Friday Mashup (5/10/13)

  • I happened to check in to The Gun Report, the blog of New York Times columnist Joe Nocera, and he told us here a couple of days ago that New York State has divested itself of gun-related holdings from its public employee pension plan, following the lead of California. And according to this, Pennsylvania has gun-related holdings in their public employee pension plans which are basically negligible at this point (even though I don’t know what that last sentence in the philly.com piece actually means).

    And as long as I’m on the subject of our beloved commonwealth, this from a recent Philadelphia Inquirer article tells us that our illustrious governor Tom “Space Cadet” Corbett is proposing a “fix” to the public employee pension plans (actually, he has proposed this for a little while now, but details, or what pass for them, seem to be trickling out at last – a bill number has apparently been assigned in the legislature, and Corbett wants it approved by July 1st).

    As noted here, though…

    Sen. John Blake, D-Archbald, ranking Democrat on the finance panel, said the governor’s plan will add to pension debt instead of reducing it.

    “Moving new employees to a 401(a) will undermine the investment performance of our existing pension systems…,” Blake said. “Further, 401(a) retirement plans are proven to provide lower financial returns and by, disaggregating investment, expose workers with different levels of financial literacy to the vagaries of the markets while sending millions in fees to the financial service industry – money that should instead be invested and managed by experts to guarantee retirement security for our workers.”

    Switching to a defined contribution plan for future hires will leave a less secure retirement for new employees, said state Treasurer Rob McCord, a potential Democratic candidate for governor next year.

    “So far, the 401(k) plans have failed in that regard,” McCord said.

    And of course, it’s not as if Corbett is willing to cut back on his stinking tax cuts for his “pay no price, bear no burden” pals to cover the difference, as noted here.

  • Next, in more “News for the Investor Class,” I give you the following (here)…

    We have our Twinkies back! And our Ding Dongs, Ho Hos and Wonder Bread. As The Daily Caller reported on April 24, key assets of bankrupt Hostess Brands have been sold to private equity firms and plans are underway to open new plants. Presumably, the new owners will operate non-union.

    If they don’t blow it.

    To refresh your memory, last fall Hostess Brands, the maker of iconic products such as the aforementioned Twinkies, suspended all operations and began liquidating assets in response to a nationwide strike by the bakery workers’ union. The union was striking over requested concessions the company needed to stay in business. Over the following weeks and months, Hostess let go most of its 18,500 workers as it shut down operations and started trying to sell its valuable brands. The asset sale yielded fruit, and the new Hostess has announced it will open three plants in the near future and start hiring workers.

    Yeah, well, that’s the wingnut spin on this story. Here is the reality point of view (from last November – this is alluded to in the Daily Tucker piece, but of course it isn’t properly documented)…

    Even as it blamed unions for the bankruptcy and the 18,500 job losses that will ensue, Hostess already gave its executives pay raises earlier this year. The salary of the company’s chief executive tripled from $750,000 to roughly $2.5 million, and at least nine other executives received pay raises ranging from $90,000 to $400,000. Those raises came just months after Hostess originally filed for bankruptcy earlier this year.

    It is indeed good news that the jobs related to manufacturing items under the Hostess brand are being saved. And based on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution story noted in the Daily Tucker post…

    Hostess Brands, which is hiring for several bakeries, including one in Columbus, emphasized Monday that it will not discriminate against applicants on the basis of union membership or activities.

    The strident effort to clear the air on its hiring plans followed comments last week by Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Dean Metropoulos, who suggested the company would be staffing plants with non-union labor.

    Under the headline “New Twinkie Maker Shuns Union,” Metropoulos reportedly told The Wall Street Journal that the company does “not expect to be involved in the union going forward.”

    In a statement Monday, Hostess Brands said it “intends to hire the most qualified applicants, regardless of their age, race, gender, or prior or current union affiliation.” It added that “none of the company representatives stated or intended to imply that Hostess will be avoiding union-represented employees or job applicants.”

