or abortion, by the way, as HuffPo’s Amanda Terkel points out here). Or, as Conor Williams of the Washington Post pointed out, “How can Republicans explain efforts to defeat a human rights bill because of $67 million in potential spending while simultaneously pushing for a tax cut deal for wealthy Americans that will add $858 billion to the deficit? Is this at all credible?”

    When it comes to Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and her playmates, if you even have to ask a question like that, chances are that you already know the answer.

  • Continuing, I wanted to point out the following here

    HARRISBURG – They can’t breathe. They don’t bleed. They don’t digest food.

    But, as Mitt Romney famously blurted, corporations are people – at least under the law. In theCitizens United decision in 2010, for instance, the Supreme Court recognized that corporations have the constitutional right of free speech, something most people assumed belonged to actual carbon-based life-forms.

    The court struck down limits on corporate election spending, ruling them the same as banning speech. It helped unleash an estimated $933 million in spending by outside groups and wealthy people in the 2012 presidential race.

    And that was why David Cobb was preaching in a steamy and too-small hotel meeting room at the Pennsylvania Progressive Summit here Friday night, selling the salvation of a constitutional amendment that would restrict rights to “natural persons only,” giving government the power to regulate corporations, and declaring that campaign expenditures are not speech.

    “Corporations are ruling us, as surely as masters once ruled slaves, as surely as kings once ruled subjects,” said Cobb, a former Texas trial lawyer and 2004 Green Party presidential nominee. “We don’t have a functioning democracy in this country. The word we should be using is plutocracy. . . . It really chaps my hide.”

    Cobb is one of the leaders of Move to Amend, a sprawling coalition of lefty groups worried about the corrosive influence of money in politics and intent on upending Citizens United. More than that, Cobb said, the idea of legal personhood gives corporations disproportionate power over the political system.

    I applaud the efforts of Cobb and those who belong to the coalition – it’s a huge fight, but one that must be waged, I know.

    However, I wanted to take a very slight issue with something Cobb said below…

    Move to Amend is gathering force, with more than 272,000 supporters and 175 local affiliates, including one in Pittsburgh. Activists have persuaded 500 city and county governments to pass resolutions of support, including in Philadelphia and Wilkes-Barre.

    The initiative would curb unions’ ability to finance campaigns, too.

    Support crosses political divisions. True-blue New Jersey’s Legislature backed a resolution, as did super-red Montana voters in a referendum – the same day they voted for Romney.

    “We’re true believers,” Cobb said in an interview. “We’re Elmer Gantry. We’re not going to compromise.”

    For the uninitiated, that’s a reference to the book by Sinclair Lewis in which the lead character was a charismatic huckster who once set out to become a lawyer but decided to turn to evangelism instead (played brilliantly by Burt Lancaster in the 1960 movie, for which he won an Academy Award). I’d be a little leery of invoking that kind of a comparison…just sayin’.

  • Further, someone named Michael Warren at The Weakly Standard criticized Bruce Braley, the Dem running to replace Iowa’s Tom Harkin for the latter’s U.S. Senate seat, for Braley’s claim that any proposed Senate budget has been filibustered; Warren says that only a simple majority is needed to pass a budget (here).

    That actually is true, shockingly enough. However, as noted here, the Senate needs to clear the 60-vote threshold to enact the budget (more parliamentary minutiae concerning “the world’s greatest deliberative body”…wonder how the DC punditocracy came up with that, by the way?).

    So that would make Braley partly right after all (and to find out more about Braley, click here).

  • Also, this tells us about the lawsuit that Beef Products, Inc. filed against ABC News, Diane Sawyer, and anyone else under the sun that has had anything to do with the term “pink slime” going viral concerning their meat product; I don’t really care about our supposedly august corporate media facing legal action, nor am I longing to hear another “gee whiz” account of social media in action doing good (though credit should go where it is supposed to, I know), but I do care about how BPI’s product ended up in supermarkets, school kitchens and fast food restaurants.

    And with that in mind, this 2009 New York Times story referenced in the Reuters account tells us the following:

    Eight years ago, federal officials were struggling to remove potentially deadly E. coli from hamburgers when an entrepreneurial company from South Dakota came up with a novel idea: injecting beef with ammonia.

    The company, Beef Products Inc., had been looking to expand into the hamburger business with a product made from beef that included fatty trimmings the industry once relegated to pet food and cooking oil. The trimmings were particularly susceptible to contamination, but a study commissioned by the company showed that the ammonia process would kill E. coli as well as salmonella.

    Officials at the United States Department of Agriculture endorsed the company’s ammonia treatment, and have said it destroys E. coli “to an undetectable level.” They decided it was so effective that in 2007, when the department began routine testing of meat used in hamburger sold to the general public, they exempted Beef Products.

    With the U.S.D.A.’s stamp of approval, the company’s processed beef has become a mainstay in America’s hamburgers. McDonald’s, Burger King and other fast-food giants use it as a component in ground beef, as do grocery chains. The federal school lunch program used an estimated 5.5 million pounds of the processed beef last year alone.

    But government and industry records obtained by The New York Times show that in testing for the school lunch program, E. coli and salmonella pathogens have been found dozens of times in Beef Products meat, challenging claims by the company and the U.S.D.A. about the effectiveness of the treatment. Since 2005, E. coli has been found 3 times and salmonella 48 times, including back-to-back incidents in August in which two 27,000-pound batches were found to be contaminated. The meat was caught before reaching lunch-rooms trays.