    Of course, I could really be a pointy-headed liberal here and wonder what it says about our glorious system of private enterprise that the manufacture of junk food is a growth industry. But I won’t.

  • Further, I give you this item from “Tiger Beat on the Potomac,” as Charles Pierce quite rightly calls Politico…

    Conservative radio talk show host Craig Bergman is sick of Republicans failing to appeal to environmentalists, and he’s making a documentary to try to bridge the gap.

    He’s behind a new Kickstarter campaign for “Unsustainable,” the documentary underway that Bergman hopes will provide common sense solutions for environmental concerns.

    “We are conservatives but we believe there is a vast swath of common ground,” Bergman told POLITICO. “This is not a right wing, radical, beat ‘em up, red meat movie.”

    He added, “We’re not trying to get into the, ‘I’m right, you’re wrong,’ debate. That’s the whole problem. We’re trying to get into what used to be old fashioned politics, which was two people who would sit down, both wanting the same result, to protect the environment and then deciding how best, under our constitutional framework of liberties and individual rights, do we get there? We haven’t had that on this issue in 30 years.”

    He cited examples of what he considers to be both left and right wing extremism on environmental issues, such as a man in Colorado who was threatened with federal prison for collecting rainwater on his property.

    And he singles out his conservative brethren for making light of environmental issues, including “some of the ridiculous things you hear from some of my compatriots on talk radio, where they say things like, ‘Well, everyone, today is Earth Day so be sure you roll down your windows while your air conditioning is on, hee, hee, hee.’ That does nothing to help the dialogue.”

    “We’ve got hundreds of examples of abuses on the right and abuses on the left.”

    “Hundreds” on “the left,” huh?

    “We are going to take the position that exposes the bad science,” he said. So do you believe in climate change, then?

    “I don’t know that there is a conclusion. That’s part of the problem. It needs to be a dialogue. It does not need to be an absolute definitive, because nobody knows.”

    For the uninitiated, I should note that this is the very definition of “concern trolling” (wonder if this Craig Bergman guy is associated with “No Labels” in any way?).

    Aside from linking to statistical study after statistical study pointing out the obvious (as noted here), I could also mention that the biggest obstacle towards a common sense policy on CO2 emissions and reusable energy are the Teahadists, funded by the Koch Brothers who want us to choke on our fossil fuels while the planet continues to melt (and many of those life forms constitute Bergman’s audience).

    Ordinarily, I would be happy to read about someone trying to achieve some kind of a mutual understanding on an issue. But as far as I’m concerned, the science on this issue has been settled for about 30 years (so, contrary to Bergman’s claim, I would say that EVERYBODY knows, as noted here.)

  • Moving on, Karl Rove concocted the following at the Murdoch Street Journal here

    Thinking strategically about Iran also might have led Mr. Obama to act earlier for regime change in Syria. After two years of fighting, the war is spilling into Lebanon, Iraq and Israel. A million Syrian refugees are flooding into Jordan.

    Of course, the war of choice in Iraq waged by Rove’s old boss created at least two million refugees, as noted here (actually, four million if you count those inside the country). But who’s counting, right?

    “Turd Blossom” also tells us the following…

    (Obama) would also not have sabotaged chances for a U.S. military presence in Iraq by insisting on parliamentary approval of a status-of-forces agreement. A U.S. presence in Iraq would have reduced Iranian influence in Baghdad and diminished the likelihood of sectarian conflict in Iraq.

    Does Rove mean the SOFA approved by the Iraqi parliament before Former President Nutball left office in 11/08 (here)? Any by the way, the terms of the agreement mandated that all US troops would leave.

    Rove also criticized Obama for his moves related to missile defense in Poland and Czechoslovakia, with the goal of getting NATO more involved, a group the Repugs hate, of course…basically, Obama wants NATO to get more involved on the issue of defense against potential short-to-medium-range rockets from Iran, as noted here (part of that whole Kenyan Muslim Marxist notion of making other countries more responsible for their own sovereignty as oppose to us being the “policeman” everywhere, I guess).

    And if Obama is supposed to be so “aloof,” then why did “Bibi” Netanyahu express his “appreciation” for Obama helping Israel defend itself from Palestinian rockets, as noted here? And is Rove seriously going to argue that Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History was “close to” German Chancellor Angela Merkel…

    5127738-bush-merkel
    …when the memory of this utter idiocy is still fresh in our minds?

    Rove also alleges that Obama “undercut the new Libyan president, Mohammed Magarief”; I’m only mentioning this nonsense because I have a question.

    How many people out there know that that country has arrested 50 people in connection with the death of Ambassador Stevens and three others, as noted here (“BENGHAZI!!!”)? Show of hands?

  • Continuing (and overlapping on Rove a bit), it looks like David Horowitz has somehow emerged from some foul nether regions somewhere to foist this upon us…

    Obama’s desire for rapprochement with the Islamist regime in Iran has prompted the administration to drag its feet on the sanctions designed to halt Tehran’s nuclear program. For the same reason, the president and his administration were silent when hundreds of thousands of Iranians poured into the streets of Tehran to call for an end to the dictatorship and were met by an orgy of violence from the mullahs’ thugs.

    Obama was “silent,” huh? Really?

    Continuing…

    The administration’s denial was glaring also in its response to the massacre of 13 unarmed soldiers at Fort Hood by an Islamic fanatic and terrorist, Nidal Malik Hasan, who three and a half years later still has not been brought to trial.

    Unbelievable – through one of the easiest Google searches in my life, I learned from here that the trial of Hasan will begin later this month, on the 29th.

    And as far as I’m concerned, it’s particularly grotesque for Horowitz to bring up the Ft. Hood shootings, which he infamously once said were “the chickens of the left coming home to roost” here (I guess this is the crap you come up with when you are no longer being bankrolled to travel to colleges all over the country to scream about alleged “liberal bias”).

    Continuing, Horowitz rants as follows…

    Obama had previously intervened in Egypt, the largest and most important country in the Middle East, to force the removal of its pro-American leader, Hosni Mubarak. He then promoted the (Muslim) Brotherhood’s ascension to power by portraying it as a “moderate” actor in the democratic process. As the Middle East situation deteriorated, the Muslim Brotherhood became the chief beneficiary of America’s financial, diplomatic, and military support. This same Brotherhood was the driving force behind the Islamist surge, the mentor of Osama bin Laden and the leaders of al-Qaeda, and the creator of Hamas. Rather than being quarantined, the Brotherhood-dominated government in Cairo has received hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid and F-16 bomber jets from the Obama administration that had facilitated its rise to power.

    Oh brother – in response, this tells us the following…

    (In Egypt) The Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda hate each other. The former view the latter as terrorists, and the latter view the former as traitors to the cause. Critics of the Muslim Brotherhood often cite a common ideological ancestor of both the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda, Sayyid Qutb, to draw connections between them. But this obscures the depth of the ideological and religious gulf between the two. The willingness of the Brotherhood to pursue its goals through legitimate democratic means, without violence, is precisely the point — and precisely why the Egyptian uprising threatens more extreme groups even if it empowers the Muslim Brotherhood.

    Here’s more from Horowitz…

    In Libya, al-Qaeda terrorists overran an American consular compound and murdered the U.S. ambassador and three brave staffers. The attack took place in a country that had recently been destabilized by Obama’s own intervention to oust its dictator.

    I guess it was inevitable that Horowitz would invoke BENGHAZI!!, but as far as presidents destabilizing countries goes, let’s not forget that, as noted here, U.S. diplomat David Foy was murdered in Pakistan the same day that Number 43 agreed to send nukes to India, as noted here (and I don’t recall hearing a peep of protest at the time from Huckleberry Graham, Gramps McCain, or any other supposed foreign policy Repug Senatorial genius – hat tip to Bob Cesca for that info on Pakistan, as noted here…and by the way, on the whole BENGHAZI!!! thing, isn’t this interesting?).