    Within the U.S.D.A., the treated beef has been a source of friction for years. The department accepted the company’s own study as evidence that the treatment was effective. School lunch officials, who had some doubts about its effectiveness, required that Beef Products meat be tested, as they do all beef used by the program.

    School lunch officials said that in some years Beef Products testing results were worse than many of the program’s two dozen other suppliers, which use traditional meat processing methods. From 2005 to 2009, Beef Products had a rate of 36 positive results for salmonella per 1,000 tests, compared to a rate of nine positive results per 1,000 tests for the other suppliers, according to statistics from the program. Beef Products said its testing regime was more likely to detect contamination.

    Well, that’s about what you would expect BPI to say, wouldn’t you?

    So who was the U.S.D.A. head who approved the scheme around 2002 to inject ammonia into the beef, leaving it tainted and rendered as “pink slime”? Why, that would be Bushco’s Ann Veneman.

    And who was in charge of the U.S.D.A. in 2007 when the decision was made to exempt Beef Products, Inc. from testing before selling their “Franken meat” to the general public? Why, that would be Bushco’s Mike Johanns (yeah, the same guy who passed that resolution defunding ACORN that was later ruled to be unconstitutional – here and here).

    Oh, and isn’t it just such a coincidence that BPI’s Eldon Roth was a “Top 10” contributor to Johanns during the latter’s career in public life, as noted here?

    Meanwhile, it looks like McDonald’s has ended its association with BPI and its “pink slime” burgers based on this, and we can thank UK celebrity chef Jamie Oliver for that.

    What a shame that we can’t pursue any kind of action against Veneman and Johanns for this stuff (an appropriate sentence would be to force them to eat this garbage, keeping the stomach pumps at the ready if needed).

  • goldberg

  • Finally, I read this from The Doughy Pantload yesterday, and I really had to work hard to compose myself after doing so…

    One thing nearly everybody agrees upon is that the “sequester” is a silly sideshow to the real challenge facing America: unsustainable spending on entitlements. Ironies abound. Democrats, with large support from young people, tend to believe that we must build on the legacy bequeathed to us by the New Deal and the Great Society. Republicans, who marshaled considerable support from older voters in their so-far losing battle against ObamaCare, argue that we need to start fresh.

    Perhaps it’s time for both sides to consider an underappreciated fact of American life: The system we are trying to perpetuate was created for the explicit benefit of the so-called greatest generation, the most coddled and cared for cohort in American history.

    You son of a bitch…

    OK, let me back up and point something out here. As you can note from the rest of this post and what I generally try to do at this site, I often provide multiple links to content in the process of making my case.

    To respond to this contemptible gutter snipe, though, I’m not going to do that. Instead, I’m going to tell you a little bit about my family.

    My father was a World War II veteran who served in Europe for five years before he came home, went to college on the GI bill, and earned a Master’s degree before he began a lengthy and somewhat-high-profile career in government service. My mother was primarily a homemaker, though she also worked as an office manager in the medical field for many, many years (I was tempted to tell her about this garbage from Goldberg, but she’s in frail health and the last thing I want to do is cause some medical problem because of this idiot).

    And if you want to go back even further than that, my grandfather served in World War I. He was a member of the “Bonus March” (you can Google it) and ended up doing anything he possibly could when the Great Depression hit (dig ditches, selling pencils – he and my grandmother had to take on boarders when my mom was a little girl). None of this makes my family and I particularly special, I know.

    Oh yeah, The Great Depression – something Goldberg barely mentions in his ridiculous column. It went on for about 10 years, though it varied across the country. Around the middle of the 1930s it appeared to be letting up (in the days before credit cards, let’s not forget), but somebody came up with the bright idea of “austerity” (Past is Prologue 101) and it all went south again, with things starting to turn around at about 1938 or so (going from my mom’s recollections).

    So what happens when the Depression ends? Why only World War Freaking Two, that’s all (and yes, I know there’s a good argument to be made that that was really the end of the Depression, marking a return to full employment…I get that).

    So let’s jump ahead to 1945 or so (’46, in the case of my parents). Whoever survived the Depression and the war comes home and goes to work creating what will likely turn out to be the greatest run of peacetime industrial productivity and prosperity this country has ever seen, primarily for the “baby boomers” (I guess I’m bringing up the rear on that demographic, as they say).

    Now, I’m not going to buy into this Tom Brokaw “Greatest Generation” hagiography either; notwithstanding what I just pointed out, the men and women of my parents’ era were not beings descended from ivory towers or Doric temples. They were just dumped into inexplicably awful circumstances, showing legendary courage and resolve to be sure, but prone to imperfections, as are we all.

    However, you can rest assured that they were definitely not “the most coddled and cared for cohort in American history” either.

    And I’d like to venture a guess about something – if I were to ask some of them what they thought about what Goldberg said, I think they would probably feel more than a bit of disgust, but then they would derive satisfaction from the fact that they ended up building a way of life that allows a fungible little nematode like Goldberg the freedom to concoct this bile without fear of retribution from a fuhrer, emperor, or some other totalitarian leader.

    In other words, to use a somewhat misinterpreted phrase that grew trite over the last election, my parents “built it.”

    And the pride from that monumental accomplishment is something Goldberg will never, ever know or understand.

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