    I could go on, but you get the idea (and to demonstrate what a supposedly enlightened character Horowitz is, not, here are some of his reactions to people who disagree with him).

  • Also, I give you the latest foul activities of that insect Jesse Watters, promoted as you might expect by Fix Noise here

    (Watters is) headed to Columbia University to get the community’s reaction to the decision to hire Kathy Boudin, a convicted cop killer, and confronts the controversial professor about her actions.

    As noted here, however…

    As a member of various radical militant groups during the 1960s and 1970s, Boudin advocated extreme measures to combat what she saw as racism, sexism, and American imperialism. And then, in 1981, she participated in the armed robbery of a Brinks security truck–and although she carried no weapon nor directly caused any injuries, she was, in her own words, “morally responsible for all the tragic consequences that resulted.” Nobody pretends to justify Boudin’s actions–they were repugnant.

    However, in the years that followed, Boudin tried to make amends. At Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, where she was incarcerated, Boudin founded AIDS Counseling and Education, a women’s group that provided support for HIV-infected women, combated stigmatism and harassment in the prison, and made sure that women had access to needed medication. She organized programs for teenagers with incarcerated mothers, taught classes on parenting, and helped Columbia Law School teach inmates about the rights and responsibilities of incarcerated parents. She published scholarship about her work in–among other places–the Harvard Educational Review.

    Yes, what Boudin once did was wrong. But even though Boudin’s conduct and actions with the Weather Underground were awful and remain so, she didn’t engage in violent activity or shoot the Brinks officer whose father wrote the commentary on Fix Noise (I would have a problem with someone interfering with commerce if they were engaged in the destructive activity Boudin was engaged in or blocking a Planned Parenthood clinic, as Watters was involved in here and here).

    And by the way, as long as we’re talking about Planned Parenthood here, I want to say that I think we’re looking at the trial of Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell exactly the wrong way – yes, the evidence is horrific, and the full weight of the law should be brought down if he’s found guilty (here).

    However, in consideration of this item, maybe with proper teen and pre-teen sex-ed and related funding, do you think just one of those tiny lives would have been spared or prevented from conception if, just maybe, Planned Parenthood had been demonized just a little bit less? And if that had been the case, with more P.P. funding, would there have even been a need for Gosnell’s clinic at all?

  • 050813_sergei-bobrovsky_600

  • Finally, turning to the world of sports, congratulations to former Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky (pictured), now with the Columbus Blue Jackets, for earning a nomination for the Vezina Trophy, the NHL’s highest award to goalies (here). Other nominees are Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers and Antti Niemi of the San Jose Sharks (Niemi, by the way, was once available as a free agent after the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals, and the Flyers could have signed him, but instead chose to give $3 million to Jody Shelley, who will probably never be anything more than a goon).

    Here are the other former Flyers currently still active in the NHL 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs:

    Arron Asham (New York Rangers)
    Daniel Carcillo (Chicago Blackhawks)
    Darroll Powe (New York Rangers)
    Dennis Seidenberg (Boston Bruins)
    Harry Zolnierczyk (Anaheim Ducks)
    James van Riemsdyk (Toronto Maple Leafs)
    Jaromir Jagr (Boston Bruins)
    Jeff Carter (Los Angeles Kings)
    Joffrey Lupul (Toronto Maple Leafs)
    Justin Williams (Los Angeles Kings)
    Ken Hitchcock (St. Louis Blues)
    Luca Sbisa (Anaheim Ducks)
    Mark Eaton (Pittsburgh Penguins)
    Martin Biron (New York Rangers)
    Michal Handzus (Chicago Blackhawks)
    Mike Richards (Los Angeles Kings)
    Patrick Sharp (Chicago Blackhawks)
    Ray Emery (Chicago Blackhawks)
    Steve Eminger (New York Rangers)

    Good luck to one and all.

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